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Opinion: Black helicopters and white ambulances

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Watching Arlen Specter’s health-care town meeting on CNN this morning, I experienced the predictable panic of the liberal elitist. Who let these people in? When did democracy start resembling a Jerry Springer show? When they’re finished killing health reform with their paranoid rantings, will these yahoos target the First Amendment?

Then I mentally caught my breath.

Assuming, as I do, that the town-meeting loudmouths aren’t all Republican robots, their suspicions of bureaucrats snooping on their medical records and Medicare operating ethical suicide parlors aren’t that different from liberals’ distrust of the CIA and the NSA.

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Suspicion of Big Government always has had its liberal and its conservative incarnations, and sometrimes politics brings the extremes to touch and mean one thing. I think it was Peter Beinart who first pointed out that opposition to the Patriot Act came not just from ACLU-ish liberals but also from right-wing libertarians -- the ‘black helicopter crowd.’

Liberals don’t want the government to hoard and computerize DNA information about people who have been arrested. Conservatives don’t want Washington to know who owns a gun.

Anti-statism wasn’t the only obsession of the crowd that gave Specter grief this morning. Another theme was the imprtance of denying health care to illegal aliens, who ought to be deported anyway. Then there was the mention of tort reform, not usually a preoccupation of ‘ordinary Americans.’ (Here I do suspect some Republican puppetry.) But, like it or not, suspicion of government is, as Rap Brown would say, as American as cherry pie.

-- Michael McGough


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