William F. Buckley spent his adult winter months in Rougemont, an alpine resort next to its chicer neighbor Gstaad, now a mecca for the nouveaux riches and vulgar. Throughout the “€™60s and “€™70s, however, the area was known for its music festival run by Yehudi Menuhin, and for celebrity writers like Bill Buckley, my mentor, and others such as John Kenneth Galbraith and actor-turned-author David Niven.

The Buckley household entertained nightly, Bill and Pat being experts at mixing those of us who knew little with cultural icons such as Vladimir Nabokov or his son, Dmitri, both of whom were occasional visitors. Postprandial entertainment was provided in Bill’s downstairs studio, where everyone was required to paint a picture. (Teddy Kennedy painted a bridge two years after Chappaquiddick.) After 2000, toward the end of his life, and after Bill had allowed the neocon infiltration of the conservative party by such American “€œpatriots”€ as Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol, he no longer painted but indulged in a game where each of his guests opined whom they considered the worst American president to have served that office.

“€œWhat has the good uncle done to deserve this?”€

When my turn would come”€”and Buckley always kept me for last during countless dinner parties”€”I always answered either Woodrow Wilson or Abraham Lincoln, although the former was a far bigger hypocrite. (And unlike Abe, he did not pay for his crime of going to war and misleading the nation.) My theory was and is that professors make lousy leaders, and no one caused more harm than the ghastly Wilson. Dishonesty and hypocrisy are twinned in academia with patched elbows on tweeds and polka-dotted bow ties.

America entered the arena of world politics in 1917 by interfering in a European war, and inadvertently helping upset the applecart in Russia. Seventy years later, the collapse of communism marked the intellectual vindication of American ideals, handing Uncle Sam a moral authority that is deserved but hardly adhered to by other nations. (I spent my youth traveling in countries that hate America with a passion, places like the Middle East, South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa.) 

So, how can the hysterical New York Times work itself into a frenzy with that recent phony headline about “€œThe loss of U.S. moral authority”€? What universe is the Mexican-owned Times living in? Uncle Sam, however fairly or unfairly, is among the most hated symbols on earth, which brings me to the point of my story: What has the good uncle done to deserve this? Envy is obviously one reason, or where the French”€”among the most anti-Yankee people I know despite two trips overseas by American boys to save French bacon”€”are concerned, American anti-intellectualism as illustrated by McDonald’s. Basically, however, these are petty points more suited to a high school debate. The main reason for the lack of moral authority of the U.S. is interference in other nations”€™ affairs. 

As Henry Kissinger wrote in Diplomacy, “€œFor as long as Americans have ascribed Europe’s travails to the balance of a power system, its leaders have looked askance at America’s self-appointed mission of global reform.”€ Like petulant children, European nations were not best pleased to be lectured by Woodrow Wilson and his Fourteen Points in Versailles. Forty years later, the Vietnamese were just as displeased to be told by Americans to practice democracy and stop hiring family members for civil posts. Twenty years earlier, Guatemalans, among other South Americans, saw their elected leaders overthrown by people financed by the CIA, and in 1961, the butcher that was Fidel Castro became a hero overnight by repelling a CIA-financed and badly organized attack by anti-Castro Cubans living in the good old US of A. I could go on.

It would have been a surprise if the obituaries of Martin McGuinness, chief of staff of the Provisional IRA and subsequently a key figure in the peace process and then deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, hadn”€™t been, shall we say, mixed. For some he was a murdering thug, for others a man who turned away from violence and committed himself to peace and democracy. So the Tory politician Norman Tebbit, whose wife was left paralyzed by the bombing of the Brighton hotel during the Conservative Party conference when Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped death, expressed the hope that there was a hot corner of hell reserved for McGuinness, while Bill Clinton, who had engaged with McGuinness in the development of the peace process, pronounced a eulogy at his funeral. Both had reason to speak as they did.

However, many who respected, if grudgingly, his contribution to the achievement of peace, or a sort of peace, in Northern Ireland pointed out that he never apologized for the violence he had orchestrated and the murders he had at the very least commanded. As Jenny McCartney wrote in The Spectator, “€œthe enduring pain of those bereaved and injured by the IRA did not sit heavy on his conscience.”€ She added, “€œnor did he really pretend that it did. In this respect at least McGuinness was more honest than his eulogisers.”€

To understand McGuinness, you have to understand the IRA and the history of Irish Republicanism. His colleague Gerry Adams, a more unattractive figure than McGuinness, declared, “€œMartin McGuinness was not a terrorist; he was a freedom fighter,”€ as if the two words were not the two sides of a coin.

“€œThe mistake we make is surely to see things in black and white, to perceive people as wholly good or wholly evil.”€

The A of the IRA stands for Army. McGuinness believed he was a soldier at war. Only force could get the British out of Ireland and end the partition of the island. This conviction is, or was, rooted deep in history. He changed course only when it became clear that his war was not going to be won. Then he devoted himself to peaceful politics, to power-sharing with his old enemy, the Democratic Unionist Party. In this new role he condemned those dissident Republic groups who remained committed to “€œthe armed struggle,”€ but he did not repent of his past. He didn”€™t think he had been wrong, and it is arguable that without the IRA’s campaign of bombing, murder, and terror, the Protestant loyalist majority in Northern Ireland would have continued to dominate, and discriminate against, the Catholic population. For McGuinness it was the power of the gun that made the recourse to the ballot box possible. He may have been wrong, but this is what he believed.

Words and guns are both powerful persuaders. The Irish Free State, which became the Republic of Ireland, was conceived in ideas or ideals and born in bloodshed. When the treaty that created the Free State was signed in 1922, Michael Collins, the IRA gunman who had been brought to accept the need for compromise and negotiated the treaty, told Winston Churchill that in signing it he might be signing his own death warrant. He was quite right, dead within a few months, a victim of the civil war between those Republicans who accepted the treaty and those who didn”€™t. McGuinness was more fortunate, even though the dissident groups, “€œReal IRA”€ and “€œContinuity IRA,”€ regarded him as a traitor for his abandonment of the “€œarmed struggle.”€ Fortunately these splinter groups are small and have few adherents. McGuinness won the intellectual battle within the wider Republican movement.

What’s in a word? Terrorist or freedom fighter? McGuinness saw himself as a soldier at war. The U.K. government, following its practice in other end-of-empire conflicts, never conceded that it was at war, and treated IRA fighters as criminals. This was a reasonable, perhaps sensible, attitude. Nevertheless it was contradicted by the facts on the ground. The province was flooded with troops. Soldiers patrolled the streets of Belfast and Derry. There were army watchtowers on the border with the Republic, and for a time the government interned suspects without bringing them to trial. It looked like a war, and from the IRA perspective, that’s what it was. If it quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s an inscrutable Asian. Not because of the inscrutability, mind you, but rather because I despise seeing people conform to shopworn stereotypes. Last week, L.A. Times “€œinvestigative arts reporter”€ David Ng played the role of unreadable Asian to perfection. Ng had penned a piece titled “€œIn liberal Hollywood, a conservative minority faces backlash in the age of Trump.”€ The article was oddly sympathetic; 1,550 words about conservatives and not one person was called Hitler! What gives? Well, in a newspaper in which even the Sunday funnies have a liberal political agenda, conservatives are only treated with respect if there’s something the left can gain from it. The overriding theme of Ng’s piece was how conservatives are suffering in Hollywood not because of McCarthyite leftists, but rather on account of (drum roll) Trump! Big bad Donald is the one who made it hard to be a conservative in Hollywood, because he tarred the brand (prior to Trump, conservatives were apparently the toast of the town).

Gerald Molen, producer of Jurassic List and Schindler’s Park (I need to double-check with IMDb to make sure I have those titles right) told Ng:

In the “€™90s, it was never really an issue that I had to hide. I was always forthright. It used to be we could have a conversation with two opposing points of view and it would be amiable. At the end, we still walked away and had lunch together.

But, as Ng ominously adds,

Since the presidential election, some conservatives feel that their political beliefs are more of a career liability than ever”€”even for those traditional Republicans disenchanted by President Trump.

The piece is filled with emotionally needy entertainment-industry types bowing and scraping and begging for approval because they”€™re “€œthe good ones.”€ Failed PJ Media CEO (and amateur hat enthusiast) Roger L. Simon virtue-signaled that he “€œisn”€™t a social conservative”€ and that he “€œvoted for Moonlight for best picture”€ (saying, “€œI”€™m not racist; I voted for Moonlight“€ is seriously some of the best virtue-signaling I”€™ve ever seen. I half expected Simon to add, “€œIn fact, some of my best friends are gay black drug dealers!”€). “€œI think most of the people on the right in Hollywood are on the right for reasons of foreign policy and the economy,”€ Simon opined. Screenwriter Andrew Klavan made sure to let Ng know that he’s only a “€œreluctant”€ Trump supporter, and Friends of Abe “€œexecutive director”€ Jeremy Boreing described himself as a “€œTrump skeptic.”€

“€œCA, NY, and FL account for roughly 35% of all abortions in the U.S., and Roe being overturned will not alter that one bit.”€

And here’s where it gets interesting. Friends of Abe was the “€œsecret”€ organization of Hollywood Republicans founded by actor Gary Sinise in the mid-2000s (I joined in “€™09). FOA dissolved a year ago, and it was fairly big news. The Guardian broke the story, which was subsequently covered in Variety and all the major trades. But Ng wrote about FOA as though it’s alive and well, which led to me receiving a good dozen emails from reporters, asking if FOA had returned from the dead (as one of the more vocal former members, and by far the most accessible, I always get calls and emails whenever FOA crops up in the news). I emailed Ng multiple times, asking why he had failed to inform his readers of FOA’s demise. Again and again, his responses were deadpan and ambiguous. After a while, it became clear that Ng was not going to explain why he misled his readers.

But a Jew can be inscrutable too. I was asking Ng a question to which I already knew the answer. Friends of Abe is indeed dead as a doornail, but Boreing, a young unaccomplished filmmaker and Ben Shapiro acolyte, still enjoys giving interviews as its “€œexecutive director,”€ even though he’s the one who not only ordered its dissolution, but turned a deaf ear to former members who wanted the group to return to celebrate Trump’s victory. Boreing isn”€™t just a “€œTrump skeptic”€; he has a pathological hatred of the man. Boreing’s belief that Trump isn”€™t a “€œtrue conservative”€ is so intense and unwavering that he”€™d rather there be no FOA at all if the alternative is an FOA filled with pro-Trump revelers. Under Sinise, FOA was run for the benefit of “€œestablishment”€ Republicans like Boehner, Rice, Cheney, and Rove. And under Boreing, Trump supporters are the scum of the earth, phonies unworthy of being called conservative.

So what makes a conservative a conservative? What separates “€œgood”€ right from “€œbad”€ right? To Roger Simon, a good conservative is primarily concerned with “€œforeign policy and the economy.”€ Low taxes, supporting Israel, and nation building totally works (it’s only fitting that Eisenhower Republicans see the world as if it’s still 1955).

Ironically, as “€œthe good ones”€ were begging for scraps in the pages of the Times, Glenn Beck was making headlines with his own personal (and exact opposite) definition of a “€œgood”€ conservative. Last week, Blaze personality Tomi Lahren made the grievous error of appearing on The View (something no human being should ever do). When asked about her stand on abortion, she chirpily declared, “€œI am a constitutional.”€ Having announced to the world that she’s a walk taken for one’s health, Lahren got down to brass tacks, telling the show’s cackling banshees that she’s “€œpro-choice”€:

I”€™m someone that’s for limited government. So I can”€™t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I”€™m for limited government but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies. I can sit here and say that as a Republican and I can say, you know what, I”€™m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.

To which Glenn Beck responded, “€œAnd while you”€™re at it, you can stay out of your office.”€ Beck first suspended, and then fired, Lahren for her comments. A Beck spokesperson told the New York Post:

Glenn is reminding the world of his conservative principles by sidelining Tomi after she insulted conservatives by calling them hypocrites. He’s trying to balance being a leading conservative thinker and also someone who can unify the country.

To Beck, the very notion of “€œconservative principles”€ is meaningless without pro-life. To the calcified remnants of Friends of Abe, “€œsocial conservatism”€ (as in, abortion) is not an essential element of “€œconservative principles.”€ And since the alt-right is now in the mix, a third party weighed in last week, as along came Richard Spencer (because every tripartite needs a Nazi), who applauded Lahren and denounced Beck, proclaiming that to the “€œidentitarians”€ on the right, abortion is, on average, rather a good thing:

While it’s true that a blanket ban on abortion would probably increase the White population in their numbers, it would, no doubt, decrease the overall quality, as well and leave all races stupider, more criminally prone, and more diseased…. Childbearing among better classes would probably decrease even further under the strain of the inevitable increases in crime and redistributive policies that would follow.

I went to see Charles Murray do a talk at Columbia last Thursday entitled “€œAre Elites to Blame for the Rise of Donald Trump?”€ This was a hot-ticket item as he had just been violently shut down at Middlebury College by students holding signs that said “€œNo Eugenics”€ and “€œExpect Resistance.”€ They were likely objecting to Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s 1994 book, The Bell Curve, which dared to glance at the unthinkable subject of race and IQ (it eventually gets covered after a long intro disavowing racism). During Murray’s escape from the Vermont school, students hurled a cement sign at his car, and Allison Stanger, a professor escorting him, was hospitalized.

When I showed up at Columbia, students were carrying signs that said “€œWhite Supremacy Is Terrorism”€ and blocking the back door while chanting, “€œNo War, No KKK, No Trump USA”€ in the same monotone used by those zombies who were chanting, “€œHe Will Not Divide Us.”€ They weren”€™t very intimidating, but I didn”€™t feel like getting pepper-sprayed again so I employed an age-old trick I highly recommend: I hobbled toward the door like a severely handicapped person with contorted arms and a cerebral-palsy limp. This gait makes liberals turn away in horror because they ultimately abhor the weak. I walked through the crowd as though I was invisible and comfortably made my way to the talk.

“€œWatching a modern campus struggle with free speech in 2017 is downright Iranian.”€

Watching a modern campus struggle with free speech in 2017 is downright Iranian. Before Murray could be brought in through the secret entrance, a Lebanese student walked into the roped-off podium and prepared our brains for the dangerous words we were about to hear. He told us free speech is important and it has nothing to do with the speaker (why not?). It’s ultimately about our freedom to listen to ideas. He implied that Murray’s writings were pseudoscience and had been debunked and then made it very clear he wouldn”€™t be listening to any of it and that we should try to be as skeptical as he is. Then he nervously marched off. How can someone refuse to attend a Q&A yet also define themselves as a person “€œinclined to ask questions“€?

Murray’s talk was brilliant, as usual. The students who refuse to hear him speak will never know the incredible ideas he has meticulously researched in the half-dozen books he’s published since The Bell Curve. The first time I heard about libertarianism was in 1996’s What It Means to Be a Libertarian. In Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960″€“2010, he focuses on the growing classism in this country and how important it is to get back in touch with America’s working poor. He says our disdain for Budweiser and Transformer movies is dangerous snobbery. I think he uses “€œwhite America”€ to avoid allegations of racism in a book devoted to criticizing Americans, but when students today see “€œwhite,”€ the word “€œpower”€ magically appears next to it. The next book, We the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, goes from criticism to constructive ideas to rebuild this country. He suggests a Madison Fund where donors help the little guy fight back against odious political bylaws and fines. It’s punk rock. Even throwaway books such as The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead provide invaluable information to help improve your life. I”€™ve bought the book many times and give it to every millennial who seems serious about improving his lot.

However, with the introduction of Trump, I felt like my literary hero and I were finally coming apart. He was starting to sound less like a man of the people and more like one of the snobs he preaches to. I wasn”€™t the only one who felt this way. In Ann Coulter’s In Trump We Trust she said, “€œConservative intellectuals reacted to Trump’s candidacy with a kind of sick horror. Among the most embarrassing objections came from the once-respected Charles Murray….”€ And later, “€œIn a strange tirade, he announced that he was not voting for the GOP nominee”€”who was not better than Hillary!”€”because Trump had misstated something about the imperatives of Common Core. It’s WERE not “€œwas,”€ you ignoramus.

Murray’s talk sounded like an accidental campaign speech for Trump. He talked about growing up in Iowa where the CEO of Maytag lived down the street from a factory worker and they all had the same car. “€œThey could afford a Cadillac, but nobody would go higher than a Buick,”€ he said. He added that his experience was not unique and even the Upper West Side of Manhattan had a wide variety of household incomes. It sounded like utopia, but it also sounded like what Trump says when he insists we “€œMake America Great Again.”€ Trump may have grown up rich and he may have had many wives, but he poured cement with the builders his father hired and he has a great relationship with his kids. This makes him a blue-collar family man to many blue-collar family men. America is a country where the poor vote Republican because they see themselves as “€œtemporarily embarrassed millionaires.”€ I see him as Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack and half his appeal is how uncomfortable he makes the old-money establishment. This is what Murray has been talking about his entire career. Even The Bell Curve is #MAGA. It wasn”€™t about race and IQ. It was about getting over IQ and seeing it as a genetic trait, like being an albino or something. So you”€™re smart. Big deal. When Murray was young, these people were called “€œpencil-necked geeks.”€ If we could get over this bullshit need for higher education, men could have pride in trades again. Sounds pretty Great to me.

Nobel-winning economist Angus Deaton and his wife, Anne Case, have released a new study, “€œMortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century,”€ enumerating how many unprivileged whites have died from despair while privileged whites prattled about the curse of white privilege.

Judging from mortality statistics, something very bad has happened to working-class white Americans in this century.

The downturn in life expectancy has occurred despite continued advances in medical technology that are steadily boosting life spans in other countries. In 2015, life expectancy fell for Americans overall, stemming in part to a sudden spike in black male death rates, perhaps due to the Ferguson Effect of blacks shooting blacks in increasing numbers following the rise of Black Lives Matter in 2014.

But mostly the decline was caused by continued increases in death rates for young and middle-aged whites. The White Death hasn”€™t gotten as bad yet as the horrifying drop in Russian male life expectancies during the Yeltsin years. Yet it’s reminiscent of the tendency of Russians to react to the slow moral decay of Communism and to the sharp shock of defeat in the Cold War by drinking themselves to death.

Nonetheless, until just 18 months ago, barely anybody in positions of authority or influence in America had noticed it, so pervasive is our system’s animosity toward whites of humble backgrounds. (Matt Stoller here lists homicidal comments about working-class whites left on the Huffington Post.)

In fact, it’s possible that the only reason the White Death is talked about today is a coincidence in the fall of 2015.

On Oct. 12, 2015, Angus Deaton of Princeton was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Granted, economics isn”€™t a real Nobel, but it’s treated as one. So Deaton’s name was still in the news three weeks later when he and his wife, Anne Case, released a paper on how death rates among middle-aged whites had been rising since the end of the 1990s.

“€œJudging from mortality statistics, something very bad has happened to working-class white Americans in this century.”€

Deaton and Case had previously had their paper rejected by two prestigious medical journals.

The big killers driving this increase have been what Deaton and Case now call “€œdeaths of despair”€: overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin, alcoholic liver disease, and suicide.

Veteran science reporter Gina Kolata reported in The New York Times in 2015 on how surprising this was:

David M. Cutler, a Harvard health care economist, said that although it was known that people were dying from causes like opioid addiction, the thought was that those deaths were just blips in the health care statistics and that over all everyone’s health was improving. The new paper, he said, “€œshows those blips are more like incoming missiles.”€

Why the obliviousness?

For one reason, there are virtually no respectable organizations that make it their mission to care about the well-being of whites. Countless government agencies and NGOs scan statistics for evidence that blacks are getting a bad break. But looking out for whites is a good way to wind up on the SPLC’s list of people to hate, so nobody paid much attention to life-and-death trends among 200 million people.

Fortunately Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate, demanded attention.

After that, a lot of people dug into the numbers, with some of the better work done by college student Jason Bayz.

It quickly emerged that the White Death was focused among whites without college degrees.

To some extent, this is a statistical artifact as college graduation rates have drifted upward for each successive age cohort: Therefore, a 55-year-old in 2015 is more likely to be a college graduate than a 55-year-old in 1999, so non”€“college graduates today are somewhat more likely to be concentrated among people with problems.

But on the whole, it’s very much a real problem.

A postelection study by The Economist last November found that the only measure that better predicted a swing from Romney to Trump at the county level than percentage of noncollege whites was a composite measure of public health. Trump swing voters tended to see it as their civic duty to elect somebody who would at least promise to do something to stop the trend in their neighborhoods toward disease and death.

Deaton and Case summarized their latest thinking at the Brookings Institution last week.

Below is their graph showing the growth of deaths of despair for non-Hispanic white working-class cohorts born five years apart.

The mortality patterns for those born in 1935, 1940, and 1945 were all similar, but the drift toward early death from drugs, alcohol, and suicide began with those born in 1950, and greatly accelerated among those born in 1955.

I find it useful to mentally add 18 years to birth dates to understand when a cohort reached the beginning of adulthood.

Thus, the children born in 1945 (mauve line) turned 18 in 1963. Hit songs in 1963 included “€œSurfin”€™ USA”€ by the Beach Boys and “€œWalk Like a Man”€ by the Four Seasons. The most drug-oriented hit was “€œPuff, the Magic Dragon”€ by Peter, Paul, and Mary.

In baby-boomer mythology, 1963 is the last prelapsarian year before the generational loss of innocence that was the JFK assassination that November. By the time the Beatles landed at JFK in February 1964, the world had changed. This oft-told tale doesn”€™t sound plausible, but we keep stumbling upon evidence for it, such as this graph.

In contrast, those born in 1950 (red line) were 18 in 1968. The biggest hit of the year was “€œHey Jude”€ by the Beatles. The Beach Boys didn”€™t have a major single that year because Brian Wilson was an acid casualty at age 25.

Those born in 1955 were 18 in 1973, perhaps the nadir of the “€™70s. The biggest-selling album released that year turned out to be Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Deaton and Case offer an economics-centered view of what went wrong.

Tentative story: slow collapse of white working class

“€”Each birth cohort entering the labor market without a BA after those born in 1945

“€”Men start with lower real wages

“€”Have worse subsequent careers, lower returns to experience

Those lucky enough to be born in 1945, the year before the baby boom began, went through life with supply and demand tilted in their favor. Relatively few babies were born from 1930 to 1945, so the labor of young men born in 1945 was well compensated when they reached 18 in 1963.

Empire waist floral baby doll dress, worn over black cycling shorts? Check. Doc Martens (or cheap reasonable facsimile)? Check. Pink rape whistle and bowling ball bag purse? Check.

What else might you discover among a young downtown gal’s belongings, circa 1990? Pretty on the Inside, the Nonesuch reissue of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares and I Do Not Want What I Haven”€™t Got; a Wild at Heart poster, perhaps. “€œAn American Girl in Italy,”€ for sure. A Bettie Page postcard”€”or even paper doll set (an ex-boyfriend’s Christmas gift)”€”on the fridge door.

On her Billy bookcases? Generation X. Serial-killer trade paperbacks. Frida Kahlo: The Brush of Anguish.

And, of course, Sexual Personae.

Camille Paglia’s doorstop debut, subtitled Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson“€”note its ingenious, unit-moving cover“€”provoked a good year’s worth of praise and scorn.

Or rather, its author did. The then-42-year-old academic from NeverHeardOfIt U. landed on the scene like Klaatu and Gort combined, equipped with Kevlar self-confidence, brash, contrarian quotability, and butch-chic élan.

“€œPaglia clearly saw her role as that of stomach pump, and still does.”€

As the only woman in my circle who hadn”€™t gone to university, their hostility to this female professor’s book (and her very person) unnerved me. I”€™m too lazy to derange my”€”yes, shut up, but at least now they”€™re a grown-up “€œblack-brown”€”€”Billy bookcases to find my old copy, but I expect I”€™d find her jabs at liberals underlined. Those were the early days of political correctness, one of Paglia’s recurring targets. As I”€™ve written here before, while still a leftist-by-lazy-default, I nevertheless roundly mocked that burgeoning trend from the start, certain it would choke to death on such ridicule, and its own self-evident Maoist absurdity, in a few more months.

What I do remember is that one of my local contemporaries in age, sex, and literary bent (but not formal education; she was a doctoral candidate) publicly defended “€œPaglia’s right to publish her bullshit.”€ While never nervy enough to talk, I was never convinced by that formidable poet’s feint at magnanimity; she seemed to mean only half of it, but which half”€”the “€œright”€ bit? Or the “€œbullshit”€?

Because what did Sexual Personae‘s “€œbullshit”€ constitute, precisely?

Helpfully, Paglia’s new “€œbest of”€ collection, Free Women, Free Men, opens with three chapters from that first startling book. Rereading its opening chapter half a lifetime later, I now recognize “€œSex and Violence, or Nature in Art”€ as an extended”€”superbly stylish and aphoristic”€”gloss on Horace (“€œYou can drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she keeps on coming back”€) and de Beauvoir (“€œMust We Burn Sade?“€), shot through with then (and now) unfashionable-Freud and mid-century anthropology.

And it all comes back to me:

“€œModern feminism’s most naive formulation,”€ Paglia declares in that chapter (she never simply “€œwrites,”€ whatever the topic), “€œis its assertion that rape is a crime of violence but not of sex.”€

So true, but even today, (mostly) unsayable.

Then Paglia praises male homosexuals”€™ “€œvalorous attempts to defeat nature,”€ but adds that “€œNature has won, as she always does, by making disease the price of promiscuous sex.”€ Just so, but in those AIDS-crazed days, such observations were otherwise confined to bulbous, comical televangelists.

“€œCriminals through history,”€ she goes on to opine, “€œhave never needed pornography to stimulate their exquisite, gruesome inventiveness.”€ That was a sheer, unmitigated heresy not one year after Ted Bundy had, well, satisfied so many anti-porn feminists by claiming from death row that hardcore skin mags had driven him to kill.

No wonder establishment second-wave feminists denounced Paglia”€”a foolish gambit, considering she was in a higher pugilistic weight class in terms of scholarship and style. Free Women is made up of speeches and other occasional writings, and some critics are complaining that its contents are repetitive. A peevish objection: Professional speakers rarely deliver a completely original address on every occasion. Duh. And in fact, one of this book’s delights is seeing Paglia’s insults against her arch feminist enemies metastasize.

Did the Freedom Caucus just pull the Republican Party back off the ledge, before it jumped to its death? A case can be made for that.

Before the American Health Care Act, aka “Ryancare,” was pulled off the House floor Friday, it enjoyed the support—of 17 percent of Americans. Had it passed, it faced an Antietam in the GOP Senate, and probable defeat.

Had it survived there, to be signed by President Trump, it would have meant 14 million Americans losing their health insurance in 2018.

First among the losers would have been white working-class folks who delivered the Rust Belt states to President Trump.

“Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan,” said JFK.

So, who are the losers here?

First and foremost, Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans who, having voted 50 times over seven years to repeal Obamacare, we learned, had no consensus plan ready to replace it.

Moreover, they put a bill on the floor many had not read, and for which they did not have the votes.

“More than a defeat, this was a humiliation”

More than a defeat, this was a humiliation. For the foreseeable future, a Republican Congress and president will coexist with a health care regime that both loathe but cannot together repeal and replace.

Moreover, this defeat suggests that, given the ideological divide in the GOP, and the unanimous opposition of congressional Democrats, the most impressive GOP majorities since the 1920s may be impotent to enact any major complicated or complex legislation.

Friday’s failure appears to be another milestone in the decline and fall of Congress, which the Constitution, in Article I, fairly anoints as our first branch of government.

Through the last century, Congress has steadily surrendered its powers, with feeble resistance, to presidents, the Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve, the regulatory agencies, even the bureaucracy.

The long retreat goes on.

Another truth was reconfirmed Friday. Once an entitlement program has been created with millions of beneficiaries, it becomes almost impossible to repeal. As Ronald Reagan said, “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”

Nor did President Trump escape unscathed.

Among the reasons he was elected was the popular belief, which carried him through scrapes that would have sunk other candidates, that, whatever his faults or failings, he was a doer, a man of action—“He gets things done!”

To have failed on his first big presidential project has thus been an occasion of merriment for the boo-birds in the Beltway bleachers.

Yet, still, Trump’s Saturday tweet—“Obamacare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan … Do not worry!”—may prove prophetic.

Now that “Trumpcare” or “Ryancare” is gone, the nation must live with Obamacare. A Democratic program from birth, it is visibly failing. And Democrats now own it again, as not one Democrat was there to help reform it. In the off-year election of 2018, they may be begging for Republican help in reforming the health care system.

From where I”€™m sitting”€”and if you want to get technical, it’s on a cushioned chair in front of a computer on a farm in Georgia”€”the only way that Russia could possibly have “€œundermined American democracy”€ during the last election would be if they”€™d hacked the voting booths. Regarding hard evidence of Russia doing this, I have seen nada, zilch, goose eggs, and a huge black gaping empty intergalactic rectal tunnel of nothingness.

Still, a poll in late December found that 52% of Democrats believed that Russia directly “€œtampered with the vote tallies.”€ Mind you, even Barack Obama said that didn”€™t happen.

You remember the Democrats, don”€™t you? They were the party who for decades would gaslight anyone concerned about Soviet communism as being some paranoid dupe of propaganda, sneering at them coastal-elite-style as some low-info true believer in the “€œRed Scare.”€ Mind you, this was when Russians actually were infiltrating US government and media. It’s also when they were slaughtering millions of their own citizens and injecting psychiatric medication into anyone whose brain even dared to burp up the mildest “€œreactionary”€ thought.

“€œWhen it comes to this mass delusion that Russia “€˜stole”€™ the election, I am forced to bellow, “€˜WHERE’s THE BEEF?”€™”€

The inestimably charmless Hillary Clinton’s namesake Foundation reportedly received “€œtens of millions of dollars“€ from Saudi and Qatari high rollers, but I can”€™t seem to remember MSNBC or The Washington Post or CNN or The New York Times ever accusing her of being a “€œpuppet”€ of these regimes, nor of those countries attempting to interfere in our elections. And I can”€™t recall any major American news outlet ever, not even for a millisecond, accusing either major party of being under Israeli influence, even though, I mean, c”€™mon….

So when it comes to this mass delusion that Russia “€œstole”€ the election and that Trump is an “€œillegitimate”€ president”€”an idea shared not only by congressional Dumbos such as John Lewis and Maxine Waters but a freaking majority of millennials”€”I am forced to approach the microphone and loudly bellow, “€œWHERE’s THE BEEF?“€

If the allegation is that the Russians wanted Trump to win and therefore gave Clinton consistently negative coverage on state-owned Russia Today and other outlets, so what? With stark exceptions such as Drudge and Breitbart, it seems as if the entire American media had dispensed with even the pretense of objectivity and went into a full-on feeding frenzy against Trump.

So is all this noise really about nothing more than humiliation over the fact that at least this time around, the Russians were better at the propaganda game than the Americans were? Is that why they”€™re lashing out like the sorest sore losers in world history? 

Or is the issue that foreign governments should never try to influence other countries”€™ elections? If so, why was there no outrage when Obama used taxpayer money in an attempt to sway the 2015 Israeli parliamentary elections? Why is there not even remotely the same level of hysteria at the documented fact that for decades, the USA has subverted elections all across the globe”€”and when they failed at that, they just flat-out assassinated people?

And if a foreign government can swing your country’s election one way or the other, maybe it’s better to grow the hell up and fix your country before you blame the foreign government…no?

These gullible empty vessels who blame Russia”€”rather than, oh, Clinton“€”for Clinton’s loss are the same deluded blockheads that for generations have worshiped government power and media authority to the point where they scoffed at the mere mention of “€œconspiracy theories.”€ Yet suddenly”€”with, as far as I know, not even one tiny teenage female hamster pubic hair’s worth of evidence”€”they are convinced beyond all doubt that the Russians, rather than disgruntled American voters, decided this election?

If you want to talk about the popular vote, you still wind up looking dumb. Both Trump and Clinton”€”and all of their lackeys”€”were fully aware of how the president is elected in this country. Rather than stumping tirelessly through the Rust Belt like Trump did, Clinton preferred to cloister herself away at one of her countless coastal enclaves receiving ancient Hindu lesbian salt massages. For all of the aspersions cast on Trump’s intelligence, he was the only candidate who seemed aware of which game board they were playing on.

So again”€”what’s the best they have? The idea that Trump advisers talked to Russians during the campaign? OK. But so did Clinton’s camp, so you don”€™t have a point there, either.

The Week’s Most Frightening, Enlightening, and Whitening Headlines

Canada is a nation that hates America because America is much more famous than Canada. Its prime minister, the alleged bastard son of Fidel Castro,  wears goofy hats and takes orders from George Soros. Canada is easily the most suicidal country in the West, and for the sake of mankind it would probably be best if US forces were to forcefully invade it immediately.

As part of the frozen, dying nation’s long, public death rattle, the Canadian House of Commons passed a motion last week officially condemning “€œsystemic racism and religious discrimination,”€ but with an extra-special focus on “€œIslamophobia,”€ which, as everyone knows, is a disease you catch from Muslims.

Motion 103, which in a wild twist of fate just so happens to be authored by Pakistani-born Canadian Parliamentarian Iqra Khalid, commands the government to face eastward, kneel prostrate, touch its forehead to the ground, and “€œcondemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”€ This non-binding motion does not attempt to define “€œIslamophobia,”€ but it appears to rule out the possibility that a common citizen’s apprehension about increasing numbers of Muslims in Canada may be an entirely justifiable survival instinct based on a deep understanding of Islam’s 1,400-year history of murderous hostility toward all things Western.

Earlier this month at a protest of the proposed measure, masked white anarchists allegedly beat up numerous Muslims who”€™d fled Islamic countries and considered this motion the first step toward sharia law.

“€œOne of the things we actually liked about Mexico was the idea that it is extremely sexist.”€

For months now the press and certain ethno-religious activist organizations That Must Not Be Named have been hyping an anti-Semitic Hate Wave that’s heating up like a giant oven across the United States. They”€™ve blamed it on Donald Trump, who is a hardcore Zionist and obviously let his daughter marry an Orthodox Jew as a cover for the fact that he secretly wishes for Jews to be beaten in the streets.

Initial reports of purposely toppled headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn turned out to be caused by “€œpoor maintenance“€ rather than “€œanti-Semitism.”€

It is apparently true that Jewish Community Centers across the nation have been targeted with over 100 bomb threats since Trump’s election. But to the undoubted dismay of Nazi-hunters across the globe, so far we have yet to receive confirmation that even one of them was perpetrated by a white “€œNazi.”€ Instead, there was disgraced black reporter Juan Thompson, recently arrested for attempting to frame his white ex-girlfriend for some of the bomb threats. And now comes the grimly hilarious news that a male Jewish teenager living in Israel”€”but possessing dual American citizenship”€”has been arrested in connection with making “€œover 100 bomb threats“€ against Jewish centers not only in America, but in “€œEurope, Australia, and New Zealand.”€

According to the Colorado Gazette, “€œJews worldwide uttered a collective gasp“€ when they heard that a Jew had been arrested for the threats.

Since nothing on this big blue marble we call Planet Earth amuses us more than the specter of white people lying prostrate while apologizing for being white and being called “€œracist”€ anyway, we are pleased to announce that we found great glee in reading “€œUnhappy Confessions: The Temptation of Admitting to White Privilege,”€ published by the always hysterical Feminist Philosophy Quarterly. In academic gobbledygook that is as thick and opaque as huge blood clots on a freshly removed tampon, author Claire A. Lockard writes:

Admissions of white privilege or racism can be conceptualized as Foucauldian confessions that are pleasurable to enact but ultimately reinforce white people’s feelings of goodness and allow them to avoid addressing this racism.

We agree that white people appear to do this sort of self-flagellation routine in order to feel good about themselves rather than doing anything concrete to improve the material conditions of nonwhites. We are greatly amused that Ms. Lockard thinks that by publicly declaring they are not racist, white ethnomasochists actually become more racist on a subconscious level. And, greatest of all, we guffaw heartily at the idea that by posturing as if she understands “€œanti-racism”€ better other self-hating whites do, by her own dopey rules she has possibly unmasked herself as the most “€œracist”€ white person who ever lived.

In 2015 Anne Case and Angus Deaton published a report that revealed working-class whites, unlike all other groups in America, were experiencing increased mortality rates due largely to causes such as suicide and substance abuse. They”€™ve now published a follow-up report which blames such “€œdeaths of despair“€ on the twin demons of automation and globalization:

Ultimately, we see our story as about the collapse of the white, high school educated, working class after its heyday in the early 1970s, and the pathologies that accompany that decline….These changes left people with less structure when they came to choose their careers, their religion, and the nature of their family lives. When such choices succeed, they are liberating; when they fail, the individual can only hold him or herself responsible.

In an interview with NPR, Deaton reveals that when it comes to mortality rates, “€œpoorly educated whites have now taken over from blacks as the lowest rung of society.”€

The real winners of the recent Dutch elections were the animals”€”or at least the Party for the Animals, which might not benefit animals any more than workers”€™ parties benefit workers. We shall have to see.

The animals, or their representatives, won five seats in the Dutch parliament. But what I want to know is, will the Party for the Animals speak up for the worms and the flies as well as for nice fluffy mammals such as skunks, jackals, and hyenas? And what of the rats? Perhaps you may think they already have enough representation in parliament.

And what of Ascaris lumbricoides, the large white roundworm that lives in the intestines of children especially and fills their bellies? Who will speak up for it? It is true that this large worm sometimes causes medical problems, adding to malnutrition and causing intestinal obstruction when it is present in too-large numbers. But surely the answer to malnutrition is more food, not fewer worms? To suppose that the child’s life is more important than the worm’s is pure, undiluted speciesism.

“€œTo suppose that the child’s life is more important than the worm’s is pure, undiluted speciesism.”€

Of course, most people are aesthetically revolted by these worms, but what has that to do with their right to existence? There are very ugly people, after all, and we do not demand their elimination, as we do of the worms. Besides, everyone knows that ideals of beauty are socially constructed, and that what is deemed beautiful in one society is deemed ugly in another, and vice versa. I learned that lesson in South Africa, where Westernized African girls who were already slim asked for medication to make them slimmer, and fat traditional African women who wanted to please Zulu chiefs asked for medication to make them fatter. There is no universal concept, then, of beauty. We can be taught, and learn, to appreciate anything.

The problem with Ascaris, then, is not the creature in itself but our attitude to it. If we could only change our attitude, Ascaris would not bother us, except perhaps on those relatively rare occasions when it causes medical problems (and which creature does not?). What is needed is a campaign of reeducation of the public, so that instead of being disgusted by Ascaris, we come to see it as part of nature, with just as much right to exist as we. Dreams of its elimination are similar to those of all totalitarian utopias in which enemies are simply erased from the face of the earth. We must learn tolerance, to appreciate all that the variety of species, and every species individually, brings to the biosphere as a whole. The preservation of diversity, including of parasitic nematode worms (of which there are a large number), should be our aim, not merely human hegemony”€”which is nothing but biological fascism.

I was shocked and appalled when the sheep farmers of my region in France painted the words Mort au loups“€””€œDeath to wolves”€”€”across the road not five kilometers from my house. It is true that the wolves sometimes kill sheep (they are not called wolves for nothing, after all), but very few in comparison with the number of sheep in the whole country.

Besides, who are the sheep farmers to talk? Anyone would think that they are working for the good of the sheep, not of themselves. What hypocrisy! When the time comes, they take the sheep off to be killed, or even kill them themselves, without a moment’s hesitation. They steal their milk, they take their wool: They are nothing but wolves in man’s clothing.