The final word on identity politics and 2016


, , , , , , ,

After Nov. 8, there have been a lot, and I mean a LOT of hot takes on which to blame for that election outcome: what some see as the virulent racism of virtually all white people, just looking for an excuse to keep women and minorities down; or the sneering, woker-than-thou political correctness of people who say “all whites are racist” triggering a backlash?

sign-guyBernie Sanders even went on record leaning towards the latter. This is actually no surprise — we all know which way he goes on the social justice vs. socialism spectrum. But is he right?

Michelle Goldberg put up some closing arguments that, I think, represent the last, best answers we’ll get to this debate. Yes, the social justice warriors have much to answer for; on the other hand, there really are plenty of racial, gender, LGBT issues that need addressing, issues that Trump voters might be less than entirely understanding of, even if they aren’t burning crosses in their spare time.

Here’s one great paragraph out of many:

“Campus leftists who formerly disdained free speech will learn its absolute importance when faced with a regime that attacks protesters, the media, and dissenting artists. [Something I’ve ranted about plenty of times — they never stop to think what happens if it’s a conservative defining “hate speech.” -FC] Perhaps progressive activists, newly aware of how many Americans reject their intellectual priors, will stop responding to clumsy questions with a sneering, “It’s not my job to educate you.” I’d like to see the language of privilege jettisoned altogether in favor of civil rights or equal justice, since the number of people who want to see their own privilege dismantled is vanishingly small. Maybe Everyday Feminism, the website that encompasses everything insufferable about social justice culture, will finally be revealed as an elaborate right-wing psy-ops campaign.”

It is the job of the Democrats to look after the disadvantaged, and boy have they royally screwed the pooch. With their preening and strutting about oh, look how inclusive I am, they arrogantly assumed that flyover-country whites would be shamed into voting for their candidates — never even entertaining the notion that such voters would rather tell our professional tut-tutters to go screw themselves.

But at the same time, as Goldberg notes, many Trump voters go further than understandable contempt of SJWs. They do not see any point to racial, gender or LGBT rights whatsoever. Old-fashioned, FDR-style politics simply assume the white male is the center of the universe, and many working class whites mourn its passing. Trump, along with the GOP Congress, will only be looking after the interests of the rich while the lives of these workers will get only more miserable over the next four years, but they just don’t care — they voted Trump specifically because they do not want to throw in with black people, feminists, gay people, or them thar’ city folks who don’t share their values.

If the Democrats want to see any point to their continued existence, they cannot surrender on the minority rights that really are so important for so many people. I do not foresee too many challenges to racist voter suppression laws coming from Trump, the Ryan/McConnell congress, or our next Supreme Court nominee, after all. Yet, they must also turn their backs on the SJWs with their odious moral hectoring and thought policing that’s worse than anything the religious right ever came up with. Maybe the 2020 candidate can speak plainly: I’m fighting for colored people, women, and LGBT not in order to tell you how great and pure of a person I am, or because diverse city-life is somehow better than rural Ohio, or to pour Syrian refugees into your small town while at the same time calling you racist for resenting it. I’m fighting for the underprivileged because it’s simply the right thing to do.

They still want to control your thoughts.


, , , , ,

The Establishment is in full retreat — at least in the political sphere.

The shocking passage of Brexit led to the fall of David Cameron’s government. Marine Le Pen and her National Front continue to grow in influence in France. Similar movements grow in Austria, Italy, Finland, even Sweden, that beating heart of open-borders liberal globalism. And, of course, you may have heard about the recent elections in America.

The reason: our Establishment rulers simply suck at their jobs. And their subjects know it. This is why this is happening. As with most populist revolutions — French, Russian, Iranian, Chinese, National Socialist, and so forth — what comes after the fall of the old regime will be even worse. Trump and his Trumpkins just want to make their own crude new Establishment, no less controlling than the last one. But that does not alter the fact that the old regimes before each revolution, including our current one, had become too decadent, too incompetent, too out of touch, too selfish, and really did deserve to get kicked off the stage of world history.

And despite the drubbing they’re getting at the polls across the globe, our elites, our Davos set, our ruling class have learned nothing.

A big component of the various populist uprisings is social media. After all, it’s not like the National Front could ever get positive coverage in the normal French media. So, Le Pen, Nigel Farage, and Donald Trump rely on their followers (and paid trolls) sharing memes, news, half-truths, outright disinformation, whatever it takes, to their friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Neutral voters may get their interest piqued by such shares, follow the rabbit hole to anti-establishment websites, and soon find themselves converted.


Unauthorized meme detected in sector K-492! Deploy the explainer drones now!

The Establishment notices this, and tellingly: They blame Facebook and other platforms for allowing such speech and not controlling their users. This top-down view of how the world works is precisely what got them in trouble to begin with — that our insular coastal elites are actually smart and wise enough to know what’s best, and that you rubes out in Ohio will always get yourselves in trouble without the gentle guiding hand of Matt Yglesias to control your thinking.

For instance, it is Facebook that drew the ire of Buzzfeed today for letting their fellow Establishmentarians down. Ryan Broderick, who’s been with Buzzfeed for years and has shown up on shows such as the Today Show, blames pro-Trump Facebook memes not on the people who create them, but on Mark Zuckerberg for allowing them to happen.

“But their memes have appeal and the most viral ones go mainstream,” Broderick writes. “Their Facebook pages get bigger. Algorithms identify that a user likes one particular page and suggest others, creating an echo-chamber effect that can lead to some pretty scary places.”

In other words, it’s Facebook’s fault for its industry-standard “similar things you may like” algorithm not steering its users like cattle away from anti-establishment content. As if a typical Breitbart pro-Trump propaganda piece should then be matched with a Vox explainer and a page where you can donate to the Hillary campaign to get wayward thought criminals back on the reservation.

Broderick then includes this astonishing paragraph:


Thought control. He is talking about flat-out thought control.

My own opinion of Trump and his alt.right trolls may be readily surmised with a brief perusal of this blog. But at the same time, I know exactly where the anti-establishment rage that propelled him into office is coming from. It’s from university presidents treating themselves to ever-more-extravagant salaries and bonuses while tuition continues to outpace inflation. It’s about the university’s education quality continuing to erode in favor of establishment interests such as political correctness, the cult of diversity, and, often, the football team. (The latter because it’s not like having a strong English Lit curriculum is something that lends itself to bragging rights for members of the Board of Regents.)

It’s about feckless politicians and their cheerleaders in the NYC and London-based media pushing for ever-more immigration — and without any arguments as to why, other than calling all immigration opponents racist. It’s about said immigrants competing for working class jobs while the elite still live in majority-white neighborhoods with majority-white schools, all while tut-tutting about just how much more diverse and inclusive they are than you hicks in flyover country. It’s about the global economy increasingly benefiting the top 0.1% — mere one-percenters are pikers these days — while everyone else’s buying power seems to stagnate. It’s about blue-collar jobs getting outsourced to Mexico while the company executives still retain their plush corner offices, and writers for both the New York Times and National Review saying that’s just how the world works. It’s about plum jobs such as NBC News reporting gigs going to Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton purely on account of their parentage, while young plebians without the last names or without the connections can never break out. It’s about the Democratic Party floating trial balloons for Chelsea for Congress mere days after her mother’s crushing defeat, proving they’re trying for a repeat of 2016 in 2018.

And yes, it’s about the media elite believing, despite all evidence, that they know what’s best for you people. It’s about John Oliver and Amy Schumer and the above Ryan Broderick and Vox’s Ezra Klein actually believing more in the system than in the people who are failed daily by the system. And when the people go anti-establishment? It’s the system’s own fault for allowing improper meme-sharing!

You have to buy into the party orthodoxy hook, line, and sinker to even be considered for a position with Buzzfeed or some other NYC or London media outfit, or for a late-night comedy gig. And that’s on top of the connections and Ivy League degree required to even get an interview. It’s why John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Steven Colbert are all basically interchangeable. It’s why the staffers of Buzzfeed are so politically in lockstep with one another that even Bolsheviks have to be impressed. They’ve created this echo chamber, with the writers of the sites and the shows writing more for each other than their actual readers or viewers, seeing each other all the time on the L-train, never rubbing shoulders with Trump voters other than with the occasional Jane Goodall-esque, “Trump Voters in the Mist” piece looking at them like a different species. It’s no surprise that Broderick’s answer for Trump voters’ thoughtcrimes is the same one that Buzzfeed itself relies on for its employees: enforced ideological conformity. Unfortunately for Broderick, though: his editor Ben Smith can’t fire John Q. MAGA out in Iowa for wearing the wrong red hat. Therefore, his proposed solution is “safeguards” — quite the Orwellian word — for those that pursue Trump memes, or who are in his word, “radicalized.”

Broderick uses this word “radicalized” intentionally. There are already rules and procedures with social media companies to deal with ISIS and other terrorists who attempt to use their services. It would take little effort to expand these rules to include followers of Trump or Le Pen too, right? Buzzfeed can’t fire these voters from their jobs for their political heresies — so perhaps they can shame Zuckerberg to fire, or at least shadowban, them off Facebook instead.

The coastal media elite’s prescription after the Hillary loss is more of the same. I won’t ever like the clown fascism of the Trump Administration or the nonzero chance Cheeto Jesus will get us in a nuclear war because the Chinese president said something mean on Twitter. But I do like snotty, conformist writers in Brooklyn and London with breathtakingly easy lives and parents paying for their rent getting their metaphorical teeth kicked in. It’s just a shame they learned absolutely nothing from the experience.

No, not all games have to be a murder simulator.


, , , , , ,

So, in other November 2016 news…

A recent piece by a gaming developer argues forcefully for the potential market for games not focused on killing and mayhem — “murder simulators,” as she calls them — and more on games focused on interactions and nurturing. Brie Code (how about that for a programmer’s last name; reminds me of the surgical resident I once knew with the last name Blades) boasts a resume that includes work on such slaughterfests as Company of Heroes and the Assassin’s Creed series, so she’s hardly coming at this as an outsider.

“Three years ago, for the first time, my friends who don’t like video games started to ask about video games,” Code says. “This was very exciting for me – I thought maybe I would finally be able to share the thing I love with the people I love. Spoiler: I was wrong. They didn’t become gamers after they played the games I recommended.”


Why can’t you ever just talk it out, Corvo?

She goes on to recount how the gun- or sword-play of all the usual big titles like Skyrim turned them off. Even Journey, a seemingly innocent game with nary a dragon or assault rifle in sight, got the thumbs-down due to the presence of a snake out to get the heroine. But Code did notice something — one of her friends had had a major emotional investment in her relationship with an NPC in Skyrim, having to quit the game after that character got killed, as tends to happen in the land of the Seven Holds.

“Kristina said to me through her tears that she didn’t realize that you could develop an emotional attachment to a character in a video game. She didn’t realize that you could create your character and exist as a version of yourself in a world full of characters whom you care about. I had never realized that she didn’t know this, because I knew this so deeply.”

The problem is that there are so few gaming franchises where you can explore this without somebody trying to shoot you or a monster trying to eat your face. A retort to Code’s article soon showed us why.

“The walking simulator side believes games should focus on storytelling and have social justice messages, while the murder simulator group thinks games should be enjoyable to play,” sneers Kyle Foley for the conservative Heat Street site. “What Code is arguing is that games need to be more “compassionate” in order to be less boring, but she could not be more wrong.”

He goes on to talk about the mayhem he dials up in Grand Theft Auto V as an example of fun. And I personally agree! GTA, and other slaughterhouse franchises like Elder Scrolls, Gears of War, and Warframe sure are fun to us guys. So are strategy games, the vast majority of which boil down to some version of playing war like young boys do with toy soldiers.

What do most young girls play?

Yes, many girls do enjoy the online killfests despite the rampant “tits or gtfo” sexism of your typical gaming chat lobby. But plenty more don’t, as Code was writing about. Is there a potential market for such consumers? Game development is a capitalist enterprise — wouldn’t a studio seek to expand its customer base by going after Code’s blood-adverse friends?

Foley argues no, that only boy games are fun and no girl games could succeed, which is an argument instantly refuted by just four letters: S I M S.


Oh. Well, it’s not like this franchise would generate interest for any DLC packs, though.

You see, while stereotypical boys play War, what many young girls play is House, and Electronic Arts owes much of its revenue to a breakout home simulator currently on its fourth iteration. No other major (what the industry calls “AAA”) franchise comes close to attracting Sims gamers, instead throwing everything they’ve got at boy-tastic interests: either killing or sports.

And considering how EA is, as usual, mismanaging its star franchise into the ground, couldn’t a competitor step up? I’m not talking about some indie Steam Greenlight thing. I’m talking about UbiSoft putting together the resources to launch a AAA competitor to bring in female gamers who are about as interested in Assassin’s Creed as I am in crocheting.


Because I do NOT want to step onto the Crochet Cartel’s turf.

“Video games are not boring, they just aren’t for everyone,” Foley concludes. If you were an UbiSoft executive, would you be content with that? Movie studio execs sure aren’t!

And besides, some male gamers would probably enjoy taking a break from exploding skulls to play something a bit more constructive. There really is more potential to gaming than coming up with new techniques to bring someone’s HP bar to zero. But too many developers, and male writers, cannot even comprehend it.


The Klan is not what racism looks like.


Trump backers in line to vote, Nov. 8, 2016. Right?

Following the shocking Trump victory — shocking even to the Trump campaign, which hadn’t bothered to plan a transition process, although not so shocking to the LA Times / IBT pollsters — a theme immediately began to circulate among the liberal media and pundits:

This was a victory for white supremacy. Full stop.

Any other explanation is just covering for bigotry. Anyone with any other explanation is most likely a bigot.

“I have long since believed that the United States is deeply racist at its core,” thundered the New York Daily News’ Shaun King mere minutes after the race was called for Trump. “This election has confirmed it.”

“Donald Trump’s Triumph Is a Victory for White Supremacy,” blared the headline for Cosmopolitan’s Brittney Cooper. In case that didn’t drive the point home, the subhead helpfully clarifies: “How did this happen? Racism.”

“Our generation says no, as do first-time voters, to what this man and his presidency represent,” declared Lena Dunham, once again reminding you of her self-appointed position of Official Millennial Generation Spokeswoman. “We reject, wholesale, his brand — any brand — of hatred and bigotry.”

Reading this, you may be forgiven if you’re wondering whether “ex”-KKK leader David Duke himself had been voted our 45th president.

This is not what racism looks like, and this isn’t what got Trump elected.

Oh, sure, we all know about the alt.right, the successors to the old Klan and Skinheads. Nobody’s gotten more press in 2016 than the alt.right, other than Trump himself. One thing they don’t tell you: the alt.right’s numbers are minuscule at best. It’s hard to get an exact read on their actual voting strength, but their direct trolling of journalists on Twitter and other platforms led to them getting amplified by these journalists as a vast movement, tens of millions strong. In reality? Active members of the alt.right (defined roughly as Americans, and not Russian trolls, posting on alt.right sites or Twitter) number a few hundred thousand at most. The Daily Stormer, regarded as the biggest and most active of these sites, ranks just a paltry #6,307 on Alexa in the USA — and that’s after the Trump election. Worldwide, it’s #21,987, with a readership most likely under 150,000.

The fact that nearly all of the alt.right posts anonymously tells you all you need to know about their actual strength. If this really were a movement with wide and deep inroads in America, these guys (for they are almost entirely guys) would have no trouble finding employment even if they used their real names. In reality, getting associated with their kind of rhetoric will end anyone’s career — anyone. It’s almost impossible to get rid of a pro-sports franchise owner, no matter how incompetent or malevolent — the one thing that can is racist speech.

And oh yeah. David Duke, mentioned earlier? He garnered a whopping 3% share of the vote for senator of deep-red, good-ol-boy Louisiana.

So, no. Trump’s victory was not the resurrection of the Klan, because that’s simply not how most racism works in this country.

To really see racism, you have to look at a typical school-integration fight happening right now. Sure, the white parents will use every “I’m totally not racist” excuse in the book, but in reality, it’s always the same: They do not want their precious white little Ethans mixing with those people. They paid good money to live in a white school district away from those children. And this is going on right here in Lena Dunham’s and my back ground: the five boroughs. How many of these white anti-integration parents were also at Hillary’s Javits Center election party? How many would gladly tell you how racism is only a problem with those rural, Southern Trump-voting whites, and not themselves? Does anyone seriously imagine Lena Dunham’s eventual kids going to a school that’s less than 90% white?

As for actual Trump voters, they’ve developed typical white-exclusion into a crude art. I use as example the noxious beast known as the Long Island Republican, Trump’s actual base — and they do vote in numbers. Long Island really is the best example of what I’m talking about, hosting as it did the first haven of white-flight suburbanites, Levittown. With racial segregation strictly enforced by redlining, Long Island attracted thousands of whites desperate to get away from where they work, multicultural New York City, soon followed by white flights out of nearly every other major city. The Long Island Republican served as the lifeblood of the John Bircher Movement. Its two suburban counties would later spawn two of the most definitive Long Island Republicans around: Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

Neither Hannity nor O’Reilly would ever indulge in the openly racist diatribe favored by the alt.right, but they are nevertheless primarily driven by a hatred of diverse New York City life. In fact, nearly everything they believe in is just opposition to liberals; as this election showed, they have no principles or positive beliefs, happily endorsing any and all of Trump’s most big-government policies. They only voted for him to stick it to liberals. That’s it. Their negativity is all they’ve got.

But even so. They are not wearing white hoods.

This is what the social-justice movement simply can’t wrap their heads around. They still think in terms of the racism of the Klan, of George Wallace, of Bull Connor. They believe that literally every Trump voter is secretly in cahoots with the Klan or alt.right, or at least sympathetic to them — mirroring, incidentally, Long Island Republican views of all Muslims being in cahoots with the terrorists. They still think most white people, or at the very least most white Trump voters, are going around dreaming of white supremacy and of subjugating black people (or in uniform social-justice parlance, “owning black bodies”).

In reality, whites from Lena Dunham to Sean Hannity don’t hate black people as much as they want to exclude them. From their communities, at least. They want to live in white neighborhoods, send their kids to white schools, and count as friends mostly other white people. That is what racism looks like. Not a burning cross.

And in any case, it’s blindingly obvious that racism took a back seat this election to a different -ism: sexism. The white female candidate lost; her black male predecessor won. Including over her in the 2008 primaries. It’s like people are hardly even allowed to speak about this because concerns about women’s rights must always take a back seat before every other liberal constituency, including minority rights. (This is an intentional feature of latter-day feminism called intersectionality — more on this later.) Trump’s numbers were actually flat compared to Mitt Romney’s 2012 popular vote totals — any gains among alt.righters were no doubt offset by Republicans refusing to turn the lever for that orange clown. It was Hillary’s numbers that fell off a cliff compared to Obama’s, as millions of Dem voters eager to vote for our first black president suddenly found themselves cool to the idea of voting for our first female president. If Trump’s Access Hollywood hot-mic gaffe with Billy Bush had been racist and dripping with the n-word, he really would have been finished. But since it was only sexist, the supposedly damning tape was all-but-forgotten after a couple weeks.

This election post-mortem emphasizes the role sexism played in Hillary’s downfall: “Trump promises a world free of political correctness and a return to an earlier era, when men were men and women knew their place.”

But back to white exclusion: this attitude hasn’t really changed much since the founding of Levittown. Long Island Republicans may be more honest about it, but high-powered white liberal pundits and talking heads and activist actors sure do mysteriously find themselves living in white neighborhoods of NYC and DC, don’t they? Enough tweeting about swastikas, Shaun. Maybe start asking some of your liberal coworkers at the Daily News where they live — and why.

Warrior from Future Travels Back To Warn of Grim, Doomed Timeline


, , ,

GREENSBORO, NC – Appearing in a flash of light before a group of stunned passers-by today here in Greensboro, a self described “warrior from your future” rose from the ground to deliver an intense, grim address to what he called his “Exalted Elders,” captured and uploaded to social media, FC News can confirm.

“Dear Elders… or as you would call yourselves, Americans,” the man began, as onlookers surrounded him, recording on their phones.

“The Great Mystic had energy enough to send only one person back through the mists of time to set right what once went wrong. I urge you heed my words!”

The identity of the man remains unknown as of this posting.

Wearing a ragged, makeshift uniform while carrying what appeared to be a rifle of unknown make, the man steadily yet quickly went through his words, as though he knew he had little time.

“She has looked back, before the Mutant Wars, before the Scourge, before the Pestilence of Seven, before the Famine of Skulls, before — yes, it is even said, before the Great Cataclysm and determined it is now, at this very time, this day during the distant Age of the Lost Exalted Elders, when all was lost. Change now and save us from this doomed timeline!”

North Carolina remains one of several key battleground states in the 2016 presidential election. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have made several stops here over the prior months. It is unknown if this locale was chosen for this reason.

“The Great Mystic bids our distant ancestors, of this place called the Desert of Ashes, or as you Exalted Elders would call it in your time, ‘America,’: hail from your children’s children!”

He was met with mostly stunned silence, although a few onlookers hurriedly called emergency services.

“Our brave warriors have won many honorable victories against the mutant hordes, but our numbers dwindle, they dwindle,” he intoned. “The Great Mystic, She of the Sixth Sight, has summoned the very last of her energy to warn of this doomed timeline before it begins and urges you to stand with your distant descendants at this last, most desperate hour!”

In response to shouted questions from a reporter, he denied belonging to an improv troop. “I am only a trooper of the Bear Clan, chosen for my bravery for many a mutant lay dead by my hand!

“But the last lights of humanity twinkle out, like the stars I have never seen in my lifetime. They have taken the Port of Samuelson. They have taken Ryger’s Bridge. They have taken the Green Monument and Balgar’s Redoubt. We last of us huddle in the Forsaken Keep as the draw ever closer… You must go tomorrow, my Exalted Elders, and save us from this condemned fate. You must prevent the Instigator from sending us all down this path of darkness!”

He later added, “Donald fucking Trump? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you fucking morons? That’s the choice you shitheads came up with as the best you could fucking do? ‘Exalted Elders’ my ass, more like ‘Fart-xalted Elders,’ am I right?”

Neither campaign could be reached for immediate comment, although unofficial Trump campaign surrogate Bill Mitchell hailed the news on Twitter: “Definite proof the future thinks we’re going to win, and we’re going to win big folks! #MAGA”

At press time, as the unknown visitor was being led away by emergency tactical teams, he would only keep repeating: “Remember my words, my ancestors! Remember my words!”

Why are NFL ratings sinking this season? Too much parity.


, , , , ,

NFL ratings are down. Not just in one market or for one particular program such as Monday Night Football, but across the board. Numbers are off up to 20%, according to some reports. Worryingly, the viewership for yesterday’s Sunday night showdown between the Broncos and Raiders — two teams with great W/L records in a divisional matchup with major playoff implications — was actually down from last week’s Sunday night game, which had to compete with the World Series. The NFL and various football pundits tend to throw out the same reasons to explain this slide away. The election. Colin Kaepernick. Poor matchups in nationally televised game overall, with the miserable Bears somehow showing up in four and counting. Too many flags for too many yards. Poor quality on the field.

The too-many-flags thing is a factor, although probably not a huge one. One of football’s historic disadvantages is seeing, for instance, a beautiful pass reception for a TD get called back just because some asshole was holding on the other side of the field. But that’s nothing new. It’s the sheer quantity of yellow raining down on the field — for such frivolities as excessive celebration (seriously) and taunting (which is an NFL tradition older than the West Coast Offense). No surprise that the NFL record for penalties in one game was broken this year — and, no surprise, by the Raiders. Back in the day, the penalties of “personal foul” and “unsportsmanlike conduct” were enough to punish serious transgressions, while allowing enough leeway for the normal endzone dances and trash talking that fans expect to see. Nowadays? The PGA insists on less decorum, it seems.


May as well be the logo of the entire NFL now.

But flags are just one issue that can easily get rolled back in time for next season. The issue of too much parity, however, offers no easy solution in sight. There are too few dominant teams, too few absolutely hopeless teams, and too many in the mushy, Tennessee Titans middle. Way, way too many.

By what I mean by “too much parity” is this. Fans in sports accept, even expect, the presence of a certain number dynasty teams on one hand, and perennial loser squads on the other. Alabama reigns as a dominant college football team year-in-year-out, as is right and proper, and fans expect nothing less. Nationwide, and not just among fans of the Tide, either. It makes it that much more exciting when ‘Bama visits your neck of the woods, and it makes it that much more of a campus-riot situation if your local team can pull off the huge upset. Auburn fans would be sorely disappointed (even if they refuse to admit it) if their longtime foes imploded. Conversely, Kansas football is gifted a Bowl season perhaps once a generation, which makes it that much more exciting; the rest of the time, their official football fight song is, “Just You Wait ‘Til Basketball Season!”

And on that note, Kansas, Duke and Kentucky have near-guaranteed berths in March Madness due to their decades-long reputations. The women’s side can be renamed UConn vs. Whoever Gets to Lose to UConn This Year. Other pro sports’ dynasties are more fluid, but teams often enjoy several years of uninterrupted excellence before retirements, injuries and free agency take their toll. Squads like the Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants, and Nationals can all be assumed to have a reasonable shot at the 2017 playoffs, sight unseen. Meanwhile, the Padres and Reds organizations can guarantee Octobers off for their staffs for the foreseeable future. This may suck for baseball fans in San Diego and Cincy, but overall, having organizational strength — or weakness — that lasts beyond one year is healthy indeed for these sports.

Now take the NFL. How many teams would you call “dynasty” this year? The Patriots, of course, the final holdouts of the old ways, and… who else? Anyone?

I put NFL teams in six power “tiers” instead of the traditional 32-team ranking. Differentiating between, say, #19 and #20 is usually a mug’s game anyway; doing groupings instead of individual ranks gives a better, more season-long view of where each team stands as opposed to relying too much on week-to-week wins and losses.

At around this point in 2013, I had four squads in the top tier. As in, glory squads with unquestioned Super Bowl competitiveness. Guess how many I have now? If Brady hadn’t ever returned, that tier might have remained empty. The Raiders are still too unproven with too many holes on defense to qualify. The Cowboys have enjoyed an unusually soft schedule, running up the score on such sad sacks as the Bears, Niners and Browns; just barely squeaking by an Eagles squad currently in the process of imploding. The Chiefs, as usual, remain solid second-tier contenders without yet finding the magic of a destiny team.

As for tier 6? 2013’s manure pile of 4 teams is down to just 2. The aforementioned Niners and Browns, the latter of which has an owner doing what he can to fight parity in his own way.

Meanwhile, tiers 3, 4, and 5 — Titans turf — are getting so overpopulated, they’ll need rent control. Teams like the Eagles that started out strong are getting sucked down by the gravitational pull of mediocrity, while teams like the Bengals that are trying to break out can never reach escape velocity. This morass of the mundane has few stars and little breakout talent. Potential star RBs are failed by bad QBs and worse O-lines. Top-flight QBs like Rivers and Brees are marooned on subpar offenses, struggling to find talent to work with, let alone offensive coordinators who can truly utilize them. Pro Bowl cornerbacks often just watch the QB avoid them and instead find holes left open by their undertrained, disorganized teammates. And so forth.

The problem is, due to the NFL’s pro-parity forces of profit sharing and free agency rules that reward mercenary attitudes and punish loyalty, it’s become damn hard to not only put the pieces together, but also hold them together for the multiple seasons it takes to build into a contender, let alone a dynasty. The Patriots, for instance, would have never become the force they are if it weren’t for Brady’s fanatical loyalty, to the point where he actually accepts pay cuts in order to provide cap space for other positions. Can you think of any other player in the league who would do the same? The Chiefs rely on paying for “solid-enough” in most positions, especially in defense where cap space can stretch longer, with the downside that breakouts like Eric Berry will get lost to free agency. The Broncos relied on the magic of #18 and the eyeballs he drew, but with Peyton retired, analysts generally say the Donkeys’ days of regarding the AFC West championship as an entitlement are over.

Which means even teams with bad coaching and worse management can string along the occasional win and a middling record simply by picking up players capped out of better teams. This is why the Rams manage to win 7 games a season, when based on their coach and owner alone, they deserve 3 at most. Only the Browns have found the formula to become the anti-Patriots, with bad draft picks (Johnny Football anyone?) and worse free-agency moves (the one exception being the inexplicable trade of Jamie Collins from the latter to the former; either Collins got too greedy or Belichick had a brain fart).

Which means, instead of a broad spectrum of team quality, we now have a bell curve full of Tennessee Titans. Teams with few notable names, playing in anonymous corporate-branded McStadiums, seemingly clawed back down by the others if they try to break out, with any potential drama intentionally snuffed out by the NFL’s draconian rules, with forgettable offenses all fighting for an 8-8 finish. (Will this year see a record in 8-8, 7-9, and 7-8-1 finishes?)

Roger Goddell can scapegoat Colin Kaepernick all he wants, but at least Kaepernick is doing the league an unintentional service by providing a truly pathetic team that makes everyone else look good by comparison — which is, in a way, almost as important as having the Patriots around. And in the end, viewers and advertisers will see through the excuses. They can turn off any long-running TV series with no problem once the plotline gets too boring and the characters too predictable, despite the marketing, and what Gooddell failed to grasp was, a TV series is largely what the NFL is.

If 2016’s NFL were on HBO, it would be a series where Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow have been replaced by Stannis Baratheon and Allister Thorne. If today’s NFL were a temperature, it would be 40 degrees. If it were a villain, it would be the Diet Coke of evil. It’s VH1, Robocop 2 and Back to the Future 3. It’s got to reinvigorate. It has to roll back parity to once again become a league of winners and of losers.

Girl on the Train, and the cynical answer to last decade’s beach reads.


, , , , , , , ,

I recommend this post by Anne Helen Peterson on the new genre of “dark chick lit,” for want of a better term, such as Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, and their contrasts with the breezily optimistic ’00s novels such as Confessions of a Shopaholic, Thirty-nothing and that bygone genre’s ur-example, Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Part of what marks the differences between these two genres, besides cynicism vs. idealism, is how they treat their male subjects. In the classic ’00s beach read, the male romantic interest is some version of Mr. Darcy: aloof perhaps, and at first wary of the protagonist’s zany antics, but in the end a firm, moral, perfect gentleman. But in the latter-day novels, the men are so monstrous they wind up excusing the female main characters’ many moral failures — if not being the outright cause. In a direct reversal of ’00s chick lit, the men of dark-chick-lit start off seeming nice and likeable, only to be revealed as monsters as the work progresses.

The Cool Girl monologue in Gone Girl is held up as the defining worldview of these novels, showing how unrealistic expectations of women by the patriarchy ultimately destroys them.

“Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

The Cool Girl should be instantly familiar to anyone who’s seen There’s Something About Mary, as that is the title character to a T. She’s thin and hot, yet is into boy stuff even more than Ben Stiller’s male protagonist is. The movie shows all of the male characters obsessing over Mary, fighting over each other for her, and ignoring all the other female characters so that they can land the Cool Girl. No surprise that her character was created by the bro-tastic Farrelly Brothers, who always showed a deep understanding of their male characters while remaining wholly ignorant of the opposite sex.

gone-girl“Dark chick lit” books show the end result of this standard, with girls (and yes, it is always “girl” in the title of these works, not “woman”) destroyed by this impossible patriarchal expectation, and gaslighted to the hilt by their abusive and/or adulterous male partners. ’00s chick lit (and I hate the term, but I don’t know what else to call it) features a protagonist scared to death of remaining single, and putting all her effort into landing her Mr. Darcy; dark-chick-lit has the protagonist(s) starting off attached, only seeking the relief of singlehood and detachment from their manipulative, abusive, sometimes murderous partners as their only escape.

And on the topic of murder: the killing/disappearance/kidnapping plot in all these books is there to pump sales on Amazon, but is in the end a distraction from the real dynamic. I could have continued to read for a thousand pages the lives of the deeply imperfect Rachel, Anna and Megan in Girl on the Train without anything so dramatic as the murder to derail (pun not intended) their inner workings and force its all-too-pat conclusion. (disclaimer: I’ve only read the book and have yet to see the movie.)

For these novels, like their ’00s foils, work to make their at times dastardly female protagonists relatable to readers… only, they reflect their worst impulses, impulses that women are supposed to pretend don’t even exist, whereas the ’00s novels work to reflect the reader’s cutesy side — quirky, perhaps a bit immature, but always endearing at the end to the male knight in shining armor.

This contrast also plays out on the small screen, with Girls (yep, it’s “girl” in the title again) showing a deep cynicism as an inverse of Sex and the City’s eternal optimism. And as messed up Lena Dunham’s quartet of female protagonists are, there is nothing that suggests they should do anything but cut off all contact forever from any of the vile male characters. Mr. Big definitely showed some of the flaws in common with the evil dark-chick-lit men, but in the end, his sins were venial, not mortal; he was a good guy, as were all the men the other women wound up with. In Girls, however, neither Kylo Ren not any of the other guys should be allowed within 1000 feet of any single woman without first registering with the police.

girl-on-the-trainRace also plays a huge, if unmentioned, part in this genre, as its books and shows are written specifically by and for white women. Lena Dunham in particular has garnered a reputation as a low-key racist, stating at one point that her show is there specifically to show the perspective of her white experience, in so many words. But beyond the skin color of the author is this: no culture in America is more stringent, more exclusionary, more conformist than white culture. (Blue-state white culture, anyway; redneck culture is an entirely different beast.) These works simply would not make sense with a Black or Hispanic cast. So much in white culture revolves around exclusion. Where banishing people from your social scene for abnormal behavior is the ultimate act of power and prestige, and so therefore pursing the ultimately normal life is of paramount importance. Girl on the Train’s Rachel daydreaming of what she fantasizes as the perfectly normal life of the as-yet-unmet Megan and Scott, in fact, helps launch the novel’s plot; the various characters trying to make each other feel not normal or accepted is their most potent form of social combat. This is something that does not translate very well to Black or Hispanic literature — or in Black or Hispanic real life. It is an understatement to say how much more forgiving people of color are of unusual personalities and lives than white people are.

Reality is no doubt somewhere in between the sunny optimism of Bridget Jones and the nihilism of Gone Girl. But these days, in 2016 especially, I know which genre better fits the public mood. And really, dark-chick-lit is teaching a good lesson: You shouldn’t let your guard down further the more you love someone; in fact, you should do the precise opposite.

Organizational health in hereditary feudal fiefdoms, such as the NFL


, , , , , ,

Good take from last year on the differences between a successful NFL franchise, and, well, the opposite.


This would be the opposite.

The KC Chiefs are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum in organizational health between the Patriots and the hapless Browns, skewing a bit higher overall lately. If a casual fan can expect the Pats to go 12-4 in any given season just on the organization’s reputation alone, knowing nothing else about the player or staff roster, and can expect the Browns to go 4-12 for the same reason, then they can expect the Chiefs to post a solid 9-7 finish. Not stellar, but enough to sneak into a wildcard playoff spot half the time.

And all three teams represent well the biggest liability in 31 of the 32 NFL franchises: the ownership.

All teams, with the lone exception of the Packers, resemble a medieval (or Saudi, but I repeat myself) feudal fiefdom, where the lordship is passed down from father to son. This isn’t just an informal custom — NFL bylaws explicitly state that only one person may have majority ownership of a franchise. Perhaps this is so that no decedent owner may commit Charlemagne’s error of dividing up his empire among his many children, and must pick one; Buckingham Palace goes solely to the eldest heir of the Queen for the same reason. This inevitably leads to owners leaving their franchise to one of their male children, rather than going through any sort of selection process to find the person actually most qualified to lead the team.

The success or failure of any corporate franchise begins and ends with the owner. Any freshman-level business class uses the restaurant owner as the prime example — the tireless, obsessive owner vs. the lazy dilettante who leaves everything for his manager to figure out. The textbooks make clear which one will succeed. So it is with the NFL. Yes, the head coach handles the depth chart and the play calls; the GM handles staffing, including drafts; but it is the owner and only the owner who holds the ultimate veto of being able to hire and fire for both these positions. And I can’t think of a single owner who does not at least occasionally interfere in the decisions of these underlings, for good or for ill. Too often for the latter.

For restaurants or other normal companies, the free market generally handles it from there. Incompetent owners soon find themselves in bankruptcy court, no matter how cushy their starting position was if they inherited it. My own dad can testify here, after he tried leaving the business to my brother.

But the NFL isn’t a free market, because if it were, the Cleveland Browns would have filed Chapter 7 several years ago. The league is in fact arguably a quasi-governmental agency on par with Amtrak, taking user fees/purchases and taxpayer dollars (better believe, a LOT of taxpayer dollars) to distribute total income among its 32 “subagencies” or fiefdoms, more or less equally. Thus, reinforcing how a franchise ownership really is like a landed, hereditary nobility title. The feudal nobility system is one of government, not commerce, right?

And so, Cleveland will be afflicted with a losing NFL franchise unless and until Jimmy Haslam — or his son — chooses to actually learn how to lead a football franchise. There is no option, no veto. It’s not like the Browns could just fold shop, to make room for another club. It’s not like a new club could even be allowed to start up in or near Cleveland. His Lordship Haslam will ensure the Mistake on the Lake cannot have a competitive NFL franchise anytime soon, not unless His Excellency finds it in himself to mend his ways.

Which is possible! Robert Kraft didn’t really figure out the job until the mid-late ’90s. And now, he is by far the biggest reason why the Pats are now the league’s premier dynasty, comparable to what Duke and Kansas are for college basketball. Belichick and Brady may have had unusually long and stable careers, but above them lurk the front office and ultimately Kraft himself. It is simply impossible for a restaurant to succeed for years without excellent ownership, no matter how lauded the chef may be. He also represents the biggest future problem for his team — what happens when he retires or dies.

Clark Hunt, who inherited his title from AFC legend Lamar, was similarly clueless for many years after ascending to the Peerage upon his father’s death. He had no real reason to go out of his way to learn how to football — like a unionized Chicago schoolteacher, he is immune to the threat of being fired for incompetence. It took the shock and trauma of the Chiefs’ 2012 disaster to finally make him learn the ropes of his job, stop relying on castoffs from other organizations, and make his vassalage into one of the more solid contenders in the AFC. Pity the opponent who doesn’t prepare before heading into Arrowhead Stadium these days, unlike the days where they garnered the same reputation as your mom for “streakbreaker.”

But there is no justice, no method to remove an incompetent owner from office, assuming they aren’t stupid enough to leave racist messages to their mistresses. There is no room to allow a competitor to flourish in the market. (Not even in New York City. A Giants fan would rather wither and die than switch to rooting for the Jets, and vice versa, no matter how bad things get.) The owner of the NFL franchise in Cleveland or Boston or Kansas City or any town other than Green Bay, WI, will be the owner of the only franchise in town until he dies or sells, and that is that.

Ultimately, the NFL just illustrates why democracies, for all their issues, perform better than monarchies or dictatorships. Kraft’s Patriots are an exception — most other NFL franchises cannot meet the decade-to-decade quality of the Packers, the one organization grandfathered into allowing a publicly traded corporate governance with the residents of Green Bay as the shareholders, with a president instead of an owner.

Sure, at any given moment, there will be some king or dictator or oligarchy more dynamic than the unwieldy democracies of the West. But on average, they fare far worse — for every Robert Kraft, there are a dozen Jimmy Haslams running things with your local tinpot dictatorships. If you get to choose to pick which team to be a fan of for the next 50 years, and unlike me were unswerved by childhood loyalties and only had an eye for winning percentages, you would be an idiot to pick any team other than the Packers.

I would not be surprised to find the Patriots or Broncos as cellar dwellers a generation from now. I would be very surprised to find the Packers as the same.

Delving into the nature of organized hate


, , , ,

The media finally became aware of the alt.right thanks to a certain orange presidential candidate this election cycle, but they still struggle to even begin to grasp what this movement means, or where it came from. They often take stabs at it by basically treating it the same as the old Klan or Skinheads, which makes as much sense as treating today’s social-justice warriors the same as ’60s hippies. Or they obsessively latch onto Pepe, thinking there is something more to this character than being a meme that future alt.righters happened to circulate a lot while they were teenagers or young adults in the ’00s. There is nothing specifically racist about Pepe any more than there is with anime — a non-white artform, I remind you — which also remains huge with alt.righters, and for the same reason. If Sonic the Hedgehog for some bizarre reason had been a favored meme in 4chan circa 2006, then Sonic would be an alt.right figurehead today.

Having logged plenty of hours on various forums in the ’00s myself, it was never a real mystery to me where true alt.righters, defined roughly today as internet-focused white supremacists under 30, came from. It was all an evolution, from malicious trolling combined with problems finding girlfriends when younger, evolving into general resentment of the liberal order, or what they call “cultural Marxism,” to eventually settling into more familiar patterns of white supremacy. Yes, they arrived in the same general political place as your average Klansman 30 years ago — but from radically different approaches.

I interacted with these guys all the time. Many were motivated with a seething hatred of women for their inability to get laid — by far, the #1 reason they eventually got mixed up in the alt.right. (Twitter, one of the favored platforms of the alt.right, demonstrates that misogyny far outstrips racism or other forms of abuse.) Some were crazy conspiracy theorists who weren’t really hateful towards women or Jews, at first, but who let their generalized hatred of The Powers That Be lead them in that direction. A few were Europeans (and, rarely, Americans, such as the guy I link to below) who really did start off as rabid anti-Semites, and who therefore had the least distance to travel to land in Trumpville.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. Here is Daily Stormer proprietor, rabid anti-Semite and leading alt.right figure Andrew Anglin: (don’t worry, the link is to the Google cache version, not his actual site)


This banner design is no accident. Anglin knows how to market to his target audience.

“The short story is that… the people that [the term alt.right] is being used to refer to by the media – Trump-supporting White racial advocates who engage in trolling an other activism on the internet – are the core of the movement… The Alt-Right is an online mob of disinfranchised and mostly anonymous, mostly young White men… The mob is the movement.” (italics his)

“It was a situation of different online subcultures (some of which were influenced by older offline movements) coming together. These groups collided, based on their having reached common conclusions, and the result is what is now called the Alt-Right.”

He is talking about diffuse movements, all being largely motivated by malice — the trolls of 4chan/8chan/9gag/other forums; the woman-haters of the PUA/MRA/#GamerGate world; the obsessive conspiracy theorists; and, to some extent, the angrier Ron Paul fans — coming together to form a single confederacy of thought. One full of lulz and kekz and memes, to be sure, but which is really not far removed from the old Klan. Even so, one must keep in mind that while they may be allied with old-school Klanners and older pseudo-intellectual racists such as Jared Taylor and John Derbyshire, they are not the same thing as them. It’s a whole new generation.

One thing that never remains wholly explained, however, is this continued obsession with Jews. I can certainly understand their rage at the Establishment, one that is not entirely without foundation. I unfortunately can kind of understand the misogyny — it’s easy to blame women for an inability to get laid as opposed to oneself. I may not have had this exact issue (he humblebragged, stretching leisurely in his chair) but I have been guilty of resenting the opposite gender after a bad breakup, and especially after my four-year abusive relationship. Many straight women, needless to say, can relate.

But where do Jews fit into any of this? At all? I just don’t get it. I mean, for the conspiracy-theorists, there’s some crazy quasi-logic to it — they love searching for a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory, and the one about the Jewish New World Order is far more ancient and more established than any of the modern fairy tales about the Illuminati or what have you. But what about everyone else? How does trolling for the lulz or raging against women lead you to hating Jews? Especially since Jews on social media are pretty much the opposite of unified, with conservatives such as Ben Shapiro and Jonah Goldberg holding nothing but vitriolic (and quite public) hatred of liberal Jews such as Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias, and vice versa? Seriously, if they’re trying to run a global conspiracy, they are really sucking at their jobs!

So yes, while I have interacted with quite a few future alt.righters on forums in the ’00s, and have read treatises like the one above from Anglin, I still can’t entirely understand the nature of hate. No matter how much I read about these guys, or the Third Reich, or ISIS, I just can’t wrap my mind around it — where the both complete and voluntary surrender to evil comes from. Anglin knows he’s a bad person and has a “necessary evil” mentality about it. PUA alt.righters such as Heartiste know they are evil and brag about it. Milo quite plainly brands himself to anyone who listens as a real-life Joker, doing what he does in what he sees as malicious humor. And, like most movements filled with horrible people, the infighting between each other can boil over. This is perhaps the greatest advantage that civilization has over barbarity — the need for the latter to betray each other, like mobsters snitching to the FBI to settle scores.

A few alt.righters still try to rationalize. Vox Day, while self-styling himself as a “dark lord” and who calls his followers his “vile minions” — no joke — tries to couch his evil in Christian theology.

Still, Vox Day and his ilk are in the minority. Most are evil and they are proud. That’s the part I don’t get, and to be honest, I would be ok if I never get — this true nature of evil.

Political comedy or political orthodoxy: pick one.


, , , , ,

This Ross Douthat column has been making the rounds today, as he bashes late-night TV for being too liberal. It’s part and parcel of a standard-issue conservative tirade about how liberals are dominating all areas of culture, but people are viewing it as a response to Samantha Bee attacking her colleague Jimmy Fallon for his kid-gloves approach to Donald Trump the other day, veering as he did away from the politics.

Douthat’s column got more publicity when Bee decided to clapback:

There’s a lot to unpack from a white comedian falling back on the race card in response to criticism. There’s also the implicit assertion that she’s some kind of holy crusader against racism and not, you know, just another late-night comedy act. “How dare you come after me when, you know, racism is still out there?!” But the biggest issue: this remark’s about as funny as a kitten in a trash compactor.

Her moral preening is diametrically opposed to the whole concept of comedy. Know what else is? Predictability.


Did you know there was a Nazi comedy magazine? It went out of business because it was not funny. Although, the idea of “Nazi comedy magazine” is kind of funny.

Tune into John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, or Samantha Bee, and you know *exactly* what their opinion is on such-and-such ahead of time — partly because that opinion’s interchangeable among the four of them. And not just on Trump, but any topic whatsoever. Take John Oliver and his current show — out of all his weekly cover stories over all these seasons, has he ever, even once, taken any stance that was even slightly out of lockstep with wholly conventional, liberal, social-justice doctrine?

The only comedy from his show is from random, apolitical non-sequiturs and crazy metaphors. “Donald Trump is barreling forward in the polls like Chris Christie barreling towards an all-you-can-eat buffet,” that sort of thing, only he would veto that joke because it violates social-justice rules on fat-shaming, so the final joke would be something like “barreling forward like an angry Wal-Mart shopper elbowing her way towards the last discounted Blu-Ray player on Black Friday” which is funny because the stereotypical Wal-Mart shopper is a low-income, low-education white person and who is therefore hilarious.

Take those gags away, and you may as well be subscribed to a newsletter from It is absolutely nothing other than preaching to the choir. Last Week Tonight does not challenge, it does not engage, it serves as nothing but a weekly half-hour bias-confirmation therapy session for his self-selecting audience with one of the most conventionally liberal content providers in the world, HBO. With a few scattered, extraneous gags thrown in to technically maintain its status as a “comedy.”

This is not to say I always disagree with the party line! I’m as anti-Trump as they are, if not more. And Oliver was certainly spot-on with his FIFA bashing. But that’s not the point. It’s that I know what he’s going to say beforehand.

No, this is not always a bad thing in comedy. If a topic comes up that you know is one of the comic’s obsessions, then anticipation of him or her spouting off can be its own reward, even if you know the general outline of the conclusion ahead of time. Which, of course, is precisely why Oliver’s show is worth watching when FIFA makes the news. You know he takes a major interest in this, same as most British people (I was going to say “same as most European people” but, well…) and so it’s fun to see exactly what kind of curse words he’ll invent to describe Sepp Blatter this time around.

But that’s still no excuse to turn your show into a recitation of the hymnals of one political orthodoxy or the other. (Occasional conservative forays into comedy often stumble for the same reason.) When he talks about charter schools, or fracking, or refugees, you can bet his script may as well have been approved ahead of time by the SPLC.

Now, you can be political and still be interesting. Take George Carlin: This was one liberal who was not doctrinaire by any definition, finding plenty of time to bash his “own side” during a typical show just as he did conservative interests. His bits were usually not predictable, and even those hitting on his hobbyhorses (religion, etc) found ways to innovate and hit at odd angles, and besides — audience anticipation for his old favorites played a role, too.

(Yeah, I’m pretty sure Last Week Tonight will never have an episode called “List of people who ought to be killed.” Talk about problematic!)

See, I’m not going after Oliver or his peers like Bee, Colbert, and Noah for being liberal, especially since I agree with them half the time at least. I also know they have past histories as comedic talent. I’m going after them for their currently uninteresting shows.

Notice someone not on my boring list? Bill Maher. Now, this guy can be a real prick, especially when it comes to women. But nobody can ever accuse him of being doctrinaire. His show regularly triggers (heh) angry hot takes at conservative sites, yes, but also on that old warhorse of SJW liberalism, For instance, get him talking about Islam, and salon’s entire staff will need to retreat to a safe space for smelling salts and readings from Noam Chomsky. They obsess over politically-incorrect-liberal Patton Oswalt for the same reasons. (Maher’s mostly in their good graces lately, but that’s due to his nonstop Trump-bashing. If Hillary wins, he’ll be back on their problematic list in no time.)

Also, I’m not talking about the apolitical guys like Fallon and Kimmel. I’m not going to be like Douthat and pine for the good ol’ days when Johnny Carson stayed as neutral as possible and quarterbacks for the Niners knew their place. But at the same time, sure, the market for politics-neutral entertainment is much bigger, as evidenced by Colbert’s low ratings compared to his peers.

Colbert and his fellow children-of-Stewart may earn the succor of New York Magazine and Vox editors for their loyal adherence to dogma, complete with “Trevor Noah DESTROYS such-and-such” headlines, but they don’t exactly earn viewers. Political orthodoxy is as unfunny as it gets.