The PATRIOT Act is the last refuge of the scoundrel

This is a painful piece for me to write.

I’ve often described my political leanings as moderate, with libertarian and contrarian leanings. As the left has gotten more and more radical, however, I’ve found my own position being redefined more and more to the right. I feel that I haven’t really changed, but thanks to the shifting of the left, the middle has moved away from me. I have fallen into the company of the conservatives, and sometimes it’s an awkward marriage of convenience. I still decide each issue on its merits, regardless of where it falls on the traditional left-right model.

That being said, I really, really don’t like the basic idea behind TalkLeft. Their mission is to look at crime issues from a liberal perspective. To me, this often means finding ways to absolve criminals of their responsiblities and finding ways to blame others, usually “society,” for their crimes.

But on one front, the libertarian part of me finds myself not only sympathizing with TalkLeft, but downright cheering them on.

I supported the USA-PATRIOT act, despite its ungodly cumbersome name (“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” — good lord, someone notify the Department Of Cumbersome And Tortuous Abuse Of Acronyms Department and have them issue some serious fines!). I think that the vast majority of its provisions are simple common sense, and we have enough safeguards in our system to prevent nearly all abuses.

That being said, I am starting to seriously question the wisdom of renewing it — at least, in its current form. Because a bunch of Congresscritters have decided to take the opportunity to tack a whole bunch of other notions on to the original concept of the Patriot Act — most notably, fighting drugs.

According to TalkLeft, some representative with more chutzpah than sense has decided that the national problem with methamphetamines (in particular the crystal meth variant) is on the same scale as terrorism, and has tacked on to the Patriot Act a whole section to deal with it.

In fact, along with wire taps, library records, and sharing of intelligence among agencies, now the fight to keep all Americans safe from another 9/11 requires that we strictly regulate cold medicine.

This has gotta go, folks. This is politics run amok. This is (most likely) one congresscritter with a bee in his bonnet and more clout than sense or integrity trying to ram through his own agenda under the aegis of fighting terror. If the Patriot Act is to have any meaning and value, it needs to preserve its focus on actually fighing terrorism. If Mr. Sensenbrenner really thinks that Sudafed is a grave threat to the American people, let him file his own bill to control it.

Then we can all laugh at him at our leisure.

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