Here's this week's column:
"The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Perhaps nowhere was the Frenchman so prescient as in his chapter titled "What Sort Of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear." He did not expect a single tyrannical overlord, whose reach was violent but limited. Rather, he envisaged an overarching bureaucracy which would instill docility into the people by severely restricting the range of acceptable actions.
The sterling example of the soft despotism facing Americans is the policy of the TSA. With the advent of the new porno-scanners, documentation of abuse by government thugs began to trickle out over the Internet. At first, it was just libertarian sites; my inclination to write about the matter was suppressed out of a belief that the procedures would be tolerated, albeit begrudgingly, by a formerly free people. But when the stories began to appear on the Drudge Report, it became clear that I was wrong: this story had legs. The TSA had over-reached and now faced the prospect of revolt.