Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from an African American point of view.
Direct download: Elaine8mins00secs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 4:59 PM

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A wise man once said: Be careful what you wish for. Rev. Al Sharpton has long craved entrance to the citadels of power, and may now have been granted his wish in return for services rendered to the Obama administration. But proximity to Power also brings intense media scrutiny. Can a shady-dealing preacher take the heat?

 

Al Sharpton: Obama's Junkyard Dog

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Now that Sharpton has truly hit the big time, the media spotlights will surely burn him to a crisp."

Rev. Al Sharpton and President Barack Obama have a thing going on - and I predict it will turn out badly for both of them.

Sharpton has assumed the role of Obama's political muscle among what passes for Black leadership. His job is to bully into submission those Blacks that dare to even suggest that African Americans need to agitate for their own interests, to speak Truth to Power, even when that Power is represented by a Black man in the White House. In his capacity as the president's junkyard dog, Sharpton verbally savages even the mildest critics of an administration that has greatly expanded U.S. wars while overseeing the biggest transfer in history of public wealth to private pockets. Sharpton bit into Tavis Smiley when the talk-show entrepreneur proposed that Black America formulate its own political agenda, separate from Obama's policies, which have seen Black unemployment, evictions and foreclosures reach Depression-era levels. Sharpton snarled that folks like Smiley were trying to hold Obama to a "double-standard," demanding more from a Black president than they would from a white Democrat - which is absolute nonsense, since so-called Black leadership has made virtually no demands on Obama since he announced his candidacy three years ago.

Sharpton joined in a salt-and-pepper White House-sponsored tour with right wing rabble rouser and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Gingrich and Sharpton teamed up to shill for Obama's corporate-inspired attempt to massively transform public schools into non-union, charter schools.

"Sharpton only seeks the shadows when he's getting paid for services rendered."

Like Shakespeare's Othello, Sharpton has "done the state some service," and Obama knows it. The administration has thrown its Black junkyard dog the red meat he craves: public recognition that Sharpton is a player in the power game - "Obama's New Partner," as the Wall Street Journal put it. The Washington Post has made it all but official, that Sharpton and Obama are a political couple. One right-wing Washington outfit called Sharpton a "shadow member of the Obama cabinet," which is, in one sense, quit unfair, since every day is show time and bright lights for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who only seeks the shadows when he's getting paid for services rendered.

Which brings us to the very serious down-side to Sharpton's emergence as a the newly-crowned principal Black defender of White House Power. Rev. Sharpton, who has often stated that his two main mentors in life were soul singer James Brown and boxing Mafioso Don King, has up to now enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the national corporate media. To put it bluntly, they love him, and have needed him, as their flashy caricature of a Black leader. Sharpton's sleazy dealings are legendary in Black activist circles, but he has only once been deeply scrutinized by the media. That was in 2004, when the New York Village Voice revealed that Sharpton's presidential campaign was largely financed by Republican dirty-trickster Roger Stone. Now that Sharpton has truly hit the big time, the media spotlights will surely burn him to a crisp. Al Sharpton's financial dealings cannot stand serious scrutiny. His service to Power is going to cost him dearly - and  President Obama will find himself covered with the slime, as well. Mark my words.

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: 20100428_gf_JunkyardSharpton.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:26 AM

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With its recent ruling that corporations have the constitutional right to suborn the government through unlimited campaign spending, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered "the final mockery and insult to the very concept of one person, one vote." There is not alternative but to change the Constitution.

 

Amend the Constitution or Submit to Corporate Dictatorship

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The whole notion of government by the people will have been fully superseded by the reality of government by corporations."

A growing coalition of progressive organizations has begun a race against time, a desperate struggle to prevent corporate money from snuffing out what remains of electoral democracy in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling, that corporations have the freedom of speech right to spend as much money as they see fit to influence elections, represents the final mockery and insult to the very concept of one person, one vote. If the High Court's decision is allowed to be the final word, then the whole notion of government by the people will have been fully superseded by the reality of government by corporations acting as a species of immortal super-citizens - paper people empowered by money.

The American political system has always favored the rich - which is no wonder, since the legal edifice of the Republic was invented by some of the wealthiest men in the slaveholding former British colonies. The U.S. Constitution's intricate system of "checks and balances" was primarily designed to keep everybody but rich white men in check, and to ensure that the balance of power would weigh decisively on the side of wealth. More than two centuries later, the U.S. Supreme Court decision has put a killer knot in the noose around the popular franchise, one that can only be loosened by amending the Constitution, itself.

It is a lengthy process, by design. After ten years, including a three-year extension, the Equal Rights Amendment for women, or ERA, failed to secure ratification by the required 38 states, and died in 1982. This, despite broad, bipartisan support. The Constitutional amendment submitted by Black Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards seeks to void the Supreme Court ruling, by allowing Congress and the states to regulate the way corporations spend campaign money. The amendment, if passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate, would then have seven years to gain ratification by three-quarters of the states, or bite the dust, like the ERA. Just getting the amendment through Congress will be a test of whether corporate money has already neutered the American legislative system, even without the Supreme Court's help.

"The U.S. Constitution's intricate system of 'checks and balances' was primarily designed to keep everybody but rich white men in check."

Donna Edward's amendment has 24 co-sponsors, eight of them fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Other, more timid voices on Capitol Hill favor requiring corporate shareholders to approve of their managements' political and campaign contributions. But Republicans are certain to demand that unions be forced to seek rank-and-file permission for every contribution labor makes to political campaigns  - a totally unacceptable and unequal trade-off.

Other congressional Democrats speak of strengthening the system of public financing of election campaigns. But to be effective, public financing would have to match corporate contributions on something approaching dollar for dollar, which could go into the billions, since the sky is the limit for corporate campaign spending under the Supreme Court's ruling. In addition, President Obama relinquished any moral authority on that score, when he abandoned public financing once he realized he could raise more money than John McCain - including corporate money.

Thus, there is no alternative but to go the route of Constitutional amendment, with no guarantee of success at the end of that long road. But, as Congresswoman Edwards says, history and the Supreme Court have left us no choice.

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: 20100428_gf_DonnaAmend.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:44 AM

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

Harvard's pet Black professor, Henry Gates, blames Africans for the slave trade "so as to silence calls for reparations or the cancellation of African debt." His latest Op-Ed piece "is designed to undermine a tradition of scholarship which has for decades shown how enslaving and colonizing Africans led to a decline of Africa and an ascendancy of the West."

 

The Academic Hit Man: Henry Louis Gates and Reparations

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

"He is an academic version of those who set up radical leaders for assassination."

Like elders often say, we must trust people to be who they are.  So when Henry Louis Gates describes his own career as that of an "intellectual entrepreneur" we should believe him to be who he is, an intellect for hire, or more specifically, an "academic hit man."  John Perkins speaks of "jackals" and Economic Hit Men, well Gates is higher education's equivalent.  He is an academic William O'Neal or Cotton Smith, the intellectual version of those who set up radical leaders for assassination.  Gates' targets are not individuals as much as they are entire intellectual communities whose service to their people make his assaults on them assaults on the very people those intellectuals defend.  His are politically motivated hits because of their broader ramifications and like real hits they permanently silence any meaningful public debate.

Gates' most recent hit appeared this week - as they often do - in the New York Times, which has been for decades an ideological "killing field" where anti-establishment intellectuals are routinely left for dead.  In his piece, "Ending the Slavery Blame-Game," Gates returns to his favored, if not entirely discredited, theme of African culpability in the enslavement of their own.  Gates blends his predilection for genetics with his undying need to blame Africans for their enslavement and concludes that because statistical increases in the numbers of those sold into slavery coincides with the rise to prominence of particular African ethnic groups that this is proof of a balance in benefits accrued by the process. 

His selective emphasis, or what Ali Mazrui once called, "ulterior selectivity," on one aspect of slavery versus another is designed to undermine a tradition of scholarship which has for decades shown how enslaving and colonizing Africans led to a decline of Africa and an ascendancy of the West.  But as Walter Rodney said himself, "The presence of a group of African sell-outs is part of the definition of underdevelopment."  And now they come again with what is their ulterior motive, the academic hit on Claudia Jones, Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney and many others.  In fact, Gates has previously and personally taken John Henrik Clarke to his New York Times "killing fields."  Others like Malcolm X, Chris Hani and Rodney himself were simply killed quite literally.  Each murder was carried out for similar political purposes, to assure the African world's status as permanent servant.

"Gates blends his predilection for genetics with his undying need to blame Africans for their enslavement."

Assassins mute the kinds of debate which might result in their employer's loss of power.  By simple omission Gates kills the arguments of N'COBRA, Ray Winbush, or F. Michael Higginbotham whose thoughts on reparations are far more compelling than can be allowed.  The three scholars Gates does mention, in what is really no more than a simple blog post, will not have their views critiqued by their peers within the pages of the New York Times or a mainstream media which considers the Times as "the paper of record."  So most will never know, for example, that Mazrui, a worldwide recognized authority on African history, dispatched of Gates and this incessant blame of Africans for slavery long ago.  He said that African leaders were forced into the exchange and "were themselves victims."  But, again, this view has been targeted for assassination and is preemptively (and cyclically) silenced so as to also silence, for example, calls for reparations or the cancellation of African debt.

Though perhaps this time it was to also save Gates' protector-in-chief from himself.  Remember, it was Obama who went to Ghana and blamed African crises on African corruption.  And it is he who should now have to account for the recent report of the $1 trillion in African wealth illegally expropriated to the West, and this just over the last 40 years.  And, Mr. President, the report concludes that only 3% of that can be attributed to corruption.  To this we can add an earlier claim from former Federal Reserve Board member Andrew Brimmer that through denial of access to capital, adequate public service and government benefits Black Americans have been robbed of $10 billion every year since the so-called end of slavery.  And here we have two points whose own "ulterior selectivity" demonstrates the weakness of the argument cooked up by Gates and Obama  - that African involvement in slavery and post-colonial corruption are to be blamed at all or equally to the crimes of Western Europe or the United States.  These, like the other favorite of a mythical Black Buying Power, are mere attempts at the perfect hit; the Western assassination of the Black World all covered up and dismissed as a suicide.

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

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

Direct download: 20100428_jb_skip_gates_on_reparations.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:34 AM