Conservatives chortle in derision whenever the left talks about “the military-industrial complex” between sips of high-octane coffee. Yet it was a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who coined the phrase during a 1961 speech: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”
Still, the term earned its status as painful clichÃ©. Over the years, the venom of conservative talk-show hosts seemed much more genuine. Now the “complex” is very real, extending far beyond blowhards like Michael “get AIDS and die” Savage and Ann “convert them to Christianity” Coulter.
& ull; Our Justice Department reported that there were credible claims of civil rights abuses since the government initiated its anti-terrorism juggernaut under the enthusiastic auspices of Attorney General John Ashcroft. And any day now, the government’s Total Information Awareness system will have full access to your credit card purchases and medical records. So add opengov.media.mit.edu to your list of Website favorites now, before the government wants to know your penis size as well.
Designed and implemented by MIT graduate student and researcher Ryan McKinley, this “Government Information Awareness (GIA)” site operates on the premise that U.S. citizens should have every right to know as much about their government as their government has the right, by arm-twisting force or otherwise, to know about you and your family. The government gateway will run both ways. As such, it’s set to become a citizens’ intelligence agency where anyone cynical of government power may post alerts or share knowledge. Weeding out “black helicopter” conspiracy nuts from the justly paranoid may turn out to be a gargantuan task, but MIT students such as McKinley aren’t exactly dim. “We are grateful that the world of military-funded science offers constant initiatives to refute,” McKinley’s site states. “That a government with countless details about its constituents will serve them better is a theory that’s oft been proven wrong, while the theory that a country should have access to details about its governors is one that this country was built on, and is incontestably solid.”
& ull; Salad days: Not content with handing the presidency to George W. Bush via 97,488 Florida votes for Ralph Nader in 2000, the Green Party is back for more fun and games with its recent decision last weekend to run a presidential candidate in 2004. Tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Destroying wilderness designations and study areas? Middle East war around the clock? Those wacky Greens love it all, including the daydream that they could ever win an election in a nation as insular and sedated as ours. Check out www.repentantnadervoter.com.
& ull; Turn up the heat, Lucifer: Between 1971 and 1979, between 300,000 to 500,000 Ugandans were killed under the rule of Ugandan leader Idi Amin, aka “Butcher of Africa,” an illiterate buffoon who learned soldiering under the British colonial army. Thanks to asylum in Saudi Arabia, he escaped the wrath of Tanzania. Now he’s reportedly on his death bed, ready to join Pol Pot, Joseph Goebbels and Joseph Stalin in hell.