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The set up of the forum was to McCain's advantage because the Pastor came with a list of questions

that he wanted to get through with both Obama and McCain. So there were no follow up questions and

 in some instances McCain was of such certitude he answered questions before they were fully asked.



Putting the Country First

An Editorial on Political Rhetoric

By Rudolph Lewis


War indeed may be John McCain's forte, rhetorically. Obama, not the peace candidate we believed he was, is right to ask the question: Do we want more of the same or do we want a change? That indeed may be the major question the white working class or religious voter has to ask himself before pulling the November lever. More of the "same" for most Americans would be terrifying: in debt to China and Japan; two wars going on at the cost of tens of billions per month; near economic collapse, with oil and gas prices skyrocketing.

Yet, given the right venue, McCain can be impressive. I watched the McCain section of the evangelical forum again tonight. On the surface of things he did not appear to be a "cryto-fascist" or a "Dr. Strangelove" or a "Major Kong." Although the way he talked he'd definitely would be a candidate like Major Kong for riding that nuclear missile like a cowboy on a bucking horse "to put country first." But he’s now exceedingly comfortable, powerful, and wealthy so he’s likely at his age to encourage poor kids (black, white, brown)—18, 19, and 20 year olds—to do the riding, to be sacrificial lambs while he remains a sentimentalist and booster for Wall Street and its speculators.

Here in my household John McCain is booed and ignored, even by the 18-year-old. But McCain looked his best in this forum when many expected that he would be at his worst. How did that come about? The talking heads conceptualized it, and maybe Obama’s campaign as well, as being a thoughtful theological and solemn discussion. Obama by a mile is much more intellectually brilliant than McCain. So that was measured to his advantage. Obama himself viewed the forum as a discussion between him and the Pastor (the man with the questions) in which the audience listened in. A kind of one on one, like a game of basketball in a gym in which those on the sidelines clap or rave at the points or moves made.

McCain and his handlers viewed the situation differently. He went after the audience and often spoke directly to the audience rather than responded directly to the Pastor, as interviewer or conversationalist. As you know there are three major kinds of appeals: logos (logic), ethos (ethical) and pathos or bathos (emotion). Obama emphasized logic and ethics; McCain emotion and ethics. For each it was a different kind of ethics. McCain went for the simplistic black and white and he scored, heavily using this approach. In short, McCain was demagogic.

Americans love that—the man on the soapbox, the stump speech (if you’re rural). We know how we been conditioned. It’s as old as the Western: the black horse and the white horse; the black hat or the white hat. The kind of thing we still can see on cable TV in cowboy movies—Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Obama is a lawyer, a dude from back East, an intellectual who appeals to reason and our better nature. As oft-repeated, he's given to the complexities of life; in another word, he's a "cosmopolitan." But many many Americans are nativists. They hear Spanish or some non-English language, and they believe a plot against them is afoot. The anti-French ruse is typical: there was an attempt to rename French fries after the French opposition to the invasion of Iraq. 

John McCain appealed pathetically throughout the church forum. He turned the "old man" criticism inside out. He has about thirty years of living that Obama lacks. McCain made excellent use of his POW experience. Dramatically, what can compare to that emotionally? Moreover, that experience showed his faith and religion in action, the cross drawn out on the prison ground as an act of defiance. Showmanship of that brand cannot be countered without extraordinarily directness of evident truths. McCain is an excellent storyteller, possessing an excellent sense of melodramatic timing. He can put you on the edge of your seat. On the other side, he is jocular and humorous. In short, McCain, the son of an admiral, came off as a man with depth recounting his POW experience and as one who puts an audience at ease. He’s just one of the guys.

But the guy (to use his own word) was "pandering." He was neither realistic nor factual. He was ideological to the Right on every issue whether it was reasonable or not. He made the forum into a stump speech and the Pastor was a prompter. His appeal on these ideological issues was emotional, whether it was on education, abortion, civil rights, African American women (whom he expected not to vote for him), Bin Laden, Georgia, his “failed” marriage, patriotism, Supreme Court justices, and other issues, like taxes. McCain called those who made $5 million a year or more rich; for Obama it was $250 thousand a year and above. McCain went from the sentimental to the bellicose, sometimes in responding to one question. He made his audience feel an irresponsible, mischievous joy.

The set up of the forum was to McCain's advantage because the Pastor came with a list of questions that he wanted to get through with both Obama and McCain. So there were no follow up questions and in some instances McCain was of such certitude he answered questions before they were fully asked. McCain is a multi-term Senator. One accomplishes that by smoozing: John McCain tells the people what he thinks they want to hear. He’s an entertainer, probably much more personable and in ways probably less devious, than Bush, but doubtless just as dangerous and reactionary, in some ways, more so. He saber-rattles for the pure joy of it.

Obama and his handlers, I’m sure, are reviewing the tapes over and over and figuring how this McCain coup, which I doubt they anticipated, can be countered on their next meeting. Of course, every audience will not be conservative evangelicals. In other audiences McCain’s antics will come off as that of a clown, an unserious candidate, especially if he’s pressed for detail. If Obama just turned ten in the church audience away from McCain, it was a win. For such white religious conservatives, they are in any event more likely to vote McCain.

I look forward to the convention and to the debates. The convention despite Hillary will be a party, a celebration of  a groundbreaking event. The debates will be another thing. If Obama is as smart and as intelligent as we all believe he is, he will find the right sort of response as he found with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the thirty-one year-old Diop Olugbulu of the Uhuru Movement. Of course, dismissing black men, whether old or young, is of a different magnitude than a 71-year old likeable white man, former POW, American hero, and Arizona Senator. But Obama has an army of young men and soldiers, mature and thoughtful progressives, while McCain’s appeal is to an older crowd of Republican and Bush loyalists.

McCain and the US government do not really want war with Russia. But if one’s appeal is primarily emotional, especially the negative kind, it is good to have enemies, however imaginative. We have been living under the terrorist threat for five years. Maybe after five years, the majority of Americans are weary of this negative appeal from our politicians. They want a change in mood, a change in temperament. But, many in media will ask, when you got enemies, what kind of man do you want as Commander in Chief? They have not asked the South Ossetians of the autonomous Republic of South Ossetia what they want and what happened in the invasion of their country led by Georgian President Saakashvili. For the McCain enthusiasts, a Major Kong is preferable to a piece and splice egghead, as some view Obama? They want a gunslinger, a man quick on the draw who does not hesitate to pull the trigger.

McCain and Georgia

There is always something that happens, unexpectedly. There's about 80 days before the election, and I suspect that there will be more "surprises." It is difficult for me to believe that Americans will vote another Republican back into the White House, however much they like McCain, personally. They are exhausted with Republican solipsism.

I believe Obama got it right, Americans want a change and that they will see that he's the change America needs. That is, we need a community organizer lawyer and a cosmopolitan who embraces and find joy and wonder in difference, rather than a former soldier, an establishment bellicose Senator from Arizona. That's my guess.

Whether there are those willing to create a ruckus, shed blood for Obama, if he loses, I don't know. I do know that America will make a grave error if they keep Obama out of the Oval Office on the basis of race or other superficial measures. He's the man of the hour. America can indeed come of age, domestically and internationally, by choosing Obama as their next president. It's a win-win situation. Whether the emotion connected with Georgia will gain feet to McCain's advantage, I suspect it will not. It is too much of a cost; we already have too much belligerence with threats against Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Obama has been cool about Georgia; that will be to his advantage, later in the presidential campaign.

I suspect there are sufficient young people right here in the United States who will push Obama over the top and the Georgia issue for the young voters might be the one to prompt them to surge to the polls in droves for Obama. For it is always the young who pay the heaviest of prices in war.  The Russia-Georgia ruse and NATO belligerence, the sinking economy, Iraq-Afghanistan, Iran-Israel, most Americans will have more confidence in Obama methodically to bring it all to a close than McCain, who seems like many Americans to believe all can be solved with a huge military budget. In short, the gun, violence, and death, primarily innocent civilians.

I prefer Obama, who I think would avoid getting us into a situation such as the one that Bush and Condi have placed  before us now with Russia, its powerful military and its nukes. Condi is a Cold War expert and she and her boss have continued the Cold War in other terms by retaining the Cold War apparatus of NATO, a military organization, appealing to the hatred of Russians by Western trained sycophants. All of these measures are achieved by the chiming of the deceptive emotional appeal of the word “democracy” even when it does not exist within the states they make allies for the continuing expansion of U.S. military bases around the globe.

The emotional however can be a deadly pit filled with vipers, especially when it comes to matters of peace. So we shouldn't at all count Obama out because of his lack of McCain's version of patriotism (jingoism) or Americanism. Obama too has his charisma and he has  too his linguistic skills. Sometimes as the Louisville Lip has taught us, you have to rope a dope, wait for the right moment to get that knock-out punch. That mega-church in California is not America in small and this McCain “win” will be soon forgotten by situations that will favor Obama. The Russia-Georgia ruse may yet blow up in McCain's face.

posted 18 August 2008 

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Obama "is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values." Mark Penn

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Here is Obama's soft underbelly. He just don't talk "American" for many white Americans, like McCain, who exhibited in the Faith Forum "true" Americanism  with its  Western story-telling, folksy, assertive, gun-blazing past. Personally, I thought Obama out-classed McCain. And that he won. But he damn sure can't out-American McCain. Obama is in the theoretical gray, offering a different more thoughtful way of being an American. But there's a great slew of white Americans who don't want that and who are neither thoughtful or literate, like McCain. If Obama is trying to be loved by every white person, he must change his mindset. It just ain't gonna happen.—Rudy

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I think you are right. Obama is classy and cosmopolitan. What makes him attractive to me is exactly what makes him exotic to others. And he is exotic. Hawaii is exotic. Is Hawaii really American? I think not; it is America's greenhouse, but not part of the big house, and it certainly ain't Philadelphia. But then most places in the United States are not Philadelphia.—Wilson

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Hi Rudy, Nice article!  "Major Kong for riding that nuclear missile like a cowboy on a bucking horse 'to put country first'." Ha! that's really funny, I laughed! Either way, McCain, the soldier will continue to live in his past and make us, our (no jobs) and economy stagnate. He's a big "States Rights Man." So he can concentrate on BOMBS and not waste his precious time left on building the USA, up.

People have lost interest in this Iraq War. They only wanted it in retribution for 911. It's been years and what can Bush say, sorry it's not working, I dunno? McCain, puts himself up for ridicule and we just laugh at him and talk back to what he says. My girlfriends and I all agree, you won't find 60's people that like him! He's turning kid votes off talking about the past.Not to mention they can't relate and he's not reaching them on any level.

Can McCain win without the young vote? Anyway, unless it's a Hippie Generation story concerning Music or a Drugs, he should let it GO! They know McCain suffered as a POW but hopefully they will never experience it. (he still didn't learn that War is not the answer). If a POW doesn't realize it who would?

Furthermore, there were other kinds of prisoners on our soil. Slavery. So, while giving up over 5 years in captivity in deplorable conditions is heroic, so are the thousands who gave up their whole lifetimes in captivity but never their hope and faith, either. Jump off the stump! 

McCain blames "old cars" on using too much gas for the gas prices that people can't afford, for jobs too far away. More b.s.! (and quit making up stupid statements on the spot that make no sense and we know it!) New SUV's are rampant in Scottsdale. When I buy $15.00 of gas, the last purchase on the pump meter is always between $60 & $70. They complain around here but they don't compromise between food and gas! Wake up Abba Man! Drive by the school parking lots during Little League season. 90% SUVs. Those Big MFr's!—Anita

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Well, we know this is a spiritual battle for a higher cause, so we use the political realm to inch forward to the ultimate victory.—Marvin

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The Mindlessness is Total: Are You Ready for Nuclear War?—It is obvious that American foreign policy, with its goal of ringing Russia with US military bases, is leading directly to nuclear war.  Every American needs to realize this fact. The US government's insane hegemonic foreign policy is a direct threat to life on the planet. Russia has made no threats against America.  The post-Soviet Russian government has sought to cooperate with the US and Europe.  Russia has made it clear over and over that it is prepared to obey international law and treaties.  It is the Americans who have thrown international law and treaties into the trash can, not the Russians. In order to keep the billions of dollars in profits flowing to its contributors in the US military-security complex, the Bush Regime has rekindled the cold war.  As American living standards decline and the prospects for university graduates deteriorate, "our" leaders in Washington commit us to a hundred years of war. If you desire to be poor, oppressed, and eventually vaporized in a nuclear war, vote Republican.Paul Craig Roberts 

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Dear Rudy,

Can there be something fishy about this guy Craig Roberts?   Might he be an agent provocateur?  Sure he is correct about the hegemonic objectives of the USA, but he seems to be giving Russia the benefit of too many doubts.   After all, the Russians do have their own hegemonic objectives.  Why is he not accusing both sides of the same diabolical brinksmanship?   If there ever was a case for "moral equivalency," one of the neo-cons favorite terms, this would seem to be it.  But the Russians are simply demonstrating that Putin is capable of the same sort of war crime as Bush.  Neither side is made up of angels.   Both Washington and Moscow are corrupt and each side has its allotment of mindless risk-takers.  Each side is using the crimes of the other to justify its own.

Is Craig Roberts saying "let a hundred flowers flourish," so they can be nipped in the bud?  Is he employing Maoist tactics as part of a CIA plot?   I am not certain, and I wouldn't want to go around quoting him recklessly.—Wilson

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Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Can there be something fishy about this guy Craig Roberts? Wilson


Yes, I found it strange that a Reagan conservative appears twice within weeks in a left-wing online journal (Two Morons: Bush and Saakashvili and The Mindlessness is Total: Are You Ready for Nuclear War?). Maybe the saying is true, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Central in the last piece is background of the struggle within the Republican Party between traditional Reaganites and proto-neocons. The neocons eventually won out. Here’s a piece of that argument:

Every agreement that President Reagan made with Mikhail Gorbachev has been broken by Reagan's successors.  Reagan's was the last American government whose foreign policy was not made by the Israeli-allied neoconservatives. During the Reagan years, the neocons made several runs at it, but each ended in disaster for Reagan, and he eventually drove them from his government" (Roberts).

Whatever Paul Craig Roberts’s ultimate intentions, we may never know. Clearly, in the last two pieces he has provided fuel or tools by which to attack Bush and McCain. My view is that we should use it for our work in defeating the Republicans and their candidate for the presidency. It is a thousand times more potent than the approach used by Obama enthusiasts. Information is powerful, and insider information is even more powerful. But it is a double edged sword. It cuts both ways—at Obama and McCain. Obama enthusiasts are afraid of any open discussion on Obama's stance on the issues—foreign or domestic.

These Obama enthusiasts have muddied the water with their romantic view (we must have a black president) and fear-mongering tactics about McCain by name-calling, rather than drawing a true portrait of Obama and the issues he supports and his movement to the right and a true portrait of McCain and the real dangers he represents. In short the black Obama enthusiasts have tried to squash an open debate among blacks. They want blacks to go to the polls like cattle on the basis of race, which is quite ironic, in that their demi-god is not a black nationalist. Obama himself would say that his candidacy is not about race or his blackness. Those sort of campaign tactics are not very helpful. They are not very helpful in providing a clear picture of what is at stake. They rely too heavily on emotions and ad hominem.

These kinds of Obama supporters have no real trust of the people to make informed, critical decisions. Persons like Paul Craig Roberts and white progressives like Paul Street are more useful and enlightening . Here's Paul Street:

The militantly centrist corporate-sponsored Obama has irritated many of his leftmost supporters with the lurches he has made further to the right after securing the Democratic presidential nomination.  Even I (a consistent left critic of Obama since his highly conservative 2004 Keynote Address) have been surprised at the speed and strength with which he has kicked his more progressive supporters in the face (and other bodily regions). BlackAgendaReport

The Obama enthusiasts are ready to cut a black man's throat if he says something like that and other items that appear in Street's article, this one and others.

In short, as far as Roberts or Street, I am not for looking a gift horse in the mouth.—Rudy

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Jeremiah Wright with Bill Moyers   Interview with Jeremiah Wright 

Ronald Reagan Worst President Ever?— By Robert Parry—20 February 2012—Before 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 terror”—like the last days of the Cold War—as a terrifying conflict between good and evil.

The hyping of the Islamic threat mirrored the neocons’ exaggerated depiction of the Soviet menace in the 1980s—and 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 fantasyland—that 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 disasters—set in motion by Ronald Reagan—continued to roll in. Bush’s 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 Wrong—14 February 2012—Bill 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 years—including cutting taxes on the rich and waiting for the wealth and prosperity to trickle down—has 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 we’re living in a country deeply divided between winners and losers. Nowhere is that more evident than in our tax system—so 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 government’s 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.

That’s 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 Reform—Why We Need It and What It Will Take. It’s a layman’s 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.OccupyAmerica

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#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

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#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

By Ron Suskind

A new book offering an insider's account of the White House's response to the financial crisis says that U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ignored an order from President Barack Obama calling for reconstruction of major banks. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, the incident is just one of several in which Obama struggled with a divided group of advisers, some of whom he didn't initially consider for their high-profile roles. Suskind interviewed more than 200 people, including Obama, Geithner and other top officials . . . The book states Geithner and the Treasury Department ignored a March 2009 order to consider dissolving banking giant Citigroup while continuing stress tests on banks, which were burdened with toxic mortgage assets. . . .Suskind states that Obama accepts the blame for mismanagement in his administration while noting that restructuring the financial system was complicated and could have resulted in deeper financial harm. . . . In a February 2011 interview with Suskind, Obama acknowledges another ongoing criticism—that he is too focused on policy and not on telling a larger story, one the public could relate to. Obama is quoted as saying he was elected in part because "he had connected our current predicaments with the broader arc of American history," but that such a "narrative thread" had been lost.—Gopusa

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

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Ronald Reagan's 30-Year Time Bomb