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:: Thursday, June 09, 2005 ::

Dean and the DNC

Given Dean's recent...lack of support...from Congressional Democrats (the "pansy-ass brigade", as my grandfather would call them), I thought I'd reenable my DNC ePatriots buttons. Everything I've read about what Dean's doing at the DNC -- building up ground organizations in long neglected states, allowing states more autonomy on their own organizations, and basically breaking the Democratic party away from the out-of-touch Washington bunch is something I wholeheartedly support.

And if he's not going to get support from Washington, he's damn well going to get it from me. I chipped in a hundred bucks to let them know I was serious. Dean's raising more money in an off year than McAullife ever dreamed of, he's addressing long standing problems with Democratic infrastructure and he's pissing off some of the more annoying Beltway Dems. What more can you ask for?
:: Morat 10:11 AM :: ::

Press Gangs Live!

Daily Kos had a link to a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wherein, apparently, a United States Marine Corp. recruiter did a damn good imitation of a press gang. Oh, not quite abduction -- but given the Marine Corps. reputation for having to beat away recruits with a stick, the fact that they were resorting to sleep and food deprivation, coupled with aggressive recruitment tactics that just barely fell under 'legal'.....well, that speaks volumes about what George W. Bush's little war has done to America's military.

Is anyone surprised the military has suddenly decided to start playing with their recruitment figures?

Bush loves to wrap himself in the flag and wear that cool flightsuit, but when it gets right down to it he seems bound and determined to destroy the military. It's going to take a generation or more to recover from this.
:: Morat 9:45 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 ::


I can understand Garance's point:
The issue is not whether or not violent video games -- or TV shows, or movies -- have the same kind of impact on youth violence that the crack epidemic did. Just because something doesn't end in murder or assault or other significant physical consequences doesn't mean it can't be a real problem. Perceived cultural problems may not be considered real problems within the materialist framework that still rules within liberal circles, but they are nonetheless powerfully important within the broader framework of how people live their lives. The real question at issue is not, 'what are the factually documented consequences of X cultural product?,' but, 'is this really how we want to live?' The first is an empirical question; the second is one of subjective judgment and values.

A lot of the cultural problems parents worry about are just that -- they are problems of culture. The whole point of having politicians talk about such issues is that culture is the product of human conversation and opinion and thought. It is the expression of our values. Public discussion is how people decide what their social norms are and who they are as a people, and how they reassert their values against those of the corporate culture factories. Just having a conversation about something in public is one way of changing cultural norms, and connecting with people who have concerns about society that are not simply material ones.
I get the point. Really, I do.

But here's the problem -- you want Democrats to talk about cultural change. Here's the problem: Culture is the left. The GOP has spent, oh, four decades making "cultural problems" synonymous with the left.

We're talking about a society that blames liberals for crap like "Desperate Housewives" which is overwhelmingly popular in the reddest of states.

Don't you get it? Those worried parents, those concerned citizens, those 'cultural warriors' like this shit more than liberals do. They want it, the magical free market gives it to them, and the GOP happily tells them it's to blame for all their problems and we're responsible.

It's like those damn polls that show people thinking everyone in Congress is a crooked liar -- except their Congressman, who is alright. Every parents knows they keep close watch on what their kids see and play. It's those "other parents" who don't that are the problem.

Our social problems don't have a damn thing to do with GTA or Desperate Housewives. It's just an easy answer the GOP uses to tar us with whatever the problem of the day is. And you want to help them?

You're not co-opting the message. It's not the political jiu-jitsu you think it is. You're not neutralizing the GOP's message, you're enhancing it. The real message is "It's liberals fault your lives suck. Them with their violent games and sex and pornography. Blame THEM. Get rid of THEM and it'll be all better".

You don't counter that by saying "Damn skippy, those violent games are a problem.". You counter it by telling them that it ain't the problem -- the problem is the fact that you don't have a job because your CEO took a 15 million dollar "bonus" instead of paying your wage. The problem is your healthcare costs 5 times what it did ten years ago. The problem is that your pension money went to rare coins and Bush's reelection fun. How about we fix the damn problem?
:: Morat 1:39 PM :: ::

Parental Concerns

Kevin Drum dips his toes into the issue of "worried parents and those nasty videogames".
Let's cut the crap, shall we? You can make cogent arguments that violent video games have no effect on crime and moral decay. Ditto for stupid TV shows, internet porn, gangster rap, and cigarette ads. But it's the first sentence of Garance's paragraph that's the key one.

The point is not that we shouldn't make arguments based on research and statistics. Of course we should. The problem is that too often liberals aren't making cogent arguments at all. Instead, they're simply mocking parents who are nervous about this stuff as troglodyte knuckle draggers, without offering so much as a shred of sympathy for the way they feel. That's a pretty guaranteed vote loser.
Let me make it clear to you Kevin: The message "I understand your concerns, but I have no plan to do anything about it for reasons X, Y, and Z" is not a vote winner not matter how good your reasons are.

What you're asking -- even if you're trying to be subtle about it -- is that the Democrats start pandering to those worried parents, soothing their concerns with meaningless bills and faux concern. Do you actually think they'd buy it?

You want to know how you address parental concerns about naughty movies and video games? You don't. Every damn time it comes up, you start talking about health-care and the economy.

How the hell do you get so out of touch with society? For the record I'm am 29, married, have one child (8 years old) and -- since I'm white and my household income is quite healthy these days -- the exact sort of person Drum is talking about. And I'll tell you this -- I don't give a damn about the issue -- and neither do any of the people I know. Why? Because I'm more worried about whether I'll have a job next month, or how damn expensive going to the doctor is.

I'll give you a hint, Kevin -- and this goes for Garance over at Tapped too -- only a very tiny number of people care enough about video game content or movie content to vote based on it, and they'll all vote Republican until they die. Everyone else has more pressing needs.

This is an issue we can and should ignore. If the GOP brings it up, slam them for trying to shift away from the issues of poverty, unemployment, and health-care. If you're forced to address it, praise the ratings system and talk about how it gives parents -- those who know best what their kids should and should not be playing -- the tools they need to make the right decision.

In the end, though, it's a bullshit issue and we'd be fools to fall for it. Government intervention, especially at the hands of Democrats, seems to highlight the 'Governmental Nannies' aspect of the Democratic party. It's a bullshit issue, one that's dragged out of the cracks on slow news day, filled with the same old quotes from the same old people.

But you know what? Not a single damn one of my white, married, 30+ friends and family members (those with or without kids) has ever said a damn word about how they wish some politician would just ban Grand Theft Auto III. Instead, they say things like "Well, I'm certainly not letting my kids play it" and buy something like SSX Tricky instead.

It always gets me out ivory-tower people like Kevin -- and Matt and Garance -- get about things like this. They decide, without any data whatsoever, what large swathes of the populace think and feel and make baseless assumptions about how they'll vote on it. I can tell you this -- if there's one thing ALL my redneck, gun-toting, GOP-voting, liberal bashing friends have in common, it's that they all own a copy of GTA: Vice City. Whether they have kids or not. Do you even realize how many Americans have played GTA? Do you understand how fucking stupid politicians look when talking about it? Think about Bob Dole doing the macarena, and you'll have a slight understanding of how Joe American is going to view your pandering.

Do us all a damn favor -- keep your mouth shut on the issue. If you absolutely feel Democrats must make some sort of statement on it, have them praise the ratings system and enthusiastically talk about how that gives parents vital tools to monitor what their children watch and play.
:: Morat 1:02 PM :: ::

After Lowering Goal, Army Falls Short on May Recruits

I'm shocked:
Even after reducing its recruiting target for May, the Army missed it by about 25 percent, Army officials said on Tuesday. The shortfall would have been even bigger had the Army stuck to its original goal for the month.

On Friday, the Army is expected to announce that it met only 75 percent of its recruiting goal for May, the fourth consecutive monthly shortfall in the number of new recruits sent to basic training. Just over 5,000 new recruits entered boot camp in May.
Now, it's rather obvious why they haven't met their goals:
  1. Parents don't want their kids getting their asses shot off in Iraq.
  2. Kids don't want their own asses getting shot off in Iraq.
  3. No one believes the poor recruiters when they swear you won't get sent to Iraq to have your ass shot off.

If I'm doing the math correctly (and remembering the law correctly) we're at the point where keeping a lot of the Guard units in Iraq is going to be impossible. Add in the rather nasty attrition (and the Army's habit of cannibalizing one Guard unit to fill out another, leaving big holes when they activate new units) and I think things will come to a head by the end of the year. I don't think we can keep our current 140k commitment for more than another six months. To do so we'd need a draft, or start activating -- in very large numbers -- IRR soldiers. The Guards and the Reserves are tapped out. It's going to be very interesting to see what Dubya decides to do around November. The obvious choice is to declare victory and get out, but somehow I'm not sure Bush can manage that -- he'd have to cut the neocons out entirely, and they're running way too much of his show.
:: Morat 10:09 AM :: ::

Ohio Scandals...

Damn, this is the scandal that keeps on giving:
Democrats were screaming "cover-up" yesterday after state officials admitted that a high-risk hedge fund that the embattled Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation had invested in had lost $215 million in just a few months last year.

The bureau acknowledged that the fund, managed by a Pittsburgh-based investment firm, lost the money between February and September, 2004. MDL Capital Management relinquished control of the fund in November.
Now I don't know much about Ohio politics, but did they honestly think they could get away with this forever? This is insanity. I mean, what the hell were they thinking?

With the Coin Fund, at least, I can see what they were doing. They weren't being particularly subtle about what they were doing -- in fact, the only way this could have been more blatant would be if they'd been cutting GOP campaign donations straight from the fund itself -- but I saw what they were doing. They had a plan. A highly illegal plan that violates pretty much every ethical constraint and actual law governing government money and, you know, politicians -- but a plan nonetheless.

But this? "Hey, we lost a bunch of money being retards, so to make it back we'll invest in a VERY highly speculative hedge fun and reap amazing rewards and make it all back!". Why not play the lottery? At least they could have rigged it so the pension fund won....

How the hell do you get this brazen? This incompetent? With the fricking pension fund no less? "Hi, we're the Ohio State GOP. We take YOUR retirement money, and we either give it to ourselves -- so we can keep serving YOU, the worker -- or we gamble it away! We rock! Keep voting for US!"

I'm going to lose a lot of faith in humanity if there aren't a whole lot more Ohio Democrats after this is all over.
:: Morat 9:46 AM :: ::

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