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Catherine Crier was on the Tim Russert Show last night, talking about her new book, Contempt: How the Right is Wronging American Justice. No histrionics, no name-calling, no "sky is falling" demagoguery. Just thorough research, substantive opinions, and insightful views about what the future holds. Among her observations:

The Burger Court of the early 1980s was considered "conservative" at the time, with Burger and several of the justices having been appointed by Republican presidents. That same court is now considered quite liberal. The conservatives have waged a carefully planned, highly successful, long-term plan to shape the court system, beginning in the 1970s. The first fruits of this plan emerged in 1994 with Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America. Arguments over strict vs. liberal interpretation of the Constitution are silly. The Founders wrote very specifically in some areas, very generally in others. Clearly, the broad areas were done that way for a reason. Judicial Review wasn't well understood 200 years ago. It still isn't. We keep working through it a little at a time. Today conservatives are expanding further, beginning to look at state courts and supporting the campaigns of elected judges who have conservative views. The Democrats, aka liberals, have been unable to mount any substantive counter offensive. They are disorganized, factionalized, and unable to stay on point and on message. There is no indication the balance of power will shift in the foreseeable future.

I've seen Crier on the news, but never on the other side of the interview table. She was excellent - one of the most informative, rational, and balanced viewpoints I've heard on the changes we're seeing in the judicial system.


by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius

Reading People : How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior-Anytime, Anyplace

This is a very good book if the concept of reading people is new to you. It tells you the proper attitude to have when doing you read. It helps you avoid hasty generalizations and does not classify people into narrow catagories. If you absorb and apply the principles in this book you will be fairly good at understanding people. However, if you're looking for something more advanced then this book is NOT for you. It seems meant to be a general introduction to people who traditionally were not accustomed to reading people or did not understand their actions. The only way they could have improved this book (and it's the same with most people reading books) is that they NEED PICTURES! It's so much easier to learn this way, rather than having to visualize what the authors are saying from their prose

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot : And Other Observations
Okay, so maybe Ditto Heads won't like this book, but Republicans with a sense of humor might find it amusing, and Democrats will be holding their sides and falling on the floor laughing. Franken, long-time Saturday Night Live writer (and Stuart Smalley alter ego), puts on another of his hats here, political satirist, and it fits extremely well. Many people think that Limbaugh and his radio and television commentaries have received a free pass for far too long. He does seem to misstate facts with alarming frequency: in 1991, he claimed that Styrofoam was biodegradable and paper wasn't. In his book, See, I Told You So, he wrote, "There are more acres of forest land in America today than when Columbus discovered the continent in 1492." Franken makes it his personal mission to clear up all these pesky inaccuracies, having some fun with Limbaugh along the way: a sidebar answers the lingering question, "How Fat Is He?" Limbaugh, however, is not the only politician who gets his facts checked here (note the "other observations" part of the title). In 1994, Franken points out, Newt Gingrich claimed that 800 babies a year were being left in dumpsters in Washington D.C. He was only 794 off. One hysterical chapter has Ollie North leading a platoon of guys who never actually made it to Vietnam through the rice paddies. That would be Phil Gramm (deferments), George Will (deferments), Clarence Thomas (4-F), Pat Buchanan (bad knee), and Gingrich, who didn't go but says sometimes he regrets it. Funny would probably be enough here, but Franken's book is more. He also offers plenty of solid information--from the maligned liberal position, for a change--about GOPAC, the economy, health care, and other issues of the day. Watch out, Republicans--Franken proves humor is the best revenge