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

The Justice Department has launched a flurry of phony investigations in the LIBOR scandal, with the ultimate aim of protecting the banks from the consequences of their crimes. That's the same role the Obama administration played in the “robo-signing” scandal: immunizing the criminals. In the LIBOR scheme, Attorney General Holder and his crew will try to shield the banksters “from legal action by a host of other government agencies and, ultimately, from the global universe of parties that have been harmed by the bankster’s schemes.

 

Obama's Justice Department Rushes to the Rescue of LIBOR Criminals

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case.”

The Obama Justice Department is in theater mode, again, pretending to threaten the bankster class with criminal penalties – prison time! – for their manipulation of the global economy’s benchmark interest rates. The Justice Department claims to be building criminal and civil cases in the LIBOR scandal, which in sheer scope is the biggest fraud by international capital in history. But that’s all a front, a farce. Barack Obama has spent his entire presidency protecting Wall Street, starting with his rescue of George Bush’s bank bailout bill after it’s initial defeat in Congress, in the last days of Obama’s candidacy. He packed his administration with banksters, passed his own bailout and, in collaboration with the Federal Reserve, channeled at least $16 trillion dollars into the accounts of U.S. and even European banks – by far the greatest transfer of capital in the history of the world. Obama has reminded the banksters that it was he who saved them from the “pitchforks” of an outraged public. He pushed through Congress so-called financial reform legislation that left derivatives – the deadly instruments of mass financial destruction that were at the heart of the meltdown – untouched.

Wall Street may or may not remain loyal to Obama, but Obama has been loyal to Wall Street, the guys who gave him the campaign cash to become a viable candidate. His Attorney General, Eric Holder, a corporate lawyer to the core, is busily staging a pre-emptive LIBOR prosecution of bankers in order to shield them from legal action by a host of other government agencies and, ultimately, from the global universe of parties that have been harmed by the bankster’s schemes – a list that stretches to infinity. Holder’s job is to monopolize the LIBOR case, to the extent legally and humanly possible, grabbing jurisdiction and consolidating the cases against the banks with the aim of reaching a settlement that does not further destabilize the financial system.

The Justice Department has already given immunity to Barclay’s Bank, of Britain, and to the Swiss banking giant UBS.”

Holder and his boss already pulled that trick earlier this year with settlement of the bank “robo-signing” scandal – a scheme that would have ranked as the “crime of the century” until LIBOR came along. A small group of state attorney generals were holding up an administration-brokered settlement that effectively gave the banksters immunity from prosecution, in return for a measly $25 billion payout. Obama used every power of his office to pressure the state law officers into line. The last one capitulated with a promise from Obama that a “special unit of prosecutors” would expand the investigation into abusive mortgages practices. You haven’t heard a peep about it, since.

Now Obama and Holder are playing the same diversionary game, making tough noises about criminal investigations of the LIBOR conspirators. But the Justice Department has already given immunity to Barclay’s Bank, of Britain, and to the Swiss banking giant UBS. More immunities will follow. The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case. In the end, there will be settlements all around, and the banksters will move on to even more fantastic heights of criminality – thanks to the loyal, protective hands of President 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: 20120718_gf_HolderProtectsBanks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:56am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama will be remembered as one of the chief architects of the American police state. His preventive detention law nullifies due process, leaving citizens naked to the whims of the executive. Now Obama has empowered himself to seize control of all the nation’s communications systems, under the guise of emergency preparedness. “The ‘emergency’ he has in mind is a State of Emergency – martial law.

 

Obama’s Media Takeover Powers: The Infrastructure of a Police State

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

He has authorized the imposition of total silence except for the sound of his own voice.”

Earlier this month, on a Friday evening after most of the White House press corps had gone home, President Obama gave himself thpower to take over, or shut down, all of the nation’s communications systems – including the Internet. The executive order is supposedly designed to preserve “survivable, resilient, enduring” and effective communications so that the government can speak to the people in the event of some emergency. But what he has authorized is the imposition of total silence except for the sound of his own voice.

Clearly, in a legitimate emergency, the government needs ways to communicate – but that does not require a monopoly. So, why is Obama giving himself – and any president that follows him into the Oval Office – a total communications on-and-off switch?

The administration claims it is authorized to bring all communications under its control by the 1934 Communications Act, which allows the takeover of broadcast stations and other wireless media if there exists a state of war, or the threat of war. Back then, of course, the public was fairly sure that they knew what “war” was: Congresses declared it. The “threat” of war was pretty self-evident, too: it was when other nations were threatening to attack the United States, or vice-versa.

However, we are now in what both Presidents Bush and Obama have made clear is a perpetual war, a war that is not defined by any legal norms or foundational statutes, a war against whoever the president decides is the enemy – which can include American citizens. Both of these War Presidents have told us in multitudinous ways that we are on a war footing – and have not been off it since 9/11, and will not be on any other kind of footing until some future president gives the “all clear” sign.

He is methodically preparing the infrastructure for a police state.”

Obama’s executive order has nothing to do with getting out an effective distress call to the nation during a crisis. The “emergency” he has in mind is a State of Emergency – martial law. He is methodically preparing the infrastructure for a police state. Obama already has in place his preventive detention legislation, which he signed into law in the news-less hours of last New Year’s Eve. It empowers the president to lock up whomever he chooses, without charges or trial, and to keep them for as long as the executive sees fit. Based on the near-limitless powers Obama already claims to possess, he can also kill such enemies of the state if that is in the interests of national security in this time of war. There is nothing that he recognizes as law that says he can’t take such drastic executive action against thousands, or tens of thousands of Americans in one sweep.

And now, with his new executive order, if the president finds it convenient, he can take over the national communications network – down to the last, feeble Internet voice – to explain why it was necessary for all those people to disappear.

Or maybe he’ll say nothing at all. And nobody else will dare to say anything, 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: 20120718_gf_ObamaCommunications.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40am EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

A recent Washington Post article by author and MSNBC personality Toure equates hip hop’s “failure” to combat the drug scourge with the damage inflicted by successive government “drug wars” in/against Black America. Toure creates a dangerous and distorted kind of moral equivalence, since his “premise is that hip-hop is equal somehow in power to monopoly capital and state power.” In reality, hip hop is a victim of the same forces that oppress Black people as a whole.

 

Hip-Hop Toure’, Hoe, Hay, Hoe...”

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

Toure’ carefully emphasizes only corporate-sponsored rappers who are placed among us like agent provocateurs.”

No, Toure’ is not THE problem. One less Toure’ won’t mean liberation. And as long as intelligent people continue to see mainstream “news” outlets like the Washington Post as threats against our political consciousness the damage caused by those compelled to sell themselves to these outlets might be limited. But it sure is tiresome to read hip-hop’s “punditry” continue to discuss hip-hop as some distinct, autonomous and organized powerful force when it is, remains and apparently will continue to be, the brilliant colonized expression of a wonderful but still colonized Black nation.

So Toure writes this week for the venerable establishment press how the national war on drugs was bad, but only equal in blame to hip-hop for having “failed black America.” And then to again prop up these wholly false euphemisms – like this thing called a “war on drugs,” which is a war against Black people, poor people, oppressed nations; or this thing called “hip-hop” which is only the cultural force of unfree people – Toure’ carefully emphasizes only corporate-sponsored rappers who are placed among us like agent provocateurs to take up all the air in the room and with it all the thoughtfulness, analysis and action.

Toure’s premise is that hip-hop, equal somehow in power to monopoly capital and state power, chose willfully to adapt itself to a growing White audience that wanted the stereotypical gangster stories as opposed to any form of radical thought, specifically Black Nationalism. He writes, “When its audience was black, hip-hop embraced black nationalism, Afrocentrism and social consciousness; it was rebellious and almost always antidrug. After the audience whitened, many MCs embraced criminality and sold the image of the criminalblackman. Black nationalism was out, embodying drug dealers was in.”

Propaganda functions best when it looks real. So of course, when Black cultural expression is unchecked by imperial corporate dominance it is more likely to reflect the still un-met desire for liberation. It will naturally call out its nationalism. But Toure’ leaves out the important and real fact that audiences of that radical Black music were increasingly African diasporic, Asian and White. No shift in content was required to expand audiences. In fact, Black Nationalism in the decades preceding rap music’s rise had already proven itself as an inspiration to international mass movement-building.

Subsidiaries to some of the largest corporations in the world got involved in music to subdue its radical tendencies.”

No, it wasn’t that rappers wanted to bling it up for White audiences. It was that White supremacist corporate colonial masters wanted to assure an end to the intriguing nationalism that ran amuck prior to their involvement. Subsidiaries to some of the largest corporations in the world got involved in music to subdue its radical tendencies and to disrupt any potential radical cross-racial, cross-national unity to develop. As interest in hip-hop grew beyond African America these corporate interlopers, these “legal fictions,” intervened so this increased engagement with the world would be based only on the form of that expression which had been sufficiently doped up and infantilized.

But Toure’ and his sponsor can neatly skip all of that silliness. As he writes, the United States, “surely failed its black male citizens by targeting and imprisoning them when joblessness and the crack epidemic left them with few real options. They were conveniently villainized, arrested and warehoused to help politicians, judges, prosecutors and police win the public trust." But just in case his readers might actually believe that or follow up on all this nicely-worded euphemism Toure' brings them back from the brink of reason. He continues, "But hip-hop also failed black America, and failed itself. It’s unavoidable that hip-hop and the war on drugs would become intertwined. But the music could have been a tool of resistance, informing on the drug war’s hypocrisies instead of acquiescing to them. Hip-hop didn’t have to become complicit in spreading the message of the criminalblackman, but the money it made from doing so was the drug it just couldn’t stop getting high on.”

Hip-hop never became “complicit” in speaking against its people. It has suffered the attack all autonomous nations suffer when facing empire. And yet if those outside corporate sponsorship are consulted thesetalented hip-hoppers show and prove that radicalism is live and well, just not in the pages of the establishment press.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. For more check us out online at: BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. He is author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto and co-editor of the forthcoming A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X (Black Classic Press, 2012). He can be found online atIMIXWHATILIKE.ORG.

Direct download: 20120718_jb_HipHopRadicals.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32am EDT