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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Republican House majority hadn't even taken their seats yet, but their presence wasn't necessary to pass the biggest military budget since World War II. Not only can't Obama blame his wars on George Bush, but the First Black President has dramatically outdone his predecessor in expenditures on the machinery of death. “Yet only 12 Black members of Congress can bring themselves to vote against Obama's wars.”

 

Obama War Budget Breaks All Records – But When Will Black America Break with Him?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Forget about the Obama’s phony rhetoric; the proof is in the numbers.”

On Capitol Hill, resistance to U.S. militarism has all but collapsed – and the Republican majority in the U.S. House has not even arrived, yet. With no opposition whatsoever in the Senate, and only 48 nay votes in the House, the Congress last week passed the biggest military budget since the end of World War Two. Only 42 Democrats, including just 12 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, dared to defy their warmongering president and compliant House leadership.

From the moment that Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, we at Black Agenda Report have been predicting that he would become the most pro-war president in modern American history. Forget about the Obama’s phony rhetoric; the proof is in the numbers.

The military budget firmly cements Barack Obama’s place as the biggest pro-war president in two generations. Today, the United States, although it is the world’s only superpower, spends almost as much as all of the rest of the world’s militaries, combined. The U.S. defense authorization for 2011 is $725 billion. China, with the second most expensive military machine on the planet, spends less than $80 billion a year.

If Barack Obama lasts for eight years in office, he is on track to spend $5 trillion dollars on the Pentagon, significantly more than George Bush, who in turn spent a lot more than Ronald Reagan. But, as they say on the TV commercials, that's not all. The defense budget doesn’t include expenditures for Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, nuclear weapons work at the Department of Energy, military aid to other countries through the Department of State, NASA space programs that are really military projects, the military retirement fund run out of the Department of Treasury, and the interest payments on past military expenditures that were financed by debt. Inclusion of those hidden costs of war would bring military-related spending to well over $1 trillion dollars a year – and rising all the time.

The Black misleadership class in general demands that African Americans sacrifice their own economic survival interests to Barack Obama's political interests.”

In real dollars, the U.S. is spending far more on the military than at any time during the Cold War, when there was another superpower in competition, and more than President Lyndon Johnson spent at the height of the Vietnam War. Dr. Martin Luther King broke with LBJ over that war, in part because he knew, in King’s words, “that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”

Under the First Black President, that military suction tube is far bigger and more destructive than in Dr. King's day, while the economic crisis is arguably much worse, threatening the very viability of Black America as a national community. Yet only 12 Black members of Congress can bring themselves to vote against Obama's wars, and the Black misleadership class in general demands that African Americans sacrifice their own economic survival interests to Barack Obama's political interests.

Obama is not merely a continuation of the Bush administration's war policies, he has accelerated the descent into a war economy. That is nothing for any Black person to be proud about.

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: 20101229_gf_WarBudget.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45am EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Righteous hatred of injustice is a very good thing, no matter what the pacifiers and accommodators (get paid to) say. And if injustice fuels determined resistance, then 2010 should have been a gusher year. 2011 promises to provide even more cause for righteous hatred. For example, the NAACP is taking big bucks from Wells Fargo, the destroyer of Black neighborhoods and whole cities, to teach Black people how to be responsible with (what’s left of) their money. Who deserves our hatred most, the giver or the receiver?

 

Thanks 2010? 2011: The Hate That Hate Produced!

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

More Black people are going to prison and police brutality was so rampant this year that it is simply hate gift-wrapped!”

In 1959 Mike Wallace and CBS made the first of what would become the last of the major media mistakes of the modern era. They may have thought that by producing their series The Hate That Hate Produced and by showing a national audience the kind of Black rage at white America that existed beneath the veneer of a seemingly more hospitable Civil Rights Movement that this hate-filled form would be demonized. But their giving air time to Malcolm X and then the subsequent offer of space and time by other mainstream media outlets to other Black radical elements in the country backfired and helped spread a revolutionary consciousness that ultimately threatened this country’s established order. But, no more, and as one movement veteran has said, “today they only put fools on the air.”

I bring this up now because as the year comes to an end and the season’s mythology takes me over I’d like to return to this idea of a mistake made and the potential in 2011 for the hate that hate has produced to become a positive. And especially since being associated with the leading Black left internet operation often means I hear people telling me that “you all at Black Agenda Report are too hard on Black people,” or “you all are too pessimistic” or simply that we are all “a bunch of haters,” I’d like to take a moment to reflect on how 2010 may mean something great for 2011. I mean, I am proud – especially at this time of year – of my anti-religiousness, of being a heathen. And I am also a proud part of a small but growing cadre of haters who look to reclaim that concept from pop rappers who turned “hatin’” into a preemptive strike against legitimate criticism of their complicity in our oppression – our mantra being “Hate Harder!” But even I am not impervious to the impact of seasonal propaganda that has turned an African astrological allegory into an imperial hostile resource and consciousness grab. So lets take this wreckage of 2010 and see in it its accidental – dare I even say dialectical – positive potential for a revolutionary 2011. Let this seasonal moment be more than a commemoration of the birth of Gerald Massey’s “mythological Christ.” Let this become the moment of a rebirth of an organized hate that hate produced!

Black unemployment and poverty have increased while attention to issues of Blackness in the press have decreased.”

And it can be! Look at the gift 2010 has turned out to be in helping establish a righteous hatred of what exists! Two years into Obama’s presidency and we have to be more clear than ever that Kwame Ture was right! Black visibility is indeed not Black Power! Black unemployment and poverty have increased while attention to issues of Blackness in the press have decreased. More Black people are going to prison and police brutality was so rampant this year that it is simply hate gift-wrapped! Oh, and look! More Latinos have been imprisoned, detained and deported under Obama than any other two year period in U.S. history! And for our dear sisters and brothers of Arab or Persian persuasion, you’ve gotten more bombs, more threats of bombs, more Israeli settlements and targeted assassinations! Yes! All that yummy hatred delivered year-round!

Oh and look! We also got more broken promises regarding the internet. Mhmmm, yummy, hateful goodness. So as we are forcibly moved more and more online we have less protection from those who promised they would offer it to us. Remember Obama’s line once upon a time about being “second to none” in protecting net neutrality? Well, now that he and his FCC have all but made sure this is never going to happen, its just more hate that can produce more hate! And ooh, this summer we also got the One Nation Working Together rally that made Al Sharpton’s Reclaiming the Dream rally look like a guerrilla warfare training camp! And speaking of Sharpton, you know, the one that marched to reclaim Dr. King, he is so hateful that he is now openly referred to by the establishment press as a “surrogate” in service to Obama whose role most recently is to tell Black people that this latest hate-filled tax bill will actually help them. Mhmmm… the hate tastes so good!

And perhaps the icing on this hate cake can be the story that is slowly beginning to emerge of how the oldest civil rights organization now has its financial literacy program funded by the very organization that helped wipe out Black and Brown home-ownership! That’s right boys and girls! Wells Fargo is giving the NAACP a bunch of money to have that organization teach Black people to be more responsible with their money instead of defending those people against the predatory lending of their new sponsor.

Mhmm… I for one couldn’t be happier with 2010 and I couldn’t be more optimistic that 2011 will be the year of the organized hate that hate produced.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. While you still can visit us online at BlackAgendaReport.com!

Jared A. Ball can be reached via email (at least for now!) at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101228_jb_thanx.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Europeans and Euro-Americans are proud of their heroes, even if – especially if – they are mass murderers and mega-thieves. Some are incensed at African demands that the bones of the infamous imperialist Cecil Rhodes be dug up from his Zimbabwean grave and shipped back to England. But “no people have an obligation to respect the graves of their murderers.”

 

Let the Imperial Bones Rot in their Own Countries

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The victims of British imperialism have every right to expunge the influence – including the rotting bodies – of their former oppressors and tormentors.”

The mayor of Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, says the remains of the infamous British imperialist Cecil Rhodes should be dug up and sent back to Great Britain. Sounds like a good idea to me. Britain has exported many things to the world, most notably, mass murder, the annihilation and suppression of whole nations and peoples, and Cecil Rhodes was one of the great practitioners of imperial slaughter. Certainly, the victims of British imperialism have every right to expunge the influence – including the rotting bodies – of their former oppressors and tormentors. The arch-racist Cecil Rhodes, whose most fervent belief was that Africans should not be sovereign in their own lands, has no right to pollute those same lands with his foul presence. No people have an obligation to respect the graves of their murderers.

The Daily Mail newspaper, of London, carried the story of Bulawayo’s mayor’s complaint. Based on readers’ comments about the piece, it is clear that a white-ruled country is the proper resting place for Cecil Rhodes. An Irish reader lamented his own people’s sufferings at the hands of the British, and wrote that, “by today’s standards” Rhodes would certainly be incarcerated for his crimes “after trial in the Hague.” Then the Irishman railed against what British bankers have recently done to his own country. But in the end, he concluded that British crimes were not quite as bad as those of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

What bizarre reasoning! The Irishman believes that centuries of British murder and pillage around the globe, including in his own country, is not as bad as what he imagines one Black man in a relatively small country has done in the course of only 30 years in power. In the final analysis, the Irishman prefers the idea of white power, no matter how bestial and murderous, to Black power in a Black country.

The existence of one Black man who has the impudence to give the finger to Europe is considered a threat to civilization.”

Other newspaper readers from England, Australia and South Africa were even more dismissive of the effrontery of a Black mayor in the sovereign nation of Zimbabwe calling for the exhumation and deportation of the bones of an imperialist killer and mega-thief. For all of these writers, five centuries of constant European aggression against all of the non-white people's of the planet amounts to...well, not very much in the larger scheme of things. But the existence of one Black man who has the impudence to give the finger to Europe is considered a threat to civilization. Such thinking is only logical when one believes that white power and human civilization are the same thing.

The United States, which behaves as a great white power regardless of who is the nominal president, is even more narrow-minded than Europe in its dealings with the non-white world. U.S. rulers, including Barack Obama, believe that Washington has the inalienable right to smash and eradicate anyone or anything that might be an impediment to American global hegemony, which they believe is synonymous with human civilization – just as Cecil Rhodes equated British power with civilization, itself. Which is why the British and the American imperialists are, in reality, the world's worst barbarians.

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: 20101229_gf_CecilRhodes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:20am EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Those purported liberals and progressives that urge pragmatism and caution in the face of raging imperial warfare and Wall Street’s predations, must not feel their own lives are at stake. “If they did really believe that corporations were leading the planet to doom or that the fascists they are protecting us from are just outside the gates, would they really only respond by a few rallies and a vote for a Democrat?” Blacks and browns are the folks living at Ground Zero.

 

The Professional Left Versus The Left of Us

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Black, Brown, Indigenous and working people need to abandon the conventions of the professional left and develop our own politics.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was partially right when earlier this year he dismissed the “professional left.” There is indeed a professional left, those whose entire careers and claims to fame are based on permanent liberal challenges to power and who arrogantly dismiss as immature, and worse dangerous, those who would push leftward beyond those limits. “Don’t go too far,” they tell us, “vote for us or THEY will get elected and then we’re in real trouble!” But that’s because liberals aren’t in real trouble. They don’t really believe that. If they did really believe that corporations were leading the planet to doom or that the fascists they are protecting us from are just outside the gates would they really only respond by a few rallies and a vote for a Democrat? Then maybe they are as “fucking stupid” as Rahm Emanuel said they are.

But to some the fascism warned of in all those faint allusions to totalitarian horrors already exists and the death camp trains have been running for decades with barely a peep from the professional liberals. Should we care about Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo when he never felt pressure enough to even lie about wanting to shut down the Corrections Corporation of America? Prisons and the racist legislation, hyper-policing, brutality and fraudulent judicial system that keep them filled are among the nation’s biggest businesses. Joblessness and poverty continue to worsen and even the tens of thousands dying from war abroad are more than matched by the deaths in this country resulting from public policies which deny adequate housing, food and health care to millions. When rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are found to be as high in Black communities in the United States as they are in war-torn cities overseas and children tell counter military recruitment workers that they might as well risk death fighting in foreign wars when they get shot at here at home since at least that offers the chance of health care and education who is really interested in more liberal threats of “it could be worse”?

Prisons and the racist legislation, hyper-policing, brutality and fraudulent judicial system that keep them filled are among the nation’s biggest businesses.”

For Marcus Bellamy of the Arizona-based Black Organizing Network and Arizona Green Party this was the point of a series of events that took place this week in Phoenix. For Bellamy and co-organizers Arizona is the national “ground zero, the laboratory for the state testing out just how far it can go in terms of racial oppression.” According to Bellamy all the recent fuss over Senate Bill 1070 itself works to mask that “the migrant community is being used as a mere experiment in methods that can one day be used against the entire population – workplace raids, detention centers, extension of biometric data collection in prisons, the hiring of an armed volunteer force that enforces immigration law (which in any other country would be labeled a paramilitary force), integration of local and national police agencies along with cooperation from the National Guard in the name of ‘border protection,’ and so on may seem like an attack on the stereotypical ‘Mexican’ but will eventually morph into a blanket assault on anyone who defies the status quo.”

So sure, the professional left will undoubtedly tell us of all the small victories achieved in this week’s reversal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the passage of the Low Power FM Radio Act. And we are soon to hear more from the Black professionals, or “surrogates,” called upon by Obama to explain how Black people will benefit from the new tax bill. But who really cares if imperialism is gay or straight or if we are now to get more liberal/non-profit radio or if Black people will get extensions on unemployment benefits instead of proper jobs with proper wages? Black, Brown, Indigenous and working people need to abandon the conventions of the professional left and develop our own politics even if they be dismissed as immature, impractical and simple fantasy. Professional liberalism is no answer for us.

Several years ago Essence Farmer finally won her case in Arizona allowing her to run a natural hair braiding business without a license since cosmetology school does not teach that skill. This week Black Floridian barbers are being raided and jailed by armed and masked agents for precisely that same licensing issue. “Ground zero” strikes again.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com .

Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101222_jb_ProfLeft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With the “compromise” on Internet neutrality, President Obama has betrayed another campaign promise, and this time has no excuse that the Republicans made him do it. The outcome was really never in doubt, since Obama named as his FCC chairman a man who helped make radio and television into a corporate wasteland, under Bill Clinton’s administration.

 

There Goes the Internet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama signed the death warrant for Internet Neutrality when he appointed Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman.”

The Federal Communications Commission’s failure to ensure Internet neutrality signals the beginning of a kind of Oklahoma land rush up and down the digital highways. The FCC has fired the starting pistol to allow giant telecommunications corporations to make their mad dash into what was formerly public space, and stake their own, private claims while charging rent and tolls and fees from horizon to horizon. We, the public, are to be treated like the Indians of Oklahoma, in 1889, dispossessed in favor of business and commerical interests. President Obama is the Great Father in Washington who spoke with forked tongue when he swore that he would “take a backseat to no one” in the cause of Internet neutrality.

President Obama, of course, controls a majority on the FCC, and is ultimately responsible for the commission’s decision. He can’t claim that the Republicans forced his hand by holding anything hostage. No, Obama stabbed Internet neutrality in the back because that’s the job description of a corporate politician – to facilitate the orderly dispensing of public property to private pockets.

The FCC decision was described as a “compromise” between public and corporate interests. Politicians like Barack Obama believe that corporations have an inalienable right to make ever-increasing profits, and that right supersedes any claims by the non-corporate citizenry. Therefore, it is perfectly logical that the wireless sector of the Internet – which is growing by leaps and bounds and holds the most promise of fantastic profits – become a playground for the corporations, who will be allowed to do pretty much as they see fit. On the non-mobile side of the Internet, the FCC’s new rules are full of loopholes, allowing Internet carriers to create fast lanes for higher paying companies and customers. Think of the Internet as a vast plain on which a great city is to be built. Now, consider that a few huge corporations will be given the privilege to draw the grid for that new city, and to decide who gets to live in the high-class neighborhoods, and who winds up in the ghetto.

The FCC’s new rules are full of loopholes, allowing Internet carriers to create fast lanes for higher paying companies and customers.”

The FCC's decision was totally predictable. Just as Obama guaranteed that the banks would would rob the U.S. Treasury blind, when he brought Bill Clinton's old Wall Street gang into the White House, so Obama signed the death warrant for Internet Neutrality when he appointed Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman. Genachowski was the top communications advisor to the Clinton White House and an architect of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That infamous legislation led directly to the greatest corporate consolidation of radio and television stations in American history. Julius Genachowski is one of the reasons that today's radio and TV landscape is such a wasteland of corporate sameness. Now, he is positioned to do the same thing to the Internet, courtesy of Barack Obama, the guy who never made a promise he wasn't prepared to break.

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: 20101222_gf_FCC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Wall Street’s seizure of the U.S. government has made meaningful economic recovery impossible. The financial capitalist class will not invest in productive enterprise, and prevents the government from doing so. It’s much easier to make money through systematic, multi-trillion-dollar raids on society.

 

No Recovery Under Rule of Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Wall Street is stripping the country of its ability to pull out of the death spiral.”

There will be no economic recovery for the masses of people in the United States. A real recovery, with decent jobs at decent wages under secure terms of employment, is now impossible absent a social upheaval such as the United States has never experienced. The reason is structural, and in some ways, simple. Wall Street has effectively captured the apparatus of government, and is methodically stripping the country of both its assets and the nation’s ability to pull out of the death spiral.

When the history of the era is written, Barack Obama’s term in office will be remembered as the period when Wall Street achieved its definitive conquest of the American state, thus depriving the society of the means to avoid economic and social disaster. Two men helped give us stark evidence of the theft of the American state as it was occurring. Neil Barofsky was the former prosecutor charged with overseeing the $700 billion TARP bank bailout program. But back in the summer of 2008, just six months into Barack Obama’s presidency, Barofsky reported that the federal government had already funneled about $14 trillion to bail out financial institutions. That’s 20 times as big as the TARP bailout, about the size of the annual real economy of the United States. The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve, acting on their own, were giving the banks 20 times as large a bailout as the Congress had voted for. Then, a year later, in July of 2009, Neil Barofsky dropped another bomb: the total federal bailout of the financial class could be $23.7 trillion, about 34 times the TARP bailout and approaching twice the gross domestic product of the United States. But it gets worse.

The banks will not invest in productive enterprises that provide decent jobs, and they will not allow the government to invest in jobs.”

This fall, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the other key person in providing evidence of Wall Street’s seizure of the American state, forced the Federal Reserve to submit to a one-time, snapshot audit. It showed that the Fed had provided American and foreign banks with $12.3 trillion in taxpayer money. That’s about six trillion dollars more from the Federal Reserve than Barofsky had discovered, a year before, bringing the total to about $30 trillion. That mind-boggling figure is about half the size of the entire economy of the planet Earth!

But the theft is even bigger than that. The Federal Reserve routinely lends banks money at virtually no interest, which the banks then use to buy U.S. Treasury bonds for which the banks are paid interest. This is a daily taxpayer subsidy to Wall Street that also amounts to trillions of dollars. The banksters bet some of this money in their derivatives casinos, which are valued at 600 to 1,000 trillion dollars – many times more than the real economy of the planet – and they spend a portion of their stolen loot to buy politicians to help them steal more money from the government. But they will not invest in productive enterprises that provide decent jobs, and they will not allow the government to invest in jobs, because that would reduce the amount of money the banks can steal. And that is why there will be no economic recovery worthy of the name, under the current structure of power in the United States.

So, what do you prefer – poverty, or an uprising? Those are the only choices.

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: 20101222_gf_BankTrillions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38am EDT

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The answer to monotony and monopoly on your radio dial is not for profit low power FM community radio. Wealthy and powerful corporate interests have bought judges, regulators and legislators by the bag, and used them to block the people's will for more choice and more power over how the people's airwaves are used. In the last days of the current Senate, S-592, which will authorize the FCC to grant licenses to thousands of community broadcasters hangs by a thread.

Call Your US Senator – Last Chance for Low Power Community Radio, S- 592

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Now, after lingering on the horizon a full ten years, the possibility of thousands of new low-power FM stations looms again...”

Imagine for a moment that it's technically feasible to place community-owned, not for profit low power FM radio stations in between the corporate broadcasting behemoths that now rule the radio dial. With broadcast footprints of only a few miles apiece, these new low power stations could offer a range of local news, public affairs programming, real music and accessibility that might revolutionize the listening experience for millions.

Imagine a president pledged to sign that law, and it passing U.S. Senate, only to be held up in the House, where the National Association of Broadcasters spread bogus technical objections and lots of campaign contributions to block it. That president was Bill Clinton and the year was 2000. During the Bush administration the powerful NAB dug into its deep pockets again and again to stall low-power community radio. Now, after lingering on the horizon a full ten years, the possibility of thousands of new low-power FM stations looms again. This time low power legislation has passed the House. Once again, the National Association of Broadcaster has bought and paid for a tiny minority, a handful of key senators, who have used the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate to place a “secret hold” S-592, low-power FM radio bill.

In a moment I will give you the number to call your US Senator to demand that they support the choice and accessibility on the radio dial that thousands of new nonprofit low power FM stations will bring. Get a pencil or pen, or whip out your cell phone to record that phone number.

Everybody knows that S-592 will certainly pass the senate this year if the Senate is allowed to vote on it. On the left and on the right, grassroots community forces in every states and city across the country can become broadcasters through low power FM radio. Although the broadcast airwaves nominally belong to the people, the NAB's senators intend to frustrate and block the people's will. This is a time for action. If there was ever a moment to call both the US Senators from your state and express your direct democratic desire to them, this is it. This is the final chance for low-power FM radio in the current Senate. If it doesn't pass now, it has to make its way through the House of Representatives all over again.

Click here to call your Senators now 

Call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, that's (202) 224-3121 to find your Senators and demand that they support the low-power community radio S-592. The answer to monotony and monopoly on your radio dial is low power FM radio. It's broadcast power to the people, not the corporations. (202) 224-3121 to ask for the two senators from your state TODAY. That's (202) 224-3121, and ask them to bring S-592 to the floor and pass it. Don't delay.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and check us out every weekday morning for your cup of the Black Agenda Morning Shot.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He's based in Atlanta and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. You can reach him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20101215_bd_lowpower_fm_radio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:47am EDT

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Georgia prisoners who began a courageous, peaceful and nonviolent protest strike for educational opportunities, wages for their work, medical care and human rights have captured the attention of the world. Black Agenda Report intends to closely cover their continuing story. Glen Ford recorded a conversation with one of the striking inmates in Georgia on Wednesday, December 15. Click the flash player below to listen.

Update story on the strike and support efforts of the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights below the fold.

GA Prison Inmate Strike Enters New Phase, Prisoners Demand Human Rights, Education, Wages For Work

Story by Bruce A. Dixon, audio interview by Glen Ford

The historic strike of Georgia prisoners, demanding wages for their labor, educational opportunities, adequate health care and nutrition, and better conditions is entering a new phase. Strikers remain firm in their demands for full human rights, though after several days many have emerged from their cells, if only to take hot showers and hot food. Many of these, however, are still refusing their involuntary and unpaid work assignments.

A group that includes relatives, friends and a broad range of supporters of the prisoners on the outside has emerged. They are seeking to sit down with Georgia correctional officials this week to discuss how some of the just demands of inmates can begin to be implemented. Initially, Georgia-based representatives of this coalition supporting the prisoner demands included the Georgia NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the National Association for Radical Prison Reform, the Green Party of Georgia, and the Ordinary Peoples Society among others. Civil rights attorneys, ministers, community organizations and other prisoner advocates are also joining the group which calls itself the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights.

Prisoners have stood up for themselves, and the communities they came from are lining up to support them. Today, at a groundbreaking for a private prison 300 miles southeast of Atlanta in Millen GA, residents of that local community opposed to the private prison are greeting the governor and corrections brass with a protest. They will be joined by dozens more coming in from Atlanta who will respectfully urge state authorities to talk to the prisoners. We understand that one person there has been arrested. Black Agenda Report will have photos and footage of that event on Thursday.

The braod-based Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights fully supports the heroic stand of Georgia's prisoners. “This isn't Attica,” one representative of the coalition explained. “No violent acts have been committed by any of the inmates involved. We hope state corrections officials will be as peaceful and respectful as the prisoners have been, and start a good faith dialog about quickly addressing their concerns.”

Right now, the ball is in the hands of state corrections officials, and reports are that in some of the affected prisons, authorities are fumbling that ball, engaging

They transferred some of the high Muslims here to max already,” one prisoner told Black Agenda Report this morning. “They want to break up the unity we have here. We have the Crips and the Bloods, we have the Muslims, we have the head Mexicans, and we have the Aryans all with a peaceful understanding, all on common ground. We all want to be paid for our work, and we all want education in here. There's people in here who can't even read...

They're trying to provoke people to violence in here, but we're not letting that happen. We just want our human rights.”

The transfers are intended to deprive groups of leadership and demoralize them. In some cases they may be having the opposite effect, stiffening prisoner morale and making room for still more leaders to emerge.

The prisoners insist that punitive transfers are an act of bad faith, the opposite of what we should be doing,” said Minister Charles Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam in Atlanta. “The coalition supports them and demands no punitive transfers, either within or between institutions, and absolutely no transfers to institutions outside Georgia.”

Members of the public should continue to call the prisons listed below, and the GA Department of Corrections and the office of Georgia's governor, Sonny Perdue. Ask them firmly but respectfully to resolve the situation non-violently and without punitive measures. Tell them you believe prisoners deserve wages for work and education. Ask them to talk to prisoners and the communities they come from.

It's simple. With one in twelve Georgia adults in jail or prison, parole or probation or other court and correctional supervision, prisoners are us. They are our families. They are our fathers and our mothers, our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins. Most prisoners will be back out in society sooner, not later. It's time for us all to grow up and realize that warehousing, malnourishing, mistreating and abusing prisoners does not make us safer. Denying prisoners meaningful training and educational opportunities, and forcing them to work for no wages is not the way to do.

It's time to fundamentally reconsider prison as we know it, and America's public policy of mass incarceration.

Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford are reachable at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com and glen.ford(at)blackagendareport.com, respectively. Black Agenda Report intends to provide ongoing coverage several times per week of the ongoing struggle of Georgia prisoners.

Direct download: ElaineBrownAndInmateSpokesman18mins00secs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:31pm EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Cornell University’s acclaimed Africana Studies and Research Center has been stripped of its autonomy, a bad omen for survival of independent Black studies at institutions across the nation. Black Studies was born of the Black Freedom Movement, which is no longer capable of defending its constituent parts. The move at Cornell “is meant to finish off one of the few remaining vestiges of an insurgent struggle that forced Black Studies into the nation’s institutions of higher learning.”

 

Black Studies and the Canary in Our National Mine

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Black Studies was initially the intellectual arm of a broader Black and African Liberation Movement.”

Cornell University’s Provost announced recently that the Africana Studies and Research Center would no longer report directly to his office as it has done for the last 41 years. The center will no longer retain its relative autonomy as a department and will be subsumed within the College of Arts and Sciences as a “unit.” This will effectively weaken control over budgets, faculty hiring and the determination of ideological direction and intellectual inquiry. And it is meant to finish off one of the few remaining vestiges of an insurgent struggle that forced Black Studies into the nation’s institutions of higher learning. And precisely because Black Studies was initially the intellectual arm of a broader Black and African Liberation Movement it cannot be but seen as emblematic of that movement’s poor state. If it is true that you cannot protect with letters that which you attained by force then we will need far more than petitions, Facebook pages and radio commentaries to save the Africana Center, Black Studies or indeed ourselves.

The Africana Studies and Research Center was born of mass struggle. As broader political struggles brought what had been a tradition of extra-institutional study onto the nation’s leading campuses, for Black students at Cornell these efforts culminated in the April 1969 hostile takeover of Willard Straight Hall. These intellectual insurgents, openly willing to engage in armed self-defense against hostile white students and area residents alike, demanded and attained the Africana Center and Dr. James Turner as their founding director. For 41 years the center survived as a role model and a pastoral where some of the African world’s finest minds would come and assist in developing the field of Black Studies and in particular defining that field as “Africana Studies” or the study of the African world holistically transcending colonial boundaries and imposed distinctions of national separateness inspired by European imperialism.

The program and even culture of counter-revolution has demobilized the movements which made Black Studies a historic phenomenon.”

This week Africana faculty, students, alumni and comrades have raised a call to the world both to save the center itself but to also warn of what is likely to come to others absent organized preparation. They explained this as a unilateral decision on the part of the university’s administration, one made with no input from or warning to faculty or students. James Turner said this is about managing ideas which are a “world of contestation and conflict.” Claims by the provost that this move is about helping Africana in reaching its goals were described by professor Carole Boyce Davies as part of a tradition of “infantilizing the colonized,” the old, “trust us, we know better than you how to take care of you” type of thing. Professors N’Dri Assie-Lumumba and Locksley Edmondson said this is about the “fear of” and “a need to control a minority” and to guard against “African thought.” Current director Robert Harris noted that in his more than 30 years at Cornell that he had never witnessed this level of disrespect and echoed the words of DuBois, saying that he now understood what it meant to be “in Cornell but not of Cornell.” He then also posed the serious question of what this means, what are the lessons to be learned?

For Dr. Chris Tinson, an outside ally of the Africana center and current professor of Black Studies at Hampshire College, the lessons are to be found in the “professionalization” of the field over the last 40 years. This has meant both “a direct challenge to American educational and institutional norms and values” and a “gradual erosion of curricular autonomy… which has distanced Black/Africana studies from the communities it was founded to serve.” This disconnect may speak to the relative silence from the broader community on this and similar attacks nationwide on Black Studies.

For professor Greg Thomas, another Africana ally and current professor at Syracuse University, these kinds of attacks should be no surprise but rather speak ultimately to this latest incident as being the canary in our national mine. As he says, this is the “program and even culture of counter-revolution” that has “demobilized the movement or movements which made Black Studies a historic phenomenon by any and every means… This is always Plan A, B & C of the white institution, ever corporatizing and constitutively hostile to the very idea of Black Studies uncompromised. And such plans are always put in practice with the use of known and unknown Negro collaborators.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. On the web visit and bookmark us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared A. Ball, a proud graduate of the Africana Studies and Research Center, can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101215_jb_BlackStudies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:12pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The FBI’s war of entrapment amounts to a huge extortion scheme targeting the American people. The object is to terrify the public into surrendering their civil liberties in a twilight struggle with a mostly nonexistent domestic enemy. “These are high crimes, as high as they come, which, in a just world, would warrant many counts of impeachment for both chief executives responsible: presidents Bush and Obama.”

 

Who Is the FBI Really Trying to Entrap?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The FBI has fabricated the illusion of a wave of terror that did not, for the most part, exist.”

Attorney General Eric Holder told hundred of Muslims near San Francisco that the FBI’s sting operations penetrating mosques across the country are an essential “tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks.” But of course, most of the FBI’s high profile prosecutions for alleged domestic terrorism involve plots that were hatched in almost every detail by paid FBI informants who nurtured the schemes to their pre-planned conclusions. So, in point of fact, the FBI has not been engaged in “uncovering and preventing terrorist attacks,” as Eric Holder claims, but rather, it has spent tens of millions of dollars and many thousands of man-hours concocting, financing, and providing training and equipment for crimes purely of its own invention. The FBI – first under George Bush and then even more aggressively under Barack Obama – has fabricated the illusion of a wave of terror that did not, for the most part, exist. In doing so, the U.S. government has perpetrated at least two classes of crimes: one, against those it has directly entrapped and prosecuted for crimes conceived and executed by the government, itself; and the second, larger class of crime, conspiracy to deliberately deceive and terrorize the American people, for the purpose of depriving the American people of their civil rights, and to foment a public hysteria that would facilitate the launching of military attacks on other peoples.

Poor and powerless men were manipulated like puppets in theatrical productions directed by the FBI for purpose of frightening an audience of 300 million Americans.”

These are high crimes, as high as they come, which, in a just world, would warrant many counts of impeachment for both chief executives responsible: presidents Bush and Obama. The irony is, the very atmosphere of hysteria and war fever that the fake terror plots engender among the public, insulates the perpetrators from accountability for their crimes. No wonder the incoming Obama administration shielded the outgoing Bush gang from prosecution. Obama instructed Eric Holder to expand the phony terror racket, not to shut it down. Both presidents’ historical legacies are now inextricably tied to a domestic war on terror that is largely a fiction.

The fiction has real victims, including the poor and powerless, largely Black and brown men who were manipulated like puppets in theatrical productions directed by the FBI for purpose of frightening an audience of 300 million Americans. The families of some of these entrapped, involuntary actors in the FBI's fake terror dramas are scheduled to gather at New York University, in Manhattan, on December 16, to devise strategies for seeking justice.

Muslim Americans have been criminalized as a community. In Irvine, California, an FBI operative was so brazen in soliciting recruits for jihad, mosque members got a court restraining order to shut him up. It turns out the informant was paid $177,000 to incite a holy war – the going rate, apparently, for inventing terror where none has previously existed.

So who is the real target of government entrapment? It could not be the individuals sucked into the FBI vortex, since Eric Holder's men knew they were incapable of independently carrying out the crimes and, therefore, represented no danger to society. No, American society, itself, has been entrapped by the Bush and Obama manipulators. The object is to terrify the American public, so that they will surrender their civil liberties – possibly the greatest extortion scheme in U.S. history.

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: 20101215_gf_HolderPhonyTerror.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm EDT

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After campaigning as a champion of network neutrality, President Obama has decisively broken yet another promise. The FCC votes December 21 on rules proposed by the president's FCC chairman which will begin the transformation of the free and open internet into somethning much more like cable TV, with corporate control over content, and hundreds or thousands of “channels”, but not much worth watching.

President Obama's FCC Sells Out on Network Neutrality – Another Constituency Thrown Under The Bus

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Never mind the big tent,” declared a cartoon by the artist Mike Fluggenock during the 2008 presidential campaign. “There's room for all” the caption declared “under Obama's Big Bus.” A full two years after that historic election, it's hard to name any part of the Democratic party's base constituencies that President Obama has not decisively betrayed. Last week gays, women, blacks, Latinos, the environment, the peace movement, labor, the unemployed and a host of others were joined beneath the speeding wheels of the Obama bus by those millions of Americans who believe greedy corporations should not control what we see, hear, write and communicate over the internet.

President Obama campaigned on the promise that he would take a back seat to nobody in guaranteeing the free and open internet. Two years out, it's abundantly clear thatu the president lied to us, and to the American people on network neutrality.

The pending merger between Comcast and NBC would create a gigantic corporation with both the motive and means to privilege the delivery of its own content over the enormous fraction of the internet that they own, and to slow down, inhibit, or apply surcharges to content originating from outside. Neither the administration's Justice Department or FCC have lifted a finger to oppose it. So-called compromise rules announced last week by Obama's FCC Chairman Julius Genachowki pay only the faintest lip service to the concept that the internet should be a common carrier available to all, and provide vast loopholes for internet providers to apply punitive charges to content and content providers they disfavor.

Thanks to the Obama administration, which once enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the media justice community, greedy telecom corporations will at last have their wish --- that the internet will become a lot more like cable TV --- five hundred, or five thousand channels, but nothing worth watching. The proposed FCC regulations will allow corporations even more power to control and restrict the content delivered via wireless broadband internet, thought to be the internet delivery technology of the future. Needless to say, the telecom and cable companies are well pleased. Their paid stooges at the Alliance for Digital Equality, the Minority Media Telecommunications Council, LULAC, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and the NAACP, and the Congressional Black Caucus are raking in telecom donations and cranking out press releases assuring us that giving their benefactors more control over the internet will create jobs and opportunities for all of us little people.

The five member FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposed rule changes on December 21. Certainly chairman Genachowski will vote for his own rules. Amazingly, it is possible that the two Republican commissioners may not because they object to any regulation of corporations whatsoever. Commissioners Kopps and Clyburn, however, are still thought to be staunch supporters of network neutrality, and should be contacted by email, phone or fax and asked to oppose the Obama proposal to let corporations control what we see, hear and send over the internet. This is a case when doing nothing is better than anything already on the table. For more information on what you can do, visit www.savetheinternet.com That's www.savetheinternet.com.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the peace movement, which disbanded itself before the 2008 presidential election to avoid confronting

 

 

 

We told you so. Last week's Black Agenda Report deadline fell just hours before the administration's long awaited announcement on network neutrality, the principle that the internet should be a common carrier, free and open to all. During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama declared he would take a back seat to nobody on network neutrality, and pledged to pass measures that would ensure

Direct download: 20101208_bd_under_the_bus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45am EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Much of mass popular culture in the United States is genocidal in intent. Worse, the manufacturers of racist films and other media products have enlisted the perverted talents of greedy and shameless Black operatives such as Tyler Perry. “This is all done to preempt any attempts at raising popular criticism of structural inequality or from ever popularly asserting the humanity of Black people at all.”

 

For Colored Antagonisms

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Lionsgate and Perry have again come through to satisfy the national need for Black pathology to be displayed absent any appropriate context or history.”

All one of my Black female students would say after seeing Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls was, “Who would want to be us?” It was really this question that finally made me go see the movie and having gotten to it so late let me just say this about it: Ishmael Reed is right. Lionsgate Films has found a partnership with a nominally Black man to make anti-Black films which are made for and marketed to White audiences. And worse even than the pro-Nazi propaganda films preparing Jews for death camps twice now in back-to-back films, this one and Precious before it, this team has depicted Black people engaging in the ultimate taboo of incest. This is all done to preempt any attempts at raising popular criticism of structural inequality or from ever popularly asserting the humanity of Black people at all.

The film is of necessity anti-Black. It focuses blame only on Black men and women and completely absolves White supremacy and capitalism as permanent structures of violence waged against their victims. The only good Black man in the movie is a New York City police detective which as an anti-reality cinematic trope is only outdone by the broader two hours of non-stop psychic abuse waged against Black people. One trauma after the next; from rape, to incest, to babies dropping from windows. And, like Reed has said of their previous releases, Lionsgate and Perry have again come through to satisfy the national need for Black pathology to be displayed absent any appropriate context or history in order to justify the dominance of the Settler, the Master, of White society itself.

This team has depicted Black people engaging in the ultimate taboo of incest.”

One day when we return to our previous battles between those we consider “people’s historians” and those we castigate as “establishment courtiers” we might do so on the basis of how they use their sources. When last Henry Louis Gates appeared in the New York Times it was to attack the notion of reparations for enslavement. To make his point he referenced historian David Eltis whose work on the numbers and specific origins of African people shipped to foreign lands Gates could re-work into an argument that some Africans benefited from enslavement to the point that reparations are simply not due. However, more recently, in his book Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms professor Frank Wilderson references Eltis’ work for quite another reason, one which is far more compelling and accurate. While Gates sought to use Eltis’ data to make silly claims of African culpability Wilderson brings us back to another more important aspect of Eltis’ work, one ignored by Gates: That Europeans could have made more money and been more effective in developing their empires had they enslaved fellow White Europeans rather than spending so much time and resources on going to Africa for captives and then shipping them abroad. Gates as a courtier cannot include or follow this logic and it is why Wilderson, working for the people, must.

Films like these work to prevent popular and radical challenges against the very nature of the state.”

Wilderson’s point in citing Eltis is that this need of Europeans to solely attach Black to Slave and, therefore, to non-Human has formed “the founding antagonism,” an antagonism that shows up time and again in popular culture, in particular film. This is why popular films cannot display a Black humanity which White society cannot afford to acknowledge. In other words, slavery is not simply a relationship of labor or servitude. Slavery becomes an irrevocable condition attached to the people themselves, people who are actually never to be Human. Quoting Orlando Patterson, Wilderson explains that, “Slavery… is the permanent violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons.” This is why Gates must attack reparations as a concept primarily because simply acknowledging the humanity of Black people threatens the very existence of the United States and the West themselves. Ironically enough this is why Wilderson and others challenge the concept of reparations from the far Left point of view. For them, reparations reaffirms the rightfulness of the state from which those reparations would come and, therefore, would reaffirm the permanency of Blackness as Slave or non-Human.

Ultimately though, films like these from Lionsgate and Perry work to prevent popular and radical challenges against the very nature of the state. Worse still, they prevent us from even debating among ourselves or with potential allies what a newly created world would look like because, “who would want to be us” quickly becomes, “who would want to be with us?” And in each case it is precisely the same no one who is coming to help us now.

For Black Agenda Report, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101208_jb_ColoredGirls.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. and its South Korean minion, over which Washington exercises deep and overlapping layers of control, hold military exercises that are, in essence, rehearsals for invading North Korea. The Americans simultaneously send a carrier task force into waters claimed by the world's number two economic power, China. Yet, U.S. media are full of wild and fanciful stories about North Korean “provocations,” “paranoia” and insanity, and the need for China to rein in its neighbor. Who are the real madmen, here?

 

The Racist Maligning of North Korea and Asians in General

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If anyone is pushing the envelop towards war in the Korean Peninsula, it is the United States.”

The United States and its South Korean underlings are conducting massive military maneuvers near the most heavily armed spot on the face of the Earth – but all the American corporate media can talk about is how dangerous, provocative, irrational and possibly insane North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, is. The United States has repeatedly declared that South Korea is protected by the American nuclear umbrella, meaning the Americans have targeted North Korea for pre-emptive nuclear attack – yet the American people are urged to live in terror of North Korea's handful of primitive atomic weapons, for which they have no effective long range delivery system. If anyone is pushing the envelop towards war in the Korean Peninsula, it is the United States, which is now engaged in a New Cold War with China.

The artillery exchange two weeks ago between North and South Korean forces – leaving 4 southerners dead and an unknown number of northern casualties – is portrayed in U.S. media as brazen aggression by a North Korean regime that is driven by a bizarre need to keep the rest of world on edge, or to show that Kim Jong Il’s son is a fierce warrior, or simply because the North’s leadership is hopelessly paranoid. The facts are, the U.S. and South Korean exercises are nothing less than rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea and, therefore, inherently provocative. The U.S. and South Korea are engaged in a kind of terror, sailing up and down the disputed waters off the coast of North Korea, firing off rockets and artillery shells, in defiance of repeated North Korean warnings that such behavior is scary and extremely warlike.

The U.S. and South Korean exercises are nothing less than rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea and, therefore, inherently provocative.”

This year’s aggressive maneuvers are also directed against China, whose capital city, Beijing, is within easy range of the American aircraft carrier task force that is churning around the Yellow Sea, whose waters China considers to be part of its exclusive economic zone. The Americans have chosen to simultaneously bully China and North Korea, while at the same time warning China to rein in North Korea’s behavior. This is outrageous conduct, but from the way it's reported by the U.S. corporate media, the Americans and South Koreans are simply engaged in a friendly walk in the park.

The latest U.S. maneuvers follow on the heels of Barack Obama's high-profile swing through Asia, a trip that was universally described as an attempt to isolate and encircle China, diplomatically and geopolitically. The current maneuvers are intended to make the point, militarily.

South Korea is now loudly proclaiming that they will launch air strikes against the North if there are any more artillery barrages. That, too, is a direct threat to North Korea from the United States, because the Americans control the U.S./South Korean Combined Forces Command, without which no effective air strike is possible.

The Americans are playing a dangerous game of provocation in Korea, and relying on a racist media to portray the North Koreans as madmen. I'm reminded of General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam, who said, "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner.” By saying that, Westmoreland justified killing two or three million Vietnamese Orientals – proving who was the real barbarian and madman. 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: 20101208_gf_Korea.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Every few weeks or months, authorities come up with another hapless bomber or bombers. In nearly every case, the crime has been proposed to them by a police agent, a provocateur, who often furnishes the patsy with cash, instructions and weapons, real or fake, to carry it out. There are many unasked questions about these crimes. For one, why are they all Muslim youth? Aren't there any wannabe white Christian bombers?


Obama's Justice Department Manufactures and Arrests Another “Muslim Terrorist”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The cynical police practice of manufacturing crimes in which to entrap victims for prosecution is so old, so time-worn that it has a name. For more than a hundred years, the cops engaged in this practice have been known the world over as agents provocateur. Provocateurs are regular features of police states on every continent.

In what's become a depressingly familiar scenario in the U.S., federal authorities in Portland, Oregon singled out a ignorant, isolated, economically stressed young male Muslim with no family nearby and few, if any close friends. They paid his rent for several months. They put money in his pocket and bad ideas in his head. They put him in touch with other cops claiming to be in Pakistan and Yemen. When their prey snagged a job in Alaska, they kept him in the plot by placing him on a no-fly list so he could not leave town for gainful employment. Finally, the FBI furnished the young man with fake bombs, cell phone detonators and a van, and arrested him for trying to detonate the fake bomb.

“Fake terror scares are good politics for whoever is in office, and good business for the ever-expanding homeland security state...”

By now there have been many arrests of this kind. In some of them, FBI provocateurs had to rent cars for their hapless bombers, feed and clothe them, teach them how to use simple cameras. Federal cops purchased weapons for them and put them in alleged touch with pretend jihadis abroad. Police agents concocted fanciful crimes often far beyond the means of the supposed criminals to accomplish, imaginary capers like blowing up the hundred story Sears Tower or menacing New Jersey synagogues, crimes that might never have existed, even as thoughts without the instigation of police provocateurs.

Manufactured terror scares followed by arrests of the patsies are always greeted with a chorus of bipartisan approval from corporate media and establishment talking heads. Fake terror scares are good politics for whoever is in office, and good business for the ever-expanding homeland security state and its thousands of actual and wannabe contractors. The climate of fear that sustains and flows from them is just as politically useful to a Democratic White House it was to a Republican one.

Some Americans must have imagined the ascent of a black president and an African American attorney general might have made a difference. It has not. The only difference is that while the Bush terror threats were widely mocked and ridiculed, many so-called progressives have silenced themselves in this, the era of Obama. Sadly, neither the practices nor the the political uses of police-state provocateurs have changed not at all in the first two years of the Obama era, and aren't likely to change in the next two years.

There's probably no shortage of ignorant, benighted white Christian youth who might be offered fake bombs and maneuvered into pretend bombing plots for which they too might be arrested. But don't look for that any time soon. Some kinds of terrorism are politically more useful than others, no matter what color the Democratic president and his Democratic attorney general happen to be.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Green Party of Georgia. He's based in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20101201_bd_provocatuers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23pm EDT

American Racism on Display in Wikileaks Iran Cable

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One of the reasons U.S. imperialism is doomed – and there are many – is that the worldview of the imperialist renders him incapable of understanding why his system of control is collapsing, despite his overwhelming advantage in weaponry. Such blindness is a form of insanity. Yet, as a recent Wikileaks document reveals, the imperialist perceives those who resist his rule as irrational, defective, insane – as did the top U.S. diplomat in Tehran just before the embassy takeover of 1979

 

American Racism on Display in Wikileaks Iran Cable

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Bruce Laingen maintained that the main problem was not U.S. policy in Iran, but an inherent psychological ‘defect’ in the Iranian people.”

Among the quarter million diplomatic dispatches released by Wikileaks this weekend is a posting from the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran’s capital, dated August 13, 1979, just three months before the embassy was seized by Iranian students. The cable, by Bruce Laingen, the highest ranking U.S. diplomat in Iran at the time, is less than 1,000 words long, but speaks volumes to the essential racism of the American imperial worldview, and to white America’s fundamental unfitness for the role of superpower.

The Iranian revolution had earlier in 1979 overthrown the dictatorial Shah, whom the Americans had forcibly installed in power in 1953. Needless to say, Iranians blamed the Americans for the unspeakable crimes committed by the Shah’s regime. But Bruce Laingen maintained, in his cable to the State Department in Washington, that the main problem was not U.S. policy in Iran, but an inherent psychological “defect” in the Iranian people – or “Persians,” as he called them. These “underlying cultural and psychological qualities,” wrote Laingen, “account for the nature of these difficulties” in dealing with Persians. He writes: ”Perhaps the single dominant aspect of the Persian psyche is an overriding egoism” whose “practical effect…is an almost total Persian preoccupation with self [that] leaves little room for understanding points of view other than one’s own.” In other words, the Iranians are too sick in the head to comprehend United States policy in their part of the world. It’s a “cultural and psychological” defect – unrelated, of course, to the fact that the U.S. stole their democracy from them and put their own puppet on the Peacock Throne.

Not only were Iranians cursed by mental illness, but their inherent inferiority to westerners was made worse by their religion, Islam.”

Laingen observes that “the Persian” believes that he is surrounded by “hostile forces” – as if that were a clear symptom of mass mental illness rather than a logical conclusion based on a quarter century of rule by a U.S.-imposed Shah whose routine practice of torture was unsurpassed in modern history. Not only were Iranians cursed by mental illness, but their inherent inferiority to westerners was made worse by their religion, Islam, “with its emphasis on the omnipotence of God.” This, said Laingen, deprives Iranians of the ability to grasp “the inter-relationship of events” as they unfold. That is, the Muslim faith, itself, has rendered Iranians incapable of making sense of the world around them, according to the American diplomat. Finally, it is a “waste of effort” to try to cultivate “goodwill” with the Persians because, wrote Laingen, “given the Persian negotiator's cultural and psychological limitations, he is going to resist the very concept of a rational...negotiating process.”

In Bruce Laingen, we hear the unrepentant voice of the American slaveholder, who believed that Black resistance to slavery was a sign of mental illness. In the white supremacist's mind, Drapetomania was a mental disease that caused slaves to run away. Dysaethesia aethiopica was the defect that resulted in slave ill-discipline and “rascality.” In the eyes of the slaveholder and the imperialist, those who resist oppression are crazy. If that is so, then it is the crazies that will inherit the Earth.

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

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

Direct download: 20101201_gf_WikiLeaksPersia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Haitian people didn’t want it, even most of the candidates rejected it, so who was supposed to benefit from last Sunday’s farcical election? “The exercise only has value for those who paid for it, the Americans, who spent $14 million on this fraud in hopes of disguising the fact that Haiti is a U.S. colony.”

 

The Non-Election for the Non-Government of the Non-Sovereign State of Haiti

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no Haitian state to speak of, no prize to win.”

The multitudinous assaults on Haiti's dignity reached a crescendo with this weekend’s elections, imposed by foreigners for the benefit of foreigners against the wishes of the Haitian people and even of most of the candidates. It is as if severely wounded and sick hospital patients – make that prisonhospital patients – were ordered to dance and sing for the pleasure of rich visitors. As should have been expected, most Haitians refused to perform like circus animals, on demand.

The Haitian sham elections for president and most of the legislature may go down as the most bizarre and macabre exercise in hypocrisy in the history of U.S. imperialism. Haiti’s most popular political party – no, the ONLY political party with a truly mass following – the Fanmi Lavalas organization of exiled president Jean Bertrand Aristide, was barred from running. By the time Sunday rolled around, 12 of the 19 candidates for president were denouncing the government for perpetrating a “massive fraud” on the citizenry. Turnout was probably not much more than single digits – which is actually the usual for Haitian elections in which Aristide’s party is not allowed to participate – an electoral travesty equivalent to outlawing the Democratic Party in New York City, Boston or Chicago.

With at least 1.5 million Haitians without adequate shelter, the entire population still in shock over the lost of 300,000 in January’s earthquake, an economy in ruins, a non-existent infrastructure and a raging cholera epidemic that international observers say could spread to 200,000 people, Haiti is the last place to stage an election. But the most important question has been: an election to what? There is no Haitian state to speak of, no prize to win. Haiti is no longer a sovereign nation, but has been reduced to a protectorate of the United States, France and Canada, with blue-helmeted United Nations soldiers acting as internal security. French African colonial regimes wielded more authority in the transition to independence than Haiti’s shell of a government exercises, today.

Haiti is no longer a sovereign nation, but has been reduced to a protectorate of the United States, France and Canada.”

Haiti is an occupied country, the victim of multiple invasions. The U.S. invasion of 2004 and the kidnapping and expulsion of its president opened Haiti to United Nations occupation – proud Haiti, stepped on and ground underfoot by an international cast of foreign armies paid for largely by the United States. Haitians themselves call the country the “Republic of NGOs,” with more foreign “aid” outfits per capita than any place in the world, all of them doing their own thing with no accountability to a single Haitian, including the despised, outgoing president, Rene Preval. Only a fraction of the billions raised for earthquake reconstruction have been spent, and only a small part of that was allocated to the Haitian government.

So, what election, for what government? The exercise only has value for those who paid for it, the Americans, who spent $14 million on this fraud in hopes of disguising the fact that Haiti is a U.S. colony. The U.S. insists on treating Sunday's results as valid, which may mean that a singer named “Sweet Micky” who sometimes wears diapers on stage will become the nominal head of state. And why not? There is no Haitian state. That is something for the Haitian people to build, once they have thrown off the dictatorship of Washington. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20101201_gf_HaitiElection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Sunday’s election is the last thing Haiti’s majority wants or needs. It is the United States that needs Sunday’s election in Haiti to provide “a veil of legality on the theft of Haiti’s sovereignty and independence by U.S. imperialism and its allies.” Haitians have been given a choice to validate their own re-enslavement. Most will choose No.

 

Haiti Election: Theatrical Prelude to Colonization

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is a charade, paid for by the United States, to provide a veneer of legitimacy to America’s colonization of Haiti.”

The United States, having stolen Haiti’s government in a 2004 coup and re-invaded the country with 22,000 troops after last January’s catastrophic earthquake, now foists a farce of an election on the cholera-wracked nation. It is an election designed, not to allow the Haitian people to express their political aspirations, but to impose a veil of legality on the theft of Haiti’s sovereignty and independence by U.S. imperialism and its allies. In other words, this Sunday, when a small minority of Haitians go through the motions of casting votes for a president, they will in effect be participating in the very opposite of a democratic process. This election is not for their benefit – it does not enhance the power of Haiti’s people to determine their own destiny. Rather, it is a charade, paid for by the United States, to provide a veneer of legitimacy to America’s colonization of Haiti.

Whoever is eventually chosen among the 19 candidates for president – most likely in a runoff election between the two top vote-getters, in January – he or she could not possibly be the choice of the Haitian people. That’s because the party of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Fanmi Lavalas, which is by far the most popular political organization in the country, has once again been barred from taking part in the election. As a result – and also because of widespread opposition to holding elections at all when cholera is raging in the country – turnout will be low and the outcome unsatisfactory to the majority of people.

Which is the only kind of outcome that the United States will tolerate. The American ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, who is a notorious liar, nevertheless spoke the truth when he told the Washington Post that he hadn’t met anybody among the contenders that he “can’t work with.”

Real power belongs to the Haiti Recovery Commission co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and totally dominated by foreign governments and bankers.”

The United States owns this election, because Washington has paid for it. The nominal cost is $15 million for Sunday’s election machinery. But one must also factor in the cost of arming and training the death squads that swept into Haiti from U.S.-financed bases in the Dominican Republic to reverse by violence the Haitian people’s electoral choices, in 2004. U.S. costs for the colonization of Haiti include funding and organizing the minority political opposition to President Aristide, so that the majority’s will could be thwarted. And it includes the huge expense of bribing and orchestrating the United Nations to become a kind of 12,000-man rent-a-cop security outfit for the occupation of Haiti, against the people's will.

What the U.S. is paying for in this election, is a grotesque caricature of a vote that will produce a nominal president who will sit as a pitiful figurehead over a state that has no power. Real power belongs to the Haiti Recovery Commission co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and totally dominated by foreign governments and bankers whose mission is to restore Haiti to the colonial status it escaped two centuries ago.

Through blockades and invasions and coups and, finally, electioneering theatrics, the Americans think they have purchased a Black Krayol-speaking colony in the Caribbean. They will soon find out they have bought an island of resistance. 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: 20101124_gf_HaitiElection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor Jared A. Ball

Hip-hop has become a meaningless word – or worse, a word shellacked with so many saleable commercial and political meanings that it becomes a weapon against the very people that originated the genre. A new film is circulating, with clarifying impact. “The film forces a real conflict over who defines hip-hop, who uses it for what and what those of us who claim to know better are actually doing to address these and related concerns.”

 

Black August and Crises of Hip-Hop as Euphemism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor Jared A. Ball

“’Hip-hop’ has become more a euphemism that erases the blackness of its progenitors and their condition.”

If you didn’t know already, let me be the first to tell you that there is indeed a crisis in hip-hop politics and intellectualism. It is a crisis of separation, a crisis of deracination and of political trajectory. In part it is a crisis of euphemism and in this case it’s as old as calling the horrors of enslavement a “triangular trade.” But unlike the way, say, “urban” has become a euphemism for Black, and one known as such, “hip-hop” has become more a euphemism that erases the blackness of its progenitors and their condition. The euphemistic erasure of blackness, of Africanness, has long-reached crisis proportions, where it is used to confuse, justify or make invisible the people and their lived experiences. And it is a crisis that needs to be more aggressively addressed by those who accept the brand-naming of a “hip-hop generation,” “hip-hop studies” or “hip-hop activism.” And whether or not she meant to challenge this euphemism, Dream Hampton has so nicely done so with her new film, Black August: A Hip-Hop Documentary Concert.

Since 1998 the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s Black August Hip-Hop Project has made its mission the exposure of political prisoners and the issues surrounding political imprisonment to new generations of young people. Since then organizers have created nice blends of concert performances and political education as methods of raising funds for and awareness of political prisoners. The existence of the work and the making of a film about the work by definition explodes the fallacy of hip-hop’s popular separation by euphemism from the communities of Black and Brown people that created it, the conditions these communities still suffer and the status of some of those captured in struggle against those conditions. The film forces a real conflict over who defines hip-hop, who uses it for what and what those of us who claim to know better are actually doing to address these and related concerns. And at a recent screening of the film in Washington, D.C. all of these wonderful tensions were evident.

De-politicized and empty conversations simply cannot coexist with this film, hence its unyielding brilliance.”

After watching the film, which explores some of the history of Black August, first organized to honor “fallen freedom fighters” like George Jackson in the 1970s, a lively discussion occurred. It was clear that this discussion was one of euphemism v. unmasked reality. Some expressed shock at the very existence of political prisoners. Others talked of joining and reviving a chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Others exchanged community efforts to support and even mimic aspects of the work of those currently incarcerated, exiled or those who had been assassinated. But what was most clear was that no euphemism could withstand the film itself. No tired discussions of hip-hop as some distinct culture divorced from any specific origin, no nonsense of hip-hop being color blind, or of hip-hop as a mechanism of communal economic empowerment or some disconnected intellectual enterprise were even attempted. Nobody even repeated ridiculous claims that hip-hop elected Obama in 2008 or caused his party’s downfall in 2010. In fact, Obama was only raised as an issue of what now impedes the work represented in the film. No, de-politicized and empty conversations simply cannot coexist with this film, hence its unyielding brilliance.

The post-screening discussion, which was not held just among activist circle regulars, or what Obama’s folks call the “professional left,” went straight to the matters at hand. What and who are political prisoners, what do they want, what did they do then and what are we going to do now since not one of their issues has been positively resolved. And this is the power of the film and the work depicted in the film. That those themes might resonate beyond the activist or intellectual elite and explode the euphemism hip-hop has become is precisely the point. Black August addresses the crisis of euphemism which is a crisis in our political consistency. Dead Prez have famously said that “it’s bigger than hip-hop,” and so is this film. It may depict performance but, as Black August organizer Monifa Bandele can be heard closing the film, “It ain’t no damn concert.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Click, link and bookmark us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101124_jb_BlackAugustFilm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is right to howl at the indignities inflicted on airline passengers – but hypocritical, if the howls come from folks who applaud or remain silent while police in big cities across the country subject hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino males to arbitrary stop and frisks. “As a Black male who is often perceived as Latino or Middle-Eastern, I expect to get stopped and questioned, pulled from the crowd and patted down.”

If the Airport is a Police State, What is the Ghetto?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The police state has long been in effect in Black America – so long, it is experienced as routine.”

Critics of the Obama administration’s escalating intrusions on the dignity and violations of the privacy of air travelers are certainly correct in raising holy hell with the voyeurs and bullies that run the homeland’s security apparatus. The president’s men are a nasty little bunch, who seem to respond to every hint of danger by shouting “strip!” and fondling everyone within reach. But I must admit that I’m not personally overly upset at the government’s deployment of machinery that electronically renders one naked, or the prospect of more frequent and intrusive pat-downs.

As a Black male who is often perceived as Latino or Middle-Eastern, I expect to get stopped and questioned, pulled from the crowd and patted down. My teenage and young adult years coincided with the frequent hijacking of flights to Cuba. I fit the profile. That coincided with the war on drugs that never ended, a war that treated me like an enemy combatant, and still does. A pair of narcotics detectives used to stop me without fail, among thousands of other train passengers, each week, same time, same day, as I passed through Union Station commuting from New York to Washington.

La Migra,” the immigration authorities, have challenged me in DC, all dressed up for an expensive business lunch at nigh noon on K Street, demanding to know if I was a citizen. I’ve been pulled off a bus full of other journalists on the tarmac at the airport in Vienna, Austria, by machinegun-toting police, for no other reason than my physical type. My hometown neighborhood is a designated drug zone – like every Black neighborhood in Jersey City, New Jersey – where anyone can be stopped and questioned about their reasons for being in the area; where one is presumed guilty until the police decide you might not be.

If Philly were New York-sized, the cops would be stopping and frisking 1.2 million people on the streets each year.”

I spend much of my time in New York City, where about 600,000 pedestrians, the vast majority of them Black or Latino and male, will be accosted by cops, by the end of this year. There is an eight-block area in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where 50,000 stops were made over two years, many if not most involving the same Black, male neighborhood residents over and over again.

But it gets worse. In Philadelphia, a city one-sixth the size of New York, at least 200,000 mostly Black, male pedestrians are stopped each year. That means, if Philly were New York-sized, the cops would be stopping and frisking 1.2 million people on the streets each year, twice as many as in the Big Apple. This is stop-and-frisk gone wild, used as a weapon of racial bullying and control, and as an intake valve for Black mass incarceration, sending huge proportions of Black makes into institutions where they don't render you naked electronically, but up close and personal, at any and all times the prison authorities see fit, and where visiting family members are subject to have their bodily orifices explored.

So, Yes – federal search policies at airports are a sign of a growing police state. But the police state has long been in effect in Black America – so long, it is experienced as routine. I fear that some of those who recoil at heightened airport security also believe that the people in the Bed-Stuys of America get what they deserve.

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: 20101124_gf_AirportVsGhettoes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

The United States does as it pleases in Haiti, behaving as a conqueror while pretending to have no responsibilities for the welfare of the people whose government Washington has stolen. “The U.S. is obligated to spend as many billions as it takes on the human needs of the people of Haiti – not as a matter of charity, but as a solemn legal responsibility” – or set Haiti free.

 

America’s Obligations to Haiti

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

Haiti is a U.S. possession in every practical sense of the term.”

If you want to know what the rulers of the United States would do if they had unchecked power to order the world as they saw fit, look at Haiti. It is in Haiti that the United States shows its true face: a face of infinite greed, boundless cruelty, absolute cynicism, naked aggression, and a total lack of respect for human dignity – especially, the dignity of Black humanity.

Since 2004, Haiti has been a de facto colony of the United States. By organizing and funding the armed coup that toppled the freely elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide, and then physically kidnapping and transporting him into African exile, the United States made itself responsible for everything that has transpired, since. This is a principle embedded in international laws of war, of conquest: that the conqueror takes responsibility for the welfare and safety of the vanquished population. The rationale is simple: by conquering a people and seizing authority over the defeated country, the conqueror assumes the responsibility to protect the inhabitants and their human rights, since the conquered people have lost the means to provide and ensure that for themselves.

The United States helped codify that principle into international law more than 60 years ago, but fundamentally violates its spirit every day, in Haiti. The Americans claim they didn’t overthrow President Aristide, but simply had their Marines transport him to safety. The Bush administration installed in Haitian government the most vicious pack of criminals ever assembled in the Americas, and watched while these handpicked degenerates murdered thousands. But the U.S. claimed that was not their responsibility, since America had not conquered Haiti. The U.S. joined with the long ago colonial ruler, France, and the new-jack colonialist, Canada, to figure out what to do with Haiti, without seeming like they were legally responsible. The great white powers snapped their fingers and the United Nations appeared. Haiti became a kind of international protectorate, which is something like being everybody’s colony.

By conquering a people and seizing authority over the defeated country, the conqueror assumes the responsibility to protect the inhabitants and their human rights.”

But no one doubted, certainly not the Haitians, that the UN was just a blue-helmeted security service for Uncle Sam – that Haiti was a U.S. possession in every practical sense of the term. If any fool thought differently, last January’s catastrophic earthquake proved that the United States was the occupying power in charge. The Americans seized the Port-au-Prince airport, blockaded the coast, and sent in 22,000 troops whose word was LAW in Haiti. Washington did all of this unilaterally, as if it had every legal right – which it would have, if the Americans acknowledged themselves as the conquering power. But of course, that would mean the U.S. was obligated to spend as many billions as it takes on the human needs of the people of Haiti – not as a matter of charity, but as a solemn legal responsibility. After all, the U.S. took their government from them.

The Americans prefer to deny that they are the power-in-charge while pulling all the strings, including keeping former president Aristide's party – the most popular in the country – out of the November 28 election.

This is how the Americans would rule the world, if they could: standing on everyone's necks.

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: 20101117_gf_CaptiveHaiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:08am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball

In the Seventies, Black radio news was a powerhouse reaching virtually every Black household with hourly newscasts that fueled political movements and incubated youthful Black leadership. Famed journalist and educator Phyl Garland chronicled and helped shape the era. “This time the struggle is not only for jobs and meaningful representation, but for the control of black minds through the grist they are fed by the communications media,” she wrote. The present generation’s mission is to seize control of Black-oriented media in service of the people.

 

More than Remembering Phyl Garland! Black Power and Community Controlled Broadcasting

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball

Radio today has been stripped of its capability to produce relevant news to its audiences and has its musical content determined by no more than three European and Asian conglomerates.”

In October of 2011, from DC to Baltimore and probably a city near you, the most popular radio stations targeting Black and Brown people have their FCC licenses coming up for renewal. They offer no news, orchestrated play lists filled with songs selected by the companies that own them which are played with deadening repetition in between the sale of their audiences to the highest corporate bidder who can then advertise any number of useless and harmful products. These stations do not address our needs. Instead they redefine those needs into their interests. Our refusal to address this means we routinely turn ourselves and our loved ones over to the whims of others and suffer the consequences. So lets lay claim to the airwaves which belong to us already and forcibly redefine our relationship with our media environment. Its been done and it needs doing again.

Though she died four years ago this month Phyllis or “Phyl” Garland wrote forty years ago this month of similar efforts happening around the country. Garland herself taught and was the first woman granted tenure at the Columbia School of Journalism, she loved and wrote about music and had been a journalist with the Pittsburgh Courier and Ebony magazine. And in the November 1970 issue of Ebony magazine, she explained the one-to-one correlation between radio programming and radical political movements. She described efforts around the country among Black people who were threatening the very licenses which give our public airwaves to corporations who, in exchange for the extremely lucrative public property, are theoretically supposed to provide us with relevant information, cultural expression and freedom to make public the concerns of our communities. Garland was as right to cover those efforts as were the people who then claimed that those stations did them a disservice. And we would be right in our similar claims today.

The airwaves which daily convey news of wars, moon landings, consumer products and so-called entertainment to millions of Americans are the property of the people.”

Defining the importance of public challenges to radio and television broadcast licenses Garland wrote, “Black Power, that dynamic political economic concept born of both hope and pride, is finding new directions in these uncertain days of ‘good news, bad news and Agnews.’ The objective has been selected, the strategy plotted and the offensive is underway. This time the struggle is not only for jobs and meaningful representation, but for the control of black minds through the grist they are fed by the communications media... The distantly perceivable results could revolutionize a people.”

She continued, “The premise supporting this battle is the underpublicized fact that the airwaves which daily convey news of wars, moon landings, consumer products and so-called entertainment to millions of Americans are the property of the people. They are only leased to those who use them through licenses granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a regulatory government agency which is supposed to determine whether the licensee is upholding his obligation to ‘fulfill the tastes, needs, and desires of his community.” Broadcasters have not often lived up to this responsibility, so far as blacks are concerned, and gradually this neglected segment of the public is coming to understand that it has a right to challenge the media barons who have so blatantly ignored black tastes.”

She writes of an Atlanta-based “ad hoc Community Coalition on Broadcasting composed of civil rights groups” who pressured and got signed agreements from 23 of 26 local stations to employ more Black workers both “on-air and behind the scenes” and to return some of their millions of dollars of revenue back into the community via scholarships, job-training programs and to “more accurately reflect black life of the past and present.”

As we’ve highlighted for years radio today is as important in Black America as ever, but has been stripped of its capability to produce relevant news to its audiences and has its musical content determined by no more than three European and Asian conglomerates. Let’s flood the public files of these radio stations with emails and letters that express our concern over their programming. Specifically, we must begin to further document the absence of news, local reporting and locally-based artists from the airwaves. We must challenge the complete dominance over our programming, music and news, by an ever-decreasing number of white-owned corporations and advertisers who reduce even nominal Black ownership to meaninglessness.

Stay tuned for more calls to build new Community Coalitions on Broadcasting, or what we have more recently called a News For the People Coalition. Lets begin by making the fundamental point that the airwaves are ours to begin with and what happens with them is up to us.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Check us out at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101117_jb_PhylGarland.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:59am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Still unwilling or unable to admit that they were “psyched out” by Barack Obama and his corporate handlers, Lefties search for psychological reasons that the First Black President has been such a disappointment. It’s the failure to fight thing, or the lack of vision thing, or the failure to communicate thing, they say. “It isn’t that Obama has trouble conveying his vision, it’s that his actual vision is unacceptable to progressives.” As for his willingness to fight, Obama fought his own left wing, and “stomped their butts into the dirt” over his corporate health care plan.

 

Psycho-Babbling Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Rather than face the fact that Obama is not a friend of the people, leftish commentators insist on conducting a psychological analysis of the president.”

For two years we watched Barack Obama undercut the left wing of his party at every turn, with a disdain so palpable his minions could not resist insulting leftists in the most juvenile terms. For two years we watched the First Black President facilitate the greatest transfer of wealth in human history – $12 to $14 trillion – to Wall Street, and we watched as he put the U.S. war machine back on the offensive in the world. For two years we heard Obama say over and over again that he had no intention of taking targeted action to help Black and brown communities that had been targeted for destruction by banks. After two years, one would think that folks on the Left would have gotten the idea that Obama is pro-Pentagon, pro-Wall Street, and doesn’t have a transformative bone in his body regarding either race or class. But, for many, the message, however obvious, has not sunk in. Rather than face the fact that Obama is not a friend of the people, leftish commentators insist on conducting a psychological analysis of the president. They seem to be trying to find some quirk in Obama’s personality that can by corrected in time for the Armageddon showdown with the Republicans.

Take Paul Krugman, of the New York Times, for example. People on the Left quote him a lot, which I find strange, since Krugman can talk about the political meltdown of 2008 for 45 minutes and never say the word “corporation” – as if corporations had nothing to do with the meltdown. But anyway, the liberal Krugman insists that Obama’s problem is, he tried to transcend partisan divisions, not understanding that sometimes one has to fight. That’s a recurring theme with Obama apologists, that Obama won’t fight. But Obama showed plenty of fight during the health care debate. He fought the left wing of his own party every step of the way, exiling single-payer supporters to the margins while he kissed Republican boodie and empowered Blue Dogs and DLCers. He didn’t just fight progressives, he stomped their butts into the dirt.

They seem to be trying to find some quirk in Obama’s personality that can by corrected in time for the Armageddon showdown with the Republicans.”

Dr. Ron Daniels, of the Institute for the Black World, thinks the problem is Obama’s “failure to effectively communicate” his “vision, programs and policies.” I think Obama has communicated quite effectively, that he wanted expanded theaters of war, trillions for Wall Street, and nothing special whatsoever for Black or brown America – those places that he says don’t exist. It isn’t that Obama has trouble conveying his vision, it’s that his actual vision is unacceptable to progressives. Of all people, Barack Obama doesn’t need communications lessons.

William Greider, probably the left-most of our three subjects, says Obama “needs to learn hardball” so he can fight the Republicans that are “trying to bury him.” This, however, would require a 180 degree vision change on Obama's part, since his actual “vision” has always been to join with Republicans at some point much further to the right than the rest of us would ever want to go.

The psychological problem is not Obama's. It's the problem of much of the Left, who imagined an Obama that never existed. That's why it was so easy for Obama and his corporate handlers to psyche-out the Left. If you think Obama is salvageable, then you're the one with the psychological problem.

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: 20101117_gf_ObamaBabble.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:27am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

American investors, who refuse to put money into productive enterprise in their own country, are flooding developing nations with destabilizing dollars, creating asset “bubbles” and other dangerous distortions. In defense, nations are collectively rejecting “dealings with U.S. companies, or even transactions in U.S. dollars, in order to insulate themselves from the irresponsibility of U.S. economic rulers.”

 

U.S. Endangers Global Financial Stability

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. decision could set in motion a chain of events that might knock the dollar from its artificial pedestal as the world’s reserve currency.”

When you live in a dying system, expect bad things to happen with quickening regularity. We are now in a general crisis of capitalism, which means that so many things are wrong with the system, it’s hard to predict where the next disaster will come from. Think of an old, worn out, beat up automobile. You don’t dare take a long trip in it because something – you don’t know what, but something – is sure to break down.

Even as the robo-signing scandal reveals massive fraud at the heart of the U.S. mortgage system, which could lead to a kind of meltdown, the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to pump $600 billion into the system could set in motion a chain of events that might knock the dollar from its artificial pedestal as the world’s reserve currency. When that happens, the non-military component of U.S. imperialism, will crumble. But that’s a chance Obama’s bankers are willing to take because…well, because creating rivers of money for their fellow bankers to play with is what the Federal Reserve does. The banks were already sitting on $1 trillion in cash when Obama’s crew decided to create $600 billion more out of thin air.

To justify this policy of so-called “quantitative easing,” the Obama administration is singing the same old tired song: that flooding more money into the banking system will result in the banks making more loans to businesses that will then expand their workforces and reduce unemployment. But of course, none of that has happened, because the banks have not loaned the money to U.S. manufacturers, they have hoarded the cash, or used it to buy federal debt, or spent it in their derivatives casinos or sent it overseas to wreak havoc with developing countries’ currencies.

Nations are taking steps to isolate the dollar, to avoid using American currency as much as possible.”

All these billions in U.S. dollars, thrust into the system by Obama’s Treasury and federal bankers, and which do no good for American small businesses and workers, now threaten to create asset bubbles overseas, pushing up prices of land and stock in countries like India and Brazil. In other words, Wall Street is using the oceans of money provided to it by their friends in the Obama administration to export to the developing world the same financial bubbles that ultimately brought down the U.S. economy and created a world financial crisis.

The flood of U.S. cash is also designed to have the effect of making the dollar cheaper. The idea, here, is to make American exports cheaper, which will theoretically create more U.S. jobs. In the real world, the tidal wave of greenbacks threatens to destabilize the planetary financial system. The Americans are viewed as so irresponsible and dangerous to global stability, nations are taking steps to isolate the dollar, to avoid using American currency as much as possible.

This is what I call the redlining of America: when nations collectively reject dealings with U.S. companies, or even transactions in U.S. dollars, in order to insulate themselves from the irresponsibility of U.S. economic rulers. That means the dollar is on the way to losing its position as the world reserve currency. When that happens, all that will be left of the U.S. global empire, is guns.

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

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

Direct download: 20101110_gf_RedliningAmerica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:16pm EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

Black voters have still not reversed their 75-year record of rejecting Black Republican candidates for majority Black congressional districts. The two new Black Tea Partyers are from mostly white districts, and will have little reason to become involved in Black Caucus affairs. Besides, Black corporate Democrats are fully capable of doing great damage to Black interests, without GOP help.

 

Tea Partyers in the Black Caucus?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford

Incoming congressmen Tim Scott of South Carolina and Allen West of Florida will have no influence on the Congressional Black Caucus.”

Congressional Black Caucus chairperson Barbara Lee has announced that the two Black Tea Party supporters elected to Congress from South Carolina and Florida are welcome to join the Black Caucus. That’s no surprise. In its 41-year history, the Black Caucus has always had an official open door policy to non-Democrats. But the CBC has been fortunate that the three Black Republicans elected to the House of Representatives in the last two generations have opted not to complicate the lives of Black Caucus Democrats. Former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts declined to join. Connecticut’s Gary Franks, who served from 1991 to 1997, was a nominal Black Caucus member, but totally inactive. And Melvin Evans, a non-voting congressional delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands, made hardly a ripple in House of Representatives, serving only one term between 1979 and 1981. Senator Edward Brook, of Massachusetts, never joined the Caucus.

Except for the non-voting Melvin Evans, the Virgin Islander, all three of the Black Republicans elected to Congress since the 1930s have represented majority white constituencies. Black voters on the U.S. mainland have not elected a Black Republican to the House since Oscar De Priest lost his seat from Chicago in 1934.

In other words: Republicanism is dead in Black America. Even Republicans no longer believe they can hope to win office by running Black candidates in Black majority districts. In the mid-Nineties corporate strategists decided their best shot at directly influencing Black politics was through the Democratic Party. Rather than beat the dead horse of Black Republicanism, they would finance the careers of a new breed of corporate Black Democrats – like Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker, and outgoing Washington, DC mayor Adrian Fenty, and – the most prominent Black corporate Democrat of all, Barack Obama.

Black voters on the U.S. mainland have not elected a Black Republican to the House since Oscar De Priest lost his seat from Chicago in 1934.”

The corporate shift to financing and nurturing Black Democrats friendly to big business was hugely successful. By 2005, there were enough right-leaning, corporate-friendly members of the Congressional Black Caucus to comprise a mini-caucus of their own. Ten of them voted with Republicans on personal bankruptcy, 8 sided with the enemy on repeal of the Estate Tax, and 11 made common cause with big business on energy issues. Not long afterward, two-thirds of the Black Caucus voted to allow the telecom companies free rein in cable television and the Internet.

With a Democratic Black Caucus like that, who needs Black Republicans?

The Republican Party cannot make significant inroads among Black Americans because the GOP has thrived by being the White Man's Party. It's a winning formula at the ballot box. The Tea Party phenomenon is an even more virulent strain of the same racist disease. Incoming congressmen Tim Scott of South Carolina and Allen West of Florida will have no influence on the Congressional Black Caucus, and if either of them do join, will probably fail to show up for any serious business. The problem with the Congressional Black Caucus is corporate-bought Democrats, who already infest the place.

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: 20101110_gf_BlackGOP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball

Michael Eric Dyson, who claims to have recovered from Obama-ism, blames Black youth for failure to save the Democrats from themselves in the past election. Perhaps Dyson and his ilk should consider that non-stop police beatings, imprisonment and frameups of young Black people may “have had something to do with Obama’s 'enthusiasm gap.'” He should also ponder whether “45% unemployment for Black teens might be part of it.”

Dyson's Message to Black Youth: You Are Cowards to Be Blamed, Beaten and Jailed!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball

Michael Eric Dyson seems to blame Black youth for nearly everything that has gone wrong since 1965.”

Michael Eric Dyson has recently produced two very telling video commentaries. To the extent that they may reflect any general trend they are disturbing. But that they do reflect an overall troubling trend in Black politics they are simply sad. The first of the two videos to which I refer is Dyson’s post-mid-term election call to Obama to “be more like Bush” in aggressively promoting his agenda. The other is Dyson’s full-blown attack on youth, particularly Black youth, who he seems to blame for more than just a mid-term election loss but for nearly everything that has gone wrong since 1965. In both cases, according to Dyson, the problem is courage and honor. Obama has been too soft on implementing his agenda and Black children have been absolute cowards who trample on the very civil rights history that produced them.

The first problem with these views is that Obama is indeed acting just like Bush. Dyson’s call for him to be more like Bush is simply redundant and Dyson’s lack of clarity here is unfortunate. Understandably Dyson cannot be seen to have been wrong prior to the 2008 election when he was proudly proclaiming to be the first Black leader to support Obama and defending that decision against all reason by saying we must first get him elected and then exercise some mythical influence. And Dyson isn’t alone here. This was the liberal mainstream pre-election argument. Now that Obama’s corporatist and militarist politics have for two years been on full screen surround sound stereo the Dyson-ites have to call for more bold action as if this was all that was lacking. What the Dyson-ites miss or cannot afford to publicly acknowledge is that Obama is and has been just like Bush and regarding foreign policy more so. Obama is out Bushing Bush! If you have doubts just ask the people of Yemen who will now be dodging the same predator drone missiles Obama has been launching on the people of Pakistan since he took office. And isn’t this just sadly humorous considering Pakistan remains officially an ally of the United States, so much so that during this week’s visit to India Obama was asked why he supports what one young man said of Pakistan, a “terrorist state.”

Dyson and the Dyson-ites are more than encouraged to join the Black Is Back rally November 13 in Washington, D.C. where they might reconnect with the genuine traditions of liberation struggle.”

And as if to simply further a defense of his indefensible position Dyson’s next video is actually an invective against the young, Black youth in particular, who he says lacked the boldness, the “intestinal fortitude” to stand with the president and vote this mid-term. He upholds the conservative ideology of the underclass who are simply too lazy and filled with “self-pity” to help themselves out of their misery. He tells them to, in fact, “grow a pair of brains” and get over themselves and their “self-indulgence.” Even in the same publication, though he reaches equally spurious conclusions that call for more boldness by the Democrats as if that is why they traditionally abandon any real progressivism, James Rucker outlines why Black youth might not have been so excited to come out to vote. Sixteen percent overall Black unemployment and 45% unemployment for Black teens might be part of it. Maybe it’s the choice Democratic leaders make to imprison rather than educate Black and Brown children. Or looking at this week’s non-sentence imposed on killer cop Johannes Mehserle in the Oscar Grant case, or the police beating in Philadelphia of Askia Sabur, or the vicious assault by police on a student at Roxbury Community College or the more rallies needed to save the lives of Troy Davis and Mumia Abu-Jamal have had something to do with Obama’s “enthusiasm gap.”

The Dyson-ites have quite hypocritically denied pre-election education, critical analysis, and movement-development by their only seasonal push to get out the vote and their pre-Obama-election stamping out of dissent. To only now return two years later to blame Black youth for not sheepishly returning to the polls on cue to save a man and a party that cannot even be said to have turned on them because they never were with them in the first place is just ridiculous. Whether it was a foolish refusal to engage the youth vote this time around or a well-planned attempt to triangulate themselves out of having to act on their own false claims of progressivism, the fact remains that for two years nothing has been done to earn the support of the youth and their refusal to return should be seen as more revolutionary than cowardly.

Dyson and the Dyson-ites are more than encouraged to join the Black Is Back rally November 13 in Washington, D.C. where they might reconnect with the genuine traditions of liberation struggle that should be flamed into the movements that will produce the leadership they claim they want. But whatever you do, take it from the Peter Tosh classic anthem, “You Can’t Blame the Youth!”

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball.

Bookmark and make your daily visit online to BlackAgendaReport.com. And for a more complete and honest look at the condition of the youth and their response to the mid-term elections hear our round table radio discussion on Hip-Hop and Politics with activists and educators Lumumba Bandele, Rosa Clemente and Dr. Chris Tinson online at voxunion.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101110_jb_BlackYouth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:47pm EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The mortgage foreclosure “robo-signing” scandal has morphed into a crisis of credibility and legality that goes to the core of the U.S. banking system. The bankers can handle desperate homeowners and cowardly politicians. However, Wall Street’s denizens will soon “turn on one another like frenzied, fat, white cannibals – just as they did in 2008” – over which pig owes which.

 

The Banksters’ Last Meal

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The bankers will be tearing themselves to shreds.”

Nothing stands in the way of Wall Street establishing a dictatorship of the billionaires that will last a thousand years – nothing, that is, except the laws of political economy and the unchangeable imperatives of the banksters, themselves. If it seems that the pace of financial crises is quickening, you’re right, and you best get used to it. Finance capitalism cannot be saved – that’s why it has created an alternative universe in which the Lords of Capital gamble all day and night with phony money notionally worth ten times the value of all the goods and services produced by all the peoples of the world. The very existence of such “derivatives” is proof that finance capitalism some time ago reached the point at which it could not survive on the rates of profit available down here on planet Earth. So Wall Street created its own $600 trillion casino universe, whose main connection with the real world is to use it as collateral for its gambling ventures. Unfortunately, there is not enough real world to cover their wild parties and huge debts – which must ultimately be paid in real money, not derivatives.

Having created an alternative economy fueled by phony money, the banks decided it was perfectly alright to separate themselves from the earthly rule of law – laws written over generations mainly by other bankers, but within whose constraints the current Lords of Capital find it impossible to live. In order to sell toxic mortgages at top prices, the bankers chopped them up and made them into sausages. Then they sold these securitized sausages to each other used them as collateral on those hundreds of trillions of dollar bets they were making with each other in the alternative universe. It seems that every single mortgage originated between 2005 and 2008 was processed illegally, its ownership technically, and perhaps literally, unprovable. And, of course, one cannot foreclose on what one does not own.

It seems that every single mortgage originated between 2005 and 2008 was processed illegally, its ownership technically, and perhaps literally, unprovable.”

The massive black hole of fraud in the core of the mortgage securities trade was first revealed by homeowners contesting foreclosure. Homeowner suits could pose a serious problem, but not one that bankers worth trillions can't handle. And Wall Street owns both the executive and legislative branches of government. So what if a fraud is at the center of trillions of dollars in transactions, upon which have been built hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives bets in the alternative banking universe? In 21st century America, Wall Street need fear no one.

No one, except itself. The bankers will be tearing themselves to shreds. Normal people like you and me don't own securities made up of illegally processed mortgages – the banks do, and the government that the banks effectively control. The bankers defrauded each other, and as the crisis deepens, they will turn on one another like frenzied, fat, white cannibals – just as they did in 2008. And so it will transpire in each succeeding crisis of a dying finance capitalism. Finance capitalists are carnivorous parasites, who spend most of their lives eating each other. Soon, sooner than you think, they will have their last meal. 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: 20101103_gf_BankFraud.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09pm EDT

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The past four years of Democratic rule were a blown opportunity to control the politics of the US for a generation. The only force that stopped Democrats from creating millions of jobs, from ending the wars and bringing the troops home, from putting the banksters on a starvation diet, were elected Democrats themselves. By not fulfilling the mandate Democratic voters gave them in 2006 and 2008, Democratic party elected officials doomed themselves in 2010, and perhaps us too.

Democrats Take A Deliberate Midterm Dive

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Fox News didn't stop them. Republicans didn't stop them. Democrats stopped themselves.”

There's no polite way to put it. President Obama and his Democratic party simply threw this election to their Republican foes. The president and his party accomplished this by disappointing and betraying the millions who voted them into office, by not giving Democratic voters any of the changes they voted for. Democrats in power worked long and hard the last four years on losing this election.

Nobody could have stopped House Democrats in 2007 and 2008 from investigating the crimes of the Bush-Cheney regime, from using their subpoena power to compel testimony from government officials, banksters, mortgage companies, military and private prison contractors Nobody but Democrats themselves.

Nobody could have prevented House Democrats from stopping the funding for the murderous and illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nobody but Democrats themselves. Fox News could have complained. House Republicans could have called press conferences. The Bush White House could have fumed and fussed. But nobody stopped Democrats from going on the offensive four years ago but Democrats themselves.

By the time the Democratic mandate was renewed in 2008 joblessness was at an all time high and rising. Millions of families were facing imminent foreclosure, while the rivers of cash continued to flow to banksters and the war machine.

The last time unemployment was this high, there was a Democrat in the White House, and Democrats controlled the Congress too. Those Democrats created the New Deal.”

Democrats ran the White House and Congress while the government briefly assumed control over GM, one of the greatest collections of industrial productivity the world has ever seen. Rather than use this vast enterprise of engineers and workers to spearhead the “green jobs” programs Democratic voters crave, rather than use this incomparable prize to begin the transition to a post-petroleum economy, Democrats in the White House and Congress transferred the company's contractual obligations for health care to its workers, made its wealthy creditors whole, and sent it back to producing the same things it did before, only more of them in Korea and Mexico.

The last time unemployment was this high, there was a Democrat in the White House, and Democrats controlled the Congress too. Those Democrats created the New Deal. They hired hundreds of thousands of Americans to build state of the art public elementary and high schools, bridges and roads. They built thousands of free parks and pools and recreational facilities. In places like Chicago, they dug brand new subway lines which are still in service 70 years later, vital infrastructure that has paid for itself many times over the decades. When people saw members of their own families and their neighbors go back to work, they knew where their tax money went, and they approved.

Federal job creation programs are not even in the history books, as far as present-day Democratic politicians know. With the nation's resources pledged to prop up Wall Street and the war machine, there is nothing left to pay teachers, or home health care workers. There's nothing left to build new schools and subways and bridges, or low-income rental housing for the millions of Americans who need it.

These are the things that could have won this election for Democrats. Fox News didn't stop them. Republicans didn't stop them. Democrats stopped themselves. Despite the empty talk of holding Democrats accountable, it's clear now that no such thing was ever possible. The opportunity is passed. Now Republican tea-party know-nothings are in charge of the House of Representatives. Our elected Democrats did this to themselves, and we let them. But mostly, they did it to us.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20101103_bd_dems_threw_it.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EDT

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by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

The great euphemism of the day is “austerity” a word deployed by the rich and their servants, like President Obama, “to distract people from the fact that the country’s so-called ‘economic and deficit crises’ could be easily corrected if the wealthy are appropriately taxed and the military budget cut.” Austerity distinguishes between the rich and powerful from the poor and expendable.

 

The Real Expendables: Austerity Is Community Choking

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Expendables need not be involved and have no place in discussions of the funneling of millions of their public dollars into the hands of private contractors.”

Last week in DC and Baltimore expendable communities fighting similar problems dealt with similar struggles to overcome similar obstacles. Some call it austerity but what is ultimately another global attack on the potential of the poor is simply a choking off of resources that might benefit surplus populations, the expendables. No, not the hyper-action hero movie expendables, this is not about Stallone and company – although Schwarzenegger has at least a cameo in this one too – this is the traditional expendables, the Black, the Brown, the poor. Against what can only be said to be a continued war on youth in DC supporters of the grassroots non-profit Empower DC gathered to discuss and organize methods of response to the private contractors who have more say over the direction – even existence of – public education than do city residents. And in Baltimore supporters of Youth Justice Sunday rallied against a similar preference of those in power to de-fund education and job creation in favor of enriching private contractors who are to build more jails for Black youth.

Saturday Empower DC closed its most recent month-long campaign with an activist gathering and information session. Those in attendance learned more about the on-going struggle with city officials who routinely exclude residents from discussions involving the closing and relocation of schools. Activists and city residents presented videos and testimonies describing the crippling impact on them of the teacher firings and school closings brought on by the presumed out-going Mayor Adrian Fenty and his definitely departing schools chancellor Michelle Rhee – and may the expendable of Newark survive her there. The videos showed concerned parents being kept out of nominally public meetings on these subjects and explaining the many obstacles now faced by poor residents whose neighborhood schools are routinely de-funded, closed and/or relocated. But their testimonies indeed make sense considering that expendables need not be involved and have no place in discussions of the funneling of millions of their public dollars into the hands of private contractors who will build hotels and condos for those who will soon need them and jails for the rest.

Public money is easily found for investment in private ventures to incarcerate the very people who are not deemed worthy of investment.”

In fact, this was one well-made point raised during the Youth Justice Sunday rally in Baltimore. It was noted there that the $100 plus million juvenile detention center whose planned construction will make even richer the friends of current Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley is being planned to house Black children who have not yet been born. And this too makes sense considering every real capitalist knows that risk is largely a myth. Investments are well-planned and designed with great preparation to bring about equally great returns for the “lords of capital.” Public money is easily found for investment in private ventures to incarcerate the very people who are not deemed worthy of investment for education and/or jobs and who are then more likely to fall victim to the imposed illicit trades and over-policing. These surplus or expendable people will then demonstrate their value to the national political economy by filling the cells being prepared for them right now.

But worse still is that all of this stems from what has long-been established as national public policy that is now simply continued by the Democratic party and the Obama administration who are leading the effort to shift the burden of the national economic crisis onto the very people who suffer most from it. The Obama-brand and the pleasant euphemism of austerity are deployed to distract people from the fact that the country’s so-called “economic and deficit crises” could be easily corrected if the wealthy are appropriately taxed and the military budget cut. Instead Obama prefers to set the tone by bailing out the wealthy, increasing the military budget and then attacking unionized labor, attempting to privatize education and cut social services. For the expendables this leaves few electoral options considering the political left in this country has done even less in helping develop and support alternative political movements and parties or even evoking their existence in conversation and/or press coverage.

What this does not preclude, however, is further social movement building whose seeds remain evidenced in these very gatherings themselves.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online check us out at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared A. Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Direct download: 20101103_jb_Austerity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EDT

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Dr. Johanna Fernandez, producer of the new film, Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, tells BAR’s Glen Ford next week’s court hearing is a “critical juncture” in the three decades-long battle.

Direct download: FernandezMumia17mins56secs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In any global battle of the racists, the U.S. and Britain are always top contenders. A new study has some putting odds on merrily racist Old England (and Wales) for the honor of white supremacist society in-chief. “The figures would seem to indicate that Blacks in England and Wales are targeted by police with even more ferocity than their counterparts in New York City.” But the Big Apple takes a back seat to no one, when it comes to bigoted police behavior on the streets.

 

Whose Cops are More Racist, America’s or the Brits'?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Blacks in England and Wales are 26 times more likely to be stopped and frisked on the streets than whites.”

The United States criminal justice system has been called the most racist on the planet. And, by most measures, that’s true. But Blacks in Great Britain are also under siege by police – enough to generate a recent visit to London by Rev. Jesse Jackson. A new study shows that Blacks in England and Wales are 26 times more likely to be stopped and frisked on the streets than whites, a figure that Rev. Jackson said “undermines the moral authority” of the United Kingdom. It would be hard to criticize the analysis for sloppiness; it was conducted by the London School of Economics, in collaboration with the Open Society Justice Initiative.

On the face of it, the figures would seem to indicate that Blacks in England and Wales are targeted by police with even more ferocity than their counterparts in New York City, where a similar stop-and-frisk campaign has scooped up progressively larger numbers of Blacks and Latinos in recent years. In England, Section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act was originally promulgated to deal with rowdy soccer hooligans, most of whom are white, but has in recent years turned into a mechanism to disproportionately stop Blacks on the streets.

New York City’s stop-and-frisk regime has drastically escalated under billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has also dramatically ramped up the pace of gentrification. Strong pressures also exist in England to contain the non-white population.

U.S. cops stop a much higher percentage of the people – about 25 times as many per capita.”

But, are the police in England and Wales really more viciously racist than New York City cops? With Black Brits 26 times more likely to be stopped than whites, while Black New Yorkers are only 9 times more likely, one might conclude that the English cops behave in a more racist manner. But the sheer numbers of stop-and-frisks in New York City may say otherwise. In 2009, only about 150,000 people were stopped on the streets in all of England and Wales, home to 54 million people. New York City has 8 million residents, less than one-sixth the size of England and Wales, but its cops stopped nearly 600,000 people, four times as many, the vast majority of them Black and Latino.

The conclusion: When English cops stop someone on the street, it is more likely to be a Black person than a white – more likely than when New York cops make a stop: 26 to 1 versus 9 to 1. But U.S. cops stop a much higher percentage of the people – about 25 times as many per capita. What that would tend to indicate is, that a Black Brit might think he had it bad in England, but he'd be more likely to get picked out to be stopped and searched on the streets of New York, because of the sheer volume of stops in the Big Apple.

The same applies to prison. The Black-white incarceration ratio is worse in Britain than it is in the United States. But the U.S. imprisons four times as many people per capita as the Brits do and holds a full 3 percent of the Black U.S. population behind bars. For Blacks in Britain, it's only 1 percent. So yes, it's true: the U.S. does have the most racist criminal justice system in the world. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20101027_gf_BlackBritsPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am EDT

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When the White House wanted to get its latest message out to black communities, it didn't call a press conference. Its spokespeople didn't turn to BET or black radio. They called in black bloggers, most of them not even remotely political, and few if any working journalists. What the White House hoped to accomplish was crystal clear --- to use them the manner corrupt and lazy reporters are used, to seduce them with the illusion of “privileged access” in return for the ability to plant anonymous stories and gossip as “news” items.

Black Bloggers Get Played By the White House

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Real journalists would have laughed those anonymous spokesperson and “off the record” requirements right out of the room. Ethical journalists only grant anonymity to sources like whistle blowers with well-founded fears of retaliation..”

In the words of I.F. Stone, one of the 20th century's great investigative journalists, “Governments lie. All governments lie.” Stone's words are as true now as they were when he uttered them more than half a century ago.

When the White House invited black bloggers in for a Columbus Day meeting, they were told they could print anything they heard in the first half of the meeting, but that they could attribute none of it to any White House spokesperson by name, while the second half of their meeting would be completely “off the record.” Fortunately, or perhaps by design, none of the invited bloggers were actually journalists. They hailed mostly from celebrity gossip sites like ConcreteLoop, and Young, Black and Fabulous, from BET and Essence magazine, from BlackSingles.Com.

Real journalists would have laughed those anonymous spokesperson and “off the record” requirements right out of the room. Ethical journalists only grant anonymity to sources like whistle blowers with well-founded fears of retaliation, not to police to mayors or to prosecutors, not to military or civilian government officials. The only reason for representatives of these powerful institutions to speak to reporters, or bloggers “off the record” is to lie to them with the expectation that they will pass untraceable falsehoods on to the public as news, or in the case of Young, Black and Fabulous, celebrity gossip.

Sure enough, cell phone video of the president dropping in to briefly address the bloggers hit the internet the very next day, prompting the Atlantic's token black commentator Ta Nehisi Coates to grouse about colored folks who didn't understand what “off the record” meant, as if being the covert mouthpieces of the powerful were something they really should strive to be.

Black Agenda Report was not invited to the White House briefing, and that's perfectly OK with us. “

One of the invitees was a friend and colleague of ours, Ms. Leutisha Stills, now at JackAndJillPolitics.Com. Observing that the White House hadn't called black bloggers in since the 2008 presidential campaign, she opined that the bloggers were being, as she put it, “pimped.” We think Ms. Stills was correct, but for the wrong reasons. To be “pimped” is to be manipulated for some underhanded and shameful purpose. Whether bloggers, or journalists are shamefully used once every couple years, or three times every week is a difference only in the frequency of the act, not in the roles of the players or of the played.

Thus when Keli Goff, a Huffington Post and theLoop21.com blogger, called the White House briefing “a good first date,” she was publicly signaling her willingness to be used any way, any time by the powerful. There's a word for people who play that role, and that word is not “journalist.”

In his long career, the great investigative reporter I.F. Stone broke scores of original stories about war, peace and corruption. He never asked for, and he never got the privileged and “off the record” access to the powerful, which Ta Nehisi Coates imagines black reporters should aspire to, the private interviews with mayors, admirals and presidents, who would have been much too afraid of his direct and probing questions anyway. Stone got his stories the old fashioned way, with diligent research.

Black Agenda Report was not invited to the White House briefing, and that's perfectly OK with us. We understand that reporters and bloggers too, who subsist on privileged access to the powerful in return for passing their anonymous tidbits to the public as news, that such people are being pimped. Which makes them.... well.... you know....

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web every Wednesday at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA.. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20101026_bd_blackbloggers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46am EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

The U.S. government’s COINTELPRO assault on Black and radical political activists wasn’t just a Sixties episode: it was part of the continuity of oppression stretching from the European invasion of the Americas and the slave trade to this very day. American regimes are prepared to deploy COINTELPRO-like repression whenever popular movements threaten the established order. “Assassination, imprisonment, surveillance and encouraged internal strife [are] employed to forcibly dissolve these movements.”

COINTELPRO 101

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

It is an introduction to the often omitted history of the FBI’s illegal wars of terror waged against the full spectrum of radical Left movements in this country.”

COINTELPRO 101, the latest film release from The Freedom Archives, is nothing like the all-too-common soft, liberal documentary which tells of worse and distant horrors so as to lessen the pain or awareness of those still occurring. It is not a film that imposes a happy ending by suggesting that its subject is somehow past. It is a film that makes plain the fact that all of your problems of today, from war, to incarceration, to banking crises, joblessness and environmental catastrophe, still exist because movements to do away with them suffered and continue to suffer the greatest levels of repression from the most powerful state apparatus in world history. And worse still, as Black Panther Party veteran Kathleen Cleaver states unequivocally, unlike the official Counter Intelligence Program of previous decades, today’s version is perfectly legal.

COINTELPRO 101 is just that. It is an introduction to the often omitted history of the FBI’s illegal wars of terror waged against the full spectrum of radical Left movements in this country. The Counter Intelligence Program which emerged in the post-WWII era of international struggles for human rights and national liberation simply focused internally to the United States all that had been carried out against populations abroad. It turned so-called U.S. citizens in the 20thcentury into insurgent rebels to be dealt with as any foreign army or movement. Assassination, imprisonment, surveillance and encouraged internal strife were employed to forcibly dissolve these movements. But, as this film so skillfully demonstrates, this all was merely an extension of a continuing state project of enslavement, genocide, theft of land, culture and humanity that pre-dates even the official declaration of U.S. nationhood.

The film’s brilliance is not simply its nicely-styled aesthetic elements. They are there of course. Strong interviews, rarely seen clips, high quality audio and video production across the board with equally strong narration from Liz Derias. But it is the film’s ability to force new confrontation with the political reality of today, as much as with the past, that truly demonstrates its value. The simple point made by Geronimo Pratt is also its strongest; that COINTELPRO made official the illegality of politics, the “criminalization of positions” represented by its targets. COINTELPRO was the political and legal descendant of its ancestors, slavery and genocide, and is now itself an ancestor to the still-implemented policies of, for instance, the Patriot Act. This central theme of the film is its most important because it forces us to put in context the current and horrific state of peace, freedom and labor movements.

It turned so-called U.S. citizens in the 20th century into insurgent rebels to be dealt with as any foreign army or movement.”

As CONTELPRO 101 makes vividly clear, “the Black misleadership class” described so often in the pages of Black Agenda Report is the result of having first destroyed the rightfully ascending Black leadership class of that time. This film helps re-establish lost cognition imposed by popular anti-histories which allow for so many to falsely assume that Obama is a natural progression from Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The film inserts stolen pages of history that result in an assumption that Native America went willingly to the reservations and then happily stayed there having never having attempted movements to protect whatever remaining autonomy they might have had. No one who sees this film can return to conventional and now popularly re-emerging arguments over immigration or human “illegality.” In fact,COINTELPRO 101 goes further than most histories of this phenomenon in reminding us of the threats posed by the Puerto Rican and Chicano independence movements. One can only imagine with a kind of hope what these discussions would sound like were they to take place in this film’s context of state repression and specifically the killing of Chicano movement activists like Ricardo Falcon. Indeed, would these arguments even exist without first the assault on these movements and their representatives?

CONTELPRO 101 is the latest in an increasingly long line of collected, preserved and produced media from The Freedom Archives which seeks to appropriately tell the stories of diverse but unified efforts toward liberation. It powerfully summarizes the continued need of those in power to suppress and, in their own words, “neutralize” movements and individuals so that more acceptable replacements can be developed and promoted. For if, as the film asserts, the continued imprisonment of people like American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier is a “symbol” to, through discouragement, protect the state from further similar activity, then what do popular, sanctioned, elected leaders of today represent?

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101027_jb_CointelproFilm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42am EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Just as much of the southern "civil rights" movement collapsed after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Black progressive politics all but evaporated with the election of Barack Obama. Now, as Democrats face disaster in midterm elections, the insane idea circulates that Obama has "only failed in delivering our utopia because he has been hampered by Republicans," conveniently forgetting Obama's own services to the corporate agenda.
 
And We Are Still Not Yet Saved
by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball
"The president has surrounded himself with so many reactionaries and centrists that it can hardly still be said to be a fight between him and someone else."
"In 2008 we changed the guard.  This year we must guard the change."  This, the Democratic Party-sponsored "call-to-arms" by civil rights veteran Reverend Joseph Lowery, is supposed to encourage young Black people back to the polls next month.  To protect the sanctity of that fight for the vote young people must blah, blah, blah.  This is part of the DNC's $3 million scramble for Black votes which includes these kinds of public service announcements, and outreach to Black bloggers, and is also what continues to highlight several severe problems for Black people.  The ideas that Obama is a changing of the guard or that the struggle for the right to vote was simply a struggle for the right to vote or that new media technology represent some revolutionary change in the way we disseminate information around which we then organize are all simply absurd.
The message taken from Reverend Lowery is one echoed a lot recently by defenders of the president.  It is an idea that he has only failed in delivering our utopia because he has been hampered by Republicans.  Given a complete pass are the conservative Democrats and the president himself who has surrounded himself with so many reactionaries and centrists that it can hardly still be said to be a fight between him and someone else.  How someone who demonstrates the kind of continuity of governance as has Obama is still called a "changing of the guard" is testimony to the power of propaganda.  But the other attendant myths are equally powerful and have a longer track record.  The myth of the vote itself being the sole or primary focus of the civil rights movement denies the subsequent struggles of Black Liberation, for which too many remain imprisoned by the way, as well as, the broader human rights movement signified by the kinds of grassroots movement histories so often omitted from the popular record.
"Black bloggers are being hired, bribed, or cajoled into cheerleading for a president rather than adequately informing their audiences."
For one instance is the work of Debbie Louis, And We Are Not Yet Saved: A History of the Movement as People, in which she recounts the absolute disillusionment among actual grassroots laborers within the Civil Rights Movement that accompanied the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.  For them the issue was never the vote in and of itself.  The vote was a means to an end we have subsequently been conditioned to ignore.  Louis describes the issue of voting as "unquestioningly righteous" and, therefore, easy to support.  But issues of genuine equality, abolition of poverty and White terrorism had become "too confusing and disturbing to follow."  For "most northern supporters" she writes, "the Voting Rights Act represented a welcomed solution to their dilemma."  Below the Mason-Dixon line, which Malcolm X still remains correct in calling the Canadian border, Louis explains that "With the Voting Rights Act, the southern movement dissolved."  As the movement dissolved in its place arose the myth that the struggle was for the right to vote as opposed to striving for the vote as a means to achieve power.  Instead, victories were claimed, funding dried up, people went home and little changed.  Vietnam became the focus, poverty and White terror remained largely unchecked.
And as for this nonsense about new media technology and the positive value of social media, we need to ask what good are more media if they too are forcibly cowed to elite financing?  Lowery's PSA is running as part of a $3 million funding blitz to Black media.  To my knowledge Black Agenda Report has received none of this and has not been invited to White House blogging summits for Black "journalists."  No, that is reserved for our political opposites some of whom have as their masthead that they are the voice of the "black bourgeoisie."  So just as was the case with the Civil Rights Movement, we of the Black Left have to ask, for whom is all this done?  In 2008 Obama's campaign ignored the Black press and denied it millions in ad revenue.  In 2010 Black bloggers are being targeted with the same old stale and empty rhetoric of voting for change and protecting the change we've achieved.  They are being hired, bribed, or cajoled into cheerleading for a president rather than adequately informing their audiences.  They once did it entirely for free and now are being offered crumbs to do the same.  How can it then be said that new media advance our ability to understand our reality and then organize it out of existence?
And yet, we are still not saved.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20101020_jb_Obama2010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One should not overstretch the similarities between Black South Africa and Black America. But both communities have been in denial about their nominal leaders. "After all these years of believing that labor - Black labor - was on the inside of power in South Africa, the unionists of COSATU are forced to a different realization." The same realization looms for African Americans.
 
In Some Ways, ANC's South Africa Like Obama's USA
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"All we have done is to change the skin color of the driver."
In the words of Zwelinzima Vavi, the president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, "All we have done is to change the skin color of the driver, but in terms of economic policy the direction remains the same as the one the apartheid regime was traveling, which was inspired by Margaret Thatcher." Thatcher was, of course, the right-wing British Prime Minister who had a political love affair with U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Their policies, with minor alternations, remain in place in the United States and Britain, today.  And, according to union leader Zwelinzima Vavi, the same is true in South Africa, despite 16 years of nominal Black rule.
On the face of it, COSATU is in a much better position to influence South African government policy than unions in the United States. The struggle to overthrow apartheid was led by a triumvirate of the ANC - the African National Congress - COSATU and the South African Communist Party. With the Left comprising two legs of the stool, and the ruling ANC Party enjoying overwhelming majorities, one would think that the Left would be in an unchallenged position to transform South African society. Yet, again quoting trade union leader Vavi, "This road we have travelled has not only reproduced but deepened inequalities and unemployment.... Various measures indicate that income inequality has widened."
In the United States, income inequalities have been widening for the past 30 years. Republicans have held national power for 20 of those 30 years, but unions exercised virtually no strategic influence in the eight years of Democrat Bill Clinton's reign, when corporate free trade became law and Wall Street was liberated from the rule of law through deregulation. President Obama did not lift a finger for labor's number one priority: a bill that would have made it easier to replenish depleted union ranks. Instead, he bailed out Wall Street to the tune of $12 to 14 trillion.
"Real power in supposedly Black-ruled South Africa is rooted in the 'discredited Washington consensus.'"
Similarly, in South Africa, the Black government this summer deployed its full powers to blunt a nationwide strike of public sector workers struggling against growing inequalities. After all these years of believing that labor - Black labor - was on the inside of power in South Africa, the unionists of COSATU are forced to a different realization. The real power in supposedly Black-ruled South Africa is rooted in what Mr. Vavi calls the "discredited Washington consensus that is based on the supremacy of the markets and the limited role of the state" - the same equation of power that exists under Barack Obama's regime.
Of course, South Africa's Black government was chosen by a huge Black majority of the electorate, while the government in Washington merely has a Black chief executive elected mainly by white voters. But the connecting link is the longtime refusal among Blacks, in the face of the evidence, to admit that the Black person or persons in charge are not on their side. It has taken some very smart, sophisticated people in South Africa 16 years to figure that out. It will take a little longer than two years for Black folks to get wise to Barack Obama. But time is ticking on both sides of the Atlantic.
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: 20101020_gf_SAlikeUSA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
It is a false love of Black people that compels so many African Americans to forgive Black notables of the crimes they commit against Black people. In terms of the national security state and drug enforcement, Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department is in many ways identical to its Republican predecessor. Yet, too many Black misleaders "want only to bask in the glow of the first Black Attorney General."
Racial Narcissism Vs. Love of Black People and Justice
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The Newburgh travesty of justice is near-identical to the Bush administration's successful prosecution of poor, harmless Black men in Miami, Florida - only the complexion of the Attorney General is different."
When a people are presented with new opportunities to make a choice - a choice they were never before permitted - there is the natural tendency to celebrate the new opportunity, while giving little thought and analysis to the actual substance of the choice at hand. Certainly, we have observed this phenomenon in the history of Black people in the United States. Having had so few choices in a racist society, we have reveled in those opportunities that came our way, sometimes to the detriment of serious contemplation of the consequences of those choices.
This axiom applies to individuals as well as groups. During World War One, the great scholar and leading figure in the recently formed NAACP, W.E.B. Dubois, was offered an officer's commission in U.S. military intelligence. The job was essentially to spy on other African Americans who might be collaborating with socialists or others to impede President Woodrow Wilson's national mobilization for war. Dubois decided to accept the commission, as did other Black notables of the day, arguing only about whether he would be a captain or a major.  The military later withdrew the intelligence job offer to Dubois, deciding that he was also politically suspect, but that was their decision. Dubois' overriding consideration in accepting the commission was that it was a new opportunity for the Negro, and such opportunities should not be passed up.
As it soon transpired, this World War One domestic spying apparatus became the direct precursor to the establishment of a national secret police network that would lead to generations of FBI assaults on civil liberties, the infamous COINTELPRO program and a wave of assassinations of Black leaders.
"Yet Black misleaders want only to bask in the glow of the first Black Attorney General."
Nearly 100 years later, the keynote speech at a reunion of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, was delivered by Eric Holder, the first Black Attorney General of the United States. It did not matter to the aging SNCC activists that Holder's Justice Department continues to build on the national security state that went into hyperdrive under George Bush. The SNCC veterans, at their North Carolina reunion earlier this year, were undeterred by Holder's Justice Department's campaign of entrapment against poor, Black Muslim men in Newburgh, New York, who posed no threat whatsoever to the security of the United States, but who now face life in prison for a terror plot conceived from beginning to end by a paid FBI operative. The Newburgh travesty of justice is near-identical to the Bush administration's successful prosecution of poor, harmless Black men in Miami, Florida - only the complexion of the Attorney General is different. Eric Holder's Justice Department has devised new and more dangerous ways of using grand juries to target peace activists.  And Holder promises to continue federal marijuana prosecutions in California, even if voters in that state decide to decriminalize pot next month. This, despite the huge role that drug arrest disparities play in the mass incarceration crisis that is destroying Black society. Yet Black misleaders want only to bask in the glow of the first Black Attorney General. For them, the impact of law enforcement on the quality of justice is less important than the opportunity to see a Black face in a previously all-white place. What we are seeing in this skin worship, is a shallow racial narcissism, rather than a genuine love for Black people.
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: 20101020_gf_HolderJustice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11pm EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

America’s top hit man in Africa, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, is calling for a much larger air, sea and land war in Somalia – with Museveni’s forces on point. The saber-rattling follows on the heels of Uganda’s and Rwanda’s threats to withdraw from UN “peacekeeping” missions, such as in Somalia. What’s up?

 

Uganda, America’s Pit Bull, Wants to Lead a Larger War in Somalia

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Uganda also volunteers to head up a coalition of African nations for a renewed military campaign to save the U.S.-backed puppet regime.”

Uganda, long a military client of the United States, proposes that a no-fly zone be imposed on Somalia and that the nation’s ports be blockaded by aircraft carriers in order to starve out the Islamic Shabaab resistance. Uganda also volunteers to head up a coalition of African nations for a renewed military campaign to save the U.S.-backed puppet regime, which controls only a few neighborhoods of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. All of this would, of course, be paid for by what Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni calls “the international community” – meaning, the United States and Europe.

Museveni’s troops, along with soldiers from Burundi, another central African nation in Washington’s orbit, are all that keep the puppet Somali regime barely alive. It is commonly accepted that, if the Ugandans left, the puppet government would collapse in a matter of hours. The Shabaab resistance, it goes without saying, has no air force, and is not supplied by air from any outside source, so it is difficult to imagine whose planes President Museveni wants to keep out of the skies. His calls for a blockade by sea are also problematical. An informal international armada, including China, already operates off the Somali coast to curb piracy against cargo vessels. The U.S. Indian Ocean fleet is always nearby. But Somalia’s pirates have not been allied with the Shabaab – at least not until quite recently – and the Americans had hoped to keep it that way. If the U.S. wanted to shut down every port on Somalia’s coast, it could easily bomb them out of existence. To do so, however, would turn every Somali irrevocably against the Americans. The possibilities of maintaining a viable puppet regime would evaporate, forever, requiring endless military occupation in the face of guerilla resistance.

The Ugandans and Rwandans are angry at the United States for failing to suppress a recent United Nations report on mass murders in Congo.”

It is also widely acknowledged that the Shabaab resistance eats what the Somali population eats, so starving them out would be an act of genocide – not that the United States has not considered such a solution. And the Shabaab appear to get all the weapons and ammunition they need from constant defections and weapons sales from the American-financed puppets in Mogadishu.

Museveni is already scheduled to get thousands of reinforcements and money for his troops in Somalia, paid for by the Americans and Europeans. There is plenty of military business for Uganda, which acts as a hit man and enforcer for neocolonialism in Africa.

So what is Uganda's Museveni up to, with his saber-rattling?

Uganda was implicated, along with Rwanda, another American client, in the massacre of Hutus during the two countries' invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo – massacres that could lead to genocide charges. The Ugandans and Rwandans are angry at the United States for failing to suppress a recent United Nations report on the killings, as Washington had suppressed previous reports of mass murders in Congo. Both Uganda and Rwanda had threatened to withdraw their troops from so-called UN peacekeeping missions – such as in Somalia – but the UN called their bluff. Museveni is making big war talk in Somalia to call attention to his ongoing service to U.S. policy in Africa. He is telling the top gangsters in Washington that the hit man still has value; that the hired killer deserves his proper respect.

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: 20101013_gf_UgandaSomalia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33pm EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Waiting for Superman” is pure propaganda for the hedge funders that seek to “create a private market in for-profit educational services that can be traded on the stock market and bet on derivatives.” Obama has deployed his presidential bully pulpit as a booster for this “bait-and-switch” scam of a film, and for the underlying privatizing project.

 

Obama and the “Superman” School Predators

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“’Waiting for Superman’ is a profoundly predatory film, in character with the predatory finance capitalists that are its biggest boosters.”

The corporate media, right-wing billionaires like the Wal-Mart family, Bill Gates and President Obama, are all in the same business. They are trying to create a private market in for-profit educational services that can be traded on the stock market and bet on derivatives but whose costs will be borne by the public. They project this public educational market to be potentially worth trillions of dollars – at virtually no risk to finance capital. That’s why the hedge funds are now so deep into charter schools. But, to transform the public schools into a privately-exploitable market requires great volumes of skillful propaganda, to convince the public that Wall Street and hedge funds will “save” public education.

The movie “Waiting for Superman” is the latest, and slickest, of this corporate propaganda. It is a profoundly predatory film, in character with the predatory finance capitalists that are its biggest boosters. The film shamelessly exploits five Washington, DC school kids and their desperate parents, seeking to win a lottery placement in a charter school exemplified by a 24-hour public charter boarding facility called The Seed School, where student life is “centered around dorms…named for a college or university,” each housing 12 to 15 kids. There are only 15 students for each teacher. On its face, this truly does seem to be a public educational wonderland. But, as mass propaganda for urban charter schools, it is the most cruel and evil bait-and-switch imaginable.

This film callously dangles a 24-hour prep school as a real and palpable possibility for the millions of educationally underserved in the inner cities.”

The nation’s public schools are in the deepest crisis in memory. It is a money crisis, which has led to the most draconian educational cutbacks in modern times. Teachers have been fired by the tens of thousands, curriculum scaled back to the bone all across the country – yet this film callously dangles a 24-hour prep school as a real and palpable possibility for the millions of educationally underserved in the inner cities. A live-in prep school is supposed to stand in for charter schools as a whole, despite the fact that more charter schools perform worse than their traditional public school counterparts than those that test better, nationwide.

Waiting for Superman” is a scam and a sham, that has been catapulted into the national political conversation by a $2 million marketing grant from the Emperor, himself, Bill Gates. In the most perverse sense, it is appropriate that Washington, DC’s Seed School is featured, since Gates and the hedge fund billionaire parasites consider their cash contributions to charter schools as “seed money” from which will grow a hybrid, publicly-funded school system where profiteers will flourish. In the last decade, these finance capitalists have enlisted a cadre of Democratic politicians to wage war against teachers and against the very idea of public education, exploiting the historical grievances of Black parents, especially. Barack Obama is the highest expression of the success of this privatizing project, so it is no surprise that he endorsed “Waiting for Superman” as only a president could, hosting the film and the five kids at the White House. But do not be fooled. The film performs the same function for the corporatizing of American education as the movie “Exodus” did for the founding of Israel. This ain't “Roots.” Rather, it sets the stage for the uprooting and destruction of public education. 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: 20101013_gf_ObamaSuperman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43pm EDT

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by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Just because millions of people can interact at the speed of light, does not mean they are going anywhere. Indeed, by providing the illusion of common action, social media tend to suppress the kind of methodical organizing necessary to sustain a real “movement.” And, who owns the new media, anyway? The super-rich. Social media are “perfect for illusion-development and propaganda dissemination but horrible for the oppressed engaged in political struggle.”

 

The Evangelists of Social Media

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

All this persistent chatter about new media technology improving the world – and improving even radical political organization – is little more than a de facto public relations campaign.”

The “evangelists of social media,” according to Malcolm Gladwell, want us to believe that the revolution we all want has simply been awaiting Twitter or Facebook accounts. And having now achieved them by the hundreds of thousands these evangelists would have us believe that success – political, economic or social – is inevitable. But all this persistent chatter about new media technology improving the world – and improving even radical political organization – is little more than a de facto public relations campaign. Somehow that which happens to increase the ability of the “superclass” to enrich itself and promote its interests can also, coincidentally, make possible the revolution that will overthrow them. Its pure propaganda, the effect of which is to help reduce our capacity to develop radical political movements.

There would seem, also coincidentally, more than a passing connection between the deplorable state of radical politics in this country and this rising mythology of “social media” leading us to a new organizational promised land. More than a few speakers and participants at the recent One Nation rally congratulated Facebook and Twitter users for helping to mobilize more people faster than at any other time in history. This is actually a popular theme among activists at most of their gatherings these days. But worse still was that these voices included NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Jealous. The statement was made as if this storied organization, whatever we may think of it, had never before been able to organize its members. As if the problem the NAACP has faced all these years was an inability to move so many so quickly. This praises speed at the expense of careful education and reasoning. Or was the NAACP’s involvement merely a hired response to an even more compromised labor movement?

The internet gives us weakly-tied lose bonds of “networks” which create mobs of uninformed, untrained, ill-prepared sheep.”

Remember, Rosa Parks did not sit down that day as some random act of a tired worker. She did so because she had been trained to do so since she joined the NAACP in 1932. We discredit our struggle by dismissing acts of courage as simple accidents as opposed to the results of careful planning and strategy. The original March on Washington had at least as many participants as this One Nation silliness. The Million Man March, also in the pre-internet era, had 10 times more. Shoot, African people in this country have been fighting so long to develop powerful and threatening alternative methods of communication that as far back as 1775 John Adams, fearing the impending rebellions that came with reasoned, planned and strategic communication noted that “The Negroes have a wonderful art of communicating intelligence among themselves.”

The speed of the internet is more than mitigated by the absence of thoughtfulness, intimate strategy and reasoned planning that most often accompanies it. If anything, we should consider this the intent of military technology imposed on us with the sleekest of public relations techniques. While it may at times make our lives easier it can also quickly give us any number of branded phenomena from tennis shoes to presidents, from movies to social movements. This in part is Gladwell’s point. The lunch counter takeovers that launched the modern civil rights movement occurred at the tail end of planning, strategy, training and all with a “military precision” from what he calls the “strong-tie” intimacy of ordered, hierarchical organization. On the other hand, the internet gives us weakly-tied lose bonds of “networks” which create mobs of uninformed, untrained, ill-prepared sheep perfect for illusion-development and propaganda dissemination but horrible for the oppressed engaged in political struggle.

Our use of the internet should be only to promote support for locally-based community media, from community, low-power and mixtape radio ventures to intimate in-person grassroots political organization. Gladwell was indeed correct, “the revolution won’t be tweeted” and neither will it be cheap, easy or come at the speed of a clicking mouse.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached at freemixradio@gmail.com.

 

Direct download: 20101013_jb_socialmedia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:07pm EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The "One Nation" pep rally for Democrats wrapped itself in "movement" images and language, yet never spoke a word of Truth to Power. "Only by pretending that the Tea Party's legions are equivalent to the second coming of Genghis Khan, can Big Labor and Black Obamites justify their abject failure to fight for anything meaningful from Obama and the Democrats."

Ignominious Surrender on the Mall

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The weekend bus outing bore no resemblance to a 'movement' of any kind that Chicago's Mayor Daley would not approve."

The Black misleadership class and their labor counterparts held a ceremony of surrender to the War Party and Wall Street, on the Washington Mall, this past weekend. After spending millions to assemble a multitude, Big Labor, the NAACP and the usual Black entertainers - Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - could not fix their trembling lips to utter one demand to the Power in the White House, whose disfavor they fear even more than they dread the white nationalist hordes of the Tea Party.

Despite the constant references to Dr. Martin Luther King and the 1963 March on Washington, the weekend bus outing bore no resemblance to a "movement" of any kind that Chicago's Mayor Daley would not approve. Rather than building a popular platform to give voice to substantive demands - that Obama cease acting as Wall Street's philanthropist, call a halt to his wars, and spend the peace dividend on jobs and education - the weak and timid misleaders instead used October 2nd to transmit Power's demands to the people. Vote for the Democrats! And under no circumstances, embarrass the White House! Then, after November 2, go home and await further orders.

The Black and labor misleaders have found that the best way to hide their own cowardice in the face of corporate power and its servants in the White House and Congress, is to vastly inflate the threat posed by the Tea Party. Indeed, the Tea Party has never had bigger boosters than the men and women on the microphone at the Mall on Saturday.  Only by pretending that the Tea Party's legions are equivalent to the second coming of Genghis Khan, can Big Labor and Black Obamites justify their abject failure to fight for anything meaningful from Obama and the Democrats.

"Big Labor, the NAACP and the usual Black entertainers - Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - could not fix their trembling lips to utter one demand to the Power in the White House."

The truth is, a real people's movement could defeat the phony Tea Party "movement" and put fear in the hearts of corporate Democrats, too. But Saturday's charade was no threat to anyone, and all but guarantees a further strengthening of the Right through a bolder Tea Party and ever growing corporate domination of the Democratic Party.

With all its ostentatious, nervous patriotism and silly yammering about how Saturday's crowd was just as "American," if not more so, than the Tea Party, the "One Nation" event felt, in some ways, like a throwback to the days when Negroes were obsessed with proving to whites that they were also true blue for Uncle Sam. Ironically, one of the oldest speakers provided the only dignity to the occasion. Eighty-three year-old Harry Belafonte, alone among the main speakers, confronted President Obama directly on his wars. The famed entertainer, who spent freely of his own money to fund the Black Freedom Movement when it really was a movement, hoped that America "will soon come to the realization that the wars that we wage today in faraway lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable."

That's as close to speaking Truth to Power as Saturday's event got - except for those of us Lefties who went down to show that the movement was not yet dead. Unfortunately, our impact was minimal amid a sea of bodies bussed in with no mission other than to serve Barack Obama. 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: 20101006_gf_ObamaRally.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:04am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Black Is Back Coalition's second march on the White House, November 13, signals that "a critical mass of activists and organizers are determined to push on to freedom, by any and all means necessary, no matter what the color of the war monger and corporate front man in the White House."

 Black Is Back: Let's March on White House Again, Nov. 13

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"On November 13, the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will once again rally in Washington, DC and march to the White House, just as we did in our hundreds in our first march in November of last year."

As the Black misleadership class sinks deeper into servility to a president wholly beholden to Wall Street and the Pentagon, it becomes ever more imperative to send a message to our own people and to the wider world: Barack Obama does not have all Black folks fooled. There still exist principled African American organizations and individuals that every day struggle against the forces of war and oppression. On November 13, the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will once again rally in Washington, DC and march to the White House, just as we did in our hundreds in our first march in November of last year. Back then, Black Is Back was only a few weeks old, but we proved that ObamaL'aide has not knocked the fight out of the real Black Left; that a critical mass of activists and organizers are determined to push on to freedom, by any and all means necessary, no matter what the color of the war monger and corporate front man in the White House.

In the year since the Black is Back Coalition appeared on the scene, Barack Obama has escalated his theater of war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, widened the war in Yemen, and stepped up the slaughter of innocents in Somalia. He has deepened the U.S. Africa Command - AFRICOM's - penetration of the continent and militarization of African society. Obama followed up his coup against a democratically elected government in Honduras with last week's attempted coup in Ecuador, as he tries to roll back Latin America's drive to free itself from U.S. imperial domination.

"ObamaL'aide has not knocked the fight out of the real Black Left."

President Obama now proclaims he has the authority to mark anyone on the planet for assassination, including American citizens, and that he owes no one an explanation why - not the courts, not the Congress, not the people, not the victim. Obama has instructed his Justice Department to launch a 21st century kind of COINTELPRO assault on the anti-war movement, through FBI raids and abuse of the grand jury system. We a Black Is Back understand that whenever the State sets out to crush dissent, it is inevitably Black folks that will bear the brunt of repression. Yet, the presence of a Black man in the White House threatens to obscure the Nazi-like nature of the government's increasing attacks on constitutional, civil and human rights.

Obama's alliances with Wall Street have resulted in the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the mankind, while his policies have led to the largest Black loss of wealth in the entire experience of Africans on the North American continent. African Americans make up one out of eight prisoners on the planet Earth, and that's just fine with the first Black U.S. president.

The Black is Back Coalition understands that he who is struck must be the first to cry out, that no one can be expected to speak up for us, but us. We also realize that the very existence of Black Is Back makes it less difficult for non-Black progressives to stand up to this president.

So stand up with the Black Is Back Coalition, on November 13, when we rally at Malcolm X Park and march on the White House. Go to the Black Is Back web site, for more information. That's www.blackisbackcoalition.org. On November 13, Black Is Back! 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: 20101006_gf_BiBMarch.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:54am EDT

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by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

The political exercise at the Washington Mall on October 2 “held out no real challenge to power” and was, therefore, of no use to the powerless. “What is being heralded as a largely successful mobilization of a young, energetic, diverse movement led by unionized labor and civil rights organizations was really a carefully manicured slap in the face of those traditions of struggle.”

 

No Groove, Just One Nation Under a Grip

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

This grip of the Democrats is no soft hold. It is a death grip.”

A rally for jobs, justice and education that occurs only two years after the election of a president and party who apparently cannot deliver either and which blames not the party in power for those two years but only the fringe elements of the out-of-power right wing, is a rally that even with a George Clinton performance is One Nation under no groove only a grip. And this grip of the Democrats is no soft hold. It is a death grip. It is a strangle hold designed to squeeze the life out of progressive elements within their own party and throughout the rest of the country – indeed the world. In what is being heralded as a largely successful mobilization of a young, energetic, diverse movement led by unionized labor and civil rights organizations was really a carefully manicured slap in the face of those traditions of struggle. Rather than the traditions of each, which include bold, strong irreverent organized acts of disobedience today’s versions are safely cajoled spokespersons of the liberal element of the ruling elite.

For those who have been coming to Washington, DC for decades to attend these kinds of rallies there was absolutely nothing new. First and foremost is that it was yet another march in DC that had nothing to do with the immediate concerns of most of the residents of DC. Secondly, there were the same tributes to organized religion, pledges of allegiance to the United States and a choir-styled national anthem meant to convey a fraudulent grassroots image and inclusion of the Black working class. But mostly it was the same in that it held out no real challenge to power, no threat of a push against liberalism or conservative Democratery. There were the regular co-opted calls of “power to the people,” quotes referencing A. Phillip Randolph’s that enemies of health care, education and jobs are “enemies of the Negro,” comparisons made between the Tea Party and the old Dixiecrats and even an extended reading by several young people of Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech. But there was only scant reference of King’s own disillusion with his dream or the fact that the Dixiecrats of old are the Democrats of today and that these are still the “enemies of the Negro.”

A banker’s party is a banker’s party no matter the color or gender of the candidate.”

But worst of all was the consistent and clear message that the problems we face today are the result of “40 senators” and a rabid right-wing of the country whose persistent responses of “no” have held back our innocent, even heroic, current president. The calls for jobs, peace, health care and education were simply hollow given that the president all of these people elected has done nothing to advance any of these issues in ways that did not more so advance the interests of the very entities who benefit by the currently horrible conditions of each. The proud traditions of labor and human rights struggles in this country and around the world are disrespected by a leadership that simply says to vote for the Democrat who will beautify our oppression rather than end it. The argument coming loud and clear from the podium Saturday was simply that if you don’t again vote for the Democrats and Obama then there was no point in having voted for them in the first place. There was no point then and there is no point now. A banker’s party is a banker’s party no matter the color or gender of the candidate.

There was one white man I heard this weekend who seems to have not completely lost his mind. David Swanson of the Progressive Democrats of America actually called for us to devalue the role of elections and the presidency itself by massive, even disruptive civil disobedience and grassroots organization. He is absolutely correct. Calls that we vote specifically because of the lives given toward achieving that right usually miss the point of what those fighting for the vote actually wanted that exercise to deliver. Marches that only belatedly call for the elected to deliver that which their benefactors have assured they cannot are simply foolishness. New directions with newly-developed methods of popular and public challenges are needed.

For in the end Dick Gregory was right. By consistently voting for the lesser of evil and by never seeking the truth about the assassinations of people we march in honor of we follow the path that leads us to Nazis.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Visit us online at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

 

Direct download: 20101005_jb_onenation.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:47am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What media call "philanthropy" for the public schools are actually seed monies to establish a private "market" in publicly-financed education - an enterprise worth trillions if successfully penetrated by corporate America. Cory Booker, one of the "New Black Leaders" financed by the filthy rich, is key to creating a "nationwide corporate-managed schools network paid for by public funds but run by private managers."

Cory Booker: A Clear and Present Threat to Public Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Booker remains determined to make Newark the national showcase city for corporate education."

Eight years ago, when Cory Booker made his first bid for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, I exposed him in the pages of The Black Commentator as a product of the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation and its network of right-wing think tanks. Back in 2002, Booker was a one-term Newark City Councilman and advocate of publicly-funded vouchers for private schools. Millions of dollars in contributions from his many friends on the Right allowed Booker to vastly outspend the incumbent mayor - but he still lost. I like to take a little credit for Booker's defeat, the first time around, for having warned Newark voters that Booker was a Trojan Horse for corporate right-wingers who were determined to privatize the public schools.

Booker won his second attempt to capture Newark City Hall, in 2006, and former Mayor Sharpe James went to prison for corruption. There wasn't too much Mayor Booker could do to privatize Newark's schools, since they've been under the control of the State of New Jersey since 1995. Then, last year, Booker got very lucky. New Jersey elected Chris Christie, a fiercely reactionary Republican, as Governor. Cory Booker - still the same Trojan Horse for the rich right-wingers that have funded his career - had found a political partner in his mission to turn over the public schools to corporations. Booker was already tight with the Black right-wing billionaire, Oprah Winfrey. It was on Oprah's show that fellow billionaire Mark Zukerberg, the FaceBook owner, announced a $100 million gift to Newark schools, to be administered jointly by Booker and the Republican Governor.

"Booker is still the same Trojan Horse for rich right-wingers that have funded his career."

Booker has since gotten commitments for another $40 million from Microsoft's Bill Gates, a New York hedge fund manager, and an educational investment corporation. Cory Booker is rolling in the dough and poised to make his right-wing dreams come true.

Just as I warned, back in 2002, Booker remains determined to make Newark the national showcase city for corporate education - only now, he's got the cash. And he is now part of a full-blown network of capitalists whose mission is to turn American education into a market, for power and profit. The billionaires are circling public education like birds of prey, seeking to transform charter schools into an interlocking, national, for-profit business, worth trillions of dollars. That's what the hedge funds are after, and that is the mission of Booker money-bag John Doerr and his California-based New Schools Venture Fund, whose goal is to "build an entirely new sector of public education" through private investment. They want nothing less than to create a nationwide corporate-managed schools network paid for by public funds but run by private managers.

Cory Booker and Newark are central to this project, as was Washington, DC, where the viciously anti-union schools chief, Michelle Rhee, will soon be fired after the recent defeat of her Cory Booker-like boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty. The Wal-Mart family and other super-rich right-wingers attempted to take over the DC system through millions in contributions with political strings attached. Oprah Winfrey is using her television platform to boost Michelle Rhee for superintendent of Newark schools. Rhee also has the backing of the Obama administration, through Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Booker, Fenty and Obama. Corporate Trojan Horses, all of them, and deadly enemies of public education.

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: 20100929_gf_CoryBooker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame is threatening to withdraw his forces from United Nations peacekeeping operations if a UN report persists in blaming his army for massacres of Rwandan and Congolese Hutus. "The regime's defense is that it 'saved' millions from death in Rwanda, and then crossed into Congo to 'save' millions of Hutus there, too - presumably, from other Hutus.

Rwanda Scrambles to Deny UN Report on Congo Massacres

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Rwandan Tutsi rebels, attacking from Uganda, initiated the slaughter in Rwanda that left hundreds of thousands dead, and then invaded the neighboring Congo to exploit its mineral resources."

On October 1st the United Nations will officially release a report on massacres of Hutus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mass killings were alleged to have been carried out by the Rwandan army following Rwanda's invasion of Congo in the mid-Nineties. A draft of the report that was leaked to the press a month ago charged Rwanda with carrying out hundreds of mass killings of both Rwandan and Congolese Hutus - crimes that could rise to the level of genocide. The Rwanda Tutsi regime of General Paul Kagame then threatened to withdraw its forces from UN peacekeeping operations in Sudan, Liberia, Haiti and Chad. That prompted the UN Secretary General to allow a month for concerned nations to respond to the report.

The pro-government Rwandan press has been busy attacking the researchers who drew up the report as part of a mapping project to pinpoint the sites of military actions and massacres of civilians in Congo and Rwanda. Rwanda's media defendershave been especially frantic in their attacks on Christopher Black, whose article, "Who Was Behind the Rwandan Genocide?"was published in Black Agenda Report. Mr. Black is also a lawyer for a Hutu general on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Based largely on the UN's research into the times, places and victims of mass murder in Rwanda and Congo, Mr. Black concludes that Rwandan Tutsi rebels, attacking from Uganda, initiated the slaughter in Rwanda that left hundreds of thousands dead, and then invaded the neighboring Congo to exploit its mineral resources.

"Uganda and Rwanda coordinated their invasion of the Congo with their military and political ally, the United States, for the benefit of multinational mining corporations."

Black's version of the conflict gives context to the UN's report that Rwanda's Tutsi army in the Congo slaughtered Hutu civilians, both Rwandan Hutu refugees and native Congolese Hutu. And he further charges that Uganda and Rwanda coordinated their invasion of the Congo with their military and political ally, the United States, for the benefit of multinational mining corporations. Black says he is in possession of a letter from Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame that shows Kagame's ultimate objective in seizing power in Rwanda in 1994 was to invade the mineral-rich Congo. The Hutu refugees that fled Kagame's forces into the eastern Congo, and the native Hutu Congolese population, got in the way, and were massacred.

The pro-government Rwandan press dismisses the Kagame letter as a "fabrication," and contend that the UN researchers that documented the massacres of Hutus are aligned with lawyers for Rwandan Hutus charged with war crimes.

The regime's defense remains that it "saved" millions from death in Rwanda, and then crossed into Congo to "save" millions of Hutus there, too - presumably, from other Hutus. Yet researchers have found that three and a half million "excessive deaths" occurred in Congo after Kagame's invasion. I suppose we are to believe that these must have been people that Kagame's army couldn't "save," most of them Congolese.

In a few days we will find out if the United Nations has weakened its report on Rwanda's killings in the Congo, in order to mollify Paul Kagame's government. That would not be surprising, since UN researchers have been reporting the massacres to their bosses for years, with no effect.

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@BlackAgendaReportcom.

Direct download: 20100929_gf_RwandaCongo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:08am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball

She was young, Black, female, a dynamic political activist and Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland. Yet the corporate media and even many of those Blacks that gathered to mark Natasha Pettigrew's death in a bicycle-car collision were oblivious to her political passions and commitments - a life arbitrarily edited by post-mortem omission.

Natasha Pettigrew and the Recipe for Omission

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball

"Natasha knew that change could not come from an electoral business as usual."

Natasha Pettigrew died last week from injuries sustained after being hit by a car while riding her bike.  She was 30, Black and a Green Party candidate for the U.S. senate in the state of Maryland.  The absence of fortune in her killing can never be matched but is certainly rivaled by the absence of fortune in that simple bio; a Black woman running for office as a member of the Green Party.  This unfortunate combination of natural and political selection was and is a recipe for omission.  This recipe? Start with being a woman, Black and a member of an alternative political party.  Then add one part Black people who love and are bought by Democrats; add a strong helping of White people who won't accept Black leadership (even Obama didn't get a majority of the White vote and certainly won't if there is a next time); add a dash of Whites who will accept Black leadership but who are often corny Green Party types too few in number to begin with; add most young people who love only manufactured popularity; and stir in a media environment, be it Black, White, mainstream or "progressive," who all shun third party politics and we are served up the powerful but bland dish of omission.

As a young Black woman without the political rock star pedigree earned or borrowed from a previous generation's struggles and who put her own law school work on hold to run for office on the Green Party ticket Natasha was by nature and choice destined for obscurity.  And she knew it.  She was killed preparing for a triathlon so she was no slouch incapable of readying herself for great feats.  In her own statements, including a personal challenge to this commentator to work harder, Natasha was clear that a fight was necessary to prevent further national political backsliding and that this would not be easy.  She knew the obstacles which include the fact that the Green Party gets no media attention other than to be discussed as "spoilers" or as the hopeless fringe.  But Natasha also knew that change could not come from an electoral business as usual. 

"Natasha was clear that a fight was necessary to prevent further national political backsliding and that this would not be easy."

She wrote of the "stark contrasts" between the White Fells Point area of Baltimore and the rest of the city which she said would become her "mission" to address.  She wrote of the obvious contradiction between a $100 million juvenile detention center being built in Baltimore while many are homeless and the school system "vies for first place as the worst performers alongside [the mostly Black] Prince George's County."  And she concluded that none of this could be addressed by the existing political structure, noting that it is the Green Party whose platform best represents the true interests of her community.

At the vigil that followed a few days later some of the ravages of this recipe of omission were on display.  As dozens gathered in a parking lot which sat adjacent to the place where Natasha was killed many of the mostly Black participants knew nothing of her Green Party campaign and the well-meaning White folks who showed up remain too distant and corny to have closed those gaps.  The lovers of dead Black people known as NBC, Fox and CBS were on hand but of course knew nothing of her political campaign, knew nothing of her admiration for Cynthia McKinney who they also failed to recognize at the vigil and simply continued a pattern established by their print cohorts The Baltimore Sun and Washington Post of offering time to Natasha only after being killed.

We need a new recipe for the Natashas of the world, especially now at a time when the fraudulence of the Democratic Party as an element of change is more obvious than at any other time in U.S. history.  Natasha and we deserve it.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Jared Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20100929_jb_GreenObit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52am EDT

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A Black Agenda Report commentary by Glen Ford

Black watchdogs are most effective in unmasking and shaming the culprits within our own ranks.” We “tip our hats” to Color of Change for exposing the Congressional Black Caucus’s abysmal collective record on Internet neutrality. “Those who are most trusted by Black America are positioned to do the most serious harm to African American interests.”

 

Color Of Change Takes On Black Caucus on Internet Neutrality

A Black Agenda Report commentary by Glen Ford

Color of Change enhances its own moral authority as a watchdog that is willing to hold Black institutions accountable to Black people.”

The Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Weekend has always been heavy on networking. The question is: networking for whom? Is one networking to make a self-serving deal, or for the purpose of sharing information and ideas for the advancement of the common good.

Based on their legislative records, it is clear that much of the networking done by members of Congressional Black Caucus is contrary to the interests of their own constituents. Since 2006, large majorities of the Black Caucus have sided with those who seek to turn the Internet into a private network for giant telecommunications corporations. Today, only a small fraction of the Black Caucus can be counted on to support the people’s interests in the fight for Internet neutrality.

At Black Agenda Report, we tip our hats this week to Color of Change, the online activist organization that has challenged those Black congresspersons that have sided “with their corporate donors…in an effort to undermine Internet freedom and give the telephone and cable companies control over what you can see and do online.” It is significant that Color of Change, with its impressive emailing list and valuable experience in mobilizing African Americans through the Internet, is taking on the Black Caucus. What’s sorely missing in Black America, today, are mechanisms that force Black institutions, like the Congressional Black Caucus, to be accountable to the masses of African American people. The Caucus claims it is the “conscience of the Congress,” but on the issue of Internet neutrality, the Black lawmakers have acted unconscionably, selling their votes to corporate monopolizers whose ambition is the corner the global market on information, ideas and human consciousness, itself.

Only a small fraction of the Black Caucus can be counted on to support the people’s interests in the fight for Internet neutrality.”

The only moral authority the Congressional Black Caucus can claim is that which it earns through service to its core Black constituency, whose interests are antithetical to those of the giant telecom companies. In focusing the spotlight on the Black Caucus’s collective betrayal of African American interests, Color of Change enhances its own moral authority as a watchdog that is willing to hold Black institutions accountable to Black people. The internal political battle within the Black community is, in many ways, the most critical arena of struggle, since those who are most trusted by Black America are positioned to do the most serious harm to African American interests.

Color of Change zeroes in on the most shameless Black congressional servants of AT&T and Verizon, by name, singling out New York’s Greg Meeks and Chicago’s Bobby Rush. The handful of Black lawmakers that have championed a corporate-free Internet are appropriately applauded. They are Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, John Conyers, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, and Donald Payne.

It is difficult to embarrass the filthy rich, who have no shame. And racist media companies like FOX TV, which Color of Change campaigns against, are supported by huge constituencies of whites who crave their hateful messages. Black watchdogs are most effective in unmasking and shaming the culprits within our own ranks. In the case of the Congressional Black Caucus and Internet Neutrality, Color of Change has performed a vital service. 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: 20100922_gf_CBCColorOfChange.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EDT

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Six million Congolese have died from starvation and war since 1997. The cause has not been, as Western media would have us believe, inscrutable African ethnic conflicts, but the West's hunger for their country's vital mineral resources, which power our aeropsace, automotive and information tech industries.17-23 Six million Congolese have died from starvation and war since 1997. The cause has not been, as Western media would have us believe, inscrutable African ethnic conflicts, but the West's hunger for their country's vital mineral resources, which power our aeropsace, automotive and information tech industries.

October 17-23 is Congo Week

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

This October 17 thru the 23rd is the 3rd annual Congo Week.

Congo Week is a project undertaken by thousands of Congolese exiles along with their friends and allies, in cities, towns and university campuses scattered throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and beyond. Students, labor unions, libraries, churches, local governments and community groups are showing videos and photo exhibits and hosting speakers to help break the walls of silence and disinformation around the Congo.

Six million Congolese have lost their lives since 1997 to fuel the West's hunger for their country's mineral riches. Besides vast amounts of gold, uranium and diamonds, the Congo possesses 90% of the mineral called colombo-tantalum, or coltan. Coltan is vital to the production of capacitors, jet engines, power generation equipment and computers. Every PC, every Mac and iPad, every cell phone, game box, every TIVO, VCR and flat screen TV contain coltan. The global automotive, information technology, aerospace industries, and of course the Pentagon will grind to a halt if their supplies of coltan suffer the least interruption.

The rarely told truth is that driving millions at gunpoint from their farms and villages in eastern Congo, and with them, any government that might protect their rights has created the ideal business climate for Western mining and minerals corporations and their suppliers. Wages, environmental concerns, local taxes and regulations in, and exporting the entire profits out of the zones ravaged and depopulated by invading Rwandan, Burundian, Ugandan armies and their private militia allies, are no problem. It's a piracy and slave labor zone, the ultimate free market.

The fact is that all the armies, official and unofficial are supplied directly and indirectly by the United States, and many are commanded by American-trained officers. The profits and the plunder flow mainly, but not entirely to the West. Plunder and pillage are good for business, and in the Congo, business is good.

Cover stories endlessly recycled in Western media, by the US State Department, and by occasional Hollywood do-gooders, attribute the millions of deaths by starvation and murder, the hundreds of thousands of rapes and maimings to inscrutable African ethnic conflicts no Westerner can possibly understand. In contrast to the mostly fictional genocide in Darfur, the Congolese genocide is very real indeed. It's as though 45,000 people perished ever month for a decade, with barely a whisper, and almost no truth told.

The fact is that the literal blood of literal innocents isn't just on our diamonds. It's in our computers and cell phones, in our cars and aircraft, and in all our military hardware. While the truth may be difficult to accept, it is accessible, and Congo Week aims to make the real voices of the Congo directly available to wider and wider audiences.

Again, the third annual Congo Week is October 17 through the 23rd. If you're interested in hosting speaker or showing a DVD at your home, church, union hall, library, college campus or community center for Congo Week, or finding an event in your city or town to attend, the place to go is www.friendsofthecongo.org, the web site of Friends of the Congo. That's www.friendsofthecongo.org, or you can google Friends of the Congo.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and based in Marietta GA. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com

Direct download: 20100922_bd_congo_week.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EDT

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Proponents of the DREAM Act claim it will enable countless deserving immigrant youth to pursue higher education. In reality, the movement for immigrant rights is being pimped by the Pentagon, which desperately needs access to young immigrants to replenish its ranks.

DREAM ACT Will Extend Poverty Draft to Immigrant Youth. Such A Deal.

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

It's a doable deal, and Democrats, with the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress can deliver it.

When questioned about restoring the draft back in 2004, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, in a moment of rare frankness, replied that the old-style draft was no longer needed. “We have,” he told reporters, “an economic draft.” In even plainer language, the United States armed forces rely on a poverty draft.

Millions of youth emerging from high school every year face bleak prospects for careers and higher education. Good jobs are hard to find, vocational training slots aren't free and don't guarantee a job on completion or even completion itself. Their already strapped families can't even borrow the sixty, eighty or hundred thousand it will take for one child to get a bachelor's degree. But the military recruiter they see in high school every day drives a flashy new car, has a nice apartment, dresses well on and off duty, picks up the tab at restaurants every day, and has an answer for everything. Really, just one answer, that the straight road to acceptance, independence and adulthood lies through the military.

The Development Relief & Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act will extend the poverty draft to undocumented young immigrants who can pass police and Homeland Security screenings. It will get them provisional green cards that allow them them to join the military or attend college. Upon completion of a two year course of study, or honorable discharge from the military in eight or more years, they are eligible to apply for citizenship.

DREAM Act propaganda emphasizes the availability of college to immigrant youth, and it will enable some to attend college who otherwise couldn't. But with the cost of higher education sharply rising and no extra funds for undocumented students, that part of the DREAM Act campaign is pure deception, bait-and-switch, a mirage. DREAM Act green card holders will face the same bleak economic choices as other young people of modest means, with additional challenges of language, discrimination and identity. The military will be even more attractive a choice for qualifying immigrant youth than it is for citizens.

This is what the Pentagon openly counts on. Page 12 of its FY 2012 Strategic Plan says it needs the DREAM Act enable necessary to access immigrant populations in order to achieve its recruitment goals.

At every freeway exit in metro Atlanta, where I live, I can see one or two white or black guys with signs that say 'homeless vet – please help.' Maybe soon, some of those signs will be in Spanish.”

The fact that many of our friends in the movement for the human rights of immigrants imagine the DREAM Act is a step in that direction regrettably does not make it so. The truth is that Latino activists and their organizations who drove their people to the polls in record numbers for Democrats in 2006 and 2008, have precious little to show for it. Some have seized upon the DREAM Act as a deal they can actually get done, a token victory they can take back to their communities before the mid-term elections.

They're half right. It's a doable deal, and Democrats, with the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress can deliver it. Certainly they won't do anything else for Latino communities. But for those communities, the DREAM Act is a Trojan horse.

A good third of women in the US armed forces are reported victims of sexual harassment up to and including rape. Suicide among active-duty military personnel is at an all time high, and homelessness endemic among vets. At every freeway exit in metro Atlanta, where I live, I can see one or two white or black guys with signs that say “homeless vet – please help.” Maybe soon, some of those signs will be in Spanish.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and based in Marietta GA. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20100922_bd_poverty_draft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35am EDT

By Asad Ismi and Kristin Schwartz

The U.S. drive for global empire, to use and allocate all the planet's resources and people for itself, has run unchecked through Africa. It has been stalled by wars and the presence of other powers in south and southwest Asia. Latin America is the only region in the world where U.S. empire has literally been rolled back in the last decade. The once isolated Cuban revolution has been joined by those of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, which have elected openly socialist governments dedicated to using their national wealth for the benefit of their own people, and fostering a new regime of international cooperation in resource allocation, in banking, in medicine and media to show humanity what a world without U.S. domination can begin to accomplish. In this first half hour installment of their 4 part radio documentary, the Latin American Revolution, Asad Ismi and Kristin Schwartz examine the impact of the Venezuelan revolution, and explain just why Uncle Sam hates Hugo Chavez so much.

Direct download: 3141-1-LAR1_Venezuela_128kbps.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States tries to finess its defeat in Iraq and approaching ejection from Afghanistan, clinging to its Asian lines as it expands the theaters of aggression to the south, to Yemen, Somalia, and the whole of Africa. "The aim is to corner Africa's oil and mineral resources, to draw new lines of empire to shut out China and even European allies."

U.S Imperial Offensive: Stalled in Asia, Swarming Over Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"No Iraqi government can long survive if it is not perceived as committed to kicking the Americans out."

The United States is losing or has already lost its two big land wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Over a million people have paid with their lives to teach the U.S. a 21st century lesson: that the most modern, expensive and lethal arsenal in the world cannot successfully occupy a country in which significant portions of the population are determined to resist.  That's the same lesson the Vietnamese taught the Americans in the Sixties and early Seventies, at the cost of two to three million Vietnamese lives.

The United States will deploy every dirty trick and bribe in the book to remain in Iraq past the end of next year - the deadline extracted by the Iraqis from President Bush - and it is possible, although unlikely, that whatever Iraqi regime sits in Baghdad may give the Americans an extension of some kind. But no Iraqi government can long survive if it is not perceived as committed to kicking the Americans out. Aside from the 15 percent of the population that is Kurdish, there is no significant constituency for a U.S. presence in Iraq. Therefore, the Americans cannot stay. As an imperial power that has never in modern times voluntarily given up a military base in someone else's country, America's inevitable withdrawal from Iraq, even though in stages and kicking and screaming, represents a huge defeat.

Iraq was supposed to be the first stop in a rolling offensive that would have projected U.S. power deep into Asia, containing China and Russia and altering the global chessboard in America's favor for decades to come. Instead, the U.S. position in the world has further declined. President Obama drew a line at Afghanistan, embracing that war as his own. But the U.S. has failed spectacularly in constructing a viable client regime or even the semblance of an effective Afghan constituency for continued American occupation of the country. Moreover, every day the Americans remain in Afghanistan destabilizes neighboring Pakistan, the real birthplace of the Taliban, a nation where all but a small fraction of the population detests the United States, and a nuclear power. Therefore, the U.S. must someday soon cut its losses and leave. Obama may think he controls the Afghanistan timetable, but he doesn't.

"Somalia and the whole of the Horn of Africa are hot zones, under protracted U.S. assault."

As it is forced to face the prospect of retreat and defeat in its Asian land wars, the Obama regime shifts emphasis to special forces, drones and other devices of terror and assassination in an expanding theater of war to the south. Yemen, Somalia and the whole of the Horn of Africa are hot zones, under protracted U.S. assault. The U.S. Africa Command is active in almost every nation on the continent, methodically drawing African militaries into the U.S. orbit. The aim is to corner Africa's oil and mineral resources, to draw new lines of empire to shut out China and even European allies. Washington is determined to seize in Africa what is in the process of being lost to the empire in Asia. This is already the bloodiest chapter of all, with as many as six million lives lost in the Democratic Republic of Congo, alone, mainly due to the depredations of U.S. proxies Rwanda and Uganda. There is no way to avoid Africa being soaked in blood, as the U.S.  attempts once again to change the global chessboard. That's what empires do, before they die.

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: 20100915_gf_USOffensive.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Very late in the game, President Obama unveils his version of an industrial policy for America. But it turns out that under his "infrastructure bank" scheme "the same Wall Street players that have relentlessly and methodically de-industrialized the United States for the past 30 years, would direct the economic makeover of the country, all the while earning interest on the borrowed funds."

Obama's Phony "Infrastructure Bank"

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The president's proposed bank is yet another ploy to create a new windfall for the private bankers on Wall Street."

When hundreds of thousands gather on the Washington Mall for the NAACP's and organized labor's rally for jobs on October 2, the Obama administration's mouthpieces will try to fire up the crowd by invoking the president's plans for a National Infrastructure Bank. The public-private scheme was announced so late in the political season, it appears more like a last-minute sop to panicky congressional Democrats desperate to show that their president and his party are good for something besides funneling $12 to $14 trillion to Wall Street - the biggest transfer of wealth of all time, for which Obama will go down in history.

The so-called infrastructure bank masquerades as the beginning of an industrial policy to reverse the export of jobs from the United States. Obama is spinning the scheme as his variation on Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, when the federal government directly created millions of jobs and invested public monies in a vast, new infrastructure, much of which we are still using, today. But in reality, the president's proposed bank bears no resemblance to the New Deal of the 1930s. Rather, it is yet another ploy to create a new windfall for the private bankers on Wall Street - a public-private scam.

The scheme would transfer billions in public funds to a new banking entity, to attract the mega-bankers, whose investments would be guaranteed by the U.S. government. The Obama bank would then lend these monies to selected projects, overseen by a board heavily weighted with representatives of those same Wall Street firms and their corporate allies. Essentially, the same Wall Street players that have relentlessly and methodically de-industrialized the United States for the past 30 years, would direct the economic makeover of the country, all the while earning interest on the borrowed funds. That's not a New Deal, that's a license for yet more no-risk self-dealing by Wall Street, guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the United States. It is a travesty and a swindle.

"The moneyed classes refuse to invest in any economic and social development unless they are positioned in the middle of the money stream."

But, that's what you get when finance capital has a lock on the political and economic process; nothing emerges except that which expands the power of capital. At this stage in the decline of capitalism, the moneyed classes refuse to invest in any economic and social development unless they are positioned in the middle of the money stream, to siphon off the greater part for themselves, at no risk to themselves, and with ultimate control over the shape of the project. They will not support education unless they own a profitable piece of it, through hedge fund-backed charter school companies and other privatization schemes. They will not allow a revamping of health care unless their profits and commanding position in the system are preserved. They will not lift a finger to slow the process of global warming, unless creating a green economy dumps a forest of green on their balance sheets. And they will certainly not permit any combination of politicians funded by them - as is the Obama wing of the Democratic Party - to even attempt a modest re-industrialization of the United States unless they are allowed to empty the U.S. Treasury of every available public dollar.   

Nearing the end of the second half of his term, President Obama finally - finally! - comes up with a plan flavored with just a whiff of the New Deal. But it's just another Wall Street concoction.

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: 20100915_gf_ObamaBank.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The African American economic condition deteriorates by the year, but that doesn't stop the 'bootstrappers' from talking trash. "The bootstraps mythology - sometimes under the shorthand, 'Do for Self' - implicitly or explicitly urges Black people to forego making demands of government, as if that amounts to 'begging the white man' for something."

 

Black Folks Ain't Got No Money For Bootstraps: The Black Capitalist Dead-End

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"What binds the variations on the 'bootstrap' theme together, is an essential refusal to challenge the capitalist system."

The two devastating recessions of the last decade have had catastrophic effects on Black economic prospects. Yet, despite the monstrous setbacks of recent years and the general failure to bridge the racial wage and wealth gap over the last three decades, there still exists a strong current of Black political thought that insists African Americans can pull themselves and the rest of the race up by their financial bootstraps, through hard work and pooling of collective resources. Some of these arguments are unashamedly Black capitalist; others preach a brand of communal partnerships among Black entrepreneurs and consumers that attempts to make the entire Black community a kind of capitalist engine of self-help. What binds the variations on the "bootstrap" theme together, is an essential refusal to challenge the capitalist system. The belief is that Black "buying power" or race-based investment schemes will allow Black folks to rise from the bottom of the American economic barrel.

Implicit in this line of thinking is the notion that Blacks are at the bottom because they have not been trying hard enough to move up - which is also the assumption of white racists, whether they call themselves conservatives or liberals. The most fatal flaw in the Black capitalist world view is the assumption that Black people actually have the wealth and discretionary income to build an internal economy that could insulate them from the general capitalist crisis. We know different, because all the data tell us that Black household income is stuck at the same level relative to whites as back in 1979, and Black comparative wealth was steadily eroding even before the last decade's recessions. And we know that Black wealth has been further diminished relative to whites in the ongoing housing meltdown, in which Blacks are twice as likely to face foreclosure. And we know that Blacks, a majority of whom are renters, bear the brunt of the dislocations caused by rampant gentrification, which in some urban areas forces families to spend more than half their income on rent.

"The most fatal flaw in the Black capitalist world view is the assumption that Black people actually have the wealth and discretionary income to build an internal economy that could insulate them from the general capitalist crisis."

Simply put, there ain't no damn money for these bootstrap capitalism dreams, and there never was. There was never the possibility of building a Black General Motors - and now General Motors requires billions of dollars in federal infusions to survive.

What a great distraction this nonsense about bootstrap racial upward mobility has been - so much wasted time and misdirected dreams over the generations. Worse than that, the bootstraps mythology - sometimes under the shorthand, "Do for Self" - implicitly or explicitly urges Black people to forego making demands of government, as if that amounts to "begging the white man" for something. This attitude surrenders all Black claims to any of the society's resources except those we currently hold in our own pockets - which is the equivalent of social death. President Obama also warns Blacks to expect no redress from their government. At a recent press conference, he once again urged Blacks to be patient, that when the economy grows, everybody will be "swept up into that virtuous circle."

It never happened before, and it never will. Blacks need to "Do for Self," but not as aspiring capitalists. We have always made our greatest progress in political struggle. That's the Promised Land that we make, together.

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: 20100915_gf_NoBootstraps.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Democrats are panicked, with many congresspersons fleeing from identification with their party. The disarray is the inevitable blowback of Obama's ceaseless campaign to divorce Democrats from their longtime branding as the party of working people. The spiral began with Obama's championing of bank bailouts, beginning with the autumn 2008 meltdown. The public saw that, "when the crunch came, the bankers were relatively more influential among Democrats than Republicans."

 

The Democrats: Death by Branding, and the Brand is Betrayal

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"By the summer of 2009, a new brand of Republicans, the Tea Party, had cornered the huge public market on hatred of big business bailouts."

President Obama and his corporate partners have succeeded in de-branding the Democratic Party. More accurately, events since the autumn of 2008 have revealed to even the most loyal Democrats that Wall Street's near-total domination of U.S. politics includes the party many once thought of as representing the working man and woman. This illusion was shattered when candidate Barack Obama near-singlehandedly rescued George Bush's bank bailout from a second defeat in a week, with Democrats twice as much in favor as Republicans. The Congressional Black Caucus reversed its strong opposition to the bailout under intense individual pressure from Obama, as did lots of Democrats. From that moment on, Obama and the Democrats have been most closely associated with what became the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind: $12 to 14 trillion of the people's money to Wall Street. After that, it became impossible for the Democrats to maintain their brand as the party of working people.

The truth is, Wall Street has long been the sugar daddy to Democrats, just as Big Oil has historically bankrolled Republicans, although the alignment was never quite as stark as the public perception. The financial meltdown revealed - as catastrophes tend to do - the true nature of power relationships in society. Wall Street, even though wracked by terminal contradictions, was the supreme power in the United States - and, when the crunch came, the bankers were relatively more influential among Democrats than Republicans. How could Democrats, as a party, ever again brand the Republicans as the bulwark of Big Business, when their standard bearer was so proudly identified as the savior of the most hated plutocrats of all, the titans of Wall Street.

"The Democrats no longer have anything resembling a brand, at all."

Obama continued to eradicate the old Democratic branding, as president, immediately entering into backroom deals with the second most-hated tier of Big Business villains: the drug and insurance corporations. By the summer of 2009, a new brand of Republicans, the Tea Party, had cornered the huge public market on hatred of big business bailouts. Anti-bailout, anti-banker politics had become so popular, the Tea Partyers often found they could use the brand to mask the racism and virulent white nationalism that lies at the core of their "movement."

The Democrats no longer have anything resembling a brand, at all. Is it any wonder, then, that Democratic congresspersons are scrambling to disassociate themselves from the national party, two months from election day?

Far too late, after all the people's money has been siphoned off to the bankers, Obama now proposes a $50 billion scheme to create jobs and establish a government bank to finance rail and highway projects. The proposal is designed to sound like something out of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, although the actual outlines are a blur, as is typical with Obama. But it is too late. Through his own commission on the federal debt, Obama has invited the enemies of the social safety net to shrink government spending for people-oriented programs. He has consumed so much energy beating up on progressives in his own party, they no longer trust him to come through with a jobs program that measures up to the crisis. Most importantly, the people have lost faith in the Democrats as the party that stands up to the rich, for the simple reason that they don't. 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: 20100908_gf_DemsBrand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball

Mulattoes are all the rage in some circles, for obvious presidential reasons.  Deep political and social meaning is invested in the proliferation of luminaries of the 'two-worlds" kind - although little in the way of insight seems to emanate from the mixed parentage arena. The opposite is true. The rapper Drake's case, in particular, "is used to deny, deflect, omit or obscure underlying tensions and exploitation more than as a way to explore, challenge or correct them.

 

The Most Visible Mulattoes: Drake and Obama Match Hip-Hop and Politics

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball

"Obama, Drake and myself are not, as many like to say of us, 'parts of two worlds.'"

Lorraine Hansberry once cautioned against an artist seeking to ignore the specific nature of their racial categorization, history and experience.  Her point was that to dismiss that particularity with the narrow, anecdotal tale of one's own success was to damage the potential to interpret the reality of a broader community.  To separate the conditions of Black people broadly speaking from the individual success story of this or that individual is a grave mistake.  She said that, "To destroy the abstraction for the sake of the specific is in this case in error."  It continues in 2010 to happen regularly, where the individual experience is used to obscure the conditions of the rest and why I avoid public self-reference as much as possible.  But recently I must admit this has become more and more difficult.  Knowing a bit about me and my politics over the last couple of years I have received more questions from family, friends, colleagues, students and even strangers in the street about being a Black man whose mother is white or a Jew and it is all because of two popular abstractions, or as one author has recently called Barack Obama and the enormously popular rapper Drake, "two of the most visible mulattoes living and working today."  My short answer is always the same and is always a series of questions regarding how, if at all, these people advance political discussions or the conditions of the communities they are said to represent.  I now think my set of questions must expand and become more hostile.

Drake is the Canadian-born, former child actor and nephew of legendary funk bassist Larry Graham.  He is also now a rap superstar whose mother is a Jew and father a Black man, who of course, is described as absent with no context, or serious exploration.  He is just gone as are, apparently and pathologically, all Black fathers. Drake, who proudly proclaims his Judaism and openly hopes to portray Obama in film one day has also been anointed by establishment media as "Hip-Hop's New Religion," "The New Face of Hip-Hop," "The Bill Clinton of Rap," and even "Jew of the Year." But much like Obama's popularity and that of religion, imposed identity and even Bill Clinton, Drake's is similarly used to deny, deflect, omit or obscure underlying tensions and exploitation more than as a way to explore, challenge or correct them.

Instead much of the focus on Drake's Blackness or overall identity has been limited to his physical look, his mannerisms and his lyricism (or lack thereof).  None is directed at his politics.  Too many in Black America and hip-hop have lost this as the key variable in determining someone's overall identity.  Just as the mistake was made with Obama, a mistake for which we continue to suffer, Drake's popularity leads us no further towards interpreting our political world and, more importantly, seizing control over it.  Obama, Drake and myself are not, as many like to say of us, "parts of two worlds."  No.  We are at the nucleus of violently competing, antagonistic and woefully unequal political, racial and ethnic communities.  We who should be best able to shed important and radical light on these issues are often forced to deny them.

"Will his being a Jew and Black help advance the relationship of those two communities?"

So I now add a few more questions in response to those asking my opinion of Drake based on my own similar (yet quite different) background: "Does Drake's being a Jew further connect that community to its own radical traditions?  Do discussions of Drake's Judaism lead to increased socialist formation or criticism of Zionism as the Western European imperial project that Herzl himself claimed or the blunt instrument against the Jewish tendency toward Bolshevism as Winston Churchill said it was?  Drake says he is going to Israel soon, does this mean he is breaking the anti-apartheid boycott of performances there that many have accepted in alliance with Palestinian liberation?  Is that hip-hop? What happened to Sun City?  Does his Blackness mean an adherence to the long-standing Black radical position which holds that the cause of the Palestinians is ours? Will his being a Jew and Black help advance the relationship of those two communities? Do discussions of Drake's Blackness help us better understand the dynamics of the latest publications from the Nation of Islam or why Michael Eric Dyson felt compelled to follow his interview with Farrakhan by ones with critics Abraham Foxman and Stanley Crouch?"

This is what I understand Hansberry to have meant.  This is not about the particulars of Drake or Obama but the abstractions their examples seek to obscure.  This is about the political astuteness of a Black and/or hip-hop community and its spokespeople.  Not because we expect a young man with apparently no political experience to offer sound problem-solving solutions but because we are a community whose political acumen requires a price for our fandom.  Nowhere in the articles reviewed for this commentary, those in praise or in critique, those that focused on his Blackness or his Judaism, were these issues raised.  And this speaks volumes about where we are and why these issues persist as major problems for us today.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: freemixradio@gmail.com.



Direct download: 20100908_jb_Mulattoes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Black luminaries like Tom Joyner, allied with huge media corporations, preach that Big Business interests and those of Black folks coincide - that there is no need for Internet neutrality. Glenn Beck, Tom Joyner and the NAACP's Ben Jealous talk the same garbage, for corporate rewards. If the Internet is the future, then the future is bleak for African Americans, whose digital "lines of defense are virtually nonexistent."

 

No One to Speak for Black Rights on the Internet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Forty million Black people have no one fighting for them on the digital front lines."

There is not a single Black national media organization dedicated to fighting for net neutrality. Not one. It is as if 40 million African Americans have no interest in ensuring that the New Media that are swiftly coming to dominate our political, economic and social lives, operate in ways that serve the people with the least resources - meaning, masses of Black people - rather than giant corporations. Black people's most basic interests should dictate that African Americans lead the way in demanding a democratic Internet, to make sure that deeply ingrained patterns of wealth and privilege are not reproduced far into the digital future in Internet content and access. The Black stake in the Internet is both obvious and critical - as it is for Latinos, who at least have one organization, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, that is committed to net neutrality. Yet 40 million Black people have no one fighting for them on the digital front lines.

Why is Black America stumbling into the New Media future with literally no protection from corporate abusers? The answer is simple: we have been sold out yet again by the Black misleadership class, one of the most selfish and self-dealing gaggles of folks on earth.

Back in the days when cable television was the New Media, Black politicians and community groups responded to the corporate challenge by ensuring that companies were required to wire every neighborhood in a city or county. Black folks knew that, left to their own devices, the new cable companies would only wire the affluent sides of town, and leave the rest of us in a media desert. Thirty years later, the issues of content and access remain essentially the same, but the giant telecommunications companies have learned that the Black misleadership class can be easily bought.

"We have been sold out yet again by the Black misleadership class."

The turning point came in 2006, when millions in corporate bribes in the form of campaign contributions and so-called charity neutralized Black opposition to legislation that, as Bruce Dixon wrote at the time, would "turn the free and open Information Superhighway into a corporate toll road, and lift regulations that force cable and telephone companies to serve poor and minority areas."

In addition to the massive bribery of Black politicians and so-called civil rights organizations, the telecoms pressured thousands of their Black employees to staff phone banks, inundating Black office-holders with pleas on behalf of their bosses. Two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus betrayed their own people's vital communications interests, and organized Black resistance to the telecoms was wiped out.

Now another corporate offensive is underway, and Black lines of defense are virtually nonexistent. If you want to know where Tom Joyner and the NAACP's Ben Jealous all converge with the Tea Party, look to the ranks of those opposing Internet neutrality. The Black luminaries and misleaders are sipping cocktails with the Tea Partyers, at the digital corporate bar. 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: 20100908_gf_NetNeutrality.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When it comes to making President Obama accountable for his own wars, his own corporate pandering, his own trillion-dollar bank bailouts, the Black misleadership class becomes mute. But poor people's activists in New Orleans had no problem denouncing the president's housing policies, which ensure that "fat cats like Warren Buffett and huge private banking institutions will inherit the nation's public housing properties."
 
New Orleans Black Activists Denounce Obama and Shame Misleadership Class
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and trade union leaders denounced unemployment, home foreclosures and war in general, but did not dare to hold the corporate Democrat in the White House responsible for any of it."
This weekend saw two major Black demonstrations - one in Washington, one in Detroit - and a presidential speech at Xavier University, in New Orleans, on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Yet a small, hardly noticed protest outside what used to be a public housing project in the St. Bernard section of New Orleans, was probably more relevant to the burning issues of today than the rallies held by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
A relatively small group of New Orleans activists gathered in the rain outside the project to protest the visit to the city by President Obama, whose housing policies spell doom for the entire concept of public housing in the United States. When Katrina struck, the Bush administration's Department of Housing was quick to call for demolition of all the public housing units in New Orleans, even though most of the buildings were salvageable. The residents were locked out, 3,000 of them, like hundreds of thousands of others across the country since the early Nineties, victims of corporate greed for the land the projects sit on and a racist prejudice that holds that Black and poor people are inherently dangerous when concentrated in one place. Katrina was simply a convenient excuse to get rid of public housing in New Orleans, where four major projects were demolished.
In New Orleans and elsewhere across the country, the poor who are evicted from public housing are expected to disperse, get out of the way of corporate development that serves the needs of other people, and be quiet. But this weekend, the former residents of the St. Bernard project refused to scatter and be silent.  They had earlier built a tent encampment nearby, called Survivors' Village. Now they denounced President Obama and his friend, Warren Buffett, the multi-billionaire hedge fund baron who is developing the site of their former homes under a new name, Columbia Parc, for a new class of residents.
"The former residents of the St. Bernard project refused to scatter and be silent."
The Obama administration has taken the anti-public housing policies of Bush and previous presidents to a new level, with a plan to abandon any federal commitment to building and maintaining housing for the poor. Instead, fat cats like Warren Buffett and huge private banking institutions will inherit the nation's public housing properties. In New York City, the Citigroup bankers now own a piece of 13 public housing projects - a taste of what Obama has in store for what remains of America's public housing stock.
At the start of this commentary, I said that the St. Bernard neighborhood demonstration was "probably more relevant to the burning issues of today" than Al Sharpton's Washington rally and Jesse Jackson's Detroit event. That's because the demonstrators in New Orleans knew whose policies they were protesting against, and called out his name: President Obama. In Detroit and Washington, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and trade union leaders denounced unemployment, home foreclosures and war in general, but did not dare to hold the corporate Democrat in the White House responsible for any of it.
Obama's wars range from Asia and Africa to the streets of America's cities, whose schools and housing he is turning over to the likes of Warren Buffett, rich finance capitalists that have already exported all the jobs. The demonstrators in New Orleans understand that. What currently passes for Black leadership, does not.
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: 20100902_gf_Rallies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In a whitewash of monumental proportions, the Obama administration refused to acknowledge vast racial disparities at every stage of the U.S. criminal justice system. "In sheer numbers, the American prison gulag dwarfs that of every other nation, and its racial composition is irrefutable proof that the American state functions as the principal enforcer of the color bar in U.S. society."
 
U.S. Prison Gulag vs. Global Human Rights
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Obama pretends that there is no such thing as the American prison gulag."
The recent U.S. report to the United Nations Human Rights Council is an excellent guide to how President Obama manages to paper over and deny the existence of endemic and systematic racism in US. governmental policy. Simply put, Obama pretends that there is no such thing as the American prison gulag, a vast penal system that houses one out of every four incarcerated human beings on the planet - half of whom are Black. In sheer numbers, the American prison gulag dwarfs that of every other nation, and its racial composition is irrefutable proof that the American state functions as the principal enforcer of the color bar in U.S. society. Yet the administration's report to the UN, although admitting the existence of racial discrimination in American life, fails to acknowledge the vast racial disparities that pervade every aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system.
The American Civil Liberties Union praises the Obama administration for, in their words, "its willingness to recommit to engagement on international human rights" - but they are far too kind. The relentless pressures of criminal justice agencies on Black America over the last 40 years poisons every arena of Black life, stigmatizing African Americans as a group and creating what Michelle Alexander has called a New Jim Crow caste system. The Black prison gulag is the mother of all domestic American human rights violations, an ongoing crime against an entire people. If there is any aspect of human rights for which the national government must accept full responsibility, it is criminal justice - the state exercising its monopoly on the power to confine or even kill other human beings. President Obama wants us, and the international community, to ignore the human rights elephant sitting in chains in the middle of the room. The administration's neglect of America's unique status as the world's number one incarceration state, makes its report to the United Nations an insult to humanity, and a lie.
"The administration's report to the UN fails to acknowledge the vast racial disparities that pervade every aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system."
The report reflects Barack Obama's habitual downplaying of race and racism. But his effort to join the UN Human Rights Council, for which the ACLU has so much praise, is a complex political maneuver. George Bush rejected membership in the Council, pandering to his white nationalist constituency, which abhors the very idea of the United States subjecting itself to the scrutiny of people of color. One of the main reasons corporate America rallied to Obama's candidacy was big business's desire to rework America's image in the world, to at least cosmetically turn a new page and leave the smell of Bush behind. But Obama wound up sabotaging the Second World Conference on Racism in 2009, in Geneva, under Israeli pressure, just as Bush did with the first conference, in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. Immediately, Obama began making overtures to the UN Human Rights Council, in a bid to repair the ill feeling among non-white nations. He is anxious for the U.S. to gain a seat in an international  forum, from which Americans can give speeches on human rights, while continuing to violate international law every time it suits their interests.
This administration specializes in propaganda, not substance. So it is fitting that the first report the Obama team submits to the UN Human Rights Council is a whitewash of America's massive violations of Black people's rights through the U.S. criminal justice system.
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: 20100902_gf_Gulag.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:47pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball
A stroll through Al Sharpton's recent MLK-themed demonstration, in Washington, DC, was anything but a walk down memory lane. Gone were the principled voices of yesterday. "None were there to challenge Obama, whose presidency has so far been an absolute reversal of any of King's most pronounced political concerns; an end to poverty, war and capitalism as an unchecked economic system."
 
Reclaiming the Dream and Brand Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball
"Dr. King's dream has by now become twisted, distorted and distilled through brand Obama."
On my way back last week from a visit with family and friends in Panama a cab driver pulled along side me at the airport.  He called out to me as an American.  Once he had my attention he slid his finger across his throat and said, "America es cancelado."  America is cancelled.  I smiled as he drove off.  My wife was furious.  For her it was more personal, how dare someone insult her husband and claim to speak for all her people.  For me it was first a lesson not to ever again so carelessly travel with my old navy sea bag, no matter how practical that thing is, and more importantly that his anger was ultimately righteous.  It was a nice sign that even under Brand Obama people's sense of sanity is still there.  And it was a sign I did not see enough of back here at this weekend's Washington, D.C. march to "Reclaim the Dream."
The Panamanian cabbie, at least in my mind, was responding to a centuries old relationship of U.S. dominance which meant that up to even just ten years ago no Panamanian could enter a region of their own land renamed the "Canal Zone."  Certainly everyone there remembers the invasion of 1989 and the death of the land-reformist president Omar Torrijos, who himself once said that he "did not want to go into history" but that he only wanted to "go into the Canal Zone."  But here, and at this rally, not many seemed to remember the King they claimed to reclaim nor the policies and behavior of the current president whose own reclamation they openly also marched. From the pulpit to the shop floor all were on hand to say somehow that the policies to which Obama is committed are precisely those for which Martin Luther King lived, fought and was killed.
Dr. King's dream, which he himself later abandoned as a "nightmare," has by now become twisted, distorted and distilled through brand Obama.  This is by acknowledged design, as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has said himself.  A sentiment repeated againthis week when Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett said that Michelle Obama would not be available to work on the issue of rape in the Congo because it is, "not her brand."  No.  Brand Obama cannot appear concerned for anyone with whom he is so often immediately identified.  No Black people, no Africans and nothing approaching real progressivism.
"No one I spoke with at the rally said they were there to challenge Obama to practice the politics of Dr. King."
So while King left 1963 only to increase his calls for and action toward an end to militarization, capitalism and White supremacy Obama's brand is able to assume this political trajectory while actually worsening each of these "evil triplets" as King called them. Brand Obama has, in the words of one commentator, confused the fact that when honestly polled his "positions are inversely proportional to his popularity."  And this is especially so in Black America.  His positions on health care, war, poverty, racism, incarceration and reparations all run counter to why some said they rallied this weekend and yet the brand convinces so many of the opposite.  From preachers to union workers to students no one I spoke with at the rally said they were there to challenge Obama to practice the politics of Dr. King.  None were there to challenge Obama whose presidency has so far been an absolute reversal of any of King's most pronounced political concerns; an end to poverty, war and capitalism as an unchecked economic system.  All were there to protect Obama against the Tea Party or to support some amorphous and undefined concept of "justice."  In fact, when asked to define her use of the term "progress" one participant told me that poverty in 2010 is a "luxury" compared to 1963.
This march to "reclaim the dream" fell to the powerful brand of Obama.  It was a regressive step back away from the righteous critique of the original March on Washington offered by Malcolm X.  It was a regressive step back away from the progressive radicalism adopted by King post-1963 including his own belated arrival to an old struggle to move the fight beyond a sole focus on domestic civil rights and on to an international struggle for human rights.
When my comrade said that, "Dr. and Mrs. King would not have been welcome at either rally" this weekend she hit that proverbial nail on the head.  Their focus on poverty, human rights and peace make them both pariahs in either camp, because the Black liberal is ultimately no better than a White reactionary.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  For more visit BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared Ball can be reached via email at: jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100902_jb_DCMarch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Embedded corporate media rose to new heights of non-journalism as, on command, they conjured up an end to (America's) Iraq War based on nothing more than a change of nomenclature. Combat soldiers woke up one morning as "advise and assist" troops whose "bases" were magically transformed into "fortified compounds." Still, the U.S. empire has no intention of leaving Iraq - especially when there are so many available euphemisms for staying.

 

U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq is Fiction

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The United States is an empire that has never voluntarily withdrawn from any of its bases or 'fortified compounds.'"

It was perversely hilarious to observe the corporate media, last week, as they collectively celebrated an event that never happened. "Last combat soldiers leave Baghdad" read the Washington Post headline, with variations on the same fantasy theme in Newsweek, UPI, Reuters...virtually everywhere. One had to turn to the Army Times newspaper for an accurate headline:"Combat Brigades in Iraq Under Different Name."

It is a wonderment to watch the blind enthusiasm with which the corporate media embrace name changes as if they are actual facts. As the Washington Post announced the departure from Iraq of the 2nd Infantry Division's 4th Stryker Brigade, describing the unit as the "final U.S. combat brigade to be pulled out of the country," seven brigades just like the 4th brigade remain on Iraqi soil. There is no difference in armament, equipment, configuration and training between the 4th Stryker Brigade that exited for Kuwait, and the Stryker Brigades that remain behind - except, the name change. The in-country Stryker units are now called "Advise and Assist Brigades." The two National Guard infantry brigades left behind in Iraq have also undergone a nomenclatural transformation: they are no longer "combat" units, but "security" forces.

There are also 4,500 Special Forces troops in Iraq, who are prepared to train other soldiers in the daytime and kill all night long.

Army Times readers are primarily military people, their families, and retirees - folks that know a little something about the U.S. military and have a strong interest in learning the plain truth about the realities of U.S. deployments in the world. The Army Timesappears to respect their intelligence. The New York Times and its sister publications, on the other hand, seem to think that their readers will believe anything, no matter how ridiculous on its face. For example, The Times has adopted the new practice of calling U.S. bases in Iraq "fortified compounds." Combat soldiers, you see, live on bases. Personnel involved in advising and assisting Iraqis live in fortified compounds.

"Powerful figures in the Obama administration say they are confident they can talk the Iraqis into allowing 10,000 uniformed American troops to stay in the country after the deadline."

In addition to the fantasy reporting, American military and civilian authorities are conducting fantasy arguments behind closed doors about whether the U.S. is going to withdraw all of its military forces, regardless of the nomenclature, by the end 0f 2011 - as required by solemn agreement with the Iraqis. One faction favors deploying a force of up to 10,000 mercenaries, complete with their own armored trucks, air force and missile-firing drones. But powerful figures in the Obama administration say they are confident they can talk the Iraqis into allowing 10,000 uniformed American troops to stay in the country after the deadline. Certainly, billions of dollars in bribes can sometimes work wonders - but U.S. plans for an eternity in Iraq have repeatedly been thwarted by the Iraqi people, themselves.

One thing is perfectly clear: the United States is an empire that has never voluntarily withdrawn from any of its bases or "fortified compounds." The Americans are playing word games. They will leave Iraq only when they are forced to do so.

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: 20100825_gf_Iraq.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:03am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For more than 50 years, the Royal Dutch Shell corporation and its Nigerian government partners have inflicted the world's worst oil pollution on the people of the Niger River Delta. Now, the United Nations squanders its dwindling prestige to help whitewash the vast environmental and human rights crime. According to a UN report, the Nigerian people are to blame for soaking the Delta in 9 to 13 million barrels of oil. 

UN Report Whitewashes Mass Murder, Ecocide by Shell Oil and Nigerian Government

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The United Nations has attempted to facilitate a corporate-government cover-up of monumental dimensions."

In July of last year, Amnesty International released a report, documenting the vast environmental and human rights degradations imposed on the people of the Niger River Delta by 50 years of oil exploration and production. Amnesty International sent a letter to Peter Voser, the newly appointed CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, the dominant company in the Delta oil fields, asking him to "come clean" on the "failures and poor practice" of both Shell and the Nigerian government. A little over a year later, Royal Dutch Shell and the Nigerian government have presented their answer, in the form of a monstrous whitewash produced in collusion with an agency of the United Nations.

The United Nations Environmental Program study, which was paid for by Shell oil, rewrites history to blame 90 percent of the region's pollution on spills caused by local people, tapping into oil pipelines and from sabotage by guerilla groups. The United Nations agency admits that it only studied 300 petroleum spill sites on a list given to it by Shell oil, and vouched for by Shell's partners in the Nigerian government. The true scope of Niger River Delta pollution is catastrophic, with the equivalent of 9 to 13 million barrels of oil fouling the waterways, farmlands and mangrove forests of Africa's largest wetland. That's at least twice as much oil as escaped in the recent Gulf of Mexico disaster, thus ranking Nigeria and Shell as the number one oil polluters in the world. Now the two super-polluters try to blame the people for their own half-century of crimes.

The UN agency is now backtracking, claiming its study is not yet done and there will be no report until early next year. The figures used in the study, the UN says, are the responsibility of the Nigerian government and Shell oil. If that is the case, then the study has no credibility whatsoever.

"The two super-polluters try to blame the people for their own half-century of crimes."

Twenty-seven years ago, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, itself, noted the "slow poisoning of the waters...and the destruction of vegetation and agricultural land by oil spills which occur during petroleum operations." The 1983 report declared that, "since the inception of the oil industry in Nigeria, more than twenty-five years ago, there has been no concerned and effective effort on the part of the government, let alone the oil operators, to control environmental problems associated with the industry." Thus, 27 years ago, the oil companies and the government had already been committing environmental crimes against the people of the Niger River Delta for a quarter of a century. It is commonly accepted that oil tapping by local people and guerilla sabotage are relatively recent phenomena.

Shell Oil and the Nigerian government have no shame. Delta residents fear the UN report will be used as an excuse for stepped up Nigerian government military operations in the region. There is also good reason to worry that the United States might seize on the UN report to add an environmental justification for its expanding military activities in West Africa. The United Nations, once the hope of the planet, has in this instance attempted to facilitate a corporate-government cover-up of monumental dimensions. But the evidence cannot be hidden. It oozes from every nook and cranny of the Niger River Delta. And the people know how it got there.

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: 20100825_gf_NigeriaOil.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is pulling the same stunt with the housing crisis as he did with health care: packing his public policy events with corporate operatives while excluding the grassroots and progressives. "Only the bankers, the stock speculators and the academics that are paid by the rich, qualify as stakeholders at Obama's housing conference."

Obama Leaves Housing Policy to the Bankers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"No one that could plausibly be described as representing community, consumer, or tenant groups was invited."

It would be a great day if President Obama called a real national summit on housing.  The administration held a half-day conference purporting to be about housing this week, at the Treasury Department, but it was really a bankers' conference, with people like National Urban League president Marc Morial and a bunch of corporate-friendly academics thrown in for show. No one that could plausibly be described as representing community, consumer, or tenant groups was invited. But, of course, Wells Fargo, a bank that devastated whole Black neighborhoods from coast to coast, was there, as was fellow corporate criminal Bank of America.  There was even an economist from Moody's, one of the stock ratings companies that vouched for trillions in toxic securities, before the whole house of cards came tumbling down. These are the kinds of people that are invited to make public policy by the Obama administration.

A U.S. housing official at the conference said it provided "an opportunity to engage stakeholders and experts with broad knowledge and many perspectives." Apparently, communities groups, consumers and tenants - the people that actually live in the nation's housing stock - are not considered to be "stakeholders" by this administration. Only the bankers, the stock speculators and the academics that are paid by the rich, qualify as stakeholders at Obama's housing conference. Only they are deemed to have the "broad knowledge and many perspectives" necessary to make public policy.

In his opening remarks to the gatheirng, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner did not once utter the words "tenants" or "renters" - as if people that pay rent do not count for anything in the housing equation.

"Foreclosures have been above 300,000 every month for the last 17 months in a row."

No one was there to represent the millions of families that have been foreclosed on by the president's friends at Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Foreclosures have been above 300,000 every month for the last 17 months in a row, with no let-up in sight.

Obama is rigging the housing discussion in exactly the same way he rigged the debate over health care, packing the event with corporate executives and corporate-designated think tankers and totally excluding everyone that might not join the corporate consensus. Just as the drug and insurance companies were the only voices heard at Obama's health care summits, so it is only finance capital that talks at his housing discussion. Obama's modus operandi is little different from when the Bush-Cheney regime allowed the oil, coal and nuclear companies to write national energy policy. The only difference is, Bush was denounced for running a rich man's government, while Obama gets a pass. This special dispensation encourages Obama to complete the privatizing mission begun by Republicans.  In league with oligarchs like billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Obama administration caused the sale of 13 New York public housing complexes to the bankers at Citigroup. His vision for public housing is to deliver it to the banks. His vision for the millions of foreclosed homeowners is to make sure their bankers are not harmed. This is an administration of the bankers, by the bankers, and for the bankers. A private, and privatizing, affair.

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: 20100818_gf_Housing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Were it not for slavery and ruthless imperial exploitation, modern Europe and the United States - and global capitalism, itself - would not have existed. In that sense, all of the developed nations are fundamentally indebted to the formerly colonized world.  But Haiti's bill includes a very explicit $17 billion directly extorted by France (and the U.S.).

France and U.S. Must Pay Their Debt to Haiti

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Together, France and the U.S. robbed Haiti of any chance to develop."

It never ceases to amaze, how imperialists guilty of the most vile crimes ever committed by man have such thin skin. So it is with France, which has subjugated and murdered millions over the centuries, and owes its comfortable lifestyle to these victimized people of color around the globe, yet gets upset when called a thief and extortionist - the least of its multitudinous crimes.

Last Bastille Day, July 14, a group calling itself the Committee for the Reimbursement of the Indemnity Money Extorted from Haiti - CRIME, for short - hacked into the web site of the French Foreign Ministry to plant a false announcement that France had agreed to repay Haiti the equivalent of $17 billion it extorted from the small Black country, beginning nearly two centuries ago. The French government was so taken aback, it threatened to sue the political pranksters. The suit could not possibly be to defend the honor of France, since no such thing exists, certainly not in the matter of Haiti. No one contests that, in 1825, France threatened to make life as an independent nation impossible for Haiti if France were not compensated for the loss of its plantations and slaves in Haiti's successful 1804 revolution. Haiti would continue paying the debt until the year 1947.

When Haitian President Jean Bertrand-Aristide filed suit against France to recover the extorted funds, France teamed up with the United States and junior partner imperial Canada to overthrow Aristide, in 2004, the two hundredth anniversary of Haiti's independence.

On Monday, 100 politicians and intellectuals from around the world, including Americans Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, published a letter in a Paris newspaper demanding that France return the $17 billion to Haiti, not just because it would allow Haiti to pay for its own recovery from this year's devastating earthquake - but because it is owed. On Tuesday, the French government once again declined to pay its debt, confirming that it remains a thief after all these years.

"They taunt the suffering Haitians with lies and false promises."

France's cohort in the current attempt to recolonize Haiti, the United States, is also an accomplice in the $17 billion extortion. U.S. banks paid off France and became Haiti's creditor. The U.S. invaded and occupied the country in 1915, and has been looting it directly or indirectly, ever since.

Together, France and the U.S. robbed Haiti of any chance to develop. Now, they have stolen her sovereignty, as well. But that is not enough for world-class villians like these. They taunt the suffering Haitians with lies and false promises. Only 10 percent of the $5.6 billion in promised earthquake aid has been delivered, and that by Brazil, Norway, Australia, Colombia and tiny Estonia.

Both the United States and France teach their school children that their countries ignited the light of liberty in the world. But of course, both stories are false. No sooner had the slaveholding United States won its independence, than it became a predator to its neighbors. And the French did not allow their revolution to cause them to miss a beat in attempting to keep Haiti enslaved. It was Haiti's revolution that showed the way to freedom for all mankind, 200 years ago. That is  what all of humanity owes to Haiti.

 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: 20100818_gf_Restitution_2_Haiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Obama's press secretary's assault on the Left also represents a presidential "wink" to the Right, "reassuring the corporate world that Obama will not yield an inch to the Left in this election season." Once again, the president shows that he regards the Left as either his flunkies - or his enemy.


Obama Snarls at Left and Winks at Right
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Gibbs' remarks were a naked threat to Left Democrats that there will be repercussions for criticizing the president on war, on jobs - on anything."
In the months after Barack Obama won the presidency with near-total support of Blacks and the white Left, a New York Black activist was fond of telling audiences to pay attention to the First Black President's face, not necessarily his actions. According to this theory, the president had to pretend he was in synch with the corporations and conservative whites, but he's really a good "brother" with Black folks interests at heart. Just look for "the wink." That presidential wink at Black folks was supposed to be the signal that Obama is working his game to our benefit.
Obama has been doing lots of winking as president, but all his signals are designed to please the other side. He almost injured his eyeballs winking at Republicans when he stacked his administration with Bush holdovers and Wall Streeters. He winked till his eyelashes nearly fell out at the insurance and drug companies as he arranged for their continued dominance and super-profits in health care. Obama winked his way into a much larger war in Afghanistan and beyond. He's got that wink, alright, but it's always in the wrong direction.
It takes a lot of winking to run a Center-Right Democratic government, so Obama has underlings to do some of his winks for him. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's right eye was twitching ferociously as he excoriated "the professional Left" - whatever that is - for making "crazy" demands for such things as "Canadian healthcare." The attack was, of course, a huge wink to the Right, reassuring the corporate world that Obama will not yield an inch to the Left in this election season. He is winking at "the markets" - a euphemism for the super-rich - that they can rest easy.


"He was warning labor to watch what it says at the October 2nd march on Washington for jobs."
Gibbs' remarks were a naked threat to Left Democrats that there will be repercussions for criticizing the president on war, on jobs - on anything. You will be punished. This was not a wink, but a snarl.
Robert Gibbs was not engaging in an emotional outburst; his statements were as cold and absolutely calculated as candidate Barack Obama's fawning praise of Ronald Reagan just before the Nevada primary. Like all press secretaries, Gibbs' job is to relay and define the administration's message, and to keep the press on-message. It was no coincidence that Gibbs had his anti-Left tantrum in an interview with The Hill, the newspaper that covers Congress. Gibbs was warning Democrats - like the 112 that voted against Obama's war funding bill, including three-quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus - that they had better get back in line. He was warning labor, which has been repeatedly snubbed and betrayed by this White House, to watch what it says at the October 2nd march on Washington for jobs, called jointly with the NAACP.
Obama knows that labor, and even the timid Black establishment organizations, must do something to show their constituents they are not mice. The president is telling them to scurry back to their holes and be silent. We shall see if they are mice, or grown women and men.
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: 20100818_gf_ObamaWink.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51am EDT

For a generation, the CBC's Annual Legislative Conference, popularly known as “CBC Week” has billed itself the penultimate gathering of Black America's political elite, its best and brightest and most forward thinking minds brought together for our collective advancement. If that's anywhere close to the truth, then why are there no workshop sessions on black mass incarceration or the unjust wars in Africa and the Middle East which are massively unpopular in black communities? Why no sessions on how to stop privatizations, or defend public libraries, public schools, public transit or the public sector?

Black Mass Incarceration, Unemployment, Unjust Wars, Corporate School Reform, Rampant Privatizations Are All “Off The Table” at CBC's Annual Legislative Conference

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There was a time when the Congressional Black Caucus reflected to some degree, the political will of its constituents. Elected from the most reliably antiwar and pro- job creation, pro- education constituencies in the nation, every year during the dark years of Reagan and Bush 1, the caucus, to leverage and make visible the will of their communities introduced and held hearings on their own budget recommendations, demanding the diversion of tens of billions from the Pentagon's weapons programs, unjust wars and global network of bases into what Dr. King called programs for human uplift --- education, job creation, mass transit, health care and housing.

Neither the wishes of black voters nor the needs of black communities have changed much since the 80s. But today's Congressional Black Caucus does little or nothing to project the political will of black communities onto the national stage. A quick look at the session schedule for the CBC's signature event, its Annual Legislative Conference, popularly known as CBC Week, reveals the immense gap between the priorities of the current black caucus and those if the communities they supposedly represent.

The plague of mass black imprisonment touches nearly every African American family in the land. We are one eighth the nation's population, but half those in its prisons and jails. The war on drugs is waged exclusively in our communities. Apart from a single workshop on the topic of ex-offender re-entry, the CBC's weeklong festival of backslapping and mutual admiration sessions utterly ignore black mass imprisonment. Black political leaders, if there were any such, would be about the business of figuring out how to roll back the numbers of us in prisons and jails, about ending mandatory sentencing and restoring families and neighborhoods by rolling back the nation's longstanding policy of black mass incarceration.

What you can find at CBC Week are plenty of workshops on how to get paid, how to be a contractor with the Pentagon, with the police state at the Department of Homeland Security...”

Black communities are the most steadfast bastions of antiwar sentiment in the country. But the subject of how to leverage the widespread antiwar sentiment in black communities on the national stage to affect policy is a non-starter for any workshop sessions at this year's CBC Week. The same goes for the wave of public school closings, de-fundings and privatizations. The privatization of public schools, and for that matter the plague of privatizations affecting water and transit systems, roads and other public assets in black communities are also absent from the concerns addressed at this year's CBC Week.

The black unemployment rate is at its highest in sixty years, but the CBC is not interested in mobilizing its constituents to demand real job creation to replace the millions of jobs that have disappeared. African American communities everywhere are sites of the worst toxic dumps, chemical spills and industrial pollution, and have the least access to remediation, and this too is ignored at CBC Week.

What you can find at CBC Week are plenty of workshops on how to get paid, how to be a contractor with the Pentagon, with the police state at the Department of Homeland Security, how to get in on government procurement and the like. Although there are no sessions on the need for support of public transit, you can find a session on how your business can get some surface transit money.

The fact is, CBC Week, and the CBC itself have been swallowed by big business. The head of the CBC foundation, which puts on the affair, is a black AT&T exec. She is surrounded by her peers from MCDonalds, Wal-Mart, Bank of America,and Lockheed, by military contractors and the banks that gave us the sub-prime scare, and more. The congressional Black Caucus has become indistinguishable from its big business funders, and almost from their white colleagues. It's time to stop pretending that the CBC's Annual Legislative Caucus has any relation to the needs or political aspirations of our people.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20100811_bd_cbc_week.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:48pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Precisely like his predecessor, President Obama empowers a pro-western Murder Inc. in Black Africa, a roster that includes the most vicious mass murderers and assassins on the continent. One of them, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, who is culpable in the death of millions in Congo, recently held an election in which he got 93 percent of the vote. But you won't hear any complaints from the White House.

Paul Kagame: America's Genocidaire in Central Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Paul Kagame and Woseri Museveni are the two main architects of the genocide in the eastern Congo.”

One of the United States’ main allies in Black Africa recently declared himself the winner of a farcical presidential election with 93 percent of the vote. But there will be no outcry from Hillary Clinton’s State Department or Barack Obama’s White House, or even much of a fuss from the New York Times, because President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda, serves U.S. interests. You will never hear western governments and media call Kagame by his true name: a dictator and warlord from the minority Tutsi tribe that holds sway over the majority Hutu population through a reign of terror. Instead, western capitalists shower his regime with money and high praise as an example of how Africa should be governed.

Paul Kagame and his mentor and fellow warlord in neighboring Uganda, President Woseri Museveni, were given the green light by the West to kill and steal at will in Central Africa. They are the two main architects of the genocide in the eastern Congo, where some estimate six million people have died since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the region, in the mid-Nineties. The soldiers of these two U.S. henchmen are still there, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, looting precious minerals for sale to multinational corporations under cover of tribal warfare – wars created and nurtured by Kagame and Museveni, themselves, for the sake of power and profit and the favor of the United States and Europe. Kagame and Museveni have more blood on their hands than any combination of men in Africa – which makes them heroes to the West.

Kagame and Museveni have more blood on their hands than any combination of men in Africa.”

Compared to the Congolese genocide, stealing an election in Rwanda is child’s play. The majority of the Hutu population lives in terror of the Tutsi-dominated regime, which is rooted in the guerilla army that invaded Rwanda from its bases in Uganda and set off the genocidal tribal violence that killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and Hutus – although the Hutu victims of Paul Kagame’s army must be mourned in silence. It is a crime in Rwanda to even raise the question of mass killings of Hutus during the violence of 1994, as Kagame fought his way to power. Indeed, any criticism of Kagame’s regime is guaranteed to get one branded as a genocidaire – an advocate of genocide – or a proponent of “divisionism,” which means saying anything that might tend to undermine the people’s obedience to Paul Kagame. You might just turn up dead, as did several of the regime’s opponents in the run-up to the sham election. No serious opposition was allowed to compete. The Kagame police state has ways to ensure that almost everyone votes for The Leader. Voters mark their ballots with their fingerprints next to the chosen candidate, so no one’s vote is a secret.

The two African heads of state most despised by the United States, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, have held elections that were far more fair and credible than Rwanda's Paul Kagame. Presidents Mugabe and Bashir would never arrange for themselves to get 93 percent of the vote, because they would be denounced as vote thieves by the West. But the genocidal dictator and Paul Kagame flaunts his disregard for the democratic processes, and the West loves him for it. He is doing the U.S. and Europe's killing for them, and they are pleased. 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: 20100811_gf_Rwanda.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

The recent Netroots Nation conference shows that Obama'Laid is easily dispensed in digital form, inebriating millions. What does it matter if 25 percent of Twitter users are Black, when “by 2012 75 percent of the country will have only one Internet service provider offering high-speed broadband Internet?” Clearly, the revolution will not be Twitterized. A real mass movement is needed.

Social Media Is Not Social Movement: Obama’Laid and the Internet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

The Internet didn’t prevent Oscar Grant’s murder from occurring or prevent his killer from being handed an unjust non-sentence.”

Obama’Laid is a nasty drug of delusion. And like most drugs the method used to ingest it is less an issue than the drug itself. It may indeed be healthier to eat THC than smoke it but both will get you high. Enough alcohol whether in beer or shot form will get you drunk. And whether it comes in discussions of race, war or the economy Obama’Laid still packs a punch. One powerful form of Obama’Laid is certainly found in discussions of Obama’s use of and planned policies for the Internet. These highly intoxicated discussions include the ill-informed claims of the Internet as a mechanism for “changing the racial narrative,” or leveling the political playing field in the national public sphere. More and more often these days people are describing the use of “social’ media” and the “success” stories of people organizing this or that event with the use of the Internet, Twitter or Facebook. Books today now often include some chapter about how the Internet and blogging is revolutionizing politics and media. So much so that there is even the horribly liberal and co-opting theft of the term grassroots by the unofficially Democratic Party Netroots Nation conference which held its fifth annual convention this summer in Las Vegas. The Internet has so captured liberal politics that they cannot help themselves but to further denigrate genuine grassroots radical politics by suggesting that such movements are being developed, in fact can only be developed, online. It is an easy and safe conclusion but its incorrectness is simply dangerous.

For instance, participants at the Netroots Nation conference this and in recent years could be heard touting the wonders of the internet in bringing more people into the public sphere and offering outlets for more diverse voices – especially now that 25 percent of Twitter users are Black! As one conference participant said, with mobile devices being so popular among Black and Brown people, there no longer is any significant race or class-based digital divide or unequal access to the Internet. And, of course, some again uncritically applauded the Internet as being what brought young people into the process of electing Obama and others suggested that the use of this “social media” played some positive roll in the wake of the killing of Oscar Grant. It seems not to matter whether or not Obama is good for us, or that his Wall Street funding is what made his Internet presence what is was, or that the Internet didn’t prevent Grant’s murder from occurring or prevent his killer from being handed an unjust non-sentence. But this is what Democratic Party liberal politics leads to, what Fred Hampton once described as, the “explanations that don’t explain… and the conclusions that don’t conclude.”

Verizon and Google continued to take advantage of a weak Federal Communications Commission, with a weak chair who serves a weak president.”

This past week dealt another blow to those who will soon be suffering the hangover of all this Internet Obama’Laid binge-drinking. Verizon and Google continued to take advantage of a weak Federal Communications Commission, with a weak chair who serves a weak president. Both Obama and his FCC chair Julius Genachowski once said they would be champions of a free and equally accessed Internet. But as Obama has done with health care, bailouts and wars his appointee Genchowski is bowing to media industry corporate pressure. This is a first in what is assuredly a coming onslaught of death blows to Net Neutrality and will allow the two media giants to determine which websites users can access at full speed versus ones they deem unworthy. And because they are initially focused on the mobile devices most used by the poor to access the Internet the previous delusion of those devices erasing the digital divide will soon be further exposed as such. Similarly, in a separate study, it was reported that only 1% of financed Internet start-ups are Black-owned.

It is this precise imbalance in corporate-backing and influence that has resulted in a soft liberal political leadership that supports these and worse conclusions. This is why those who claim grassroots end up not developing any counter-balance of power and in the end support a president who claims to want to extend broadband Internet while keeping it equal but then supports an FCC chair who seems not to want to fight a previous court decision which tells him he has no jurisdiction over the Internet and who develops a national broadband strategy which, according to one report, says that by 2012 75 percent of the country will have only one Internet service provider offering high-speed broadband Internet.

At the Obama’Laid Stand the Internet flavor is just as popular as the others. But it is still just a flavor. Whether war, race, jobs or the internet, this nation is simply stoned on the fundamental drug of Obama’Laid.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at: jared.ball@morgan.edu

Direct download: 20100811_jb_Internet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:22am EDT

Bishop, Davis, Green, Butterfield, Scott & Clyburn:  The CBC's 6 Eunuchs of War

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Three-quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus voted to deny the warmonger in the White House funds for his aggressions. Although Obama got his "blood money," the pro-war faction in the Black Caucus numbers only six members. "So let's call out their names, and drench them in shame and contempt."
 
Six Black Eunuchs of War
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Let's call out their names, and drench them in shame and contempt."
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared that the war in Vietnam was, in fact, a "war against the poor" in the United States, because it empowered the "demonic, destructive suction tube" of the military to devour the money that should have gone to build President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs. There were many other reasons that Dr. King opposed the war - great reasons of morality, such as the essential wrongness of a policy that had already killed millions and made the United States the "greatest purveyor of violence" in the world. But, by invoking the Vietnam War's devastating economic consequences to Black and poor people at home, Dr. King was pointing out that, the war must also be opposed as a practical matter of politics, because it was against Black people's bread and butter interests. And those interests, as well as morality, trumped Black people's desire to support a sitting Democratic president who had been, on many critical issues, an ally of the Black Freedom Movement.
There was no Congressional Black Caucus in 1967; it would be formed several years later, with an initial roster of ­­13. But, through word and deed, Black people had made it clear over generations that they were overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. military adventures abroad. We knew in our guts that these constant U.S. wars in the Third World were racist wars. So, when George Bush sought congressional approval for his planned war against Iraq in 2002, 35 years after Dr. King came out against the Vietnam War, all but four members of the Black Caucus said "No."
Last week, the Congress voted on President Obama's request for tens of billions of dollars to fund his wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This time, 102 Democrats said "No" to war, including three quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus. Obama got his blood money, but without the endorsement of 30 Black lawmakers. Only six Black congressmen stood with the War Party. So let's call out their names, and drench them in shame and contempt.
"102 Democrats said "No" to war, including three quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus."
One of them is Sanford Bishop, the Black congressman from southwest Georgia. He was among the four that sided with Bush in 2002. Back then, I called them the Four Black Eunuchs of War, because they were so eager to bend to Power. The other three, Harold Ford, of Memphis, William Jefferson, of New Orleans, and Albert Wynn, of Maryland, are now gone from the congressional scene. The other five new Eunuchs of War are, Al Green, of Texas, C.K. Butterfield, of North Carolina, James Clyburn, of South Carolina, David Scott, from Atlanta, and Artur Davis, of Alabama. David Scott and Artur Davis have vied for the dishonor of being the worst, most pro-corporate Black members of Congress since both were elected in 2002. Davis claims that he'll be getting out of electoral politics, after losing the Black vote in a landslide in his run for governor of Alabama, this year. We hope he keeps his promise, so that the pro-war faction in the Congressional Black Caucus dwindles to a tiny minority of five.
One of the Blackest districts in the nation is held by a white man, Steve Cohen, of Memphis. He, too, voted against war funding.
The First Black President has shown himself to be a warmonger. But Black America sides with peace, and it is gratifying to see that most of the Congressional Black Caucus understands that elementary fact. 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: 20100804_fg_AntiWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Wall Street reversed its fortunes by seizing total control of the U.S. state and its treasure. No greater conflict of interest can be imagined than that which exists between bought-off Democratic and Republican office holders and corporations that are deemed "too big to fail." Yet "they're trying to burn" Black Congresswoman Maxine Waters "for the crime of giving the little guy an opportunity to plead his own case."
 
Rep. Maxine Waters and Upside Down Morality
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The Black banks had one reliable friend: Congresswoman Maxine Waters."
In a society in which government policy now dictates that some enterprises are "too big to fail," it is obscene that Los Angeles Black Congresswoman Maxine Waters faces political ruin because she championed Black-owned banks.  The principles most valued by civilized human beings, including helping the little guy, are turned upside down when huge corporations dominate every aspect of national life, as is the case in the United States. In today's corporate moral madhouse, billion-dollar bailouts are reserved for the filthy rich and their huge, predatory corporations, while smaller enterprises must sink or swim on their own. If someone tries to balance the scales even a little bit, there is hell to pay - as Congresswoman Waters has discovered.
Waters faces probable congressional trial on ethics charges, for arranging a meeting between Black bankers and officials of the Bush Treasury Department, back in 2008. Waters has long sat on the House Financial Services Committee, which handles banking legislation. For decades, Waters has been a strong advocate of minority business. She arranged a sit-down between Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and representatives of the National Bankers Association, the trade group for the nation's Black-owned banks. Paulson, if you remember, was the fellow that panicked Congress, when the bottom fell out of Wall Street shortly before the presidential elections, crying that life as we know it would cease to exist if the biggest banks were not bailed out immediately to the tune of $700 billion. Paulson was well-placed to make the case for the big bank bailout, having previously served as CEO of one of the main beneficiaries of the people's largess: Goldman Sachs.
"In today's corporate moral madhouse, billion-dollar bailouts are reserved for huge, predatory corporations, while smaller enterprises must sink or swim on their own."
Black banks were in crisis, too, but who did they have to call on? Not Paulson, who would make sure that his old comrades in crime at Goldman Sachs made out like the greatest bandits of all time. Not Robert Rubin, Barack Obama's banking guru, also a former CEO of Goldman Sachs and later chairman of Citigroup, another prime recipient of bailout billions. No, the Black banks had one reliable friend: Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  She succeeded in hooking the Black bankers association up with Secretary Paulson. At the meeting, however, only one Black bank was represented, OneUnited Bank. Naturally, the bank's chief executive made his case for a bailout of only $12 million - thousands of times smaller than the bailouts given to Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Rep. Waters was not at the meeting, and Treasury Department officials say that Waters had no influence on the loan to the Black bank.
The alleged conflict stems from the fact that Congresswoman Waters' husband owned stock in the bank, although he no longer sat on the board. The reality is, Waters' husband could not have sold his stock in 2008, even if he wanted to, because the bank was in danger of going under.  Maxine Waters never had enough influence to create a conflict of interest. She had no checkbook, no budget, no real clout. All Waters could do was set up an appointment. Now they're trying to burn her for the crime of giving the little guy an opportunity to plead his own case.  The Paulsons and Rubins dispense trillions to their friends on Wall Street, and that is not considered a conflict. But, Maxine Waters can't even set up a meeting for a small Black bank, without putting her career at risk. 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: 20100804_gf_MaxineBanks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EDT

In News and Politics Black People Are Still Invisible

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Black people are no longer newsworthy. That's the result of a Pew study, which found "stories defined as significantly focused on Black Americans accounted for only 1.9% of all news coverage." And a majority of that coverage was of the Henry Louis Gates run-in with a Cambridge cop. The lesson: "A defeated people need no coverage."
 
In News and Politics Black People Are Still Invisible
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"There is dwindling coverage of actual Black issues in news or politics."
Dust off your Ellison; because when it comes to news and politics Black people remain invisible.  According to the recent Pew Research Center study on "Media, Race and Obama's First Year," "African Americans attracted relatively little attention in the U.S. mainstream news media during the first year of Barack Obama's presidency."  Now, Obama's presence is causing simultaneous new highs in levels of delusion and equally high levels of absence and it is a perfect storm of annihilation.  At precisely the time when there is no mass movement, as conditions worsen and fewer Black people are more famous than ever there is dwindling coverage of actual Black issues in news or politics.  It is more than a potentially dangerous situation.  This kind of inattention matched with a specific kind of public policy had already, in the years prior to Obama's arrival on the scene, led famed legal scholar Derrick Bell to conclude that we have already reached the equivalent in public policy of randomly shooting hundreds of Black people every week with no one caring.  Or as Anthony Hamilton sings, "Aint Nobody Worrying."  
According to the recently released year-long study of all mainstream media formats from February 2009 to February 2010, stories defined as significantly focused on Black Americans accounted for only 1.9% of all news coverage.  Broken down by medium an old story emerges, one familiar to readers of Glen Ford over the last decade; that of the entire 1.9% total the largest segments of Black-focused media were cable television and talk radio.  The lowest?  News radio. When it comes to cable and talk Black people might get the tiniest mention.  But when it comes to news, there is apparently none to report.  A defeated people need no coverage.  A people destined for future horrors need no current attention. 
"If Black people are not singing, rapping, dancing or playing a game there is simply no reason at all to cover them."
And it's even worse than that.  Of that 1.9% a majority of the coverage was of the Henry Louis Gates fiasco.  No, not his recent and disturbing attack on reparations, but the police brutality he suffered and the subsequent beer he drank with both the president and the abusive cop.  According to the study the mainstream media will include some discussion of Blackness if it is related to the first Black president of the United States.  Obama got the second most coverage, of that total 1.9%.  Meanwhile, the impact on Black people of the economic crisis or of the health care debate combined to be 9.5% of the total 1.9% mainstream inclusion of Black people in news or political coverage.  It really remains true.  If Black people are not singing, rapping, dancing or playing a game there is simply no reason at all to cover them.  Even if the president is Black.  More so if the president is Black. 
But what this means is further proof of the denial of race presented by the era of the first Black president.  The nation's response to the uprisings of the 1960s and 70s was an increase in the number of Black faces seen on television.  Obama's presidency, now shown on several levels, is a magnification of that same process.  The more Blackness is seen the less substantive the view and the less likely there is to be Black resistance to worsening conditions.  Race, or the impact of White supremacy on Black people, has disappeared from the mainstream.   Worse, its appearance actually speaks against its impact.
This is precisely why people like Ishmael Reed do not take lightly the popular representation of Black people in the U.S. mainstream media.  Nothing of substance is discussed in relation to Black people.   No time, no in-depth concern, no deep investment or involvement.  So when popular media depict Black people as savages, criminals, obscenely vulgar sexually Reed makes direct connections to pre-Nazi Holocaust depictions of Jews.  Or as one scholar of genocide has said, "as a rule human beings do not kill other human beings {and therefore} before we enter into warfare or genocide we first dehumanize those we mean to eliminate."  If this indeed were the plan for Black people, apparently, no one would know until there was a dearth of entertainment and a blatantly lowered standard of sports.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online visit us at www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared Ball can be reached via email at jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100804_jb_InvisibleBlacks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Newly enacted law forbids New York City police from keeping records on the hundreds of thousands of people they stop and frisk on the street - unless the stops result in summons or arrest. Not only is there  "no enforcement mechanism to make sure the cops obey the law," but the "reform" may result in more arrests, while failing to diminish the massive stops.
 
Do Not Exaggerate Victory in New York Stop and Frisk Law
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The new prohibition against keeping records on those who are not charged is likely to encourage cops to become even more aggressive in their stop and frisks."
A small victory was gained, recently, in New York City, in the mostly losing battle against the methodical construction of a police state in Black America. And, although even small victories should be celebrated, one should not get carried away.
Earlier this month, the New York State legislature passed, and Gov. David Paterson signed, a bill that would prevent police from using and keeping personal information gained in most of the nearly three million stop and frisks in New York City since 2004. Ninety percent of those stopped are non-white, and all but a small fraction have done nothing wrong, but the police department and the billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, claimed the fight against crime required that they keep the data on everyone who got caught up in their police dragnets. When lawmakers demanded to know how keeping records on the innocent is a legitimate crime-fighting tool, the cops came up with few, if any, convincing examples. But, of course, the logic of a police state is to keep records on everybody and, in a racist society, that means hyper-surveillance of Blacks and browns. The cops lost that argument.
But that doesn't mean the police lost the war that they wage daily against people of color on the streets of New York. Last week, the Amsterdam News, a local Black newspaper, asked Gov. Paterson how we could be sure that the police were actually going to throw away the data on the innocent people stopped by police - about half a million instances last year, alone. The governor replied that no had had ever asked him that question. He clearly didn't have an answer, and said he "would assume that police would comply." That's one hell of an assumption! The fact is, the legislation has no enforcement mechanism to make sure the cops obey the law. In the end, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights will likely wind up going back into court to ensure compliance.
"The whole stop and frisk regime has to go."
Remember, the massive stop and frisk practice remains in place. It is designed to create an environment of fear and intimidation in Black and brown New York. It tells non-whites that the cops can reach out and touch you any time they choose, for any fictitious reason they conjure up. It is built on a foundation of police lies about "suspicious" behavior - which is why the vast majority of those stopped are let go. The internal logic of the scheme is such that, the new prohibition against keeping records on those who are not charged is likely to encourage cops to become even more aggressive in their stop and frisks, to become even more physically and verbally provocative and then charge people with resisting police - to make up more lies in order to justify an arrest, which would allow them to legally use the data.
I can hear the police shift commanders now, urging their troops to make more arrests - not just stops.
So, here we have a small victory, for a small reform, that could potentially aggravate the larger crime: the daily denial of basic constitutional rights to the Black and brown people of New York.
The whole stop and frisk regime has to go. It is the cornerstone of a racist police state, and the intake valve of Black mass incarceration.
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: 20100728_gf_Frisk.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
Even the NAACP's language oozes weakness. "No longer are we even 'hoodwinked,' or 'bamboozled.' No, just 'snookered.' "I suppose its the difference between being outwitted and being without wit at all."
 
"Snookered" by Liberalism
by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"The NAACP makes deals with super predator Wells Fargo, accepts Obama's absence of a Black Agenda and then is "snookered" by an already-exposed media fraud into condemning Sherrod."
When discussing the case of Shirley Sherrod we cannot forget that the true culprit is an endemic political liberalism.  It is not the Right or the conservatives at Fox News.  It is not the Tea Party or its media punditry and it is certainly not some right-wing operative who keeps doctoring videos.  It is a soft reformist liberal politics that is to blame.  Sherrod is yet another in a procession of reasons to be disgusted by the absolute weakness of President Obama, the Democratic Party, civil rights leaders and of liberalism itself.  This is what was ultimately behind yet another Black woman being publicly scorned, forcibly removed from rightful position and blamed for all that is wrong in the world.  It is a liberalism that has long frustrated true progressives. 
It is why Malcolm warned of the liberal fox and King described the racial solidarity that often resulted in the liberal "walking off" with the aggressor.  And it is why Stokely called the white liberal the "weakest" element of their community whose only real purpose was to stem a more revolutionary tide.  It is this self-fulfilling liberalism, a loyal opposition liberalism, that produced the conditions in which Sherrod would be condemned.  Of course, it is this same liberalism which made Sherrod possible, which made Obama possible and makes the Black liberalism which supports them both; the Black liberalism which is the most vile of white supremacist production.
In the military we were told that "stuff" rolls down hill.  This meant that bad orders started at the top, picked up steam, while increasing in size and severity of impact, all culminating in a horrible crash upon those at the bottom.  And in a white supremacist, capitalistic and patriarchal society Black women quite naturally are that proverbial bottom upon which all society's ills fall the hardest.  Shirley Sherrod was ultimately ordered to the side of the road, told to resign and forced to pay a public and private price because of the "stuff" which formed at the top.  It formed in the failure among us to reignite more radical movements which allowed Obama to eventually be seen as progress.  It is Obama's condemnation of Reverend Wright; his refusal to attend the World Conference Against Racism; his lack of any meaningful commentary on Sean Bell; his backing down to a white cop and to an institution that routinely brutalizes Black people which ultimately supports the killing of Oscar Grant and now James Rivera, another 15 year old Black child killed this week by police.
"Sherrod is yet another in a procession of reasons to be disgusted by the absolute weakness of President Obama, the Democratic Party, civil rights leaders and of liberalism itself."
From there the "stuff" continues to roll.  The NAACP makes deals with super predator Wells Fargo, accepts Obama's absence of a Black Agenda and then is "snookered" by an already-exposed media fraud into condemning Sherrod.  Taking their cue from the president, who takes his own from the most liberal economic and politic elite, they offer a trifling apology for what only occurred because of this fundamental liberalism.  And isn't the depth of this pitiful liberalism voiced by its own language?  What organization can be popular, powerful and Black with leadership that not only can be so easily "snookered," but then says out of its mouth that it has been "snookered!?!"  No longer are we even "hoodwinked," or "bamboozled."  You know, tricked but strongly tricked.  I suppose its the difference between being outwitted and being without wit at all.  We can't even be the more 21st century "pimped."  That's how soft we've become.  Now we are "snookered."
Liberalism is our greatest problem.  Not the Right, not the conservative media and not even lunatics on television who seemingly can topple a Black president and the most revered civil rights organization.  It is by not pressing a more sustained, public and vigorous response to the ravages of racism in this country that liberalism has allowed for this, yet another demonstration of weakness.
Having mentioned one Revered Wright felled by liberalism let me close with the words of another Reverend Wright who warned of that very dangerous liberal tendency almost 200 years ago.  In 1837 Reverend Theodore Wright made a challenge to the liberal Abolitionists of his day saying, "I fear not all the machination, calumny and opposition of slaveholders, when contrasted with the annexation of men whose hearts have not been deeply imbued with [the] high and holy principles [of racial equality].... remember this prejudice must be killed or slavery will never be abolished."
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Direct download: 20100727_jb_sherrod.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:43pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The White House has reached new lows in evading responsibility for Obama's wars. In the wake of the recent WikiLeaks, administration minions now distance the president from the conduct of the Afghan war prior to December, 2009 - eleven months into office. "It is as if White House minions think that all President Obama need do to absolve himself from the crimes of his wars, is to announce a 'new strategy.'"
 
WikiLeaks Documents Expose Obama's Brutal Afghan War, White House Blames the Messengers
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The Obama crew is behaving both more cowardly and more cynically than their Republican predecessors in the White House."
Barack Obama and his handlers think they are magicians, that they can somehow snap their fingers and separate the president from the wars he has embraced and expanded. In attempting to distance Commander-in-Chief Obama from his own wars - the sordid details of which are contained in 90,000 pages of documents released by WikiLeaks - the Obama crew is behaving both more cowardly and more cynically than their Republican predecessors in the White House. The Bush men were barbaric racists, crude cowboys whose naked American hyper-nationalism, and gross disdain for and ignorance of everyone one else on the planet was ultimately too heavy a burden for the empire to bear. They had to go, in order for the empire to live.
George Bush - and, especially, former Vice President Dick Cheney - never denied ownership of their ghastly wars. They were proud of having unleashed hell on Earth, having devoted every waking hour to the project since at least September 11th, 2001. Bush and Cheney and the rest are certainly war criminals deserving the most extreme punishments sanctioned by civilized humanity - but they are proud and defiant criminals.
Not the Obama team, which tries to wage aggressive, imperial wars while ducking and hiding from responsibility for those wars. When the avalanche of WikiLeaks documents descended, the White House trotted out National Security Adviser James Jones, who essentially said: These papers are about somebody else's wars, not my boss, President Obama. The documents cover the period from January 2004 to December 2009 - that is, about eleven months into Obama's presidency. General Jones tries to disavow everything that happened in Afghanistan before Obama announced his "new strategy" in December of 2009. It is as if White House minions think that all President Obama need do to absolve himself from the crimes of his wars, is to announce a "new strategy." Even George Bush was not so cynical.
"Obama now disavows the first year of his own administration's conduct of the Afghanistan war."
But this behavior is typical Obama, who told his corporate and military allies early on in his campaign that he wasn't opposed to war, only to "stupid wars." He now disavows the first year of his own administration's conduct of the Afghanistan war, even though he embraced it as a "good" war and expanded it deeper into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than George Bush ever dared. Apparently, the first Obama war year is now to be considered part of Bush's "dumb war" days, and the official Obama war is now dated from December, 2009. Or so we are expected to believe.
The entire White House posture is so pitiful, it's almost funny, in a ghoulish sort of way. WikiLeaks releases a torrent of secret U.S. documents, and the White House complains that WikiLeaks should have checked with the U.S. government, first - the same people that wanted to keep the gory details of war a secret from the public. That's like an organized crime family claiming that the cops ought to get permission from the Don before digging up the buried bodies of mob victims. In this case, of course, the bodies are in the millions.
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: 20100728_gf_WikiWhiteHouse.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:43pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. war against Somalia expands outwards and "has now blown back to Uganda," the U.S. ally that, "along with the minority Tutsi dictatorship in Rwanda, is America's most reliable mercenary force in Black Africa." Ethiopia and Kenya prepare to join Uganda in an offensive against the Somali resistance, to save America's puppet mini-state in Mogadishu.
 
U.S.-Backed War in Somalia Comes to Uganda, Threatens to Set Whole Region Aflame
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The bombing in Kampala must be understood in the context of the planned expansion of the war in Somalia."
The bombs that exploded in Kampala earlier this month, killing 76 people and unleashing a wave of arrests and deportations by the Ugandan regime, are chickens coming home to roost from the U.S.-sponsored war in Somalia. U.S. corporate media routinely fail to note that the Ugandan military and other U.S. African allies are all that prevent the farcical U.S.-backed mini-government in Somalia from being evicted from the few neighborhoods it still controls in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The rest of south and central Somalia belongs to the Shabab and another Islamist group, that earned their nationalist credentials in fighting Ethiopian troops that invaded Somalia with full U.S. backing in late 2006. The invasion interrupted a brief period of relative peace in Somalia  and plunged the country into what United Nations officials called the "worst humanitarian crisis in Africa - worse than Darfur."
The Shabab justified the Uganda bomb attacks on the grounds that Ugandan troops have been killing Somali civilians for years. Under the guise of African Union peacekeepers, the Ugandan and Burundian soldiers have been able keep open the road to Mogadishu's airport, the Somali regime's lifeline to U.S. arms and supplies. But the puppet state is a government in name only, without the popular support to field an army capable of defending itself. The rump faction has been reduced to recruiting child soldiers as young as 12, causing the United Nations Security Council to threaten sanctions. Of all the world's governments, only the United States and Somalia have failed to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which outlaws the use of child soldiers.
"Washington's African allies propose to send 15,000 more troops to Somalia to engage in offensive operations."
Frustrated at the failure of massive U.S. arms and money in Somalia, Washington has encouraged its Ugandan, Kenyan, Ethiopian and other U.S. client states to launch their own offensive against the Somali resistance, in violation of United Nations resolutions. Washington's African allies propose to send 15,000 more troops to Somalia to engage in offensive operations. This would include the formal re-entrance of Ethiopian soldiers, some of whom never left Somalia, and thousands of troops from Kenya's large Somali minority and others from Somali refugee camps - a violation of international law.
The bombing in Kampala must be understood in the context of this planned expansion of the war in Somalia. The conflict has now blown back to Uganda, whose strongman, Yoweri Museveni, now uses the bombings to justify the already-planned Somali offensive. Along with the minority Tutsi dictatorship in Rwanda, Uganda is America's most reliable mercenary force in Black Africa. Both countries bear much of the responsibility for the death of millions in eastern Congo, following their invasions with the backing of the United States.
Kenya will certainly be further destabilized, as well, in the course of the Somalia offensive.
This is what passes for "soft power" in the Obama administration: arming and instigating Africans to fight each other. It will backfire on the United States, sooner rather than later - but not before many thousands more Africans have died. 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: 20100721_gf_HornOfAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The nation's oldest civil rights group claims it is ready to confront militarism and demand that  Obama supporters get the "change they voted for." So do Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who is virtually an administration operative. Do does Big Labor. We'll believe it when we see it. But, the Tea Party is another story.
 
NAACP Confronts Tea Party, But Will It Challenge Obama?
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"If racists were actually purged from the Tea Party, it would disappear."
The NAACP is a bundle of contradictions - but, by virtue of history, it is our bundle, to criticize when necessary and, when possible, to support. For the corporate media, which virtually invented the Tea Party, the NAACP's resolution demanding that the various Tea Party outfits disassociate themselves from racists, was the big news of the NAACP convention. Of course, if racists were actually purged from the Tea Party, it would disappear, since race is its reason-for-being as a white nationalist phenomenon. White American nationalism celebrates the fruits of genocide, slavery, aggressive war and empire, and is therefore inherently racist. Lots of non-Tea Partyers are also American empire worshippers, including the Black imperial commander-in-chief, himself, Barack Obama. But the NAACP limits the scope of its criticism to those Tea Partyers that use racist language and images in public - especially when that language is directed against the First Black President.
It is part of the Black man and woman's burden to confront racism wherever it rears its head - which, in the United States, is everywhere and often. But, in the case of the Tea Party, my question is this: at what point will Black folks be able to say, We beat them? Will it be when the the Tea Partyers go back to using racial code words instead of loud and rowdy redneck-talk? Is that all it would take to arrange a truce with racists, that they be more polite about it?
Direct download: 20100721_gf_NAACPTeaJobs.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:05pm EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
The bad new has come hot and heavy, lately: leniency for a killer cop, a draconian sentence for a people's lawyer, no parole for political prisoners, and death. "But this is the life to which we have been consigned by the dysfunction and disarray of the movements these women and men represent."
 
A Roller Coaster Week in the Anti-Amusement Park of Radical Politics
by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"The release of one political prisoner, is horribly balanced against the exchange for another and the further entrenchment of suffering for two more amidst the loss of a father, activist and frontline progressive."
I received an email the other day from a veteran political activist.  It read, "Cynthia's pops died today, Marilyn Buck was released, Lynne Stewart got 10 years and so did Sundiata Acoli.  Herman Bell was denied parole again.  What a roller coaster."  "Cynthia's pop," is James Edwards "Billy" McKinney, a former member of the Georgia State legislature and Atlanta policeman.  McKinney, as Bruce Dixon has explained, was a cop in Atlanta "when Black police officers couldn't arrest white people."  And, of course, he was the father of former Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney.  Marilyn Buck, a white supporter of the Black Liberation Movement who was convicted for (among other things) having aided in the escape of Assata Shakur, was released after more than 25 years in prison.  But people's lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 10 years for her defense of an accused "terrorist" which some say is a death sentence given her age and health.  Black Panther and Black Liberation Movement veterans Sundiata Acoli and Herman Bell were both given 10 more years in prison and denied parole respectively.  And this is that "roller coaster."  The tiniest of good news, the release of one political prisoner, is horribly balanced against the exchange for another and the further entrenchment of suffering for two more amidst the loss of a father, activist and frontline progressive.
But this is the life to which we have been consigned by the dysfunction and disarray of the movements these women and men represent. We have said many times before that the very existence of these prisoners is proof of the incompleteness of these movements.  The mere image or thought of the politics represented by these people is deemed threatening and worthy of the worst forms of punishment, up to and including death.  Remember, it was reported that Lynne Stewart, for example, was likely given such a harsh sentence not because of her particular alleged "crime," but because she was seen by the judge as insufficiently repentant.  reporter following the case said that the judge felt compelled to his act because of comments Stewart made publicly regarding her case which he took "as evidence that she was not as remorseful as she should be and that [therefore] he should increase the sentence."
"Not any alleged act but the acknowledged ideas they represent has these and others paying such a heavy toll."
Of course many other political prisoners have had their political views be the anchor to which they are tethered behind prison walls more so than any "crime" for which they have been convicted.  In the trials of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier their involvement with the Black Panther Party and American Indian Movement respectively was introduced as a reason for their incarceration.  Jalil Muntaqim was told by the sitting judge that he and his co-defendants were seen as "prisoners of war."  Even the victim's statement given by the son of the police officer they were convicted of killing says that he forgives them for "the positions they took back then" and that Herman Bell and Muntaqim were, "both victims as well of a much larger scheme which got them incarcerated to this day."  Not any alleged act but the acknowledged ideas they represent has these and others paying such a heavy toll.
As another veteran activist tells me all the time:  "We must remember that desiring and working to be free is illegal."  This was again made obvious this past week.  And remember the condemnation to death of Stanley "Tookie" Williams by the Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005.  In it the governor was clear.  Williams was not being denied clemency because of any prior crime and certainly not as a result of his stellar behavior as a model prisoner. Schwarzenegger made clear that it was his public appreciation for other political prisoners, members of the Black Liberation Movement and, in particular, George Jackson.  The governor wrote, "But the inclusion of George Jackson on this list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems."
In other words, it was an affinity for unsanctioned ideas that secured his murder by the state.  So as we continue to support the people themselves we must also fight for the right to think without sanction of the state.  Perhaps Funkadelic was already too late when warning us to, "Think! It ain't illegal yet."
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100721_jb_Prisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:01pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

An objective reading of the data from the Pew Research Center leads to one conclusion: Black Americans are suffering cognitive delusions regarding their actual condition, brought on by the advent of a Black president. But one Black writer doesn't has a different view. He sees a leap of faith.
 
Unknown Object
Black Faith VS Black Reality in the Age of Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Every detail of data pointed to 'Obama euphoria' having unsettled lots of Black folk's brains."
Black America has been the group most devastated by the Great Recession, both in absolute and relative terms. Many of the gains of recent decades - which have not been all that dramatic to begin with - have been wiped out. So deep is the damage to Black employment, household wealth, and the viability of whole sections of cities, the data are not yet sufficient for a complete assessment. The threats posed by structural changes wrought by the two deep recessions of the 21st century, are even more disturbing.
At least, such facts should be deeply disturbing. The fate of African American generations to come will hinge on the contemporary Black political response to economic and political crisis. But the results of polling by the authoritative Pew Research Center shows that Blacks claim to be the least disturbed of any demographic group at the state of the economy - despite having suffered the most. There was absolutely no doubt that Black people's ability to assess their own and their neighbor's actual economic situation had been severely compromised by the election of the first Black president. Every detail of data pointed to "Obama euphoria" having unsettled lots of Black folk's brains, way beyond Election Day.
We published two commentaries on the Pew polls, this year, one on January 20 and another last week. The January piece was titled, "Living a Black Fantasy: The Obama Delirium Effect." In it, we concluded that "ObamaL'aid is a mind-altering substance, a hallucinogen" that also "behaves like an opiate, blocking out pain." The July 7 July 14 piece was titled, "First Black Presidency Has Driven Many African Americans Insane." I wrote that "a large segment of Black America became disconnected from reality... rendered incompetent and politically useless to themselves and their families by the mere existence of a Black president."
"This is not about Sam Cooke singing, 'A Change Gonna Come.'"
Last week, Lee A. Daniels, Director of Communications for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, published an article on the organization's website, TheDefendersOnline, that  had an entirely different take on the Pew polls. Blacks were not responding irrationally to the economic crisis, said Daniels. Instead, he said, "The gateway to understanding the optimism blacks feel even in the face of an alarming deterioration of their economic position can be put in one word: Faith." Blacks' "profound experience with economic adversity" has required faith to overcome, and this is just another such episode.
But of course, the Pew data deal with much more than simple optimism. This is not about Sam Cooke singing, "A Change Gonna Come." The data show that large chunks of Black America believe that Blacks are better off economically today than ten years ago, although the opposite is true. We are not talking about hopes for the future, but a grasp of reality in the present. Lee Daniels comes close to sounding like those white racists who justify keeping Blacks in poverty because Blacks have, supposedly, been conditioned to it. It also reminds me of a quote from Harriet Tubman, who emancipated hundreds of slaves. "AnchorAnchorI could have freed more," she said, "if they knew they were slaves."
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: 20100714_gf_Faith.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:20am EDT

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
Post-racialism and race neutrality are fantasies; the Oscar Grant killing and trial, and the Black reaction to the verdict, are real. And so is the pervasive rage that is a characteristic - a "property" - of being Black in America.
 
The Oscar Grant Verdict: A Rage In Black America
by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"It is this being Black in America, which as a matter of national state policy, defines Black people, limits Black people, oppresses Black people, that consciously or not draws the deepest ire from Black people."
There is a rage in Black America.  It is righteous.  It is justified.  It is unrequited.  It is a rage at being Black in America that has existed ever since there has been Black in America.  After hearing of the pitifully soft verdict handed down by the all white jury in the Oscar Grant murder trial I thought again of this rage.  And I remembered reading a few years ago one scholar's survey of Black history and his being intrigued by "the extent to which African Americans have fantasized about political violence - specifically, violent revolt" as a matter of political "instrument" or "catharsis."  He surveyed a swath of Black writing which in poem, novel or political statement included many references to what some Europeans have called "divine violence."  Frederick Douglas, DuBois, Langston Hughes, Ida B. Wells, Robert Williams, Sonya Sanchez and Jeru the Damaja were all referenced as having at one time or another, in one way or another, described acts of violence as just, even necessary.  He quoted Nikki Giovanni's lines, "What can I, a poor black woman do to destroy America? This is the question, with appropriate variations, being asked in every black heart. There is one answer-I can kill. There is one compromise-I can protect those who kill. There is one cop-out-I can encourage others to kill. There are no other ways."
I remember being at a hip-hop show featuring Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz where it was first announced that Lovelle Mixon had killed 4 cops in Oakland California.  I remember how it was reported and received as a response to Oscar Grant's killing and how this brought the very diverse crowd to increased heights of rebellious exuberance.  I saw this fervor again on display again in the pre-verdict documentary on Grant Operation Small Axe featuring Oakland's grassroots embedded journalist JR of Block Report Radio.  I see it in the post-verdict reports and online videos.  And I saw it again at a recent showing of Small Axe in Washington, D.C.  A crowd had gathered to watch the documentary which happened to coincide with the verdict coming down and the post-screening discussion went immediately to these feelings of rage and those fantasies of violent revolt.
"Black writing contains many references to what some Europeans have called 'divine violence.'"
This rage even carried most in the room to almost happily accept the powerful contradiction raised by a sister who drew attention to the fact that while many were respectful of Mixon's act few seemed to know or be concerned with the fact that he was suspected of several rapes of young women and girls in the community.  This was why the police were after him in the first place.  It was similar to the contradiction raised at a recent rally for Aiyanna Jones in Detroit where another sister drew attention to the fact that too many are angry at the police when Black men kill far more Black people than law enforcement.
But these apparent contradictions are, to me at least, explained by the fundamental rage at being Black in America.  It is this being Black in America, which as a matter of national state policy, defines Black people, limits Black people, oppresses Black people, that consciously or not draws the deepest ire from Black people.  None were excusing rape or murder committed by Black people.  But none were forgetting the fundamentality of our rage against the very nature of the state's relationship to Black people.  Malcolm X once said that simply being Black in America "radicalizes you."  We hope so because it certainly does continue to enrage.
And in just a clip of our Brother Amari's brilliant remake of Scott-Heron's Whitey on the Moon we continue to hear that rage in the face of popular contradictions: "Up Lovelle Mixon! Up Mark Essex!
 Up the mighty BPP! Understand white justice is a lie. And appeals won't get us free.
So while we sit and shout and complain and cry.
For something we'll never see. Just remember this one last thing:
Lebron is headed to Miami."
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100715_jb_black_rage.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:08am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Having transferred trillions of public treasure for the sake of Wall Street's health, Obama now picks up where George Bush left off on Social Security. Obama's deficit commission is pre-programmed to assault the last vestiges of the social safety net. The president "is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw down their arms in surrender without the dignity of a fight."
 
Obama Can't Say "No" to the Rich
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs."
Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office, in January of 2009, he promised to put all of the so-called "entitlement" programs "on the table," for cutting. There was no reason to doubt that Obama really planned to go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other programs despised by the rich. After all, he had just been elected to a four-year term in a landslide and was, therefore, as secure as any politician can be. Obama was telling everyone who cared to listen that he was would certainly not stand in the way of gutting what's left of the American social safety net. Rather, Obama was telling Big Business that he agreed with them, that the poor and the elderly were sucking up too much of the nation's wealth, and there must be a day of reckoning.
The new president immediately started the clock ticking on Social Security and other entitlements by scheduling a so-called "deficit summit" for later in 2009. But it was not yet the time for a full-court-press on poor and elderly people's programs. First, Obama needed to shore up the finances of the Wall Street bankers that were among his earliest and most generous supporters. The bank bailout was priority number one, to be followed by a farcical health care bill designed to funnel trillions to the insurance and drug industries. A frontal attack on Social Security would have to wait a year or so. It would not do for Obama to join with Republicans in stealing from the old and the poor at the exact same moment they were bailing out the filthy rich. But, once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs.
"Obama's so-called 'deficit commission' is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security."
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House who was once the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, pretended back in January of 2009 that she hadn't heard Obama when he said "everything" was "on the table" for cutting - except, of course, the military, which is immune no matter how high the deficit. "The only thing we didn't want to put on the table," she said, "is eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
In April of this year, Obama once again reminded everyone that everything is and has always been "on the table," as far as he's concerned, including Social Security. His so-called "deficit commission" is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security. It is a battle that safety net defenders thought they had won against George Bush. Barack Obama has picked up Bush's marbles and put them back into play. He is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw down their arms in surrender without the dignity of a fight. Obama, working in plain sight over the past 18 months, has constructed and rigged a deficit commission to render a kind of death sentence to the foundational program of Roosevelt's New Deal.
Obama will pretend that circumstances and Republicans are forcing him to call for austerity. But that's a lie; he came in singing the GOP's song, and is behaving precisely as one would expect from a center-right administration. Obama is in his ideal element, constantly saying "yes" to the Party of "no."
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: 20100714_gf_Deficit.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:46am EDT

An Interview with Omali Yeshitela

With the African People’s Socialist Party 5th Congress set for Washington, DC, July 10th-14th, BAR executive editor Glen Ford spoke with the APSP’s chairman, Omali Yeshitela. “Our people are slowly beginning to awaken to the fact that President Obama does not represent us,” said Yeshitela. “The awe of the state has worn off, and desperation is pushing the people.”

More information on the APSP is available at their web site.

Length of interview: 10:48.

Direct download: 20100707_O_YeshitelaAPSP.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:23pm EDT


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A section of Black America has lost their minds – literally – unable to make contact with reality since November 2008. Despite the horrific and disproportionate damage suffered by Blacks in the Great Recession, a psychologically impaired group of African Americans believes they are better off than before the recession began, and that the future is bright. When Obama entered, their powers of reason exited.

 

Unknown Object

First Black Presidency Has Driven Many African Americans Insane

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The psychological harm done to Black people by Obama’s presidency may be even greater than the economic and political damage.”

When debating Black supporters of President Obama, there often comes a point where even the most fervent Obamites can find no coherent defense for the president’s pro-Wall Street and militaristic policies, when his refusal to even consider race-targeted solutions to race-based problems becomes simply indefensible. Typically, at that point, the Obama supporter will play the psychological card. The advent of the First Black President, they say, has been of incalculable psychological benefit to Black people, especially to Black children, who can now project themselves into an infinity of possibilities because a Black family is in the White House. Hallelujah!

This psychological argument is the Obamite’s last bastion of defense, especially the “What about the children?” trump card. Yet there is mounting and disturbing evidence that the psychological harm done to Black people by Obama’s presidency may be even greater than the economic and political damage. Barack Obama’s presidency is driving millions of African Americans insane – stone, cold out of their minds.

The insanity is documented in the Pew Research Center’s recent report, “How the Great Recession Has Changed Life in America,” which shows that Black America, the group that has been the most damaged, by far, in the Great Recession, is also the most enthusiastic about the state of the economy. Twenty-five percent of Blacks tell pollsters that the economy is doing good or excellent; that’s almost twice as high as the number of whites that think so – even though Black unemployment is about twice that of whites. Eighty-one percent of Blacks say America is still a land of prosperity, while only 59 percent of whites think that way, even though Blacks make only 61 cents for every white dollar earned, the same as 30 years ago.

Nearly a third of Blacks say they are in better shape than before the recession began.”

A 53 percent Black majority think that the economy is starting to recover. Only 40 percent of whites hold that opinion. Yet, for the average Black or white working class person with a mortgage to pay, the situation is as bad as ever – and for Black people, that means roughly twice as bad. The Pew poll shows that 35 percent of Blacks report their homes are worth less than their mortgages, compared to just 18 percent for white people. Fifty-four percent of Blacks took a pay cut, worked reduced hours or were forced to take unpaid leave during the Great Recession. Only 37 percent of whites suffered such employment trauma, yet Blacks are consistently – and insanely – more optimistic about the future, and feel better about the present, than whites do. Nearly a third of Blacks say they are in better shape than before the recession began – a figure with no basis whatsoever in real life, and a perception that is at total war with reality. Everything is worse for every major Black demographic since December 2007. There is nothing to be upbeat about – except, for Obama supporters, the election 0f 2008. From that point on, a large segment of Black America became disconnected from reality, numb to their own pain and to the pain of their children. They have been singing zippidity-doo-dah while all around them Black America is in economic free-fall. These deluded Black folks have been rendered incompetent and politically useless to themselves and their families by the mere existence of a Black president. Obama's election was, besides the Great Recession itself, the worse thing that has happened to Black people in a long 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: 20100707_gf_Insane.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:26pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Words hold meaning, but sometimes they mean different things in different cultures. A new study shows the difference in the understood meanings of commonly used words is big enough to adversely affect the SAT scores of Black students. It turns out that Blacks do better than whites on the hard questions involving big words – but not enough to even the odds.

 

Unknown Object

New Study Shows Racial Bias in SATs

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Black students did worse than whites on easier questions with more common words.”

Black students that take the verbal SAT do better than whites at answering hard questions, involving longer and less commonly used words. White students do better on easier questions that use common words. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s the conclusion of a new study, which tends to confirm research performed in 2003, that showed at least some parts of the SAT are biased against African Americans. The study could become the basis for legal action to outlaw SATs as racially discriminatory.

The latest study was conducted for the University of California system, and replicates most of the results of the 2003 study. Researchers concluded that Black students did worse than whites on easier questions with more common words because some of those words have different connotations in Black and white cultural settings. For example, simple words like “bad,” “tight” and “slick” carry different meanings in colloquial Black speech than in white usage. The SATs test the “white” meanings, putting Blacks at a disadvantage for the easy questions. In the smaller number of hard questions involving words that are not normally used in everyday, household speech, Blacks score higher than whites, because these learned words don’t have multiple or culture-based meanings. Apparently, Blacks did better at learning the uncommon vocabulary than whites. However, whites do so much better than Blacks on the easier questions, white overall SAT scores are much higher.

Blacks did better at learning the uncommon vocabulary than whites.”

The research measured the performance of Black and white students who were matched “by proficiency” – that is, based on their educational backgrounds and skills, the Blacks and whites should do about the same on the SATs. There was no indication that the test was biased against Latinos. But one of the researchers for the first, 2003 study found that some of the Black students would have scored about 100 points higher on the SAT if there had been more hard questions on the test.

Critics of the SAT and other “high stakes” tests have called the new research a “bombshell” that should move more institutions to drop SATs entirely. The College Board is virtually a creature of high stakes tests. The Board withheld data from the racial bias researchers for two years, and continues to claim the studies produced “inconsistent findings.” The Board blames racial discrepancies in testing on “educational inequities” in the United States, but claims the tests are fair.

The truth is, there is both vast “educational inequity” in the U.S. and built-in cultural/racial biases in the tests, themselves. High stakes testing is embedded in the institutionally racist walls that were massively erected in the wake of nominal integration of education, in order to preserve white privilege. But the stakes have gotten even higher. Standardized testing is now used as a weapon to set public education up for failure, as an institution, so that it can be privatized and remain racially exclusive. It is a new means to an old end.

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: 20100707_gf_SATbias.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:57pm EDT

Hip-Hop and the “Anti-Blackness Antagonism”

by BAR columnist Jared A Ball, Ph.D.

Only two corporations own minimally 80%, and usually upwards of 95%, of all the songs making the top 20 spins list on radio.”

In our recent discussion with author Frank Wilderson about his new book Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonism he described a situation where a rabid philosophy of “Anti-Blackness” demands that the nation’s popular culture depict Black people as “non-human.” Not for mere material gain, as many suggest. It is beyond that. James Baldwin described this by saying that “I exist so that you can know that you are alive,” or, “when a White man calls me nigger I ask why he needs me to be one.” This is why Wilderson chooses the philosophical description of “antagonism” which means a permanency that cannot be dealt with using our current set of tools. This is not an issue of legislation, or some failing of an otherwise perfect democracy to be corrected by a vote. Wilderson is asking us think beyond the current world which has defined Blackness, permanently, as the slave, the “non-human,” whose presence can only be to serve and define the presence of others. We are, as Malcolm X said, “America’s problem.” But not simply as an issue of economic exploitation, or as Wilderson says, “a threat to some aspects of the world. We are a threat to the cohesion of the world itself.” And this is why he says antagonisms have no “conceptual resolution” in the way that conflicts do. And this is also why Frantz Fanon, quoting Aime Cesaire said that we must “begin to destroy the world.”

Wilderson’s examples include popular films such as Monster’s Ball and Antwone Fisher. But hip-hop and R&B lovers need not wait for the more intermittent film industry to see Wilderson’s points in action. Each week, and with a volume and popularity unmatched even by film, popular rap music becomes a bludgeon in the hands of this philosophy of “Anti-Blackness.” And were we to do Wilderson’s point justice more of us would highlight with more regularity the fact that the portrayal of Blackness in popular culture is not about making money, it is not simply a business decision and it is certainly not because it is what we want.

Popular rap music becomes a bludgeon in the hands of this philosophy of ‘Anti-Blackness.’”

Any given week only two corporations, Universal Music Group and Sony Music, own minimally 80%, and usually upwards of 95%, of all the songs making the top 20 spins list on radio. Through ownership and selective promotion via payment to radio stations these companies assure that their songs, and only their songs, are played as many as 20-40,000 times per song, per month. This means a UMG or Sony Music song is playing on commercial radio every minute of every hour of every single solitary day. This means no time for news and certainly no time for other songs. Look up the lyrics of any of these songs and the function they play is clear. This week’s most played song is by Sony artist Usher with lyrics that are only about a woman droppin it and poppin it on a dance floor. It was played 6859 times last week alone. And, again, this is not about money.

Reviewing the annual reports of these companies shows that in 2009 while Universal Music Group my be the largest music company in the world it accounted for only 14% of its parent company’s total revenues. The second largest, Sony Music, only accounted for 6% of the overall sales for Sony Corporation. And by the way, the third largest music company, Warner Music Group, is run by three private equity groups who, combined, manage funds of well over $110 billion. They don’t need popular culture for money. They need it to protect their sense of self and the just nature of their exploitation.

This is why we don’t see different kinds of films being promoted and why rap albums that have a different content are never on the radio. Mos Def has been in films that have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars around the world. But he is never on the radio. Common also has a budding movie career and has been an “Artist of the Year” award recipient but he too is rarely on the radioIt has nothing to do with quality of the art or what an audience is clamoring for. Audiences want what is promoted.Dead Prez has a new album out, and its free. But it also has songs calling for radical political organization and that encourage rappers to study “Malcolm, Garvey, Huey…” and, therefore, will never be on the radio. Not because people don’t want to hear it or won’t buy it but because culture truly in the hands of the enslaved means more Malcolms, Garveys, Hueys and Harriets, Assatas and Claudias. It means an end to the world as we know it and an end to the world as it is known to those espousing a prevailing “non-human… Anti-Blackness.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Jared Ball can be reached at: jared.ball@morgan.edu

 

Direct download: 20100707_jb_AntiBlack2.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:17am EDT

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

There was both déjà vu and surprise at the U.S. Social Forum. Déjà vu, in the feeling of being caught up in a stultifying search for meaningless “consensus politics” with “no clear goals and no clear steps to reach them.” But there was also the excitement of “ideas, criticism, flyers, books, all forms of media in fact, all being passed back and forth, with a hurried fervor.”

Consensus Politics Are No Politics: A US Social Forum Diary

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

It was the concern voiced by several with whom I spoke that a vague desire at the forum for ‘consensus politics’ meant in the end ‘no politics.’”

I was only at this week’s U.S. Social Forum for two full days. It was electric, exciting, full of motion, color and exchange. Ideas, criticism, flyers, books, all forms of media in fact, all being passed back and forth, with a hurried fervor. It is always nice to see well-intentioned people trying to connect and have their concerns heard by others who are likely to at least be sympathetic. But there is also a struggle to find how we go from these events to something more. In the end these gatherings take on a feeling of a real life activist Facebook experience: massive righteous self-promotion nearly to the point of stagnation.

And for some this sense of stagnation is more serious. Going from excited interaction to the assumption of power seems to be our version of “the bridge to nowhere.” Especially when it seems as though every issue raised at this forum is old, even worsening, and the same as those raised at the first US Social Forum in 2007 and those earlier at World Social Forums or the World Conferences Against Racism in 2001 and 2009. It was the concern voiced by several with whom I spoke that a vague desire at the forum for “consensus politics” meant in the end “no politics.” No clear goals and no clear steps to reach them.

There is a struggle to find how we go from these events to something more.”

But there we were in Detroit or “Destroyed” as Herb Boyd called it. And during a brief ride with my hosts Ollie Johnson and Lori Robinson who took Roberto Lovato and me around parts of the city we saw Boyd’s description in full effect. The emptiness of the city, the abandoned buildings and the poverty were all put in some context when Roberto told us that he had met folks at the forum from Juarez Mexico who were shocked at how similar a major U.S. city looked to their own. But out of that necessarily horrible comparison comes the potential linkages around which we can build.

I also did some work with Free Speech TV which covered a bulk of the forum. By conducting a few interviews for them I was able to hear about some interesting groups and efforts. There were anti-Zionist Israelis, pro-Arab Arabs, and good people working with the Youth Justice Coalition on youth incarceration in Los Angeles. And by simply being social at the “social forum” I got to meet Lynne Stewart’s partner Ralph Poynter and to see Claude Marks of the Freedom Archives who was there screening their recently completed film on the Counter Intelligence Program narrated by Cynthia McKinney. And speaking of my presidential candidate I also got to see again her running mate Rosa Clemente whose tremendous keynote speech on the legacy of hip-hop politics was given at the adjacent gathering of the Hip-Hop Congress national convention. With her and our colleagues in the Green Party Head-Roc, Anita Rios and David Cobb we discussed the future of the party which Cobb strongly suggests becomes the electoral outlet of those gathered at these kinds of events. As it stands now they obviously can no loner consider the Democratic Party as an option.

Cobb’s point was echoed albeit differently by my more nationalist comrades who each in their own way raised the question of building a political mechanism that currently does not exist. But that also leads to the equally powerful question of “how?”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.


Direct download: 20100630_jb_USSF.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In the endgame of casino capitalism, every “crisis” is an excuse to turn the screws tighter. The only solutions our leaders can propose are deeper cuts to social services, savage slashes in the government services ordinary people use, along with privatizations of public assets that benefit only a few of the best connected cronies.

All Power to the Casinos & Let the Devil Take the Hindmost! Who Needs A Social Safety Net?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Your smiling TV business reporter has doubtless assured you that the Great Recession is over, whether it feels that way to you or not, and that what looks like the destruction of life as the average American once knew it is really just a large bump in the road to prosperity. However, he adds, there will be some belt-tightening. But that belt is a noose, and President Obama and most of his Democrats and all of the Republicans have joined a lynching party led by the Wall Street gang. They are hell bent on finishing off what’s left of the fragile social safety net in the United States.

The banksters are currently savaging Europe, tearing away at social democracy in a struggle to reverse two hundred years of civilization. They are bound and determined to kill off the very idea that society should be constructed for the purpose of taking care of people’s needs. The entire edifice of the European welfare state is to be disassembled on orders of international finance capital, leaving the citizens naked to the machinations of the moneyed classes.

We in the United States have never had much protection against the predations of the Lords of Capital, but the few we managed to win over the last four generations have been marked for destruction. This is the real “change” Barack Obama brings. On the eve of his inauguration, Obama promised his banker friends that every social and entitlement program would be “on the table” – the chopping block – during his administration. Now he is about to fulfill that promise.

Although Obama has not kept faith with any of the popular constituencies that elected him to office, he has rewarded his corporate backers with benefits thousands of times more valuable than their campaign contributions. He has given them the keys to the American state, from whose Federal Reserve they have extracted tens of trillions of dollars. They have invested virtually none of this money in productive pursuits, but simply fattened their own portfolios and funneled the rest of the cash into Wall Street’s gambling houses. In their great counter-revolution, the banksters rallying cry is, “All power to the Casinos! Death to the Social Safety Net!”

As progressive economist Michael Hudson puts it, Wall Street’s goal is “nothing less than to roll back Social Security and pensions for labor, health care, education and other public spending, to dismantle the social welfare state, the Progressive Era and even classical liberalism.” Obama made good on his promise to the banks at his State of the Union Address, vowing to freeze spending on discretionary items – but not, of course, the military – for three years, starting next year. He has failed to bring to bear the full powers of his presidency on behalf of the unemployed whose benefits have run out. But he will not break his promises to Wall Street. As economist Dean Baker reports, “President Obama’s deficit commission is moving forward with Social Security and Medicare explicitly in their sights…everything is on the table, except reforms that would hurt powerful industry lobbies.”

More and more, Barack Obama is showing his corporate teeth and running hard with the global banking wolf pack. Finance capital is busily robbing Europe of its social democratic legacy. Americans have only had the New Deal and the Great Society, and the last vestiges of that are on Obama’s chopping block. 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: 20100630_gf_PowerToCasinos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If war with Iran is insane, why is Obama acting crazy? “Stepping to the brink of war with Iran only makes a kind of macabre sense if the Obama administration feels in desperate need of a diversion.” The bigger the better, since the diversion must call attention from the goo in the Gulf and the air in people’s wallets.


Obama’s Iran Diversion: Forget About Jobs, Forget About The Gulf!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Washington seeks to create an artificial confrontation with Iran in order to draw attention from the real, profound and multiplying crises that threaten, not just the Obama presidency, but global rule of finance capital.”

If there is a consensus among the sober inhabitants of the planet, it is that an armed assault on the Islamic Republic of Iran would immediately plunge the world into economic crisis and threaten a global firestorm. Yet all signs indicate that the United States and its Israeli partner are prepared to plunge into that terrifying unknown. Israel, of course, is an inherently unstable state, that feeds on crisis. But why would the United States consider diving into the Iranian abyss at this point in time, when America’s humiliation at the hands of a determined Sunni minority in Iraq is still a fresh memory? Stepping to the brink of war with Iran only makes a kind of macabre sense if the Obama administration feels in desperate need of a diversion. Washington seeks to create an artificial confrontation with Iran in order to draw attention from the real, profound and multiplying crises that threaten, not just the Obama presidency, but global rule of finance capital.

So, what does Obama do to divert attention from the gushing catastrophe in the Gulf – a disaster that starkly illuminates the subordinate role that the U.S. government plays to the Big Oil. Every barrel of toxic goo excreted into the Gulf of Mexico is testimony to the Obama administration’s subservience to Big Oil, both in the lead-up to the blowout and the aftermath. The whole nation is a witness that BP is still in charge.

How can Obama direct the public’s attention away from the jobless “recovery” from the Great Recession, which followed the jobless “recovery” from the 2002 Bush recession – the double-whammy of which erased the brief employment gains of the Nineties for whites and Blacks and left African Americans four times further behind whites in wealth accumulation than they were 20 years ago?

Obama needs to appear to be bashing some very unpopular people: the Iranian mullahs.”

What’s an Obama to do to hide the fact that, after passage of his sham financial reform legislation, he must resume the business as usual of pleasing Wall Street by freezing discretionary non-military spending starting next year and putting the fate of Social Security in the hands of an appointed commission dominated by wealthy interests.

How can Obama mask the reality that the U.S. has no intention of leaving Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq, or of vacating any of its close to 800 military bases in nearly 60 countries – ever! – unless militarily defeated or otherwise forced out? The U.S. has never in modern times voluntarily relinquished its bases, and continues to add more at every opportunity. Iraq and Afghanistan are no different, and shuffling generals around will not provide enough of a facsimile of movement for long. Obama needs a unifying cause to rally the American public, to justify the oceans of money spent on weapons of war. And for that, Obama needs to appear to be bashing some very unpopular people: the Iranian mullahs.

And so, the U.S. and Israel now dance at the edge of the precipice, amassing forces to further encircle Iran, including the recent passage of U.S. and Israeli warships through the Suez Canal enroute to the Persian Gulf. American preparations for war against Iran are well advanced. Obama may not even know if he is bluffing or not, but he does know he needs a diversion from all the current and looming crises that have nothing to do with any Ayatollah.

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: 20100630_gf_IranDiversion.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:14pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The question is not whether fascists have held power in the United States, but why they have not yet been able to rule as fascists. The question may soon become moot, as the U.S. Supreme Court acts to further “dismantle legal barriers to actual fascist rule” – most recently through its decision on providing “material support” to “terrorists.”

In New York City, “a ‘people's lawyer’ and civil liberties heroine, Lynn Stewart, faces re-sentencing on her conviction of giving material support to her client.”


Fascism Enters Through “Terror” Door

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The national criminal justice system is now set to operate as a recognizably fascist political machine.”

For more than 40 years, the Left has been sounding alarms about the United States’ imminent descent into fascism. And there have, indeed, been fascists at every level and in every branch of U.S. government. One can even make the case, as I often do, that during the long period of Jim Crow the southern states fit nearly all the usual definitions of a fascist regime. At various times and places, America has teetered on the brink of fascism, or experienced episodes that certainly felt like fascism to those who lived through them.

With the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding laws against providing what is called “material support” to terrorists, the national criminal justice system is now set to operate as a recognizably fascist political machine. Six of the nine Justices endorsed the government’s definition of what constitutes “material support” for groups it deems terroristic, including a civil rights activist’s attempt to draw a Kurdish resistance organization into non-violent dialogue with its Turkish adversaries. The High Court majority essentially ruled that mere interaction with those branded terrorists is a serious crime, no matter what one’s intentions. It is criminal to give such groups any advice whatsoever – even if the advice is to find non-violent means of reaching their political goals. The new law of the land is: thou shalt not talk to or appear in any way supportive of those who the U.S. government has proclaimed “terrorists.”

It appears to be settled law that the United States can label opponents of its allies abroad – Turks, Israelis, Pakistanis, Indians, whoever – as terrorists, even when their activities are not directed against the United States. Nelson Mandela and other South African freedom fighters remained on a State Department terrorist list until just two years ago – which is a useful historical point.

No American citizen was punished for actively supporting the ANC.”

We can safely say that the U.S. is much closer to fascism now, under Barack Obama, than it was under President Ronald Reagan, 30 years ago. Back then, the Reagan regime embraced the white minority government in South Africa. Yet, even though Mandela and his African National Congress were on a U.S. terror list, no American citizen was punished for actively supporting the ANC. Ronald Reagan and his crowd may have been fascists – I think they were – but the mechanisms of law were not in place to allow them to rule like fascists. Since 2001, the fascists that have long been among us have been allowed to perfect their judicial, legislative and executive machinery of state power, and to dismantle legal barriers to actual fascist rule.

Next month, in New York City, a “people's lawyer” and civil liberties heroine, Lynn Stewart, faces re-sentencing on her conviction of giving material support to her client – who was marked as a terrorist. Federal prosecutors – that means, Barack Obama's prosecutors – want to increase Lynn Stewart's 28-month sentence to decades in prison – a death sentence for a woman of her age and health. When all the people's lawyers are gone – and Lynn Stewart is among the last – then so, effectively, is the rule of law. And all our talk about the definition of fascism will be moot. 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: 20100623_gf_SCOTUSterror.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is showing his own core conservative politics with his choice of Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court. A New York Times investigation shows “Kagan as a devotee of so-called 'race-neutral' social policies that avoid solutions that directly target racial disparities.” This is not an example of Obama “reaching out” to the Right, but of promoting a lawyer whose views “appear to be identical” to his own. His choice ensures many decades of bad news for Black people.


Kagan and Obama: Two “Race-Neutral” Peas in a Pod

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Kagan was part of the right wing of Bill Clinton’s center-right White House.”

It is a measure of their timidity and lack principles that the civil rights establishment did not protest President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court. It is also, I believe, a great irony of history that the first Black president and his first white Supreme Court nominee share an ideology on race that is effectively hostile to Black people. They are two race-neutral peas in a pod.

The New York Times did its due diligence and searched through nearly 5,000 pages of documents to reveal that Kagan was part of the right wing of Bill Clinton’s center-right White House.

Between 1997 and 1999, Kagan was deputy to Bruce Reed, a White House domestic policy aide and operative of the Democratic Leadership Council, the outfit that funnels corporate money to favored Democratic politicians. Bill Clinton was one of the founders of the DLC, in the Eighties, as a means for white leaders in the South to hold on to power in the Democratic Party even as whites kept deserting to the Republicans. It was Reed who coined the phrase, “End welfare as we know it.” Elena Kagan and Bruce Reed teamed up to resist whatever Black progressive influences remained in the Clinton White House. In Clinton’s second term, their nemesis was Christopher Edley, Jr., a Black law professor who founded The Civil Rights Project at Harvard. Edley was brought into the White House as a consultant to help shape the president’s racial policies. Edley wrote that he feared “this could well be the administration that presides over the substantial dismantling of opportunity in selective higher education.” It is clear that two of the people he feared were eager to take the wrecking ball to affirmative action were Elena Kagan and her boss and political buddy, Bruce Reed.

Reed and Kagan resisted the very idea of forming a White House commission on race.”

Christopher Edley had good reason to worry. Reed and Kagan wanted to keep the decibels on race as low as possible, and the two resisted the very idea of forming a White House commission on race. These two right-wing Democrats disparaged social safety net programs as vectors of dependency; they spoke of civil rights issues as things of the past, with Ms. Kagan writing that the White House “focus should be on the future, not Kerner – meaning the 1968 Kerner Commission Report that warned of two separate nations, “one white, one black.” In a sense, Elena Kagan and Bruce Reed personified the white corporate backlash against Black and labor influence in the Democratic Party.

The New York Times' investigation shows Kagan as a devotee of so-called “race-neutral” social policies that avoid solutions that directly target racial disparities. She will not be a friend of Black people in her next, lifetime job. But she is precisely the kind of Justice that Barack Obama could be expected to favor, since their racial views appear to be identical. Like Kagan, Obama assumes a position of race-neutrality, that in practice refuses to redress past or current racial inequalities. Barack Obama's gift to Blacks is to put another racist on the Supreme Court.

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: 20100623_gf_KaganReed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:17am EDT

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

The U.S. Social Forum is now underway in Detroit, with thousands in attendance. “Black America must work in solidarity with other people’s struggles, as has always been the case,” says the author. “However, in our current moment of malaise in Black ‘leadership’ we also think it necessary to remind this nation’s activists that many of the problems that they seek to address internationally need as much redress domestically.”


The US Social Forum Must Become a US Social Movement

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

It is necessary to remind this nation’s activists that many of the problems that they seek to address internationally need as much redress domestically.”

Watching the World Cup continues to inspire questions and thoughts about the international linkage of political struggles. I keep thinking of the song “Sun City” written by Steven Van Zandt, guitarist with Bruce Springsteen and consigliere in the Sopranos. The song was written as a protest against apartheid and in solidarity with the plight of Native Americans. Among the many artists to participate in the song’s recording and video was the rock group U2 and their front man Bono. But after seeing him now in promotional spots for the World Cup I cannot stop thinking that perhaps he should be renamed “Bonzo substantial.” I mean he really has become little more than a sleeker modern form of what Gil Scott-Heron called the “ultimate in synthetic selling...” or “the cavalry” called in “to disrupt the perception of freedom gone wild.” Bono, who once stood in protest of events taking place in South Africa, now champions, adds his signature to, then in signature signs for a massive check for an event which is every bit the Madison Avenue-styled “masterpiece” masking of continued, even worsening exploitation described in Scott-Heron’s “B Movie.” Danny Schecter, the news dissector, suggested at that time that the song Sun City become one of “change not charity, freedom not famine.” Today South Africa stands as symbol of neocolonial wrong-doing redesigned by euphemism as “progress” where the tournament choosing to take place there is charity and Bono lends his face to mask the famine.

Perhaps Bobo should be renamed ‘Bonzo substantial.’”

But as someone who lives in and carries a passport for the United States all of this has also been a constant reminder of a question asked of those here during protests of the World Economic Forum of a decade or so ago. Out of those protests against the WEF and its oppressive economic ordering of the globe emerged the World Social Forum in 2001. Later some members of that forum would ask this nation, “What are you all going to do?” In allied response to that call came the founders of the US Social Forum which will convene its second gathering this week in Detroit. Their goals are clear. They state that, “The US Social Forum (USSF) is a movement building process. It is not a
 conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the 
economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our
 struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational,
diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and
 changes history. We must declare what we want our world to look like and we
must start planning the path to get there. The USSF provides spaces to learn from each other’s experiences and struggles, share our analysis of the problems 
our communities face, build relationships, and align with our international 
brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world.”

Black Agenda Report will be there. Black America must work in solidarity with other people’s struggles, as has always been the case. However, in our current moment of malaise in Black “leadership” we also think it necessary to remind this nation’s activists that many of the problems that they seek to address internationally need as much redress domestically. In fact, veteran author and journalist Herb Boyd, who is set to screen his groundbreaking documentary on Haiti at this event, referred to Detroit as “Destroyed.” For these reasons I was a participant in the first US Social Forum in 2007 and was at once inspired and disillusioned. On the one hand there were thousands upon thousands in attendance and an impossible program lineup of so many interesting groups and topics being dealt with that it was positively overwhelming. On the other, there seemed no clear conclusion, program or plan to deal with the concerns raised. And for all the progressive talk, for all the powerful condemnations made of US domestic and foreign policy all we got one year later was the pitiful placement of hope in the utterly hopeless Democratic Party and Barack Obama.

To avoid becoming our own massive “Bonzo substantial” masked in radicalism it is to be hoped that those of us gathering in Detroit or “Destroyed” will make the US Social Forum a genuine US social movement.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared A. Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100623_jb_USSF.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:11am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"No one deserved rejection by Black voters more than Artur Davis," the caricature of a right-wing Black congressman who lost his bid for governor by a landslide. Davis "decided he could win tons of white votes in Alabama by blatantly giving Blacks the finger." But then he extended a digit to Obama, master of a game Davis was ill-equipped to play.

Good Riddance Artur Davis, Rahm Emmanuel's U.S. House Negro
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Davis thought he could take Barack Obama's game to a higher level."
Alabama's Artur Davis says he will never again run for political office. We only wish he had made that decision eight years ago. Davis was elected on a wave of corporate and pro-Israel money in 2002, the same year that Cynthia McKinney was knocked out of Congress by those same political forces. Earlier this month, Davis accomplished a miraculous feat. He lost in his bid for governor of Alabama, not just by a landslide - he lost the Black vote to a white candidate, decisively.
No one deserved rejection by Black voters more than Artur Davis, who has reigned as the most right-wing member of the Congressional Black Caucus since the exit of the ridiculous Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis, Tennessee.
Like Harold Ford, Artur Davis was the darling of the Democratic Leadership Council, the DLC, the corporate bagman of the Democratic Party. No sooner had Davis replaced the relatively progressive Earl Hilliard, than he was taken under the protective wing of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, now Barack Obama's White House attack dog, who was then head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Emanuel groomed Davis as the model right-wing Black Democrat. Hoping to find lots of little Artur Davises, in 2005 Rahm Emanuel put him in charge of recruiting Black candidates for Congress in the Southeast. Luckily, Davis was not very successful, and was unable to clone himself for the benefit of his corporate sugar daddies. In fact, the little club of rightwing Black Members of Congress that Davis hung with back in 2005 has now shrunk from six to only three. Georgia's David Scott and Sanford Bishop are still around, but Harold Ford, Louisiana's William Jefferson, and Maryland's Albert Wynn no longer walk the halls of Congress. With his stunning defeat, Artur Davis should be gone by next year, too, if he keeps his promise never to run for office again.
"Davis has reigned as the most right-wing member of the Congressional Black Caucus since the exit of the ridiculous Harold Ford, Jr."
Apparently, Davis thought he could take Barack Obama's game to a higher level. Obama convinced a near-majority of white people that he wasn't like the rest of Black America, that he sees the world much as most whites do; but at the same time Obama fooled Blacks into thinking he was on their side, deep down. Artur Davis, doubtless under the malignant influence of his mentor Rahm Emmanuel, decided he could win tons of white votes in Alabama by blatantly giving Blacks the finger, rejecting out of hand any involvement with traditional Black organizations. And then, he stepped off the plank, voting against Barack Obama's version of health care. Davis lost by large margins in most Black districts, including his own voting precinct in Birmingham.
So, what is the lesson, here? Unfortunately, it is not that Black people consistently vote their own interests. Not in the Age of Obama. In Arkansas, Blacks gave majorities to the dreadful Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln over a relatively progressive challenger. That's because Obama supported Lincoln.
But Artur Davis somehow believed that he could win, in Alabama, by not only rejecting Black people's political aspirations, but by going further and ostentatiously rejecting Obama, himself. That is the definition of an idiot. 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: 20100616_gf_ArturDefeated.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:33pm EDT

 Chicago Teachers Wise Up to Obama Privatization
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"So-called school reform is not an education plan. It's a business plan."
The nation's unionized public school teachers are in a race for survival, whether they know it or not. Their worst enemy - the one that can do them and the public the most harm - was not George Bush, the white Republican, who called teachers' unions "terrorists." It is Barack Obama, the Black Democrat, who has taken the corporate education agenda farther than Bush could ever dream of.
By all rights, the nation's five million unionized teachers should be in the forefront of resistance to the corporate money bags that dominate the Republican and Democratic parties. Teachers are the best-equipped for the job, in raw numbers, in depth of union penetration and, especially on the moral front: most people like and admire teachers. George Bush's Republicans were made to look like ogres when they tried to vilify teachers as a class. Yet that is precisely what Barack Obama is doing: making teachers the scapegoats and villains for all the ills that have been inflicted on the inner cities of America for the past five or six decades. Obama is having considerably more success than Bush in his offensive against teachers, mostly because teachers' unions cannot seem to recognize their enemy when he is a Democrat, and Black.
That lesson has finally been learned in Chicago, hometown of Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chicago's teachers, students and neighborhoods were the guinea pigs for Arne Duncan's campaign to hand over public education to corporations, when Duncan was CEO of the city's schools. Mass firings were the order of the day, decimating the ranks of Black teachers, especially. Whole communities were destabilized.
"Barack Obama, the Black Democrat, who has taken the corporate education agenda farther than Bush could ever dream of."
Last week, reformers finally won control of the Chicago Teachers Union, in what will hopefully set an example for teachers, nationwide. Karen Lewis, co-chair of the victorious Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, or CORE, told the truth that so many teachers' union hacks have been avoiding: "This so-called school reform is not an education plan," she said. "It's a business plan." Lewis continued:
"Fifteen years ago, this city purposely began starving our lowest-income neighborhood schools of greatly needed resources and personnel. Class sizes rose, schools were closed. Then standardized tests, which in this town alone is a $60 million business, measured that slow death by starvation. These tests labeled our students, families and educators failures, because standardized tests reveal more about a student's zip code than it does about academic growth," said the union reformer.
And that is the heart of the matter. Public and private policies have devastated inner city America, with totally predictable results in terms of inner city student performance. And yet, what do both the Obama's and the Bush's propose? They demand more privatization, more so-called "public-private" initiatives that outsource Black and brown schools to corporations, for profit. Barack Obama and Arne Duncan learned the privatization game in Chicago. Hopefully, Chicago teachers can awaken five million union members and millions more inner city residents to the clear and present danger posed by Obama's corporate school agenda. 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: 20100616_gf_TeachersUnion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
So many Black American entertainers and luminaries flocked to the World Cup opening ceremonies in South Africa, one veteran activist was prompted to remark that "these folks are crossing the picket line." It is a line that separates South Africa's poor Black majority from the real beneficiaries of the "gold" - "the soccer elites of FIFA, the elites of domestic and international corporate capital and the political elites who are making billions and who will be benefiting at the expense of the poor."

Bend It Like Imperialism! The World Cup 1, African Liberation Nil
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"These stadiums are encased in a 'Ring of Steel' to protect audiences from 'unpatriotic citizens' of South Africa."
Today, June 16, marks the 34th anniversary of the South African Soweto uprising where thousands of African youth took to the streets and where hundreds would die at the hands of the South African police and military. Today, June 16, also marks the first anniversary of that uprising to take place during the first ever World Cup on the African continent. These competing, colliding commemorations and events stand in violent opposition to one another precisely because the World Cup is corporate-sponsored spectacle playing on our emotions in the hopes that we will not realize or will ignore those who try to force realization, that the causes of the Soweto uprising, indeed the very existence of a Soweto or a South Africa, remain, are even worse now than 34 years ago. So bad are these conditions today that in response to seeing so many Black American entertainers participating in the World Cup opening ceremonies one veteran activist remarked to me that "these folks are crossing the picket line."
No one at all familiar with the history of the labor movement can hear lightly this kind of condemnation. To cross any picket line, that is, to become a "scab" is to betray the struggle of your kind, of your class. And this is precisely what major events such as the World Cup demand of its participants. And everyone did. Hugh Masekela was there to briefly blow his once defiant horn, as was John Legend and the Black Eyed Peas fresh off their Obama inauguration performance where they omitted their lyrics about the CIA being terrorists. Shakira was there in her grass skirt wiggling her light/white Latin Americanness before the world and from within the "Dark Continent" no less! And, of course, there was K'Naan the talented Somali rapper who foolishly accepts invitations from white liberals to bash Black Americans as not really being that oppressed while himself selling his liberation song Wavin' Flag to Coca-Cola to be used as the World Cup theme song absent, naturally, of its lyrical references to Somali suffering. And all the while his fellow continental Africans, who he cannot dismiss as having it as easy as their American cousins, do not have their concerns addressed either.
"Since the "fall of apartheid" White income has risen 24% while that of Black Africans has actually dropped."
So no mention of the 20,000 poor removed from stadium sites into even smaller slums. No mention that these stadiums are encased in a "Ring of Steel" to protect audiences from "unpatriotic citizens" of South Africa whose presence alone, never mind any actual protest, might heighten too many contradictions. No mention either of the 22 million Africans in South Africa who live as squatters, and have no potable water. Or the 14 million who are unemployed, or that 43% live ith less than $2 a day. And no mention that Black South African men earn what equates to $320 a month while White men earn $2,600 or that Whites as 12% of the population still hold 74% of private sector jobs, control over 80% of the land and all of the military. Further, no mention can be made of the fact that since the "fall of apartheid" White income has risen 24% while that of Black Africans has actually dropped. Of course, this is aided by the embedded model of journalism where the World Cup governing body FIFA has right of refusal to any journalist accreditations should anyone be so foolish as to actually attempt to report any of this. This will also be helpful in preventing the world from becoming aware of the fact that most of the products being sold at the World Cup are Chinese or that FIFA owns all the merchandising rights which has led one writer to explain that, "This World Cup is not for the poor - it is the soccer elites of FIFA, the elites of domestic and international corporate capital and the political elites who are making billions and who will be benefiting at the expense of the poor."
And though few will see or hear of them protests are being organized and efforts to break through the televised façade will continue. One such effort is coming from the Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA) whose statement in promotion of a call to join them June 16 in South Africa to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising says: "Therefore, our call comes at a time when the subtle and insidious mechanism of State is used to good effect by the Capitalist Overlords to ensure the willing obedience and subservience of the working-class through a twisted vocalization of what they claim is a "universal message of equality, love and justice" wrapped up in massive sports jamborees, coupled with the subtle threat that "...if we do not believe and promote their message, then we are evil and will be dealt with in ways that we cannot begin to imagine..."
In the meantime, I like many Black onlookers, will continue to watch and root for teams along the following lines: against all teams of the West, then for the teams with the most Black players and so on down the line and ultimately only for those whose struggles continue and remain ignored.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com
Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu
 
Direct download: 20100616_jb_WorldCup.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:57pm EDT

There are more than 40 federal offenses for which the death penalty can be applied to human beings, most of them connected to homicide of one kind or another. But countless homicides committed by the artificial persons we call corporations go unpunished every day. Apparently “personal responsibility” applies only to humans who are not operating behind the legal shield of corporate personhood.

Time For A Corporate Death Penalty 

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Over the last hundred or so years, corporations have gained many of the rights previously accorded only to human beings.  Corporations have the right to buy and sell anything or anyone that can be bought or sold.  Corporations have claimed the right to lie in their advertising and PR as "free speech,"  along with the right to help us mere humans choose our judges and elected officials with unlimited amounts of cash, including anonymous cash.  Corporations have been awarded the right to patent genetic sequences of diseases and to monopolize their cures, as well as patent rights to living plants and animals not of their invention.  A whole type of new anti-pollution regulation called "cap and trade" actually enshrines a corporate right to pollute and establishes exchanges upon which speculators can bid, trade and capture rents for those alleged rights.  And unlike a working person, who has no right to next month's let alone next year's wages, legal scholars working for corporations have devised and popularized something they call the "regulatory takings" doctrine, under which corporations may claim and recover from the government rights to profits they might have made in years to come.  And let's not even talk about trillions in corporate welfare for banks, military contractors, Wal-Mart and others.\

While many argue that corporations have too many rights as it is, this might be a good time to extend them at least one more right we humans have kept for ourselves until now; the right to be put to death for serious crimes.  Right now federal statutes alone offer individuals more than 40 different ways to earn the death penalty, including kidnapping, treason, aircraft hijacking, espionage and many varieties of murder, conspiracy, threatening murder and some drug crimes.  Individual states offer the death penalty for a host of similar offenses.

Putting bad corporate actors down the way we do rabid dogs and serial killers is not a new or even a radical idea.  Corporations are created by the charters of individual states, so states DO have the power to revoke them.  Early in this country's history, corporate charters used to limit a company's existence to a set number of years, to confine their operations to manufacturing a certain item, building a specific road or canal and prohibit them from changing ownership, dumping or concealing their assets or engaging in other kinds of business.  These are legal powers that our governments have not used in a long, long time, but which it's high time to reclaim.

Homicidal profit-seeking on the part of corporations has become an everyday fact of modern life.  Whether it's employers cutting health and safety corners, marketers pushing unsafe drugs, food and products of all kinds, or the deadly industrial fouling of the planet's air, soil, oceans and climate we are living in the midst of a corporate crime wave of murderous and epic proportions.  If we value human life, it only makes sense to treat corporate serial killers like, well, corporate serial killers, to confiscate their ill-gotten assets, to revoke their corporate charters and sentence the artificial personae of corporate malefactors to death.  If corporations are legal persons, it's time to enforce some personal responsibility upon them with a corporate death penalty.

After we accomplish that, it will be time to think about extending a little of that personal responsibility to the actual humans who operate behind the legal shield of the corporations.  But right now, as the saying goes, a corporation can't even get arrested in this country, which, come to think of it is still another right we humans ought to bestow upon them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon.  Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20100609_bd_corporate_death_penalty.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:47am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Terrified of offending the Israel lobby, Black congresspersons routinely vote for anti-Palestinian resolutions as “if they represented some Arab-hating constituency in Utah.” Two Black Representatives – Barbara Lee (CA) and Keith Ellison (MN) – last week dared to ask President Obama to support lifting Israel's blockade of Gaza and an investigation into last week's savage attack on the aid flotilla – but were careful to note they did not speak for the Congressional Black Caucus as a body.


Two Black Caucus Members Ask Gaza Murder Probe, the Rest are Silent

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The relentless pressures of the Israel lobby have succeeded in causing most Black elected officials to cower in fear of being labeled anti-Israel.”

Every objective observer of Black American grassroots political sentiment recognizes that African Americans are the most inclined of any major demographic group to empathize with the plight of Palestinians. It is an historic and contemporary fact that is consistent with Black America’s special identification with the downtrodden and dispossessed of the world. This relative pro-Palestinian bent in the Black American worldview flows from obvious and formative facts of the Black experience in the United States, which has led Black people to put the highest premium on social justice. That’s why Blacks can sing about Moses and the Promised Land all day long on Sunday, and still feel that the people currently in charge in Israel are on the wrong side of justice.

Since at least the mid-Sixties, many Jewish organizations have treated Black sympathies for the Palestinian people as rank anti-Semitism of the kind Jews experienced at the hands of whites. In some Jewish circles it is accepted as a truism that that Blacks are anti-Semitic. We see such perceptions, today, in the willingness of some to believe that even Barack Obama is somehow out to get Israel, despite his groveling support of the Israeli regime’s barbaric behavior since his election.

Over the years, the relentless pressures of the Israel lobby have succeeded in causing most Black elected officials to cower in fear of being labeled anti-Israel. Black officeholders now typically embark on periodic, pitiful pilgrimages to the Jewish state, bowing symbolically to Jerusalem, so as not to be marked as sympathetic to Palestinians. And on the floor of the U.S. Congress, the Black Caucus shames itself and misrepresents its constituents by endorsing every fawning resolution promulgated by Israel’s operatives in the United States.

Even this exceedingly mild letter is apparently too risky for the rest of the 42-member Black Caucus to sign.”

Two Black congresspersons – Barbara Lee, of California, the Caucus chair, and Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, one of two Muslim members of the House – recently wrote a letter to President Obama, saying they were “deeply troubled by the military action aboard the aid flotilla en route to Gaza...resulting in the death of nine civilians, including one American.” Representatives Lee and Ellison requested that Obama “support a thorough investigation” and that he “call for a lifting of the blockade on Gaza.”

Yet even this exceedingly mild letter is apparently too risky for the rest of the 42-member Black Caucus to sign.

Back in January of 2009, as Israel was massacring more than 1,300 Palestinian men, women and children, and President-elect Obama stood shamefully silent, only two Black Caucus members – Maxine Waters of California and Gwen Moore of Wisconsin – had the courage to vote against a House resolution vilifying the Palestinian victims. Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison were among the seven members that sought “neutral” ground by simply voting “present,” while the bulk of the Black Caucus behaved as if they represented some Arab-hating constituency in Utah. Clearly, the Black Caucus is collectively terrified of the Israel lobby. The bigger the Black Caucus gets, the less representative it becomes of Black America and its desire for global social justice. But that's alright – Tel Aviv is pleased. 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: 20100609_gf_CBCGaza.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:34am EDT

by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Washington, DC, like other majority-Black metropolises, squeezes African Americans out of its borders through gentrification, while trapping growing proportions of those who remain in a rapacious criminal justice system. Activists charge that DC’s policy of hiring more white officers from surrounding states amounts to “coon hunting” in the nation’s capital.


South Africa On the Potomac: Washington, D.C. and Black Incarceration

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

DC is losing 2500 or so Black residents a year as gentrification pushes them out of the city proper.”

During a speech aired on Memorial Day this year Noam Chomsky said, “The drug war is used as a pretext to drive the superfluous population, mostly black, back to the prisons, also providing a new supply of prison labor in state and private prisons, much of it in violation of international labor conventions. In fact, for many African Americans, since they were exported to the colonies, life has scarcely escaped the bonds of slavery, or sometimes worse.” This week I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Kwasi Seitu, a veteran activist with decades-long experience in organizing Black resistance to police brutality and what is often a malicious judicial system. Mr. Seitu has for many years now suffered first-hand and worked against the violently rapacious nature of the system described by Chomsky as “sometimes worse” than slavery. From Mississippi to where he now resides in Washington, D.C., Seitu has been on the front lines of this on-going tyrannical relationship between the Black community and the nation’s institutions.

In Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, also referred to as the “last colony,” or a “a piece of South Africa on the Potomac,” Mr. Seitu describes the horrific procession of “hundreds of Black people” who “pass through the dungeons of D.C. Superior Court every single day.” Most of these women and men are there for non-violent drug offenses which Seitu argues is also part of a police “quota system” which rewards officers for higher numbers of arrests. The quality or just nature of those arrests is not the issue, just the numbers of Black bodies who will pass through the city’s jails. Part of the political economy of this streets-to-jail pipeline is, as Seitu says, the justification of the publicly-funded policing and incarceration budget which puts hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. But it is also, as Chomsky alluded to, an issue of “superfluous” labor, or an issue of what to do with those you cannot or will not employ. As recently as 2006 the employment rate for Black adults in Washington, D.C. was only 51% making their unemployment rate the highest in the world.

It is an issue of what to do with those you cannot or will not employ.”

Washington, D.C. is now 52% Black and losing 2500 or so Black residents a year as gentrification pushes them out of the city proper. However, according to Seitu, this has not changed the complexion of those being targeted by the various police agencies in the city. DC police chief Cathy Lanier has had her attempts at instituting community check points ruled unconstitutional and her “All Hands on Deck” policy determined to be a violation of police union workloads. But despite the setbacks Lanier’s policies of hyper-policing remain largely intact which means more of the same. Seitu argues that these tactics, coupled with Lanier’s hiring of more white officers from surrounding states, amounts to the tradition of “coon hunting” and will likely result in more Black women and men being unnecessarily incarcerated or worse still killed by police.

Of course, many of these issues have their roots in the ignoble beginnings of this nation’s relationship with African people. Others point more recently to this as an issue of DC’s lack of statehood which means, in this case, that DC Superior Court, despite the name, is a federal court with judges and prosecutors appointed rather than elected by city residents. In either case the issues against which Seitu and others struggle is the tip of a racist economic order that suffers a kind of inattention in this country that is simply inexcusable. All those who prefer the sexier issues of Israel and Palestine or Afghanistan and Pakistan will see no improvement in those issues while similar orders are in place and in practice right here at home.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Jared Ball can be contacted via email at: jared.ball@morgan.edu


Direct download: 20100609_jb_SAonPotomas.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:22am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

As hedge funds spin their financial webs to spur charter school expansion and President Obama bullies states to lift caps on charters, "right-wing foundations are attempting to swallow whole the entire school district of Washington, DC." For a $65 million donation, the Wal-Mart family and other fat cats demand DC schools drop union rules - and threaten to take back the money if the voters change administrations.

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Obama and the Charter School Sugar Daddies

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Hedge funds and bankers have become the Sugar Daddies of charter schools."

When it comes to the public schools, the Obama administration is allied with the most rapacious sectors of Wall Street and far-right foundations. That political reality is most evident in  the administration's campaign to establish a parallel national network of charter schools, with a heavy emphasis on inner cities. Obama and his education chief, Arne Duncan, have spent their first year and a half in office coercing states to expand charters or lose out on more than $4 billion in federal education moneys. Obama's allies on Wall Street invest heavily in charter schools, tapping into the public money stream to build their own vision of corporate education.

Historically, Wall Street is to Democrats what Big Oil is to Republicans. Hedge funds and bankers have become the Sugar Daddies of charter schools, using their clout with big city Democrats to give charters every advantage over conventional public schools.

Wall Street finds charters especially attractive, since bankers and hedge funds can exercise extraordinary influence on the schools while the public pays most of the tab. And profiteers have found numerous ways to turn charter schools into cash cows, where taxpayers finance private contracts over which the public has no control. Charter schools are a low-risk, fast buck dream, tailor-made for corporate exploitation and political manipulation.

RIch foundations have banded together to amass a mountain of money to ensure that charter schools have sources of funds that most public schools lack, plus a steady income from the taxpayers.

"If the voters get rid of Mayor Fenty, they can kiss the fat cats' money goodbye."

Rightwing foundations have become so emboldened in their privatizing campaigns, they are attempting to swallow whole the entire school district of Washington, DC.  Four foundations, led by the Wal-Mart owners' Walton Family Foundation, have offered DC almost $65 million to help fund the public schools - with plenty of strings attached. In addition to dropping important seniority system protections for teachers, the foundations demand that the city and school administration remain intact, or they'll take their money back.  That means, if Adrian Fenty, the corporatist Black mayor of DC, fails to win re-election this year, or his union-hating schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, loses her job, the Walton Family and the rest of the foundations think they can pick up their millions and leave DC to find some other way of paying for the schools.

This is blatant rule of the rich, an oligarchy of extortion by the worst elements of the ruling class - all under the guise of helping inner city school kids.

When you think of it, $65 million is a cheap price to pay for the foundations to control, not only the DC public schools, but the entire political process of the nation's capital city. If the voters get rid of Mayor Fenty, they can kiss the fat cats' money goodbye.

Actually, that's no more outrageous than President Obama making states jump through charter school hoops to get a piece of his $4 billion "Race to the Top" prize.  Obama is also a bully and an extortionist, in league with the Wal-Mart family's foundation and the bankers and hedge funds on Wall Street.

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: 20100602_gf_PubSchools.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:11am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For the Obama administration, every bit of public space and property is "on the table" - subject to privatization.  Transfer of public wealth to private hands seems a White House obsession. Next on the auction block: the nation's public housing stock. "This is gentrification and urban displacement on a gargantuan scale."

 

Obama's Scheme to Kill Public Housing and Give the Land to Banks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Obama would entrust the fates of millions of poor people to the tender mercies of the same criminal-minded class that has destroyed a generation and more of Black homeowners."

President Obama's greatest domestic imperative is the transfer of public wealth and resources to the private sector. He moved tens of trillions of dollars to Wall Street in the guise of rescuing the economy. Hundreds of billions in public funds are scheduled for transfer to private insurance corporations over the next decade or so, masquerading as a health care plan. His support for corporate-backed charter schools and other so-called public-private partnerships has dramatically escalated the privatization of education in the United States. Obama calls it a "Race to the Top." Now, the Obama administration is serving up to corporate vultures the nation's dwindling stock of public housing, with bankers as the ultimate beneficiaries.

The plan is slick, but easy enough to see through - like the president, himself.  Dubbed the Transforming Rental Assistance initiative, or TRA, the scheme would allow banks and other speculators to mortgage public housing, and then raise the rents to ten percent above market value.  The federal government would make up the difference, pumping the people's money directly into Wall Street accounts. Eventually, of course, the feds will halt or cut back payments, and the properties will revert to the bankers, who will sell them to developers and kick out the tenants. This is gentrification and urban displacement on a gargantuan scale - brought to you by the First Black President.

Imagine! Obama wants to transfer to banks and developers tens of thousands of acres of public-owned urban property - home to 1.2 million families, disproportionately Black and brown - all the while subsidizing the banksters' profits with billions of taxpayer dollars. He would entrust the fates of millions of poor people to the tender mercies of the same criminal-minded class that has destroyed a generation and more of Black homeowners and displaced legions of Black renters from the gentrifying cities.

"The scheme would allow banks and other speculators to mortgage public housing, and then raise the rents to ten percent above market value."

Obama wants to transform public housing into a Section 8 subsidy program. That is the kiss of death. Section 8 housing has always been underfunded. In New York City, alone, 10,000 Section 8 voucher holders may not be able to pay their rent because the feds won't come up with the funding.

When public housing defaults on payments to the bankers under the Obama scheme, it will be a second bonanza for Wall Street - which is how billions are made in an economy ruled by parasites who create nothing, but charge a fee for everything.

Those are Obama's kind of people. I'm not just talking about the mega-banks and hedge-funders that backed him to the hilt in his presidential campaign. Obama's closest cronies and former clients from Chicago - including senior advisor Valerie Jarret - made their fortunes milking government subsidized housing programs for the poor until the federal government had to step in and pick up the pieces.

If Obama has his way, speculators will descend on all 3,000 of the nation's public housing agencies, bribing every official in sight in a frenzy of corruption over federal land and subsidies. And the poor will start counting the days before they are put out in the street.

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: 20100602_gf_PublicHousing.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 7:57am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

The logic of the world-stealers leads inexorably to genocide. Thus, the vast miseries that are the inevitable result of imperial mega-theft must be blamed on the victims who insist on continuing to breathe. There is no overpopulation, and "Mother Nature is not the problem.  Predators and imperialists are."

 

The "Predatory Buccaneer" and the Overpopulation Lie

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"It has long been an expressed corporate interest that the reduction of populations whose land has been stolen would prevent overpopulation and, ultimately, revolutionary threats."

It is truly dangerous when the richest among us, those who live not off their own blood, sweat and tears but from ours, talk so openly about the presumed horrors over an equally presumptuous situation of "overpopulation."  When the world's wealthiest like Ted Turner, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey gather in secret meetings, as they did last year, to discuss overpopulation they do so to hide the fact that their hero Thomas Mathus and his followers espouse what is tantamount to a polite Nazi-like genocide based on a lie of resource scarcity which itself only exists to protect an on-going global theft.  This lie blames overpopulation in the so-called "Third World" for everything from poverty, to crime to global warming.  So their response? Rid the planet of at least one billion people.  And, of course, it makes perfect sense.  Once you've accumulated your wealth from having stolen their land, labor and resources, why share it? It is absolutely logical to then conclude that fewer of them be here to threaten the luxury you enjoy at their expense.  In fact, it has long been an expressed corporate interest that the reduction of populations whose land has been stolen would prevent overpopulation and, ultimately, revolutionary threats from among those whose lives are continuously ruined in order to develop the wealth only a few get to enjoy.

Their problem is that there is indeed plenty of room and sustenance for everyone in the world provided, of course, that current levels of resource distribution are more appropriately adjusted.  In other words, myths of overpopulation are generated to protect the imbalance in the world today where, for instance, the U.S. at 5% of the world's population uses 25% of its resources or where 1% of the planet owns 40% of its wealth.  Mathus' nonsensical and racist theory that food and other resources are threatened by overpopulation is a white supremacist lie.  It excuses the current resource imbalance and supports equally false and constructed notions of Black and Brown inferiority which justifies elite land-grabs while preventing the real questions of why do so few have so much.  The fact remains that if every human being on the planet were grouped in to families of four that each could live in a small house with a yard and all within the state of Texas.  Mother Nature is not the problem.  Predators and imperialists are.

"The nonsensical and racist theory that food and other resources are threatened by overpopulation is a white supremacist lie."

And as a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine reports these "new capitalists of chaos" cannot wait to benefit from imposed poverty and the conflicts it produces.  This particular story focuses on Phil Heilberg, a former Wall Street trader with the now defunct AIG, who one colleague calls a "predatory buccaneer," and who has now become one of the single greatest landowners in Africa.  He proudly proclaims to be a net benefit to humanity by backing one Sudanese gangster against another so as to clear land of the Mathusian excess so that he can bring in American agribusiness farming which he says will bring more food to those who need it.  In his own words Heilberg says, "the world needs food.  Thomas Mathus talked about the problem of finite land but infinite growth... I think people will panic, especially those who have no land to grow on."  So he buys it by the millions of acres along with China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and India, all U.S. allies.  And how does he get it? He is very clear.  He calls it "going to the guns" and compares himself to a "Mafia head" who funds those who will kill their own so that he may take over their land, because as they say, "those who control the food will control the world."  Heilberg denies that this is "colonization" because he does not see himself as imposing his ideals on others.  But it is an absolute imposition of ideals when those who might be against your plans of land-grabbing are killed by those you pay.  Murder and theft by proxy was described years ago by Kwame Nkrumah as "neocolonialism."  Today - and where we agree with Heilberg -  it is just "part of the system." 

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100603_jb_Buccaneer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:46am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

New York City - a place imagined as a center of liberality - is a mega-human rights violator, where 8:30pm curfews are enforced to make minority neighborhoods into "ghost towns." In the Bedford-Stuyvesant section, police "are told to make arrests for incidents they have not seen and probably didn't happen, all to meet quotas and clear the streets."

 

New York City Beats Arizona Hands Down in Police Abuse of Citizens

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The NYPD is without a doubt the worst violator of human rights in the United States - by volume."

There is a growing crime wave on the streets of New York City, a public menace that has assaulted the bodies and minds of nearly 3 million residents in the last six years. The source of the crime wave is the NYPD, without a doubt the worst violator of human rights in the United States - by volume - and arguably the most racist police force of any major city.

The ringleader of this crime wave is multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the once-Republican now independent mayor of New York since 2001 and - in quantitative terms - the nation's worst human rights abuser. Every year since 2004, Mayor Bloomberg has demanded, and gotten, a bigger body count of detained New Yorkers: some 575,000 persons stopped-and frisked in 2009, nearly 90 percent of them Black and brown.

What civil libertarians fear will happen in Arizona under that state's new, anti-immigrant laws, has been happening every day to Black and Latino residents of New York. Men, women and children are routinely stopped and often arrested right in front of their homes and while sitting on their stoops. Many have been stopped tens or scores of times by cops working under harsh quotas and under orders to clear the streets of everyone by 8:30 at night - a de facto and illegal curfew on the Black and the poor - in, of all places, New York, the City That Never Sleeps.

The horror stories are finally reaching the general public because of recordings made secretly and delivered to the Village Voice newspaper by a disgruntled cop. The tapes, recorded in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn over a 17-month period, reveal a lawless police department in which patrol cops are instructed to arrest people first and make up charges against them, later. Cops are told to make arrests for incidents they have not seen and probably didn't happen, all to meet quotas and clear the streets. One particularly oppressive and profane supervisor summed it up for his men: "I want a ghost town.... The less people on the street, the easier our job will be."

"Cops are instructed to arrest people first and make up charges against them, later."

Another supervisor is heard saying, "They don't own the block. We own the block. They might live here, but we own the block. We own the streets, here."

Community members that complain about police abuse are vilified as "the bad guys."

The police department operates like a hate machine, grooming officers to hate residents and giving residents every reason to hate the police. One young man interviewed by the Village Voice said he has been stopped 14 times just since New Years Day.  "You can't stand on the sidewalk and talk or sit on someone's stoop," he says.

The sheer intensity and duration of the six-year police assault on poor, minority neighborhoods, in a city where gentrification is a public policy priority, is reason to suspect that Mayor Bloomberg's reign of terror is designed to drive out New York's unwanted classes. 

On tape, Bloomberg's cops rant and rave that they'd like to "blow up" buildings and make streets into "ghost towns." And then their boss can bring in a new population - and the cops can start acting like human beings, again.

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: 20100526_gf_NYPD.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Rev. Al Sharpton preached that her death was a "breaking point" - but he's said that too many times before. Even the police execution of a child fails as a catalyst for change. "These issues are the result of a legacy of enslavement which has seemingly permanently inscribed an archetype of Black people as property and predators."

Her Name Was Aiyana Jones

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"Police brutality and mass incarceration are just not seen by Black leadership as issues worthy of popular attention."

Her name was Aiyana Jones. She was 7, Black, in a poor family, living in Detroit and was killed by the police. She was the victim of an unbroken and thoroughly vicious cycle of police brutality, followed by temporary, short-lived outcry and then the soon-to-come oppressive silence or worse, acceptance. Most will never hear the story, fewer will hear and follow up on it and fewer still will have yet another name to list during self-aggrandizing moments on podia, panels or in various forms of media commentary. The national eulogizer Al Sharpton spoke at Aiyana's funeral this week and said, again, that "this child is the breaking point... enough is enough" which I am sure a search would show he has said in one form or another at the never-ending cavalcade of funerals he does. But is it really enough? Is Aiyana really a "breaking point?" Absolutely not and we know it.

Precise numbers are hard to pin down but one study concluded that from 1990-2005 an average of one person per day was killed by the police. And in Chicago, for example, of the 84 people killed by police since 2000 only one was determined to be unjustified. But between under-reporting and unjust legal conclusions of incidents that are reported there remains this unbroken cycle. This cycle is irritatingly too easy to foresee and has, of course, already begun in the case of Aiyana Jones. This includes the obligatory and already mentioned Sharpton eulogy, followed by some basic local and national news coverage. Some have raised important questions about, for instance, the television show "The First 48" which was there filming the police raid which led to Aiyana's death and the role of what has to be euphemistically called "reality" t.v. in general in encouraging more action or prompting a greater degree of excessive behavior among the police. Some have asked about the "muted media" whose lack of substantive coverage prevents an appropriate societal education about police brutality or race in America. Of course, others prefer to focus on allegations that the Jones family was not well liked in their community and were themselves seen as a bad element, especially since the police were there looking for a murder suspect who was found either in or right next to the Jones household.

"One study concluded that from 1990-2005 an average of one person per day was killed by the police."

But other news reported recently speaks to the true nature of this cycle. For example, Black Agenda Report carried a story last week that was a follow up to the Jena Six case, the last major pre-Haiti earthquake cause celebre, which showed that rather than progress there has only been further repression and targeting of families and individuals who supported the six Black victims of that case. The federal probe into police killings of Black people in post-Katrina New Orleans is still on-going more than 5 years later.

And Jon Burge, the former Chicago police chief who "ran a torture ring that abused approximately 200 suspects" during the 1970s and 80s, finally goes on trial this week, decades later.

During a recent discussion with the powerful sibling duo of Michelle and Leslie Alexander whose scholarship and activism centers around the history of criminalizing Blackness the two made the point that these issues are the result of a legacy of enslavement which has seemingly permanently inscribed an archetype of Black people as property and predators demanding levels of "social control" which are only viewed as extreme or unjust if applied outside that context or outside those communities. They also both noted the "human rights nightmare" of police brutality and mass incarceration are just not seen by Black leadership as issues worthy of popular attention precisely because they often involve segments of our communities we'd rather escape from or simply not acknowledge. It is the concern summarized by Obama's willingness to defend his similarly-classed Skip Gates while dismissing as issues the killings of the under-classed Sean Bell or Oscar Grant. And it is also why this cycle is so vicious and why it is predictable that this little girls name will soon be added to the list of the forgotten. Her name was Aiyana Jones.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online go to www.blackagendareport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu

Direct download: 20100529_jb_ayana_jones.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:14pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It was like pulling teeth, but Tea Party star Rand Paul finally blurted out his core, racist ideology in front of national TV cameras.  Property rights trump Black rights, every time. "White supremacy is the connective link that holds the 'Tea Party' together - that, and relentless media coverage."

 

Rand Paul Tells On Self and Fellow Tea Partyers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"White people in the aggregate will try to preserve the essential elements of a White Man's Country in perpetuity unless the state intervenes."

Finally, a moment of clarity in American politics! Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion and winner of the Republican senatorial nomination from Kentucky, thinks business owners have the inalienable right to refuse service to Black people. It only took a few minutes for MSNBC's liberal-minded Rachel Maddow to pry the truth out of Paul - to make him elocute his racist beliefs before a national audience. What an idiot, say pundits of the left and right. If only Rand Paul had stuck with the code words that respectable white Republicans and Democrats deploy to sanitize an essentially racist American political conversation, he would still be the media's fair-haired boy. Instead, he's now the "Mad Hatter" - for blurting out on Maddow's show beliefs he and his Texas congressman father, Ron Paul, have always held, and which have served both men well in the white nationalist movement called the Tea Party.

Father and son Paul have never made a secret of their bedrock belief that the right to do whatever one wants with one's private property is the fountainhead of their of liberty. It is an idea fundamentally at odds with evolving human values, an obstacle to the advance of civilization, itself - but one that resonates deeply among whites who pine for the days when Blacks were the collective property of the white citizenry. "Our niggras," as the white folks used to say.

"Property rights is a legal construct to preserve what's left of a White Man's Country."

Just as "states' rights" was polite political cover for slavery and, later, legal segregation, so is property rights the legal construct to conserve what's left of a White Man's Country. That's what the Tea Party's kind of "conservatism" is all about. White supremacy is the connective link that holds the "Tea Party" together - that, and relentless media coverage.

Fox News anchor John Stossel last week expanded on Rand Paul's racist opening, to declare that elements of the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be repealed. Activists at the Internet-based Color of Change are calling for Stossel's head, or woe be unto Fox News - as if Fox does not thrive in a racist environment. Color of Change says, correctly, that "market forces," left to their own devices, would have perpetuated Jim Crow segregation, since whites overwhelmingly preferred to shop and travel and dine in white-only environments. Which is to say, that white people in the aggregate will try to preserve the essential elements of a White Man's Country in perpetuity unless the state intervenes. The market is responding to a racist demand.

There is a significant demand among white Americans to rid their lives of Black people. That's why Blacks are more segregated in housing and schooling than 40 years ago, and why about half of U.S. prison inmates are Black. Whites demand that it be so, in the economic and political marketplace.

Rand Paul seems to be sorry that he threw his Tea Party mob too much red meat. He says he can live with the Civil Rights Act, despite principled objections. And I'm sure he can. Money can still buy distance from all but a few Black people. The White Man's Country is still a going concern.

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: 20100526_gf_FoxAndPaul.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:08pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no advice Black and brown parents can give their children to avoid being stopped and frisked by New York City police. Cops last year stopped almost half a million non-whites on the streets based on "furtive movements," appearing to "case" a person or location, or for reasons explained only as "other." Apparently, Blacks are nine times as "furtive," felonious-looking, or "other"-wise threatening, as whites.

 

A Police State for Black and Brown New Yorkers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Stop-and-frisks have reached astronomical heights - increasing five-fold under the current police commissioner - on direct orders of City Hall."

A full-blown police state exists in New York City. It is not the result of a crime wave; crime has been on the decline for decades, as successive city administrations proudly boast. The New York police state has been methodically constructed by the city administration to create an environment of fear and intimidation in Black and brown neighborhoods. Last year the racist police state juggernaut swept up nearly half a million African American and Latino New Yorkers, while affecting only 53,000 whites.

A Center for Constitutional Rights' lawsuit forced the city to begin keeping racial data on police activity following the 1999 police killing of Amadou Diallou. The latest data show that Blacks are nine times as likely to be stopped and frisked as whites. And these are anything but polite police procedures; in about one out of four cases, police draw their weapons or throw people to the ground. Still, only about six percent of the stops result in a formal arrest. In other words, in three out of four cases in which cops draw their weapons or use violence against New Yorkers on the street, in involves totally innocent persons, unworthy of arrest. Police used force against only 19 percent of whites, but against 27 percent of Blacks. Those whites that are among the very small proportion stopped by police are slightly more likely to be arrested than Blacks, and one-and-a-half times more likely to be carrying a weapon.

The Center for Constitutional Rights concludes, as would any sane observer, that the stop-and-frisk numbers reflect racial bias, and that they are flagrantly unconstitutional. It is equally clear that stop-and-frisks have reached astronomical heights - increasing five-fold under the current police commissioner - on direct orders of City Hall. The pace of unjustifiable stops has become too fast and furious even for some street cops. The Village Voice newspaper is publishing a series of articles based on secret police recordings of supervisors as they impose relentless and escalating quotas for stops and petty summonses on residents in Black and brown Brooklyn.

"In nearly half the cases, cops claim they stopped a pedestrian because he was making 'furtive movements.'"

This has nothing to do with crime, and everything to do with enforcement of a racist social order.

The cops claim that they are simply exercising their right to stop people based on "reasonable suspicion." But of course, white racism has its own system of reasoning, its own logic - it even invents or imagines its own facts. Police fill out forms to list the "facts" as they see them, after every stop-and-frisk on the street, as required by New York City law. In nearly half the cases, cops claim they stopped a pedestrian because he was making "furtive movements." What are "furtive movements"? Apparently, whatever the police think or imagine they are. The second biggest excuse for frisking people - listed in 30 percent of the stops - is that they were "casing a victim or location." In other words, the cop could just look at the subject and see that he had felonious intentions - that criminal "look" about him. In 19 percent of the cases, the cops don't even bother to be specific about why they made the person a target of the state; they simply check "other" as the reason.

Why has New York created a police state for Blacks and Latinos? Because the powers-that-be think that a voting majority of citizens approve, and because Black and brown leadership are in the pockets of those in 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: 20100519_gf_copfrisks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33am EDT