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

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When the Gulf Disaster happened, President Obama had solid majorities in Congress and a free hand. Instead of using it to protect the public, he grabbed for the favor of oil companies and protected their homicidal, ecocidal practices. Can there be any doubt who Barack really is?

2 Years on, BP Gulf Disaster Proves Obama Just As Oil-Soaked A Political Stooge as Cheney or Bush

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When you knock your cup of coffee over, that's a spill. When a giant oil company orders employees worldwide to evade safety protocols, and incinerates eleven people and discharges anywhere between 300 million and one billion gallons of toxic oil crude and carcinogenic “dispersants” into the air, water, fish, wildlife and people of the Gulf region, it's not a spill. It's a calculated act of murderous, ecocidal vandalism. It's a criminal conspiracy.

When you take pro-active steps to conceal the extent and effects of a murderous criminal conspiracy, steps like lying to the public about the amount of toxins discharged, or using the Coast Guard, the US Navy, federal and local law enforcement to prevent reporters or the public from flying over open waters, wetlands or beaches to gauge the extent of the disaster, you're a participant in the murderous criminal conspiracy.

When you're running for president, and you know giant oil companies have long histories of disregarding public safety, and you make campaign promises to restrict their reckless practices and you shed the promises like old lizard skins once in office in return for big wads of campaign cash you are every bit as much an oil-soaked partner in crime as Dick Cheney and George Bush were when they were in power.

When you restrict the damages recoverable from BP's holdings on five or six continents to just what can be paid for out of its Gulf revenues, you're protecting your cronies, not the public, and ensuring that BP's reckless operations in the gulf of Mexico will continue till more fish, wildlife and livelihoods are destroyed and until more people die in the next preventable disaster. And when you further protect the oil-soaked corporate criminals from liability by appointing the same clown to manage claims against BP that managed claims at the World Trade Center on 9-11, you can't be taken seriously as anything but another oil-soaked corporate stooge yourself.

When the Gulf disaster started and for seven months afterward, President Obama had whopping majorities in both houses of Congress, along with a mandate in the polls to rein in offshore drilling and a host of other homicidal and ecocidal practices of the energy industry. But this president does not use his political capital for the people or the environment or the noble but vague promises he makes on this or that issue from time to time. For another seven months, House Republicans couldn't even call a meeting without Democratic permission, and Senate Republicans could have been steamrolled with minimal effort. But Barack Obama and his Democrats passed no new laws, promulgated no new executive decisions to regulate Big Oil.

Two years after the Gulf Disaster, instead of seeking a corporate death penalty against BP, Haliburton and its co-conspirators, the Obama Justice Department has indicted a single mid-level BP engineer for erasing emails. Can there be any doubt now that our First Black President is nothing but a cynical and relentless liar, a corporate stooge in blackface who expects black and progressive Americans to have his back, while he stabs repeatedly us in ours?

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find Black Agenda Report on the web atwww.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 at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120425_bd_oil-soaked_barack_obama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States cannot follow the Finnish model to emerge from second class world educational status, because the Finnish system is based on social equality and esteem for the teaching profession. Here, “teachers are relentless hounded and degraded, made the scapegoats of society’s inequalities by sharing low scores with their students, whose families and communities are cut off from America’s wealth.” To compete, America must be radically transformed.

 

Why the U.S. Can’t Compete Educationally

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States, with the most striking social inequalities among the rich countries of the world, is simply not equipped to benefit from the Finnish model.”

President Obama this week told a White House audience honoring teachers of the year that elected leaders have “a particular responsibility…instead of bashing teachers, to support them.” By his side stood Education Secretary Arne Duncan who, as chief of Chicago’s schools waged holy corporate war on public school teachers, and now, with the enthusiastic backing of his boss, seeks to crush them as union members and as educational professionals, nationwide.

Obama is constantly holding forth about the need for America to achieve educational excellence – like Finland, which is top-ranked in the world. But a recent article in the Washington Post by Finnish educational leader Pasi Sahlberg makes clear that his country’s success is rooted in a comprehensive national system that strives for equity – for equality of access to resources for all Finland's people. The United States, with the most striking social inequalities among the rich countries of the world, is simply not equipped to benefit from the Finnish model, and will never be until the U.S. is transformed as a society.

Even the baby steps towards equity that Mr. Sahlberg says the U.S. must take to advance educationally, are anathema to the corporate powers-that-be. Finland guarantees equal allocation of educational resources to all communities, rich or poor; requires, by law, that all kids have “access to child care, comprehensive health care, and pre-school”; and it provides free education from pre-school through university. These are prerequisites for general, quality education – and are non-existent in the United States.

Finnish teachers are the “sole authority in monitoring the progress of students. There are no standardized tests in Finland.”

Teachers in Finland are respected professionals, with the prestige of doctors and lawyers, and a masters degree as a minimum. It is because they are so esteemed by society that Finnish teachers are the “sole authority in monitoring the progress of students.” There are no standardized tests in Finland.

Yet, here in the United States teachers are relentless hounded and degraded, made the scapegoats of society’s inequalities by sharing low scores with their students, whose families and communities are cut off from America’s wealth. Obama’s corporate privatization campaign relentlessly seeks to de-professionalize teachers, to replace them with young, essentially temporary employees who have no intention of making teaching their life’s work. With that kind of self-destruct mechanism, the U.S. will be lucky to remain in the global second tier of education also-rans.

Mr. Sahlberg keeps returning to the principle of social equity as an educational necessity. You can’t just keep shouting “Excel! Excel!” when the resources and support systems that would allow all children to reach their potential are hoarded by the rich and largely segregated by race.

The Finnish educator did not mention Finland’s ethnic homogeneity – that its population is 93 percent Finnish and the next largest group is Swedes. Sahlberg is a kind of diplomat as well as a teacher. But, here is the truth: the lack of a social compact in the United States has crippled the society in myriad ways, including its inability to take even the first steps towards educational equity. That absence of a social compact is rooted in white supremacy. Racism is why Deshawn can’t read and why Chip isn’t doing very well on a world scale, either.

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: 20120425_gf_FinlandEd.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Crime has been going down for nearly a generation, and the states have finally put the brakes on prison growth in response to the fiscal crunch. But Wall Street prison profiteers see the crisis as an opportunity. The Corrections Corporation of America has offered to buy nearly all the nation’s state prisons. “To ensure their profitability, the corporation insists that it be guaranteed that the prisons be kept at least 90 percent full.”

 

Private Prison Corporations Are Slave Traders

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Corrections Corporation of America believes the economic crisis has created an historic opportunity to become the landlord, as well as the manager, of a big chunk of the American prison gulag.”

The nation’s largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America, is on a buying spree. With a war chest of $250 million, the corporation, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, this month sent letters to 48 states, offering to buy their prisons outright. To ensure their profitability, the corporation insists that it be guaranteed that the prisons be kept at least 90 percent full. Plus, the corporate jailers demand a 20-year management contract, on top of the profits they expect to extract by spending less money per prisoner.

For the last two years, the number of inmates held in state prisons has declined slightly, largely because the states are short on money. Crime, of course, has declined dramatically in the last 20 years, but that has never dampened the states’ appetites for warehousing ever more Black and brown bodies, and the federal prison system is still growing. However, the Corrections Corporation of America believes the economic crisis has created an historic opportunity to become the landlord, as well as the manager, of a big chunk of the American prison gulag.

The attempted prison grab is also defensive in nature. If private companies can gain both ownership and management of enough prisons, they can set the prices without open-bid competition for prison services, creating a guaranteed cost-plus monopoly like that which exists between the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex.

If private companies are allowed to own the deeds to prisons, they are a big step closer to owning the people inside them.”

But, for a better analogy, we must go back to the American slave system, a thoroughly capitalist enterprise that reduced human beings to units of labor and sale. The Corrections Corporation of America’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission read very much like the documents of a slave-trader. Investors are warned that profits would go down if the demand for prisoners declines. That is, if the world’s largest police state shrinks, so does the corporate bottom line. Dangers to profitability include “relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws." The corporation spells it out: “any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them." At the Corrections Corporation of America, human freedom is a dirty word.

But, there is something even more horrifying than the moral turpitude of the prison capitalists. If private companies are allowed to own the deeds to prisons, they are a big step closer to owning the people inside them. Many of the same politicians that created the system of mass Black incarceration over the past 40 years, would gladly hand over to private parties all responsibility for the human rights of inmates. The question of inmates' rights is hardly raised in the debate over prison privatization. This is a dialogue steeped in slavery and racial oppression. Just as the old slave markets were abolished, so must the Black American Gulag be dismantled – with no compensation to those who traffic in human beings.

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: 20120425_gf_SellPrisons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama cries crocodile tears about what the Republicans in Congress won’t let him do. But he allowed more than $7 billion in TARP money set aside for worst hit victims of the housing crisis to sit, unspent, in Treasury Department accounts, for two years. “No wonder most people think TARP is only concerned with bailing out the banks. The Obama administration has treated it that way.”

 

Obama Administration Withholds Home Foreclosure Aid to Hardest Hit

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Treasury Secretary Geithner sat on the homeowners’ relief money for two years, because his boss wanted it that way.”

The Obama administration’s indifference to the plight of foreclosed homeowners, and total subservience to the banks, is once again on public display. According to a report by the Special Inspector General of the TARP program, the administration has spent only a tiny fraction of the money it was allocated to help those most negatively impacted by the housing collapse. In two years, only a little over 30,000 households have been helped, at a cost of $217 million. That’s only 3 percent of the $7.6 billion TARP is authorized to spend through its Hardest Hit Fund.

No wonder most people think TARP – the Troubled Asset Relief Fund – is only concerned with bailing out the banks. The Obama administration has treated it that way, even though Congress intended a portion of that money to help homeowners recover from the damage the banks had done.

From the day he was sworn in – and even before that, on the campaign trail – Obama has behaved as if the welfare of the banks is all that matters. Tim Geithner, the man he appointed to head the Treasury Department, which in turn runs the TARP program, is a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A previous Inspector General of TARP reported, back in the summer of 2009, that the bank bailout might cost as much as $24 trillion – approaching twice the size of the gross domestic product of the United States. $7.4 trillion of that was to come out of TARP and other Treasury Department programs. That’s more than a thousand times more money than the $7.6 billion set aside for the hardest hit homeowners – but Geithner couldn’t even bring himself to spend that paltry sum on TARP’s Hardest Hit Fund, so almost all of the money has been sitting there, doing nothing for anybody, for the last two years.

Obama has behaved as if the welfare of the banks is all that matters.”

Obama apologists will probably claim the president didn’t know that his Treasury Secretary was withholding billions of dollars in aid to the worst hit victims of the housing crisis – which means, they’ll believe anything.

The reason Geithner didn’t spend the Hardest Hit Fund money is because he, like other bankers, believes that helping homeowners in crisis amounts to tampering with “the market” – a euphemism for Wall Street. Obama thinks that way, too. In early 2008, Obama alone, among the three Democratic presidential candidates in the running, rejected out of hand proposals for a moratorium on home foreclosures. He didn’t want to put a cap on mortgage rates, either. Candidates John Edwards and Hillary Clinton supported mandatory or voluntary moratoriums, respectively – but not Obama. He had already made his deal with Wall Street – and he’s kept his promises to the super-rich. Treasury Secretary Geithner sat on the homeowners’ relief money for two years, because his boss wanted it that way.

The Congressional Black Caucus begged Obama to target foreclosure relief funds to areas that were hurt worst by the meltdown – which overlaps with the geography of Black America. That’s what the $7.6 billion dollars in the Hardest Hit Fund was supposed to do. The Black Caucus was shamelessly betrayed by the First Black President. The homes of hundreds of thousands of their constituents could have been saved, but the Obama Team outright refused to spend money lying right there in the accounts. What will the Caucus do? Pretend that it never happened. 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: 20120418_gf_TARPFunds.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Less than a year ago, Sudan was split in two after decades of U.S. support for the secessionist South. Newly independent and deeply impoverished South Sudan has now seized much of what remains of the North’s oil fields. The South refuses to return to its borders, despite widespread international denunciation – a boldness that is inconceivable without the connivance of the United States.

 

The West Wants to Take the Rest of Sudan’s Oil

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

South Sudan refuses to return to its borders, and its generals are talking about marching all the way to Khartoum.”

The campaign to chop away more territory from the African nation of Sudan is in full swing. South Sudan, which comprised one-third of the country until becoming independent, last year, seized the oil town of Heglig on the northern Sudan side of the border and is refusing international calls to withdraw. The region around Heglig contains half of Sudan’s remaining oil fields. Most of the country’s oil went to South Sudan when the country was partitioned. But the Heglig fields indisputably belong to northern Sudan, having been awarded to the Khartoum government by a Permanent Court, in 2009. Nevertheless, South Sudan refuses to return to its borders, and its generals are talking about marching all the way to Khartoum.

The European Union describes the South Sudanese seizure of northern territory as “completely unacceptable,” and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his “grave concerns” directly to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. But President Kiir, who wears a signature cowboy hat given to him by President Bush in 2006, shouted back at the UN chief, “I am not under your command.”

So, who does have influence on South Sudan? That would be, overwhelmingly, the United States, which supported South Sudan’s secessionist movement for more than a generation and steamrolled African and international opinion into accepted the dismemberment of what had been the continent’s largest country. It was an especially bitter pill to swallow for that African Union, whose predecessor, the Organization of African States, in 1964 declared that national boundaries left by colonialists should be left alone. The founding statesmen of Africa feared that tampering with borders would expose the continent to foreign intrigues, as Europeans and Americans stirred up secessionist movements for their own gain.

Green Berets now operate in South Sudan and neighboring Uganda, Congo, and the Central African Republic.”

That time has fully arrived. No sooner had South Sudan declared itself independent, than President Obama devised an excuse to move U.S. Special Forces into the country – one of the poorest on Earth, if you don’t count the oil. Green Berets now operate in South Sudan and neighboring Uganda, Congo, and the Central African Republic. American money keeps the Sudanese army equipped and paid. And President Kiir met with Obamaonly two weeks ago. The official press release on their talks said Obama had expressed concern about the tensions between North and South, and “emphasized the importance of...reaching an agreement on oil.”

Well, it looks like Obama and the cowboy-hatted President Kiir reached their own agreement: to seize the North’s oil fields. South Sudan is a U.S. client state that owes its independence to the U.S. and Europeans and Israel, which was deeply involved in the Sudanese civil war. It is inconceivable that South Sudan would defy the United Nations and the European Union to invade North Sudan and seize half of its oil reserves without the connivance of the United States. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, who has been calling for the head of Sudanese President al-Bashir since George Bush was in office, will pretend that she is “concerned” with the fighting between the two Sudans, and so will Obama. But U.S. client states like South Sudan don’t invade their neighbors without Washington’s blessing. 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: 20120418_gf_DismemberSudan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59am EDT

After twenty years of grassroots advocacy, the federal government is about to grant low power FM radio station licenses in hundreds of communities across the country. Unlike any other medium, low power radio binds communities together and can further the mission of your arts group or community group, union, neighborhood association or other civic body like nothing else. To find out more, join Black Agenda Report for a Thursday April 26 conference call at 9PM Eastern Time. To get your entry code contact us at radio@blackagendareport.com.

What Could Your Organization Do With Its Own Radio Station?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Low power FM stations will broadcast to an area 12 miles in diameter. We're talking about neighborhood radio that binds actual neighbors together around their own needs, concerns and objectives...”

What could your not for profit organization, community or arts group, labor union, school, or local church do with its own fully operational low power FM radio station? This is not a rhetorical question, it's a very practical one. Late in 2012, or early in 2013, the Federal Communications Commission will be accepting license applications to operate what could be hundreds of neighborhood FM radio stations in cities and towns across the country.

For most of the last two decades, the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project, which you can find on the web at www.prometheus.org has led this fight, partnering with local forces to bring the technical knowledge, and doing the watchdogging and advocacy on the national level that got the laws passed and appropriate regulations enacted. And now the licensing window is almost here. It's a moment that's been a long time coming. Corporate broadcasters, and even so-called public broadcasters have spent millions to hire lobbyists and rented congressmen and senators to deny the broadcast microphone to anything or anybody that is not, or isn't owned by a greedy for-profit corporation.

Commercial radio has impoverished our music, by preventing local artists from reaching local audiences. Commercial radio has starved our communities of news by withdrawing corporate support for the gathering and broadcasting of original news, especially local news. Without local artists reaching local audiences, without local news and without the ability of people to listen to and lead their own local conversations, we are NOT communities, we are ONLY markets. Turning our collective relations into exclusively market-mediated relations is in fact the vision of the corporate America.

Do your organization's capacity-building and community building efforts a favor, and find out just what your organization could do with its very own low power FM radio station....”

The fight for the rights of nonprofit community broadcasters to access the radio dial is nothing less than a fight for the rights of people to hear their own voices. It's a fight for the right to own and operate media which recognizes and builds communities, where commercial media ignores communities, instead recognizing only markets to be delivered to its advertisers.

What could your organization do with its own low power FM radio station? Think about it. Low power FM stations will broadcast to an area 12 miles in diameter. We're talking about neighborhood radio that binds actual neighbors together around their own needs, concerns and objectives, the same needs, concerns and objectives that caused you to form your local not for profit organization in the first place.

While individual nonprofit organizations can apply for station licenses, preference will be given to coalitions of two, three and more local organizations, because a wider base ensures more success both at fundraising and at the production of original programming for your local radio station. The minimum financial barriers to application and station startup are not terribly high, either, often in the low to mid single-digit thousands. Do your organization's capacity-building and community building efforts a favor, and find out just what your organization could do with its very own low power FM radio station.

To find out more about this once in a liftetime opportunity, join Black Agenda Report and Prometheus Radio for a one hour informational conference call with Prometheus Radio on Thursday, April 26, at 9PM EST, 8PM CST. That's Thursday evening, April 26 at 9PM Easter, 8 PM Central and 6PM Pacific time. To obtain the number and code, email us at radio@blackagendareport.com. That's radio@blackagendareport.com.

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

Bruce A. Dixon lives in Marietta GA, and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120418_bd_low-power-radio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama and his Republican soul mates have pulled another fast one, passing a “JOBS” bill that provides no jobs, but instead further deregulates Wall Street’s crisis-making machine. The president has joined his big business backers in an attempt to repeat Bill Clinton’s brief and unstable “boom” by “inflating another hi-tech bubble to keep the casino wheels spinning for a few years.”

 

Obama Signs a Phony – and Dangerous – “JOBS” Bill

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Organized labor was adamantly opposed, seeing no jobs in the bill.”

President Obama is ramping up his phony progressive campaign rhetoric, trying to once again masquerade as something other than a Wall Street servant. But this time around, he is weighted down by his actual record in office, which shows Obama to have been a savior to the bankers and money speculators. Now, the president has joined with Republicans to create a whole new class of con men and corporate criminals who will further fatten the fees of banksters by blowing up another multi-trillion dollar bubble of doomed and fraudulent hi-tech firms. To add insult to injury, Obama, his congressional Democrats and his Republican soul mates had the nerve to set the stage for this disaster by passing something they called a “JOBS” bill.

Of course, there are no jobs in the bill. The acronym stands for “Jumpstart Our Business Start- Ups Act,” and it's an invitation to a con game.

The new law, passed by 73 senators with Obama’s enthusiastic endorsement, allows corporations with less than $1billion in revenues – that’s a billion, as in a thousand million – to avoid hiring a professional auditing firm for five years after the company begins selling stock to the public. That means five long years of taking other people’s money without having to tell the truth about how your business is really doing. The scheme is designed to encourage what the money guys call “crowd funding” on the Internet, with little oversight by regulators.

Make no mistake: this is not an opportunity for those of you who want to open up a restaurant or a bar or a bookstore. Companies making less than $75 million can already avoid being subjected to professional audits; this bill extends the privilege to corporations at the billion dollar mark, who can now ensnare investors in their webs for twenty consecutive quarters without backing up a word of their sales pitch.

The scheme is designed to encourage what the money guys call 'crowd funding' on the Internet, with little oversight by regulators.”

Of course, the banksters that handle these transactions and the Wall Street gamblers who bet on them will get over like fat rats – for a while. And then it will all come tumbling down, just as President Bill Clinton’s Dot.com bubble did at the end of the roaring Nineties. The collapse destroyed $5 trillion in investments, and led to the first George Bush recession, from which Black folks did not have a chance to recover before being crushed again by the meltdown of 2008.

Where did this phony “JOBS” bill come from? From the bowels of the Obama administration, where the task of creating employment is the purview of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, packed with corporate executives from General Electric, Intel, Citigroup, Xerox, Boeing and American Express. Organized labor was adamantly opposed, seeing no jobs in the bill. But Obama doesn’t listen to unions, because he knows they will take an infinity of abuse rather than fight with a Democratic president. And the Black misleadership class has made itself totally irrelevant.

The lesson here is: late stage capitalism, which is incapable of creating real jobs in the United States, is pinning its hopes on inflating another hi-tech bubble to keep the casino wheels spinning for a few years. When the bubble bursts, they are confident that a bailout will be made available, no matter which party is in office. And the public will pick up the pieces.

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: 20120411_gf_PhonyJobsBill.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:19am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In just four years, the United States will fall behind China as the world’s largest economic engine. The problem is, what the U.S. cannot achieve by economic or diplomatic means, it will attempt to accomplish by military force. America will not graciously accept decline. “It is a crisis, not of an ordinary nation state that happens to be an economic giant, but of a global system: imperialism.”

 

What Will the U.S. Do When It’s Number Two?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The pace of Washington’s aggressions in the world seems to be mounting as it approaches inevitable eclipse by Beijing in economic output.”

How will the United States react when China becomes the number one economy in the world? It’s a very serious question, because the U.S. is a very dangerous country, that still operates on the assumption that it has a Manifest Destiny to dominate the world. When the reigning superpower confronts its economic second fiddle status in 2016, it could throw quite a troublesome tantrum. In fact, the pace of Washington’s aggressions in the world seems to be mounting as it approaches inevitable eclipse by Beijing in economic output, as measured by the purchasing power parity standard.

Business Week magazine pondered America’s decline relative to China back in October of last year, noting that China’s economy had been the world’s largest for hundreds of years, until it was overtaken by the U.S. in 1890. But, back then, despite China’s huge internal economic activity, the country was straitjacketed by Euro-American imperialism, unable to project power even within its own borders.

Economist Dean Baker took a look at the U.S. as number two, last week, and reported that, by some measurements, China’s economy is already 20 percent larger than the U.S. However, Baker doesn’t anticipate any huge disruptions in the life of the planet due to America’s pending loss of the top economic slot. He is mistaken. Baker does point out that “the growing power of China has already increased the options available to many countries in the developing world.” And that brings us closer to the heart of the growing crisis for the United States. It is a crisis, not of an ordinary nation state that happens to be an economic giant, but of a global system: imperialism, dominated by finance capital that is in the grips of a convulsive and, I believe, terminal stage of decay.

It is a question of the survival of their rotten system.”

Having been forced, by capitalism’s inherent contradictions, to export production of actual goods to the South and the East – much of it to China – the Americans and western Europeans have lost their ability to dominate the terms of global trade – at least, by economic means. Their own multinational corporations have expedited the deindustrialization of the home countries. The increased “options” that Baker refers to as being available to the former Third World – to Africa, Latin America and Asia – represent mortal dangers to the U.S. and its imperial junior partners. The Americans and Europeans cannot compete with China, India, Brazil and other rising economic players, and cannot sustain their inherently unstable, casino-like financial structures in the absence of ever-increasing profits. Colonialism and neocolonialism provided such profits, while locking the rest of the world in a straightjacket – like China used to be.

The imperialists have always rigged world markets to their own super-advantage. Otherwise, they cannot compete. So, it is not just a question of whether U.S. rulers will accept being number two. Rather, it is a question of the survival of their rotten system. That's why they spend more on weapons than the rest of the world, combined. And that's why a United States in decline is a grave danger to the entire planet. It's going to be a very rough ride down.

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: 20120411_gf_ChinaNumberOne.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:02am EDT

Some so-called civil rights leaders talk up economic boycotts over Trayvon Martin, the same way some of them did over Troy Davis a few months ago, and the state of Ariizona before that. But what if economic boycotts really don't work for stuff like that? What are these so-called leaders really doing, and why?

Economic Boycotts Over Trayvon Martin Are Cynical Misdirections of a Potential Movement

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The calls made most notably by Rev. Al Sharpton for economic boycotts of Sanford Florida for Trayvon Martin and in the case of brutally beaten Georgia prison inmate Terrance Dean, for boycotts of certain Georgia products are at best deeply wrongheaded, and more likely cynical and deliberate misdirections of popular outrage.

Think about it. Economic boycotts are the tools of choice when you do not have direct access to the powerful people making the decisions. When you call for an economic boycott of Arizona or Florida or Georgia, what you're trying to do is cause economic distress to some wealthy interests, in the hope that they will importune unidentified fellow members of the ruling elite to make some of the changes you need.

Economic boycotts were used in the early and mid-twentieth century by Chinese and Indians fighting for control of their own countries against colonial powers. In the late twentieth century, global economic boycotts mounted in the US and elsewhere were potent political weapons against the South African apartheid regime, and are indispensable tools in the fight against Israel's version of apartheid and its brutal 60 year occupation.

But the decision makers and levers of power over brutal police departments, arbitrary prosecutors and the runaway prison state are not somewhere across the ocean. They the governor's office in every state, the sheriff and prosecutors in every county. They are the Congress, the White House, and the legislators in every state. They are the mayors in every city and town who hire and fire the police chiefs that carry out the policies of aggressive hyper-policing in black and brown communities across the land. Just about every extended family contains prisoners or former prisoners, and almost as many have cops, sheriffs and prison guards as well.

When so-called civil rights leaders tell us we need an economic boycott to reach out and touch these people and their offices, they are misleading and lying to us.

Why do they do this. Some of them are business school graduates who actually believe what they learned in school --- that the market is some kind of divine power that watches over everything. It's not. Some propose boycotts because they just don't know what else to do, and are too busy safeguarding their places as intermediaries representing people who have problems to actually solve those problems. Still others assure us that the vote is power, the vote is the solution, even though Democrats, black ones included, are heavily complicit in the prison state themselves. Their job is to bottle up the widespread outrage around the latest vigilante killing, police atrocity or state-sponsored murder and redirect it into safe channels that threaten nobody and change nothing.

These are leaders who don't want to march on or occupy state houses, city halls and the White House with clear demands to end the drug war, to provide jobs and justice and commence a dialog on how begin rolling back the prison state. Real movements start with real demands, and a refusal to go home until they are heard. We invite you to sign the Trayvon Martin petition at ushrnetwork.org --- that's ushrnetwork.org, and to boycott the next fool who tells you to boycott somebody else for Trayvon Martin.

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: 20120411_bd_boycott_the_misleaders.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EDT

Honor Dr. King (and Real Black History): Oppose Obama’s Wars

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Dr. Martin Luther King who was assassinated in Memphis, April 4, 1968, broke with a Democratic president over the “giant triplets” of militarism, extreme materialism, and racism. Obamite revisionists must, in effect, gag the actual Dr. King to make him compatible with the current resident of the White House. They portray all of Black history as preparation for Inauguration Day, 2009. The true voice of MLK, the anti-warrior, is silenced for Obama's sake.

 

Honor Dr. King (and Real Black History): Oppose Obama’s Wars

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If you believe the revisionists, the whole of Black history has been a series of supporting acts leading up to the Main Event: the First Black U.S. Presidency.”

Every year, African Americans pay respect to Dr. Martin Luther King on the anniversaries of his birth and death. Since 2009, however, these occasions have been put to the service of a revisionist and essentially obscene narrative that portrays the great triumphs and sacrifices of the Black Freedom Movement in general, and Dr. King’s life work in particular, as mere preludes to the ascension of Barack Obama to the White House, four decades later.

This narrative finds expression in the fast-buck language of t-shirts that photo-shop Dr. King shaking hands with Obama, a digital miracle achieved by erasing Malcolm X from the actual photo – a huckster’s trick that amounts to a kind of political assassination of both Malcolm and Martin, and of Black history. We hear the twisted narrative in the popular post-2009 rhyme: "Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Obama could run, Obama ran so our children can fly!" What the rhymer is saying, is that Rosa Parks and Dr. King and a whole people in motion – all the sacrificing, dying, theoretical agonizing, political strategizing and, sometimes, sheer terror of the struggle – were simply a prelude to Barack Obama’s inaugural ball. Dr. King’s and Malcolm’s lives – and thousands of others – were snuffed out so that one day we would have those pretty pictures of Barack and his family in the executive mansion. What the revisionist narrative and the little poem really mean, is that the whole of Black history has been a series of supporting acts leading up to the Main Event: the First Black U.S. Presidency.

Of course, if that really were true, then we would already have arrived at the end of Black politics and history. Ironically, this is what Black people’s worst enemies would also like to believe.

Dr. King would oppose the Obama administration’s foreign and domestic policies, just as he broke with the much more liberal President Lyndon Johnson.”

Once you have bought into the revised history of Black people from Rosa Parks to the present, once all of the players from the past have been aligned in ways that make Obama inevitable, it becomes all but impossible not to believe that these dead ancestors would enthusiastically support the First Black President. Especially Dr. King, the most widely revered ancestor.

However, we knew Dr. King; he is probably our most documented – and self-documented – Black leader. His words, his writings, his life, testify to the certainty that Dr. King would oppose the Obama administration’s foreign and domestic policies, just as he broke with the much more liberal President Lyndon Johnson. Dr. King would see clearly the “giant triplets,” as he called them, at work in this administration: racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. It is an administration bankrolled by and in service of Wall Street: the most extreme materialism. Obama has expanded the theaters and technologies of war, and claimed the sole right to determine who shall be killed anywhere on the planet: militarism at its worst. And Obama is so intent on protecting white supremacy and privilege, he pretends it doesn’t exist: that is some deep racism.

Dr. King, like anyone else, would like to be remembered for his actual battles and beliefs. But you can’t celebrate Obama and celebrate Dr. King at the same time, and so the Obamites revise history and put a gag Dr. King – so that he can’t denounce Obama as a warmonger from the grave.

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: 20120404_gf_MLK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT