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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ten Worst Americans

The BBC History Magazine published a list yesterday of the 10 Worst Britons as selected by a group of historians and, in response, blogger Alexandra von Maltzan issued "A Challenge to the Blogosphere" asking bloggers to compile their list of the Ten Worst Americans, and she asked me by e-mail to contribute my list.

As is the virtue and the vice of the blogosphere, virtually everyone she asked was able to survey 250 years of history, single out all of the villains, and post their list within a few hours. Lagging embarrassingly behind, and being further shamed in my inexcusable delay by e-mails from Alexandra gently though firmly reminding of my dereliction, I turned in my time of need to my illustrious commenter Hypatia for assistance, who then e-mailed me several suggestions.

The following list is an aggregation of Hypatia’s choices and mine. I disagree with some of Hypatia’s selections and Hypatia disagrees with some of mine, but the list simply combines our choices. I know that’s not the bravest method but desperate times call for desperate measures. After all, it’s been almost 20 hours since I was asked for my list, which, in blogosphere time, equates to a few years. So I am very late with this.

If there are some selections here whose inclusion is driving you to a blind rage, you should assume those were the ones contributed by Hypatia. In no particular order:

(1) Harry Ansliger - America’s first "drug czar," courageous warrior against marijuana, and almost certainly deserving of the title, "the Father of the War on Drugs"

(2) John Yoo - The authoritarian theoretician, enabler and justifier of the current government excesses and lawlessness to which we are being subjected, as well as the ones still to come/be revealed

(3) Ted Hall - Manhattan Project spy who passed on more secrets to Josef Stalin than better-known traitors Ethel & Julius Rosenberg and/or Alger Hiss

(4) Joseph McCarthy - One of the founding theoreticians of the still popular world-view that individual liberty is incompatible with America’s security

(5) Richard Perle - As corrupt as he is dishonest, his neoconserative, Israel-above-all poison infects every component of America’s foreign policy

(6) "Rev." Lou Sheldon - Has devoted literally decades of his life to waging noble war against the homosexual agenda. On the bright side, he has helped tens and tens of gay men pretend that they have converted.

(7) Harry Blackmun - With a single, intellectually flimsy judicial opinion, did more than anyone else to inflame and render irresolvable America’s paralyzing and internally destructive culture war

(8) Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell/James Dobson - Destroyers of modern, limited-government conservatism whose vision of America provides an instructive illustration of what Thomas Jefferson’s America would look like . . . if his worst nightmares came true.

(9) Rush Limbaugh - pumping intellectually dishonest, nakedly hypocritical, supremely partisan, bottom-scraping trash into the minds of 20 million enraptured followers every day for the last 20 years. Has done more to degrade the national political dialogue than any other person in the last several decades.

(10) The Commenters at Little Green Footballs - a truly unique brew of genocidal fantasies, raging fascist impulses, genuine collective mental imbalance, and towering stupidity who, on a daily basis, industriously convert even innocuous news articles into a pretext for their repetitive, ritualistic orgies where they primally beat their chests, single out the Culprits of the Day, and then gleefully advocate their violent, gruesome deaths.

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