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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on December 22, 2014
Mr. Greenwald, do the right thing, change the title of your tirade disguised as a book to
A Treatise on Those God Damned Republicans and That God Damned Bush.
I still might have considered reading it if it were appropriately titled but wouldn't have been left with the feeling I'd been hoodwinked, thinking I purchased a book about a subject I feel strongly about then find it to be a hit piece on Republicans. And, no, I have no Republican affiliation.
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on October 26, 2011
Glenn Greenwald is a rather generic product of his times. He is intellectually stuck in the world of his parents still screaming about Nixon and Watergate decades after the fact. It's always Groundhog Day 1974 for some people and the book can best be understood in that context.

The author takes up an important issue. The dual systems of law enforcement within the country and the unequal application of justice. But rather than seeing the full picture of whats going on, all Greenwald does is try to look at the present through his 1974 glasses. And it becomes rather tedious quickly.

He spends far too much time in the book complaining about Presidential pardons. But the unlimited power of pardon was given to Presidents in the constitution. His fight with pardons is too explicitly political to have any credibility. His fixation on pardons, Watergate and putting Bush on trial undermines the more valid general modern problems of equality before the law. Investigating and prosecuting the Bush Administration or Nixon is not a question of Justice, its a political question. The author confuses his dislike of the political decisions involved for problems of Justice.

Bill Moyers loves the book. Rather ironically of course. Because Bill is most certainly someone who falls into the category of the the protected powerful given what he did during the Johnson Administration. But just as Robert Kennedy did the "good work" of McCarthyism when he worked for Joe McCarthy, Bill Moyers wiretaps on Martin Luther King were for the good of the country just as helping to construct the propaganda campaign for launching the Vietnam War was. But none of that happened in Greenwald's world because the bad things in Washington all started with Nixon. Bush wiretaps and Iraq policy require politicians to go to jail. Moyers wiretaps and Vietnam policy disappear down the memory hole.

And by focusing so much on politics, Greenwald neglects a whole lot of other more pressing problems with the system. The problems are bigger than Washington and Wall Street. They include (1) that money determines outcomes, (2) jury consultants have undermined the whole basic notion of the jury process, (3) that prosecutors no longer have any discretion in prosecution, (4) that judges lack discretion in sentencing and on and on, (5) that media coverage (rich or poor) has a huge influence on legal outcomes. Greenwald is too concerned about getting republicans and not concerned enough about the actual deep flaws of the legal system.

And of course, this is the same Greenwald who took up the cause of and defended Matthew Hale. How someone who was involved in that series of horrible events has the nerve to talk about justice is beyond me.

In short, important topic. Bad book.

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In long form, this is a breakdown of what the book covers in what depth:

p. 15-17 Bush and War on Terror
p. 18 - 25 Ford's Pardon of Nixon
p. 25 - p. 100 Iran-Contra/Scooter Libby/Bush Wiretaps/Obama and the Bush Wiretaps
p. 101 - p. 104 - Discussion of hedge fund manager who was guilty of hit-and-run but was not charged with a felony. No discussion of a very similar case from the 1970s involving Ted Kennedy.
p. 105 - p. 145 - 2008 Financial Crisis, Claims made that Wall Street Bankers should be jailed but few to no names mentioned.
p. 145 - 155 Boss Tweed (1800s), Teddy Roosevelt and Teapot Dome
p. 156 - p. 213 - Torture and the Bush Administration
p. 214 - p. 221 - War Crimes of the Bush Administration. And how Obama not investing/prosecuting Bush makes Obama guilty of both an impeachable crime and guilty of war crimes.
p. 222 - The book starts dealing with its subject with 52 pages left.
p. 222 - p.235 - Too many people are in jail. And it's the fault of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Barry Goldwater. Clinton is responsible too but Willie Horton made him do it. Obama gives Nixonian speeches about crime in America. There are too many laws in America and criminals spend too long in Jail.
p. 236 - p. 240 He gives four examples of injustice in America affecting the poor.
p. 240 - p. 248 American justice is racist. American drug laws are racist.
P. 249 - p. 250 Deals briefly with wealth-based inequality and US justice. This should have been the heart of the book. Its two pages.
p. 251 - p. 253 Complains about the lack of free legal services for the poor.
p. 254 - p. 258 Complains about for profit prisons.
p. 258 - p. 262 Complains about the treatment of whistle blowers in the government. Obama and Wikileaks. How people who leak government secrets can't be considered criminals given Bush/Obama are not facing war crimes charges.
p. 263 - p. 265 Complains about detentions as part of the war on terror.
p. 266 - Brings it all together by explaining how Ford pardoning Nixon in 1974 somehow led to the war on terror and the war on drugs.
p. 267 - p. 274 - Concludes by blaming all the problems of American Justice on American Wealth Inequality in the sense that the wealthy have too much money and the poor too little. Tells the reader that the World Justice Project doesn't like the United States much. We are also told that the WJP probably rated the US too high because it didn't take into account that the US was waging criminal wars against countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. He also says that the WJP is mistaken in not considering all campaign contributions in the US as equal to bribes. He sees the US headed for social unrest unless something is done.

The breakdown shows rather effectively how little of the book is actually focused on inequality under the law in America as it affects ordinary americans. Most of the page count of the book is a rehash of the war on terror/war on Iraq and the 2008 financial crisis. And even when he does get to the basic problem of inequality, he spends most of the remaining pages on generic subjects (for-profit prisons, racism) rather than digging into how the law really works for the wealthy and against the poor.

And for a book whose purpose is to show inequality under the law, its really light on examples of how that is the case. Some of his examples of injustice fall apart because the system itself corrects the problem that led to the injustice. Other examples (the JP Morgan case in Alabama) get about one page when they deserved a whole lot more. How does a politician in that case end up in jail for accepting bribes while not one single person who paid the bribes does any jail time? It was one of his best examples and its really neglected.

And its really odd that a book focused on inequality under the law, presidential pardons and wall street had not one word to say about Bill Clinton's pardon of the wealthy fugitive wall street figure Mark Rich. I mean in a book where there are pages to talk about teapot dome (1920s) and Boss Tweed (1800s), you would think that such an ugly case would rate a mention. As would the financial scandals around Enron from the Bush years. But he also ignores a gold mine of cases from the Bush years were financial criminals got off in court regularly. They would have made his point about unequal justice better than talking about washington events like Iran-Contra.
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on November 17, 2011
Another Chicken Little conspiracy theorist. Blames the rich for everything up to and including the vilification of poor people in America (huh?). Probably blames the rich for his numerous personal shortcomings as a non-fiction writer. Might sell as a script to a sci-fi production company though. Was a gift I'll keep in case of a TP shortage.
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