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