Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gender Construction in Games

And now, because this blog needs slightly less serious stuff to talk about, something I noticed recently.  In my copious spare time I like to play strategy games, I was playing Birth of the Federation a little while ago, and then moved on to Sword of the Stars.  I could talk alot about these games in the game sense, but what caught my eye, or more properly my ear, was the voices.

Take BOTF, for example. Playing as the Federation, you'll find that science vessels and destroyers are voiced by women, while larger, more deadly vessels tend to be voiced by men. (when I say voiced, I mean the voice, presumably of the commander of said vessel, that acknowledges an order you give it)  By the same token, in SotS, you'll find Repair ships, when given an order to repair a fleet, speaking in a female voice telling the rest of the fleet to "be more careful out there", while other command are acknowledged by male voices, such as ordering your fleet to move "engines to power, aye!" and so on.

It's a miniature microcosm of how gender thinking informs what voices we expect to hear in certain contexts, really.

Friday, January 29, 2010

You can talk the talk

Really brief SOTU reaction, because I'm not sure I have anything to say here that's not already covered elsewhere:

The speech proved what we already knew, Obama can give a really good speech, and right afterward, you feel better about his political fortunes.

It was a speech dense with proposals ideas, and so forth, but, probably appropriatly, lacking in specifics.

In the end, therefore, what matters is what he does, or what the results are. Does the speech solidify the political will of the house to pass the bill? Does it nudge the senate into using reconciliation to pass the amendements the house wants on the senate bill?

If the NYT is right that Obama thinks he's going to tackle jobs and other stuff, then come back to healthcare.... well, I'm afraid I think health care would truly be dead if that occured.

What's really depressing about the way the last year has gone is that it's never going to get easier, or better, to pass something politically charged like healthcare.

I suppose we could someday get similar majorities in both chambers during an economic *expansion* which really would make this easier, but I don't see that happening for at least ten years, if not longer, if ever.

Monday, January 25, 2010

You come to change washington, but find it changes you

As per TPM, Ezra, and Yglesias, I am skeptical of Obama's deficit mania both on the politics and on the policy.

I may be being too pessimistic, but its really worth looking at the ways in which its fairly clear that washington's monetary centrism, focused on the needs and worldviews of our current financial and political elites, have changed Obama more than he has changed them. Perhaps this was always going to occur given Obama's tendancy towards mangerial technocraticism rather that populist fire, but its still very depressing.  It's the kind of thing that honestly makes me question the solubility of alot of the nation's problems and the brightness of our future.

Quite simply, all advanced first world democracies operate ona principle wherein the upper classes agree to give a sufficent share of their wealth, prestige, and effort towards the creation of a stable middle class and a safety net for the poor.  In countries where this political agreement never formed, most Latin American Republics, ex-soviet republics, the result is a poor country with very rich people in it. 

To put it another way, one of the promises of the Obama pragmatic change approach is that it will continue the long american tradition of halting and incomplete change towards the better as well as the salvation of the republic from its own inner demons (racism, class divisions, etc).  This aproach worked, to a certain extent, for FDR, it was even tried to a degree under a genuine crisis under Lincoln.

The last thirty years, however, a complex mix of political and social variable has led to a center right colation that sees its liberal counterpart as inherently illegitimate as a governing party even as its own ideology leds inevitability towards corrupt and ineffective governance.  Said ineffectual governance, meanwhile, is very beneficial to the short term interests of the wealthier portions of this country, who will always have the money to tolerate whatever happens here anyway.

If the Obama pragmatic aproach does not work to stall this, and it seems it is not, but that rather the administraiton is becoming to some degree corrupted by the very principles it sought to fight, then more radical, and therefore more damaging solutions may be the only ones that become practicable.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Don't feed the black people

TPM notes this and doesn't go on to explicity state it, altough that they understand it is clear, but the subtext here is racial.

When your average southern conservative republican imagines poor people, he sees black. And he does see them in almost precisly and literally these terms: as pests, animals, locusts, and so on.

You may think I am being too harsh here, but if there is one thing that history has taught us is that the white population of the south will go exceedingly out of its way to maintain blacks as second class citizens both legally and conceptually.

In many ways, the conservative world view is colored, from start to finish, from the offshoots of racism.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Magpie, Magpie

My initial response to this item in the washington monthly linking Politico saying that there is discussion of passing things what would have made the bill palatable to liberals via reconciliation and *then* having the house bounce back the bill to the president was a strong "yay!" but, while I am obvioulsy somewhat new to this whole blogging thing, I think its already effecting the way I percieve things. That is to say, there is very fats movement in my mind, to pounce on every development and talk about it or opine on it.

This isn't a criticism of blogging per se, I think its inherent to the medium, but nonetheless realizing how fast I was about to react made me realize some of the inherent pitfalls of the genre.

So.. time will tell?

My general attitude is that so long as democrats are discussing how to pass the bill productivily instead busily pointing fingers at each other over who's to blame, this is positive.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What we have here is a failure to leadership

If TPM is correct here than this is the first genuine off the shelf unmodified criticism I can make of Obama, right now, he should be leading instead of taking a hands off aproach and letting the dems run around like chickens with their heads cut off. If there's one thing that's been empirically proven, its that time is the enemy of HCR.

The sooner the house bounces the senate HCR bill, the better. Obama should calmly but delibritly schedule a caucus meeting give one of his world class speeches, and then they should vote on the damn thing and get it out. The other things we want can be done by reconciliation.

Messiah complex

Riffing off this Paul Krugman post, let me just say that while Obama deserves all sorts of various criticisms for how things have gone done, he's the first president to get HCR even close to passing, much less this close to passing ever. Given the objective political conditions, that's not to be dismissed.

Point being, Obama has made all sorts of mistakes, but all politicians make mistakes, some discussions among the liberal blogs treat this as some sort of dangerous anomaly, and express disappointment that Obama isn't the savior who will take us to the promised land (i.e "the one", although Krugman has long been critical of Obama).  But look, HCR as it "should" have have been was undone by a shitty canidate losing a race in Massachussets of all places. 60 votes means you can pass stuff, but as we've found out, it means your hostage to any little hiccup in the process.

But! HCR can still pass. It's not dead. More to the point, its clear that its the liberal wing of the party that's hitting the brakes. And this is good! Because liberal members should be more vulnerable and responsive to online and general activism.  Therefore, again, the responsibility lies on us to pressure them to pass the bill.

Yes, there are other options we could do to advance forward, among them doing a medicaid expansion via reconciliation, as mentioned by Ezra Klein and endorsed by Digby. But here's a critical point, doing any of those things isn't mutually exlusive with passing this damn bill, and this bill is worth passing.

We need to pressure our representatives to pass the thing, and then use reconciliation to fix the bill.  Now that there are 59 votes, using reconciliation may be less politically charged and piss off the conservadems, whose votes on some things will still be useful.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Live death of HCR Blogging part two

Per TPM it seems that the threat to the bill is actually from the left which makes what is about to happen even more sickening.

I guess the kill-billers at FDL etc will get their wish now.

I hope it turns out better than I'd predict, which is to say, as a disaster.

Snatching Defeat from the jaws of victory

Let's review the situation:
1) The senate has passed HRC
2) Al the house needs to do is bounce it back, and viola! HRC is a fact.

But, it seems somewhat certain that this will not occur. Why? Because our elected officials are, to a certain extent, cowards.

This, however, is not their fault, it is, fundementally, the broader leftist movement's fault.

One of the broader frustions I have been developing over the last year is seeing how the two political sections of the country handle their present circumstances.

During the Bush years, conservatives pulled together, they didn't take their eye off the ball. Sure, they didn't get all of what they wanted, but they moved closer in just about every respect. The neocons got their wars. The fundies got lots of money, some anti-gay marriage laws, two supreme court justices willing to hollow out Roe, and judges in the lower courts friendly to their view of the world. The corporate world got their tax breaks, and so on.

During these years, the left was very angry, but it took them something like 6 years to get into gear and really fight like they meant it.

Come 2008, the national disaster this led to elected a democrat into office.

The left started to get its own goodies, the largest direct government stimulus since the great society and within inches of passing HRC, not to mention a supreme court justice, and lots of little things to be happy about besides.  What do we do? Start infighting, going in different directions, sniping at each other, and so on.

Meanwhile, the republicans get to work. They instantly get angry, they work hard. Within a year, its like Bush never happened.

I'm not sure things will change until the left decides it actually wants to win this game.