Last night a friend wrote to complain about a line in the intro copy for the latest Oscar Poker podcast, to wit: “Sasha admits that Donald Trump MAY be a sociopath, but still thinks democrats are worse.”

My friend was mostly enraged by the “may” qualification apparently. Sasha and I have long agreed about many, many things, but not about The Beast. When she mentions him I usually just sidestep or change the subject. Yesterday, however, was a breakthrough moment when she acknowledged that he’s a sociopath.

I don’t dictate opinions to Sasha, I replied. I can only say what I think, which generally falls in the realm of sensible center-left territory. I thought it was a significant thing, however, when Sasha allowed that Trump is a sociopath, which she’s never admitted to before. The next step is admitting that he’s basically a crime-family felon — an authoritarian, uncivilized, intolerant, anti-Democratic ruffian.

She added the “and Democrats are worse” part to the intro copy. I’ve never tried to instruct Sasha about what to think or write. It’s not my style. Anyway…

“Sasha was a progressive pro-Hillary lefty before the pandemic,” I explained. “And it’s fair to say, I think, that not all right-of-the-spectrum types are necessarily evil. Position-wise and sensibility-wise Sasha isn’t all that different than Bill Maher or Dave Chappelle. Recently the pro-Israel Sasha has also express disgust about some of the more adamant pro-Hamas sentiments on the left, but who isn’t on that page?

“And you know what else? She hates it when Hollywood wokesters gang up and vote to purge and destroy iconoclasts like me, and for the last few years she’s long been an excellent friend and devoted ally in this regard.

“All in all I’m guilty of nothing worse than being an alleged ‘asshole’ of sorts…of venting opinions that the Stalinists don’t approve of…being a nervy, big-mouthed devotee of a certain late 20th Century and early 21st Century liberal aesthetic, and of being devoted to hundreds upon hundreds of great films. But there’s a whole Millennial-Zoomer gender-pronoun sector out there that wants me shunned and dismembered because they want anyone who doesn’t parrot basic woke-think doctrine…not that bad if you don’t listen to guys with H.R. Geiger Alien acid in their bloodstream like Glenn Kenny.

“Part of this animus, I’m imagining, is due to my admiration of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.

“You should try being un-person-ed by the woke crazies and go-along cowards. It’ll have an effect upon your thinking, trust me.

“Two months ago in Telluride [a certain British journalist] all but called me a racist for saying that Lily Gladstone’s mostly glum-silent, sulking, passive-victim, still-water-runs-deep performance in Killers of the Flower Moon is a good performance but no great shakes, and is certainly no one’s idea of a torrid, impassioned, guns-blazing standout. I responded to the Brit by saying that her Best Actress campaign is almost entirely about riding the ethnic-identity wave.

“’I won’t have it, Jeff…I won’t tolerate that!,’ he actually said to me. There really isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between this guy’s woke purist intolerance and the Red Guard fanatics during China’s Great Cultural Revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Have you ever read 1984, [name]? The totalitarian villains in that prophetic book are leftists.

“Basically Sasha loves and misses the non-mental, laissez-faire Hollywood from pre-2017 days, and she really hates how identity obsessives and radical ideologues have up-ended the Oscar race.

“You know hundreds of Academy members, [name], and you’re personally familiar with how many over-45 folks think. You know exactly what’s happened to this industry over the last six or seven years. The monsters arrived on Maple Street six or seven years ago, and ever since we’ve been experiencing a revival of the Commie Witch-hunt blacklist days of the ‘50s. Nowadays the major categories are almost entirely about anti-white-male identity and pushing back against older, sensible, live-and-let-live liberals. The under-40 Millennials and especially the feminist Zoomers hate people like you and me. But you know what? There are hundreds if not thousands of alleged Academy assholes who feel as I do.

“In terms of Presidential contention I like Gavin Newsom, Pete Buttigieg, Gretchen Whitmer. And I’m genuinely concerned about Biden’s low 40s numbers. Do you think they’re encouraging? The man has done a good job in the main, but he’s too old for the task. If re-elected he’ll be 86 at the end of his second term. Sensible Democrats everywhere and especially folks outside progressive blue regions don’t like the feeling or the metaphor of a croaky-voiced great-grandfather running things. And feeling this way doesn’t make them evil.

“Plus Sasha is appalled by the progressive view that there’s something innately evil about all men of European ancestry and something inherently hallowed and saintly about persons of color and non-Anglo ethnicity. She prefers to regard people in terms of their individual character and convictions.

“She’s also correctly appalled by what’s happened in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, and by the decriminalization of shoplifitng and the department store lootings….you know what I mean. And by Biden’s carte blanche (and probably old-guy oblivious) endorsement of gender fluidity encouragement, including hormone injections and invasive gender surgeries among minors. I’ve become very sensitive to that stuff since my granddaughter arrived in ‘21.

“We’re no longer living in a community or a culture that prizes, much less defends, free speech and live-and-let-live and liberal comme ci comme ca values. I respect Sasha for having recognized and lamented this unfortunate fact.”