Government's power to bully people who have broken no law is dangerous to all of us.
When Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department started keeping track of phone calls going to Fox News Channel reporter James Rosen (and his parents), it was firing a shot across the bow of Fox News - and of any other reporters or networks that dared to criticize the Obama administration.
When the Internal Revenue Service started demanding to know who was donating to conservative organizations that had applied for tax-exempt status, what purpose could it have other than to intimidate people who might otherwise donate to organizations that oppose this administration's political agenda?
The government's power to bully has been used to extract billions of dollars from banks.
Threats to file lawsuits would automatically cause regulatory agencies to suspend banks' rights to make various ordinary business decisions until such indefinite time as those lawsuits end.
Shakedown artists inside and outside of government have played this lucrative game.
Someone once said, "any government that is powerful enough to protect citizens against predators is also powerful enough to become a predator itself."
And dictatorial in the process.
No American government can take away all our freedoms at one time. But a slow and steady erosion of freedom can accomplish the same thing on the installment plan.
We have already gone too far down that road. F.A. Hayek called it "the road to serfdom."
How far we continue down that road depends on whether we keep our eye on the ball - freedom - or allow ourselves to be distracted by predatory demagogues like Carl Levin.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com.