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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama’s mandate to buy private insurance was born in the rightwing Heritage Foundation, and has not found a home among any actual constituency of the public – white, non-white, Republican, Democrat, college-educated or not. A new poll confirms that “Obama has based his plan on a scheme that nobody likes – even his most loyal supporters.”

 

All U.S. Groups Oppose Obama’s “Individual Mandate” for Health Care

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The new poll shows that no significant constituency supports Obama’s individual mandate.”

When one takes a cursory look at where various groups in the nation stand on President Obama’s health care legislation – now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court – it appears the country is split along party and race lines. A new poll conducted by Princeton Research Associates shows 75 percent of Democrats support the Obama position, and 86 percent of Republicans oppose it, with so-called independents evenly split. The racial divide is similar. Sixty-eight percent of non-whites “strongly favor” or “somewhat favor” the overall health care law, with only 18 percent opposed. Whites are far more divided, with 33 percent favoring Obama’s law, and 47 percent opposed.

These numbers are, however, heavily influenced by what people think is in the law, and what side they think they should be on, based on their larger loyalties. It is doubtful that majorities on either side of the issue actually understand most of the law’s many provisions, some of which do not go into effect for several years. Therefore, many of the respondents are using the poll to register their broader preference for or against the incumbent president and his party. It is no surprise that majorities of whites and super-majorities of Republicans oppose ObamaCare, as Republicans call it, and more than two thirds of non-whites and three-quarters of Democrats support Health Care Reform, as Obama calls it.

However, most people do understand the central element of the law, the “individual mandate” that forces nearly everyone to buy health insurance from private companies, or face a fine. The new poll shows that no significant constituency supports Obama’s individual mandate, with only 28 percent of the overall public favorable to the scheme. Even non-whites, two-thirds of whom claim to support Obama on health care in general, balk at mandatory purchase of insurance from private companies. Fifty-three percent of non-whites give thumbs down to the individual health insurance mandate, as do 71 percent of whites. More Democrats are opposed to Obama’s individual mandate than favor it: 48 to 44 percent. And Republicans are off the scale in opposition, at 15 to 1.

Fifty-three percent of non-whites give thumbs down to the individual health insurance mandate.”

So, if the core of the Obama health care plan is the individual mandate, as both the administration and the Republicans contend in their arguments before the Supreme Court, then Obama has based his plan on a scheme that nobody likes – even his most loyal supporters.

There’s another interesting aspect to the new poll. It shows that only a hard core of one in four people want to tamper with Medicare as the Republicans do, with around two-thirds of all racial groups opting to keep the program the way it is, with the government paying doctors and hospitals directly for the service they provide to seniors.” Taken together, the poll indicates strong support for the core elements of the U.S. healthcare safety net, and rejection of private schemes, including Obama’s mandatory purchase of insurance from private companies. It appears that most Americans would rather have the option of dependable, direct health care paid for by the government – which was the case at the beginning of 2009, before Obama unveiled his health care scheme, when 60 percent and more of the American people favored single-payer health care. But Obama maneuvered them into a something they hadn’t asked for, and which, three years later, nobody wants. 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: 20120328_gf_HealthCarePoll.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Black Freedom Movement era icon Angela Davis tells people that Barack Obama “identifies with the Black radical tradition” – “as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the Black radical tradition.” In doing so, Prof. Davis “is repudiating herself, her history, her comrades – all in a foolish attempt to artificially graft a totally unworthy Barack Obama onto a place he not only does not belong, but most profoundly does not want to be.”

 

Angela Davis Has Lost Her Mind Over Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Angela Davis says that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the Black radical tradition.”

The “delusional effect” that swept Black America with the advent of the First Black President has warped and weakened the mental powers of some of our most revered icons – and it has been painful to behold. Earlier this month, Angela Davis diminished herself as a scholar and thinker in a gush of nonsense about the corporate executive in the White House. The occasion was a conference on Empowering Women of Color, in Berkeley, California. Davis shared the stage with Grace Lee Boggs, the 96-year-old activist from Detroit. The subject was social transformation, but Davis suddenly launched into how wonderful it felt to see people “dancing in the streets” when Barack Obama was elected. She called that campaign a “victory, not of an individual, but of…people who refused to believe that it was impossible to elect a person, a Black person, who identified with the Black radical tradition.”

There was a hush in the room, as if in mourning of the death of brain cells. Angela Davis was saying that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the Black radical tradition. She said it casually, as if Black radicalism and Obama were not antithetical terms; as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the Black radical tradition; as if his rejection of his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was not a thorough disavowal of the Black radical tradition. In his famous 2008 campaign speech in Philadelphia, Obama blamed such radicals for compounding the nation’s problems. He viewed people like Rev. Wright as having been mentally scarred by battles of long ago, who were unable to see the inherent goodness of America, as he did. This is the man who said he agreed with President Ronald Reagan, that the Sixties were characterized by “excesses.” Can anyone doubt that Obama considers the historical Angela Davis, herself, to be a part of the political “excesses” of the Sixties and early Seventies that he so deplores?

This is the man who said he agreed with President Ronald Reagan, that the Sixties were characterized by “excesses.”

And that is the saddest part of the story. Angela Davis, who retired as a professor of the history of human consciousness, in 2008, seems not to be conscious of the fact that she is repudiating herself, her history, her comrades – all in a foolish attempt to artificially graft a totally unworthy Barack Obama onto the Black radical tradition – a place he not only does not belong, but most profoundly does not want to be. This is the guy who declared, at his first national broadcast opportunity, that “there is no Black America…only the United States of America.”

How, then, did Angela Davis connect Barack Obama to the Black radical tradition? She didn't, because even an icon cannot do the impossible. Instead, Davis quickly told the crowd, in Berkeley, that “we need to figure out how to prevent somebody like Mitt Romney from getting elected.” But the vast majority of Black people are going to wind up voting for Obama, anyway, because he's not white and Republican. There is no need to pollute the proud tradition of Black radicalism by dipping the corporate warmonger, Obama, into the historical mix. In doing so, Professor Davis has soiled herself, and done a terrible injustice to Black history and tradition. And, the biggest shame of all is, she has diminished herself and insulted our people for the sake of a president who doesn't give a damn for their history or their future. 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: 20120328_gf_AngelaDavis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32am EST

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Ten years ago, iImam Jamil Al Amin, the former H. Rap Brown was falsely convicted and sentenced to life in Georgia. When black, white, brown prisoners, Muslim and non-Muslim Georgia inmates openly acknowledged him as a leader and political prisoner, and public pressure mounted for a new trial and his removal from solitary, Georgia officials transferred him in the dead of night to the man-made supermax hell of Florence, Colorado, a federal prison some say is worse than Bagram or Guantanamo.

On the Left Side of History: Political Prisoner Imam Jamil Al Amin

>by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

As a SNCC leader in rural Alabama, he helped lay the foundation for what black political power currently exists in the deep south today. “

Imam Jamil Al Amin has been on the right side, really the left side of history a long time. As a college student in the early sixties he joined and eventually led SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the corps of fearless young people who risked their lives organizing freedom schools, cooperatives and registering voters in the violent, Klan-infested rural south. Summoned to a White House meeting with President Johnson at the age of twenty-one he fearlessly demanded federal action to ensure the safety of SNCC workers and ordinary African Americans, when older big time civil rights leaders present were too busy being grateful for a chance to meet with the president at all.

As a SNCC leader in rural Alabama, he helped lay the foundation for what black political power currently exists in the deep south today. Targeted by COINTELPRO and the FBI for his advocacy of black political and economic power, self-defense and the eradication of drugs, he was arrested dozens of times. Congress even passed a law with his name on it, specifcally intended to lock him up. While serving a 5 year prison sentence in New York, he converted to Islam, and upon his release Jamil Al Amin moved to Atlanta in 1976.

In the same spirit that guided his earlier political and human rights work, he set about organizing and community building in Atlanta's West End. He studied languages and traveled to the West Indies and the Middle East, to India, Pakistan, and Africa. He taught, learned and led by example, becoming Imam Jamil Al Amin, an internationally acknowledged leader among US Muslims. Along the way, he started several small businesses including a grocery store and helped organize youth sports, anti-drug and anti-violence campaigns.

But once you earn the FBI's attention, you don't lose it. Surveillance and harrassment of Al Amin continued the next quarter century. When a West End drug dealer was shot in 1995, Atlanta police arrested him despite a good deal of evidence pointing in other directions, and had to release him when another man confessed to the crime.

This week more than two hundred who hunger and thirst for justice gathered on the steps of Georgia's state capital to demand justice for Imam Jamil Al Amin, his return to Georgia for a new trial and his eventual freedom....”

In March 2000 two Fulton county deputies were shot in front of Imam Jamil Al Amin's home. The apparent shooter, one Otis Jackson fled to Nevada before turning himself in, and confessed his role to FBI interviewers there. Georgia officials however, declined to request his extradition, and Jackson was pressured into recanting his confession. Al Amin was not allowed his choice of attorneys, was denied proper discovery or the chance to present evidence of his innocence at trial, and the jury pool purged of those most likely to recall his civil rights work of the sixties.

Blatantly framed, Imam Jamil Al Amin was sentenced to life in prison, where his false conviction, status as a prominent Muslim leader and forty years of work in the service of human liberation made him Georgia's most high profile political prisoner, though he was confined to a tiny cell 23 hours of every day. In 2007, when local and international pressure began building in earnest for a new trial and his release from solitary confinement, Georgia prison officials spirited him away to federal custody 1400 miles away in the federal supermax prison at Florence, Colorado, a living tomb where conditions of enforced isolation and sensory deprivation are widely recognized as torture.

This week more than two hundred who hunger and thirst for justice gathered on the steps of Georgia's state capital to demand justice for Imam Jamil Al Amin, his return to Georgia for a new trial and his eventual freedom. “The next time we come back here,” declared Mauri Saalakhan of the Peace Thru Justice Foundation, “we can fill these steps, this street. We can. We must. And we will.” Brother Saalakhan is correct of course. We can and we must create the public pressure that ultimately leads to justice for our political prisoner Imam Jamil Al Amin. Only time will tell if we will. Instead retweeting and facebooking phony Kony2012 propaganda to each other, we should be “raising awareness” of and demanding justice for Imam Jamil Al Amin. Let's make some of that happen.

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: 20120321_bd_jamil_al_amin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:50am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In their own inimitably depraved ways, the French and American governments insulted two million dead Algerians and Iraqis, without ever mentioning their deaths. France was largely silent on its defeat in Algeria, 50 years ago, while the U.S. president told fantastic lies about the Iraq war without acknowledging U.S. defeat or Iraqi dead. “There is no word that can describe the absolute moral turpitude of imperialists….”

 

Obama and Sarkozy: How Imperialists Deal With Defeat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The president embraced George Bush’s great crimes against global peace and his holocaust against the Iraqi people.”

Fifty years ago this week, the French admitted defeat in their war against Algerian independence, by signing a formal ceasefire. The government of Nicholas Sarkozy said it would hold no formal ceremonies, because to mark the anniversary would reopen “deep wounds of a painful page in the recent history of France.” It’s all about the French, you see – their pain at being defeated by a people they had subjugated and treated as lesser forms of life for 132 years; their loss of face as a great imperial power, not the Algerian’s pain at the loss of one million men, women and children in the final struggle for nationhood.

This week also marks the 9th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Americans have, of course, never admitted defeat in that war – although defeat is the only reason U.S. troops are no longer in Iraq. President Barack Obama very reluctantly carried out the troop withdrawal agreement that President George Bush was forced by the Iraqis to sign in November of 2008, after it had become clear that America’s unprovoked war of aggression was lost.

Obama was even less gracious in defeat than French President Sarkozy, who at least had the manners to keep personally silent. In proclaiming March 19th “A National Day of Honor,” Obama praised the “unshakeable fortitude and unwavering commitment” of U.S. troops who fought “block by block to help the Iraqi people to seize the chance for a better future.” Other obscenities and damnable lies flowed from Obama’s mouth, as the president embraced George Bush’s great crimes against global peace and his holocaust against the Iraqi people. “The war left wounds not always seen, but forever felt,” said Obama – speaking, of course, only about the wounds suffered by Americans, just as Sarkozy spoke only of the pain of the French. The anniversary of a U.S. invasion of another people’s country, is all about the Americans, you see – the 4500 American dead, to whom, Obama said, “we owe a debt that can never be fully repaid.” No mention of the blood debt that is owed to the more than one million dead Iraqi men, women and children whose country, once the most advanced in the Arab world, was utterly destroyed by the United States, and who hope to never see an American in uniform again.

They have annihilated and enslaved whole continents, and dare to call it civilization.”

What are a million Algerians worth to the French? The same as one million Iraqis are worth to the United States. They are not even worth mentioning.

There is no word that can describe the absolute moral turpitude of imperialists, the casualness of their genocides, their infinite capacity for narcissism, and their whining self-pity when confronted with minimal casualties to themselves in the course of their global depredations.

The Americans and western Europeans regret nothing but their own setbacks in the 500-year war they have waged against the darker peoples of the Earth. They have annihilated and enslaved whole continents, and dare to call it civilization. Their only remorse is for their loss, in recent times, of total dominance over the human species, of which they still consider themselves the superior fraction. It is during weeks such as this, when the French and American governments note the historical markers of their national depravity, that affirm the inseparability of racism and imperialism, and the necessity to defeat them once and for all.

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: 20120321_gf_WarsAndAnniversaries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:34am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Kandahar, Afghanistan and Sanford, Florida killers are anything but freaks. Both acted on racist impulses shared by huge numbers of their fellow citizens, and encouraged by the policies of national and local governments. U.S. policy conveys immunity from other nations' laws on U.S. soldiers, while state laws are rewritten to do the same for murderous-minded whites. “Evocation of white fear now provides the same justification for summary murder as claims of rape of white women did for mob lynchings, back in the day.”

 

Racially-Approved American Murder: They Kill Because They Can

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Both murderers had good reason to believe that American society would approve of what they did.”

Why did Staff Sgt. Robert Bales kill 16 Iraqi civilians in the deep of night and, supposedly, all by himself in the countryside of a foreign land? Why did George Zimmerman stalk and then kill 17-year-old Trayvon Martin as the 140-pound kid talked on a cell phone with his girlfriend in a gated community near Orlando, Florida? Bales and Zimmerman did it because they could, because they felt they had permission to snuff out the lives of Iraqis and Black teenagers who had never even thought to offend them. The only reason that these two instances of murder are of such deep importance in the larger scheme of things, rather than just to the families and neighbors of the victims and the killers, is because both murderers had good reason to believe that American society would approve of what they did.

Certainly, Sgt. Bales thought so. He had served three tours in Iraq, after joining the Army at the ripe old age of 27 right after 9/11. The hyper-nationalist media constantly told him and the rest of American public that the troops were “heroes” who were not only serving their own country, but also doing a great favor for the Iraqis and the Afghans. If the people of Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t appreciate the presence of Sgt. Bales and his fellow soldiers and marines, well, they were ingrates of the worst kind, unworthy of the sacrifice of even one of Sgt. Bales’ buddies. Besides, they were all Hajjis – a slur for Muslims that has the same venomous connotation as “nigger.” Sgt. Bales was not ashamed to use the term “Hajji” in letters to his wife, so I guess he had reason to believe she was a racist, too. The U.S. military preferred to descend on villages late at night, when they had the advantage of surprise and night vision goggles and could wipe out whole extended families of Taliban – or people who were pronounced to be Taliban, post-mortem – usually without suffering a single casualty. We own the night – that’s what the Americans said. And nighttime is for killing Hajjis.

It is as if the Florida legislature had put out a call for Black people to be summarily shot all over the state.”

George Zimmerman had every reason to believe that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was written especially for him. And, actually, it was. The Sanford, Florida police department clearly thought the law was meant to protect Zimmerman from murder charges, which is why they claim they didn’t arrest him. When Zimmerman called the local cops from his SUV to tell them he was stalking Trayvon Martin, he confided to them that “assholes” like the unknown Black kid “always get away.” But, this one wouldn’t get away – not with his life. Florida and lots of other states in recent years have noted that too many Black people are getting away with life, and need to be stopped, so they crafted legislation that would allow white fear to trump Black rights to breath air. In such jurisdictions, evocation of white fear now provides the same justification for summary murder as claims of rape of white women did for mob lynchings, back in the day. It is as if the Florida legislature had put out a call for Black people to be summarily shot all over the state, when it passed the bill. The racial intention was clear, the results totally predictable. George Zimmerman doesn’t seem like a very bright young man, but even he knew that Florida civil society wanted some Black folks dead.

Sgt. Bales and Steve Zimmerman murdered Afghans and an African American kid because they could, and because American society told them that they should.

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: 20120321_gf_RaciallyApprovedKillings.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

American racism will always cripple its ability to occupy non-white countries, whose people the U.S. fundamentally disrespects. “The United States cannot help but be a serial abuser of the rights of the people it occupies, especially those who are thought of as non-white, because it is a thoroughly racist nation.” The latest atrocities in Afghanistan are just par for the course.

 

The U.S. Empire’s Achilles Heel: Its Barbaric Racism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What people would agree to allow such armed savages to remain in their country if given a choice?”

The American atrocities in Afghanistan roll on like a drumbeat from hell. With every affront to the human and national dignity of the Afghan people, the corporate media feign shock and quickly conclude that a few bad apples are responsible for U.S. crimes, that it’s all a mistake and misunderstanding, rather than the logical result of a larger crime: America’s attempt to dominate the world by force. But even so, with the highest paid and best trained military in the world – a force equipped with the weapons and communications gear to exercise the highest standards of control known to any military in history – one would think that commanders could keep their troops from making videos of urinating on dead men, or burning holy books, or letting loose homicidal maniacs on helpless villagers.

These three latest atrocities have brought the U.S. occupation the point of crisis – hopefully, a terminal one. But the whole war has been one atrocity after another, from the very beginning, when the high-tech superpower demonstrated the uncanny ability to track down and incinerate whole Afghan wedding parties – not just once, but repeatedly. Quite clearly, to the Americans, these people have never been more than ants on the ground, to be exterminated at will.

The Afghans, including those on the U.S. payroll, repeatedly use the word “disrespect” to describe American behavior. But honest people back here in the belly of the beast know that the more accurate term is racism. The United States cannot help but be a serial abuser of the rights of the people it occupies, especially those who are thought of as non-white, because it is a thoroughly racist nation. A superpower military allows them to act out this characteristic with impunity.

The whole war has been one atrocity after another, from the very beginning.”

American racism allows its citizens to imagine that they are doing the people of Pakistan a favor, by sending drones to deal death without warning from the skies. The U.S. calls Pakistan an ally, when polls consistently show that its people harbor more hatred and fear of the U.S. than any other people in the world. The Pakistanis know the U.S. long propped up their military dictators, and then threatened to blow the country to Kingdom Come after 9/ll, if the U.S. military wasn’t given free rein. They know they are viewed collectively as less than human by the powers in Washington – and, if they don’t call it racism, we should, because we know our fellow Americans very well.

The U.S. lost any hope of leaving a residual military force in Iraq when it showed the utterly racist disrespect of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison, the savage leveling of Fallujah, the massacres in Haditha and so many other places well known to Iraqis, if not the American public, and the slaughter of 17 civilians stuck at a traffic circle in Nisour Square, Baghdad. What people would agree to allow such armed savages to remain in their country if given a choice?

The United States was conceived as an empire built on the labor of Blacks and the land of dead natives, an ever-expanding sphere of exploitation and plunder – energized by an abiding and general racism that is, itself, the main obstacle to establishing a lasting American anti-war movement. But, despite the peace movement’s weaknesses, the people of a world under siege by the Americans will in due time kick them out – because to live under barbarian racists is not a human option.

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: 20120314_gf_AmericanBarbarians.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:15am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It has fallen mainly to Republicans to challenge President Obama’s military flaunting of both U.S. and international law. A North Carolina congressman named Jones has submitted a resolution that would hold Obama liable to impeachment if he attacks Syria or any other country without an act of authorization from Congress. It is an action that “should have emanated from the Congressional Progressive and Black Caucuses, rather than the Republican Right.”

Obama Richly Deserves Impeachment for War Policies, But Only a Few Dare Say So – and Most of Them are Republicans

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Congressional approval of U.S. wars is optional – not mandatory – for this president.”

At least a few Republicans want to impeach President Barack Obama if he does not seek authorization from Congress to attack Syria or any other country that does not present an imminent danger to the territory of the United States. A resolution to that effect was recently submitted by GOP Congressman Walter Jones, of North Carolina. Jones was also among ten congressmen who joined Dennis Kucinich in a suit against Obama for his failure to notify or get permission from Congress for his assault on Libya, last year. Ron Paul was also on the list. The only Democrat among the ten besides Kucinch was Detroit’s John Conyers.

Republicans would probably like to impeach Obama for any number of reactionary reasons. But, whatever their motives, Congressman Jones’ resolution is solidly grounded in both international law and the U.S. Constitution. The wording is impeccable, and should have emanated from the Congressional Progressive and Black Caucuses, rather than the Republican Right.

The resolution defines “the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress” as constituting “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor,” a violation of Congress’s exclusive power to declare war.”

Jones says his action is a direct response to an exchange between Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and the far-right Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Regarding the use of military force against Syria, the Secretary said the “goal would be to seek “international permission” and then inform Congress – but not necessarily to ask permission from the other branch of government. In other words, congressional approval of U.S. wars is optional – not mandatory – for this president.

Now, let's be clear. Most Republicans – and far too many Democrats – would likely go along with a presidential request for war against almost anybody in Africa and Asia, if they were properly asked.

The goal of the Obama Doctrine is to smash both international law and U.S. Constitutional law.”

What some Republicans are really upset about is the idea of Obama going to war as a result of consultations with foreigners, based on United Nations resolutions and agreements with NATO countries. That’s the formula Obama employed in attacking Libya, which presented absolutely no threat to the United States, and is still attempting to use against Syria, despite being stymied by Russia and China at the UN Security Council.

One of the great ironies, here, is that despite the reactionary Republicans’ rejection of anything that binds the U.S. to international standards of conduct, the Jones resolution is very much in line with international law, which forbids waging war except in cases of direct attack, and only as a last resort. The goal of the Obama Doctrine is to smash both international law and U.S. Constitutional law. It would allow the U.S. to act as a rogue nation as long as it did so in concert with some combination of other aggressor nations – like the junior imperialists of NATO and the oil kings of the Gulf. Obama would make a great exception to the rules of war, by cloaking raw military aggression as “humanitarian intervention” – as in Libya – and then telling Congress that it was none of their business. That’s why we at Black Agenda Report keep asking the question: Who is the Greater of Evils?

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: 20120314_gf_ImpeachObama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Got an urge to protest the most obnoxious Republican presidential contenders, or demonstrate at the NATO meeting, in Chicago? Consult your legal counsel, because the rules have been changed, with no debate in either House of Congress. Legislation awaiting the president’s signature packs prison terms for protesting too closely to people guarded by the Secret Service or at a National Security Event Zone.

 

Strangling Civil Liberties, One Twist at a Time

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Anyone who is caught ‘trespassing’ in the Zone, whether they knew it was restricted or not, is liable for felony prosecution.”

There is a constituency for the right to assemble and protest in this country, but it appears as if that constituency has very little representation in the U.S. Congress. The Senate unanimously passed a law that has significant ramifications for the Occupy movement or anyone else that wants to exercise their First Amendment rights. H.R. 347 is also known as the Trespass Bill. Only three members of the House voted against it, all of them Republicans, including presidential contender Ron Paul. None of the major civil liberties organizations raised a fuss, either, but the silence will surely come back to haunt us.

The bill makes it a federal crime punishable by a year in prison for “trespassing” on places where someone under protection of the Secret Service is also present, and up to ten years if a weapon is involved, or someone is seriously injured. The restrictions cover not just the president, but also presidential candidates and foreign dignitaries and heads of state. The new version of the law makes protesters subject to felony prosecution even if they were unaware that people protected by the Secret Service were in the area. Rather than demonstrators freely congregating to protest the presence of their least favored presidential politicians, or to loudly demand that visiting foreign leaders go back home, would-be protesters would be best-advised by their lawyers to stay as far away as possible or face a long stretch in prison. Surely, that stands the right to peacefully assemble on its head.

The only No votes came from Tea Party Republicans.”

Even more ominously, the new law allows the Department of Homeland Security to designate whole areas as part of a so-called National Security Event Zone, off limits to protest. The United National Anti-War Coalition and others that are planning to demonstrate at the meeting of NATO nations, in Chicago, in late May, will almost certainly be confronted with, not only Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s aggressive protest containment policies, but a Homeland Security declaration putting large areas under a federal protective bubble, with even more serious criminal consequences. In the real, often chaotic whirl of mass outdoor protest, with police pushing crowds from place to place, and protesters trying to make themselves heard, large numbers of demonstrators could find themselves in a federal no-go zone. Under the old rules, the harshest penalties could be imposed only on those who “willfully” crossed into a National Security Event Zone. The new Trespass Bill omits the word “willfully,” so that anyone who is caught “trespassing” in the Zone, whether they knew it was restricted or not, is liable for felony prosecution. This brings to mind the mass arrests of Occupy demonstrators on Brooklyn Bridge, last year. Many in the crowd thought they were being escorted across the bridge by police, and were not willfully trespassing. Under the federal bill, lack of willfulness is no excuse.

What is more disturbing than the potential Bill of Rights-eroding aspects of the legislation, is the Congress’s cavalier attitude towards civil liberties. There was no debate. The only No votes came from Tea Party Republicans. Democrats behaved as if nothing important was happening, just as when President Bill Clinton first came up with the idea National Security Event Zones – where the public, by law, has nothing to say.

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: 20120307_gf_ProtestsBan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made the Constitution scream, in an effort to justify his president’s claim to “the power of life and death over any inhabitant of the planet, including citizens of the United States.” Discovering presidential powers never before revealed, Holder severed citizens’ rights to “due process” from the “judicial process.” Access to the courts is not required, when the president is judge, jury and executioner.

 

Eric Holder Tortures the Constitution

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The rule of law has been eviscerated, abolished by presidential decree and congressional acquiescence.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week attempted to explain how the U.S. Constitution allows the American president to be a law unto himself – to be judge, jury and executioner. Those are the powers that President Obama claims are inherent in his office: the right to kill at will, based on evidence only he is fit to examine and assess. This is a system of law without courts, without evidence that either the public or the condemned person has a right to see, or to contest. One man, with the power of life and death over any inhabitant of the planet, including citizens of the United States.

They used to call such people kings. But even the English kings of old – at least since the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago – were compelled to recognize the principle that free men could only be punished based on the law of the land. The United States Constitution is rooted in the principle of due process of law, with the courts as final arbiters of whether the law has been served.

With the passage of preventive detention without trail or charge, and President Obama’s claim to have sole power to target any human being for death, the rule of law has been eviscerated, abolished by presidential decree and congressional acquiescence. A pillar of civilization has been toppled, but most people in the United States appear not to have noticed.

Holder acted as if he’d found a previously undetected loophole in the Constitution.”

It turns out that due process of law is not what we thought it was, these last two centuries. Attorney General Holder defended the president’s authority to summarily execute, without sanction of the courts, or formal charges, or even evidence of crime, persons designated by him as enemies of the United States. You can’t get more king-like than that. Holder acted as if he’d found a previously undetected loophole in the Constitution. “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process,’” he said, “are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” According to Holder, “The Constitution guarantees due process,” but it does not guarantee judicial process. In other words, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee people access to the courts, even if they are targeted for execution. If that were true, it would be a worthless Constitution, but the U.S. Supreme Court hasconvincingly ruled, in a 2004 case, that citizens who are detained as enemy combatants have a right to confront the government on the facts of the matter “before a neutral decision maker” – that is, before a court of some kind. Certainly, such rights would apply to someone the president wants killed.

Ah, but this is war, says Eric Holder, and different rules apply. We could ask the rhetorical question: When does this war end? But Obama is clearly claiming to have rights that are inherent in the president’s national security powers. War is…whatever he says it is. Or, whatever President Romney or President Santorum say it is.

The Attorney General ultimately justifies the trashing of the Constitution on national security grounds. We have reached our national “hour of danger,” he says.

Holder is right about that. The danger is upon us, and it emanates from the White House. There’s a name for the danger: it's called fascism, which happens when militarists and the worst capitalists get together and abolish due process and the rule of law – which the First Black President of the United States has already done. 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: 20120307_gf_HolderDueProcess.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The NYPD recognizes no jurisdictional boundaries in its religion- and race-based dragnets. Funded partly with federal money intended to curb drugs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s secret police imposed hyper-surveillance on Muslims in nearby Newark, New Jersey and other out-of-state localities. “It is as if the police saturated every Italian-American neighborhood, restaurant, business, social club, church, school, and playground in order to find out more about the Mafia.”

NYPD Looks for Terrorists at Black Girls' School in Newark

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The surveillance kept track of such dangerous centers of terrorism as an African American school for first- to fourth-grade kids, and a Black all-girls private school in Newark.”

African Americans have always been systematically associated with crime in America, as a means of making them outlaws in their own land. Since 9/11, Muslims have been systematically linked with terrorism, in an attempt to depict the entire group as a clear and present danger to the American state. It should come as no surprise, then, that the internal logic of a racist and repressive society leads the U.S. to place BlackMuslims under extraordinary surveillance. You can find a lot of Black Muslims in a place like Newark, New Jersey, which is why the New York City police have for years been sending undercover officers out of their jurisdiction to spy on Newark.

Top local Democrats express outrage at the surveillance, which kept track of the goings on at such dangerous centers of terrorism as an African American school for first- to fourth-grade kids, and a Black all-girls private school in Newark. The NYPD sent spies into restaurants and neighborhood groceries, and saturated every mosque in the city with agents and informers – what the secret police call “mosque crawlers,” which sounds to my ear like a kind of cockroach.

Top Democrats in New Jersey, including Newark’s Mayor, Cory Booker, say that they’re angry at New York City. Senator Robert Menendez wants U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to do an investigation. But President Barack Obama’s administration is actually paying some of the bill for the cops that New York sent to spy on Newark and localities throughout the region. New York City diverts millions of dollars in federal anti-drug money, overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and spends it on surveillance of Muslims. The federal Department of Homeland Security hands out millions to the NYPD, but refuses to discuss how the money is spent. And Attorney General Eric Holder's top civil rights lawyer has repeatedly refused to comment on the civil liberties implications of New York’s vast surveillance program. Clearly, the Obama administration’s silence means consent.

President Barack Obama’s administration is actually paying some of the bill for the cops that New York sent to spy on Newark and localities throughout the region.”

There is nothing ambiguous about the NYPD mission. It is designed to target whole communities as nests of terror. The surveillance is largely carried out by what is called the Demographic Unit, whose purpose is to spy on a whole demographic slice of residents, in this case Muslims, to map out how they live in minutest detail, and to record who is saying what to whom. In practice, it is as if the police saturated every Italian-American neighborhood, restaurant, business, social club, church, school, and playground in order to find out more about the Mafia.

Of course, such police state tactics would not be tolerated by Italian Americans, or by their fellow white Christians. But, when Muslims – and, especially Muslims who are Black – are targeted for hyper-surveillance…well, that’s a different story.

When little Black girls at the Al-Hidaayah and Al Muslimaat academies, in Newark, are placed under anti-terror surveillance, then we know that genocide is not beyond the realm of possibility. When undercover cops make note of the ethnicity of every person who enters a mosque in New York City, or Newark, New Jersey, then we know that whatever solution the police have in mind to whatever problem they think they have, is an ethnic and racial solution.

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: 20120229_gf_NYPDSpying.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EST