Is 1984 Now?

Yesterday, Republican Senator Rand Paul issued the following video, asking some tough questions as he made comparisons between George Orwell’s dystopian vision from his classic book 1984 and things like the Patriot Act, the NDAA, and the TSA:

A couple comments:

First of all, if you’ve never read the book (or haven’t read it in a while), you really need to. Amazon Prime members can buy it used & shipped  for under $4 (Prime members can also watch the very faithful movie adaptation for free here, though I still recommend reading the book first). Like the Senator, I didn’t love it the first time I read it (which was, I think, in 7th grade), but I’ve read it twice since then and will certainly read it again someday.

One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or accept Orwell’s views on all things to see that there are a great many parallels between 1984 and recent American political history (for the record, I would say the same thing about Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, though I also have serious reservations about that particular book). Our liberties are being eroded by Statism faster than ever, and most don’t appear to notice or care. I’m thankful that we still have some politicians who possess both the willingness to stand up for our liberties and the knowledge of parliamentary procedure necessary to oppose liberty-infringing amendments such as the one described in this video (for another example, see this recent successful filibuster by Senator Paul).

I look forward to hearing much more from Rand Paul as the debate over the powers of the government continues. If you’d like to know more about some of the issues mentioned in the above video, check out the Senator’s latest book, Government Bullies.

Combing the Net – 7/25/2012

The Nicest Cease-and-Desist Letter Ever Written — Even the lawyers at Jack Daniels Distillery exude Southern gentility!

The Desk Jockey Workout: 8 Ways to Stay in Shape at the Office — Some of these tips are things I should probably incorporate into my day a little more than I do…

Is Gun Control a Pro-Life Issue? — In the wake of last week’s shooting in Colorado, the gun control debate has flared up, as vitriolic as ever. Russell Moore’s contribution to this discussion is excellent, interacting with Christians who advocate increased gun control on the grounds that a consistently pro-life stance requires one to oppose gun ownership.

The gun control debate isn’t between people who support the right to shoot innocent people and those who don’t. It’s instead a debate about what’s prudent, and what’s not, in solving the common goal of ending criminal violent behavior. That’s why orange-vested NRA members and vegan gun-control advocates can co-exist, as the Body of Christ, in the same church, without excommunicating one another.

A Smiling Providence in Aurora, Colorado — There haven’t been many good stories coming out of Aurora, but this one is definitely great! Read the story of a 22-year old who miraculously took a shot gun bullet to the head and survived with virtually no damage due to a previously undiscovered birth “defect” which created a channel of fluid in her brain through which the bullet passed. Amazing!

Four Great Motives for Writing — George Orwell on why writers write. I certainly am influenced by all four of these motives in my own writing.

This is an interesting perspective on “the path of history”:

Combing the Net – 6/27/2012

Black Bear Hit By Car in Cookeville City Limits — Bears have been migrating this way for some time, but this is the first confirmed sighting (that I’m aware of) inside city limits.

Unplugged Metal Detector Triggers JFK Chaos —The absurdity reaches unprecedented levels as the TSA evacuated a terminal at JFK, recalled multiple planes, and caused hours of delays for thousands of passengers, all because one agent failed to realize his metal detector had been unplugged. (HT: Bastiat Institute)

Senate Bill Outlaws Spanking — A proposed law that would classify spanking a child as a misdemeanor worthy of one year in prison (or a felony and two years of prison if the child is under age 3) recently passed in the Delaware Senate by a unanimous 21-0 vote. If it also passes in the House, Delaware will be the first state to outlaw corporal punishment. (HT: Christa Wilson on Facebook)

Bris Ban Raises Specter of German Hate — Continuing the theme of government assaults on liberty, a district court in Germany has ruled circumcision illegal. While it is interesting that Jews and Muslims will be working together to overturn this decision (circumcision is a requirement for both Judaism and Islam), and religious persecution is terrible no matter where it happens, it is particularly chilling to see this happening in Germany of all places.

No matter what the outcome of the litigation, it must send a chill through a growing German Jewish community that has come to think of itself as immune to the dangers presented by the country’s past. They may be learning that in spite of the country’s advances, anti-Semitism never goes completely out of fashion in Germany.

Combing the Net – 6/6/2012

The Swiss Army Survival Tampon — 10 Survival Uses — Here are ten ways in which the Tactical Adventure Medical Preparedness Outdoors Necessity  (a.k.a. “tampon”) could save your life. Are you manly enough to keep a tampon or two with you at all times?

What Every Husband Should Know About Stay-at-Home Moms — I think my wife would probably affirm the description of life as a SAHM as an “epic battle against chaos”. I’m so thankful for her willingness to engage in this battle, and her ability to (more often than not) defeat her foe.

Charles Wesley’s Works Amassed Online — Dr. Randy Maddox and the Duke Divinity School have compiled and made available to the public every hymn and verse ever published by Charles Wesley, as well as a great many that he wrote but never published. This project was five years in the making! The catalog is available here. (HT: Trevin Wax)

FAQs About the Current SBC Debate Over Salvation — Here’s the “nutshell” version of the controversy going around the Southern Baptist Convention right now, including definitions of terms being used which may be unfamiliar to some, such as “soteriology” and “semi-Pelagianism”.

Southern Baptists, It’s Time to Talk — Al Mohler is right (as usual). In his comments on the document that’s got everyone in a tizzy, he calls for unity within the denomination, while expressing some serious reservations with the concerns brought forward in the document.

What does it mean to be “equal”?

Learning Liberty

Here’s a good resource for those concerned about the loss of individual liberty in our country. has been churning out some great videos that educate viewers on economic and political issues in a way that is concise, compelling, and visually appealing. Check out these recent examples:

I encourage you to browse the many other videos available as you have the time. If you find this stuff interesting (and whether you do or not, it’s important!), I highly recommend reading Henry Hazlitt’s book Economics in One Lesson: The Surest and Shortest Way to Understand Basic Economics (my review).

Was I Free?

I love this passage, which my wife pointed out this week while reading Plague Dogs, a novel by Richard Adams, and a sequel (of sorts) to Watership Down:

Freedom — that consuming goal above doubt or criticism, desired as moths desire the candle or emigrants the distant continent waiting to parch them in its deserts or drive them to madness in its bitter winters! Freedom, that land where rogues, at every corner, cozen with lies and promises the plucky sheep who judged it time to sack the shepherd! Unfurl your banner, Freedom, and call upon me with cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music to fall down and worship you, and I will do so upon the instant, for who would wish to be cast into the fiery furnace of his neighbours’ contempt? I will come to you as a male spider to the female, as the explorer to the upper reaches of the great river upon which he knows he will die before ever he reaches the estuary. How should I dare refuse your beckoning, queen whose discarded lovers vanish by night, princess whose unsuccessful suitors die at sunset? Would to God we had never encountered you, goddess of thrombosis, insomnia, asthma, duodenal and migraine! For we are free — free to suffer every anguish of deliberation, of decisions which must be made upon suspect information and half-knowledge, every anguish of hindsight and regret, of failure, shame and responsibility for all that we have brought upon ourselves and others: free to struggle, to starve, to demand from all one last, supreme effort to reach where we long to be and, once there, to conclude that it is not, after all, the right place. For a great price obtained I this freedom, to wish to God I had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when I sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full. The tyrant wasn’t such a bad old bugger, and even in his arbitrary rages never killed as many as died in yesterday’s glorious battle for liberty. Will you return to him, then? Ah no, sweet Freedom, I will slave for you until I have forgotten the love that once consumed my being, until I am old and bitter and can no longer see the wood for the starved, dirty trees. Then I will curse you and die; and will you then concede that I may be accounted your loyal follower and a true creature of this Earth? And, Freedom, was I free?

I’ve read that passage several times over the last few days. It’s a good reminder that freedom must not be worshiped as an end in itself. Liberty is dangerous in a fallen world. But it’s better than the alternative.

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.
~ Thomas Jefferson