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 the most compelling villains are often those who have thoroughly deluded themselves

 into believing their most heinous actions are good and noble. That was certainly

the case with Hitler and it is likely the case with Cheney and Bush.



Payback for Bush
It's time to right a wrong this Election Day

By J.B. Borders


"The proper response is not to retreat," President George W. Bush said when he appeared at the United Nations in mid-September to reaffirm his positions on United States foreign policy. "The proper response is to prevail."

I agree with him. Not about Iran, of course, or Palestine or Venezuela or the Sudan. Nor about the economy, health care or affirmative action.

But in general, when it comes to handling life's adversities I usually believe it is better to stand and fight than it is to quit and run - tué pa couré, the Mardi Gras Indians say.

The proper response is to prevail, the president told the world's leaders and its leading diplomats. He had that trademark smirky half-smile on his face and that steely or glassed-over glint in his eye when he said it, too. Prevail, girlie men and boyish women, that's what I said and I double dare you to stand in my way. (He didn't actually say the last part but I could tell that's precisely what he was thinking. Trust me. These programmed tough guys are so predictable.)

Nevertheless, come Election Day, I intend to follow the president's advice and join ranks with millions of my fellow Americans who will vote to prevail over George W. Bush and his disastrous policies. Again.

In 2000, I was with the majority. I didn't bother to vote. That was a huge mistake. I won't make it this time around.

Even though I and most eligible voters sat out the election and Bush lost the popular vote, his crew still managed to steal the presidency by making a pointed attack on black voters in Florida. So the way I figure it, we owe him one. Big time.

The payback won't come easily, however. These killers are hard-core. They're out to razzoo the whole world. Nothing less will satisfy them. They're not likely to let one presidential election get in their way. They intend to prevail by any means necessary, at whatever cost. They cannot be taken lightly, especially by black folks.

The NAACP, People for the American Way and several other groups have documented a number of nefarious tactics right-wingers have been deploying to suppress the African-American vote. In 2000, black voters in Florida were 10 times more likely than non-black voters to have their ballots rejected and were often prevented from voting because their names were erroneously purged from registration lists, according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In more recent elections in Maryland and Georgia, African-American voters were reportedly sent fliers saying anyone who hadn't paid utility bills or had outstanding parking tickets or were behind on their rent would be arrested at polling stations.

So whether the current administration has to buy off another Supreme Court Justice or to simply manipulate the Democratic Party into nominating the most wooden candidates possible or to hire corporate-style goons to scare black folks away from the voting booths or to keep convincing the majority of Americans that their vote is not terribly important because there's not that much difference between the candidates or that it's just plain stupid to change presidents in the middle of a war whatever it takes to win, they're already working on it. With a vengeance. Remember, they've been plotting this takeover since Bush the elder was kicked out of the White House in 1992 after one term in office.

In 1997, when Bill Clinton was president, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and a number of other people who are now associated with the Bush administration formed an organization called The Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

New Century, Old Rip-Off

The PNAC's objective, Cheney, Bush and their pals wrote, was "to make the case and rally support for American global leadership." Though the United States was in the midst of the greatest peace-time economic run in its history and the economy was beginning to generate huge surpluses for the federal treasury, the PNAC crew carped that "Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world."

Cheney was CEO of Halliburton then. And what the defense industry hated about the Clinton administration was that the federal surplus the so-called "peace dividend" that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War was built at their expense.

In a 2000 PNAC report called Rebuilding America's Defenses, the PNAC claimed "the creation of today's federal budget surplus, the product of increased tax revenues and reduced defense spending, has created a severe 'defense deficit' totaling tens of billions of dollars annually."

So what happened when Cheney took office? Halliburton, the Texas oilers, and the rest of the defense industry started getting paid. Plenty.

The last report I read pegged the value of Halliburton's no-bid contract with the U.S. government at $11 billion since the move against Iraq began in early 2003. And the record federal surplus has now become a record federal deficit of more than $400 billion, thanks to the War on Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Worse, the price of oil keeps skyrocketing and job growth has come to such a virtual standstill that middle-aged white men are now risking their lives daily in Iraq because they're so desperate for good-paying jobs they're willing to voluntarily put themselves in a war zone and almost certain death for the chance to make $1,000 a day. Those are the same risks and rewards black youngsters face in American inner cities when they turn to selling illegal drugs.

Ruling the World by Force

I just read somewhere that the significance of any history is lost when it is populated only by cardboard demons and heroes. I agree. Heroes are seldom all good and villains are seldom all bad. In fact, the most compelling villains are often those who have thoroughly deluded themselves into believing their most heinous actions are good and noble. That was certainly the case with Hitler and it is likely the case with Cheney and Bush.

Cheney and Bush, nevertheless, are the two-dimensional (height and width, not depth) servants more of Capitalism than of Racial Supremacy or even of Christianity, despite their claims to the contrary about their commitment to the teachings of Christ. And Capitalism, someone once observed, "has no conscience. It cannot be talked out of its machinations." It has to be hammered into submission and service to the common good.

In Rebuilding America's Defenses, the PNAC argued that America needed to start increasing its defense spending sooner rather than later because "In the coming decades, the network of social entitlement programs, particularly Social Security, will generate a further squeeze on other federal spending programs. If defense budgets remain at projected levels, America's global military preeminence will be impossible to maintain, as will the world order that is secured by that preeminence." In other words, the military industrial complex had better get everything it can before the retirees start gobbling up the tax revenue and the Chinese begin challenging America for Middle Eastern oil.

When the PNAC was created, it said it intended to accomplish four things. The first of those objectives was "to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future." They've done that.

Secondly, they decided, "We need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values." They've done more of the latter and less of the former, but that was probably what they intended to begin with.

Thirdly, they concluded, "We need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad." That's pretty standard American propaganda and a must for any platform.

Finally, they declared, "We need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles."

The net result of these actions, according to the PNAC, would be what it calls the Pax Americana, the American Peace.

The road to hell, our elders used to say, is often paved with good intentions. Instead of peace and prosperity, America has become untruthful, malevolent, greedy and murderous under the Bush administration.

"When a country ceases to be good, it ceases to be great," some eloquent individual recently pointed out. In the eyes of the world, America has long passed the point of simply ceasing to be good. It is now downright evil.

Cheney and Bush's demonic behavior must be stopped. They don't deserve another chance to get thousands more people killed just so they and their friends can horde additional power and wealth. For the good of the country, they have to go. The first step is to vote them out. Now.

I definitely intend to do my part. It's my patriotic duty. It's the proper response.

posted 10/17/04

J.B. Borders is a social commentator and cultural critic. He is also president of J.B. Borders & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, fund development, and program implementation and evaluation for nonprofit organizations. Borders was the founding editor of the New Orleans Tribune and an erstwhile editor of The Black Collegian Magazine. He has also served as managing director of the National Black Arts Festival and executive director of the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Borders earned a bachelor's and a master's degree at Brown University, where he co-founded Rites & Reason Theatre in 1969.

James B. Borders IV / J.B. Borders & Associates / 3655 Piedmont Drive / New Orleans, LA 70122-4775 / 504 945-7015, voice & fax
504 442-1645, mobile /

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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P.B. Young, Newspaperman

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P.B. Young, the son of a former slave, published the Norfolk Journal and Guide , a black weekly, for more than 50 years, until his death in 1962. From a circulation of a few hundred in 1909 to a circulation of 75,000 during the 1950s, the Guide became the largest press in the South. This book explores P.B. Young's personal history and charts his positions on a variety of social issues.

Historians have largely neglected the Guide and its editor. Henry Lewis Suggs, mainly using Young's personal papers (heretofore closed to scholars) and the files of the Guide, fills that historiographical void  . . .The book will almost certainly remain the definitive study of P.B. Young.—David B. Parker,

Another neglected figure in black history has been rescued from obscurity in this biography of Plummer Bernard Young . . .Suggs has thoroughly researched his subject.—Theodore Kornweibel, Jr.

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A History of the Black Press
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In this work, Dr. Wilson chronicles the development of black newspapers in New York City and draws parallels to the development of presses in Washington, D.C., and in 46 of the 50 United States. He describes the involvement of the press with civil rights and the interaction of black and nonblack columnists who contributed to black- and white-owned newspapers. . . . Through reorganization and exhaustive research to ascertain source materials from among hundreds of original and photocopied documents, clippings, personal notations, and private correspondence in Dr. Pride's files, Dr. Wilson completed this compelling and inspiring study of the black press from its inception in 1827 to 1997.

This is a major and noteworthy contribution to scholarship on the African American press. As Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam concludes in the foreword, “Pride and Wilson’s comprehensive history is a lasting tribute to the men and women within the black press of both the past and the present and to those who will make it what it will be in the future.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

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The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

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W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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