Review: Waiting for Lightning to Strike–The Fundamentals of Black Politics

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Electoral Reform USA, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Justice (Failure, Reform), Leadership, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essays, Fundamentals, a Corner Stone

October 6, 2009

Kevin Alexander Gray

I was truly delighted to have this book arrive today, along with Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era, which I will write up tomorrow morning.

Although the essays date back to 1994 this book (and the one above) are both published in 2008 and I will first testify that this is a fresh book, very ably strung together, and it does indeed address the fundamentals.

I totally share the author's conviction that the war on drugs is a fraud that is in fact both a war on blacks and a means of populating the prison-slavery complex. I appeared in the DVD American Drug War: The Last White Hope testifying against the CIA for precisely this reason–the author does not discuss, but I am aware of, the close relation between laundered drug money and Wall Street liquidity, and I absolutely one hundred percent support both the legalization of drugs beginning with marijuana, and the eradication of SWAT teams and other forms of excessive militarization across America.

The author is very strong in thoroughly discussing Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as frauds who play the race card but in fact align themselves with the Wall Street class that pays them, and he does a number of Strom Thurmond, rewriting the latter's epitaph to “Segregation Forever.” He is especially damning of Clinton as a lite version of Thurmond, and warms my heart with his candid disses of Madame Clinton.

I am fascinated and instructed throughout as he discusses black leaders and how the movement model works (he does not discuss the murder of Martin Luther King as documented in An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, New and Updated Edition and I generally agree with his conclusion that “The powerful have learned that it is easier and cheaper to buy black leaders than to bust them.” (p 153). He refers primarily to Jesse Jackson Sr with some roll-over to Jr. I am distressed to not see Cynthia McKinney listed among those who pass for leaders, and I certainly agree that Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun are in the mix. I consider Colin Powell (listed) and Michael Steele (not listed) to have betrayed the public trust and have written them off completely. Cornell West, whose Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism I rated as Nobel-level writing, is not listed as he is not a politician, but I think we need to hear of from West in the political arena.

I note with interest the author's mention of Lani Guinier being blocked by Clinton from Justice (flash forward to the dismissal of Van Jones, the one authentic person on Obama's staff), and the lack of mention of the Independent Progressives that Lani Guinier is helping to nurture, constantly making the point that to be progressive does NOT equate to being a “take for granted” Democrat.

Throughout the book the author is careful to distinguish black solidarity from black nationalism, and black politics from anti-black politics, challenges to the status quo versus separatism. He is articulate in noting that excessive fundamentalism and symbolism as well as rhetoric (Louis Farrakhan comes to mind) are the anti-thesis of and prevent the formation of coherent strategy and the larger movement on principle and substance.

I am moved when he highlights the Constitution as the shared and potent heritage of all Americans, and the Second through Fifth Amendments as sacred EQUAL rights of every citizen.

His chapter on the US as an outlaw nation rouses no disagreement from me and is firmly rooted in a much larger literature including Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism And The Failure Of Good Intentions and The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project).

Obama is written off, properly in my view (and what I said in my own book, Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography), with “He offers no boldness” and the direct conclusion that Obama is all hype and no hope. Quite right. Obama is the majordomo following the village idiot, the White House is theater, and Goldman Sachs continues to loot the Treasury. He does observe that Obama is better than Clinton at playing the race card, and I completely agree that Obama is otherwise Clinton light, same class, not with and not of the black community.

The author makes references to a class war and clearly places the black community, where “any little bind” can bring a family down, in the The Working Poor: Invisible in America arena, but he does not connect to the white blue collars and lower white middle class discussed in, among other books, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War and Thom Hartmann's Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class – And What We Can Do about It (BK Currents (Paperback)).

I saved the best for last: the author concludes that 1985 and 1988, before Jesse Jackson became “Big Daddy,” were the last time blacks and progressives had an impact on US social and economic policies. I agree with the added observation that the two Bushes, Clinton, and Obama have mortgaged the Republic into bankruptcy.

From where I sit as a white man of Hispanic heritage who learned to love his dark green brothers in the Marine Corps, the black community needs to gather its leaders from across academia, commerce, civil society, labor, and other segments, and “get it together” on the basis of reality, transparency, and independence.  Doug Wilder joined Colin Powell as a class flunkie.  Right now, it's Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley-Braun, and in the wings, Cynthia McKinney and Lani Guinier, both of whom have been very badly abused by the Democratic Party, half the two-party tyranny and undeserving of the black vote.  I think we *can* come together, and it starts between Cynthia and Lani while embracing Al and Carol.  I know stuff, I just need someone to follow.  Cynthia, come home soon, please.

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