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

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

Obama Leaves Housing Policy to the Bankers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Direct download: 20100818_gf_ObamaWink.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51am EDT