Voter Hypocrisy
Dec 17th, 2016 by Dr Karma

I can’t get over why reporters can’t get over voter hypocrisy.

There have been several moves Trump has made that could already be called executive over-reach or “pay to play.” Reporters interview voters/supporters and say, “But didn’t you say this was wrong? Why is it okay when Trump does it?”

The answer: “Well, what he’s doing is going to fix all these things.”

There is no admission of what the truth is: it’s okay when Trump does it. It’s not okay when Obama/Hillary does it.

That’s all.

We’ve all seen the videos of voters being read Hitler’s quotes and being told Trump said them. They love the ideas!

We’ve all seen the videos of voters being read Obama’s policies and being told they’re Trump’s. They love the ideas!

We are all guilty of this, to some degree.

For example, Republicans say they believe in small government decisions, favoring the state over the country, the city over the state, except of course when the small government passes pro-marijuana, anti-discrimination, or gun control legislation.

Generally, I’m a federalist, rather than a states’ rights person. I don’t think my rights should be different in different states or that I shouldn’t be able to ship wine to myself from one American place to another or that a lawsuit against someone basically falls away if they move across a state line.

But I love it when California tells the rest of you to go f yourselves sometimes (although of course I want the whole country to get more progressive, so we don’t have to be different) and, during difficult Presidencies, I tell foreigners that I’m from California when they ask. It automatically makes them like me more.

My hypocrisy is absolutely glaring in another way right now.

I believe in empathy, in Rogerian arguments, etc. And yet I cannot yet empathize with Trump voters. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do so with those who are attacking people, who are threatening the Islamic center in my town, who are making me and my friends and my students angry and afraid.

Americans (and humans) have problems upholding their principles; no wonder we elect people without any.


I’m Gonna Miss Obama
Jun 23rd, 2016 by Dr Karma

Republicans like to talk about how they’re going to kick Obama out of The White House next year–it always sounds weird to me–he couldn’t/wouldn’t stay no matter how the vote turns out. They know that, right?

Naturally, I have a preference for how the vote will turn out, but no matter what, I’ll miss Obama.

He has not been a perfect president, but no one ever has.

Am I disappointed by some things? Yes–many. For example, Obama has deported more undocumented people than W did.

Conservatives should love that.

He’s actually done a lot of things that conservatives should approve of–the deficit has shrunken (it initially went up under his rule because he added our foreign wars to the official budget–under W, they didn’t count) by quite a lot. We are in better economic shape than we were in 2008. Bin Laden is dead, along with lots of other terrorist leaders.

It’s also hard for me to solely blame Obama for the failings I see. Republicans began by saying they would work to block every single thing he wanted. And they’ve succeeded in blocking many things. They have also inflamed a part of their base that now embarrasses them–the moderate conservatives I grew up with have been replaced by amazingly unreasonable people–Tea Partiers, overt racists, Palins, and Trumps. Their reactions to him are hysterical (in the older sense of the word): he’s not American; he’s not Christian; he only pretends to cry when children have been gunned down. The latest: that he’s actually on the side of the terrorists.

(I would note, of course, that the terrorists and the Democrats are at odds. We like feminism and gay people and secularism and humor, etc.–they are in fact more conservative about these things. They want to make the world “great again”–but they want to go back to the 700s instead of the 1950s.)

I grew up Republican. I have a deep sense of sadness when I watch those 70s and 80s politicians trying to retain control as the base spirals. My soul hurts when I see my family spiraling down with them.

When Obama won, my mother and I had the following exchange:

Mom: Obama is going to take our rights away as white women.

Me: Which ones?

[LOOOOOOOONG silence.]

Me: ‘Cause as a straight educated white American woman, I have more rights than the majority of the people who’ve ever lived on this planet. I have more rights than some of my friends. And I can’t think of any that Obama could actually take away.

[She changes the conversation.]

Obama has not, in his time in office, taken away my rights as a white woman.

I hope, in fact, that whoever takes the office will continue his work.

Here are a few things I’m happy about:

  • I’m in a better position than I was eight years ago, financially. (Many elections ago, that’s what voters were asked to consider as the basis for their vote.)
  • My disabled aunt has access to healthcare. For those who know me, you’ll know I had to take her in a couple of years ago for a while–in the South, which rejected Obamacare despite their own budget offices reporting that Obamacare would save them money, she wasn’t able to get it. She was going in and out of emergency rooms (those bills will forever be unpaid), but not getting fixed, not getting to really see a doctor, not getting prescriptions she could fill.
  • I have access to more services under Obamacare. For example, my chiropractor, who is not in my insurance network, was able to recommend therapies to my insurance company–a new communication feature under the legislation. I now have a new TENS unit, a traction device, and a back brace for prolonged sitting–none of which I had to pay for–because of my chiropractor’s argument.

Do I wish we had a single payer system? Yes, but Obamacare is better than what we had before.

  • Workers are being paid better and slightly more equally. Minimum wage is going up (although it still hasn’t caught up with inflation); overtime pay has been extended so more workers are eligible for it; Obama supports equal pay.
  • He has proposed cutting funding for abstinence-only education, after it had been expanded by W. Every study show that it doesn’t work–rates of teenage pregnancy, rates of divorce, and rates of venereal disease are at their highest in the states that support it. Studies also show that those kids still have sex–abstinence only delays virginity loss by a bit, but raises–dramatically–the likelihood that they won’t use condoms.
  • No child left behind is gone. I don’t love every part of the new education plan (to be fair, I don’t love every part of any plan that I can think of), but it’s SO much better than NCLB.
  • Changes have been made to help Native Americans–our invisible and most oppressed and most victimized minority. Native women, for example, are raped at alarming rates (and that’s within a country that already has high rape rates). This legislation attempts to address this and other issues.
  • We have opened relations with Cuba, which is long overdue.
  • This administration has done more to support LGBTQ rights than any other. The backlash is, predictably, absurd.

Here are five things I’ll miss:

Have any other presidents talked about Finland’s music (and how it relates to good governance)?

Has any other president called himself a feminist? Obama seems to care about and respect women–and by acknowledging that he is a feminist, he also signals that “women’s issues” are human issues. Oh, and he’s against sex shaming, which is awesome, cause I’m one horny feminist, and it’s good to know my President supports me.


Has any other president included we “nonbelievers” in the list of Americans? No–most ignore us or conflate us with those who either aren’t American or who aren’t patriotic. But we nonbelievers can believe in America.

Depending on who’s elected, I’ll miss my break from having to explain the electorate to foreigners. When W was in office, I was constantly having to explain how he was our President, especially in the second term. I would usually start with “let me tell you about the South.”

Not every foreign person I know loves Obama–many are critical of the drones–but they don’t question how he exists as a leader–the basic fact of him is comprehensible.

As an American, I am deeply ashamed that Trump is the nominee of the other party–it manages to reflect badly on all of us. If he’s elected, I’ll be torn between a desire to be out of the country as much as possible and worrying about how I’ll be able to show my American face to the rest of the world.

But most of all, I’ll miss his sense of humor.

I hope his post-presidency work is just as awesome as Carter’s and Clinton’s have been.


Voting in America
Oct 23rd, 2014 by Dr Karma

Sometimes, when I ask my students a question like “which reading do you want to talk about first,” I get only one or two people responding. I often make a joke about democracy not working with so few votes.
The Supreme Court may grapple soon with efforts to make it harder to vote, to discourage voting. Striking down so much of the old Voting Rights Act has had some frightening consequences. In other words, deciding to trust states not to try to disenfranchise black voters has opened the door to the disenfranchisement of young, poor, and voters of color. Of course, the issue isn’t really about race anymore–if black people voted Republican, they wouldn’t be getting screwed now.
The new laws in various states controlled by Republicans are designed to ensure that Republicans can vote and that others may not be able to. Voter ID laws, getting rid of early voting, etc–these all target the urban, the poor, the young, the old, who may not have a picture ID or who may not be able to get to a polling place easily. One Texas law, which accepts a gun ID, but not a student ID, as proof of identity, could not be clearer in terms of who is encouraged to vote.
Those who support these laws say the laws are there to reduce voter fraud. When confronted with the less than 1% incidence of voter fraud, they will say that even one fraudulent ballot is worth all the trouble.
I don’t happen to share that view, because I’m offended by the idea of lots of people not being allowed to vote or having their ballots thrown out just in case there’s *an* invalid ballot.
I take this personally. When the Supreme Court stopped the absentee ballot count in the 2000 election, they stopped a count that included MY vote (I had just moved to California).
I can’t help but think of our already low voter turnout and why anyone actually interested in democracy (as opposed to oligarchy) would try to make it even lower. I think about other countries, where voting is required or where election day is a holiday or where people are automatically registered the second they become an adult. These countries don’t seem to have problems with voter fraud.
We need an updated Voting Rights Act, one that focuses not on race as the only thing officials might be taking into consideration–we need one that makes voting as popular and accessible and vibrant as it deserves to be.

A lack of empathy
Oct 7th, 2013 by Dr Karma

Usually, I can understand why the other side is doing what it’s doing, even if I don’t agree.

I understand that pro-lifers put the life of a fetus above everything else, even above the fact that the outlawing of abortion has historically been correlated with higher rates of abortion. I don’t think most pro-lifers are evil (the ones who would murder for it are)–I just wish they would put their energy into assuring that women have access to good birth control and sex education and that the babies who are born are born with good health care etc., since I find it SO problematic when lifers are fine with letting babies, but not fetuses, die.

I get the fiscal libertarian view, which is: “this is my money, don’t touch it. You and your child can go die in that ditch, there, no–that’s my ditch–THAT ditch over there–the one off my property.” I do think it’s evil, but I get it.

I get why the Republican leadership are against Obamacare. It’s because they’re on the side of business. They want the insurance company to have the freedom to spend as much of their profit on their shareholders and paperwork as they want (Obama wants them to use it on patients). They want the insurance company to have the freedom to not insure me, to turn me down for procedures, to drop me when I get too expensive. They tell me they don’t want the government to get between me and my doctor–that’s the insurance company’s job!!! I get it.

But I don’t get the shut down.

The law passed.

We elected the guy. Twice.

When W got elected the second time (the first time, really), he said he had a mandate and that he was going to use it.

Republicans ignored the law and the mandate and sued, and the Supreme Court said sorry, and so here we are.

I’m trying to imagine applying this logic to my life. There’s A bill I don’t want to pay. So I don’t pay any of them. And I tell the people I owe money to that it’s what they want and that it’s for their own good. It’s for their freedom!

I think I’d get locked up. I would at least get sued and kicked out of my house and a bunch of my shit would stop working. Republicans are half complaining that national parks are closed and half crowing that only the national parks are closed (not true–lots of things are affected–but they haven’t decided on just one message here).

And I can’t get my head around it. When I hear people say we need to find a compromise with these people, I scream, “No, we don’t!” or “What compromise?”

And this is how America becomes divided.

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