The thought that the IRS has been used to discourage political speech has all Americans listening for the outcome of congressional investigations.
Then came the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that law enforcement officials have the right to take DNA samples when they arrest people. The majority viewed DNA as simply a new form of identification, much like fingerprints.
The minority viewed it as an intrusion impermissible under the 4th Amendment.
Now we learn that in the name of national security, the National Security Agency has been sweeping up the phone records not just of suspected terrorists, but of all Americans - the better to see who is calling whom.
Whatever happened to the need for a showing of probable cause?
A bipartisan group of political officials defended the secret NSA program as valuable to preserving national security, and as a minimal threat to liberty.
Before the IRS, the American people might have given the government the benefit of the doubt. After learning how the IRS used its vast powers, persuading the public that the NSA can be trusted with everybody's phone records will be a tall order.