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)

Supreme Court to take up gerrymandering; a filmmaker (Jon Ossoff) runs for office today

The Supreme Court will take up the issue of partisan gerrymandering, and the design of voting districts by a party in control to cause the opposing party to “waste” its popular vote. The New York Times has a story Tuesday morning by Adam Liptak here. The specific case deals with Wisconsin.

Gerrymandering helps explain why politicians sometimes persist in passing laws that seem silly to moderate voters but that are designed to appease a more extreme and sometimes ideological base, especially rural conservatives. Gerrymandering made the infamous bathroom bills (with all their add-ons spilling out against other minorities) live as long as they did in North Carolina. Legislators did not seem to care that major tech companies and big league sports events could pull out.

Jeff Reichert had made a documentary film “Gerrymandering” which was offered with the West End Theater in Washington DC opened in 2010. Gerrymandering does indeed pervert democracy.   In a sense, the electoral college in presidential elections (as we found out in 2016) offers the same possibilities for mathematical mischief that gerrymandering does at the local level.

Right now, gerrymandering seems to be more used by Republicans to leveraging the popular vote in rural areas. Gerrymandering reflects a problem that, for example baseball fans know. Suppose a team splits a doubleheader, winning 14-0 and then losing 1-0. The team wishes it could have scored 12 runs in the first game and saved two runs for the second game, to complete the sweep. But it doesn’t work that way.

I get rather annoyed when others try to draw me into hyper partisanship. One time during my mother’s last year in 2010 a relative did that (for the GOP). I get appeals for funds from both parties. I get hysterical emails from Karen Handel in Georgia (today’s election). Why should I support an out-of-state politician anyway, so I might not have to pay a little for someone else’s health coverage?

As far as that race goes, it strikes me as intriguing that a documentary filmmaker and writer Jon Ossoff (“Living with Ebola” and “The Battle for Africa”) wants to run for office, and give up the distance that journalism (“spectating”) and its objectivity allows him. Maybe that’s the point. I can’t imagine asking people to give me money to run for office to get them what they want. I can’t imagine going door-to-door for politicians in a world where people fear home invasions.

(Posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 11 AM EDT)