ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Since blacks in the United States tend to vote solidly for Democratic candidates
(more than 90% for Al Gore and Bill Clinton) any number of blacks removed from
the list improved the chances of George Bush.
Book by John Maxwell
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The Authorised Version
By John Maxwell
A few short weeks ago, Bush, Blair and Patterson looked invincible. Mr Patterson was busy laying down the law to his would-be successors. Mr Kerry seemed incapable of denting Mr Bushs Teflon coating and Mr Blair seemed well set to lead the Britain Labour Party into the next elections. Mr Patterson is the only one with a safety net he has Mr Seaga, to lead the so-called Opposition. But, on the other hand, the White Death the IMF is again taking over the governance of Jamaica.
On Thursday Mr Blair got what one of his ministers described as a kicking from the British electorate. They had lost trust in him, he had told too many lies, taken too many chances with other peoples lives.
Iraq did him in, as it will do in Mr Bush whose poll numbers have begun the long downslide.
And all three will fail, in the end, because they had no friends who were brave enough to tell them the truth.
I suppose that I might consider myself as having been a friend of Michael Manley, and as I told him, if I was to be his friend, I had no option but to tell him the truth as I saw it. Of course, this sometimes created a commotion, because, like most political leaders, he did not take kindly to being contradicted. But if you happen to be in the unenviable position of being the friend of one of these personages, the true test is whether s/he is willing to listen when you say something they dont want to hear.
Mr Blair, the British Prime Minister, went his own sweet way in the wake of George Bush, attempting to cement Britains ‘special relationship’ with the United States by slavishly refusing to disagree even when it was plain to the rest of the world that Mr Bush was about to make a fool of himself. So, the western world, the so-called Free World, was led by two fools instead of one.
The British have now decided that they have had enough of their joker. In elections for town councils and for the European Parliament on Thursday, the Labour Party, having ridden high for a decade finished third with 26% of the vote, well behind the Conservatives with 38% and the Liberal Democrats with 30%.
This doesnt of course mean the end of the Labour Party government, but Mr Blair is now a lame duck, contemplating just when it will be politic for him to depart into the rarefied world of consultancies and £50,000 speeches.
Before the Iraq war, the New York Times remarked that there were now two superpowers in the world, the United States and World Public Opinion. Mr Aznar of Spain (remember him) and Mr Blair both refused to listen to their people and they have both paid the penalty.
I was a little startled to read that US ambassador, Mrs Sue Cobb, referred to President Aristide as Humpty Dumpty, and suggesting that as far as she was concerned, there was no point in even thinking that he and his people had any rights worth protecting.
What happened had happened, and the rest of us had better get over it, move on and accept the arbitrament of the gunmen and the State Department apparatchiks. Mrs Cobb, an attorney at law, should realise that her remark was not only gratuitously undiplomatic but ferociously offensive
In a long interview with the editor of this newspaper, Mrs Cobb made her position absolutely clear. She represents President Bush and is totally committed to him. Bush, she asserted, would in due time be vindicated. Meanwhile, she would follow her orders.
I am not sure what Mr Bush will be vindicated about, but Iraq and pre-emptive war will not be among them.
And I think Mrs Cobb was somewhat disingenuous in not explaining her connection to the American President.
Various American journalists describe Mrs Cobb, somewhat offhandedly, as a Coral Gables developer . She is more than that.
Mrs Cobb was the first head of the Florida Lottery, having been appointed to that position by Governor Jeb Bush, brother of th President. She herself is a lawyer, general counsel and managing director of Cobb Partners, a resort property development company.
Mrs Cobb and her husband are also integral and important players in Florida politics. During the 2000 Presidential election campaign, the Cobbs hosted George and Jeb Bush at a fundraising function in the Cobbs home and raised more than US$1 million for the election.
According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, Together, Sue and Charles Cobb make quite a generous duo. Sue Cobb contributed $52,500 to Republican candidates and party committees in 1999-2000, including a $1,000 donation to the Bush campaign and a $40,000 soft money contribution to an RNC state elections committee. She also gave $5,000 to the 2000 Bush/Cheney Presidential Transition Foundation.
Charles Cobb, the ambassador to Iceland during the administration of President Bush’s father, was more generous than she. He gave $71,750 to the GOP in 1999-2000, including $1,000 to Bush and a $40,000 soft money to the same RNC state elections committee, on the same date, as his wife. He also contributed $5,000 to the Bush-Cheney Florida recount fund. Like his wife, he contributed $5,000 to the Bush/Cheney transition foundation.
Mrs Cobbs contribution to Mr Bush and his cause did not stop there. According to a Democratic party website which maintains that the Florida election was stolen by the Republicans: “Nearly $14 million magically poured into the Bush/Cheney Florida recount effort – four times the amount raised by the Gore/Lieberman camp. The money flowed in so fast… that Bush campaign officials… were dumbfounded… The Bush campaign took in $13.8 million, most in large contributions.
Listed among those large contributors were Bush and Cheney’s two most reliable genies – Enron and Halliburton… As soon as a recount was announced, Bush forces moved quickly. Money was no object. They dispatched over 100 lawyers to Florida and Texas, booking hundreds of plane tickets, rental cars and hotel rooms. Among the expenditures listed was a payment of $13,000 to Enron Corp. and $2,400 to Halliburton Co. for the use of their corporate jets and other unspecified services. ‘Eighteen months after the election, we find that the (Bush) administration literally flew into office on the Enron corporate jet,'” said the DNC. All the Bush scandals are coming together
In addition to those contributions, and according to the Miami Herald During the Florida recount, “John Bolton, [now] undersecretary of state for arms control, [burst] into a Tallahassee library on behalf of the Bush-Cheney campaign to stop a recount of Miami-Dade County ballots. Matt Schlapp, a former congressional aide, is currently White House special assistant to the president and deputy director of political affairs. In November 2000, he was part of the supposedly spontaneous window-pounding protest at Miami-Dade County Hall that brought to an end the first recount of Miami-Dade ballots. Sue Cobb, a Coral Gables developer, today is the US. ambassador to Jamaica. Twenty months ago, the generous Republican donor volunteered … as part of the legal team that contested recounts in Miami-Dade. [These three] are among more than 50 political appointees found by The [Miami] Herald to have served as troops in the frantic Florida recount battle that followed the Nov. 7, 2000 election.”
With such a substantial investment of time, money, effort and emotion in the Bush campaign, it would be unfair to expect Mrs Cobb to be objective about George Bush.
I can well imagine how she feels about me.
The Florida election sticks in my craw, not simply because of the caveman tactics used to stop the recount, but because no recount would probably have been necessary if there had not been the wholesale disfranchising of black people which the Jeb Bush administration carried out before the election. If you have forgotten, the Florida State government hired computer specialists to purge the Florida voters lists of ineligible voters. What actually happened was the disfranchisement of thousands of blacks in Florida who were mistakenly identified as felons ineligible to vote. Since blacks in the United States tend to vote solidly for Democratic candidates (more than 90% for Al Gore and Bill Clinton) any number of blacks removed from the list improved the chances of George Bush.
I have no idea whether Mrs Cobb was as involved in the pre-election activities of the Florida Republicans as she was in their post-election activities, but, as she is a lawyer, it would seem to me that she may have owed a duty to justice which she did not fulfil.
Some months before September 11, 2001, I was one of a group of people who objected to the decision of the US Embassy to take over the Crowne Plaza hotel at Constant Spring as its headquarters. Our objections were several, but chief among them were that the town of Constant Spring would be overwhelmed by the Embassys traffic and that the Embassy would introduce into the area a new vulnerability to terrorism.
I remember pointing out to the Embassy people that we had to remember the terrorist attacks on the embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and that if similar attacks happened here, they would expose thousands of innocent people to mortal danger and paralyse, perhaps for weeks, all traffic between Kingston and a large part of the North Coast.
The Americans did not buy our argument. September 11, however, made those arguments moot. Since the Crowne Plaza is the most significant building in Kingston I am sure the security advisers of the State Department did not wish to make their Embassy into the Jamaican equivalent of the World Trade Centre.
Instead, the US has decided to move its embassy into another residential area at another crucial traffic junction, hard by the Mona Reservoir, the University of the West Indies, the University Hospital and the University of Technology, to name a few densely populated entities.
Since Mrs Cobb is herself a property developer, I would have thought that she would be sensitive to the zoning laws of Jamaica, coming from a country where such laws are the bread and butter of the developers life and are rigidly observed. In some parts of the United States it is prohibited to have a home office in your own house if the area is not zoned for it and even if nobody can see that you have an office.
But Mrs Cobb and the Embassy are coolly riding roughshod over the reasoned concerns of their presumptive neighbours, The Embassy will erect massive blast shields, which will, of course, direct any terrorist blast away from the embassy and into the houses of its neighbours.
This high-handed and to my mind, idiotic scheme, has been allowed to proceed by the Government, by the so-called National Environmental Protection Agency, the Town Planning Department and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation. among others
Presumably, Mr Patterson has been so cowed by Mrs Cobbs strictures on his neighbourly gestures to President Aristide that he feels that he has done all the opposing of American design of which he is capable.
And he still has to justify his disastrous. silly and wrong-headed decision , to invade and desecrate the Long Mountain burial places of the Tainos and the natural heritage therein, including at least one flowering plant found nowhere else in the world and several animals peculiar not just to Jamaica, but to that spot. He, like Bush and Blair and Aznar, has a great deal to answer for.
Unlike them, he must explain why sewage from his friend Cartades favelas is allowed to threaten neighbouring houses and the Kingston water supply in Mona reservoir, and, if it is ever built, the new Embassy.
Copyright©2004 John Maxwell
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Mockingbirds at Jerusalem (poetry manuscript)
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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By David Graeber
Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systemsto relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? Theres not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goodsthat is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like guilt, sin, and redemption) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known historyas well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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updated 16 June 2008