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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We hear all the time about what geniuses the masters of capital, the lords of innovative technologies and global supply chains are. But are modern supply chains really that different from the transAtlantic slave trade, which brought genocide of Native American and African peoples and destruction of natural environments?

Ecocide & Genocide Are The Secret of Capitalist Efficiency

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We hear all the time about how the competitive genius of firms like Wal-Mart, Monsanto, GE and Apple Computer have mastered innovative technologies, and global supply chains to bring us all the objects we covet and consume. We understand they did all this by being braver, more far-sighted and just plain smarter than the rest of us, because that's what we've been told all our lives.

But thanks to intrepid journalists who have visited and reported on sites like the massive 400,000 employee Foxconn plant in South China, through which nearly all Apple's Dell's, and the product lines of many of their “competitors” pass, there are many reliable accounts describing how final assembly of all our cell phones, computers and computer subassemblies is done by workers, often children confined to barracks, exposed to toxic chemicals, worked to death and disability for near-starvation wages in 12 to 24 hour shifts, and discarded for newer serfs before they reach their late twenties. This innovative system is backed up by a Chinese state every bit as much the craven servant of capital as our own US government. And this is only one stage in the electronics industry's global supply chain.

It starts in Central Africa, in the Congo where most of the world's coltan, a naturally occurring compound used in every cell phone, circuit board, computer, car, aircraft, missile or electronic device, is mined. To ensure that a strong central Congolese government didn't block Western access to its vital resources, Western powers engineered the invasion of Congo by seven surrounding countries who turned it into a vast free-fire zone and killed 5 to 6 million in the last half of the 90s alone. The ore is shipped to China on freighters fueled by West African oil, where that industry has turned Nigeria's delta region into one of the most ecologically devastated areas on earth.

Capitalist efficiency then, is nothing more than the murderous offloading of real costs onto powerless oppresssed people and the natural environment.”

In China the coltan is refined and processed using coal fired electricity, with the coal coming from the rape of Australia's indigenous lands. Chinese manufacturing for US companies selling to the US market are an enormous contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide which is melting the polar icecaps and causing uncontrolled and catastrophic global climate change. The electronic subassemblies are put together in Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Maylasia under conditions so terrible even the Chinese government can't force them on its people. The subassemblies are shipped to China for final assembly and to the US on more oil-burning freighters. The electronics industry differs only in the particulars from global corporate agriculture, fisheries, auto, textile and many other industries.

Capitalist efficiency then, is nothing more than the murderous offloading of real costs onto powerless oppresssed people and the natural environment. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was a global supply chain as well. The genius-grade innovations of Steve Jobs, the Waltons and the rest of the investor class are ecocide and genocide. They are parasitic vampires, a malignant disease feeding off humanity and the planet Earth. It's time we begun planning a cure, and how we will someday live our lives without these geniuses of capitalist efficiency.

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 lives in Marietta GA, where he serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120222_bd_myth_of_capitalist_efficiency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:35pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Educational policy in the Obama era isn't about education at all. It's about replacing skilled, experienced teachers with rootless temps better suited to serve in the privatized holding tanks they wish to turn public schools in poor neighborhoods into, for a population on its way to low wage jobs and prisons.

Black Teachers Fired En Masse

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Blacks currently make up only 29 percent of Chicago’s teachers, but they comprised 43 percent of those recently fired...”

If you have any doubt that President Obama and his cronies are at the forefront of public school privatization and the decimation of Black teachers, just take a look at Chicago. That’s where Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, wreaked havoc as schools chief until the new president appointed him secretary of education, and where Obama’s former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, now reins as mayor with overall control of the public schools. Arne Duncan fired 1,300 Chicago teachers during his eight years at the helm, the large majority of them Black women, replaced by mostly white, younger teachers at about half the cost. The teachers union sued, charging racial discrimination – a case that is still before the courts. Now, with a thousand more teachers fired last year under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the union has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, once again charging racial discrimination. Blacks currently make up only 29 percent of Chicago’s teachers, but they comprised 43 percent of those recently fired. Whites represent almost half the teaching force, but only 36 percent of the layoffs. The union’s lawyer calls it a “systematic effort to rid the Chicago Public Schools of tenured teachers who are African-American.”

Community groups have joined the teachers in asking the courts to ha the closing of 17 supposedly “underperforming” schools, many of them on the city’s South Side. In Chicago, such closings wipe out the schools’ entire work force, right down to the janitors – whose performance, of course, has nothing to do with standardized test scores. But wholesale staff massacres clear the way for charter schools operated by private teaching corporations. The Academy for Urban School Leadership, a national charter school founded by a venture capitalist, once employed the current CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. The new crop of young, white teachers are largely graduates of programs funded by a Who’s Who of rightwing foundations and corporations – the people educator Diane Ravitch calls the “billionaire boys club.”

Their goal is not just to break the teachers unions, but to de-professionalize education and to sunder all ties between teachers and the communities they serve. ”

President Obama has advanced the corporate project to privatize public education with lightning speed, inflicting far more damage in far less time than George Bush ever could – because George Bush is not a Black Democrat. Bush’s men called the teacher’s unions “terrorists” and other bad names, but Barack Obama has been a much more effective servant of the privatizers. Their goal is not just to break the teachers unions, but to de-professionalize education and to sunder all ties between teachers and the communities they serve. Thats why Black teachers have been targeted for mass firing in Chicago and all across the country. They tend to have tenure and to be staunch supporters of their unions, and they live in the communities where they work, as neighbors, parents and leaders. When Barack Obama and Arnie Duncan and Rahm Emanuel target Black teachers for mass elimination, they deliver a savage blow to African American community cohesion. Privatization of public schools is a central part of the disempowerment of Black America. 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: 20120222_gf_ChicagoSchools.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

The most successful organizations for economic self-help of the last hundred fifty years have been labor unions, and in the US, African Americans have been more likely to form and join unions than any other group. So when President Obama imposed new restrictions on organizing unions, and make it easier for companies to dismiss and disregard union contracts he struck a blow first and hardest against black collective action for economic security.

Barack Obama Deals Crippling Blow to Unions, Black Economic Self-Help

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Black people love to talk about economic self-help, about what old Elijah Muhammad used to call “doing for self.” What we don't look at most of the time, is what collective economic self-help actually looks like in the real world. Mostly, it does not look like individual entrepreneurship, everybody starting their own small business.

In the real world, a great portion of the things we use and consume every day from the electric power, transport and communications grids, along with the appliances, vehicles and devices used thereon are produced, delivered and utilized by and through organizations with many hundreds or many thousands of employees. Think about the cable, mass transit and highway systems, the internet and the health care industry. Think government. Think Wal-Mart and McDonalds and you'll be thinking about the places where millions of poor people work. Any black conversation about collective economic self-help that ignores the existing workforce in existing workplaces is a pretend conversation.

In the real world, the most successful collective economic self-help organizations of the last hundred and fifty years have been labor unions. single 3 day strike by the black led New York City transit workers in 2005 protected the homes, the medical care, retirement security, college educations and living standards of more black families than the half-dozen wealthiest black Americans – that would be Oprah, Puffy, Bob Johnson, Tiger Woods, Bill Cosby and some real estate guy have employed or helped in their entire careers.

In the real world, working people, especially black and brown working people, are eager to help themselves, and the most potent way to do that has been to form and join unions. When offered the chance, black women are the most likely joiners, followed in order by black men, Latino women and men, and finally by white women and men. Why then, has US private sector union membership dipped to around 6% of the workforce? It's not because unions were outmoded or greedy or not in step with the times. It's because increasing corporate domination of US political life has resulted in laws and court decisions which have made most strikes illegal, collective bargaining extremely difficult, and organizing unions in the first place nearly impossible. It's long been illegal, for instance, to fire workers suspected of union activity, but the fines are so small and long delayed that employers routinely violate the law and pay the fines as an inconsequential cost of doing business.

This week President Obama betrayed the collective economic interest of black and working people by signing into law new restrictions on the formation of unions. From now on bosses in many sectors can file anti-union lawsuits and depose under oath workers who sign union cards. Employers can add unpaid ghosts and no-show workers to eligibility lists to prevent union drives from getting a majority of eligible signatures. The same law also makes it easier for corporations to dismiss union recognition and contracts by changing their ownership.

This was no compromise forced upon the president by unreasonable Republicans. This was the unprovoked and naked surrender of our rights to economic self-help, our rights to struggle for a living wage, for dignity and security for all our families by a Trojan Horse black president elected with black and union support, but governing on behalf of his real masters, the lords of capital.

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 lives and works in Marietta GA, where he's on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

Direct download: 20120222_bd_collective_economic_selfhelp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55am EDT

At the same time that the Grammy Awards hononred Etta James and Whitney Houston, it did away with most of their award categories, 31 in all. Most of the stricken awards were for Latin jazz and other Latin music, four R&B categories, zydeco, Hawaiian and Native American music. A large group of artists protested outside the award ceremony last weekend, and pledge to continue fighting for the restoration of recognition to to their music, to our music. When we surrender this power to greedy corporations, we are complicit in cultural genocide.

The Grammy Awards, Corporate Greed and Cultural Genocide

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

Most of the musical categories eliminated by the Grammies this year were Latin, black and nonwhite...”

For tens of thousands of years longer than humans have been reading and writing, since way, way before our ancestors began saving seeds and planting them, humans have made music. It's one of many things that make us human.

But so are racism, hypocrisy and in the current era, vampire capitalism. It's hard to see anything but hypocritical racism and greed in the decision of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences – the body that gives out the Grammys --- in their elimination of more than thirty musical categories, including Latin jazz and 3 other Latin music categories, 4 R&B categories, zydeco and Native American music, one Gospel, one Rap and one World Music category.

The award ceremony led off with a prayer for Whitney Houston. But four of Houston's six Grammies are in categories that the Grammies no longer notice. The late Etta James was hailed as well, at the same time the categories for two of her Grammies were done away with. So the real message was that the next wave of Whitney Houstons won't be nearly as welcome. Most of the musical categories eliminated by the Grammies this year were Latin, black and nonwhite.

Why do they only cut this music?” asked multiple Grammy award winner Carlos Santana, who protested outside the awards ceremony with many other musicians. “I think they're racist. You can't eliminate black gospel music or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz music because all this represents what the United States is, a social experiment.” Other award recipients who have publicly spoken and written demanding the organization to restore the stricken categories are Herbie Hancock, Eddie Palmieri, Paul Simon Bill Cosby, Esperanza Spalding, Bonnie Raitt, Stanley Clarke, David Amram, Pete Escovedo, Oscar Hernandez and Larry Harlow.

A number of artists filed suit against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, demanding the minutes of meetings at which the elimination of these awards were discussed. Although they were dues paying members of long standing who recruited and contributed labor to its outreach programs, the academy denied access to these records through the courts on the grounds that they were “a foreign corporation established in Delaware” and so not subject to the transparency laws applicable to domestic non-profits.

The truth is that elimination of these categories is a kind of cultural genocide, a fencing off and enclosure of artistic space where many kinds of great music will be less able to connect with their audiences. In an era when a tiny number of major recording companies monopolize access to radio airplay and most concert venues, one more award, more or less, doesn't mean much to Alicia Keys or Beyonce. But a Grammy, or even a Grammy nomination, for a struggling independent artist can be the difference between being able to make a living at her music, or having to give it up and do something else to survive.

You can find more information, and sign the petition to restore the stricken categories at www.grammywatch.org. That'swww.grammywatch.org. The decisions of what music to study and play and listen and dance to are decisions that audiences and artists should make. They are much too important to be reserved for greedy and racist recording industry executives. Letting them make that decision for us IS cultural genocide.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA, where he is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party and a principal in a technology consulting firm. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120215_bd_grammys_cultural_genocide.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

A Black Agenda Report commentary by Glen Ford

The United States resisted signing the international treaty against genocide until 1988 – because it was guilty of the crime, and not necessarily finished. Mass Black incarceration, in both its past and present forms, provides much evidence of U.S. genocidal intent. The bodies have been piling up for forty years – although mainly warehoused, rather than deceased. “The criminalization of genocide was intended to be much more than a kind of legal epitaph for the dead; it was designed, like all laws, to prevent the crime.”

 

Mass Black Incarceration: Damn Right, We Charge Genocide

A Black Agenda Report commentary by Glen Ford

Guilt of genocide does not require that the great bulk of the victims be physically wiped out.”

It is well known that the United States is the unchallenged leader in mass incarceration, and that nearly half of the 2.4 million inmates of the American Gulag are Black. Many in the Black Freedom Movement have long contended that mass Black incarceration, as practiced in the United States, fits the legal definition of genocide. Others, because of fear or denial, insist on absolving the United States of the ultimate and ongoing crime of genocide. This is not a semantic question. The charge of genocide differs in international law from war crimes and crimes against peace, in that genocide can occur when a country is technically at peace with the rest of the world.

It is no longer seriously disputed that Native Americans are victims of deliberate, genocidal policies of successive U.S. governments. The proof is in the raw results: millions of dead Indians. But guilt of genocide does not require that the great bulk of the victims be physically wiped out. Otherwise, the charge of genocide would be nothing more a post-mortem, like an autopsy report. The criminalization of genocide, which only began in 1946, was intended to be much more than a kind of legal epitaph for the dead; it was designed, like all laws, to prevent the crime.

For that reason, the four categories of criminal acts cited in the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide include, not just the physical killing of members of “national, ethnical, racial or religious” groups, but also the infliction of serious harm to members of the group; imposition of conditions of life that are calculated to bring about destruction of the group, in whole or in part, or measures intended to prevent births among the group. It is also genocide to transfer children of the group to another group, as happened to Native Americans and natives of Australia.

Genocide can occur when a country is technically at peace with the rest of the world.”

As in most systems of law, it is the intention to cause harm that is key. In the United States, the criminal justice system established in the post-Civil War South was designed to put Black people back into a kind of bondage. That is the lesson of the recently broadcast PBS documentary “Slavery By Another Name,” which points out that African Americans made up 90 percent of the inmates in some southern states. And it is Michelle Alexander’s position, in her book The New Jim Crow, that modern mass Black incarceration, beginning around 1970, is calculated to create a caste of Black people with no rights, and to stigmatize Blacks as a group as criminals.

At New York’s Riverside Church, this Saturday, revolutionary communist activist Carl Dix will argue that "Stop-and-frisk and other policing policies” that enmesh Blacks in the criminal justice system amount to “a slow genocide which could easily accelerate into fast genocide.”

Even a Being from another planet would conclude that Carl Dix is right. ET would quickly learn that one out of every eight incarcerated persons in the world is African American – about 12 percent of the inmates on Planet Earth – although Black Americans make up less than six tenths of one percent of the global population. ET would recognize that such numbers can only mean that a genocide is in progress, that African Americans have been singled out for some horrible fate by the U.S. government. We cannot sit and wait for the post-mortem. We charge genocide, now!

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: 20120215_gf_MassIncarceration.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In refusing to even consider nationalizing the mining industry, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has all but repudiated its most solemn (and fundamentally socialist) document: the Freedom Charter. Created and endorsed by a people’s movement in 1955, the Charter calls for national ownership of minerals, but the ANC government vows that will never happen. Under nominal Black rule, the “ANC has transformed itself into a handmaiden of multinational capital.”

 

South Africa Buries Its Freedom Charter

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

South African President Jacob Zuma closed the book on the Freedom Charter’s promise to nationalize the mining industry.”

In 1955, the African National Congress of South Africa sent 50,000 activists into communities around the country to ask the people what kind of freedom they wanted. The result was the ANC’s Freedom Charter, a blueprint for the non-racial South Africa that would finally arrive, two generations later, at the cost of many thousands of lives.

Two key provisions of the Freedom Charter were especially troubling to multinational corporations. The first declared that “The land shall be shared by those who work it,” meaning redistribution of farmland. The other proclaimed: “The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and the monopoly industry shall be transferred to the people as a whole.” The Freedom Charter, which sprang directly from the aspirations of South Africans, and was endorsed by nearly 3,000 delegates at a Congress of the People, was a socialist document.

Through the long night of white rule, the words of the Freedom Charter shouted to the world that South Africa’s revolution would be a thoroughgoing break – not just with racial apartheid, but with systems of exploitation of man by man. The South African people and nation “as a whole” would reclaim their resources.

This monthSouth African President Jacob Zuma closed the book on the Freedom Charter’s promise to nationalize the mining industry, which is own by multinational corporations. “We’re very clear,” said Zuma. Nationalization “is not our policy. It cannot be.”

The African National Congress has assigned itself the task of chief protector of corporate rule over South Africa’s mineral wealth.”

Zuma left no doubt as to his position, in order not to upset world “markets” – meaning, the international networks of rich, mainly white men who have effectively ruled South Africa both before and since Nelson Mandela won the first multi-racial elections, in 1994. President Zuma’s underlings and advisors were even more adamant that the corporate mine owners’ property rights were sacrosanct. His Minister of Minerals Resource, Susan Shabangu, declared last year, “there will be no nationalization in my lifetime.” That was at the height of demonstrations organized by the ANC’s Youth Wing, and supported by the nation’s unionized workers, demanding the ruling party honor the letter and spirit of the Freedom Charter. Instead,the African National Congress has assigned itself the task of chief protector of corporate rule over South Africa’s mineral wealth – apparently, in perpetuity.

The same goes for the Freedom Charter’s promise of land to the Black farmworkers. When Nelson Mandela came to power, whites owned nearly 90 percent of the arable land. Since then, only seven percent of farmland has been redistributed, and much of that is not being worked because Black farmers lack money and equipment. The ANC government, which takes its land reform cues from the World Bank, thinks it may be able to redistribute 30 percent of the land by the year 2025 – but, at this rate, even that modest goal is doubtful.

The ANC has transformed itself into a handmaiden of multinational capital. Its program of Black capitalism has served only to graft a corrupt Black political class onto the already existing structures of corporate rule. The Freedom Charter is a dead letter. Instead, Nelson Mandela's face, it was recently announced, will appear on every banknote of the new South African currency – cosmetic consolation for a revolution betrayed.

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: 20120215_gf_SouthAfricaMines.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33am EDT

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

Big Oil ranks among the most profitable enterprises on earth. But capitalist corporations don't pay their own costs – these are borne by the people and their environments. Few have paid a higher price than the oil-producing regions of Nigeria, now among the most devastated and toxic wastelands on the planet.

As Gas Fires Burn, Devastated Nigeria Pays Horrific Price to Ensure Profits of Big Oil

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

Since its nominal independence from Britain in the 1960s, the West African nation of Nigeria has been the scene of a vast, murderous and ecocidal wave of corporate crime. The leading culprits are the continuing corporate criminal conspiracies of Big Oil, including Shell, Texaco, Mobil, Conoco, BP, Total, and others, aided by a succession of compliant military and civilian governments, armies and police forces. The job of capitalist corporations is to maximize profits by externalizing, or shedding their costs onto other entities, and Big Oil has been massively successful in Nigeria.

With most of Nigeria's oil concentrated in the Niger Delta and offshore, Big Oil has extracted conservatively at least $600 billion, more likely trillions in profits. Big Oil's costs are borne by the people, the lands and the waters of Nigeria's oil producing regions, which they have transformed into an impoverished and toxic wasteland where fishermen can't fish, where farmers can't farm, where the very rain and air are poisonous and the water undrinkable, where hospitals, electricity and schools are mostly unavailable. The oil producing regions are crisscrossed by a network of high-temperature, high-pressure, ill-maintained and chronically leaking pipes which annually spill an amount comparable to what BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster did in the Gulf of Mexico. Nigerians have paid this price every year for more than a generation.

But unlike the Deepwater Horizon disaster, homicide and ecocide committed by Big Oil in West Africa gets little notice in the world's media. A December Shell/BP oil spill that the criminals claim was only 40,000 barrels was virtually ignored outside West Africa. A separate offshore gas fire, which initially killed two workers when a rig exploded, has turned a region of open water into a lake of fire up to 1400 degrees Farenheit that is burning well into its second month. While Chevron oil officials claim it will be another month before efforts to put out the fire are successful, even more nearby communities are finding their water undrinkable, their air unbreathable, and local clinics thronged with environmentally induced diseases and disorders.

The profits of Big Oil in West Africa, which now supplies nearly a fifth of US oil imports, has and continue to poison millions of Africans. It has turned their crops, their waters, their environment and even their children into sacrifices on the altar of corporate profit. And this horrendous price is only to bring the oil out of the ground and onto the world market, not the cost of burning it and adding its carbon to the atmosphere, but costs which are also paid by someone other than Big Oil.

The long term survival of West Africa, and of humanity will only be ensured when we stop paying the homicidal and ecocidal cost of Big Oil. We believe that day is coming. 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.

Direct download: 20120208_bd_big_oil_ravages_nigeria.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is leading a general imperial offensive around the globe, and “were it not for the Russian and Chinese vetoes at the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. and its allies would by now have declared the city of Homs or some other parts of Syria as areas to be ‘protected’ by U.S.-led air forces.” History will record Obama as “a man of war – many wars.”

 

Obama’s Proliferating Wars: Empire on Full Throttle Offensive

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama is a smarter, more attractive, charming warmonger – and, therefore, even more dangerous than George Bush.”

Barack Obama is running for re-election as a war president, the savior of American empire. His State of the Union address was bracketed, front and back, with praise for U.S. military prowess, including the fantastic claim that the Iraq War – his predecessor’s greatest crime – had made the nation safer. For those who still cling to the illusion of the First Black President as a man of peace, Obama has, himself, repudiated that non-existent figment of the imagination. Obama is a man of war – many wars.

The U.S. is engaged in a general imperial offensive that is designed to accomplish what George Bush set out to do – but failed – in 2003: to isolate Russia and China, the main obstacles to U.S. domination of the planet. In that sense, it is totally logical that Obama would revise and sanitize the Iraq War, since he approved of its imperial intentions, but thought its execution was, in Obama’s words, “dumb.” Obama is a smarter, more attractive, charming warmonger – and, therefore, even more dangerous than George Bush.

Even more than Bush, Obama can depend on a warmongering corporate media to demonize those regimes targeted for removal. CNN speaks constantly of Syrian President Assad as a “butcher” of his own people, a propaganda formula deployed only months ago against Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi – and equally false in both cases. Even the Arab League’s Observer Mission to Syria put much of the onus for the violence on “armed opposition groups” rather than security forces. You have not heard much about this report, because U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar – who largely financed the rebels in Libya – refused to publish the Arab League Mission’s findings. Much of the U.S. corporate media have also pretended that the report never existed, because it does not support Washington’s rational for regime change in Syria. Instead of a one-sided “slaughter,” the Arab League observers reported attacks by armed rebels provoked the Syrian security forces to respond; that armed militants bombed “buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil” and targeted “police, members of the media and fuel pipelines.”

It is totally logical that Obama would revise and sanitize the Iraq War, since he approved of its imperial intentions.”

It is no secret that these armed groups are supported by Turkey, a member of NATO, by the billionaire royal families of the Persian Gulf, and by the United States. And, were it not for the Russian and Chinese vetoes at the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. and its allies would by now have declared the city of Homs or some other parts of Syria as areas to be “protected” by U.S.-led air forces.

Obama toys with war against Iran, and lies about it without blinking an eye. The president said flat-out to an interviewer, just before the Super Bowl, that Iran was trying to build a nuclear weapon. But his own Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, said only a month ago that Iran is not attempting to build a nuclear weapon. The heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say the same thing. In the Super Bowl interview, Obama said Iran has refused to reject nuclear weapons – when, in fact, the Iranians have done exactly that on many, many occasions. But the President believes in spreading the Big Lie, and the U.S. corporate media are there to transform those lies into gospel truth, through sickening repetition.

So, tell me: Where is the difference between Obama and Bush on issues of war and peace?

There is none, except that Obama is a more talented killer.

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: 20120208_gf_ObamaSyriaIran.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is behaving true to form, embracing corruption only days after denouncing it. The greatest campaign fund raiser of all time has never rejected an opportunity to collect more corporate dollars. He has also never accepted responsibility for breaking a promise. This time around, he’s claiming those devilish Koch brothers made him do it.

 

Obama: “The Devil” Made Me Take the Super Pac Money

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no evidence that Obama wants to clean up campaign financing, only that he finds all kinds of excuses to take the money.”

President Obama is like comedian Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine: He blames everything on the Devil. The Devil made him do it.

And so, the Devil has just forced Mr. Obama to put together his own infernal Super Pac, the demon-spawn of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to spend as much money as they like on elections. Only days ago, Obama was calling Super Pacs a “threat to democracy,” but that was then, and now it’s time to make sure that the president has an equal opportunity to join in the corruption. But, don’t blame Obama. The Koch brothers made him do it, with reports that the far-right siblings plan to gather $100 million in Super Pac money. As Geraldine would say, those Koch Devils made Obama do it.

Not that there’s any danger of Obama being outspent in his re-election bid. He’s raised more money than all the Republican candidates, combined. In fact, he’s raised a lot more money from employees of Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, than Romney has. All indications are that Obama will win the race for Wall Street’s campaign contributions, hands down, no matter who the Republicans nominate, just as Wall Street preferred Obama to John McCain, four years ago.

Candidate Obama opted out of public financing in the 2008 campaign, the first president since Watergate to run without public funding. He had earlier promised to accept public financing, and the limits on spending that go with it, if McCain did. McCain kept his part of the bargain, but Obama was getting more money than he could bring himself to turn down. In fact, by that time, Obama had raised twice as much as McCain, so he couldn’t claim a disadvantage. Instead, Obama’s excuse was that the public financing system was “broken.” But, of course, it was Obama’s withdrawal that definitively broke the system, paving the way for the billion dollar election of 2012.

All indications are that Obama will win the race for Wall Street’s campaign contributions, hands down, no matter who the Republicans nominate.”

In the summer of 2007, Obama explained the difference between himself and all of his Democratic and Republican opponents, when it comes to taking money from the rich and greedy. “The argument is not that I'm pristine, because I'm swimming in the same muddy water,” he said. “The argument is that I know it's muddy and I want to clean it up." But there is no evidence that Obama wants to clean up campaign financing, only that he finds all kinds of excuses to take the money.

The Wall Street crowd loves Obama, and they show it with their checkbooks. He returns their love a thousand times over, by protecting their interests while skillfully hoodwinking the Democratic base into believing that he’s on their side. The most pitiful marks in this hustle are small contributors, who Obama claims are his real base of support. Back in 2008, he even claimed that his fundraising was a better reflection of democracy than public financing, because he had so many small contributors. But it turns out that Obama got almost exactly the same proportion of his campaign funds from the little guys as George Bush did, in 2004.

It’s a rich man’s game, in which the future of the country and the world is purchased cheaply with campaign contributions. It is common sense that the player that collects the most money, has also sold the most influence. This election year, just like last time, the top influence seller is Barack Obama.

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: 20120208_gf_ObamaMoney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

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

What's three years of crusading against public schools and their teachers, three years of anti-democratic corporate school reform compared to a couple paragraphs in a presidential State of the Union address? It's base and blatant hypocrisy. If corporate media still practiced actual journalism, this might be an instructive comparison to lay before their readers. Should the Obama administration should follow its own advice about not demonizing teachers, and not relying on high-stakes testing? Or should we continue with the failed experiment of corporate school reform?

Rented Protesters in Chicago, Presidential Hypocrisy on School Reform

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

During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama made a particularly cynical reference to teachers and public education when he called for an end to the demonization of teachers, and teaching to standardized tests. The reference was cynical because these are the very hallmarks of the Obama administration's policies on public education. But since billionaires owners of corporate media are wholly on board, the contradiction between a few paragraphs in a speech and three years of actual policy went unmentioned in all the analyses of the the speech.

For three years Barack Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have been “demonizers in chief” toward the nation's public school teachers. Their so-called “Race To The Top” for public education awards funding to states and school districts on the basis of how many teachers' salaries are directly tied to test scores, how many qualified and experienced teachers are fired, how many public schools and whole districts are “turned around” to be run like businesses by business people rather than by educators, parents, and communities, like the best schools always have been run.

...hundreds of Chicago public school parents staged a two day occupation of City Hall and the mayor's office...”

As CEO of Chicago's Public Schools Arne Duncan, now Secretary of Education fired hundreds of qualified, experienced, mostly black teachers rooted in the communities they served, so they could be replaced by younger, cheaper, less qualified and mostly white recruits who could be expected to teach for a little while and move on. A US federal court found Duncan guilty of racial discrimination and ordered Chicago to come up with a plan to rehire the fired teachers.

When in December news of a new wave of 2012 school closings and attendant mass firings leaked out, hundreds of Chicago public school parents staged a two day occupation of City Hall and the mayor's office, something not seen in 25 years, but virtually whited out by local and national media. Chicago police eventually cleared City Hall, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, by closing down the washrooms and refusing to re-admit anyone who left. But the paper did not disclose why parents were encamped outside the mayor's office.

Also in December stories surfaced confirming longstanding rumors that Mayor Rahm Emanuel habitually used public and/or campaign funds to hire local black preachers and rented protesters by the busload to pack public meetings and exclude the real public, and to picket in favor of whatever City Hall and the Board of Education favored on a particular day.

Since then, and for the entire month of January, Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has dodged reporters and limited his press availability to avoid answering questions about the wave proposed school closings, and the use of rented preachers and protesters to thwart and make less visible the rising tide of opposition to corporate school reform. But despite the mayor's silence, the media's cooperation and the president's duplicity, the tide of opposition to corporate school reform continues to rise.

For more information on the national movement against corporate school reform, visit Substance News on the web at substancenews.net. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web atwww.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and based in Marietta GA, where he is a principal in a technology and consulting firm and serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

Direct download: 20120201_bd_corporate_education_reform.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:45pm EDT