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

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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