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 And although a great many Haitians, including Henri Christophe, fought for American freedom,

Thomas Jefferson and his successors, including George Bush, are still not

reconciled to the idea of a free black sovereign nation



Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

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The World Exhales

By John Maxwell


Like any smart bully, he caved when faced by an opponent not afraid of him. And although he had only days before derided Nancy Pelosi as a freaky leftwinger from San Francisco, on Wednesday he was perfectly polite and prepared to address her as Madame Speaker, pledging to work with her and acknowledging that she, like him, had the best interests of the American people at heart.

The world breathed a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday night when it became clear that the American people were a lot smarter than their President and his advisers. And I  imagine that  most people round the world breathed another huge sigh of collective satisfaction  on Wednesday when the intelligence flashed through the ether that the Generalissimo, Donald Rumsfeld, Lord of  Fallujah and Baron of Babylon, had fallen on his sword. His ceremonial hara kiri came just a week after Mr Bush had arrogantly dismissed questioning journalists with the assurance that Mr Rumsfeld would, like the Rock of Gibraltar, always be there.

As they say – “ never say never” again. 

Mr Bush says he doesn’t read the newspapers –  which is probably good for his blood pressure; because the comment from the United States and the rest of the world is almost uniformly welcoming of  the catastrophic defeats suffered in Tuesday’s elections by the Republican party.

Most of the world, accustomed to substantial parliamentary majorities  when one party gets nearly 60% of the vote, must have wondered why it was so difficult for the Democrats to take charge of the parliament of the United States. They do not understand that the US electoral system is largely a product of the 18th century, antedating the British Reform Act of 1834 by half a century,  and designed to guarantee a stifling stability to the affairs of the United States. Men who had created  a revolution to gain their own freedom tried to ensure that their descendants were as hobbled by 18th century mores as they had been by the British. Although the first casualty of the American  revolution was a black soldier, Crispus Attucks, it took another hundred years to abolish slavery and another century after that, for all Americans to have the right to vote.

And although a great many Haitians, including Henri Christophe, fought for American freedom, Thomas Jefferson and his successors, including George Bush, are still not reconciled to the idea of a free black sovereign nation. Nor do they have any sense of obligation to those from whom they extracted so much tribute and treasure over so many centuries.

Which is why, for instance, the electorates of so many American states approved referenda on Tuesday outlawing Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action had been intended to ameliorate the oppressed condition of former slaves  in the United States.

The Republicans leadership, representing much of what is most backward, ignorant and atavistic in American society, were brought up short by an electoral insurrection on Tuesday. Even that,  however, could not overcome the racist slanders of the Republican National Committee. The RNC posted  a sly, underhand TV commercial  against Harold Ford in Tennessee, intended to excite the most primitive fears of Southern white men about the sexuality of black men.

This was not an isolated ‘error’. Similarly slimy innuendoes were made against many Democratic candidates of both sexes and all colours.  The most egregious was one that continued the Republican tradition of accusing American war heroes of cowardice while the real cowards presided over the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and other lesser breeds in the name of freedom and liberty.

In Palestine, at the height of the US electoral campaign, Israel used the US Press’ total preoccupation with trivia to carry out a genocidal attack on the Palestinians, and their Parthian shot was the killing of 19 people on Monday, eight of them  children and seven women.

On Wednesday Mr Bush pledged to continue until ‘Victory’ in Iraq because the terrorists never give up. Unfortunately he has never understood that ‘terrorism” is the weapon of the desperate – of those who believe that they cannot get justice except by taking revenge on their oppressors or their surrogates, innocent or otherwise

 Sadly,  the American Press have never asked Mr Bush how he defines ‘Victory’ so that the rest of us would know when it was achieved. Although he said two weeks ago that he had abandoned the ‘stay the course’  mantra and although he spoke of the need for ‘new perspectives’ in the ‘War on Terror’ it is apparent that Mr Bush’s imagination allows of no new insights and that he responds only to stimuli that he cannot ignore – such as the rebellion on Tuesday.

Bush’s news conference on Wednesday was in its own small way, an attempt to rewrite history. No one listening to him would have gathered that the people of the United States had, less than 24 hours before, rejected the entire corpus of Presidential deception, lies , dirty tricks  and double speak, and the culture of corruption built up round the Department of Defense and his Vice President as well as among his supporters in the Congress.  

What may have given him pause, however, was the news that his intellectual gurus, the neo-fascists of the Project for the New American Century, were beginning to publicly jump ship. These bozos, including The Prince of Darkness, Richard Perle, have had no scruple in biting the hand that fed them

In Vanity Fair ( the writer, David Rose, describes what happened: “As Iraq slips further into chaos, the war's neoconservative boosters have turned sharply on the Bush administration, charging that their grand designs have been undermined by White House incompetence. In a series of exclusive interviews, Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, David Frum, and others play the blame game with shocking frankness. Target No. 1: the president himself.”

David Rose recalls meeting with Perle in London a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war and being lectured by Perle on Iraq’s eminent suitability for western style democracy after a quick  ‘Victory’ was achieved..

Three years later – with the GOP facing losses in the then imminent midterm  elections – Rose reports:

“As he looks into my eyes, speaking slowly and with obvious deliberation, Perle is unrecognizable as the confident hawk who, as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, had invited the exiled Iraqi dissident Ahmad Chalabi to its first meeting after 9/11. "The levels of brutality that we've seen are truly horrifying, and I have to say, I underestimated the depravity," Perle says now, adding that total defeat—an American withdrawal that leaves Iraq as an anarchic "failed state"—is not yet inevitable but is becoming more likely. "And then," says Perle, "you'll get all the mayhem that the world is capable of creating."

All the millions of hapless fools like me who predicted exactly this state of affairs, were then derided as ignoramuses, unsophisticated trespassers into the sacred realms of Hoch Realpolitik.

Now, as the carnage and cataclysm advance, inexorably, the Perles and the Adelmans have turned and savaged their unsophisticated Neophyte NeoCon –  the President of the United States.

 “ … this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."  Pearle speaks of disloyalty with all the lofty authority of a scorpion.

But an even nastier specimen is Michael Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute freedom scholar who slyly confides to Rose:  "Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes."

Friends like Ledeen and Perle almost make it possible to feel sorry for Bush.

Whether Bush reads the newspapers or listens to the radio or television, he must be getting some information from somewhere. 

The Great “Decider” has, almost overnight, found himself neutered, bereft of advisors he can trust, surrounded by men vastly more clever and less scrupulous than himself. 

He has been  playing a part scripted for him although he clearly believes he is writing the script, that he is the puppeteer and not the puppet.

 Perhaps fortunately for him and for us, his father and his father’s advisers have recently  intervened. His father’s Secretary of State and an eminent committee of conservatives is even now trying to draw up plans to bring some order to the chaos of the Bush foreign policy and perhaps to domestic policy also.

The election debacle is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Mr Bush. The Democrat control of Congress will mean that he has a chance of leaving office with some credit, if his better instincts allow him to work with them. The Democrats  have managed to overcome the elaborate system of traps and snares which prevent the American body politic having any real effect on the policies  of their government, except by occasional  electoral revolts such as the latest one. 

The American system of re-districting (redrawing  constituency boundaries) is so corrupt that only a small minority of seats in Congress are in any sense competitive. Seats have been drawn to preserve empires, electoral garrisons which rarely change hands. In the state of New York, for instance, not one seat in the State senate has changed parties for thirty years.  

This principle, extended to the national Congress, means that unless by some fluke there is a ‘perfect storm’ of adverse circumstance as happened this time, the Republicans will form a permanent government in the United States

This entrenched ‘rotten borough’ system, abolished in Britain a century and a half ago, allows powerful vested interests to totally dominate American society and economy. The last piece of the plan was Mr Bush’s systematic  appointment of hardline born-again Christian Judges to the Supreme Court, ensuring a permanent Sanhedrin for the management of ‘democracy. rigged electronic voting machines should have taken everybody by surprise this time, except that everybody was on the alert, after previous unfortunate experiences.

If the United States is to survive, the new Congress not only must work overtime to restore some measure of social justice to the United States and to end the obscenely unfair tax system which subsidises the rich and pauperises the poor. The neocons and their allied ‘malefactors of great wealth’  can buy autographed tins of ‘artist’s’ excrement for hundreds of thousands of dollars and   indulge in other fantastically  indecent forms of conspicuous consumption, financed by oppression of entire nations by war and the products of war. The whole purpose of  globalisation is to bring these blessings to the formerly colonised of the earth, in a system which not only pauperises the people but attacks the earth itself, poisoning the air, deforming children, exterminating wildlife of all kinds and substituting a regimented, trademarked proprietary civlisation to which most of us are slaves.. 

In this kind of world there will always be the need for a war on terror, because the oppressed are never oppressed willingly, and desperation and hopelessness have no conscience. The natives are always restless and some population  is always in need of pacification.

Copyright© 2006 John Maxwell

posted 11 November 2006

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

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

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