The complaints of Tea Parties have, generally, fallen under the rubric of "tyranny." The Obama Administration is infringing on our freedoms, it is said, to a degree unimaginable outside of historically extreme circumstances. But really, I don't believe the Tea Partiers on this front, either. Why? Well, let's look at today's Washington Post:
The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual's Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.
Critics say its effect would be to greatly expand the amount and type of personal data the government can obtain without a court order. "You're bringing a big category of data -- records reflecting who someone is communicating with in the digital world, Web browsing history and potentially location information -- outside of judicial review," said Michael Sussmann, a Justice Department lawyer under President Bill Clinton who now represents Internet and other firms.
I get -- even if I don't agree -- why Hayek-loving Tea Party folks think, say, slightly higher tax rates are a harbinger of a coming Orwellian world. What I don't get is their silence on the ability of government to reach into your private communications with fewer and fewer restrictions. (Read this for even more scariness.)
It could be that we'll suddenly see a spate of Tea Party criticism on this front -- but again, it'll be coming from people who were silent on this same subject during the Bush years. If they speak up now, they're hypocrites. And if they don't speak up now, well, they're hypocrites. Or maybe just extremely misguided: tyranny is not limited to merely economic matters, but our Tea Party friends don't seem to know that.
The shame of it is, if Tea Partiers accused the Obama Administration of enabling tyranny in this matter, I'd agree with them. As Kevin Drum posted: You know, if I'd wanted Dick Cheney as president I would have just voted for him."
In any case, it all boils down to this: I still don't believe the Tea Party.
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald points out an ACLU report showing the Obama Administration is preserving the Bush Administration's worst civil liberties abuses. (Sigh.) Is Ralph Nader running in 2012?