Sunday, May 20, 2018

On Jordan Peterson and 12 Rules for Life

This book has been misunderstood.  I may misunderstand it.  It will likely be misunderstood in the future.  It is demanding of the reader.  Professor Peterson is verbose, in love with his insights and impressed with his scholarship.  In some sense he is under the spell of his own work, eating his own dog food, as it were.  Now that I have finished the book, I forgive him for that because it breaks new and necessary ground intellectually.

I am very happy I found it and read it.  When I discovered Dr. Peterson I was in Brisbane, up in the middle of the night because of jet lag.  I turned on the TV to an interview with him.  The topic was the #METOO movement and the problem of workplace sexual harassment.  I expected to hear one of the two identified sides of the debate, either that it was horrible that this has gone on for so long or that it was largely an exaggerated new category of victim-hood by a few, perhaps righteously aggrieved, man-haters.

What I heard instead woke me up like a shot of strong espresso.  Using a new workplace policy at NBC as an example (no front-to-front hugging in the workplace), he warned that while this was an issue that demanded remedy we should be aware that doing so is toying with a very powerful force in human relations and the answer did not lie in simple categorical solutions like prohibitions and penalties.  He was very sure that such would make the problem worse while at the same time admitting something had to be done, right now, and prohibitions and penalties were all that could be done right now.  He was genuinely perplexed and struggling with the notion that the only remedy available at this time seemed to be one that would make things worse.

As was also my experience reading the book, in this television interview Professor Peterson put into words something that I felt but had not yet verbally articulated.  I was surprised by this in a I didn't realize I felt that way manner.

I immediately reached for my laptop and googled him.  I found out he was a Canadian psychology professor who had recently become controversial because of his refusal to adhere to a policy at his institution that required the use of specific pronouns when referring to trans-gendered people in class lectures.  He refused to adhere to a policy that prohibited words, as if words were the problem.  His cause quickly became a favorite flag for the alt-right to wave as support for their anti-PC tropes.

Oh no.  His popularity among the incels and the Trump voters did not at all jive with the reasonable, intelligent and enlightening gentleman I had seen on the TV, so I ordered this (his most recent book) off of Amazon anyway.  I reasoned that if I didn't like it I could sell it at the Strand and only be out a few bucks.

Having read it now, I can't say that I like it, but I can say that I found it deeply intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking.  I understand myself better after having read it, particularly the cultural conditioning of my youth and young adulthood. 

Much of the book, particularly the early chapters, is discussion of the book of Genesis as cultural mythology.  The concept of original sin is very deeply ingrained in the Western psyche.  We all suspect on some level that we suck.  This is why rule #2 is "Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping."

His discussion on this point revolves around the observed fact that people are more compliant with prescribed medication regimes for their pets than they are for their own medication prescription regimes.  People give their pets their meds properly over 80% of time while only self-administering their own meds about 60% of the time (I have observed this phenomena in my patients, my family and in my own history).  Why the difference?  Because Adam bit the apple.

The book arose out of work Professor Peterson did on an internet site called Quora, a place where people can ask questions which others answer.  I post about hospice on Quora now.  His work there became very popular, as he tells it, and the 12 rules were actually an answer to a question, something he details in the foreword.

Here are the 12 rules:

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you.
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
  5. Do not let your children do anything which makes you dislike them.
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
  7. Pursue what is meaningful rather than what is expedient.
  8. Tell the truth--or, at least don't lie.
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't.
  10. Be precise in your speech.
  11. Do not bother children while they are skateboarding.
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

His expositions on these notions make up the book.  He states the rule and then departs on a provocative and thoughtful discussion, often about something seeming to be completely unrelated to the rule, and then brings it all back at the end of the chapter, often demonstrating that he didn't mean exactly what just reading the rule suggests.

I wonder if this contributes to the fact that this book is widely interpreted as being supportive of the gun-toting alt-right bro-culture which has embraced his work as some sort of existential manifesto.  He has become both widely popular among the tribal political cultures of the neo-fascist right and also a straw-man target for the alt-left.  Perhaps they are only reading the list of rules, but it may be more complicated than that.

He is frankly critical of Marxist ideology and Stalinist history in the book, seeing them as out-growths of the easy solutions of wealth-redistribution and central authority. Nietzsche, Freud, Solzhenitsyn and Jung are intellectual heroes to him.  He is quite well-informed about Buddhism despite his singular focus on the Western canon. 

Beyond that, he expresses compassion for aggrieved single white males, particular the "omega" males from incel literature, as being poorly served by left-leaning ideologies focused on the plight of oppressed minorities. He doesn't argue against these social justice movements, he rather notes that there are people who are left behind.  He further argues that patriarchal structures have perhaps persisted because of their success rather than as the product of a malevolent conspiracy among the privileged.

He has a point, but it is important to note that he doesn't argue that this means these structures should be preserved.  He rather argues that their contributions should not be categorically dismissed as unwanted in the overall discussion moving forward.  I think this is the message the alt-right is so thirsty to hear from someone not identified with extreme polemics.

Do I recommend you read it?  If you like to think, I do. 

Is Professor Peterson the father I never had? No, but I wish my dad had read his work.

Monday, April 16, 2018

On the good news about Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush, former First Lady for the 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush, has announced that she is changing her goals of the medical care she receives from prolonging life to enjoying it.  Brava! Mrs. Bush.  Thank you for promoting good end of life care everywhere by announcing this to the public.

I know I'm being a grumpy "get off my lawn" curmudgeon as I do it, but I've been dismayed by the plethora of "thoughts and prayers" type messages I see displayed publicly for her.  They are wholly inappropriate for the decision she's made.  She is choosing life.  This is a happy time.  It should be celebrated.

She is sparing not only herself, but her family and caregivers, both professional and not, from the significant pain and expense of futile and inappropriate medical care at the end of her life.  This leaves her, her family and everyone else who loves her free to enjoy her life until she draws her very last breath.  We should all be so lucky.  This is not a tragedy, it is a blessing.

She is choosing to be comfortable and in control.  People who react as if this represents some unspeakable tragedy for her show they are ignoring her true situation in favor of their own immature, and narcissistic gut-reaction.  Please, grow up.  Stop confusing your pain with hers.  Do not rain on this parade.

She will be able to end her life on her own terms with all of the tools of palliative medicine available to ease her journey.  If she is speaking, people will listen to her as they never have.  If she wants to see anyone they will come at a moment's notice.  Bullshit in her life that may have been unwillingly tolerated for decades will suddenly dissolve.

Death is the great equalizer.  It comes for us all.  There is nothing else like it, other than birth, which is actually what causes all the problems in the first place.  If you really want to get back to what caused, and causes Mrs. Bush's suffering, look to her birth.  It all began then.

"Thoughts and prayers" should be offered to newborns.  They are destined, no matter what they do, for aging, sickness, and all of the others frustrations of human existence.  Ms. Bush will soon be released from it all.  Good on you, Bar!  Thanks for sharing the happy news with us.  I'm sorry so many people didn't get your happy message.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

On the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA)

Trump will sign a bill today passed out of Congress recently called the "Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act" or FOSTA, for short.  Unless you are a sex worker, a client of sex workers, or friends and family of a sex worker, you may not really know much about this legislation.  It's implications go far beyond it's stated goals.

I bring it to your attention because it is a legislative train wreck, quite possibly unconstitutional.  It certainly flies in the face of separation of church and state, the First Amendment, and may further endanger the very people it seeks to protect, much in the same way that prohibition enabled criminals to profit from the production, distribution, sale and consumption of alcohol while forcing legitimate bar owners and producers to either leave the business or join the criminal underworld.  We apparently have to learn the lessons of prohibition all over again.

Pared down, the basic idea is to make websites responsible for the consequences of classified advertisements for sexual services they may carry.  Imagine if you bought a car that turned out to be a lemon because of a car dealer commercial on TV.  The logic in this bill would enable law enforcement to pursue the TV station for commercial fraud, even though they had noting to do with the sale of the car.

If that happened, television stations would cease all car advertisements immediately, newspapers and commercial billboards would soon follow.  Car dealers would end up with no way to advertise and would go out of business, regardless of the quality of their cars or their business ethics.

In this example, the "bad cars" are people who are forced into doing sex work.  There are people who are forced to have sex for money, usually to enrich someone else, because they are caught by circumstances of age, immigration status, or even sometimes outright imprisonment.  No one wants this practice to end more than I, just as I wish car dealers didn't cheat their customers.  People who do sex work voluntarily feel the same way.  

Sex work covers a huge gamut of human relations from waitresses at Hooters to full-service prostitutes.  Many people who choose this line of work participate in the full spectrum, they don't necessarily do one thing.  

In New York City, it is legal for someone to offer to manually sexually stimulate someone to orgasm for money as long as they adhere to the City health code which demands barrier protection, either a condom or a gloved hand to eliminate direct contact with potentially infectious bodily fluids.  Much according to the same logic, people who make your Chipotle burrito bowl can't do that legally without wearing gloves.

Of course, full service (i.e., including intercourse) prostitution is much more lucrative, just as grilling steaks at Delmonico pays better than working the line at Chipotle, but the gloves stay on either way.

George Carlin said it best:
"I don't understand why prostitution is illegal. Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn't selling fucking legal? You know, why should it be illegal to sell something that's perfectly legal to give away? I can't follow the logic on that one at all! Of all the things you can do, giving someone an orgasm is hardly the worst thing in the world. In the army they give you a medal for spraying napalm on people! In civilian life you go to jail for giving someone an orgasm! Maybe I'm not supposed to understand it."
The reason, which he permits the audience to observe without mentioning it, is of course religious in origin.  Beyond that, in my opinion, if one looks carefully enough, it's really (as with a lot of religious dogma) more about men controlling women.

Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal had sex with Donald Trump for profit.  Both were promised career opportunities.  Trump told Ms. Daniels he would get her on Celebrity Apprentice, he told Ms. McDougal he would get her a exercise and fitness column in the National Enquirer.  He was lying of course.  He's not man enough to come to terms with the fact that he can't attract a partner based on desire alone.  He feels he has to engage in deception.  He is clearly unable to negotiate healthy relations in his marriages.

Most sex worker clients are like him is that respect.  They aren't "good catches" romantically.  Because of their appearance and/or financial circumstances they do not attract the attention of sexually available females, or cannot offer the support necessary to sustain a partnership.  I am one of these men.  

I have never been approached sexually (by a female) in my 57 years.  I have had sex, but not because of my sexual charisma.  My sexual partners have been so because of other reasons, most of which take time to understand and appreciate.  No one has ever walked into a bar, seen me, and decided to try and take me home.  I doubt anyone ever will.

Beyond that, I was an only child of a couple unprepared to meet my emotional needs so I could develop intimate relations easily later in life.  I had difficulty negotiating romance as a young man, and I developed a kind of a loner personality because of it.  I love people, don't get me wrong, but I learned to rely on myself and my platonic friends for emotional support over the years.  Now that I am largely past child-bearing age there's even less reason for someone to pair up in a typical sexual partnership for the purposes of procreation.

However, I am still deserving of the sexual affection and attention which supports my good health.  So are the many of the clients of sex workers.  Many sex workers feel their work is a kind of healing vocational mission to support men like me, much like my psychotherapist takes on some aspects of the role of a primary relationship partner to help me pursue good emotional health by understanding myself.  There has been much written about the analogies between psychotherapy and sex work, so I won't go much further into that, except to say there is a fertile ground for those discussions in my experience.

However, this is not the only need I have.  I also need to be safe.  Much like getting a beer in the 1930's involved dealing with criminals and ducking the cops, or at least being elbow-to-elbow with people who routinely evade the law, securing the services of a prostitute, or escort, as they prefer to be called, is similarly rife with opportunities to become the mark for criminals and law enforcement in the US.

Internet advertising by independent sex workers provides me the opportunity, whether or not I pursue it, to make contact with individual sex workers and negotiate not only my safety but help them negotiate theirs as well.  People who seek to exploit people forced into sex work are obviously unconcerned with anyone's safety, so I can't speak for them.

Do unethical sex work agents (pimps) use the same advertising mediums?  I assume they use anything they can, just like crooked car dealers put up billboards and run ads on TV.  But just as Car-FOSTA would not discriminate between ethical car dealers and crooks, FOSTA shuts everyone down, including massage parlor providers who work 100% legally and do so because they want to.

This means they are forced into the underground or forced out of business, one or the other.  Illegitimate sex traffickers will simply raise their rates for their clients, put their clients in further peril, and even further remove the people they are abusing from opportunities to get the help of law enforcement.

In short, just like prohibition made the social problems associated with the consumption of alcohol to excess worse, and funded much more dangerous criminal enterprises, FOSTA is hurting everyone voluntarily involved in sex work and helping little, if at all, with the problem of people being forced into sex work.  Like prohibition, it is puritanism run amok.

Like prohibition, and like so much of the idiocy arising from the Trump administration and the 115th session of Congress, this will ultimately have to be un-done if we are to preserve a free government.

You may object to even legitimate sex work, that is your right.  You probably also object to crooked car dealers.  You may even object to consumption of alcohol.  Your freedom to make those choices is best shared with everyone.  

There's nothing we can do about FOSTA now but watch the slow-motion trainwreck this will become and try to support the innocents who will be harmed by it.  If you know a sex worker, support them.  I count more than one among my friends.  If you are a client, or want to be, cooperate with your provider however they ask while this unconstitutional law puts them at needlessly increased risk.

If you want to end sex trafficking, as I do, support full decriminalization of sex work, just as George Carlin suggests above.  Sex workers will become law enforcement's best allies in pursuing sex traffickers, they particularly don't want them around just as ethical car dealers want to to shut down the crooks.

If paying people for sex just seems wrong to you, consider the other legal activities which fall into that category, and consider developing tolerance for people who have different beliefs, just like every escort supports your right to disapprove of their vocation.  

I just returned from Australia, where sex work is decriminalized.  None of the social ills usually predicted by those who oppose decriminalization came to pass.  Sex workers in Australia get regular testing, enjoy the protection of the police and court system to ensure their safety.  Sure, there are plenty of people in Australia who disapprove, just as there are people who disapprove of gambling.  They are similarly free to live their lives as they choose.

I haven't heard that sex trafficking is a problem in Australia though.  Hmm.

Monday, April 9, 2018

On the comfy chair

I have yet to speak to a participant in a zen sesshin who does not at some point complain about back problems.  Of course, people do not typically speak about their lack of back problems, so this should not be taken as an indication that this is a universal experience.  I'm sure there are people who can sit a sesshin and not experience back pain.  I hate those people.

When I sat on a cushion, my back pain was much more severe.  I would even break into silent tears from time to time.  I would rob the first aid kit in the zendo and gobble any ibuprofen and/or tylenol I could find.

For me, this pain always shows up as an area of stiffness, pain and swelling in a horizontal band across my back, roughly just below armpit level.  It's a dull ache, I also feel it when standing.  It's hugely annoying when one is trying to attain some imagined sense of serenity one expects from being all Holy and sitting sesshin.

A few years ago the arthritis in my knee made sitting still on a cushion well nigh impossible because of the pain.  Bending my knee beyond 90 degrees for any length of time hurts.  Since then, the pain in my back is still present when sitting extended zazen in a chair, but it is far diminished.  Just a dull ache, but still an annoyance.

The comfy chair is the drug-free solution to the back pain I experience in sesshin.  Once I sit in it, the pain goes away immediately, and if I sit in it long enough it will stay gone for the next few following periods of zazen.

I've never spoken to anyone about this, but I deduce from how highly this chair is coveted during sesshin that this may be a common experience.  There are only two of them in the center, and usually about twenty people in attendance.

Early in sesshin I selfishly stake my claim.  During the first break period, which comes after breakfast on the second day, after I get my coffee I will head straight to the chair for some preventative maintenance.  My back isn't hurting yet, we've only been sitting for a total of three hours at this point, so I just sit in the chair enjoying the drama-free access, students are still concerned at this point with social niceties.  This will soon be over.

Usually by the third rest period, which happens after supper on the third day, the chair gets claimed rapidly.  We've been sitting for a total of almost twenty hours at this point.  The comfy chair, and it's twin companion, will be the first seats occupied during break periods.  Social niceties have been dispensed with.  For those in the comfy chair, the rest of us can pound sand and choose to sit on the church pews scattered about (on the right of the chair in this picture), on the metal stacking chairs used for the classrooms, or on the floor leaning up against a wall or a post.  These pieces of furniture do not possess, for me anyway, the magical powers of the comfy chair.

By the seventh rest period students are foregoing coffee so they can get the chair.  Belongings are being "accidentally" left on the chair when someone gets up from the chair so that it will be unoccupied when they return.  Silence can really amplify human drama, so it can get a bit over-the-top, particularly if someone is repeatedly scheming to get the chair.

Zen drama, there's nothing like it.  The seduction of the comfy chair is just too much to resist.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

On Symphonies and Operas.

I always have my breath taken away just before the conductor strides in from stage right.  Dozens of human beings, arranged in order, dressed in formal wear, clutching an instrument they have been with for thousands of hours of their lives before this moment, each of them an expert in not only that instrument but the entire orchestra, knowing all the roles, all trusting each other to do the right thing at the right time, all to produce music they themselves won't hear as well as I, because they have their mind on performance.

They adjust their posture, chat amiably in hushed tones, there's a flash of stifled giggles here and there, someone else is covertly adjusting a wardrobe problem.  It is this moment, when they are poised to take the risk of live performance, ready to receive the maestro, that causes joy to flash through my body in it's varied physical forms, a welling up of a tear sometimes, a lump in my throat in others. On my best days I think to myself the next time I'm complaining about how life sucks, I need to remember that I also get to do this.

Then the conductor strides out, patting a shoulder affectionately here, acknowledging someone with a smile and or a low wave there, weaving through the orchestra on the way to the podium, the master as servant.  Without these people the conductor is just someone standing with their back to the crowd waving a stick while humming.  This gesture of acknowledgment is moving.

The conductor will finally turn to the first violin and offer a handshake and poite bow, another acknowledgment that one requirement (of many) for sitting in this chair is the ability to take over for maestro.  Taking the podium the conductor will issue his first invitation to the orchestra by raising both hands, they all stand, the conductor turns, and they will bow together to the audience, an acknowledgment that if we weren't here no one would be.

This moment is one of the most sublime expressions of human social order.  No one coerced to participate, everyone has worked their entire life in an uncertain and often unrewarding profession to be in the seat they are in at this moment.  It's a musical moonshot, all of humanity travels with us.

Then the music begins...

With Opera, the task is even more daunting.  Not only does one have to burden all of the task of an orchestra to make music, but one must tell a story, act, move, jump from solo performance to chorus with the ease of a drunk mumbling to pigeons, all while in a heavy costume under hot lights.

The moments of amazement come to me when a soloist, or a duo, or a trio, transports me to a place where I literally forget that I am different from the music.  Then gently I am let down to touch earth, realizing that all these people, those on stage in the orchestra pit, just altered my very consciousness.  This takes my breath away.  Often I can only manage a weak and uncertain "bravo" because of the lump  in my throat.

I like a lot of different kinds of music.  I have been to thousands of live performances, from punk rock garage bands to jazz legends to open-mikes to folk festivals.  I plan to attend many more.  I like live music.  Symphony orchestras and opera consistently possess an intense concentration of human, voluntarily-imposed, order.

Chaos has it's place, and there's plenty of it in live music performance:  mistakes are made, cues are missed, off nights happen.  Just as consistently chaos works in another way to enhance the performance: performers are particularly on, the right harmony is struck dynamically, someone takes a risk that pays off.  There's an important place for chaos.

Something gets me about the order, though.  I find it so hopeful that humans can do this.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

On the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Martyrdom

It is becoming more and more clear to me with every passing day that the number of people who are alive now who were also alive in April of 1968 is dwindling.  I am among those.  I was seven years of age in April 1968, trying to make sense of the world around me in Dallas Texas.

I remember Martin Luther King Jr as a real human being.  People around me called him "Martin Luther Coon" and he was much despised.  He was a troublemaker, someone who only wanted attention for himself.  He used the suffering of mistreated black folk, Nigra's (NIG-rah) is what we called them, only to further his celebrity and wealth.  He was a philanderer and a confidence artist, the story went, who was now being tracked by the FBI for colluding with communists to ultimately force the US surrender in Vietnam.

Still, he was safer than Malcolm X, and a hell of a lot more preferable to those thugs and criminals who called themselves the Black Panthers.  We were relieved that King, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers seemed to fight with each other more than find common cause.  So, we approved of President Johnson's careful movements to ally with Dr. King.  It seemed better than the alternatives.  We were certainly happy he stayed out of Texas.

A counterpoint to all this uninformed, conspiracy-fueled hatred for me was "the help."  This was the polite term used to refer to my parent's full-time housemaid and nanny whom I, as a young child, also called Bobbie.  She was a proud, quiet, self-educated black woman who served as the only functional parental figure in my life.  I loved her more than I could say then.

Bobbie quietly kept herself informed about "the movement," what they called the struggle for civil rights back then, and was very discrete with her views. I don't think my parents knew (or cared that) she could read.  I would ask her questions, and she would answer me honestly, carefully answering without spilling too much of her political views in the process.

Bobby had already gone home by the time Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.  My parents were mostly fearful that there would be rioting locally, and that the lid that had so far been more or less kept on "the Negro problem" would blow off in an explosion of local violence.  There was a lot of talk around the dinner table that evening about how he should have known better, and while it's sad for anyone to be murdered, we don't exist on an island.  One has to take into account social order when promoting social improvement.  One can't just go around calling everyone out all the time, etc, etc, etc.

The bottom line was that it was ultimately Dr. King's fault he got shot.  It was the only inevitable outcome of the kind of trouble-making he was famous for.  These Negros have forgotten their place.

I sat quietly and listened to all that, increasingly suspicious that my parents were full of shit, and I wondered if Bobby would come to work the next day.  She did.

I offered her a hug when I saw her, and she held me tight and sobbed quietly for a moment.  She looked at me with tear-stained eyes and said "the violence has got to stop. I don't know what to do any more."  Then, as was her way, she began slowly clearing the breakfast table to start her day, it was about time for me to walk to school.  I just remember she looked so, so sad.  That was the last we talked about Dr. King until I graduated from high school ten years later.

She gave me a leather-bound copy of Louis Fisher's biography of Gandhi, and a small paperback copy of the Letter from a Birmingham Jail.  "I know you'll read these," she said with a smile "I want to make sure you've completed your education."  I nodded.  "I'm so proud of the man you've become, so happy with 'the content of your character'" she said with a knowing smile (I quoted that speech frequently as a child).  Turning to the book she said "Dr. King regarded Gandhi as his political mentor.  I think you'll see why when you read this."

I still have both those books, now dog-eared and marked-up, in my library forty years later.  That was the last time I saw Bobby.  She singularly saved me from the conditioning of the racists around me as a child.  I didn't believe what they told me about black people because I knew her.  I knew it wasn't true.

She was soldier in the movement, a non-violent warrior who battled for my soul, and won.  I have lived in Harlem for the last seventeen years of my life, longer than I've called any single place home.  I'm not so self-deluded to say something like "Many of my friends are black people!" I'm actually happier to say I don't keep track of friends using racial categories.  I'm not even sure who among my large cadre of mixed-race acquaintances identify as "black."

I helped teach a class about Dr. King in college.  I have since read most everything written about him, and certainly everything written by him.  I admire him, as anyone does, but I often wonder why another didn't emerge to pick up his work.  People are doing very similar work, the Rev. William Barber II comes to mind, along with Al Sharpton, but no one wraps up the courage, the intellect, the vision, and the willingness to disrupt injustice, in one individual like Dr. King did.  I still wonder why.

Dr. King didn't die that day, he lives on with all who do his work.  He lives on in David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, in those patriots in wheelchairs who disrupt corrupt Congressional hearings held in the perfunctory theater that congress has become.

He lives, and lived long beyond April 4, 1968, in Bobby, who pointed me to the Truth.

Keep hope alive.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

On Nicolle Wallace and strange bedfellows

I am shocked by my feelings for Nicolle Wallace.  Ms. Wallace currently hosts "Deadline: White House" at 4 pm eastern weekdays on MSNBC.  She is a Republican, a Bush Republican, and was involved in the debacle involving Sarah Palin and McCain's failed 2008 presidential candidacy.  To say the least, it is unlikely, given her professional history, that we agree on the role that government should have in people's lives.

In normal times I would expect that the best I could do with Ms. Wallace is to agree to respect her right to her opinion, and to support her ability to express it freely somewhere I don't have to hear it.  I might listen, once or twice, to her point of view but otherwise I would not expect to sustain interest in her.  She worked for the Bushes, who seemed like such demons not so long ago...

But, these aren't normal times.

I want to marry and raise a family with Ms Wallace.  I never miss her show.  Being able to unwind by watching her show after work has saved many a day of mine from being intolerably crappy in the age of Trump.  She makes sense.  She speaks the truth.  She doesn't pretend that the emperor has clothes.

I would now take a bullet for Nicolle Wallace.  What happened?  Is it Trump?  Have I changed?  Has she?

No, I recognize a kind of conservative view in Ms. Wallace which has been pushed out of the Republican party.  It's no longer Republican to respect women, to value ethics, to value the opinion of the loyal opposition, to steward shared resources wisely, to adhere to the law, to stand up for dissent, or to protect the vulnerable.  These used to be the values I shared with US Republicans.  These shared values formed the basis of the cooperation necessary to govern with people who believe, as I do, that government has a greater role in shaping social success than conservatives.

Now I can cozy up to Ms. Wallace without having to get near Republicans like Ryan, McConnell, Pence and the rest of the Trump co-conspirators emerging from the Republican clown car.  I want to see all of these men doing a perp walk in orange jump suits someday.  They have legal branding rights to call themselves Republicans, but they aren't.  They just took the name.

Now there are a number of people like Ms. Wallace who have seen their political ideologies ripped away from the Republican party.  These former Republicans no longer have a party.  How can a mindless sycophant like Devin Nunes be in the same party with a thoughtful stateswoman like Susan Collins?  What do they have in common politically?

I'd love to be married to someone who thoughtfully disagreed with my democratic socialism but still wanted poor children to eat, the elderly to have medicine, the cold to have coats, and for blithering and irresponsible idiots to still have some kind of functioning roof over their heads.  I firmly believe that the wisdom lies in the middle between the views which Ms. Wallace and I harbor politically.

Moreover, most tragic is the fact that these things upon which Ms. Wallace and I agree are the things that need attention right now.  I can't see much space between Ms. Wallace and I on infrastructure, DACA, the rule of law, supporting public school teachers, sensible gun laws, and providing economic opportunity for everyone willing to work for it.  That's enough legislation for two sessions of Congress to tackle.

So, I think it's not so much that Ms. Wallace and I have moved closer together.  We have common cause in saving this country.  We see exactly the same dangers.  We desire exactly the same remedies.  It's really kind of shocking.

Trump made me fall head-over-heels for a Bush Republican.