How Orwellian Is This?

by Jimmy Akin

in Current Affairs

Appearing on the White House blog creatively titled "The Blog" yesterday was a post that said the following (EXCERPTS):

Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to "uncover" the truth about the President’s health insurance reform positions.

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Huh?

I can understand the desire on the part of people in the White House to keep a handle on the claims and arguments being used in a policy debate, but . . . isn't it their job to keep track of those?

I mean, just yesterday there was that video of the former totally objective ABC reporter turned Democratic White House staffer Linda Douglass explaining that that was one of her jobs (along with, no doubt, others at the White House). She even showed us her computer, which was using the lame program Microsoft Internet Explorer to connect to the Internet, so we know she can read blogs with the best of them.

But the White House seems concerned that it doesn't have the resources to monitor everything that goes on in America "below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation." So they're asking citizens to report "fishy" statements made by other American citizens to the White House.

Color me skeptical, but creating a program to "flag" e-mails and web sites that take a contrary position to the White House's–a program that relies on citizens reporting their fellow citizens when they send or post something that "seems fishy" (meaning: contrary to the message the White House wants to get out)–strikes me as a misstep.

I imagine whoever is monitoring the e-mail address will get a lot of protests in addition to whatever tips come in. And there will be negative coverage of this on the Internet.

On the other hand, the folks at ReasonTV are taking a constructive attitude . . .


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{ 32 comments }

Tim J. August 5, 2009 at 11:35 am

All this free, unfiltered communication is a dangerous thing. Free speech is meant for those with a press pass, not for the Great Unwashed.
Ratting out your family, friends and neighbors is a time-honored tradition in totalitarian states… why not try it here, too? What could it hurt? You’ll just be helping your government to help you.

Dave August 5, 2009 at 11:51 am

There is 100% support for Obamacare. Everyone wants it. You and everyone else who says otherwise deep down wants it, just you’re being paid to say otherwise. I’m being snarky of course as what is being done with the White House snitch program is scary and is illogical on its face.

Augustine August 5, 2009 at 11:56 am

Now, now, Jimmy. I’m afraid that I’ll have to perform my civic duty reporting you to The One.

Charlotte August 5, 2009 at 11:57 am

Apparently, free speech is no longer allowed if there is dissent involved….
Hmmmm…..
I seem to remember that a while back it was considered PATRIOTIC to disagree with the government.
Times have sure changed…JUST IN THE LAST YEAR!!

Marcus August 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Finally, an Obama policy I can agree with… it’s about time the “snitches get stitches” policy was overturned :)

David B. August 5, 2009 at 12:11 pm

They want me to report “fishy” info on Obamacare. Will they accept Obama’s statements as evidence? >:-D
Tim J,
“Ratting out your family, friends and neighbors is a time-honored tradition in totalitarian states… why not try it here, too? ”
Ohhhhh…you are so going down, you fascist, neo-con mouth-piece of the criminal George Bush!!!!!!!!!! ;-)

The Masked Chicken August 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm

This is insane. The Blog post says:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.
First of all, these bills in the house and senate are not secret. Anyone can read them if they want to either fall asleep or practice their speed reading. Any disinformation would quickly be refuted by actual quotes.
Secondly, if they are using the term, “disinformation,” disingenuously, as a way to inoculate readers on the internet from a proper discussion, including contrary opinions, shame on them. If they mean that disinformation is any opinion that doesn’t correspond to the information they are pushing, double shame on them, since they push biased information as much as the next incredibly large, complex bureaucracy.
It is a pity one cannot sue the federal government. This would be classic example of an attempt to interfere with free speech and free assembly.
The Chicken

David B. August 5, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I am seriously considering writing to them about their own disinformation. If you’re gonna waste tax dollars on this, I can just as easily reverse the peephole.

bill912 August 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Obama and his people learned their lessons well, didn’t they? From Hitler and Stalin.

Shmikey August 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Well actually, from Saul Alinski

Foxfier August 5, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I sent a list of addresses…. including for Huff, Kos, the DNC’s health care page, etc….
In a few days I’ll probably look around for the sites “refuting” text of the bill by saying “Obama has said….”

Foxfier August 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

TMC-
they’ve announced that the amended forms of the bills won’t be available this month, last I heard.

JohnE August 5, 2009 at 2:41 pm

“they’ve announced that the amended forms of the bills won’t be available this month, last I heard”
Hmm, I wonder if that’s enough to delay a vote. I suppose it will — they probably wouldn’t want it to look TOO much like a blank check.

JohnE August 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I think I might have to send them that Matrix blue-pill/red-pill video. Say “yes” to reality. Do NOT take the blue pill!
http://blog.acton.org/archives/11418-healthcare-blue-pill-or-red-pill.html

MikeD August 5, 2009 at 3:58 pm

It seems that euthanasia “discussions” are funded as end-of-life care in the house health care reform bill.
http://realclearpolitics.blogs.time.com/2009/08/04/seniors-read-the-damn-thing/

Nancy August 5, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Just remember this guy came out of IL, land of Blogojevich (sp?), Mayor Daley, et al. The man is creepy with this snitch business. Wait, aren’t snitches those flying things you catch when playing Quidditch?

Mary August 5, 2009 at 5:59 pm

just you’re being paid to say otherwise
Where’s my check?

Amy P. August 5, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Where’s my check?
Yeah, if opposing Obamacare’s supposed to be so lucrative, I want to buy myself a nice steak dinner before I’m hauled off for crimes of “ungoodthink.”

Mary August 6, 2009 at 7:58 am

I am seriously considering writing to them about their own disinformation. If you’re gonna waste tax dollars on this, I can just as easily reverse the peephole.
Go ahead. Join the crowd.

Adolf August 6, 2009 at 8:22 am

Ve haf vays uf dealink vis peeeple like zis.

Tom S. August 6, 2009 at 8:46 am

They may realize how stupid they’ve been when 99.9% of the reports they get are of fishy disinformation that came from the Whitehouse to begin with.
I’ve done my little part. Don’t be cute or angry, just deadpan-serious-here’s-some-disinformation-I-found-hope-this-helps.

W August 6, 2009 at 11:47 am

TMC,
one can sue the federal government. I say, go for it.

c matt August 6, 2009 at 12:07 pm

You can sue.
Wining is another thing.

The Masked Chicken August 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Actually, you can only sue the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which provides for limited redress in cases of tort offenses (personal injury or property damage). Since this is a case of a sovereign power attempting to incite spying, this is not a tort. If may violate all sorts of laws about free speech and freedom of assembly, but this would make it a criminal act, not a civil one and hence, to able to be sued. I suppose, in principle, the justice department could instigate criminal proceedings against the executive branch, but this is about as likely to occur as the health care plan is to save babies from abortion.
On the other hand, I am not a lawyer, just a chicken.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken August 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

That should be:
IT may violate all sorts of laws about free speech and freedom of assembly, but this would make it a criminal act, not a civil one and hence, to NOT to be sued.
Apparently, I’m not a typist, either.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken August 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Oh, I give up. You know what I mean.
The Chicken

Foxfier August 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Sadly, yes, TMC.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/08/024209.php
similar idea, looking into the legal aspects. Depressing.

Jarnor August 12, 2009 at 3:31 am

flag@whitehouse.gov, eh? Wouldn’t happen to be an alias for randall.flagg@whitehouse.gov would it?

Hans August 12, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Surely, Jimmy, such mundane considerations as people’s alleged rights don’t apply to those who have our best interests at heart, even if they have to force us into them. Surely.
Just remember this guy came out of IL, land of Blogojevich (sp?), Mayor Daley, et al.
No! No! Too late! We’ve pawned him off on the rest of you, and we’re not taking him back!
Now, since the Feds took the hair guy, maybe we can get Prince Richie into the IOC, so he can go live in Geneva (the one not in Illinois) most of the year.
What we really need is an out for our once-prolife (when he was a congressman from downstate) now-proabortion senior senator.

sj August 14, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Seriously, seems like an example of responsiveness to constituent concerns to me, just like when we had the rumor control center at City Hall back in the 1970s.

sj August 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm

It seems that euthanasia “discussions” are funded as end-of-life care in the house health care reform bill.
Uh, where?

Hans August 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm

How is it ‘responsiveness to constituent concerns’ to seek to learn about and oppose comments that ‘seem fishy’? It reminds me of ‘responsiveness to constituent concerns’ for Republicans in Chicago (most blatantly under Daley-père), wherein trash wouldn’t be picked up and other harassments.

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