The Bush administration gets more frightening by the day. And the public, for the most part, remains mute, soothed into submission by threats of terrorism.
We are headed down the path to tyranny.
This is a government that tortures prisoners. This is a government that holds detainees for years without charging them or giving them access to the justice system.
This is a government that turns on military officers and intelligence officials who disagree with it, and goes after newspapers and reporters who publish unpleasant truths.
This is a government that wiretaps its citizens without warrants --- and gets telephone companies to give it access to the records of millions of law-abiding citizens.
This is a government that has repeatedly lied to us: about the extent and nature of its spying, about the treatment of detainees, about Iraq's relationship to September 11.
This is a government that wants the president to have almost unlimited power, that shrugs off international law.
The Bush administration is compiling and analyzing information about the private phone calls of millions of Americans. And because the administration says it's for national security, more than 60 percent of us are happy to be spied upon.
("I don't wanna be attacked," conservative columnist and Bush apologist David Brooks explained on Friday's NewsHour.)
There are legal ways, of course, for the United States to go after terrorists. But George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld don't want to bother with legalities, don't want to bother with the checks and balances of democracy.
We are witnessing a power grab by an administration gone mad. And the American public does not care.
Every once in a while, Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem willing to wrest control away from the White House.
But their outrage withers after a few press conferences. And the administration keeps right on doing what it's doing.
Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld will control the White House for another two and a half years. But next fall's Congressional races offer a chance that balance will be restored.
The president's low approval ratings, the mounting deaths in Iraq, the saber-rattling on Iran, the chaos in the CIA, the difficulty over immigration legislation, the fiasco of the feds' Katrina response: all could spell trouble for Republicans running for Congress.
But it's getting harder to differentiate between Democrats like Hillary Clinton and their Republican colleagues. And barring outright scandal, gerrymandering has made it nearly impossible to unseat an incumbent.
The public could rise up in protest, of course, and do its duty. But Americans seldom cast votes for Congress out of a national vision. We may despise an administration or a Congress, but we like our own representatives.
And there's a war on.
And we don't wanna be attacked.
The campaigns leading up to the November elections won't be pretty, I suspect. But the results will be enlightening. Will voters begin to recognize the administration's demagoguery for what it is?
Or has the Bush administration sold us on giving up the very things we say we're fighting for in Iraq and Afghanistan?
The poll numbers on the telephone spying don't give me much hope.
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