Conason on Paine

For those preparing to celebrate Thomas Paine's birthday on January 21, we recommend another look at Paul Collins's biography or this video wherein Joe Conanson examines the Bush presidency through the context of Paine's championing of open government.

To commemorate the Jan. 21 birthday of Thomas Paine (Common Sense, The Rights of Man), the Center for Inquiry annually hosts the Thomas Paine Memorial Lecture. Paine has languished outside the pantheon of American demigods and the reverential and hagiographic biblio-avalanche that celebrates the white men known as the Founding Fathers, though a number of books do Paine justice—notably Paul Collins’s The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine.

In recent years, journalists such as Victor Navasky and Christopher Hitchens have been celebrants and speakers at the event. This year, Joe Conason, a useful reporter, a conscientious investigator, and a thoughtful analyst who is most recently the author of It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush, delivered a low-key and well-reasoned update of the Bush regime’s shredding of the Constitution within the context of Paine’s championing of open and visible government operation. If the past eight years have discouraged you, 48 minutes of Conason will assuage your grief.
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