I feel I have to explain why I don't feel like comparing the Bush administration to the Third Reich (although not necessarily Bush to Hitler himself) isn't as patently offensive and absurd as the Righties like to think.
I grew up with the mantra, "Never Forget". My grandparents reminded me that their parents and grandparents never thought that something like the Holocaust could possibly occur, either in their thoroughly modern urban Germany or their pastoral rural Poland or Russia. "Never Forget" taught us to never assume that everything was going to be all right - sometimes the very worst happens. And it may happen when you least expect it.
Well, I've been hearing this long before Bush came to office. There's a certain paranoia to it. In 1996 when I went overseas for the first time and got my passport, my father decided it was time to get passports for the entire family too. You never know... Paranoid? Yes, but just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Or in other words, sometimes even paranoids have enemies. (In college, we termed one of our fraternity brothers, "pronoid" - he thought everyone liked him. He was wrong, by the way)
Anyway, as I explained in "Who's Allowed to Talk About Hitler?", Hitler's life wasn't 100% dedicated to exterminating Jews and dominating Europe. He had a sophisticated plan to rule Germany - and he deftly turned Germany from one of the world's foremost democracies into its foremost evil dictatorship. It's not only useful and eye-opening to study how he did it, it's crucial to learn what he did so as to prevent it. A lot of his successes were directly or indirectly caused by well-meaning people looking to alleviate the strain on Germany from the First World War, reparations, and from the Great Depression. It behooves us not only to know what steps those well-meaning people did, but to look for similar patterns in our own government that would allow another Hitler to take advantage of the situation.
No reasonable person seriously thinks Bush is Hitler II. But there are similarities in certain things going on in Bush's government that resemble things that allowed Hitler to come to power. And "Never Forget" calls for eternal vigilance - so that even though Bush most likely never intends or desires to exploit these things, there is most certainly someone out there who does.
The Patriot Act allows the government to spy on U.S. citizens. It allows the government to secretly detain U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism. Suspected, not convicted. One argument I've heard over and over is that the current government won't abuse the power we've given it. But what about the next one?
How is it so out of bounds to compare what this Bush administration and this Republican Congress are doing to what the Reichstag did in 1933 after a terrorist act in Germany. Thankfully, the Patriot Act is a kitten next to the Reichstag Fire Decree's lion. But what comes next? The American people seem to have agreed that security is more important than liberty, at least in some cases. Where's the line? Who draws the line?
What I find interesting is that while every Right-wing voice declares that Hillary will be the next President (despite no Left-wing person seriously discussing that eventuality, as far as I know), I don't think they really believe it. They villainize Hillary to mobilize their base, but if they really thought she was going to be elected in 2008 or 2012, wouldn't they be putting more safeguards on our government and not less? Wouldn't they want to maintain the filibuster on judges? Wouldn't they want to restrict her ability to spy on the American people? Wouldn't they want to restrict her ability to make war with whomever she pleases? I really don't have an opinion on Hillary, believe it or not. But assume she's as bad as Rush Limbaugh claims she is (because who wouldn't believe everything Rush says) - don't you see her using these anti-terrorism tools that were created with the best of intentions to wreak havoc on the American way of life? We should never be closing our eyes to what is going on - we should never think that examining our own side is the same as giving a victory to the other side. If the Patriot Act and other acts like it are flawed, we need to know now so we can fix it - we can't shut down as soon as someone compares it to Germany. That's letting someone win, and that someone isn't America.