Black on Black: Cornell West Nails Barack Obama

01 Poverty, 07 Other Atrocities, Academia, Civil Society, Corruption, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, Government, Policies
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For blacks, a rift over Obama

Two Princeton scholars clash over the president's record, but the real divide is between assimilation and racial unity.

By Erin Aubry KaplanLos Angeles Times, June 19, 2011 

It was the kind of insular, issue-driven, black-on-black debate that ordinarily doesn't attract the media spotlight, even on the slowest news day. But thanks to the unprecedented profile of Barack Obama, the most famous black person in modern history, this one got hot.

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The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic

Chris Hedges, 16 May 2011

The moral philosopher Cornel West, if Barack Obama’s ascent to power was a morality play, would be the voice of conscience. Rahm Emanuel, a cynical product of the Chicago political machine, would be Satan. Emanuel in the first scene of the play would dangle power, privilege, fame and money before Obama. West would warn Obama that the quality of a life is defined by its moral commitment, that his legacy will be determined by his willingness to defy the cruel assault by the corporate state and the financial elite against the poor and working men and women, and that justice must never be sacrificed on the altar of power.

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Phi Beta Iota: Cornell West is a Nobel-level philosopher (when the Nobel is not being pimped by Nowegian politicans).  He has kept his integrity when white men like Larry Summers and half-white men like Barack Obama have lost theirs–if they ever had it.  This discussion is NOT about race.  It is about integrity.  West wins, Obama loses…as do we all.

See Also:

Review: Democracy Matters–Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (Hardcover)

Review: Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era

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

Reference: Legitimate Grievances by Robert Steele

Reference: On the Issues from Abortion to War & Peace

Journal: Bing West on Futility of the Grunt War in Afghanistan

Ethics, Government, Military
Bing West
Bing West

Flagged by Marcus Aurelius.  Bing West, former Marine and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during the Reagan Administration, has put some straight-forwawrd words into the Small Wars Journal with a bottom-line that has been known to all of us for decades, but merits repetition over and over again until we finally restore integrity to the national security decision-making process.

Tactics or Strategy?

Our soldiers only get a small number of chances to engage the enemy. Our battalions average one arrest every two months, and one platoon-sized patrol per day per company that infrequently makes solid contact. On average, a US rifleman will glimpse a Taliban once a month.

Continue reading “Journal: Bing West on Futility of the Grunt War in Afghanistan”

Review: Democracy Matters–Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (Hardcover)

6 Star Top 10%, Democracy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Justice (Failure, Reform), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Nobel Prize Material–Extraordinarily Thoughtful and Articulate,

September 29, 2005
Cornel West
I found this gem in the Tampa Airport bookstore and bought it for the title, not realizing that the author was the world-class professor that Larry Summers disrespected.

This is, easily, Nobel Prize material. The reflections of Professor West are extraordinary, and they are well-presented with a wealth of both names and carefully selected quotations from the works of others that make this book both a tour of the horizon, and a bright shining light on the topic of democracy and how to save the American democracy.

As I absorbed this superb material over the course of flying from Tampa to DC and into the evening, I felt that on the one hand, Professor West was truly gifted at singling out and embracing the best literary, religious, and musical talents, and that I was receiving, in the course of a single book, a course on thoughts of others that mattered to democracy. My other thought, once reminded of his dust-up with Larry Summers, was how extraordinarily courteous this author is, in identifying the very destructive tendencies of extremist Christianity, extremist Judaism, and extremist Islam. This is a man who is both innovative and polite.

A few notes from the margins of this heavily under-lined and annotated work….

1) There is marvelous deliberate aliteration throughout the book, with many pages having the resonance of poetry. This is gifted articulation and reflection, hand-crafted communication of the highest order. “Superb artistry of words” is my note on page 27.

2) Professor West is absolute correct to highlight the fact that America is built on genocide against the Native Americans, and slavery of the Africans, and remains in denial of these core realities. Then fast forward to America's support of 44 dictators, its virtual colonialism, its immoral capitalism, it schism between rich and all others–I am reminded by Professor West of Nelson Mandela, and write in the margins: America needs two “Truth and Reconciliation Commissions”–one for what we have done to our own Native Americans, Americans of African descent, and to the working poor, another for what we have done to the rest of the world.

3) Thoughout this book run the themes of prophetic or embracive Christianity, love versus materialism, nurturing versus imperialism. Most interesting to me is the consistency of thought between Professor West and that icon of the leadership literature, Margarent Wheatley. Both understand the extraordinary importance of dialog and openness and the need to share information and perspective, in sharp contrast to the ideologues in the White House that call General Anthony Zinni a traitor for questioning the false facts that led us into an unjust and prohibitively expensive war in Iraq. Dialog, not force, is the way to spread democracy.

4) On page 104 I have the annotation “THIS IS THE MESSAGE!” and “WOW!!!! If Karen Hughes wants to succeed as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, she has only to read this book and memorize page 104. Professor West is stunningly brilliant in both his assessment of America's vulnerabilities from its inherent hipocrasy, and in his evaluation of the faith-based democratic message that has real possibilties in the Middle East and elsewhere. Page 137 is also essential to Karen Hughes–Professor West is incisive in understanding that Western democracy has no chance in the Islamic world; that we must undermine the repressive autocratic clerics; and that we must help Islam modernize on its own terms–Islamic democracy will not look like Western democracy, but it can be democratic.

5) The author is just down-right superb in evaluating the Jewish condition, and the insanities of America's wasteful and counter-productive generosity toward extremist Jews who receive 33% of all our foreign aid, $500 per Israeli (against 10 cents a year for Africans). He is brilliantly coherent when he suggests that we should continue to spend these sums in the Middle East (Egypt gets 20% of our foreign aid) but put our money on the side of indigenous democratic movements, not the autocratic extremists on both the Arab and Israeli fronts.

6) Professor West gently slams Salman Rushdie and V. S. Naipaul while introducing the reader to the wealth of insight and passion in the literature from the African Islamic world.

7) The entire book, in its brilliance, coherence, and insightfulness, is a spanking of Larry Summers, one of Harvard's least qualified Presidents, but on page 189 ff the author addresses Summers directly, and his account of the encounters has the ring of truth. Tenured at Yale and Princeton as well as Harvard, with more publications to his credit than most of his peers, one puts down the book with appreciation for the author's condemnation of the sell-out of universities to greed and corporate grants, and one can easily choose to respect the author over his antagonist.

There are numerous other books I have reviewed here at Amazon that bear witness to Professor West's thoughtful and balanced critique of American imperialism and the loss of our democratic ideals here at home. Princeton is fortunate to have this great mind return to its busom, and one can only pity Harvard for violating its motto and allowing a white supremacist (who does not respect women either) to eviscerate their prophetic Christian and Black Studies faculty.

This is an absolutely grand piece of reflection, ably presented, with enormous respect for the views of others and very delicate manners in the discourse of disagreement. Very few books have aroused in me a passion such as this one has–Bonhoffer would say it is the passon of the black Church. I would say that this one man truly represents all that could “be” in the American democratic tradition. He merits our affectionate respect, embodiying as he does the thought that struck me early on in the book: life as religion, religion as life. In God We Trust, and damnation to those lawyers that seek to remove God from our Republic's identity. One can separate the church from the state, but one cannot separate religious faith from the foundation of democracy–it is as water is to cement, an essential ingredient for a lasting construct.

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Review: The Sigint Secrets–The Signals Intelligence War, 1900 to Today–Including the Persecution of Gordon Welchman

4 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars History Plus Insight = Future Themes,

April 8, 2000
Nigel West
Nigel has given us a lovely history, and also drawn out a number of themes that have meaning for the future. For instance, the superiority of amateurs from the ham radio ranks over the so-called professional military communications personnel, in the tricky business of breaking patterns and codes; the many “human in the loop” breaks of otherwise unbreakable technical codes, from the Italians with hemorrhoids (not in the code book, spelling it each day broke the code) to the careless Russians. He also touches on security cases in both the U.S. and England. In his conclusion, one sentence jumped out at me: “The old spirit of RSS, with its emphasis on voluntary effort, has been replaced by a bureaucracy of civil servants who preferred to stifle, rather than encourage, initiative.” As the current Director of NSA has discovered, NSA today is in mental grid lock, and its culture is oppressive in the extreme.
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