We’re building a brave, new world. Hope and change! And have some “soma” while you wait.


Thirty Years Past 1984


Gun control?  Not nearly enough.  The very sound of the word gun should be illegal, and any object that so much as resembles a gun should be banned:




I know some people with the surname Gunn.  The question is, should they be enrolled in re-education camps, or just forced to change their names?  Perhaps to World Peace?  (There’s precedent for that.)


And, in the meantime, says Jim Geraghty, here’s a note from the National Security Agency:  “Call your mother.  Our records indicate that it’s been a while.”


The Associated Press?  And then James Rosen and Fox News?  And now millions of ordinary phone customers?


“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom,” wrote Thomas Paine in The American Crisis (No. 4, 1777), “must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  He was, quite obviously, a paranoid loon.  Much like Wendell Phillips, whose “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” spoken in an address to the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1852, has often been misattributed to yet another right-wing crazy, one Thomas Jefferson.


Here’s the close of George Orwell’s 1984:


“Winston, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The longhoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

“He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”



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  • ringg
  • Ryan

    Some are defending the NSA’s confiscation of phone records, saying that phone companies routinely purge their customers records (for lack of storage space, perhaps?) and that in order to execute search warrants on past phone records the government must first make sure that nobody’s phone records are ever deleted. So they store them all in their own (massive, Utah) facility. And the defense is that the government will never actually look at any of those amassed phone records without a warrant.

    But this is outrageous, because by that very same logic the government could justify filming all of us in our homes, making copies of our journals, recording everything we do and own, and storing it all in a giant government facility, with the justification being that they would never actually look at any of it unless they had a warrant.

    Orwellian, wrong, and unconstitutional on its face.

  • Phil

    In 2002 U.S. Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost two legs and an arm during his service in the Vietnam war, lost his re-election bid to Saxby Chambliss, who received several deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. Chambliss’ victory was credited in part to his ad campaign that implied Cleland was soft on terrorism because of his criticism of the Patriot Act (including television ads that paired Osama Bin Laden’s photo with one of Cleland).

    Does the NSA’s collection of data really surprise anyone? This is what the country “wanted” in 2001, to be protected at all costs. Franklin’s quote “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” did not resonate following 9/11.

    NSA data collection is not an Obama scandal, it’s a reflection of the American peoples’ failure to heed Franklin’s warning after they were attacked in 2001.

    • Walter Davis

      “NSA data collection is not an Obama scandal, it’s a reflection of the American peoples’ failure to heed Franklin’s warning after they were attacked in 2001.”

      Amen. But that won’t stop some people from cobbling together a host of unrelated fear-inducing items and posting them under an unsettling, dystopian picture of the president and thus implying that he is to blame for it all somehow.

      • DanielPeterson

        A contemptible miscreant like me will serve as a good example of that.

        I should just shut up and venerate Mr. Obama. I know that. It’s my moral failings that prevent me.

        • Walter Davis

          I would say that there is a wide gap between not implying that the president is somehow responsible for local school officials being paranoid after Sandy Hook and venerating him. Your post is intellectually sloppy.

          • DanielPeterson

            Good grief. It was a short blog entry. It wasn’t intended to be a formal argument — let alone a rigorous demonstration of symbolic logic.

            Mr. Obama has, however, along with his ideological and party allies, fostered and pushed a general critique of guns and gun owners that is truly “intellectually sloppy” and that creates a climate in which such nonsense flourishes.

            Nor was the post only about a local school district. It was about the Internal Revenue Service and the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice, as well.

            Do I hold him generally responsible for the most recent manifestations of the intrusive nanny state? Yes, indeed, I do.

            “The buck stops here,” said Harry Truman of the American presidency. And it does.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Every activity that one does on the internet is available to someone else. Why do you think very specific “pop up ads” seem to know what you are interested in? How about all that spam? Living in a digital world means your life online exists on servers and Google, Yahoo, etc., know what you are up to. And if the NSA wants to know about my phone call history then let them have at it.

    What is dismaying is that tens of billions have been spent on this massive data mining technology, and it did not stop the Boston marathon bombers, or catch the man who was ready to explode a truck bomb in Time Square. And who is overseeing the NSA?

    I’m much more concerned with campaign finance reform and the policies of the Federal Reserve and the killing of innocent people in our endless war on terror. And I’m concerned that the very same people that support the NSA intrusion into our online lives, seem to find it impossible to pass a law requiring universal background checks for those buying a weapon.

    • Walter Davis

      “And I’m concerned that the very same people that support the NSA intrusion into our online lives, seem to find it impossible to pass a law requiring universal background checks for those buying a weapon.”

      They find it impossible because both are about an intrusion into one’s privacy, but I get your point.