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

Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The “well-regulated militia” that the US Constitution's second amendment refers to were slave patrols, land stealers and Indian killers, all quite necessary as the amendment's language states “to the security of a free state” built with stolen labor upon stolen land. Unless and until we acknowledge that history, we cannot have an honest discussion about gun control.

The Real and Racist Origins of the Second Amendment

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

This commentary was originally published in Black Agenda Report April 19, 2008.

Why does the US Constitution guarantee a right “to keep and bear arms”? Why not the right to vote, the right to a quality education, health care, a clean environment or a job? What was so important in early America about the right of citizens to have guns? And is it even possible to have an honest discussion about gun control without acknowledging the racist origins of the Second Amendment?

The dominant trend among legal scholars, and on the current Supreme Court is that we are bound by the original intent of the Constitution's authors. Here's what the second amendment to the Constitution says:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Clearly its authors aimed to guarantee the right to a gun for every free white man in their new country. What's no longer evident 230 years later, is why. The answer, advanced by historian Edmund Morgan in his classic work, American Slavery, American Freedom, the Ordeal of Colonial Virginia, sheds useful light on the historic and current politics and self-image of our nation.

Colonial America and the early US was a very unequal place. All the good, cleared, level agricultural land with easy access to transport was owned by a very few, very wealthy white men. Many poor whites were brought over as indentured servants, but having completed their periods of forced labor, allowing them to hang around the towns and cities landless and unemployed was dangerous to the social order. So they were given guns and credit, and sent inland to make their own fortunes, encroaching upon the orchards, farms and hunting grounds of Native Americans, who had little or no access to firearms. The law, of course did not penalize white men who robbed, raped or killed Indians. At regular intervals, colonial governors and local US officials would muster the free armed white men as militia, and dispatch them in murderous punitive raids to make the frontier safer for settlers and land speculators.

Slavery remained legal in New England, New York and the mid-Atlantic region till well into the 1800s, and the movements of free blacks and Indians were severely restricted for decades afterward. So colonial and early American militia also prowled the roads and highways demanding the passes of all non-whites, to ensure the enslaved were not escaping or aiding those who were, and that free blacks were not plotting rebellion or traveling for unapproved reasons.

Historically then, the principal activities of the Founding Fathers' “well regulated militia” were Indian killing, land stealing, slave patrolling and the enforcement of domestic apartheid, all of these, as the Constitutional language declares “being necessary to the security of a free state.” A free state whose fundamental building blocks were the genocide of Native Americans, and the enslavement of Africans.

The Constitutional sanction of universally armed white men against blacks and Indians is at the origin of what has come to be known as America's “gun culture,” and it neatly explains why that culture remains most deeply rooted in white, rural and small-town America long after the end of slavery and the close of the frontier. With the genocide of Native Americans accomplished and slavery gone, America's gun culture wrapped itself in new clothing, in self-justifying mythology that construes the Second Amendment as arming the citizenry as final bulwark of freedom against tyranny, invasion or crime. Embracing this fake history of the Second Amendments warps legal scholarship and public debate in clouds of willful ignorance, encouraging us to believe this is a nation founded on just and egalitarian principles rather than one built with stolen labor on stolen land.

Maybe this is how we can tell that we are finally so over all that nasty genocide and racism stuff. We've chosen to simply write it out of our history.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121219_bd_second_amendment.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

Obama’s Historic Assault on Social Security

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

He can accomplish what Republicans only dream about.”

President Obama and his Republican partners in austerity have choreographed a kind of bi-partisan ballet, in which the dancers reach out to each other in slow motion, their fingers almost touching, teasing the audience. These cheap and transparent theatrics are designed to transmit a soap opera-like sense of drama: “Can the two parties come to a compromise for the sake of the country?” But, the fact is, Obama and the Republicans reached most of their grand bargain more than a year ago, when they slashed $1.7 trillion out of domestic spending over a decade. As liberal Obamite Robert Kuttner, of Demos, points out, there’s very little left to cut except Medicare and Social Security.

Social Security has always been Obama’s Great White Whale; he’s conspired with Republicans and right-wing Democrats to harpoon the mother of all New Deal programs since the very start of his presidency. But Social Security is not an easy mark. George Bush found that out in his second term, when he suffered his worst domestic defeat in attempting to privatize the program.

It would take a Black Democrat, fresh from a near-landslide election, to put Social Security on the chopping block, as Obama did in January of 2009. But before he could move in for the kill, Obama and his allies had to convince the public that Social Security is a major contributor to the federal budget deficit – which is a lie. Social Security runs on its own stream of revenues that go into the Social Security Trust Fund, totally separate from general taxation and debt. However, by endless repetition of the Big Lie – that Social Security adds to the federal deficit – Obama and other corporate Democrats and Republicans succeeded in maneuvering the program into the austerity debate, where it does not belong.

Social Security runs on its own stream of revenues.”

At this point it must be said that Obama’s insistence on making Social Security a budget deficit issue shows that he has always intended to make drastic cuts to the program. One of the reasons Social Security has long been thought of as “untouchable” is because President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal Democrats purposely insulated it from the conventional budget process. However, President Obama has largely neutered Social Security’s traditional congressional defenders, who know perfectly well what their president is up to, but will not directly oppose him. That’s why we at Black Agenda Report call Obama “the more effective evil”; he can accomplish what Republicans only dream about.

Obama’s scheme to cripple Social Security is to change the way inflation is measured, resulting in a drastic scale-back in cost-of-living increases in recipients. According to Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the cuts would amount to 3 percent over 10 years, 6 percent over 20 years, and 9 percent over 30 years. In dollar terms, Black Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison says retirees would lose $6,000 in the first 15 years of cuts and $16,000 over 25 years.

And that’s just the beginning. Once the untouchability of Social Security has been breached, it becomes just another social program to be carved up on austerity chopping blocks. President Obama’s true legacy will be to have begun the destruction of the crown jewel of what’s left of the nation’s social safety net.

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

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

Direct download: 20121219_gf_ObamaCutsSS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:35am EDT

The Ultimate Logic of a Society Built on Mass Murder

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Mass murder is at the core of the American national religion.”

As a native-born American, I grew up watching cowboy and Indian shoot-em-ups in which the highlight of the movie was when the white guys in the circled wagon train shot the Indians off their horses until all the red men were dead, and very silent. Indians didn’t do a lot of screaming in pain when they were shot; they just expired. Same thing with buck-toothed Japanese, line after line of them, charging into U.S. machine guns, falling instantly silent and dead. It was somehow quite clean, almost antiseptic, these cinematic rituals of death, all staged for the broadest popular consumption to demonstrate the inevitability – and cosmic justice – of ultimate white victory over the darker races.

This was mother’s milk to the white American nation – which is why Richard Pryor and kids like me rooted for the Indians. Mass murder is at the core of the American national religion, which is a celebration of a genocidal march across a continent filled with other, doomed human beings. America’s contribution to European culture was to invite “all the nations of Europe” to come to these shores and become fellow “white” citizens, whose status was defined by the enforced inferiority of Blacks and the remnants of the Indians. Ritual burnings of Blacks were organized as great public festivals, attended by thousands, staged in order to affirm whites’ collective right to commit murder. This monopoly on violence was what made them white Americans.

The modern mass American murder is overwhelmingly a white phenomenon.”

U.S. foreign policy reflects the nation’s origins and ghastly evolution into a globe-strutting mob, that empowers itself to kill at will. A million dead Filipinos at the turn of the 20th century; aerial bombing of Haitian villages less than a generation later; the totally unwarranted nuclear annihilation of two cities at the very end of World War Two; two million dead Koreans shortly thereafter; three million dead Vietnamese in the next decade,; and, since 1996, six million Congolese – all, and many, many more, slaughtered in the name of U.S. civilizational superiority – the ghastly opiate of the white American masses.

What kind of human beings does such a culture produce? To paraphrase the Bible, “By their massacres, ye shall know them.” The modern mass American murder is overwhelmingly a white phenomenon. Yet few whites ask the question, “What’s wrong with white America?” It is seems that white America lacks the capacity for self-examination. It cannot grasp the simple truth, that a culture that celebrates the annihilation of whole peoples, casually and without guilt or introspection, is devoid of human values at its very core. In the end, it turns against itself. That is the simple lesson of Newtown, and Columbine, and Aurora. The same cultural deformity creates a huge market for games like the very popular Assassin’s Creed, whose latest version integrates individual and group murder with events of the American Revolutionary War. American kids can simulate mass murder all day long, and feel patriotic and smart while doing it. Assassin’s Creed features an inter-racial cast of killers – possibly in deference to the brown guy in the White House who owns the ultimate Kill List. It’s the modern equivalent of the cowboys and Indians movies of my youth. The same sickness.

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

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

Direct download: 20121219_gf_MassMurderNation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

CNN's Black In America: What Happens When Popeye's Teaches Chickens History & Current Events

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Letting CNN explain to us what it means to be black in America is about as smart as chickens choosing Popeye's to teach their history. To nobody's surprise, the latest installment of CNN's “ Black in America” spoke more to white perceptions of blackness and black history than it did to actual black experiences. This episode's focus on what Zora Neale Hurston called “the tragic mulatto” revisits what's always been chiefly a white obsession, rather than any central fact of African American life, and offers a fake history of the origin of the so-called “one drop rule” which makes anybody with detectable African ancestry in the US considered black.

The one-drop rule's actual origins go back to the 1600s. The slave trade was carried on wind powered sailing ships coming mostly from West Africa and Angola. The shortest hop with the prevailing winds was to Brazil, where 40% of those surviving the Middle Passage landed. The West Indies were a short trip as well. Slaves were so plentiful and cheap from Brazil to St. Kitts to Jamaica and Haiti that masters found it economical to work them to death in 3 to 5 years and buy new ones, which they did for 3 centuries.

But the slave ports of North America were a much longer journey, and against the wind. So many slaves and crewmen perished that few slave ships even tried to make it directly here from Africa. Scholars estimate that only 4 or 5% of Africans taken from the continent made it to North America, and half those were dropped in the West Indies to recuperate and brought here later. Consequently slaves in North America were too expensive to be worked to death every few years; slavemasters in places like colonial Virginia needed a self-reproducing slave population. Unlike Brazilian and West Indian slavemasters who often gave privileges and sometimes freedom to the children they made upon slave women, North American slavemasters from the mid-1600s began enforcing a one-drop rule so they could profit from the sale of their own children whom they made upon enslaved African women.

Thus the one-drop rule, was a legal doctrine in the great North American tradition, to safeguard the ruling class's investments in enslaved human capital. Unlike the Caribbean, light-skinned descendants of Africans didn't necessarily get any special privileges here. Mistresses distressed at the sight of pickaninnies who looked like their husbands, brothers, fathers and overseers typically separated them from their mothers and sold them away.

There were many Haitians who took the wrong side in the revolution and the struggles immediately afterward, who fled to New Orleans. Most of them were light-skinned and brought their sense of entitlement with them. But their experience and their influence though significant, was and has been the exception for the black experience in the United States, not the rule.

By failing to mention, let alone examine the origin of the one-drop rule, CNN's programming on its effects and ramifications fails to pass any reasonable test for historical accuracy or relevance to life as it's lived by most of us in black America. But what can you expect when you rely on Popeye to teach chickens history and current events?

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121212_bd_cnn_black-in-america.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:56pm EDT

16 Years of U.S. Genocide in Congo

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For 16 years, Uganda and Rwanda have done the bidding of their paymasters and arms suppliers, the American and British governments.”

The United States has financed and given overall direction to the worst genocide since World War Two, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 1996, Washington has drenched Congo’s eastern provinces in the blood of over six million people. The governments of Rwanda and Uganda, the direct perpetrators of this holocaust, are in every sense of the word agents of U.S. foreign policy, who operate with impunity under the imperial umbrella.

A growing number of voices now charge that the Obama administration, like the Bush and Clinton administrations before it, has “protected” Rwanda and Uganda in their de facto annexation of eastern Congo and its mineral riches. But the actual relationship is more like that between a Mafia Godfather and his murderous henchmen. For 16 years, Uganda and Rwanda have done the bidding of their paymasters and arms suppliers, the American and British governments. If the Nuremburg rules of international justice were in force today, the highest officials in London and Washington would face death by hanging for their monstrous crimes – and only later would Presidents Kagame of Rwanda and Museveni of Uganda take their walk with the executioner.

When Congolese women and children screamed in agony, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice said, literally, that the U.S. should “look the other way” – knowing full well that a people were being annihilated. She is no different than the high Nazi officials who were hanged for waging aggressive war and the slaughter of millions, almost 70 years ago.

If the Nuremburg rules of international justice were in force today, the highest officials in London and Washington would face death by hanging for their monstrous crimes.”

And now, after 16 years of unspeakable carnage, the world’s greatest military power, equipped with the most sophisticated means of information gathering ever devised, whose soldiers train and equip the Rwandans and Ugandans who are responsible for tens of thousands of murders a month, claims to have only the most limited knowledge of how six million people wound up dead – half of them children below the age of five.

During hearings this week at the House Subcommittee on Africa, Johnnie Carson, an avuncular Black man who’s filling Susan Rice’s old shoes as assistant secretary of State for African Affairs, performed his own sickening dance of death, admitting that the so-called M23 “rebels” that have been rampaging through eastern Congo “would not be the threat” they are today “without external support.” But Carson would still not say directly that Rwanda is the real power behind M23, and he tried to absolve the government of Uganda of complicity. Steve Hege, who coordinated the UN Group of Experts whose report Susan Rice tried to suppress, testified that “Rwanda, in fact, orchestrated the creation of M23,” and that “senior Ugandan officials” were deeply involved in M23’s operations.

Johnnie Carson and Susan Rice are not motivated to lie by loyalty to African military strongmen. They are loyal to U.S. government policies that they have both played a role in formulating. Just because Susan Rice qualifies as a person of the lowest human order imaginable – an accomplice to genocide – does not make her a rogue element. Far from it: she is a “good German” soldier, following her commander-in-chief’s orders, oblivious to the agony of dying Africans, whose lives don’t count for anything in America, anyway – including, it appears in much of Black America, where Rice is applauded as yet another Black face in a very high place. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20121212_gf_USPolicyCongo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:57am EDT

China to be Number One in 2030 – But Who Will be Top Gun?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“’There will not be any hegemonic power,’ on the planet.”

The United States National Intelligence Council, supposedly the best and brightest among America’s strategic analysts, predicts that China will surpass the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power by the year 2030. This, of course, is not news, since some economists believe China has already eclipsed the U.S. in economic output. Most people would accept the report’s larger conclusion, that Asia will overtake North America and Europe in less than two decades. After 500 years of European exploitation and war against the rest of the planet, 2030 can’t come soon enough.

The question that remains unanswered is, What becomes of U.S. imperialism when America and its European allies are no longer the economic top dogs? How can the U.S. claim some kind of grand supervisory role in a world in which it is no longer the major player in the production of the goods and services that humanity wants and needs?

The National Intelligence Council’s report says that, by 2030, “There will not be any hegemonic power,” on the planet, and that “power will shift to networks and coalitions in a multipolar world.” The Council seems to betting on an alliance between the United States and China, which is described as the best-case situation for global security. If that is so, then why is Washington doing its damnedest to encircle and strangle China through proxy wars, gangster diplomacy and saber-rattling of all kinds? With 2030 right around the corner, one would think that it’s past time for the U.S. to making nice with the future center of the world.

What becomes of U.S. imperialism when America and its European allies are no longer the economic top dogs?”

The report warns that the risk of civil wars and insurgencies will remain high in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. That’s a no-brainer, since those are places where the U.S. military is busily bombing people and subverting every government that has not yet joined the American mafia, or that might come to an accommodation with rising economic players like China, India, and Brazil.

Conflicts in Latin America, on the other hand, are expected to decrease as we approach 2030. The real reason, however, for the relative peace that Latin America has enjoyed in recent years is that the hated “Washington Consensus” has been politically defeated in South America. Uncle Sam no longer has the moral, political or economic clout to plunge Latin Americans back into a state of war against themselves, for the benefit of U.S. corporations. The lesson is: with the decline of the United States, peace becomes possible.

But, there’s the catch. With the U.S. and Europe in irreversible economic decline, Washington, London and Paris grow more and more dependent on their militaries. The U.S. and its NATO allies account for 70 percent of the planet’s total military spending. If, as the National Intelligence Council report predicts, the U.S. and Europe are soon to become junior partners in the world economy, then they must also be prevented from holding the productive forces and nations of the world hostage by force of arms. The great project for humanity is to disarm the imperial beast, so that by 2030, or 2050, or however long it takes, the world can tackle the multitudinous crises that colonialism, racism and capitalism have brought upon us.

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

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

Direct download: 20121212_gf_ChinaSurpassesUS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am EDT

Parent Trigger Laws Coming To Georgia This Year – The Privatization of Education Marches On

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Whenever top Republicans and top Democrats agree on something, it's bound to be bad news for the rest of us. One of the major non-issues in the election just past, as far as Obama and Romney were concerned, was their mutual endorsement of corporate-sponsored education reform, including the dismissal of thousands of highly qualified experienced teachers in favor of teacher-temp factories like Teach For America, tying teacher salaries and school funding to student performance on standardized tests, adoption of the so-called “common core curriculum,” which eliminates most poetry and literature and creeping privatization through the gradual replacement of public schools by charter schools.

But wherever voters have been given the clear chance to weigh in, they have rejected notions that public schools ought to be run like businesses by business people instead of for the public good by parents, teachers and communitiesAs Glen Ford pointed out in his masterful analysis of the origin of the charter school “movement” there has never any grassroots demands for vouchers, charters, school privatization or other hallmarks of corporate education reform. That whole scene is the creation of deep corporate bipartisan pockets like the Walton Family, Gates & Broad Foundations just to name a few.

In November, when Indiana voters had a clear chance to take out a vocal and nationally prominent political advocate of charters, educational privatization, standardized tests, core curriculum and the rest they voted overwhelmingly to end his career.

Georgia voters however, were not so lucky. In Georgia the bipartisan advocates of educational privatization put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to enable a commission appointed mostly by the governor to create charter schools without permission from any local authorities like pesky local elected school boards. They spread enough money around to black politicians so that significant numbers of Democrats in the state legislature cautiously backed it, or at least remained silent, and they rewrote the amendment in legally vague but nakedly promotional language about “opportunity” and “improving educational outcomes.”

While there was almost no news coverage, charter school advocates, including national charter school chains and contractors spent millions blanketing the radio and TV airwaves, and filling mailboxes in a deceptive campaign for the charter school amendment. State politicians from the governor on down publicly threatened teachers and school board members who spoke out against the referendum, and predictably, it passed.

State legislative leaders now declare their top priority is passage of parent trigger laws, which will require the creation of new charter schools anyplace advocates can get a threshold number of parent signatures on their petitions.

It's no surprise that the same black preachers who pulled out every stop to support the president's re-election either didn't take much notice of a constitutional amendment that can potentially dissolve public schools anyplace the advocates of privatization put money into a petition drive. Many of them are hoping for charter school crumbs themselves, and much of the black elite, from the black president with his Race To The Top program on down, are firmly committed to privatizing education, though they know better than to call it that.

It just goes to show you, that without journalism to inform the public, with lots of corporate money and the black political class on board, there's no telling how far we might go in some ugly directions.

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 a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121205_bd_GA-school-privatiztion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:16pm EDT

Sandy, the Storm from Hell – Unless You’re a Banker

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The unwritten rule of government under capitalism is never to compete with private business – even in disasters.”

When the bankers take over a nation and its economy they don’t build factories, and they don’t make investments in people or infrastructure. What finance capitalists do, when given the power, is put everyone in debt.

For Wall Street, every disaster is an opportunity to make debt slaves of the victims – if the victims have enough resources to pay back the banks. If those struck by natural calamity are too poor to become assets on the bankers’ books, they’re pretty much on their own – even when a public agency is in charge of disaster relief.

new report by a group called Strike Debt, described as an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, says federal disaster aid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is largely built around ensnaring storm victims in debt. Titled “Shouldering the Costs,” the study concludes that the burden of recovery from disasters is being shifted to the individual. “Federal aid programs,” says the report, “require victims to first apply for loans before qualifying to apply” for aid from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And before the feds will even consider making Small Business Administration loans in a disaster, they require that the victims first go to a commercial bank, where the interest rates are much higher.

To the average citizen, this seems illogical. Why place a hurricane-struck small businessperson in deeper financial trouble by forcing her to take on even more debt? What kind of disaster relief is that? Very good logic, if the intention is the serve the banks. The unwritten rule of government under capitalism is never to compete with private business – even in disasters. Therefore, the first job of government is to withhold low interest federal loans from victims with good credit, in order to protect corporations’ chances to profit from the disaster. Only if the private banks reject you will the Small Business Administration offer “direct loans” at lower rates.

The storm's impact on Blacks and browns is magnified by federal disaster relief policies.”

After a victim qualifies for consideration for a federal loan, her “credit-worthiness” remains key. About half the applicants are rejected. Since Blacks and other racial minorities tend to have worse credit ratings than whites, the federal policy has the effect of widening already existing racial disparities. The storm's impact on Blacks and browns is magnified by federal disaster relief policies.

The Occupy-related activists say FEMA and the Small Business Administration steer homeowners to loan programs, rather than grants. However, many homeowners in the impacted areas were already underwater in terms of their mortgages, and the storm has further devalued their neighborhoods and, therefore, their property. “By only offering loans to already struggling homeowners,” says the report, “FEMA and the SBA shift the burden of disaster to individuals and send profit to the loan servicers…. Homeowners have no way out of these properties other than foreclosure. The only practical option is to take the chance on taking on more debt.”

Although capitalists rant and rail against public sector, the reality is that the United States government is their loyal servant, always careful to let corporations cherry-pick every possible bit of profit before using public funds to help the people in times of disaster. And even then, the banks will always get their cut.

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

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

Direct download: 20121205_gf_DisastrousAid.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am EDT

Lynch Law Was Never Repealed

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The extrajudicial killing of African Americans, a practice that is not considered a crime, based on America's ‘unwritten law.’”

In the year 1900, the great Black activist and journalist Ida B. Wells wrote an article called “Lynch Law in America.” It began with these words:

Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob. It represents the cool, calculating deliberation of intelligent people who openly avow that there is an 'unwritten law' that justifies them in putting human beings to death without complaint under oath, without trial by jury, without opportunity to make defense, and without right of appeal.”

In Cleveland, this week, 13 police officers, 12 whites and one Hispanic, fired 137 bullets at a Black man and woman after a high-speed car chase. No weapon was found on their bullet-riddled bodies. Community members charged the victims were lynched.

Less than two weeks before, in Jacksonville, Florida, a white man who didn’t like Black teenagers playing loud music at a gas station fired eight or nine shots at 17-year-old, unarmed, Jordan Davis, killing him. The middle-aged shooter claimed he was justified by Florida’s “stand your ground” law that allows white people to act out their fears, hatreds, or mood swings with impunity – the same claim made by another Florida gunman when he executed 17 year-old Trayvon Martin without trial or “right of appeal.”

Young Trayvon drew his last breath in time to be listed among the 120 Black people known to have been extra-judicially executed in the first six months of this year – one killing every 36 hours. The report, compiled by a handful of people for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, had to be pieced together from news clippings and other sources. That’s because there is no data base on the extrajudicial killing of African Americans, a practice that is not considered a crime, based on America's “unwritten law.” In fact, it’s treated even more casually than a sport – at least in sports they keep statistics.

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement had hoped to follow in Ida B. Wells’ footsteps with their report.”

Ida B. Wells kept statistics. She and a few colleagues tallied 3,436 lynchings of Blacks in the 33 years between 1889 and 1922. Eighty-three of the victims were women. Lynching reached its high-water mark in 1892, when 160 African Americans were slaughtered because of their race. That number will be far exceeded this year, at the rate the blood is flowing. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement had hoped to follow in Ida B. Wells’ footsteps with their report; they reasoned that, armed with the facts, Black folks would get fired up enough to launch a modern day movement against lynching – just as Ms. Wells work propelled lynching to the center of the movement of her day. But the 2012 report failed to reach many people, because it was largely ignored – not just by the corporate media, but by much of so-called progressive media outlets and “traditional” Black leadership. That’s because, in the early 21st century, only certain types and classes of Black folks are likely to be extra-judicially put to death, or consigned to the social death of America’s Black Prison Gulag: poor people, like Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, snuffed out like vermin in the Black-run City of Cleveland. For them, lynching remains the “national crime” and the “unwritten law.”

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

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

Direct download: 20121205-a_gf_ClevelandKillings.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am EDT

Obama's FCC Intends To OK Unlimited Concentration of Radio, TV, Newspaper Ownership in Top 20 Markets

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Imagine a US media landscape even more viciously unfair, more drastically tilted to favor greedy, irresponsible and immensely powerful media corporations than the one we already have. It would be quite a feat of imagination, but the Obama administration's FCC has done it for us, and intends to make it real.

The Federal Communications Commision is now considering a measure that will remove the few remaining limits on how many radio and TV stations and newspapers giant media companies are allowed to operate in a single market. Apparently, President Obama believes that we need even fewer wealthy corporations to control what we see, hear, and are allowed to broadcast to each other.

It's no surprise that broadcast media are not reporting this story. Corporate media never cover stories that reveal the extent of their own vast power and privilege in our supposedly “democratic” system. What is shocking, however is that President Obama's FCC Commissioner Julius Genakowski intends to push this measure through in what amounts to a secret meeting, with little or no chance for public input and not even the least pretense of transparency, before Xmas.

Bush's FCC tried the same thing back in 2007. They were stopped by two factors. The first was a federal court ruling that said shrinking the number of companies that own newspapers, TV and radio stations would lessen the already scant presence of media owners who were women and minorities. The second factor was a firestorm of public disapproval. The American people, left, right, black, brown, and white simply don't believe that a handful of giant media entities should have even more control over what they see, hear and can say to each other.

It's hard to understand at first glance, why the Obama administration would try something this blatantly evil, that flies directly in the face of federal court orders and explicitly kicks sand in the faces of many who supported him in 2008 and 2012.

But let's take another look. Suppose the Obama administration convinces a segment of minority media owners to accept some crumbs and withdraw their objection to fewer giant companies owning more of our media universe. A move like that would take the federal court and minority broadcasters out of the picture, and with them, most of the black and Latino advocacy organizations like the NAACP, who really don't answer to ordinary black and brown people on the street, but who do pay very close attention to what black and brown business people like the minority broadcasters have to say.

With the federal court out of the way, most of the traditional advocacy organizations sidelined, and corporate media not reporting the story anyhow, the Obama administration may think it can deliver to Fox Media, to Rupert Murdoch, to NBC-Universal, to Disney and CBS what the Bush administration could not ---- the legal license to lock down and monopolize the top 20 media markets by owning multiple radio, TV and newspaper properties. What George W. Bush could not deliver for Big Media at the expense of the people, Barack Obama intends to.

The US political system channels almost all grassroots activism into electing corporate candidates. Most of the preachers and others who marshaled support for the president's re-election all the while swearing to hold his feet to the fire are off somewhere right now not paying attention, simply because the election is over, and getting out the vote is all they every do, all they've ever done. It's time for something old school, something completely different. If Dr. King were around today, he'd say it's time to make some noise, time to disobey some unjust laws, until the law, and things in general get better.

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 a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be contacted via this site's “contact” page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121128_bd_fcc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

Obama and GOP Play Tag Team on Entitlements

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!”

It seems that every breathless moment of corporate media news is choreographed to convince Americans that austerity is as inevitable as tomorrow’s weather. The objective of this con game is to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The two principle parties engaged in negotiations – the White House and congressional Republican leaders – are both agreed that entitlements must be put under the knife. The “grand bargain” that both Obama and the GOP seek has already been made, in principle. Austerity is the common language and goal of the talks, and nobody that counts in the discussions is defending entitlements.

There is only one problem: the vast majority of Americans oppose cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This is the great difficulty facing both Obama and the Republicans: the fact that the public favors the maintenance and even expansion of the meager U.S. social safety net. The disagreement, the great debate, is not between Republicans and the White House, who both agree on putting entitlements on the chopping block. The disagreement is between strong majorities of the American people, who want no tampering with the three entitlement programs, and Obama and his Republican friends, who are hell bent on so-called entitlement “reform.”

This is not a fight between the two parties; it is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!.

Corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements.”

The “grand bargain” was struck back in the summer of 2011, when both sides agreed on roughly $4 trillion in cuts. The agreement only unraveled because a presidential election was drawing near, and the two parties needed to pretend that they were separated by vast political differences. Now that the election is over and the verdict is in, corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements. Both hide behind the phony “fiscal cliff” to convince the public that the pending theft of entitlements is an unstoppable act of nature, rather than a conspiracy of corporate henchmen, against the clear wishes of the majority of Americans.

Robert Reich, the liberal former Labor Secretary in President Bill Clinton’s administration, says that Obama is not behaving like a president who is serious about facing down the Republicans. If he were, Obama would let the Bush tax cuts die at the end of this year, and then have Democrats introduce new tax cuts for the middle class. The president could dare the Republicans to hold middle class to tax cuts hostage to cuts for the rich. In that kind of facedown, Obama would likely win.

But Obama is not trying to outmaneuver Republicans; he and the GOP have teamed up to stampede the public – the suckers in this game – into giving up their entitlements. As David Swanson puts it, we are not witnessing the making of a grand bargain, but a “grand catastrophe.”

Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison, the Black co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he and the other 75 members “are not going to allow the most vulnerable Americans to shoulder the burden of this fiscal problem.” But the left wing of the Democratic Party can only stop the forces arrayed against entitlements by actively opposing their own president, who is playing austerity tag team with the Republicans. And the so-called progressives don’t have it in them.

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

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

Direct download: 20121128_gf_FiscalCliff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15am EDT

Stevie Wonder Disgraces Himself with Concert for Israeli Military

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime.”

Say it ain’t so, Stevie Wonder. The music superstar is lending his name and talents to one of the most unworthy causes in the world: a salute to the Israeli Defense Forces, in Los Angeles, on December 6. Stevie Wonder will help raise millions for an Israeli war machine that is already funded by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars a year. It is a shame and a disgrace that one of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime. It’s an even bigger shame that there will likely be no punishment for Stevie Wonder from his many fans, in this, the Age of Obama.

Even a generation ago, in the 1980s, Stevie Wonder could not have expected immunity from mass condemnation for helping throw a party for a racist government – for any amount of money. Back in 1985, the South African regime tried to blunt the global anti-apartheid movement by inviting American entertainers of all races to perform at Sun City, the white regime’s version of Las Vegas. Sun City was built in Bophuthatswana, a poverty-stricken black bantustan. Lots of U.S. entertainers, including some Black ones, allowed themselves to be bought off by the white regime’s deep pockets. These included Tina Turner, The O’Jays, Dionne Warwick and Ray Charles. Famously, while Blacks outside the Sun City venue loudly protested his appearance, Ray Charles ostentatiously patted his back pocket, signaling that he was all about the money.

Other entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists. Little Steven Van Zandt brought together 50 artists to record “I ain’t gonna play Sun City,” which was also made into an award-winning video. The cast included RUN DMC, Jimmy Cliff, George Clinton, Afrika Bambaataa, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bobbie Womack, Kurtis Blow…and those are just some of the Black ones.

Entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists.”

Funds raised from “I ain’t gonna play Sun City” went to a host of anti-apartheid organizations around the world, including Washington-based TransAfrica and the American Committee on Africa.

Sun City still exists as a tourist attraction in Black-ruled South Africa. The Black population that had been forced out of their homes to make room for the resort were given back title to their land.

Stevie Wonder, himself, recorded a song condemning apartheid. Titled, “It’s Wrong (Apartheid),” the song includes these lyrics directed toward the white leaders of South Africa.

The pain you cause in God's name
Points only to yourself to blame
For the negative karma you will be receiving…”

By selling his good name and great talents to the Israeli Defense Forces, Stevie Wonder is contributing to Israeli apartheid – a system that some describe as even worse than that practiced by the white South African regime. Decent men and women seek to boycott and isolate Israel and its military, while Stevie Wonder helps it throw a party. In his own words, Stevie is earning himself some very “negative karma.”

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

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

Direct download: 20121128_gf_StevieWonder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01am EDT

The Other Black History: The Maroons and Zumbi dos Palmares

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Informed and aware citizens, especially black ones, are not what the US empire wants or needs. So the history most of us are taught in school and the media amounts to a truncated stub of active disinformation, often with more gaps and distortions than truth. Even black Americans know little about the slave trade or slavery in the rest of the Americas.

The transAtlantic slave trade was conducted more than 300 years with wind-powered ships sailing between Europe, Africa and the Americas. The shortest hop along the prevailing winds from Angola and West Africa was to Brazil, and that's where almost half the millions of Africans who survived the Middle Passage are thought to have landed. Slavery in Brazil and the Caribbean wasn't like slavery in North America. Africans in North America were cruelly treated, but were so expensive to import that masters had to ensure they survived and reproduced in captivity. But in the Caribbean and Brazil slaves were so cheap and plentiful masters worked entire populations to death every few years and imported new ones.

North America also had free whites in the back country, along with a dense network of roads, and by the 19th century, railroads. The troops that put down John Brown's rebellion in the 1850s were dispatched by rail and received orders by telegraph. In Jamaica, St. Kitts, Cuba, SurinameGuadeloupeHaiti, Trinidad. Spanish Florida and the vast interior of Brazil there were few free whites, even fewer roads and never any railroads at all, and thus greater opportunities for Africans who managed to run away. Maroons, as the runaways were called often eluded capture long enough to establishfarms, villages and settlements. In Colombia, Spanish Florida, Brazil and elsewhere they made common cause with Native Americans. The most famous and long lived maroon settlement was the quilombo of Palmares in northeastern Brazil, which successfully repelled Dutch and Portuguese military expeditions for about a hundred years.

Eighty years along in 1678, the Portuguese governor offered to leave Palmares alone if they would relocate, and also apprehend and return future runaways, a deal often extended to troublesome maroon settlements. Some of the leaders of Palmares took the deal and those who followed them were soon re-enslaved. The faction that continued to resist was led by a young man named Zumbi.

Born free in Palmares in 1655, Zumbi was captured by the Portuguese at the age of 6. After learning Portuguese and Latin he escaped returning to Palmares at 15, and in a few years later was a respected warrior and leader. Zumbi led the fight against the Portuguese till 1693 when he was severely wounded, and survived another two years on the run until he was betrayed, captured and beheaded on November 20, 1695. His severed head was publicly displayed in Recife, to prove to slaves that he was mortal and really dead.

But the memories of Palmares and of Zumbi never died. They've been celebrated by Brazilians and Africans around the world ever since. November 20 is a now a national holiday in Brazil.

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 a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121121_bd_zumbi_dos_palmares.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

Cory Booker: The Second Coming of Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

He is ideologically committed to the privatization of public education and to government that serves the rich.”

Now that Barack Obama is a lame duck who can’t run for the top office anymore, it’s as good a time as any to speculate on who will take his place as the Black politician that rich white folks feel they can truly trust. One name stands out: Cory Booker, the 43 year-old Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, whose rightwing background and connections are far deeper and more intensely ideological than Obama’s. Indeed, if there had been no Barack Obama, Cory Booker would have been Wall Street’s choice as the First Black President. “He’ll be our second,” said a New York hedge fund partner, quoted in a recent Bloomberg News article.

The Lords of Capital love “Cory,” and call him by his first name. That’s how he raised $7 million to win Newark’s City Hall for the second time, in 2010. He has since amassed more than $250 million from wealthy capitalists, including the founder of Facebook, mainly for the Newark public schools. They’re willing to pile all this cash on Booker’s plate because he is ideologically committed to the privatization of public education and to government that serves the rich.

Booker’s national career began in September of 2000, as the key speaker at a Manhattan Institute power luncheon, a launching platform for new stars on the Right. The rookie Newark city councilman had already been vetted by the far-right Bradley Foundation for his efforts on behalf of vouchers for private schools. Railing against wealth redistribution, Booker won the hearts of the rich reactionaries, who bankrolled his first run for mayor, in 2002. Booker lost, barely, but won with even more corporate support in 2006.

Mayor Booker was of great service to his corporate-minded soul mate in the White House, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s reelection campaign. But, one thing Cory Booker cannot abide is anyone bad-mouthing his rich people. So fiercely loyal is Booker to the rich, as individuals and as a class, he recoiled against the campaign's criticisms of Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital. “I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” said Booker, on NBC’s Meet the Press. Of course he wouldn't – Booker’s entire career is a creation of private capital.

Booker won the hearts of the rich reactionaries.”

Booker may run against New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie in 2013. If so, it will be a contest among political friends. Booker appeared with Christie and Louisiana Republican governor Bobby Jindal earlier this year at a “summit” meeting for supporters of school privatization.

We had Cory Booker’s number when he first ran for mayor in 2002, his pockets crammed with cash. Back then, we wrotethat Booker’s “impressive education served only to teach him the quickest route to the houses of the wealthy. The Young Frankenstein is now plugged in to power, lacking only the national profile that Newark's City Hall would provide.”

Ten years later, Booker has both the national profile and access to hundreds of millions of Wall Street dollars. And he fully intends to become Obama the Second. You can’t say he hasn’t earned it. By the age of 30, Cory Booker had put together a rich white ruling class fan club of his own. This guy is a world class opportunist, and a rightwing ideologue, too: just the kind of Black man that Wall Street loves and needs.

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

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

Direct download: 20121121_gf_Booker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33am EDT

Evacuate Guantanamo – It Belongs to Cuba

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Washington’s illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay is now 111 years old.”

As the world witnesses the latest chapter in Israel’s occupation and blockade of Palestinians, it is important to remember that the United States has also been engaged in many of the same violations of international law against one of its own neighbors – and for an even longer period of time. The U.S. embargo against Cuba is seven years older than the Israeli seizure of the West Bank and Gaza, in 1967, while Washington’s illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay is now 111 years old, predating Israel’s 1948 formation out of Palestinian land by nearly half a century.

Guantanamo Bay was seized by the United States during the Second Cuban War of Independence from Spain, which the Americans prefer to call the Spanish American War. The United States intervened in that war in 1898, with the purpose of making Cuba into a U.S. colony, as it did to Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In 1901, the United States Senate passed the Platt Amendment, which demanded that Cuba lease naval bases to Washington. Guantanamo was signed away in perpetuity under the point of a gun, although it is a principle of international law that treaties concluded under military occupation are not valid. After the Revolution, the Cuban constitution repudiated all agreements made “under conditions of inequality.” But the Americans remained. They turned one of Cuba’s most precious natural resources, Guantanamo Bay, into a curse on the lips of the world, as a prison camp for desperate Haitian refugees, and then as a nexus of American international criminality and torture.

Most Americans know Guantanamo’s recent, shameful notoriety, but few are aware that the U.S. presence there has always been a crime against the Cuban people – a crime that goes back more than twice as far as the 1960 embargo.

In Latin America, it is the United States that has been a direct and constant threat to the sovereignty and dignity of its neighbors.”

But Cuba does not forget. When the United Nations voted 188 to 3, last week,to condemn the U.S. embargo, Cuba submitted to Washington a “draft agenda” aimed at normalizing relations. At the top of the list, of course, is “the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade.” Also included among the “fundamental topics” for any “respectful dialogue” is “return of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base.” The Cubans insist on their removal from the U.S. list of “terrorism-sponsoring countries”; an end to U.S. immigration policies that single out Cuba; compensation for economic and human damages inflicted on Cuba by the United States; a halt to “radio and TV aggressions” against Cuba; and that the U.S. stop financing subversion inside Cuba.

The Cubans say release of the Cuban Five, imprisoned for infiltrating right-wing Cuban exile groups in Florida, is “an essential element” of meaningful talks.

U.S. media pundits worry that Washington has lost its ability to act as a mediator in the Middle East, because it has for generations protected the expansionist, hyper-aggressive and thoroughly racist Israeli regime. And this is true. But in Latin America, it is the United States that has been a direct and constant threat to the sovereignty and dignity of its neighbors, through centuries of gunboat diplomacy, invasions, the colonization of Puerto Rico and the near-colonization of Cuba. The occupation of Guantanamo Bay is part of that imperial legacy – a game in which Israel is a relative – although extremely dangerous – upstart. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20121121_gf_CubaUS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am EDT

Occupy Movement Finds Mission Combating Disaster – and Disaster Capitalism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After the natural disaster, comes disaster capitalism.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement has rediscovered a reason for existence: service to the people. Hurricane Sandy provided the remnants of Occupy with a social service mission, and they responded with remarkable speed and efficiency, bringing aid and a semblance of relief infrastructure to battered neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey. The purpose was humanitarian but, simply by virtue of focusing on those neighborhoods of greatest need, Occupy Sandy illuminates how economic and political power shapes the geography of pain, even in natural disasters.

The Occupy activists have been most vital to the minority residents of New York public housing and places like ocean-swept Far Rockaway, Queens. New York’s subway system may have made a miraculous recovery from the worst damage inflicted in its history, but public housing tenants were largely left to fend for themselves. In Coney Island, until recent days there was no sign of FEMA or the Red Cross or much of a local government presence at all in the waterless, powerless, lightless high rise public housing projects. Residents have been forced to defecate in buckets, and then to carry those buckets down many flights of stairs in the darkness. Many of the elderly have been trapped in their apartments.

The Occupy movement's rescue efforts have served to point up the political and economic nature of the disaster.”

Occupy Sandy’s hubs for distribution of supplies and services have been a “godsend” to afflicted neighborhoods – in sharp contrast to the calculated callousness of New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The city only launched its so-called “restoration centers” this Tuesday, two weeks after the superstorm hit. Four were opened in Far Rockaway, Staten Island, Coney Island and the Gravesend neighborhood. Three others, in Red Hook, Breezy Point and Throgs Neck-Pelham Bay, will not be operational until later in the week.

Even New York’s corporate media, which are notorious for their fawning treatment of the mayor, have noted the glaring absence of aid to the poor – a logical extension of Bloomberg’s relentless gentrification of the city. The Occupy movement's rescue efforts, which have been competent and efficient beyond even the activists’ own expectations, have served to point up the political and economic nature of the disaster.

On the New Jersey shore, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, quickly showed itself to be more concerned with people control, than service to the people. Hurricane victims found themselves treated like “prisoners” in a freezing tent city set up in Seaside Heights. The encampment is surrounded by armed guards who demand ID, even to use the showers. One displaced person said, “We honestly feel like we’re in a concentration camp” – an indication of what FEMA anticipates as its future national security mission.

Some Occupy movement activists believe their role in areas worst hit by Sandy has only just begun. After the natural disaster, comes disaster capitalism, as corporations and their servants in government transform afflicted neighborhoods into profit centers for new development – minus the poor people that used to live there. After Katrina, you don’t need a weatherman to read the warning signs, and know that a storm of human displacement is coming. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20121114_gf_OccupySandy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:28pm EDT

Score at United Nations: Cuba 188 – U.S. 3

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

On Cuba, as with foreign policy in general, Barack Obama represents the continuity of U.S. imperial policy.”

For the 21st year in a row, the United Nationals General Assembly has nearly unanimously condemned the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, now in its 52nd year. The vote was 188 to 3, with only Israel and the tiny Pacific island of Palau siding with the United States. Two other mini-states in the Pacific, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, abstained from the vote. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez noted that President Obama came into office talking about a new beginning in relations Havana, but “the reality of the last four years has been characterized by a persistent tightening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade.” On Cuba, as with foreign policy in general, Barack Obama represents the continuity of U.S. imperial policy, from Eisenhower through George W. Bush. The First Black President is no different than his predecessors when it comes to Cuba, the island nation that refuses to buckle under to Washington.

The Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul, have not only born witness to U.S. decline in the hemisphere and the world, they have contributed mightily to the humbling of the Yankees. Not content simply to survive America’s unremitting hostility over the course of two and a half generations, Cuba has been an icon of resistance to U.S. imperialism around the world. The people’s of southern Africa owe Cuba a huge debt for helping defeat Washington’s allies, the racist South African military, in Angola, in 1988 – a watershed event that hastened the demise of the white regime.

Washington earned the hatred of vast sectors of Latin American society, while Cuba’s prestige continued to grow.”

The Cuban revolution’s impact on Latin America cannot be overstated. After the 1959 revolution, the United States pushed one country after another into military dictatorships, under which hundreds of thousands were massacred and disappeared. The U.S. and its fascist friends declared war, not just on the Left, but on Latin American civil society itself, in a crusade to prevent another Cuba from happening in the Americas. As a result, Washington earned the hatred of vast sectors of Latin American society, while Cuba’s prestige continued to grow. One by one, the U.S.-backed dictatorships collapsed, allowing Latin American politics to come alive, again. The people of South and Central America had shared the collective nightmare of rule by Washington’s fascist proxies. They also shared a determination to never again be dominated by the superpower to the North. Majorities in every Latin American country knew exactly what the Cubans meant when they spoke of the dangers of U.S. imperialism.

Earlier this year, at a summit meeting of hemispheric leaders, the United States found itself totally isolated on the question of Cuba. Even the president of Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in the region, declared there could not be another summit without Cuba’s presence. Rather than isolating Cuba, the 52 year-long embargo has resulted in the isolation of the United States, in the western hemisphere and at the United Nations General Assembly. Maybe that’s what the future will look like: the U.S., despite all its weapons, one day all alone except for pariah states like Israel, while the rest of the world gets on with the business of living.

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

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

Direct download: 20121114_gf_CubaEmbargo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45am EDT

California NAACP Sells Out to Big Ag on Genetically Modified Foods

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR ,managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

We at Black Agenda Report have been pointing out a long time now that what used to be black and Latino civil rights and civic advocacy organizations have turned a corner and become mouthpieces for their corporate funders.

We called out the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in 2006, and the National Conference of Black State Legislators in 2007, along with Bobby Rush and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus for siding with AT&T, Verizon and their telecom industry benefactors over their communities who need cheap and ubiquitous broadband. By 2008 we added the Urban League and NAACP to the list, along with Al Sharpton and his National Action Network for joining the corporate crusade to first cripple, then privatize public education. In 2009 and 2010 we've pointed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's receipt of millions in donations funneled through execs at Georgia Power as its reason for not opposing the placement of leaky nuclear reactors in poor, mostly black Georgia town where most families already have a case or two of cancer.

The list of betrayals of these kinds of outfits of their supposed constituents to their funders is routine and nearly endless. But in California the state NAACP reached a new low in putting the profits of its donors over its supposed responsibilities to the people.

With very little money to spend, local activists succeeded in placing a measure on the California ballot this Tuesday which would have required all genetically modified foods, with a few key exceptions, to be labeled as such. Most of the industrialized world already has laws and regulations like this, which is why much of the stuff on US supermarket shelves cannot be sold in Europe or Japan or even many places in South America. The people in these places call much of what we see in stores every day “frankenfood”. They may be on to something.

Genetically modifications of foodstuffs have never been about increasing yield or enhancing nutrition. They are purely about expanding profits. Genetically modified seeds can be patented and farmers charged yearly royalties for seed they used to save and plant for free each year. They require lots of profitable herbicides and pesticides – in fact some of the genetic modifications make the plants produce their own herbicides and pesticides, which of course we eventually consume.

It's not a subject discussed much in media and not a place where Big Agriculture wants to go. So what do the swells at places like Monsanto do? The same as the nuclear industry, the telecom industry and the people who want to privatize education. They dropped a big check on the California NAACP, and sure enough that august body took a stand against California's Proposition 37.

Never mind that black children are more likely than anyone else to suffer from juvenile onset diabetes, and that studies in other countries have shown clear links between GMO foods and diabetes in children. The so-called leadership model of the modern civil rights organization in this post civil rights era is to front itself as the representative of and obtain its moral legitimacy from the oppressed, but take its funding and its orders from the oppressors. That's why we call them the black misleadership class.

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. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121107_bd_california_naacp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41pm EDT

America and the Politics of Genocide in Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The genocide in Congo is the deliberate result of American and British policy.”

On Tuesday, the vast majority of African Americans cast their votes for a man whose hands are soaked in the blood of millions of Congolese. Barack Obama, like his predecessors George Bush and Bill Clinton, has pulled the strings, paid the cash, and sent the weapons that Uganda and Rwanda have used to cause the deaths of six million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since invading that country in 1996. Various organs of the United Nations have repeatedly found America’s two top allies in Black Africa complicit in the Congo genocide, and on every occasion, the U.S. and Great Britain have protected the mass murderers. And why not? The genocide in Congo is the deliberate result of American and British policy. Uganda and Rwanda are merely henchmen, who commit mass murder in return for a cut of Congo’s vast stores of mineral resources. Western businesses are the ultimate beneficiaries.

The International Court of Justice found Uganda guilty, in 2005, of killing and torturing Congolese civilians and plundering the country’s resources. Congo asked for $10 billion in reparations, but Uganda has paid nothing. Why should it? Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, was Ronald Reagan’s favorite African dictator and has served U.S. African policy, ever since. Uganda does not act on its own, but as a military asset of the United States. The same goes for Rwanda, which has been repeatedly cited for virtually annexing the eastern Congo in close collaboration with Ugandan forces. Rwanda President Paul Kagame acts as a puppet for U.S. policy in Africa, in return for lavish American military and economic aid and free rein to plunder and kill in the Congo.

Rwanda and Uganda are immune from international law because they do Washington’s bidding, sending troops wherever they are needed to buttress U.S. interests in Africa.

What is a samurai without a lord and master?”

Last week, Uganda pitched a kind of puppet tantrum, threatening to pull its troops out of so-called peace-keeping duties in Somalia. Museveni’s government is angry, because yet another United Nations report has been leaked, showing that Ugandan and Rwandan military officers are directly in charge of the so-called rebels that are wreaking havoc in Congo. This is not a Congolese civil war, but a continuation of a 16-year aggression by its two neighbors, financed and directed by the United States and Britain.

Uganda’s threat to pull out of Somalia has proven to be emptyAfter all, what is a samurai without a lord and master? Uganda’s value to the United States lies in its willingness to kill other Africans on orders from Washington. A Uganda withdrawal from Somalia would amount to going on strike against its employer, the United States – a very dangerous thing to do. Besides, who else is going to employ the Ugandan and Rwandan mercenaries?

By the time the Uganda delegation got to New York, there was no more mention of leaving Somalia, much less a Ugandan disengagement from the U.S. Special Forces units that President Obama sent into the Great Lakes region, last year. Uganda had temporarily forgotten its place as a servant in the neocolonial scheme of things. But, in truth, the Ugandans and Rwandans need not worry about the U.S. cracking down on their genocidal activities in Congo, because that, too, serves America’s purpose: to control Africa by drowning it in chaos and blood.

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

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

Direct download: 20121107_gf_UgandaCongoSomalia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17am EDT

A “Triple” Betrayal in South Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

South Africa cannot forever put off the revolution that was left unfinished 18 years ago.”

Since the transition to Black political rule, in 1994, South Africa has been governed by the African National Congress and its partners in the so-called Triple Alliance: the Congress of South African Trade Unions, or COSATU, and the South African Communist Party. It is a complicated and sometimes incestuous alliance, in which membership in the various legs of the triangle is often intertwined. And it is a relationship riddled with contradictions, the most fundamental of which now threaten to plunge South African society into a long night of bloody conflict.

In recent months, about 100,000 mineworkers have found themselves in deadly confrontation, not just with foreign-owned management, but with the South African state; with their own COSATU unions that are aligned with the South African state; and with a Communist Party that behaves as if it is part of the state. The mine workers, who thought the South African struggle had been waged for the benefit of people like themselves, have discovered there is no one to protect their interests, or even their very lives. Last August’s police massacre of 34 striking mine workers, at Marikana, showed that South Africa cannot forever put off the revolution that was left unfinished 18 years ago.

It is infinitely sad to hear Black South African union officials urge police to treat mine workers as “criminals” for demanding a living wage. It is bizarre in the extreme to hear high officials in a party that claims to be communist label workers that want to be represented by a union of their own choosing as “counter-revolutionaries.” Yet that is the madness unfolding in South Africa under the unholy Triple Alliance.

This damnable arrangement benefits a small class of new Black millionaires whose fortunes are tied to white multinational capital.”

Late last month, in Rustenburg, police fired rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse thousands of workers wearing T-shirts in remembrance of the slain Marikana miners and demanding that the police not “get away with murder.” All across the mining regions, workers seeking to organize outside the government-sanctioned unions are hunted down and prosecuted under spurious charges, physically tortured and vilified as enemies of the state and of their own class.

But the mineworkers know something about class warfare and class betrayal. They have seen that their unions, under COSATU, are aligned with a government whose main priority is to keep foreign investors happy, and that will sacrifice the mine workers living standards, their freedoms, and their blood, to keep the system just as it is. And they know that this damnable arrangement benefits a small class of new Black millionaires whose fortunes are tied to white multinational capital.

The great tragedy is that COSATU, the Communist Party and the African National Congress are so deeply embedded in the political culture of South Africa, that it will take a gargantuan struggle to pry loose that which has been hopelessly corrupted and to preserve those legacies worht salvaging. In the process, it seems inevitable that many thousands of Black South Africans will die.

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

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

Direct download: 20121107_gf_SouthAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

The Black Misleadership Class Lines Up Behind Transit Privatization In Atlanta

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Back in the 1960s residents of Fulton and Dekalb counties along with the city of Atlanta voted in a penny sales tax to fund MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. For all the usual reasons, the surrounding majority white counties declined participation in MARTA, claiming its acronym instead stood for Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta. Along with rural legislators they imposed savage and arbitrary funding and operational restrictions on the agency, so that to this day MARTA receives not a penny of gas tax revenue and is the only big city transit agency in the nation that gets not a penny from state government.

Though they wouldn't tax themselves to pay its bills, suburbanites were long represented on MARTA's governing board, and the rural and suburban state legislators although again, the state gives no money to MARTA, convene a permanent and powerful oversight committee that constantly interferes with its governance.

A generation of black Atlanta mayors have made it their business to push tens of thousands of low income black families out of the city in order to “revitalize” it with wealthier, whiter residents, and white suburbanites now covet the multibillion dollar transit infrastructure built by inner-city Fulton, Dekalb and Atlanta residents.

The next big play, openly demanded by Atlanta business leaders like the Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the legislative oversight committee, and tacitly agreed to by Atlanta's black mayor, it's majority black city council, and most of the local black leadership class is privatization of the city's transit assets, all at once or piece by piece. The transit agency's own governing board is on the privatization bus as well.

They commissioned a recent audit that blames the city's transit woes on lazy, overpaid workers with too many sick days and much too lavish health care plans. And with the approval of the white governor --- again despite the fact that the state provides the agency NO funding --- and the black mayor, a new transit chief has been brought in from San Antonio, TX for the express purpose of breaking the black-led union, and transitioning the agency to state control so it can be privatized.

Privatization will be a good deal for whichever fat cats get the contracts. But it won't be good for ordinary people who need transit to get to and look for jobs. It won't be so good for businesses who depend on transit to bring workers and customers to their doors. It won't be good for the thousands of elderly who have less access to automobiles, often because they can no longer drive, and it won't be good for college and high school students who depend on public transit to get to school. It won't be good for folks who have to access medical care or government services, or who want to maintain family ties or get to church on Sunday.

But a whole layer of the black political class and their hangers on are foaming at the mouth at the thought of lucrative “public private partnerships,” and that will be the shape of the politics of black Atlanta for the near future. It's the privatizers and profiteers vs the rest of us. Which side are YOU on.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121031_bd_transit-privatization.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46pm EDT

Arab Revolutions Will Never be Made-in-the-USA

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The men that Obama used to get rid of Gaddafi, and is now using to get rid of Syrian President Assad, have their own ideas about what constitutes a revolution.”

The New York Times noted the anniversary of the murder of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in typical imperial fashion: with a combination of lies and exhortations. The Times editorial was titled, “Making Revolution Work.” Of course, the nine month long NATO assault on a country of six million people was not a revolution in any meaningful sense of the word. The largely Islamist fighters that butchered Gaddafi after his convoy was disabled by foreign aircraft, and who subsequently executed 100 other captives were acting as proxies for the U.S. and its NATO allies who, together, account for 70 percent of the world’s arms expenditures.

No genuine revolution in world history has been brought into being by the massed arms of the globe’s reigning imperial powers. This was the old colonial order, showing once again who is in charge in Africa and the Arab and Muslim worlds. Revolutions do not emanate from Washington, Paris and London.

The Americans and Europeans, including the old Italian colonial masters who killed one-third of the Libyan population when they were in charge, were joined by the thieving royal families of Qatar and Saudi Arabia – who rightly perceive any hint of revolution in the Arab world as the equivalent of their own death warrants.

The United States and its allies and proxies ignited race war in northern Africa, a slaughter of dark-skinned Libyans and black migrants that continues to this day – as does the resistance. How befitting its national character that the United States provoke an orgy of racist violence, and call it revolution!

Hillary Clinton encapsulated the imperial nature of the overthrow of Col. Gaddafi. “We came, we saw, he died,” said the bestial secretary of state, picturing herself as Julius Caesar. Clinton understood perfectly that Libya was a war of conquest and empire.

This second round of blowback will make the first look like a schoolyard fight.”

The New York Times, which, along with the rest of the U.S. corporate media, acted as cheerleader for the conquest of Libya, now exhorts America’s former Libyan proxies, posing as a government, to disarm the rowdier elements in their midst, lest they tarnish the so-called revolution. We certainly don’t want any more U.S. ambassadors turning up dead. But the men that Obama used to get rid of Gaddafi, and is now using to get rid of Syrian President Assad, have their own ideas about what constitutes a revolution – Salafist, jihadist ideas that do not include continued U.S. domination of the world. They gladly accepted Washington’s money and guns, and remain grateful to NATO for incinerating the real heroes of the war, the Libyan soldiers who fought on for so long while death rained on them from the skies. But a favor or two from the Great Satan doesn’t alter these jihadis’ obligations to God, as they perceive them.

The new round of blowback has begun. The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan virtually created the global jihadist network to fight the Soviets, in Afghanistan – with results we have all witnessed. This second round of blowback will make the first look like a schoolyard fight. So, if the New York Times and Hillary Clinton and President Obama think they are now such great friends of the Arab revolution – they ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

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

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

Direct download: 20121031_gf_LibyaAnniversary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:08pm EDT

The War Against “Excessive Pensions” For Govt Workers Is War Against Black Families, Prosecuted by Our Black Elite

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The late Kwame Toure used to say that there was a war in progress, a war against black people, and that we seemed to be the only ones who didn't know it. The war at the heart of today's black polity has a similar character. It's war between the black elite, our own native class of African American cultural and political misleaders, and the rest of us. And since that class of misleaders possesses near-exclusive access to our black pulpits and newspapers, the radio and TV stations most of us listen to, it's no surprise that only one side is awake and aware.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed is a rising black star in Democratic political circles who enjoys the favor of big corporate donors like Home Depot, SunTrust and Bank of America, because he is a tireless warrior against, not for, the interests of most black people in Atlanta and around the nation. Reed is widely credited in corporate media like the Wall Street Journal for having solved the intractable problem of ballooning pensions for city workers, which they say threatened to bankrupt the city.

If there had been an actual black press to explain this for us, the explanation would have went something like this....

Generations of teachers, city, county and state government workers, in their negotiations with bosses --- in Atlanta those have been black mayors the last 40 years --- agreed in good faith to forgo immediate wage increases now in favor of pensions and in some cases medical benefits later in their retirement, which both they and their employers were to jointly pay for. But although cities, states and school districts took the money out of workers checks each month, they never felt obliged to keep their promise and pay their part of those pensions. To do so might have required higher taxes, especially on the wealthiest individuals and corporations who over the last decades have paid a lower and lower share of their wealth in taxes, while governments have been forced to borrow operating money from them at loan shark interest rates. This is the pattern followed by hundreds of US cities and school districts, and probably most of its states.

Pension managers mostly said not funding the pensions was OK because they could make smart enough investments to compensate for the money public employers weren't putting into those pension funds. The crash of 2007 and 2008 made lots of their smart investments worthless.

Now big city mayors, governors and school district execs are not about to go to the public and to the wealthy and say “since we didn't keep our promises all these years we've got to tax you heavily to pay these pensions we know we should have been funding all along...” Instead they have to recast their broken promises as “unfunded liabilities” and the retirement benefits previously agreed upon as excessive, greedy, and unsustainable.

Atlanta's Kasim Reed has been a champion at this. Last the black mayor of Atlanta broke just about every pension promise made to Atlanta city workers by 40 years of black mayors, and sharply limited retirement compensation of new city workers. In Atlanta most of those city workers are African American. Reed now has his sights on reducing the wages and pensions of Atlanta's 4,000 transit workers, perhaps as a prelude to privatization or a state takeover.

If the targets here had been black contractors instead of city and transit workers, there would be a storm of denunciations from black pulpits and pundits, black newspapers and commentators. But since the spear chuckers in this war against ordinary black folks are our own black leadership class, those leaders are mostly silent. It's time to dismiss that whole class, and raise up new leaders.

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. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121024_bd_pension_wars_and_black_families.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:03pm EDT

A Profitable Genocide: Rwanda and Uganda Annex Eastern Congo

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The genocide has been very profitable for Uganda and Rwanda.”

Rwanda is warning its western benefactors not to cut off aid, in the wake of yet another leaked United Nations report on its role in the genocide of millions in the neighboring Congo. Rwanda and Uganda, both staunch allies of the United States and Great Britain, continue to support so-called rebels in the mineral rich eastern Congo, according to a Group of Experts at the UN Security Council. Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters among millions of refugees from ethnic violence in Rwanda. But the invasion became an occupation that has killed six million Congolese – the world’s greatest holocaust since World War Two.

The genocide has been very profitable for Uganda and Rwanda, who have plundered eastern Congo’s mineral resources for sale to multinational corporations, most of them based in the United States and Europe. According to the UN’s chief of peacekeeping, Rwanda has effectively annexed eastern Congo, raising taxes and controlling the population through so-called rebels who answer directly to Rwanda’s military. Foreigners have noted how Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, has prospered during the Congolese genocide, as a base for trading plundered minerals.

A 2010 UN report charged Rwanda’s army with “committing atrocities that could be classified as crimes of genocide.” Another UN study came to similar conclusions back in 1997. But, each time, the United States has used its muscle to suppress the findings and shield its African allies from punishment. The latest report – which only came to light because it was leaked – implicates officers at the highest level of Rwanda’s military as the real command structure behind the so-called M-23 rebels – confirming that the Tutsi force are not really rebels at all, but extensions of the Rwandan army.

Rwanda has effectively annexed eastern Congo.”

Uganda has also profited mightily from the death of millions of Congolese. It is part of the arrangement, in which Rwanda and Uganda act as mercenaries for American and European interests in Africa. In return, both regimes are armed to the teeth, generously supported by foreign aid, and allowed free rein to plunder their Congolese neighbors. The blood of millions flows into the ground, while billions of dollars in minerals are extracted from the earth and delivered to their corporate customers – with Rwandan and Ugandan middlemen pocketing their cut.

The United States, embarrassed by the leaked reports, has withheld token funds earmarked for a Rwandan military school, and the European Union has frozen support for the killer regimes. But the British shamelessly restored all aid to Rwanda and Uganda in September, praising the mass murderers for constructively pursuing peace.

The Congolese genocide is, first and foremost, an American and British crime, a superpower-engineered holocaust that has continued for 16 years, under Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama – all of whom are guilty of the worst offenses known to international law. Uganda and Rwanda are merely henchmen in this monstrous crime against humanity that is comparable only to the crimes of Hitler and his Nazis. It is an American Democratic and Republican genocide – a pure evil. Don’t you dare claim to find some “lesser evil” under that mountain of dead African flesh.

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

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

Direct download: 20121024_gf_RwandaCongo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Haiti: The Streets Come Alive

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The liberation of Haiti does not depend on the United Nations, but on the Haitian people.”

The people of Haiti are in motion, and the U.S.-installed government is responding with tear gas and bullets. Demonstrations have erupted across the country, denouncing the regime of “Sweet Mickey” Martelly for corruption, demanding jobs at livable wages and the basic services that states are supposed to provide, and calling for an end to the eight-year occupation of the country by the United Nations.

UN soldiers took over from U.S. Marines after Washington’s coup against the democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, in 2004. Since then, Aristide’s party has been effectively banned. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton holds no public office in his own country, but he rules like a viceroy as the UN’s Special Envoy to Haiti. The country has been reduced to a kind of protectorate of the UN – which, for all practical purposes, translates as a colony of the United States.

Because Aristide’s Lavalas party was excluded from the voting, most Haitians did not even go to the polls in April of last year, allowing “Sweet Mickey” Martelly to win the presidency with the support of only a small fraction of the Haitian population. That means politics in Haiti is mainly the politics of the street. And the streets of virtually every large Haitian city and town have been alive with demonstrations in the past few weeks. Teachers in Port-Au-Prince demanded a living wage equivalent to $1,200 a year. Slum dwellers in Cite Soleil protested deplorable conditions. In Fort Liberte, residents demanded a shipping facility. More protests are planned in Cap-Haitien and the capital city, this week.

The whole country is standing up.”

Haitians and their supporters demonstrated last week at the United Nations, in New York, asking the UN Security Council to pull its troops out of their country. Instead, the Council voted to extend the so-called peacekeeping mission for another year, although the force’s size will be reduced. One of those that met with UN peacekeeping officials was Haitian Senator Jean Charles Moise. At a meeting in a Haitian neighborhood of Brooklyn, Moise said he understood “the game that is being played” at the UN, but will continue to insist that the foreign soldiers be withdrawn, that security be turned over to an enlarged Haitian police force, and that reparations be paid to the families of the 5,000 Haitians that have died from cholera introduced into the country by UN troops.

Senator Moise is known for riding a white horse at anti-Martelly demonstrations. He says the liberation of Haiti does not depend on the United Nations, but on the Haitian people. “The whole country is standing up,” he said, “so I had to come into the street, with the people. You have to be with the people when they are in motion.” Then the senator rushed to the airport to rejoin the protests.

Bill Clinton and the multinational corporations he represents have other plans for Haiti. Clinton says Haiti’s greatest advantage is its low wages, to better attract foreign capital. In other words, Washington’s goal is to keep Haitians desperately poor, so that they will take any job, at any wage. But Haitians are determined to win back their national sovereignty, and set the terms of their own development.

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

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

Direct download: 20121017_gf_Haiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46am EDT

What Happened to South Africa’s Freedom Charter

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The official voice of labor, COSATU, cannot credibly claim to represent the interests of working people when it is a partner of the ruling party whose police kill, beat and imprison workers.”

In 1994, the African National Congress of South Africa made a deal with the devil. There would be one-person, one-vote, majority rule of electoral politics. But corporate power over the South African economy would not be tampered with, and white civil servants would be guaranteed they could their well-paying jobs, for life. The ANC also set itself another goal: to create a class of Black millionaires.

Much earlier, the ANC had made a solemn commitment to the broad masses of people. It’s called theFreedom Charter, adopted in 1955, which served as the unifying document of the struggle against apartheid that culminated in the elections that brought the ANC to power. The Freedom Charter promised that “the national wealth of [the] country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;” that “the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;” that “all other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people; all the land re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger;” and that “all shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose.”

Yet, none of this has come to pass. The Freedom Charter is absolutely incompatible with the deal the ANC made for a peaceful transition to Black majority rule. If corporate privileges are untouched, there can be no collective ownership of the mineral wealth, the soil, the banks and industries. And social systems that breed new Black millionaires – or millionaires of any kind – cannot possibly give priority to the well-being of the masses of people.

The Freedom Charter is absolutely incompatible with the deal the ANC made for a peaceful transition to Black majority rule.”

South Africa was one of the most unequal places in the world in 1994, and it is at least as unequal, today – because of the deal cut by the ANC. The covenant with white privilege and corporate power was also entered into by the ANC’s partners: the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU. Thus, the three pillars of the liberation movement agreed that they would not upset the existing corporate framework, and they would not implement the clearly socialist aims of the Freedom Charter. Instead, they nurtured a tiny, Black capitalist class made up largely of ANC insiders. Union leaders became rich men, while conditions for the poor and working classes deteriorated.

These chickens have now come home to roost, especially following the massacre of 34 miners at Marikana. The mining industry is in turmoil, with 41 percent of South Africa’s gold output shut down. Hundreds of thousands of municipal workers will go on strike this week to protest poor pay and corruption. Yet the official voice of labor, COSATU, cannot credibly claim to represent the interests of working people when it is a partner of the ruling party whose police kill, beat and imprison workers.

This fundamentally corrupt arrangement has run its course. There will be nothing but mass bloodshed at the end of this journey unless the African National Congress breaks the pact that it made with corporate power, in 1994. The ANC stands at a crossroads, and must make a turn. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20121017_gf_SouthAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:28am EDT

Chavez Beats the Devil, Again

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In the United States, his ten percent winning margin would be considered a landslide.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won a resounding victory in last weekend’s elections. If you’ve been following U.S. corporate media coverage of the campaign, that may have come as a surprise to you. Chavez is routinely referred to as a “strongman” and other variations on “dictator” by the U.S. media when, in fact, he remains one of the most popular persons in all of Latin America. In the United States, his ten percent winning margin would be considered a landslide, but all the American media can talk about after Chavez’s latest victory at the polls is how much his lead has shrunk since the 2006 election, when he won by 25 percent.

Every time Chavez and his Bolivarian socialists win at the polls, the corporate media have to eat crow. One would think all that heartburn would force the U.S. press to finally admit that Chavez is the leader of oil rich Venezuela because large majorities of its citizens want him in the presidential palace, and are enjoying the fruits of his wealth distribution policies.

It is also impossible for American media, which are mouthpieces for their corporate owners and take their day-to-day cues from the State Department and the White House, to understand that most Venezuelans agree with Chavez when he denounces the imperialists in Washington. They knew what Chavez meant when he called President Bush “the devil” and said that he stank of sulfur, back in 2006. Venezuelans remembered how Bush backed a coup that almost toppled Chavez in 2002 – a coup that was reversed by a counter-rebellion of the people and loyal soldiers. They remember that the coup leaders’ first act was to abolish the Constitution and start drawing up lists of people to be thrown into prison, or worse. They remember the dark days when nearly all of Latin America was placed under the rule of generals allied with Washington, and the hands of the torturers and the death squads could reach into every family with impunity. They know who was the author of that nightmare: the United States.

Every time Chavez and his Bolivarian socialists win at the polls, the corporate media have to eat crow.”

That’s why Latin America is the corner of the world that has achieved the greatest success over the last 20 years in throwing off the dead weight of the North, by rejecting the so-called Washington Consensus. And that’s why, this time around, the Venezuelan opposition chose a candidate who pretended to be a leftist, himself. Challenger Henrique Capriles, a young state governor, styled himself as a protégé of former Brazilian president “Lula” da Silva, a more business-friendly type of leftwing politician. But Venezuela’s poor know the who opposition really are: the affluent, mostly light-skinned people that live in swank neighborhoods and whose hearts dwell in Miami. The people who draw cartoons in opposition newspapers depicting Chavez as a monkey and openly sneer at his mixed race heritage – the heritage of most Venezuelans. They know what real democracy feels like, because they remember what living under the yoke of a rich white minority felt like. Democracy is having a government that’s not made up of those people whose hearts are in Miami. Democracy calls the top Yankee a devil, and the people cheer, and then the people vote.

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

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

Direct download: 20121010_gf_ChavezWins.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:16pm EDT

Black is Back, With a Conference in Washington, Nov 3

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Breaking the silence means pollinating our communities with the direction and skills necessary to break the back of those who oppress and kill us.”

When the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations first came together in October of 2009, millions of African Americans were still flush with the glow of Barack Obama’s inauguration, nine months before, when a million African Americans gathered at the Washington Mall like faithful Muslims on a pilgrimage to Mecca. But by October of his first year in office, President Obama had already announced that he would be putting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block; he had already sabotaged Durban II, the international conference against racism, just as George Bush had sabotaged Durban I, eight years before; and Obama had already announced that he would not be proposing any programs to alleviate extreme Black suffering in the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression – even as his friends on Wall Street were already moving towards a taxpayer-funded recovery. Clearly, it was time for Black activists to get activeagain – to make some noise and formulate some plans - rather than passively accept the corporate policies of the icon in the White House.

By November of 2009, the Black Is Back Coalition was in motion, with a march and rally at the White House. It was not the most popular thing to do, but it was surely the only sane response to the deepening crisis in Black America, and for the entire world. The worst elements of the financial oligarchy were emerging from the Great Recession more powerful than ever. We are talking about the gentrifyers, who boost the price of urban living until African Americans can no longer sustain themselves in the nation’s cities, and must scatter, their political power dissipated, lost forever. It was clear to the new Coalition that there is no choice but to resist the jobs destroyers, who relentlessly push down wages, here and abroad, and have already made Black youth expendable. The American Prison Gulag bulged at the seams with caged Black people, who now represented one out of eight of the entire planet’s incarcerated population. The new U.S. Africa military command, AFRICOM, was on the march, setting the stage for a neocolonial offensive to steal the continent’s independence and resources, once again.

It was clear to the new Coalition that there was no choice but to resist.”

So, in 2009, the Black Is Back Coalition broke the silence and passivity that has gripped Black America, most dramatically since Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. The Coalition marched again, in 2010, and 2011, and will break the silence again on November 3 of this year, at Malcolm X Park, in Washington.

The Black Is Back Coalition does much more than hold rallies. Its organizations and individuals strategize and teach and learn, organize and plan for the Movement that must arise from the aspirations and talents of our people. Breaking the silence means pollinating our communities with the direction and skills necessary to break the back of those who oppress and kill us. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” On November 3 and 4, the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will be shouting and organizing, plotting and scheming, to win power for Black people, everywhere on the planet. Go to www.BlackIsBackCoalition.org and register for the November 3 conference. Break the silence. Black Is Back!

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

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

Direct download: 20121010_gf_BiB.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:10pm EDT

Jay-Z's “We Need Less Government” Quip Proves Harry Belafonte Right: He's A Selfish Loon

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Back in August, actor, singer and longtime humanitarian activist Harry Belafonte took Jay-Z, Beyonce and current black celebrities to task, declaring that they were selfish, lacking the vision of a better world or the will to help make it happen.

Beyonce's staff of publicists were quick to reply with a list of tax deductible and officially approved charities that she funds. But to tell the truth, that kind of giving, the kind that often combines public charity, public relations and big tax advantages in roughly equal parts is pretty much an accounting and PR requirement for celebrity actors and athletes. It works like this --- they're going to pay taxes anyhow, at much higher rates than with so-called “investment income.” Divert that tax money into deductible charities, and it's cash they would have paid out anyhow, but now it's combined with photo opportunities and human interest stories showcasing their personal struggles and bolstering their brand, making them more money. That's why her answer was no answer at all, it really proved what Belafonte said.

Beyonce and hubby Jay-Z are frequent guests at the White House. But Belafonte, and before him Paul Robeson went walking and talking among those organizing and demonstrating outside the White House, against big business, against the kind of established authority and privilege the Jay-Z's and Beyonce's of this generation are so delighted to be seen with. Dr. Martin Luther King was almost an outlaw, universally reviled and denounced throughout the corporate media the final year of his life, after he denounced the Vietnam war and linked the struggles against empire and economic injustice to that against racism. Harry Belafonte's work with him, and Paul Robeson's association with labor organizers and activists him didn't carry tax advantages for either of them. They walked picket lines outside the courthouses and jails where activists were tried and imprisoned. They solicited their peers to fund strategy meetings, legal expenses for movement activists. Almost none of that was tax deductible, and much of it wasn't public knowledge for years afterward.

That meant they did it out of selfless vision and love, and out of their own pockets, not to build their brands, lower their taxes or bolster their bank accounts. It cost Belafonte lots of money. It cost Muhammad Ali a year in prison. It cost Paul Robeson his career. Look it up.

Back in the nineties somebody publicly told Michael Jordan that Nike paid him more than all its Vietnamese shoe factory workers put together. Michael said he'd “see about that” sometime soon but he and his publicists never mentioned it again. That was a long long decline from the unselfish humanitarian spirit of the Belefonte generation.

And the decline continues. Last week Jay-Z was asked at the opening of Barclays in New York about a his own political aspirations. “I don't even like the word politics,” the rapper said. “It implies something underhanded. I think we need less government.

This is a new low, perhaps two new lows.

First, Jay-Z cannot possibly be that stupid. The word politics does not imply anything. Politics are the processes fair and unfair, just and unjust that we humans use to conduct our collective affairs for the good or otherwise. When poor people mystify “politics” as something inscrutable and irrelevant to those who hunger and thirst for justice they indulge in escapism. When rich people do it they engage in misdirection.

Secondly, Jay-Z's “we need less government” quip has long been a right wing staple, a codespeak slogan of the very rich and privileged who have in fact captured the government, but only object to “big government” when it benefits little people.

It's proof positive that Harry Belafonte was right about Jay-Z and Beyonce. It's time to look somewhere else for selfless visionaries among this generation's celebrities.

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, a state committee member of the GA Green Party, and a partner in a technology firm. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com, or via this state's contact page.

Direct download: 20121003_bd_jay-z_we_need_less_govt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37pm EDT

Obama on Wrong Side in Shell Oil Human Rights Case

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Shell Oil, which profits most from the Ogoni people’s degradation and oppression, claims it is just a bystander, an innocent party.”

When Shell Oil walked into the U.S. Supreme Court building, this week, claiming that it is not responsible for the torture and murder of Nigerians in its oil fields in the Niger River Delta, the Dutch corporation had a friend in the courtroom: the Obama administration. The U.S. Solicitor General’s office was there to urge the High Court to rule in Shell’s favor in the case, and to shield other foreign corporations from being sued in U.S. Courts for complicity in human rights abuses overseas. Obama’s lawyers also asked the Supreme Court not to make any decision on whether U.S.-based corporations could be sued under the 200-year-old Alien Tort Statue. A ruling on that question would affect some of the biggest corporations in country: Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Unocal, Coca-Cola, Pfizer pharmaceuticals, and the Ford Motor Company – all of which have been sued under either the Alien Tort law or the Torture Victim Protection Act. By asking the court not to make a broad decision, the administration is also protecting these corporate giants from culpability for rights abuses.

In Shell’s case, 12 Nigerians charge the oil company with being an accomplice to torture, extra judicial executions and crimes against humanity. One of the plaintiffs is the widow of Dr. Barinem Kiobel, who wasexecuted by the Nigerian government along with human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and other leaders of the Ogoni people in 1995. Their homeland, the Niger Delta, had been turned into an environmental wasteland for the benefit of Shell Oil and corrupt Nigerian government officials, with the population living under martial law. Shell Oil, which profits most from the Ogoni people’s degradation and oppression, claims it is just a bystander, an innocent party – that it had nothing to do with the Nigerian government’s atrocities. But, of course, the Nigerian government’s murderous policies were designed to protect the profitability of Shell’s operations. Shell Oil created the nightmare in the Niger Delta – just as its sister corporations do all around the world, under the protection of friendly governments.

Shell claims it is not a person.”

At the U.S. Supreme Court, Shell Oil argued that the United States should not “impose our law onto foreign countries.” What an outrageous position! Shell Oil imposes itself on the people of the Niger Delta, unleashing what is arguably the worst environmental disaster on Earth, and then asks for legal immunity.

Shell Oil also argues that it cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statue, because it is not a person. Two hundred years ago, when the law was written, nobody thought corporations were people. Later, corporations fought for and got recognition as a kind of legal person in the United States, allowing them to claim the inalienable rights of actual human beings. But now, under these circumstances, Shell Oil claims it is not a person, subject to human law, but an entity possessing corporate immunities.

The Alien Tort Law was used to compensate Holocaust survivors who had been used as slave labor by corporations that worked with the Nazis. Shell Oil’s operations in Nigeria have also sown a holocaust, for which there must be no impunity.

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

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

Direct download: 20101003_gf_ShellSCOTUS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:23pm EDT

It's Party Time for the Black Misleadership Class

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A class that is concerned mainly with celebrating its own existence.”

Michelle Obama was the main attraction at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual Legislative Weekend gala affair. She told the party-goers that voting, “going to the polls every single election…is the movement of our era.” That is part of the great tragedy that has befallen Black America. The same class that abandoned mass movement politics 40 years ago, in favor of pursuing their own corporate and electoral ambitions, now claims that going to the polls every couple of years is the same thing as having a movement. And that’s got a lot to do with why, by many key measurements, Black people are as bad off, or worse, than in 1965.

Some of us remember the days, after Martin Luther King’s death, when the aspiring Black political class lectured movement activists to get out of the streets and into the suites. They said Black folks needed to position themselves on the inside of power where they could, supposedly, do the most good for the Black masses. But these selfish actors were only looking out for their own upward mobility.

It would be unfair the say that these misleaders shut down the Black Freedom Movement in the late Sixties – the U.S. government’s hit squads made their own murderous contribution to the death of the movement, and a national policy of mass Black incarceration put lower class African Americans on permanent lockdown.

Our history did not prepare us to fight Power when it wears a Black face.”

But some segments of Black America have done pretty well for themselves, as is on display every September at the Black Caucus weekend. With Barack Obama in the White House, the Black common folk experience a vicarious sensation of power – which, as it turns out, is not a very healthy thing, since African Americans as a group have never gotten anywhere without fighting the Powers-That-Be. However, our history did not prepare us to fight Power when it wears a Black face, a problem few of us ever expected to confront. It appears likely that we will experience another four years in which the Black political class makes no demands of Power, so as not to discomfort or embarrass the First Black President in his second term, a man who serves the financial oligarchs on Wall Street, not the folks on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Black Caucus also honored Eric Holder, the first Black U.S. attorney general. Holder has failed to prosecute any of the Wall Street plutocrats whose criminal financial enterprises threw millions out of work and set Black America back two generations. It was Holder's job to explain why his boss’s preventive detention bill was not a death blow to due process of law in the United States – an impossible task. Even in the Age of Obama, most of the Black Caucus opposes indefinite detention without charge or trial – but not enough to let a little thing like the Bill of Rights get in the way of honoring a “first Black”…anything.

This is the logical end-result of what people like professor and preacher Michael Eric Dyson cynically call “getting in the game”: the empowerment of a slim sliver of a Black Misleaderhip Class that is concerned mainly with celebrating its own existence. That's what happens when the money-soaked rituals of American electoral politics are mistaken for a people's movement.

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

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

Direct download: 20120926_gf_CBC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm EDT

Brought To You By “Clean Coal:” All You Need To Know About the 2012 Obama- Romney Debates

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the top 15 things that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree on. It was a list that easily could have been longer.

Both agree on more money for the military, more wars in more countries, more drone killings, more privatizations of schools, roads and everything else in sight, and more bailouts for banksters, and continuing the 40 year war on drugs. Both say no, though in different language to minimum wage increases and the right to organize unions and strike. Both say no to climate change treaties, or even negotiations that might lead to such treaties, and both say no to foreclosure moratoriums, WPA style job creation programs and Medicare For All. Neither one will prosecute banksters or torturers, or talk much at all about poverty, although the last time there were this many poor a Democrat called for a War on Poverty.

Given their areas of agreement alone, the presidential debates won't be real debates. The so-called Presidential Debate Commission is a private corporation founded by leaders of the two corporate parties, who choose the format, the location, the moderators and the questions, and explicitly draw up the rules to exclude candidates and parties other than Democrats and Republicans.

Although the broadcast airwaves have existed longer than the sun, and cable networks everywhere run beneath public roads and streets, US law lets private corporations determine on their own what political messages reach the population by controlling news and demanding large sums of money for a few seconds of commercials. These large amounts of money can only be gotten from the same plutocratic shot calling individuals and corporations who make the careers of Republicans like Mitt Romney and Democrats like Barack Obama possible.

How irresponsible, how locked down, how deceitfully scripted and divorced from the real world in which most of us live are these presidential debates? Besides everything the candidates agree on, and who runs the so-called debate “commission”, all you need to know is that one of the marquee sponsors of the 2012 presidential debates, and the 2008 ones as well, is an industry front group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are deep in the pocket of “clean coal,” as they are in the pockets of Big Ag, Big Insurance, military contractors, Wall Street and other centers of real power.

One answer to the lack of real discussions presented us by the rigged “commission” on presidential debates will be Occupy The Debates, a project undertaken by Occupy activists in multiple cities, in which a live meeting will entertain live questions from a live audience. Occupy the Debates' first scheduled public meeting will be in Denver CO, the same evening as the first so-called “debate” between the two corporate candidates. Occupy the Debates will be streamed live on the internet that evening, and will include the participation of Black Agenda Report co-counder Glen Ford. Several occupy movements around the country are expected to follow suit and organize their own local events over the next few weeks. For more information on real debates on real issues, visit Occupy the Debates, either on FaceBook or at www.occupythedebates.org. That'swww.occupythedebates.org.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120925_bd_debates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

Georgia Brutalizes Inmates, Silences Families, Stonewalls Advocates, Justice Department Does Nothing So Far

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Nobody ever expected Barack Obama to be a savior or even a fighter for human and civil rights. Those, after all, are high standards. When it comes to protecting the rights of prisoners, the administration of the First Black President and First Black Attorney General barely if at all meet the much lower standard of showing up for work and answering their mail.

Twenty-one months ago Georgia prisoners reached across racial, religious and other dividing lines and staged a heroic strike. They remained peacefully in their cells, demanding education and recreational opportunities, timely parole and transparent disciplinary procedures, decent food and medical attention and wages for work. To this day, the state of Georgia continues to wage a campaign of brutal retaliation against inmates and their families.

Over these many months, prison authorities have routinely blocked mail and phone access, and denied medical care and showers and other essentials for weeks at a time to inmates it accuses of leading the December 2012 strike. Most of them still remain confined to solitary cells in the SMU unit of the same massive prison complex where Georgia murdered Troy Davis just over a year ago.

In recent weeks no fewer than ten federal lawsuits have been filed by brutalized prisoners, and two more by their advocates and family members outside. Though all the inmate suits are nearly the same, federal judges have allowed only one of them to proceed. They all allege that the state has violated its own procedures both by failing to state its reasons for putting prisoners in solitary confinement, and then refusing to review their status every thirty days.

One of the outside lawsuits is filed by Delma Jackson, the wife of Miguel Jackson alleging that her visits, letters and phone calls have been blocked by state authorities purely and simply because she spoke out publicly on behalf of her husband and others behind the walls. The other outside lawsuit against Georgia's Department of Corrections was filed by Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of TOPS, The Ordinary Peoples Society, accuses lawless state authorities of refusing, over a period of several months worth of inquiries, to provide documentation of exactly what their disciplinary and review procedures are.

Local activists, and attorneys representing the prisoners have asked the Obama administration's Justice Department to look into the many violations of civil and human rights bubbling on the surface of Georgia's campaign to brutalize prisoners in its care, silence their families and stonewall their advocates.

The Justice Department has responded to us,” Pastor Glasgow told Black Agenda Report, “but without saying they intend to do anything specific about our allegations. We're still waiting,” the pastor said, 1 “and although hope is not a plan, we do remain hopeful.”

In early September representatives of more than a dozen local organizations, ranging from Georgia WAND to Project South to the Green Party, activists from Occupy and formations of ex-offenders met at the Georgia state capitol to renew their resolve in fighting for the locked down and locked away. They'll be back at the state capitol this October 6 at 10 AM. If you're in Atlanta that day, that's the place to be. If you're not and want to help, contact the hopeful folks fighting for the human rights of Georgia prisoners at 334-671-2882. That's 334-671-2882.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com, or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20120919_bd_ga_prisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41am EDT

Obama Wins A Round in His Quest to Imprison Americans Without Trial

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The lawyer for the American plaintiffs thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.”

It is not true that Barack Obama single-handedly destroyed the rule of law in the United States. The savaging of the Bill of Rights was, in effect, a tag team effort between Obama and his predecessor, George Bush, two presidents united in a single-minded quest to remove all barriers to the imprisonment, without trail or charge, of persons anywhere in the world, including U.S. citizens. George Bush did the initial groundwork, interpreting the 2001 congressional mandate to strike militarily against al-Qaida as giving the president the power to hold foreign prisoners without charge in Guantanamo, and, in theory, to treat American citizens the same way. But that was a stretch, and only a presidential opinion.

George Bush knew that it would be very difficult to get a preventive detention bill through Congress; Democrats would raise holy hell, and protesters would call for his head. But Barack Obama accomplished what Bush could not: On New Year’s Eve, Obama signed a preventive detention law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders. Obama had already declared the rest of the planet a killing ground.

Then, back in August, a federal district judge in New York, Katherine Forrest, slapped a temporary restraining order on preventive detention, ruling on behalf of a group of activists and journalists who said the they could be thrown in prison permanently simply for speaking or writing about groups targeted by the United States. What, precisely and under the law, constituted providing “support” for al-Qaida or related groups? Obama’s Justice Department lawyers refused to say, claiming they had not thought the question through. Clearly, President Obama, like President Bush, wanted leeway to interpret the law any way he sees fit, so he can lock up whoever he wants, whenever he wants, for whatever reason, or for no stated reason at all. But Judge Forrest wasn’t having it. On September 12, she made her injunction permanent, ruling that Obama’s preventive detention law was unconstitutional.

Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders.”

For less than a week, the Bill of Rights returned to U.S. soil. But, this past Monday, a federal appeals court judge put the Constitution back on hold, removing Judge Forrest’s injunction on preventive detention. The entire three-judge appeals court will begin hearing the case on September 28. Obama’s lawyers say the government needs to be allowed to detain certain prisoners without charge or trial in Afghanistan. But Bruce Afran, the lawyer for the American plaintiffs in the case, thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.

That’s the evil beauty of these Bush-Obama laws: they cut across international borders and render all the people’s of the world equal in one important respect: President Obama claims the right to kill each and every one of them, or lock them up forever, on his own say so. In that sense, Obama recognizes no legal difference between U.S. anti-war protestors and anonymous targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia. All of our lives and freedom are subject to the whims of an American president.

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

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

Direct download: 20120919_gf_NDAA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If the Arab and Muslim “street” came to power, the United States would be run out of that whole section of the planet – and Washington knows it.”

The United States and its allies have set the stage for the Mother of All Blowbacks: a long period of convulsions in the Muslim and Arab world that will ultimately lead to America’s expulsion from much of the region. The reason it is so easy to read the handwriting on the wall, is that we have been watching the scenario unfold for three decades, ever since the last years of the Jimmy Carter administration, when the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions to create a worldwide Muslim jihadi army and unleashed it on the Soviets and their allies in Afghanistan, plunging that country into endless war.

When these Muslim warriors turned on the United States – or, depending on your vantage point, when the United States turned on them – we experienced the first blowback. The American public, shocked and traumatized, gave first, a Republican, and then a Democratic president all the guns and money and extra-Constitutional powers they demanded to push back against the Muslims who had not long ago been U.S. allies. The war planners in Washington figured they could live with the way events had turned out. After all, al-Qaida and its Salafist brethren were in no position to challenge U.S. dominance in the world – not anyplace that really counted – and their mere existence provided the U.S. war machine with a purpose in life, an excuse to subvert and wage low-level war against those nations that refused to tow the U.S. line.

And then came the so-called Arab Spring, and with it the terrifying prospect that Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East might take control of their own destinies – and the oil and natural gas that goes with it. Democracy means death to U.S. imperialism. Pew Research pollsters report that, on average, only 15 percent of Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis and Turks have a favorable view of the United States. That’s down from 25 percent in 2009, when Barack Obama came into office. If the Arab and Muslim “street” came to power, the United States would be run out of that whole section of the planet – and Washington knows it.

On average, only 15 percent of Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis and Turks have a favorable view of the United States.”

When Tunisia and Egypt erupted, the U.S. and Europe played the only cards they had: they brought in massive air power and called out the jihadi dogs of war in an unprovoked attack on Libya. Almost simultaneously, the Euro-Americans and the royal criminals of the Persian Gulf armed and financed a jihadi assault against Syria, as Washington and Israel stepped up their low-level war against Iran.

As Temple University’s professor Tony Monteiro has pointed out, the whole rationale for the U.S. war on terror is a lie – the facts turned backwards. Washington claims it is engaged in a long, twilight war against non-state actors, terrorists, who seek to subvert and overthrow existing governments. In reality, it is the Americans who deploy non-state, jihadi actors to overthrow governments that Washington doesn’t like. However, in doing so, the West has once again empowered fundamentalist forces that will inevitably turn against Washington, the Greatest Infidel of all. Last week’s protests are only a small foretaste of what is to come: a blowback of such intensity that the foundations of Empire will crack, and crumble. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20120919_gf_Jihadis.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 8:47am EDT

It's a tradition. A weekend in September when dozens of major corporations sponsor public and private receptions, entertainment events, self-interested marketing, self-promoting seminars, and one “legendary” party --- I'm not exaggerating there, “legendary” is the title of this year's party --- all under the flag of the Congressional Black Caucus, through its Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, CBCF.

There was a time when the CBC used to call itself the conscience of the Congress. That however, was back in the days when black America still formed the reliable left anchor of US politics. Black constituencies were then and still are the most antiwar, the most interested in raising wages, in upholding the right to unionize and strike, the right full funding of decent housing, transit and quality education. But back then, corporations mostly kept their money out of elections and advocacy organizations in black and brown constituencies. So Latinos and blacks communities were able to elect officials on every level who actually stood on these principles. But since 2002, a tsunami of corporate dollars have bankrolled the careers of a new generation of black politicians, turned the heads and outlooks of some of the old ones, and now make up the main funding source for nongovernmental organizations from the NAACP to the National Action Network, the Urban League, and many, many more. Hence currently fashionable notions of corporate-friendly black leadership have little in common with that old “the conscience of the Congress” stuff.

We might be relatively poorer than any time in a generation, more unemployed than any time in two generations, and more incarcerated than anybody ever in history. But fighting austerity, cutbacks and privatizations are, for the black political class, off the table, especially with a black Democrat in the White House.

So most of the CBC Legislative Policy Conference's policy workshops, its networking sessions and its so-called “braintrusts” are the showcases, the mouthpieces and other orifices of the corporations on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's advisory board. Individual caucus members are “honorary” co-chairs of each workshop, but sessions are generally delivered by entertainers, corporate execs, their lobbyists, their public relations stooges, and their astroturf organizations.

With vampire capitalists Goldman Sachs on the CBCF board, there are “braintrusts” in how to demand a moratoriums on foreclosures, or how to organize and promote resistance to evictions or gentrification or privatization. With military contractors like Lockheed on the board, giving voice to overwhelming black opinion that the wars should be ended is also out of bounds. If past conferences are any guide, you can however find multiple workshops and networking sessions to help you become a minority contractor with the Pentagon or Homeland Security. The Obama administration's privatizing Race To The Top is leading the assault on public education, so the single workshop given by the teachers union doesn't directly oppose those policies AND is balanced by multiple sessions of corporate charter-school propaganda.

With Fighting the Power off the table, what's left to do at CBC weekend but to Party Hearty? What else but to commemorate past victories, to celebrate past achievements and present prominence, to see and be seen. No doubt this year's black party at the Howard will indeed be “legendary.” That is what our self-interested, self-promoting, self-congratulating black political class is all about, and that's what they'll be known for, their permanent victory party, boasting, roasting, toasting and coasting.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120912_bd_boasting_roasting_toasting_coasting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm EDT

Why Is Barack Obama Holding Back Hundreds of Billions In Housing Aid?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama administration refused to spend hundreds of billions allocated by Congress for housing relief, until the program expired in 2010.”

Protesters associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement charge the housing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with refusing to lower the mortgage principles on 15 million homeowners who are underwater, their houses worth less than what they owe. The problem, say these activists, is Edward Demarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The protesters, including Occupy Our Homes and Right to the City, have been careful to frame Demarco as the problem; they’ve been calling for his head for many months. But Demarco is just a cog in a very big wheel, a career civil servant who is faithfully carrying out his president’s housing policies. Demarco deserves to be demonized, but President Obama is the real villain, here.

Although he oversaw the biggest bank bailout in U.S. history, Barack Obama has long rejected any bailout of homeowners. Before the financial meltdown, back in early 2008, candidate Obama opposed any form of moratorium on home foreclosures, putting him to the right of candidate John Edwards, who wanted a mandatory halt to foreclosures, and Hillary Clinton, who favored a voluntary moratorium. In the first two years of his presidency, it was Obama, not the minority Republicans, who stood in the way of a bailout of homeowners, even as his administration and the Federal Reserve funneled trillions of dollars to Wall Street. As reported in the New York Times, last month, the Obama administration refused to spend hundreds of billions allocated by Congress for housing relief, until the program expired in 2010. The money was just sitting there, unspent – no Republicans were blocking it – while five million families lost their homes.

Demarco deserves to be demonized, but President Obama is the real villain, here.”

According to the Times story, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Obama that he would not spend money on housing even if another $100 billion was available. Geithner and Obama flaunted the specific will of Congress, refusing to come to the aid of those populations and regions most affected by the housing collapse. Almost $6.7 billion dollars set aside for the Hardest Hit Program sat idle in Treasury Department accounts for two years, because Geithner managed to spend only three percent of the money.

This was no accident or oversight, but deliberate and consistent Obama administration policy to leave the housing crisis for the banks to deal with in ways they saw fit. Federal intervention might upset the banks’ careful calibrations of how many families to dispossess, how many houses to put back on the market – and when – in order to keep the banks’ books looking healthy. It was never in the cards that the Obama team would support widespread reductions in mortgage principles. Their job, as they saw it, was to protect the bankers’ bottom lines, and to hell with the millions of Americans – disproportionately Black and brown – who got thrown into the street.

Yet, many activists, waving the Occupy Wall Street banner, insist that a bureaucrat named Edward Demarco is the devil behind all of this suffering. Even in protest, they can’t bring themselves to tell the whole truth – the truth that the people most need to know: that President Obama has callously allowed millions to be made homeless in his steadfast service to Wall Street.

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

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

Direct download: 20120912_gf_Housing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27am EDT

Two-Thirds of Planet Backs Iran Against “West”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Who, then, is isolated in the world – Iran, or the U.S. and Europe?”

The United States and its European allies – the old imperialists and the new – tell their countries’ populations that Iran is isolated in the world, and will have to get rid of its nuclear energy infrastructure in order to be allowed back into what they call “the community of nations.” Among the power groupies that call themselves journalists in the West, Iran is routinely referred to as a “pariah” nation, lurking at the very edge of civilization and sanity. The United States, by this reasoning, is showing great wisdom and forbearance, for not having already unleashed its carrier task forces, Marine divisions, Special Forces commandos, and swarms of drones on the crazed Iranians. Instead, the U.S., in it infinite goodness, enforces a strangling economic and oil embargo, to make the Iranian nation scream.

The Iranians are lucky, Americans and Europeans are told, that the U.S. holds back its friends in Israel, who are eager to give the ayatollah’s in Tehran a lesson in how to behave. But, whatever happens at the end of this game to force Iran to give up its lawful right to own and operate the full industrial cycle of nuclear power, western audiences are assured that the “international community” will approve. After all, Iran is a global outcast. CNN and the New York Times tell us so every day.

Someone is committing a crime, and its not Iran.”

Last week, the 120 nations of the Nonaligned Movement voted unanimously and without qualification in support of Iran’s right to produce nuclear energy, and to enrich their own uranium in the process. The Nonaligned Movement makes up about two-thirds of all the nations of the world. As a solid block of humanity, they rejected the dictates of Washington and London and Paris – the imperial powers that for centuries enslaved most of the planet – endorsing the fundamental principle that Iran has the same sovereign rights as any other nation.

Who, then, is isolated in the world – Iran, whose position is backed by two-thirds of the world’s countries, or the U.S. and Europe?

Clearly, the Americans and Europeans still believe that the only world opinion that counts, is the white world. The arrogance of the colonizer and imperialist is infinite, but their power is not – not any longer. The Nonaligned Movement vote is a global referendum, not on Iran’s lawful pursuit of its internal development policies, but on U.S. imperial bullying and criminality. Because, if Iran is within its rights, then the U.S. and the European Union are in the wrong in waging economic war, and threatening military assault, against Iran. Someone is committing a crime, and its not Iran. Two-thirds of the world says so.

The vote is all the more remarkable because the Americans and Europeans, and even the Israelis, exercise great influence over the affairs of much of what used to be called the Third World. Yet still, the former colonies and subjugated nations of the Nonaligned Movement voted unanimously, and on principle, rather than kowtow to power.

There is a lesson here. The Empire remains militarily strong and capable of great crimes. But it has lost much of its powers of coercion – without which, Empire must ultimately cease to exist. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20120905_gf_IranVote.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EDT

Obama Has Been Speechless on Minimum Wage

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The lowest wage sector now accounts for almost 60 percent of job growth.”

The impoverishment of politics in the Age of Obama has been nothing short of amazing. This president has so suppressed every vestigial remnant of progressivism in the political discourse, that the most fundamental bread and butter issues have become taboo. I’m talking about raising the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2007, the year before the bottom fell out of the economy.

A new study shows that the Great Recession was most destructive of decent-paying jobs, the middle tier where working people earned between about $14 and $21 an hour. That’s where sixty percent of job losses occurred between 2008 and 2010, and most of those jobs have not come back. Instead, the greatest increase in jobs has come in the low-wage sector, with a median pay from $7.69 – just above the federal minimum – to $13.83 an hour. The lowest wage sector now accounts for almost 60 percent of job growth, with traditionally bad-paying jobs in food preparation and retail sales leading the way.

High unemployment, on top of the disappearance of living wage jobs. You would think that in an election year, the party that is most identified with working people and folks that need to find work would be screaming at the top of their lungs: Raise the minimum wage! But, you will hear little or nothing of that from the Democratic convention festivities in Charlotte.

Poll numbers show huge public support for an increase, including among lots of Republicans.”

It’s not that the delegates are unaware of the crying need for a higher minimum wage. The Democratic platform – for what its worth – declares that “we will raise the minimum wage, and index it to inflation.” However, it doesn’t say how much, or when. And that’s in deference to the party’s standard bearer, who has not said anything meaningful about the minimum wage since he was campaigning for president in 2008. Back then, Obama promised to work to raise the minimum to $9.50 by 2011. Then he got elected, and we heard nothing more about it.

When the president is mum on an issue, then the party faithful put themselves on mute. There are bills in the House and the Senate to raise the minimum wage – the best one is sponsored by Chicago CongressmanJesse Jackson, Jr., calling for an immediate $10 an hour minimum, tied to inflation. But, there’s no chance of these bills going anywhere without the cooperation of Democratic leadership. Ralph Nader and others have beseeched party leaders to break the silence, but they don’t dare raise the issue for fear of embarrassing their President.

Apologists for Obama will claim that pushing for a $10 minimum wage indexed to inflation – or any significant raise – would hurt his chances for re-election. But the poll numbers show differently, with huge public support for an increase, including among lots of Republicans. Even Mitt Romney says he supports linking the minimum wage to inflation – just not right now. Obama has effectively been saying “no, not now” to underpaid workers for almost four years. So, why in the hell is labor getting ready to spend tens of million of dollars to re-elected him, instead of building a movement that will force politicians to do the right thing? For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20120905_gf_MinWage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

Many Years Too Late, the Black Caucus Turns on Artur Davis

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The 14 Black Caucus members are incensed that Davis has turned officially Republican after having called Barack Obama his ‘model’ and ‘friend.’”

One-third of the Black representatives on Capitol Hill are pretending to be outraged that one of their former colleagues, Artur Davis, secured a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, in Tampa. In a letter sent out, and probably composed, by the Democratic National Committee, the 14 congresspersons cite Davis’ “complete flip flop” on “core principles” that he supposedly once held, turning his back on his own “progressive record” as a member of the House from 2003 to 2011.

The fact is, Artur Davis was always among the worst, most right-wing members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Along with Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis, and David Scott, of Atlanta, Davis consistently scored at the bottom of the CBC Monitor’s periodic Report Card. He was a Blue Dog Democrat, like Harold Ford, a magnet for bankers’ money, like David Scott, and a champion of corporate America – like Gregory Meeks, the New York congressman who signed this week’s letter denouncing Davis.

Like Georgia’s David Scott, Davis came to Congress with the class of 2002, the year the first tidal wave of corporate money flooded selected Black districts, defeating Cynthia McKinney, in Atlanta, and almost electing Cory Booker in his first run for mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Davis won by vastly outspending progressive congressman Earl Hilliard, but still managed to lose the majority of the African American vote in his Black Belt Alabama district.

He was a Blue Dog Democrat, like Harold Ford.”

In 2010, Davis lost his primary bid for the governorship because he, essentially, told Black Democrats – who make up the core of the party in Alabama – to kiss his butt.

The 14 Black Caucus members are incensed that Davis has turned officially Republican after having called Barack Obama his “model” and “friend.” But, they were political friends. Davis was picked by Obama’s alter ego and future White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as co-chair of the southern region of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in 2005. He was put there to recruit and finance other right-wing Black politicians like himself, and to silence Black southern progressive voices in the party. That’s what the Rahm Emanuel-Barack Obama wing of the party wanted – so, yes, Davis was a friend.

And it paid off for him. Every corporate media story on Black politics grouped Davis among the new crop of “business-friendly” young Black Democratic up-and-comers like Harold Ford, Jr., Cory Booker and, of course, Barack Obama.

If Davis had played his cards right, he could have landed a prestigious appointment in Obama’s administration, or found a plush job with the Democratic National Committee or a Wall Street firm, as did his soul mate, Harold Ford. But Davis thought he could run for Alabama governor as a Democrat while telling Blacks that he didn’t plan to do anything for them once he got in office. There’s only one Black man with those kinds of skills – and Artur Davis is no Barack Obama. However, politically, they’re from the same side of the barn. Obama wants to create a grand coalition with the GOP, while Davis has settled for a speaking date at their convention.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to Black Agenda Report.

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

Direct download: 20120829_gf_CBCArturDavis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S. is the Worst Police State in the World – By the Numbers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The American People of Color Gulag is as large as the entire prison population of China, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people.”

When U.S. corporate media operatives use the term “police state,” they invariably mean some other country. Even the so-called “liberal” media, from Democracy Now to the MSNBC menagerie, cannot bring themselves to say “police state” and the “United States” without putting the qualifying words “like” or “becoming” in the middle. The U.S. is behaving “like” a police state, they say, or the U.S. is in danger of “becoming” a police state. But it is never a police state. Since these privileged speakers and writers are not themselves in prison – because what they write and say represents no actual danger to the state – they conclude that a U.S. police state does not, at this time, exist.

Considering the sheer size and social penetration of its police and imprisonment apparatus, the United States is not only a police state, but the biggest police state in the world, by far: the police state against whose dimensions all other police systems on Earth must be measured.

By now, even the most insulated, xenophobic resident of the Nebraska farm belt knows that the U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world. He might not know that 25 percent of prison inmates in the world are locked up in the U.S., or that African Americans comprise one out of every eight of the planet’s prisoners. But, that Nebraska farmer is probably aware that America is number one in the prisons business. He probably approves. God bless the police state.

For the American media, including lots of media that claim to be of the Left, it is axiomatic that China is a police state. And maybe, by some standards, it is. But, according to United Nations figures, China is 87th in the world in the proportion of its people who are imprisoned. China is a billion people bigger than the United States – more than four times the population – yet U.S. prisons house in excess of 600,000 more people than China does. The Chinese prison population is just 70 percent of the American Gulag. That’s quite interesting because, non-whites make up about 70 percent of U.S. prisons. That means, the Black, brown, yellow and red populations of U.S. prisons number roughly the same as all of China’s incarcerated persons. Let me emphasize that: The American People of Color Gulag is as large as the entire prison population of China, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people.

Solitary confinement beyond 15 days at a stretch crosses the line of torture.”

However, police states must be measured by conditions behind the bars, as well as raw numbers of inmates. And, by that standard, the American Gulag is even more monstrous.

Civilized people now recognize that solitary confinement is a form of torture. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, reports that solitary confinement beyond 15 days at a stretch crosses the line of torture, yet, as Al Jazeera recently reported, it is typical for hundred of thousands of U.S. prisoners to spend 30 or 60 days in solitary at a stretch. Twenty thousand are held in perpetual isolation in so-called supermax prisons – that is, they exist in a perpetual state of torture. Studies now show that, all told, 80,000 U.S. prisoners are locked up in solitary on any given day. That’s as many tortured people as the entire prison system of Germany, or of England, Scotland and Wales, combined.

If that is not a police state, then no such thing exists on planet Earth.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to Black Agenda Report.

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

Direct download: 20120829_gf_PoliceState.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53am EDT

Why We Don't Spend As Much Time Denouncing Republicans As We Do Democrats

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

We know who and what the Republican party is. Back in the mid 1960s, when Democratic president Lyndon Johnson, under relentless pressure from the Freedom Movement embraced enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in the South, Republicans opened their doors wide to welcome the exodus of white supremacist voters and politicians who'd been Democrats until that time. The modern Republican party re-made itself into the permanent white man's party not just in the South, but across the country, the party whose brands are rancid racism, pretentious piety, monstrous misogyny and shameless  warmongering.

 

When you match Republican brands against those of Democrats, who claim to stand for tolerance on racial and sexual fronts, who cloak their imperial wars in the garb of “humanitarian interventions,” but who agree with Republicans that wealthy corporations do have the right to rule over us, that presidents possess the right to imprison, torture or kill us at a whim, the difference isn't black and white, but it's clear enough. The Republican brand is odious and deeply scary, easily more frightening than that of Democrats.

In today's political ecology, the job of Republicans is to provide political camouflage to right wing Democrats like the last two Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama, by moving still further rightward, even past the boundaries of lunacy. When Bill Clinton was busy passing NAFTA and ending welfare as we knew it, both measures tried and failed at by Bush 1, Newt Gingrich provided covering babble about taking poor children from their homes. While Barack Obama offered to put Medicare and social security for the deficit cutting and enacted a so-called “Affordable Care Act” first passed by Massachusetts  Governor Mitt Romney in 2004, Republicans threaten the piecemeal repeal of Rove V. Wade and cuts to unemployment compensation.

 

On the one hand, 120% evil Republicans offer the only justification for our support of 100% evil Democrats. And with the dissolution of what used to be the black consensus for equality, civil liberties, full funding for public education, and opposing war spending and corporate privilege, Obama-era Democrats continue to flee rightward toward war, privatization and austerity.

This deformed puzzle is not the political logic of free and responsible people. It's the cramped and twisted reasoning of someone trapped in a box urgently trying to convince himself that it's not really a box, that pragmatic acceptance of the box as the whole of the great and free universe is really all that can be hoped, struggled and strived for. It's not. Only a beaten, cowed and enslaved people can imagine their forbears sacrificed and struggled for them to choose among greater and lesser, but both still monstrous evils.

We at Black Agenda Report spend more time denouncing Democrats because they act like and enable Republicans. We don't spend as much time denouncing the party of white supremacy because Republicans rarely bother to pretend to be anything else. African Americans haven't voted Republican in 50 years. But we're more unemployed than we've been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we've ever been.

That's what choosing “lesser evils” has earned us. It's time to chuck the fake choice between evil Republicans and slightly less evil Democrats. It's time not just to think, but to climb outside the two-party, lesser-evil box, to breathe the free air and get ready for something new.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20120822_bd_lesser_evilism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama’s game is to move inexorably into Republican territory, putting his own brand on austerity, militarism and the growing police state.”

The Republican presidential primaries drew on the metaphor of the Etch A Sketch, that 1960s children’s plaything that allowed kids to instantaneously erase what had been drawn or written on a page. American presidential elections, stage-managed by money and refereed by the corporate media, produce a kind of Etch A Sketch effect: in an instant, history is erased, and the sheet is wiped clean for the candidates to write on.

Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats under her leadership have a lot of Etch A Sketching to do, to keep pace with the steady rightward movement of their party and their president. They are immeasurably assisted in these maneuvers by the Republican troglodytes, especially vice presidential pick Paul Ryan, whose damn-the-government-to-hell budget makes President Obama appear like a friend of working people. It provides a perfect camouflage for Democrats to adopt positions they had only yesterday rejected as unthinkably rightwing. This, of course, has always been President Obama’s game: to move inexorably into Republican territory, putting his own brand on austerity, militarism and the growing police state, until the Republicans have nowhere to go but off the cliff, like Wiley Coyote.

Nancy Pelosi, who in a long ago time was co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, and who opposed the recommendations of President Obama’s Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission as “simply unthinkable” two years ago, now says she supports it.

Simpson Bowles was really Obama’s vision all the time.”

The evolution of her thinking is quite simple. With the Paul Ryan budget now indelibly stamped onto the Mitt Romney campaign, the way is clear for the Democrats to move another step to the right and embrace Simpson-Bowles $4 trillion in spending cuts that will eviscerate what’s left of the social safety net. Which is what President Obama offered the Republicans, last summer. The Republicans didn’t take Obama’s offer, because it included modest tax increases and cuts to the military.

The current speculation – and I think it’s correct – is that Obama will again offer the deal to the GOP right after the election. And, why not? Simpson Bowles was really Obama’s vision all the time: the austerity plan he had in mind when he announced, two weeks before taking the oath of office, in 2009, that Social Security and all other entitlements would be on the chopping block. Back then, the Republicans were in no shape to do any pushing, having just suffered a whopping electoral defeat.

It was Obama who put austerity on the Democratic agenda. He has always been determined to forge a Grand Alliance with the GOP. The trick has been to make his war against the poor appear to be a “compromise” necessitated by Republican meanness and intransigence. Nancy Pelosi and the rest of Democratic leadership act as magician’s helpers in this performance, edging ever further to the right side of the stage. At the end of the show, the audience thinks they’ve witnessed some kind of victory for the little guy. The President will once again pull Simpson-Bowles out of his hat. The flim-flam man does it again!

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

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

Direct download: 20120822_gf_Pelosi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

They are ‘anarchists,’ say these two allies of the South African state, and guilty of fomenting ‘dual unionism’ – which is now, apparently, a capital crime.”

When thousands of miners went on strike at South Africa’s largest platinum mine, in Marikana, they were confronting not only the London-based owners, but the South African state, which since 1994 has been dominated by the African National Congress (ANC); COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions; and the South African Communist Party. This week, the full weight of the state was brought down on the Black miners, 34 of whom were massacred by police gunfire. Many of the survivors face charges of murder in the earlier deaths of two policemen and eight other miners.

The National Union of Mineworkers, whose representation the strikers rejected, and the Communist Party head in the region claim the strikers are at fault, that they have committed the sin of choosing an alternative union to argue their case for higher wages and, therefore, deserve severe punishment. They are “anarchists,” say these two allies of the South African state, and guilty of fomenting “dual unionism” – which is now, apparently, a capital crime. With a straight face, the Communist Party had the gall to call on all South African workers to “remain united in the fight against exploitation under capitalism.”

That is precisely what the Marikana miners were doing – the struggle they gave their lives for. However, since the peaceful transition to state power to the ANC and its very junior partners, the COSATU unions and the Communist Party, in 1994, the South African state has had different priorities. The “revolution” was put on indefinite hold, so that a new Black capitalist class could be created, largely from the ranks of well-connected members of the ruling party and even union leaders. It is only logical that, if the priority of the state is to nurture Black capitalists, then it must maintain and defend capitalism. This is the central contradiction of the South African arrangement, and the massacre at Marikana is its inevitable result.

The central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.”

The 1994 agreement between Nelson Mandela’s ANC and the white South African regime was a pact with the devil, which could only be tolerated by the masses of the country’s poor because it was seen as averting a bloodbath, and because it was assumed to be temporary. But, 18 years later, the arrangement has calcified into a bizarre protectorate for foreign white capital and the small class of Blacks that have attached themselves to the global rich. Apologists for the African National Congress regime will prattle on about the “complexity” of the issue, but the central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.

The fundamental contradictions of the rule of the many by the few, remain in place – only now, another layer of repression has been added: a Black aristocracy that has soaked itself in the blood of the miners of Marikana.

South Africa remains the continent's best hope for a fundamental break with colonialism in its new forms. But, as in all anti-colonial struggles, the biggest casualties will occur in the clash between those who truly desire liberation, and those who are intent on an accommodation with the old master.

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

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

Direct download: 20120822_gf_SAfricaMassacre.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT

Black Is Back Coalition Examines the Question of Elections

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Why is it that so many Black people have come to believe that elections are the only political game in town?”

Elections – what are they good for? Well, for a people who were deprived of all human rights for most of their almost four centuries on this continent, full participation in American elections might have seemed like Promised Land. Of course, by the mid-1960s, Blacks in some northern states had been voting continuously for a century and a half. But they held only five seats in the U.S. Congress, and had elected no big city mayors. Only about 70 Blacks occupied elected office of any kind in the South in the mid-60s, when the Voting Rights Act was passed.

The first African American elected mayor of a sizeable city was Robert C. Henry, of Springfield, Ohio, a town of about 80,000 not far from Dayton. But Springfield was mostly white, so Mayor Henry’s rise to City Hall was not a product of the Black community’s political power. The era of Black big city governance is usually dated to January, 1968, when Carl Stokes became mayor of Cleveland. The demographic changes that had been wrought by the Great Black Migration and white flight found electoral expression in the Seventies, when the words Black and urban became almost synonymous. Suddenly, the Black metropolis was a central fact of American life. In quick succession, other major cities joined Cleveland as citadels of Black electoral power. (See “List of First African American Mayors.”)

Who decided 40 years ago that mass grassroots movements were passé?”

Forty years later, Washington DC, the quintessential Chocolate City, has lost its Black majority, Atlanta and Newark are headed in the same direction, and Black Harlem is shrinking like a raisin in the sun, as are the Black populations of New York City as a whole and most other African American population centers. Gentrification, which is the most visible expression of finance capital’s determination to reclaim the cities for those with money, and the deindustrialization of America, have brought the beginning of the end of the era of the Black Metropolis.

Therefore, it is really quite late in the game to conduct an analysis of what Black people did during those decades when they wielded overwhelming electoral power in the big cities, since that historical window is now closing. Nevertheless, the period must be honestly evaluated, because it provides real answers to the real problems that Black people confronted in the quest for self-determination. What did African Americans do correctly during this period of African American power at the polls in urban America, and where did we go wrong?

This weekend, August 18 and 19, in Newark, New Jersey, the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will dedicate much of its annual conference to the question of elections: who pays for them, who makes the rules, who dominates the conversation – and, most importantly, why is it that so many Black people have come to believe that elections are the only political game in town? Who was it, representing what social strata in Black America, that decided 40 years ago that mass grassroots movements were passé, and that running for office in the Democratic Party was the road to genuine Black empowerment? And what good are Black politicians who are answerable to rich people outside of the Black community?

For information on the Black Is Back national conference in Newark, go to BlackIsBackCoalition.org.

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

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

Direct download: 20120815_gf_BlacksElections.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm EDT

The African American Achilles Heel

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama has proven even more effective than George Bush in his assault on public education and teachers unions.”

I recently had a telephone conversation with an African American woman functionary of one of the Blackest, and historically more progressive, unions in the country. I had never met the young woman. She'd seen a You-Tube of a talk I’d given on how private school vouchers and, later, charter school advocates were financed by corporate forces to drive a wedge between Blacks and teachers unions, two of the main pillars of the Democratic Party. The person I’d originally been conversing with had suddenly put the union official on the phone, and she thanked Black Agenda Report for its insights on the issue. I thanked her in return, and said that President Obama had proven even more effective than George Bush in his assault on public education and teachers unions – something she did not want to hear.

Was I supporting Romney, she asked? No, I support public education, I replied, and Barack Obama has been a more effective champion of privatization of schools during his three and a half years in office than the Republicans could ever have dreamed of.

The conversation turned cold as ice. There was nothing – nothing! – she said, that could shake her faith in this president. What about preventive detention, I asked? Didn’t it upset her that Obama had signed into law a bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, that gutted the Bill of Rights, allowing the arrest by the military of American citizens without trial or charge on the say-so of the president – Barack Obama or any president, Republican or Democrat, that succeeds him?

She cannot see the Devil – the corporate demon – when he appears in the perfect camouflage of a Black icon.”

She had never heard of the preventive detention law, she said, in a tone that clearly indicated she believed I was making the whole thing up. Quickly, she repeated that there was nothing that could alter her dedication to Obama’s reelection.

Of course, she did not know of Obama’s careful shepherding of preventive detention through Congress, last year – because she did not want to know. Like tens of millions of African Americans, she filters out any and all information that might shatter the illusion that Obama is all that stands between Black folks and the Devil, himself. She cannot see the Devil – the corporate demon – when he appears in the perfect camouflage of a Black icon. She is intelligent, and a union activist who understands the evil intentions of Republican school privatizers and union busters. But, when The First Black President builds on the same corporate game plan to put the full weight of the federal government behind massive school charterization and the de-professionalization of teachers, she is willfully blind, deaf and dumb.

Our Black female trade unionist is a descendant of a people who have, of historical necessity, been the staunchest defenders of civil liberties. Yet, for her and millions like her, the Black president and preventive detention cannot coexist; it simply does not compute. And so it goes for Obama’s expanding wars, especially in Africa, his wholesale shredding of international law, his servitude to the banks. Black consciousness, itself, succumbs to a fatal illusion. In Barack Obama, our enemies have found our Achilles Heel.

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

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

Direct download: 20120815_gf_AchillesHeel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

Where Will the U.S. Strike Next in Africa?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Eritrea’s real sin is to be one of the very few nations in Africa that do not have military relations with AFRICOM, the U.S. war machine.”

Under the direction of the United States, the UN Security Council recently extended sanctions for another year against the northeast African nation of Eritrea. The country of 6 million people, nestled against the Red Sea, is on America’s hit list. In the imperial double-speak of Washington, Eritrea is described as a “destabilizing” force in the region – which simply means the government in Asmara has refused to buckle under to U.S. military domination of the Horn of Africa.

Back in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened to “take action” – and, by that, she meant make war – against Eritrea if it did not stop supporting the Shabab resistance fighters in Somalia. There was no evidence that Eritrea was, in fact, arming the Shabab, and there is no evidence that Eritrea is doing so, now – as the UN Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia admits.

The monitors, who are, in effect, tools of U.S. policy, reported that they found “no evidence” of Eritrean aid to Somali fighters over the past year, and concluded that, if such assistance exists at all, it is “negligible.” Yet, the UN Security Council, under U.S. pressure, extended the sanctions, anyway. Washington claims that Eritrea’s alleged support for the Shabab has only halted because of the sanctions, and it’s, therefore, too early to lift them – which amounts to punishing Eritrea for having the wrong intentions, whether it acts on them or not.

In the imperial double-speak of Washington, Eritrea is described as a ‘destabilizing’ force in the region.”

It is, of course, not little Eritrea that is destabilizing the Horn of Africa, but the United States, which has made the region a front line in its so-called War on Terror. Washington's closest ally in the neighborhood is Ethiopia, from which Eritrea won its independence in 1993, after a 30-year war. The U.S. instigated, armed, financed and gave logistical support to Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, in 2006, plunging that country into what United Nations observers called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” Under American direction, Kenya also invaded Somalia, in the midst of a great famine, last year. The U.S. bankrolls, arms and trainsthe nominally African Union force that occupies Somalia’s capital, and has turned neighboring Djibouti into the main base for the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM.

And there sits Eritrea, surrounded by warring American puppets, interfering in no one’s affairs, yet determined to defend her sovereignty – accused by the world biggest and most aggressive power of destabilizing the region.

Eritrea’s real sin is to be one of the very few nations in Africa that do not have military relations with AFRICOM, the U.S. war machine. That puts a bulls-eye on her back, along with Zimbabwe and Sudan, which U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice demanded be blockaded and bombed back in the George Bush administration. Barack Obama’s Africa policy is an extension and expansion of Bush’s aim to militarize the continent, and the much older U.S. policy to create chaos and horrific human suffering in those regions it cannot directly control. In practice, Obama’s doctrine is the same as Bush: “You are either with us or against us.”

Eritrea rejects that doctrine; that’s why it is a target. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20120808_gf_Eritrea.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

How Obama Helps the Banks Rig the Housing Market

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

They are attempting to stretch the crisis out over time to spare themselves from catastrophic lose.”

Mike Whitney, an economics writer that we at Black Agenda Report trust, wrote a piece recently that answers some questions about how the banks are dealing with the housing catastrophe that they created. Plus, the article provides some clues to why President Obama has so doggedly refused to intervene in the housing market to save more than a token proportion of homeowners from foreclosure.

Whitney wonders how home prices could be rising, as they are, at the same time that housing sales are dropping, which they are. On the face of it, the two phenomenon should not coexist. Falling sales means declining demand, which is supposed to result in lower prices. But average home prices in the 20 biggest cities are rising faster than at any time in the last ten years. And yet, we know that huge numbers of homeowners are technically in default, and many millions more are stuck with under-water mortgages that they’d like to walk away from.

What Mike Whitney concludes is happening, is that the banks, acting as a cartel, are manipulating the housing market to force prices higher, for the sake of their own bottom lines. They have slowed the foreclosure process – not out of concern for the families that live in the houses, but to avoid flooding the market with newly foreclosed homes, which would further undermine housing prices and devalue trillions of dollars in mortgages held by the banks. Whitney, and others, believe that if the actual value of those mortgages were known, most, if not all, the big banks would be declared insolvent. Therefore, the banks carefully calibrate the foreclosure process, to make sure not too many delinquent homes are put back on the market at one time. They are attempting to stretch the crisis out over time to spare themselves from catastrophic lose. This is not a kindness; it’s called rigging the market, and requires a high level of orchestration among the top players. But that’s not so difficult, since all the big banks share the same interest in artificially inflated assets.

If the actual value of those mortgages were known, most, if not all, the big banks would be declared insolvent.”

The banks are not saving homeowners from ultimate foreclosure; they have resisted writing down mortgages as if that would violate all the laws of Heaven and earth. But rigging the markets so that the impossible occurs – that is, rising housing prices in a low-demand market – requires fine-tuning. To succeed, the banks must collaborate with one another to keep too many distressed houses from flooding the market. Government intervention in the housing market and schemes to lower the principle on large numbers of homeowners’ debts could upset the bankers’ careful calculations. And that’s why the bankers’ great friend in the White House, Barack Obama, has refused to intervene in housing in any meaningful way. As a candidate, he rejected any type of moratorium on foreclosures or mortgage rate increases, and has maintained that position as president. His administration refused to spend more than $6 billion in funds provided by Congress to help the hardest hit homeowners in the country, almost certainly because that kind of intervention might upset the bankers’ delicate calibrations on how many foreclosed homes to dribble into the market at any given time, in order to boost prices. By doing next to nothing on housing, Obama allowed the banks free reign to continue rigging the market. They owe him, big time.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at