ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Prior to Reagan giving in to our protest, he stated that racism did not exist in the United States
anymore. There is no need to bring up old history, he argued, for everybody is equal now.
He Also Walked on Water
A More Realistic Appraisal of Reagan History
By Sheila Bennett
At a mutual friends baby shower, a recent Yale University graduate, with a masters degree, approached me. I was one of the forty-plus-year-olds in a room with ladies in their twenties.
This young African American Yale graduate said, “One of our greatest president that ever live has died.
“Who is this person shes talking about?” I asked myself.
The laptop she had opened to view there was a picture of former President Ronald Reagan. But surely she could not be speaking about him. I had an incredulous look on my face. She began to look at me as if I was from another planet.
She started telling me about all of Reagans great accomplishments: How he was The Great Communicator. How he ended the Cold War. Freed the Hostages in Iran. Brought the nation out of a recession.
I broke in and said, please, stop telling me about my history. You werent even born when Reagan was president, at most, just a baby.
And seemingly, I thought silently, Yale failed to teach you very much about our recent history, at least from the perspective of poor and working class people.
She looked at me in shock and said you must not know your history. I then informed her I lived it and it wasnt pretty. What I recall, I explained, was 18 percent unemployment nation wide, which translated to 30 percent unemployment in Black, poor whites, and Hispanic populations.
I was one of the few black women with a decent job walking in a mall in Toledo, Ohio, and probably the only black at the mall able to buy anything.
Reagan busted the Air Traffic Controllers Union, which sent all unions on a downward spiral.
He traded bomb and weapons to Iran for the hostages. He started the HOT WAR in Iraq and Iran and lied about it.
Ollie North was shot down and told the hearing committee the true reason he was flying over Iraq.
Then there was the Reagan-backed counter-insurgency against Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Without exaggeration Reagan’s policies resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Central American peasants.
Let’s not forget that Reagan “constructively engaged” South African apartheid and snubbed and mocked Bishop Tutu when he explained the harm done to South African blacks because of US support of South African racism.
I recall we begged and protested and marched around Washington for Martin Luther Kings birthday to be a national holiday.
Prior to Reagan giving in to our protest, he stated that racism did not exist in the United States anymore. There is no need to bring up old history, he argued, for everybody is equal now.
When crack cocaine hit the urban area of the nation and a whole generation was addicted to crack, the national response was to say JUST SAY NO TO DRUGS.
The outcome is a generation of grownup crack babies in prison or mentally unable to deal with their surroundings.
Well I guess I know some of my history, sister. Yale, it seems, taught you very little from a black and working class perspective. Reagan’s economic policies, his VOODOO ECONOMICS, were a blight on black progress.
The sister looked at me and couldnt close her mouth.
I knew then I was probably standing next to a future Connie Rice or, maybe, an Edith Sampson.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004)
Source of images Kirktoons.com
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Ronald Reagan Worst President Ever? By Robert Parry20 February 2012Before Reagan, corporate CEOs earned less than 50 times the salary of an average worker. By the end of the Reagan-Bush-I administrations in 1993, the average CEO salary was more than 100 times that of a typical worker. (At the end of the Bush-II administration, that CEO-salary figure was more than 250 times that of an average worker.)
Many other trends set during the Reagan era continued to corrode the U.S. political process in the years after Reagan left office. After 9/11, for instance, the neocons reemerged as a dominant force, reprising their perception management tactics, depicting the war on terrorlike the last days of the Cold Waras a terrifying conflict between good and evil.
The hyping of the Islamic threat mirrored the neocons exaggerated depiction of the Soviet menace in the 1980sand again the propaganda strategy worked. Many Americans let their emotions run wild, from the hunger for revenge after 9/11 to the war fever over invading Iraq.
Arguably, the descent into this dark fantasylandthat Ronald Reagan began in the early 1980s reached its nadir in the flag-waving early days of the Iraq War. Only gradually did reality begin to reassert itself as the death toll mounted in Iraq and the Katrina disaster reminded Americans why they needed an effective government.
Still, the disastersset in motion by Ronald Reagancontinued to roll in. Bushs Reagan-esque tax cuts for the rich blew another huge hole in the federal budget and the Reagan-esque anti-regulatory fervor led to a massive financial meltdown that threw the nation into economic chaos.ConsortiumNews
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Bill Moyers and Bruce Bartlett on Where the Right Went Wrong14 February 2012Bill Moyers talks with conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, who wrote “the bible” for the Reagan Revolution, worked on domestic policy for the Reagan White House, and served as a top treasury official under the first President Bush. Now he’s a heretic in the conservative circles where he once was a star. Bartlett argues that right-wing tax policies — pushed in part by Grover Norquist and Tea Party activists — are destroying the country’s economic foundation.
Bill Moyers: Heather McGhee speaks of how the neoliberal economic experience of the last 30 yearsincluding cutting taxes on the rich and waiting for the wealth and prosperity to trickle downhas left her generation of Millennials standing under a spigot someone forgot to turn on. After a few drips and drops, it went dry. So did the very notion of equal opportunity for all. And today were living in a country deeply divided between winners and losers. Nowhere is that more evident than in our tax systemso distorted by loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions favoring the already rich and powerful that it no longer can raise the money needed to pay the governments bills.
Among the people who saw this crisis coming was the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, the supply-side champion who wrote the manifesto for the Reagan Revolution. Bartlett became a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House and a top official at the Treasury Department under the first George Bush. Yet for all those credentials, he is today an outcast from the very conservative ranks where he was once so influential.
Thats because Bruce Bartlett dared to write a book criticizing the second George Bush as a pretend conservative who slashed taxes but still spent with wild abandon. The subtitle says it all: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.
For his heresy Bartlett was sacked by the conservative think tank where he worked. Undaunted, this card-carrying advocate of free markets and small government has been a prolific writer for popular and academic journals and has just published a new book: The Benefit and the Burden: Tax ReformWhy We Need It and What It Will Take. Its a laymans guide through the jungle of a tax system that, thanks to rented politicians and anti-tax ideologues like Grover Norquist, enable the one percent to make off like bandits while our national debt soars sky-high. I talked to Bruce Bartlett soon after he had finished his new book.
Bill Moyers: You’ve made the point that America’s top earning one percent had an effective 33.1 percent federal income tax rate in 1986, and an effective rate of only 23.3 percent in 2008. And you say if the top one percent had kept paying at the 1986 effective rate, quote, “the federal debt today would be $1.7 trillion lower.” That’s a lot of money.
Bruce Bartlett: Well, that’s right. And when I say effective rate that means the taxes that they paid divided by their income. So that tells you what the revenue is that the government gets from taxing them. And clearly, they were doing okay at the beginning of that period. And that was Ronald Reagan’s administration. Up until 1986, the top marginal rate, the top statutory rate was 50 percent. Now it’s 35 percent. And all the pressure is on to lower that even further. And this just doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. When people say, ‘Oh, we can’t raise taxes on the rich. They’ll go on strike, they’ll move to another country.’ But within recent memory, it hasn’t been that long ago that we had rates that were substantially higher. And these people did just fine.
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#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
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#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
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats 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 Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards 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 familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys 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 isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs 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, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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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 incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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Why We Need It and What It Will Take
The United States Tax Code has undergone no serious reform since 1986. Since then, loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions have distorted its clarity, increased its inequity, and frustrated our ability to govern ourselves. At its core, any tax system is in place to raise the revenue needed to pay the governments bills. But where that revenue should come from raises crucial questions: Should our tax code be progressive, with the wealthier paying more than the poor, and if so, to what extent? Should we tax income or consumption or both? Of the various ideas proposed by economists and politiciansfrom tax increases to tax cuts, from a VAT to a Fair Taxwhat will work and wont? By tracing the history of our own tax system and by assessing the way other countries have solved similar problems, Bartlett explores the surprising answers to all of these questions, giving a sense of the tax codes many benefitsand its inevitable burdens.
Tax reform will be a major issue debated in the years ahead. Growing budget deficits and the expiration of various tax cuts loom. Reform, once a philosophical dilemma, is turning into a practical crisis. By framing the various tax philosophies that dominate the debate, Bartlett explores the distributional, technical, and political advantages and costs of the various proposals and ideas that will come to dominate Americas political conversation in the years to come.
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By Loïc Wacquant
The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after the acme of the Civil Rights movement responds not to rising criminal insecurity but to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethnoracial hierarchy. It partakes of a broader reconstruction of the state wedding restrictive workfare and expansive prisonfare under a philosophy of moral behaviorism. This paternalist program of penalization of poverty aims to curb the urban disorders wrought by economic deregulation and to impose precarious employment on the postindustrial proletariat. It also erects a garish theater of civic morality on whose stage political elites can orchestrate the public vituperation of deviant figuresthe teenage welfare mother, the ghetto street thug, and the roaming sex predatorand close the legitimacy deficit they suffer when they discard the established government mission of social and economic protection. . . .
Punishing the Poor shows that the prison is not a mere technical implement for law enforcement but a core political institution.
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Americas unique prosperity is based on its creation of a middle class. In the twentieth century, that middle class provided the workforce, the educated skills, and the demand that gave life to the worlds greatest consumer economy. It was innovative and dynamic; it eclipsed old imperial systems and colonial archetypes. It gave rise to a dream: that if you worked hard and followed the rules you would prosper in America, and your children would enjoy a better life than yours. The American dream was the lure to gifted immigrants and the birthright opportunity for every American citizen. It is as important a part of the history of the country as the passing of the Bill of Rights, the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg, or the space program. Incredibly, however, for more than thirty years, government and big business in America have conspired to roll back the American dream. What was once accessible to a wide swath of the population is increasingly open only to a privileged few.
The story of how the American middle class has been systematically impoverished and its prospects thwarted in favor of a new ruling elite is at the heart of this extraordinarily timely and revealing book, whose devastating findings from two of the finest investigative reporters in the country will leave you astonished and angry
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 13 January 2012