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