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 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