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

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

Cory Booker: A Clear and Present Threat to Public Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: 20100929_gf_CoryBooker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26am EST

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

Rwanda Scrambles to Deny UN Report on Congo Massacres

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReportcom.

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

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball

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

Natasha Pettigrew and the Recipe for Omission

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Black Agenda Report commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

Color Of Change Takes On Black Caucus on Internet Neutrality

A Black Agenda Report commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is difficult to embarrass the filthy rich, who have no shame. And racist media companies like FOX TV, which Color of Change campaigns against, are supported by huge constituencies of whites who crave their hateful messages. Black watchdogs are most effective in unmasking and shaming the culprits within our own ranks. In the case of the Congressional Black Caucus and Internet Neutrality, Color of Change has performed a vital service. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20100922_gf_CBCColorOfChange.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EST

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

October 17-23 is Congo Week

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Asad Ismi and Kristin Schwartz

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

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

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Direct download: 20100915_gf_USOffensive.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EST

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

Obama's Phony "Infrastructure Bank"

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Direct download: 20100915_gf_ObamaBank.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EST

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Direct download: 20100915_gf_NoBootstraps.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01am EST

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Direct download: 20100908_gf_DemsBrand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am EST

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball

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

 

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

 

No One to Speak for Black Rights on the Internet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now another corporate offensive is underway, and Black lines of defense are virtually nonexistent. If you want to know where Tom Joyner and the NAACP's Ben Jealous all converge with the Tea Party, look to the ranks of those opposing Internet neutrality. The Black luminaries and misleaders are sipping cocktails with the Tea Partyers, at the digital corporate bar. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

 

Direct download: 20100908_gf_NetNeutrality.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

Direct download: 20100902_gf_Rallies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

Direct download: 20100902_gf_Gulag.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:47pm EST

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

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