Saturday, August 9, 2008


Beautiful Struggle
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates begins his story in fear. It's 1980s Baltimore, downtown, Charles Street, no less or more dangerous than now. He and his older brother, whom he affectionately calls Big Bill, are about to get their manhood trampled by an eager crew from Murphy Homes trying to reconfirm their own. Reputation precedes their adversaries. They "split backs and poured in salt." Two brothers without a burner against hungry opponents ready to split wigs means you haul ass. Big Bill was more versed in the streets. He's quick to jet. It takes moments of clarification and a hard right hand for Ta-Nehisi to follow suit. He runs. He calls his father. He waits to be rescued. His brother vows never again to be caught empty-handed.

by Felicia Pride, Backlist, July 2008

Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights

by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose

Random House | 2008

Many years ago, Molly Ivins promised a friend that she would give a speech per month, for free, in some small town in America, in defense of free speech. This book, which turned out to be her last book, was going to celebrate those common people who decided to stand up and be counted. Watching what has happened to the Bill of Rights, America’s Supreme Law of the Land, due to the "War on Terror," the book’s focus changed.

Jeff and Nicole Rank (she works for FEMA) were arrested on the grounds of the West Virginia state capital and thrown in jail, while local, state and capital police discussed who had jurisdiction over them. They were released, and just before their trial was to start, the city of Charleston dropped all charges. Their crime was to wear anti-Bush t-shirts to a Bush campaign rally to which they had gotten legitimate tickets.

Vice President Cheney was working a crowd in a Colorado shopping mall. Steve Howards walked up to him, told Cheney that he thought Cheney’s Iraq policy was reprehensible, and walked away. For that, he was handcuffed in front of his young son, and charged with assaulting Cheney. The charges were later dropped.

The authors also look inside the Dover, Pennsylvania school board, where religious fundamentalists attempted to introduce "intelligent design" into the biology curriculum. After a long trial, and a judicial ruling strongly in favor of evolution, the fundamentalists were voted out of office in the next election. Also included is the story of the four librarians from Connecticut, who refused to comply with a National Security letter, demanding records on use of a public library computer on a certain day.

This is a gem of a book. It does a fine job showing the size of the holes that the "war on terror" has put in the Bill of Rights, and it is also a very easy read. It is very highly recommended.

by Paul Lappen,,  August 2008

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