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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.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Various items

I will (hopefully) have time to post more extensively later today, but until then, here a few short items worthy of note - I will likely add to this post periodically as the day progresses:

(1) David Olson of Speakeasy Productions has produced a provocative and well-crafted video regarding the President's excesses and abuses of power. Among many other things, the video includes a brief excerpt of an interview I did with him. I don't necessarily endorse all of the ideas in the video or agree with all of the individuals featured in it, but it is definitely an innovative presentation and, in my view, well worth watching. You can see it here.

(2) For those of you who indicated that you will not buy books from Amazon, How Would a Patriot Act? is now available from Barnes & Noble as well as Powell's. There are some exciting press and other media commitments regarding the book which are being arranged, and I will post about them as soon as they are confirmed.

Additionally, the book website from the publisher, Working Assets, will be ready a little bit later today, and will include (I believe today) the first published excerpt from the book. I will post that link when it is available.

(3) Many regular participants here -- including those whose contributions I value most -- have complained recently about what they believe is a degeneration of the quality of the discussions in the Comments section. Many have said that, as a result of this erosion of quality, they are considering no longer participating, and some have even said they no longer do.

One of the most valuable resources for me in maintaining this blog is the substance of the discussion in the Comments section. I'd consider it a real loss if there were an exodus of high-quality commenters who were replaced by hordes of anonymous insult-wielders spewing talking point cliches and cheap insults at one another.

When I began this blog, I believed very strongly in a laissez faire policy for comments, and for many reasons, I still do. Nonetheless, preserving the quality of the Comments section here is a higher priority for me than some abstract allegiance to that idea. I thus encourage anyone who feels strongly about this to leave suggestions in comments, or by e-mail to me, as to how the quality of the Comments section can be preserved.

I am likely going to enable the function (as soon as I can find it) that prohibits anonymous comments, which means that only those commenters with registered Blogspot accounts (which are free and very easy to obtain) will be able to comment. That will prevent anonymous comments and eliminate those drive-by anonymous attacks that have no value. I am open to other suggestions, including ones that require some mild amount of moderation, which I really, really don't want to do. But if the alternative is having the Comments section here transformed into some sort of childish, substance-free trash zone which I avoid at all costs, I am willing to expend some time and energy to preserve the quality, if that's possible.

UPDATE: To be clear, when I refer to people who drag down the quality of the discussion, I am not referring to people who come here and defend the Bush administration or who express other viewpoints that are the minority here. There are pro-Bush commenters here who contribute value and substance and anti-Bush commenters who contribute nothing but worthless invective. I affirmatively want the Comments section to be composed of all viewpoints. My concern is about quality, not ideological difference.

(4) Yet another poll, this one from CNN, shows Bush's approval ratings having plummeted to the humiliating 32% level -- just 7 points above the approval rating Richard Nixon had when he was forced to resign from office. A belief that the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do is now officially a fringe position held only by pro-Bush radicals, "with 55 percent telling pollsters in the same survey that they believed the United States made a mistake by invading Iraq."

(5) In a story that must have killed Washingtonpost.com Editor Jim Brady to have to read -- along with the reams of other individuals eager to discredit the blogosphere because of the competitive threats they perceive it poses -- The Washington Post reported today on facts concerning the identity of blog readers which will come as no surprise to those familiar with the blogosphere:


Think the people who while away their hours reading and commenting on political blogs are slovenly twenty-somethings with nothing better to do?

Think again, said a survey last week by Blogads, a company that many leading political blogs have used for ad placements.

In an unscientific Web survey of 36,000 people, Blogads reported that political blog readers tend to be age 41 to 50, male (72 percent), and earn $60,000 to $90,000 per year. Two in five have college degrees, while just a tad less have graduate degrees. . . .

Blogads President Henry Copeland said the findings represent "the choir" of political blog readers, the most interested and most engaged, "the political geeks who are arguing over the nuances at a press conference or the latest Hillary Clinton pronounciations."

I am not one of those who believe that the blogosphere can or should replace the national media. Organizational strength and vast resources are always going to be necessary in order to provide a true adversarial and investigative check on the government. But when I want to find high-level and highly informed analysis of political issues and news events, I almost always turn to the blogosphere and almost never to the national media outlets.

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