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Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 23, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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The threats to the Bill of Rights cited by the late populist gadfly Ivins and Texas journalist Dubose (coauthors of Bushwhacked) in this scattershot survey run the gamut from physical to political violations. Dire indeed were the infringements of rights endured by Murat Kurnaz, an innocent German Muslim of Turkish descent held as an enemy combatant by the U.S. military for five years and subjected to waterboarding and electroshock. The Dover, Pa., school board's effort to insinuate intelligent design into biology courses has been much covered, though perhaps less bluntly than here (the defense lawyers just weren't as smart as those for the plaintiffs). As for the Second Amendment, the authors castigate President Bush for being too protective of the right to bear arms. In between there are mentions of journalists jailed for shielding sources, librarians gagged by Kafkaesque government secrecy rules and a slew of citizens arrested for peaceably protesting in the vicinity of the president. (Many of these cases were quickly resolved once the ACLU got involved.) If, as Ivins and Dubose hint, there's a concerted assault on our freedoms, there 's still plenty of ineptitude: in one instance they cite, the feds accidentally sent top secret records of illegal electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists to the suspects' lawyers. (Oct. 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Molly Ivins, a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, began her career in journalism as the complaint department of the Houston Chronicle. She then went on to work for The Texas Observer, as co-editor, and The New York Times, as a political reporter and later as Rocky Mountain bureau chief. In 1982, she returned to Texas. Her column was syndicated in more than three hundred newspapers, and her freelance work appeared in Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Harper’s, and other publications. Her first book, Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?, spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list. Her books with Lou Dubose on George W. Bush, Shrub and Bushwhacked, were also New York Times bestsellers. Molly Ivins died in January 2007.

Lou Dubose has written about Texas and national politics for thirty years. He was editor of The Texas Observer and politics editor for The Austin Chronicle, and he currently edits The Washington Spectator. He was co-author (with Molly Ivins) of Shrub and Bushwhacked. In 2003 he wrote (with Texas Monthly writer Jan Reid) The Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress. In 2006 he wrote (with Texas Observer editor Jake Bernstein) Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400062861
  • ASIN: B005UVW8VI
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,720,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David W. Straight on October 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Was you ever bit by a dead bee?" is the question Eddie (Walter Brennan) likes to ask in the Bogart-Bacall movie To Have and Have Not. The answer is "Yes Indeed!" as Molly Ivins shows in her posthumous book. But I don't really think of her as a bee, but maybe a Texas-size horsefly biting the backsides of those who would erode our freedoms, or perhaps a vigilant bulldog protecting the tree of liberty. Perhaps also "The wronging of rights and the righting of wrongs" might be appropriate here.

This is a book of episodes, stories about instances of where the Bill of Rights comes under assault. Many of the basic tales are familiar, but many are not, and putting these stories together helps give a better picture of the whole: we've been seeing a piecemeal erosion of freedoms done in the name of freedom. There has been no sudden assault on the tree of liberty by a dozen men with chainsaws, but rather more subtle attacks--slashes with hatchets done in the night. But Molly was never willing to accept any kind of assault. When you read the stories you realize that many of the instances didn't seem like such a big deal at the time--but they were to Molly. She quotes Niemoller's comment about Hitler: Hitler went after the communists, then the Jews, then the Catholics, and each time he didn't speak up because he wasn't one of them. Then when they came for him there was no one left to speak up for him. The same thing, of course, occurred under Stalin, and Molly reminds us that when we watch others having freedoms eroded and do nothing, we are in danger ourselves--that was her passionate concern, and it's one of her primary concerns in this book.

Molly is outraged by a lot of the things that are happening, but she has always been a writer of charm and humor.
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Format: Hardcover
Molly Ivins is one of my heroes; I mourned her death. I believe she saw politics clearly, but even if I didn't, her writing was so lively her books could be read for the pleasure of it alone.

Here, she and Lou Dubose write the conclusion to their trilogy of sorts on George W. Bush, the policies of his administration, and the effect they have had upon the lives of everyday Americans.

At worst, American citizens have been imprisoned without just cause, at the least, privacy has been violated. The Supreme Court has been packed with judges who evidentially care little about the rights, or even the opinions, of those who disagree with them.

I knew most if not all of this before I read this last book on which Molly Ivins worked, but it was good of her to remind me.

If "Shrub" was incredulous and "Bushwhacked" was dismayed-and that is how I remember them-then "Bill Of Wrongs" is righteous, angry...and hopeful.

These are stories of stupid, destructive things that placed politics and expediency over and above, really, the freedoms upon which this country was founded. And that's where the righteous anger comes from.

But "Bill Of Wrongs" is also a story of men and women who stand up to bullies. And that's where the hope comes from.

This book is the equivalent of lighting candles rather than cursing the darkness.
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Format: Hardcover
This is another volume the recorded version of which I listened to. I guess I should be glad recorded versions exist, or I may not have the time to read 'em all! (Indeed, I'm forced to disagree with another reviewer who didn't like the recorded version. I could just picture Molly reciting the text while I listened to it!)

We'll miss Ms. Ivins. She and DuBose cover in fairly great detail the Bush regime's disregard for the US Constitution, and various other laws based on the law of the land! They start with one who had the audacity to wear an anti-Bush t-shirt, for which he and his spouse were arrested, and she lost her job with FEMA. (They took it to court and won).

It covers other elements of that disregard, some rationalized by the US Patriot Act, one of the more repressive bits of "legislation" since the birth of the Republic. There are elements of religious bias that almost make one laugh. For instance, reputable attorneys who, because they're Muslim converts are relentlessly pursued by the FBI. In the case of one of them, the bureau sends an agent who doesn't speak Spanish, to Madrid to follow up on a lead which the Spanish federal police have already discounted!

You know, now that I think of it, that's the worst thing about a recorded book. I do wish I had a paper copy to refer to some of the other federal blunders. Many are actually beyond comical. The authors refer to them as "Keystone Cop" blunders, and, in one case, the behavior of an agent is referred to as like that of Mel Brooks' "Maxwell Smart."

The portion on torture is devesating. We Americans should hang our collective heads in shame at the way we've treated some people--MANY OF WHOM WERE NEVER EVEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING!
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Format: Hardcover
Many of the events in "Bill of Wrongs" have been in the news. However, as is normal for news stories today, facts of what happened are rarely presented in enough detail for the average citizen to understand the threat or the benefit of the actions of either side in an issue. In this book, we are given details most of us never read or heard. According to the old saw, an informed citizenry has a better chance of protecting their liberties.

The stories making up this book are frightening to freedom loving peoples of this country. It's easy to sit back and believe nothing like them will ever happen to the average citizen. But that is exactly what has happened. Under the current administration, our liberties are under greater threat than at almost any time in our history. It is easy to believe we can do nothing about these abuses of power, making action seem nearly impossible. Even if individuals take no action, knowing the threats exist must be a step in the right direction of prevention and protection.

As pointed out in these cases, an element of truth, no matter how small, can give many people all the cause they need to abuse people's rights. Exposing the attacks and lies included in these events takes a lot of courage given the current political atmosphere, where anyone who disagrees with the administration's policies can be accused of lacking patriotism. Attempts are constantly made to prevent exposure to the light and silence those who want to tell the rest of the country what is going on behind the curtain of claims of protection from terrorist activities.

Seeing librarians as heroes is probably near to being a fantasy to most people. But those whose actions are documented here behaved as heroically as we can hope we could do ourselves. As Benjamin Franklin said: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
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