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 Pinkney’s probation on the voter fraud conviction was revoked.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

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

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

 

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