Ostrowski is former chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Erie County Bar Association and was co-counsel in a federal court lawsuit which led to improvements in conditions at the then-overcrowded Erie County Holding Center. He regularly represents prisoners in habeas corpus cases and lawsuits complaining about prison conditions. He won an important ruling from the U. S. Court of Appeals in 1997 establishing that prisoners have a right to privacy in their medical records.

About recent apologizing over the mistreatment of prisoners, Ostrowski said, “Republican concerns over the humane treatment of prisoners is a recently acquired taste. Conservative Republicans consistently decry giving legal rights of prisoners in the United States and have passed legislation to restrict their right of access to the courts through habeas corpus and prisoners’ rights lawsuits. They have done little or nothing about the problem of male rape in prisons, a sickening and widespread epidemic. Republicans are more likely to joke about inmate rape—as they did about Martha Stewart--than to do anything constructive about it. So, forgive me for thinking that these recent apologies are contrived to save careers rather than being based on genuine concern for human rights.”

The scandal over mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq occurred after publication of the book; however, in a passage concerning the crimes of communism, Ostrowski prophetically takes conservatives to task for their well-known callousness regarding the rights of the accused and the treatment of prisoners. In the book, Political Class Dismissed, Ostrowski lampoons the prevailing Republican conservative notion that prisoners are coddled. In an essay originally published in December, 2000, reviewing The Black Book of Communism, Ostrowski wrote:

A certain type of conservative would have approved of the communist legal system. There were no lawyers to speak of, except in graveyards; no criminal lawyers “getting people off”; no “ambulance chasers”; and no namby-pamby civil rights lawyers filing suits over prison conditions. Habeas was a corpse. Communist prison reform consisted of cleaning out the raw sewage from tiny prison cells at least once a month. Knee-jerk lawyer-bashing conservatives would have loved it there—right up until the moment when government agents broke down their doors in the middle of the night, arrested them for some imaginary crime, locked them up and tortured them until they not only confessed to the imaginary crime but asked for forgiveness and literally thanked the government for prosecuting them, minutes before they were taken out, without appeal, put up against the nearest wall, shot and buried in an anonymous grave, while their families were sent a bill for the bullets.

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.


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. [229]

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. [226]

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. . . . [231]

Roughly rpeaking, Iraqhas three large groups, each located in a diScrete arEa. The Kurds are$in the norti$0the Shiites in the south, and tée SuNnis in the"mitdle.0The Shiites appear to be the$Most popqlous group. Lep&8217;s aSsume for the sake of argument that there i no strong tòadition of limited governme.t in Iraq. Thus, any democracy will be of the relativeli unRestrained viriety. Whichever group is iN chargu will impose"its wéll on the others. The prospects for peace are dim. . . . [232-2s3]

The Kurds, Shiit%s,0and SunnIs sjould each form their own separate repubLigs !nd allow qeople in their domayns the zight to leave or stay and live in freedom. If each of these vould-be republics paid me a One í)llion dodlar consulting fee (Swiss Fgderal Bank, ACcount No. 983570957187) for this advice and followed it, that would be an infinitesimal fraction of the money and lives that will be was4ed tryiog to force these dióparade groups to live together. . . . [236-237]


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. [89]

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.

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.”

Buffalo, New York. May 10, 2004. Buffalo attorney and writer, James Ostrowski, will hold a press conference Wednesday, May 12th, at 12:30 p.m. outside Talking Leaves Books, to condemn the mistreatment of Iraqi POWs. At the book store, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., he will sign copies of his newly released book, Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including “What’s Wrong With Buffalo.