Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

New Orleans Gets Least Job Creation Money in U.S.

NOLAPoverty

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Obama refuses to use his bully pulpit to defend Americans in trouble in the poorest and most oppressive states."

The treatment that New Orleans has been accorded by the economic stimulus package is the clearest evidence that the federal plan is not in the least transformational - that is, the massive funds that are allocated do little or nothing to rectify the economic and social assaults inflicted on African Americans because they are Black. At the same time, the threatened refusal to spend some of the stimulus funds by the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, show that the same racist forces that have always kept the South, in general, and Blacks, in particular, at the bottom of the national economic barrel, remain as entrenched and vicious as ever. The combined effect will be to maintain or worsen racial disparities in the United States, especially in the Republican bastions of the South, and to ensure that the crimes of Katrina will be set in stone, a permanent injury and insult to Black America.

New Orleans is scheduled to receive far less money for job creation than any other congressional district in the United States. That's because the payouts are based on population, and Louisiana's Second Congressional District, centered in New Orleans, is still missing something approaching 200,000 persons, scattered to the four winds three and a half years ago and prevented from returning by a host of public policies. A transformational recovery program would treat New Orleans as a gaping, infrastructural wound, to be addressed by providing the means to make the city livable once again for its exiled citizens. Instead, President Obama's plan simply counts heads, and takes away job creation money for those citizens who would like to return, but cannot.

"That which was unequal and unjust before the recovery program, will remain unequal and unjust after the money has been spent."

Just as New Orleans recovery is not part of the national recovery plan, neither does the plan address any of the country's gross racial disparities. That which was unequal and unjust before the recovery program, will remain unequal and unjust after the money has been spent. That's not an oversight; it's built into President Obama's plan. This fact bears repeating: nothing in the hundreds of billions of dollars to be spent for national recovery is designed to address the institutional harms that have been done to Black people, including the massive racial crime that we call Katrina.

While the federal government pretends to be neutral on race, the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina put their racial and class depravity on display, threatening to reject millions of dollars in aid to their unemployed. These three states are the Blackest in the nation, historically, and clustered at or near the bottom in household income. The two facts are inextricably related.  The governors preside over a system whose purpose is to deny economic security to the great mass of residents, with Blacks forever relegated to the very bottom rungs of society. President Obama says he finds the southern Republican governors' rejection of the unemployment funds "understandable." He refuses to use his bully pulpit to defend Americans in trouble in the poorest and most oppressive states. And so, the United States slumps toward the second decade of the 21st Century spending trillions of dollars, but with no intention of truly transforming itself.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. 

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

Direct download: 20090225_gf_nola_stimulus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37am EST

How Can U.S. Recover Without Manufacturing Capacity?

AbandonedFactory

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by

Glen Ford

"You can't put people to work in American factories that don't exist."

The strength of the federal economic stimulus package is seriously diluted by the fact that many  of the manufactured goods that will be purchased for the attempted recovery must be imported from outside the United States. America simply doesn't make lots of things, anymore. That means many billions of dollars that folks assumed would go towards fueling an American economic comeback, will instead provide work and paychecks to employees in other countries, that still have manufacturing bases. That's fine with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is dominated by large multinational corporations - the same guys that began stripping the United States of manufacturing jobs decades ago.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was one of the main lobbyists opposed to provisions that would have mandated that stimulus money go to U.S. companies. The Chamber is a U.S. organization in name only, like its finance capital comrades, the guys that gave the world such a bad case of the dreaded "American Disease," much of the planet is praying that cash-rich China will eventually bail everybody out.

The United States' lack of a manufacturing capacity makes it even less likely that anything resembling a lasting recovery can emerge from President Obama's approach to the economic crisis. The infrastructure projects that are supposed to be central to the recovery scheme are only valued at $150 billion - which is not much of a jolt, especially when much of what will have to be bought is only available in other countries, made by foreign workers. Barack Obama has put a huge emphasis on building a green economy. However, according to the New York Times, most of the sources of solar panels and wind turbines are located in Europe and Asia. There can be no green economy without a mass transit makeover of the United States, but the U.S. hasn't made subway and light rail cars in many years. They'd have to be imported.

"Most of the sources of solar panels and wind turbines are located in Europe and Asia."

Every product that must be imported for the infrastructure project means a watering down of the stimulus impact of the dollars spent. You can't put people to work in American factories that don't exist.

A true national recovery effort would mean re-industrialization, on a grand scale and a green model, through massive direct federal creation of state-owned industries independent of the finance capitalists who murdered American manufacturing and then blew up their own businesses on Wall Street. But this is already nearly impossible, since President Obama is committed to saving the banking class through unlimited infusions of public money, and then allowing these reborn zombies to resume their roles as lords of development. The bankster parasites have neither the capacity nor the intention to build anything other than mountains of debt for the rest of us. Therefore, Obama's partnership with them spells doom for national recovery.

Like Billy Preston said, "Nothin' from noth in' leaves nothin'."The U.S. cannot create the conditions for economic health without rebuilding a manufacturing capacity. And the remnants of Wall Street have nothing to contribute to an economic recovery, but an infinite capacity to steal.

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: 20090225_gf_buy_american.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:18am EST

Holder Rings in New Era at Justice Department

Holder Rings Out Bush Era at Justice Department

nm_holder_080620_mn

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"It was vitally necessary that the nation's top lawyer use the occasion of Black History Month to shake up the department."

Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has said the first thing to come out of the Obama Administration that was refreshingly honest and absolutely necessary to the proper exercise of his duties. In a well thought out speech to the U.S. Justice Department commemorating Black History Month, Holder launched a strong critique on the bizarre nature of race relations in the United States. His remarks were clearly crafted to garner news media coverage, as he provoked American macho cowboy pretensions by describing the U.S. as "essentially a nation of cowards" when it comes to race relations. That was sure to get a rise out of the mush-mouths of the corporate media.

Much of Holder's remarks were not so much about cowardice - the fear of speaking honestly on racial questions - but an abysmal ignorance. To the extent that Black people are omitted or marginalized in the teaching of American history, American history makes no sense. As Holder pointed out, "the study of black history is essential because the history of black America and the history of this nation are inextricably tied to each other.... For example," said the Attorney General, "the history of the United States in the 19th century revolves around a resolution of the question of how America was going to deal with its black inhabitants." To which I will add: if you don't understand that, you know nothing of your country.

"The Bush gang turned the agency into a den of corruption and criminality where no ‘justice' could be found, and the term ‘civil rights' was an epithet."

It's been only a month since a gaggle of know-nothing, arrogantly racist and essentially cowardly white men ran the Justice Department. In the space of eight years, they turned the agency into a den of corruption and criminality where no "justice" could be found, and the term "civil rights" was an epithet. By the time the Bush men were through, "virtually all" of the career lawyers that were hired were right-wing ideologues opposed to the very concept of affirmative action, or the mere idea of "diversity." The Justice Department - and especially its Civil Rights Division - had been largely transformed into a racist club.

For this reason, it was vitally necessary that the nation's top lawyer use the occasion of Black History Month to shake up the department, and let the rest of us know that it's a new day, that George Bush and his Ku Klux klavern are really gone - something that is not so evident in the rest of the Obama Administration, for example, at the Defense Department.

Holder reminded his employees that, "outside the workplace...there is almost no significan

Holder Rings Out Bush Era at Justice Department

nm_holder_080620_mn

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"It was vitally necessary that the nation's top lawyer use the occasion of Black History Month to shake up the department."

Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has said the first thing to come out of the Obama Administration that was refreshingly honest and absolutely necessary to the proper exercise of his duties. In a well thought out speech to the U.S. Justice Department commemorating Black History Month, Holder launched a strong critique on the bizarre nature of race relations in the United States. His remarks were clearly crafted to garner news media coverage, as he provoked American macho cowboy pretensions by describing the U.S. as "essentially a nation of cowards" when it comes to race relations. That was sure to get a rise out of the mush-mouths of the corporate media.

Much of Holder's remarks were not so much about cowardice - the fear of speaking honestly on racial questions - but an abysmal ignorance. To the extent that Black people are omitted or marginalized in the teaching of American history, American history makes no sense. As Holder pointed out, "the study of black history is essential because the history of black America and the history of this nation are inextricably tied to each other.... For example," said the Attorney General, "the history of the United States in the 19th century revolves around a resolution of the question of how America was going to deal with its black inhabitants." To which I will add: if you don't understand that, you know nothing of your country.

"The Bush gang turned the agency into a den of corruption and criminality where no ‘justice' could be found, and the term ‘civil rights' was an epithet."

It's been only a month since a gaggle of know-nothing, arrogantly racist and essentially cowardly white men ran the Justice Department. In the space of eight years, they turned the agency into a den of corruption and criminality where no "justice" could be found, and the term "civil rights" was an epithet. By the time the Bush men were through, "virtually all" of the career lawyers that were hired were right-wing ideologues opposed to the very concept of affirmative action, or the mere idea of "diversity." The Justice Department - and especially its Civil Rights Division - had been largely transformed into a racist club.

For this reason, it was vitally necessary that the nation's top lawyer use the occasion of Black History Month to shake up the department, and let the rest of us know that it's a new day, that George Bush and his Ku Klux klavern are really gone - something that is not so evident in the rest of the Obama Administration, for example, at the Defense Department.

Holder reminded his employees that, "outside the workplace...there is almost no significant interaction" among the races, a situation that does not "differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago." Holder juxtaposed the myth of the "ethnic melting pot" with the reality of racial cowardice. Although Holder didn't mention it, even the term "melting pot" as most Americans use it, is based on an incomplete quotation. The term originally came into vogue on the popularity of a 1908 play called "The Melting Pot." But the actual words in the play were, "America is God's Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming."  That is, America was a diversity of white people, only.

And if you don't know that, you don't know white America and its history.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. 

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

t interaction" among the races, a situation that does not "differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago." Holder juxtaposed the myth of the "ethnic melting pot" with the reality of racial cowardice. Although Holder didn't mention it, even the term "melting pot" as most Americans use it, is based on an incomplete quotation. The term originally came into vogue on the popularity of a 1908 play called "The Melting Pot." But the actual words in the play were, "America is God's Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming."  That is, America was a diversity of white people, only.

And if you don't know that, you don't know white America and its history.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. 

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

Direct download: 20090225_gf_holder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12am EST

The Rule of Law in the Obama Era

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford 

"Other countries now justify their own crimes by citing American anti-terror practices."

The unraveling of capitalism, now rapidly accelerating, has been accompanied by mind boggling excesses of corruption. The collapse of moral inhibitions at the highest levels of American institutions has the effect of a billboard flashing, "Steal as much as you can, as quickly as you can, before the other guy beats you to it." On the heels of revelations of Bernard Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme, we learn that even larger sums may have been looted from U.S. reconstruction aid intended for Iraq - most of it by American military and civilians. It appears that the thieves looted Iraqi money under the control of Americans, as well. Barack Obama claims he wants to be careful to get out of Iraq in a "responsible" manner. With billions being looted, the most responsible thing President Obama could do is get his thieving Americans out of Iraq while there's still something left for the natives.

Obama is quite unenthusiastic about punishing George Bush's gang for vandalizing the U.S. Constitution. While making weak noises about "nobody" being "above the law," Obama goes on to say that "generally speaking, I'm more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards." In other words, unless he's forced to take action, Obama would just as soon allow Bush's wholesale violations of the rule of law to go unpunished. Apparently, some Harvard lawyers don't place much value on the Constitution.

"Obama would just as soon allow Bush's wholesale violations of the rule of law to go unpunished."

When the president signals that enforcing the law is no big thing, the president's fans act accordingly. The nation's largest anti-war coalition, United for Peace and Justice, has decided not to push for prosecution of Bush, Dick Cheney and their merry band of war criminals and other assorted crooks. United for Peace and Justice is more concerned about keeping Obama happy than with uniting behind peace or justice. Meanwhile, two out of three Americans are in favor of investigating whether the Bush crowd violated the law in pursuing their so-called "war on terror."

Not so long ago, the Americans were well-known for telling anyone who would listen that the United States is a beacon of justice for humanity. That was never true, of course, but nowadays it's a bad joke. According to Mary Robinson, who used to be United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the U.S. now sets a bad example for the planet. Other countries now justify their own crimes by citing American anti-terror practices. The best thing the U.S. can do to help repair the damage its done to the morals of the planet, says Ms. Robinson, is to abandon its "war paradigm."

If Barack Obama thinks he can simply walk away from a host of war crimes and violations of U.S. and international law, he is mistaken, and on the way to making himself, and the nation, even more culpable. Legally speaking, Obama has an obligation to prosecute violations of international law and U.S. treaty. If he does not, then he invites other countries to hold their own trials of Americans, and impose their own punishments.

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.This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Ford@BlackAgendaReport.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Direct download: 20090218_gf_rule_of_law.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:57am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The more Washington pushes, the more the world pushes back."

The Obama administration's director of national intelligence has recognized that the United States' economic problems are the country's "primary near-term security concern." This conclusion by intelligence czar Dennis Blair surprised members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who are used to the executive branch spreading alarms about the so-called "terrorist threat" and the dangers posed by "rogue" nations. The testimony is evidence that Mr. Blair's boss, Barack Obama, can see at least as far as the nose on his face. It is also an admission that the U.S. superpower isn't what it used to be, in terms of controlling events in the world.

Blair said, "The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests." Which makes sense - as far as it goes. What the rulers in Washington, including Barack Obama, will never understand is that the United States is responsible for accelerating the process of its own decline, through relentless threats to the security and sovereignty of everyone else on the planet. The more Washington pushes, the more the world pushes back. Since September, every inhabitant of Earth blames the U.S. for infecting the globe with "the American disease" - the worldwide economic meltdown. Nobody has any sympathy for the great vector of economic illness, and most think the Americans deserve whatever they get, having bragged on themselves all these decades while sneering down their fat red noses at the rest of humanity and its problems.

"How much more unstable has the United States become, since the economic crash of its own making?"

Any U.S. intelligence official worthy of the description knows that the global schoolyard longs to see the bully get what's coming to him. This has especially been the case since George Bush told the world to kiss his butt, with the illegal invasion of Iraq. The invasion was a declaration that the United States was at war with the very concept of international law. Literally no one was safe.

Although the Americans failed to achieve their objective, which was to dominate the energy producing regions of the Middle East and Central Asia, George Bush kept threatening to make another try. His successor, Barack Obama, behaves in a more civilized manner, which is welcomed by the international community. But Obama still claims his superpower rights, and continues to spend more money on weapons than the rest of the world, combined. No matter how you slice it, that's a threat.

The Americans used to be fond of saying that everybody else on the planet secretly preferred that Washington take charge of things - that it gave them comfort. Nobody's saying that anymore, not since the meltdown. The United States, having lost all claim to moral leadership in the world, is now the international pariah, the source of the spreading plague of economic insecurity.

Obama's intelligence director, Dennis Blair, suggests that about one-quarter of the world's governments have experienced "low-level instability" due to the meltdown. A better question for Mr. Blair might be: how much more unstable has the United States become, since the economic crash of its own making? Blair might do better to study that problem, than worrying about former client states that no longer want to hear what Washington has to say.

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.This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Ford@BlackAgendaReport.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Direct download: 20090217_gf_old_superpower.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49am EST

Private Prisons, Human Trafficking and the American Way of Punishment

"The crimes of the two judges are informed by the logic of a political culture born in institutional theft, murder and kidnapping for profit."

The case of the two Pennsylvania judges who conspired to funnel juveniles into for-profit detention centers in return for kickbacks, is an example of whole flocks of American chickens coming home to roost. The Pennsylvania abomination's roots are as ancient as the bounties placed on Native American scalps and on the living bodies of persons who might, or might not have been, escaped slaves. The crimes of the two judges are informed by the logic of a political culture born in institutional theft, murder and kidnapping for profit. It is a political culture whose essential moral depravity survives - and thrives - in an ever-expanding, nationwide system of privatized prisons whose very existence is an indictment of American society.

At its core, a criminal justice system that provides financial incentives to capture, incarcerate, humiliate and stigmatize other human beings, is an incubator of the most evil potentialities of the species. Bounty-hunting and for-profit prisons share the same underlying morality as cannibalism. No one should be surprised when such a state-sanctioned perversion of morality results in the system devouring its young, as occurred in Pennsylvania.

The two judges are alleged to have taken $2.6 million in kickbacks for maintaining a steady flow of juvenile prisoners to fatten the coffers of two private youth detention centers. One judge used his influence to secure contracts for the private jailers; the other kept the bodies coming, sentencing five thousand young people during the five-year course of the conspiracy. For this crime of mass kidnapping of children, the judges have been allowed to plead guilty to the relatively minor charges of wire fraud and income tax fraud, for which they will serve a little over seven years in federal prison. And there are no plans to prosecute executives of the two private youth detention centers that reaped tens of millions of dollars from the crimes of the two judges.

"The overlapping crimes against potentially thousands of young victims, creates a huge mosaic of pain stretching into the far distances of the century."

Federal prosecutors defend their leniency with the judges, claiming the case is so "complex" it would take years to litigate. Well, of course it is complex. The overlapping crimes against potentially thousands of young victims, the consequences of which will touch additional tens of thousands over the course of lifetimes, creates a huge mosaic of pain stretching into the far distances of the century. The "complexity" that prosecutors worry about involves the precedent that would be set if the judges and the private prison owners they worked for were charged with offenses suited to their real crimes: kidnapping and human trafficking for profit. Kidnapping is a federal offense punishable by life behind bars. Human trafficking can get you 30 years in a federal prison.

With the expansion of private prisons all across the country, the "incentive" to harvest a bounty of captured human beings is as powerful today as it was when the Fugitive Slave Act was the law of the land. When the profit motive infests the criminal justice system, justice doesn't stand 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.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Direct download: 20090217_gf_human_trafficking.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27am EST

Faith-Based Obama Expands Corruption of Clergy

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The damage inflicted on independent Black politics may be irreversible.

With his plans to expand on George Bush’s so-called Faith-Based Initiatives, President Barack Obama has endorsed and made his own, the most backward, reactionary scheme of the previous administration to further undermine progressive concepts of government in general and the integrity of the Black body politic in particular. By his endorsement of the politics of faith-based bribery on an institutional scale, Obama once again reveals himself as both an opportunist of the lowest order and a reflexively rightwing oriented personality. On this issue, he has made himself identical to Bush, and embraced a great corruption.

Let us remember from the outset what George Bush intended when he launched his Faith-Based Initiatives at the beginning of his disastrous regime. Bush’s political strategy for Black America was based on two pillars: support for inner city educational privatization through school vouchers, and direct cash payments to church-based organizations to provide a range of public services previously the domain of government agencies. The doubled-edged strategy was a stroke of evil genius, a scheme hatched by the far-right Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the primary source of Bush’s domestic social agenda.

Through massive financing of a previously nonexistent network of Black school voucher supporters – which had been invented out of whole cloth by rich white benefactors – Bush hoped to create a critical wedge between African Americans and teachers unions, the twin bastions of urban Democratic politics. To an alarming degree, he succeeded.

Thanks to Barack Obama, faith-based bribery may now become a permanent fixture of the American political landscape.”

Even more insidious was Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives, whose goal was two-fold. First, he would disguise the massive defunding of public services for the poor by pretending that subsidies to religious service organizations could accomplish the same goals. Second, Bush hoped to recruit corruptible elements of the Black and brown clergy to the Republican cause, by dangling federal grant moneys in front of their noses. Thousands of greedy ministers took the bait, bringing their compliant congregations with them. The combination of school vouchers and faith-based bribery created the perception, if not the reality, of a growing Black trend to the Right. Bush had in great measure succeeded in encouraging and exploiting the worst tendencies within the Black Church.

Barack Obama has chosen to continue down the shameless path pioneered by George Bush. Faith-based Initiatives undermine the progressive tradition of the Black social gospel, beckoning preachers to pervert their ministries in return for government dollars. It is no less a corruption in the hands of a Black Democrat than under the white Republican, George Bush. Obama has expanded on Bush’s assault on the separation of church and state, and on the credibility and integrity of the Black Church.

The damage inflicted on independent Black politics may be irreversible. What began as a cynical ploy by Republicans to subvert a segment of the African American clergy is now being institutionalized by America’s first Black president. Thanks to Barack Obama, faith-based bribery may now become a permanent fixture of the American political landscape – a weapon of mass moral destruction that can be wielded by any party in power.

Barack Obama, who is so quick to critique Blacks on their alleged failures in morality, nutrition and even hygiene, encourages the pollution of the Black church with the rankest kind of pork barrel and patronage politics. In this regard, Obama is of no higher moral caliber 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: 20090210_gf_faith_based.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EST

Reconstructing Black New Orleans?  Show Us The Money!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The aim of the obstructionists is to prevent the return of New Orleans’ previous population”

New Orleans – especially Black New Orleans – remains a stunted version of its pre-Katrina self because of the twisted, intentions of those who rule the region and the nation. This racist vision of what America and its cities should look like – a vision that is averse to the physical presence of Black and poor people – is at war with the most fundamental imperatives of economic growth and social justice.

The dream of a reconstructed New Orleans, in which the 30 percent of the population that is still in exile would return to a city replenished with jobs, affordable housing, quality education and functional public services, is totally at odds with the scaled down, whitened up, gentrified and antiseptic New Orleans that corporate planners envision. Determined that their racist model prevail, these national and regional rulers have deliberately thwarted rebuilding of basic local infrastructures, effectively sabotaging the city’s recovery. Such is the inescapable truth that emerges from the seeming chaos of post-Katrina New Orleans and the supposed pervasive incompetence of government agencies at every level.

There is method to this madness. The aim of the obstructionists is to prevent the return of New Orleans’ previous population – to make the city unlivable for those without money for as long as it takes, until the former residents give up hope of every coming back. That is why, three and a half years after Katrina, New Orleans languishes in a dismembered state, like a patient on an operating table with his insides exposed and vital organs disconnected – while the doctors and nurses mill around doing nothing. Clearly, somebody has an interest in that patient never walking out of the room, alive.

The city’s population growth has stalled at a little over 70 percent of pre-Katrina levels. Most of the missing are Black”

Only deliberate sabotage of even the most basic recovery efforts can explain the failure to spend billions in dollars of moneys allocated for reconstruction. The powers-that-be had no problem forging quickly ahead with the destruction of public housing, but they have allowed private rents to increase by close to 50 percent. Two-bedroom apartments that rented for less than $700 before the hurricane hit in 2005, now go for almost $1000 a month. Most Blacks in New Orleans were renters. The powers-that-be are making sure there is no place for them to return to. The school system has been smashed into a jigsaw of pieces, none connected to the other. Health care festers at Third World levels.

It is a mistake to view New Orleans as the victim of incompetence. The political servants of the rich have done an exceedingly good job of ensuring that the only New Orleans that emerges from the muck of Katrina, will be a smaller, whiter, more affluent version preferred by the corporate classes and their hired hands at think tanks like the Washington-based Brookings Institute. Brookings has been keeping tabs on the New Orleans saga, and on the whole, likes how things are going. The city’s population growth has stalled at a little over 70 percent of pre-Katrina levels. Most of the missing are Black. But Amy Liu, co-author of a Brookings Institute report on New Orleans, says a smaller city is a good thing. Liu thinks the city needs time to recover the capacity to accommodate a larger population. But what she and the other corporate planners really mean is: first, let’s make sure the poor Blacks don’t come back. Then later, we’ll build a city fit for white, affluent habitation. Then they’ll muster the competence to spend the money to create the “new” New Orleans.

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: 20090211_gf_gulfcoast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52am EST

The World Flees From The American Disease

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The only way to avoid another dose is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.”

The world is reorganizing itself to avoid further exposure to the most virulent strains of what is now commonly referred to as “the American disease.” The contagion is dreaded like the worst kind of venereal infection. This disease is transmitted through political and economic intercourse with the Typhoid Mary of the planet, the United States. As headquarters nation for global finance capital, the U.S. acted as vector of the current planetary economic meltdown.

No country is fully immune to the ravages of the American transmitted disease. Having penetrated nearly every corner of the planet, the scourge, first spread by Wall Street hustlers, now threatens to undermine the economic organs of the entire Earth. Just as with biological infections, the disease must be contained before it can be cured. That means avoiding contact with the Americans and their hopelessly contaminated financial instruments: those festering derivatives that so poisoned the U.S. economy, it is virtually paralyzed.

When the Wall Street plague hit Europe in October of last year, the assembled heads of state were quick with a diagnosis, but not a cure. “We want entrepreneurial capitalism and not speculative capitalism, “ declared French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. But speculative capitalism is the only kind the United States has been peddling for a very long time. By now, much of the world has come to the realization that the only way to avoid another dose of the American disease is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.

The pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years.”

Meanwhile, the United States continues to incubate the infectious agents. The Obama administration is riddled with carriers of the disease – corrupt bankers and their accomplices at every level – ensuring that the pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years. There can be no cure if you don’t get rid of the germs.

As the world erects defenses to keep the American disease from repeatedly infecting its global neighbors, the effect will be similar to the redlining of neighborhoods. The U.S. will fall further into decline as it is walled off from other nations’ efforts at economic development. That’s the meaning of the redlining of America.

The United States has been the object of redlining since at least 2003, when George Bush finally convinced the world that Washington was bad company with his illegal invasion of Iraq. Nobody wants to do business with a crazy man – or a crazy superpower. By late 2005, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations decided not to invite the United States as an observer to its annual meeting, but allowed the Russians and Chinese to attend as official observers. When the U.S. sent a diplomat anyway, he was turned away. Last December, the heads of 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean pointedly failed to invite Washington to their summit meeting in Brazil. Increasingly, the Americans are shunned as bringers of war and killers of economies, the two most feared symptoms of the American disease.

The corporations that threw their money behind Barack Obama for president were hoping his fresh face and charm would be seen by the world as a prophylactic for the American disease. But the Wall Street street walkers and the Pentagon refuse to change their risky behavior. Increasingly, the world has no choice but to put them in isolation. 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: 20090209_gf_american_disease.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33am EST

ObamaRice

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The Obama administration was eager to show its fangs against Mugabe in Africa."

The Obama regime entered office hot-wired to bring down the government of Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe, but has been frustrated by the recent power sharing agreement between Mugabe and the main opposition party. In the face of African Union support for the new arrangement in Zimbabwe, the Obama administration has very reluctantly retreated from its hyper-aggressive posture, and is no longer in a position to press the United Nations Security Council to impose tightened sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Obama's UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, is especially eager to exercise U.S. power in Africa - including American military options. Only last week, Rice was intent on bringing the so-called "miscarriage of justice" in Zimbabwe "to an end." Rice looks at maps of Africa and sees multiple opportunities for regime change, especially when it comes to what she calls "the autocracy" surrounding Mugabe.

But the U.S. was forced to tone down its belligerent language - if only slightly - as southern African nations declared their support for Zimbabwe's political experiment. The disappointment in Washington was palpable. The U.S.-funded Voice of America last week reported Washington's continued implacable opposition to Mugabe's remaining in office, even with the opposition sharing power. By Tuesday, February 3, Obama's people were more subdued but still seething, vowing that "Mugabe is not getting a reprieve from President Obama."

A reprieve! What does that mean? Does Barack Obama carry around a hit list of world leaders, like George Bush did?

"Rice looks at maps of Africa and sees multiple opportunities for regime change."

Susan Rice certainly seems to have the mentality of a political assassin. She is an advocate of U.S. "humanitarian" military intervention - that is, the duty of the United States to send in the Marines whenever Washington decides that a government isn't willing or able to provide for the needs of its people. Rice is advertised as an expert on Africa, having held down the Africa seat at the State Department in the Clinton Administration. Clinton and Rice did worse than nothing during the Rwandan massacres, but she is now the very picture of the fiery-eyed interventionist. Rice endorsed George Bush's savage war against Somalia, which early this year ended in defeat for the Americans and their Ethiopian allies. Rice can be expected to try to plunge the country back into chaos at the earliest opportunity. She wants to blockade Sudan's ports, enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur, and commit other acts of war - unilaterally, if necessary.

Susan Rice is, in short, Barack Obama's "hawk" in Africa, as bloodthirsty as Condoleezza Rice at her ugliest. The Obama administration's eagerness to show its fangs against Mugabe in Africa in its first weeks in office, while the new president was flashing smiles, charm and reassurances to the rest of the planet, is evidence of Susan Rice's malicious influence. President Obama will soon begin to justify U.S. military intervention on broad "humanitarian" grounds - a cynical game of words to mask the same crimes as George Bush's so-called "democratic" interventions.

Susan Rice is a war hawk, and Obama is no peace president.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.

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

Direct download: 20090203_gf_obama_zimbabwe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:21am EST