Some elements of the GOP go out of their way to marginalize LGBTQ people, and then fail to address infrastructure and health care with real policy

I’ve had a running debate on Facebook Messenger with a particular friend in northern Virginia’s LGBT leadership, and he asked that his name not be reproduced because be feared (however facetiously) the “alt-right”.

I have said to him that I resist being drawn into specific initiatives sponsored generally by the political Left on narrow issues mostly having to do with discrimination (however “systematic” the “oppression”) against (members of) self-defined groups.  Likewise, right now at least, I don’t raise money under my own name (like with GoFundMe) for “other people’s causes” however compelling (I don’t ask people to give for the Houston flood, except maybe here in this post; I simply do it myself.)  That could even change in the future with certain circumstances.  I’ve said I want to focus on civilization-threatening problems like North Korea, nuclear weapons, power grid security.  I also want to focus on subtle free-speech (and gatekeeper resistance) problems, like downstream liability and implicit content. I’ve said that “we” have bigger problems than bathroom bills.  (As I type this, I hear on CNN that North Korea claims now to have miniaturized ICBM-mountable hydrogen bombs, not “just” Hiroshima-like atomic bombs.  And we have Trump with the nuclear suitcase.)

My friend (whom I see as pretty centrist between Left and Right, more or less with Hillary Clinton’s positions on most things, much more conservative than Sanders or even Obama) agrees that the GOP should focus on actually fixing healthcare, securing infrastructure security and solving the problems with refugees, and with enemies like ISIS and North Korea  — and facing the responsibility to future generations on climate change.  He says it is the GOP that looks for scapegoats (right now, transgender people) with bathroom bills or pseudo-religious freedom bills. I agree.  And some parts of the alt-right make scapegoats of all immigrants, and are more aggressive in a desire to subjugate non-white people than I would have believed.  This puts pressure on me to come back to focus on defending “oppressed groups” rather than paying attention to existential problems that can affect us all.  In my situation (benefiting from inheritance and trying to downsize myself out of a house partly for “political” reasons), it gets harder to work on what I want than on what others would demand of me.  It’s harder to stay away from unwelcome personal entanglements.

Here are a few of his comments:

“Focusing on infrastructure like FDR did during the Great Depression, of that scale, is definitely the winning ticket. The real problem is the GOP in Congress doesn’t want to spend money, especially on big national projects. However, they will if it is funneled through the largely Republican controlled states. So the grid and space projects all have to be designed as pork spending to states with only a small national office to coordinate, if that. Moreover, the money has to go to key swing states.

“I’m getting tired of this extreme bipolar discord manufactured by billionaires who spend their money on this negative crap rather than helping society in productive ways. None of this was in the news (Page 1) until Trump began dangling red meat at crowds to capitalize off fringe. Even the labels of left and right are becoming meaningless. Whatever happened to a sense of decency? It’s been replaced by circus clown.

“I look at another way. The bathroom bills are pushed and funded by right wingers who make it a priority over everything else. The LGBTQ-activist aren’t to blame for reacting. The blame lies squarely with the well-funded right that wants to obliterate all the gays off the face of the earth. And any progress made in the last 20 years. Why pinpoint blame people who fight against them for human rights and social justice. It makes no sense to me. You are right however, that the priorities of the nation need to be focused on things like infrastructure and beefing up national defense.”

Here are a few of his best links:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State: “The Religious Right’s War Against LGBT Americans

I think there is more to say here.  People “on the right” see meaning in forcing others to comply with the same moral rules they think they should follow; that’s their answer to “inequality”.  They also have to deal with the logically existential idea of personal “rightsizing”.

Emily Crockett, “How the Left can stop arguing and beat Trump”.

James Hohmann “The Daily 202: False moral equivalency is not a bug of Trumpism; it is a main feature”.

George Michael’s “The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization in America”.

It strikes me that the alt-right uses identity politics and even “intersectionality” much as does the radical Left.  The groups are different.  But the exploitation of “relative deprivation” (and the personal undeservedness of others) is the same, even if the Right seems to have much less justification in history.

(Posted: Saturday, September 2, 2017, at 9 PM EDT)

Coercion from others: how we deal with it is an important component of character

I won’t keep up with the counter volleying of rhetoric over Trump and his apparent deferral to his base. It seems like the alt-right “started it” fully intending to become combative in Charlottesville (we need not re-enumerate all the groups) and the “Left” (just some of it) believed it needed to become combative to defend itself.

I don’t join other people’s mass movements, or become combative myself to protect other people – and yes, I don’t have my own kids so I very much resent it when others expect this of me. Part of me sees simply joining up in claiming group systemic oppression as a sign of personal weakness. If I was “better” I wouldn’t need to.

We all grow up with coercion, and how we deal with becomes a character issue.

Our parents apply coercion as we grow up, until we gradually become mature enough to accept responsibility for our own choices. At an individual level, accepting responsibility for the direct consequences of personal choices certainly form the libertarian idea of personal morality. But in a real world, it’s important to take one’s part as a member of the group – family, community, religious affiliation, cultural affinity, or country. That means sharing some of the “chores” of the group (work for which usually monetary compensation is of little or no importance), common risks, and particularly the consequences of group hostility (warfare) against the group. The plot of “Romeo and Juliet” lives at several levels.

There is tension between individualized personal responsibility, and accountability to a group. A very good example is that an individual level, we don’t want people to have children until they are ready to raise them (which usually means in a legally recognized marriage, which today could be same-sex). With some people, that will tend to result in never having children. That can be bad for the future of some groups or countries, which fear being underpopulated. This tension, over procreation, as far as I am concerned, has always been at the heart of coercive behavior by many religions and many governments (now days, generally non-Western) against homosexuals and transgender. Part of the issue is that until more recent times, most cultures perceived it was important that most people perform according to their biological genders, including the capacity of males, becoming combative and fungible when necessary, to protect the women and children in the tribe – its genetic future. Consider how this plays out with our history with the military draft and controversy today over whether women should be required to register for Selective Service (or whether there should be conscription at all.)  In those days, personal “cowardice” (a somewhat dying concept) had a distinctly physical aspect. Today, childless people still have to take care of aging parents (even more so as people live longer with falling birthrates), and often wind up raising siblings’ children.

All of this winds up being experienced as coercion – what you have to do, because if you don’t, someone else will have to take the risk and possibly make the sacrifice. So rather than dividing people into subgroups according to various abilities, we tend to judge everyone on one continuum, or at least I did.  I would say that in “Gone with the Wind“, Scarlet O’Hara has to deal with coercion, but “you” can be offended because her slaves had needed to deal with so much more, as indeed they had.

But as I moved into adulthood, I moved into different groups. In the mid 1970s, as I entered my thirties in New York City, that group was the Ninth Street Center in New York City (the East Village), now the Paul Rosenfels Community. I would tend to cherry pick the people I met for those who satisfied my need for “upward affiliation”. That would irritate or disappoint some others. In fact, the whole idea of personal growth seemed to revolve around an existential challenge that we called “creativity”, which in turn meant learning new ways to care about and provide for other people (including, sometimes, of other races, or those who were much less glamorous or even much less intact) without the obvious catalyst of conventional sexual excitement and then sexual intercourse leading to having one’s own children, who would become “the” dependents. It was caring without an obvious personal lineage. Yet, what I sometimes experienced in the group was “coercion”.   In any group, there are those in charge. There is volunteer work to be done (like washing dishes after those Saturday night potluck suppers, in the days when there was no escape from the smoke), in order to share one’s portion of the physical labor of the group.

As I move further into adult life, I became, somewhat, the Pharisee, the watcher, and recorder, being effective politically without having to run for anything or ask for money – ironically that sometimes seems as “Dangerous” (Milo-speak) as conventional partisan bickering. Yes, the capability to do this could be yanked away from me by extreme legislation or perhaps direct hostility. I see that as coercion.  People have hinted, with some breath of a threat, “Why don’t you shut up and shut down online, and then volunteer for us?”  Well, if I didn’t have my own mission and own message (other than letting a group be my voice) I wouldn’t be effective as a volunteer (particularly to remedy claimed systemic group oppression and victimization).  But, I could be forced to, unexpectedly and unforeseeably, perhaps. Then maybe I have no choice to work for “you” in order to “live”.  That kind of bargaining with my life, starting perhaps with a knock on the door, is coercion.

So then we come back to some of the more dangerous issues today for the whole country – nuclear weapons, safety of the power grid. Also, civil disorder (which, yes, was most recently perpetrated by the radical right) and terrorism from various sources, by no means always Islamist. The end result is that anyone can be placed into a situation of subservience and helplessness by the “coercion” of another or others. Anyone can wind up housed in a shelter by the Red Cross or other charity. Anyone can experience expropriation and be forced to learn how “the others” have to live, suddenly. The fact is, it is the individuals in a country who bear the ultimate consequences (and therefore “responsibility”) of what their politicians do, even if those consequences are delivered by ISIS or by Kim Jong Un.  In that sense, anyone is a potential conscript or combatant. That’s why I see “victimhood” as so ugly (nothing to be proud of) and I call it “casualty-hood” and yet to survive it and rise again, from whatever station in life events place you, seems so essential to resilience and to future generations, if we are to have a future at all.

And, yet, I believe in civilization. I believe in law and order. But there are a few grave threats (like the power grid issue, which I have covered here before) that we must solve (without partisanship) if we are not to leave the world to the doomsday preppers. I would have nothing to contribute to the world depicted in NBC’s series “Revolution”. Don’t ask me to stick around for it.

(Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 9:45 PM EDT)

 

 

 

As “Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality” approaches, the doomsday debate heats up

Just as “The Event” approaches July 12, I got into more debate over network neutrality expiration in the U.S. on Facebook yesterday, and here is a summary of the latest in my own following of the topic.

If you want to make a comment to the FCC (before July 17), go to the “browse-popular-proceedings” link, where you can search and look for comments people have already made. The proper from to submit an “express comment” seems to be this one.

The FCC has already been bombarded by spam comments, some of them hateful or even racist toward the FCC chairman, according to this story on the Verge (Vox Media).

The Internet and Television Association makes this comment, reaffirming its commitment to an “open Internet”, which it followed up with paid print newspaper ads.  The New York Times had thrown cold water on Pai’s promised of “voluntary compliance” with no-throttle ethics in this editorial late in April.

But back in April, Rand Fishkin, on a Marketing Industry WhiteBoard, wrote a particularly telling predictive analysis of what could happen over time. The comments (closed now) add a lot to the debate and are well worth reading.

The most likely adverse scenario (which would probably take two or three years to develop) sounds like it comes out of the T-Mobile’s “illegal” plan a few months back to offer a bare-bones service that didn’t offer full Internet. There would seem to be a possibility that the telecom industry could treat websites as cable channels. It sounds like cheap, basic plans could offer families (especially consumers not particularly interested in the Web, or those wanting to shield small children) only a few sites favored by the ISP. More expensive plans could offer everything, as we know it today, with the Cadillac plans offering super high speeds in some areas. A small business owner could have to consider whether to pay for hookup so that lower-income or less wired people could find the business online. It might not be worth it. This could be a serious hindrance for some kinds of small businesses, especially tech innovations. But I’ve seen elements of this debate before, as with COPA a few years ago (as to how to screen objectionable content from minors).

This kind of development might not affect a blogger (with my “do ask do tell” model) like me much, because, frankly, I probably interact mostly with the choir, with people who want to be wired all the time anyway. Not to be offensive, but I doubt very many “blue collar” families in “Trump country” find me anyway.

This sort of a development sounds like a bigger threat to artists and musicians who often sell directly through their own domains (which POD publishers today try to goad authors into doing with volume discounts, bypassing Amazon laziness).

That’s one reasons there are some “collective” sites like Bandcamp (musicians) and Hubspace (writers) which probably offer some supervision and could offer bargaining power in a no-net envurinment. Bandcamp is interesting, as I know a number of composers and performers (especially in the classical music area) in New York, Los Angeles, and overseas. The classical music industry has a commissioning business model for new works, which can create certain ethical tensions. Some artists are starting to rely on Bandcamp more, and even want to train consumers to learn to buy from it, and get used to PayPal, rather than the laziness of the rich-man’s Amazon. Bandcamp was also developed as a way to encourage consumers to pay reasonably for content rather than use illegal downloads or get lazy with Youtube; it tries to balance out the “Its free” problem (previous posting).

Until now, it’s been considered more “professional” for artists and writers to develop their own WordPress sites under their own domain names. “No-net-neutrality” could change this, encouraging collectives and also throwing people back to free platforms like Blogger and free WordPress – but can we count on the business models for these platforms to last forever, given the resistance of the public to (including me) to engage ads (partly out of valid security and privacy concerns)? In the past few years, I’ve generally come to agree with pundits (like Blogger’s Nitecruz) that you shouldn’t depend on someone else’s free service.

I’ve also noted that hosting companies like Blue Host could help assuage the problem with subdomain and add-on structures that they have already set up. I recently had an informal chat with Site Lock on how all this works.

I note the debate over whether bloggers need specific attention to SEO, and whether that would change as net neutrality in the U.S. dissolves. I think it’s particularly important for people who depend on selling to others from a small business and whose website really can bring in sales.  That’s not true of all small businesses, and it’s not true of “provocateur” (yes, Milo!!) blogs like mine.  For these, the content text itself seems to carry in visitors.  “Blogtyrant’s” idea of email subscription mailing lists (in these days when people fight off spam as a security threat) seems to make the most sense to narrow niche businesses with customers who have specific needs that the business owner serves, including with its online activity. Remember the listservers (pre-social media) of the 1990s.

Still, the long range fallout from a “no net neutrality” position in the US could be pressure on small, neighborhood businesses. I think about my favorite gay disco, Town DC, which will close because of pressure big corporate real estate in another year. My favorite Westover Market and Beer Garden in Arlington could face similar pressures eventually, after all it has put into the business. I think of the independent book stores (that used to include Lambda Rising) which my POD publisher pesters me to cater to. I think of independent authors who sell books in higher volumes from their own sites than I do. Some local businesses are truly “local” and may not be affected as much by national web policies as they already depend on foot traffic. But the overall trend from loss of net neutrality could even be more pressure on small businesses to disappear or be bought out by large corporations.

In a recent op-ed, David Brooks noted that conservative philosophy, properly applied, emphasizes local activity, people helping one another, and local ownership of enterprise, and initiative.  That accompanies personal freedom at individualized levels, as Andrew Sullivan argued so well in the 1990s. What worries me is that the Trump administration seems to view conservatism as Putin-style oligarchy, where everyone is “rightsized” into some role of national purpose.

I’m not much into joining collective demonstrations simply against the “rich” or those “better off” than I am, as I am likewise more privileged than some people. I like to target my activity where I can make a real difference in how a policy turns out (I did this pretty well with “gays in the military” some years ago) by encouraging critical thinking. As a general matter, telecom, like any industry (most of all, banking), needs some regulation in the public interest once there are too few companies for genuine competition. (That’s partly what anti-trust is all about.) But you could say an individual like me, who doesn’t have a stake in life with specific dependents, ought to be reined in when my operations don’t pay their own way. Fairness looks both ways. When seeking regulation (just as with health care) be careful what you ask for.

(Posted: Friday, June 30, 2017 at 1:45 PM EDT)

Update: July 12

Report on my visit to a demonstration at the Capitol, here.

Volunteering usually needs to get personal

Conservatives often prompt the idea that the needy can be served by volunteerism even better than by publicly owned and run services (as we can see right off from the health care debate).

It’s rather logical to ask, then, if volunteerism, working in service to others for free, is to be expected on moral grounds from those who are able.

Right off the bat, I call to mind some passages in the 2007 book “The Natural Family” by Carlson and Mero, where the authors maintain that only within the nuclear and somewhat extended family can a determination “from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs” be made. I remember how that quote of Karl Marx was thrown around the barracks of Fort Eustis back in 1969 when I was in the Army.  Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has voiced similar ideas, that “It Takes a Family” (his 2005 book) to socialize people into meeting real needs.

But you can encircle the family with communities, and those with a country, so you can imagine how a moral expectation of service can fan out.

I can imagine, however, a mentality, where the poor could view some sort of structured personal attention or care from “the rich” as a moral entitlement, even in a “free” and conservative society.  Off hand, that doesn’t strike me as particularly encouraging for developing healthful self-concepts among the disadvantaged.  I’m recalling a time in kindergarten, in early 1949, when the teacher (who ran the class in her home) separated the class into “brownies” (who stayed downstairs – and I was one, despite that everyone was “white”) and “elves” (who got to sit in the living room upstairs).  I felt like I was put into a defined underclass, yet entitled to expect attention.  Maybe that did help shape some of the development issues I would have in the grade school years.

We don’t start out on life in the same place in line, to be sure.  OK, we can get into the whole debate on the role of “privilege” in setting up moral expectations of people. There are different kinds of disadvantage.  Of course, being born into poverty or in a totalitarian culture normally hurts once likely future station in life.  But there is a perpendicular situation:  within a particular family, which may be well-off, one is born with disability or a general lower level of capacity.  It can happen between twins or multiple births in the womb, or just among siblings.  So the social conservatives are right in saying that inside the “natural family”, if it is about the right size, people learn to develop affection and bonds to others in the family or group who may be less capable.

The tendency to look at some people as “better” than others relates to the real concerns about the outside world knocking that practically everyone in my generation dealt with.  Less capable people could become a drag on the group if faced with security problems.  Among men, the biggest and strongest often stepped up to defend the clan and took the casualties.  There was not a lot that could be done about most disabilities, so there wasn’t a lot of talk that helping those with disabilities was an expected thing to do.  On the other hand, the expectation of adhering to the personal discipline of confining sexuality to heterosexuality marriage was seen as a personal equalizing force, giving stability and sustainability to a families, tribes and whole countries that faced external perils.

Obviously, today things are a lot different.  Many people (myself especially) are not tied to families, and see pleas online to get involved personally with the needs of others in a way that would have been seen as inappropriate or unwelcome in earlier generations.  “Gofundme” has become a social norm today, when it strikes an older person like me as grating and self-indulgent.

Practically all communities have organizations that serve the poor.  Many are faith-based.  They offer services like healthful food preparation and delivery (sometimes owning their own gardens for fresh foods), various monthly community assistance (like groceries, clothing, HIV testing,, as well as meals), to specialized services needed by specific communities (elderly, some LGBTQ, asylum seekers and refugees, single mothers, those with mental health or substance problems).  Often the communities ask for lots of volunteers for special events (Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, monthly assistance).   Sometimes there are home-building or rehab events (as with group homes for the disabled, or with Habitat for Humanity) The interaction between the volunteers and those being helped will vary, not always being encouraged. Sometimes it seems that the purpose of the activity is more to build social capital among the group (often faith-based).

Volunteering has become more subject to bureaucracy.  Now there are usually automated background checks of volunteers, especially for those who will drive vehicles or work with minors.

I do find that occasional volunteering to be problematic.  I don’t accomplish much or make much difference when I am there.  Further, there are situations where unexpected personal risk is involved, like driving into unfamiliar and dangerous neighborhoods to make deliveries.

I think it should be more promising to look for more specialized opportunities where one can use one’s own expertise.  With my background, for example, I could perhaps direct chess tournaments attracting low income youth.  Or I could do something with my classical music background, although that can become problematic if it involved pandering to notions about popularity.  If I were involved with music, I’d be more interested in seeing some particular neglected works(not just my own as I composed) performed. As a self-published book author, I do get questions about being more supportive of community book stores (hard copies instead of Internet and Kindle) and of literacy initiatives.

But actual interaction with clients will often be problematic for me.  That is something I did not learn through familial socialization the way others have.  I didn’t learn to place emotional value on having someone depend on me. In the decades of my own upbringing, you would learn that partly through heterosexual courtship leading to marriage and parenthood within it.  Otherwise, my own somewhat “sheltered” upbringing really didn’t require me to interact personally with people with earthier temperaments;  some of it was avoided by placing unwelcome interaction in the category of teasing or even bullying, avoidance of somewhat physical competition on other people’s terms.  That artificial isolation and introversion continued during my long-track information technology career as an individual contributor, where I basically interacted with just “the choir”, people with cognition similar to mine. This diffidence really showed up when I worked as a substitute teacher in the mid 2000’s, and, with low-income or disadvantaged students (especially middle school) encountered interpersonal demands that one normally needs to have been a parent to encounter.  Or perhaps one would learn it through helping raising younger siblings (I had none) or raising as sibling’s children after a family tragedy, something which sometimes happens in inheritance situations (like “Raising Helen”). It’s notable and ironic that when I was growing up, eldercare was not seen as a challenging issue because our grandparents didn’t live as long as they can now.  My own eldercare situation from 1999 on to 2010 had aspects (how old even I was as well as Mother) that would not have happened often in earlier times.

Focused interaction with clients requires commitment to a narrower set of person-related goals than I have experienced until now.  I like being the public person who forces others to “connect the dots”.   The level of personal commitment needed requires (as the character Ephram on “Everwood” once wrote in a fictitious essay) the “ability to change” and share an outcome for a group. The one time I was the most personally engaged was in the mid 1980s when I volunteered with the Oak Lawn Counseling Center in Dallas as an AIDS “buddy” (rather assistant), although somewhat on my own terms.

On a couple of occasions, both in the early 1990s, I got feedback from two different organizations that I would not be effective unless I was more involved with the group, including spending more time with it and being more integrated to the group’s specific goals.

(Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 10 PM EDT)

Right-sizing: free speech, individualism, pitted against mass movements; and “what if? ….”

In early April 2005, I drove down (dodging a tornado on I-95) to Richmond (from Arlington) for an Equality Virginia dinner,  My mother, who was still quite intact at 91, warned, “don’t let yourself show up on television.”

I had returned from Minnesota in late 2003, and was “living at home” again. She had read my first book and somewhat vaguely understood my long term involvement with the issue of gays in the military, and the gradual effort to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell”.  That phrase seems to map what this post is about as a meta-moniker.  Mother had sometimes said I should never mention “William and Mary” (my 1961 expulsion for admitting “latent homosexuality” to the Dean, as I cover in my books and other posts), as if it would only become a source of tension and discomfort for others (not so much the political controversy itself).  I can understand her practical concerns, as I was working as a substitute teacher already, and I’ve already covered how that could blow up. (see July 19 piece).

At one point in conversation surrounding this Richmond trip, she asked, why people should get bad news about national issues from me?  I’ve gotten that sentiment before on social media, from people who says they want Facebook now to be a “politics free zone” and they don’t need to learn of the latest danger they face from international enemies from someone like me.

Ironically, my mother did not fully understand what I was doing in her own basement on my Dell computer on that little aluminum table.  That is, making lots of posts to my legacy “doaskdotell” site (essentially blogging) and being found passively by search engines, needing no employees and needing no capital to keep publishing.  Google took care of everything. “It’s free.”

What have I “accomplished”?  I started this process, in modern times, on the way I argued the issue of gays in the military.  But other issues concerning hyperindividualism (the necessity and dangers of ego) circulated around this one kernel until I was opining on almost everything.  It was a superstorm Sandy of argumentation, an accretion disk.  I attracted visitors for what I was saying, with very simple technology, only getting around to make it look better (on blogging platforms) around 2006. My arguments became known and I think influenced debate (especially on DADT, even helping lead to the 2010 repeal act) even if my name did not (which might have been a good thing).  I tended to focus on moral arguments centered on personal karma, and obstructed more traditional thinking based on victimization and identity politics.

But, one asks, who was I, of all people, to be in a position to influence others, when I did not have my own “skin in the game”?  I did not have children.  I had arguably some subtle disability as a boy but I, compared to other people, had been sheltered somewhat by the relative prosperity and stability of my generation (even as it was threatened by issues by the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassination, and Vietnam war).  I come back at you, and say, you need to know the history.  You need to know the dangers ahead by looking at what happened in the past, from a very personal, street level which my narrative provide.  An unusually important part of this history has to do with conscription and sharing of mandatory risk taking, and the social and personal resilience needed with it.

So, in the books and blog postings, I did accumulate a treasure trove of history that is often overlooked, that today’s and future generations really need to get.

This could be called “amateur speech” or “gratuitous speech”.  But continuing it became my “second career”, as it had started in the mid 1990s with my developing my first book, and then took over after my (post 9/11) “layoff” at the end of 2001.

It became difficult to pursue anything else while I was “living at home” again.  My “best” job was substitute teacher, but there were potential conflicts (link ).  The jobs available could be menial and regimented, and perhaps dangerous (convenience store clerks are exposed to crime), invoking questions about cowardice (as the idea used to be understood), or they could involve hucksterism.  Most of the better paying jobs involved “marketeering”, aggressively trolling other people to go get them to buy things (whether life insurance, or tax preparation).  Suddenly, having become the “alien observer” and cataloger – something more honorable than just “spectator” or “watcher” – traditional selling was no longer acceptable.  (This fits into the material in the book “Men Without Work” by Nicholas Eberstadt, which I will review soon.)

Now, we have a president elect Trump, taking office January 20, who seems hostile to dependence on individualized communications technology, to exactly the kind of thing I did.  I’ve covered this before in various posts, but I would add that Trump could reasonably ask, does this kind of activity support families or put people to work?  Does it carry it’s own weight?   Could it be underwritten for liability insurance? (I have to add another complaint I get from unwanted solicitations:  something like, “How dare you give your stuff away for free and not try to sell your books aggressively, and help people in bookstores keep their jobs?”)  Because use of such an open communications infrastructure does open the world up to dangers from abusers, ranging from cyberbullies to sex traffickers to terror (ISIS) recruiting. And American civilians, he could argue, have become targets of foreign enemies as a result.  (Pulse-Orlando is the most egregious example.)  So this kind of activity could be dialed down or shut down, based on some idea that we are “at war” when domestic civilians can become targets. It’s unclear how First Amendment arguments would apply once it got into court.

So I do think the future poses real “threats” to the curtailment of Internet expression as we have become used to it.  The ways this could happen are numerous, each one of them like a screenplay script.  A lot of it has to do with Section 230, which works in different ways for different providers (telecom companies, publication service providers, social networks, forums, and shared web hosting companies, and even shared economy companies like Uber and Airbnb, and even advertising bulletin boards like Craigslist and Backpage).  But a lot of it has to do, more indirectly (even with issues like ending net neutrality), with the business models of major publicly held telecom and Internet companies today.  Many of these models are based on end-users clicking on and buying products online from ads.  Because of security concerns, many users are much less willing to do this than a decade ago, myself included.  I do notice ads sometimes on sites but rarely click on them;  if I’m interested, I go to the original site of the company.  I tend to buy a lot from Amazon and use physical stores much less than I did.  So my own behavior is an example of the “business model” problem.  I don’t play ball, with or through “groups” that I naturally should belong to.

So, it’s fair to ask, “What if?….”  I know that was a phrase du jour during the early days of the AIDS epidemic.  But what if the right to post online or self-publish “without gatekeepers” was indeed taken away? (even out of emergency concerns over national security, as after a major terror incident).

What else have I got?  I’ve got an engaging novel project, screenplay based on the three DADT books  and music composition . But in this older world of needing third parties, I would need to raise real money.  Maybe Kickstarter or Indiegogo could go somewhere, but I don’t have the material that’s obviously “popular”, even with minorities, at the get-go.  As it stands now, I need the visibility of unsupervised self-publishing to make my work known.  I still think that’s reasonably effective.  One little bit of feedback I’ve discovered in the music area: established composers (of which I am not) have to make a living off of commissions.  Conceivably my activity could disrupt that expectation, although that seems a little far-fetched.

So then there would be the constructive idea of working for or with a legitimate news outlet.  One immediate problem is that Trump seems to dislike conventional media companies (except Fox and Breitbart and probably OAN) even more than amateurs who criticize.  In fact, it’s even imaginable that he would “protect” amateurs (like me or even “Milo”) out of his dislike of traditional media.  So it’s very hard to predict what the environment could be like for smaller media companies after a shakeout.  But I can definitely imagine working with a company like Vox or OAN (ranging from progressive and somewhat liberal to somewhat conservative).  As I look at Breitbart right now, I don’t find it objectionable. Most of the stuff I see there looks like it needs to be reported and said, and it looks credible (now – I can’t speak for the past).

Recently, Bill Moyers, of PBS, listed “10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow”, including BuzzFeed.  Yes, I would be glad to look at any of these.  Let me add that I worked for NBC (on the general ledger system as a computer programmer at 30 Rock from 1974-1977) and I would work there again.  I know some folks at NBCWashington and at WJLA-7 (ABC).

So then, we ask, what about my old career as an individual contributor in information technology. That somewhat died with disuse after 2001.  The IT career resume is here.  One observation that seems relevant is that the exit from the job markets of older IT professionals from established pre-Internet mainframe “culture” (systems development life cycle) denied contracting companies hiring to design and implement “Obamacare” the talent it needed.  That’s one reasons for there being so many problems.  Maybe the GOP plans could actually cover everyone and be simpler to run.  But it is entirely conceivable that I could come back to work and help “you” build a system that actually works.

But now I’ve got to get back to my concern over personal “right-sizing”. I want to share how I personally process the reactions I get from people.  A couple of earlier posts (especially Jan. 4 and Nov. 1)  explain how people reacted to the perceived endpoint of my homosexuality.  I think I can work through what others think of my “self-broadcast” model in a similar well.

One point at the outset is that a lot of time, personal life plans are flawed but seem right (even for decades at a stretch) until some external pressure makes one reassess.  Sometimes actual coercion and force, as objectionable as it seems to libertarians, is a good thing.  Sometimes authoritarians do us a favor by making us face things.  But we may not be able to make others face things in turn. But “revolutionary thought” or “purification” does have its points.  It’s also true that we can think that we our captains of our own ships for a long time, following the narrower individualistic ideas of “personal responsibility” —  and find out how horrible it feels when we have made combative enemies determined to shut us down.

The most noticeable reaction from others during the 2003-2010 period, and even since, has been that others try to get me to sell things.  I want to see myself as “above” having to do that, troll people to contact them.  But others can say, that is exactly the problem.  Salesmanship, for its own sake, has gotten a bad rap because too many people like me have been artificially sheltered from having to do it.  My own father was a salesman, but worked “only” as a wholesaler (manufacturer’s representative) with bricks-and-mortar retail outlets, in a world that Trump misses.  All of his income (which was substantial) came from commissions.  Many of my parents’ social friends worked in this circle, for example, as life insurance agents.  My father believed in salesmanship for its own sake and exuded some authoritarian values.  Because I said it, I can make it true.

Think, then, about the aggressive attitude from my own cooperative book publishers since early 2012.  I get pestered about why I don’t sell hardcopy books and try to go on tours and do hotel seminars.  My reaction is, I’m a journalist, I’m not trying to fix your “f—ing”  life or make you all right.  (Well, Milo Yiannopoulos says that.)

Then I get critiques that I don’t really support anybody or my “brothers and sisters”.  I don’t attack people (or any group), but I do attack identity politics and pimping victimization. (I’m more civil than Milo.)

One way to make media sell is to promote causes that are popular, or to personally support people that seem to have “need”.  It’s unclear in some cases (in the minds of others) whether people are to be supported because they belong to a group (“people of color”, “people with disabilities”, etc) or because of their own narrative circumstances.

This is a sensitive issue with me.  I am not comfortable with promoting someone (with whom I otherwise had not personal connection) with an impairment of any kind just to show that I can do it.  I could even call it “disability porn”.  But it has become not only socially acceptable, it is becoming expected in some areas of social media, and it is viewed as a way to “sell”.  This is indeed a culture shift from how things were when I was growing up.

Yet, my saying this betrays a certain underlying character issue.  I view people from the lens of “you are what you are.”  “Que sera, sera”.  My father once said, in December 1961 after “therapy” had started after the William and Mary fiasco (pre-NIH) that the psychiatrist had said “You don’t see people as people” but as symbols or “foils” (especially the character Tovina in one of my scripts, according one friend.)  It’s as if people got “grades” in life (or “life points”, or transcendence of an otherwise “assigned station in life”) that uniquely raked them in specific position with respect to everyone else – harking to a day when school grades were legal tender.  In a sense, this is just a mathematical idea (called “well-ordered sets” ) and sounds like the individualistic idea of meritocracy, a notion coming under criticism from leftish professors in recent years (as with several book reviews, here ).

I think I would have to face a curious loop of logic, that all this means that “meritocracy” relates to my own desire to experience pleasure and desire in an intimate relationship with someone.  It (equating merit to “virtue”) adds “meaning”.  This certainly common with the “upward affiliation”   in the gay male world, but it really happens a lot in the mainstream straight world, too.

Likewise, my gut reaction to the notion of becoming “victimized” by either enemy (terrorist) or criminal aggression or by some very hostile policy change from the new administration (especially inasmuch as the election results are viewed as the results of the wrongdoing or “sins” of others), is one of revulsion and disgust.   I cringe when I see leftist websites beg for money, and claim that I need them to speak for me, as if I were too much of a “loser” to be able to speak for myself.  I hate the idea of supporting someone else who I otherwise would disapprove of, in order to get “protection” myself.  But I have no right to claim that I am above that.  Having spoken out with self-broadcast, I find people come knocking, and when I don’t respond, they see what I call neutrality as actual broad personal contempt or even hatred.

There is, as I said in my DADT-III book, Chapter 6, a moral question about “stepping up” to meet the needs of others when one is able to do so out of more inherited privilege, and a failure to do so when challenged adds to instability.  Lately I have been blogging a lot about issues centered on not just refugees, but particularly asylum seekers, particularly in some cases LGBTQ.  Because I inherited a house with some room and some capital with it, it seems to me I would have a duty to act on the need for housing if possible.  I’m also finding, so far, that assessing the risk involved is difficult because of lack of transparency on the issue, in the legal and social services system.  The U.S. does not have a system (compared to Canada, for example) that would encourage individuals to step up to this challenge without possibly existential personal risk, and yet such risks have existed in many other areas (like the draft in the past).

One has to consider how life goes on if he plays “Good Samaritan”, so to speak, and something goes bad.  He – or I – winds up paying for the sins of others, but that could be coming to me because of my own karma.  Whatever happens, at an individual level, “it Is what it is”, the supreme tautology (Nov. 6 posting).  I am told that a “person of faith” can always deal with this (the idea of taking someone else’s bullet, as if in the Secret Service). But one can emulate the “Rich Young Ruler” by simply having too much to lose. What others see as excess becomes part of the self.  At the same time, the self does not see intrinsic emotional value if lifting others up, possibly because of spoilage and lack of down-to-earth common sense and skills (or “street smarts”), or perhaps of schizoid emotional aloofness, all tied in to the “upward affiliation” already mentioned.  If I were confronted with the possibility of a personal relationship with someone “in need” by external circumstances (that is, not through creating a child in the conventional family), would it “mean” enough to me? “All lives matter”, indeed.

There is a lot of sentiment out there that preoccupation with “being good” (as a David Brooks or a a Malcolm Gladwell would see it) is simply a way to maintain a belief that you are “better” than the people you “help”.  That’s particularly expressed in a recent book “No More Heroes” by Jordan Flaherty (see meritocracy link above). The desired moral paradigm is to belong, particularly to a cause beyond oneself (as in Martin Clay Fowler’s book “A Philosophy of Belonging”) and accept that the group is part of you.  That extends to belonging to mass movements, as in Eric Hoffer’s 1951 manifesto, “The True Believer”.  Other animals experience distributed consciousness (such as dolphins and especially orcas ). Maybe the killer whale really gets right-sizing.

(Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 4 PM EST)

Authoritarianism and combativeness threaten free speech (mine at least)

Two days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, I have to pause for a moment and think about two behaviors that can become existential threats to me:  authoritarianism, and combativeness.

I’m particularly concerned with behavior that is intolerant of the expression of views or beliefs that contradicts those of one’s own tribe (religious or national), or that is somehow critical or somehow mocks authority figures, whether political or religious.

One of the most notorious examples of combative behavior (with respect to speech) was the Jyllands Posten Muhammad Cartoon Controversy, well documented in this wiki  and covered by Flemming Rose in his “Tyranny of Silence” .  This led to a violent incident in Paris and killing of Charlie Hebdo and other journalists in January 2015.

Young adults, especially young men (and fewer but still substantial numbers of women) join radical mass movements often out of a need for “brotherhood” and meaning, when the circumstances of the upbringing don’t afford the capacity of engineering their own lives as individuals the way “Western values” (or “democratic capitalism”, a term the Washington Times uses, but which the Left sees as an oxymoron) now expects.  Religion and faith may be a unifying factor (sometimes with apocalyptic, end-of-days theology), but so can be collective secular political ideology, as with some violent elements of the radical Left (the Symbionese Liberation Army, for example) in the 1970s.

But such persons, when recruited, often feel that tolerating any question of their beliefs is itself giving in to some kind of oppression, often with inter-generational  inherited roots.

Resistance and protest groups often develop their own internal political structures which become authoritarian in a manner psychologically similar to the authoritarian tendencies of national political leaders, even men like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, as well as China’s leadership.

Authoritarian leaders believe that the people they “rule” must face a hostile world with many threats, and that people must remain somewhat cohesive and free from distraction as for certain beliefs.  Authoritarianism fears that the individual who is “different” will view that “difference” as making him or her “special” and will drain the resources from the overall safety of the group without contributing their fair share of the risk-taking.   And leadership also fears that criticism will reduce its credibility with the people, and leadership rationalizes the idea that loss of leadership authority actually attracts enemies.

It is true that in various circumstances, authoritarian and even combative attitudes can give an illusion of prosperity and stability.  This often means persecuting the “others”.  But it is often a long time before the main population understands what is really happening than things start to unravel.  To many Gentile Germans, Nazi Germany seemed stable and prosperous in the late 1930s and it was not to last.  But even the rest of the world was fooled.

This whole area of authoritarianism and combativeness, often relabeled as “activism” and “solidarity”, makes my speech quite troubling for some people.  In several episodes in my life, I have questioned over-simplified, group-think ideas about policy needs, with arguments that potentially can undermine the group’s achieving its goals if the arguments are heard by enough people. Call it playing “devil’s advocate” or deploying “I told you so.”   Back in the 1980s, even before there was an effective public internet, I was a thorn in the side of some activists, who wanted to present people with AIDS simply as “victims” based on being in a disliked group.  I’ve covered this in my books and other posts (like here ).  Regarding gays in the military, I voiced unusual arguments involving shared risk-taking going back to the practices of the Vietnam era draft, and conceded that in the past people were more easily distracted by “cohesion” concerns (like in college dorms) than young adults would be today.  That argument (far afield from the usually politically correct arguments about disliked groups)  seemed to stick and stay in circulation and may have helped contribute to the DADT Repeal in 2010-2011.  In more recent times, with respect to Internet speech issues (COPA for example) I’ve admitted that we could have come up with automated pre-screening tools for some security issues (including child pornography, sex trafficking, and especially terrorist recruitment or cell-plotting) or we could lose out on the right to continue “user generated speech” altogether.  That’s especially true now that we have a president somewhat hostile to globalism, automation, and who will ask if Internet behavior is paying its own way, when compared to the risks of allowing it (even as that president uses Twitter to reach his own audience in an asymmetric way, but he won’t need it for long).

I certainly have attracted criticism from others for putting my stuff out for free (mostly), allowing others to find it, not insisting that it make money on its own (or help other people get and keep their jobs).  Have your skin in the game, they say, before you speak out.  That quickly translates to, have your own family first.  Otherwise, you could endanger others and attract harm to others connected to you, from real enemies.

But I also get flak for not “belonging” to the group, and sometimes for respecting the leadership of the group.  I play “devil’s advocate”, bracing to say “I told you so” later.  Group leadership will think this gives credibility to “enemy” arguments (that otherwise get overlooked) and keeps things from getting done to benefit most of the people in the group (or even country).  Trump is not the first person I’ve encountered to react to having his authority questioned.  My own father could react that way.  And in some job interviews in the past, people would ask why I’m not more assertive and authoritative myself.

I do have a tendency to regard almost any engagement with others (in a relatively private or personal group) as having potential public significance, which can become troubling to others even without names being mentioned.  Any group needs boundaries about what affects the outside world and tends to need people to enforce those borders.

(Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017, at 2 PM EST)

It’s important to know the history of homophobia, and how it was a proxy for much more

There is a lot of apprehension about the effect a Trump administration could have on “LGBTQ” rights (or, depending on your viewpoint, “LGBTQ people”).  The concern is not so much from Trump’s actions (he seemed OK with this issue on his show “The Apprentice” with gay candidates and obviously would have considered them equally), but with some of his proposed appointments to the administration, as well as Vice President Pence.

While the “popular” strategy on the Left, has been the “as a people” approach (remedying discrimination against a group), I’ve always gone at this from the libertarian to conservative issue:  why is one adult’s consensual sex life another adult’s (other than a spouse) business?  Why was it the business, in the past, of governments, churches, schools, employers, landlords, etc?

For indeed, in the distant past, the world very much interfered with my life, with huge consequences shaping the course of a whole adulthood, as it has for many other people. With all the rapid gains, most of all repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” and then marriage equality, and now in transgender areas (begrudgingly at times as with the bathroom bills),  and today’s fights over phony “religious freedom restoration act” bills, it’s very important that younger gay adults and teens understand the history, which even recently was challenging.  In the past, not only were gays “entrapped” in public restrooms; sometimes police raided gay establishments and invented false charges of public lewdness, leading to the concept of the “Mafia bar” in New York in the 1960s (during the 1964-65 World’s Fair, leading to Stonewall in 1969) and police harassment of bar patrons in Dallas in 1980.

From a libertarian perspective, there really seems to exist a delicious irony.  In the past, LGBTQ people (so to speak) were persecuted not for what they did but for what they didn’t do – which was “play ball: with carrying on families (biologically).  When I was expelled from William and Mary in 1961, the idea that being around me could threaten a roommate’s or dorm resident’s procreative potential was seen a  much bigger threat than would (the opposite risk of) an unwanted pregnancy or becoming a romantic rival for someone’s girlfriend. That sort of idea would get into the debate on gays in the military in the 1990s, and form an irony framing all of my writing. A corollary is that, in dorm life for me, insecure men talked as if seeing someone like me succeed with women would make them feel more secure about their own prospects, as part of herd thinking.

Why were things “the way they were”? One observation stands out:  tribal culture.  Western civilization, for all its politics, developed from Abrahamic religions, all of which comprised tribal groups that had to be concerned with their group survival against enemies, whether religious, political, or natural.  Religious moral codes (the Ten Commandments seem uncontroversial, but not a lot of other passages in the Old Testament)  were developed with respect to risks to the sustainability of groups.  Moral codes, imposing a certain uniformity of culture and behavior on everyone in a group, tend to give group life “meaning” for a lot of people, so a lot of people become “addicted” to looking at others through these moral ideas, especially “outsiders” (read immigrants, or people of other races, today).  Homosexuality, with its obvious potential to detract from procreation, was seen as a proxy behavior for any existential threat to the long term survival of the group.  The capability of looking at the world through libertartian lens is relatively modern, and becomes easier in richer cultures with higher standards of living and with political and infrastructure stability.  But this capacity means less addiction to one’s own perceptions and more openness to interacting with others on terms other than one’s own – a difficult sell for many people.   But this is a necessary context for most of the arguments below;  the freedom to live just according to one’s own expectations from other peoples can, over time, inadvertently invite authoritarianism.

I have to add a caveat: some native societies, in North America and around the world, have been quite tolerant of gender ambiguity, willing to place “queer” people into positions of spiritual authority.

But now ;let’s run through the five big areas. I’ll work inside-out, inductively, and start with the most specific problems first.

Issue 1: Public Health

I had my “second coming” in the 1970s and I knew vaguely that typical “promiscuous” gay male “lifestyles” could increase the risk of traditional venereal diseases, and I often heard people talk about hepatitis (especially B). My last year in New York City, 1978, some things happened that gave me reason to wonder if something else could be going on.  I moved to Dallas for a new job at the start of 1979, and that could have saved my life.

In early 1983, about a year before the CDC announced the discovery of HTLV-III (later known as HIV-I) a conservative state representative from Amarillo introduced a bill (HR 2138) that would have reinforced the Texas sodomy law (2106) and banned homosexuals from most occupations (let alone the military). Prompt activism by the Dallas Gay Alliance kept it from getting out of committee.  A group called the “Dallas Doctors Against AIDS” advanced a theory saying that the chain-letter transmission of the then unidentified virus by anal intercourse within the gay male community threatened the general population because it amplified a dangerous virus that could then mutate and change transmissibility. Groups like DDAA jumped on CDC’s observation that the disease did not seem to transmit easily from women to men in “normal” intercourse, so heterosexual chains, well known with conventional venereal diseases or STD’s, would not sustain with AIDS.

We know that this (the speculated increase in contagion) did not happen.  As in the old series “Science Fiction Theory” with Truman Bradley, we could ask, could it happen?  Well, is that like a woman changing into a plant, as in one episode?  I sound sarcastic.  It’s unusual for viruses to change transmissibility, but yet they can cross species.  If a virus got more contagious, it would probably become much less virulent. That would mean that this particular virus would need to infect other kinds of cells (like in the lungs or GI tract).  One possibility was that it could become an arbovirus (and in fact the New York Native, Charles Ortleb’s little newspaper in the 1980s, speculated about an arbovirus, African Swine Fever, or ASFV, being experimented with by the government on Long Island.  That actually could have been very dangerous politically.  One could imagine such arguments being made about Zika now.

The credibility of this argument waned with time, as HIV did not change its basic behavior.  By definition, the opportunistic infections carried by PWA’s were unlikely to affect people with normal immune systems.  Even so, one cannot completely eliminate some other “science fiction movie” scenario that imagination can conjure.  The transmission models for viruses attractive to terrorists (like avian influenza, maybe) are much more aggressive.  Social distance becomes an issue, but that’s not a problem just in the gay community.

The cost of covering insurance for HIV (including PrEP and protease inhibitors) could become a hot button problem as Trump’s minions replace Obamacare (in fact, it’s a problem now).  Pence, back in 2000, wanted to slash AIDS funding and support “conversion therapy”, with shallow but curiously pernicious logic “with no heart”.

Lesbians, it should be remembered, actually have fewer sexually transmitted diseases than straight women.  Gender is not always “fair” in nature.

Issue 2: Procreation

I think that historically, most homophobia is centered on the (not completely correct) idea that homosexuals don’t reproduce and strengthen the population.  Resources (maybe more votes) in this theory should go to people responsible for offspring (or maybe adopting children).

The tacky idea was that “homosexuals don’t recruit, so they must recruit”, at least in the mindset of the Westboro Baptist Church.  It also sounds like the mindset in Russia.

Remember, in Russia, sodomy was made legal in 1993, and the 2013 anti-propaganda law was only about talking about it, or “promoting” it.  Vladimir Putin, have promoted “conception days” for a sparsely populated country losing people and its former greatness, is thinking that speech about homosexuality will give less “secure” males (or “waverers”) the idea that having a family with children isn’t worth it, is too much or a personal encumbrance against other goals, a notion that lives at the heart of the culture wars. Volokh (a law professor) takes us this argument in this post.

This may be the most relevant argument in my own life, since I am an only child.  That’s unusual, as gay men tend not to be first-born males (which adds to biological epigenetic theories).  But arguably, I deprived my parents a “lineage” which, in some religious thought, matters for the afterlife.

Issue 3: Relativity and the Observer, or Distraction

One of Einstein’s ideas in his relativity theories was that objects are affected by the observer.  OK, this comes down to the idea that sometimes people don’t like to be stared at, and scoped.  The straight world understands that women don’t like this (maybe Donald Trump doesn’t, judging from his comments to Billy Bush, all that locker room talk).  But men often object to being “evaluated” by other men, too.  I can remember the phrase, back to around 1972, “I don’t notice men’s bods.”  Arguably, straight men who are less than perfect physically don’t like the idea that other men notice how they tack up against potential competition.  If these (heterosexual) men are allowed to keep male physical appearance (compared to female) outside the area of allowable public awareness, weaker men have a better chance of finding female mates.

I documented in DADT-1 that my roommate at William and Mary in 1961  feared he would become impotent if he continued living near me (he put it in more graphic terms).  This sort of thing is what bothered the likes of Sam Nunn and Charles Moskos back in 1993 when Bill Clinton was forced to settle for “don’t ask don’t tell” for gays in the military.

The distraction issue, in less wealthy and less stable societies, is significant because such societies tend to expect men to bond together when necessary to protect women and children in their communities. In recent years, in western countries, this has become less significant socially.  Better educated men generally are not as likely to feel distracted when in an environment in which they know homosexuals are present.  Actually, there was very little or no distraction during the Vietnam era, because of the authoritarian atmosphere, and the fact that when there was draft, people tended to support a double standard, pretending one thing and quietly acknowledging another.  Similarly, the military did not try to discharge gay soldiers once deployed in Iraq because of severe “stop-loss” needs.

So the “distraction” argument tends to wane when there are more pressing problems around.  To an individualist, even an Ayn Rand follower, this sort of argument sounds self-deprecating.  But people who feel this way typically have much more invested in group identity, especially associated with religious beliefs.

There have been films about this kind of problem, like “Rebirth”, which presents a self-help commune that doesn’t allow “spectators” because watchers can criticize people with skin in the game.

Issue 4: Relationism

Traditional marriage (or “complementation”, or even “complementaration”, see comment, Dec. 28 posting) is typically advanced by social conservatives (ranging from Rick Santorum to George Gilder, to the Family Research Council) as involving a certain amount of sacrifice by the man, for access to sexual intercourse (with children), buttressing his identity as a man.  The FRC especially was quick to note that men often show lower testosterone levels when caring for children (although that presumes that the old-fashioned  gender split with stay-at-home moms is breaking down). It used to be a standing joke that men gain weight and develop pot bellies after getting married – become less sexually attractive (go bald, too), having made their one conquest. That doesn’t need to happen, of course, and many times does not.  But it still sets up a curious admission that seems self-deprecating to an individualist.  Indeed, Allan C. Carlson, in “Family Matters” (1989) had written that traditional families would have to deal with or be protected from the “logical implications of radical individualism”.

Indeed, when one has kids, one is “encumbered” in a sense and changes into a new person, and takes on new goals and a new identity.  Well, maybe not always.  Donald Trump didn’t.  But one could be competing with less encumbered childless people who can lowball him in the workplace.

The debate over paid family leave inverts this situation, but so does the fact that childless people can be in a real bind with faced with the demands of eldercare, as I was.

“Relationism” has a lot to do with finding meaning in an intimate or deeply relationship with a dependent, the opposite of “upward affiliation”.  Having a family and becoming a parent the traditional way is the most straightforward way to grow into relational living (that’s Carlson and Mero and “The Natural Family”).  But love within the family needs to branch out, and give the individual the capacity to get beyond his comfort zone in dealing with need interpersonally;  this is an existential change to a sense of identity for a lot of people, myself included.  It does get personal.

Issue 5: Right-sizing

The last issue is the most nebulous, but I had written about this before (Oct. 3).  There is a general understanding that in western culture some inequality is inevitable if people are going to have incentives to innovate, and raise the living standards for everybody.  But there is also an idea that if everybody has to follow the same rules in some sensitive areas (like sexuality), life has more “meaning” for everybody, and wealth and income inequality is more acceptable.  It’s the “everybody else should have to deal with what I have to deal with” idea.  Life isn’t fair, but it’s our best shot.

There is the fear that the elevation of the cultural norm of “husband and father”, for men who otherwise don’t distinguish themselves as individuals, could be diluted.  There’s the idea that gays are “getting out of things” (supporting families) — an idea that the religious right sometimes hijacked early in the AIDS epidemic by calling gays “spoiled sophisticates”. There’s the idea of allowing one’s sexuality to be used for the adaptive needs of the community around you.  There’s the idea that the value of the “less able” can only be ratified within a nuclear “natural” family structure where needs are known on the ground, and where everyone follows the same rules.

It may also have to do with resilience – the idea that a people, if challenged by a serious external calamity, could bounce back, even if individual people in the group accepted the idea of a lot of (otherwise uneven) personal sacrifice.  But this is an odious idea for modern western democracy generally, that we cannot count on our system to be there for us.   This is the moral mindset of much of the doomsday prepper crowd.

Conclusion:

Sexual orientation is not by itself an identity (as much as perhaps gender identity itself is). Male homosexuality, in western culture, is very prone to “upward affiliation” because of the competitive context of individualism (Chapter 7 of DADT-2).  That tends to exacerbate (through a sense of “proxy”) a perception of inequality and unfairness in some contexts and lead to -instability (Chap 6 of DADT-3).  The proxy behavior appearance tempts some authoritarian politicians and religious leaders to focus on homosexuality as some sort of fundamental threat to the long term survival of a group, instead of on personal responsibility in the much narrower sense of liberal culture.  This illusion also contributes to a belief among some traditionally married men that they are doing a good job providing for a family when actually they become vulnerable to loss of emotional investment in their marriages as the couples get older.  And the illusion may cover up some domestic violence by heterosexual men.

If I ponder this along with my own attitudes about the way people become important to me, I can see that a strict moral code, enforced on everyone, can provide an effective “firewall” against obligated to get into personal relationships with people whom you don’t want to make OK, or accepting the idea of having to become dependent on others (not of your choosing) yourself, because of the common hazards we must all share.

I have a correlated post on my “Do Ask Do Tell Notes” blog here.

(Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 10:30 PM EST)

 

Could “Trump” (or his “values” in Congress) stop citizen journalism?

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Three years ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece maintaining that enjoying college football (and presumably pro football too) as a fan is “morally problematic” because the sport is inherently dangerous, exposing young men to a not completely controllable concussion risk.  (Is it OK for actor Richard Harmon to tweet about the Fighting irish?)  I’ll leave the link to my coverage of it on a legacy blog.  I’ll leave this particular point about conditional morality out in view for a while, as I return to my own situation.

My own situation is that I do get criticism and questions about the way I manage my web presence and books, particularly questions about the fact that I don’t seem to be trying hard to sell them to make money, as if I had to make a living from them.  I don’t.  I covered this matter pretty well here with a blog posting July 8.   Likewise, I get questions about the point of my blogs and websites.  The normal free market would say that it would be very difficult for most bloggers to make a living from advertising revenue from their sites, but some niche bloggers (like “dooce ”, the famous mommy blog by Heather Armstrong) have done well.  Australian blogging guru Ramsay Taplan  (Blogtyrant ) has written lots of tutorials on how to make niche blogging work, but you have to be very serious about the business aspects and become aggressive. Adsense support forums on Google indicate that a number of bloggers, especially overseas, do try to make ends meet even on Blogger.

It’s important, for the moment, to retrace how I got into what I would now call “citizen journalism” (or “citizen commentary” would be more apt)   It all started with my incentive to write my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book, which I first totally self-published with my own print run in 1997.  I was originally motivated by the debate over gays in the military.  My own life narrative, even up to that point, had displayed an unusual irony (much of that having to do with the Vietnam era military draft)    But my arguments moved into many “civilian” areas, including workplace discrimination, “family values”, public health, and law.  I proposed some constitutional amendments, which I thought fit the temper of the mid 1990s.  Some of what I proposed (I was very cautious on the marriage issue) has become outmoded by the progress of history since then.

It had become possible to publish text essays on Hometown AOL in the early fall of 1996.  I got my own domain (called “hppub.com” then, for “High Productivity Publishing”) in the summer of 1997 at the same time as the book publication.  Originally my intention was to maintain footnotes from the book as more events regarding the various issues unfolded.  By the summer of 1998, I decided to post the html text of the book online for viewing.  Copies of the book did sell fairly well the first two years, and by 1999, volume of hits on the site was quite significant (even from places like Saudi Arabia).

I would go on to accumulate a large amount of material about various issues regarding personal liberty, organized in a concentric fashion. Soon I would add movie-tv, book, and stage event (including music) reviews, with an emphasis on how major issues were addressed in books (including fiction) movies (both conventionally acted and documentary).  The tone of my material, in the personal liberty area, took a somewhat alarming turn after 9/11 in 2001, but that resulted in more attention to my coverage of some issues (for example, after 9/11 there was talk about renewing military conscription).  Eventually I would migrate to placing most of my new content on Blogger starting in 2006, and then gradually started a migration to hosted WordPress at the start of 2014 (as I published my third DADT book, POD).

During most of this time, I was a litigant (through Electronic Frontier Foundation) against COPA, the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, which would finally be overturned in 2007 (after a complicated history including two trips to the Supreme Court).

I think my “value” to the world  — and what gave me a sense of “identity” for the second half of my life (since the mid 1990s, and especially after my official “retirement” at the end of 2001) is that I keep all the arguments about a “network” of liberty-related issues on the floor, available at all times.  Even with a modest number of unique visitors (who don’t know me), there is an influence on policy way beyond my own numerosity of 1.  I could say I’m “keeping them honest”.  I’ve had very good up time reliability over all the years, and in the earlier years, the simple organization of my sites with simple html caused many articles to rank high in search engines (above those of established companies and organizations), with no optimization, even without attention to metatags.

So, you can imagine my annoyance at appeals for donations from sites that purport to speak for me as a member of one group or another.  And also my annoyance of the slogans and baby talk of most political campaign ads.  In fact, I don’t donate to candidates.  Here we get more into my head.  Ironically I perceive needing to have a “strongman” protect me from would be a sign of my own status as a “loser” (and how does that come across as “Trump-talk”?)

Likewise, I have some inner disdain for the idea of being a “marketeer” (something touted by some ads on my sties even).  I remember a job interview onetime in 2002 where the “sales” person (for a financial service) said “We give you the words.”  I don’t need anyone to do that for me.  That sounds like something to appeal to someone not “smart” enough to do anything other than hucksterizing.  I don’t like to manipulate others, and I don’t get manipulated (just like I don’t join mass movements as in Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer“).   But I know this sounds like posturing from a position of “unearned privilege”.  The tone of numerous solicitations I got after “retirement” seemed to be that I was mooching and should grovel for customers like everyone else (indeed, even if that meant manipulating people to get subprime mortgages), so that the selling playing field was fairer to “them”.  “Always be closing”, indeed!

OK, I can think back, and remember even Mark Cuban said the other day, he had a knack for selling door-to-door, as his first job selling sneakers at 12 (story).  Today, when I think of door-to-door I wonder about home invasions;  and with telemarketing, I wonder about robocalls and scams.  You can see how false pride and insularity, as it becomes more common,, only adds more divisions in our culture and makes it harder for a lot of people to earn a living at all.  Make America Great Again, indeed!

This biggest “objection” from some quarters seems to be that a presence like this that doesn’t pay its own way (in terms of the way a business other than a proprietorship would have to report) represents a possible public risk (getting back to the Gladwell reference on football that I started out with).  It requires a permissive legal culture for me to be able to post anything I want under my own “publicity right” with no gate keepers.  One of the mechanisms that makes this possible, as I have explained elsewhere on legacy blogs, is limits on downstream liability for service providers (Section 230 for defamation or privacy issues;  DMCA safe harbor for copyright).  Without these protections, user-generated content as we know it now (and “citizen journalism”) would not be possible.  Only content that made money on its own could get published (which was pretty much how things were until the 1990s), and “getting published” meant something.

The implicit security problems, of course, are abuse, particularly recruiting of young people for criminal or enemy activity (as by ISIS), and the issue of cyberbullying, as mentioned by Melania Trump recently. It’s all too easy for me to imagine Donald Trump saying in a speech shortly after winning (if he won) that there is no legitimate reason the country should tolerate these risks, given the peril.  Web sites, he could argue, should carry their own freight, and be able to pay employees and support families if they stay up. Remember how he measured teams simply by “money” on “The Apprentice”?  He could indeed become “The Accountant” in a very narrow sense.

That is to say, the permissiveness that benefits me, allows danger to others, especially less advantaged parents raising kids.  (Well-off kids with educated parents don’t usually have as many problems with this, and generally well-off kids learn to “make it” in the real world.  This is definitely related to economic class and even race.)

As for the national security and ISIS risk, one could probably counter that most of the recruiting material is actually accessed from the Dark Web anyway, off shore, in encrypted and untraceable fashion;  and most of this illicit activity involes P2P, BitTorrent,. TOR, and other “clandestine practices” like digital currency.  All of these things have morally legitimate uses (especially in other countries with authoritarian leadership) and their own followings and adherents. (A lot of people have invested their hearts into bitcoin just as I have done with my own versuon of “citizen journalism”.)

Still, Trump, late in 2015, made some vague proposals for “shutting down” much of the Internet, and some in Congress (like Joe Barton, Nov. 5 posting) have wanted to shut down much of social media (the companies already say they shut down accounts that facilitate terrorism, but it’s impossible to stop new ones from growing like mushrooms).  I can imagine the hit on Wall Street if Facebook and Twitter were forced to close.  One could imagine another model, however, where social networks on line mean exactly that: they are much smaller, and only accessed in white-listed, private mode.   I, for example, use Facebook and Twitter as publication adjuncts;  I really don’t use them to flirt or find “companionship”.  So I have little use for a service like Snapchat, because I don’t need a lot of day-to-day interaction with lots of people. I don’t announce where I am going or what events I will attend on Facebook – for security reasons.  So I don’t “play ball” with friends whose life model is to organize others.

Would the Supreme Court continue to protect speakers from this kind of development (as it seems to have done with COPA and the earlier CDA)?  One problem, it seems to me, is that conceptually, distribution of speech (which used to require gatekeepers, based on profitability) is somewhat a distinct potential “right” from the mere utterance itself.

I do wonder about the business models of many Internet service facilitators (and even POS companes), if they can sustain themselves indefinitely with content that consumers don’t pay for.

It seems that to “sell”, you have to offer something more focused that people want.  Citizen journalism and commentary is not something that you would normally expect to “sell”.  Of course, some socially “questionable” things (porn) do sell “easily”.  So do focused “special interests” (and that bemuses Trump’s message as he often delivers it). But one way to improve “popularity” (and actual sales potential) is meeting special needs.  For temperamental reasons (as I covered yesterday) that isn’t something that I want to identify me as something to be known for.  Meeting need is one thing, but “pimping” need is another.  As I said yesterday, this whole area of “indulgence” drags me down the rabbithole of being identified by other people’s causes, not the ones I chose.  But I can see how it fits the idea of “right-sizing”.

For me, the future of “citizen journalism” comes very much into question, especially if Trump wins.  I understand the questions about the legitimacy of the practice ( well laid out in Wikipedia ) but that journalism is often mixed with original analysis (sometimes from unusual life narrative perspectives, like mine, as well as from professional surveys and studies) and commentary.  The New York Times has an interesting perspective today, “Journalism’s next challenge: Overcoming the threat of fake news”, in the New York Times, by Jim Rutenberg.  Timothy B. Lee of Vox has a relevant piece Nov. 6 “Facebook is harming our democracy...“, with its user-mediated newsfeeds, which has the effect of diluting “real” journalism with amateurism (let alone “clickbaiting”).  On CNN, Ted Koppel (“Lights Out“) told Chris Cuomo  that the public doesn’t trust professional journalism any more.  (On Nov. 11, New York Magazine’s Max Read claimed “Donald Trump won because of Facebook“. My own role is not to replace traditional establishment media but to keep it honest by supplementing it with material that confounds reporting and organizing according to traditional identity politics — but some people just stop reading traditional media altogether and see only what they want to hear from amateurs, reinforcing their “UFO” beliefs.)

I’ve approached these problems before, from the viewpoint of “conflict of interest” (Aug. 7, or here ).  We saw this first back around 2001 (before 9/11) with talk of the need for “employer blogging policies”, especially for associates who have direct reports or make decisions about others.  (That’s what drove Heather Armstrong to go solo and then to invent the word “dooce”).

While Gladwell’s idea of unaccounted “moral hazard” subsumed by others (as well as authoritarian ideas about “right-sizing” individual speech as with Russia and China) ( could cause Trump and some in Congress to want to crimp user generated content, it’s indeed (fortunately) hard to see any straightforward way he could do it.  But (to make “A Modest Proposal”) one way would be to prevent  (“nuisance”) domains from being owned by (or even renewed) by entities that don’t offer full public accounting of their funding, even self-funded proprietorships like mine.  Accounts could have to “pay their own way” with their own revenues (that sounds like Trump’s style of thinking, valuing everything in terms of money).  But, then again, Trump has a lot of trouble disclosing his own good fortune in life very publicly.  But so does Hillary.  This kind of problem could intersect with the Network Neutrality debate, if Trump guts neutrality and allows ISP’s to charge businesses for access to their networks (which wasn’t a problem in practice before 2015, however — and some say that this could be a problem “only” for high-volume “porn” sites).

If my “accomplishment” were taken away from me, from public sight, what be left?   My own model is horizontal, using prior content to build more content (for example, for eventually getting my music performed), but that content must remain public, even if it doesn’t pull in short term revenue, to remain strategically effective. Pimping victimhood or group loyalty?  I’d love to get on with a real news outlet reporting critical things that the media just hasn’t covered well (like electric power grid security, as with Koppel’s book).  Or should I just “merge” with Wikipedia?  Actually, there’s no article on me there yet.

(Posted: Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 at 4 PM EST)

 

When facing change due to coercion from others, one needs to have a certain conversation with the self

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First, let me recount a nice incident, that invokes some wonder.  One early evening in September 2012 I was driving (to the movies) along a major Arlington VA street when I spotted some kids on the sidewalk, walking against traffic, with a popular, well-liked teen, whom I recognized immediately from a local church, walking on the outside toward the street. He stumbled momentarily into the street.  My foot came off the pedal instantly, but curiously the engine died (and this car had an automatic trans).  Nothing happened, no accident happened.  Miracle maybe?  The car restarted normally and I got to the movie.   Never has happened again,

One three occasions, people have asked me for roadside assistance starting cars in parking lots or at service plazas.  I did help one time on a New Years Eve and nothing happened.  The other two times I did not. One of the situations (in Ohio in 2010) sounded like a real carjacking threat (I got away and called state police);  the other situation was a woman (in West Virginia) who probably was legitimately in trouble.  Mark Zuckerberg reportedly “escaped” a possible carjacking or robbery at a gas station right after moving to California at age 20 (Ben Mezrich’s “The Accidental Billionaires”).

Recently, I’ve considered the possibility of offering to host an asylum seeker(s).  I can’t go into any detail now, but I find that people become nervous when any prospective volunteer starts asking questions about potential risks and liabilities, and seems “outside” a supportive socially cohesive group.

I think that anytime someone offers to take a significant and not entirely predictable risk to help others, that someone needs to have a conversation with the self about living with the consequences of “near worst case scenarios”, where the person’s own life could be forced to change course in a significant way.

But many “good Samaritan” situations occur with no warning.  So one must have thought through one’s values, and the idea that external circumstances could suddenly test these values and force them to change.

I’ve become much more aware of this since “retiring”, so to speak, at the end of 2001.  Yes, I “inherited” some wealth at the end of 2010 with the passing of Mother.  I used to perceive most risks as under my control, particularly with matters that concern performance in the workplace, or mishaps with work.  In more recent years, I’ve had to contemplate how external events can force change on me.

I don’t consider ordinary health decline with age as controversial, and death from some cause will happen to (“almost”) everyone. (I’m not sure I would subscribe to Peter Thiel’s ideas about longevity.) So “ordinary” illness or medical challenge is not itself at issue.  But I do consider coercion from others as more challenging now than it had been when I was working – more challenging than any time in my life since I was in the Army (draft) 1968-1970.  Standing alone, I can quickly be erased or made into nothing as an unintended or expandable consequence of someone else’s priorities. I would be a casualty, but not a victim, given prior privileges. Yet the next person I conveniently overlook could have been brought low by someone else’s greed.  Karma is a brutal idea.

It can make sense to “act” (as a Good Samaritan) sometimes, even out of self-interest, because “bad things can happen to previously good people anyway.”  Challenges can come from random events (crime), and changing some behavior can reduce this risk.  It can come from being targeted (legally or physically) for online behavior (I would describe this as a marginal risk in terms of “storm prediction center” terminology).  It can came from authoritarian policy changes, especially in the free speech areas.  But some of the danger to me comes from “expropriation” (or what one friend once called “purification”).  If you didn’t earn all you “have” and somebody yanks it away from you, then you don’t get it back.  Values can change, toward more authoritarian or tribal systems, which to some people still seem self-contained and “logical”.

There’s a disturbing sequence of logic that must follow.  As my father once said, I don’t “see people as people”.  I care about my own perceptual world and people that I “choose” to idealize.  But I don’t “care” about someone (in the emotional-body sense) who would depend on me.  I do tend to see people as intrinsic “winners” or “losers” (as does Trump) and don’t “Care” personally about the “losers” whatever the reason for the loss.  “You are what you are”, or “it is what it is” or “it is what you see.” Call it “karma” or even your eventual “right-size”.  But, unlike Trump, I don’t particularly value having some social position in relation to others in some hierarchy of command or authority.  Power, in his sense, is of no importance to me.  The ability to influence thought of others (through art and writing) does matter. That could be lost.  There’s a certain logical disconnect (on my part) in wanting to perturb the “values” of my culture (by being found online, mainly  — and this really works, right now) and not having more emotion (love) concerning real people who would “consume” my insights.

In the WB series “Everwood“, piano prodigy Ephram Brown (Gregory Smith) once said that his fatal flaw as his “inability to change”.  For the 1983 hit movie “Staying Alive” (directed by Sylvester Stallone), John Travolta (“Saturday Night Fever“) created an existential metaphor of change by waxing his bod for the role of a fighter-turned-dancer.  One can be forced to “change” by the “priorities” of others, sometimes, particularly by people who see meaning in enforcing the connections of social hierarchies (who will be particularly aggressive against those whom they perceive as having unearned wealth or influence — Jeffrey Toobin’s book, “American Heiress” about Patty Hearst-Tania in the 1970s [which I am reading] is indeed a “worst-case” example).  My own religious values say that ending one’s life if forced to change, even at a gunpoint, would be cowardice, and would condemn one in the next life (although I don’t think a “hollow heaven” offers much).  Yet there exist some limits, some lines I would never cross.  I have a general idea of where those are.  I don’t guarantee that I would be around after just anything.  I don’t watch other people’s backs and nobody watches mine.  Of course, I had that same self-reflection during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and when  entering the Army.  It could happen again.

There is warning in all of this.  If there were too many “people like me” who became visible and effective (without covering our own subsumed risks and without becoming more personally responsive to others “in need” or to potential non-biological dependents, even within a largely familial or tribal context) aggressive politicians could find it easier to rationalize authoritarianism and even fascism, ultimately threatening “my” own freedom and personhood. Donald Trump provides a potentially chilling example.

(Posted: Sunday, November 6, 2016, at 6:45 PM EST)

Donald Trump’s authoritarian values (and the values of his quasi-“deplorable” followers)

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There are a lot of articles in the media today characterizing Donald Trump as an existential threat to democracy that respects individualism as we know it now.  Here is a sample.

Who Goes Trump?” by James Kirchick, Tablet   This piece characterizes many Trump supporters as actually well-off, but psychologically insecure, of questionable character, uneasy about the legitimacy of their own prosperity and particularly needing authoritarian values to be imposed on them and others to give their lives meaning.  A significant danger is that other people in the administration, who “support” Trump, would not constrain him from dangerous or impulsive conduct, because they share similar values.

The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump”,  by Adam Gopnik, the New Yorker.

The Conservative Case for Voting for Clinton”,  by David Frum, The Atlantic

America and the Abyss”,  by Andrew Sullivan, New York.   This is one of the darkest pieces, put in terms of voting for fascism.

Is this scaremongering by the ‘elite left” (or by “progressive” or “compassionate” conservatives)?  Some people I talk to in person, who I don’t think would fit into Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” seem to think so.

Amanda Taub of Vox Media explains Trump’s appeal to people who believe in authoritarian social values (which are not always connected to one party or another but have tended to migrate to the Republican Party because of the party’s suborn (sometimes religion-driven) resistance to some gender and race related social changes.  Authoritarianism is associated with a need for “strongman” leaders who can use threats to “bargain’ for their constituents, and who see violence as inevitable in a dangerous world. Authoritarianism usually values conformity and obedience to creativity and “dependent” independence.

Let me walk back a few impressions.  First, my recollection of Trump’s behavior in conducting the “Boardroom” in “The Apprentice” is generally positive.  He nearly always made appropriate comments, however sharp-tongued he was, in deciding who to fire in a particular episode of “rank and yank.”  The people he hired seemed to be responsible young adults and even role models.  (That includes Omarosa Manigault, as well as Troy McClain, who survived a public leg-waxing “for the team” and whom Trump put through college.) He did have LGBT contestants on his series (living in the hotel with other contestants, quasi military style), but I don’t recall if an LGBT person won an “apprenticeship”.

So at first when I heard, maybe in early 2015, that he was serious about running for president, I thought this was a good thing.  He had said that he supported solving the health care issues once and for all, even if he wanted to get rid of Obamacare.  He seemed fine with Social Security and Medicare.  I felt he could be “safer” than some of the conventionally Santorum-like Republicans.

So I was disturbed at many of Trump’s most boorish proposals. Some of them seem to disregard due process and the rule of law (which Trump says he wants).  I won’t re-elaborate here, as do the articles above.

Trump does come across as someone with narcissistic personality disorder.  He seems unwilling not to get his way.  He sounds like the evil side of someone like Shane Lyons in the movie “Judas Kiss”.  (In the movie, Shane displays the homosexual equivalent of Trump’s heterosexual musings and attractions, someone who always gets what he wants – “Danny”.)

I have to share a certain commonality with Trump of my own.  Just as Trump pretends “only I can make the country great” by manipulating everyone into submission. I pretend that I am unique in the ability o keep tabs online of all “knowledge”, keeping everyone else “honest”.  The “ethics” of this is something I’ll cover again later.  I also share Trump’s aversion to elevating or honoring victimhood, to making weakness “all right” in personal interactions.  Like Trump, I feel that “victims” really pay for the crimes of their perpetrators, which sounds like a moral paradox but unavoidable logically driven fact.   (Trump said of John McCain, “He’s a war hero who was captured. I like war heroes who weren’t captured.” That is, there are no victims.)

So I do share Trump’s appreciation for the unprecedented asymmetric nature of externally-driven threats that ordinary American civilians can face, from “enemies”.  I understand his leverage of that “Russian roulette” scene from “The Deer Hunter“.

I am also concerned that the “asymmetry” argument could be used to justify new controls on some kinds of “gratuitous” speech, but I’ll get into that later.

Trump does appeal to people who relate to the world by their hierarchal relations with others, where manipulating others to get them to behave a certain way (like buy from you) is seen as a critical life skill, apart from the validity of the product or service or belief or goal being addressed.  Trump appeals to people who value “power” (or “right”) rather than “truth”. People of this persuasion typically believe that families and communities must be cohesive and must discipline and “right-size” their own members, who will then share in the fate of the entire community.   Trump (with Pence) is more likely to appeal to certain segments of the Christian evangelical community (despite his own behavior) who accept the idea of proselytizing, or to people who like to sell to others (“always be closing”) and manipulate others for their own sakes, but who may not have an intellectually deep or analytical grasp of their world (and may not respect modern science as opposed to their local “street sense”).

I ran into many people with this world-view after my “retirement” from I.T. post 9/11 at the end of 2001. In many job interviews for more people-oriented positions, I found some employers to be surprisingly concerned about my diffidence concerning any interest in directly manipulating others or getting them to respect me “just for authority” (as I used to say to my father).  One interviewer became particularly unnerved and defensive in front of me when I asked the normal “rational” questions about the credibility of what he (actually a husband-wife team)  wanted to sell and how he wanted to manipulate potential consumers.  Trump’s values seem all too common with a lot of “average Joe’s”.

The pity is that many of Trump’s concerns about national security are actually well founded.  But there are constructive solutions to these problems he could talk about without race baiting. He needs only to ask Peter Thiel.

I might be supporting him if he really solved the problems without resorting to strong-armed tactics and vitriol.

(Posted: Friday, November 4, 2016 at 11:45 PM EDT)