Buffalo Author Publishes Provocative
and Prophetic Book on National
and Local Politics
Buffalo, New York. April 26, 2004. Buffalo attorney and writer, James Ostrowski, will hold a press conference Saturday May 1st at 6:30 p.m., outside the Larkin House at 65 Lincoln Parkway, to discuss the publication of his controversial new book, Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including “What’s Wrong With Buffalo. Following the press conference there will be a reception (invite only) at the historic Larkin House. The reception (7:00 to 10:00 p.m.) will be open to reporters. Books will be provided at the press conference.
James Ostrowski is the author of over eighty published articles, including a 1989 Cato Institute report, “Thinking About Drug Legalization,” that, according to Google, is currently the most popular article on “drug legalization” in the world.
From the cover: “Political Class Dismissed is an unrelenting assault on America’s (and Buffalo’s) political class: the people who have seized political power and used it to advance their own private interests—domestic and foreign—at our expense.”
Political Class Dismissed contains fifty essays which range widely over the current issues of the day, including the decline of Buffalo, the bloated federal budget, the 9/11 attacks and the mess in Iraq. The essays on 9/11 and Iraq are virtually prophetic and presage the two current topics in the news: the cause of 9/11 and the debacle in Iraq.
“Your government failed you.” Richard Clarke said. James Ostrowski said this first and specified many more reasons than Clarke has. In response to Clarke, Karen Hughes, the President’s spokesperson, said, “Nothing could have been done to prevent 9/11.” While this is utterly false, there’s the important question, as raised by Political Class Dismissed: “The really interesting question for Ms. Rice and the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment is: If these attacks were not foreseeable and not preventable, why─when our nation has not been invaded since Lincoln invaded Virginia in 1861─were you people out and about before September 11th, in a dangerous world, kicking sleeping dogs and using beehives as punching bags?”
As early as November, 2001, Ostrowski warned:
The failures of our foreign policy interventions have not, as one might have expected, been the cause for serious re-evaluation in the corridors of power. Quite the contrary. Our power elites are stirring the pot for massive and unprecedented and dangerous foreign adventures. (Note: all underlined emphasis has been added.)
On the Iraq War, quickly turning into another Vietnam, here’s what Ostrowski had to say before the war began:
The combined impact of all the prior “good wars” that “we won” utterly failed to bring peace and harmony to the world. Quite the contrary. Excuse me for thinking that the invasion and occupation of Iraq will likewise fail.
More force is always the answer. (What’s the question?) So the U.S. will go to war again over Iraq (maybe). It’s because Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and may want to use them. That’s the official reason. The actual reasons are oil, Israel and imperialism.
After the war began, Ostrowski wrote:
That the same government that daily deprives me of the freedom I was born with, is going to liberate the Iraqis is a sickening lie. And, being mindlessly trumpeted by the media, it’s a scary lie as well. . . .
Roughly speaking, Iraq has three large groups, each located in a discrete area. The Kurds are in the north, the Shiites in the south, and the Sunnis in the middle. The Shiites appear to be the most populous group. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that there is no strong tradition of limited government in Iraq. Thus, any democracy will be of the relatively unrestrained variety. Whichever group is in charge will impose its will on the others. The prospects for peace are dim. . . .
The Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis should each form their own separate republics and allow people in their domains the right to leave or stay and live in freedom. If each of these would-be republics paid me a one million dollar consulting fee (Swiss Federal Bank, Account No. 983570957187) for this advice and followed it, that would be an infinitesimal fraction of the money and lives that will be wasted trying to force these disparate groups to live together. . . .
So the warmongers who got us into a big mess, and whose egos and power lust will not allow us to get out of it, now resort to their old ploy—one that Goering described— that last refuge of a scoundrel: challenging the patriotism of the opponents of war to blind the people into continuing to support an unnecessary war that is killing Americans and stirring up anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.
On another current story in the news—the selection of judges, Jim Ostrowski anticipated this issue by 27 years. The corrupt process by which New York selects its state trial judges has been in the news of late and is now the subject of a lawsuit filed in the federal court in Brooklyn, a lawsuit in which Ostrowski may testify. In Political Class Dismissed, Ostrowski describes his own efforts to reform the system—in 1977!
“At these conventions, the party hacks are told for whom to vote, and they do so, often mispronouncing the unfamiliar names of the candidates written on a slip given to them at the meeting. A recent series in the Buffalo News made public what had previously been an open secret: state judgeships usually go to those who contribute the most money to the local party chairman. So it is that state trial judges are selected in New York. It’s enough to give you butterflies in your stomach.”
What separates this book from other attacks on over-politicized state courts is that the author, a veteran of twenty years of litigation, does not spare the vaunted federal courts. In discussing a case where he was falsely charged with contempt of court by a politically-powerful law firm, Ostrowski writes:
“Violating the ancient rule that no one should be the judge of his own cause, [a federal judge] killed the deposition that, I believe, would have established grounds to prove him a liar and have him removed from the bench. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of how our vaunted federal courts “work.” What it came down to was raw power; might makes right; their army was bigger than mine.
“The notion that [federal] judges who were themselves politicians, who are recommended by politicians (the party chairmen) to please their contributors, appointed by a politician (the President), and confirmed by still more politicians (the Senators), are or can be apolitical is one of the grand myths of American government. It is nonsense.”
“In addition to overt corruption, there is a more sinister and largely invisible form of corruption that only close observers of the courts can discern. Judges in a democracy tend to be political animals. It matters not whether they are elected or appointed. The notion that appointed judges are apolitical is a fantasy entertained mainly by naïve and self-appointed “court reformers.” In truth, the politics involved in appointing judges is usually more covert and insidious than that involved in electing judges. The public rarely learns about why judges were appointed. Who pulled what strings? Who owed what to whom? Who will owe what to whom in the future? Even politically astute lawyers often do not know the answers to these questions.”
CHURNING LEGAL FEES
Ostrowski exposes a little-known scam whereby local politicians funnel huge sums of money to big law firms to defend them in lawsuits that could easily have been settled. Multiple firms are hired; cases drag on for years, earning the firms hundreds of thousands of dollars:
In days of yore, lawyers were critical to the fight for liberty, justice and individual rights. Twenty-four signers of the Declaration of Independence were lawyers. Now, many lawyers, who could otherwise use their savvy to expose and battle the corrupt machine, have been bought off with large retainers.
Political Class Dismissed features two trenchant articles on the persecution of Martha Stewart.
As I wrote last August on Mises.org, Martha Stewart was not guilty of insider trading; she was “guilty” of outsider trading, which is perfectly legal. Nevertheless, she was investigated by people who are virtually immune from suit. They investigate, prosecute and ruin lives because they can get away with it. Martha did commit a serious crime during the investigation. She refused to be intimidated; she refused to grovel; she refused to take a plea. The feds can’t stand it when anyone stands up to them. It’s an attitude they copped after the Confederates kicked them out of Charleston harbor in 1861.
On December 1st, 2003, Ostrowski wrote:
Martha Stewart goes on trial in January for allegedly lying about committing the imaginary crime of outsider trading. All that stands between her and oblivion is a jury of twelve citizens drawn from the liberal-Democratic Southern District of New York. This is an opportune time to review the role of juries in protecting us from tyranny.
. . . Second, juries are now packed with people who make a living from government work [Note: the lead juror worked for the feds] or depend on the government for much or all of their income. Expect such jurors to instinctively identify with the prosecution. . .
. . . Servile juries generally convict those charged with violating the numerous imaginary crime laws, the enforcement of which underlays the welfare/warfare state. Instead of restraining state power; they often endorse it. Can we now add juries to the list of mechanisms to limit the power of the state that have been perverted into rationalizations for ever-increasing tyranny?
Martha Stewart. Good luck in January. You will need it.
INCOMPETENCE OF THE FBI
Timing is everything. Everyone now blames the FBI for failing to follow up on leads that could have prevented 9/11. Who slammed the FBI 27 days before 9/11?:
“The FBI is a case study in how government agencies, programs and powers expand regardless of poor performance.” “The History of the FBI”, from Political Class Dismissed. (originally published August 15, 2001)
THE DECLINE OF BUFFALO
The heart of the book is a never-before published, 25,000-word essay explaining the decline of Buffalo over the last forty years. For the first time ever in print, the cause of the decline is explained: a corrupt, self-serving, ever-expanding political class and their numerous greedy allies and special interests.
The machine has destroyed Buffalo with the efficiency of a modern air force. The machine’s policies and programs have left the inner city and industrial areas looking like a war zone with abandoned and decaying housing and factories. At night, some neighborhoods become war zones, thanks to young men who in earlier years would have found work in the factories. They ply different trades now.
ON GEICO COMING TO BUFFALO
The Geico story perfectly illustrates how the corporate state operates. A huge insurance company gets special favors from big government so that it can get even bigger. The politicians smile for the cameras; their tangible rewards will come later and you won’t hear much about them.
If you are a big insurance company, the corporate state sure beats the vagaries of free market competition. It’s easier to pick up a phone, dial the governor and get $102 million than it is to go out in the marketplace and convince ten million New York drivers that you have the cheapest and best policies.
The politicians get to run these complex deals through their patronage apparatus—connected lawyers, real estate firms, development bureaucrats—all of whom make an enormous amount of money figuring out how the wired fat cats can avoid paying the taxes and complying with the regulations the rest of us are stuck with. The recipients of the patronage then kick-back campaign contributions to the politicians, do free legal work, and form the backbone of their campaign organizations at re-election time.
There is a timely and consistent antiwar theme throughout Political Class Dismissed.
From watching American boys die on television every night, I came to abhor war, “the health of the state.” My father had also spoken out against the Vietnam War in a speech in 1970 before my brother Mike’s high school graduating class. It was the commencement address at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, from which he had graduated early in 1943 to enlist in the Army and fight crack German troops in pitched battles in the Vosges Mountains. I would come to hate war in all its permutations: Cold War, hot war, Civil War, drug war, poverty war. “War” is the term politicians slap onto all their harebrained schemes to improve the world by use of massive aggressive force. War is a bore, but the bored always want more.
There is much, much more: Chomsky dissected; the Clintons sent up; FDR debunked; the corporate state explained; Lincoln revealed; Thoreau venerated; Bowling for Columbine reviewed; Pataki and Andrew Cuomo skewered; all with some of the liveliest prose by a Buffalo writer since Mark Twain left town for Elmira in 1871.
About the book, Ostrowski, whose boyhood hero was Thomas Jefferson, said, “I’d like to think that these essays approximate what Jefferson might say had he been around to witness the rise of the monstrous modern state with its corrupt political machines, ceaseless centralization of power and perpetual wars.”
About the Author
James Ostrowski is a trial and appellate lawyer and libertarian writer from Buffalo, New York. He graduated from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in 1975 and obtained a degree in philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1980. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1983. In law school, he was writing assistant to Dean David G. Trager, now a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York. He was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society and the International Law Moot Court Team.
He served as vice-chairman of the law reform committee of the New York County Lawyers Association (1986-88) and wrote two widely quoted reports critical of the law enforcement approach to the drug problem. New York Newsday described his report on drug-related AIDS as “superb.” He was chair of the human rights committee of the Erie County Bar Association (1997-1999). He has written a number of scholarly articles on the law on subjects ranging from drug policy to the commerce clause of the Constitution. He has written several bar association reports and given continuing legal education lectures on habeas corpus, lawsuits against government officials and jury nullification.
His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Buffalo News, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Legislative Gazette. His policy studies have been published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and the Cato Institute in Washington, D. C. His articles have been used as course materials at numerous colleges and universities including Brown, Rutgers and Stanford.
Presently he is an Adjunct Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a columnist for two of the largest political websites in the world, Mises.org and LewRockwell.com. His personal website, JimOstrowski.com, is one of the fastest-growing sites on the Web.
He and his wife Amy live in North Buffalo with their two children.
Selected Articles by the Author
"Thinking about Drug Legalization," Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 121 (May 25, 1989).
"Was the Union Army's Invasion of the Confederate States a Lawful Act?" in Secession, State & Liberty, David Gordon, ed., (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1998).
“Answering the Critics of Drug Legalization”, in Krauss, Melvyn B. and Edward P. Lazear, ed. Searching for Alternatives: Drug Control Policy in the United States. (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1991).
“The Rise and Fall of Jury Nullification,” 15 Journal of Libertarian Studies 89 (Spring 2001).
“The Moral and Practical Case for Drug Legalization,” 18 Hofstra L. Rev. 607 (1990).
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Buffalo Author Publishes Provocative and Prophetic Book
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