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Thursday, April 21, 2005 04:35 am

common sense 4-21-05

art1997

Well, well. George W. Bush is getting a political comeuppance — and it’s coming from conservatives.

At issue is his enthusiasm for the liberty-busting USA Patriot Act, a little shop of autocratic horrors that the Bush administration rammed through Congress under cover of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Several of its most intrusive, anti-democratic provisions expire this year, and Bush has made their renewal a top priority. These provisions include “sneak-and-peek” secret searches by the FBI of people’s homes and computers, the secret raiding of libraries and medical offices to grab people’s records, and a definition of “terrorist” so broad that it includes citizens who simply protest government policy.

Fortunately for America, some real conservatives balk at such a dangerous extension of autocratic police power, even if it’s imposed by Republicans masquerading as conservatives.

Libertarian-minded Republicans — among them Bob Barr, Paul Weyrich, and Grover Norquist — have now joined such liberal advocates for liberty as the ACLU in an odd coalition to battle the Bushites. Named Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, the coalition is rallying grassroots opposition to the renewal of the most offensive parts of the perversely named Patriot Act.

The grassroots need little rallying, however, for they’re already on the move. Montana, for example, is in the forefront of a “red-state rebellion” against Bush’s intrusive police powers. Montana lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a strong resolution criticizing Bush’s Patriot Act, uniting Republican legislators with Democrats. “Civil liberties are a bipartisan issue in Montana,” said a Republican state representative from Trout Creek who led the house effort to pass the resolution by a vote of 88-12.

Whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or whatever, you can’t take liberty for granted.

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