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Big Government Brings Big Brother to California...

Big Brother came to the rally in Walnut Creek, Calif., where Congressman George Miller spoke against the war in Iraq.

Big Brother was also at the seal demonstration outside the Canadian consulate in San Francisco, and at a women’s demonstration in Santa Barbara, according to reports obtained by the Los Angeles Times, and statements from the State Attorney General, who condemned the practice.

The reports were prepared for California's State Office of Homeland Security, which is a 53-person office in the California Governor’s Office created since 9/11 and funded mostly with federal money to protect us against terrorism. What the office did was hire a private firm to provide daily information. The reports were then shared with the whole Homeland Security Partnership, which includes the Highway Patrol and the Attorney General.

Remember when Republicans stood for small government?

Big government needs something to do. If it doesn’t have anything else to do, it will go to George Miller rallies. The danger posed by big government in this area is not simply excess spending but excess intervention of the worst sort -- intervention on the life and liberty of people, of those who are swept up by the terrorism hysteria in overbroad prosecutions, of which there have been a number, and the chilling and outright abuse of civil liberties, of which this is an obvious case.

Of course, most of us don’t go to seal rallies, or even George Miller rallies, so why should we care? The mistakes that are being made in overbroad prosecutions and undue surveillance don’t happen to us. So why should you worry?

First, because it defines what kind of country we are, whether we are indeed a free country, for ourselves, and in the eyes of the world.

Second, because tomorrow they may come for you; because today it may be seals and George Miller, but if you don’t stop what is wrong, it may be too late when it does reach you

Third, because it’s wasting resources that should be spent elsewhere, as on disaster preparedness, here in a state that regularly faces earthquakes, fires, mudslides, etc.

Every state, presumably, has such a terrorism bureaucracy. The federal government of course has the largest and, in the case of Katrina, least effective of all. California, bureaucracy notwithstanding, has been found to be unprepared to deal with any forthcoming crisis. But the existence of these bureaucracies, the need for them, like any organization, to do something with themselves, stands in and of itself as a threat both to individuals and to civil liberties.

In this case, at least we got to see how it was playing. Who knows what else they’re up to, in the effort to keep busy.

Hillary Takes A Hit

The Left has really given it to Hillary this week for having the audacity to position herself in the center on flag burning. What she did was support a statutory alternative to the constitutional amendment that would have prohibited flag desecration.

Now, I personally think that if you need a constitutional amendment to protect the flag because the Court has held that it can be burned, passing a statute doesn’t do it; but believe me, no one’s attacking her for a faulty constitutional argument.

No, the claim is that it was “tragic” leadership on her part to seek a central position, to “triangulate” in the old, winning tradition of Bill Clinton and try to find an acceptable middle ground; the quotes are from Arianna Huffington, one of the leaders of the anti-Hillary charge of the past days.

It was triangulation, of course, that allowed Bill Clinton to define the 1996 election in his favor, after losing the House to New Gingrich in 1994. Triangulation worked for Clinton by placing him in the middle, which is where most Americans are, always have been, and continue to be, according to the second edition of Morris Fiorina’s "Culture War: The Myth of a Polarized America," which argues that the political elites are far more polarized than the country, which only appears polarized because it is forced to choose and splits down the middle.

Choices are polarized, not positions.

The irony is that it is the Left that is refusing to allow Hillary to depolarize herself.

The conventional assault wisdom against Hillary, among other things, is that she’s too hated to get elected. Put her next to Al Gore and John Kerry, the only other Democrats as well known as she, however, and they all score exactly the same (within the margin of error) in terms of who you wouldn’t vote for, according to the most recent polls.

To the extent you agree with someone, that’s one more reason, some might even say the best reason, to vote for them.

There’s a dangerous trend already beginning among many Democrats who talk to each other and create conventional wisdom to trash our own candidates, or at least the most realistic ones. This week, it was out in earnest.

My Simple Crash

I had a small crash last week. I did something I have never done. Driving along, stone cold sober, two block from my house, thinking about getting home, and the column I needed to write, and my kids, and work, and money, and the usual stuff, I turned off my brights so as not to blind the oncoming traffic and moved towards the right on a dark stretch of road, and swideswiped, but hard, a parked car.

It was a Thank God moment. Thank God no one was in the other car, and I was OK, and it was just metal, and insurance will cover.

It all happened in an instant. It was nothing, except I’m still shaking, I can’t even believe it when I think back, and it could have been so much worse.

Drive safely this summer. It’s true what they say. All of it.

Estrich's books include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System," "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders," "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women" and "Sex & Power," currently a Los Angeles Times bestseller.

She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel.

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Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission. A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership. Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.