Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The corporate takeover marches on

Not content with having privatized and outsourced much of the military, police and penal responsibilities previously the remit of the public sector, it seems that our right-wing, market fundamentalist overlords in the White House and Congress are now handing over significant amounts of responsibility for intelligence and national security to "private contractors" as well. Lo and behold, the public is only discovering the extent of this by accident.

Ironically, one of the touchstone issues that initiated the rise of conservatism to its dominant, mainstream position in US politics during the 1980s and '90s was, of course, the notion that "liberals" had not just allowed but actively encouraged a number of reckless entitlements, allowing "special interests" to "feed at the public trough" at the expense of hard-working taxpayer/citizens. Ronald Reagan once, (in)famously, told audiences on the campaign trail an apocryphal tale about an inner-city "welfare queen" in order to illustrate the incompetence and injustice fostered by "big government". That one wasn't even true, whereas the corporate sector's increasingly-extravagent free breakfasts, lunches and dinners at the public's expense are now (unwittingly, in the case of the Director of National Intellgence's PowerPoint presentation) a matter of public record.

So when does the left - or what passes for the left in the US - start hammering away at this as relentlessly as the cranky old conservatives did during their rise to power? And will the message be heard as loudly and as often this time, considering that pretty much next to every media outlet is controlled by corporate interests these days?

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Too close to the truth for comfort

Retired Gen. George Washington Criticizes Bushs Handling Of Iraq War

The Onion

Retired Gen. George Washington Criticizes Bush's Handling Of Iraq War

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Revolutionary War veteran noted that while Hussein was a tyrant, that alone did not justify a "conflict that seems without design or end."

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Libertarian Double Standards

I've long been a fan of the basic tenets of libertarianism - a strong emphasis on voluntary agreement and freedom from coercion, deep-held suspicion of centralised power, etc. - while being essentially turned off by the policy arguments of most self-described "libertarians", who seem to me to have one set of rules about state intervention for huge corporations, and one set of rules for everyone else. Was thus thrilled to find this blog. This article on Latin American land reform was particularly good.

A New World Order, indeed!

One of the key tenets of the security structure within the modern International Political Economy has been the state's exclusive claim to "legitimate" violence. However, with the state increasingly having been taken over and dismantled by its ideological opponents on the right over the past quarter century, it should come as little surprise that the authority to wield force and inflict violence "legitimately" should be yet another thing that has been outsourced to the private sector.

Unsurprising, it may be. But whether it is a good thing or not probably depends on which side of the political spectrum one comes from, as well as which end of the assault rifle. What does seem clear to Information Landmine is that, so long as corporations and their allies remain in the ascendency over the public sector and the common good it exists to defend, we're likely to see a lot more of this kind of thing in future. For worse or for worse.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

The best democracy...

As part of my obsession with the US presidential primaries and general work-avoidance I've been looking around OpenSecrets. The funding data was particularly interesting. I never knew, for example, that the pro-Israel lobby gives so much more to the Dems than the Repubs so consistently. Enjoy.

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Whoops! Apocalypse! Episode no. 3,421,867

Sometimes, between reports like this and the whole bees thing and every other environmental catastrophe-in-the-making, Information Landmine gets the impression that humanity is playing a giant version of one of those children's games where objects are stacked precariously on top of one another until eventually collapsing in a heap. Only with this game, the future of life on Earth is what's at stake.

Well, as Blue Öyster Cult once sang in an appropriately sage-like fashion: "History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of men."

They need hardly have added the "Godzilla!" bit afterwards.

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