Weekend Bookchat

July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth of July, everybody. For this Extended Weekend Edition of the Sunday Bookchat, we’re taking the words right out of the mouths of authors of new books that deserve the attention of lefty and progressive readers — and potential recovering wingers who have gotten tired of kindergarten claptrap from Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Beck and want to see what real books look like.

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Kerwin Swint, author of Dark Genius: The Influential Career of Legendary Political Operative and Fox News Founder Roger Ailes:

He makes a big deal out of saying, “You don’t even know what my political views are,” and you’ll hear some people say that he’s really a businessman, and I think there’s some truth to that. But, he might not have started out in the 1960s as a conservative ideologue, but the people he has worked with, and the people he has come into close contact with, he’s bought into it. He’s well ensconced in the conservative movement and, in my opinion, a leader of the conservative movement. I think that he’s more conservative than some people might be willing to admit and certainly more conservative than he’s willing to admit.

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Ernest Freeberg, author of Democracy’s Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent:

The press defended its own right to operate without censorship, but most editors were also eager to demonstrate their enthusiasm for the war [World War I] and their loyalty to the government. They did this in part by bashing the radicals. It seems odd that these editors were so jealous of their own First Amendment rights, and so cavalier about the speech rights of others. But they held the common view that constitutional rights only belong to those who use them responsibly. In their view, the radicals wanted the right to say things that might, in the end, lose the war and even tip the country into a revolution that would overturn the Constitution.

And so they were happy to see Debs go to jail. The New York Times ridiculed Debs’s claim that he enjoyed a First Amendment right to speak his mind about the war, insisting that the government had a more important right to “defend itself against unbridled speech.” And the Washington Post called Debs a “a public menace” whose free speech claims were nothing more than “hairsplitting over the infringement of liberty.” My favorite, though, is the editor who called Debs a “treasonably-inclined blatherskite.”

The radicals were not surprised by any of this. Long before the war broke out, they had argued that the mainstream press was owned by, and operated for, the master class. Their critique of the impact of media monopoly on democratic debate was prescient.

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Paul Alexander, author Machiavelli’s Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove:

When Rove headed with Bush to Washington after winning the presidency in 2000, Rove had one overriding goal, which he would state publicly over the coming years: to set up what Rove termed “a permanent Republican majority.” “When Karl got to the White House,” Texas-based Republican strategists Mark Sanders told me, “he immediately started putting together a plan for what was essentially the Third Reich of Republican majority in this country. That was absolutely his plan, a Republican majority domination not just of the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and the presidency, but also state legislatures across the country. This was not just a pie-in-the-sky dream that Karl had. He wanted to see the Republican Party rule for the next 30 to 40 years.”

To do this, Rove needed the South to remain solidly Republican, and of looming concern was Don Siegelman—a popular, effective governor in Alabama, and a Democrat. It is not surprising, then, that Rove targeted Siegelman as someone who needed to be defeated and then driven from the political scene so he would not be able to reappear in the future to pose a threat.

“So all roads lead to Karl Rove, who wanted me out of the way,” Siegelman told me, “because I was a threat not only in Alabama but also on the national level. I was the first Democratic governor to endorse Al Gore. Heading toward 2004, I had spoken out at a Democratic Governors Association meeting against Bush’s policy in Iraq and his education and economic programs, and I was ready to take that message to key primary states.” To achieve this, Rove participated in a political prosecution of Siegelman that culminated with Siegelman going to prison which ended Siegleman’s political career—or so it appeared at the time.

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Peek in on the launch party for the Progressive Book Club. Reading the Freedom Writers gets a schoollteacher suspended. Ahmed Rashid talks about the new wave of Jihadis.


One Response to “Weekend Bookchat”

  1. christine l. Says:

    I note that the school board’s web site, http://www.msdpt.k12.in.us/schoolboard , has email addresses for all board members. I have written them.

    Susan Adams, VP, sadams@msddecatur.k12.in.us

    Ruby Alexander, ralex4806@aol.com

    Jo Ellen Buffie, jbuffie@aol.com

    Gayle Houchin, gayle-h@sbcglobal.net

    Steve Maple, smaple@uindy.edu

    Barbara Thompson, President, bjthompson@msdpt.k12.in.us

    Nancy Walsh, nwalsh@msdpt.k12.in.us

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