Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Obama, US Continue to Reap Trillions and Condemn Africa to Climate Catastrophe

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With humanity at risk and Africa facing “incineration,” the United States opted for “disaster capitalism” at the global climate conference, last week. “President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Copenhagen to end any possibility of a global agreement on greenhouse gasses that the rich nations would be bound to respect.”

 

Obama, US Continue to Reap Trillions and Condemn Africa to Climate Catastrophe

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The United States went to Copenhagen intent on imposing a ‘disaster capitalism’ regime on the poor nations of the planet.”

The United States, having reaped more benefits than any other nation from the industrial warming of planet Earth, now seeks to turn the resulting global disaster to its own advantage – or, more precisely, to the advantage of the U.S.-based, amoral, world-annihilating corporate class.

In Copenhagen last week, the Obama administration destroyed any chance of averting catastrophe in Africa and the developing nations of the global South. Temperatures will be allowed to rise 2 degrees Celsius on average, which translates to three and a half degrees in the hotter latitudes. As a consequence, said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Africa is the be condemned “to incineration and no modern development.”

What development does occur would be at the pleasure of the United States and Europe. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Copenhagen to end any possibility of a global agreement on greenhouse gasses that the rich nations would be bound to respect. Obama administered the coup de grace to the Kyoto accords, extinguishing all hope of an international agreement that respects the rights of all nations to develop their economies within a binding framework that protects everyone’s interests. Instead, the United States imposed its own take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum: accept the inevitability of catastrophe in Africa and across the global South. And also accept that the U.S. and its corporations will dictate how the developing world will be allowed to grow its economies. Refuse, and the uppity poor countries will be cut off from the rich man’s “aid.”

“While Africa burns, Washington gives up nothing in terms of binding commitments.”

This is “disaster capitalism” in its most hellish form. The term was coined by political writer Naomi Klein in 2005, to describe how the International Monetary Fund induced or exploited economic disasters in the Third World and then forced poor countries to surrender their national sovereignty in order to be eligible for loans and “aid” from the rich countries. The aim was to make it impossible for poor countries to control their own economic and political destinies.

The United States went to Copenhagen intent on imposing a “disaster capitalism” regime on the poor nations of the planet. While Africa burns, Washington gives up nothing in terms of binding commitments. Instead, the U.S. offers – but does not guarantee, or even promise – to create a special fund, possibly eventually amounting to $100 billion, from which “aid” will be doled out. The rich nations will determine who gets a piece of the global warming aid pie, and under what terms. The Americans insist that some of the money will come from private sources, rich corporations that are answerable to no one but their own greedy selves – which means western businessmen will determine how Africa and the global South will be allowed to develop under conditions of climate change. The U.S. reserves the right to make separate deals with favored nations, that is, countries whose leaders surrender their national destiny to the developmental wishes of the West.

Disaster capitalism holds the most vulnerable of the world’s people hostage to imperial blackmail at the hour of the planet’s greatest peril. It is a crime against humanity, and most grievously, a crime against Africa. How ironic that the chief perpetrator of the crime is himself a son of Africa.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20091223_gf_ClimateCapitalism.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:41am EDT

What Part of “We Need Jobs” Does Obama Not Get?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is as if Americans have lost the very language of social justice. The Congressional Black Caucus, finally in a mood to confront the White House on the jobs issue, find themselves having to explain that legislators have a “moral obligation” to fight for their constituents' interests. Meanwhile, “President Obama treats every appeal for attention to Black unemployment as if it is an unreasonable, or even illegal, demand.”

 

What Part of “We Need Jobs” Does Obama Not Get?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The nation's first Black president bristles at every suggestion that gross racial inequalities call for executive and legislative action.”

There is no greater testimony to the vast amount of ground Black America has lost over the past three decades, than the Congressional Black Caucus’s recent press conference on the need for jobs and elementary fairness in the current economic crisis. Caucus chairperson Barbara Lee began with a brief outline of the long-standing – and, in some cases, worsening – economic disparities that afflict African Americans, facts that are well known to the White House and congressional leadership, to whom the Caucus’s appeal was directed. The Black lawmakers found it necessary to point out that they are “morally obligated to address these systemic inequalities” – obligations that President Obama has categorically rejected on numerous occasions, invoking the rich man’s slogan, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

A generation ago, such reactionary nonsense would have been met with wholesale denunciation in Black political circles. But as we begin the second decade of the 21st century, a Black Democrat in the White House can get away with speaking like Ronald Reagan, while Black members of Congress are compelled to present moral justification for seeking redress of economic injustices.

Forty years ago, a Republican president, Richard Nixon, would have felt quite comfortable agreeing with the Black Caucus' concerns about economic fairness. Yet today, the nation's first Black president bristles at every suggestion that gross racial inequalities call for executive and legislative action.

“As we begin the second decade of the 21st century, a Black Democrat in the White House can get away with speaking like Ronald Reagan.”

So great is the weight of decades of right wing assaults on the very idea of economic parity among the races, Black congresspeople feel the need to repeatedly emphasize that they are not proposing racial formulas for job creation, but programs based on need – on the principle that those who have been harmed the most, should be targeted for greater assistance.

“We’re not talking about race,” said chairperson Barbara Lee. “We’re talking about the hardest hit.” And in fact, the United States Congress has never funded a program to create “Black” jobs, but rather, they have created jobs in urban America and jobs for residents of areas with high levels of poverty.

President Obama treats every appeal for attention to Black unemployment as if it is an unreasonable, or even illegal, demand. To be blunt, he sounds just like those professional white racists that make their livings claiming Blacks seek new and special privileges, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Black Caucus proposes to bring back jobs programs from the Seventies. Detroit's Carolyn Kirkpatrick would like to see the rebirth of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act – CETA – and Representative John Conyers would reinvigorate the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, which has been on the books, but unfunded, for over 30 years. No one is talking about reinventing the wheel, in jobs creation. For two generations, during every election cycle, Blacks have demanded a Marshal Plan to combat unemployment in the cities, where it just so happens that most Black people live. Every election cycle, that is, until the last one, when Black politicians made no demands whatsoever on candidate Barack Obama. Black America is now paying the cost of giving Obama a free pass.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091223_gf_CBCJobs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:18am EDT

Paul Krugman's Blind Spot For Corporations, and For Obama

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

At times of acute crisis, the oppressed and exploited find out who their real friends are. Old political labels become useless, as do former allies. Paul Krugman is the resident “liberal” on the New York Times op-ed page. But what use are his analyses if the economic and political predations of corporations aren't even part of the equation.

 

Paul Krugman's Blind Spot for Corporations and Obama

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“What kind of liberal gives a 40-minute talk on political economy without once uttering the word “corporation?”

The center of gravity of U.S. politics has lurched so far to the Right, the term “liberal” has lost all meaning. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a Princeton University professor and winner of a Nobel Prize in economics, is almost universally described as a liberal. But what kind of liberal gives a 40-minute talk on political economy without once uttering the word “corporation?”

Krugman was the featured speaker at a lecture held each year at New York City’s Baruch College in honor of Dr. Donald H. Smith, an esteemed Black educator and political activist who is also a great friend of mine, and of Black Agenda Report. The house was packed with Dr. Smith’s many admirers plus lots of folks eager to hear Krugman’s analysis of current affairs.

Krugman began his talk – appropriately, given the occasion – with some general thoughts on the politics of race. The United States, he said, is “not a normal advanced country” because such countries at least provide their citizens with basic health care, protect workers’ rights, and attempt to “curb extreme poverty.” The reason the United States is behind Western Europe and Canada on those points, said Krugman, has everything to do with what he calls “our original sin…slavery.”

This is an elemental truth that most white Americans find difficult to accept, unlike Krugman. So I suppose that puts him in the “socially liberal” category. And I guess that Krugman’s general support for workers’ rights, health care and anti-poverty programs qualifies him as some kind of liberal, at least by the backward standards of the United States which, as he said, is not a “normal advanced country.”

“There will be no second stimulus to help working people because that's not who Obama works for.”

But if that's all we can expect from Krugman's brand of liberalism, one must question his usefulness. In his area of expertise, Krugman whitewashes President Obama’s economics team, led by the same Clinton bankster operatives that the laid groundwork for the 2008 crash.  Former Treasury Secretaries Larry Summers and Robert Rubin and current Treasury chief Timothy Geithner are ”not stupid or corrupt” men, said Krugman, they're just “too close to Wall Street” and “not in touch with the public.” Krugman appeared sincerely startled that the Administration shows “an almost total unwillingness to appeal to the popular backlash” against the banks. He wishes Obama would push for another big economic stimulus to create jobs, but despairs of that happening. “The financial system,” in Krugman's expert opinion, “has become a ward of the state.”

The 56-year-old Nobel laureate is incapable of adding up political facts to reach obvious conclusions. No, Larry Summers and Co. are not stupid, they are cold-blooded operatives in Wall Street's successful criminal enterprise to transfer trillions into the pockets of the banking mafia. Obama is the indispensable “inside man” for the heist. There will be no second stimulus to help working people because that's not who Obama works for. The financial sector is not a “ward of the state” – it has swallowed the state, whole! And a man that spends the better part of an hour talking political economy without once saying the word “corporation,” as did Krugman, is either sworn to some kind of blood oath of silence, or totally irrelevant to the crisis at hand. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091216_gf_KrugmanLiberals.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:44am EDT

No Reparations For Killing The Planet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Even as the world approaches “the end-game of human existence,” brought on by centuries of exploitation of man and nature, the chief polluters and oppressors demand impunity from past and current crimes. The U.S. categorically rejects the “notion” of payback for global warming.

 

No “Reparations” for Killing the Planet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Those who profited so richly from the human and environmental disasters they inflicted are guilty of depraved indifference – crimes against nature and their own species.”

For the moment, forget about the lofty rhetoric spouted by the 100 heads of state gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, including the carefully crafted words of President Barack Obama. As far as the Lords of Capital are concerned, the conference isn’t really about mitigating the unfolding climatic catastrophe, the facts of which are well known. The real object of the Copenhagen conference is to determine who gets the power to shape the developmental model of the planet over the next half century.

With continued U.S. global supremacy in mind, the chief American negotiator attempted to set the terms of debate early on, rejecting out of hand any notion that the United States owes reparations to poor nations for its huge contribution to global warming over the last couple of centuries. “For most of the 200 years since the Industrial Revolution,” said U.S. diplomat Todd Stern, “people were blissfully ignorant of the fact that emissions caused a greenhouse effect.” Ignorant or not, the industrialized nations of Europe and the United States were certainly blissful about the profits they made at the expense, not only of the Earth’s material resources, but also from the super-exploitation of the non-white peoples of the world. The two exploitations – of human beings and nature – are historically inseparable, like the conquest of the America’s and the death of 90 percent of the western hemisphere’s inhabitants; like the rape of Africa’s resources and the enslavement of its people. These are the twin pillars of a 500-year project to elevate a small percentage of the world’s population to global supremacy at the expense of everyone else, and of the planet, itself. At the very least, those who profited so richly from the human and environmental disasters they inflicted along the way, are guilty of depraved indifference – crimes against nature and their own species.

The real object of the Copenhagen conference is to determine who gets the power to shape the developmental model of the planet over the next half century.”

Even as they plead ignorance – and, therefore, innocence – of past crimes, these same Euro-American powers are determined to remain on top under conditions of global warming.

That's why the Americans, in particular, are attempting to create a New World Industrial Order without a treaty that will bind both large powers and weaker ones under an enforceable contract. Capital, centered in the West, seeks to extend its power deep into the 21st century based on the rule of money. That's why the United States resists efforts to build on and strengthen the Kyoto Treaty on global warming, which the United States has never ratified. And that's why a delegate to the Copenhagen conference from Mali said, last week, that “the killing of the Kyoto Protocol...will mean the killing of Africa.”

The United States prefers that rich nations contribute a relatively puny amount of money – starting off with $10 billion or less – as “aid” to the developing world, and that the rich nations exercise controls over how developing countries spend these funds.  It is nothing less than an effort to turn a global nightmare to the advantage of the United States. At the same time, the Americans are busy trying to cut their own separate deal with China, one they hope will make the U.S. and Chinese economies symbiotic for the next 40 or 50 years, and to hell with the rest of the planet. We are witnessing disaster capitalism being played out, even as we enter the possible end-game of human existence. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091216_gf_ClimateReparations.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:43am EDT

"Progressives For Obama" Change Name To Omit the President

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It has taken almost a year for “Progressives for Obama” to make a partial break with their former object of adulation, proof that groupie-love is a powerful emotion. “Two of the founding members, Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden, are making uncharacteristically loud anti-Obama noises and acting as if they played no role in convincing Obama that he could make war and serve corporate interests to his heart’s content, without fear of any trouble from the Left.”

 

Obama’s “Progressives” Do a Name Change

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Even the president’s most loyal sycophants on the Left are running for cover.”

The organization formerly known as “Progressives for Obama” has changed its name. After almost a year of President Obama’s massive transfers of the people’s wealth to Wall Street, his escalation of U.S. wars in South Asia, his shameless alliance with insurance and drug corporations, and his callous disregard for Depression-level Black unemployment, even the president’s most loyal sycophants on the Left are running for cover. It’s not a pretty sight.

“Progressives for Obama” are now calling themselves “Progressive America Rising.” Two of the founding members, Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden, are making uncharacteristically loud anti-Obama noises and acting as if they played no role in convincing Obama that he could make war and serve corporate interests to his heart’s content, without fear of any trouble from the Left. They had his back.

The left-wing Obamites were the nastiest of all. They viciously libeled anyone that advanced a Left critique of their hero, calling them enemies of a new “people’s movement,” when in fact it was they who were shutting the movement down in favor of a fan club and cheering section for Obama. Amiri Baraka spit poison at all who failed to pledge allegiance to the Great Obama, calling us infantile ultra-leftists and just plain “rascals.” Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden stuck with Obama like little sorcerer’s apprentices as the president methodically savaged virtually every item on the progressive agenda. What else could they do? To break with Obama would amount to an admission that they were wrong about the progressive “potential” of their candidate; that he had always been a thoroughly corporate politician who would lurch to the Right as soon as he took office; and that, by failing to criticize Obama early in the campaign, they were guaranteeing that he would disrespect and ignore Blacks and progressives, once in office.

“Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden stuck with Obama like little sorcerer’s apprentices as the president methodically savaged virtually every item on the progressive agenda.”

Tom Hayden now declares it's finally “time to strip the Obama sticker” off his car.  Well, whoopee. Back in the day, Hayden would have been expected to engage in some serious self-criticism for misleading so many people about Obama. The same goes for Bill Fletcher, who appeared on a Pacifica radio show last week sounding like he'd never been an Obama fan. Fletcher said it was inappropriate for the Nobel committee to award Obama the Peace Prize when the president had done nothing to cause a “fundamental shift” in U.S. foreign policy. You can't influence a president of the United States to do the right thing, Fletcher said, by giving him awards in hopes that he will earn them. But that's exactly what Fletcher and his fellow Obama fanatics tried to pull off when they endorsed candidate Obama on a wish and a prayer when there was no reason to believe he would undertake any “fundamental shift” in U.S. foreign or domestic policy. As a result, the Left played no role whatsoever in the 2008 election. They just blew kisses at Obama, hoping he'd kiss them back after the inauguration.

Fletcher and Hayden now say it's time to crank up the people's Movement machine and get back to the business of speaking Truth to Power. Which is all perfectly true. However, Tom Hayden and Bill Fletcher and the rest of the “Progressives for Obama” clique should first demonstrate that they have recovered their faculties before assuming any leadership role in a revived Movement. The last time they were near a Movement, they shut it down, and went to the Obama party, instead.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091216_gf_ObamitesNameChange.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:37am EDT

Civil Rights Division To Clean Up After 8 Years of Bush

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Bush's minions behaved like vandals in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, trashing the very concept of equal protection under the law. But the white backlash did not begin with Bush. Civil rights has been “in a state of arrested development for over 40 years.”

 

Civil Rights Division To Clean Up After 8 Years of Bush

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Bush packed the Civil Rights Division with right-wing lawyers and administrators determined to erase even the most elementary gains made by minorities.”

The Obama administration has accomplished one solid achievement that may go down in the history books as at least a partial reversal of fortune for racial minorities in the United States. For eight long years, the Bush administration waged vicious political warfare against the very concept of civil rights, as we had come to understand it in America. Equal protection under the law became a dead letter in the U.S. Justice Department, whose Civil Rights Division was transformed into a bulwark of white male supremacy and petty reaction. George Bush’s racist appointees not only refused to enforce the Voting Rights Act and laws against race and sex discrimination in employment, they packed the Civil Rights Division with right-wing lawyers and administrators determined to erase even the most elementary gains made by minorities. Sincere civil rights lawyers were virtually barred from employment, vilified and scorned as “communists” who carried around copies of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. George Bush fought to allow the Religious Right to use federal money to discriminate. He cut the number of voting and employment rights lawsuits in half, and transformed the Civil Rights Division into a nexus of civil wrongs.

Eric Holder, President Obama’s choice as the first Black U.S. Attorney General, promised he would put the Justice Department back in the business of civil rights. In September, he announced plans to hire an additional 50 civil rights lawyers. And at congressional hearings last week, Holder’s department agreed to take measures to ensure that civil rights complaints are systematically addressed.

“Equal protection under the law became a dead letter in the U.S. Justice Department.”

All this is very good news, but it needs to be put in historical perspective. The rollback in civil rights did not begin with George Bush. The white backlash against the gains of the Sixties erupted before the ink was dry on civil rights legislation and court rulings. The backlash was in full fury when Ronald Reagan chose to announce his 1980 presidential candidacy in Neshoba County, Mississippi, site of the murder of three civil rights workers, only 16 years before. Republicans, and lots of Democrats, have been trying to make civil rights a dirty word, ever since. They have certainly succeeded in narrowing the scope of what we mean when we say civil rights.

Long before George Bush entered the White House, the non-stop white backlash had prevented full enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was designed to prevent the use of federal funds in ways that discriminate. A Justice Department Civil Rights Division that was true to the spirit of Title VI would act against discrimination everywhere it involves federal funding: environmental racism, health care disparities, the entire range of institutionally racist realties that plague Black and brown lives while aided and abetted with tax dollars. Such a civil rights agenda would move most urgently against mass Black incarceration, which literally steals Black lives and liberties by the millions.

Civil rights, as a political issue, has been in a state of arrested development for over 40 years. Its reawakening will require another mass movement, not just a changing of the guard at the U.S. Justice Department.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091209_gf_JusticeDept.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:20am EDT

Fed Fight Could Build a Movement Against Bailout, Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Nothing on the calendar of Congress, and no campaign from the grassroots, has anything approaching the potential of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to focus public anger on Wall Street and its allies in the White House and on Capitol Hill.” If the public only knew the dimensions of the largest transfer of wealth in human history, they would turn on the banksters with tooth and claw.

 

Fed Fight Could Build a Movement Against Bailout, Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Now, like in 2008, Obama and the bankers, including the Federal Reserve, are joined at the hip.”

The looming battle over the powers of the Federal Reserve and the future of its chairman is the most promising opportunity yet to grow a “movement” to prevent Wall Street from swallowing up what’s left of the U.S. state. A bill to require a detailed audit of the Federal Reserve has garnered over 300 co-sponsors in the U.S. House and 30 supporters in the Senate. The legislation draws on the same diverse constituencies that almost defeated the bankers' bailout in the autumn of 2008: Wall Street's traditional enemies on both the Left and the Right. So beholden has the Democratic Party become to the finance capitalist classes, the Obama administration is the staunchest defender of the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Ben Bernanke. That should be no surprise. Barack Obama was the banksters' indispensable ally in the original $700 billion bailout, and in moving the $23 trillion ocean of money that was subsequently made available to Wall Street, much of it by the Federal Reserve. Now, like in 2008, Obama and the bankers, including the Federal Reserve, are joined at the hip – or the hip pocket.

Libertarian Republican Ron Paul is the guiding personality in the House for the bill to audit the Fed. On paper at least, a majority of House members support the legislation, including progressive stalwarts like Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers and other prominent members of the the Congressional Black and Progressive Caucuses. The bill easily passed the House Financial Services Committee, last week. The measure will have a much rougher time in the Senate, where Independent Bernie Sanders is the point man. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats but calls himself a democratic socialist. The Senate rules make it difficult to pass legislation without bipartisan support, but relatively easy for even an individual senator to block legislation and nominations. Senator Sanders has vowed to block Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke's bid for another term until the audit bill is allowed to come to a vote.

“The legislation draws on the same diverse constituencies that almost defeated the bankers' bailout in the autumn of 2008.”

Nothing on the calendar of Congress, and no campaign from the grassroots, has anything approaching the potential of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to focus public anger on Wall Street and its allies in the White House and on Capitol Hill. More than the prospects for actual passage, the debate that is likely to be generated by the bill would force the corporate media to report on the real facts of the much larger, multi-trillion of dollar bailout engineered by the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration – information about which the public is almost totally ignorant.

Popular opposition to the bailout – and therefore, to the rule of Wall Street – can only grow in intensity as debate over the Federal Reserve Transparency Act heats up, and as the facts of the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world become known. The banking class is deservedly hated, and anyone that stands between them and an enflamed public is going to get burned. That means Barack Obama and his chosen economic advisors and operatives Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner – and, of course, Ben Bernanke, Obama's buddy at the Federal Reserve.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.


Direct download: 20091209_gf_FedBillBernanke.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:18am EDT

Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Congressional Black Caucus agonizes as the accumulated miseries of their constituents force Black lawmakers to put distance between themselves and Wall Street's ally in the White House, Barack Obama. Ten members of the Caucus boycotted a vote on an Obama bill, to show their displeasure. But until they muster the nerve to vote against their president and his bankster friends, they are just shuckin' and jivin'. 

 

Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black and Progressive Caucuses will become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation.”

One can only hide from reality so long, before it catches up and bites you on the butt. The Congressional Black Caucus has been pretending that Barack Obama is the best thing to hit Washington for Black folks since the Emancipation Proclamation. It was, of course, deliriously wishful thinking, grounded in no reality whatsoever  – a self-induced illusion initially shared by most African Americans and by legions of Kool-Aid drinkers on the white Left, as well.

Obama has lied about many things. But, to be fair, he never told Black people that he had any intention of tackling the kind of institutional racism that for the last 40 years has made Blacks twice as likely to be unemployed as whites. So, when the president says, as he told reporters last weekend, that he won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment because “it’s a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States,” then no one should be surprised. This is the same guy that declared, 100 days into his presidency, that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and Black folks should just quiet down and wait for the tide.

Unfortunately, Black lawmakers’ constituents have been swamped by the tides of joblessness and home foreclosure. They want their representatives to do something about it – to at least holler when they hurt. Last week, ten members of the Black Caucus staged a demonstration boycott of a committee vote on Obama’s pitifully weak financial regulations bill, which passed anyway.

"Since last September,” said Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “we have continuously voted for bailouts and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business. That stops today." The Black Caucus, said Waters, “can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”

“Obama won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment.”

The statement makes great sense, although it comes rather late. The Black and Progressive Caucuses will only become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation, rather than staging boycotts when it doesn’t much matter. It will be easier to believe that the Black Caucus has wised up to Obama when they vote against funding his wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and against his horrific private insurance bailout bill that masquerades as health care reform.

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, Dean of the Black Caucus, has said the president bows down to “nutty right-wing proposals” on health care, and that he's tired of “saving Obama's can.” Several weeks ago, Conyers got a telephone call from the White House in which the president asked why Conyers was “demeaning” him in public. “Let's talk about it,” said Obama. Conyers says he's in no mood to “chat” with the president, and will put his complaints In writing.

Which is just as well. Obama has shown he is ideologically wedded to “the worldview of Wall Street,” as Congresswoman Waters put it. What the Black Caucus and all progressives will have to learn, is that if you want to fight Wall Street, you're going to have to do battle with Obama. It's way past time to put down the Kool-Aid, and start swinging.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091209_gf_CaucusObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:17am EDT

Rep. John Conyers: “I’m Tired of Saving Obama’s Can”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Periodically, Rep. John Conyers, one of the point-men for single payer health care, vents his frustration with President Obama. But then he, and nearly all the rest of the Progressive Caucus, vote for the president's pro-business legislation, anyway. “Obama would not have had the option of 'bowing down' to the corporations and the 'right-wing nuts' if progressives were not so predictably spineless.”

 

Rep. John Conyers: “I’m Tired of Saving Obama’s Can”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“When it comes to playing chicken with the president, Conyers and his cohorts always blink first.”

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, caused a stir last week when he blurted out: "I'm getting tired of saving Obama's can in the White House." Conyers was referring to the fact that he and nearly every other so-called “progressive” in Congress had swallowed whatever few milligrams of pride they still had left to vote for President Obama’s putrid health care legislation, on November 7. One can understand why Conyers is tired of buckling under to the White House on health care. The Progressive Caucus has been buckling under to Obama for so long, it’s second nature to them.

Conyers ought to be tired. He and other single payer advocates have been marginalized, shut out and humiliated by the White House ever since Barack Obama set foot in the building. But in the end, they have always wound up supporting the president when it came to the crunch. The pattern is always the same. The progressives bitch and moan and threaten to scuttle the deal between the White House and the drug and insurance corporations – and then, like clockwork, they cave in. With the principled exception of Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the left wing of the U.S. House of Representatives is shakier than Jello. It is no wonder the White House consistently calls their bluff. When it comes to playing chicken with the president, Conyers and his cohorts always blink first.

“In the end, they have always wound up supporting the president when it came to the crunch.”

But the congressman was in a complaining mood, last week. He noted that Obama’s phony health care plan passed by only five votes, and only then because, in his words, “progressives held their nose and voted for the plan anyway." But of course, nobody forced them to capitulate. If there really were an effective progressive caucus in the House, Obama would have had to take their threats seriously. But the White House knows from experience that, in the mouths of Democratic liberals, the word “no” really means “yes.” So Obama’s people routinely brush off progressive protestations, and have their way with them.

Having so easily and repeatedly given in to chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and his White House bully boys, the weak-willed progressives then complain that “nutty” right-wingers are always getting their way with the president. Single payer was “taken off the table from the beginning,” said Conyers. The White House is willing to sign any kind of bill. Their motto is, “give us anything and we will declare victory.”

What Conyers says, is true: Obama will sign anything and call it a new health care millennium. But Conyers and his progressive colleagues have also been willing to sign off on damn near anything. In the process, they have made Obama's strategy possible. Obama would not have had the option of “bowing down” to the corporations and the “right-wing nuts” if progressives were not so predictably spineless.

Conyers pointed out that the Obama bill doesn't even kick in for three years. By that time, said the congressman, “many of the people we are trying to help will be dead.” Unfortunately, on issues of health care, as with questions of war and peace, the Progressive Caucus in Congress is already dead.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_ConyersOnObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:52pm EDT

American Is Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. set the stage for the Afghan (and Pakistan) war eight years ago, when it handed out drug dealing franchises to warlords on Washington's payroll. Now the Americans, acting as Boss of All Bosses, have drawn up hit lists of rival, “Taliban” drug lords. “It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol.”

 

American Is Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists.”

If you’re looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it’s the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

An article in the current issue of Harper’s magazine explores the inner workings of the drug-infested U.S. occupation, it’s near-total dependence on alliances forged with players in the heroin trade. The story centers on the town of Spin Boldak, on the southeastern border with Pakistan, gateway to the opium fields of Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The chief Afghan drug lord is also the head of the border patrol and the local militia. The author is an undercover U.S.-based journalist who was befriended by the drug lord’s top operatives and met with the U.S. and Canadian officers that collaborate with the drug dealer on a daily basis.

The alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban. The Taliban appear to be gaining the upper hand in this Mafiosa gang war, the origins of which are directly rooted in U.S. policy.

“It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade.”

Is it any wonder, then, that the United States so often launches air strikes against civilian wedding parties, wiping out the greater part of bride and groom's extended families? America’s drug-dealing allies have been dropping dimes on rival clans and tribes, using the Americans as high-tech muscle in their deadly feuds. Now the Americans and their European occupation partners have institutionalized the rules of gangster warfare with official hit lists of drug dealers to be killed or captured on sight – lists drawn up by other drug lords affiliated with the occupation forces.

This is the “war of necessity” that President Barack Obama has embraced as his own. It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade. Obama's generals call for tens of thousands of new U.S. troops in hopes of lessening their dependency on the militias and police forces currently controlled by American-allied drug dealers. But of course, that will only push America's  Afghan partners in the drug trade into the arms of the Taliban, who will cut a better deal. Then the generals were argue that they need even more U.S. troops.

The Americans created this drug-saturated hell, and their occupation is now doomed by it. Unfortunately, they have also doomed millions of Afghans in the process.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_AfghanDrugs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:50pm EDT

Black Caucus Demonstrates Displeasure with Obama on Jobs, But Avoids Confrontation

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What's a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member to do when he/she is politically wedded to the Black man in the White House who is refusing to do anything substantive to tackle Depression-level African American unemployment? The CBC is approaching the moment when either they confront President Obama, directly, or abandon the pretense of representing their constituents.

 

Black Caucus Demonstrates Displeasure with Obama on Jobs, But Avoids Confrontation

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black Caucus is terrified at the very idea of confrontation with the Corporate-Executive-in-Chief, Barack Obama.”

The Congressional Black Caucus is beginning to panic at the extent of the unemployment crisis, which saw joblessness rise to Depression-levels in African American communities even before last year’s financial crash. Black lawmakers are caught in a bind of their own making. By all rights, they should be the loudest voices in protest of an administration that, at last count, has dedicated $23.7 trillion to rescuing Wall Street from self-inflicted catastrophe, but relies on a mythical “rising tide” to lift their Black constituents out of the jobless spiral. Yet the Black Caucus is terrified at the very idea of confrontation with the Corporate-Executive-in-Chief, Barack Obama.

Last week, members of the Caucus signaled their discomfort with White House jobs policies, by refusing to take part in a committee vote on Obama’s notoriously weak bill to regulate Wall Street. The move forced House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank to postpone the vote until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Frank said the Black lawmakers complained of a “lack of response to the economic situation that is confronting them...." But the chairman added that he didn’t think the Black lawmakers’ action meant they would vote against the finance industry bill when it came up again.

If Barney Frank is correct in his assessment, then the ten Black Caucus members on his committee were simply conducting a demonstration to show their constituents they are at least aware of the problem, but are not necessarily prepared to confront President Obama directly. Earlier in the week, the Congressional Black Caucus had a vigorous exchange about jobs with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. But that was a closed-door meeting.

“The president offered nothing of substance to the unemployed.”

Meanwhile, President Obama, finishing up his trip to China, indicated yet again that his priority is managing the government debt – code words for cutting social spending and blocking programs for job creation. The president offered nothing of substance to the unemployed, aside from tax incentives to corporations for new hiring, and boosting U.S. exports that might trickle down to ease joblessness.

Obama had already served notice that he would not entertain proposals for another economic stimulus at his White House Jobs Forum, next month. This was likely the red flag that prompted the Black Caucus to take some action – symbolically, at least – to indicate their unhappiness.
Democrats in Congress keep telling their constituents they are preparing legislation to tackle unemployment, but their willingness to buck their president is doubtful, and every word out of Obama's mouth is designed to discourage any serious jobs creation bill.

A new report warns that one million workers who are already unemployed will lose their benefits if Congress does not act by the end of December. The cost of extending all federally paid unemployment benefits, is $80 billion, a price tag President Obama is likely to balk at, now that his friends on Wall Street have been, at least temporarily, rescued. The Black Caucus will soon face its moment of truth, when more than a little demonstration will be required on the jobs issue. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford, On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_CBCJobsObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:48pm EDT

U.S. Sows Seeds of Wider War in East Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Like a pyromaniac, the United States threatens ignite to the entire East African region in its campaign to suppress Islamist forces in Somalia. Unable to marshal support for the pitiful puppet regime in Mogadishu, the Americans try to buy ethnic Somali recruits in surrounding countries. A new military offensive is set for late December.

 

U.S. Sows Seeds of Wider War in East Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Americans have organized mass recruitment among the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the fighting to refugee camps in Kenya.”

Somali refugees and ethnic Somali citizens of Kenya are being recruited and trained by the thousands for a U.S.-backed offensive in Somalia, to begin next month. The Associated Press, citing numerous sources among refugees, young men who have deserted from the new militia and their families, local Kenyan officials and foreign diplomats, reports that the offensive against Islamist forces in Somalia is planned for late December, the end of the Somali rainy season. That’s the same seasonal window the Americans took advantage of three years ago, when the U.S. instigated an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia that plunged the country into what the United Nations described as the “worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” That crisis continues, complicated by a severe drought and a U.S. blockade of food aid.

Washingrton supports a puppet government that controls little more than a small corner of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, and would immediately collapse where it not for the protection of Rwandan and Burundian troops that guard the airport. Most of central and southern Somalia is controlled by Islamist Shabab fighters. The U.S. is attempting to starve the region into submission by withholding 40 million pounds of food warehoused in Mombasa, Kenya.

With little support inside Somalia, the Americans have organized mass recruitment among the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the fighting to refugee camps in Kenya – a practice that violates international law. Recruits are also being drawn from ethnic Somalis who are Kenyan citizens, in the northeastern part of the country. The Associated Press has learned of similar recruitment and training in the Somali regions of Ethiopia and Djibouti, where the United States maintains a huge military base.

The recruits are lured into service with promises of $600 a month, but deserters say they are often beaten, ill-fed and unpaid.

“The Americans are fanning the flames of war among Somalia's neighbors – including Kenya.”

The Americans are playing a very dangerous game. In addition to breaking international law and discrediting aid agencies by recruiting among refugees, the U.S. is encouraging a wider conflict in East Africa. Ethnic Somalis dominate in northeastern Kenya, in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and in Djibouti. Ethnic Somalis waged a secessionist war in Kenya in the mid-1960s and continue to resist Ethiopian rule in the Ogaden. According to the Associated Press, recruits in Kenya are deprived of their identification cards and told, “You are not a Kenyan. From this moment, tell yourselves and other people you are a Somali.” Recruiters are apparently doing the same thing among ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The Americans, in their zeal to defeat the Islamist Shabab in Somalia, are encouraging Somali nationalism in neighboring countries, and thus planting the seeds of future wars of secession. Although the U.S. may think that it is turning brother Somalis against one another for U.S. foreign policy purposes, in reality the Americans are fanning the flames of war among Somalia's neighbors – including Kenya. These are the fruits of AFRICOM, the U.S. military's African Command. Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama is destabilizing his father's own homeland, and the whole of East Africa.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091118_gf_KenyaSomalia.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:26pm EDT

The Godfather's Mood Swings: Brothers Karzai and Diem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Superpower gangsters steal whole nations as a matter of routine, but feign shock when their handpicked puppets deal in unlicensed larceny. Hamid and Ahmed Karzai are no more nor less loyal to the American Project – and their own fortunes – than were South Vietnamese President Diem and his brother Nhu, who found themselves expendable 46 years ago this month.

 

The Godfather's Mood Swings: Brothers Karzai and Diem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Freelancing can get you killed by the Boss of All Bosses, in Washington.”

In the last days of 2001, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Americans’ handpicked Hamid Karzai to head that country’s new, puppet government. Eight years later, Washington is blaming Karzai for most, if not all, that has gone wrong with the U.S. occupation. Before and after Karzai’s attempt to rig his re-election, in August, various U.S. generals and politicians – including President Obama – made it clear that they wished Karzai would drop dead or otherwise disappear from the scene. 

The U.S. occupiers seemed to totally miss the irony in the fact that it was they who had rigged Karzai's initial rise to power and subsequent election in 2004. Rigged elections are fine when engineered by the U.S., but when the puppet pulls his own strings, it's a crime.

It is bizarre in the extreme how nation-stealers and occupiers cannot bear to see their own boundless corruption reflected in the faces of their Third World hirelings. Karzai was selected to be the Americans’ front man in Afghanistan precisely because of his advanced criminal skills and total absence of loyalty to his own country. These are the qualities that made him attractive to the Americans in the first place – his willingness to participate in crimes against his own nation, for a price. Freelancing, however, can get you killed by the Boss of All Bosses, in Washington. Such is the law of the imperial gangster jungle.

“Nation-stealers and occupiers cannot bear to see their own boundless corruption reflected in the faces of their Third World hirelings.”

Karzai's brother, Ahmed, has long been rumored to be a major drug lord. He's also the council chief in Kandahar Province, which is the heartland of the Taliban. The Americans pretend that the drug trade is the moneymaker that finances the Taliban, but in fact Afghan heroin has expanded to more than 90 percent of the world market since the Americans and the Karzai brothers took over the country. The same thing happened with Colombian cocaine after the Americans intervened in that country's civil war. The international cocaine and heroin “connections” are actually facilitations of the American government – specifically, the CIA. So, it is hilarious to hear Americans expressing shock and disgust that Karzai brother Ahmed, the reputed drug lord, has been on the CIA's payroll for the last eight years. Well, of course he has! That's what the CIA does. Their modus operandi, throughout the Third World, is to recruit criminal elements to subvert their own countries to America's will. In return, these favored criminals are awarded franchises in the drug trade and other illicit enterprises.

The road to American empire is paved with one criminal enterprise and subversion after another. Two other brothers in service to America come to mind. Ngo Dinh Diem became the American puppet in South Vietnam when the French were forced out. His brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, became chief of the secret police – the top communist-killer. But by 1963, the two brothers who had served the Americans so loyally, had fallen out of favor. They were killed in an American-backed coup, just three weeks before President Kennedy was himself assassinated. The Karzai brothers in Afghanistan are no doubt aware of the historical parallels. But then, gangsters get into “the life” with their eyes open. The boss can always turn on you – and the Americans usually do. Just ask Saddam Hussein.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091118_gf_KarzaiDiem.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:24pm EDT

Obamacare: Great For Drug Companies, Bad For the Public

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Why are the drug barons planning a $150 million ad campaign boosting Obama's health care scheme? They've got $21 billion worth of reasons – bonus earnings from record price hikes while wheeling and dealing with the White House. Everything the president touches turns to cash – for the corporate sector.

 

White House “Deal” Turns into Bonanza for Drug Industry

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Obama's dealmaking in the White House is nothing less than collusion with the cartel.”

President Obama is very good at talking “the language of the deal.” He made a deal with the the drug cartel this summer, ostensibly to keep drug prices down to reduce the overall cost of health care. The drug companies promised they would cut the prices they planned to charge by about $8 billion a year for the next ten years. Now an analysis for AARP shows the drug profiteers have actually raised prices by more than $10 billion in the last year, an increase of more than 9 percent and the biggest price hike in 17 years.

Good lookin' out out, Obama. Or should I say, Good job of selling out, Mr. President. The drug industry is so happy with the deal it cut with the White House, it's launching a $150 million advertising campaign to boost ObamaCare – a cheap price to pay for yet another Obama bailout of the ruling class, this time for Big Pharma.

At the same time that the industry was pushing up drug prices by 9.3 percent, the price of generic drugs declined by about 9 percent. That means the drug cartel, under cover of Obama's deal, transformed a downward trend in pharmaceutical prices into the biggest price surge since 1992.

And what else is the drug monopoly getting from the dealmaker in the White House? Thirty million new customers, served up on a platter under the banner of health care reform.  This is bait-and-switch with a vengeance. When Obama is the dealmaker, “reform” translates into instant, unprecedented profits for the corporate sector. Under this administration, the words “reform” and “bailout” are virtually synonymous.

“The drug cartel, under cover of Obama's deal, transformed a downward trend in pharmaceutical prices into the biggest price surge since 1992.”

The House version of health care reform, passed on November 7th, calls for $14 billion a year in savings on drugs, but most of those savings have already been gutted by the drug industry. So what did the Democrats accomplish by deferring to the deal struck by the White House? They have made themselves look ridiculous, irrelevant.

The drug industry pulled the same trick back in 2006, when Congress expanded the Medicare subsidized drug program by tens of millions of older people. Back then, Big Pharma seized the opportunity to push prices through the roof. Now they've done it again.

If Barack Obama is not a pro-big business president, then who is? He has guaranteed the drug barons tens of millions of captive customers, shielded the industry from pesky progressives in Congress by cutting a side deal at the White House, and then allowed the corporations to reap a $21 billion boondoggle based entirely on artificially inflated prices.

Why do Americans pay so much more for pharmaceuticals than anyone else on the planet? Because the drug industry is a cartel that sets prices as it sees fit. Barack Obama's dealmaking in the White House is nothing less than collusion with the cartel.

No one questions Barack Obama's intelligence. He is clearly a brilliant man. Therefore, one can only conclude that he is part of the con game. Obama is dealing from the bottom of the deck, passing all the good cards to his corporate partners. And the people get fleeced every time.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091118_gf_DrugPrices.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:18pm EDT

honduran soldiersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
When it comes to Latin America, there is a difference between the Obama and Bush administrations. Bush huffed and puff and blustered while committing aggression against Latin neighbors; Obama smiles and mouths words of peace, and then commits much the same crimes. He is preparing Latin America as the next theater of war.


 U.S. Stomps on Honduran Democracy, Militarizes Colombia
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Obama Administration was playing the international community when it pretended to oppose the June 28 coup against President Manuel Zelaya.”
The “new” face of Barack Obama’s diplomacy in Latin American has become apparent, in the unfolding saga of the coup in Honduras and continuing U.S. militarization of Colombia. It is now perfectly clear that the Obama Administration was playing the international community when it pretended to oppose the June 28 coup against President Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya was kidnapped from his bed by Honduran soldiers, who then stopped at a U.S. airbase before flying their captive into exile. The United States paid lip service to opposing the overthrow of a democratically elected president, but refused to characterize it has a military coup. Instead, Washington cynically allowed the clock to run out on President Zelaya with the coup plotters still in power. Zelaya, who had been holed up in the Brazilian embassy after sneaking back into Honduras, signed an agreement that was supposed to restore him to power as head of a “unity” government, before elections scheduled for November 29. But the coup-makers reneged on the deal, and the Obama Administration has signaled it will accept the results of the elections, even though the vote will be presided over by the same people that staged the coup.
The lesson here is, the U.S. under President Obama is no less determined than President Bush to dominate the peoples of Latin America by brute force. Barack Obama has a great smile and a legendary gift of gab, but he is no more a friend to Latin American democracy than his predecessor. Honduran democrats now say they have no choice but to boycott this month’s elections.
President Obama is no less determined than President Bush to dominate the peoples of Latin America by brute force.”
In Colombia, which is the fourth biggest recipient of U.S. military aid, behind Israel, Egypt and Pakistan, the Obama Administration concluded an agreement to allow unfettered freedom of movement of U.S. troops within the country, and to use Colombian military bases to project American power elsewhere in Latin America. In addition to giving the Americans use of seven military bases and access to civilian airports, the agreement gives American troops immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit on Colombian soil. The Colombian courts have ruled that the agreement is unfairly balanced in favor of the United States, and is actually a treaty that must be approved by the Colombian Congress and constitutional court.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has warned his countrymen to prepare for war with Colombia, whose army is twice the size of Venezuela’s. Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose country the U.S. has attempted to slice into small, more manageable pieces, describes the thousands of additional U.S. troops that will be stationed in Colombia as a “provocation against peace” in the region. Ecuador, another target of U.S. destabilization, believes the agreement is a threat to its national security.
Bolivian President Morales wondered how President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when, in his words, the U.S. “makes everything to promote wars and conflicts.” To justify the award, Morales says Obama should withdraw “all the troops of his country from around the world, support the reestablishment of democracy in Honduras, and lift the economic embargo of Cuba.” That is, indeed, what a peace president would do. But of course, peace is not on the table.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 

 

Direct download: 20091111_gf_HondurasColombia.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 7:03am EDT

somali kidsA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Three years after creating the “worst humanitarian crisis” in Africa by encouraging Ethiopia to invade Somalia, the U.S. now unleashes the food weapon on starving people. “Forty million pounds of American-donated food is sitting in warehouses in Mombasa, Kenya, but U.S. officials won’t allow aid workers to deliver the food to the Somalis that need it.”
U.S. Starves Children in Somali War
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Americans are blatantly using food as a political weapon.”
The United States is waging a war of starvation against the people of Somalia. According to United Nations officials, Washington has interrupted the flow of desperately needed food to Somalia, on the grounds that some of it might find its way into the hands of the Shabab, the Islamists the U.S. calls “terrorists,” but who are winning the war for control of southern and central Somalia.
Forty million pounds of American-donated food is sitting in warehouses in Mombasa, Kenya, but U.S. officials won’t allow aid workers to deliver the food to the Somalis that need it. The Americans are blatantly using food as a political weapon, holding starving people hostage to U.S. political objectives – much like ancient armies did when they laid siege to cities to starve the inhabitants into surrender.
It’s now going on three years since the Americans imposed a living hell on Somalia. In December 2006, the U.S. encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia to crush an Islamist government that had brought a modicum of peace to the country. The invasion created what the United Nations called the “worst humanitarian crisis in Africa” – worse than Darfur. This U.S.-made crisis was worsened by a devastating drought, leaving half the population totally dependent on outside food aid, the largest part of it from the United States. By locking the food up in Kenyan warehouses, “the U.S. government is holding the Somalia relief enterprise…hostage to its counterterrorism policy,” according to a recent issue of Foreign Policy magazine.
The Americans cannot win in any conventional military sense, so they resort to a war of starvation.”
The American puppet government in Somalia controls no more than a few neighborhoods of the capital city, Mogadishu, and its airport. Were it not for massive U.S. arms aid and the protection of Rwandan and Burundian soldiers, the U.S.-backed government would disintegrate. The Americans cannot win in any conventional military sense, so they resort to a war of starvation.
According to a New York Times article, Somali elders report that many children who had been kept alive by food relief are now dying because of the American aid cutoff. The situation is so dire, that only the U.S. food stores in Kenya can reach Somalia in time to stave off a disastrous famine. There are simply no other resources available.
The drought in East Africa has affected U.S. allies and enemies, alike. Ethiopia has made a plea on behalf of 23 million people threatened by drought in the region. And “the worst drought in ten years” has been exacerbated by a huge, artificial rise in food prices caused by speculators, most of them based in the United States and other rich countries.
Thus, Somalia's hungry are battered from three sides: by artificially high food prices, by drought, and by a deliberate U.S. war of starvation. The Obama Administration is determined to make the Somali people scream as punishment for resisting American domination. But starving babies cannot scream. They can't even cry.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20091111_gf_SomaliaFood.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:29am EDT

perfect togetherA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
President Obama’s preference for white billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg over Black challenger Bill Thompson was clear to all. As it turned out, the mayor’s money barely pulled him through. The mildly more progressive candidate could have won, if Obama hadn’t sided with the Filthy Rich. But then, that’s been the story of his presidency.
 
Bloomberg and Obama: Perfect Together
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
For the current Black governor of New York State and the recent Black candidate for mayor of New York City, Barack Obama has been a one-man career wrecking crew.”
Even before Barack Obama captured the Democratic nomination for the presidency, many of his Black supporters were compelled to admit that Obama was not a progressive political leader – that his actual campaign positions, once stripped of lofty rhetoric, were very much compatible with those of his main competitor, Hillary Clinton. Still, masses of African Americans were thrilled at the prospect of a Black man in the White House. Excitement reigned, even among those Blacks that were reconciled to the fact that Obama offered nothing special in terms of programs and policies. Given a choice, however, it was thought better to elevate a Black person to the nation’s highest office. If Obama could break through the highest ceiling, the prospects for all Blacks aspiring to high office would increase. At least, that was the rationale.
But it turns out that Barack Obama has done more to discourage Blacks who aspire to high office, than to encourage them. For the current Black governor of New York State and the recent Black candidate for mayor of New York City, Barack Obama has been a one-man career wrecking crew.
Earlier this year, the president placed the kiss of death on Governor David Paterson’s forehead. Obama alerted newspapers to the fact that he had sent White House emissaries to urge Paterson not seek election, next year. It was, as we described it at the time, “an exercise in sheer political brutality.” Gov. Paterson has so far refused to accept his place in the dustbin of history, where President Obama assigned him, but he has been wounded as only a fellow Black man who happens to be president can wound a “brother.”
Obama at first refused to speak Thompson's name.”
But Obama was not through ruining the political prospects of other African American men who were, in fact, just as politically “centrist” as he is. The president, as Black Agenda Report's Margaret Kimberley put it, treated Bill Thompson, candidate for mayor of New York, “like a leper.” Obama at first refused to speak Thompson's name, saying only, and reluctantly, that he would support the nominee of the party. No one could fail to appreciate Obama's admiration for the incumbent mayor, Michael Bloomberg – a former Republican and current independent whose real political party is the ruling class, of which he is the seventh wealthiest member in the United States.
Bloomberg encouraged the impression that his money made him unbeatable. He spent $157 dollars for each vote to win just 13 percent of the electorate, and beat Thompson by less than 5 percent. When it was over the numbers made clear that the Black candidate, Bill Thompson, could have beaten the white billionaire if Thompson had gotten the vigorous support of the nation's First Black President.
So what, in the end, is Barack Obama good for? Many of his Black supporters conceded early on that Obama could not be expected to champion anything resembling an historically Black agenda on social justice and peace. But most did expect that his election would be a boon for Black office-seekers, in general. Tell that to David Paterson and Bill Thompson.
At last weekend's “Black is Back” demonstration in Washington, marchers chanted “Barack Obama works for the white man.” In New York City's mayoral election, he did precisely that – as an active ally of super-rich white power.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20091111_gf_ObamaBloomberg.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:15am EDT

Obama Hustles the Public For Greedy Private Insurers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It appears that President Obama will soon achieve his health care triumph – and an unmitigated disaster for the public. “Both Clinton and Obama planned to shanghai the vast bulk of the public as captive consumers of the insurance cartel,” but only Obama could have pulled it off. He  is bringing into existence a privatized health care system that will be “nearly impossible to dismantle absent a general political upheaval in the United States.”

 

Obama Hustles the Public for the Insurance Industry

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The insurance industry will emerge vastly more powerful, buttressed by newly-created public-private structures.”

How was it possible, that at the height of the Great Recession, one of the nation’s most despised industries succeeded in getting the United States Congress to force nearly every American citizen to purchase its shoddy and crooked products on pain of penalty of law. The Insurance Industry Bonanza of 2009 could not have happened had Barack Obama not been elected president. It is inconceivable that a President John McCain could have pulled off such a coup, even if he wanted to – which he did not. McCain favored the usual Republican fare: tax credits. But nobody would be forced to sign up with the insurance companies.

No, that was Hillary Clinton’s idea and, as with most issues, she was soon joined by her political twin, Barack Obama. In hindsight, we now see that real health care reform was doomed as soon as the Democratic presidential race narrowed to two candidates. Both Clinton and Obama planned to shanghai the vast bulk of the public as captive consumers of the insurance cartel. But only Obama could have pulled off a miracle for the insurers, mesmerizing the masses into believing he was opposed to corporate dominance of health care even as, one after the other, he struck deals with the drug, hospital and insurance barons – a pact made in Hell that only a popular, sitting Democratic president could have imposed on his congressional party.

The final vote has not been bought or sold but the fix has been in ever since Obama set foot in the White House and immediately went about marginalizing single payer supporters. As Business Week magazine titled its cover story back on August 6, “The Health Insurers Have Already Won.”

The 57 congresspersons that vowed to vote against any health care bill that does not include a “robust” public option, will shrivel to a few handfuls of men and women when the crunch comes – a defeat made more ignominious and unnecessary when it is considered that single payer health care is still supported by two-thirds of the public. However, with the health corporations’ guy in the White House, the country faces years of the “two percent solution” whereby only about 6 million people, or 2 percent of the population under age 65, will belong to the puny, overpriced public plan.

“The Insurance Industry Bonanza of 2009 could not have happened had Barack Obama not been elected president.”

This should have been the year for single payer, or something close enough to it that the real deal might be achieved in another year or two. Some optimistic folks still think real health care reform can be resurrected sometime soon to replace Obama’s disastrous legislation. But that would be extremely difficult. Obama is establishing a private system backed by the federal government that will envelop virtually every citizen. The insurance industry will emerge vastly more powerful, buttressed by newly-created public-private structures nearly impossible to dismantle absent a general political upheaval in the United States.

The Obama bill is not the lesser of evils. It is not a matter of allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. The establishment of a privatized state-backed monopoly on health care is an unmitigated evil that could require a vast movement many years of struggle to reverse.

What, then, has Obama has wrought? He has delivered to the bankers every available bit of the nation's wealth and its full faith and credit. And to the insurance industry he has entrusted the lives of 98 percent of our citizens. All this, in less than a year. Is he not a great man?

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, to to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20091104_gf_ObamaHealthSolution.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:17pm EDT

Black Americans Want Peace, But Black President Wants War

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The historical African American desire for peace clashes with the warlike policies of the first Black president. Something's got to give – and in the end the Black anti-war tradition will make itself dramatically felt. Let's start the process with the Black Is Back rally in Washington, November 7.

 

Black Peace Sentiment and Obama's Wars

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black American image has been tarnished among peace-loving peoples of the planet.”

When the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations rallies this weekend in Washington DC, it will be expressing the sentiments that have historically made African Americans the most anti-war ethnic group in the United States. Black Americans have been most consistently opposed to U.S. military adventures abroad ever since the major polls began tracking Black opinion. Black opposition to the Iraq war registered most strongly in February, 2003, when the U.S. invasion was only a little over a month away. While majorities of white men and more than a third of white women told pollsters they would favor an invasion even if it killed thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, only seven percent of African Americans agreed. Hispanics also opposed the invasion back in 2003, although not nearly so strongly as Blacks.

More than 40 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali opposed the Vietnam War and remained icons in Black America because they reflected the views of large segments of their communities, including majorities of Blacks serving in the military.

The outside world had long recognized that African Americans were historically and politically different than their white fellow citizens. In a dramatic example, Iranian students freed their Black captives, along with females, when they seized the American embassy in 1979.

In succeeding decades, Black warmongers gained high profile positions in U.S. government, most notably Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. General Powell, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the televised face of the first Gulf War. As Secretary of State in 2003, Powell disgraced himself at the United Nations, the Black face of a lying government justifying the coming invasion of Iraq. Condoleezza Rice, while George Bush’s national security advisor, raised the specter of an Iraqi “mushroom cloud” to stampede the nation into war. When Rice succeeded Powell as Secretary of State, she dutifully cited Cuba, Burma, North Korea, Iran, Belarus and Zimbabwe as “outposts of tyranny” in the world, and therefore justifiable targets of the United States.

“Black America is caught in an historical contradiction.”

The Black American image has been tarnished among peace-loving peoples of the planet. Yet African Americans remain largely true to their traditional anti-war politics, despite having given overwhelming support to a Black president who has introduced the largest military budget in history, claimed the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan as his own, further militarized the continent of Africa, and expanded U.S. bases and subversion in Latin America.

Black America is caught in an historical contradiction: It is emotionally invested in the first Black president, even as Barack Obama pursues warlike policies historically opposed by African Americans. It's time to break the spell. The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations begins the process on Saturday, November 7, at Washington DC's Malcolm X Park. It's about time. Hispanics are now slightly more opposed than Blacks to President Obama's troop escalations in Afghanistan, possibly because Latinos now suffer more casualties than Blacks, but more likely because African Americans find it painful to face the fact that the first Black president is a warmonger.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations can be contacted through their web site: http://www.blackisbackcoalition.org/
Direct download: 20091104_gf_BlackIsBackObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:02pm EDT

Hillary Clinton: A Very Ugly American

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Having forced Pakistan to launch a civil war to protect American interests, the U.S. dispatches Hillary Clinton to rub salt in Pakistani wounds. The Anti-Diplomat lectures the locals on tax collection and helping the poor while her government daily violates the country's sovereignty. “Americans believe they are the only nation that deserves to have a sense of dignity – and so they relentlessly strip away the dignity of others.”

 

Hillary Clinton: A Very Ugly American

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Obama administration drapes itself in the ancient, bloody shrouds of 'just wars' and 'necessary wars.'”

If there ever was a country wholly unfit to play the role of global overseer, it is the United States, a nation utterly unequipped to treat other peoples with even the most elemental respect. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strode the Pakistani stage last week, insulting her hosts at every possible opportunity, the very picture of the Ugly American.

Clinton lectured Pakistani businessmen on the laxity of tax collection in their country, and feigned concern for the plight of the poor. It was as if she were a U.S. politician making the rounds of American television talk shows, rather than a visiting diplomat – a foreigner in someone else’s house.

Clinton all but spat upon the hospitality of the host country, a Muslim nation of 176 million for whom hospitality is a cultural obligation. When confronted on her eagerness to critique Pakistani society, Clinton proclaimed that the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan had to be “a two-way street.” But of course, no such street has ever existed between Americans and Pakistanis – and everyone in Pakistan knows it. No Pakistani is touring the United States, commanding U.S. media coverage while pontificating on American corporate greed, economic inequality, or racial injustice. And no Pakistani has the power to demand that Americans plunge the United States into civil war.  Yet that is precisely what the Americans demand from Pakistanis – that they make war on each other, to please the United States.

“Muslim fundamentalist jihad in Afghanistan had three fathers: the United States, Saudi Arabia, and U.S.-backed Pakistani governments.”

The Obama administration drapes itself in the ancient, bloody shrouds of “just wars” and
“necessary wars,” insanely believing it can reinvent history for Pakistanis just as history is routinely revised for the consumption of ultra-gullible Americans. But Pakistanis remember that the U.S. has always supported military regimes that served American global purposes, not the interests of the Pakistani people. They are intimately aware that Muslim fundamentalist jihad in Afghanistan had three fathers: the United States, Saudi Arabia, and U.S.-backed Pakistani governments. And they now see the current Pakistani government and military again bending to America’s will, toy soldiers for foreigners, who hardly protest when U.S. drone aircraft rain down death on Pakistani targets.

Americans believe they are the only nation that deserves to have a sense of dignity – and so they relentlessly strip away the dignity of others. Worse, imperial Americans like Hillary Clinton have not the least sense of loyalty to their dark servants. Even as Pakistani generals ordered their soldiers to kill their own countrymen at United States insistence, Secretary Clinton declared that she believed some Pakistani government officials are aware of where Al Qaeda is hiding, and won't tell.

The British were far better at running empires than the Americans. At least the Brits praised their colonial servants like Gunga Din, who sacrificed their lives for the white man’s sake. Imperial barbarians like Hillary Clinton publicly kick their Gunga Dins, the Pakistani generals, in the backside, and then wonder why the United States is so hated. And that’s one reason why the American empire is doomed.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

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BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091104_gf_HillaryInPakistan.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:57pm EDT

National Wave of Privatization Scandals and Disasters Ignored By Media, Concealed From Public

The total absence of local journalism in many markets, and the fixation of what news reporting there is on a handful of crime and celebrity stories helps conceal from the public the real price of global empire and the Wall Street Bailout, or how the privatization measures widely undertaken by state and local governments to relieve their financial pressure have been a cavalcade of corruption, a cascade of scandal and failure that make the rich even richer and the rest of us... well, you know....

National Wave of Privatization Scandals and Disasters Ignored By Media, Concealed From Public

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

The real costs of the $17 trillion bankster bailout, along with the untold trillions more spent for wars in the Middle East and America's global empire have come home. States and counties can no longer pay for the ordinary functions of government. Cities and towns can't repair streets and bridges, maintain water systems or fund libraries. Since the war and the bailouts are massively unpopular, you could say the ultimate cause of it all is a lack of democracy.

But the solution local and state governments, encouraged by Wall Street and the business class automatically reach for is even less democratic, and far more costly. That so-called solution is privatization of public assets and even the core functions of government.

The public policy information clearinghouse ProgressiveStates.Org has released another update to its ongoing series of analyses on the evils of privatization, including accounts of recent privatization disasters, accounts of some of the true costs of these boondoggles, sweetheart deals and outright thefts, the positive steps some cities and states are taking to undue and prevent future privatizations, along with research tips and talking points for local groups trying to keep public assets functioning and public.

In a political system where the careers of politicians who award and renew the privatization contracts are financed by campaign contributions of the business class, corruption in privatized contracts is automatic and absolute. When politicians sit down to do the deal with contractor/contributors, there's never anybody at the table, or even in the building looking out for the public interest. The result is a never-ending string of privatization-related fraudulent claims, scandals and civic disasters, most of which are ignored by the mainstream news outside the local areas in which they occur.

Thus highway and welfare privatizations in Indiana and Texas, where IBM got itself paid billions of tax dollars to lose records, introduce bureaucratic delays and deny benefits to needy people are practically unknown outside the media markets in which they happened. Likewise with Chicago's 75 year giveaway of its downtown underground garages and parking meters for more than a billion less than their actual worth, a deal the mayor moved through the City Council in only two days. Citizens are of course, suing the city in the attempt to reverse the deal.

But whether we're talking zoos or libraries, custodial services or  youth shelters, , ambulance services, airports, payroll and benefits administration, workmens' comp, elementary and high schools, construction engineering jobs,or entire transit networks privatizations strip assets from the public domain which taxpayers have invested in, sometimes for generations. Privatizations make the assets and their operational data which used to belong to and be operated in the interest of the many, the private property of the few, no longer subject to public scrutiny or oversight. Privatizations are thefts of public assets, pure and simple, which is why they are invariably championed by business schools and chambers of commerce. They make the rich richer, and the rest of us, well, you know.

For more information on what privatizations may be happening in your neck of the woods and how to fight them, visit progressivestates.org.

For Black Agenda Report, this is Bruce Dixon. On the web you can find us at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20091028_bd_privatizations.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:09am EDT

State and Local Democrats From California to New York:  The Standup Party, or the Party of Excuses?

For some time now, many have wondered when or if Congress and the president would ever stand up against Wall Street, the insurance companies, the militarists, gentrifiers and privatizing vampires, and what it might take to make them do it. But if Democrats don't stand up at the state and local level for the interests of ordinary people, why should we expect Democrats in Congress or the White House to be profiles in courage?

State and Local Democrats From California to New York: The Standup Party, or the Party of Excuses?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

When a kidnapper takes hostages and threatens to murder them all unless demands are met, do the good guys arrive and say, OK, OK, we will meet your demands, or maybe half your demands, and you can kill half the hostages? If they do this of course, we have to conclude they are not exactly good guys, and they haven't ridden to anybody's rescue.

When California Republicans earlier this year proposed the cutting of thousands of state jobs, the end of home health care, payless paydays for state and municipal workers, the end to (relative) guarantees of clean water and uncontaminated food and dozens of other vital services, service cuts that cost the literal lives of Californians did that state's Democrats stand up and ride to the rescue? Of course they didn't.

The solution of California Democrats was to propose the same cuts as the Republicans, only a third to half as deep. And that was an initial bargaining position, they were prepared to go higher if need be. They told voters, and the Republicans OK, shoot half the hostages and we can live with it. OK, OK, maybe sixty percent of the hostages but this is as high as we go, absolutely. This is not a heroic picture. This is not a profile in courage. This is not a Democratic party standing up for the interest of ordinary people. It's also nothing new this year, and not at all unique to California. How many of us from Maine to Miami and Mississippi to Montana have held our noses, suppressed our gag reflexes, and perhaps grabbed our ankles while we voted for, or encouraged others to vote for the party of Marginally Less Evil? And how many more times are we prepared to do it?

What does it mean when New York state's first black governor David Paterson, tells reporters at Harlem's paper of record, the Amsterdam News, that although he is proposing the most drastic cuts to health care, to education, to mass transit, mental health and across the entire spectrum of services government is supposed to provide, that it's going to be tough, but at least it's not California. That's not riding the the rescue, and it's certainly not standing up for New Yorkers. It's an excuse, one that makes you wonder if a generation of promises and sweat and hopes invested in a party that can only provide excuses has in fact been a bad investment. It's not that Democratic voters didn't invest enough. Corporations and bankers and the wealthy have money to give, they can fund your career. All poor people can do is vote for you once every two or four years.

It's the end of October in an off-election year, exactly halfway between the last elections to Congress and most state houses and the next one. And Democrats at the state and local levels still have no idea how to produce jobs. Democrats, including black ones have yet to come up with a model for inner-city economic development other than moving poorer residents out and richer ones in, so their friends in the real estate racket can make a few billion and break them off a piece.

California Democrats are in a corner. New York Democrats are at a dead end. On both coasts and everywhere in between bankruptcies and foreclosures are rising, and anger is building as people wonder if Democrats on any level will ever be ready to mobilize their base to rupture the envelope, the change the rules, to do something different. Like fight. Or whether the best they can offer is the excuse that hey, at least they aren't Repubicans. They don't shoot all the hostages. It could be worse. You could live in California, right.

For Black Agenda Report, this is Bruce Dixon. On the web you can find us at www.blackagendareport.com.


Direct download: 20091028_bd_standup_party.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:31am EDT

Two Studies: Drop-out or Push-out, and the Consequences of Jim Crow Medicine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Sixties and the decade's aftermath remains a fertile field of study. Researchers conclude that the end of Jim Crow medicine “provided the health care basis for southern Black advances on standardized testing in the 1980s.” But change also brought social disarray, massive school dropouts, and a national public policy of mass Black incarceration.

 

Two Studies: Drop-out or Push-out, and the Consequences of Jim Crow Medicine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The first wave of Black southern kids born and raised under integrated medicine did dramatically better on standardized tests than older children born into Jim Crow.”

You can’t wrap up the Black experience of the Sixties and put it in a box. Events that seemed like defeats at the time turned into victories, while what appeared as a glorious triumph might actually be a prelude to disastrous defeat. In many ways, the Sixties story is still unfolding. Two new studies shed additional light on those tumultuous times.

Three Chicago-based economists have concluded that integration of southern hospitals in the mid-Sixties provided the health care basis for southern Black advances on standardized testing in the 1980s. In the 1950s and ‘60s South, Black children died before age 5 at many times the rate of white children. Under Jim Crow, public medicine was anything but equal. Blacks were often made to wait until all whites had been treated before seeing a doctor, or were barred from hospitals entirely. Then came the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed segregation in hospitals, and the next year the new Medicare program forced hospitals to obey the law or lose federal funds. According to the Chicago study, the first wave of Black southern kids born and raised under integrated medicine did dramatically better on standardized tests than older children born into Jim Crow. Northern Black kids, who had long had access to integrated medical care, did not register such dramatic gains. The southern children made bigger leaps, because they had so much farther to jump. One of the researchers summed it up, this way: “If you were born in 1962 in the South and you are Black, you did much worse on [standardized tests] than if you were born in 1969 in the South and are Black.” But if you were born in the North, “it doesn’t matter when you were born.”

So, from a health care perspective, one can call the Sixties a great success for a certain cohort of southern Black children. And there are myriad other clear victories.

“Blacks have been over-policed, over-arrested, over-charged and over-sentenced.”

But the world that the Sixties created was not necessarily a better one for all Black children. There followed the great white backlash, with its public policy of mass Black incarceration, and accelerated white flight to the suburbs, which some white people blame on the civil disturbances of the Sixties. And, closely related to both mass Black incarceration and increasing segregation and isolation of Blacks in urban centers, is the massive Black school dropout phenomenon.

A new Northeastern University study attempts to put a dollar amount on what dropouts cost society, and themselves.

Every high school dropout costs the nation $292,000 in lost tax revenues, social services, and the cost of imprisoning those who get sucked into the system, according to the report. One out of every four Black dropouts is incarcerated or otherwise supervised by the state on any given day.  Black female dropouts are nine times more likely to get pregnant than Black women that go to college. Black female-headed households proliferate because so many young Black men have dropped out and can't take care of families. The cost is high, but who is costing whom? Since the tail end of the Sixties, Blacks have been over-policed, over-arrested, over-charged and over-sentenced. We have been more pushed-out than dropped-out. So, rather than talk about what  Black dropouts cost society, why not tally what white society is still costing us.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20091021_gf_WhoOwesWhom_.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:53pm EDT

Three-Tier Race-Based Construction Industry Wage Scales in Manhattan

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A full-blown apartheid labor regime flourished in the Manhattan construction industry, with Irish immigrant workers at the top of the heap. New York's attorney general is demanding millions in back wages and an end to racial discrimination on the job. “If you give the bosses enough leeway, they'll bring back slavery.”

 

Three-Tier Race-Based Construction Industry Wage Scales in Manhattan

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Irish on top, African Americans a distant second, Latinos at the bottom.”

Racial apartheid has reared its head in New York City’s construction industry. State Attorney general Andrew Cuomo has charged a major Manhattan contractor with creating a three-tiered wage scale, with Irish construction workers on top, African Americans a distant second and Latinos at the bottom. The company allegedly cheated workers of all ethnicities out of overtime, while forcing them to work as long as 70 hours a week.

Attorney General Cuomo is seeking $4 million in back wages and overtime and demanding an end to racial discrimination on the job. Members of the carpenters union found blatantly illegal and racist practices at about ten Manhattan construction sites. The race-based wage scale paid Irish workers $25 an hour; Blacks made about $18 an hour, and Latino workers, most of them immigrants, were paid just $15. According to union organizers, the Irish workers were also upset that Latinos did the same work but were paid $10 an hour less.

It should be noted that these glaring violations of labor and civil rights laws occurred before the Crash of last year, at the height of Wall Street’s housing and office construction bubble, when employment in the building trades was relatively high. The conventional wisdom is that management’s ability to divide workers along racial and ethnic lines by favoring one group over another increases as job opportunities decrease. But here we have blatant workplace crimes occurring at the height of a Manhattan construction boom! The sheer flagrancy of the violations indicates that the white business class feels neither shame, nor fear of prosecution.

“Worker insecurity has become a permanent condition of the American economy.”

There is something in the air, and it’s not the blooming of a new, “race-neutral” America. And the racial environment can only get worse as high unemployment becomes a permanent condition for workers of all races. The fact is, worker insecurity has become a permanent condition of the American economy – a direct and purposeful result of corporate domination of both major political parties. If the business class has its way, all workers will be made to feel insecure all of the time; management calls that a favorable business climate. In a political economy that is guided by the demands of business, job security has no place, and the whimseys and prejudices of management hold sway. If you give the bosses enough leeway, they'll bring back slavery.

Lawlessness runs amok throughout the corporate culture, which rewards the victimizing of others. A study released in early September showed that 68 percent of low-wage workers believe they were cheated out of money by their bosses at least once in the past week, with an average loss of 15 percent of their pay. Blacks are cheated three times as much as whites. Black women are robbed by their bosses more frequently than any other workers.

These are facts of life in the American workplace. A rising tide does not lift all boats. Judging by the crimes committed by employers during boom times, rising tides may even encourage  employers to steal and discriminate with greater enthusiasm.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20091021_gf_ThreeTierWages.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:57am EDT

The Phony Fight: Obama and the Insurance Barons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If you believe the hype, the president and Big Insurance are going at at each other's throats over health care. But it's a sham battle, “like TV wrestling.” The insurance companies have already won the biggest prize they could ever wish for: 50 million new customers dragooned by the federal government. All the too-late huffing and puffing from the White House is “a hollow threat, for public consumption only.”

 

The Phony Fight: Obama and the Insurance Barons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The health care battle has devolved into a charade.”

The Obama White House and the insurance industry are putting on a big show for the public, with both sides pretending to be engaged in a battle royal over the shape of health care legislation. In reality, the insurance corporations have already won the war. But for political reasons, it's necessary that the insurance companies and the White House act like professional wrestlers. And like TV wrestling, it's all fake.

The insurance profiteers put out a paper last week, claiming the Senate Finance Committee bill shepherded by Obama’s buddy, Max Baucus, would cause premiums to go up 18 percent or more. President Obama then put on his angry face, and threatened to withdraw the insurance industry’s exemption from anti-trust laws. It sounded like a throw-down of epic proportions, but it’s just sound and fury, signifying nothing, as Shakespeare would say. The health care battle has devolved into a charade; the game has been fixed since early on in the Obama presidency.

Obama made his deals with the hospital corporations, the drug cartels and the insurance companies back in the spring. He promised the insurance racketeers they could have what every gangster craves: a captive market of consumers who would be forced to buy their shoddy products. The so-called “individual mandate” is the biggest prize any monopoly-seeking industry could ever hope for. It's was a centerpiece of Hillary Clinton's health care platform during the presidential campaign. Back then, candidate Obama opposed forcing everyone to buy into private insurance schemes. But President Obama was soon singing Hillary's tune, and it was sweet music to the insurance profiteers.

“The so-called “individual mandate” is the biggest prize any monopoly-seeking industry could ever hope for.”

Obama seemed to be holding out for some kind of weak public insurance “option” that would cover the neediest Americans, while forcing all the rest into the private sector's money-sucking machine. But the president has essentially dropped that public option fig leaf.

The Baucus plan is a naked transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars from the people's pockets to the insurance firms, a transfer enforced by the raw power of the state. It is the diametric opposite of single payer health care, which would draw the largest number of Americans into a single pool dedicated to the health and wellness of all. Instead, privatized national health care converts every citizen into a customer of giant corporations, whose goal is maximum profits.

The Baucus plan, which was nurtured at every stage of development by the Obama White House, is the greatest victory in history for the insurance companies – greater even than Congress's 1945 decision to exempt insurance companies from federal anti-trust laws. That's the law Obama is making all those loud noises about changing – but it's a hollow threat, for public consumption only. Anti-trust laws are designed to prevent monopolies. But President Obama is hell-bent on awarding private insurers an unprecedented monopoly over coverage of every American, and the privateer's profits will be fully subsidized by the people.

Obama's brand of insurance reform will have the same effect as his finance reform: massive transfers of wealth to corporations until the people's ability to pay is broken beyond repair.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

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BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091021_gf_FakeHealthFight.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:34am EDT

We Need a Black-Led Movement for Peace, Not a Phony “Peace Prize”
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
When Barack Obama declares he is presiding over 'necessary' wars, then those who seek peace must organize the necessary resistance to his wars.” That responsibility weighs even more heavily on Black activists, who must “reignite a Black-led movement to confront this administration's war policies, at home and abroad.” The date is November 7th. The place is Washington, DC.
We Need a Black-Led Movement for Peace, Not a Phony “Peace Prize”
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
President Obama has expanded on a legacy of death and destruction.”
President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is as phony as the plastic prize in a Cracker Jack box, full of empty rhetorical calories and poisonous substances. The Norwegian Nobel Committee completed its nominations process only eleven days after Obama took office, and chose him based on their own wishful assumptions of what he might do as president. In the real world, among his first acts was to present to Congress the biggest military budget in the history of the world, to fund a U.S. armed forces that is more lethal and costly than all the rest of the militaries on the planet, combined.
A previous Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lamented back in 1967 that the United States was the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” President Obama has expanded on that legacy of death and destruction. He now “owns” the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has justifiably been dubbed “Obama's War.” He refuses to renounce the use of nuclear arms against Iran, and presses relentlessly forward with the militarization of Africa through the steady buildup of the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM. The United States remains complicit in the ongoing genocide in the Congo, where at least five million people have perished in the corporate scramble for the region's natural resources. The Obama administration mercilessly hammers the people of Somalia, menacing that nation's sovereignty from the U.S. military base in Djibouti and enflaming tensions throughout the Horn of Africa.
Among the president's first acts was to present to Congress the biggest military budget in the history of the world.”
When Barack Obama declares he is presiding over “necessary” wars, then those who seek peace must organize the necessary resistance to his wars. The world has waited long enough – no, too long! – for President Obama to live up to the expectations of the five members the Nobel Prize for Peace Committee, in Norway. The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has taken on the responsibility to reignite a Black-led movement to confront this administration's war policies, at home and abroad.
Peace requires that the U.S. join the International Criminal Court, and face the music for its own crimes against humanity. But peace and social justice also require an end to a nationwide U.S. public policy of police containment of Black communities. That's why the Black is Back Coalition demands an end to mass Black incarceration and the release of political prisoners. Peace requires economic security for the people, and an end to bailouts for the banks. On November 7th, the Black is Back Coalition will rally in Washington, DC's Malcolm X Park, and then march on the White House. On November 7th, Black America begins to reassume its historic place in the forefront of struggle. On November 7th, the Black is Back Coalition serves notice that a Black president gets no free pass when it comes to issues of social justice, peace and reparations. For information on the rally in Washington, go to www.blackisbackcoalition.org.
Forget what Barack Obama said at the 2004 Democratic convention. There IS a Black America. And Black is Back.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com. 

Direct download: 20091014_gf_ObamaPrize.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:38am EDT

bentley ownerA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
A new study shows the corporate news media behave as if their primary audience is comprised of the rich and powerful. Issues dear to the hearts (sic) of bankers in New York and Washington insiders dominate the “news,” while stories about jobs, housing and consumer prices are few and far between. In the Great Recession, “the rich use their media monopoly to starve the public of the fundamental facts of national economic life.”
 
 
Media Tell the Rich Man's Story, Starve the People of Real News
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The very rich, through their media, have been holding a conversation among themselves.”
The Great Recession, or the Financial Meltdown of 2008, or whatever history will ultimately wind up calling the unfolding economic debacle we are experiencing, has been “covered” in a highly skewed and selective manner by the media powers-that-be in the United States. That's the general conclusion of a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The Pew study was, of course, centered on news outlets owned and operated by huge corporations, since that is virtually all that has survived for general consumption in the U.S.
The study found that media coverage of the economic disaster – based on numbers of stories and articles – focused overwhelmingly on banking, the economic stimulus, and the fate of the auto industry. The pattern also reveals that the bulk of this narrow band of topics was examined from vantage points in New York and Washington, where the voices of finance capital and its servants in government are located.
It is no wonder, then, that the prevailing narrative on the nature of the crisis, and proposed solutions to the crisis, are informed almost entirely by the corporate view of the world. In essence, the very rich, through their media, have been holding a conversation among themselvesand serving it up as “news.” Their crisis is all that has mattered in this corporate media conversation. It is, therefore, logical that when the stock market rallies the corporate media world is filled with news of “recovery” and “green shoots” sprouting all over the place. But most people experience the economy through the prism of jobs, housing and consumer prices. According to the Pew survey, these fundamental concerns shared by the vast majority of the population rank as very low priorities in the nation's newsrooms.
Stories about labor issues and worker layoffs in the auto industry made up an infinitesimal two-tenths of one percent of what passed for news.”
While housing foreclosures climbed through the roof and home prices went into the basement, stories on housing represented only six percent of news coverage. The plight of renters is almost totally absent from the news. Unemployment shot from 8.1 to 9.7 percent between February and August – the highest in a quarter century – but merited only six percent of news coverage. The drama over General Motors and Chrysler corporate reorganization was one of the top three topics of news coverage, but stories about labor issues and worker layoffs in the auto industry made up an infinitesimal two-tenths of one percent of what passed for news in the corporate media. Food prices were of even less interest to corporate journalists, who gave the issue only one-tenth of a percent of news coverage. That's one story out of every thousand.
Relentless corporate consolidation of media has resulted in a daily menu of news that is worse than useless to the great mass of people. The rich use their media monopoly to starve the public of the fundamental facts of national economic life. In Black America, where Black-oriented radio still reaches 80 to 90 percent of households, the information void is all but total, with the virtual extinction of local news. As a result, the reality of economic disaster comes without warning. It arrives in the form of a pink slip or an eviction or foreclosure notice, while the television anchorperson blathers on about good times on Wall Street.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20091007_gf_MediaSurvey.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:12am EDT

the real rioA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The gentry-pursued Black and poor population of Chicago got a reprieve from the Olympic committee last week. Now it's Rio de Janeiro's turn to invent clever ways to clear out the shantytowns so the games may begin without the distractions of poverty. Walls are already going up around the favelas, to keep the dark hoards from spoiling the sports.
 
 
The Olympics and Rio's Black Poor
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The city recently resorted to building walls around the shantytowns.”
For the poor, the Olympics is like Russian roulette. If your city is chosen to host the games, it's time for you to start looking for somewhere else to live. The people of Chicago dodged that bullet, last week, and now the poor residents of Rio de Janeiro have until 2016 to figure out how they will survive the world's biggest traveling urban redevelopment machine, posing as an athletic event.
Losing the Olympics was a victory for the plurality of Chicagoans who didn't want the honor, anyway. Not that the Windy City ever stood a chance. If American corporate media cared anything about elementary journalism, they would have discovered that Chicago was way down the Olympic delegates' list of places to go. If the truth be known, ever since 9/11, the United States has had a reputation of not being very hospitable to foreigners.
Gentrification is moving along at a steady clip in Chicago, without the boost of Olympic madness. Back in 1996, Atlanta wound up showing its backside to the nation and the world, arresting 9,000 homeless residents and displacing as many as 30,000 poor people, many of whom had to leave the city entirely. Now Atlanta's Black elite has taken a look around and discovered that the shrinking African American base of population might not be sufficient to keep a Black mayor in office. Gentrification and Black power don't mix.
There's nothing Rio's elite would like better than to send the favela residents someplace far, far away.”
Now the poor people's pushout machine is bound for South America, which has never had an Olympic experience. When Brazil got thumbs up this time around, there was dancing in the streets of Rio – but that's nothing new. Much of Rio de Janeiro is so desperately poor, they've got to dance to keep from crying. As many as two million people, one-third of the population, live in the hillside shantytowns called favelas, places the police treat like enemy territory and where residents build houses with cement walls six inches thick to stop bullets. There's nothing Rio's elite would like better than to send the favela residents someplace far, far away, and the powers-that-be can be counted on to undertake Olympian efforts towards wholesale favela-removal between now and 2016. In fact, 2016 is two years too late, since Rio is hosting the World Cup soccer games in 2014. So the clock is ticking on the city's poor.
The war against the heavily Black favelas has always been ugly. The city recently resorted to building walls around the shantytowns. Ostensibly, the walls are designed to protect the tropical forest, which is indeed endangered by all those poor people spilling up the sides of the mountains overlooking the city and the sea. But everyone knows the walls' real purpose is to fence the poor in. Some critics are comparing the favela walls to the walls Israel has built to confine the Palestinians.
The Olympics are advertised as agents for peace, understanding and human fellowship. In the real world, the games are occasions for world-class real estate deals and expulsion of the poor and powerless.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 200921007_gf_RioOlympics.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:50am EDT

US Acheives Deep Penetration of African Armed Forces
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Supporters of African independence are generally pleased that the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, has not yet established an official headquarters on the continent, for fear of igniting anti-imperialist passions. But AFRICOM does have a major base on the continent, and more than half the militaries of Africa are at this moment being trained by AFRICOM units.
 
 
U.S. Achieves Deep Penetration of African Armed Forces
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
They are creating African militaries that cannot operate without the assistance of the Americans.”
AFRICOM, the U.S. military's Africa Command, has forged deep ties to a growing number of militaries on the African continent. And, contrary to popular belief and official U.S. proclamations, Africom has established a base on the African continent. The base is located in Djibouti, the former French colony in the Horn of Africa on Somalia's northern border. The huge American base in Djibouti, from which the United States coordinates military actions in the region, including operations in Somali territory, is under AFRICOM command. It is, therefore, a fiction to maintain that AFRICOM has no bases on African soil. The U.S. Africa Command has simply opened no new bases, or relocated its official headquarters from Germany – a move that might ignite a wave of protest on the continent.
But the Americans may not have to stage a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a formal AFRICOM headquarters to accomplish the militarization of Africa under U.S. domination. A massive, U.S.-led military exercise is just winding down in the west African nation of Gabon. Dubbed “Africa Endeavor” the training mission involves military units from nearly 30 African countries under the auspices of the Americans: the U.S. Africa Command. It is by far the largest joint exercise with African militaries, and the third in so many years; the first two involved South Africa and Nigeria.
It is a fiction to maintain that AFRICOM has no bases on African soil.”
The African American who commands AFRICOM, Gen. William Ward, claims the latest exercise in Gabon, which began last week and ends October 8, is designed to improve the ability of armed forces from various African nations to communicate with each other in peace-keeping operations. They are without a doubt learning how to communicate with and operate alongside the United States military. The current focus of U.S. AFRICOM activities appears to revolve around preparing African troops to operate under American command-and-control procedures. In early September, 50 Ugandan military officers were sent to the U.S. military base in Djibouti for training. A spokesman for the Ugandan Armed Forces told reporters the objective was to train Africans to fight with international forces. That is clearly a euphemism for operating alongside the Americans.
If the U.S. can turn the militaries of sovereign African nations into appendages of American forces, operating under American command-and-control, then there is no need to draw attention to the US. military presence in Africa by formally designating an AFRICOM headquarters in, say, Kampala, Uganda, or Monrovia, Liberia. Once the U.S. has subverted the officers corps of Africa's armies and made them dependent on U.S. equipment, procedures and logistics, American military domination becomes a fait accompli.
For its part, the U.S. Africa Command says the military exercises are meant to develop “standard procedures” for the operation of an all-African “Standby Force,” under the African Union. What they are in fact creating is a force that cannot operate without the assistance of the Americans. And, of course, such a force could never resist the Americans in battle. The U.S. will never give Africans the tools to defend themselves from...the Americans.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091007_gf_Africom.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:27am EDT

corporate education reformA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Testing and charters – that's all President Obama's team has to offer, says the head of the American Federation of Teachers. Both are, essentially, part of the corporate strategy to privatize public schools from within, and to make teachers the villain in the education debate.
On Education, Obama's First Term Is Bush's Third
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Administration is wielding a $4 billion fund like a whip.”
The nation’s teachers seem to be awakening to the fact that they are in a holding pen, awaiting execution as a social force in the United States. The executioner isn’t wearing a hood, but a world-famous smile. President Obama’s education scheme, cleverly titled “Race to the Top,” is a continuation of a 30-year effort to reshape public education in the corporate image – that is, to run schools like a business, in the service of business. And we all know that business would rather not have to deal with unions.
Teachers unions are finally coming to grips with the fact that Obama and his union-buster education secretary, Arne Duncan, are busy putting targets on teachers’ backs – much like the Republicans but without the name-calling. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Wiengarten called Obama’s reworked version of No Child Left Behind “Bush III,” after the president that imposed it seven years ago. “It looks like the only strategies they have” for improving public education “are charter schools and measurement,” said Wiengarten, referring to the regimen of high stakes testing that now defines American public schools.
Secretary Duncan, who fired entire school staffs when he ran the Chicago system, terminating Black teachers disproportionately, is no more nor less imaginative than any other corporate executive intent on squeezing the last drop of labor from every employee – and then blaming the workers and their union when corporate goals are not met. This is a fundamental and well-understood conflict in the private sector – and a relationship between labor and management that corporate forces are attempting to impose on public education. What we are witnessing is the privatization of public education from within, through the imposition of corporate management methods and measurements. This corporatizing process has been both obscured and facilitated by decades of unrelenting propaganda that posits teachers as the main obstacle to educational improvement.
Obama's 'Race to the Top' is a continuation of a 30-year effort to reshape public education in the corporate image.”
Corporate managers attempt to treat educational failings as “productivity” problems, wherein the schools are not getting enough bang for the buck from either teachers or students. Unremitting testing is the corporate management attempt to measure and reward productivity in the educational workplace. Since the testing regime is essentially a management technique, testing inevitably becomes the overarching focus of school leadership, and a whip in the hand of the bosses. Bosses do not easily give up their whips, which is why they cling so tightly to the high stakes testing regime.
The Obama Administration is wielding a more than $4 billion fund like a whip to coerce school systems into firing teachers based on test scores, and to force expansion of charter schools. The aim is to break the unions, pure and simple. It is a logical progression of George Bush’s corporate-inspired policies, which is why the teachers union president calls it “Bush III.”
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20090930_gf_Teachers.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:49am EDT

depressionA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
If all the talk of economic “recovery” sound insane to the growing ranks of the unemployed and dispossessed, they're right. “The great investment banks are through, dead and gone, no longer willing or able to gather trillions in capital for any enterprise vaguely resembling national economic development.” All that's left is The Casino.
 
The Great Black Hole of Casino Capitalism
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
It now sucks all remaining and potential national wealth into its infinite darkness.”
Ruling circles in the United States have decreed that the Great Recession is over. These are the same circles that waited through half of 2008 to announce that the nation had been in recession since December of 2007. They now declare the worst is behind us even as unemployment climbs, smaller banks go under and a new wage of foreclosures looms. But there is not time in a 4-minute commentary to quibble about technical definitions of recession. In the larger scheme of things, such conversations are diversions that obscure what actually happened to the capitalist system over the past year. It has been broken beyond repair.
There is nothing left of finance capitalism but The Casino, which is only kept whirring along through the fiscal resources of The State. When the ruling circles, which of course includes the finance capital-infested Obama administration, announce that the economy is on the “road to recovery,” they are speaking of The Casino – Greater Wall Street and its speculations. But the once-dynamic heart of Wall Street, the great investment banks, are through, dead and gone, no longer willing or able to gather trillions in capital for any enterprise vaguely resembling national economic development. That stage of capitalism definitively ended in the Great Crash of last year. With the final collapse – decades in the making and historically inevitable – finance capital became irrevocably dependent on The State's capacity to subsidize its activities. It could not save itself, much less contribute to national economic reconstruction.
With the final collapse, finance capital became irrevocably dependent on The State's capacity to subsidize its activities.”
Instead, The State – meaning, the people of the United States – have so far gone into hock for $23.7 trillion to bail out finance capital, 1.7 times the U.S. gross domestic product for 2008. The relationship between finance capital and U.S. society has devolved to pure parasitism. Such is the nature of post-2008 capitalism in America.
Greater Wall Street has become a Black Hole of its own creation. It now sucks all remaining and potential national wealth into its infinite darkness. Medicare and Social Security and every seizable public asset are pulled ever closer to its event horizon, to be lost in the Black Hole: The Casino. Meanwhile, the ever-expanding military acts as its own Black Hole, in order to safeguard the imperial domain on behalf of The Casino.
Strange phenomenon occur in the presence of economic Black Holes. Unemployment in Detroit nears 30 percent, while Wall Street experiences 12-month highs. State and local governments disintegrate, safety nets unravel, as the rich clink champagne glasses in celebration of their mega-trillion salvation, financed through the full faith and credit of the people. Like Atlantic City, New Jersey, all is despair and devastation – except on the boardwalk at The Casino.
Post-2008 America has a Black Hole in its soul. The political project could not be clearer: We've got to shut down The Casino, before it sucks up everything of value around us.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090930_gf_GreatRecession.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:44am EDT

strikersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Hyatt Hotels pounced on their Boston housekeepers like a great predator, firing the staff without notice and attempting to replace them at half the wages. A governor and a union stepped up in solidarity with the workers, who had been subjected to cruel, but not unusual, treatment in this late stage of capitalism.

 
Gov. Deval Patrick Joins Condemnation of Hyatt Firings
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Nearly one hundred people and their families were abused and traumatized by a huge corporation.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick deserves a salute for his solidarity with Hyatt Hotel workers who were cruelly disrespected and fired last week. Ninety-eight non-union housekeeping workers were summarily dismissed from three Boston-area Hyatt hotels, replaced by contract employees earning half their salaries. Hyatt outsourced their $14 to $16 an hour jobs to a Georgia company that pays only $8. Governor Patrick appealed directly to Hyatt's CEO for the workers' reinstatement and, when that failed, urged state employees to boycott the hotel chain, based in that wannabe Olympic city, Chicago. Massachusetts Gov. Patrick was right when he said the firings were “the worst nightmare of every worker in today's weak economy.”
There is a logic to the way that corporate behavior toward employees becomes more inhumane at precisely the same rate that the job market deteriorates. To put it simply, corporations are as cruel as they think they can get away with.When there are six unemployed persons for every job opening, the employer, like a king, feels empowered to behave like the worst kind of tyrant.
The Hyatt firings were doubly cruel in their execution. The workers, some of whom had been on the job for over 20 years, were ordered to train the new, outsourced employees, supposedly so they could fill in during vacations or when regular employees got sick. The housekeepers were not informed they were really training their replacements. Several days before the ax fell, the workers say management told them to empty their lockers so they could be cleaned. Actual notice of termination didn't come until the last day of work.
Corporations are as cruel as they think they can get away with.”
Although the Hyatt's Boston hotel employees are not unionized, some asked the hotel workers' union Unite Here for help. The union staged a demonstration at which 150 people were arrested, and sent one of the fired workers to Chicago to meet with Penny Pritzger, an heiress to the hotel-owning family who was also national finance chairman for the Obama presidential campaign. Hyatt's response to the employees' and Gov. Patrick's appeals was to offer the workers a brief extension of their current salaries and health benefits, and temporary jobs with another outsourcing agency that Hyatt contracts with in Chicago. The offer was rejected. Said one of the workers: “We will not accept temp positions that are designed to put others out of work.”
Hyatt's shameful, devious and heartless treatment of its Boston hotel housekeepers also illustrates the deceptive nature of unemployment statistics. The employees that Hyatt was forcing into unemployment were to be replaced by previously unemployed workers at half the pay. A company payroll was, presumably, cut in half, but no jobs were created or destroyed and the overall employment numbers remained unchanged. But nearly one hundred people and their families were abused and traumatized by a huge corporation, and most will not likely recover in this economy. And their replacements will clean up behind other people at poverty wages with no job security whatsoever. That is par for the course, in late-stage capitalist America.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090939_gf_HyattFirings.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:32am EDT

puppetsA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Being a superpower means having the ability to arbitrarily prolong the misery of weaker countries. Such seems to be the U.S. mission in Somalia, where the puppet regime would fall in hours if the Americans and their Ugandan mercenaries withdrew. “The Somali president’s dwindling soldiers only remain because they are getting paid – by the Americans.”
 
U.S is Puppet-Master in Somalia
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“A president that cannot trust his own soldiers to protect his life, is no president at all.”
If ever there was a government that deserved to be called a “puppet,” it is the regime that claims to speak for Somalia. Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed’s ridiculous rump of a regime is wholly dependent on foreigners: the 5,000 mostly Ugandan troops that nominally work for the African Union but actually act as mercenaries for the Americans, and the CIA and U.S. special operations forces that roam the country, killing at will. According to a recent New York Times report, it is the Ugandans, not Somali soldiers, that guard President Ahmed around the clock, camping directly outside his doorway and driving him to the airport, which is also defended by Ugandans. A president that cannot trust his own soldiers to protect his life, is no president at all.
Sheik Ahmed rules over close to nothing, just a few patches of the capital city, Mogadishu. The Somali Shabaab resistance is positioned only blocks from the president’s residence, from which he rarely ventures. If the foreigners left, Sheik Ahmed would have to make a mad dash to the airport to leave with them.
Over the summer, the Americans sent in 40 tons of weapons, much of which immediately wound up in the hands of the opposition. Whole units of the president’s armed forces have gone over to the opposition – that is to say, they have sided with their fellow Somalis and against the foreigners and their puppet president. Press reports of the close interaction between opposition fighters and those troops still nominally loyal to the regime lead one to conclude that the Somali president’s dwindling soldiers only remain because they are getting paid – by the Americans.
“President Obama will have earned himself a third war in the Third World.”
Sheik Ahmed has called for virtually all of his U.S.-back neighbors – Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Yemen – to come prop up his puny regime, which would, of course, require even more massive U.S. involvement and perpetual foreign occupation of Somalia. And that is a formula for perpetual war that would swallow up all of the Horn of Africa. President Obama will have earned himself a third war in the Third World, at a time when the American people have already tired of the other two, in Iran and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Even the Americans roaming around Mogadishu admit that, at most, a few hundred foreign jihadists are fighting Sheik Ahmed's puppet regime. The rest of the opposition is Somali. However, Washington is determined to portray the Shabaab as a “new Taliban” that must be crushed for reasons of U.S. national security.
There is really no rational choice for Washington but to withdraw and allow the Somalis to make their own peace, of whatever political complexion. But imperialists cannot envision a world in which they are not in charge – even if that world encompasses only a few city blocks in Mogadishu. Therefore, we can shortly expect a new offensive by the U.S. and other foreigners in Somalia. Perpetual war is the only game they know how to play.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20090923_gf_Somalia.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 2:21pm EDT

black is backA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The “period of passivity in Black politics” that accompanied the ascent of Barack Obama, is about to end. The Black is Back Coalition seeks to reignite a Black-led movement for social justice, peace and reparations – which will in turn energize progressive politics in general. See you in DC on November 7.
 
“Black is Back” on Nov. 7: D.C. Rally and March on White House
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“We will confront the forces of war, of neo-colonialism, of the rule of bankers and the crime of mass Black incarceration.”
The time has come to bring independent Black politics back to the forefront – to reignite and refocus the debate over the burning issues of the day. Nine months of the Obama presidency has taught us that a Black presence in the White House does not necessarily give voice to critical issues facing African Americans. Instead, Black concerns have been shunted to the side, treated as distractions, derided or ignored, by this president, even as the Black condition in the U.S. and the world steadily deteriorates.
When militant, politically conscious Black people fail to Speak Truth to Power, Power feels comfortable in pretending that somebody else's version of the truth is more compelling. When Black people make no demands, but instead defer to a Black president, then that same president will inevitably respond to other people's demands.
That's why a coalition of Black organizations and individuals is determined that the period of silence and deference and damn-near invisibility for Black people is over. Black is Back, and Truth will be spoken on November 7th at a rally in Washington, DC's Malcolm X Park, followed by a march down 16th Street to the White House, where Power resides.
“African Americans have invested more energy in circling the wagons around one man, than in defending the interests of Black people and humanity at-large.”
The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations was formed on September 12th by activists from a wide range of organizations who believe that a Black-led movement is absolutely necessary to halt the destruction wrought by the predatory rich, the incorrigibly racist, and a world-threatening military. The Black is Back Coalition understands where the vital center of gravity for progressive politics in the United States is located: among African Americans, who have always stood for social and economic justice, and against U.S. military adventures abroad. That Black voice is coming back, beginning on November 7th in Washington, DC, when we will confront the forces of war, of neo-colonialism, of the rule of bankers and the crime of mass Black incarceration.
When Black is Back, all of progressive politics is energized, educated and strengthened for the common struggle to save humanity. Since the ascent of Barack Obama, African Americans have invested more energy in circling the wagons around one man, than in defending the interests of Black people and humanity at-large. This period of passivity in Black politics ends on November 7
in Washington, DC.
Write to me for more information on the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. I'll put you in touch with spokespersons Chioma Oruh, Rosa Clemente, and Jared Ball. When Black is Back, the movement gets rollin'.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20090923_gf_BlackIsBack.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 2:09pm EDT

gazaA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Israel reacted with typical feigned outrage at the United Nations report on war crimes and human rights violations committed by its forces in Gaza, last winter. The Jewish state's serial violations of international law are rooted in the barbarism of its governing principle, apartheid, which leads Israel to place itself “above the accepted norms of civilized behavior.”
 
Apartheid is the Root of Israel’s Aggressions
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Underlying Israeli lawlessness is the concept of a settler state constructed for the benefit of one ethnic group.”
The State of Israel, by far the world champion violator of international law as interpreted by the United Nations, is once again raining vitriol and insult on the world body that gave it birth 61 years ago. Since almost the day that the U.N. recognized the Jewish state in 1948, Israel has placed itself above the accepted norms of civilized behavior. In its six decades of existence, Israel has violated virtually every United Nations declaration and flaunted countless tenets of international legality, most often with the diplomatic, economic and military protection of the United States. Israel’s arrogant disregard for the world body reached new heights with the release of a U.N. report urging Israel to conduct an “independent” investigation into “war crimes” and “serious violations” of human rights during its brutal attack on Gaza, last winter.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office claimed his government’s own investigation, which absolved Israel of crimes in the killing of 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children, was “a thousand times more serious” than that conducted by the U.N. Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, charged the U.N. with legitimizing “terrorist activity” and making “a mockery of history” by failing to recognize Israel’s right to “self-defense.” Other Israelis complained that the U.N. was making a case for “moral equivalency” between Israel and the Palestinian resistance.the wall
“How can one make peace with a state that claims the right to adjust its borders according to its own whims?”
On that count, in a fiendishly perverse sense, Israel is right: there is no moral equivalency between the Palestinian resistance and Israeli occupation and aggression. Palestinians have every legal and moral right to resist being occupied on the West Bank and caged and quarantined in the world’s biggest jail in Gaza. Israel has no moral or legal ground to stand on – which is why it chooses to dismiss and vilify every organ of international legality centered on the United Nations. Israel is not even a recognizable state, having no borders that Israel itself recognizes.
The Israeli state behaves as if its borders are anywhere it may sometime in the future declare them to be. This borderless state constitutes a grave threat to every one of its immediate neighbors, and an insult to hundreds of years of evolving international law. How can one make peace with a state that claims the right to adjust its borders according to its own whims? This is an affront to humanity, yet it is the essence of Israeli foreign and domestic policy.
Underlying this essential Israeli lawlessness is the concept of a settler state constructed for the benefit of one ethnic group on land seized from other peoples. That is the definition of apartheid, and the root of all of Israel’s constant assaults on international law. It is a barbarism that must be rejected, boycotted and isolated – not just to relieve the suffering of Palestinians, but for the sake of human civilization.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20090923_gf_Israel.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Like all things consciously Black in the age of “race neutrality,” Black Studies has been targeted for the irrelevancy file. “The truth is, Black Studies has always been in conflict with the powers-that-be, on campus and in the wider world.” Born of activism 40 years ago, Black Studies “leads to greater and more effective activism” - which makes the discipline dangerous to power and privilege.

 
Black Studies: Still Indispensable After 40 Years
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Those who have achieved power and inherited privilege through systemic racial oppression are the last ones to want to fund a discipline that examines past and present oppression.”
In 1968, the Black Student Union at San Francisco State University, in conjunction with other activists and faculty, demanded the establishment of a Black Studies Program. The next year, the Black Studies Program became a department. Forty years later, as many as 350 colleges and universities offer majors, minors and degrees in Black, African American, Africana and related studies, according to Dr. James Turner, of Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center.
Just like the movement and politics that it sprang from, Black Studies is under assault, as irrelevant in today’s times. The truth is, Black Studies has always been in conflict with the powers-that-be, on campus and in the wider world. It was born that way, out of a movement and a people that were trying to find a way out of their own oppression and the ills afflicting humanity at-large. Only fools and the enemy can claim that this mission has been accomplished, and that Black voices should stand down, in academia or anywhere else.
Black Studies grew out of Black activism, and when the discipline is done well, it leads to greater and more effective activism, while deepening our understanding of the global society. This is, by definition, dangerous to those who profit from the status quo and the lies that prop up privilege. Those who have achieved power and inherited privilege through systemic racial oppression are the last ones to want to fund a discipline that examines past and present oppression.
Hostile forces proclaim Black Studies to be an obstacle on the road to 'race neutrality.'”
Naturally, opponents of Black Studies have always tried to marginalize it as a kind of special dispensation unworthy of accreditation and resources. In the Age of Obama, hostile forces proclaim Black Studies to be an obstacle on the road to “race neutrality” – another way of saying that those who illuminate and struggle against a problem, are themselves the source of the problem.
In a society that is truly committed to social justice, Black Studies would be viewed in much the same way as the study of medicine, whose ultimate purpose is to promote the health of human beings and to combat the diseases that plague us. Medicine ameliorates human misery, and seeks ways to make possible the maximum fulfillment of life for the greatest number of people. So does the struggle for social justice and its academic arm, Black Studies.
Black Studies provides a unique prism through which to identify that which ails us in the United States, and beyond. When Black Studies is devalued, Black people are devalued and all of humanity is diminished.
Those who think we are already liberated and can now dispense with Black Studies, are the ones most in need of an education.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090916_gf_BlackStudiesgf.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:19am EDT

coon huntin NYCA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Nightriding white terrorists are not confined to the South. They also roam the streets of New York City, in search of Black victims. The election of 2008 was especially rough for Up South white supremacists. Barack Obama's victory provoked four young New Yorkers to go on a Black-bashing spree that last week earned them serious prison time.
 
Coon Huntin’” in New York City
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
They piled into a car on a mission to show African Americans that whites were still boss in that part of the world.”
White folks used to call it “coon hunting” – terrorism as community sport. I’ve witnessed it myself: caravans of cars filled with white men in varying stages of drunkenness cruising country highways or the fringes of Black neighborhoods, in search of victims. In the Deep South, such “coon hunting” parties were not necessarily hitched to any special occasion or specific racial incident; any excuse would do to demonstrate that Blacks’ very existence in a White Man’s Country was a privilege that could be arbitrarily and violently revoked at any time.
Coon hunting” and related white racist rituals were never confined to below the Mason-Dixon Line. New York City contains enclaves of entrenched bigotry as concentrated and vicious as anyplace in Dixie. Last November, on learning that Barack Obama had won the presidential election, four young white men in Staten Island – the whitest of New York City’s boroughs – piled into a car on a mission to show African Americans that whites were still boss in that part of the world. They drove to a Black neighborhood, found a teenager walking by himself, and beat him with a metal pipe and a police baton. Not satisfied, they assaulted a Black man in another minority neighborhood, and drove off in search of a third victim. This time, they slammed their car into a man they thought was African American, but who turned out not to be. The victim’s head smashed the car’s windshield, and he stayed in a coma for weeks.
The four young white men admitted they set out to punish people they assumed had voted for Barack Obama.”
The four whites were last week sentencedto from four and one/half to seven years in federal prison. Loretta King, of the U.S. Justice Department, said the Civil Rights Division “will remain vigilant in our efforts to combat hate crimes.” Republicans in Congress continue to quibble about what constitutes a “hate crime,” who specifically should be protected from such crimes, and the circumstances in which the federal government can intervene. But the case from Staten Island, New York, certainly fits anyone’s definition of a hate crime that threatened federally protected rights. But it also says a lot more. The four young white men admitted they set out to punish people they assumed had voted for Barack Obama. But of course, they didn’t ask their victims who they voted for, or if they had voted at all, and one of them wasn’t even an African American. What these night-riders resented was the very presence of non-whites in Staten Island, or New York City, or in positions of prominence anywhere in the United States. They are terrorists whose hatred of Black people is general and uncomplicated – and renders them unfit to circulate freely in society.
It is also interesting to note that these modern, New York City, “Up South” terrorist nightriders’ surnames are Nicoletti, Garaventa, Contreras, and Carranza. They’re not the good ol' boys of your grandparents’ experience. But they’re just as dangerous.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20090916_gf_CoonHunting.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:01am EDT

prisonA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Small white towns are not typically welcoming to the prospect of large numbers of Black residents – unless they are locked up in cages. The town folks will fight tooth and nail for the privilege of hosting job-creating prisons, and to exercise the inmate's voting rights, as well. “Prison towns and prison-dependent counties are no more eager to relinquish their claim to be 'home' to their incarcerated residents than the slave master was to part with his human property.”

The Stolen Count: Prison Inmates and the Census
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Census problem with prison inmates, is where to assign their official residency.”
People of West Indian descent are being urged to check their ethnicity as “other” on the U.S. Census form, presumably so they’ll be counted separately from the African American community. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights urges great care be taken to get an accurate count in the Gulf States, where population movements have still not settled, four years after Katrina. And every ten years there is controversy on how to best avoid undercounting Blacks, Latinos and undocumented aliens. There is one group, however, that is easy to find and enumerate, since they line up for the count at least once every day: the 1.3 million inmates of state and federal prisons. (At any given time, another million people are in local jails, but that’s another matter.)
The problem with state and federal prison inmates isn’t about getting the numbers right, but where to assign their residency. And although the question of who gets to count an inmate as a resident may not mean much to the incarcerated individual, it is a matter of great importance to his home community, possibly hundreds of miles away.
Denizens of small 'prison towns get to vote on the inmates’ behalf.”
The 40-year national policy of mass Black incarceration has robbed urban communities, not just of men and women, but of federal and state monies that are distributed based on population. When a young man from, say, the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn gets sent upstate to Attica prison, his share of Bed-Stuy’s funding for schools and other public services goes upstate with him, to benefit the town where the prison guards live. Those denizens of small “prison towns” also get to vote on the inmates’ behalf. As an article in the publication “Progressive States” explains, these mostly white, small town people whose livelihoods are dependent on a steady flow of prisoners doing as much time as possible, are not likely to vote in the interests of the inmates or their families in the inner cities. The closest analogy would be to the days when Blacks could not vote in most of the South, but were counted for purposes of allocating seats in state legislatures and the Congress. White folks were allowed to vote, both on their own behalf and, in effect, to cast Black people’s ballots, too. Put another way, simply by showing up on the U.S. Census in a southern state, Black people were forced to vote against themselves and for the white politicians that oppressed them. Prison inmates face much the same situation.
New York City residents, for example, make up 66 percent of state prison inmates, but 94 percent of them are incarcerated upstate in overwhelmingly white counties. This caged population has so skewed the allocation of state senate seats, if the inmates were not counted Republican strength in the legislature would be significantly weakened. In eight upstate New York counties, more than half the “official” Black population actually lives in prison.
Prison towns and prison-dependent counties are no more eager to relinquish their claim to be “home” to their incarcerated residents than the slave master was to part with his human property. But states can begin listing prisoners by their addresses before incarceration, or at least exclude inmates for purposes of drawing up legislative districts. That won’t bring any inmate freedom, but it will help the folks back home.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20090916_gf_PrisonCensus.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:11am EDT

 The Black Caucus and Obama: One-Way Loyalty
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
On health care, Barack Obama "has become a heavy burden for even the Black Caucus to bear, as he searches constantly for allies on the Right." As Obama threatens to jettison the issue of racial disparities from his "reform" proposals, Black lawmakers must reassess their loyalties.

The Black Caucus and Obama: One-Way Loyalty
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Obama has left the Black Caucus with little ground to stand on as they try to prop up his presidency."
Nobody wants President Obama to succeed more than the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus. History, itself, made it inevitable that masses of African Americans would feel a profoundly vested interest in the fortunes of any Black person that made it into the Oval Office, especially one who garnered about 19 of every 20 Black votes. Back in October of last year, it was Barack Obama's lobbying of individual Black members of Congress that caused the Caucus to shift from 21 to 18 opposed to the first bank bailout, to 31 to 8 in favor - and Obama hadn't even been elected yet. Despite Obama's dismissal of progressives on issues of peace and social justice - issues still dear to a core of Caucus members - Black lawmakers still feel that history demands their allegiance to this president.
Obama, however, takes such loyalties for granted, and has left the Black Caucus with little ground to stand on as they try to prop up his presidency. On health care, he has become a heavy burden for even the Black Caucus to bear, as he searches constantly for allies on the Right. Among the 64 progressives that vowed in August to vote against any health care bill that does not include a strong public option, 25 are Black. Under the leadership of California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the Black Caucus issued a letter last week expressing "deep concern" that "a robust public option and myriad health disparity elimination provisions...may be stricken" in order to cut the cost of the legislation. Lee emerged from a conference call with the White House still insisting on a public option and emphasizing the need for measures to eliminate disparities in health care, through better data collection, greater diversity in the health care workforce, and more community health care workers. Yet the White House seems prepared to jettison health equity, to appease the Right. If that happens, the Congressional Black Caucus will utterly lose face.
"The Caucus has dedicated resources and prestige to documenting the huge racial disparities in health outcomes."
The Black Caucus has made the health equity issue its own. In recent years the Caucus has dedicated resources and prestige to documenting the huge racial disparities in health outcomes, and exploring ways to confront the problem. This April, the Caucus held a health equity forum, at which Georgia Congressman John Lewis spoke of the need to launch a "health equity movement" to ensure that the issue is "an integral component of health care reform." But the Caucus will be in no position to lead a "health equity movement" or anything else if it allows Obama to discard the equity issue without a fight.
As an institution, the Congressional Black Caucus has no choice but to resist the first Black president, or submit to voluntary irrelevance on an issue they have told their own constituents is vital to the community.
In their letter to the president, the Black lawmakers assured him they are "committed allies and partners in the fight to reform America's broken health care system." It is Obama's commitment that is so very much in question.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090909_gf_BCBHealthCare.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:52pm EDT

The Sham Debate Over Obama's Af-Pak War
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
If the Afghanistan-Pakistan war is a necessity, then it certainly must be escalated. President Obama's framing of the conflict leaves no room for peace, yet purported peace activists refuse to confront him. Such a movement is not simply shallow: "it is a fraud."

The Sham Debate Over Obama's Af-Pak War
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Obama has not altered the Bush war on terror paradigm, he has reinforced it."
With the help of cooperative corporate media, President Obama attempts to create the impression of a vigorous internal debate within his administration over how much bigger the so-called Af-Pak theater of war is going to get. The charade is designed to demonstrate that, unlike the "dumb wars" that Obama opposes, this one is being transformed into a smart war, intelligently escalated. That U.S. troop levels will increase, even as reluctant European allies move towards downsizing their commitments, is a foregone conclusion, since the president has already characterized the conflict as a "war of necessity." If a war is necessary, then by definition, the national commitment must be open-ended and beyond question.
So what is there to debate? The president has framed the issue as one of inevitability. Last month Obama told a veterans group that, "If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans." That's the same rationale that George Bush deployed to justify not only the Afghanistan invasion, eight years ago, but the Iraq invasion, the war against Somalia and, indeed, the whole concept of global American wars without end. Barack Obama has not altered the Bush war on terror paradigm, he has reinforced it.
Once one accepts the Bush-Cheney - and now Obama-Biden - logic of necessary war, peace becomes impossible. To the extent that those who claim to be part of the U.S. peace movement remain ambivalent on Obama's war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they become accomplices in the aggression.
"Much of what passes for a U.S. peace movement has no more respect for international law than the administrations they protest against."
The U.S. anti-war movement fails to institutionalize itself, acting only in fits and starts when it acts at all, because much of its leadership refuses to recognize the United States as an imperial power. They allow themselves to become enmeshed in phony debates about how U.S. forces should comport themselves in other people's countries, rather than question America's right to inflict itself on other peoples. They agonize over levels of U.S. military force deployed and monies spent; whether the frequency of U.S. atrocities is up or down; and embroil themselves in discussions of the relative merits of American-imposed puppet regimes. Shamefully, much of what passes for a U.S. peace movement has no more respect for international law than the administrations they protest against. They seek only a more benign imperialism, in which they can see themselves as the good guys.
To the extent that a purported peace movement accepts that the United States has any rights that smaller nations do not possess, it is not simply a shallow movement: it is a fraud - just as fraudulent as Barack Obama was as a "peace" candidate. Such a movement is helpless against the logic of imperial war, because it accepts the underlying premise, that the United States has a right to intervene in the affairs of others. If that is true, then U.S. General Stanley McChrystal should be commended and supported when he claims that all he wants to do is "protect" the Afghan people, whether they like it or not. At any rate, it's necessary. Obama says so.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090909_gf_AfPakOpenEnded.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:51pm EDT

 Doing Business in the USA: A Culture of Thievery
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Cheating one's employees is as American as apple pie, according to a new study. Two-thirds of low-wage workers are routinely robbed by their bosses, hard evidence of "a festering culture of business thievery at work - something deeply embedded in the way this society operates."

Doing Business in the USA: A Culture of Thievery
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Blacks are robbed by their bosses at three times the rate of whites."
A new study of employer practices in low-wage sectors of the U.S. economy shows a pervasive disregard for the rights of workers. To put it bluntly, the bosses routinely steal their workers blind. No shame, just business.
The study surveyed over 4,000 employees in low-wage industries in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and found that 68 percent believed they had been cheated in the previous week on the job. The typical worker was robbed of $51 by the boss: a 15 percent loss in pay for the week. Women are far more likely to be cheated than men, and it should come as no surprise that Blacks are robbed by their bosses at three times the rate of whites.
The study, titled "Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers," is a horror story that documents how employers routinely fail to pay for hours worked, or to pay the minimum wage, and successfully pressure employees not to complain when their earnings are stolen, or when they are seriously injured. Most shocking, is the sheer pervasiveness of employer lawlessness. Cheating one's workers is standard business practice in low-wage America, especially when those workers are female and Black.
There is much more going on here than a lack of enforcement of workplace laws and regulations. When 68 percent of low-wage workers are methodically cheated by the boss, week after week, month after month, then we are witnessing a festering culture of business thievery at work - something deeply embedded in the way this society operates.
"The typical worker was robbed of $51 by the boss: a 15 percent loss in pay for the week."
When poor Black people are said to be engaged in patterns of unlawful or anti-social behavior, the larger society is quick to conclude that the cause is something in the culture, that African Americans are predisposed to crime, or drugs, or bad habits of living. The theory of Black cultural pathology has no basis in science, but is nonetheless readily believed by those who want to believe.
However, the systematic robbery of workers, especially Black workers, is seldom ascribed to deep and abiding defects in the larger American culture. Such a conclusion would challenge the national mythology, that American culture values and rewards hard work and honest dealings with one's neighbors. The descendants of Black slaves and Native Americans know better. They know that the revered Founders of this country valued most of all that which they could get for free: free land from dead Indians, free labor from enslaved Africans.
America has always valued conquest and accumulation, and devalued the conquered and those who were forced to labor. Its cultural values were forged in relationships of dominance and deceit. Systematic thievery is anything but alien to American history and culture. These perverse values still prevail. New economic data show U.S. worker productivity is up 6.6 percent. That means employees are working harder for the same or less pay. Only culturally depraved people would consider that cause for celebration.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090909_gf_BusinessThievery.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:49pm EDT

Washington Refuses To Call Off Its Dogs in Honduras Coup A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
While President Obama issues vacuous statements claiming to support the general principle of electoral democracy, his own State Department officials blame President Zelaya for provoking the coup.” Nobody in Latin American believes the U.S. is not complicit.
Washington Refuses to Call Off Its Dogs in Honduras
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Washington has bought time for its Honduran puppets.”
The “new face” of U.S. policy in Latin America is just that: a face, a false front. Barack Obama's famous smile is a Greek mask, behind which lurks the same old Uncle Sam that plunged nearly all of Latin America into military and oligarchic rule in the period following World War Two.
The U.S. is trying to run out the clock on Honduras's democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a June 28 coup that could not have happened without Washington's approval and ongoing support. The U.S. is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that continues to maintain an ambassador in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. The American ambassador's purpose there, is to hold the hands of the Honduran generals, to assure them that Uncle Sam has their back. While President Obama issues vacuous statements claiming to support the general principle of electoral democracy, his own State Department officials blame President Zelaya for provoking the coup by exploring the possibility of a referendum by the people on a second presidential term.
Obama seeks plausible deniability for that which is undeniable: U.S. complicity in Zelaya’s ouster. No one in Latin America is fooled. The airplane that was used to kidnap President Zelaya and deposit him in nearby Costa Rica, first dutifully stopped at the airbase in Soto Cano – a facility that is as much a U.S. base as a Honduran one. The U.S. relationship to the Honduran military is like that of a father and child. There may be no purer annex and creation of the U.S. military than the Honduran officer corps, which is led almost entirely by men trained at Fort Benning’s School of the Americas, sometimes called the “School of Coups” or “School of Assassins.” The generals and oligarchs that carried out the coup have literally no reason for existence aside from service to U.S. neocolonialism, without which they would be swept away.
The U.S. relationship to the Honduran military is like that of a father and child.”
Through the most cynical maneuvers and double-speak, Washington has bought time for its Honduran puppets, wearing down Zelaya's domestic popular forces despite their daily demonstrations as time runs out on his presidency, due to expire in January. If the military is still in charge on the ground in November – which is clearly the plan – then scheduled elections can be rigged or cancelled. The coup will have been a fait accompli, despite Obama's lame protestations that Washington had nothing to do with it.
This sends a very loud message to the rest of Latin America's elected leaders; it tells them that a nod from the U.S. ambassador can still bring instant exile, even death. It is a powerful warning to keep one's distance from Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia, Ecuador and other nations that are forging an independent political and economic path.
President Obama had the gall to describe as “hypocrites” those who urge the U.S. to exert real pressure of the Honduran coup-makers. “The same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras,” said Obama, “are the same people who say that we're always intervening and the Yankees need to get out of Latin America.” But there is no contraction. Everybody knows the Honduran generals are Washington's dogs. Obama needs to call his dogs off. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090902_gf_HondurasCoup.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:29pm EDT

Outsource It! Privatize It! LA School Reform in the Age of Obama A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Acting on the ideological position that teachers are the root of all evil, and with the full support of the city's Latino mayor, the LA school board has voted to transfer one-third of its schools to private, charter management – including 50 brand new campuses. Corporate outsourcing now passes as education policy.
Outsource It!  Privatize It!  LA School Reform in the Age of Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The LA schools handover may represent the biggest one-shot giveaway of public school property in history.”
The Los Angeles Board of Education has voted overwhelmingly to outsource the operations of about one-third of the district's schools, a huge blow to the very concept of public education in the nation's second largest city. The scheme would allow private charter operators to take control of over 250 schools, including 50 brand new, multi-million dollar campuses. The great giveaway to private contractors was approved by a six-to-one vote, with the enthusiastic support of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Two hundred of the schools to be placed on the auction block are classified as “underperforming.” The 50 new school campuses that are up for grabs were paid for by the public through construction bonds. The purpose was to relieve overcrowding, but now the spanking new buildings are to be put up for bids by private charter companies. That's an illegal giveaway of public resources, say opponents of the turnover. The teachers union agrees, and is exploring legal strategies to block the outsourcing. Under California state law, charter schools don't have to hire union workers.
If it goes through, the LA schools handover may represent the biggest one-shot giveaway of public school property in history. The 50 recently constructed schools alone are the equivalent of a big city school district, all brand new and just out of the box, giving the charter operators a huge, built-in physical plant advantage over the city's traditional public schools.
The transfer of one-third of LA's public schools to charter operation means the city will no longer be able to claim to have a truly city-wide public school system. In this, LA will come to resemble New Orleans, where charter privateers now dominate the school infrastructure, and accountability for the system as a whole is non-existent. Veteran teachers have been replaced, wholesale, by young, non-union novices.
LA will come to resemble New Orleans, where charter privateers now dominate the school infrastructure.”
In New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina blew in the charter school takeover. In Chicago, the driving force was corporate elements of the Democratic Party. Massive imposition of charter schools has led to grossly disproportionate terminations of Chicago's Black teachers, replaced mostly by white youngsters from outside the city.
The corporate world, which cares a great deal about the salaries of its executives and consultants, blames unionized teachers for the decline in big city public schools – an ideological position with no basis in measurable reality. Suburban teachers are just as likely to be unionized as inner city teachers, but we don't see suburban communities describing teachers as the root of all evil. And we can't even imagine a white, suburban district hundreds millions of dollars to build a whole generation of brand new schools – and then turning the buildings over to private contractors to do with as they please. That's inconceivable.
Outsourcing of public education only occurs in overwhelmingly Black and brown school districts, places where, like in Los Angeles, public property and public responsibility to students is put on the private auction block.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090902_gf_PrivatizeLAschools.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:24pm EDT

Cathy Hughes targets 5 black members of congressA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Black radio's wealthiest woman, who claims that very modest royalties to musical performers will “destroy” what is, in fact, a very profitable industry, will host a fundraiser for Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek, candidate for the U.S. Senate. That's in stark contrast to the “dirty war” Cathy Hughes has been waging against five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Radio-One Bashes five Black Reps., Raises Funds for Another
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Cathy Hughes is showing she can use her wealth and broadcast power to help, as well as harm, Black members of Congress.”
Radio-One founder Cathy Hughes is hosting a fundraiser for Florida Black Congressman Kendrick Meek, who's running for the U.S. Senate. The September 15 affair in Washington wouldn't be news, except that Hughes has been using her radio stations to wage a dirty war against five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Black lawmakers on Cathy Hughes' hit list are cosponsors of a bill that would require stations to make modest payments to performers whose music they broadcast. The legislation is opposed by virtually the entire broadcast industry and by the most right-wing Republicans on Capitol Hill, who claim the payments to performers is a “tax.” But Cathy Hughes is also working a phony “Black” angle, claiming the bill, the Performance Rights Act, would destroy Black commercial radio, which in fact is a very profitable business in which Ms. Hughes is the biggest - and one of the richest – owners, with 54 stations. For example, Radio-One's profits were sufficient to give Hughes' son, Alfred, a $10 million bonus. Hughes and her son also operate the cable channel, TV-One.
The congresspeople Hughes has slimed are John Conyers, of Detroit, Hank Johnson, from Atlanta, Bobby Scott, of Richmond, Mel Watt, of Charlotte, and Sheila Jackson-Lee, representing Houston. All except Mel Watt live in districts where Radio-One operates stations. That means these lawmakers are acutely aware of two things: one, Hughes is exploiting her license to broadcast over the public airwaves to threaten their re-election prospects in their own districts and, two, Cathy Hughes does not provide to her radio listeners the most elementary service, news. Like her white corporate counterparts, she just rakes in the money. But unlike her white business peers, Ms. Hughes is able to hide her greed behind her Blackness. She is a corporate profiteer pretending to be a Race Woman.
Like her white corporate counterparts, she just rakes in the money.”
The NAACP has endorsed the Performance Rights Act, while Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson side with Cathy Hughes and the rest of the corporate owners. That's not surprising, since Sharpton and Jackson have radio talk shows, Sharpton on Radio-One, and Jackson on the biggest chain of them all, Clear Channel. Reverends Sharpton and Jackson are captives of these radio corporations, which can throw them off the air in an instant.
We learned of the fundraiser from Lauren Victoria Burke, who runs a very useful web site called Crew of 42, dedicated to the activities of the 42 members of the Black Caucus. Cathy Hughes has caught a lot of flak for trying to bully five of the most popular and progressive lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Apparently, her hosting of a money-making event for Florida Congressman Meek's Senate race – in Washington, DC only ten days before the Congressional Black Caucus's gala legislative weekend - is Cathy Hughes' way of showing she can use her wealth and broadcast power to help, as well as harm, Black members of Congress. But of course, she's really only helping herself. That is as far as her Blackness goes.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090902_gf_RadioOneMee.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:51pm EDT

The Black Prison Gulag in the Age of Austerity

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The financial crisis is fast stripping California and other states of services and amenities. But, for many citizens, the pending release of a fraction of the prison population is too painful to bear. “Democrats and Republicans alike resist letting their prisoners go, as if the gods of California and the United States must be constantly fed more Black and brown bodies.”

The Black Prison Gulag in the Age of Austerity

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The states can no longer afford to indulge in their depraved luxury of choice: Black and brown mass incarceration.”

The general economic crisis has pushed the finances of many state governments over the cliff. State services of all kinds have been cut beyond the bone, with devastating effects on the quality of life for working people and the poor. The crisis has also brought into sharp focus a nightmare of the states’ own making: the Black Prison Gulag. For two generations, states have eagerly diverted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to constant expansion of their prison systems, in a kind of institutional and fundamentally racist mob frenzy to lock up as large a proportion of their non-white populations as possible. In grotesquely expanding numbers, African Americans paid the social cost for prison fever, a mass white pathology that is unrelated to actual rates of crime, but which has devastated Black American society like no other affliction since slavery, itself. One out of every eight prison inmates on planet Earth is an African American – a self-evident crime against a specific portion of humanity.

Now the states can no longer afford to indulge in their depraved luxury of choice: Black and brown mass incarceration. California is the most dramatic case in point. Federal courts this month ordered California to divest itself of 40,000 prison inmates it can no longer afford to cage like animals in facilities designed to hold only half those currently locked up. But despite being a financial basket case, the state clings to its captives like Pharaoh to the biblical Hebrews. Democrats and Republicans alike resist letting their prisoners go, as if the gods of California and the United States must be constantly fed more Black and brown bodies so that the American “way of life” will continue to exist. On the lips of such wild-eyed, hysterical Americans, the term “Law and Order” sounds like a savage religious incantation in a ceremony demanding the sacrifice of captives from another tribe.

The state clings to its captives like Pharaoh to the biblical Hebrews.”

California’s poverty and the judges’ order mean the state must reconsider what it will do with all the juveniles its justice system is warehousing, at a yearly cost of more than $200,000 each. This new crop of inmates is supposed to graduate to the grownup penitentiaries of the future. California had planned to have many of these kids caged for life. Instead, the state has been commanded to set loose these youngsters’ older brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, and grandparents. There may be no room at the penitentiary when the juveniles become men and women. What is the California dream coming to?

That dream seems to require Black mass incarceration for the emotional comfort of a majority of white people, not just in the Golden State, but every last one of the United States. Not to mention the local economies that have become dependent on a steady flow of Black and brown captives into out-in-the-boondocks white prison towns. There are indications that the guards who live in these towns are instigating prison disturbances to dramatize both how dangerous the inmates are and how much they, the guards, are needed. Downsize education and health care, roads and sanitation, but dare don’t touch the prison industrial complex.

Americans will watch many of their dreams die in the ongoing economic decline, and that is profoundly sad. But it is deeply sick that a society would cling so desperately to a nightmare: a prison system from Hell.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090826_gf_GulagInAusterity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

Bad Public Options for Health Care A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The more progressive Democrats in the House have vowed to hold out for a health care plan with a public option. However, insurance corporations are intent on extracting profit windfalls from the public options being crafted in both houses of Congress. What emerges may not be worthy of support under any circumstances.
 
Bad Public Options for Health Care
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“They are likely to create a sickly, deformed little troll of a bill.”
It’s always sad to watch the Democrats threaten to grow backbones following their latest humiliation at the hands of Republicans, Blue Dogs and the corporate class in general. Most often, whatever spinal growth that occurs amounts to no more than a residual tail bone above the butt – just a little stump, useless and not worth showing off. In the next weeks we should watch the Democrats in both houses of Congress very closely as they mount an effort to salvage something – anything – of the so-called “public” health care “option.” In the process of trying to save President Obama’s face and their own, they are likely to create a sickly, deformed little troll of a bill that actually lowers general health care standards while shoveling millions more consumers and hundreds of billions more dollars into private insurance companies.
Although the official line among the for-profit insurance mafia and their servants is that a public option, no matter how puny, is worse than death, the truth is, the insurance profiteers are licking their chops and shouting “Hallelujah!” in anticipation of a public option “bonanza.” According to the August 24 Los Angeles Times, the insurance industry is confident they can extract “windfall” profits from the Democrats, whose desperation to appear to be fighting for the public is matched only by their abject fear of doing real battle with the rich and powerful.
“The profiteers have been allowed to shape the so-called public plan to their private ends.”
The health care profiteers will be delighted to sign up the millions of people that would be compelled to buy some kind of private coverage. Already, the Senate Finance Committee is considering giving the OK to insurance policies that only pay for 65 percent of patients' health care bills. The bare-bones, two-thirds coverage would be marketed as “affordable.” What a cruel trick! Obama, the Congress and the corporate health care vultures get to claim they have found a way to provide millions with “affordable” health insurance, when in fact the 65 percent coverage is guaranteed to bankrupt any family that encounters event moderately serious health problems. Health insurance that doesn't actually cover health care isn't health insurance at all – it's a scam. And when the state coerces its citizens to participate in the private scam, that is the very definition of corruption.
At present, seven out of every ten families that go bankrupt for health reasons, had health insurance – but not a good enough policy to save them. Yet the profiteers demand a health “reform” that allows them to sell wholly inadequate policies to millions more people who will have no choice but to buy what is offered.
Health care experts warn that proliferation and subsidizing of limited-coverage insurance would inevitably lower the norm of standards for all insurance – the exact opposite of what was intended under health care reform.
President Obama claimed he wanted a public option to keep the insurance companies “honest.” Instead, the profiteers have been allowed to shape the so-called public plan to their private ends.
At last count, 64 Democrats had vowed not to sign onto any bill without a public option. But even bills that claim to be public options are shaping up as private boondoggles. Nothing good can come of it.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090826_gf_BadPublicOptions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:40pm EDT

FBI Provacateur on McKinney:  Why Not Lynch an "Uppity Black B*tch?" A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
A white racist who threatened the lives of white state legislators and federal judges in Connecticut and Illinois, was jailed. But when the same man demanded the lynching of Black Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney while a paid agent provocateur for the FBI, in 2006, nothing happened – which leads us to conclude that the FBI approved.

FBI Provocateur on McKinney: Why Not Lynch an “Uppity Black Bitch?”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“By doing nothing, the FBI condoned Turner's demand for the assassination of a federal lawmaker.”
There is every historical reason to believe that the FBI approved of – or at least, had no objections to – it’s own agent’s incitement to assassinate a sitting Black U.S. congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, in 2006.
The FBI's deep and institutional involvement in promoting domestic terror is an abiding fact of American life dating back nearly a century. The Bureau was born as a secret political police agency that arguably manufactured or instigated far more crime than it legitimately uncovered. It's core mission has remained unchanged since World War One, when the embryonic FBI was set loose as the federal attack dog to maul anti-war forces, labor, and the Left in general. Throughout its history, the FBI has considered all consciously Black politics to be inherently subversive – and the Bureau believed its mandate was to eliminate all subversives by any means necessary.
To that end, the FBI employed a vast army of agent provocateurs, whose job was to create crimes. Some of this FBI activity was simple entrapment, provoking people to engage in crimes they were presumably predisposed to commit, anyway, so that they could be arrested and taken out of circulation. But throughout the 19-teens, the 1920s, the 30s, and in every decade into the 21st century, the primary mission of the FBI's so-called “counter-intelligence” efforts has been to devise ways in which its “enemies” would wind up dead, maimed or otherwise “neutralized.” Thus, the Bureau routinely instigated violence for its own political purposes.
“The primary mission of the FBI's so-called 'counter-intelligence' efforts has been to devise ways in which its 'enemies' would wind up dead, maimed or otherwise 'neutralized.'”
Hal Turner, an internet radio operator and white racist from New Jersey, is charged with calling for the deaths of state lawmakers in Connecticut and three federal judges in Illinois. For that, he has been jailed. His lawyers claim Turner was only doing what the FBI taught him to do when he was one of their paid provocateurs, from 2002 to 2007. The prosecution admits Turner worked for the FBI before he broadcast the calls for the white officials' deaths. The FBI won't comment. But Turner would have been employed by the Bureau in 2006, when he asked his racist internet audience the question, “Given the prevalence of Black crime in America, would it serve the public good to lynch Congresswoman McKinney within the next few weeks...so as to send an unmistakable message to other Blacks...behave or die?” Turner then told his audience the address of McKinney's campaign headquarters.
For this brazen and very public threat against a federal official, Turner was neither charged, nor jailed, nor otherwise bothered in the least. When a McKinney aide contacted the FBI, he was told, “We know all about Turner.” Of course they did. By doing nothing, the FBI condoned Turner's demand for the assassination of a federal lawmaker, who he described as “a violent, black, racist bitch....”
Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department oversees the Bureau – at least on paper. It is his job to root out the terror squads that have always been part of the very fiber of the FBI. Attorney General Holder has said Americans are “cowards” when it comes to race. Is he afraid of his own FBI?
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090826_gf_McKinneyThreatened.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:23pm EDT

Send In the Clowns: 3 Stooges, Gingrich, Sharpton & Duncan Hit the Road For Corporate “School Reform”

Quite separately from each other, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Rev. Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich have long ago forfeited whatever credibility they may once have had. Taken together, they are simply a bad joke: three gown men publicly eye-poking and slap fighting each other while they all come together to sell us high-stakes testing, charter schools, educational privatization and the whole package of corporate “school reform.”

Send In the Clowns: 3 Stooges, Gingrich, Sharpton & Duncan Hit the Road For Corporate “School Reform”

by BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon

Back in the late 19th and early 20th century heydays of vaudeville, when the singers bombed, when the jokes fell flat and audience attention started wandering, management knew what to do. They would send in the clowns. Some things haven't changed.

Despite a decade of hard sell by right wing think tanks, foundations, and big media, the American people have not bought the corporate version of school reform. Most people just don't believe public schools should be privatized or militarized, or operated by business people like businesses instead of by educators, parents and communities in the interests of children, parents and communities, like the best schools always have been run. And most educators doubt that high stakes testing improves educational outcomes in any meaningful way.

Since the public debates on charter schools and privatizing education are ones that our elite cannot win, they have decreed there will be no debate. Instead of an honest public examination of the disastrous impact of No Child Left Behind, and its attendant decade of creeping educational privatization, corporate media, the Obama administration and its bipartisan allies are sending in the clowns with a 21st century three stooges remake starring the Rev. Al Sharpton, along with Republican former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, elbowing and slapping at each other, yukking it up about their supposed political differences while they all come together around the corporate elite's version of “school reform.”

Stooge number one is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a former basketball player and friend of the president who, without a single hour of teaching experience was named by Chicago's Mayor Daley to head the nation's third largest school system. Duncan now pledges to extend the Chicago model of high stakes testing and massive school closings to create opportunities for what he calls “innovative” charter schools. Thanks to Duncan, Chicago's public schools are now being sued by black teachers for racial discrimination in the wholesale dismissal of hundreds of qualified, dedicated black teachers and their replacement with younger, cheaper, less experienced and mostly whiter ones. Even now, the Obama administration is withholding federal education funds from states and school districts to force nationwide implementation of these so-called “reforms.”

Stooge number two is the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose presence allows the stooges to claim they are a “civil rights” act. Rev. Sharpton jumped aboard the corporate education reform bandwagon with both feet after receiving a half million dollar bribe last year, for his National Action Network reportedly brokered by New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein through a right wing not for profit agency that promotes charter schools.

Stooge number three is the same Newt Gingrich who, who once advocated removal of underachieving children from their parents homes to boarding schools and military academies, and whose 1994 Contract For America, demanded the dissolution of the US Department of Education.

Mass media ought to be where the studies, the facts, the experience and the voices of parents, educators, students and communities across the country wrestling with the problems of education are held up for all to examine and understand. But that would be too much like public service for our America's privatized media. What we'll get instead is entertainment. They're sending in the clowns. And here they come!

Privatization Pictures presents a No Child Left Behind Production starring the New Three Stooges, Arne Duncan, Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich in Corporate School Reform directed by Barack Obama and produced by the Bradley, Heritage and Walton Family Foundations, featuring fake statistics, dubious studies, crackpot merit pay schemes, charter schools including military charter schools, cronyism, patronage, corruption, worse educational outcomes, thousands of school closings, mass firings of qualified teachers, community destabilization, loss of public and community control, and the privatization of education.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon apologizing to the ghosts of the original three stooges. They'd understand. On the web, we are at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20090818_3stooges_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:24am EDT

iraqi electionA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
On January 16 of next year, Iraqis will vote in national elections and a referendum on whether to send the Americans home by the end of 2010 – a year earlier than the U.S. expected. “There is no doubt – none whatsoever – that overwhelming majorities of Iraqis will vote to evict the American occupiers.” But the U.S. anti-war movement can take little of the credit.
Iraqis to Vote on Early U.S. Exit
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Will Washington just give up the occupation and slither away?”
The American occupation of Iraq may be ending much sooner than Washington anticipated – but little thanks to the U.S. anti-war movement, which has in recent years made itself largely irrelevant to issues of war and peace. The Shi'ite-dominated government in Baghdad is asking Iraq's parliament to hold a popular referendum this coming January that will almost certainly demand the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2010, a year before the Obama administration's fuzzy target date of December, 2011. That means all U.S. military, not just so-called “combat” forces – the semantic farce deployed by the Obama administration to disguise a huge U.S. military and mercenary presence deep into the misty future.
There is no doubt – none whatsoever – that overwhelming majorities of Iraqis will vote to evict the American occupiers, whose flimsy and coerced United Nations “mandate” to remain in Iraq expired last December. That means there is no longer even a veneer of legal basis for the U.S. presence, once the Iraqis say it's time to go.
Despite what you have heard and seen and read in the U.S. corporate media, the great mass of Iraqis have always wanted the Americans out. Nobody on the planet except Americans ever believed the U.S. was in Iraq to protect anything other than American ambitions to dominate the land and resources of other peoples. The current regime in Baghdad promised the Iraqi people it would hold a referendum on the American presence this summer, but delayed the plebiscite to buy more time to consolidate their position, politically and militarily. The January 16 referendum will coincide with Iraq's national elections. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's faction could not hope to win those elections unless it allowed a vote on ridding the country of the U.S. Occupation.
There is no doubt that overwhelming majorities of Iraqis will vote to evict the American occupiers.”
The Obama administration is no more in favor of Iraqis expressing their political will through the voting process than was the Bush administration, which only agreed to popular elections back in 2005 after Ayatolla al-Sistani threatened to bring a million Shi'ites into the streets of Baghdad. President Obama and his generals have applied every conceivable pressure to avoid a referendum on the occupation. Now it appears the clock is ticking – not in the Obama White House, where it could always be turned back on some pretext, but in Baghdad, where al-Maliki's government must show it is on the side of the people, and not the occupier.
None of the Iraq developments of the last two years were due to the U.S. anti-war movement, much of which effectively collapsed into the Obama campaign and then disintegrated.
When the Iraqi people declare at the polls in January that the Americans must pick up their marbles and leave, will Washington just give up the occupation and slither away? That's not in the nature of the imperial beast. But the U.S. will find it much more difficult to claim it is protecting the people whose house it broke into and plundered in March of 2003. 
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090819_gf_IraqiReferendum.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51pm EDT

BARACK HEALTH CAREA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
It's all over but the funeral.” In abandoning the “public option,” President Obama has relinquished all claim as champion of health care reform, the content of which he first diluted and ultimately bargained away entirely. The forces of reaction, which were disorganized and on the defensive when Obama entered office, have been vastly strengthened by the president's “duplicitous backroom deals and back-stabbing of his most loyal supporters.”
Obama Piddles Away the Public's Options
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Obama seems to believe he can salvage a bill – any bill – and scribble the word “reform” on it.”
It became crystal clear that the insurance companies had prevailed in President Obama's health care fiasco the moment the White House coined the term “public option.” Plainly, a public alternative to private health insurance was always merely an option – just another bargaining chip in Obama's private and oh-so-friendly negotiations with the rich and ruthless. Now it's all over but the funeral.
The death of Obama's health care project was both ignominious and foreordained. This is what comes from duplicitous backroom deals and back-stabbing of one's most loyal supporters. What remains of the legislative mish-mash birthed by Obama and his congressional co-conspirators, are corporate bills. That's why the drug barons are spending $150 million to advertise for Obama's fraudulent brand of health care reform. And, although the insurance industry continues to publicly oppose the hollow shell that Obama's project has become, at this stage in the game they win whichever way the wind blows. If Obama's hot air balloon fully deflates, the health insurance companies will continue to enjoy the status quo they have so carefully engineered over the years. But if a bill emerges with provisions that force everyone to buy private insurance, the health care racketeers will add millions of new, subsidized customers.
Obama gave everything away before the negotiations even began.”
Obama signaled that he is willing to engage in further compromise with his corporate friends, the guys whose company and confidence he so highly prized at White House health care forums, venues where single-payer advocates were not welcome. The problem is, Obama gave everything away before the negotiations even began. Now he has nothing left to trade, and not enough forces to rearrange the battlefield, having demobilized and dismissed the Left in favor of corporate Democrats like himself. Still, Obama seems to believe he can salvage a bill – any bill – and scribble the word “reform” on it.
He has been reduced to the politics of semantics. He invites his election day supporters to leap into the river with him as he grasps at “slivers” and straws and calls them “reform.” Obama will describe passage of any legislation with the word reform attached to it, a victory. But his paper victory will represent a lasting defeat for real health care reform, which will have been discredited in the eyes of the public – for how long, no one can say.
But the damage is even more horrific. Obama has succeeded in wounding Medicare – and Medicaid and veterans health care and Social Security – more grievously than the Republicans could have dreamed of on their own. He entered office spreading hysteria about the cost of Medicare and other so-called “entitlements.” Now his little boat is sinking, but the Republicans have been reinforced in their age-old battle to privatize what's left of the public sphere. In the short space of 7 months, Obama has piddled and bargained away huge regions of the public's “options.”
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090819_gf_ObamaCareSinking.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46pm EDT

where are the jobs?A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
There are no targeted programs to address soaring Black unemployment on the horizon, despite Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress. President Obama puts his faith in a “rising tide” that “lifts all boats,” but in the real world “the economic tide is sinking Black boats at two, three and four times the rate of whites.”
Black Jobs Disappearing at Depression-Era Rates
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Obama will preside over a huge increase in permanent Black joblessness.”
President Obama continues to insist that a rising economic tide will “lift all boats.” But what's actually rising is a tidal wave of Black unemployment that in some regions is already at Depression-era levels and promises to add yet another layer of permanently jobless African Americans.
A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the economic tide is sinking Black boats at two, three and four times the rate of whites. Obama's determination to do nothing specifically targeting African American unemployment guarantees he will preside over a huge increase in permanent Black joblessness.
Black national unemployment, which is now posted at 14.7 percent, is expected to rise to 16 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for whites. Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites for so long – at least two generations – economists and media call the disparity “traditional,” like apple pie and the 4th of July. Embedded in that statistic is the permanent instability of Blacks in the job market. Each time there is another wave of higher unemployment, larger numbers of those whose jobs were already unstable, drown. Another strata of the permanently jobless is left behind, a social crime that cries out to be undone. But that would require programs targeted to the places and people that have been most harmed by economic dislocations. By the logic of the numbers, that means Black people, most intensely. But President Obama will have none of that. He is ideologically committed to a race-neutrality that, in the job market, can only result in a steady expansion of chronic Black employment instability and permanent joblessness.
Blacks have lost ground in every job category.”
As disturbing as the national employment figures are, they don't convey the true scope of the deep and enduring Black jobs crisis. One out of every four Blacks in Michigan will be officially unemployed by the summer of next year. In Ohio and Alabama, one in five African Americans will officially be out of work. South Carolina and North Carolina will be right behind, nearing 20 percent official Black unemployment. In New York City and Washington, DC, official Black unemployment is an astronomical four times the rate for whites. I refer to the “officially” unemployed, because whole categories of workers slip off the U.S. Labor Department's jobless list every month, while the structurally or permanently unemployed are treated as if they do not exist.
The current economic crisis has resulted in an across-the-board employment disaster for Blacks, who have lost ground in every job category: manufacturing, wholesale and retail commerce, transportation, utilities, finance, insurance, real estate – the catastrophe is near universal. The Economic Policy Institute report recommends that the nation “devote extra resources to those states and groups that are hardest hit.” But Obama has already said no, and Black mass organizations seem more interested in coming to the first Black president's defense than in banging at the door of the White House, demanding relief for the people.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090805_gf_BlackJobs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

inside manA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The bankster class, awash in billions in bonus money, flaunts its unearned wealth, oblivious to the political harm their antics are inflicting on the “Indispensable Man” in the bank bailout, President Obama. The author believes “the president's intimate entanglements with the criminal banking class will be his undoing.”
 

The Inside Man on the Great Bank Heist

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Obama's bankster friends can be counted on to repeatedly embarrass the president.”
Detroit Congressman John Conyers worries that President Obama might be brought down by his failure to put forward and fight for a decent health care plan. Conyers may be right, but I think the president's intimate entanglements with the criminal banking class will be his undoing. No matter how many times Obama puts a scowl on his face and pretends to threaten the banksters for their latest transgressions against everyone else's economic security, the public will remember who got bailed out first and most under the outgoing George Bush and the incoming Barack Obama.
The bankers have no shame, and even less regard for how much their behavior harms the political fortunes of their friends in the White House and Congress. It seemed like only yesterday that we were told life as we know it would cease to exist if Wall Street was not gifted with the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world. At the time most of the public, Democrats and Republicans, initially opposed the bailout, sensing it was a scam. George Bush could never have pulled it off – this, the greatest boondogle in human history. Republicans were screaming that a bailout meant instant socialism. Up stepped presidential candidate Obama, who sweet-talked the Democrats into pushing the bailout through Congress. For the banksters, Obama was the Indispensable Man.
George Bush could never have pulled it off.”
So, how do they reward him? In uncivilized haste, nine banks that received $175 billion of the people's money turned around and gave more than $32 billion to their executives and high roller employees, as bonuses. It was left to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to cry foul, in a report entitled, “No Rhyme or Reason: The 'Heads I Win, Tails You Lose' Bank Bonus Culture.” Essentially, the report outlined how bank managers divvy up bilions of dollars among themselves and their top-gun dealmakers, whether the institutions are doing well or not – not to mention how well or badly the real economy is performing for real people.
Banking in 21st century America is, in the end, exactly what most people suspected: a racket rigged for the benefit of the bankers, themselves. They had taken the people to the cleaners, fleeced the public, stolen them blind, and were now cashing in their billions in plain view of 300 million suckers.
Nobody can pull off that big a heist without an Inside Man. The guy who vouched for the thieves back in October of last year, who convinced all those Democrats in Congress that he'd make sure the banks were made accountable to the people once he was sworn in as president.
Obama's bankster friends, fearing nothing and no one, can be counted on to repeatedly embarrass the president with their felonious, anti-social behavior, in the depths of everybody else's economic crisis. At some point, it will become Obama's political crisis. The first black president will be even more widely perceived as the bankers president. Which is what he has always been.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20090805_gf_BankingRacket.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:48am EDT

conyers and obamaA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The nation's senior Black congressman fears Barack Obama is in danger of becoming a one-term president. Obama's health care proposal is “crap,” says Detroit's John Conyers, and Obama loses whether it passes or fails.



Conyers: “There is no one more disappointed than I am in Barack Obama.”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Progressive congresspersons may wind up voting against Obama on health care.”
Congressman John Conyers says Barack Obama’s stance on health care has been wrong, and it’s going to cost the president “big time.” It might even cost Obama his second term in the White House.
Conyers gave that assessment at Washington’s Busboys and Poets restaurant, bookstore and bar, where the Progressive Democrats of America were celebrating their fifth anniversary. Conyers is the Congressional Black Caucus’s longest serving member, having represented Detroit since 1964, when Obama was a three-year-old. He’s also one of the most consistently progressive members of the House, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and author of single payer health care bill H.R. 676 – legislation the White House has done its best to smother. Obama once gave lip service to single payer health care, but as president has staked his reputation on a mishmash of corporate schemes and deals-with-the-devil masquerading as health care reform – a thoroughly confused and conflicted legislative concoction that Conyers describes, simply, as “crap.”
Conyers suggests that, at the end of the legislative process, progressive congresspersons may wind up voting against Obama on health carebecause the bill will be simply too bad for advocates of real reform to support.
Busboys and Poets is a favored gathering place for progressives of all races. On the January night last year when Obama won the South Carolina primary, the place was noisier and more boisterous than anybody’s sports bar – so many deliriously hopeful faces, such soaring expectations. Now, John Conyers was telling many of the same people: “There is no one more disappointed than I am in Barack Obama.”
We’ve got to tell Obama now, or he’ll be a one term president.”
The president and his supporters often throw around the old cliché about not letting the “perfect become the enemy of the good.” That’s their way of defending the fatal compromises Obama keeps making with the right-wing before the fight has even begun. Whether because of lack of gumption or lack of real commitment on Obama’s part, this refusal to confront Power is what has brought us to the current health care debacle in Congress. It’s not a matter of the perfect being the enemy of the good, but that the health care legislation shaped by the White House and its allies in Congress is just no damn good.
As disappointed as Conyers is with Obama, he still feels compelled to blame someone else for Obama’s health care fiasco. It’s White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s fault, says the congressman. Emanuel wants to pass any kind of health care bill, “anything just to say we did” pass something.
Whether the villainous Rahm Emanuel is to blame or it’s Obama’s own fault, the president will pay a steep political price, says Conyers. If he passes a “weak bill,” Obama loses, and if no bill passes, he loses. Conyers says he’s speaking out in such stark terms because, “we’ve got to tell Obama now, or he’ll be a one term president.”
The truth is, Obama killed the prospects for real health care reform when, no sooner than he had taken the oath of office, he began threatening to cut Medicare and attempting to marginalize single payer advocates like John Conyers. What begins badly, usually ends badly.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090805_gf_ConyersHealthcare.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:26am EDT

white firemenA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act still lives, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of then Federal Appeals Court decision against white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut. Another federal court has found discrimination in testing applicants for the New York City Fire Department. The New York test was filled with firefighting trivia questions that have little to do with the actual job.
 
Courts Again Confront Racism in Firefighter Hiring
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“A Federal District Court ruled that Blacks and Hispanics were discriminated against in two entrance exams for the New York City Fire Department.”
When Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, New Haven firefighters arrayed themselves in rows of seats in the audience, like full-dress uniformed rebukes to her legal judgment. The white and one Hispanic firemen were meant as visual testimony to the claim that white men have become victims of so-called “reverse discrimination.” The Supreme Court had earlier knocked down Sotomayor’s ruling, as an appellate judge, that the City of New Haven was justified in getting rid of a promotions test that had flunked every Black fireman that took it.
Some right-wingers may have wishfully thought that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was dead – that it was no longer a legal safeguard against tests that resulted in disproportionately bad outcomes for Blacks. They were wrong. Last week, a Federal District Court ruled that Blacks and Hispanics were discriminated against in two entrance exams for the New York City Fire Department. The judge ruled that the tests, administered in 1999 and 2002, not only disproportionately failed non-white applicants, but did so by asking questions that had little or nothing to do with fighting fires.
The tests were not quite as bad as the old Jim Crow voting test question, “How many bubbles in a bar of soap?” – but many of the questions were nearly as irrelevant. According to one constitutional law professor, the New York test was similar to others in big cities around the country, dealing with arcane firefighting details that only the children and grandchildren of firefighters would be familiar with – in other words, a kind of trivia for the families of firemen. Which is just the kind of test a bunch of white guys who want to put their relatives on the public payroll, would put together.
“The New York tests were designed to favor members of firefighting families.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is still in effect – at least until its next confrontation with the right-wingers at the U.S. Supreme Court. The legal reasoning goes like this: if a test results in a disproportionate number of failures among Blacks or Hispanics, then it must be shown that the skills and knowledge being tested are necessary for doing the job. If not, then the test amounts to illegal discrimination.
The New York test was written and multiple-choice. The judge in the case found that multiple-choice tests could measure only about half the skills necessary to fight fires. The city’s own firefighting experts believe that oral comprehension and oral expression are the most important skills for firefighters on the scene, but the tests did not measure these oral skills.
Clearly, the New York tests were designed to favor members of firefighting families, steeped in the lore and trivia of the profession, over otherwise qualified applicants, many of them Black and Hispanic.
Police and fire departments have remained disproportionately white, not because whites are inherently better at fighting fires and crime, but because the hiring and promotion systems have been rigged in their favor. The Civil Rights Act was designed to un-rig the system. That’s not reverse discrimination, that’s justice.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090729_gf_Firefighters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33am EDT

right to protectA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“R2P” is the latest American device to justify military aggression and regime-change in the developing world. “The doctrine is a warmed-over version of so-called 'humanitarian' military intervention – another excuse for big powers to make war on weaker nations.” The doctrine is “reminiscent of the term 'protectorate' – a legalism for a country that is run as a virtual colony of one of the big powers.”
 
“Responsibility to Protect” is Warmed-Over Imperialism
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“R2P allows Washington to act unilaterally whenever it decides that military intervention is in the best interest of humanity.”
The United Nations last week began what will become a protracted debate over the doctrine “Responsibility to Protect,” or R2P. The doctrine is a warmed-over version of so-called “humanitarian” military intervention – another excuse for big powers to make war on weaker nations. Its primary champion in the Obama administration is UN ambassador Susan Rice, who would use the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine to justify U.S. military action in Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere. One important opponent of R2P is Rev. Miguel D’Escoto, of Nicaragua, president of the UN General Assembly.
“Responsibility to Protect” is reminiscent of the term “protectorate” – a legalism for a country that is run as a virtual colony of one of the big powers. That’s how the UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations, took the colony of South West Africa away from the defeated Germans, after World War One, and gave it to white-ruled South Africa, under whom it would remain until emerging as the independent Republic of Namibia, in 1990.
A “protectorate” is what the British and French established in much of the Middle East on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, also after World War One, so they could “protect” the oil and ports and other resources of the region from the people who lived there. Palestine was a British protectorate, but that didn’t protect the Arab majority from the Zionists, who stole the land in 1948.
Haiti is now a de facto “protectorate” of the United Nations, which fronts for the United States, France and Canada. In fact, the new version of protectorates – philosophically buttressed by the doctrine “Responsibility to Protect” – was refined specifically to deny Haitians sovereignty over their own country after the ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 2004.
“Africa has turned decisively against the notion of 'Responsibility to Protect.'”
UN General Assembly president D’Escoto rejects the doctrine of protectorates, under the guise of R2P. His country, Nicaragua, was viewed, like all of Central America, as a protectorate of the United States. The U.S. once considered Nicaragua as a dumping ground for freed Black American slaves, and in the 1980s funded Contra terrorists and mined Nicaraguan harbors in defiance of the World Court, which was unable to provide protection from the Americans.
Africa has turned decisively against the notion of “Responsibility to Protect,” as it has witnessed the lopsided protectionist “justice” of an International Criminal Court that indicts only Africans, but does nothing to protect Africa from U.S. and European neocolonialism.
Among those participating in the UN debate on R2P, is Noam Chomksy, who describes the doctrine as “humanitarian imperialism.” That certainly is what it would amount to in the hands of the United States. Susan Rice’s version of R2P allows Washington to act unilaterally whenever it decides that military intervention is in the best interest of humanity. In practice, that’s no different than the Bush doctrine, or all the other previous American doctrines that have justified regime change at Washington’s political whim.
What the planet really needs protection from, is the United States, which remains, as Dr. Martin Luther King said more than 40 years ago, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090729_gf_R2P.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:29am EDT

PRISONA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
American determination to arrest ever-increasing numbers of Blacks and to keep them locked up for as long as possible is creating a rapidly aging prison population. “Two-thirds of the prisoners serving life sentences are Black or Latino” and “more Americans are under life sentence than ever before – more than 140,000, compared to only 34,000 25 years ago.”
 
With Life Sentences Proliferating, U.S. Prisoners Get Blacker and Older
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“More than 20 percent of prison inmates are over 50 years old.”
The truth about race in America is most clearly evident, not in the unexpected election of a non-white man to the U.S. presidency – a singular and temporary phenomenon – but in the steady march of statistics from the criminal justice system. A new report from the Sentencing Project shows that two-thirds of the prisoners serving life sentences are Black or Latino. More Americans are under life sentence than ever before – more than 140,000, compared to only 34,000 25 years ago.
The racist nature of the system is seen in the ever-increasing proportion of non-whites condemned to spend the rest of their years behind bars. In New York State, whites make up only 16 percent of inmates serving life terms, although whites are 60 percent of the population. Such gross racial disparities obtain everywhere in the United States. The inexorable growth in life sentences guarantees that the grotesquely distorted racial outcomes of the U.S. criminal justice system will continue to grow deep into the future, as today’s young inmates become tomorrow’s sick, caged old men and women.
Nationally, one out of every ten prisoners is a lifer; in California, one out of five. In Alabama, Massachusetts, Nevada and New York, at least one out of every six inmates is doing life. Seven states and the federal prison system have done away with parole, altogether. That means, in Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, the actuarial tables of life and death ensure the prisons will be filled by an ever more geriatric – and ever Blacker and browner – cohort of captive men and women, grandmothers and grandfathers. Already, more than 20 percent of prison inmates are over 50 years old.
“The grotesquely distorted racial outcomes of the U.S. criminal justice system will continue to grow deep into the future.”
The states have a constitutional obligation to care for the health needs of this aging population – but of course, they do not live up to this obligation. California’s prison health care apparatus is so inadequate, it’s been ruled unconstitutional, but the state is crying broke. Prisoners over 50 cost California between $98,000 and $138,000 a year, but despite its poverty, the state remains determined to throw as many Black and brown people in prison for life as possible.
The sheer irrationality of U.S. prison policies points to race hysteria as the engine of incarceration. How else could we have arrived at a situation in which one out of every three Black males is under some form of criminal justice custody. These numbers reflect much more than bad laws; they reveal white society’s general intentions for Black people: to remove as many as possible from circulation, by any means necessary, with no possibility of return. When compared to the enormity of America’s prison Gulag, housing a million Black inmates, the presence of one Black male in the White House amounts to a mere diversion, especially when that Black president offers virtually no hope to ameliorate the conditions for, or lessen the numbers of, the one million locked inside.
America’s draconian prison policies are motivated by race, not rational concerns about safety. Otherwise, the penitentiaries would not be rapidly filling up with old Black and brown men – and an increasing number of older women – who are less and less dangerous, but more and more costly, by the year.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com
Direct download: 20090729_gf_LifeInPrison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Rev. Ed PinkneyA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The first man in modern day America to be imprisoned for “predicting what God might do” was released, last week. However, Rev. Edward Pinkney's conviction on voter fraud charges still stands, despite the 13 errors committed during his trail. The appeals court ruled the errors were “harmless” - a bizarre excuse for depriving Benton Harbor, Michigan of its premier Black leader and minister.
 
Rev. Edward Pinkney: The Preacher Who Dared to Invoke God
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“In confrontations between a Black man and a racist state apparatus, the damage inflicted can never be fully, or even substantially, repaired.”
When Rev. Edward Pinkney was freed from prison, last week, some hailed the Michigan appeals court decision as a great victory. Only in a society in which racial insult and oppression is general – an everyday fact of life – would Rev. Pinkney’s release after spending nearly a year in eight different Michigan prisons, be considered a triumph of justice. Rather, it is only a partial rollback of a series of horrendous wrongs.
Rev. Pinkney became what the American Civil Liberties Union described as the first man in modern times to be imprisoned for “predicting what God might do.” (Actually, I thought that much of the job description of a minister consisted of predicting and anticipating God’s point of view.) Specifically, Pinkney wrote an article for a Chicago newspaper that predicted the judge who convicted him of voter fraud would be cursed by God. On top of that, Pinkney expressed the opinion that the judge was racist, dumb and corrupt.
For this exercise of his freedom of speech and religion, Rev. Pinkney’s probation on the voter fraud conviction was revoked. He now faced three to ten years hard time. So began his Odyssey from one Michigan prison to another, as state authorities tried to bury the Baptist minister deeper and deeper in their dungeons. A national legal and political campaign ultimately culminated in Pinkney’s release, but as is usually the case in confrontations between a Black man and a racist state apparatus, the damage inflicted can never be fully, or even substantially, repaired.
“Power always holds itself harmless while committing great crimes.”
The first item on the loss side of the ledger, is the fact that Pinkney’s home town, predominantly Black Benton Harbor, Michigan, has been deprived of this Black leader and preacher’s services for well over a year. The white power structure against which Rev. Pinkney tirelessly organized, succeeded in getting him off of the streets for a significant period of time.
The appeals court that freed Rev. Pinkney refused to order a new trail on the original voter fraud charges. The court acknowledged that Berrien County committed 13 separate errors in the case, but declared these errors were “harmless” and would not have altered the verdict.
“Harmless” errors.  Power always holds itself harmless while committing great crimes.
One of the crimes Rev. Pinkney fought so hard to resist is gentrification. Benton Harbor’s lakeside location makes it a prime real estate attraction to the wealthy. When the leader of the anti-gentrification movement is forced to spend all his energy and time avoiding doing hard prison time, the gentrifiers win.
And so the net effect of Rev. Pinkney’s release last week is a mitigation of loss, rather than a victory. As the great Amilcar Cabral advised, Tell no lies and claim no easy victories.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090722_gf_Pinkney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:32am EDT

look for the union labelA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Employee Free Choice Act has been gutted and may expire entirely, a victim of Barack Obama's signature style of governing to the Right of the Democratic center. “Although candidate Obama paid lip-service to the Employee Free Choice Act, he pointedly failed to deploy the powers of the presidential 'bully-pulpit' on behalf of the key “card check” provisions that would have forced companies to recognize unions as soon as a majority of workers signed a union card.”
 
Another Obama Promise Broken -- The Right To Organize Betrayed
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“He eviscerates the labor and progressive agenda by withholding crucial White House support for measures he nominally endorses.”
The “card check” portion of the Employee Free Choice Act appears dead, yet more proof that a promise from Barack Obama is essentially worthless.
The word “transformational” should be purged from any discussion of the Obama presidency, as should any positive comparison between Obama and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. If FDR’s presidency can be summed up in a few words, it was a period in which the power of labor was greatly enhanced in effective partnership with the man in the White House, while a safety net was established that allowed working people the security to exercise those new powers.
Barack Obama seeks something quite different: an accommodation that leaves labor at an extreme disadvantage with the vastly expanded powers of finance capital and management, while the social safety net objectively ceases to exist. Such is the clear result and intent of Obama’s grossly lopsided actions – not words, but actions – during his first six months in office. Of the nearly $13 trillion committed to economic resuscitation since the financial meltdown, most of it under President Obama, 90 percent has gone to buttress the bankers, while unemployment and home foreclosures combine to wipe out all vestiges of security for the rest of us.
“He has methodically empowered the right-wing of the Democratic Party as arbiters of federal legislation.”
President Obama has been an active player in this debacle. He has methodically empowered the right-wing of the Democratic Party as arbiters of federal legislation. As with health care, Obama signals loudly that he prefers to avoid confrontation with capital, thus giving the nod to those Democrats politically closest to Republicans that they are free to seek compromises with Big Business at the expense of Democratic constituencies. Although candidate Obama paid lip-service to the Employee Free Choice Act, he pointedly failed to deploy the powers of the presidential “bully-pulpit” on behalf of the key “card check” provisions that would have forced companies to recognize unions as soon as a majority of workers signed a union card. Effectively, and purposely, that allowed a handful of right-wing Democrats to conspire with Republicans to kill card check, while President Obama pretends the outcome was none of his doing.
Accepting defeat, and fearing to antagonize Obama by laying it at his feet, where it belongs, labor leaders now concentrate on salvaging other parts of the legislation, such as binding arbitration and streamlining the union election process. Unfortunately, Obama has privileged the same gaggle of Democratic right-wingers to handle negotiations to keep some portions of the Employee Free Choice Act alive in the Senate.
The presidential pattern is unmistakable; in fact, it has become Obama’s governing signature. He eviscerates the labor and progressive agenda by withholding crucial White House support for measures he nominally endorses, and then passes de facto leadership to the most backward elements of the Democratic Party. The conclusion is inescapable: Barack Obama is the most active and critical member of the right wing of his party. With Obama at the helm, “card check” never had a chance.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com
Direct download: 20090722_gf_cardcheck.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20am EDT

street scene in HondurasBlack Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Although nobody but Americans believes Washington was not behind the late June coup in Honduras, Barack Obama brings his own touch to subverting one's hemispheric neighbors. “Obama makes democratic noises – and then refuses to back them up with any actions that would cause U.S. clients in the Honduran military and oligarchy to relinquish power.” And he does it all with a straight face.
 
Bush and Obama: Different Styles of Coup-Making
Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Bush would ratchet up the aggression with threats of regime-change all around.”
There should be no doubt about U.S. involvement in the military coup in Honduras, June 28. Nothing happens in the Honduran military without U.S. knowledge and consent. Honduras is the original “banana republic,” once a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Brands) and for the last three generations a U.S. staging area for subverting governments throughout the hemisphere.
What the U.S.-backed Honduran coup illustrates is the difference between Barack Obama and George Bush. President Bush would likely have set the coup in motion with bombastic statements from the White House and State Department charging Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya with conspiring with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and other leftist leaders to undermine governments in the region friendly to Washington. Rather than simply defend the local necessity of the coup, Bush would ratchet up the aggression with threats of regime-change all around. But of course, that’s one of the reasons Bush isn’t there anymore, and why after eight years of Bush’s counterproductive rants and threats U.S. corporations threw their money to the Democrats – specifically, the fresh new face of Barack Obama.
“Obama’s State Department continues to avoid even using the word 'coup.'”
Obama keeps the drama out of regime change, by pretending to be opposed to coups in principle. So Obama makes democratic noises – and then refuses to back them up with any actions that would cause U.S. clients in the Honduran military and oligarchy to relinquish power. Obama’s State Department continues to avoid even using the word “coup” to describe the military’s arrest and forced exile of President Zelaya. If the Americans acknowledged that a coup had occurred, they would be legally obligated to cut off millions of dollars in military and economic aid to Honduras. Latin American heads of state made it a point to meet directly with President Zelaya, to show their solidarity with his elected government. Obama sends underlings, to signal to the coup plotters that he’s got their back. Alone among members of the Organization of American States, the U.S. continues to maintain an ambassador in the Honduran capital. His name is Hugo Llorens, a Cuban exile and Republican holdover and multinational corporate political operative. Llorens has admitted to having participated in meetings where coup plans were discussed, although he claims he was simply an observer. Historically, in Latin America, the U.S. embassy has been ground zero for regime change. There is no reason to think the latest coup in Honduras is any different.
President Obama may have trouble pulling off his innocent act. The European Union is threatening to suspend $92 million in aid to Honduras, which caused Secretary of State Clinton to make a call, pretending to pressure the civilian coup leaders.
In the end, it is even possible that the U.S. will allow Zelaya to return, although in a weakened condition. The coup will have served as a lesson to Latin America, that the U.S. is still in the regime-change business, even if Barack Obama denies it with a straight face.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20090722_gf_Honduras.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

Obama’s Good Move on Student Loans A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
President Obama has done students in need of loans a good turn, and surprised BAR by oving to snatch $15 billion a year out of the jaws of the banks. “For decades the bankers have been getting risk-free federal money at taxpayer and student expense, by handling student loans already guaranteed by the federal government, collecting fees and then selling the loans to the U.S. Treasury.”
 
Obama’s Good Move on Student Loans
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“It is a shameless, $15 billion a year gift to the banking industry for risking literally nothing while siphoning off money that should have gone to students’ education.”
It’s not often that we have good things to say about President Obama. It is even more rare that the good news about his administration has to do with banks. So it is welcome to hear that the White House is making good on its commitment to eliminate the multi-billion-dollar banking boondoggle in dispensing college loans.
For decades the bankers have been getting risk-free federal money at taxpayer and student expense, by handling student loans already guaranteed by the federal government, collecting fees and then selling the loans to the U.S. Treasury. It is a shameless, $15 billion a year gift to the banking industry for risking literally nothing while siphoning off money that should have gone to students’ education.
The Obama White House first promised to cut the bank middlemen out back in February. But we have all learned to take Obama’s political promises with several spoonfuls of salt, since he often fails to follow through with pressures on Democrats in Congress. This time appears to be different. The chairman of the House Education Committee, California Representative George Miller, is introducing legislation to enable the government to loan money directly to students, thus theoretically freeing up $87 billion over the next ten years for direct distribution to students. President Obama says he wants the savings directed to Pell grants for low-income students.
“The student loan business has become a racket because of corruption of politicians by businessmen.”
The banks are crying like somebody stole from them, although they’ll still be eligible for contracts to do some of the paperwork associated with student loans. But that’s not free money, which is the kind the bankster class has gotten used to receiving under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Some of the nation’s biggest banks have already opted out of funding loans to students at community colleges. Citibank and JP Morgan Chase picked up their marbles and left the community college student loan game after the federal government stopped reimbursing banks for paying students’ processing fees. These mega-banks say the processing – at about $20 per student – cuts too deeply into their profits.
The Washington-based New America Foundation recentlyissued a report that recommends elimination of 35 so-called student loan guarantee agencies. These outfits rake in about one and a half billion dollars a year performing contradictory functions. They are paid a fee to help borrowers avoid defaulting on their loans, but they get an even bigger fee by collecting on the loan if the borrower defaults.
Clearly this is a racket, just as the bank middlemen arrangement is a racket. But a more accurate term is: corruption. The student loan business has become a racket because of corruption of politicians by businessmen. A thoroughly corrupt society is one in which the theft occurs in the bright light of day, as part of the normal workings of the system. By that standard, the United States is a deeply corrupt nation, where $15 billion dollars in education money is siphoned into bankers’ pockets year after year for doing very little at no risk. Such monumental corruption would make any Nigerian general very proud.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20090715_gf_StudentLoans.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43am EDT

Maxine Water vs. Fatal Derivatives
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Obama administration is clearly trying to keep Congress from taking legislative action against derivatives, the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that set off the economic crisis. “Geithner claims he wants credit-default swaps brought under control, but only through stricter regulation, not by law.” California Congresswoman Maxine Waters wants derivatives banned outright, and has submitted legislation to that effect. But so far, she has no co-sponsors.
 
Maxine Water vs. Fatal Derivatives
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“When it comes to making rhetoric into law, Obama’s team sides with the money bags.”
President Obama’s sent his dog-and-pony show on banking regulation to Capitol Hill, last week, with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as Master of Obfuscation. The Obama administration spews lots of rhetoric about reining in the investment banks and hedge funds so that they don’t get another chance to destroy themselves and what’s left of the economy. But when it comes to making rhetoric into law, Obama’s team sides with the money bags that were his biggest campaign contributors and now run his economic policy.
Geithner promised he would control derivatives, the Wall Street inventions that billionaire George Soros has called “financial weapons of mass destruction.” The explosion of derivatives is widely acknowledged to have set off the global economic crisis. Credit-default swaps are among the most volatile and dangerous types of derivatives. Geithner claims he wants credit-default swaps brought under control, but only through stricter regulation, not by law. Amazingly, Geithner argues that passing specific laws would make it easier, rather than harder, for the high rollers to break the rules – a totally illogical and dishonest position. Instead, he wants regulators to keep the players in line – but Geithner refuses to say which part of the bureaucracy the regulators should come from, and the Obama administration won’t offer anything more definitive until September.
“We are supposed to trust the same regulators that have always been in bed with Wall Street.”
Geithner’s mission, as directed by the president, was to discourage the Congress from interfering with Wall Street through legislation. Instead, we are supposed to trust the same regulators that have always been in bed with Wall Street – the guys that allowed Bernie Madoff to operate with impunity decade after decade – and to trust the Obama economic team, made up of the same people that set the derivatives Frankenstein on its path of destruction under President Bill Clinton.
The Obama team says it will force the high rollers to back their derivatives with more capital, so that they will be less likely to implode. But the derivatives market is nominally valued at $592 trillion, about 12 times the value of all the goods and services produced per year on the planet Earth! It would require far, far more money than exists in the entire world to make the planet safe for derivatives. They must be abolished, before they implode again.
Black California Congresswoman Maxine Waters has introduced legislation to do just that: ban credit-default swap derivatives. “Preventing all credit-default swaps is essential,” said Congresswoman Waters, “to bringing stability to the market and preventing a similar crisis in the future.”
The crisis set off by derivatives has stripped African Americans of hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth – a catastrophe of historical proportions that has undone much of the economic progress of several generations. Congresswoman Waters’ bill, HR 3145, has no co-sponsors, as yet. We shall see how the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus responds. This is a clear choice of doing what is necessary to protect Black America, or going along with Barack Obama and his Wall Street friends.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20090715_gf_WatersDerivatives.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EDT

Ward Churchill: Academic Freedom Denied A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
An anti-imperialist ethics professor has no rights that his university is bound to respect. That's the lesson from a Denver District Court that refused to reinstate Ward Churchill, despite a jury's finding that he was fired from the University of Colorado because of his political statements. “There is no such thing as academic and political freedom if you can be fired for exercising it.”
Ward Churchill: Academic Freedom Denied
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“His real crime was in declaring that U.S. society, as well as the U.S. government, was no innocent victim.”
Academic freedom has long been more of a myth than a reality in the United States. Like so many “freedoms” Americans celebrate, it tends to fail the test when confronted with the larger public’s freedom to exact vengeance against those it hates, and the freedom of large institutions to exclude those who question the role of those institutions, from within.
The political activist and ethics professor Ward Churchill’s freedoms were negated earlier this year by a Denver District Court that ruled he was not entitled to get his job back at the University of Colorado, even though a jury had earlier decided Churchill had been fired for his political views. There is no such thing as academic and political freedom if you can be fired for exercising it.
Churchill’s crime was in writing an essay the day after September 11th, that tried to put the attacks in the context of U.S. foreign policy’s effects on other peoples in the world. He used the term “little Eichmanns” to describe some of the people who died in the World Trade Center – not a very politic thing to do, but certainly not as harmful as what George Bush unleashed on the world in the aftermath, or the wave of racist, fascist-like assaults on anybody vaguely Middle Eastern-looking that continue to this day.
Ward Churchill was made to pay for his impolitic political statements, despite his disavowal of organized terror and his admission that families of 9/11 victims might have been hurt. His real crime was in declaring that U.S. society, as well as the U.S. government, was no innocent victim – that imperialism is a system based on crimes and terror and sometimes the superpower criminal gets terrorized back. In much, if not most, of the world such opinions are thought to be self-evident. In the United States, they are broadly considered a kind of treason, beyond the pale and beyond the protection of the Constitution.
“Ward Churchill was made to pay for his impolitic political statements.”
Certainly, the Denver District Court mangled the Constitution in finding that Churchill did not deserve reinstatement or compensation for his lost professorship. To justify their decision, the court ruled that the university’s board of regents had acted as judges in dismissing Churchill, and therefore, their decision was beyond challenge. If that were true, the regents constituted a very strange court, indeed, since they had collectively denounced Churchill before even formally examining his case.
The District Court also dismissed the fact that a real, legally constituted jury had agreed with Churchill, that he had been fired for political reasons. But, since the jurors only awarded him $1 in damages, the court believed it could get away with giving Churchill nothing.
The law can’t get any flimsier than that. Which shows that academic freedom isn’t just a fragile thing, in America – it’s broken.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 
Direct download: 20090715_gf_Churchill.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26am EDT

Barack Obama and the Future of American PoliticsLong time activist, researcher and scholar Paul Street offers perhaps the most clear-heded and meticulously researched dissection yet of the career of the current president, along with a frank assessment of the possibilites, good and not so good, in an Obama administration.

In part 3 of this hour-long interview with Dr. Jared Ball, Street completes his exploration of the phenomenon of Barack Obama and what it means to black and progressive politics.

Direct download: 20090615_jared-interviews-paulstreet3.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:51am EDT

US Allies On The Ropes In Somalia
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
When the Bush regime encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia in 2006, it may not have realized the fierce forces it was unleashing in the Horn of Africa. Now its Somali allies are on the verge of total defeat at the hands of Islamists. The U.S. claims the ever-shrinking regime in Mogadishu is besieged by foreign jihadis, but “most analysts maintain the fighters are overwhelmingly homegrown.”
 
U.S. Allies on the Ropes in Somalia
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The American-supported Somali faction is now in desperate straights.”
Islamist forces in Somalia are demanding the surrender of the U.S.-backed regime that has been squeezed into a small pocket of the capital city, Mogadishu. The ultimatum, made on Sunday, demands the so-called government lay down its arms within five days. The mini-state refused, apparently counting on the arrival of reinforcements Burundi, in Central Africa. Another U.S. ally, Rwanda, guards Mogadishu airport under the job description of African Union peacekeepers.
As the military situation deteriorated for Washington’s side in Somalia, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson – that’s right, Johnnie Carson, like the deceased comedian – was trying, without much evident success, to convince African heads of state to go along with the American military program in the Horn of Africa.
The Americans encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia in late 2006, creating the worst humanitarian crisis on the continent, according to the United Nations. The Ethiopian occupation provoked fierce resistance among the Somalis, forcing the Ethiopians to pull back, but not out of the country. The American-supported Somali faction is now in such desperate straights, it last month literally begged neighboring countries to invade. That shameless abdication of national sovereignty appears to have only led to more desertions from the incredibly shrinking government’s ranks.
“Carson was looking for more troops from a wider range of countries to save America’s allies from absolute defeat in Somalia.”
If Washington learned anything from militarily supporting the Ethiopian invasion, it was that Somalis hate being occupied by foreigners. Last week, at the summit meeting of the African Union, in Libya, the Obama administration’s Johnnie Carson appears to have discovered it was not a good time to put imperial pressure on African heads of state. Carson was looking for more troops from a wider range of countries to save America’s allies from absolute defeat in Somalia. All Carson got was a promise of 800 soldiers from tiny Burundi which, like its neighbor Rwanda, acts as a mercenary for the United States in Africa.
The American’s Somali allies claim Islamist forces are backed by 1,000 foreign jihadis, although most analysts maintain the fighters are overwhelmingly homegrown. But a regime that invites invasion by its neighbors, including the hated Ethiopian military, clearly has no credibility as a defender of the nation.
It would appear that the U.S. is holding a bad hand of cards, in Somalia. But superpowers always have options. One card that still plays well is President Obama, himself, whom the world wants to believe is a man of reason and diplomacy. The Obama administration is loudly declaring it would be “counterproductive” for Ethiopia to move back into Somalia in large numbers – but that Ethiopia has legitimate security concerns. What all this means is, Ethiopia will increase its presence in Somalia, while trying to keep a low profile, while Washington showers the continent with bribes to procure more foreign soldiers to shore up its dwindling friends in their little corner of Mogadishu.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090707_gf_somalia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:42am EDT

Africa Rejects Criminal Court Order on Sudan, Moves Toward Unity A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The International Criminal Courts narrow preoccupation with crimes by Africans, as opposed to every other people on the planet, has had a unifying effect on the continent. By consensus agreement, the 53 nations of the African Union agreed to ignore the ICC's directive that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir be arrested by member states. Said the AU's commission chairman: “If you don’t want to take into account our proposals…we are also going to act unilaterally.”
 
Africa Rejects Criminal Court Order on Sudan, Moves Toward Unity
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The International Criminal Court indicts Africans because it thinks it can get away with it.”
The heads of state of the African Union (AU) last week denounced the International Criminal Court, agreeing that none of its 53 member-states will honor the court’s demand that nations arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if he sets foot on their soil. The consensus agreement was reached at the 13th summit meeting of leaders of the African Union, held in Libya under the AU’s current president, Moammar Gadhafi.
Gadhafi also spearheaded an agreement to move closer toward the goal of African continental unity by giving the African Union commission more powers to coordinate continent-wide defense, diplomatic and trade policies.
At least on paper, it was not a good week for European and American imperialism in Africa. Libya’s Gadhafi said: “I am sure the founding fathers of Africa are smiling in their graves today.”
The African Union’s rejection of the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudan’s president on charges of crimes against humanity in the Darfur region signals a dramatic break, not only with the court, but with American and European attempts to foment regime change in Africa. Jean Ping, chairman of the AU commission, put it bluntly. Africans, he said, “are showing to the world community that if you don’t want to listen to the continent, if you don’t want to take into account our proposals…we are also going to act unilaterally.”
“Libya’s Gadhafi said: 'I am sure the founding fathers of Africa are smiling in their graves today.'”
In fact, it would be more accurate to say that there is no such thing as a ‘world community’ without the continent of Africa – and there can be no credible legal action taken against Africans without Africa’s consent.
The International Criminal Court has shown itself to be a white man’s tool. In the last seven years, it has restricted its war crimes and crimes against humanity investigations solely to the African continent. Amnesty International claims that Africa’s credibility has been undermined by its refusal to comply with the international court’s order. What racist, Eurocentric nonsense! When 53 nations representing a continent of the world’s people reject the machinations of the court, it is the court that is revealed to be devoid of all credibility. And that goes for Amnesty International, as well.
Human Rights Watch was even more arrogant, accusing Libya of “bullying” the other heads of state at the African Union summit. Human Rights Watch has a twisted idea of who the real bullies are in this world. Global imperialists get a free pass, while insults and indictments are reserved for Africans. Yet these European- and American-based organizations wonder why they’re not welcomed in many countries. As Sudan’s foreign minister declared, correctly: “Most Africans believe [the court] has been set up against Africa and the Third World.”
The International Criminal Court indicts Africans because it thinks it can get away with it, but ignores European and American culpability in atrocities around the globe, including in Africa. The United States refuses even to join the court, and has always ignored international law as a matter of policy. If the U.S. and Europe are allowed to act unilaterally in their perceived interest, then it’s about time the continent of Africa act forcefully and collectively in Africa’s own interests.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20090708_gf_au_vs_icc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:25am EDT

shrunken_uncleA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The drive to replace the U.S. dollar as the de facto global currency brings the American empire that much closer to ultimate dissolution. U.S. imperialism’s accelerated decline is best dated to the invasion of Iraq six years ago. In the face of Washington’s general threat to establish itself as the “New Rome,” “much of the planetary community conspired to find ways to break the unequal ties that bound them to the empire.”
The Shrinking American Empire
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Imperialists believe that everything can be made into a weapon with which to bludgeon the rest of humanity into submission.”
The day before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, back in March of 2003, I wrote a piece called “They Have Reached Too Far” – “they” being U.S. imperialists. I was on that day, as U.S. tanks revved their engines in the sands of Kuwait, preparing to cross into what Washington thought would be a glorious future of global domination, that a crack opened up in time, and it was clear as a desert day that the U.S. empire would be swallowed up in that widening crack – maybe in my lifetime.
George Bush and his gang had rolled the dice, betting everything on a land and resource grab designed to save a parasitical system through world-defying theft and awesome – Shock and Awesome – intimidation. But there was not the slightest doubt in my mind that they would fail catastrophically, although no one could predict precisely how the disaster would unfold.
It was also clear that the U.S. aggression against Iraq should not be narrowly interpreted as all about Israel or about oil or about further expansion of U.S. spheres of geopolitical dominance or about beating back the challenge of the euro. It was simultaneously about all of those things, and more. Empires seek to dominate the very planet, to set the terms for every human transaction. Nothing is beyond the ambitions of empire. Imperialists believe that everything can be made into a weapon with which to bludgeon the rest of humanity into submission.
So I wrote, back in 2003, that the impending Iraq war was
an oil currency war, a preemptive strike against the euro’s potential to challenge the U.S. dollar as the sole denominator of petroleum purchases. By seizing the Iraqi oil fields and positioning itself to do the same in Saudi Arabia, Iran and throughout the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and South Asia, the U.S. can stop the euro cold and rule as its own OPEC, awesomely armed and dreadfully dangerous.” The dollar would “remain supreme, backed by the oil reserves of the globe.”
The American threat to humanity was so general, and so generally perceived and felt, it achieved the opposite of what Washington had wished.”
And that was part of the overall Plan: to set the terms of trade in oil and everything else on the planet, extracting wealth from all the world’s people while creating nothing but terror and, hopefully, submission. But the American threat to humanity was so general, and so generally perceived and felt, it achieved the opposite of what Washington had wished. Rather than the world acclimating itself to the rule of the “New Rome,” as the imperialists were openly calling themselves, much of the planetary community conspired to find ways to break the unequal ties that bound them to the empire.
The Iraq invasion greatly accelerated the process of U.S. imperialism’s decline, so much so, that only a few years later the American Lords of Capital found themselves turning to a Black man to put a dramatically different face on their imperial enterprise. But Barack Obama cannot save them. The U.S. dollar’s days as the world’s reserve currency are numbered, and when the dollar is finally dethroned, only the military aspect of the imperial husk will remain.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

 

Direct download: 20090708_gf_shrining_empire.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:46am EDT

French Cops are Racist, Too
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
 
If you're Black and tired of getting stopped by the police on the streets of New York City and elsewhere in the United States, then Paris isn't the city for you. “A new study of the Paris police shows that...persons the police consider Black are stopped six times as often as whites.” And Arab-looking people are stopped even more frequently than that. Although racial profiling is illegal in France, the police studiously avoid keeping records on race.
 
 
French Cops are Racist, Too
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Researchers interviewed 500 people whom they observed being stopped by police at two mass transit stations.”
Police in Paris practice racial profiling against non-whites at least as vigorously as their counterparts in New York City – and that’s saying a great deal. Anew studyof the Paris police shows that people that appear to be Arab are stopped by police for identity checks 7.5 times more often than whites. Persons the police consider Black – meaning, of sub-Saharan African origin or from the Caribbean – are stopped six times as often as whites.And Blacks and Arabs that are stopped by French police are much more likely to also be frisked.
The sheer volume of people stopped, questioned and frisked by New York City police is awesome. By the end of the year, cops will have stopped 628,000 people, about half of them Black, and most of the rest Latino. Whites make up about 45 percent of New York’s population, but only 10 percent of those stopped by police.
Paris is a much whiter place. In creating the new study, called “Ethnic Profiling in Paris,” researchers interviewed 500 people whom they observed being stopped by police at two mass transit stations. Although Black- and Arab-looking people only constituted about ten percent of the crowds at the two stations, they accounted for 47 percent of those who were stopped by police – a higher rate even than in New York.
In 1961, the cops went on a killing spree, murdering at least 210 Arabs on the streets of Paris.”
Paris police have a long and murderous history, especially in dealing with Algerians. In 1961, the cops went on a killing spree, murdering at least 210 Arabs on the streets of Paris. One would have to go back to the police riots in New Orleans and Memphis after the Civil War for an historical comparison with the United States.
The French keep their racial minorities out of the central cities, when possible, shunting them off to rings of poor suburbs. In 2005, riots erupted in 300 cities, suburbs and towns across France. The current French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was then Minister of the Interior with his eye on the top job. Sarkozy played the riots like a French version of Bull Connor, head of the Birmingham, Alabama police in 1963 – the villain who set the dogs on Dr. Martin Luther King’s young demonstrators. Sarkozy tapped deeply into white French racism, calling Arab and Black young people “scum,” “riff-raff,” “thugs,” and “hoodlums.” He declared “zero tolerance” towards violence and sent in companies of riot police to arrest what he called “gang leaders, drug traffickers and big shots.” Apparently the white French electorate enjoyed Sarkozy’s racial antics, and elected him President in 2007.
Racial profiling is illegal in France, as it technically is in much of the United States. But the police get around the law in the same ways on both sides of the Atlantic, claiming they stop and frisk based on where criminal activity takes place, not on the racial characteristics of the citizens on the street. The results of the new study give the lie to police claims. In France, the government conveniently hides and denies racism by refusing to keep data on race. The police leave no paper trail on the ethnicity of who they stop. No data, no legal basis for complaint.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090701_gf_FrenchPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am EDT

High Court Tries to Freeze White Privilege in Place

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The real “activist” judiciary if represented by the U.S. Supreme Court majority than is determined to re-enshrine white privilege in law. The New Haven firefighters ruling is an assault on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “The High Court decision would preserve an ethnic, clan and family racial protection racket that has been embedded in fire and police departments for generations.”
 
High Court Tries to Freeze White Privilege in Place
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
What the racist majority is actually attempting to do is to freeze white privilege in place.”
In siding with white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, the 5-4 Supreme Court majority treats white dominance in firefighting as a kind of harmless “tradition” rather then evidence on its face of systemic, institutional racism in hiring and promotion. The ruling reflects a general white American worldview, that sees the Irish fireman as an iconic figure, even in neighborhoods that long ago turned Black or Latino. Under the terms of the past world the majority seeks to preserve, the white fireman and cop is a wholesome and “natural” presence, rather than an affront to every non-white resident of the neighborhood.
The Supreme Court majority, in striking down Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s ruling in New Haven, is raising the bar significantly for minorities seeking entrance or promotion in these historically white men’s clubs – the police precincts and station houses. The justices now demand “strong, basic evidence” of previous discrimination. Yet such evidence is everywhere available in the firefighting and police professions. What the racist majority is actually attempting to do is to freeze white privilege in place. In this case, the High Court decision would preserve an ethnic, clan and family racial protection racket that has been embedded in fire and police departments for generations – the most raw and obvious form of on-the-job apartheid.
A general white American worldview sees the Irish fireman as an iconic figure, even in neighborhoods that long ago turned Black or Latino.”
The white-dominated society, through its media and cultural institutions, actively glorifies this historical white entitlement to jobs by reserving special places of honor for men, and now women, who are third and fourth generation fire and police persons. Most whites do not even question how white ethnic groups, clans and individual families perpetuated themselves in relatively well paid, stable and prestigious civil service employment, from one generation to the next. It is accepted as simply “the way of the world” and a good thing, a comforting situation to most white people – and especially comforting to the sons and daughters that feel entitled to follow their fathers and grandfathers into the firehouse or on the beat or into the white ethnic-dominated construction trades.
The rightwing judges that now dominate the federal judiciary constantly warn against judicial “activism” – when in fact it is they who are on a reactionary political mission to preserve white privilege. They attempt to dismantle key elements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As Dr. Ron Walters has written, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been “settled law” for 35 years. Its clear intent was to prevent the “protected classes” – which, at the time, meant Blacks – from being excluded from employment as a result of testing devices. The forces of white privilege have been trying to turn the Act on its head, ever since, by framing whites as in need of protection. As if society has ever been weighted against the interests of white men.
The actual impact of testing in New Haven and elsewhere has been to exclude Blacks and Latinos. These are the facts that racist judges willfully ignore. Instead of facts, they substitute color-blind mumbo-jumbo, a thin cover for race privilege preservation.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090701_gf_SCOTUSfirefightrs.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:33am EDT

Giving Honduras the Haiti Treatment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
President Obama has joined all of Latin American in denouncing the coup in Honduras. But Washington's words should always be taken “with whole spoonfuls of salt.” Obama could restore democracy to Haiti immediately, if he chose to, by allowing the return of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but instead shuts Aristide's party out of recent Senatorial elections. President Zalaya “was aligning himself with Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other left-led nations.... It is inconceivable that the U.S. looks forward” to his return.
 
Giving Honduras the Haiti Treatment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The kidnapping was somewhat reminiscent of the seizure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by U.S. troops back in February, 2004.”
With the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has fallen under military rule of the kind that dominated the Central American nation from 1963 to 1981. The man named by Honduras’s Congress to serve out the remainder of Zelaya’s term, Robert Micheletti, will of course claim that civilians are still in charge. But when soldiers oust a sitting president and decide who his successor will be, it is the soldiers that rule.
Two hundred soldiers came in the night to overpower President Zelaya’s guard, and bundle him off for a flight to Costa Rica. The kidnapping was somewhat reminiscent of the seizure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by U.S. troops back in February, 2004.  The United States claimed it was saving Aristide from death at the hands of gunmen armed and organized by…the United States. Aristide was sent to the French-dominated Central African Republic. 
After the military put Honduran President Zelaya on a plane to Costa Rica, they claimed he had signed a letter of resignation. That’s the same lie told by organizers of the U.S.-backed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, back in 2002. Chavez returned to power with the help some elements of the military and hundreds of thousands of his supporters in the streets.
“The oligarchy and its military enforcers feared Zelaya would win the referendum, increasing the momentum for change in Honduras.”
The Organization of American States has denounced the coup in Honduras, and so has President Barack Obama, who really had no other choice given the rise of leftist politics and U.S isolation in Latin America. But Washington always talks out of at least two sides of its mouth. It is inconceivable that the U.S. looks forward to the return of President Zalaya, who was aligning himself with Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other left-led nations. Zelaya was overthrown while preparing for a public referendum on whether he should be allowed to run for another term. The vote would not have been binding, and international observers were gathering to monitor the polling. But apparently the oligarchy and its military enforcers feared Zelaya would win the referendum, increasing the momentum for change in Honduras.
When President Obama says, "We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there," we must take his words with whole spoonfuls of salt.  Let us return to Haiti.  The United States broke every international law and standard of decency in orchestrating the overthrow and exile of Haitian President Aristide, more than five years ago. The U.S. put criminals and depraved torturers in power, causing the deaths of thousands and stripping Haiti of any element of effective national sovereignty. The U.S., France and Canada engineered the making of Haiti into a ward of the United Nations, whose military still occupies the country.  And the U.S. has conspired with a small Haitian elite to shut Aristide’s political party, Family Lavalas, out of recent Senatorial elections. If free and fair elections were held today, there is little doubt that Aristide and his party would win. The United States makes sure that doesn’t happen.
So, if the Americans won’t allow democracy in Haiti, where they have the power to do so, why should anyone believe Washington wants restoration of democracy in Honduras.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090701_gf_HondurasHaiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:21am EDT

Charter Schools Perform Worse Than Traditional Public Schools

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The myth has been shattered: a new study shows charter schools perform worse than traditional public schools. In only 17 percent of charter schools do students surpass their demographically matched regular school peers in math and reading. More than twice that many charters rate worse than traditional classrooms, while close to half are about equal. Despite the data, the Obama administration "continues to demand that 5,000 schools be shut down, and their teachers fired" - a disproportionate share of them Black.   Their "position is based on ideology, not empirical data."

Charter Schools Perform Worse Than Traditional Public Schools

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

This study shows that we’ve got a 2-to-1 margin of bad charters to good charters.”

A new study out of Stanford University is shattering the myth of charter school superiority. According to Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, students at only 17 percent of charter schools do better on math and reading tests than their demographic peers in regular public schools. Thirty-seven percent do worse, while 46 percent of charter school kids, almost half, perform at approximately the same level as their traditional public school counterparts.

The author of the report concludes: “This study shows that we’ve got a 2-to-1 margin of bad charters to good charters.” The results are especially significant, given that charter schools have built-in advantages – starting with parents that are engaged enough in their children’s education to put them there, in the first place. Yet the actual outcomes, in most cases, fail to live up to the hype.

President Obama and his administration are ideologically committed to charter schools. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was a cheerleader for charters when he ran the Chicago school system, is threatening to withhold federal education money from the 10 states that don’t yet have charter schools and the 26 other states that put limits on enrollment in charters. Such raw coercion is unconscionable, especially given the results of the Stanford study.

The Obama administration position is based on ideology, not empirical data.”

Duncan responded to the study by urging charter school forces to pay more attention to quality. But he continues to demand that 5,000 schools be shut down, their teachers fired, and a quarter million new teachers hired. The Obama administration position is based on ideology, not empirical data, and would lead to a forced proliferation of charter schools in districts eager to hold on to federal dollars. If the Stanford study is any guide, half the new charters will be no better than the traditional schools, and most of the rest will be worse.

Unionized teachers are blamed for all the ills of urban education; it’s not a reasoned argument, but a matter of faith – and political prejudice. Charter schools are not private, but they are the privatizers’ foot in the door, a wedge issue to demonize unions in the Black community – even in those cities where many if not most public school teachers are Black. In Chicago, as Bruce Dixon reported in last week’s issue of Black Agenda Report, the proportion of Black teachers has dropped from 39 to 31 percent since 2002, because of school closings. In New Orleans, most of the school system has been replaced with charter schools, along with a disproportionate share of Black teachers, to the cheers of the Obama administration. It’s the same story all across the country.

Obama’s people use the same language as the Bush regime did in attacking public education. Charter schools, they say, are key to educational “reform,” and provide “competition” for traditional schools. But that’s utter nonsense if the educational outcomes are no better, and in many cases worse, than in the regular public schools. What we are then left with as the only remaining rationale for charter schools, is to break the unions and move closer to privatization of public education.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090624_gf_charter_schools.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59am EDT

Obama Administration Shuts Blacks Out of Highway Stimulus Contracts

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The "rising tide" of economic stimulus that President Obama promises will "lift all boats" from the depths of economic crisis, may leave Blacks at the bottom, once again. "Black contractors and elected officials now fear that African Americans will be cut out of the huge, one-time increase in federal highway money under the economic stimulus program passed this year." In a letter to administration officials, the National Black Chamber of Commerce warns that stimulus money is flowing down the "same racist channels" that have denied highway contracts and jobs to African Americans.

Obama Administration Shuts Blacks Out of Highway Stimulus Contracts

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The stimulus money will be directed through the same 'racist channels' that have been denying Blacks contracts and jobs.”

It’s often been said that there would be no first Black U.S. president were it not for the Civil Rights Movement. And that’s obviously true, on its face. But what happens when the first Black president fails to enforce civil rights laws already on the books? The National Black Chamber of Commerce, with encouragement from the heads of a conference of Black mayors and the National Black Caucus of Black State Legislators, charges Barack Obama’s Federal Highway Administration isn’t enforcing key portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a result, Black contractors in states across the country have increasingly been shut out of federal highway construction work.

Harry C. Alford, the National Black Chamber of Commerce president, dates the problem to the tail end of the Clinton administration. Since then, he says, “many thousands of Black firms and millions of Black citizens” have been denied an equal opportunity for contracts and employment in the transportation sector. The flaunting of civil rights laws has been allowed to “fester” so long, said Alford, “You can take a drive on Interstate 80 starting in San Francisco and drive all the way to New Jersey and there is a good chance you will not see one Black working on a freeway construction project.”

The Black contractors and elected officials now fear that African Americans will be cut out of the huge, one-time increase in federal highway money under the economic stimulus program passed this year. Their letter to administration officials was quite blunt, referring to “money that is coming down through racist channels,” and demanding to “see change” from the administration, and to “see it now.”

The flaunting of civil rights laws has been allowed to 'fester.'”

The Black Chamber of Commerce would be well advised not to hold its breath. President Obama’s well known modus operandi is to run from racial issues, like the plague. He treats civil rights as a done deal, an accomplished fact, for which we should all be grateful and then, collectively, “move on.” Obama hammered the point home, yet again, in early May, when he told a press conference he had no plans to directly address historically high Black unemployment. The president whipped out the old, discredited cliché, that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and promised that his stimulus program would create that rising tide. But, as the Chamber of Commerce president wrote in his letter, the stimulus money will be directed through the same “racist channels” that have been denying Blacks contracts and jobs. Unless the president puts on the pressure, there is no reason to expect any change at the Federal Highway Administration that Black folks can believe in.

Remember, also, that Obama insisted he wanted to pump additional money into state and federal programs that were “shovel-ready” – meaning, projects that were already in the pipeline and could be put into motion, quickly. By definition, this meant the usual suspects would get the contracts and jobs. If Blacks were shut out before the Obama administration, they would be shut out of the stimulus – it’s as simple as that. Far from ushering in a new era, Obama’s philosophy of governance reinforces the racial status quo which, for Black people at a time of economic crisis, means falling further behind.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090624_gf_TranspoMoney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am EDT

US-Installed Puppet “Government” of Somalia Invites Everybody to Invade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In what should be its last gasp, the regime that claims to govern Somalia, "huddled in a corner of Mogadishu," the capital, has "called on 'Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen' - anybody! - to save them from what it called 'terrorists.'" The Ethiopians, who installed the mini-state after invading  Somalia with U.S. support in 2006, are already on the move in the country - whose soil they never left. But a larger invasion to beat back Islamist/nationalist fighters can only occur with "active U.S. coordination and logistical support." President Obama may get a war of his own in Africa.

US-Installed Puppet “Government” of Somalia Invites Everybody to Invade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The embattled 'government' has abandoned all pretense of defending Somali national sovereignty.”

The so-called government of Somalia, an updated version of the government that was installed by U.S.-supported Ethiopian invaders, is now asking American allies in the region to invade the country, again. After losing all but a small patch of Mogadishu, the capital city, to Islamic nationalist forces, the speaker of the foreign-backed parliament called on “Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen” – anybody! – to save them from what he called “terrorists.” That’s the same line the United States uses to describe opposition forces – although even the New York Times concedes that the “vast majority” of the fighters are Somali.

Ethiopia, Somalia’s historic adversary in the region, declared it would invade once again if it felt seriously threatened by its neighbor. In fact, Ethiopian troops never fully withdrew from Somalia, but simply disengaged after suffering heavy casualties in their attempt to occupy the country following the 2006 invasion. That war was extremely unpopular at home, and Ethiopia’s military regime would rather not relive the experience.

With its call for yet another foreign invasion, the embattled, rump “government,” reduced to a dwindling domain of a few neighborhoods, has abandoned all pretense of defending Somali national sovereignty. It has surrendered its fate to Washington, the same superpower that instigated Ethiopia to drive out an Islamic Courts government two and a half years ago, depriving southern Somalia of the only period of peace it had known since 1991. By begging its U.S.-backed neighbors to save it from its own people, the quickly disappearing Mogadishu mini-state is inviting a wider regional war that could enflame much of northeast Africa.

It is a military operation that cannot possibly occur without active U.S. coordination and logistical support.”

Such a calamity would appeal to Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations and the Obama administration’s most aggressive advocate of the doctrine of “humanitarian” military intervention, sometimes called R2P – the “Responsibility to Protect.” In essence, R2P is a license for the United States and its surrogates to intervene whenever a government cannot, or will not, protect its people from harm, as defined by the United States. In practice, the U.S. creates conditions that endanger masses of people, and then nominates itself to come to the “rescue.”

The U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion plunged Somalia into what the United Nations called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa” – worse than Darfur – with tens of thousands dead and millions displaced. It was a disaster made in the U.S.A., which Washington justified based on the presence in Somalia of persons the Americans claimed were associated with Al Qaida. The rump regime huddled in a corner of Mogadishu now frantically pushes all of Washington’s hot buttons, claiming that Al Qaida is at the gates, and enticing armies from the region to descend on Somalia. It is a military operation that cannot possibly occur without active U.S. coordination and logistical support. Very soon, Barack Obama may have a war in Africa that he can claim as his own. And Susan Rice may have her humanitarian crisis she’s been looking for. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090624_gf_somali_invasion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43am EDT

Free the Cuba Five, Mr. President
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
If President Obama sincerely wants to improve relations with Cuba, he can show he is serious by freeing the Cuba Five. The Cuban intelligence agents were given long prison terms for infiltrating Cuban exile terrorist groups in South Florida. With this week's U.S. Supreme Court refusal to review their case, only President Obama can resolve this festering political problem.
Free the Cuba Five, Mr. President
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Now that the High Court justices have washed their hands of the matter, it's up to President Obama to find a political solution.”
The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to review the case of the Cuba Five means it's up to President Obama to make a substantive move toward lessening tensions with our island neighbor. Obama can also demonstrate that he he has a sense of fair play and elementary justice.
The Cuba Five were sent to southern Florida by Havana to infiltrate the Miami-based anti-Castro terrorist groups that have been harbored by the United States for the past half century. Over the years these criminals, operating openly and brazenly, have undertaken countless missions of murder, sabotage, and provocation against Cuba. They have also broken innumerable laws against the United States, with impunity.
The Cuban intelligence officers infiltrated the terrorist organizations Alpha 66 and the F4 Commandos, the Cuban American National Foundation political front organization, and the so-called Brothers to the Rescue, a group of private airplane pilots.
Despite the failure of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, right-wing Cuban exiles dreamed of provoking a U.S. attack on Cuba, that they hoped would result in their return to wealth and power on the island. In 1996, Brothers to the Rescue organized a series of highly provocative flights into Cuban airspace, daring the Cuban air force to shot them down. The Cubans called their bluff, and four of the pilots died.
Obama can demonstrate that he he has a sense of fair play and elementary justice.”
In 1998, the Cuba Five were arrested. All of them were ultimately convicted of being unregistered foreign agents; three were found guilty of conspiring to steal U.S. military secrets, and one was convicted of conspiracy to murder the four provocateur pilots of the group Brothers to the Rescue. The sentences for the Cuba Five ranged from 15 years to life in prison.
The seven-month trial , beginning in November of 2000, was a legal lynching, with Miami's Cuban exiles demanding blood. The defense argued that the defendants could not possibly get a fair trial in Miami. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights agreed, declaring that the trial did not conform to standards of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International agreed.
As the world this week awaited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, ten Nobel laureates, including South Africa's Desmond Tutu, called for the release of the Cuba Five. One hundred ten members of the British Parliament wrote to the U.S. Attorney General, as did numerous organizations, worldwide.
Now that the High Court justices have washed their hands of the matter, it's up to President Obama to find a political solution.
To date, President Obama has done very little of substance to improve Cuban-American relations. He has rolled back travel and currency restrictions to the status quo that prevailed before George Bush became president, proving only that he is not George Bush. The recent so-called “compromise” that would allow Cuba to rejoin the Organization of American States, if it chooses, was forced on the U.S. by virtually every other country in the Western Hemisphere. Obama was saving face, and had no choice.
The Cubans have no obligation to make a gesture to Washington. It is they who still suffer from the U.S. trade embargo, and the century-long U.S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama could send the Cuba Five back home. It's the very least a U.S. President can do.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090617_gf_CubaFive.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm EDT

ObamaCare: A Non-Existent Health Plan That Begins with Cuts

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

There is no Obama healthcare plan, “just mouthfuls of generalized rhetoric that changes with the moment, as Obama constantly woos the insurance, drug and hospital corporations.” However, Obama's proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will take on lives of their own. That's what Republicans have “been clamoring for for generations,” and Obama offered it to them, upfront. “In his rush to mollify the private healthcare profiteers, Obama has given away the pubic store.”

ObamaCare: A Non-Existent Health Plan That Begins with Cuts

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

To protect the profiteers, Obama turned on the progressive wing of his own party.”

Just as Barack Obama went from ostensible peace candidate to a president that greatly expanded the American theater of war in Asia, so has he been transformed, in front of our eyes, from self-proclaimed healthcare reformer to Medicare and Medicaid budget cutter. Along the way, he has used his White House bully pulpit to silence advocates of genuine healthcare reform, and to make common cause with the profit-gougers that have made healthcare in the United States the most expensive, and least generally accessible, in the developed world. While putting forward no defined plan of his own, Obama has encouraged the political allies of the insurance, pharmaceuticals and hospital industries to present their own plans in the guise of “reform.”

From the day he took office, President Obama has pursued a two-part healthcare strategy. First, he would categorically reject a single-payer solution to the healthcare crisis, one that would treat healthcare as a right, and would pay for it by breaking the stranglehold of the private sector. To protect the profiteers, Obama turned on the progressive wing of his own party, ruthlessly eliminating them from White House-sponsored healthcare events, to give the impression that the Obama plan was the only option. But in fact, there was – and still is - no Obama plan, just mouthfuls of generalized rhetoric that changes with the moment, as Obama constantly woos the insurance, drug and hospital corporations.

Congressman John Conyers, the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, has gathered 79 co-sponsors for his House version of a single payer healthcare bill, HR 676. President Obama tried to make Conyers a non-person, and encouraged committee chairmen to keep Conyers and other single payer advocates out of their healthcare hearings. Conyers, who entered Congress when Obama was only four years old, lambasted the President for taking single payer “off the table before we start, without a hearing.” As long as “the corporate healthcare people” dominate the discussion, said Conyers, “you are going to have some sad version of the same crap you were supposed to be fixing in the first place.”

The White House is engaged in an assault on the main public healthcare plan in existence, while as yet there is nothing to replace it.”

In the end, it may be worse than Conyers fears, because the second part of Obama's healthcare strategy was to start off the discussion by announcing his intention to make big cuts – trillions of dollars worth - in Medicare and Medicaid. Amazingly, he gave the Republicans what they've been clamoring for for generations, upfront! Now the White House is engaged in an assault on the main public healthcare plan in existence, while as yet there is nothing to replace it. In his rush to mollify the private healthcare profiteers, Obama has given away the pubic store.

Obama continues to insist that he will hold out for some kind of public healthcare plan. In the end, it will likely be quite modest, a scheme that will only wind up extending coverage to a portion of the 45-plus million currently uninsured. Most of the rest of the public will remain with the private insurers. Single payer, whose time had come, will have been buried for at least the remainder of Obama's term in office. But the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will take their course through the Congress, with Obama's blessing. Like Congressman Conyers said, we'll wind up with “some sad version of the same crap” that we started out with. Or maybe worse. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.


Direct download: 20090617-gf_ObamaCare.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EDT

Bwana Obama, with Trinkets for Zimbabwe

By all standards of international diplomacy, last week's White House “State” visit by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was bizarre. President Obama praised one-half of Zimbabwe's “Unity” government, while denouncing the other half, President Robert Mugabe. Obama has continued George Bush's sanctions against Zimbabwe, but gifted Tsvangirai with $75 million for public purposes – causing Tsvangirai to appear to be “a petty agent for the Americans.”

Bwana Obama, with Trinkets for Zimbabwe

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S. policy in Africa, since President Eisenhower’s time, has been to create chaos wherever the Americans cannot exert control.”

The habits of imperialism are so ingrained in the behavior of U.S. governments, as to be automatic, instinctive. The half-African U.S. president, Barack Obama, doubtless thought he was doing Zimbabwe a special favor by entertaining Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the White House while badmouthing his partner in power, Robert Mugabe. Every diplomat ever born understands that such behavior constitutes serious interference in the internal affairs of another, sovereign nation. But the United States has never felt constrained by the norms of international diplomacy, especially in its dealings with Black nations. U.S. policy in Africa, since President Eisenhower’s time, has been to create chaos wherever the Americans cannot exert control. That’s as much President Obama’s policy, as it was his predecessors.

In the case of Zimbabwe, Obama’s policy is identical to George Bush’s. Immediately upon assuming office, Obama extended Bush’s executive order sanctions against Zimbabwe. These are peculiar sanctions, in that they name Robert Mugabe and other specific members of his government and political circles. This, of course, is not diplomacy by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it is the politics of regime change, whereby the U.S. seeks to shape foreign governments to its own liking. Obama has taken this imperial mutilation of diplomacy a step further, giving an audience and a $75 million gift to one half of Zimbabwe’s Unity Government, while denouncing and virtually outlawing the other half, Robert Mugabe.

By acting as a conduit for U.S. money, he becomes a petty agent for the Americans.”

For the United States, the doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations does not exist. Not that this is news to anybody on the planet. Arrogance is to the U.S. as stink is to the skunk. But there are consequences to this behavior that may redound to the detriment of Americans’ favored Zimbabwean, Morgan Tsvangirai. By acting as a conduit for U.S. money, he becomes a petty agent for the Americans. By basking in the glow of the Oval Office, he aligns himself with the foreign power that threatens to keep torturing Zimbabwe until the country comes up with a government to the Americans’ liking.

Africans that have no sense of self-respect may decide that Morgan Tsvangirai is the man for them, since he brings U.S. money, albeit with endless strings attached. But those Africans, in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, who strive for independence and self-determination will see Tsvangirai and his ilk as stooges of imperialism – opponents of African dignity and the very concept of nationhood.

President Obama is a rank imperialist. Only the most arrogant overlord would announce, as Obama did following Tsvangirai’s visit, that, in his opinion, “President Mugabe has not acted…in the best interests of the Zimbabwean people.” Who is he to say? It is not an American president's place to pass such public judgements on other people's governments. Then Obama sent Tsvangirai off with a $75 million tip, like a good boy. Maybe we ought to call the president “Bwana Obama.” He takes the White Man’s Burden very seriously. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090617_gf_BwanaObama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06pm EDT

Shell Oil Settles with 1995 Niger Delta Victims’ Families, But War Escalates

Nearly a fifth of US oil imports come from West Africa and that proportion is only expected to grow. Western oil companies, chiefly Shell, BP and Chevron have pumped trillions of dollars worth of black gold from eastern Nigeria, but it remains the poorest and most polluted places on earth. Although oil company scofflaws have settled out of court with representatives of the families of a handful of the murdered the pitiless rape of eastern Nigeria continues.

Shell Oil Settles with 1995 Niger Delta Victims’ Families, But War Escalates

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Shell executives made the obscene assertion that the settlement was a 'humanitarian gesture.'”

The Royal Dutch Shell oil corporation will pay $15.5 million to the families of the late Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others executed by a Nigerian military regime in 1995. The settlement ends a suit, that charged Shell oil with complicity in the torture and killing of the activists, who were protesting environmental and economic crimes against the people of the oil-rich Niger River Delta. The settlement is unusual, in that the dollar amount and other terms were made public. Most often, the parties in court settlements agree not to divulge how much money changed hands. But this was a profoundly political case, whose outcome was celebrated by the victim’s families and their lawyers at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

Some of the fifteen and a half million will go to a fund for the Ogoni people. Shell oil may have believed it was purchasing some good will by settling with the Ogoni plaintiffs, but if so, the company spoiled the whole effect by continuing to claim it had nothing to do with the executions. Shell executives made the obscene assertion that the settlement was a “humanitarian gesture.” The company then called attention to the $240 million it claims to have contributed to so-called “community development” in the Delta, last year – which sounds more like a clever way to describe a chunk of the corporation’s massive bribery budget. $240 million dollars, whether in bribes or community development funds, might have gone a long way back in 1995, when Saro-Wiwa and his comrades were murdered by Shell’s partners in crime, the military government. Today, the payments are dwarfed by massive oil production losses due to a state of war between government and rebel forces in the region.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed – no one knows precisely how many.”

Since May 15, the government has been engaged in a military offensive called Operation Cordon and Search, ostensibly aimed at rebels of the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND. The fighting has resulted in significant casualties among the combatants, but the greatest suffering has fallen on civilians. At least 20,000 people are thought to be hiding in the bush. Many thousands of others languish in refugee camps, short on food and medicines. Hundreds of civilians have been killed – no one knows precisely how many. Soldiers have burned villages to the ground, and even the palace of a local king was bombed by Nigerian air forces.

The regional war has cost the oil industry at least 24 million barrels in production, causing Nigeria to fall to second place among African producers, behind Angola. However, that’s largely a loss among thieves: the same Nigerian and Big Oil conspirators that decided Ken Saro-wiwa and his comrades should be hanged 14 years ago for advocating fair distribution of oil profits, and respect for the land and people. Those chickens have come home to roost in the Delta, with a vengeance.

Time has shown that festering crimes produce bitter fruit. The issue in the Niger River Delta region has become one of national sovereignty affecting the whole of Nigeria. The lesson, is that no regime has the right to sell the national sovereignty and treasure out from under its people. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090610_gf_NigeriaSuit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm EDT

GM Could Have Become a “Green” Industrial Machine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama has passed up his chance to become a transformational president, by failing to convert the excess capacity of General Motors – 60 percent-owned by the U.S. public – to “green” manufacturing. Instead, the public has paid $50 billion, and counting, for 14 industrial junkyards where car factories used to be. Obama’s refusal to rise to the historic occasion shows that he “worships at the altar of private capital – the same corporate developmental model that has been de-industrializing the United States for the last four decades.”

GM Could Have Become a “Green” Industrial Machine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Did the people pay $50 billion for a bunch of junkyards?”

President Obama’s super-cynical chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is fond off saying that a serious crisis should not be allowed to go to waste. By that, he means that crises provide opportunities to accomplish big changes that would be impossible in less stressful times. It is safe to assume that his boss feels that way, too. It is, therefore, fair to conclude that the terms of the bailout and reorganization of General Motors reflects Barack Obama’s core beliefs regarding the role of government in the economy. Certainly, Obama would not allow a crisis to be wasted. So, when Obama failed to make any attempt to put GM’s unused plants and people to work as the epicenter of a new, “green” industrial machine, it was because he opposes a strong federal role in transforming the economy. Obama worships at the alter of private capital – the same corporate developmental model that has been de-industrializing the United States for the last four decades.

Obama’s wishful supporters on the left fantasized that their hero would seize the historic opportunity created by the crisis to transform the auto industry into a mighty nexus of green manufacturing. After all, the public has already committed $50 billion to General Motors, with more to come. But the end result is the loss of 21,000 GM workers, many times that number at factories that supply GM, and about 100,000 lost jobs at shuttered GM car dealerships. Obama had the perfect opportunity, born of crisis, to retool General Motors and retain its disciplined workforce in green industry, building public transportation vehicles and infrastructure. After all, the American public owns 60 percent of the company. Having paid for the property, most Americans would prefer that GM’s factories and workers be put to good use, rather than putting padlocks on 14 auto plants. Did the people pay $50 billion for a bunch of junkyards?

Obama had the perfect opportunity, born of crisis, to retool General Motors.”

Obama would have been thought of as a new Franklin Roosevelt, had he seized the time and opted for industrial transformation, rather than the junking of yet more of the country’s industrial base. But Obama is no Franklin Roosevelt; there is no political resemblance whatsoever between Obama and the president who put 8 million Americans directly to work on the federal payroll during the Great Depression, at the same time transforming the national infrastructure in ways that still serve us, today.

Obama engineered a one-shot stimulus whose effects are undetectable among the growing army of the unemployed. His approach is to massively bribe corporations and banks to do the right thing, and then pretend he is helpless when the fat cats take the money and run. At any rate, no amount of bribery will change the behavior of people who have spent their entire lives shutting down and selling off the U.S. manufacturing sector. Such a transformation must occur against the wishes of the finance capitalists that created the crisis. Massive federal intervention, through direct investment and control of the new, green enterprises, is the only solution.

The auto industry crisis was the perfect opportunity to retain industrial jobs and begin a green economic transformation. But Barack Obama is not a transformational leader. He works for the banks. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090610_gf_gmfantasies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

Fattening Black Frogs For Corporate Snakes

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A “small herd” of rightist Black politicians is seeking statewide office, further mangling Black politics in the process. In practice, this trend allows white voters “to decide which kinds of Black politicians rise to state and national prominence.” Among the latest entries is Congressman Artur Davis, running for governor of Alabama. Rep. Davis is consistently ranked among the worst members of the Congressional Black Caucus – which is the source of his white, corporate appeal.

Fattening Black Frogs for Corporate Snakes

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black public is expected to support the corporate Black candidate for reasons of race loyalty.”

The rush to the Right among Black politicians is led by corporate-bought scoundrels seeking statewide office. It marks a new low in Black politics – in fact, the rash of rightwing Black candidacies represent an affront to the very idea of a politics that is accountable to the Black public. Instead, we are confronted with a new class of corporate connivers that measure Black progress by the Black candidates’ success in garnering white votes, by any shameful means necessary.

In this retrograde process, the Black public is expected to support the corporate Black candidate for reasons of race loyalty. They are taken for granted, as if in the candidate’s pocket, while he caters to every whim and prejudice of white voters. It is a profoundly degrading exercise, utterly contemptuous of the Black public. Which is precisely why a growing number of white people are feeling so good about the phenomenon. They get to decide which kinds of Black politicians rise to state and national prominence.

The latest crop of ambitious rightwing Black higher office seekers includes Artur Davis, the congressman from Alabama who rode to victory over progressive incumbent Earl Hilliard on a wave of corporate and Zionist money, in 2002. Davis has been at the bottom of the Congressional Black Caucus barrel ever since, consistently part of a cluster of derelict corporate water-carriers, at the absolute bottom of every report card issued by the watchdog group, Congressional Black Caucus Monitor. When former Memphis Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. left the House to run for a Senate seat, Davis took his place as the worst member of the CBC – it’s least progressive member.

“The corporate media love Davis – which is more proof of his worthlessness.”

Which, I suppose, is Congressman Davis’s top qualification as a Democratic candidate for governor of the State of Alabama. He can prove to the powers-that-be that he sits to the right of almost every other Black member of Congress. He is trustworthy.

As a Black star in the Democratic Leadership Council, the DLC, which represents the corporate class in the Democratic Party, Artur Davis is well-connected. Former congressman, now White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel took young Davis under his wing, and put him in charge of recruiting Black candidates for Congress in the Southeast. Davis’s old buddy Harold Ford is now chairman of the DLC, so Davis can count on corporate money pouring into his gubernatorial campaign. The corporate media love him – which is more proof of his worthlessness to Black people.

Next door, in Georgia, another throwback to Booker T. Washington’s time is also running for governor. Thurbert Baker is currently state attorney general. His top campaign issue is crime, and he takes credit for passage of a “two-strikes you’re out” mandatory life imprisonment law.

There’s actually a small herd of these backward Negroes aspiring to high statewide office. They represent a total waste of the time and resources the Black community has spent nurturing their careers. As my grandmother would say, all these years, we’ve just been “fattening frogs for snakes.” For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090610_gf_art4guv.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:47pm EDT

R.I.P. Industrial USA. The Banksters Win, Even When They Fail

General Motors is just the latest in a long line of casualties in the lopsided war between finance capital and manufacturing capital. "The handwriting was on the wall for General Motors and the entire industrial sector of the U.S. economy back in the mid-Eighties, when GMAC, the financial arm of General Motors, surpassed the car-making part of the company in profits." The "crux of the current crisis of capitalism" is finance capital's refusal to invest in productive enterprise "except under conditions of extremely low wage labor

R.I.P. Industrial USA. The Banksters Win, Even When They Fail

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It was crystal clear that the finance capitalists would eventually destroy the industrial capitalists.”

The corporate media’s stories on General Motor’s bankruptcy read like obituaries. But they are covering the wrong funeral. The automaker’s passing as an industrial giant marks the last gasp of industrial capitalism in the United States. And it was not a natural death.

General Motors became the biggest corporation is the world when the United States was by far the biggest industrial power in the world. There has always been conflict between industrial capital, which actually manufacturers things, and finance capital which, left to its own devises, will reduce the manufacturing base to its various parts to be squeezed of value, sold off or shut down. Two generations ago, finance capital got the upper hand in its battle with manufacturing capital, and began to deindustrialize the United States.

It was a long process, but a steady one, part of finance capital’s global “race to the bottom” that would transfer the world’s production to the low-wage South and East of the planet.

The handwriting was on the wall for General Motors and the entire industrial sector of the U.S. economy back in the mid-Eighties, when GMAC, the financial arm of General Motors, surpassed the car-making part of the company in profits. Almost immediately, GMAC went into the mortgage business. From that moment on, it was crystal clear that the finance capitalists would eventually destroy the industrial capitalists.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to finance capital’s total conquest of America. With the keys to state and federal government in their hands, and the Black, soon-to-be president in their pockets, the investment banking class imploded of its own contradictions. Having succeeded in amassing trillions while creating nothing useful, the finance capital parasites proceeded to the next stage of their pathology, creating vast amounts of fictitious capital called derivatives, based on – nothing. The house of cards collapsed.

Barack Obama put the finance capitalist Steve Rattner in charge of finally bankrupting the auto industry.”

The financial meltdown was near-total, but their political power was undiminished. Just as they had controlled the outgoing Republican White House, they took charge of economic policy under the incoming Democrat. Barack Obama put the finance capitalist Steve Rattner in charge of finally bankrupting the auto industry – which left economist Stanley Aronowitz has described as the largest exercise in union busting in U.S. history. President Obama’s own website brags that his White House was even “more aggressive” than the Bush Administration in wrenching concessions from the United Auto Workers union. The “New GM,” now 60 percent owned by the people of the United States, will be allowed to build small cars – in China. Obama apologists actually believed that the unused auto infrastructure might be massively converted to building public transportation, or other green industries. They failed to understand that Obama is the bankers’ president, and the bankers build nothing useful or productive. That is the crux of the current crisis of capitalism: the refusal of capital to invest in productive enterprise except under conditions of extremely low wage labor. Nothing will replace General Motors until the bankers – and the politicians who serve them – are driven out of power.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090603_gf_GM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07am EDT

Obama’s “Af-Pak” War: Destabilizing a Nuclear Nation

President Obama has succeeded in putting his mark on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in ways that will come back to haunt the U.S. Two million people have been displaced by the Pakistiani army's scorched earth campaign against the Taliban - actions demanded by the Obama administration. "The Pakistani people are universally aware that their army was browbeaten, bullied and coerced, superpower-style, to launch a scorched earth attack on Taliban-influenced regions." The administration is destabilizing Pakistan, and deepening its people's hatred for the U.S.

Obama’s “Af-Pak” War: Destabilizing a Nuclear Nation

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Humanitarian disaster will lead inevitably to a profound political crisis and even greater Pakistani hatred of the United States.”

No one can deny that the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater of war now belongs to President Obama. He campaigned for the privilege to put his own theories of war into action in the region, which the White House and Pentagon now refer to as “Af-pak.” It’s doubtful that Afghans or Pakistanis think of themselves as living in Af-Pak – but, it’s all the same to the Americans. Obama, the candidate, vowed to make Afghanistan and Pakistan the focus of his efforts, and to disengage from Iraq. There is no evidence that Obama ever intends to leave Iraq, but he has put his stamp on Afghanistan and created a humanitarian disaster in Pakistan. That humanitarian disaster will lead inevitably to a profound political crisis and even greater Pakistani hatred of the United States. When people whose government has a hundred or so nuclear weapons get mad at you, that’s a serious problem.

Two million people have been displaced from the Swat region of Pakistan. That’s in addition to the hundreds of thousands previously uprooted in the border regions with Afghanistan. The latest exodus is the largest forced movement of people since Pakistan was formed out of the old British India, in 1947. Americans may think that the two million Pakistani refugees – the entire population of Swat – are more angry at the Taliban than they are at the Pakistani government, and not upset at all at the United States. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people of Swat were ordered to leave their homes to create a free-fire zone for the Pakistani army. Anything that moves in the region is considered to be Taliban. Refugees in the camps tell stories of whole extended families being wiped out by government airpower and artillery. The Pakistani army isn’t winning any hearts and minds in Swat, just as it has few friends in the border regions, which the army treats as “Injun Territory,” in the Old West American sense of the term.

Pakistanis will at some point overthrow a government that is subservient to the country they hate most in the world,

besides India: the United States.”

But that’s no sweat off Obama’s back, right? Pakistanis will blame their own government for mistreating millions of citizens, right? Wrong. The Pakistani people are universally aware that their army was browbeaten, bullied and coerced, superpower-style, to launch a scorched earth attack on Taliban-influenced regions. In other words, the Pakistani army is following United States orders. And this public perception is correct.

The end result is that U.S. policy is destabilizing the Pakistani nation – which has enough problems keeping control of diverse peoples thrown together within British-drawn borders. The U.S. and its corporate media justify bullying Pakistan by invoking a kind of “White Man’s Burden.” The Pakistanis refused to understand that the Taliban were destabilizing the Pakistani state, the Americans said. Actually, it is the Americans that are destabilizing Pakistan by making its government and army look like tools of foreigners in the eyes of the people. The Taliban could never take over Pakistan. But Pakistanis will at some point overthrow a government that is subservient to the country they hate most in the world, besides India: the United States. What will the Americans do, then? Invasion of a nuclear state of 170 million people, is not an option. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.





Direct download: 20090603_gf_AfPak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:14am EDT

Ivan Van Sertima: Fighting Racism Through Science

"Prof. Van Sertima almost single-handedly introduced and defended the proposition that Africans made significant contact with the people of the Americas, not just before Columbus, but before the birth of Christ." By bringing multi-disciplinary evidence to back up his claims, Van Sertima "debunked" European contentions "that only white people were capable of moving around the world in a methodical manner." Van Sertima labored heroically to break the white choke-hold on the human narrative.

Ivan Van Sertima: Fighting Racism Through Science

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

His body of work was a powerful challenge to the insane idea that Europeans were the main actors in world history.”

There are men and women who change the paradigms of history. Ivan Van Sertima will be remembered as one of those men. Prof. Van Sertima almost single-handedly introduced and defended the proposition that Africans made significant contact with the people of the Americas, not just before Columbus, but before the birth of Christ. In a larger sense, Van Sertima’s body of work was a powerful challenge to the insane idea that Europeans were the main actors in world history.

Prof. Van Sertima is most famous for his book, They Came Before Columbus, published in 1976. At the heart of this magnificent volume is a group of huge stone heads, weighing ten to forty tons, dating to the Olmec culture of Mexico at least 800 years before Christ. The Africanness or Negroidness of the heads is visually undeniable – unless one is a racist, intent on reading Africans out of history. As Van Sertima explained, the evidence goes far beyond fullness of lips and broadness of nose. The heads wore helmets that match Egyptian military helmets of the era. The hair is depicted in stone braided in the Ethiopian style. And most importantly, it is following the period of African contact that the people of that region of America begin building pyramids.

Van Sertima also makes the case for a much later African trade and exploration expedition to the Americas, this one from Mali in West Africa in the 14th Century, A.D.

Even more than the striking visual evidence of the stone heads, Van Sertima compiles convincing data from a range of sciences and disciplines: mechanical evidence, metallurgical evidence, documents as evidence, African oral histories, and navigational evidence – all pointing to intercontinental contact that impacted on the culture and technologies of Americans and Africans.

Van Sertima understood that his scientific mission was ultimately a political struggle, as well.”

Most compelling, is the fact that ocean currents made contact between Africa and the Caribbean and Gulf Coast region of the western hemisphere absolutely inevitable. At least three currents off the African coast will deposit any boat that ventures into them into American waters. It is a conveyer belt between continents. That is how Chistopher Columbus got to the Caribbean, in 1492, and on succeeding voyages – by sailing south to the Canary Islands off the African coast, and then turning into the America-bound currents. And that, said Van Sertima, is how Africans traveled across the ocean, many centuries before.

Van Sertima, a native of Guyana, began his 30-year teaching career at New Jersey’s Rutgers University in 1972. By title, he was a professor of African Studies, but his work required a thorough knowledge of literature, linguistics, anthropology, history – all of the disciplines necessary to trace the human footprint on the planet. Van Sertima also worked as a journalist. He understood that his scientific mission was ultimately a political struggle, as well. As he has remarked, Europeans assumed that only white people were capable of moving around the world in a methodical manner. By their logic, if evidence was found of Africans outside of Africa, then someone else must have brought them there. Van Sertima spent much of his adult life debunking such white supremacist assumptions, through sound application of science. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090603_gf_VanSertima.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:10am EDT

Big Oil on Trial For 1995 Nigerian Executions

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The multinational oil corporation Royal Dutch Shell faces civil charges of complicity in Nigerian government crimes against its citizens, most notably the execution of writer/activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others in 1995. Shell will no doubt present itself as a victim. "It is a false dichotomy to separate the corruption of Nigeria's governments - military or civilian - from the predatory presence of Big Oil. The two are locked in the deepest embrace." Both the paymasters and the thugs are equally guilty of the crime.

Big Oil on Trial For 1995 Nigerian Executions

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Shell can be compared to a businessman who hires a hit man to kill a union organizer.”

The Royal Dutch Shell oil corporation is on trial, in New York, charged in a civil suit with complicity in the death of Nigerian writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight comrades in 1995. Saro-Wiwa’s execution drew world attention to the environmental catastrophe that oil production has brought to the delta region of the Niger River, home to the Ogoni people. Saro-Wiwa and his co-defendants were tried by a military government, but Shell oil is charged with collaboration in the hangings, and in the torture of many other Ogonis – all to facilitate multi-billion dollar profits. Multinational corporations everywhere are following the case, fearing they too may called to account for their symbiotic relationships with murderous regimes in the resource-rich regions of the world.

Nigeria’s environmental degradation is a by-product of the moral and political rot that flows from neocolonialism. It is the physical manifestation of the total surrender of national sovereignty to foreigners – like Shell oil – by those native classes that rule the land for the benefit of foreigners. To put one’s country’s resources at the disposal of foreigners is the ultimate corruption – which leads to every other conceivable crime.

It is a false dichotomy to separate the corruption of Nigeria’s governments – military or civilian – from the predatory presence of Big Oil. The two are locked in the deepest embrace. The foreign corporations pay the regime to maintain peace – and the regime reciprocates by imposing on the people a “peace of the dead.” There are other sources of corruption in the developing world, other contradictions between people and their governments, but the dominance of economic resources by foreigners exacerbates every other division in society. The competition to get into the foreigners’ money flow becomes the Great Game of national political life. The bigger the money flow, the greater the imperative to keep the people in check. The police and army serve as paid thugs for the foreigners’ protection. The national debasement is total. Nigeria’s most important city, Lagos, is also one of the most expensive in the world – yet 70 percent of Nigerians subsist on a dollar or less a day. There is no greater corruption imaginable.

To put one’s country’s resources at the disposal of foreigners is the ultimate corruption.”

In court, Shell oil will seek to present itself as an innocent party – even a victim of African brutality and corruption. Shell is more properly compared to a businessman who hires a hit man to kill a union organizer. The businessman and the hit man are both guilty of capital murder. The greater onus is on the businessman, whose money made the crime possible.

In the Niger Delta, Ogoni rebels have cut Nigeria’s oil production in half, putting the squeeze on U.S.-based Chevron Oil (where, incidentally, Condoleezza Rice used to work). According to Amnesty International, hundreds of civilians have been killed in the fighting. The Nigerian government has declared the entire delta a military zone. No doubt, great crimes are being committed, at the behest of Big Oil. Before he was put to death, Ken Saro-Wiwa predicted it would come to this.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090527_gf_ken-saor-wiwa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33am EDT

Obama Out-Bushes Bush on Preventive Detention

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Constitutionality aside, Barack Obama's preventive detention proposal is "damn near criminally irresponsible" and "like lighting a match in a room full of gasoline." The United States was founded on the principle that "lesser" or "dangerous" peoples should be "detained" for the good of the nation - on reservations or in slavery. Were it not for "rampant race hatred directed against Arabs and spilling over to all Muslims...there would be no serious discussion of preventive detention in the United States, today." The nation's first Black president is provoking a racial whirlwind.

Obama Out-Bushes Bush on Preventive Detention

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Calling for preventive detention in the United States is like lighting a match in a room full of gasoline.”

If George Bush had had the gall to propose changing the laws of the United States to allow people to be detained for long periods without even the intention of putting them on trial, progressives across the nation would be howling that the fascist hordes were at the gates. And they would be right. Even the do-nothing, scared-of-nearly-everything Congressional Black Caucus would be up in arms. George Bush and Dick Cheney empowered to imprison people without trial? Progressives everywhere would be justified in crying out against the threat to civilization as we know it. But when Barack Obama last week proposed the very same thing, preventive detention without trial, there was relative silence. People pretended it was just another Wednesday.

The best thing that can be said about President Obama’s preventive detention remarks is that they are damn near criminally irresponsible. Calling for preventive detention in the United States is like lighting a match in a room full of gasoline. No nation in the industrial world has a history more entwined with detention of whole classes of people, than the U.S. More Americans are incarcerated than any other inhabitants of the planet – in raw numbers, and as a percentage of population. African Americans alone make up one out of every eight prisoners on Earth, as a direct result of decades of deliberate public policy. Japanese Americans were detained for no crime but their ethnicity. Native Americans – those that were not killed outright – were forcibly “detained” on reservations that were in fact open-air prisons. Slavery was the greatest detention of all – a lifetime of house or field arrest, at hard labor, with no prospect of escape for oneself or one’s children – detention without trial for centuries.

Slavery was the greatest detention of all.”

It was the deeply ingrained belief among whites in the necessity of lifetime Black detention under slavery that conditioned Americans to tolerating – or demanding – the harshest criminal justice system in the developed world. Race saturates the American criminal justice conversation – so much so, that one’s race has more impact than one’s crime on whether or not one is ultimately detained in a U.S. prison. Were it not for rampant race hatred directed against Arabs and spilling over to all Muslims, and to those who are mistaken for Muslims, there would be no serious discussion of preventive detention in the United States, today. We would not have witnessed the spectacle of almost the entire U.S. Senate figuratively jumping on top of tables, screaming in terror at the prospect of a few Guantanamo Bay inmates being transferred to maximum security prisons in their states. These senators were exhibiting a kind of primal fear that is both irrational and racist in nature – and a lot scarier than any combination of detainees pacing in a cell. This is America, land of everlasting detention, and preventive execution – where evidence has never been necessary.

Is President Obama aware of the racial whirlwind that he is unleashing with his talk of preventive detention? Or does he care? On thing is certain: on this issue, Obama has proven himself to be worse than George Bush.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090527_gf_detention.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:29am EDT

Racist Symbolism Posing as Memorial Day Tradition

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The so-called "tradition" of U.S. presidents honoring the Confederate war dead began with the Dixiecrat Woodrow Wilson, in 1914. Wilson, born in Virginia, brought segregation to Washington's federal bureaucracy, and praised the Ku Klux Klan-celebrating movie, Birth of a Nation. The Confederate Memorial at Arlington was designed to honor those who fought to "save Anglo-Saxon civilization" - meaning, white rule. President Obama carries on the tradition.

Racist Symbolism Posing as Memorial Day Tradition

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama cannot possibly harbor genuine respect for Black Union dead if he conveys the same honors on Confederates.”

Most of what presidents do is about wielding power, but a great deal of being president is symbolic. Barack Obama is as attuned to symbolism as any of his predecessors – maybe more. When President Obama delivered a wreath to the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, on Memorial Day, he knew was playing a very cynical game of incompatible symbols. One cannot pay sincere tribute to the memory of the Black soldiers that fought for the Union in the Civil War, while giving equal honors – or any honors at all – to the soldiers of the Confederacy. But Obama tried to do both. Obama thinks he can finesse anything – which is an indication that he truly respects nothing. He cannot possibly harbor genuine respect for Black Union dead if he conveys the same honors – in the form of a wreath – on Confederates.

Obama is also disrespecting those of us who possess an awareness of history.

The Confederate Memorial was paid for by the Daughters of the Confederacy, and presented as a gift to the federal government in 1914. Woodrow Wilson was president – the most demonstrably racist resident of the White House of the 20th century. The Jim-Crowing of the South was by then all but complete. Wilson was a Democrat – or rather, a Dixiecrat, born in Virginia – and he lost no time imposing segregation on the federal bureaucracy in Washington, DC, where it had not previously existed. Wilson put up walls and partitions to keep Black and white office workers apart, and instituted separate bathrooms. When D.W. Griffith screened his white supremacist epic, Birth of a Nation – a celebration of the Ku Klux Klan – at the White House, President Wilson gave the film its best review. "It's like writing history with lightning,” said Wilson. “And my only regret,” he continued, “is that it is all terribly true."

President Wilson was embracing a national reconciliation with the Confederate cause – at Black people’s expense.”

In short, President Wilson was a low-down, Ku Klux Klan loving, racist dog. It was, therefore, totally in character for Wilson to become the first president to lay a wreath at the Confederate Memorial. The practice began as a political act, celebrating the new consensus among whites, North and South, that the race problem – the “Negro problem” – would no longer divide them. Instead, the South, and Woodrow Wilson’s Washington DC, would be allowed to divide Black people from whites at every level of society – and to lynch those that objected. That’s the spirit behind Woodrow Wilson’s embrace of the Confederate Memorial. He was also embracing a national reconciliation with the Confederate cause – at Black people’s expense.

Barack Obama now continues the symbolic practice, which celebrates the definitive triumph of white supremacy over all vestiges of Black Reconstruction, at the highest level of the U.S. government. African Americans are supposed to accept that the first Black president sends a wreath to honor Confederates, because he also sent a wreath to the Black Unionists’ memorial. Obama doesn’t think we’ll notice that that puts the Black Civil War dead on an equal basis with the people who were trying to put them back into slavery. He pretends not to recognize that that’s an insult to every decent American. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090527_gf_confederate_memorial.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24am EDT

New York Cops Stop Record Numbers of Blacks and Latinos – for Nothing

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If you're Black and walking the streets of New York City, be careful not to make any "furtive" moves, and make sure not to wear clothing that is "inappropriate for the season" or clothes "commonly used in a crime." The cops consider such behavior "reasonable suspicion" to stop and frisk pedestrians, 90 percent of whom happen to be non-white. This year, the police are on their way to stopping 628,000 persons - joining the two million that have been stopped and frisked since 2004.

New York Cops Stop Record Numbers of Blacks and Latinos – for Nothing

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Making a ‘furtive’ move or wearing a jacket the cops think is out of season is good reason to stop a person on the streets of New York.”

Even as civil libertarians push their suit to halt arbitrary stop-and-frisks, New York City cops are on the way to breaking all records for sweeping Blacks and Latinos from the streets. According to the police department’s own data, at the pace they are going, cops will have stopped, questioned and frisked almost 628,000 persons by the end of the year – more than the whole population of Boston. Last year, stop-and-frisks numbered 531,000 – more than the population of Atlanta. In the years 2004 through 2008, the NYPD stopped almost two million people on the streets. This may be the largest and longest sustained dragnet in urban history, including under conditions of martial law.

Despite all that police activity – and the seething anger it generates in targeted neighborhoods – only one out of ten stops results in an arrest or even a summons. But it’s not as if the police aren’t trying to arrest as many non-whites as possible. Blacks consistently number around half of those stopped by police – although making up only about a quarter of the population. Whites hover around 10 percent of those stopped on the street, while comprising 45 percent of all New Yorkers.

About one hundred thousand more people are stopped and frisked than are arrested the old fashioned way, based on probable cause. The street stops are supposedly based on the lower standard of “reasonable suspicion” – but it’s a reasoning only understandable to police and racists. In order to make the practice appear reasonable, the cops give out cards that explain the kind of behavior that supposedly leads to a stop-and-frisk. It includes:

carrying what appears to be a weapon”;

creating “sights or sounds suggestive of criminal activity” such as ringing an alarm, or running from a crime scene;

making “furtive movements”; and

wearing clothes “inappropriate for the season” or clothes “commonly used in a crime”

In the years 2004 through 2008, the NYPD stopped almost two million people on the streets.”

So, making a “furtive” move or wearing a jacket the cops think is out of season is good reason to stop a person on the streets of New York. In fact, any excuse will do, if you’re Black.

It is this type of institutionalized police behavior that leads inevitably to mass Black incarceration. The process begins with hyper-surveillance of Blacks and browns. Arbitrary stops lead to arbitrary arrests of the unlucky ten percent; to arbitrarily severe charges, followed by higher Black conviction rates and longer sentences under harsher circumstances. The end result is total community devastation. But it all starts with the cops on the block.

Crime has been way down in New York for a very long time. But that doesn’t matter to the police, who justify their racially selective behavior no matter what the crime rate is. If crime is up, that means more stops are needed. If crime is down, the cops say that’s because of the street stops. The only consistent factor is race – the defining element of American life.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090520_gf_nypd.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:24am EDT

Hypocritical Obama “Two-Step” on Human Rights and Racism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One step backward: last month, the Obama administration sabotaged the Durban II anti-racism conference, by first watering down the event's language and then refusing to participate. The first Black president of the United States created a coalition of European and white settler regimes - the same powers that inflicted centuries of racist terror on the planet - in defense of the racist Israeli regime. One step forward: Obama expects to steal a public relations coup by joining the UN's Human Rights Council - where he will doubtless pursue the same status quo policies..

Hypocritical Obama “Two-Step” on Human Rights and Racism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The president thinks he can wash away the shame of his sabotaging of one United Nations anti-racism conference, at Durban.”

Last month, President Obama insulted people of color at home and abroad by boycotting an international conference on racism, known as Durban II. The shameful U.S. action opened the door for Washington’s allies to also pull out of the event, creating a spectacle in which the European and white settler regimes that were responsible for unleashing African slavery and the color-line on the world in the first place, sabotaged a conference to combat the legacies of their crimes. The Durban II affair was doubly bizarre, in that it was orchestrated by the first Black president of the United States. The common perception was that the primary beneficiary of the U.S. boycott, was Israel. But in fact, President Obama betrayed all the victims and the descendants of victims of the racist terror that ravaged every corner of the planet for centuries before Israel was ever founded – not the least of which are the African American descendants of slave trade.

Obama’s main operative in sabotaging the Durban II conference was Samantha Power, who sits on his National Security Council. Power and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice are the administration’s principal advocates of so-called “humanitarian” military intervention, primarily in Africa. Both women have very selective definitions of the term “genocide,” effectively absolving the U.S. of genocide or crimes against humanity while endlessly lobbying for military action against Sudan and other nations in Africa.

In both foreign and domestic policy, Barack Obama’s doctrine is, Let bygones be bygones.”

Last month, as Samantha Power assured American Zionists that the U.S. would protect Israel from condemnation at the Durban conference, she said her boss would find another venue to explain to the world his “commitments to combating racism and discrimination.” That venue is almost certainly the Human Rights Council of the United Nations – which the United States recently joined after snubbing the Council for years under the Bush regime. President Obama assured United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that he would work through the Human Rights Council on issues of racial discrimination – after he boycotted Durban II.

So, this is what Obama is up to. The president thinks he can wash away the shame of his sabotaging of one United Nations anti-racism conference, at Durban, by joining another organ of the United Nations – the Human Rights Council. Sometime soon, the White House public relations machine will pour on the hype, announcing that Obama has ushered in a “brand new day” in U.S. human rights policy by joining the Human Rights Council. And as sure as the sun rises, the same organizations that lamented Obama’s behavior surrounding Durban II, will issue press releases full of praise for the administration. It is also just as certain that the United States will use its new seat on the Human Rights Council to protect Israel from righteous condemnation for its racist treatment of Palestinians, and to block any calls for reparations to African nations and African descended peoples for the monstrous crimes of slavery and colonialism. In both foreign and domestic policy, Barack Obama’s doctrine is, Let bygones be bygones. Effectively, that puts him on the side of those who profit from racism, past, present and future.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090520_gf_humanrights.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:21am EDT

Torture lawyers Ought To Be Disbarred

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama considers U.S. use of torture as an instrument of national policy is best relegated to the past, unpunished - even though a web of international treaties and laws, and U.S. statutes, obligate the executive branch to prosecute the guilty. It has been left to a coalition of activist groups to pursue some small measure of punishment for the 12 Bush lawyers that conspired to make torture, legal. The coalition has filed complaints with state bar associations to pull the torture lawyers' licenses.

Torture lawyers Ought To Be Disbarred

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Former Attorneys General John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey might lose their license.”

Barack Obama is a Constitutional lawyer, but he certainly doesn’t behave like one. In fact, no citizen that believed in the rule of law would say that the U.S. government should, in effect “move on” rather than “dwell on the past” when serious crimes have been committed. Yet that is the president’s effective position regarding torture. The problem is, Obama doesn’t have the legal option to take that position, any more than a district attorney can refuse to prosecute a clear case of homicide simply because doing so might cause some people to get upset.

In the case of use of torture as an instrument of U.S. policy, the United States is obligated by a web of treaties, international law, U.S. criminal law and American military law to prosecute war crimes – one of which is torture. The obligation to prosecute falls to the executive branch of government. That means the buck stops with the president – and he can’t pass on it for domestic political convenience. To do so amounts to violation of myriad laws and treaties. That is, the president himself becomes a criminal when he fails to carry out his duty to enforce the laws.

Unfortunately, the United States thinks it is above the law – a kind of law-free zone. In a sense, the United States is like one big Dodge City, making up the law as it goes along. Its presidents enforce or break the law, as suits them. This applies as much to Barack Obama, as to George Bush, as is shown by Obama’s unilateral forgiveness of torture crimes.

One would think that a Constitutional lawyer – of all professions – would be most anxious to protect that document from being stepped on, especially by fellow attorneys. But, Barack Obama considers the misdeeds of other lawyers in justifying torture and other war crimes to be so much clutter that he’d prefer to be rid of.

Barack Obama doesn’t seem to grasp the monstrousness of the offense.”

So, the citizens are left to their own devices in the case of the torture lawyers – the 12 men who mangled and mutilated the law to make that which was illegal, legal, on behalf of their boss, George Bush. A coalition of organizations with more than one million members has filed ethics complaints with state bar associations seeking to have Bush’s lawyers’ licenses taken away. Three of the twelve are former U.S. Attorneys General: John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey

The coalition calls itself the Velvet Revolution, and includes various anti-war and progressive groups. Their lawyer, Kevin Zeese, provides this legal analogy: “Just as the bar would suspend an attorney who advised a police officer to torture and brutalize a detained immigrant or criminal defendant, the bar must suspend these attorneys for advocating and causing the torture of war detainees.” If Bush’s lawyers wind up being disbarred, they would be getting off easy. A report by human rights researchers says dozens of detainees died during or after interrogation sessions. At least eight were tortured to death. That’s a direct link to capital war crimes. Barack Obama doesn’t seem to grasp the monstrousness of the offense. To him, its just politics. He has abdicated his legal responsibilities in the matter, and lost all moral standing.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090520_gf_DisbarTorturers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

Obama Shows His True Katrina Colors

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The line between Bush and Obama has not simply blurred in New Orleans: it has disappeared." President Obama has adopted, in whole, the Bush approach to rebuilding the city - minus the Black Diaspora that was scattered to the winds in 2005. Notices of eviction have been served on the mostly elderly and Black inhabitants of 3,000 FEMA trailers. The Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development is putting the finishing touches on public housing demolition in the city. Not a single "Katrina Cottage" has been made ready for occupancy. Obama no more favors the "right to return" to - or remain in - New Orleans, than Bush did.

Obama Shows His True Katrina Colors

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The President delegated to his minions the task of evicting Katrina survivors from 3,000 FEMA trailers.”

If response to the crimes of Katrina is the litmus test for 21st Century Black politics – and it should be – then the Obama administration has failed to distinguish itself from its predecessor under George W. Bush. The Bush imperative was to take gruesome advantage of the hurricane’s destruction to accomplish a national goal: to drive poor Blacks from the central cities. Every governmental crime of omission and commission in the wake of Katrina was coldly calculated to permanently exile several hundred thousand African Americans from New Orleans. The city was deliberately rendered unlivable for a huge portion of its previous residents, while corporate vultures from across the nation and even Australia schemed to create a new urban “model” – minus African Americans.

From the beginning, candidate Obama denied that racism played a role in Katrina’s aftermath. The prevailing “incompetence,” he said, was “colorblind” – proving either that he, Obama, was the blind one or that the man who would be president is as hostile to the inner city poor as George Bush.

Obama waited until his first 100 days in office had passed to delegate to his minions the task of evicting Katrina survivors from 3,000 FEMA trailers. Most of the trailer inhabitants are elderly. Two-thirds of them own homes that they have been trying to make habitable, with or without help from the government. Their evictions from the trailers will make it that much harder to renew their lives as permanent residents of New Orleans – which is the whole point of the evictions.

Obama has effectively adopted the Bush policy on New Orleans, in whole.”

FEMA claims that it has always offered to allow people to buy the trailers for as little as $300. But the trailer residents overwhelmingly dispute that story. According to the New York Times, “virtually all of the residents interviewed said they had offered” to buy their trailers, but were “told they could not.” Who are you going to believe, the people or FEMA?

And who is to blame? Not George Bush, not anymore. President Obama has effectively adopted the Bush policy on New Orleans, in whole. Not a single one of 500 planned “Katrina cottages” has been made ready for occupancy. Elderly people squat in abandoned buildings. There are no credible plans to repair or create an infrastructure that could accommodate the poor who still remain, much less the New Orleans diaspora, scattered to the four winds three and a half years ago.

President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, of which he is so proud, revealed his administration’s general attitude regarding Katrina. Rather than putting people to work rebuilding New Orleans for the benefit of its original population, the administration and Congress allocated the city less money than any other congressional district. And it was under Obama that the latest federal actions to demolish public housing in the city have occurred.

The line between Bush and Obama has not simply blurred in New Orleans: it has disappeared. The ominous ramifications reverberate far beyond the Gulf Coast. If post-Katrina New Orleans is the “urban model” for the future, then Black America has a great deal to fear from the Obama White House.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090513_gf_katrina_evictions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am EDT

U.S. Economy: The Cancer is Still There

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

"In the cold assessment of history, Barack Obama will be remembered more for his massive transfers of national wealth to the finance capitalist class, than as the first Black president of the United States." Mostly under his administration, $12.8 trillion dollars has been committed to prop up the Wall Street oligarchy. Yet the five banks that are the biggest recipients of federal largess continue to hold $195 trillion in fatally toxic derivatives - a notional value more than three times the planetary domestic product! "There is nothing rational to do but to wipe the obligations, and their holders, off the face of the Earth, in order to save the real economy."

U.S. Economy: The Cancer is Still There

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama will be remembered more for his massive transfers of national wealth to the finance capitalist class, than as the first Black president of the United States.”

How does one restore the Lords of Capital to their former positions as dictators of the U.S. and global economies, while keeping their seats warm as de facto political rulers of the American state? Saving the finance capital oligarchy has emerged as President Obama’s central mission – the guiding focus of his young administration. Obama has found new and myriad ways to go where no American president has ever gone before, in funneling somewhere around $13 trillion of national treasure to the parasitical class that goes by the shorthand, Wall Street.

By March of this year, the federal government and the Federal Reserve had “spent, lent or committed” $12.8 trillion to the banksters, according to the Bloomberg financial news service. That amounts to 90 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the entire United States economy for last year. Let us put it another way: Mostly under the auspices of Barack Obama’s administration, the value of nearly every good and service produced in the United States in 2008 has been, in one way or another, put at the disposal of a tiny financial oligarchy.

This is the kind of overarching reality that defines, not just presidencies, but eras. In the cold assessment of history, Barack Obama will be remembered more for his massive transfers of national wealth to the finance capitalist class, than as the first Black president of the United States.

President Obama has chosen to use the limited resources of the current and future United States – $13 trillion so far – to prop up a criminal class.

The primary beneficiaries of this history-shaking generosity are the same banksters that brought about the economic meltdown through their monstrous invention, the derivative. This fictitious capital – derivatives – created to facilitate gambling on a scale that far exceeds the productive capacity of the entire planet Earth, is a cancer that Barack Obama has chosen to feed, rather than cut out. As F. William Engdahl points out in a recent article, five U.S. banks are the biggest repositories of toxic derivatives: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo-Wachovia Bank. Together, these five Banksters of the Apocalypse hold derivatives with the notional value of $193 trillion. That is more than three times the value of the real economy of the whole world – which is about $60 trillion.

These deadly derivatives continue to sit there, immovable, in these five fatally stricken institutions. There are not enough trillions existent in the national or world economies to absorb these fatal instruments. There is nothing rational to do but to wipe the obligations, and their holders, off the face of the Earth, in order to save the real economy. Instead of feeding the cancer, a rational government would use the people’s wealth to create public institutions to dispense credit and guide economic development. The bankster gamblers would be consigned to the dustbin of history – and good riddance. But President Obama has chosen to use the limited resources of the current and future United States – $13 trillion so far – to prop up a criminal class. All the manufactured hoopla about stock market rallies and phony stress tests is intended to mask the central truth of our time: the derivatives cancer will eat away at the real economy until the class that spawned it is cut away, and flushed out of existence.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090513_gf_economy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:55am EDT

Obama Cuts Funds For Black Higher Education President Obama's economic stimulus was very kind to the general category of education. But Black higher education got the butt end of his budget, with a net of $73 million in cuts, while traditionally Hispanic schools got an increase in funding. "It would be difficult to find anyplace in the federal budget where $73 million has a more concentrated impact on the fortunes of a particular ethnic group." Even southern Republican lawmakers are wondering aloud about Obama's priorities.

Obama Cuts Funds for Black Higher Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama should be given a brief refresher course in the history that makes direct aid to Black schools necessary.”

Barack Obama encourages people to believe that he deserves to be remembered as the “Education President.” However, Obama will definitely not go down as a friend of historically Black higher education. Historically Black colleges and universities – HBCUs – take a $73 million hit in Obama’s educational budget. The cuts are even more disturbing, since education as a general category is a big winner in the president’s economic stimulus plan.

Obama’s people claim that an increase in maximum Pell Grant monies for low-income students will help all educational institutions, including historically Black ones. But that’s not quite true. Even if every one of the 132,000 Pell Grant students that attend HBCUs collected the maximum $200 extra dollars in Obama’s budget, that would only make up for one-third of the administration’s cuts to the Black schools. In other words, Obama’s slightly rising tide of Pell Grants will not sufficiently lift historically Black higher education boats.

The $73 million loss would have an outsized impact on the 105 Black institutions, many of which are on perennially shaky financial ground, and all of which have been hit hard by the current economic crisis. Although Black schools make up only three percent of total U.S. college enrollment, they account for one out of every five undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans. It would be difficult to find anyplace in the federal budget where $73 million has a more concentrated impact on the fortunes of a particular ethnic group.

The Obama budget actually increased direct federal aid to heavily Hispanic schools, from $93 million to $98 million.”

A direct comparison might be made with colleges that traditionally serve large numbers of Hispanic students. However, the Obama budget actually increased direct federal aid to these schools, from $93 million to $98 million. Native American higher education, on the other hand, gets the “Black” treatment: a decrease in federal funding to Indian schools.

The Obama administration’s callous disregard for Black colleges is even more curious, considering the president’s constant quest for areas of bipartisan consensus. Support for Black higher education is one of the rare issues around which southern white Republicans and members of the Congressional Black Caucus often find common ground. North Carolina is home to 11 HBCUs. The state’s Republican Senator, Richard Burr, wonders how Obama managed to find $9 million to fund a museum on the history of the whaling industry, but makes devastating cuts in Black higher education.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Many Black colleges were the products of philanthropy, and depend on it, still. But philanthropy is way down, which has pushed many Black institutions even closer to the edge.

President Obama should also be given a brief refresher course in the history that makes direct aid to Black schools necessary. Blacks were deliberately shut out of most higher education for almost the entirety of United States history. For that reason, Black institutions operate under specific disadvantages, while shouldering oversized responsibilities. There is nothing “race-neutral” about it. Past and present racial realities require that Obama give up the money.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090513_gf_hbcu.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46am EDT

Last Days of “Cracked-Up-Black-Buck-Runs-Amok” Law

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Back in 1986, the U.S. Congress crafted legislation to put as many Black crack cocaine users in prison as possible, while sparing white users of powdered cocaine. Hundreds of thousands of arrests and more than a million of year in prison later, the U.S. Justice Department went on record favoring equalization of penalties on both kinds of cocaine. “Any civilized court would treat such blatantly race-based mass punishment as a crime against humanity – possibly an element in a broader charge of genocide.”

Last Days of “Cracked-Up-Black-Buck-Runs-Amok” Law

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The 23-year-long crack dragnet affected every social structure in Black America.”

It appears the racially-motivated sentencing laws that treat possession of crack cocaine as 100 times more worthy of punishment than powder cocaine, will soon pass into history. It’s been 23 years since the Congress was stampeded into passing legislation that mandated ten years in prison for possession of a mere 50 grams of crack, a cheap and favored high in Black communities. Powdered cocaine had long been too expensive for ghetto tastes. To earn ten years in jail, the predominantly white users of powdered cocaine would have to get caught with 5,000 grams of the stuff – 100 times the weight for ten years worth of crack.

Although the legislation was racist from the moment of its conception, more than half the Congressional Black Caucus voted for it back in 1986. The Black lawmakers bought into the hysteria that claimed crack cocaine made previously normal people deadly violent. There’s no question that crack was associated with horrific violence, most of it between drug dealers engaged in wars to control the millions in profits generated by crack. But the cases of 94 percent of the crack offenders in prison today have nothing to do with violence.

The crack laws were designed to put massive numbers of Blacks behind bars. They were successful in condemning hundreds of thousands of young Black men and women to millions of collective years in prison. Eighty-two percent of those convicted for crack cocaine in federal court, are Black; only 9 percent are white. Clearly, the crack cocaine laws are models of efficiency in the mass destruction of Black lives under color of law. Any civilized court would treat such blatantly race-based mass punishment as a crime against humanity – possibly an element in a broader charge of genocide. The 23-year-long crack dragnet affected every social structure in Black America, leaving utter devastation in its wake. The effects of this unrelenting campaign of mass Black incarceration – of which crack cocaine was a key component – were so pervasive, the system finally seemed to run out of new Black bodies to arrest. This is one of the likely reasons that, in recent years, drug arrest rates for Blacks have gone down, while white arrest rates have shot up dramatically.

Any civilized court would treat such blatantly race-based mass punishment as a crime against humanity.”

The biggest change came last week, when for the first time a high-ranking member of the U.S. Justice Department testified in favor of Black Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee’s bill that would equalize the penalties for crack and powdered cocaine possession. President Obama supported such a change when he was a candidate.

But who is to say that Congress or the states will not tomorrow enact another racially-tailored “Black Buck Runs Amok” law? What should be required, are Racial Impact Statements that would measure any disparities in the ethnic outcomes of the law’s enforcement. If impact statements are useful in deterring harm to the environment, then surely Black folks and other human beings need protection from racist laws – and from hate-filled, racist lawmakers. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford.

On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090505_gf_crack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm EDT

Black Farmers Confront Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Of all people, it was Black farmers that dared to make the first Black president accountable for his campaign promise to them. Obama seemed to be reneging on his own legislation and statements favoring billions in payments to Black farmers methodically discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now, his administration wants to cap the payments at $100 million. “Right is right and it doesn’t matter who is in the White House,” said Black farmers leader John Boyd.

Black Farmers Confront Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Black farmers have come to believe that now-President Obama is flipping the script on them.”

Some of Barack Obama’s chickens – and other assorted farm animals – are coming home to roost. Six months into his term as a United States Senator, Barack Obama introduced legislation to compensate Black farmers for the cruel and blatant discrimination they had suffered at the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Obama had apparently been moved by the Black farmer’s claims that federal farm officials had methodically denied them federal monies routinely handed out to white farmers. According to the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, Black farmers received only one-third to one-sixth of the federal benefits and subsidies collected by other farmers, over a more than ten year period. Black farmers, as a class, were becoming extinct, partly due to federal government practices.

The Black farmers sued, forcing the federal government to pay out nearly a billion dollars to settle about 16,000 claims. But as many as 65,000 additional farmers had claims, that could amount to as much as $4 billion. That’s when Senator Barack Obama joined legislation to champion their cause. Congress allocated $100 million, with the apparent intention to release more funds, later. But it didn’t turn out that way, and the Black farmers have come to believe that now-President Obama is flipping the script on them.

Last week, the Black farmers and their supporters turned out in force on Capitol Hill, demanding that the Obama administration and the Congress do right by the 94,000 of their fellow tillers-of-the-soil who ultimately filed for claims against the feds. Obama had, indeed, changed his tune upon becoming president. Now, his administration’s position was that the initial $100 million was all the Black farmers were going to get; it wasn’t a down payment, but a cap, a ceiling.

Right is right and it doesn’t matter who is in the White House.”

The Black farmers felt betrayed. John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, said Obama’s formula wouldn’t even “pay the lawyers’ fees.” Many of his members are facing imminent loss of their land. Obama and congressional Democrats urged the Black farmers to have patience. But John Boyd replied, it’s too late for that. “They didn’t tell the banks, the auto companies, and the insurance companies to wait,” said Boyd. He continued: “Right is right and it doesn’t matter who is in the White House.”

That’s when Obama trotted out Black Alabama Congressman Artur Davis, to take the heat from the Black farmers. Congressman Davis, one of the most corporate-friendly members of the Congressional Black Caucus and a protégé of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, claimed the $100 million was just a “placeholder” for monies that would be allocated, in due time – that it was not a cap, despite what administration lawyers said in a legal motion filed in February.

The Black farmers’ patience may be short, but time is in even shorter supply. A little over a century ago, Blacks made up 14 percent of all American farmers. Today, they are less than one and one-half percent. Congressman Davis tried to reassure the farmers. “I know the heart of the president,” he said. But Obama’s heart doesn’t sign any checks. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford.

On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.


Direct download: 20090505_gf_blackfamers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41pm EDT

Redneck-Like Black Man Wants to be Georgia Governor

The 12-year Black attorney general of the State of Georgia has defended Black voter suppression laws, co-sponsored two-strikes mandatory life imprisonment, and loves the death penalty. Thurbert Baker is counting on the Black vote, which makes up half the Democratic electorate in the state, to give him a leg up in the gubernatorial primary. "Does it serve Black people's interests, or the cause of justice, for African Americans to take leadership roles in government oppression of Black people?"

Redneck-Like Black Man Wants to be Georgia Governor

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Thurbert Baker is most proud of passing Georgia’s two-strikes mandatory life imprisonment bill.”

The quality of Black candidates for high office seems to decrease even as the frequency of such candidacies increases.

Thurbert Baker, the Black Democratic attorney general of Georgia, wants to be governor. He was first appointed to the position in 1997 by Zell Miller, the Democratic governor who became a U.S. senator and then supported George Bush in 2004. Zell Miller’s stable of favored Blacks also includes Denise Majette, the former Black Republican lawyer who ran as a Democrat to oust Cynthia McKinney from her suburban Atlanta congressional seat in 2002.

Attorney General Baker was elected on his own in 1998, and has fit in just fine under Democratic and Republican governors. He’s a man for all seasons – which is a kind way of saying he goes wherever the wind blows.

Thurbert Baker has a convenient excuse for his role in defending racist state laws and actions: the job made him do it. When a judge ordered Black teenager Genarlow Wilson released after he was sentenced to ten years for having consensual sex with a 15-year old white girl, Attorney General Baker filed an appeal to keep Wilson in prison. When the Republican state legislature passed a voter ID bill to suppress the Black vote, Thurbert Baker defended the legislation. Baker says his job requires him to defend the laws of the State of Georgia, whether he likes those laws or not. Which isn’t even a good reason to feel sorry for him, much less vote for him.

The only people who are served by having Black front men for racist policies, are the racists.”

In fact, Thurbert Baker’s excuse for defending bad law and racist state actions – that it’s his job – opens up a larger question: what is the impact on Black interests when Black politicians give legitimacy to racist policies by their active presence and collaboration in carrying out those policies? Does it serve Black people’s interests, or the cause of justice, for African Americans to take leadership roles in government oppression of Black people?

It’s a rhetorical question; we know the answer. The only people who are served by having Black front men for racist policies, are the racists, who can thereby claim that their project is multiracial in nature. For 12 years, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker was available to endorse whatever anti-Black law or project was handed to him by the state administration or the legislature. Now he wants Black folks to reward him.

Blacks make up about 50 percent of the Democratic electorate in Georgia. Baker is counting on that huge bloc as his base in the primary election – even though Black Georgians were never able to count on him. Baker says his first priority is crime – not jobs, not education – and he is most proud of his work as a legislator in passing Georgia’s two-strikes (not three-strikes, but two strikes) mandatory life imprisonment bill. He loves the death penalty. And that’s the last thing Black Georgia needs: a Black man who thinks and governs like a redneck.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090505_gf_thurbert_baker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38pm EDT

Obama's America Joins White Walkout On Anti-Racism Conference in Geneva

The former and present colonizers and enslavers of the world - Europe and its white settler colonies - rose in bogus indignation to denounce the Iranian president's remarks on Israeli racism. But it was a sham and farce, part of the choreographed Obama White House plan to wreck the Durban II international anti-racism conference. "In sabotaging Durban II, Barack Obama succeeded in avoiding coming to grips with grievances registered against the United States, eight years ago."

Obama's America Joins White Walkout On Anti-Racism Conference in Geneva

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Of the 15 nations that either boycotted or walked out of the anti-racism conference, in Geneva, only two – Poland and Finland – were not tainted by or products of colonialism and the slave trade.

What a spectacle it was! Diplomats from the colonizing countries of Europe and the white settler regimes they founded rose in indignation in Geneva, Switzerland, last week, to denounce a Persian leader for racism. Envoys from France, Britain, Spain and Denmark, whose nations are responsible for orgies of rape and pillage that killed untold millions in the centuries-long European war against the darker regions of the planet, pretended that their sensibilities had been assaulted by a speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The irate Europeans joined with their brothers and sisters in historical genocide and mass murder, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden – kidnappers of nations, invaders, enslavers of whole peoples – who had boycotted the Geneva conference on racism, commonly known as Durban II. The world is stained with oceans of blood because of these Europeans, yet they have the nerve, the gall, to attempt to demonize the Iranian president for the words he spoke about Israel. Leading the sabotage of the conference was the United States, along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, of course, Israel – the European settler colonies that became nations on the bones and stolen land of previous inhabitants.

What a display of unbounded arrogance! Of the 15 nations that either boycotted or walked out of the anti-racism conference, in Geneva, only two – Poland and Finland – were not tainted by or products of colonialism and the slave trade. All the rest are complicit in the death of millions, and most continue to profit from their crimes.

Most of the world considers the slave trade to have been a crime against humanity.”

The object of European and white settler anger, the Islamic government of Iran, has not attacked anyone in several hundred years. Its president told the conference that an entire nation was made “homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering ... in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine." Most of the world agrees with that assessment – just as most of the world considers the slave trade to have been a crime against humanity. But that verdict is not accepted by the governments of the nations that built fabulous wealth on commerce in genocide.

The walkout in Geneva was all but choreographed by the United States and its Zionist partners, who began subverting the conference from the moment Barack Obama was sworn into office. The U.S. and its allies made sure that President Ahmadinejad’s speech would get lots of corporate media attention. He was the only head of state to address the conference, that day; nobody else came.

In sabotaging Durban II, Barack Obama succeeded in avoiding coming to grips with grievances registered against the United States by delegates to the previous international anti-racism conference, in Durban, South Africa, eight years ago. The U.S. was supposed to report last week on progress made in fighting residential housing segregation, police brutality, the crimes associated with Katrina, and other American racial problems. But it was more important to Barack Obama to whitewash Israel. Now we know who serves whom.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090429_gf_GenevaSpectacle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09am EDT

Black Colleges Profiled as Suspected Havens for “Extremists”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Don't let the apolitical facades fool you. Virginia's four Black colleges are hotbeds of "militancy and rebellion" and magnets for "a wide variety of terror or extremist groups." So says a government-funded outfit called the Virginia Fusion Center, which also cautions against the national security dangers inherent in diversity. "While the vast majority of these individuals are law-abiding, this ethnic diversity also affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion." Safe, secure communities are uniformly white and English-speaking.

Black Colleges Profiled as Suspected Havens for “Extremists”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Fusion Center appears to believe that Black colleges are by definition hotbeds of militancy and rebellion.”

Those deep thinkers in the Homeland Security Department are paying good money for some very bad advice on what constitutes a threat to American society. An inkling of the kind of madness that passes for research at Homeland Security, is provided by a recent report to the Virginia State Police. The report, which emanates from the basement offices of something called the Virginia Fusion Center, claims that “a wide variety of terror or extremist groups" have ties to the Hampton Roads region of the state. Specifically, the report claims that the area’s two historically Black universities are virtual magnets for terrorists and “extremists” – as are the two Black universities in the Richmond area.

For those who are familiar with the four schools – Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Virginia State University in Petersburg and Virginia Union University in Richmond – the very thought of them as havens for “extremist” politics is laughable. Political action is not what these schools are known for. And that’s too bad. But the Fusion Center, whoever they are, appears to believe that Black colleges are by definition hotbeds of militancy and rebellion. I wish that were true, but it’s not. It appears the researchers at Virginia’s Fusion Center believe that Black institutions are inherently suspect. The Homeland Security Department is paying these guys millions of dollars a year to give vent to their own racist paranoia – and to sic the political bloodhounds on a bunch of apolitical Black students.

The presumption seems to be that dangerous people are not white, and white people are not dangerous.”

The creeps at the Fusion Center see security dangers in diversity, which they believe creates special national security perils. The Hampton Roads region of Virginia has attracted a wide diversity of population from all parts of the globe. The Fusion Center report says, “While the vast majority of these individuals are law-abiding, this ethnic diversity also affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion." The statement reveals the screaming racist posing as a researcher. Clearly the report’s authors believe that the safest communities, national security-wise, are those that are uniformly white and English-speaking. Presumably, in such surroundings it’s hard for the “dangerous” people to hide in a crowd. The presumption seems to be that dangerous people are not white, and white people are not dangerous. White communities are the ones that need protecting, while the non-white or diverse communities represent some degree of danger.

This is pure racist crap, and dangerous stuff to have circulating among the police. The logic of the Fusion Report, if taken seriously, would lead the State to aggressively infiltrate the student ranks at Black colleges. They wouldn’t discover much in the way of subversive anything, but it is in the nature of the spy to invent what he can’t find.

Virginia’s crackpot Fusion Center is one of at least 58 such idiot-tanks that have sprung up around the country since 9/11, at a cost of $250 million dollars in public funds. That quarter billion dollar investment has led to the discovery of a single fact: Some white people are not comfortable, in general, with diversity, and are still nervous as hell around Black people.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090429_gf_TerrifyingProfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02am EDT

European Pirates in Somali Waters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

 The maritime powers busily looting Somalia's fishery are preparing to formalize their theft. Spain and France, the "biggest thieves of Somali fish" plan to assume responsibility for the fisheries at an upcoming conference. Under cover of preserving order on the high seas, "the French, the Spanish and the rest of the freeloaders are reverting to a kind of piracy of their own, like in the good old days when whites sailed the world and took what they wanted."

European Pirates in Somali Waters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The biggest thieves of Somali fish choose themselves as protectors of the fisheries.”

The U.S. corporate media treat the world like a big comic book, with America as the super-hero who doesn’t know his own strength, but means well. Much of the time, the corporate media analysis doesn’t even reach the level of comic book – more like cartoons. In fact, just a few nights ago, I saw a cartoon on the Comedy Central channel that provided a much more sophisticated analysis of so-called “piracy” in Somalia, than anything offered by the television evening news.

In an episode of South Park, the eight-year-old kid protagonists set off for Somalia, where they hope to live the care-free life of pirates. A teenaged Somali boy who has become a pirate in order to feed his desperate family, can’t understand why one would want to engage in piracy, if given the choice. At the end of the episode, American sharpshooters kill all the Somalis, leaving the would-be American child-pirates unharmed. The American commander tells his gunmen, “Be careful not to hit the white ones.”

Thus, the cartoon succeeds in describing the life and death struggle of the Somalis and the arbitrary power of the Americans and others patrolling the Somali coast. The Americans here at home are totally ignorant of the true situation in Somalia, while the Americans manning warships and war planes have no problem with killing people they don’t know – people who are made to look like cartoon cut-outs.

Since the early Sixties, U.S. policy in Africa has been to sow chaos in those regions it cannot effectively control.”

It is impossible to discuss lawlessness in Somali coastal waters without confronting the U.S. and European role in destroying the rule of law in the country. The chief culprit is the United States, which encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia, in 2006, in order to depose the first government the country had had since 1991. Since the early Sixties, U.S. policy in Africa has been to sow chaos in those regions it cannot effectively control. The Somalis drove the Ethiopians out, much to the chagrin of Washington. With the increase in ship hijackings, the Americans and Europeans spin the situation as one in which they must impose order on Somalia – when, in fact, it is outsiders’ attempts to dominate Somalia that have led to such grave disorder.

We now learn that France and Spain, among the maritime powers most guilty of illegally poaching Somalia’s fisheries, have designated themselves as the guardians of the Somali coast. The French and Spanish have enjoyed a bounty of fishing off Somalia, with no Somali coast guard to keep them from taking as much as they want of the national resource. So, the biggest thieves of Somali fish choose themselves as protectors of the fisheries. France and Spain both base their fishing fleets in the nearby Seychelles Islands.

Any dispassionate observer would conclude that the French, the Spanish and the rest of the freeloaders are reverting to a kind of piracy of their own, like in the good old days when whites sailed the world and took what they wanted. But then, that’s a cartoonish way of looking at the world – or is it?

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090429_gf_SomaliaPiracy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24am EDT

Obama, Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez: Who are the Truly ‘Big Men?’

What does putting "everything on the table" mean, in discussions among nations? Cuba's Raul Castro says he means literally everything, including exchange of political prisoners, as long as talks are held on the basis of equality. Barack Obama claims the next move is up to Cuba, but it appears Raul has already made an authentic offer. Besides, there is something fundamentally wrong when the nation that continues to commit crimes against its neighbor - the U.S. - asks for concessions before it will cease and desist

Obama, Raul and Hugo: Who are the Truly ‘Big Men?’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. holds pose no threat to the U.S., while the prisoners Havana holds may well pose a threat to Cuba.”

U.S. President Barack Obama says the next move is up to Cuba, to improve relations between the two countries. This statement is both typically Obama, and vintage American imperialist. Obama, just like his American presidential predecessors stretching back more than two centuries, thinks the United States has the right to decide when it’s time for other countries to forgive America’s own crimes – even when the Americans continue to commit those crimes. Obama tried to run that game at the Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad, this weekend, when he spoke of setting aside "stale debates and old ideologies." That’s the same language he uses, here in the U.S., when people want to talk seriously about curbing the power of money or creating a single-payer health care system. Obama pretends that everything he says is fresh, rather than stale, even when its old as dirt, or stolen from somebody else. He claims to have no ideology, while practicing imperialism, backed up by the biggest military budget in history, 24 hours a day. Since Obama smiles when he utters this kind of nonsense, he is called a statesman and a cool dude.

But let’s return to Cuba and the “next move.” President Obama has made concessions mostly to Cuban exile families who would like to visit their relatives and send more money, more often. Obama has not undone the historic U.S. economic, political, diplomatic and cultural blockade of Cuba, but only some of George Bush’s more egregious barriers, and mostly for the benefit of Cuban Americans. Cuban leader Raul Castro has offered to put “everything” on the table for discussion, including exchanges of political prisoners. That’s a much bigger concession for Cuba than for the United States. Cuba holds scores of prisoners that Havana says have sought to undermine the state and serve the interests of foreigners, meaning, the Americans. The United States holds only the Cuban Five, Cubans sent to infiltrate exile groups in Florida that were breaking the laws of the United States by carrying out operations against Cuba. Although convicted of espionage, the Cuban Five were not spying on the United States, but instead, spying on rightwing Cubans in the United States. In other words, the Cuban prisoners the U.S. holds pose no threat to the U.S., while the prisoners Havana holds may well pose a threat to Cuba. It is Cuba that would give up the most in an exchange. Yet Obama plays it coy, and noncommittal, while claiming that ideology and the preservation of the imperial big stick have nothing to do with it.

Fidel and Chavez ask only for relations on the basis of equality.”

Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez are the bigger men in this story. Raul would be perfectly justified in demanding that the United States first clear out of Guantanamo Bay, sovereign Cuban territory, before any further talks could be held on contact between relatives in Cuba and Miami, or on political prisoners. Raul could ask, on behalf of his brother, for an apology for the innumerable U.S. attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Venezuelan President Chavez could demand the same on behalf of himself, for George Bush’s 2002 attempted coup against his government, in which Chavez came very close to being killed. But Fidel and Chavez ask only for relations on the basis of equality. Unfortunately, equality among nations is a pill no imperialist will swallow, including Barack Obama.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090422_gf_ObamaSummit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45am EDT

People of Color Beset by Layers of Racial Profiling

"The 21st century began with a kind of ritual burial of racial profiling. Suddenly, nobody was in favor of it." Then cam 9/11, and racial profiling became a national imperative, the "patriotic thing to do." Both incarnations of racial profiling played out dramatically in New Jersey, where the Turnpike became a symbol of official racism on the road, later repudiated. The state now aggressively uses local police to question people about their immigration status, adding another layer of burden to people of color confronting arbitrarily intrusive police power.

People of Color Beset by Layers of Racial Profiling

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

New Jersey was a battleground state on the issue of racial profiling, back in the bad-old-days before 9/11 was used to mask racial profiling behind a veil of national security.”

In 2007, the New Jersey attorney general issued a directive to the state’s police officers, requiring them to question people arrested for indictable offenses or for drunk driving, about their immigration status. In the first six months of the directive, New Jersey cops referred 10,000 people to immigration authorities, although in the end less than 15 percent of those persons were charged with violating any immigration laws. Immigration rights activists have from the beginning warned that giving police the authority, or even duty, to question people about their legal status in the country, was an invitation to massive racial profiling. A new study out of Seton Hall University’s Law School seems to indicates those warnings were well-founded.

The study focuses on 68 cases in which police interrogated people about their immigration status for no apparent reason. None of the 68 had been stopped for drunk driving or carrying false documents. Sixty-five of the people questioned were Latino; the others were a Haitian, a Spaniard and a man from Kazakhstan. Seven of the incidents were in direct violation of the Attorney General’s order that no victims or witnesses to crimes be questioned about their immigrant status. For example, a woman who called police to complain about domestic violence was threatened with being reported to immigration authorities. A man who reported to police the loss of his passport was turned over to Immigration. A man who couldn’t produce a train ticket at a train station was held for seven days by police, and then handed over to Immigration.

Profiling became the patriotic thing to do.”

There are several large ironies, here. New Jersey is number three in the nation in terms of immigrant population, and was a battleground state on the issue of racial profiling, back in the bad-old-days before 9/11 was used to mask racial profiling behind a veil of national security. The New Jersey Turnpike became nationally known as a stretch of road where Black and Latino drivers ran a gauntlet of state policemen armed with racial profiles. The embarrassment finally wore New Jersey officials down and they agreed to allow in federal monitors.

It was a great victory for civil rights forces. The 21st century began with a kind of ritual burial of racial profiling. Suddenly, nobody was in favor of it. Racial profiling was a shame, a national disgrace, a relic of the past. And then came 9/11, and racial profiling – which had never really gone away, but had only become, briefly, politically out-of-season – returned with a vengeance. Now, profiling was the patriotic thing to do. Rather than curtailing profiling by police, state officials, like New Jersey’s attorney general, were ordering them to become more aggressive in demanding proof of immigrant status.

The final irony is that the New Jersey order was a reaction to a triple murder attributed to an undocumented immigrant in a neighborhood of Newark. It is an overwhelmingly non-white neighborhood, whose residents are already effectively profiled by police and government officials of all kinds. It is this institutional profiling that creates ghettos and barrios across America. Profiling is as ancient as Black slavery and Indian-hunting. Now the so-called War on Terror adds another layer of profile, another burden that only people of color must bear.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090422_gf_ImmigrantAbuse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32am EDT

Black Drug Incarceration Rates Down, White Numbers Way Up

We have apparently reached the end of merciless cycle. After decades of "predatory policing of Black communities, which seemed intended to sweep the streets of as many young Blacks as the prisons could consume, the criminal justice system simply reached saturation point." Black drug incarceration rates are dramatically down, while whites have skyrocketed. On the Black side, "the police whipped on us until they got tired." On the white side, the methamphetamine epidemic could no longer "be swept under the rug."

Black Drug Incarceration Rates Down, White Numbers Way Up

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After three solid decades of merciless, predatory policing of Black communities, the criminal justice system simply reached saturation point.”

For the first time since federal agencies have been keeping racial statistics on drug convictions, there has been a decline in the number of African Americans incarcerated on drug charges. White incarceration in state prisons on drug charges increased during the same period, between 1999 and 2005 according to a new study, conducted by the Sentencing Project, based in Washington. The Black decline in drug imprisonment was significant, at a little over 21 percent. But the white increase was breathtaking, about twice as high as the Black decline, at 42.6 percent.

So, why is drug incarceration moving in different directions for whites and Blacks? Probably for very different reasons, since the two groups are treated so differently by law enforcement. But first, let’s emphasize that the big picture still hasn’t changed: Blacks continue to make up 44 percent of state prisoners doing time for drugs, while whites comprise only 27 percent of drug prison inmates – although whites are 75 percent of the U.S. population. Remember that study after study has shown that Blacks and whites do drugs at about the same rate. It is the difference in law enforcement’s treatment of drug use among Blacks and whites that creates the huge disparities in arrests, charges and eventual incarceration.

With that understanding as a backdrop, it seems logical to conclude that a veritable drug binge occurred among whites from the late Nineties to the middle of the current decade – an explosion of drug sale and use to which the criminal justice system was forced to respond in an uncharacteristically harsh manner. The methamphetamine epidemic among whites was so destructive, so in-your-face, it could not be swept under the rug. White arrests went up dramatically.

The methamphetamine epidemic among whites was so destructive, so in-your-face, it could not be swept under the rug.”

But an increase in white drug imprisonment does not automatically lead to a decline in Black incarceration. It is generally acknowledged that the crack cocaine trade is less of a free-for-all than in decades past, which would account for some decline in Black incarceration. Corporate media managed to find some so-called “experts” who claimed racial profiling is on the decline – but that’s a bunch of nonsense unsupported by any evidence. What may have occurred is, after three solid decades of merciless, predatory policing of Black communities, which seemed intended to sweep the streets of as many young Blacks as the prisons could consume, the criminal justice system simply reached saturation point. They had arrested every young African American male – and increasing numbers of females – that they could wrap their tentacles around, and had finally reached the point of dwindling returns.

If such is the case – if Black drug incarceration rates are on the decline because the system ran out of easily grabbable victims – this represents no victory or turnaround for Black America. It means only that the police have whipped on us until they got tired. And now, with white drug incarceration so dramatically on the rise – now we finally hear murmurings about the need for prison reform. In a racism-saturated society, there are no statistical coincidences involving question of crime and punishment.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090422_gf_BlacksPrison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:11am EDT

Anti-War Movement Defeated by Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The arrival of the Obama administration has crippled the U.S. anti-war movement, which has neither the fortitude nor political depth to confront imperialism with a Black face. The Out of Iraq caucus on Capitol Hill might as well call itself the Out of Action caucus, since it can’t figure out a way to respond to President Obama’s expanding military budgets and wars. National anti-war organizations cling to the fiction that Obama is really seeking a military withdrawal from Iraq. “The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president, an imperialist with charm, a warmonger with a winning smile.

Anti-War Movement Defeated by Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Obama pretends he wants peace, and anti-war members of Congress pretend to believe him.”

In the streets, on the2009campuses and on Capitol Hill, the anti-war movement is no longer moving anywhere. It has been crippled by the Obama Effect, the deep and wide delusion that imperialism with a Black face is somehow – something else. When a movement disbands itself without coming even close to achieving its objective, that is a defeat. We can now definitively state that, for the time being, the U.S. anti-war movement has been defeated – not by Republicans, but by Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.

A recent article in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress, relates a meeting among staffers for Out of Iraq caucus leaders Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey. They were supposed to come up with a response to President Obama’s announcement that he would immediately send 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, with lots more to come. Obama is determined to leave at least 50,000 troops in Iraq for an open-ended period of time under the guise of “training” the Iraqis, and is rapidly merging Afghanistan and Pakistan into one theater of war, called Af-Pak. Clearly, the Obama administration is expanding its war in Af-Pak, and has no intention of ending the U.S. military presence in Iraq – ever. The staffers for the Out of Iraq caucus leaders spent two hours trying to come up with a position. They failed.

For all intents and purposes, the Out of Iraq caucus has ceased to function. Black Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters have at times shown great courage in the face of stupendous odds. But they will not confront Barack Obama, even when he expands the arenas of war, claims that combat soldiers are merely trainers and advisers, and pushes through a war budget that is bigger than any of George Bush’s war budgets. Obama pretends he wants peace, and anti-war members of Congress pretend to believe him.

The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president.”

Another Capitol Hill publication, the Congressional Quarterly, recently ran an article on the low demonstration turn-out and money woes of the anti-war movement. A March 21st rally at the Pentagon drew pitiful numbers of demonstrators, only 3,000 according to police. Organizers claim they can’t raise money these days, and have been forced to cut staff. A spokesperson for ANSWER, the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition, said the peace movement is seeing the impact of the “promises the Obama campaign made.” Outgoing United for Peace and Justice leader Leslie Cagan says her money people aren’t giving because “It’s enough for many of them that Obama has a plan to end the war and that things are moving in the right direction.”

But Obama has no plans or intention to end his wars except on imperialism’s own terms – which means never-ending war, just like under Bush – a basic truth that United for Peace and Justice refuses to recognize or admit. ANSWER organizers also fail to confront the Obama White House head-on. The Congressional Quarterly article concludes that the anti-war movement is suffering from the results of “its own success.” That’s absolute nonsense. The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president, an imperialist with charm, a warmonger with a winning smile. Obama has whipped them, but good. And they will stay whipped, until they stand up like men, like women, like leaders. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090415_gf_antiwar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm EDT