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George Orwell

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The Last Days of Orwell.

[B]eset by poor health in various manifestations, he had to finish off the novel’s manuscript, which he had then tentatively titled The Last Man in Europe, before his conditions finished him off. ‘I am not pleased with the book but I am not absolutely dissatisfied,’ he wrote his agent of the rough draft. ‘I think it is a good idea but the execution would have been better if I had not written it under the influence of TB.'”

In The Guardian, Robert McCrum tells of a desperately sick George Orwell’s race against time to finish 1984. “In late October 1947, oppressed with ‘wretched health’, Orwell recognised that his novel was still ‘a most dreadful mess and about two-thirds of it will have to be retyped entirely’.” Orwell died in January 1950. (As seen as OpenCulture, who also point the way to these jpgs of Orwell’s original manuscript.)

Ryan: Ignorance is Strength.

It was an entire evening based on a demonstrable lie. It was an entire evening based on demonstrable lies told in service to the overriding demonstrable lie. And there was only one real story for actual journalists to tell at the end of it.

The Republicans simply don’t care.

They don’t care that they lie. They don’t care that their lies are obvious. They don’t care that their lies wouldn’t fool an underpaid substitute Social Studies teacher in a public middle school…They don’t care that their history is a lie and that, by spreading it, they devalue the actual history of the country, which is something that belongs to us.”

That Esquire‘s estimable Charles Pierce writing on the first day of the RNC, and he hadn’t even heard Paul Ryan’s ridiculously falsehood-filled screed of night two. I’ve already said all I need to say about this clownshoes, but still: It’s amazing what a congenital liar this guy is. (As you know, people in real life don’t “accidentally” lowball their marathon time by an hour — especially not Type-A gunner physical trainer types.)

Of course, Republicans have lied before — Their 2004 convention, for example, was devoted to turning a bland Vietnam war hero into a brie-eating surrender monkey and the Democrats at large into an Al Qaeda sleeper cell. But I can’t remember hearing another speech by a major-party nominee so rife with statements that were easily and demonstrably untrue.

As Winston Smith wrote in his diary, “Freedom is freedom to say 2+2=4. If that is granted all else will follow.” And that is exactly the freedom Ryan launched a full-scale assault upon in his convention speech. In short, this was a new low for the GOP.

Mission Accomplished.


For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda. Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must — and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

So, yes, as you may have heard, we finally found Osama Bin Laden, fulfilling a key promise President Obama made during the 2008 campaign. While I would have preferred to see the perpetrator of 9/11 captured alive and brought to trial — cause that’s how we do justice here in the US of A — congrats to the president’s team, the analysts who did the hard work, and the men and women who executed the operation, on finally getting their man.

All that being said, the second half of the president’s statement above is troubling. The death of Bin Laden should mark the beginning of the end of the 9/11 decade. With the splinter finally removed, it is time to take a long hard look not just at our continuing war in Afghanistan — after all, Osama was eventually found in Pakistan, mainly through what the Bunk would call good po-lice work — but at all the questionable and/or extra-constitutional actions we have taken in the name of fighting the terr’ists since September 11th. (Newsflash: Torture had nothing to do with capturing OBL.) If the death of Bin Laden doesn’t move us to this reconsideration, what then ever will?

Unfortunately (and of course), that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. Instead, Congress is laying the foundation for a wider war: “Contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 is a new authorization to use military force that would grant the executive branch the power to ‘address the continuing and evolving threat posed by these groups.’ In practice, that means the president could use military force against any suspected terrorist across the globe — indefinitely.

Indefinite war? No thanks. There’s been an eerie touch of Emmanuel Goldstein in the way Bin Laden was used to justify all manner of extraconstitutional actions and civil liberties violations under Dubya — actions that have been ratified and continued under Obama. Now that the Bogeyman is dead, it’s time to stand down. It’s time to start acting like America again.

Down and Out in Catalonia.

“I have the most evil memories of Spain, but I have very few bad memories of Spaniards. I only twice remember even being seriously angry with a Spaniard, and on each occasion, when I look back, I believe I was in the wrong myself. They have, there is no doubt, a generosity, a species of nobility, that do not really belong to the twentieth century. It is this that makes one hope that in Spain even Fascism may take a comparatively loose and bearable form. Few Spaniards possess the damnable efficiency and consistency that a modern totalitarian state needs.”

Apparently, Chariots of Fire director Hugh Hudson is now set to make a film version of Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell’s autobiographical account of the Spanish Civil War. “The film will highlight the relationship between Orwell and Georges Kopp, the charismatic commander of the brigade. Colin Firth and Kevin Spacey are attached to star as Orwell and Kopp.” Hmm. That relationship isn’t what I remember taking away from the (excellent) book, and that casting actually sounds pretty terrible to me. (For Orwell, I’d go with someone like Paddy Considine. For Kopp, I’d go with someone who isn’t Kevin Spacey.) But let’s see how it goes.

But Wait, It Gets Worse.

‘How many fingers, Winston?’

‘Four. I suppose there are four. I would see five if I could. I am trying to see five.’

‘Which do you wish: to persuade me that you see five, or really to see them?’

‘Really to see them.’

‘Again,’ said O’Brien.

Perhaps the needle was eighty — ninety. Winston could not intermittently remember why the pain was happening. Behind his screwed-up eyelids a forest of fingers seemed to be moving in a sort of dance, weaving in and out, disappearing behind one another and reappearing again. He was trying to count them, he could not remember why. He knew only that it was impossible to count them, and that this was somehow due to the mysterious identity between five and four. The pain died down again. When he opened his eyes it was to find that he was still seeing the same thing. Innumerable fingers, like moving trees, were still streaming past in either direction, crossing and recrossing. He shut his eyes again.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’

‘I don’t know. I don’t know. You will kill me if you do that again. Four, five, six — in all honesty I don’t know.’

‘Better,’ said O’Brien.

Hard to believe, but, this morning, the recent grisly revelations of Dubya-era torture practices became even more horrifying. As we’ve gleaned more info over the past few days, certain obvious and troubling questions kept popping up. Why, as indicated here, would higher-ups insist on additional waterboarding sessions for Zubadayah, even after the CIA agents at hand thought the suspect “had given up all the information he had“? Also: Mind you, even one session of torture is reprehensible — and illegal — enough. But what more did the powers-that-be think they were going to get out of these suspects after ten waterboardings? Twenty? One hundred?

Well, now we know. Not only did Dubya apparachiks conceive a torture regime well before it was approved (and before they had any prisoners on hand — see also the new and unredacted Armed Services Committee report), but they tortured their suspects into the ground because they were trying to prove a false positive, i.e. that there was some serious operational link between Iraq and Al Qaeda that could be used to sell the second Gulf War. (See also the forged Habbush letter.)

‘There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,’ the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. ‘The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.‘”

So, in short, it would seem the suspects held by the CIA were tortured over and over again because they would not concede that two plus two equals five.

Really, how much lower can these assholes sink? What could they possibly do that would cause more violence to our ideals, or that would make our cherished role as a beacon of freedom seem any more ridiculous in the eyes of the world, than what they’ve already done?

Once again, I’m reminded of Lincoln’s famous remark to the Indiana 14th: “‘Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.‘” At the very least, somebody, or somebodies, better go to jail for a loooong time for this. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

From a Dead Man…Greetings.

“What I have wanted most to do…is to make political writing into an art.” By way of Return of the Reluctant, it seems George Orwell’s diary entries will be posted online in blog form beginning August 9, seventy years after he initially wrote them. Welcome to the political blogosphere, George! (And good luck breaking into the TNR-Politico-Atlantic-TPM mutual-regard society.)

Reality Bites.

“I’m not going to put my lot in with economists.” As TPM noted, we seem to have finally reached the point where there are “no more sharks left to jump. For alas, Sen. Clinton’s final, fraying tether to the reality-based community (and my general election vote, not that she’ll be getting that far anyway) gave up its last this weekend, as she — in defiance of her usual m.o. and very much in the manner of Dubya and the GOP — deemed universal opposition to her gas tax pander to be merely a figment of “elite opinion. (She’s also doubled down on her anti-Obama gas tax ads.) As Robert Reich noted: “In case you’ve missed it, we now have a president who doesn’t care what most economists think. George W. Bush doesn’t even care what scientists think. He rejects all experts who disagree with his politics. This has led to some extraordinarily stupid policies.” (Clinton partisan Paul Krugman, also a member of the elite-economist cabal, has yet to weigh in on his being cast down as an enemy of the people.)

As it turns out, one of the salt-of-the earth proles at the event (self-identified as an Obama voter making less than $25,000 a year) called Clinton out to her face for this blatant idiocy: “‘I do feel pandered to when you talk about suspending the gas tax,’ the woman said, adding: ‘Call me crazy but I actually listen to economists because I think they know what they’ve studied.’” Clearly, this woman will be requiring significant reeducation. “‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’ ‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’” (Give Clinton credit: Her campaign has been a travesty, but it’s been great fodder for Orwell references around here.)

In any case, regarding the big picture: Unfortunately for earlier hopes that we’d be done May 6, it’s looking like tomorrow will almost assuredly bring a split, with NC for Obama and IN for Clinton. (That is, unless Zogby has finally broke out of its slump this cycle.) Meaning, of course, that Clinton will be even more mathematically eliminated. And yet, in all likelihood, we’ll slog on to June 3. Yay. (With that in mind, each side picked up another super today: Kalyn Free of OK for Obama and Theresa Morelli of Dems Abroad for Clinton. But as Morelli only counts for 1/2 a vote, that’s another 1/2-vote pick up for Obama.)

Update: make that two and a half: Obama picks up two more MD supers, Michael Cryor and Lauren Dugas-Glover. And it sounds like some of Clinton’s CA supers are reconsidering their options.

Update 2: Apparently, economists still mattered in 1992.

And they were all alike.

First we had Senator Clinton adopting various Hail Mary Rovianisms, which have been well recorded here, including but not nearly limited to an ad featuring Osama Bin Laden just this past week. Then Bill went on the Rush Limbaugh show. Then Sen. Clinton played nice with Richard Mellon Scaife, architect of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” for his endorsement. And now we have this:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Get to know the new metric…or else.

“In the beginning, it was about momentum. When she lost momentum, it was about pledged delegates. When she lost pledged delegates, it was about the popular vote. And now that she’s on her way to losing the popular vote, it’s about the number of electoral votes held by the states in which the candidates have won primary victories.” Comrades! Pleddel and popvote now fullwise ungood and goldstein. The new metric of our glorious success is and has always been Elecvote. Be wary of thoughtcrime, brothers and sisters. Also, chocorat going up 15%.

Speaking of Newspeak, this may work against Sen. Obama, but I feel forced to admit it: His lead in pledged delegates, the popular vote, and the number of states won notwithstanding, Sen. Clinton won every state with “New” in its name — New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York. And, since the superdelegates are looking to pick a “new” president, their choice is sadly all too clear. I’d hoped and assumed Sen. Obama would be our nominee, but you just can’t argue with ironclad logic like that.

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