The Free Press, Mankato, MN


October 24, 2013

Earmarks can help Congress get groove back


One theory to account for the mildness of the backlash against the Republicans' irresponsibility — and this rival explanation, much favored by their critics, is actually a big part of the Democrats' problem. It's the idea that voters are just so stupid. One of the things that strikes me as a foreigner living in the U.S. is that American metropolitan liberals despise every kind of bigotry, except the kind directed at the dumb hicks who inhabit the middle of the country. I mean, those people vote Republican!

If Democrats could bring themselves to respect the people they say they want to help, the Republican Party would be in deep trouble. On this, the tea party has no cause for concern.

Clive Crook, Bloomberg News

Punish virtual war crimesYou might think the International Committee of the Red Cross would have plenty to do just providing humanitarian aid to people in war zones. And so it does. So why is the organization poking its nose into the debate over violent video games?As it turns out, that's also a pretty good use of its time.

Among the millions of young people who play such games today — virtually capturing, torturing and killing enemy combatants — are some of the soldiers, military officers, government leaders and opinion makers of tomorrow. That is reason enough to argue, as the ICRC does convincingly, that their games ought to follow the international laws that protect victims of war.

The ICRC isn't looking to ban, regulate or censor such games — which would be futile anyway, at least in the United States where courts have ruled their content is protected by the First Amendment. Instead, the organization encourages manufacturers to build in penalties for virtual war crimes.

Game makers can market the changes as providing greater authenticity and challenge, requiring virtual soldiers to accomplish their mission while causing the least damage to civilians and their property. Just as actual soldiers are called upon to do.

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