ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



former generals, admirals, ambassadors . . . have come out  to tell Mr Bush to hit the road.

In an open letter to their President, the signatories complain that his administration i

s destroying the good name and reputation of the United States at home and abroad.



 Book by John Maxwell

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

*   *   *   *   *

Hit the Road, Jack!

By John Maxwell


What can anyone say about Ray Charles that has not already been said, more eloquently and at greater length? One of my favourite tributes was paid to him on the CBS programme “Sunday Morning” and I was so stunned by the eloquent simplicity and truth of the commentator’s words that I neglected to write them down or to write down his name.

His point was simple, that Ray Charles had been a major influence on every major strand of modern  American music, from Rock to Country while confecting  Soul out of the Blues. That’s pretty much my opinion too, and I shall not rest until I identify the  author and the story.

The truth wasn’t what was most prominent in the obituaries for Ronald Reagan, who died the week before Ray Charles. I must confess  to being completely unable to encompass the ‘greatness’ of a man who could consider Grenada a threat to world peace and whose pursuit of Freedom and Democracy  was responsible for the deaths of nearly a hundred thousand peasants,(and some intellectuals and nuns) in Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Perhaps Reagan’s  chiefest distinction was that he made respectable the primitive idea that government was the problem and not the solution to mankind’s efforts to survive.

Like his sidekick, Margaret Thatcher, Reagan was  against the whole continuum  of modern civilisation which is based on the idea that human beings must cooperate to survive. There is an old, politically incorrect, nineteenth century  joke told against the Irish:

An Irishman is shipwrecked on some foreign coast. After being dragged from the sea and restored to consciousness, his first words to his rescuers are:

      “Is there a government in this place?”

     On being informed that there was, he replied:

      “Well, I’m agin it!.”

The problem was that Reagan was no joke.

It is his pernicious ideology which is right now tearing the world apart, reducing working people to slaves and transforming the middle classes of the world into disinherited casual labour. Last week th US Congress approved a tax cut which will take even more from the poor to hand to the rich –the Reverse Robin Hood syndrome, so popular these days among governments in the Third World which, having been castrated by structural adjustment, willingly yield to the most grotesque excesses of globalisation. We in Jamaica are particularly unfortunate in being one of the test beds for these processes. Haiti is another.  

It is clear from the results of the G8 meeting in the Sea Islands, Georgia, last weekend, that the rich and powerful of the world see no reason to change anything.

Their reasoning is simple: In the long run, as Keynes said, we are all dead.

Here in Jamaica, we are busy starving ourselves to build a monument to Reaganism-Thatcherism called the Millennium Highway, or as I prefer to call it, the Doomsday Highway.

By the time this highway is  finished petroleum products will be affordable only by the wealthiest and we will have a stretch of concrete right across Jamaica which we should be able to sell for advertising when space travel becomes an everyday phenomenon.

What’d I say?

One if the delights of being Commander in Chief is that when you address the troops, any heckler will face court martial. As I watched Mr Bush addressing his military audience  on Friday, I suddenly realised what  ‘captive audience really means.

Mr Bush told his  troops that the United States was faced by enemies, who, among other things, wished to replace all religions with their own (presumably Islam) and to subjugate women. He seemed to be unaware that in invading Iraq the US was invading the one Middle Eastern country in which all  religion were tolerated and in which women were completely free.

As I pointed out in a column on March 23, last year:

“If Saddam’s regime was characterised by decades of neglect, perhaps we could use some of that neglect in other countries.

“In 1960, the Iraq life expectancy was 45 years. By 1975, 6 years after Saddam’s takeover, it had moved to  59 and by 1987 to 65. The under 5 y.o. mortality rate had  moved from 224 per 100,000 in 1960 to 94 in 1987.  Adult literacy  overall was 34% in 1970 and 85%  fifteen years later. Most impressive of all, for a country (supposedly) with rape camps, is the fact that literacy among women moved from 18% in 1970 to 87% in 1985. Enrolment in primary schools had tripled. Women, as a proportion of the Iraqi parliament were 13.2%  in 1987, as against 11% in Jamaica today. (UNDP Human Development report 1990)”

And when Mr Bush spoke of his troops respecting the cultures of others I couldn’t help but be reminded of Field Marshal von Rumsfeld’s casual aside “Freedom is untidy” when told of the rape and looting of 8,000 years of human history in the museums of Iraq.

As Mr Bush said, on Friday, “When the President of the United States speaks, he must mean what he says.”  He was happy that he had destroyed the Taliban, but didn’t say much about Al Qaeda, (almost an American invention) which is reported to be proliferating, strengthening and just as determined to slaughter its enemies as ever.

There are, of course, people who don’t think that the President of the United States  has been saying what he meant, or, if he has, that he  has been speaking the truth.

The New York Times, for example, on Friday took Mr Bush to task in an editorial entitled “The Plain Truth” 

“Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration’s actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world.”

There are others too, highly placed and of some significance in Mr Bush’s world, who seem to think that the ‘War President’  is not as good for the United States as he thinks.

Hit the Road, Jack,  …!

“In an unprecedented broadside, more than two-dozen top retired US. career diplomats and military commanders, many of whom reached their top positions under former President George H. W Bush, have called for George W Bush to be defeated in his re-election bid in November.’ (Jim Lobe, InterPress)  

In a statement which has put a tiger among the Bush chickenhawks, a representative slice of the American Establishment  – former generals, admirals, ambassadors and other high-ranking former officials of the US government, have come out  to tell Mr Bush to hit the road. In an open letter to their President, the signatories complain that his administration is destroying the good name and reputation of the United States at home and abroad.

”It is time for a change … Never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted”.

”Over nearly half a century we have worked energetically in all regions of the world, often in very difficult circumstances, to build piece by piece a structure of respect and influence for the United States that has served our country very well over the last 60 years … Today we see that structure crumbling under an administration blinded by ideology and a callous indifference to the realities of the world around it”.

“… The Bush administration has shown that it does not grasp (the) circumstances of the new era, and is not able to rise to the responsibilities of world leadership in either style or substance”, the statement concluded.

The statement is significant particularly because it represents the feelings and reasoning of people who are  expected to be conservative and many who could be  described as ‘rock-ribbed Republicans.”

 There are no anarchists here, no socialists, certainly no one who could remotely be suspected of harbouring anti-American feeling, no one who would not pass the highest security clearances of the United States.

 Among them are Admiral William Crowe, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan, General Joseph Hoar, head of the US Central Command under President Bush senior. And there is General Merrill McPeak, former chief of staff of the Air Force, who, four years ago, was a member of the “Veterans for Bush” campaign but who is now advising the Kerry campaign.

 Chaos on 9/11

I was involved in a kind of 9/11 scenario 34 years  ago, when, as one of two copytasters in th BBC External Newsroom, we were hit by four aeroplane hijacks. The Copytaster is the man or woman through whom all raw news passes, who selects and rejects teletype reports and decides whether to send material to the Senior Editors who direct the subeditors to write the stories. As you may imagine it is a nervewracking job and most people don’t survive long in it. As I reported on the Sunday following 9/11

“On September 6, 1970, on a bright and sunny day much like last Tuesday I was Copytaster for the BBC’s World Service in London.  One of the teletype attendants ran to  me with a piece of tape –  a flash from Agence France Presse reporting the hijacking of an American airliner, Before that incredible day was out, we knew that four airliners had been targeted and that three of them were sitting at an airfield in Jordan  with more than 300 hostages in the hands of agents for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (PFLP) On Tuesday, my mind leapt back thirty years to that day, with the same frisson of horrified fascination.”

I therefore have a  good idea of what the American air traffic controllers felt on September 11, 2001. They did pretty well. In a situation where nothing is known until you are hit by a new fact;  they kept their cool, got the word out, and managed to bring down safely, the more than 3,000 planes then in the air over the United States. It was fortunate for thousands of people that 9/11 did not happen  in the weeks following Ronald Reagan’s firing of all unionised air traffic controllers in the US. These had had time to learn.

Outside of these people, however, systems broke down. The White House itself and the President were out of the loop for huge slabs of time. The North American Air Defence System NORAD, malfunctioned. It was a huge failure of communication.

Even had there been no failure of communication, however, it is hard to see what  could more  have been done on the day. You cannot order an airliner to be shot down if you aren’t pretty sure that its pilot’s intentions are malign. And you can’t shoot down planes whose position you don’t know.

The real failures were before the attack when the White House, the FBI and the CIA made mistakes which were to prove fatal. And some of those mistakes were made because of wishful ideological thinking.             

The 9/11 Commission is a month away from issuing its final report. Life in the White House  is going to get much worse  than it already is,  when that report comes out. And the fact that the White House tried to bar any 9/11 Inquiry or Commission, and that it placed one of its own as the chief executive of the commission are facts which are unlikely to help Mr ush and friends. 

Although the Bush Administration is  in trouble, it may be that the rest of us are even worse straits. Perhaps we all should imitate Louis Jordan, one of Ray Charles’’ predecessors: “Ain’t nobody here but us chickens, ain’t nobody here at all …!”!  

 Copyright 2004 John Maxwell /

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

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

#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 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

*   *   *   *   *

The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

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

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 16 June 2008




Home  John Maxwell Table