Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shameless Self Promotion 1, 2 & 3


EDITOR'S NOTE: I appreciate the perspective of Hugo Chavez as it applies to U.S. foreign policy. I know his endorsement means a lot. Further, I understand that neither Howard Zinn nor F. Lee Bailey are Hugo Chavez. Still, inspired by Andy Borowitz, I offer two items that follow the Venezuelan president's comments ....

'Republican Playbook' Should Knock Chomsky From Amazon Perch, Madman Says

Oct. 3, 2006

In a speech to the United Nations today, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that "The Republican Playbook," the new book by Andy Borowitz, was being published today and urged everyone on the planet to buy it.

"Two weeks ago I stood here and held up a copy of Noam Chomsky's book and it shot up to the number one spot on Amazon," Mr. Chavez said. "Today I am asking you to do the same for 'The Republican Playbook.'"

Mr. Chavez timed his marks to coincide with October 3, the official publication date of "The Republican Playbook," available at,, and finer bookstores everywhere.

The Venezuelan madman pointed out that while Mr. Chomsky's book, "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance," sells for $14.96 on Amazon, Mr. Borowitz's "Republican Playbook" is available for the low, low price of $11.53.

"Plus, if you order three copies of 'The Republican Playbook,' you get free shipping," Mr. Chavez added, pounding his fist on the podium for emphasis.

In a rare moment of accord between President Chavez and the White House, President Bush told reporters today that he, too, was urging everyone on the planet to buy "The Republican Playbook."

"It's the only book I've ever read," Mr. Bush said. "Plus, it has a lot more pictures than Chomsky's book."

Elsewhere, a new study from the University of Minnesota says that the blatant use of product placement in Internet newsletters is on the rise, calling the trend "disturbing."

Chomsky, No - Borowitz Si! Buy The Republican Playbook Today!

Andy Borowitz's New Book - $11.53 at
Andy Borowitz's New Book - $11.53 at


Introduction To Andy Thibault's
Law & Justice In Everyday Life


I must confess that Andy Thibault was a student of mine decades ago. A teacher always wonders how his students have turned out. He is one of those I am most proud of.

I hadn't heard from him in years, was vaguely aware that he was doing news reporting somewhere in Connecticut. Then he began sending me the columns he was writing, and I recognized that this was very far from run-of-the-mill journalism.

Reading Andy Thibault reminded me of the heroes of my youth, the great muckrakers of the early 20th century. There was Lincoln Steffens, whose "Autobiography" I devoured, and whose "Shame of the Cities," published in 1904, exposed the corruption in the political leadership of Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Of this corruption, he wrote: "This is not a temporary evil, not an accidental wickedness, not a passing symptom of the youth of a people." Rather, it was inherent in the relations between big business and politics.

There were always, of course, radicals and reformers who published their own newspapers in order to be free to say what they wanted. One thinks of William Lloyd Garrison's "The Liberator," heralding the rise of the anti-slavery movement. And, in the late 19th century, "John Swinton's Paper," in which Swinton wrote of the conditions of working people and of the struggles of labor unions. In mid-20th century, there was "I.F.Stone's Weekly," challenging McCarthyism and the war in Vietnam.

But I was especially admiring of journalists who worked for established newspapers and dared to tackle issues and arouse controversy outside the boundaries of editorial orthodoxy. There was the great Heywood Broun, writing for the New York "World," and defending the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti in a biting denunciation of the important people of Massachusetts who had approved their death sentence, including the governor, and the presidents of Harvard and M.I.T. He wrote: "From now on, I want to know, will the institution of learning in Cambridge which once we called Harvard be known as Hangman's House?"

Andy Thibault's columns made me think of Heywood Broun and his willingness to risk his job to speak his mind, passionately, eloquently.

Like all the great journalists, Andy does not pretend to that spurious idea called "objectivity." Is not "objectivity" made impossible by the necessity to select a subject out of an infinite set of possibilities, and then to select those facts one considers important out of the huge array of facts that pertain to any situation? The strenuous effort to be "objective" robs the writer of his power and the reader of the opportunity to see the reporter's moral philosophy laid bare, in all its honesty.

The veteran journalists and historians of journalism, Judith and William Serrin, have written (MUCKRAKING, The New Press, 2002): "Journalists wear disguises, and one of them is the disguise of objectivity ... All good journalists have agendas. They wish to put the crooked sheriff in jail. They wish to unveil the patent medicine fraud. They wish to free the innocent man from jail."

Mary Heaton Vorse, after reporting on the strike of the mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, explained why she would turn from her ambition to write novels to journalism: "I could try to make other people see what I had seen, feel what I had felt. I wanted to make others as angry as I was. I wanted to see wages go up and the babies' death rate go down."

Andy Thibault wants to stop judicial cruelty and police brutality and political hysteria which puts innocent people in prison. His writing gets its force from his profound commitment to people who are victims of injustice. He is unafraid to point to the F.B.I, the Justice Department, ambitious district attorneys, malevolent judges, and a craven Congress that passes legislation destructive of the Bill of Rights.

What you will find in these pages is a journalistic courage rare in these times when too many columnists, TV anchors, and talk-show hosts rush to show their support of official policy, in the mistaken notion that patriotism means blind obedience to government.

Andy Thibault understands what true patriotism is - love of country, defense of its people, respect for the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the notion that all human beings, citizens and non-citizens, rich and poor, of whatever color and religion, have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

He defends free speech and the rights of the mistreated with meticulous concern for the facts, and in a style that is refreshingly open, crystal-clear, and brimming with life. His investigative skills might cause Sherlock Holmes to phone him for advice.

Yes, I am proud that he was once my student. All of us who cherish justice should be grateful for his presence in the world.

Howard Zinn is the author of numerous books including The Politics Of History and A People's History Of The United States. Even though Zinn has lived a life of direct action -- including work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960's and bringing back the first POWs from Vietnam -- he is still Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Boston University. His work is the subject of a documentary, You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train.

  • Find the Book:
    Law & Justice In Everyday Life by Andy Thibault at

    Barnes & Noble

  • Andy Thibault

  • --

    Foreword To Andy Thibault's
    Law & Justice in Everyday Life


    Andy Thibault's Law & Justice In Everyday Life is an unusual, perhaps extraordinary book. But then Andy Thibault himself is an unusual, and probably extraordinary man.

    In this day and age, he is a bit of an anomaly, sort of a gunslinger from the Old West, ready to fire at anything that moves -- especially if he doesn't take kindly to the movement.

    After more than 40 years of extensive dealing with the news media, I view the relationship much as my commanding colonel viewed me as (non-lawyer) legal officer, a 21-year-old second lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps. "Lieutenant," said he, a fine figure of a man straight from central casting, "We have five fighter squadrons and 2,000 men and women to worry about in this Aircraft Group. I'm stuck with you because the Corps has run out of lawyers for the moment. Let's have an understanding. I view the legal branch as a thorn in the side of command. It annoys me constantly, but one doesn't remove it for fear of hemorrhaging. So hear me carefully: keep us out of trouble, and you will live like a lieutenant colonel. If legal trouble overtakes us, your ass is grass."

    The press can be fairly categorized in the same way. Reporters and columnists are at once a bastion of liberty and a colossal annoyance. But never let anyone doubt that crooks and corrupt or lazy politicians of every kind live in terrible fear of press scrutiny and limelight.

    Exasperating as they can be, reporters do more than any other entity to keep America right side up. Andy Thibault is dedicated to that kind of watchdog, and often howling dog, First Amendment duty.

    In Connecticut, cops, lawyers and judges who are less than stellar in their service must twitch nervously the moment Andy pokes his nose into their business. Although he uses both the broadsword and the scimitar in his reportage he inclines toward the former as a weapon of choice. It is somewhat amazing that despite the high station of some of those he has pummeled -- usually for good cause -- no one has yet framed him and convicted him, or had him rubbed out. He is nothing if not more courageous than was Zorro.

    But there is a softer, sentimental and caring side to his writing which counterpoints nicely with his bellicose aggression toward the unworthy. He has a well-developed sense of the little sensitivities that reside in the human spirit. He is in a way a corollary of Robin Hood; he takes from the powerful and gives to the weak.

    This book -- which is mainly about public officials, police, judges and lawyers either shaming or shining -- is a good read. Many of the stories stand alone, like slices of life. Others will appear early in the book, with follow-up chapters later. The crown jewel, in my view, is his handling of the strange death of Kevin Showalter, who was slammed 50 feet down the road in New London, Connecticut on Christmas Eve 1973 while changing a tire on the traffic side of a parked car.

    For many years, Andy Thibault dogged a case which public officials seemed determined to let die, despite the presence of a likely suspect. He tells me his mentor, John Peterson, broke the case open and then handed over the torch. Joined by the victim's mother, Lucille, who revealed herself as a determined but delightful woman as the story unfolds, Andy beats up on police, prosecutors, judges and governors until finally there is action. Spurred on by an appointment hastened by Gov. Ella Grasso, Judge Joseph Dannehy conducted one of the most brilliant and thorough investigations I have ever seen. If this book were only about the Showalter case, it would be worth the price.

    But there is more -- much more -- and the reader will inevitably wind up wishing that his community had an Andy Thibault as its own Knight, ready to take on whatever dragons, or snakes, that need to be deflated.

    F. Lee Bailey gained international renown for his sharp cross-examination skills in 1966, when he won an acquittal for Dr. Sam Sheppard in the case that inspired the television series and movie, "The Fugitive." His other clients have included Patty Hearst, Albert DeSalvo and O.J. Simpson.

  • Find the Book:
    Law &Justice In Everyday Life by Andy Thibault at

  • Barnes &Noble

  • Andy Thibault

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