The Road to Dictatorship Next stop: martial law?

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That 56 percent of all Americans "think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens" isn’t really all that surprising. After all, ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the government’s "right" to read our e-mails, seize our property, hold us as "enemy combatants," and otherwise trample on the Constitution has been expanding at an exponential pace. What’s really shocking, however, is that, according to this CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll, released on Feb. 28, most of the people who believe this are overwhelmingly … Republicans. That is, they are self-described supporters of the very same party which impaled the Constitution on the sword of the "war on terrorism." According to the poll, "only 37 percent of Democrats" believe this, as opposed to "63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans."

Is it just me, or was it only yesterday that the Democratic base was outraged by "Bushitler," and the "Cheney-PNAC" alleged neo-fascists who were taking over the country and driving dissent underground? How quickly they turn!

Adding to the irony, the poll was taken on the same weekend the extension of the PATRIOT Act passed the Democratic-controlled Congress — without debate, without a peep of protest from the "progressives" in Congress, and disguised as a vote in favor of a Senate amendment to the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act. Bravery is not something we see much of in Washington, D.C. As one blogger put it:

"So, if you heard the news of a Patriot Act vote, and went looking for the roll call, you wouldn’t find it. You’d see roll call # 67 for this year, but would reasonably conclude that the vote is thoroughly unrelated to the Patriot Act. If you hadn’t heard of the Patriot Act extension, and just wanted to see what legislation had been voted on yesterday, you would come away still ignorant of what the House of Representatives had actually done."

The shamefaced Democrats are too cowardly to openly acknowledge their contribution to the destruction of the Constitution: instead, they’re hoping we don’t notice more Democrats than Republicans voted for the extension of this odious Act. At one point, the Dems were hinting that they might want to "reform" the Act, and put in certain "privacy protections," but they soon gave that up and now their media amen corner is busy demonizing "anti-government zealots" who dare to question the ongoing government takeover of … practically everything.

Keith Olbermann is still going on about how many days it’s been since George W. Bush declared "Mission accomplished!" in Iraq — even as President Barack Obama’s generals warn that we’ll still be stuck in that particular quagmire well beyond the withdrawal date supposedly set by their commander-in-chief. Not only that, but Obama is fighting a secret war in Pakistan, continuing the previous administration‘s war on our civil liberties, and extending its tentacles into every aspect of American life — yes, even our health care.

The "PATRIOT" Act, all several hundred pages of it, was passed in the dead of night without being read, without being adequately debated, and with the full official approval of both parties, who unhesitatingly wiped out two-hundred years of constitutional law in a procedure that lasted for less than an hour.

“The president’s reversal on Patriot Act reform is a major travesty,” says Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s legislative counsel, a bit of phraseology that just about sums up the first year of Obama’s reign. All those liberal hearts, broken by that seductive love-‘em-and-leave-‘em Chicago smoothie — except no one’s complaining.

The Associated Press reported the vote in terms that can only be described as odd:

"Democrats have retreated from adding new privacy protections to the nation’s primary counterterrorism law, stymied by Senate Republicans who argued the changes would weaken terror investigations. The proposed protections were cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them."

The Democrats have … retreated? Since most of them voted for the "PATRIOT" Act to begin with, I wouldn’t exactly phrase it that way.

As the Democratic majority gets ready to ram an immensely unpopular "health-care reform" bill through the Congress without a "super-majority," one can only wonder at their priorities. Is it really more important to force poor Americans to buy insurance they can’t afford than it is to save our constitutional liberties from being crushed underfoot?

Apparently so.

Passed in a time of "emergency," and touted as a temporary measure, the "PATRIOT" Act has, like all such measures, become routine: part and parcel of the legal-political landscape, which no one really questions. The "right" of the government to impound our records, seize our property, jail us, fine us, and haul us before a military tribunal — all of this has now become "normal."

Did you know that a recipient of a "National Security Letter" — say, your Internet provider — must not only hand over all records, documents, and what-have-you to the Feds, but must also refrain from talking about or otherwise revealing the existence of the letter? Just like they can simply take you in the dead of night, throw you in a cell— and, yes, even torture you, if they feel like it — and no one need ever know.

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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