Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Obama, US Continue to Reap Trillions and Condemn Africa to Climate Catastrophe

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With humanity at risk and Africa facing “incineration,” the United States opted for “disaster capitalism” at the global climate conference, last week. “President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Copenhagen to end any possibility of a global agreement on greenhouse gasses that the rich nations would be bound to respect.”

 

Obama, US Continue to Reap Trillions and Condemn Africa to Climate Catastrophe

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The United States went to Copenhagen intent on imposing a ‘disaster capitalism’ regime on the poor nations of the planet.”

The United States, having reaped more benefits than any other nation from the industrial warming of planet Earth, now seeks to turn the resulting global disaster to its own advantage – or, more precisely, to the advantage of the U.S.-based, amoral, world-annihilating corporate class.

In Copenhagen last week, the Obama administration destroyed any chance of averting catastrophe in Africa and the developing nations of the global South. Temperatures will be allowed to rise 2 degrees Celsius on average, which translates to three and a half degrees in the hotter latitudes. As a consequence, said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Africa is the be condemned “to incineration and no modern development.”

What development does occur would be at the pleasure of the United States and Europe. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Copenhagen to end any possibility of a global agreement on greenhouse gasses that the rich nations would be bound to respect. Obama administered the coup de grace to the Kyoto accords, extinguishing all hope of an international agreement that respects the rights of all nations to develop their economies within a binding framework that protects everyone’s interests. Instead, the United States imposed its own take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum: accept the inevitability of catastrophe in Africa and across the global South. And also accept that the U.S. and its corporations will dictate how the developing world will be allowed to grow its economies. Refuse, and the uppity poor countries will be cut off from the rich man’s “aid.”

“While Africa burns, Washington gives up nothing in terms of binding commitments.”

This is “disaster capitalism” in its most hellish form. The term was coined by political writer Naomi Klein in 2005, to describe how the International Monetary Fund induced or exploited economic disasters in the Third World and then forced poor countries to surrender their national sovereignty in order to be eligible for loans and “aid” from the rich countries. The aim was to make it impossible for poor countries to control their own economic and political destinies.

The United States went to Copenhagen intent on imposing a “disaster capitalism” regime on the poor nations of the planet. While Africa burns, Washington gives up nothing in terms of binding commitments. Instead, the U.S. offers – but does not guarantee, or even promise – to create a special fund, possibly eventually amounting to $100 billion, from which “aid” will be doled out. The rich nations will determine who gets a piece of the global warming aid pie, and under what terms. The Americans insist that some of the money will come from private sources, rich corporations that are answerable to no one but their own greedy selves – which means western businessmen will determine how Africa and the global South will be allowed to develop under conditions of climate change. The U.S. reserves the right to make separate deals with favored nations, that is, countries whose leaders surrender their national destiny to the developmental wishes of the West.

Disaster capitalism holds the most vulnerable of the world’s people hostage to imperial blackmail at the hour of the planet’s greatest peril. It is a crime against humanity, and most grievously, a crime against Africa. How ironic that the chief perpetrator of the crime is himself a son of 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: 20091223_gf_ClimateCapitalism.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:41am EDT

What Part of “We Need Jobs” Does Obama Not Get?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is as if Americans have lost the very language of social justice. The Congressional Black Caucus, finally in a mood to confront the White House on the jobs issue, find themselves having to explain that legislators have a “moral obligation” to fight for their constituents' interests. Meanwhile, “President Obama treats every appeal for attention to Black unemployment as if it is an unreasonable, or even illegal, demand.”

 

What Part of “We Need Jobs” Does Obama Not Get?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The nation's first Black president bristles at every suggestion that gross racial inequalities call for executive and legislative action.”

There is no greater testimony to the vast amount of ground Black America has lost over the past three decades, than the Congressional Black Caucus’s recent press conference on the need for jobs and elementary fairness in the current economic crisis. Caucus chairperson Barbara Lee began with a brief outline of the long-standing – and, in some cases, worsening – economic disparities that afflict African Americans, facts that are well known to the White House and congressional leadership, to whom the Caucus’s appeal was directed. The Black lawmakers found it necessary to point out that they are “morally obligated to address these systemic inequalities” – obligations that President Obama has categorically rejected on numerous occasions, invoking the rich man’s slogan, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

A generation ago, such reactionary nonsense would have been met with wholesale denunciation in Black political circles. But as we begin the second decade of the 21st century, a Black Democrat in the White House can get away with speaking like Ronald Reagan, while Black members of Congress are compelled to present moral justification for seeking redress of economic injustices.

Forty years ago, a Republican president, Richard Nixon, would have felt quite comfortable agreeing with the Black Caucus' concerns about economic fairness. Yet today, the nation's first Black president bristles at every suggestion that gross racial inequalities call for executive and legislative action.

“As we begin the second decade of the 21st century, a Black Democrat in the White House can get away with speaking like Ronald Reagan.”

So great is the weight of decades of right wing assaults on the very idea of economic parity among the races, Black congresspeople feel the need to repeatedly emphasize that they are not proposing racial formulas for job creation, but programs based on need – on the principle that those who have been harmed the most, should be targeted for greater assistance.

“We’re not talking about race,” said chairperson Barbara Lee. “We’re talking about the hardest hit.” And in fact, the United States Congress has never funded a program to create “Black” jobs, but rather, they have created jobs in urban America and jobs for residents of areas with high levels of poverty.

President Obama treats every appeal for attention to Black unemployment as if it is an unreasonable, or even illegal, demand. To be blunt, he sounds just like those professional white racists that make their livings claiming Blacks seek new and special privileges, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Black Caucus proposes to bring back jobs programs from the Seventies. Detroit's Carolyn Kirkpatrick would like to see the rebirth of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act – CETA – and Representative John Conyers would reinvigorate the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, which has been on the books, but unfunded, for over 30 years. No one is talking about reinventing the wheel, in jobs creation. For two generations, during every election cycle, Blacks have demanded a Marshal Plan to combat unemployment in the cities, where it just so happens that most Black people live. Every election cycle, that is, until the last one, when Black politicians made no demands whatsoever on candidate Barack Obama. Black America is now paying the cost of giving Obama a free pass.

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: 20091223_gf_CBCJobs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:18am EDT

Paul Krugman's Blind Spot For Corporations, and For Obama

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

At times of acute crisis, the oppressed and exploited find out who their real friends are. Old political labels become useless, as do former allies. Paul Krugman is the resident “liberal” on the New York Times op-ed page. But what use are his analyses if the economic and political predations of corporations aren't even part of the equation.

 

Paul Krugman's Blind Spot for Corporations and Obama

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“What kind of liberal gives a 40-minute talk on political economy without once uttering the word “corporation?”

The center of gravity of U.S. politics has lurched so far to the Right, the term “liberal” has lost all meaning. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a Princeton University professor and winner of a Nobel Prize in economics, is almost universally described as a liberal. But what kind of liberal gives a 40-minute talk on political economy without once uttering the word “corporation?”

Krugman was the featured speaker at a lecture held each year at New York City’s Baruch College in honor of Dr. Donald H. Smith, an esteemed Black educator and political activist who is also a great friend of mine, and of Black Agenda Report. The house was packed with Dr. Smith’s many admirers plus lots of folks eager to hear Krugman’s analysis of current affairs.

Krugman began his talk – appropriately, given the occasion – with some general thoughts on the politics of race. The United States, he said, is “not a normal advanced country” because such countries at least provide their citizens with basic health care, protect workers’ rights, and attempt to “curb extreme poverty.” The reason the United States is behind Western Europe and Canada on those points, said Krugman, has everything to do with what he calls “our original sin…slavery.”

This is an elemental truth that most white Americans find difficult to accept, unlike Krugman. So I suppose that puts him in the “socially liberal” category. And I guess that Krugman’s general support for workers’ rights, health care and anti-poverty programs qualifies him as some kind of liberal, at least by the backward standards of the United States which, as he said, is not a “normal advanced country.”

“There will be no second stimulus to help working people because that's not who Obama works for.”

But if that's all we can expect from Krugman's brand of liberalism, one must question his usefulness. In his area of expertise, Krugman whitewashes President Obama’s economics team, led by the same Clinton bankster operatives that the laid groundwork for the 2008 crash.  Former Treasury Secretaries Larry Summers and Robert Rubin and current Treasury chief Timothy Geithner are ”not stupid or corrupt” men, said Krugman, they're just “too close to Wall Street” and “not in touch with the public.” Krugman appeared sincerely startled that the Administration shows “an almost total unwillingness to appeal to the popular backlash” against the banks. He wishes Obama would push for another big economic stimulus to create jobs, but despairs of that happening. “The financial system,” in Krugman's expert opinion, “has become a ward of the state.”

The 56-year-old Nobel laureate is incapable of adding up political facts to reach obvious conclusions. No, Larry Summers and Co. are not stupid, they are cold-blooded operatives in Wall Street's successful criminal enterprise to transfer trillions into the pockets of the banking mafia. Obama is the indispensable “inside man” for the heist. There will be no second stimulus to help working people because that's not who Obama works for. The financial sector is not a “ward of the state” – it has swallowed the state, whole! And a man that spends the better part of an hour talking political economy without once saying the word “corporation,” as did Krugman, is either sworn to some kind of blood oath of silence, or totally irrelevant to the crisis at hand. 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: 20091216_gf_KrugmanLiberals.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:44am EDT

No Reparations For Killing The Planet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Even as the world approaches “the end-game of human existence,” brought on by centuries of exploitation of man and nature, the chief polluters and oppressors demand impunity from past and current crimes. The U.S. categorically rejects the “notion” of payback for global warming.

 

No “Reparations” for Killing the Planet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Those who profited so richly from the human and environmental disasters they inflicted are guilty of depraved indifference – crimes against nature and their own species.”

For the moment, forget about the lofty rhetoric spouted by the 100 heads of state gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, including the carefully crafted words of President Barack Obama. As far as the Lords of Capital are concerned, the conference isn’t really about mitigating the unfolding climatic catastrophe, the facts of which are well known. The real object of the Copenhagen conference is to determine who gets the power to shape the developmental model of the planet over the next half century.

With continued U.S. global supremacy in mind, the chief American negotiator attempted to set the terms of debate early on, rejecting out of hand any notion that the United States owes reparations to poor nations for its huge contribution to global warming over the last couple of centuries. “For most of the 200 years since the Industrial Revolution,” said U.S. diplomat Todd Stern, “people were blissfully ignorant of the fact that emissions caused a greenhouse effect.” Ignorant or not, the industrialized nations of Europe and the United States were certainly blissful about the profits they made at the expense, not only of the Earth’s material resources, but also from the super-exploitation of the non-white peoples of the world. The two exploitations – of human beings and nature – are historically inseparable, like the conquest of the America’s and the death of 90 percent of the western hemisphere’s inhabitants; like the rape of Africa’s resources and the enslavement of its people. These are the twin pillars of a 500-year project to elevate a small percentage of the world’s population to global supremacy at the expense of everyone else, and of the planet, itself. At the very least, those who profited so richly from the human and environmental disasters they inflicted along the way, are guilty of depraved indifference – crimes against nature and their own species.

The real object of the Copenhagen conference is to determine who gets the power to shape the developmental model of the planet over the next half century.”

Even as they plead ignorance – and, therefore, innocence – of past crimes, these same Euro-American powers are determined to remain on top under conditions of global warming.

That's why the Americans, in particular, are attempting to create a New World Industrial Order without a treaty that will bind both large powers and weaker ones under an enforceable contract. Capital, centered in the West, seeks to extend its power deep into the 21st century based on the rule of money. That's why the United States resists efforts to build on and strengthen the Kyoto Treaty on global warming, which the United States has never ratified. And that's why a delegate to the Copenhagen conference from Mali said, last week, that “the killing of the Kyoto Protocol...will mean the killing of Africa.”

The United States prefers that rich nations contribute a relatively puny amount of money – starting off with $10 billion or less – as “aid” to the developing world, and that the rich nations exercise controls over how developing countries spend these funds.  It is nothing less than an effort to turn a global nightmare to the advantage of the United States. At the same time, the Americans are busy trying to cut their own separate deal with China, one they hope will make the U.S. and Chinese economies symbiotic for the next 40 or 50 years, and to hell with the rest of the planet. We are witnessing disaster capitalism being played out, even as we enter the possible end-game of human existence. 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: 20091216_gf_ClimateReparations.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:43am EDT

"Progressives For Obama" Change Name To Omit the President

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It has taken almost a year for “Progressives for Obama” to make a partial break with their former object of adulation, proof that groupie-love is a powerful emotion. “Two of the founding members, Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden, are making uncharacteristically loud anti-Obama noises and acting as if they played no role in convincing Obama that he could make war and serve corporate interests to his heart’s content, without fear of any trouble from the Left.”

 

Obama’s “Progressives” Do a Name Change

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Even the president’s most loyal sycophants on the Left are running for cover.”

The organization formerly known as “Progressives for Obama” has changed its name. After almost a year of President Obama’s massive transfers of the people’s wealth to Wall Street, his escalation of U.S. wars in South Asia, his shameless alliance with insurance and drug corporations, and his callous disregard for Depression-level Black unemployment, even the president’s most loyal sycophants on the Left are running for cover. It’s not a pretty sight.

“Progressives for Obama” are now calling themselves “Progressive America Rising.” Two of the founding members, Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden, are making uncharacteristically loud anti-Obama noises and acting as if they played no role in convincing Obama that he could make war and serve corporate interests to his heart’s content, without fear of any trouble from the Left. They had his back.

The left-wing Obamites were the nastiest of all. They viciously libeled anyone that advanced a Left critique of their hero, calling them enemies of a new “people’s movement,” when in fact it was they who were shutting the movement down in favor of a fan club and cheering section for Obama. Amiri Baraka spit poison at all who failed to pledge allegiance to the Great Obama, calling us infantile ultra-leftists and just plain “rascals.” Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden stuck with Obama like little sorcerer’s apprentices as the president methodically savaged virtually every item on the progressive agenda. What else could they do? To break with Obama would amount to an admission that they were wrong about the progressive “potential” of their candidate; that he had always been a thoroughly corporate politician who would lurch to the Right as soon as he took office; and that, by failing to criticize Obama early in the campaign, they were guaranteeing that he would disrespect and ignore Blacks and progressives, once in office.

“Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden stuck with Obama like little sorcerer’s apprentices as the president methodically savaged virtually every item on the progressive agenda.”

Tom Hayden now declares it's finally “time to strip the Obama sticker” off his car.  Well, whoopee. Back in the day, Hayden would have been expected to engage in some serious self-criticism for misleading so many people about Obama. The same goes for Bill Fletcher, who appeared on a Pacifica radio show last week sounding like he'd never been an Obama fan. Fletcher said it was inappropriate for the Nobel committee to award Obama the Peace Prize when the president had done nothing to cause a “fundamental shift” in U.S. foreign policy. You can't influence a president of the United States to do the right thing, Fletcher said, by giving him awards in hopes that he will earn them. But that's exactly what Fletcher and his fellow Obama fanatics tried to pull off when they endorsed candidate Obama on a wish and a prayer when there was no reason to believe he would undertake any “fundamental shift” in U.S. foreign or domestic policy. As a result, the Left played no role whatsoever in the 2008 election. They just blew kisses at Obama, hoping he'd kiss them back after the inauguration.

Fletcher and Hayden now say it's time to crank up the people's Movement machine and get back to the business of speaking Truth to Power. Which is all perfectly true. However, Tom Hayden and Bill Fletcher and the rest of the “Progressives for Obama” clique should first demonstrate that they have recovered their faculties before assuming any leadership role in a revived Movement. The last time they were near a Movement, they shut it down, and went to the Obama party, instead.

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: 20091216_gf_ObamitesNameChange.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:37am EDT

Civil Rights Division To Clean Up After 8 Years of Bush

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Bush's minions behaved like vandals in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, trashing the very concept of equal protection under the law. But the white backlash did not begin with Bush. Civil rights has been “in a state of arrested development for over 40 years.”

 

Civil Rights Division To Clean Up After 8 Years of Bush

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Bush packed the Civil Rights Division with right-wing lawyers and administrators determined to erase even the most elementary gains made by minorities.”

The Obama administration has accomplished one solid achievement that may go down in the history books as at least a partial reversal of fortune for racial minorities in the United States. For eight long years, the Bush administration waged vicious political warfare against the very concept of civil rights, as we had come to understand it in America. Equal protection under the law became a dead letter in the U.S. Justice Department, whose Civil Rights Division was transformed into a bulwark of white male supremacy and petty reaction. George Bush’s racist appointees not only refused to enforce the Voting Rights Act and laws against race and sex discrimination in employment, they packed the Civil Rights Division with right-wing lawyers and administrators determined to erase even the most elementary gains made by minorities. Sincere civil rights lawyers were virtually barred from employment, vilified and scorned as “communists” who carried around copies of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. George Bush fought to allow the Religious Right to use federal money to discriminate. He cut the number of voting and employment rights lawsuits in half, and transformed the Civil Rights Division into a nexus of civil wrongs.

Eric Holder, President Obama’s choice as the first Black U.S. Attorney General, promised he would put the Justice Department back in the business of civil rights. In September, he announced plans to hire an additional 50 civil rights lawyers. And at congressional hearings last week, Holder’s department agreed to take measures to ensure that civil rights complaints are systematically addressed.

“Equal protection under the law became a dead letter in the U.S. Justice Department.”

All this is very good news, but it needs to be put in historical perspective. The rollback in civil rights did not begin with George Bush. The white backlash against the gains of the Sixties erupted before the ink was dry on civil rights legislation and court rulings. The backlash was in full fury when Ronald Reagan chose to announce his 1980 presidential candidacy in Neshoba County, Mississippi, site of the murder of three civil rights workers, only 16 years before. Republicans, and lots of Democrats, have been trying to make civil rights a dirty word, ever since. They have certainly succeeded in narrowing the scope of what we mean when we say civil rights.

Long before George Bush entered the White House, the non-stop white backlash had prevented full enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was designed to prevent the use of federal funds in ways that discriminate. A Justice Department Civil Rights Division that was true to the spirit of Title VI would act against discrimination everywhere it involves federal funding: environmental racism, health care disparities, the entire range of institutionally racist realties that plague Black and brown lives while aided and abetted with tax dollars. Such a civil rights agenda would move most urgently against mass Black incarceration, which literally steals Black lives and liberties by the millions.

Civil rights, as a political issue, has been in a state of arrested development for over 40 years. Its reawakening will require another mass movement, not just a changing of the guard at the U.S. Justice Department.

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: 20091209_gf_JusticeDept.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:20am EDT

Fed Fight Could Build a Movement Against Bailout, Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Nothing on the calendar of Congress, and no campaign from the grassroots, has anything approaching the potential of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to focus public anger on Wall Street and its allies in the White House and on Capitol Hill.” If the public only knew the dimensions of the largest transfer of wealth in human history, they would turn on the banksters with tooth and claw.

 

Fed Fight Could Build a Movement Against Bailout, Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Now, like in 2008, Obama and the bankers, including the Federal Reserve, are joined at the hip.”

The looming battle over the powers of the Federal Reserve and the future of its chairman is the most promising opportunity yet to grow a “movement” to prevent Wall Street from swallowing up what’s left of the U.S. state. A bill to require a detailed audit of the Federal Reserve has garnered over 300 co-sponsors in the U.S. House and 30 supporters in the Senate. The legislation draws on the same diverse constituencies that almost defeated the bankers' bailout in the autumn of 2008: Wall Street's traditional enemies on both the Left and the Right. So beholden has the Democratic Party become to the finance capitalist classes, the Obama administration is the staunchest defender of the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Ben Bernanke. That should be no surprise. Barack Obama was the banksters' indispensable ally in the original $700 billion bailout, and in moving the $23 trillion ocean of money that was subsequently made available to Wall Street, much of it by the Federal Reserve. Now, like in 2008, Obama and the bankers, including the Federal Reserve, are joined at the hip – or the hip pocket.

Libertarian Republican Ron Paul is the guiding personality in the House for the bill to audit the Fed. On paper at least, a majority of House members support the legislation, including progressive stalwarts like Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers and other prominent members of the the Congressional Black and Progressive Caucuses. The bill easily passed the House Financial Services Committee, last week. The measure will have a much rougher time in the Senate, where Independent Bernie Sanders is the point man. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats but calls himself a democratic socialist. The Senate rules make it difficult to pass legislation without bipartisan support, but relatively easy for even an individual senator to block legislation and nominations. Senator Sanders has vowed to block Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke's bid for another term until the audit bill is allowed to come to a vote.

“The legislation draws on the same diverse constituencies that almost defeated the bankers' bailout in the autumn of 2008.”

Nothing on the calendar of Congress, and no campaign from the grassroots, has anything approaching the potential of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to focus public anger on Wall Street and its allies in the White House and on Capitol Hill. More than the prospects for actual passage, the debate that is likely to be generated by the bill would force the corporate media to report on the real facts of the much larger, multi-trillion of dollar bailout engineered by the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration – information about which the public is almost totally ignorant.

Popular opposition to the bailout – and therefore, to the rule of Wall Street – can only grow in intensity as debate over the Federal Reserve Transparency Act heats up, and as the facts of the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world become known. The banking class is deservedly hated, and anyone that stands between them and an enflamed public is going to get burned. That means Barack Obama and his chosen economic advisors and operatives Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner – and, of course, Ben Bernanke, Obama's buddy at the Federal Reserve.

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: 20091209_gf_FedBillBernanke.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:18am EDT

Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Congressional Black Caucus agonizes as the accumulated miseries of their constituents force Black lawmakers to put distance between themselves and Wall Street's ally in the White House, Barack Obama. Ten members of the Caucus boycotted a vote on an Obama bill, to show their displeasure. But until they muster the nerve to vote against their president and his bankster friends, they are just shuckin' and jivin'. 

 

Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black and Progressive Caucuses will become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation.”

One can only hide from reality so long, before it catches up and bites you on the butt. The Congressional Black Caucus has been pretending that Barack Obama is the best thing to hit Washington for Black folks since the Emancipation Proclamation. It was, of course, deliriously wishful thinking, grounded in no reality whatsoever  – a self-induced illusion initially shared by most African Americans and by legions of Kool-Aid drinkers on the white Left, as well.

Obama has lied about many things. But, to be fair, he never told Black people that he had any intention of tackling the kind of institutional racism that for the last 40 years has made Blacks twice as likely to be unemployed as whites. So, when the president says, as he told reporters last weekend, that he won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment because “it’s a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States,” then no one should be surprised. This is the same guy that declared, 100 days into his presidency, that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and Black folks should just quiet down and wait for the tide.

Unfortunately, Black lawmakers’ constituents have been swamped by the tides of joblessness and home foreclosure. They want their representatives to do something about it – to at least holler when they hurt. Last week, ten members of the Black Caucus staged a demonstration boycott of a committee vote on Obama’s pitifully weak financial regulations bill, which passed anyway.

"Since last September,” said Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “we have continuously voted for bailouts and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business. That stops today." The Black Caucus, said Waters, “can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”

“Obama won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment.”

The statement makes great sense, although it comes rather late. The Black and Progressive Caucuses will only become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation, rather than staging boycotts when it doesn’t much matter. It will be easier to believe that the Black Caucus has wised up to Obama when they vote against funding his wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and against his horrific private insurance bailout bill that masquerades as health care reform.

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, Dean of the Black Caucus, has said the president bows down to “nutty right-wing proposals” on health care, and that he's tired of “saving Obama's can.” Several weeks ago, Conyers got a telephone call from the White House in which the president asked why Conyers was “demeaning” him in public. “Let's talk about it,” said Obama. Conyers says he's in no mood to “chat” with the president, and will put his complaints In writing.

Which is just as well. Obama has shown he is ideologically wedded to “the worldview of Wall Street,” as Congresswoman Waters put it. What the Black Caucus and all progressives will have to learn, is that if you want to fight Wall Street, you're going to have to do battle with Obama. It's way past time to put down the Kool-Aid, and start swinging.

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: 20091209_gf_CaucusObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:17am EDT