Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As the Year Goes Tits Up

I misread the headline at Atrios's blog but it perfectly summed up my feelings, so I'm repurposing it here.  I actually feel pretty good about the country and its overall state right now, and I think although its been a hellish year in a lot of ways we should celebrate the roll out of the ACA, the transformation of our Health Insurance system towards full coverage for everyone, first steps in not bombing Iran just because John McCain and Michael Ledeen have nothing to do on Thursday, and a lot of other stuff. At any rate, some of us survived or will survive (spits surreptitiously three times) to see the dawning of 2014.  As for myself, I'm going to redouble my efforts politically in the new year. Hopefully I'll get my own applications in and be accepted into an MSW program. I have lots of things to be reading and projects to work on.

I'm off to prepare a random number and type of Chinese dishes for New Year's tonight.  Three hours to go before my oldest daughter submits all her college apps and we settle in for a Fringe marathon.  Somehow I think I'm going to make Red Cooked Beef with Noodles, Eggplant with ground meat, pork in the style of fish, dry fried string beans, pickled cabbage and bean sprouts, and sautéed broccoli and maybe a quick dish of chicken, szechuan peppers, and burnt red peppers.  Or as usual my spirit may be more willing than I have time.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oh TPM, Never Stop Concern Trolling!

Really, don't stop concern trolling the ACA. What would a Talking Points Memo be without its reliance on epithets to do all the work of actual reporting?  Its like talking to a guy with a particularly whiny form of political Tourettes.

Here are just a few in the most recent TPM fake pieces on the ACA:

HONOLULU (AP) — A December surge propelled health care sign-ups through the government's rehabilitated website past the 1 million mark, the Obama administration said Sunday, reflecting new signs of life for the problem-plagued federal insurance exchange.
Of the more than 1.1 million people now enrolled, nearly 1 million signed up in December, with the majority coming in the week before a pre-Christmas deadline for coverage to start in January. Compare that to a paltry 27,000 in October —the website's first, error-prone month — or 137,000 in November....

The reason I call this a fake piece is that it is nothing more than a bitchy rewrite of all previous speculative coverage at TPM tied to a brief Obama Administration news release.  Everywhere else people are struggling to get real information and publish that--TPM hasn't bothered to do what DailyKos's Brainwrap has been doing so diligently.  This isn't really all that much of a mystery: individual states and the federal exchanges have been reporting these numbers in a variety of ways for some time.  You could sit down and spreadsheet them and investigate.  But TPM prefers the meaningless update format--take a press release and insert your own pro-forma insults.

 Basically, the Obama Administration released some preliminary numbers from the Federal Website (covering one set of states).  States which are signing people up through their own websites have a different set of numbers.  Sometimes the article refers only to people who signed up for private insurance through the Exchanges, sometimes it randomly adds in numbers of people who were signed up for Medicaid in some states. The article pretends that none of the people who were kept on their parent's plan under the ACA (several million by any count) count as "covered" under the ACA.  This enables Mr. Lederman to worry that

The fledgling exchanges are still likely to fall short of the government's own targets for 2013. That's a cause for concern, because Obama needs millions of mostly younger, healthy Americans to sign up to keep costs low for everyone.

(I particularly dislike this locution "Obama needs millions" because it reduces an important, nationally needed, program that benefits every American into some kind of Presidential vanity project. This is like reporting on the fact that 1.3 million people are going to lose their UB as merely a "thumbs up!" or "thumbs down!" for Washington power brokers.)  

Meanwhile, it not like there hasn't been endless discussion of these numbers--is this really a meaningful way of thinking about the ACA?

 The administration had projected more than 3.3 million overall would be enrolled through federal and state exchanges by the end of the year.

Lederman keeps the rhetorical focus here on the imaginary failures of the Administration to predict usage of an untested, novel, system for purchasing insurance--many of these people for the first time--but does it matter whether people registered through the website or were enrolled into the program by Navigators in some other way, for example through the automatic medicaid expansion in Oregon or Kentucky's Kynect?  Of course not.  The ACA is here to stay, how many are signed up by what date is essentially meaningless.  Its like reporting on a brief thunderstorm, where you can see clear skies ahead and screaming "get me the wood and nails, I need to build an ark."

Friday, December 27, 2013

Marriage, Italian Style

Last night we saw Marriage, Italian Style.  I'd never seen it before and I'd always assumed you could know what it was about just from the brief synopsis--a woman tricks her long time lover into marrying her by pretending she is dying. Then she comes back to life.  I was really unprepared for how searing it was--how funny, how insightful, how cruel.  There are scenes between Don Dummi', her playboy lover, and Fiumena that are so painful that its hard to believe that the farce isn't going to turn into a murder--that she doesn't kill him for the years of cruelty she has endured. Tricking him into marrying her, after 22 years of being his mistress, is only the midpoint to the movie. The heart of the film is her struggle to provide for her three illegitimate sons--only one of whom is the son of Don Dummi'. How can a woman from the lowest strata of society rise to the most honored position--not even wife, really, but mother and Madonna in one? How can a peasant and ex-whore ever manage to provide for her children in the new, post war Italy? She tries to force Dummi to take on the role of paterfamilias and husband, realizes that he's too vicious, lazy, and contemptible to play along, and then walks out on him leaving him to stew his decayed aristocratic apartment and his meaningless playboy lifestyle.  Her indifference to him and his needs does what her begging never can do--he comes around and remarries her and takes on the role of father to the three boys.  And the end of the movie leaves them both emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt, each having finally  moved forward into their respective roles as husband, wife, parent but now not sure what the point was.   I'd like to put up some dialogue from the movie but, unfortunately, I'd have to see it again and take it down verbatim as my google fu is not producing any of the really stunning lines.

So, they've reinvented the trailer park?

I don't mean to be a spoilsport, and I admire what they are doing, but this new "Tiny House" movement is all kinds of wrong headed.  Here's the gist of it: Madison Wisconsin, like the rest of the country, has a rapidly increasing homeless problem (up 47 percent in the last three years) which includes both single men and women and also families.  Occupy Madison has created a kind of temporary solution in these tiny homes--96 square feet, toilet, electric light, bed.  It doesn't say if they have kitchen facilities.  The cost per home is 3000 dollars which obviously compares favorably to the state paying hotels for emergency housing and may compare favorably to subsidized Section 8 housing if that housing is scarce or unreliable.  Right now the Tiny Homes are set up on trailers so they can be parked on the street and towed every 48 hours.  This gets around zoning issues but, of course, adds to the cost since the homeless person now needs to have a car capable of pulling the house or needs to be networked in with a community organization that will tow and re-settle them on a regular basis.  A potential long term goal may be to place 30 or so of these houselets into a planned community which would then, presumably, offer amenities like laundry, landscaping, common areas, cooking facilities.

From a long term perspective I'm not sure I think this is better than a properly run SRO, or some other kind of quasi public, subsidized, small housing for people.  For one thing these don't have kitchens or laundries attached.  So the occupant needs to satisfy these basic needs offsite.  They appear to be one room with a toilet--so they aren't a good fix for families who are homeless.  In addition, as far as I know from presentations I've been to for the homeless female population of my own city, an enormous portion of this population has substance abuse and mental health needs which need to be met.  They aren't all homeless merely because housing prices are out of sight around here. They are also homeless because they don't have the family and social networks that keep people couch surfing or living in a room in someone else's house.  Privacy is great but it can also create isolation. In fact one low threshold homeless shelter in my city has instituted a program to enable the women who do get apartments to come back to socialize with each other during some afternoons. They found that the isolation of being housed, after being on the streets, was very difficult for this population to take since they tended to lack family, jobs, and other social connectors.

I like the idea of some kind of mini co-housing model, in which people can share cooking, laundry, and workshop spaces while limiting their private spaces to these inexpensive houselets.  We already have high end co-housing here which enables people to downsize and conserve on space while sharing and co-owning areas, like a library or a big social space, that they only need once in a while.  Co-Housing and shared spaces are both cost effective and socially desirable--in the absence of affordable single family homes or apartments, that is.   But I wonder if this model of the stand alone (or pull alone) trailer bedroom is really a good solution for generic homelessness in many places? How is it different from recreating an privatized trailer-style living situation for vulnerable people? Its not even necessarily as good as a standard trailer, which have cooking facilities.  Also, it should go without saying that a stand alone house, which does not share walls, roof, utilities, hookups etc... with other units is not as ecologically conservative as a well designed apartment within an apartment building.

Full Frontal Assault

Despite the slowdown in blogging output due to the holiday stupor there are several important posts that people should read, if they get a chance. No, not one of the clickbaiters at Talking Points Memo, but here's a good one from Booman Tribune: Obamacare Won't Get Popular On Its Own.

I can't stress how true this is:

Before the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land, people had two main attitudes about their health insurance. They either hated it, or they didn't use it. This idea that there were a lot of people who liked their health insurance and wanted to keep it is largely a myth. At best, the vast majority of people were afraid of change, but that doesn't mean that they thought they had great insurance or enjoyed the process of trying to get their insurer to pay their bills. In general, people hate paying for insurance and experience hassles when they try to use it. So, once the Democrats decided to push everyone into for-profit insurance, they pretty much took ownership of something most people experience negatively. Add to this that people will always want a bigger subsidy than they're getting, a bad rollout of the exchanges, and a political opposition uniformly opposed to the bill and determined to highlight every flaw within it, and you have a recipe for a political drubbing. 

This is why Atrios has been saying, for a while, that love it or hate it the ACA means that the Democrats "own" everything, good or bad, that is now associated with health care.

Booman and I agree on the only correct response: mass assault on the Republican position.

The only way to make that the case is for Democrats to very thoroughly follow Ryan Cooper's advice and rally around the health care law in a relentless and single-minded way that can match the Republicans' opposition.
I have further advice on this front. The fact that formerly uninsured people are getting insurance is not a very compelling rejoinder for someone who is having a negative experience with their health insurer. What's compelling is a political party that constantly points to the benefits of the law, like annual caps, keeping your kids on your insurance, protections against having your insurance dropped, and limits on profit-taking. The way to promote this politically is to constantly talk about real people who would have been screwed without the reforms. Trot them out daily to talk about how their lives and livelihoods have been saved.
Secondly, the Dems should be introducing reforms that address areas where people are experiencing problems. These reforms won't pass, but they can form a platform of sorts that will partially inoculate the party from criticism. After all, fixing a problem is better than repealing the whole law and having a solution is more appealing than having none.

This may be counter intuitive for individual Democratic representatives who generally try to run highly individual, local, and often cowardly campaigns.  Especially given that the issues that are thrown at them on the campaign trail will be a mixture of fake anti Obamacare hysteria (as in the early Fox accounts of angry people who weren't eligible for the exchanges or hadn't checked them) or real confusion and distress.  If the Democrats as a party had the sense god gave a nematode they would be holding training sessions for Democrats running all over the country in saying "Yes, absolutely, let me look into that for you..." and having the Democrats as a party get out in front of the very real problems with the ACA by introducing and referencing their own fix-it bills at all times.  In fact I'd be even more forward--I'd counsel Democrats to go on the offensive every minute and demand to know why the Red States are preventing people from accessing Medicaid or the Exchanges and making the population of the country sicker and weaker and why the Republicans have introduced no realistic bills to fix the health care problems their own voters face.

But this can only work if it is a co-ordinated, full frontal, assault on the Republican position.  You can't expect this to be like that old joke "I was at a fight last night and a hockey game broke out."  The Democrats are like herding cats, always have been.  Someone is going to have to crack the whip to get them all pulling in the same direction.

Cross Posted at SteveM's No More Mr. Nice Blog

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fascinating Globe Piece on the Tsarnaevs This Morning

Hm, something weird seems to have happened to the blog editor--not me, the mechanical one--and this appeared and disappeared on its own. Let me repost.

I've pretty much given up on the Globe since it was bought by the Times, ruined, and then dumped. But this 5 part piece on the Boston Bombers is pretty interesting and well done--although it leads to more questions than it answers in terms of the police response.  Basically the argument of the articles is that the Tsarnaevs were poor, failed, dysfunctional, caught between multiple worlds and failures in each, and that all these things--the familial, the medical, the emotional, the marital, the economic caught the brothers up into a storm of spite and anomie until blowing up a bunch of strangers, at the behest of a bunch of strangers and to make a name for themselves,  seemed like a good idea.  The articles compare the brothers to other infamous American killers like the Columbine Killers, the Aurora Killer and of course they are to be compared to the guy who shot Gabby Giffords and, I'd argue, Leopold and Loeb.   In other words: quintessentially American.

I was surprised to find that the thing that still rankles people out there in the wide world, and even within the Boston Area, is the city wide shutdown during the manhunt.  I live within shouting distance of where a lot of the manhunt occurred and my children transit into Boston every day passing within feet of the bombings.  I don't understand why so many people seem to see the voluntary "shelter in place" request as the thin end of the wedge of the police state.  It seemed like literally the least the city and surrounding cities might want to do before they knew the scope of the plot.  The current revelation, which is that these two were sad sack losers and potentially merely an untreated schizophrenic and his accomplice, doesn't really change the issue back then which included the obvious possibility that they had planted more bombs in more locations and/or had more confederates.  Given the incompetence of the police and the SWAT teams involved--I believe the horrific injury sustained by the MTA  police officer was, in the end, caused by friendly fire--and the likelihood that civilians would be caught in the crossfire asking people to shelter in place seems like the sensible thing to do when massive teams of paramilitary and police units are attempting a dragnet.  I didn't feel like the city was cowardly, or giving in to fear, so much as it was pragmatically attempting to isolate the bombers from their friends and potential allies.

The part of the story which has dissapeared down the memory hole of the complaisant population in our  paranoid, security, state is the shooting death of the "friend" by the FBI.  I was astounded by the number of men on blogs who were upset at the closing down of the city, but who didn't bat an eye that the FBI went to interview a prime suspect and conducted the interview in such a way that they wound up killing him and thus losing any chance of ascertaining what he did or did not know.  You have no idea how many people began blathering hysterically about how dangerous "mixed martial arts trained men are" as though life were a Jean Claude Van Damme movie and arguing that the interrogators had to "first, protect themselves."

In any event if you read the Boston Globe story you will see not so much the story of an international Islamic conspiracy but the straight up, rather familiar tale, of immigrant failure.  Far from being about Islamic heritage, or teachings, it demonstrates how very imaginary, fragile, and cobbled together most people's cultural ties are--the Tsarnaevs rediscovered a fantasy, modern, patchwork of Islam no more traditional or reflective of their Chechen heritage or their personal reality than the Islam of the Nation of Islam is Islamic.  The parents picked up and dropped pieces of this dimly remembered and understood mish-mosh of culture and religion as the American dream receded from their grasp.  The thing that stood out for me in the Globe article was the role of disappointment, failure, illness and family dysfunction in shaping the despair that ultimately drove the parents apart, and the boys into terrorism.

There was nothing in the Tsarnaev story, right down to the see-sawing between tradition and modernity, between the parent's dreams and the children's imagined capabilities, that we haven't seen in every immigrant story to this country.  In fact it reminded me strongly of the beginning of Angela's Ashes.  The miserable father, the weeping mother, the horrors of the old life, the scary failures of the new.

 The father and mother were fixated on choosing a path for their sons that would lead to financial and social success, and on forcing their daughters into a more traditional box as simply married, muslim, working class girls.  They picked boxing (sport) for the older boy and school for the younger one and were agressive and harsh with the older one in training him and hands off and uncomprehending of the struggles of the younger one.  Typical of authoritarian households both the boys were raised with an inconsistent mixture of abuse and adulation, criticism and smothering love.  Both the girls were neglected until they ended up economically and educationally at the bottom of the heap as teenage mothers abandoned by abusive and criminal husbands.  The story of the entire family doesn't really read any differently than it would if they were they were first generation Irish, or Italian, or if they were the first family to come out of a hardscrabble Appalachian white background to the factories up North.

There's a diary up at Kos this morning about the death of a 16 year cross racial friendship between a black man and a white man who come from the same state, attended the same college, worked in the same field, and who were quite close before the economic recession and the election of Barack Obama. In many ways except that we think we already understand this conflict because of the race differential this story is really close to that told by Johar Tsarnaev's friends now that they know how his story turned out.  You have people who were jogging along, functioning, but who were slowly falling behind and seeking explanations for it in wider social trends--and seeking to push back on their despair by aligning themselves with something larger and more important and perduring than their own suffering. Here's what the diarist has to say:

As the great recession lingered, Adam became unemployed for a long time and felt significant angst about his place in the world and ability to sustain himself. He increasingly blamed Pres. Obama for not fixing the economy fast enough.  Meanwhile I was forced to completely abandon my media consulting small business in order to run back to a corporate 9-5 job when my client base dried up.
But instead of blaming Pres. Obama I blamed his predecessor Pres. George W. Bush along with the Republican led filibustering within the US Senate which blocked crucial jobs bills which would have grown the economy faster.  So our initial online clashes were over who really was to blame for our forced and dramatic career changes and life shifting situations.
By 2012 Adam was unabashedly lifting talking points from far right leaning FOX News network and spewing them across his Facebook feed without an ounce of criticism towards his own Republican party for its constant obstructionism, filibustering of key legislation and judicial nominations along with its gerrymandering of voting districts to seize control of the House of Representatives. He never addressed the conservative led 36 state Voter-ID “suppression” efforts which sought to reduce early voting, the number of hours to vote, plus stopped voter registration drives and blocked students at private historically black colleges and other universities from voting in the states where they attended school.
We soon became caricatures or perhaps archetypes of Facebook.  He was now a reliably grouchy Republican poster child stating how he wanted his country as he posted a picture of how red America’s voting districts really were but how we have a Democratic President and controlled Senate.  And I would fly in on his Facebook posts like a true blue Liberal Superman countering that much of the red on his voting map represented land based districts and NOT people filled districts not to mention the epic 2010 republican gerrymandered districts on federal and state levels.
He soon started to attack immigrants and specifically Latinos when he posted how it felt being a white minority living in certain parts of Los Angeles and seeking out other white people.   But then it really got ugly!!
In another post he tried to bash current day immigrants stating how his family migrated to America several generations ago and became productive citizens and that he demanded better from others in “my” country today.
I angrily countered that my family had been in this country far longer than his since my descendants came on the slave ship Clotilde which docked in Mobile, AL in 1859.   I informed him that Blacks have been in America since the 1600s in Jamestown, VA as slaves and that America really wasn’t “his” country but that he and his family were the true immigrants in America.
In another Facebook rant Adam went after the poor chastising them for having too many children and for being on welfare, forgetting that he too was unemployed for a very long time and needed assistance. He also went after a women’s right-to-choose and gays with same-sex marriage stating there were far more important issues to tackle.
True to red-state formation, Adam embraced only fiscal issues, rejected social justice topics and the hyphenation of America and instead longed for an era in which white straight men ruled America; an era which Adam never lived however generations later he unknowingly reaped the benefits of it through his white privilege.
Similarly I never lived in an era where blacks were captive to slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws but I still felt the disadvantages and hurdles growing up and becoming an African American man trying to understand why it seemed so much harder for me to succeed even though I tried, worked and networked three times harder as my white counterparts both in business and within the workplace.
Adam and I both felt internal angst about America and achieving the American dream but in two very different directions.  While Adam’s angst and path is often sympathized, even lauded at times, my angst and path is often discounted, demonized and scoffed as being simply excuses.

 Its impossible to read this diary and not think of the ways in which current despair (unemployment, loss of social status, fear of the future) leads people to a fantasy identification with an imaginary perfect past--whether of white rule in the case of the lost friend of the  Kos diary, or of Islamic rule.  There is an expression that I think about a lot qua Anthropologist and older woman: "the past is another country, they do things differently there."  Immigrants and older people are particularly susceptible to false nostalgia and there is a reason that nostalgia is one of the chief and most dangerous components of jingoistic nationalism and fascism--its a very potent drug.   When people like those described in the Kos diary imagine themselves dispossesed in their own country, sojourners in a strange land not their own, and far from the golden land/golden life they thought they were owed, we are going to see a surge of this bitter nostalgia.

Up until now I think we've been protected from the full brunt of this rage and despair from unemployed white men by their general laziness, fear of death or imprisonment, and their age.  But if things keep "trending downwards" for them and their children, and the hysterical language of theft and rage by the Republican party and Fox News keep being ratcheted up, I think we can expect to see more and more Tsarnaev like children of white privilege taking up weapons against their fellow citizens.  The blowback from this extended recession and the death of the white middle class is going to be extensive, over the next ten to twenty years, as the children of the unemployed and angry white working class and middle class age into disappointment and anger themselves.  At least as long as they identify the government with that hated "other"--non whites and women, gays and liberals.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Go Team!

Maybe this will seem picayune or tribalistic but months ago I discovered that one of the Judges Obama was trying to put on the DC Circuit was a classmate of mine in Highschool. Since there were only 36 of us in my entire class, only half of whom were girls, this means I really knew her well.  She was a striking and brilliant girl even then.  I haven't seen her since, nor followed her career, but damn, I'm proud of how she turned out and proud that everything they say about her marks her very much as a member of our class.  Take it away Senator McConnell!

On Wednesday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tore into Pillard as a "liberal ideologue" who "doesn't deserve" a lifetime-tenured position on the influential court, which hears cases on executive power.
“In short, Professor Pillard does not seem like a person with the mindset or temperament of a judge," he said. "She seems like a person with the attitude and disposition of a left-wing academic, someone who seems to come to conclusions based on how well they support her own theories."

Also, my daughter just started at this highschool in 9th grade this year and I'm proud that she has people like Nina Pillard to look up to and try to emulate.  So: Go Team!

via TPM:

Smell the Argle Bargle

This quote from Senator Johnson really had me rolling on the floor.  Could anything more clearly demonstrate the uncomfortable position of the Republican Party? A logical cleft stick is a very difficult thing to wear as a pair of pants, let me tell you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Its like a "Moral Will"

In the book Glueckl of Hameln the historic Jewish practice of periodically writing up a kind of living moral "will" which details what you have done right and wrong with your life is described.  I'm at a crossroads in my own life and am having to do the same thing--only we call it a "personal statement" to a graduate program.  I've already done this--boy howdy have I done this--since I already have my Ph.D. in Anthropology and went through this process applying to College for my BA and then again to Graduate School for my MA and Ph.D.  And to a certain extent I did it periodically thereafter whenever I wrote another grant proposal.  Searching through my files looking for an actual CV I find myself going back in time to a really different age:  my field notes were written on a manual typewriter with carbon paper--actual carbon paper--to make copies.  The boxes of my old stuff, unopened since the last move 15 years ago--smell of Nepali wood smoke and goat hair as though they were stored in the rafters of the old wattle and daub house I lived in 25 years ago.

There's no copy of my CV. I have only the dimmest memories of when things happened and the exact names of the various fellowships I had or the people I worked with.  I'm afraid of making a mistake--did I ever really "get" my MA? Is it even called that? At Yale they just kind of give you an M.Phil when you pass your orals and go on to the Ph.D.  I think they used to call it the "terminal MA" and perhaps you only got it awarded if they kicked you out?

Meanwhile I'm wrestling with a different problem--how to be a supplicant when I'm not really all that...supple...at this point.  One of the most difficult things about being out of the working world for 17 years is that you just don't know how to take orders, anymore, and you don't usually see the need for kow towing to people.  When I sat in on a (very good) class at BU in the Social Work program it was all I could do to keep from leaping up and giving the damn lecture extempore.  What I would like is to do a Ph.D. in Psychology, combine Social Psychology and Clinical Psychology and Anthropology but without doing another research program. I'm not interested in teaching and research anymore, I've done that.  I'd like to practice but I'd like my practice to be widely informed.  There really doesn't seem to be any such program for someone like myself. The MSW seems like the fastest way to receive a credential, put myself back in a position to sit in on classes that interest me, get into internships in related fields, and emerge back into the working world with a way to account for myself for the last crucial years.  Its not ideal in terms of my interests but I should be able to do my own reading and self education for the things that the MSW doesn't focus on.   But in the meantime, I have to sell myself and my past 17 years, or at least account for them in some palatable way.

Its an interesting experience, to say the least, to construct a workable self which ties together--as one hopes it does in real life--my past life tramping up and down the hills of Nepal and drinking tea with strangers with my 17 year interregnum as a mother with my volunteer work with new families and my politics (how much is hidden in anodyne phrases like "Social Justice"?)  I just want a lisence and a credential so I can apply for jobs where I might stand a good chance of helping people at the bottom of the heap or who are in crisis.  Why is this so hard?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Far From the Tree

I took a little time out to juggle a few other books and I'm plowing my way through Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree.  There is a lot of great stuff, even just in the introduction, but also a lot of..well...problematic stuff or leaps of logic and confusion of categories which speak to how very blind even the most insightful of us can be.  I'm going slowly because I insist on typing out whole passages and then appending my thoughts, so here's something from the introduction just to keep things moving over here:

Now we get to the meat of the matter:

Because of the transmission of identity from one generation to the next, most children share at least some traits with their parents. These are vertical identities. Attributes and values are passed down from parent to child across the generations not only through strands of DNA but also through shared cultural norms. Ethnicity, for example, is a vertical identity. Children of color are in general born to parents of color; [now stop right there and grasp that the reverse is actually true: children of no color are born to parents of no color but children of color are routinely born to people of no color when the parents are from different races. The transmission of whiteness has been really fought over for centuries and definitionally a lot of children of color come from one white parent.] the genetic fact of skin pigmentation is transmitted across generations along with a self-image as a person of color, even though that self-image may be subject to generational flux. Language is usually vertical, since most people who speak Greek raise their children to speak Greek, too, even if they inflect it differently or speak another language much of the time. Religion is moderately vertical: Catholic parents will tend to bring up Catholic children, though the children may turn irreligious or convert to another faith. Nationality is vertical, except for immigrants. Blondness and myopia are often transmitted from parent to child , but in most cases do not form a significant basis for identity—blondness because it is fairly insignificant, and myopia because it is easily corrected.” [Now who is being naïve, Kay? Blondness is not at all insignificant and is, in fact, a major marker of whiteness and good ethnic identity in a plural society.]

Often however, someone has an inherent or acquired trait that is foreign to his or her parents and must therefore acquire identity from a peer group. This is a horizontal identity. Such horizontal identities may reflect recessive genes, random mutations, prenatal influences, or values and preferences that a child does not share with his progenitors. Being gay is a horizontal identity; most gay kids are born to straight parents, and while their sexuality is not determined by their peers, they learn gay identity by observing and participating in a subculture outside the family. Physical disability tends to be horizontal, as does genius. Psychopathy, too, is often horizontal; most criminals are not raised by mobsters and must invent their own treachery. So are conditions such as autism and intellectual disability. A child conceived in rape is born into emotional challenges that his own mother cannot know, even though they spring from her trauma.” (2)

(4)”As my parents had misapprehended who I was, so other parents must be constantly misapprehending their own children. Many parents experienced their child's horizontal identity as an affront. A Child's marked difference from the rest of the family demands knowledge, competence, and actions that a typical mother and father are unqualified to supply, at least initially. The child is expressly different from most of his or her peers as well, and therefore broadly less understood or accepted. Abusive fathers visit less abuse on children who resemble them physically; if you are born to a bully, pray that you bear his features. Whereas families tend to reinforce vertical identities from earliest childhood, many will oppose horizontal ones. Vertical identities are usually respected as identities; horizontal ones are often treated as flaws.” [Is there no difference, in the authors mind, between challenges which prevent the child from achieving adult status and liberty in a parentless world and mere differences in identity? Between changes in social identity associated, for example, with the immigrant experience and the breakdown of the patriarchal/clan based system of control and other forms of narcissistic control?]

OK, now we get to the kooky part where you think this guy has never been let out of his white male privilege:

One could argue that black people face many disadvantages in the United States today, but there is little research into how gene expression could be altered to make the next generation of children born to black parents come out with straight, flaxen hair and creamy complexions. In modern America , it is sometimes hard to be Asian or Jewish or female, yet no one suggests that Asians, Jews, or women would be foolish not to become white Christian men if they could. Many vertical identities make people uncomfortable, and yet we do not attempt to homogenize them. The disadvantages of being gay are arguably no greater than those of such vertical identities, but most parents have long sought to turn their gay children straight. Anomalous bodies are usually more frightening to people who witness them than to people who have them, yet parents rush to moralize physical exceptionable, often at great psychic cost to themselves and their children. Labeling a child's mind as diseased—whether with autism, intellectual disabilities, or transgenderism—may reflect the discomfort that mind gives parents more than any discomfort it causes their child. Much gets corrected that might better have been left alone.” (4)

This is rather obviously patently false.  People have struggled against their "vertical identities" since the get go changing their names, religions, practices, foods, life histories, etc... And this change has of course extended to the body: Asians have had their eyes rounded, Jews have had their noses lopped, African Americans have had their skin whitened and their hair straightened and have, of course, "passed" into the white community--for better or worse individuals and whole communities, like the Melungeon, have responded to oppressive categorizations by trying to opt out.