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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.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Various matters

(1) The Nation has published an interesting article by Jennifer Nix regarding how books can be used to force ideas and arguments into our national political dialogue, and it uses How Would a Patriot Act? as its model. Jennifer notes that the book succeeded even though it "has received very little mainstream coverage" [despite remaining on the New York Times' Best Seller list for 4 weeks (and counting), not a single newspaper or magazine has reviewed it] and, more surprisingly, it "has not received help from the big membership groups." Despite being the only book focused on the Bush administration's abuses of executive power, MoveOn, for instance, has explicitly refused -- in response to numerous requests -- even to mention the book to its readership or promote it in any way.

Many on the Left seem to have some sort of instinctive aversion to promoting products which are for sale or ventures which generate profit, as though such activities are impure or even wrong. The Right long ago realized that the economic success of its political products translates into all sorts of critical benefits -- from creating the perception that its ideas are popular and credible to ensuring its advocates widespread media access. That's why they expend so much effort to ensure the success of their books -- even going so far as to have organizations purchase them in large bulk and then sell them at a huge loss -- and it's also why it is so important to them to disparage the economic viability of liberal media projects. For better or worse, the impact which a political product can have is a function of its economic viability.

In addition to my book, there have been several books that have enjoyed surprising commercial success -- including David Sirota's Hostile Takeover and Eric Boehlert's Lapdogs -- which critics of the administration ought to be excited to promote and push into the mainstream media. The more the ideas and arguments advanced by those books are heard, the better. Books develop ideas and have the power to persuade and shape political debates in a way few other things can. And yet organizations and even magazines which ought to be devoted to the promotion of those ideas have all but ignored them and -- with rare exception (cited in Jennifer's article) -- refused to pay any attention to them. The books have succeeded despite what appears to be an odd resistance by the very media outlets and organizations which one would think would naturally support them.

(2) Dick Morris, who embraces every tenet of the neoconservative agenda, unsurprisingly heaped praise on Joe Lieberman and urged his re-election, and in the process, said this (h/t Mark Coffey -- a pro-Bush conservative who is a self-proclaimed "huge fan" of Lieberman's):

As surely as an American soldier on patrol in Iraq, his [Lieberman's] very presence in the Democratic primary provides a tempting target for those who want to vent their frustration at American foreign policy.

So, those who oppose Lieberman's pro-war stance are just like the Iraqi insurgents who attack and kill American soldiers. Are there any neo-conservatives left anywhere who are capable of engaging in a single political discussion without insinuating that those who disagree with them are either terrorists or terrorist allies? If so, I don't ever hear or read them.

(3) Speaking of whimsical accusations of being pro-terrorist, it's a given, of course, that the 5 Justices who ruled against The Commander-in-Chief in his Glorious War are liberal America-haters who are on the side of terrorists. In an article linked to (but not, of course, approved of) by Instapundit, former Boston University Law School Dean Ronald Cass mindlessly trots out every empty cliche to tell us that the administration's efforts to fight terrorists are "opposed by The New York Times, the left side of the Democratic Party, and most of France" -- an Axis of Treason now joined by the 5 members of the Supreme Court who had the audacity to commit the ultimate sin: they "second-guessed the President"! Moronically, Cass laments that the decision "gave hope to One-World-ers by leaning on international common law to interpret U.S. federal law" -- arguing that it was improper for the Court to examine the requirements of the Geneva Conventions even though federal law requires that military commissions adhere to the Geneva Conventions.

The Hamdan majority is composed of some rather unlikely traitors. One of the Justice is a devout Roman Catholic appointed by Ronald Reagan. Another is a Justice appointed by George Bush 41. And the author of the Court's opinion is a Bronze Star winner from the combat action he saw in World War II. Isn't it amazing how many American combat veterans and war heroes become pro-terrorist traitors and enemies of the United States in their next job? And it's equally amazing how so many one-time conservatives turn into socialist allies of America's enemies. It reminds one of those lovely days of the Schiavo controversy when life-long conservative Southern Baptist State Court Judge George Greer overnight became the symbol of secular-liberal-Godhating-judicial-activism because self-proclaimed "conservatives" did not like the results of his rulings.

For all their talk of judicial activism, Bush followers reveal themselves as the ultimate judicial activists whenever they discuss judicial decisions. The crux of the decision yesterday turned on relatively obscure and legalistic questions involving the legal effects of Congressional enactment of the UCMJ, rules of statutory construction as applied to Common Article 3, and the retroactivity of jurisdiction-stripping statutes. Among most Bush followers purporting to condemn this decision as an act of judicial tyranny, you won't find any discussion of those legal issues, because they know nothing about them and don't care about them.

All they know is that the Court reached a result they don't like, and worse, it is a result that contradicted the President's will, so it is, by definition, the by-product of pro-terrorist judicial activism. Within hours -- and certainly without even having the time to read the opinions -- Bush followers who never thought about the UCMJ or statutory construction issues concerning Article 3 were able instantaneously to condemn this decision as the by-product of judicial overreach. As always, "judicial activism" has no meaning other than "the reaching of a result by a court which those who wield the term dislike."

(4) USA Today followed up today on its initial reports about the massive data base of domestic calls which the Administration is compiling (with no oversight or legislative authority, naturally), and in doing so, reported this:

In the weeks since the database was revealed, congressional and intelligence sources have offered other new details about its scope and effectiveness.

"It was not cross-city calls. It was not mom-and-pop calls," said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who receives briefings as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee. "It was long-distance. It was targeted on (geographic) areas of interest, places to which calls were believed to have come from al-Qaeda affiliates and from which calls were made to al-Qaeda affiliates. . . ."

Other lawmakers who were briefed about the program expressed concerns that gaps in the database could undercut its usefulness in identifying terrorist cells.

"It's difficult to say you're covering all terrorist activity in the United States if you don't have all the (phone) numbers," Chambliss said. "It probably would be better to have records of every telephone company."

So, according to Sen. Stevens, there is no reason to worry because they're only collecting this data with regard to long-distance domestic calls to "geographic places of interest," not on "mom-and-pop calls," whatever any of that might mean. But Sen. Chambliss admits that the real goal is to compile telephone records "of every telephone company" -- meaning that the Government would have a permanent, complete record of every single domestic and international call made and received by every single American. But don't worry -- the Bush Administration is good and there is no reason to worry about how they will use this.

The American way is to place blind faith in our political officials and let them operate in complete secrecy, especially when it comes to spying on American citizens on U.S. soil. Anyone who disagrees must want to help Al Qaeda commit terrorist acts against Americans. What other reason would anyone object?

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