Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Orwell Silliness

Every once in awhile, you come across the silly Bush Administration = 1984 references, and they just make you laugh. This one was in the Seattle times the other day, and I found it linked to some left wing blogs that were all e-nodding in solemn agreement.

It's funny that they don't recognize that 1984 was written in 1948 in response to communist oppression, which was starting to make itself known to the rest of the world in 1948. The media wasn't owned by "big corporations" that had to answer to their advertising demographics (aka, "The People"), it was owned by the government which answered to nothing. You couldn't own a business, because the government owned the means of production. You couldn't pick your job. You couldn't save up and buy a nicer house. The government was not going to step down voluntarily just because a 200 year old piece of paper said so. And you certainly couldn't vote against the guy you didn't like, or jump on the internet and inform yourself of actual happenings overseas. 1984 is about the ultimate Big Government.

That was Orwell's vision. But it was more than a vision. It was also descriptive of ACTUAL happenings in real places, like in Iraq and Afghanistan before we went in. And it still is in places like North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia - just not in the USA.

I also note that the author ignores that we really are at war against people who really do want to kill us. That's not a GOP fantasy. That's reality. And that's why these people aren't taken seriously by people who understand the world has real problems in it.

If we actually lived in the world Ryan Blethan or any of the rest of the "Orwellian Scholars" think we do, they would have been disappeared before their article came out, and the Seattle Times office would mysteriously have been burned for endorsing John Kerry. The Daily Kos would be shut down. The internet would be censored, as it is in China. The entire staff of the NYT would be in jail for leaking national security secrets. We would not have a 2008 election. Or any elections.

I understand their feelings, though. People want to be validated for their ideas. And when it becomes abundantly clear that people reject your ideas election after election after election, all you have left is to say, "They WOULD have agreed with me if only we didn't live in Big Brother land and were too dumb/scared/ignorant/hickish/Southern to bow to my wisdom."

In fact, it's almost as if the liberal author is misleading the reader about the current state of affairs to scare people into supporting his position. Hmmmm...

Why, it's almost like George Orwell wrote the script.


Steve Gillespie said...

Yeah, young Blethen is not the brightest, but his family owns a newspaper and yours doesn't, so he gets to write whatever he wants. Nyah, nyah, nyah. But I can't completely disagree with his observations. In fact, I read 1984 in the summer of 2003 because of my growing distaste with this administration. Down is up with these clowns, and it just doesn't stop.

They try to break our addiction to oil by giving tax cuts for Hummers and trying to drill in ANWR.

They fight terrorists known to be in Afghanistan by attacking a pitiful dictator in Iraq whose ability to project power didn't even extend to his whole country.

They think that complete incompetence is a "heckuva job."

They fight forest fires by getting rid of trees.

They mandate cleaner water by rolling back arsenic regulations.

They fight teen pregnancy with abstinence-only education.

They put money in the pockets of the poor by cutting the taxes of the rich.

The list goes on and on. It's not that 1984 is a perfect analogy, but the government techniques in it have enough in common with those of this administration to raise some eyebrows. W even makes heavy use of doublespeak--warrantless eavesdropping of American citizens is "terrorist surveillance" now? Thanks, I'll stick with "domestic spying."

Of course there's not a Big Brother out there (unless you make phone calls to the Middle East). 1984 is the absurd bottom of the slippery slope. But we are giving more and more power to the executive, and it's going to be tough to get it back. I preferred it when Congress passed laws and the President faithfully executed them.

Orrin Johnson said...

THat's a good list of talking points. Also good examples of pretty blatent liberal political doublespeak, such as anything referencing "Tax cuts for the rich" which have, in fact, put money in the pockets of the poor by stimulating the economy and also cutting THEIR taxes.

"Domestic spying" is another one. Every single one of them has been international communications to countries known to harbor terrorists, and from people with known terror ties, and they have been limited. Contrast that with FDR, the ultimate unitary executive, who during WWII, and without warrants, looked at any and all communications that went across our borders. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

But the larger point is the laughably ignorant way Blethen misreads 1984, which is only slightly less ignorant than the way he interprets the modus operandi of the Bush Administration. And because aside from the moonbats on the left who actually buy into the analogy while not recognizing the closer one in, say, Cuba, most people recognize this for the wrong headed thinking it is, it diminishes ALL critics of the Bush folks, which unfortunately are sorely needed. See UAE Port Sellout.

Bush has earned a lot of criticism. Articles like this marginalize all his critics, and insulate him from legitimate complaints, and help maintain the GOP as the ONLY viable political party in the country. And while I don't vote for a lot of Democrats, it's not good for the US to only have one viable party.

PubliusRex said...

Tax cuts only put money in the hands of the rich if you begin from the premise that the government owns all the money to begin with. An idea major liberals are too close to endorsing to be amusing.

Also, the entire reason we're trying to break our oil addition is to reduce our dependency on repugnant middle eastern despotic regimes. Drilling in ANWR serves the same purpose.

I'm not even sure how to respond to the rest of those things...they're just hollow talking points that can be reversed into just as catchy talking points against the left. I.e. they fight teen pregnancy by murdering fetuses.

Steve Gillespie said...

Of course they're just talking points, silly. I was highlighting some Bush policies that don't make sense because they counter their own aims. I'm making a strained attempt to show the parallel between the language and policies of INGSOC and those of Bush. If you wanted to reverse the list into catchy (but Orwellian) talking points against the left, you should say that they reduce pregnancy by encouraging sexual intercourse. See? That's the fun game.

What should bush have done?

He should try to break our addiction to oil by actually reducing oil consumption. That means tougher fuel efficiency standards (gasp! government regulation!) and mountains of funding for bio-fuels. I'm on board with the latter, and I love the feeling of smug satisfaction I get by driving around in a biodiesel-fueled car. Screw you, sources of oil both foreign and domestic! Hooray, farmers!

He should have put 150,000 pairs of boots on the ground IN AFGAHNISTAN.

He should have told Brownie to deliver some water to the damn convention center.

And so on. I admit that the forest fires one shouldn't have been included, because you actually do have fewer fires when there are no trees. But I stand by the rest.

By the way, the fact that FDR did it doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it "terrorist surveillance." That fact only means that FDR also engaged in "domestic spying." Let's not forget that FDR also interned all of the people of Japanese descent on the west coast. That certainly wouldn't excuse Bush for rounding up all the Arabs in America, so I fail to see how his brand of domestic spying excuses Bush's.

One thing that will always astound me is the almost religious devotion on the political right to the notion of trickle-down economics. Tax cuts for the wealthy do not create a rising tide that lifts poor people's crappy dinghies. Almost invariably, tax cuts for the wealthy only make them wealthier. It doesn't matter if you believe that the government owns the money (which is a stupid thing to believe) or not. On the other hand, meaningful tax cuts for the middle class and below actually do create such a rising tide.

I do agree that the Democrats have not been effective at communicating their ideas. Look for that to change inch-by-inch in 2006. Hopefully, our dear friend Darcy Burner shows them how in WA-08.

Orrin Johnson said...

But the tax cuts WERE middle class tax cuts. And the tide HAS risen. The economy is better in every measurable way now than it was at any period during the Clinton administration. We're zealously devoted to it because it works. States with the highest tax rates also tend to have higher unemployment and less economic growth. Contrast Nevada or Florida with California or Washington. Carter's liberal economy was ruinous. As soon as Reagan's tax and government cuts went into effect, things rebounded dramatically.

Domestic Spying is INTRA-national, which is not going on under this program, at least not without warrants. If I place a call at home to Afghanistan, it's going to say "international call" on my bill.