Frantz Fanon: The Militant Philosopher of Third World Revolution
Even though he died at a young age, in his 30s, the work of Frantz Fanon had a big impact in the revolutions that ended colonialism; and is still cited and referred to by radicals and leftists against modern day neo-imperialism and other forms of struggle. While this is not just a strict biography, his short life would work against that, this book is more of looking at how his life and his writings intersected and influenced each other. It also examines the impact he had on other’s thinking in the immediate years after his death. The organizations that rose in Algeria to overthrow the French show how far his thinking and influence went for someone who died from cancer at such a young age.
This is an interesting work in that the author puts Frantz Fanon into his context of his time and place. From the experience of racism in France as a student, to trying to help the people of Algeria against that same racism and how it came to define him and his writings. While mostly known to academics, hopefully this book will keep his memory alive.
Prisoners of Hope: Lyndon B. Johnson, the Great Society, and the Limits of Liberalism
Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society tends to get lost in the shuffle in the tumult of the 1960’s. Johnson took the country’s helm after the assassination of JFK in 1963, his pursuit of victory in Vietnam tends to overshadow any legislative gains he might have made. Randall Woods’ book looks to right that. The Great Society was an attempt to tackle various issues: Civil Rights, Medicare, Poverty….Issues that mattered to a majority of the population, but tended to be ignored by those that could make the major changes. Johnson utilized his own advisers, Walter Jenkins, Jack Valenti, Horace Busby along with JFK men like Richard Goodwin & Arthur Schlesinger to craft laws that would change the status quo. Johnson’s legislative push would start to make an impact in early 1964 with the Economic Opportunity Act, he cast the passage of Civil Rights legislation as a moral issue in order to defeat the racist Southern Senators who blocked any attempts at changing the order of things. Johnson would attempt to unify Republicans in getting bills passed.Johnson would be successful in passing some of the legislation, but would be forced to deal with the deepening quagmire that was Vietnam along with a fractured country that was divided on Race, Class lines. His victories would ultimately be undone by the defeats. But should his progress be deterred by urban unrest and an unwinnable war?
Randall Woods’ subject matter is not so much Lyndon Johnson as it is a particular time period: 1963-1968. This passage of time would see assasinations, riots, war, poverty, conservatism/liberalism, good/bad. Lyndon Johnson was seen as the puppetmaster of both…..Doing some good, but not enough. Any good being torn asunder by the war in Southeast Asia. Woods doesn’t paint a halo around Johnson, but does give a second look at the troubled 36th President and what he aimed to do.
The Secret World of Oil
Oil is the backbone of our modern world, an industry of hundreds of billions of dollars. And, where there is that kind of money, there is corruption. Lots of it. The Secret World of Oil chronicles the types of players in this worldwide game, through brief portraits of some of the main ones. There are ‘fixers’, those who put the right people in touch with each other to get deals made; ‘gatekeepers’, who, with the proper payoff, will open doors to access new territories; traders and lobbyists. Of course there are the filthily rich dictators, impoverishing their countries while taking a personal cut of the oil companies’ money. And all sorts of hangers-on who, because of their political connections, are courted by the oil industry for favors and good press. Excellent investigative journalism and clear, cogent writing expose the sordid backroom dealings and entanglements. The adage ‘it’s not what you know, but who‘, has never been more true. And the costs to ordinary citizens and taxpayers are huge. This book is an essential read – entertaining, enlightening, and infuriating.
The Annoyed Voter’s Guide to 2014 & 2015
The Annoyed Voter’s to 2014 & 2015 speaks for itself. One of a handful of voter guides available for American voters, Wilcox’s concise handbook goes beyond the essential electoral politics leading up to the 2016 presidential election by addressing the concern of many Americans who wonder “where this country is heading in the near-and-also-distant future.”
Political blogger (FairPayNow.org) Anthony Wilcox may consider himself “both a humble fellow citizen and a concerned American voter.” But Wilcox, who holds a M.A. in Political Science, has a way with words that are reminiscent of something one would hear on the Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert shows. Barring vulgarity, Wilcox is, in his own right, a pundit whose political analyses and predictions not only speak to older voters, but also to disheartened college students who have been waiting for their turn to make a difference in Washington, only to observe complete chaos among the nation’s leaders.
Wilcox’s approach is a bit different from a lot of analysts who look to 2010 “as a sign of things to come for Democrats in 2014.” And although he doesn’t disagree with their results, Wilcox chooses to focus on 2006 (the final midterm before the end of George W. Bush’s Presidency) and 1998 (during Bill Clinton’s administration). Wilcox sees these years as “true equivalents to 2014. As he states, “after six years in power, even popular Presidents have faded often into becoming ‘just another one of those guys…'” But added to the national mood that seems to be going against President Obama and his Party, Wilcox doesn’t anticipate districts shifting over to the Democrats anytime soon.
While covering a detailed alphabetical 2014 state-by-state election analysis, Wilcox saves the most critical state, Illinois, for last. Not that political corruption isn’t existent elsewhere in the U. S. of A., Illinois is known for being a hotbed for dirty business – thus its nickname, The Windy City. This segues nicely into gubernatorial races and mayoral and municipal elections in a handful of states and cities, respectively. His predictions, unsurprisingly, do not paint a stunning picture for those rooting for the Democrats. Nonetheless, Wilcox keeps his narrative flowing by including his list of potential presidential candidates and possible contenders for both parties. Indeed, an interesting mix of both men and women!
Wilcox winds down his guidebook by taking a stark look at the issues that have been and will continue to affect the American people. Current issues include same-sex marriage, Edward Snowden and national privacy, income inequality, gun control, Ferguson and other race relations, the recent immigration trends, global warming, campaign finance reform, and voter suppression. Older issues that just keep evolving year after year include foreign policy, religion and violence – particularly with Islam (which is ironic since most Muslims are peaceful people), marijuana legalization (which seems to have been going on forever), and a real oldie – one that would make Susan B. Anthony turn in her grave – women and minorities in American politics.
In closing, Wilcox includes open letters to both the Democratic and Republican parties. He not only reminds them of their incredible and invaluable history in this country, but also challenges them (especially to John Boehner) to take a good look at their present images and turn their lack of effectiveness back into a strong and vital operational component that supports the American people. Most importantly, Wilcox suggests to voter readers that while the world is constantly changing, they need to do more than just show up at the polls every few years. He includes a slew of activities to keep them from becoming cynical and dropping out of the voting arena altogether.
A great resource, The Annoyed Voter’s Guide to 2014 & 2015 can offer positive direction and a bit of hope for young and seasoned voters during these trying times.
The Devil Inside the Beltway: The Shocking Expose of the US Government’s Surveillance and Overreach Into Cybersecurity, Medicine and Small Business
In 2008, Michael Daugherty, CEO of LabMD, a private Atlanta-based cancer detection facility, received a call from Tiversa, a Pittsburgh-based data security firm, stating that they had obtained a 1,718-page patient health information file belonging to LabMD through a peer-2-peer (P2P) network. Tiversa wasn’t about to divulge any further information about its acquisition until LabMD bought into their unsolicited lawyer-fee services. Daugherty had no idea that his polite refusal to Tiversa’s assistance would lead to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and thereby thrusting him into a nightmarish four-year journey Inside the Beltway – “an idiom used to characterize matters that seem to be important primarily to U.S. federal government officials, its contractors, lobbyists, and the corporate media who cover them, as opposed to the interests and priorities of the general U.S. population.” (Edited from Wikipedia).
Written with a “Jon Stewart flair” minus the colorful metaphors, Daugherty’s satirical humor isn’t simply for the sake of satire. He narrates a story that could easily be mistaken for conspiracy theory. If it wasn’t for the copious amounts of well-documented information directly connected with the ridiculously superfluous process that he had to undergo with the FTC, as well as the company’s development funds that were drained to cover traveling expenses, court costs, and the myriad of lawyers hired in an effort to, as Daugherty puts it, “make them (the FTC) go away,” Daugherty could quickly be labeled a nut case.
The Devil Inside the Beltway is not limited to Daugherty’s harrowing story. It is replete with enough factual information about the FTC that would make our Founding Fathers voluntarily turn in their graves just to hide their utter shame over a system they painstakingly sculpted that has gone awry. As of January 29, 2014, Daugherty announced on his blog (http:michaeljdaugherty.com/) that “the debilitating effects of the FTC investigative practices and litigation have forced him to wind down operations” at LabMd. His story, which has “transcended” his own personal troubles and now turned him into a whistleblower, is not over. “What started with a phone call from Pennsylvania has turned into a call for action.” We will have to see what form that action takes.
The Beltway Beast
According to a Gallup poll in October 2013, only 26% believe that two major parties adequately represent Americans, and 60% of Americans think a third party is needed. This book is designed to be a platform for the 74% of Americans who are yearning for an option outside of the two-party monopoly.
And so, Munir Moon succinctly states the purpose for his excellent, thoughtful book. There is a bit of a trend recently in books that look to re-invent the clearly flawed political systems in the Western democracies. (You may disagree with that statement, or at least the latter part of it, but do keep reading.) As I write this review, the number one best-seller in the UK is Russell Brand’s Revolution. Brand calls for a boycott of all established institutions, including a refusal to cast votes in elections contested among elite parties. So in many ways, both Moon and Brand are coming from the same place while heading in only slightly different directions.
Let’s get back to that flawed political system. Writing before the 2014 mid-term elections, Moon notes the following:
– Women represent 51% of the population but made up only 20% of the Senate and 18% of the House in 2013.
– African-Americans comprise 15% of the population, but there was only one black elected US senator in 2013, and only five African-Americans have been elected to the US Senate since this country was founded.
– There were only three Latino senators in 2013, all of them men.
– Sixty-seven percent of senators are millionaires.
– The average age of a senator is sixty-two years, while the median age in America is only thirty-seven.
– Seven of the top ten counties with the nation’s highest household incomes are located in the Washington Beltway.
I’d call that flawed. How about you? Furthermore, Moon brings this to our attention:
“Then there is the issue of overseas military bases that we maintain at a cost of about $102 billion annually, or about $1 trillion over 10 years. Germany alone has 227 US bases, which may have been justified during the Cold War, but why now?”
I cannot over-stress the quality of Moon’s research. To cite just one example, he takes apart Obamacare for being what it is: a giant transfer of capital from the public sector (that would be the American taxpayer) to the already wealthy insurance companies. Moon instead advocates for an idea called the Smart Patient Credit, which would empower consumers by giving them all price options and rewarding them for making the most economical choice. To be frank, I am still an advocate for the Single Payer system, however Moon must be applauded for at the very least provoking discussion.
This book needs to be not just read, not just shared, but acted upon immediately. The Beltway Beast is vital in these times.