When the feds subsidize video game geeks

By Kevin Rogers

April 15, better known as tax day, is swiftly approaching. Many Americans expect that their share of earnings will go to pay for defense spending, social programs and government upkeep. For the most part, they’re correct.

But believe it or not, the federal government doesn’t always spend your taxes wisely. Some of the thousands and millions find their way into projects like video game studies, development and exhibits.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., reports some of the more astounding examples of such misguided government spending in his annual “WasteBook.”

Sen. Coburn and President ObamaCC--Office of Sen. Tom Coburn

Sen. Coburn and President Obama
CC–Office of Sen. Tom Coburn

The Nerds of Congress scoured his three reports and now presents the more egregious examples of less-than-necessary, video game federal spending.

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You win or you die: The Republican Game of Thrones

By Kevin Rogers

Thousands of conservatives descended on National Harbor, Maryland for this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, granting a platform to a number of Republican lords and lunatics.

Among the array of speakers stand the wannabe kings of the Republican Party with their eyes on the White House’s throne in 2016.

In Game of Thrones, five kings battle to take control of the Iron Throne of Westeros, each thinking he (or she) would be the best ruler.

The Iron ThroneCC--Votaris

The Iron Throne
CC–Votaris

Despite the absence of beheading in current politics, The Nerds of Congress found striking parallels between these realities and their warring kings…

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Heroes on the Hill?: Superhero-movie celebrities testify to Congress

By Kevin Rogers

In comic book lore, superheroes occasionally walk the halls of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to testify on the issues that affect them.

In Marvel comics, the Fantastic Four, members of the X-Men and other heroes have gone to testify on a series of federal superhuman and mutant registration acts. One of the best scenes in 2010’s Iron Man 2 featured Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark making fools of business rivals and politicians at a hearing on his armor.

Real-world congressional hearings are rarely so exciting, but actors from superhero movies have been spotted in the halls of Congress, minus the form-fitting suits.

The Nerds of Congress now presents the actors, their causes and who put them up to testifying.

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A warm thank you for Obama’s ‘Jedi mind meld’

By Kevin Rogers

The Nerds of Congress would like to extend its thanks to President Barack Obama for bringing a clumsy, yet much-appreciated, nerd reference to the partisan gridlock.

Obama, speaking on his frustration with Republican lawmakers, said he can’t use a “Jedi mind meld” to force compromise on averting automatic spending cuts.

Unless he was making a high-brow reference to Star Wars novels, Obama mistakenly merged elements from Star Wars and Star Trek with his “Jedi mind meld” comment.

In Star Wars, Jedi serve as “the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy.” Their mastery of the mystical Force allows them a level of persuasive power over the weak willed via the “Jedi mind trick.”

In Star Trek, a mind meld is a mental link, used by the Vulcans, to exchange thoughts telepathically.

Battles between Star Trek and Star Wars fans are often passionate, so the comments fueled a surge of nerd derision on Twitter. However, the White House quickly responded with a well-played mash-up, bringing together the two franchises more harmoniously.

It likely won’t fix Washington, but Star Wars and Star Trek fans should appreciate the coverage Obama’s comment offered. It’s delightful to see a politician attempt to embrace the nerd community.

Thank you, Mr. President, for remembering the nerds.

The Climate Avengers

By Kevin Rogers

Marvel Comics’ The Avengers brought together a group of legendary superheroes to battle enemies too powerful for a single hero to overcome. Through their 50-year history, the Avengers battled hordes of alien warriors, armies of destruction-minded robots and supernatural villains.

Avengers Issue 1– CC Phillip Lenssen http://www.flickr.com/photos/philippl/449744183/

Barack Obama focused on a different threat in his second inaugural and 2013 State of the Union addresses. Obama called on Congress to battle the threat of climate change.

A number of lawmakers have moved to answer the call. These lawmakers boast a dedication to fighting climate change, high ranks from the League of Conservation Voters  and substantive policy proposals.

The Nerds of Congress now presents the six lawmakers of the Climate Avengers.

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These aren’t the drones you’re looking for: The U.S. shift to droid warfare and surveillance

By Kevin Rogers

In George Lucas’s Star Wars universe, droids are robots with tasks including translation, computing and repair work. The series’ most famous droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, take on these benign jobs.

But not all droids are created equal. The malevolent Galactic Empire uses droids designed for torture and surveillance in the original trilogy. In the prequel series, the Trade Federation deploys entire armies of droid warriors and aircraft tasked with destruction and conquest.

Droids go by a different name in this galaxy. Pilotless drones gather enemy intelligence and blow up suspected terrorists abroad. It sounds great; American enemies are destroyed without risking military lives.

But America’s shift to drone-based warfare and surveillance should rouse concern. The Justice Department released a justification to take out American citizens without charges or trial. Federal agencies look to expand permits for drones in U.S. airspace.

Smuggler Han Solo put it best in the original Star Wars: “I got a bad feeling about this.”

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DeMint’s Company: Tolkien’s dwarves and Senate conservatives

By Kevin Rogers

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit13 dwarves face exile from their homeland of Erebor, the dwarves’ greatest kingdom, at the claws of the gold-hungry dragon Smaug.

Luckily, they have a leader in Thorin Oakenshield, heir to dwarvish royalty.

Thorin Oakenshield Image Credit: Maelstromarts

Conservative senators don’t have a dragon problem, but they face the challenges of unpopular public image, conflict with establishment Republicans and electoral thrashings. Their Thorin, former Sen. Jim DeMint, left to lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

This leaves the 12 most-conservative senators (based on Heritage Foundation rankings) leaderless in their quest to appeal to more Americans. Instead of seeking gold and homeland, they fight for the political survival of their ideology.

The Nerds of Congress now presents the 12 senators of “DeMint’s Company” and their dwarvish counterparts.

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