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

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST