Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Rep. John Conyers: “I’m Tired of Saving Obama’s Can”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Is Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

American Is Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Godfather's Mood Swings: Brothers Karzai and Diem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

The Godfather's Mood Swings: Brothers Karzai and Diem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obamacare: Great For Drug Companies, Bad For the Public

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

White House “Deal” Turns into Bonanza for Drug Industry

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

Obama Hustles the Public For Greedy Private Insurers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

Obama Hustles the Public for the Insurance Industry

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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