Thursday, July 16, 2015

Minitel's prosecutocracy


Last night I asked my class if they had heard of Orwell's book, 1984. With one exception, they had not heard of either the book or the author. These are students from Iowa, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Puerto Rico, and Utah.

They had heard of "Big Brother," but they had no idea where the term came from and no idea of how their own government is becoming Big Brother in a far more literal way than I ever expected.

In our current Ministry of Truth, or Minitel, we now have a "prosecutocracy" that uses the federal prosecutorial power arbitrarily to benefit those who agree with the President and to punish those who disagree.

This latest case is one of the more blatant I've seen yet.

Excellent commentary from Mark Steyn:

Dinesh D'Souza was the target of a politically motivated prosecution and, bearing in mind that process-is-the-punishment shtick, he knew he couldn't win, so he cut a deal. Under the appalling hacks who pass for jurists in this system, D'Souza is now discovering that, when you cut a deal with the feds, the terms have a way of subtly evolving. For example, a man called Richard M Berman, who purports to be a US district judge, has just ordered D'Souza to undergo psychological counseling.

I should say, as I always do, that I have no use for Dinesh D'Souza. Nevertheless, he is the victim here of an abusive prosecutocracy and an out-of-control judge who disgraces his office:
The psychiatrists D'Souza was first ordered to see found no signs of depression, but U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman overruled their findings and ordered D'Souza see a new psychological counselor weekly.
The guy who needs psychological counseling here is Richard M Berman. It is a common tool of totalitarian societies to classify any opposition as mental illness. You don't have to like D'Souza to be utterly revolted when a thug operator posing as a judge starts using the medicalization of dissent with the enthusiasm of any old Soviet commissar.

D'Souza is in the horrible situation of having to weigh objecting to Berman against his urge to see family back in India and being denied freedom to travel - all for a campaign finance offense that is a barely discernible fraction next to what the Clinton Foundation, Lois Lerner's IRS and Obama's tax-exempt brother are pulling every hour of the day. The fact that d'Souza's freedom to see his family is even at issue testifies to what a vile system federal "justice" is.

Judge Berman's site is here:

Monday, July 13, 2015

1984 in Spain (circa 2015)

Reblogged with approval from

The End of Freedom of Speech in Spain

Spain has shown that it is fully on board with the Brussels authoritarian direction of ending democracy. Those in power have simply convinced themselves that the people do not understand what is good for them so they must impose their will upon the people but raw force. How does this differ in any what from the justification of imposing communism? This is the death of all freedom and it is upon our doorstep.
Here are the new laws in Spain:
1. If you photograph security personnel and then share these images on social media: up to €30.000 fine (particularly if photo exposes violence used against a member of the public). This fine could increase depending on the number of Instagram or social media followers you have. 
2. Tweet or retweet information or the “location of an organized protest” can now be interpreted as an act of terrorism as it incites others to “commit a crime” (now that “demonstrating” in many ways has become a crime). Sound “1984”-ish? Read about Orwell and his time in Spain.
3. Snowden-like whistle blowing is now defined as an act of terrorism. If you write for a local publication, be careful what you print, whom you speak to, and whether the government is listening.
4. Visiting or consulting terrorist websites – even for investigative purposes – can be interpreted as an act of terrorism. Make sure you use “Tor” browser, reject cookies, and don’t allow pop-ups. Not to mention, don’t post it on your Facebook timeline!
5. Be careful with the royal jokes! Any satirical comment against the royal family is a new crime “against the Crown”. For example, “What did Leticia and the Bishop have to say after they ––“ (SORRY CENSORED).
6. No more hassling elected members of the government or local authorities – even if they say one thing in order to be elected, but then go and do the exact opposite. Confronting them about this hypocritical behavior. Even if you see them in the street chatting to a street cleaner, dining at their favorite expensive restaurant, or having their shoes shined by that physics graduate who cannot find a decent job in the country, hassling them about their behavior is now a criminal offence.
7. Has your local river been so polluted by that plastic factory along the edge that all life has extinguished? Well, tough! Greenpeace or similar protests are now finable from €601–€30.000.
8. Protests in a spontaneous way outside Parliament are now illegal. For example if Parliament passes a hugely unpopular bill, or are debating something extremely important to you or your community, it is now finable from €601 – €30.000. Tip: Use Google Maps to protest just around the corner – but don’t tweet the location!
9. Obstructing an officer in the course of their business, “resisting arrest”, refusing to leave a demonstration when told, or getting in the way of a swinging baton are all now finable offences from €601 – €30.000.
10. Showing lack of respect to officers of the law is an immediate fine of €100 – €600. Answering back, asking a disrespectful question, making a funny face, showing your bottom to an officer of the law, or telling him/her that their breath reminds you of your dog’s underparts is now, sadly, not advisable.
11. Occupying, squatting, or refusing to leave an office, business, bank or other place until your complaint has been heard as a protest is now a €100 – €600 fine (no more flash mobs).
12. Digital protests: Writing something that could technically “disturb the peace” is a now a crime. Bloggers beware, for no one has yet defined whose peace you could be disturbing.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ideologies are not defeated with guns

These two statements are from the same speech:

“Ideologies are not defeated with guns; they’re defeated by better ideas—a more attractive and more compelling vision.”


"Our coalition has now hit ISIL with more than 5,000 airstrikes. We’ve taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps. We’ve eliminated thousands of fighters, including senior ISIL commanders."

That's President Obama, of course. James Taranto makes a useful observation:

Now let’s pick out some key passages: “ISIL’s hateful propaganda . . . we will never be at war with Islam . . . pushing back as hard as they can . . . against these hateful ideologies in order to discredit them . . . keep rejecting warped interpretations . . . resentments and conflicts upon which terrorists are currently thriving . . . political and economic grievances that terrorists exploit.”
It’s a relentlessly, grindingly negative message. The only bit of it that comes anywhere near offering an “attractive” and “compelling” vision is the bit about “security, prosperity and the dignity that they deserve.” But that’s awfully vague, isn’t it?
In some respects, it seems wrongheaded, too. Arguably terrorism is more a problem of prosperity than poverty; the Islamic State has managed to advance in large part by seizing oil fields and robbing banks. (That’s not true only of Islamic terrorists either. Bill Ayers came from a wealthy Chicago family.) And whose idea of “dignity” does the president have in mind? Anthony Kennedy’s?
Barack Obama used to be called the World’s Greatest Orator, and two weeks ago we got a reminder of why. His speech in Charleston, S.C., at the funeral of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was the best speech of his career. We disagreed with much of the political substance, but in rhetoric, delivery and tone it was extraordinarily powerful and inspiring.
By contrast the speech yesterday was discouraging, dispiriting and disheartening. It was a disoration, if there is such a word. (There isn’t, but then we’ve neologized before.) “Our mission to destroy ISIL and to keep our country safe will be difficult,” the president declared. “It will take time. There will be setbacks as well as progress.”
Not exactly “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat,” is it?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

‘The word truth itself ceases to have its old meaning.’

George Orwell wasn't the only one who noticed what happens to the concept of truth.

From economist Friedrich Hayek’s 1944 book “The Road to Serfdom”:
The word truth itself ceases to have its old meaning. It describes no longer something to be found, with the individual conscience as the sole arbiter of whether in any particular instance the evidence (or the standing of those proclaiming it) warrants a belief; it becomes something to be laid down by authority, which has to be believed in the interest of unity of the organized effort and which may have to be altered as the exigencies of this organized effort require it.
The general intellectual climate which this produces, the spirit of complete cynicism as regards truth which it engenders, the loss of the sense of even the meaning of truth, the disappearance of the spirit of independent inquiry and of the belief in the power of rational conviction, the way in which differences of opinion in every branch of knowledge become political issues to be decided by authority, are all things which one must personally experience—no short description can convey their extent. Perhaps the most alarming fact is that contempt for intellectual liberty is not a thing which arises only once the totalitarian system is established, but one which can be found everywhere among intellectuals who have embraced a collectivist faith and who are acclaimed as intellectual leaders even in countries still under a liberal regime. . . .
The tragedy of collectivist thought is that while it starts out to make reason supreme, it ends by destroying reason because it misconceives the process on which the growth of reason depends. It may indeed be said that it is the paradox of all collectivist doctrine and its demand for the “conscious” control or “conscious” planning that they necessarily lead to the demand that the mind of some individual should rule supreme—while only the individualist approach to social phenomena makes us recognise the super-individual forces which guide the growth of reason. Individualism is thus an attitude of humility before this social process and of tolerance to other opinions, and is the exact opposite of that intellectual hubris which is at the root of the demand for comprehensive direction of the social process.