I just got my copy of How Would a Patriot Act? and I’m now about halfway through it.
The book has been much ballyhooed about the blogosphere as an “important” new book that will change how you view the Bush presidency. It is an important book, and — unusual for me — I whipped through the first 70 pages in an evening of reading. I usually take books a lot slower than that.
The book lays out in very clear terms some items which I’m aware of because I read blogs a lot: Bush is blatantly violating both laws and treaties in an unprecedented usurpation of power; the Bush administration claims that there is no limit to his authority to act during “wartime,” which he has conveniently defined to encompass his entire presidency; Bush has repeatedly circumvented new laws through hundreds of “signing statements” which essentially strip Congress of its authority by ignoring critical provisions of laws.
When you read a book like this, you start to wonder why there isn’t more outrage at Bush’s abuses. I’m outraged, and I have been for some time, but why aren’t others as outraged as I am. Are they just not paying attention?
So I asked Greta, who doesn’t read blogs but watches CNN Headline News every morning while she works out, if she had heard of any of this stuff. Nope. Not a word of it. Of course she’s heard of the NSA wiretapping scandal, and of Bush’s claim that he has a right to wiretap, but she was completely unaware of the signing statements, or of the concerted effort of the Bush administration to expand presidential powers.
I want to shout “DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND, AMERICA? BUSH IS TURNING OUR DEMOCRACY INTO A KINGDOM! WHERE IS YOUR OUTRAGE, PEOPLE?”
And I would, if I thought it would make a difference. Problem is, if I did that, people would say I’m a raving lunatic — because they haven’t seen any evidence of this in the mainstream media. Why isn’t the media covering this stuff? Are there not enough pretty pictures for their liking? Are we still that afraid of the terrorists?
And why hasn’t How Would a Patriot Act? gotten more coverage? Sure, it made a big splash in the blogosphere a couple weeks back. This really is a book that can make a difference, because it doesn’t hyperbolize: it lays out the facts in a straightforward way, showing how the “isolated” instances of abuse of presidential power are really part of a systematic plan to give the president kinglike powers.
In the grand scheme of things, Jose Padilla may not be important, but the Bush administration is laying the groundwork for hundreds, thousands of Padillas in the future.
This really is the way dictators begin their rise to power. I don’t think Americans want that, but they aren’t going to put a stop to it until more people start talking about what Bush is doing, and more people start reading books like How Would a Patriot Act?
I’ll be talking more about this book in the future. I hope you will, too.