Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Indict Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza, Too

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The world's only superpower is the greatest subverter of international law. But Prof. Francis Boyle believes he's found the legal hook to bring the Bush Gang to justice – and Barack Obama, too, if he continues to pursue Bush's illegal policies.

 

Indict Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza, Too

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Bush Gang, says Prof. Boyle, should answer for the crime of rendition.”

President Obama doesn’t want George Bush and his war criminals to face the bar of justice. Rather, by continuing the Bush policies of rendition, of military tribunals, of detention without trial, and all the other police state methods that have made a mockery of U.S. pretensions to decency, Obama has elevated Bush’s crimes to bipartisan policy.

The United States Congress doesn’t want any Americans to face international justice, no matter how many crimes they commit against the planetary public. Back in 2002, just as the International Criminal Court was being formed in the Dutch city of The Hague, the U.S. Congress passed a law that would authorize Washington to send troops into Holland to free Americans who might be held for war crimes. It’s been derisively dubbed the “Invasion of the Hague Act,” but it’s no joke. The law shows how resistant U.S. politicians are to the very idea of international law – when it is applied to the United States.

The U.S. refuses to sign the  treaty that would bring it under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which handles war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This has created the farce in which the United States is by far the loudest voice charging other nations and individuals with high crimes against international law, but balks at leaving itself open to prosecution. From its superpower perch of impunity, the U.S. arrogantly orders the Court to go after America's designated villains – all of whom have turned out to be Africans – but, like a mother vulture, spreads her protective wings over the Israelis that committed war crimes against Gaza, only a year ago.

“President Obama could wind up under international prosecution.”

One of the Davids in the struggle to make Goliath accountable to international law, is Francis Boyle, professor at Illinois College of Law, who has filed a complaint with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to bring a select group of outlaws to justice. The Rogue's Gallery is as follows: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales. The Bush Gang, says Prof. Boyle, should answer for the crime of rendition – the kidnapping and disappearance of about one hundred human beings. Boyle maintains these acts of rendition constitute crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, and further, that these individuals can be prosecuted despite the fact that the United States is not a party to the Rome Statue. 

Prof. Boyle, a recognized expert on international law, maintains that the criminal court's jurisdiction is activated when U.S. crimes are committed within the territory of other nations that have signed the Statute. The U.S. has practiced renditions in a number of such countries, in Europe and elsewhere. And Boyle says, if President Obama does not, himself, cease committing crimes begun by the Bush administration, he too could wind up under international prosecution for “extraordinary rendition.” And that would be extraordinary, indeed.

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: 20100127_gf_BARIntCrimCourt.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:15am EDT

Humans Have No Rights That a Corporation is Bound to Respect

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

More than a century ago, a Supreme Court decided that corporations had the rights of “persons.” Last week, the High Court awarded the paper corporate avatars the right to swallow human political affairs, whole. “The more profound effect will be to complete the corporatization of the Democratic Party.”

 

No Rights That a Corporation is Bound to Respect

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The High Court has swept away the last remaining facade of America’s Disney World democracy.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has given its approval to what was already an accomplished fact: corporate ownership of the governmental apparatus of the American state. In affirming that corporations have the right to buy as much influence as they can pay for with campaign contributions, the High Court has swept away the last remaining facade of America’s Disney World democracy. The U.S. political system is revealed as nothing more than a theme park that offers the public fake election thrills that simulate one-man, one vote.

The barbaric principle underlying the decision was established 124 years ago, when another Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the constitutional rights of persons. Like the recent ruling, the 1886 Supreme Court decision essentially ratified the emerging reality of the day: the corporations were already running the economy and government of the United States as if they owned it. It is said that more than half of U.S. senators owned stock in the railroads, stock that had been given to them by the railroad corporations as gifts in return for millions of acres in federal lands. It was the age of the rise of the great Robber Barons, who invented the modern corporation and demanded that their paper avatars be treated as full fledged citizens of the Republic. Dutifully, the Supreme Court complied, providing constitutional justification for already-existing corporate rule.

The current Supreme Court is simply expanding on the 1886 principle of corporate personhood, to fit modern, much more expensive, circumstances. The supremacy of corporate power in U.S. elections is a fait accompli – a manifest, self-evident fact. Only corporate “persons” or actual human beings associated with corporations could spend a total of $5.3 billion dollars on the elections of 2008. Barack Obama himself received $650 million, the vast bulk of it from the corporate class, who gave more money to Democrats than to Republicans.

“Wall Street is to the Democrats what Big Oil is to the Republicans.”

The Democrats are complaining that the Supreme Court ruling will further advantage the Republicans. But the more profound effect will be to complete the corporatization of the Democratic Party, whose leadership is already at least as closely allied with Wall Street as the GOP. Remember, it was candidate Barack Obama who saved George Bush’s bank bailout bill, in 2008, and put Wall Street operatives at the helm of his new administration's economic policy. Wall Street is to the Democrats what Big Oil is to the Republicans – their sugar daddies.

In response to the Supreme Court's damnable decision, more than 40,000 people have joined in support of a move to amend the U.S. Constitution, to once and forever proclaim that corporations are not people – only people are people, with the civil and political rights of human beings.  Such a constitutional amendment is necessary to reverse, not only the latest travesty from the Supreme Court, but the original sin of 1886, when corporations were recognized as persons. Those rulings created a legal construct in which the American people have no rights that a corporation is bound to 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: 20100127_gf_BARSCOTUSCorpCash.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:12am EDT

U.S. Actions in Haiti are Rehearsal for Latin America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When the U.S. sent thousands of troops into Port au Prince airport, earthquake relief was clearly not the primary mission. Otherwise, ships and whole military units would not have arrived with only supplies for themselves.

 

U.S. Actions in Haiti are Rehearsal for Latin America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“U.S. naval units sailed into Haitian waters without bothering to load up with food, water and medicine at the nearby U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

The American commandeering of the airport at Port au Prince and de facto seizure of sovereignty over Haiti looked exactly like an invasion and occupation – except that Haiti had already been invaded in 2004 by the U.S., which then turned over occupational duties to its servants in the United Nations. To speak of a U.S. “invasion” of Haiti is getting a little bit redundant. The Americans never left, and they and their flunkies walk all over Haiti like an old rug.

Clearly, however, the U.S. was not on an earthquake rescue mission. U.S. naval units sailed into Haitian waters without bothering to load up with food, water and medicine at the nearby U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What kind of “relief” mission was this, in which the rescuer comes empty-handed? Thousands of paratroopers were flown in from Fort Bragg, North Carolina – and then sat at the Port au Prince airport for several days, claiming not to have transportation into town. They could have walked! The city is just beyond the airport fence and downtown and the port are only a couple of miles away.  A BBC reporter noted that, several days after the paratroopers landed, they sent small relief missions to outlying areas. Meanwhile, literally right down the street was the vast shantytown of Cite Soliel. But the Americans didn’t go there.

The United States military, except for its special operations units, is the “heaviest” fighting force in the world. That means, the Americans require more logistical support – more pounds of equipment, more fresh food, more support personnel for every grunt with a gun – than any military on the planet. When the U.S. decided to airlift thousands of troops into Port au Prince, commanders knew the logistical needs of that force, alone, would overwhelm the airport’s capacity, leaving little room for actual relief supplies. The Americans knew they would be creating a bottleneck that would become an impediment to relief efforts by the rest of the world. But they hogged the air and runways, anyway. What was the purpose?

“The Americans knew that they would be creating a bottleneck that would become an impediment to relief efforts by the rest of the world.”

The explanation is quite simple. For the Americans, the operation was not primarily a rescue mission. Often, they carried only supplies for themselves. I don't buy into speculation that the Americans were attempting to worsen the Haitian situation through deliberate delays, in order to justify taking over the country. It was clear from the first day that the earthquake was a visitation from hell that would create more than enough drama than the U.S. would ever need – and besides, the Americans and their minions were already in charge of Haiti. But the Americans' actions make perfect sense when understood as an air and naval exercise to test the capabilities of the U.S. Southern Command to move its own men and machines from one place to another, quickly. The Southern Command's 4th Fleet was just taken out of mothballs last year, and has been staging exercises in the Caribbean to threaten Venezuela. The U.S. has just opened 7 new bases in Colombia, and would be anxious to test its ability to support them with quick infusions of large units of troops and equipment. The Haiti earthquake was a good excuse. But the mission was not about them.

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: 20200127BAR_gf_USinHaiti.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:05am EDT

From Prison Inmates to Would-be Lawyers, Black Prospects Are Dimming

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The election of a Black president aside, white determination to hang on to skin privilege may be on the increase. California's governor proposes to cut prison costs through privatization, while refusing to release a single inmate. And despite steadily improving grades and test scores, law schools are enrolling fewer Black and brown students.

 

From Prison Inmates to Would-be Lawyers, Black Prospects Are Dimming

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Under Schwarzenegger's plan, the mass Black incarceration policies that have savaged Black society would be left intact.”

There have always been two distinct, although often overlapping, currents of Black America thought on how best to advance the interests of The Race. One current emphasizes efforts to deepen Black penetration in those professions that can increase the incomes and prestige of  Blacks at the top of African American society – professions like the law – a kind of Talented Tenth strategy for Black uplift. The other approach emphasizes broader efforts to improve the fortunes of the much larger group at or near the bottom, those most vulnerable to the worst abuses of racism. After two generations of a national policy of mass Black incarceration, prison inmates and ex-offenders best exemplify the bottom sector of Black society. In the current economic and political environment, African American prospects are looking bleak at both ends of the legal arena: for the millions on the receiving end of the criminal justice system, and for those aspiring to become practitioners of law.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is attempting to cope with his state's fiscal collapse by privatizing its prisons, a form of disaster capitalism that seeks to accomplish corporate political goals under the guise of economic necessity. Schwarzenegger dresses up his barbaric proposal with pledges to shift the state's spending priorities from incarceration to education, but not a single prisoner would be released under his plan. In return for promises to guarantee that a certain percentage of state spending goes to education, 170,000 inmates, overwhelmingly Black and brown, would be outsourced to private profiteers. The burden on the state would be made lighter, billions in public funds would be transferred to private pockets, while the mass Black incarceration policies that have savaged Black society would be left intact – a disaster for Black communities, especially those at the bottom.

“Law schools are shutting their doors to Black and Mexican-American students.”

And what of those young people that aspire to become officers of the court, lawyers rather than defendants? A recent study shows that law schools are shutting their doors to Black and Mexican-American students, even as these students continue to do better in their college grades and on the Law School Admissions Test. Even though law schools added 3,000 new seats between 1993 and 2008, and despite the fact that Blacks and Mexican-Americans came “very close” to closing the grade and testing gap with whites, both the percentage and the absolute number of Black and brown law students declined. That means that even as the law school pie got bigger, Blacks and browns got smaller portions of the pie.

Thus, both African American strategies for advancement are facing increased white resistance. Mass Black incarceration makes felons of majorities of Black males in some communities, while the raw numbers of Black lawyers is destined to decline, because of academic racism. Clearly, the struggle against white supremacy requires a full-spectrum mobilization operating at all levels of Black society. We need a Black Freedom Movement, now more than ever.

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: 20100113_gf_PrisonsLawSchool.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:52pm EDT

The Twilight of Black Harlem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Greater Harlem is now less Black “than at any time since the 1920s,” with African Americans making up only 4 in 10 residents. Galloping gentrification is a “racial as well as economic crime,” predicated on the historical devaluation of Black life, nationwide. “Poor Blacks are considered the human equivalent of blight, while affluent whites are treated as precious resources.”

The Twilight of Black Harlem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Poor Blacks are considered the human equivalent of blight, while affluent whites are treated as precious resources.”

Harlem, that piece of Manhattan real estate that epitomized Black urban life for most of the 20th century, is no longer majority African American. The white presence in central Harlem has grown from only 672 individuals in 1990, to almost 14,000 in 2008. According to Census data citied in a recent article in the New York Times, Blacks now make up just 62 percent of central Harlem, and only 41 percent of greater Harlem, the cityscape between the Hudson and East Rivers from 96th Street to 155th Street. Greater Harlem’s Black population is now smaller than at any time since the 1920s. It is true that Hispanic Harlem grew dramatically in the last decade, but in Manhattan as a whole Latinos are losing ground right along with Blacks. The island gets whiter by the day.

The driving force that is rendering Harlem uninhabitable to its traditional population, is not white people swarming uptown – that’s just a symptom of the underlying pathology. Harlem, like inner cities across America, is under relentless siege by organized money, the real estate and banking interests that reap their greatest profits by forcing out poor and working class residents in order to create a much more expensive space for the relatively rich. It is pure predation, and a racial as well as economic crime.

The New York Times article on the whitening of Harlem attempts to treat runaway gentrification as a, somehow, race-neutral phenomenon – as if race and the price of real estate have not always been inextricably intertwined in America. It is the manipulation of race and its relationship to housing and land values in a racist society that allows speculators the greatest opportunities to buy low and sell high. Whether in scaring whites out of city neighborhoods in the Forties and Fifties, or pushing Blacks out today, vast fortunes have been made by the skillful use of race to inflate or deflate the value of entire neighborhoods. The racist devaluation of Black people shows up as profits on the bankers’ and developers’ side of the ledger.

“Greater Harlem’s Black population is now smaller than at any time since the 1920s.”

Race has everything to do with the politics of gentrification. Both the political and economic marketing of gentrification are based on the assumption that “good” neighborhoods and attractive cities are those populated by upscale white people. Poor Blacks are considered the human equivalent of blight, while affluent whites are treated as precious resources. New York Mayor Michael Bloomburg, plans to lay a white line of luxury apartments right across the center of Harlem, from river to to river, at 125th Street – and call it a renaissance. Most Manhattan Black elected officials are allies of the mayor, the developers, the landlords and the banks in the project to destroy Black Harlem. They are loyal to money, not their constituents, and hope to make enough money in the short run that they will not need those constituents in the long term.

It's the same story in Atlanta and other large Black population centers across the United States, the majority of which are hemorrhaging Black residents. The fact that gentrification is such a potent force for Black removal in all regions is proof that racism and finance capitalism behave in remarkably similar fashion throughout the United States. In that sense, nothing has changed since the days of racial blockbusting, several generations ago.

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: 20100113_gf_BlackHarlem.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:49pm EDT

How Harold Ford Blazed the Trail For Barack Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Poor Harold Ford. Having created the model of a right-wing, corporate Black Democratic politician in search of a national podium, he was eclipsed by the more talented Barack Obama. But the backing of a few billionaires changes all the odds in 21st century America, where the “corporate boardroom is the equivalent of Hollywood's casting couch.”

 

How Harold Ford Blazed the Trail For Barack Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Congressman Harold Ford was kissing George Bush’s Republican behind long before Obama invited key Bush appointees into his new administration.”

The attempted reincarnation of former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford, Jr. as a senator from New York demonstrates that, in the United States, money is the only meaningful political constituency. Money chooses its representatives based on who can most reliably serve the interests of the moneyed classes, and it matters little which actual human constituency or geographic jurisdiction the chosen politician purports to represent. Memphis or Manhattan – what’s the difference, when the only audience that counts is Big Capital?

In the United States, the corporate boardroom is the equivalent of Hollywood’s casting couch. It is where the political actor auditions for a starring role as servant to the ruling class. In 21st century America, it is considered a great sign of progress that Black actors can now lie down on the corporate casting couch to vie for top billing in the multi-billion dollar theatrical venues of electoral politics. All that was required for Harold Ford to become an instantly viable candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from New York was the backing of three billionaires, including Michael Bloomberg, the seventh most wealthy man in the nation who bought his own job of mayor of New York City three times, and now wants to buy his very own senator.

“Ford was a Black Blue Dog Democrat years before Obama forged similar alliances on the national stage.”

By the corrupt rules of U.S. political theater, Harold Ford has earned the part. He was a trailblazer in right-wing Black Democratic politics, having paved the way for Barack Obama by aggressively wooing corporations and Republicans to the detriment of his poor and working class constituents in Memphis, Tennessee. Ford was a Black Blue Dog Democrat years before Obama forged similar alliances on the national stage. Congressman Harold Ford was kissing George Bush’s Republican behind long before Obama invited key Bush appointees into his new administration. Harold Ford joined with George Bush’s assault on Social Security years before Barack Obama put all federal “entitlements” on the chopping block. And although Ford was one of only four Black lawmakers to vote in favor of authorizing Bush to invade Iraq, while Obama was telling Illinois voters he opposed the war, Obama has since expanded America’s wars in ways that should make Bush, and Harold Ford, proud.

Harold Ford was an early Black recruit to the Democratic Leadership Council, the corporate headquarters in the Democratic Party, and now serves as the DLC’s chairman. Barack Obama always acted like a member of the DLC, and finally admitted he was their ideological soulmate two months into his presidency. So, although the Obama White House has been lobbying against Harold Ford's senatorial candidacy, it's not because of any political differences between the two right-wing, corporate Democrats. Maybe the problem is, they are too much alike, and Obama thinks there's only room for one of him on the national stage. But that may be too bad, because Harold Ford has his three billionaires, and that's all it takes to make a political comeback in the U.S. of A.

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: 20100113_gf_HaroldFord.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:47pm EDT

Black is Back Coalition Conference in Florida

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Ten months into the Obama presidency, a newly-formed coalition of Black activists and organizations gathered in Washington to confront the administration's policies. On January 23, the Black is Back Coalition meets to map out a plan of action for the new year. “Black is Back means demanding the resources that are ours by right, to shape our own destinies in solidarity with the rest of humankind in a world that says Yes to justice and peace.”

 

Black is Back Coalition Conference in Florida

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“It’s time to build on the success of the Washington mobilization and make 2010 the year when millions of Black people set their minds and bodies in motion.”

The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations is marching into the New Year fired up and determined to build a people’s movement. Last November 7 the newly formed coalition proved that Black really is back and on the move with a march on the White House, serving notice that the Black struggle will not be terminated simply by putting a Wall Street-bought Black man in the Oval Office. Now it’s time to build on the success of the Washington mobilization and make 2010 the year when millions of Black people set their minds and bodies in motion for justice, peace and the fruits of our ancestors’ labor.

The Black is Back Coalition holds its next history-shaping conference on January 23rd in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the weather is warm and the planning will be intense. Speakers include New York City Councilman Charles Barron and Larry Hamm, of the People’s Organization for Progress. Participants are coming from throughout the United States and the Caribbean, to map out plans of action for our people’s liberation through a Black-led freedom movement.

This month marks a year since the inauguration of the first Black president of the United States – twelve months of steadily escalating assaults on Black people in the United States and in Africa. In the Horn of Africa, a food crisis of horrific proportions threatens millions as a direct result of U.S. aggression against the people of Somalia, a nation targeted by President Obama’s so-called war on terror. The United States Africa Command, AFRICOM, relentlessly expands its militarization of the continent. The U.S. arms and funds the armies of Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda to wage war against other Africans, in the interests of rich men in America and Europe. After more than five million deaths, Congo still bleeds from western-supplied bullets so that imperialists can gouge out her resources.

“Blacks are the designated prey of Barack Obama’s Wall Street friends.”

In the United States, Blacks are the designated prey of Barack Obama’s Wall Street friends who have decimated Black neighborhoods and crushed the possibility of employment. Mass Black incarceration is the law of the land.

In September of last year, the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations was only an idea. But in just eight weeks, the Coalition organized itself to speak Truth to Power in Washington. Black is Back means rejection of rule by Wall Street, rejection of endless imperial wars, rejection of mass Black imprisonment. Black is Back means demanding the resources that are ours by right, to shape our own destinies in solidarity with the rest of humankind in a world that says Yes to justice and peace.

The Black is Back Coalition is inviting your participation at the January 23 conference, in St. Petersburg, Florida.  For information, go to the Black is Back Coalition website at www.blackisbackcoalition.org. That's www.blackisbackcoalition.org.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.

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

The Black is Back Coalition can also be contacted at the Black is Back Coalition National Office: Address: P.O.Box 55601 Washington, DC 20040 Tel: 202.320.5542 email: info@blackisbackcoalition.org

Direct download: 20100106_gf_BiBJan23.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 7:47am EDT

Do Wells Fargo and Other Banksters Owe Black People

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Millions of Americans are outraged that bank officers get fat bonuses for making bad loans. But what is truly grotesque is how few people demand that these bankers go to jail for the crime of “reverse redlining.” “It is unthinkable that bank lending officers up and down the corporate chain of command might face criminal prosecution for ruining the lives of millions!”

 

What Do Wells Fargo and Other Banksters Owe Black People?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Wells Fargo’s practice of 'reverse redlining' has decimated African American neighborhoods while sparing whites of similar economic status.”

Wells Fargo, the biggest home mortgage lender in American banking, just paid back the federal government $25 billion in bailout money. That means Wells Fargo considers itself relieved of further obligations to the taxpayers that rescued the bank from the consequences of its own business practices. But what of the people whose lives Wells Fargo ruined – a hugely disproportionate number of whom are Black?

While Wells Fargo’s executives are cueing up for their bonuses, the list of lawsuits grows, charging the bank with massive racial discrimination. The latest plaintiffs are the city of Memphis and surrounding Shelby County, Tennessee, where Wells Fargo’s practice of “reverse redlining” has decimated African American neighborhoods while sparing whites of similar economic status. In some Black neighborhoods, one out of every eight Wells Fargo loans have gone into foreclosure. The proportion is only one out of 59 in similarly situated white neighborhoods because, according to the suit, Wells Fargo acted responsibly when making loans to whites.

The same pattern of racism in lending caused the city of Baltimore to sue Wells Fargo, earlier last year. Both Memphis and Baltimore argue that Wells Fargo’s disastrous Black lending practices destroyed substantial portions of the cities’ tax base by forcing so many residents out of their homes. The state of Illinois sued Wells Fargo last summer, for charging Blacks and Latinos more for mortgages than whites of similar income.

It’s the same story in Los Angeles, where thousands of Black households have been joined in a class action suit against Wells Fargo. The NAACP has launched suits against Wells Fargo and a long list of its colleagues in mortgage lending crimes.

“Not one Wells Fargo executive will spend a day in jail for participating in a racist assault against millions of Black and brown people.”

But what is the nature of the crime, and what should be the punishment? It is in the presence of massive economic outrages, coldly and systematically executed, against historically oppressed victims who are made more vulnerable in the process of the assault, that “bourgeois justice,” as some of us used to call it, is revealed as a rich man’s con game. There is no limit to what can be taken from the poor, including their lives, especially if they are Black, but the rich commit their crimes behind corporate shields, with relative impunity. Commit a crime against a bank and you face federal criminal prosecution, yet it is unthinkable that bank lending officers up and down the corporate chain of command might face criminal prosecution for ruining the lives of millions! One can earn extra years in jail for physically assaulting a person as part of a racial hate crime, but not one Wells Fargo executive will spend a day in jail for participating in a racist assault against millions of Black and brown people who were simply seeking home mortgages.

Elemental justice cannot exist under capitalism; it is incompatible with the prerogatives of money. That's why few people in our political culture even consider that several thousand bankers should be imprisoned for at least as long as bank robbers for their premeditated crimes against millions of families. But, corporate criminals like Wells Fargo don't need a Get Out of Jail Free card. Nobody even thinks about putting them in jail, in the first 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: 20100106_gf_WellsFargo.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 7:38am EDT

2009: The Year Wall Street Devoured the US Govt

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Something happened last year that will earn 2009 a permanent place in history: the finance capitalist class devoured the state apparatus of America. Whole. All of it. And nothing will ever be the same.

 

The Year Wall Street Ate the American State

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“President Barack Obama joined with the Federal Reserve to put the entirety of the nation's current and future wealth at the disposal of the bankster class.”

It is almost always up to historians to locate watersheds in human history, to pinpoint that period of time when accumulated social and economic changes can no longer be denied, and it must be concluded that the society has entered a qualitatively new and different period. The beginnings and ends of eras are seldom recognized at the time they occur. Only by looking back do we gain the perspective to conclude that something world-shaking has happened.

2009 will, I believe, go down in history as the year that Wall Street – shorthand for the finance capitalist class – finally chewed up and swallowed whole the government of the United States. It is, of course, true that businessmen have shaped the laws and policies of the American state since the founding the Republic – most notably, men in the business of slavery and land piracy. When plantation slavery power was broken in the Civil War, manufacturing capital, in league with banks, dominated national life. By the 1950s, captains of industry could still proclaim that what was good for General Motors was good for the country. But sometime in the 1970s – no one can definitively say exactly when – the money handlers got the upper hand over the industrialists. For the first time, the General Motors Acceptance Corporation, the financial arm of the giant auto maker, made bigger profits than its parent company.

“When the bubbles finally burst, it would require the full faith and credit of the United States to prevent utter collapse of the financial sector.”

By the 1980s Wall Street was busily dismantling the manufacturing sector of the United States. Finance capital achieved total supremacy over the Democratic Party under President Bill Clinton, whose operatives abolished all effective controls on the mass manipulation of money. The bankers were now free to create bubbles so huge that when they finally burst, in September of 2008, it would require the full faith and credit of the United States to prevent utter collapse of the financial sector.

The job of reinflating the Wall Street bubble fell to President Barack Obama, whose executive branch joined with the Federal Reserve to put the entirety of the nation's current and future wealth at the disposal of the bankster class. By July of 2009, Obama and the Fed had committed $23.7 trillion dollars of the people's cash and credit to bail out the banks. In a real sense, it does not matter how many trillions were actually spent, or will be sucked up by Wall Street in the future. The point is, the U.S. government in 2009 put everything the people of the United States own or create, or can ever hope to own or create, permanently at the service of Wall Street. Like the young “Alien” in the science fiction movie series, Wall Street has attached itself to the face and body of the nation and is sucking it to death.

The picture that best explains the historical significance of the year 2009, is President Obama holding a teleconference with bankers who didn't bother to show up for a meeting with him at the White House, in mid-December. Obama is pleading with them to at least pretend to act in the interest of the public whose national resources they have stolen. But the banksters see no need to pay even token respect to a president who is actually their servant. Having swallowed the state whole, they simply...digest it, knowing they can come back for seconds and thirds until the people's credit is exhausted.

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: 20100106_gf_WallSt2009.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:56am EDT