Saturday, June 17, 2006


Orwell Was Simplistic

The following post, which came off of Portside, neatly summarizes the bullshit that’s coming out of Washington.

Subject: Orwell Was An Optimist
Date: June 14, 2006 4:37:47 PM PDT
UE News

(United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America)

Orwell was an optimist

By Dave Saldana

You are not paranoid.

No matter how worried you are that the government is
listening to your phone calls or tracking your internet
use, you are not paranoid. Hell, you ain't half as
worried as you ought to be.

In George Orwell's 1984, the all-knowing eyes and ears
of Big Brother are part of a soul-crushing police state
that cows and manipulates citizens with relentless
propaganda and fear. The underground struggle against
totalitarianism faces constant danger, thought police
lurk around every corner, and 're-education' camp
awaits the political heretic.

But Orwell got one crucial point wrong. Controlling
the masses in George Bush's America doesn't require
jackbooted thugs. It only requires plucking the right
chords of fear and hatred, and complacent (if not
complicit) corporate media to spread the
administration's message without challenge.

Consider what we already know. The government monitors
our communications, plants fake news stories to sell
its policies, and proclaims authority to lock us up
indefinitely on its decree that we might be terrorists.
Not a jackboot in sight.

In December, the New York Times reported that the
National Security Agency (its actions so secret, some
call it 'No Such Agency') was eavesdropping on American
citizens' telephone calls. Not to worry, said the
President and Attorney General, we're only tapping
calls involving suspected terrorists. Really. Trust

'If Al Qaeda is calling you, I want to know why,'
Cowboy George sneered when asked if this wasn't, well,
kind of illegal under the federal law banning domestic
spying. He didn't answer the question, but assuaged
some people's fears about being spied upon, even as he
fanned their fears of terrorism.

Then, The Nation and USA Today reported on the NSA's
collecting millions of Americans' phone records. Not
to worry, said the President and Attorney General,
we're only gathering the information; we're not doing
anything with it. Nevermind that any half-bright
teenager with a Hotmail account needs little more than
your phone number to steal your MasterCard.

Now USA Today reports that the Justice Department wants
Internet companies to track and store user information,
like what they're looking at on-line. It's just to
catch child pornographers and terrorists, they assure
us. That's why they need to know where you and I and
my dotty old aunt Ruth are cruising on the information
superhighway. Forgive me if I'm a little cynical, but
if the President says it's hot in Houston, I'm checking
the weather map.

After all, even insiders say inconvenient facts are
doctored when politics are in play, and politics are
always in play. Upon leaving the administration,
former head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge confessed
that, under political pressure, he issued 'Terror
Alerts' on the flimsiest of evidence. For instance, he
raised the orange flag right after the 2004 Democratic
Convention nominated John Kerry. Notice how you haven't
seen any since?

Sure, there was President Bush's claim this February
that the feds foiled a 2002 plot to blow up the U.S.
Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles. Strangely, nobody
said anything about it at the time. L.A. Mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa said he learned about the alleged plot
watching Bush's speech on TV, which, funny enough, Bush
gave while under fire for his warrantless wiretapping
scheme. Probably just a coincidence.

Funnier still, the guy in charge of domestic spying now
runs the CIA. Break the law, get a promotion.

We found out about this - illegal spying, secret
prisons, the whole shebang - because public servants
with a conscience and respect for the Constitution
leaked it to reporters. The response from Bush's
minions is not to stop committing crimes, but to spy on
leakers and the reporters they're talking to.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales threatened reporters
who publish leaks with prosecution for espionage. An
FBI source told ABC News investigative reporter Brian
Ross that his and other reporters' phone calls are
being monitored, and Ross says sources are afraid to
speak to him now. These days, you don't have to kill
the messenger - just tap his phone and threaten him with prison.

The Reagan era (circa 1984, aptly) gave us the doctrine
of 'plausible deniability,' which says you can do
anything - say, sell weapons to enemy states to buy back
hostages and fund right-wing death squads - so long as
you're insulated by enough bureaucratic layers that you
can say you didn't know about it.

For Bush, there's no deniability, and nothing he says
is plausible. In fact, he brags about his no-holds-
barred fight against terrorism and its successes (which
you'll just have to trust him on, because it's all
super-secret stuff). In the same breath, he says
'tough luck' to anyone whose freedom is stolen in the
struggle. If you complain too loudly, well, it's
because you hate America.

'The people can always be brought to the bidding of the
leaders. All you have to do is to tell them they are
being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of
patriotism.' Hitler's sidekick Hermann Goering said
that. He knew a thing or two about fascism, jackbooted
thugs, bloodthirsty propaganda and all. That's Orwell's
vision of totalitarianism, about 60 years out of date.

Today's thought police wear wingtips and propagandize
with bland reassurances and contradictory denials: 'We
didn't do anything, and we only did it to protect you.'

If 1984 were written today, Big Brother would be
laughed off as the work of an unimaginative hack.


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