Posted by: quiscus | January 27, 2011

January 27, 2011

1.  “Internet ‘kill switch’ bill will return

A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a “national cyberemergency,” and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.”

2.  “Blair sister-in-law wants him tried for Iraq crimes”

3.  “Middle East: the Undoing of America’s Mendacious Foreign Policy

What we are seeing across the Arab world is not just the undoing of corrupt regimes. We are seeing the undoing of America’s entire foreign policy in that region. No wonder there must be deep misgiving in Washington over the recent turmoil in this key energy-producing region. For decades, US administrations have, through a cocktail of ignorance and arrogance, deluded themselves that they could get away with a mendacious contradiction. That contradiction is the espousal of democracy and peace in the Middle East while at the same time sponsoring regimes that act in every way to undermine any path to democracy and peace. And the vast majority of people in the Middle East see through this delusion. They are well aware that at the root of democratic change in the region is not just getting rid of internal corrupt rulers – it is the overthrow of Washington’s imperialist policy, which has long subjugated Arab countries to despotic rule.

It would be laughable if it were not so serious. For the US government, past and present, is showing itself to be the most able demolition engineer of its own foreign policy in the Middle East.

4.  “Cow Most Sacred

Why Military Spending Remains Untouchable
These four factors — institutional self-interest, strategic inertia, cultural dissonance, and misremembered history — insulate the military budget from serious scrutiny.

Patriotism, once a simple concept, had become both confusing and contentious.  What obligations, if any, did patriotism impose?  And if the answer was none — the option Americans seemed increasingly to prefer — then was patriotism itself still a viable proposition?

Wanting to answer that question in the affirmative — to distract attention from the fact that patriotism had become little more than an excuse for fireworks displays and taking the occasional day off from work — people and politicians alike found a way to do so by exalting those Americans actually choosing to serve in uniform.  The thinking went this way: soldiers offer living proof that America is a place still worth dying for, that patriotism (at least in some quarters) remains alive and well; by common consent, therefore, soldiers are the nation’s “best,” committed to “something bigger than self” in a land otherwise increasingly absorbed in pursuing a material and narcissistic definition of self-fulfillment.

In effect, soldiers offer much-needed assurance that old-fashioned values still survive, even if confined to a small and unrepresentative segment of American society.  Rather than Everyman, today’s warrior has ascended to the status of icon, deemed morally superior to the nation for which he or she fights, the repository of virtues that prop up, however precariously, the nation’s increasingly sketchy claim to singularity.

Politically, therefore, “supporting the troops” has become a categorical imperative across the political spectrum.  In theory, such support might find expression in a determination to protect those troops from abuse, and so translate into wariness about committing soldiers to unnecessary or unnecessarily costly wars.  In practice, however, “supporting the troops” has found expression in an insistence upon providing the Pentagon with open-ended drawing rights on the nation’s treasury, thereby creating massive barriers to any proposal to affect more than symbolic reductions in military spending. “

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