August 04, 2008

May The Lord Bless The Tsar And Keep Him Far From Us

Three days after McBlogger's original post, I'm still astonished by Homeland Security honcho Chertoff's remarks about the policy allowing the indefinite detention of laptops, flash drives, papers, and other "storage devices" seized from travellers at our borders.

..."The most dangerous contraband is often contained in laptop computers or other electronic devices." Searches have uncovered "violent jihadist materials" as well as images of child pornography...

"Violent jihadist materials"? Does al Qaeda have some knock-off video game called Grand Theft Camel? And while kiddie porn will find few friends, exactly what sort of a threat does it pose to the security of the Republic? Remember when Republicans were all about getting government "off our backs". not about expanding powers of search and seizure? Where are all those "strict constructionists" these days, anyway?

Even more chilling is the information from the original linked article that

The policies cover "any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form," including hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover "all papers and other written documentation," including books, pamphlets and "written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter.' "

And that got me to wondering. Where had I run across this sort of paranoia, this fear of words which might be smuggled, like a contagion, across borders. And then I remembered. Among the books in the McSleaze library is a copy of the 1914 Baedeker guide for travellers to Russia, which warns prospective visitors

Books in large quantities are submitted to a censor. Travellers should avoid works of a political, social, or historical nature.

Unprinted paper only should be used for packing, to avoid any cause of suspicion.

Russia, of course, was in those days regarded as a tyranny. A few years later, the tsars were gone and the Bolsheviks erected a tyranny of their own. Now they are gone and what is modern Russia? Well, certainly a state where ruler, a former bigshot in the secret police, hand-picks his successor and still seems to be running the place is no Smileygrad. And America? I can't help but recall something Lincoln wrote to an associate in 1855, while still a rather obscure Illinois lawyer. And to put this in some sort of context, Lincoln was commenting on the Know-Nothings, antebellum America's precursors of Lou Dobbs:

I am not a Know-Nothing--that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of the negroes be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal except negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, 'all men are created equal except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to that, I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty--to Russia for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

One wonders how the Great Emancipator would rate American despotism, vintage 2008.

Posted by mayor mcsleaze at August 4, 2008 07:27 PM

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