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

Obama & Holder Win Court Case, Keep Thouands in Prison Under Unfair 80s Crack Sentencing Laws

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

Are establishment black “civil rights organizations” like the NAACP, the National Action Network and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund really opposed to mass incarceration and the prison state?

I got an email yesterday from the NAACP LDF, the outfit founded by none other than Thurgood Marshall, who litigated Brown V Board of Education back in the 1950s. The email said that the federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had just ruled that the so-called Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reducing the racist laws fixing the penalties for crack cocaine at 100 times those for powder cocaine to a somewhat less unfair ratio of 18 to 1 would not be applied retroactively to the thousands of people still serving obscenely long prison sentences from the quarter century those laws were enforced.

The press release went on to say that they are heartened that 7 judges did favor the release of the prisoners suffering these unfair sentences, and that “...Their powerful dissents encourage us to remain steadfast in our effort to win the release of those held under draconian and discriminatory sentences.”

The NAACP LDF which represented the families of prisoners serving these unjust sentences knows very well that this is a political issue and a political struggle.

So why did the NAACP LDF fail to mention that their legal opponents in this case were President Barack Obama's and Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department, which opposed in court the application of the very law which the president signed and the attorney general lauded.

Let me say that again... First, it was the Obama-Holder Justice Department which first refused to retroactively reduce the unfair crack cocaine sentences under the law the president signed and the attorney general praised Secondly, it was the Obama-Holder Justice Department which went to court to keep those people in prison. They lost when the trial judge ruled they should be released. And third, the same Justice Department run by the same first black attorney general under the first black president appealed the order to reduce those sentences, instead seeking and obtaining yesterday's ruling by the 6th circuit court of appeals.

But you wouldn't know any of this from the NAACP-LDF's press release. Or NAN's or any of the rest of the corporate-funded black “civil rights' establishment. You could have read it in Black Agenda Report

On mass incarceration in general and the reduction of these unfair, unjust sentences, our first black president and attorney general are howling hypocrites, saying one thing and doing another. Their hypocrisy is enabled by traditional black civil rights organizations like the NAACP-LDF, who refuse to make a political issue out of Obama's and Holder's hypocrisy. The “civil rights” establishment is in a bind. They claim to oppose mass incarceration and the prison state, although they've only just learned the phrase “mass incarceration” and cannot fix their lips to say “prison state.”

But since their first priority is boosting the political fortunes and careers of their peers in the black political elite, who we affectionately call our black misleadership class, they are unable to call the devil in charge of mass incarceration by his name, if that devil has a black face.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20131204_bd_mass_incarceration.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:08pm EST

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

Unemployment Drops Mostly Because People Stop Looking: The New Normal in the Age of Black Political Empowerment

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

Normal things are the ones we don't think or talk about much, not because they are unimportant, but because they are, well, normal.

It's important, though, for us to interrogate some of these old normals, and to question why some new things are also passing into the never-mentioned land of the normal as well.

Take black unemployment. For as long as the stats have been kept, since well before the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and the election of thousands of black faces to offices high and low across the country, black unemployment has never been less than double white unemployment. As recently as the 1970s and 1980s black politicians used to inveigh about fighting for full employment and something they used to call “a Marshall Plan for the cities” to turn it around. But now, with the numbers and supposed influence of black politicians at an all time high, addressing black unemployment isn't just off the table, it's somewhere out of the building. Both catastrophic black unemployment and the silence of the black misleadership class on the issue have been normal for a good while now.

Whenever the general unemployment rate drops a tenth or two of a percent nowadays, the talking heads at MSNBC and other outfits whose job is cheerleading for this administration fall over themselves to praise this president and his administration for their wise and far-seeing economic leadership. That's normal as well. But underneath those small reductions in unemployment is something ugly, something that's becoming another new normal.

Incremental reductions in unemployment, now more than ever before, seem to be driven by people giving up the job search as hopeless, people dropping out of the labor market to do whatever it is poor people do when they can't find work on the books. This has routinely become a large part of current reductions in unemployment, a new and disturbing normal in this, the supposed age of black political empowerment. If this were true under a white Republican, our black political leaders would be up in arms, at least long enough to mobilize us to vote one of their own into office. But in this, the age of the first black president, at what we are told is the pinnacle of black political power, is a new age, and there is a new normal.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20131204_bd_new_normal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48pm EST

Caribbean Peoples Outraged at Dominican Racism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Anyone born after 1929 who cannot point to one parent who was a Dominican citizen faces deportation.”

If there is a country where self-hatred is the national creed, it is the Dominican Republic, an overwhelmingly mulatto nation that seems constantly at war with its own Blackness. It is a country where Europeans have always been a small minority, yet whose national legislature once passed a law declaring that all Dominicans are white. Dominican beauticians have done their best to enforce that law by becoming the most skillful skin lighteners and hair straighteners in the world. It is obvious to any sane person that the Dominican Republic does not like itself, and has no national identity except in opposition to the deeper Blackness of Haiti, with whom it shares the island of Hispaniola, and to which Dominicans owe a great debt, for ridding their common territory of slavery more than two centuries ago. But, the Dominicans are not grateful; rather, they are perpetually resentful that the deep Black presence of Haiti is always there to remind them of their own indelible African origins. Unable to purge themselves of their Blackness, Dominicans periodically attempt to dispel the Haitians.

In 1937, the Dominican Army killed as many as 20,000 dark-skinned people on the border with Haiti in what was called the Parsley Massacre. The most recent eruption of Haiti-hatred was set off this September, when a Dominican court ruled that up to a quarter million people of Haitian descent could be declared stateless persons. These include the children of Haitians who arrived generations ago, who speak only Spanish, dance to Latin rhythms and have never been on the Haitian side of the border. Anyone born after 1929 who cannot point to one parent who was a Dominican citizen faces deportation.

The mostly African-descended Caribbean neighborhood has run out of patience with Santo Domingo.”

All the peoples of the Caribbean are familiar with the Dominican disease, that peculiar mass mental illness of self-hatred. Self-haters also make bad neighbors, and before long, grassroots activists across the Caribbean were urging their governments to take action against the Dominican outrage against Haitians and all Black people. Although today’s crop of Caribbean politicians is notable for its meekness, the Dominicans had gone too far. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States expressed its “collective abhorrence” at the Dominicans’ “repulsive and discriminatory” actions. Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, called for the Dominican Republic to be suspended from the Caribbean Community and cut off from access to subsidized Venezuelan oil.

The Dominican Republic needs to learn that its twisted racial attitudes will no longer be tolerated. It may take generations to cure the sickness that afflicts so many Dominican minds, but the mostly African-descended Caribbean neighborhood has run out of patience with Santo Domingo. Dominican president Danilo Medina will soon submit to his legislature a “National Regularization Plan for foreigners.” Medina pretends that his countrymen want only to create an orderly system of immigration. But everyone knows it’s all about Haitians, and Blackness. The fact is, Haitians make up more than 90 percent of the Dominican agricultural workforce; they are indispensable to the economy. The two peoples are linked by history and blood – a lesson that Dominicans will have to be taught by their Caribbean neighbors.

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: 20131204_gf_DomRepRacism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56am EST

Giving Thanks For Whistleblowers, Leakers, Old and New Maroons

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

There are selfless and courageous people, and representing precious historical traditions for which we ought to pause and be thankful. In early 21st century North America, these brave souls are whistleblowers and leakers, the spiritual and sometimes the literal descendants of maroons.

Maroons were the scourge of slaveholding societies in the New World from Brazil and Surinam to Colombia, Cuba and all the West Indies. Maroons were slaves who resisted by escaping, remaining at large and wherever possible, forming communities to actively resist their recapture. In Brazil, one community of maroons called Palmares remained independent for nearly a century, repelling dozens of raids and incursions by Dutch and Portuguese slavemasters. Black Brazilians still celebrate the life of Zumbi, the last leader of Palmares every November. There were armed maroon uprisings and sustained maroon wars throughout the Caribbean. In Haiti it was maroon uprisings, in conjunction with competitions between colonial powers which ultimately led to the world's first republic established by former slaves. There were maroons in the United States as well, though roads and railroads and free back country whites, things that existed nowhere else in the slaveholding Americas, made sustainable maroon communities immensely more difficult, but not impossible.

Today's whistleblowers and leakers, like the resisting slaves of two and three centuries ago, are the bravest and most selfless among us. Like the maroons of two centuries ago, they risk their careers, their and what personal freedom they do have to tell the truth about corporate and government wrongdoing, for which they often pay heavy prices. Our own Marsha Coleman-Abedayo is one of these courageous souls.

No US administration has been more vicious in its efforts to pre-emptively clamp down on government employees and contractors than that of our First Black President. Unaccountable private corporations are every bit as savage in the pursuit of employees and journalists who expose their practices. Corporations like Amazon and many Big Ag firms have bribed state and federal officials to enact a wide range of gag laws forbidding former employees to write or speak about working conditions and practices in warehouses, factories, farms, pharmaceutical plants and laboratories to name just a few places under pain of years in state or federal prison. Corporations have used their influence in government to label some of these truth tellers as “terrorists”, exposing them to a galaxy of extra punitive measures.

The fates of Private Chelsea Manning, of fugitive Edward Snowden, and dozens or hundreds of well-known recent political prisoners are also eloquent testimony that the tradition of individual modern maroons is alive and well. And though WikiLeaks, an international newsgathering collaborative, analogous to a global maroon community has been severely weakened by illegal financial maneuvers endorsed by hostile governments, it still releases important new information like recent details of the secret negotiations of the so-called Trans Pacific Trade Partnership.

You won't find the tradition of the maroons in the black church today, or in black businesses, or among blacks in public office. You'll find it among those who stand up for the poor against corporate and government abuse – among our whislteblowers, our leakers, our maroons. For this, we should pause and give thanks.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20131125_bd_giving_thanks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:16pm EST

A More Perfect Union”: Historian Henry Louis Gates Mangles, Obscures Black History

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

The final installment of Dr. Henry Louis Gates' latest PBS series, “Many Rivers To Cross” was nothing to write home about.

It was a lazy and dishonestly drawn picture purporting to do what black scholars whoring for the establishment in the age of Obama are always trying to do, namely paint the rise of the black misleadership class and its first black president, Barack Obama as the logical and the inevitable outcomes Sof the black Freedom Movement of the fifties and sixties, and of what they misleadingly the Black Power movement of the sixties and seventies.

I call it “lazy” because instead of illuminating the contexts, the causes and the consequences of social and historical forces like real historians are supposed to do, Gates spins up a series of images and vignettes connected only by superficial commentary and narration.

He begins with the assassination of King, the rebellions in dozens of US cities, and five or six minutes on the Black Panther Party, emphasizing armed self-defense and coolness, while entirely omitting its socialist politics and how its opposition to the horrifically bloody war in Vietnam in which 2 or 3 million Asians died won it lots of allies in white America and around the world. The Black Panther Party was not a Black Power movement, it was a movement of black people against capitalist and racist empire.

In place of real analysis, Gates slides in a couple chummy minutes with Ron Karenga, nowadays a fellow professor whose US organization, as part of the FBI's COINTELPRO back in the day, murdered several Panthers in cold blood. Gates and Karenga share a chuckle about how FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover really didn't mean what he said about the Panther Party being the “greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” What Hoover really feared, the guy who shot Panthers offered helpfully, was “...a united black front.”

From there, Gates slips in quick succession back to the Panthers, to “black is beautiful” and Don Cornelius's Soul Train, to affirmative action and the birth of the current corporate-oriented black elite, including his own experience at Yale. He solemnly reflects upon the Cosby's and how the image of upwardly mobile black life spoke to his own experience. Gates doesn't forget to remind us that most of black America is relatively poor, over-policed, ill-housed and generally ill-served, and even uses the term “mass incarceration” a good two dozen times. At 36 minutes he mentions Katrina, but the only analysis offered is Kanye West on how “George Bush don't like black people.” From there Gates segues to Barack Obama's visit to Katrina evacuees at the Houston Astrodome, and the tears many shed at his inauguration.

A real historian noting the real status of black political power might have pointed out that Democrats, including the numerous and powerful Congressional Black Caucus refused to convene hearings on Katrina for fear of being labeled the black folks' party going into the 2006 elections. But Gates is not laboring under that burden.

Skip Gates doesn't want to teach us 52 minutes of history. That's not his job. His job is to justify the glittering careers of people like himself and his class, and the First Black President who are somehow supposed to represent the oppressed, even as they remain oppressed. His job is proclaim that he and his like are the pinnacles of black achievement, the fruits of our people's long struggle, the aim of and the end of the long march of black history, or something very like it.

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, a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party, and forty some years ago was a rank and file member of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

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Direct download: 20131125_bd_skipgates_vs_blkhistory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm EST

Obama’s Ludicrous Afghanistan Declarations

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Since when has the U.S. voluntarily left anyplace it has forcibly occupied?”

The most ridiculous actor in the fictitious U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is not President Hamid Karzai, the hustler the U.S. installed as its puppet after the American invasion in 2001. The real clowns in this charade are those Americans that pretend to believe President Obama when he says the U.S. war in Afghanistan will end on the last day of next year. Obama is, of course, lying through his teeth. The United States and its NATO allies plan to keep 10,000 to 16,000 troops in the country, occupying nine bases, some of them set aside for exclusive American use – and would remain there at least ten years, through 2024. Shamelessly, Obama claims these troops – including thousands from the Special Operations killer elite – will have no “combat” role. It’s the same lie President Kennedy told in 1963, when he called the 16,000 U.S. troops then stationed in Vietnam “advisors,” and the same bald-faced deception that Obama, himself, tried to pull off, unsuccessfully, in Iraq – until the Iraqis kicked the Americans out.

Barack Obama has arrogated to himself the right to redefine the very meaning of war, having two years ago declared that the 7-month U.S. bombing campaign against Libya was not really a war because no Americans were killed. In Afghanistan, Obama waves his semantic magic wand

to transform the past 12 years of war into 10 more years of not-war, simply by changing the nomenclature. This is hucksterism from Hell.

There is zero chance of a zero option.”

If there was a Devil, he would be laughing his butt off at Susan Rice, Obama’s National Security Advisor and raving Banshee of War, whose assignment is to pretend that the U.S. might choose the so-called “Zero Option” if President Karzai doesn’t immediately sign away his country to the Americans for the next ten years. By “Zero Option,” Washington means it might just pick up its killer soldiers and weapons and leave Afghanistan. But that’s an empty bluff. Since when has the U.S. voluntarily left anyplace it has forcibly occupied? There is zero chance of a zero option. But, I am reminded of the events in 1963 Vietnam, when the Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother were overthrown and executed in a U.S.-backed coup. Sending the homicidal Susan Rice to get in President Karzai’s face is definitely some kind of threat.

Far from ending U.S. imperial wars, Barack Obama has expanded the theaters of armed conflict. He tried to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, but the Iraqis insisted on the withdrawal terms and timetable they had negotiated with President George Bush. Iraq is now paying a heavy price, as the U.S. and its allies arm Iraqi Al Qaida and other jihadist elements fighting to overthrow the government of neighboring Syria. These U.S.-backed jihadists – the same ones the Americans fought against in Iraq for eight years – now wage war against Shiites on both sides of the border.

If there is any hope for an eventual peace in the region, it is that Washington might finally begin to understand that it can no longer control events through brute force, or by using jihadists as surrogates in the Middle East and South Asia. Maybe that’s why the Americans have tried to strike a deal with Iran. Maybe President Karzai thinks the winds of change will be sweeping through his neighborhood, soon, and he doesn’t want to go out like the puppet he came in.

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

Executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20131127_gf_ObamaStan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

Just Like Bush: US Under Obama, Thumbs Its Nose at the World on Climate Change

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

Is there really any place where electing Democrats to the White House really makes a difference? Sometimes, people who call themselves progressives get it twisted, and imagine that environmental affairs are one of those places. But are they, really?

The world was shocked when the oil-soaked administration of George W. Bush openly thumbed its nose at the Kyoto Protocol, claimed there was no such thing as man-made climate change and refused even to send representatives to global climate change summits. The current Democrat in the White House ran with vague promises, amplified by his “progressive” surrogates, to rein in the oil companies. But now all that looks like empty campaign rhetoric, the cultural fluff that temporarily distinguishes the two parties from each other when they campaign, but vanishes when they govern.

Barack Obama was president, with a thumping Democratic majority in both houses of Congress when the DeepWater Horizon exploded and thousands of square miles of the world's most productive fishing grounds were poisoned. The Obama administration lied to the public about the extent of the leak, used the Coast Guard and US Navy to keep reporters and experts from flying over or visiting into the affected areas, made sure the token settlement didn't much affect the assets of the guilty parties, and passed no law or regulations to make sure it couldn't happen again.

This week, internal memos of the US Secretary of State's office demonstrated continued US determination to thumb its nose at the future of humanity in the face of climate change, refusing even to discuss reparations to the poorer countries whose growing deserts, raging storms, rising sea levels and collapsing agriculture are direct results of massive overconsumption of fossil fuels by the wealthier parts of the world. So China joined 133 countries – basically the entire developing world, in walking out of this year's UN Summit on Climate Change.

There was, they concluded, nothing left to talk about with the representatives of wealthy countries like the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and Britain, who have already burned enough coal and petroleum to make deserts in African and Asia larger, begin to melt large sections of the polar ice cover, decisively changing the world billions of poor people have to live in, while preaching to them about their solemn duty to conserve, and adapt. The developed countries will not “adapt” themselves, will pay no reparations for global damages already inflicted and to come, and led by the world's greatest environmental scofflaw, the United States of America, refuse to agree to any binding reduction in the rates and amounts of poison they dump into the planet's oceans and air.

Democrats or Republicans, environmental promises or none, the corporate elite of the developed world are rogues and outlaws. Suck it up, they tell the poorer countries. Adapt. We'll give you a loan (at ruinous interest) to do that. Conserve. We'll audit you. But nobody, the rich countries say, regulates or audits us.

No wonder the Chinese, and most of the world decided there was nothing more to talk about.

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 state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20131120_bd_climate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:33pm EST

Obamacare is Doomed by Its Internal Logic

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Private insurers make money by betting against the health interests of their customers.”

Obamacare is unraveling, not because the administration is particularly incompetent or unlucky, and certainly not as a result of the Republicans’ unrelenting hostility to the Obama health insurance plan. Indeed, ever since the bill’s passage in early 2010, the GOP’s holy war against Obamacare has served to solidify reflexive Democratic support for what has always been a Republican-inspired bill.

The truth is, the Affordable Health Care Act is coming undone because of its own, tortured internal logic. At root, it is a fraud on the public: a scheme to subsidize and more deeply embed a private insurance system that can only make profits by denying sick and vulnerable people health care, and playing different demographics of Americans against each other. As every other industrialized country in the world has already learned, it is impossible to build a genuine, universal healthcare system on a cut-throat capitalist foundation. Private insurers make money by betting against the health interests of their customers. Obama served his corporate masters by conspiring to make tens of millions more Americans into customers of private insurers. He tried to dress up one of the greatest corporate subsidies in history as if it were a solemn national mission, a rebirth of the social compact between the American people. But of course, Obamacare is no such thing; it is a racket to prop up private insurers with public money, while allowing the profiteers to continue to run the show.

It is a fraud on the public.”

You can’t hide a truth that big. The Obamacare website has suffered from terminal complexity because white collar crime is usually quite complex. The web site attempts to reconcile the profit margins and various products of a universe of private insurance corporations, while at the same time pretending to serve the health needs of the people at an affordable cost. Obamacare claims to be in the business of serving both the public and corporate stockholders. But that’s mission impossible. If Obamacare is based on making profits for private corporations – if that is what keeps the system going – then the public’s health care needs will always be an afterthought. And, that will be obvious in the way that the website is organized as a sales platform that matches federal subsidies with corporate products, rather than matching people with the medical resources they need to survive and thrive.

Website complexity and failures aside, Obamacare can never become part of a national social compact, something of which all Americans can be proud. That’s because, by definition, corporate insurance schemes divide people into “winners” and “losers” – although, of course, the big winner is always the corporation. Young, healthy people know they are the fatted calves of the insurance business, and they are avoiding Obamacare like the plague. If this were really a national health care program, like Medicare for All, then most young people would join in the national health care mission. But this is just Obama working a scam for the insurance companies, and young folks know it. Anybody who manages to get access to the web site knows it.

The fatal flaw in Obamacare can’t be fixed. The best thing that could happen would be a quick and total collapse. Large majorities of Americans still support Medicare for All, but Obamacare stands in the way of a real national health plan – just as the Republican right-wingers that invented Obamacare back in 1989 intended.

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: 20131120_gf_Obamacare.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:11pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

You know Black folks are in trouble when a Saturday Night Live skit provides more insight into African American politics than all the Black so-called political “analysts” at MSNBC. “Most African Americans are wholly unconcerned about Obama’s actual legislative and executive agenda.” The people are left defenseless, for the sake of an icon in the White House.

The Tragi-Comedy of Black Politics in the Age of Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Was there anything that Obama could do that would cause him to lose these Black folks’ support?”

Since the beginnings of Obamamania, we at Black Agenda Report have traced the appalling disintegration of Black politics at its most fundamental level: the evaporation of critical thinking when it comes to the actual policies of The First Black President. In speeches and in articles, I have often noted that much of Black America has ceased expressing their own political convictions on issues of war and peace and social justice, in favor of upholding whatever position Barack Obama seems to be taking. It is not that Blacks have embraced Obama’s aggressive militarism, his intimate relationship with Wall Street, or his relentless assaults on the social safety net. Rather, most African Americans are willfully oblivious of the nuts and bolts of what this president has wrought, or in the details of his plans for the future. They are wholly unconcerned about Obama’s actual legislative and executive agenda. The subject hardly comes up. As we wrote just two months ago, “The topic of Black conversation is usually not ‘What is Obama doing,” but, rather, “How is he doing?’”

So, it was somewhat disconcerting to see NBC’s Saturday Night Live’s recent five-minute skit about a fictitious Black public affairs program called, “How’s He Doing,” which the host described as “the show where the Black voter takes a frank and honest look at President Obama and asks, How’s he doing?”

In the sketch, Obama could do no wrong. Actors playing a writer for Ebony Magazine and a political science professor from Spelman College came up with comical rationalizations for the NSA spying revelations and the shaky start of Obamacare. They could not imagine breaking with Obama, whether he chose to become a Muslim, a Jew, a Scientologist or even an atheist. Was there anything that Obama could do that would cause him to lose these Black folks’ support? Apparently not.

They could not imagine breaking with Obama.”

It was a well done skit – and funny, in the moment. And then, at commercial break, deeply sad – not because it reflected the truth, but because the truth is much worse than a comedy sketch. It is not just that Obamacare’s web site is a disaster, but that his healthcare plan is a Republican scheme that will condemn additional millions of Americans to an early death, especially Black and poor people. The NSA spying revelations are more than an embarrassment; they reveal plans for a police state such as the world has never seen – and we know what American police states do to Black people. Those who are caught up in Obama’s spy web will have no recourse to the courts, under his preventive detention without trial regime. Obama maintains a “Kill List” and is as eager as any Republican to massacre tens of thousands in aggressive wars. He has already gone public with his plans to cut Social Security, on which Blacks disproportionately depend.

None of this is fiction, and it’s not a bit funny. At the end of the Saturday Night Live skit, the actors have a huge laugh at the very idea that things might have been better under Mitt Romney. But Black people and most of Saturday Night Lives white audience would have resisted Mitt Romney if he had sought preventive detention and more U.S. foreign wars and cuts in Social Security. But, they let Barack Obama get away with it – which is why he is the more effective evil, and why Wall Street and the Pentagon have the last laugh.

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: 20131113_gf_ObamaSNL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25pm EST

Rwandan War Criminals Defeated in Congo, But AFRICOM Riding High

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The U.S. has no intention of allowing anything approximating justice to break out in central Africa.”

After 17 years and the death of six million Congolese, the United States has finally shifted gears in its efforts to dominate central Africa. Earlier this year, Washington cut off military aid to Rwanda, which, along with Uganda, another U.S. ally, has been looting and terrorizing the mineral-rich eastern Congo since 1996. All those years, U.S. Democratic and Republican administrations have lavished arms and money on the two client states, and protected them from sanction by international forums and courts. The genocide in the Congo was central to U.S. policy in the region. While 8 percent of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s population was dying, Rwanda and Ugandan soldiers and thugs got rich acting as middlemen, funneling Congo’s precious minerals to multinational corporations. Meanwhile, both Rwanda and Uganda supplied soldiers to every U.S.-approved military mission on the continent, acting as America’s mercenaries in Africa.

So, why did the U.S. alter its policy? First, international pressure finally made it untenable for Washington to continue deploying its Black henchmen to destabilize central Africa. President Obama appointed former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a liberal by American standards, as his emissary to the Great Lakes region of Africa, and halted delivery of weapons to Rwanda. The Americans allowed the United Nations to form a special, 3,000-man intervention brigade empowered to use force against the so-called rebel group M23, which is actually led by the Tutsi-dominated government of Rwanda. This week, UN intervention forces backed up the Congolese army defeated the M23, sending its remnants fleeing across the Rwandan and Ugandan borders. The “rebels” announced they would end their insurgency.

Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame cannot be expected to turn on his own men.”

However, Rwanda has pulled these tricks before, and has never acknowledged that M23 is its own creation, or that many of the fighters’ top officers are, in fact, members of the Rwandan armed forces. According to Friends of Congo, the Washington-based advocacy group, there is only one way to ensure that M23 will not resurface by some other name, and that is to bring these genocidal criminals to trial. However, this would require that Rwanda turn them over to the Democratic Republic of Congo or some international authority. Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame cannot be expected to turn on his own men, and the United States would not relish a series of trials in which its own role in the slaughter of millions would be revealed in embarrassing detail.

Therefore, although Washington has put distance between itself and Rwanda, the U.S. has no intention of allowing anything approximating justice to break out in central Africa. The U.S. military command, AFRICOM, has grown by leaps and bounds under President Obama – who has permanently stationed a brigade of U.S. troops in Africa – and the reinforced United Nations military presence in the region does exactly what the United States tells it to. And finally, at the end of the day, the Rwandan and Ugandan regimes understand that they are only cogs in the imperial machine, and must do as they are told. The U.S. empire is alive and growing in central Africa.

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: 20131106_gf_CONGO.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:43pm EST

End Game For Corporate School Reform: Privatized Holding Tanks, Remote Ed, Military Charter Schools

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

Doug Henwood, a radical economist and founder of Left Business Observer, sums up the goal of bipartisan corporate education reform imposed on poorer neighborhoods as succinctly as anybody when he calls it “...low cost privatized holding tanks leading to McDonalds jobs for the lucky, a prison for the not so lucky...” along with remote education via computer rather than unionized teachers. As useful as this summation is however, it leaves out one element worth noting. You cannot run a global empire without a military class, any more than you can run a prison without prison guards.

In Chicago, the front line of so-called educational innovation, mostly because its current mayor, President Obama's former chief of staff holds dictatorial power over its public schools, one of the showpieces of education reform has been the handing over of entire high schools and even middle schools to the army, the navy and the marine corps.

Before the era of corporate reform there was at least one achievement of genuine small d democratic education reform pushed through by the administration of Chicago mayor Harold Washington in the 1980s. Since then parents in every public school have been allowed to elect parent councils, with reps from among rank and file teachers, which have veto power over title one funds and principal's contracts, which are limited to two years. The “innovative” answer of downtown bureaucrats, corporate elites and subsequent mayors to parents taking a hand in running the schools has been to simply close Chicago public schools and replace them with charters over which parents have no say.

This year, Chicago closed more public schools than any other school district in a single year in the nation's history. None were charter schools. This week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he was moving the middle school which had earlier been given to the marine corps into the facility of a fully functioning neighborhood school, Ames Middle School.

The fact that Ames parents and community members had testified, had met with officials and overwhelmingly rejected the closing of their school meant less than nothing, and may even have contributed the replacement of their school by a military academy. What mayor, and what alderman really wants organized parents running their own neighborhood institutions? It's bad for business if you're a privatizer, or a politician who takes cues and campaign contributions from privatizers. And ultimately habits of local democracy are bad for empire.

What Chicago, and corporate education reformers and privatizers and their contractors nationwide want, as Henwood observes, are low-cost holding tanks to funnel the well-behaved into low-wage precarious labor for the lucky and jail for the unlucky. They want distance education and computerized instruction because these are cheaper than human, potentially unionized teachers. And to Henwood's list we should add, they want a sprinkling of military charter schools. After all, you can't run an empire without soldiers, or a prison without guards.

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 state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20131030_bd_edreform_endgame.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EST

How Serious is the Caribbean Reparations Suit?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Real reparations means nothing less than a revolution in global power.”

Twelve English-speaking Caribbean nations, plus Haiti and the South American country Surinam, are going to court demanding reparations from their former colonial masters for the crime of slavery. Great Britain, France and the Netherlands, all of rich grew fat from generations of captured African labor, would be defendants in a trial before the International Court of Justice, the world body that adjudicates disputes between nations. The Black countries have hired the British law firm Leigh Day, which won a settlement for victims of British torture in Kenya. Judging by the way the lawyers tell it, this is going to be a very polite affair, in which the Caribbean countries will angle for some type of relatively modest money settlement.

By “relatively modest,” I mean that real reparations would be enough to forever sever the relationship of subservience of the former slave colonies to global systems of white supremacy and European rule. Real reparations means nothing less than a revolution in global power, because without such a revolution, those nations that became rich from slavery will maintain their position as overlords deep into the future. Ten or even fifty billion dollars in payments divvied up among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit will not change the basic master-slave relationship that has obtained since Europe embarked on world conquest, 500 years ago. Unless there is a fundamental political change within these Caribbean nations, such as occurred in Cuba, then any exchange of money will only reproduce the existing neocolonial relationships. If the leadership of Caribbean governments is incapable or unwilling to build new social relations at home, they cannot be expected to use reparations money to build true independence, internationally. I strongly suspect that what is really on the table is an “aid” package in “reparations” wrappings – which would be an insult to the ancestors and a deception of the living.

A just settlement of the monstrous crime of slavery would up-end the current world order.”

Let me make this clear: The Europeans on both sides of the Atlantic owe their relative prosperity to the millions of enslaved Africans, and to other peoples whose lives, lands and cultures were stolen in order to build the global white empire. There is no question that the Debt must be paid if there is to be any semblance of justice in the world. But, no court sitting in The Hague, in the Netherlands, or anywhere else, is going to dispense justice on a global and historical scale. Justice means taking Europe and the United States off the throne that was built on the bones of slaves. A just settlement of the monstrous crime of slavery would up-end the current world order. Anything less is merely a pay-off to Black politicians to make the historic indictment go away.

So, I am for reparations, internationally and here in the United States. Most of the Caribbean leaders, on the other hand, are already allowing their British lawyer to telegraph that all they really want is a nice package of aid with a “reparations” bow tied around it. They signal an eagerness to settle, even before the proceedings begin.

However, something useful may come out of this. The Caribbean nations say they will conduct an intense study into the many ways that slavery has hindered their national development. This could be a very educational exercise for the people of these countries. They might learn something about the real workings of power, and use it to overthrow their useless leaders, and help start a world revolution - to bring real reparations.

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: 20131030_gf_Reparations.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55am EST

Direct Rule by Wall Street Begins with Detroit

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The bankers would be empowered to exercise outright ownership of the city.”

Two items in the news this week put in graphic relief the overarching reality of our times: Wall Street is every day tightening its dictatorial grip on the political and economic life of the United States. The American state and economy are being relentlessly restructured in order to further consolidate the rule of finance capital. In the largely Black urban centers of the nation, the oligarchy intends to rule directly, without the inconvenience of meaningful elections and the other trappings of democracy.

Detroit proves the point. This week, a judge begins a bankruptcy court trial that will decide if local corporate dictator Kevyn Orr, the emergency financial manager imposed by the state to protect the interests of Wall Street, will essentially be allowed to sell Detroit’s assets to a British bank in order to pay off the city’s debts to American banks. The pensions of city workers may also be gutted in the process.

The city council of Detroit this week voted unanimously against the deal, but that is probably irrelevant, since the emergency manager law has stripped all power from Detroit’s elected officials. Democracy is dead in Detroit, as it is in all of Michigan’s largely Black cities, every single one of which is now run by a corporate dictator. The majority of Michigan’s African American citizens have no more electoral rights than did Blacks in South Africa under apartheid.

In the largely Black urban centers of the nation, the oligarchy intends to rule directly.”

This new political regime has been carefully crafted to the specifications of Wall Street. City revenues from Detroit’s casino and income taxes will go directly through accounts of Barclays Bank. And if, for some reason, the emergency manager loses legal control of the city, then Barclays would be allowed to declare Detroit in default and begin seizing its assets, for liquidation – that is, the bankers would be empowered to exercise outright ownership of the city. Detroit will then serve as a model for the rest of urban America.

Also this week, the U.S. Justice Department reached an agreement with JP Morgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank in terms of assets, whose chairman and chief executive, Jamie Dimon, is a good friend of President Obama. The settlement calls for $9 billion in fines and sets aside $4 billion in relief to homeowners that were victimized by the banks’ mortgage securities practices. Nobody, of course, will go jail or even face criminal charges for the multitude of felonies committed by high JP Morgan executives – crimes that would be categorized as racketeering offenses were the perpetrators not part of a ruling class that is immune from prosecution. Jamie Dimon, the Godfather of JP Morgan’s criminal enterprise, has the privilege of bargaining with the U.S. Attorney General over the size of the fine his bank will pay. Dimon himself, of course, won’t pay a cent, despite his role in throwing millions out of work and costing the world economy many trillions of dollars. His class has emerged from the crisis they created stronger than ever: too big to fail, too big to jail, more than big enough to gobble up Detroit, bigger than the voting rights of U.S. citizens – especially Black citizens – which can be cancelled when democracy gets in the way of Wall Street. All Power to the Bankers!

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: 20131023_gf_BanksAndDetroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45am EST

Desmond Tutu is Wrong: The AU Should Quit the International Criminal Court

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa.”

The African Union is on a collision course with the International Criminal Court, a tribunal that has indicted only Africans since its founding in 2002. In an extraordinary meeting of the African Union at it headquarters in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, the AU took the position that no sitting head of state should be prosecuted by the ICC while still in office. In the immediate term, the AU calls for the postponement of the trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, scheduled to begin in the The Hague, next month. Kenyatta and his deputy president are charged with crimes against humanity stemming from election violence in 2007. Last weekend, President Kenyatta told the African Union that the International Criminal Court “stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers” – a clear reference to the United States and Britain.

And that is the heart of the matter. It is a travesty of justice that the ICC only indicts Africans, but even more importantly, the International Criminal Court also only indicts those politicians that get on the wrong side of the United States and the former colonial powers in Africa. The ICC is a tool of U.S. foreign policy, an instrument of neocolonialism.

Among the apologists for the ICC is South African former archbishop Desmond Tutu, who says African leaders are “effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence.” Tutu says it all boils down to a question of “who should represent the interests of the victims?” However, in the real world of imperial power, Desmond Tutu’s reasoning is specious, shallow. He might just as well argue for the return of colonial rule, which established its own kind of law and order in Africa. The question is, whose law and whose order? The ICC represents U.S. foreign policy masquerading as law.

The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery.”

Tutu maintains that, without the deterrence of the ICC, African “countries could and would attack their neighbors, or minorities in their own countries, with impunity.” Well, that is, in fact, the case right now in Africa, and it has occurred with the complicity of the ICC, which has sanctioned and morally assisted mass murder and outright genocide by American allies on the continent.

And here lies the great irony. The very nations that most strongly oppose the ICC – Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia – have the blood of millions on their hands. Rwanda and Uganda are principally responsible for the death of six million Congolese over the past 17 years, an ongoing genocide armed and financed by the United States and Britain. The Ethiopian regime’s brutality toward its Somali and Omoro ethnic groups has also been described as genocidal. But, because the United States is also deeply complicit in these crimes, there is no threat of prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The court is only deployed against those countries and leaders targeted by the United States.

So, why are Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda worried? Clearly, they understand that, if the United States can give impunity, it can also take it away. They remember that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein used to be a U.S. ally, and that Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad cooperated with the U.S. war on terror – until the U.S. turned against them. The worst purveyor of crimes against humanity in Africa and the world is U.S. imperialism. The ICC is a cog in the imperial machinery, which recognizes no law, but only its own interests. You can’t fight U.S. Empire and its crimes and, at the same time, defend the International Criminal Court. They are one and the same.

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: 20131016_gf_AUvsICC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EST

Roll Over & Die, or Shut Up & Sell Out: HBCUs & the Talented Tenth in the Obama Era

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

HBCUs constitute three percent of America’s colleges but produce 20 percent of black graduates, 50 percent of black public school teachers and lawyers, 80 percent of black judges, and 90 percent of black BA’s...”

If there is a talented tenth, the phrase W.E.B. Dubois coined a century ago to denote the black elite whose success will enable them to somehow lift up the other 90% its beating heart lives those black colleges and universities. But the first black president is no fan of historically black colleges and universities.

Back in 2011, the Obama administration, more in tune with what its Wall Street contributors want than what its voting constituents need, made student loans significantly more difficult to get. Its new policies immediately caused 28,000 mostly African American students to drop out of historically black colleges alone for lack of funds to continue their education, and denied historically black colleges and universities a crucial $150 million a year in revenue. In the two years since, historically black colleges have begged for the restoration of the old rules on college loans but to no avail. The Obama administration has compounded the injury by releasing what it calls “college scorecards” that rank schools by graduation rate at a time when poorer students are dropping out in huge numbers nationwide due to economic stress.

Under these circumstances, the only way for historically black colleges to survive is to do the impossible --- to attract ever wealthier students at a time when overall black family incomes are dropping. This is a financial crisis that HBCU trustees across the country know they cannot survive unless something changes.

Many have noted the past two years that if these things happened under a Bush-Cheney administration the black colleges, their alumni and traditional civil rights organizations would have been in federal court a long time ago. But the black misleadership class's true causes are the careers of its own members and seeking the favor of those in power. So despite the title of an otherwise pretty good New Republic article “Why Black Colleges Might Sue the Obama Administration.” the spectacle of black colleges suing a black president to restore their students' access to higher education is just never never never going to happen.

What's their alternative? Jarret L. Carter of HBCU Digest is absolutely in tune with a large section of this class when he suggests that Condoleeza Rice be named the next president of Howard University, bringing her blood-stained rolodex of contacts from the board of Chevon, which once named a double-hulled oil tanker after her, and her record of lying and genocidal warfare around the world to that office. Rice, he contends, can sell corporations on the proposition that “investing in” --- basically taking over the cream of historically black colleges and universities will somehow benefit them. How any of this “uplifts” more than the tiniest fraction of African Americans who become admirals, generals and corporate fixers is unclear.

Those are the choices our black misleadership class sees for historically black colleges and universities. They can roll over and die. Or they can shut up and sell out. This is the corner they've led themselves into, and why we call them the black misleadership class.

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 is NOT an HBCU alum, and lives and works near Marietta GA. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20131016_bd_talented_10th.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41am EST

Lynne Stewart: The People’s “First Responder”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The following remarks were prepared for delivery at the St. Marks Theater in New York City for the 74th birthday celebration for people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, who is serving ten years in federal prison for zealously defending her client in a terrorism case. Stewart is suffering Stage Four breast cancer, but has been denied compassionate release by the Obama administration.

Power to the People!

We are here to celebrate Lynne Stewart’s birthday, as an affirmation of the human will to resist injustice. Her birthday is a joyous occasion, because many decades ago she chose to interpose herself between the forces of concentrated capital and white supremacy, and the rest of us. Lynne Stewart is a “first responder” in a time of great danger to the species and to all life on Earth. The Lords of Capital on Wall Street have their own armies of “first responders” wearing uniforms of blue or green or camouflage, backed by faceless legions of spies who lay traps in order to eradicate unwanted human “networks” – treating the people like roaches. The poor and oppressed have only themselves – and a few precious “first responders” of our own, like Lynne Stewart, the people’s lawyer.

Lynne has saved many from the clutches of the powerful – too many to mention, here – but there is one thing she could not save: the rule of law in the United States. The corporate plutocrats and the governments that serve them decided some time ago that legalities like Constitutions were no longer useful; that preserving Empire required the unfettered deployment of military and police force, mass incarceration and an infinity of surveillance. If such a regime were incompatible with the Law, as we have known it, then the Law must go.

The privileges of the One Percent cannot coexist with due process of law for the 99 Percent.”

The United States Constitution, which the rulers praised as a work of genius when it accommodated slavery and Jim Crow, has become too restrictive for the voracious appetites of Wall Street. Banks that are too big to fail demand impunity, not Constitutional Law – and so the Constitution must go.

The privileges of the One Percent cannot coexist with due process of law for the 99 Percent; therefore, due process must become whatever the president says it is. And, when the imprisonment of two-and-a-half million people is not enough to calm the fears of the rich, then preventive detention by the military must become the order of the day. Ultimately, the regime sees no choice but to call out its uniformed legions to lock up the most volatile sectors of the 99 percent, while its spies make lists of the human networks that will supply the next wave of detainees. Or, the president may prefer that they compile “Kill Lists” for his perusal.

Naturally, the people’s legal “first responders” like Lynne Stewart must be kept under lock and key at times like this. We are glad for the privilege of sharing Lynne’s birthday with her, even under such circumstances. Among all of her other accomplishments and good works, we congratulate Lynne for having outlived the rule of law in the U.S. However, the Lords of Capital may one day wish they had preserved the Constitution as they found it. Because, if Lynn Stewart cannot be allowed to be zealous in defense of her clients, then who will stand for the rich when the people’s wrath cannot be contained?

The plutocrats have used their power to destroy the system of Law, but Justice is something different, entirely. Justice tends to arrive in a terrible storm. When the rich cry out for compassion, should the people be merciful?

The people will ask their lawyer, Lynne Stewart, for guidance.

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: 20131009_gf_LynneStewart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49am EST

Obama Reeks of Sulfur at the UN

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Obama’s speech was one long threat against world order and the rule of law.”

President Obama went to the United Nations this week and declared war against the UN’s most fundamental founding principles, all the while claiming the U.S. is the world’s one indispensable, unique and exceptional nation.

The speech was a reminder of the reason rich people in America financed and sponsored Obama’s rise to the presidency in the first place, as the new, non-white face of U.S. imperial power. Obama’s foreign policy mission was to subvert United Nations prohibitions against the use of force except in self-defense, and to substitute a so-called “humanitarian” rationale justifying aggression by Washington and its allies. This constitutes a fundamental break with the UN Charter, signifying that the U.S. realizes it can no longer dominate the world by economic and other “soft power” and must, therefore, sweep away the accumulated structures of international law that inhibit America’s ability to smash its adversaries with raw military force.

Obama’s speech was one long threat against world order and the rule of law. He baldly stated that the U.S. is prepared to “use all elements of [its] power, including military force, to secure [its] core interests in the region” – a statement that is, on its face, a violation of the UN’s prohibition against the threat of the use of force against other nations. International law forbids the powerful from rattling their sabers over perceived challenges to their "interests" in other people’s countries. Obama, like the honey badger, doesn’t give a damn about international law.

He says that, “wherever possible” he will try to “respect the sovereignty of nations,” but will “take direct action” – meaning, military force – “when it is necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attacks.” That’s another way of saying the U.S. reserves the right to send drones anywhere in the world to kill whoever it wants, whenever it wants, for its own reasons that are nobody else’s business – which is the behavior of an outlaw, rogue state.

The U.S. reserves the right to send drones anywhere in the world.”

Among the “interests” that the U.S. sees as just cause for going to war, is the promotion of what Obama calls “democracy, human rights, and open markets” in the Middle East and North Africa. “These objectives,” says Obama, “are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with countries and people of the region.” Translation: The U.S. will continue to form “coalitions of the willing” to use military force for regime change or to preserve the status quo, circumventing the United Nations – a gross violation of international law.

Obama claims that “America is exceptional” precisely because it will go to war for so-called “humanitarian” reasons in order to prevent violence to civilians before it has occurred – that is, wars based on Washington's readings of its own crystal balls, such as NATO’s war against Libya. This is actually the doctrine of pre-emptive war, which is a blatant violation of the UN Charter whether the rationale is “humanitarian” or some other excuse.

In a final obscenity, Obama concludes with a shameless reference to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “dream.” Forty-six years ago, Dr. King declared that the U.S. was the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world." That is what is so exceptional about America: its relentless quest for military domination of the planet and utter disregard for the norms of law and civilization. Barack Obama is the planetary Warmonger-in-Chief. His breath smells of sulfur, just as George Bush’s did when he addressed the UN, seven years ago.

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: 20130925_gf_ObamaExceptionalismUN.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EST

The Living Legacy of Comrade George Jackson, September 23, 1941 – August 27, 1971

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

September 23 should have been the 72nd birthday of George Jackson. George Lester Jackson was born of black working class parents in Chicago, and grew up mostly in California. In 1961 at the age of 18, he was accused of sticking up a gas station for about $70. Represented by a public defender, he pled guilty and began serving a sentence of one year to life.

While in prison George Jackson learned to study productively and to write eloquently He took upon himself the project of politically organizing those confined in America's prisons and jails, eventually founding a chapter of the Black Panther Party behind the walls of San Quentin. Jackson's tireless work, his personal example and two best selling compilations of his letters, Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye, ensured that his influence was felt across racial lines throughout California's penal system and far beyond.

In January 1970 Jackson was accused of the murder of a prison guard. On August 7 of that same year his younger brother Jonathan Jackson staged a doomed rescue attempt at the Marin County courthouse in which four persons died and several were wounded, and in connection with which Angela Davis was prosecuted for murder and conspiracy. George Jackson's life ended on August 21, 1971 in a hail of gunfire under circumstances which strongly suggest a setup and assassination staged by California prison officials. More than twenty thousand people showed up for his Oakland California funeral.

Though Comrade George has been gone now a dozen years longer than he lived, his influence is more deeply and widely felt than ever, as the project of prisoners in the United States politically organizing other prisoners, their families and their communities to confront and dismantle the prison state remains very much alive and growing.

George Jackson lived and died before the rise of the current black political elite gave us dozens of black congressmen and women, and thousands of black mayors, state legislators, judges and sheriffs. Jackson lived and died before the massive expansion of the carceral state multiplied the US prison population five and sixfold through the seventies, eighties, nineties and into the new century. But these two facts of 21st century political life, the prevalence of black faces in high and low places combined with the use of prisons to sanction, stigmatize and cow a black working class our leaders have no intention of educating, empowering or providing useful work or stability for, make George Jackson's life and death, his example and his selfless dedication to the cause of organizing the prisoner class more relevant than ever.

Comrade George may be forty years dead, but his tireless spirit does not rest. In the last few years alone we have seen transracial prison organizing, in Ohio and Georgia, in New York and Virginia just to name a few, and most recently in the hunger strikes in the California prison system, in which thousands of prisoners took part at least for a time.

Our black misleadership class cannot even form its lips to say “mass incarceration” or “prison state” because it is deeply complicit in both. Democrats and Republicans have been and will be of little or no use in any movement that aims to roll back the prison state. The main body of leaders in that fight will arise from the same place George Jackson arose, from among the prisoners themselves, from former prisoners and their families. And as long as that struggle goes on, George Jackson lives.

Presente, comrade George Jackson.

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. He lives and works near Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com, or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20130925_bd_george_jackson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EST

Detroit is the Nexus of New American Apartheid

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

A great political and economic implosion is unfolding in urban America, with Detroit as ground zero.”

On October 5 and 6, the International People’s Assembly will hold a conference Against Banks and Against Austerity, in Detroit. By that time, many of the 10,000 party-goers expected at this week’s Congressional Black Caucus annual gala will just be getting over their hangovers, having spent thousands of dollars apiece strutting around DC hotel lobbies celebrating their personal upward mobility amidst Black America’s greatest economic and political crisis in modern times. The conference in Detroit is about the real world, where Wall Street is devouring the public sphere and driving actual living standards inexorably downward for the vast bulk of Americans, especially people of color.

Detroit is the epicenter of the African American economic and political crisis, an 85 percent Black metropolis whose citizens have been stripped of their fundamental democratic rights so that their public assets and private pensions can be confiscated by the finance capitalist class. Wall Street now runs the city outright, through an emergency financial manager. A similar regime prevails in all of Michigan’s largely Black cities, resulting in the disenfranchisement of more than half the state’s Black population. What is emerging in the second decade of the 21st century is a new version of American Apartheid, in which the inhabitants of largely Black urban centers are denied a meaningful vote or the legal capacity to safeguard their collective and individual property from the grasping hands of the rich. In the language of declining capitalism, this is called austerity, but in America it takes the form of a racialized order in which concentrated populations of Blacks have no rights that the bankers are bound to respect. While the party-goers clink their glasses at the Black Caucus gala in Washington, a great political and economic implosion is unfolding in urban America, with Detroit as ground zero.

The struggle also requires the rejection of what has passed for Black leadership in Detroit and the rest of America.”

The International Peoples Assembly conference demands that the so-called debt to the banks be canceled – not just for Detroit, which supposedly owes Wall Street $22 billion, but for cities, school systems, states and countries around the world that have been purposely made into debt slaves for the rich. Workers pensions and jobs, and the vital services they provide to the community, must be guaranteed. This is a critical demand, since the emergency management regime in Pontiac, Michigan, has stripped the municipal workforce down to only 20 people for a city of 60,000. The unemployed must be put back to work repairing the damage inflicted on Detroit by the bankers’ foreclosure and disinvestment policies. Public education, which is rapidly being privatized, must be restored to the public sphere and fully funded.

There are many more demands, but the solution begins with real popular democracy and the disempowerment of the banks. The struggle also requires the rejection of what has passed for Black leadership in Detroit and the rest of America: a chattering, swaggering, class of self-servers who have been selling the people down the river ever since they got a taste of power on the backs of the Black Freedom Movement of the Sixties. These are the folks who will be toasting President Obama this week, in Washington, a servant of the banks who cares no more for the people of Detroit than for the people of Damascus, or Baghdad, or Mogadishu.

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: 20130918_gf_DetroitAssembly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29am EST

What “Sanctions” Will Happen if the Rebels Are Shown To Have Used Sarin Gas?

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

President Obama still wants his war in Syria. To get him what he wants, the language in the agreement signed by the US and Russia over chemical weapons in Syria is sown with vague terms having multiple and contradictory definitions and nearly un-meetable conditions, all presented in a framework of blatant lies.

The language in the framework agreement says the Syrians must hand over not just their chemical weapons, but all “delivery systems” for such weapons. Is this a reasonable condition in an era when virtually every artillery piece from mortars on up can be loaded with chemical weapons? Is the Syrian army supposed to strip itself down to rifles and small arms to somehow prove a negative – something they will no more be able to do than Saddam Hussein could?

Most glaringly of all, there are pockets of Syria under control of the so-called rebels, many of them mercenary jihadists, armed, supplied and financed by the US, the Saudis, the Turks and the Israelis. Syria's rebels are widely believed to possess their own stocks of chemical weapons, and since they are losing the war, they have an urgent need to provoke the US into heavier involvement to rescue them from defeat by the Syrian regime. The rebels have not signed this agreement, or even been asked to.

Who will inspect the rebel zones and what, if any, sanctions will be applied if they do not surrender any chemical weapons in their possession? While the US says its clients are only the victims of chemical weapons, not their users, its evidence remains classified, with even US intelligence officials admitting that it's “no slam dunk.”

The Russians on the other hand claim the Syrian rebels used sarin gas against civilians back in March 2013, apparently trying to provoke US intervention. Russia submitted a 100 page report, far more detailed than the sketchy American allegations, detailing their findings back in July, and asked the UN to follow up. By the time poison gas was used again in late August, UN inspection teams were already in Damascus awaiting the arrival of their supervisors so that inspections of the areas where gas was used months earlier, allegedly by the rebels, could begin. This is why much of the world believes the Assad regime is quite unlikely to have used chemical weapons, with UN inspections teams only a few miles away.

As for weaving a context of lies to justify an eventual war, vice president Joe Biden repeated just yesterday the ridiculous claim that Syria had the largest stock of chemical weapons in the world. Amazingly no major US media corrected him, and US media reports falsely claim that UN findings implicate the Syrian government. There's a global treaty for the abolition of chemical weapons, under which the US is obliged to destroy its own chemical weapons. But the Pentagon says this will take 10 years, despite the existence of mobile units which are supposed to the job in Syria in a mere six months. Maybe after the mobile units finish up in Syria, the UN can send them here. We should hold our breaths till that happens.

The danger of war is not yet averted, and the agreement as it exists may yet give President Obama the excuse he needs to drop his bombs.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130918_bd_pretexts_4_war.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37am EST

The Unspeakable Truth Black No Democrat Can Utter: President Obama Is Lying On Syria

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

From the 1960 clear into the first decade of the new century black Americans were the most politically savvy, the most dependably and wisely skeptical US constituency when it came to our government's bloody lies nd misadventures overseas. Less than 10 percent of us endorsed the invasion of Iraq, but a full 40% of black America are willing to bomb Syria, a full 2% more than the 38% of white Americans who want this war.

The only thing that's changed since Iraq is the party and color of the president. Consumed by cowardice and ambition, most of our black misleadership class of politicians, preachers, TV talking heads and others are perfectly willing to endorse a war in Syria based upon lies even flimsier than those the Bush-Cheney gang used to justify the war in Iraq. After all, the black cruise missile liberals reason, the president is black, and a Democrat, and nobody's ever hurt their career by agreeing with a sitting president.

Even the “peace wing” among black liberals represented by figures like Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who affirms she will vote against Obama's war in Syria if given the chance, or Van Jones, who says he'd do the same if he had a vote pretend to believe every single lie the president and his advisors tell to justify that war.

They never mention the monstrous hypocrisy of US posturing on chemical weapons. They neglect to remind us that every one of the last eleven presidents has lied to get us and keep us into wars around the world which have killed millions. 2 or 3 million in Vietnam alone, another million perished in Iraq and countless more in invasions, bombings, deployments of special forces, mercenaries and drones on 4 continents from Central America to Africa to the Middle East. And they don't tell us that the US and its client states, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Jordan the Gulf States are funding and supplying the international mercenaries who make up most of the Syrian “rebels.”

By leaving out this crucial context, our black “peace liberals” make themselves completely unhelpful to, even directly in the way of building any movement principled opposition to wars of empire among black Americans. Their pretense of standing on the shoulders of Dr. King and other fighters for peace and freedom is just as hollow as Obama's was on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington..

They can't fix their mouths to say that like the last 11 presidents before him, President Obama is lying to justify an unjust war. Among many other falsehoods, there is little or no evidence connecting the use of chemical weapons with the Syrian government. There are even reports that the rebels are or were in possession of chemical weapons and carelessly mishandled them, causing the incident in late August.

If Republicans were in power black “peace liberals” like Van Jones or Barbara Lee, perhaps even black “drone war liberals” like Joy Ann Reed and Melissa Harris-Perry would have little or no trouble calling THEM liars, or reminding us of US hypocrisy on chemical weapons . A warmongering lie should be a warmongering lie, no matter the color or party of the president who tells it, but apparently not for black liberals.

Loyalty and craven deference to the black president on the part of all black liberals is really loyalty to the system that makes their own careers and ambitions possible. It far outweighs their loyalty to the truth, or to the legacy of real truth tellers and movement builders. It means that whatever movement is built to oppose wars of empire among black people and among all Americans will have to be built in spite of, and in opposition to black liberals.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 G)reen Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130911_black_misleaders_on_syria.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm EST

US, the Biggest User of Chemical Weapons in History Asserts "Right To Protect" Syria

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Outside the bubble of ignorance and unreality that corporate media and corporate rule impose on the US public, the world is horrified and aghast not at the alleged use of nerve gas against Syrian civilians, but at the notion that the United States claims the right to bomb Syria supposedly to “protect” its people.

From 1961 to 1972 the US military executed the biggest and deadliest chemical warfare operation in history. It was Operation Trail Dust, in which more than 20 million thousands of tons of blended dioxon and other poisons, the most famous known as Agent Orange, were sprayed across 10% of the land area of South Vietnam, along with big tracts of Laos and Cambodia.

The objective was to kill the lush triple canopy jungle in which Vietnamese fighters hid and through which they transported supplies, and to kill the animals & crops of Vietnamese peasants in areas the US and its puppets could not control, driving that population into its cities and so-called “strategic hamlets.” Many of the estimated 2 million wa r Vietnamese dead perished from the short term effects of US chemical warfare, while Vietnamese and other doctors verify that since then an estimated half million have been born with major impairments. To this day the US has never accepted any responsibility for this ghastly and ongoing atrocity.

Even if we stick only to western Asia, the US record on chemical weapons used against civilians is unprecedented.

During the 1980s Iran-Iraq war the Pentagon provided Saddam Hussein with satellite intelligence so he'd know where to fire his nerve gas at Iranian troop concentrations.

In its two Gulf Wars, the US littered Kuwait and Iraq with radioactive depleted uranium munitions which continue to poison countless civilians today. Hospitals in places like Fallujah report skyrocketing numbers of radiation-induced birth defects. And during the Obama administration the US winked at Israel's use of ghastly white phosphorus made in the USA against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

There are treaties banning chemical weapons, but none of them authorize any nation to launch “preventive” or punitive strikes against those who do. Most Arabs, most of the world knows this history, and so do more than a few Americans, including much of the so-called left.

The foremost practicioner of chemical warfare in human history is about to bomb a country one-fifteenth its size, for its alleged use of chemical weapons. If the Bush-Cheney gang were still in power, we might see Melissa Harris-Perry and Rachel Maddow reminding us of this awful record. But there's a Democrat in the White House, so the hypocrisy detectors have been turned off and the history teachers silenced.

This is what US policy makers mean when they talk about their “right to protect” civilians in other countries.

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 GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130904_bd_chemical_warfare.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:07pm EST

Does President Obama Want To Turn Syria Into Somalia? Maybe.

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

Presidents say lots of stuff we simply cannot take seriously. Anything about peace, jobs, human rights, or protecting the “middle class,” to name just a few, is pretty much bound to be nonsense and lies. Examples abound. But when presidents tell us up front they intend to break the law they just about always do, so we really should believe them.

President Obama says that although he'll consult with Congress first this time, as president he can and will bomb Syria or anyplace else he likes without the congressional declaration of war that Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution requires. In other words, the president, a former constitutional law professor, reserves the “right” to violate the Constitution and wage illegal war at his discretion.

The president's war violates international standards as well. Under international law the only justifiable wars are in response to an attack, or with the authorization of the UN security council. Syria certainly has not attacked the US, and since the White House will not share its supposed “evidence” of Syrian government attacks on civilians with international inspectors hired by the UN, everybody is just supposed to take Uncle Sam's word for it, pretty much like they had to about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Look how nicely that turned out. Even the Brits, who've never been squeamish about shooting up and invading other countries, are not with the lawless Obama administration on this one.

Masters of saying one thing and doing another, the president and secretary of state are savvy enough to mumble that “only a political solution, not a military one” will stick in Syria. Although a rain of cruise missiles and drone bombs can kneecap the Syrian armed forces which seem to be holding their own now against US and Saudi-sponsored fighters, it can only make peace talks less likely. And the US really doesn't trust its own Saudi-sponsored thugs to actually run a Syrian government, in the unlikely event the Syrian people would allow it. So what many believe the US prefers, many believe, is a permanent state of low-grade civil war in Syria with neither side winning.

President Obama wants to turn Syria into Somalia where since the US can't install the regime it wants, it has prevented any central government from functioning since the landing of US Marines in a “humanitarian intervention” in the final minutes of the first Bush administration.

For the last 20 years, more than a million Somalis, one out of ten have died of hunger and violence, while US sponsored warlords and US sponsored invading armies from Ethiopia and Kenya have swept across the landscape. There's no Somali government to build schools or hospitals, to hire teachers or doctors, to repair or run electric grids, water works, agricultural or public health programs, so none of these things exist. Somalis civilians are barefoot, sick, hungry and afraid, cowering under a rain of drone bombs. Somalia's only products are refugees and misery, and the country's only industry is its permanent war, an excuse for the US and its client thugs to never leave. Ever. That's what President Obama means by “a political solution.”

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 GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130904_bd_syria-into-somila.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:01pm EST

Obama’s Anti-Black Rant

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama puts the onus squarely on Blacks for destroying the promise of racial harmony.”

It was bad enough that a sitting president and key members of his administration occupied positions of prominence, and in fact stole the show, at the anniversary of the March on Washington. But what issued from Barack Obama’s mouth were premeditated insults to Black Americans and their history. To put it bluntly, the First Black President gave a very good standup impression of a racist white man.

Obama chose to expand his remarks beyond the early Sixties period, past the triumphs of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, to give a mini-lecture on what went wrong, in his estimation, with the Black Freedom Movement. The result was a brief but vicious slew of slurs against African Americans – the kind of slander you expect to hear on FOX News, or from a half-drunk white guy at a country-western bar. According to Obama, Black folks lost their way when “legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior.” What the hell does that mean? Which particular incidents is he referring to in which Blacks used police brutality to somehow mask criminal activity. If he means the Black Panther Party, which I suspect, then the president should say so, and open up a discussion of who the real criminals and assassins were, in the late Sixties and early Seventies. But, like any cheap white politician, Obama spews a mouthful of bile and then moves on to the next rant.

Obama bemoans that, at some unspecified point in the Black struggle the “transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination.” Who was recriminating against whom, Mr. President? Since Obama was lecturing Black people – and we know he never lectures white people – he must have been talking about Black militants of some sort. But he won’t say, preferring to leave his meaning to the audience’s imagination.

Obama blames Black people for messing up his America.”

Then Obama moved in for the big slap-down: “What had once been a call for equality of opportunity,” said Obama, “the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead, was too often framed as a mere desire for government support, as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself.”

In that one, long sentence, Obama resurrects Ronald Reagan’s phantom armies of “Welfare Queens”; he appears to be taking a cheap swipe at calls for Black reparations; and he once again joins with his real soul mates on the white Right in blaming Black culture for the disparities in U.S. society. In fact, Obama puts the onus squarely on Blacks for destroying the promise of racial harmony. He says it quite plainly: “All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided.”

That’s right: Obama blames Black people for messing up his America, which very much resembles Ronald Reagan’s America, a place that was put on the wrong track, as candidate Obama said back in 2008, by “all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s.“

Barack Obama went to the March on Washington anniversary and spoke like an angry white man. He governs like one, too. Doesn’t that tell you something? 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: 20130904_gf_ObamaMOW.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:47pm EST

Blacks Slowly Emerging from Obama Delirium

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

People are forced to confront the facts of the disaster that has befallen Black America.”

There have been tons of commentary and what passes for analysis of the Black condition in the United States, 50 years after the March on Washington. The most fascinating recent data on how African Americans assess their situation in the U.S. comes from the Pew Research Center. The Pew researchers are noted for accumulating data over long periods of time, but their latest report also shows a dramatic change in Black outlook in the past four and six years, based on surveys taken in 2007, 2009 and this summer.

When questioned at the beginning of August, only 26 percent of Blacks said they believed the situation had improved for African Americans over the past five years – which is roughly the Age of Obama. However, when the same question was asked back in November of 2009, near the end of Obama’s first year in office, 39 percent of Blacks said African Americans were better off than five years previously. In other words, Black Americans today are significantly less optimistic about their actual condition than back in 2009. Back then, the bottom had fallen out of the Black economy, yet African Americans in huge numbers somehow believed that their situation was better than before the Great Economic Meltdown.

Lots of other polling organizations took notice when the Pew numbers came out in 2009, and did their own surveys to confirm that, yes, Blacks were the most optimistic ethnic constituency in America – even though the hard facts showed that they had been hurt worst of all.

Twenty-six percent still think that Blacks are in a better situation.”

There could be no possible reason for such a disconnect from reality than the ascension of Barack Obama to the White House. We wrote extensively about the phenomena in Black Agenda Report, beginning with an article titled “Living a Black Fantasy: The Obama Delirium Effect,” in which we concluded that “ObamaL’aid is a mind altering substance, a hallucinogen…that makes Black people see progress when they are actually facing disaster.”

Four years later, the Pew poll shows that a portion of Black folks have snapped out of the delirium, and now see the world, and their actual position in it, more clearly. But, many more have not yet faced the fact that Obama is a servant of Wall Street who offers Blacks nothing but his own physical presence in the White House.

Of course, within the 26 percent who still think that Blacks are in a better situation, are a few folks who really have made personal progress in the worst of times. The rest, however, are still trippin’.

Obama’s approval rating among Blacks dropped dramatically this year, too, from 93 percent in April, to 88 percent in June, down to 78 percent in July – no doubt heavily influenced by the unfolding Trayvon Martin saga. The general trend should be slowly downward, punctuated by events, for the next three and a half years – as people are forced to confront the facts of the disaster that has befallen Black America. But some Black folks will never kick the ObamaL’aid, until the inevitable forced withdrawal. And then begins the Great Hangover – a mass Black psychological downer that will be as intense as the delirious highs of 2008 and 2009.

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: 20130828_gf_PewPoll.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EST

Obama Mimics Wall Street on Housing Crisis and Offers Black Congressman a Vanishing Job

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Wall Street is determined to abolish even quasi-public corporations, leaving all markets, including housing, totally at the disposal of the private sector.”

The Barack Obama show, now in its fifth year, is like a bad movie: part war pornography, and part like “The Butler” – in which almost every fact is either untrue or crazily out of context. No wonder even Black folks, who desperately want to suspend disbelief when it comes to the first Black President, no longer take the man’s words seriously.

Obama has totally capitulated to the Wall Street and Republican explanation for the collapse of the U.S. housing market, and the resulting global economic meltdown of 2008. He now agrees with the likes of the Wall Street Journal, that the system is ailing because there’s too much “government” in housing, and not enough “free market.” Therefore, he’s calling for the phasing out of the Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, called Freddy Mac. The two quasi-governmental agencies trace their lineage to the New Deal policies of the 1930s, before home ownership was the norm in the United States, and when people who did own their homes were losing them to the Great Depression. It was federal intervention and loan guarantees that created the modern U.S. housing market. But President Obama has joined the right-wing crusade to remove all vestiges of the New Deal from American society.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have operated much like private corporations ever since President Lyndon Johnson amended their charters in 1968. However, in the 21st century, Wall Street is determined to abolish even quasi-public corporations, leaving all markets, including housing, totally at the disposal of the private sector.

Too much ‘government’ in housing, and not enough ‘free market.’”

Obama is just the man to do it. Sounding like Bill Clinton taking the axe to welfare, Obama said he will “end Fannie and Freddie as we know them…to make sure the kind of crisis we just went through never happens again.” The president is unmistakably saying that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – not the private banks – were responsible for the housing crisis. This is pure Republican propaganda, a position vehemently opposed by Obama and every other Democrat during the campaign of 2008.

It’s also a lie. As Mike Whitney points out, in Counterpunch, “More than 84 percent of the sub-prime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions. It was private-label subprime mortgages that triggered the panic in the secondary market that crashed the financial system.”

Were it not for Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, the whole system would have quickly crumbled – and it is still held together only by constant interventions by the federal government and the Federal Reserve. Wall Street wants all these guarantees, subsidies and taxpayer gifts to come directly to the private sector, and that’s why Fannie and Freddie must go.

However, every act of this administration must include an insult to Black people, if at all possible. The Congressional Black Caucus, which has allowed itself to be totally neutered in the Age of Obama, beseeched this president to at least appoint a few of its favorites to high profile administration jobs, including some of its own members. In May, Obama obliged the Caucus, announcing that North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt was his nominee to head up none other than – the Federal Housing Finance Agency, whose sole responsibility is to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two entities Obama intends to dismantle. Now that is just plain mean.

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: 20130821_gf_FannieMaeWatt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41am EST

Cory Booker, the Next Black Corporate Presidential Contender

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Booker has always been a sycophant of the rich and devotee of their most reactionary causes.”

Cory Booker, the obnoxious and joyously cynical Newark, New Jersey mayor and soon-to-be U.S. senator, perfected the role of stealth Black corporatist Democratic politician years before Barack Obama was elected to national office – although he’s eight years younger than Obama. If anything, Booker has more friends in high rightwing places at this stage in his career than did Barack Obama when he was running for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, ten years ago. Obama came out gradually as a servant of the corporate class; Booker has always been a sycophant of the rich and devotee of their most reactionary causes.

While Barack Obama waited until he was president to fully display his school privatization colors, Cory Booker began his public career as an operative in the corporate-funded private school vouchers game. At the age of 33, and with only one term as a city councilman under his belt, Booker used his rich contacts in rightwing, mainly Republican circles to vastly outspend, and almost defeat, the most powerful Black politician in New Jersey, Newark mayor Sharpe James. Four years later, in 2006, after a very large Republican U.S. Attorney and now governor, Chris Christie, had put James on the path to prison, Cory Booker walked into City Hall with an army of Wall Street and Silicon Valley billionaires behind him.

Once he steps into the U.S. Senate, to serve out the remainder of the late Frank Lautenberg’s term, Booker will immediately start running for president, staking out a position to the right of the current occupant and of Obama’s likely successor, Hillary Clinton. In the last presidential race, Booker infuriated the Obama camp by coming to the defense of Bain Capital, the Wall Street investment firm where Mitt Romney made his fortune. Booker said it was “nauseating” to see all those good people in high finance held up to scorn in an election campaign.

The filthy rich have cultivated a true-blue believer in Cory Booker.”

Nobody can say that Cory Booker doesn’t take care of his friends in the 1%. They certainly take care of him. They have bankrolled all of his electoral efforts, most recently allowing Booker to spend almost three times as much as his top Democratic senatorial opponents, combined. Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerman’s $100 million gift to the Newark Public Schools made Booker look like an urban miracle worker – although the transaction was actually more like Booker presenting the schools as a gift to Zuckerman and his privatizing friends. Other Silicon Valley fat cats set Booker up as head of a start-up Internet company that made Booker a millionaire, at least on paper. Now that Booker is going to Washington, the start-up is going down the tubes. But, there are plenty more self-serving deals to be made on Capitol Hill.

In the recent campaign, Booker sounded positively like an old-style Republican, badmouthing “Washington” in every other sentence.

The filthy rich have cultivated a true-blue believer in Cory Booker, the still-young man from the suburbs of New Jersey. As I wrote in the inaugural issue of the Black Commentator, in April of 2002, “At his age, Cory will be a blight on the political scene even longer than the rest of the Four Cs (colored conservatives counting cash).” I was referring to Condoleezza (Rice), Clarence (Thomas), and Colin (Powell).

He’ll likely be around even longer than his fellow Black stealth corporatist, Barack Obama.

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

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

Direct download: 20130814_gf_BOOKER.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52am EST

Crimes Against Blacks Demand Consequences, Says Black Is Back Coalition

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

We must build a movement to win power in our own hands.”

According to the Black is Back Coalition for Peace, Social Justice and Reparations, which holds its national conference this weekend in New York’s Harlem, the recent “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial sent a clear message that it’s open season on Black people in the United States. But, how can that be so in the second decade of the 21st century, more than two generations after passage of laws that that were supposed to make African Americans full citizens, and with a man of African descent in the White House? Obviously, Black people are not effectively wielding power in the United States – certainly not in their own defense. Otherwise, why all this impotent rage at an unjust system that criminalizes African Americans as a group and allows police – and even civilians – to shoot Blacks down like dogs?

There will be more and more Trayvon Martins and more Sean Bells and Ramarley Grahams until we as a people are able to deliver some kind of consequence,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black is Back Coalition. He’s talking about “consequences that will force the system to respond to the needs that we have in our communities” and to redress the harms that have been done to Black people. This means “taking control of our own agenda,” because, says Yeshitela, “the system won’t stop acting towards us the way it does unless it has to pay some kind of consequence.”

Crimes against Black people cry out for consequences, all across the country. In New York, members of Ramarley Graham’s family will participate in the Black is Back Coalition conference, at St. Mary’s Church, in Harlem, August 17 and 18. Only last week, a Bronx grand jury refused to indict the policeman who shot the unarmed18-year-old to death in the bathroom of his own home. It is up to Black people to decide what the consequences of such crimes must be – otherwise, Black folk’s enemies will become even bolder.

Isolated individuals and groups cannot possibly impose consequences on Power.”

We must build a movement to win power in our own hands,” says the literature for the Black is Back Coalition conference. Movement building is what the coalition is all about; it is the reason organizations that were already engaged in struggle came together to fashion a working coalition in which Black people of various political stripes united to fight for common goals. Omali Yeshitela, who is a founder of the Uhuru Movement, puts it this way: “The Black Is Back Coalition challenges the notion that I can be in my own little corner, with my own little issue and, somehow, forge ahead by myself.” Isolated individuals and groups cannot possibly impose consequences on Power. Only Black people wielding their own, organized power can do that.

The greatest diluter of potential Black political power is the Democratic Party, which is financed and controlled by bankers and the rich, who then stifle independent Black political action through their networks of bought-and-for Black operatives and politicians. Most members of the Black Is Back Coalition believe what’s needed is a final break from the Democratic Party, and a real struggle to achieve independent Black organization. The best place to start is with an already existing Coalition that proudly proclaims “Black Is Back.”

For more information on the Black Is Back Coalition national conference, go to their website at BlackIsBackCoalition.org, or call 202.681.7040.

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: 20130814_gf_BiBConf.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45am EST

NSA, DEA and Local Cops Share Information Concealed From Judges & Defendants, But No Black Liberal Outrage

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

The racist and hypocritical and failed war on terror has something in common with the racist, hypocritical and failed war on drugs. I mean, something new, not merely that they're both based on lies to propagate public fear, or that they're both great white holes politicians of both parties can shove billions of dollars into, making contractors wealthy and their own jobs secure.

A Monday morning Reuters news story confirms that the NSA shares unknown quantities of its vacuum cleaner surveillance of every American's electronic communications and whereabouts with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which duly passes it on to thousands of state and local police agencies in every jurisdiction.

Just as the power-mad generals at NSA pretends that everything they do is perfectly legal, DEA spokespeople also assure us that no laws are broken, even though their own manuals counsel local police to lie about their sources of information, and instruct them, where possible to fogey up so-called “reconstructive investigations” to yield material usable in court and free from annoying exculpatory evidence.

The information pipeline between the NSA, the DEA, your local police departments and assorted contractors is not overseen, even by legislators sworn to secrecy or clandestine courts. All oversight is in the hands of the Drug Enforcement Administration, a federal agencyt created for the express purpose of publicizing, politicizing and prosecuting the failed 40 years war on drugs. Given this complete lack of oversight, can we even begin to take seriously their declarations about the limits the information they pass on and the uses they put it to?

If the Bush-Cheney gang were still in the White House, the assurances of NSA generals and DEA cops, along with purported inquiries into the legality of these practices by a Department of Justice which recently pronouced that being profiled at a White House “Terror Tuesday” meetings was all the “due process” required before summary execution by drone – these assurances would be met with a relentless storm of disbelief and ridicule.

But in the upside down universe of liberals in this, the age of Obama, violations of due process, mass incarceration, vacuum cleaner surveillance of the digital lives and correspondence of all Americans, and passing the results of this unconstitutional surveillance on to local police are beneath the notice of black and white Democrats, and unworthy of comment, even by black leaders who claim to oppose mass incarceration.

It may have taken the Bush-Cheney gang to initiate the so-called War on Terror. But only Barack Obama., only a black Democrat in the White House could make it OK in the eyes of black and white liberals to bring that war home in the forms of border walls, universal surveillance, and the sharing of that surveillance data with local cops who conceal its origin at the same time they claim that everything they do is legal. And nobody even laughs.

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 via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130807_bd_liberal_hypocrisy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am EST

Rwandan Warlord Kagame Threatens Neighbors and UN Force

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Kagame must give up his delusional dreams of invading Tanzania.”

Paul Kagame, the minority Tutsi warlord of Rwanda, is in a dangerous mood. For 17 years, the United States armed Kagame’s military to the teeth as Rwanda and another U.S. ally, Uganda, plundered and destabilized the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing millions in the process. However, in the face of mounting international outcry, the U.S. reluctantly agreed to rein in its Rwandan warlord, first with a nominal cutback in military aid, and then late last month demanding that Rwanda halt its support for the Congolese Tutsi rebel group M23. It is no secret that M23 is an annex of the Rwandan military, an extension of Paul Kagame’s bloody hand in the Congo. M23 seized the Congolese city of Goma, on the Rwandan border, for two weeks last year, to show that Kagame’s military remains the strongest in the region. The United Nations, whose peacekeepers were chased away from Goma last year, responded by assembling a 3,000-man so-called “Intervention Brigade” with a mandate to use force against Rwanda’s rebel proxies. On August 1, the UN gave M23 an ultimatum to disarm. In defiance, the Tutsi guerillas are instead threatening to once gain capture Goma and its one million people, in a showdown with the United Nations combat brigade.

Such a conflict would constitute an escalation in the central African war. The UN brigade is made up of soldiers from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania. Back in April, the M23 rebels issued a warning to Tanzania to withdraw its forces from the Intervention Brigade, or face unspecified consequences. No one doubted that the rebels were speaking for their boss, Rwandan President Kagame. Then, on June 30, just before President Obama touched down in Tanzania as part of his tour of Africa, Kagame issued an unmistakable threat against Tanzania and its president, Jakaya Kitwete. Kagame said that President Kitwete had “crossed a line that you should never cross…because I will wait for you at the right place and I will hit you!” When spoken by a warlord who has already killed millions, those are fighting words.

Kagame’s regime is inherently warlike and unstable.”

Tanzanian President Kitwete did not respond in kind, but one of his foreign ministry officials did, on July 12, saying Kagame “must give up his delusional dreams of invading Tanzania.” If Kagame persists, said the Tanzanian official, he “will be whipped like a small boy.”

Tanzania, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, shares a border with Rwanda and with Washington’s other mercenary client state, Uganda. The threat of invasion must be taken seriously. However, it is more like that Kagame will be tempted to take out his aggressions on the United Nations combat brigade – one-third of which is Tanzanian.

The United States believes it can control the little African Frankensteins it has created, like Paul Kagame. But Kagame’s regime is inherently warlike and unstable, because it is a dictatorship of an ethnic minority, the Tutsis, who make up no more than 15 percent of Rwanda’s population. It remains in power through sheer force and terror, a lawless regime that fears its own people and covets its neighbors’ resources. The U.S. may soon decide that Kagame is more trouble to the imperial enterprise than he’s worth. One thing is sure: Kagame is one criminal who won’t go out quietly.

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: 20130807_gf_CONGO.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25am EST

Bradley Manning: Another Day in the U.S.A.:, Another Political Prisoner

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

Another day in the USA, another political prisoner.

This week a military judge pronounced US Army Private Bradley Manning guilty of espionage and other offenses. Private Manning admitted turning over 700,000 diplomatic cables and other documents, including a video of bloodthirsty US troops murdering a dozen or so innocent Iraqis for the crime of meeting on a street corner, to Wikileaks, a legitimate international press organization with a track record of exposing corporate and government wrongdoing on six continents. Manning testified in open court that he did this because he believed that the American people and the peoples of the world had a right to know what was being done in their names, and in some cases, what was being done to them.

The military judge acquitted Manning on the most serious charge the Obama administration levied against him, “aiding the enemy,” which carries a potential death penalty. Manning, who has already suffered more than two years in solitary confinement, now faces entombment in the federal gulag for two, three or four decades, under conditions which amount to torture in any civilized jurisdiction on earth. His kangaroo court martial is not yet over. Prosecutors will next produce fanciful evidence of the harm caused by his so-called “espionage,” in order to secure the longest possible sentence under the harshest imaginable.

But “espionage” is the act of spying for an alien interest such as a competing greedy corporation, or a foreign power. Private Manning acted transparently in the public interest. The documents he released expose a vast abyss of treachery, lies, high crimes and murders committed by US civilian and military officials. Clearly the Obama administration, just like all its predecessors, is deadly intent on covering up past crimes, committing new ones on their foundation, and handing off the ability to do the same to its corporate and governmental successors.

Bradley Manning is probably President Obama's premiere political prisoner. He is the unwilling and undeserving captive of the planet's foremost police, prison and surveillance state, in the tradition of Mumia Abu Jamal, of Jamil Al Amin, of Leonard Peltier, of Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, of the Cuban Five, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz and many, many others. Current US political prisoners run the gamut from old Black Panthers and Puerto Rican independistas under hatches for decades to newly framed environmentalists, government whistleblowers and persons exposing dangerous and inhumane practices in agriculture and food processing.

Like the rest of the US ruling class, the Obama administration fears the truth, fears justice and above all, fears the American people. They won't let a single political prisoner go, and are determined to bury alive as many new ones as it takes to continue their crime spree. Even now, in state and federal prisons across the country, what used to be called common criminals are being converted to political prisoners, as they are confined to solitary for years at a time for possession of what benighted prison administrators deem to be radical political literature, or mere names, like those of Huey Newton or George Jackson. Thus the last shreds of the prison state's supposed legitimacy are crumbling before our eyes..

If the Obama administration's job is to make more political prisoners, then our tasks are equally clear. We must educate our churches, workplaces and communities about them, to organize local and national campaigns to correspond with and support them, and to demand amnesty and freedom for US political prisoners. A good place to start is the Jericho Movement at www.jerichomovement.com.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130731_bd_anotherday_another_political_prisoner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EST

Obama and GOP Speak Same Language: Corp Tax Cuts = Jobs

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

There is no jobs creation plan, only a series of corporate tax giveaway programs.”

President Obama went to a low wage warehouse in Chattanooga in the right-to-work state of Tennessee to renew his offer to massively lower corporate tax rates – from 35 to 28 percent – and had the nerve to call it a Grand Bargain for the middle class. Surrounding the president were employees who do backbreaking work for $11 or $12 an hour – and can by no stretch of imagination be considered middle class. Obama praised their cutthroat Amazon corporation bosses as the sort of benign masters that he’s depending on to bring the country back to economic health – once they’ve been properly incentivized with lower tax rates, on the one hand, and outright public subsidies, on the other. Amazon is only invested in Tennessee because the state has given the corporation huge tax breaks that will allow it to undercut other book sellers, forcing them out of business and their workers into unemployment. Amazon’s 7,000 new, low wage jobs come at the cost of lay-offs and bankruptcies among its competitors. It’s the Wal-Mart business model, which is quite popular at the White House.

The Obamas have a special place in their hearts for corporations of all kinds, as long as they’re big. The president told the Amazon warehouse workers, whose jobs are not very good, that he wants to create good jobs in other industries through renewable energy and electric cars and cheap natural gas – that is, “fracking.” Of course, by that he means providing additional government subsidies and tax breaks to corporations. Good jobs, presumably, will trickle down. Obama urged Congress to pass his Fix-It-First program to rebuild bridges and other public infrastructure, while blaming the Republicans for gutting government through “sequester” of spending. But it was Obama who proposed the sequestration disaster in the first place, as part of his earlier Grand Bargain with the GOP, in 2011.

Good jobs, presumably, will trickle down.”

Obama used the Chattanooga visit to re-pitch much of his last State of the Union Address, in which he pledged to work for a public private partnership to upgrade the privately-owned U.S. infrastructure, such as energy grids and ports. That’s a euphemism for spending billions in public monies to subsidize private, profit making corporations. Obama calls that a jobs program.

He also thinks workers should be appreciative of the Free Trade deals whose proliferation has coincided with the destruction of the U.S. manufacturing base and the loss of millions of jobs that really were “good.” Obama promised to call a meeting of the CEOs of the same corporations that sent the jobs overseas, to ask them to do more for the country – as if they haven’t done enough, already. He’s got another program, called Select USA, that offers tax breaks and other incentives to foreign corporations that locate facilities in the U.S. Since so many U.S. headquartered high-tech corporations, like Apple, are actually Chinese companies for purposes of employment, Obama might as well combine his various tax break programs and hand out the goodies to CEOs regardless of nationality. In fact, that’s close to the actual practice. There is no jobs creation plan, only a series of corporate tax giveaway programs.

For workers, there’s the minimum wage, now set at $7.25 an hour. Obama promised, once again, in Chattanooga, to try to raise that to $9.00. But, back in 2008, candidate Obama vowed to fight for $9.50. I guess, somewhere along the way, he lost his incentive. 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: 20130731_gf_ObamaTaxCuts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08am EST

What's the Difference Between Teach For America, and a Scab Temp Agency?

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

If you're a public school parent or student, there's none. If you're an educator or other school employee or a friend or relative of any school employee, there's none. If you live in a community where the local public school is one of the last hopeful possibilities that might bind a neighborhood together, there's none.

If you're a school CEO or administrator trying to hollow out your public schools to justify their closing and privatzation, or a mayor trying to justify those campaign contributions, there's no difference at all, either. If you're a hedge fund investor, like the charter school sugar daddies who contribute billions to Barack Obama and a host of black and white politicians in state and local government across the country; there's still no difference.

You have to be a taxpayer --- and let's understand that corporate elites and the wealthy have largely shed the burden of taxation onto the backs of the middle class and the poor in this the era of neoliberalism, to begin to see a little difference.... The Grapes of Wrath era scabs were generally not trained, transported or paid with tax-exempt foundation money.

Teach For America is a big recipient of corporate philanthropy – no surprise about that either, as nonprofit organizations and the deep corporate pockets that sustain them have played indispensable roles in the drive to privatize public education from the beginning. It's only logical that with the elevation of Barack Obama, the first president to emerge from the bowels of the foundation sector, the influence of these outfits has been omnipresent. Consultant tentacles of the Gates, Joyce, Boeing, Broad, Bradley, Walton Foundations, to name just a few of the top players, have been allowed to write federal program guidelines, to define criteria for assessing individual schools and entire districts, to invent their own instant-principal programs, with all salaries, overhead and expenses paid for by tax-exempt donations. Bosses during the last Great Depression usually had to pay for their own scabs, there was no way they could unload that on all the rest of us.

The other big difference between the scenarios that greeted auto and steel workers and fruit pickers 75 years ago is that back then, management usually waited for workers to go on strike before trying to replace them. Now they just lay off real teachers every year and hire TFA scabs.... as this rap from the HBO series “Treme” reminds us...



Davis M., rhyming to a musical collaborator:

Four years at Radcliffe, that's all you know,

a desire to do good and a 4.0.

You're here to save us from our plight, you got the answer cause you're rich and white

on a two year sojourn you're here to stay, Teach For America all the way

got no idea just what you're facin', no clue just who you're displacin'

old lady taught fathers, old lady taught sons, old lady bought books for the little ones

old lady put in thirty years, sweat and toil, time and tears

was that really your sad intention, to help the state of Louisiana deny her pension?



Collaborator:

Hold it, hold it....

First of all the state of Louisiana fired the teachers, not Teach for America



Davis M.:

A scab is a scab is a scab...



Nobody, ever said it better. A scab is a scab is a scab. 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 state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached through this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20130724_tfa_scab_is_a_scab.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm EST

Detroit: The Bell Tolls for All of Us

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Those who would strip away democratic freedoms and privatize the public sphere have always found it easier to mount their offensives against heavily Black regions and sectors of society.”

In Detroit, even the thin gruel of democracy that America advertises to the world, has ceased to exist. Not one of its 700,000 residents retains the political rights of citizens, those rights having been usurped by the agents of Wall Street: Governor Rick Snyder and bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr, the Lone Ranger and Tonto who were the sole authorities empowered to file bankruptcy for the city. Their mission is to render the judgment of capital that Detroit is too poor, in its present demographic composition, for participation in the democratic order, and must be forcibly reconstituted, beginning with a divvying up of its assets. At the end of this process, a “new” Detroit is supposed to emerge, which will have divested itself of enough Black and poor people to allow the reinstatement of some form of electoral franchise.

Or, maybe not. Direct rule by Wall Street, which is the real meaning of the Emergency Financial Manager regime, is not some idea especially concocted for Detroit. It is the political and economic superstructure that the plutocracy envisions for the whole country – for the entire planet, if they can get away with it. Due to the particular racial history of the United States, where Black citizenship rights have always been deemed illegitimate, those who would strip away democratic freedoms and privatize the public sphere have always found it easier to mount their offensives against heavily Black regions and sectors of society. White people with identical interests in democracy and fairness in schools, public services and in the workplace root for the plutocrats when Blacks are under attack, never imagining that the same weapons will soon be turned on them.

Their mission is to render the judgment of capital that Detroit is too poor, in its present demographic composition, for participation in the democratic order.”

Thus, Detroit’s dissolution is perceived as a Black problem – more politely referred to by its euphemism: an “urban” crisis.

However, Wall Street and its mercenary law firms, like Kevyn Orr’s godfathers at Jones Day, are not motivated by petty racial prejudice; they are simply skilled at taking advantage of it, always aiming their daggers at the soft spots in democracy, where Black people live. With Detroit and the other largely Black cities of Michigan, where half of the state’s African American population has been disenfranchised, Wall Street is creating new law and new models for the total subjugation of American society to the Lords of Capital.

Primary elections are scheduled for Detroit, in August. Mayor Dave Bing, who swung wide the gates to the city for the conquistadors, won’t be running for reelection. City council president and former mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. says he doesn’t see any point in running. But, they are irrelevant. The Detroit model for imposing direct rule of the rich can only be challenged by a mass movement of the hundreds of thousands who remain in the city – either by choice, or by no-choice – and by the millions elsewhere in the country who are next on the corporate juggernaut’s quickening agenda. The resistance must choose its tactics from a menu of “By any means necessary,” make the enemy understand the meaning of “No Justice, No Peace,” and show him that we are deadly serious when we say, “We shall not be moved.”

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: 20130724_gf_Detroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26am EST

Tim Wise's July 29 Teach For America Diversity Training IS A Ghetto Pass, Not Harm Reduction. Sign the Petition

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Tim

Thanks for pointing out the error in last week's piece, your Charlotte TFA gig is the 29th, not the 19th, which gives us a little extra time to talk about this. We understand though, if you don't want to talk. You've had my number since last Wednesday and haven't called yet.

You recently told the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy that diversity training for a predatory corporation just results in more black and brown faces in the room. So even if people of color inside Teach For America invited you to do this gig that wouldn't matter. Black military officers, black BP & Exxon Mobil execs want a friendly workplace too. They don't want their bosses looking like out and out racists while they invade countries, run secret prisons, rob the world and pillage the environment. So they sign up internal diversity trainers and they look for ways to appear superficially non-racist even though their core missions invariably devastate communities of color more than anywhere else. It's how the game is played.

Given that, “stamping the anti-racist ghetto passes” accurately describes the service you perform for Teach For America. Who better for the public relations end of it than an ostensible leftist?

The argument that if you didn't consult for TFA somebody else would is precisely the same as saying "because it's there".  That's not a reason.  It's an excuse. 

You say you “...know full well the issues with TFA and their model...” but in 3,000 words you never spell them out. Why? Given the rank dishonesty TFA and its foundation and corporate allies use to push their agenda of educational privatization, if you can't tell us what those objections are it looks like you're doing an Obama, inviting us to read our own views into your silence. Plenty of Obama-supporting liberals are on the corporate school reform and privatization bus. Cut to the chase Tim, and tell us whether you're one of them or not.

TFA is a key player in the bipartisan elite scam of corporate education reform aimed de-skilling and dispersing public school workforces to soften them up for eventual privatization.  The mostly white TFA temps, who get only 5 weeks training to do 2 year terms as missionary ghetto teachers are NOT better than the educators they replace, and nobody ever does this kind of thing with white suburban schools. That's not racist? C'mon Tim.

The TFA model enjoys the blessings of the foundation world, the business community across the country and the Obama administration, whose Race To The Top program is hollowing out public education, closing schools by the hundreds and pushing the drive to privatize along at a record rate.

If you imagine the “harm reduction” of your TFA diversity consulting outweighs the evil of the crusade to destroy public education which you help validate, contribute to and strengthen then you are awfully full of yourself. This is way bigger and more important than Tim Wise.

We at Black Agenda Report have always opposed the drive to privatize education. In the past we promoted your books for free, published your columns, even provided you space to answer one of your critics. Your decision to cash in your anti-racist cred to be TFA's diversity consultant was a decision to step between us and a longtime target. So even though it's not really about you Tim, you can get some too, if that's what you really want.

You can get out of your deal with TFA if you really want to Tim. We hope you do. By the time TFA changes from the inside there won't be any public schools left. But there will still be plenty of business for diversity trainers, even if diversity, rather than reducing the harm that evil institutions do, often gets us more effective evils.

For everybody else, please sign the petition asking Tim Wise not to stamp the ghetto passes of Teach For America at www.blackagendareport.com/tfa. If you've already signed it, forward it to someone else between now and July 29.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 may be contacted via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20130717_bd_tim_wise_tfa_answer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:23pm EST

Hunger Strike in the Empire of Dungeons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The inmates insist that they will not end their action without a signed agreement with the force of law, addressing their core demands.”

The number of California prisoners that remain on hunger strike now hovers around 2,500, at 17 prisons, down from 30,000 at the beginning of the action, on July 8. That’s still a lot more than at this point in the two previous strikes, in 2011. Prisoner solidarity activists say the protest is more widespread, this time, largely because authorities transferred lots of inmates around the system, allowing plans for the strike to circulate.

The epicenter of the protest is Pelican Bay prison where more than a thousand inmates are locked in long term solitary confinement from which some will never emerge, unless there is a change in policy. Prison officials made a show of making concessions in response to the 2011 protests, establishing a program that would allow some inmates a chance to get out of solitary. But the state reviewed only 400 cases, and allowed only about half of them back into the general prison population. And, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is suing the state for imposing cruel and unusual punishment, “not a single one” of its 1,000 Pelican Bay clients “has experienced any change in their situation whatsoever.”

The inmates insist that they will not end their action without a signed agreement with the force of law, addressing their core demands. But the State of California is not in the habit of acting in good faith, even with the judicial branch of government, on prison matters, much less negotiating with inmates. Governor Jerry Brown – who some call a liberal Democrat – has twice been threatened with contempt of court for refusing to release 10,000 inmates in order to relieve life-threatening conditions in the prisons. His wardens now claim that gang members in solitary confinement – people who have no means of communicating with anyone but guards – are somehow forcing thousands of other inmates to join the hunger strike. Governor Brown and his wardens continue to claim that conditions are improving in the prisons – even as thousands of inmates testify, with their very lives, that the opposite is true.

Solitary confinement is the ultimate tool of the man-breaker.”

Prisons – especially prison systems designed by diabolical American minds – are meant to break men’s wills, to make them non-persons, groveling masses of flesh. Solitary confinement is the ultimate tool of the man-breaker, narrowing the scope of human activity to the bare functions of processing food into waste. For a person so restricted, the only mode of resistance available is to refuse to eat. California is one of only three states in which prison doctors are prohibited from force-feeding inmates. However, there is a loophole. The State Supreme Court ruled 20 years ago that forced feeding can be used to protect the “custodial environment,” that is, the discipline and security of the prison. If the authorities believe that allowing holdouts to continue their strike until death would be disruptive of the prison order, they could probably get away with forcing tubes down hunger strikers’ noses, like in Guantanamo Bay.

It is way past time that people stop saying that the United States is “moving towards” becoming a police state. It is, in fact, by far the biggest police and incarceration state ever known to man: an empire of dungeons.

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: 20130717_gf_CaliPrisons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am EST

Why Is Time Wise Stamping the Anti-Racist Ghetto Passes at Teach For America?

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

Tim Wise has made a career as an author and speaker lecturing white Americans on racism. We suppose that's a good thing and that somebody's gotta do it. Mr. Wise is speaking at a major Teach For America event on July 19. How do we reconcile that with a stand against racism? We can't, and unless TFA is gonna pay Mr. Wise to tell them their entire practice and premise is elitist, evil and yes, racist, we're pretty sure he can't reconcile it either.

Teach For America is part of an elite bipartisan scam to privatize public education, starting, and perhaps ending with the inner city. TFA replaces qualified, experienced mostly black teachers who live in the communities they serve with mostly white temps, graduated from a 5 week course who will move on to Wall Street and other lucrative careers after only a couple seasons in the classroom.

Closing public schools and replacing experienced teachers with Ivy League missionary temps isn't something that's being done to wealthy white suburban public schools. It's only the prescribed remedy for school districts full of black and brown youth, and black and brown teachers. President Obama's signature education program, Race To The Top advances the privatization agenda in many ways, and one of these is by encouraging, really forcing, school districts to lay off, fire or reject new applications from experienced teachers and graduates of real teaching programs by the thousands in favor of the mostly white temps from elite schools that Teach For America and similar outfits provide.

There's no proof that TFA's missionaries improve ghetto schools. The truth is it takes years to become a competent teacher. TFA's purpose is to change the teacher workforce to temps not connected to students, their families or communities as a prelude to privatization. The last thing a school privatizer wants is a school full of qualified, experienced teachers deeply connected to the communities they serve with a tradition of collective action (that's what a union -- a real union – is) and who know how to run the joint themselves.

In perspective, it was Teach For America that gave us Michelle Rhee, as well as the current DC schools chancellor Henderson, who used to be Rhee's boss at TFA.

Selectively sabotaging the education of black children, dispersing experienced workforces of organized black teachers connected to their communities sounds like an indisputably racist policy on its face. Chicago teachers sued in federal court on that point and won. Apparently Teach For America needs somebody to stamp the anti-racist ghetto passes of it missionary workforce as they pass through the ghetto, so they've put an “anti-racism” educator and trainer on retainer.

So between now and July 18, we'll be carrying a petition, asking anti-racism educator Tim Wise NOT to stamp the ghetto passes of Teach For America. You can find it on our web site at www.blackagendareport.com/tfa.

We hope you will forward the petition widely and aggressively to all your friends and associates, lest Mr.Wise imagine that is just another unsurprising evil that black folks put up with, like pervasive surveillance. We promise not to share your information with any third parties absent your permission, and we will forward the signers list to Mr. Wise on the 18th.

If this is how “anti-racism education” works – giving cover to organizations and policies that hurt people of color more than anybody else, it might be time to re-think that whole contraption as well.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of theGeorgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20130710_bd_tfa_time-wise.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:36pm EST

Tens of Thousands of California Inmates Join Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Prison is the ultimate surveillance regime, a place where the sense of self, of human agency, and of privacy is systematically crushed, in the name of security.”

About 30,000 California prisoners have joined the hunger strike begun, on Monday, by inmates at the Secure Housing Units at Pelican Bay. That’s more than four times as many as joined Pelican Bay inmates in their first hunger strike, in July of 2011, and two and a half times the number that struck in October of that year. So far, two-thirds of the state’s prisons have been affected.

The Pelican Bay inmates carry a certain moral authority, in that they represent the most long-suffering, intensely persecuted group in the largest and most barbaric prison system in the world – the approximately 80,000 U.S. prison inmates held under solitary confinement. Pelican Bay is the site of more than 1,000 solitary confinement cells, where prisoners are isolated from other human contact for at least 22 and a half hours a day. Around the state, about 4,500 people are held in Special Housing Units, or SHUs, with 6,000 more enduring some other form of solitary. Some of the SHU inmates have not seen the natural light of day for more than 20 years.

The State calls the SHU inmates the “worst of the worst” in order to justify a punishment regime more barbaric, in many respects, than any in recorded history – a massive, multi-billion dollar enterprise whose mission is to destroy the minds of men and women. Inmates are locked away for years on end for possession of literature, or for mere suspicion of political militancy. By far the largest number of SHU inmates are accused of belonging to gangs, and can only be released from solitary by accusing other inmates of gang affiliation – a process that is euphemistically called “debriefing” – thus turning everyone into a potential snitch against everyone else.

Two-thirds of the state’s prisons have been affected.”

Prison is the ultimate surveillance regime, a place where the sense of self, of human agency, and of privacy is systematically crushed, in the name of security. It is no coincidence that the world’s prison superpower, the United States, which accounts for one out of every four incarcerated persons on the planet, is also engaged in spying on every other nation and population on Earth. It is as if the United States is determined to surveil – with the implicit threat to crush – every expression of the human soul.

Both U.S. global surveillance and American prison policies violate international law. The Center for Constitutional Rights has sued on behalf of the Pelican Bay inmates, citing the finding by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture that any more than 15 days of solitary confinement violates international standards of human rights.

California’s inmates aren’t waiting for the UN or the courts to come to the rescue. They’ve issued five core demands, with elimination of long-term solitary confinement at the top, and insist that the hunger strike will not end until California signs a legally binding agreement. The very concept of negotiation with inmates is anathema to the Prison State, whose goal is to reduce human beings to objects, with no rights whatsoever. The Pelican Bay inmates have concluded that, if they are to have any chance to live, they must be prepared to die.

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: 20130710_gf_PrisonStrike.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28am EST

The U.S. was a Passive Observer in Egypt – If You Believe the New York Times

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Susan Rice advised him that the coup was about to begin.”

One consumes U.S. corporate media at the risk of one’s sanity. Schizophrenia, for example, appears to be the permanent mental state at the New York Times, which cannot figure out which global reality is operative on any given day. Last week, the Times almost simultaneously painted a picture of two different and contradictory worlds – or, at least, two very different Obama administrations. On Friday, June 5, in the wake of the military coup against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Times depicted the Obama administration as totally unruffled by the turmoil in Cairo – as if the U.S. had little stake in the outcome. The Times headline proclaimed: “Egypt Crisis Finds Washington Largely Ambivalent and Aloof.” The newspaper of record gave the impression that Egypt was no longer a “strategic player” in the region and, therefore, the political complexion of its government was nothing for Washington to worry its last nerve about.

By Saturday, July 6, the article had been replaced by reporting on what the Obama administration had really been up to as the coup unfolded. It described President Morsi’s “last hours” in office, awaiting his fate at the hands of an Egyptian military that has been a United States asset for the last 40 years. An Arab foreign minister telephoned to ask if Morsi would accept the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, which would make Morsi a mere figurehead. The Arab foreign minister made it clear that he was acting as an emissary of Washington.

Morsi rejected the offer. His top foreign policy advisor stepped out of the room to call the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, and tell her so. But, when he came back, he said he’d been on the phone with Susan Rice, Obama’s national security advisor, in Washington, who advised him that the coup was about to begin.

If there are contradictions in the narrative, they can always be papered over with more lies in the next edition.

So, of course, the U.S. was deeply involved in the events that were swirling in Cairo – it would have been bizarre beyond belief if the superpower had, indeed, been “ambivalent” or “aloof” about the fate of the Arab world’s most populous country. What is amazing, is the ability of an organization as large as the New York Times to accommodate two opposite realities within its own pages, and pass off both as the truth, without shame or even visible embarrassment.

The New York Times and its corporate colleagues are not in the business of providing reliable information, but of rationalizing and sanitizing the behavior of those in power. If there are contradictions in the narrative, they can always be papered over with more lies in the next edition.

However, the lies told by the Times and its ilk cannot alter the reality of U.S. decline; they can only make Americans oblivious to the facts. The United States will get the kind of civilian front men it wants in Egypt: international corporate citizens like economist el-Hazem Beblawy, as interim prime minister, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the darling of the global rich, as a vice president. But the U.S. is also now dependent on Muslim fundamentalists as the foot soldiers of imperialism in Syria and North Africa, even as it double-crossed its Muslim Brotherhood friend, former president Morsi. And the Arab royals of the Persian Gulf have their own plans for the region. The superpower isn’t as super as it used to be – but you won’t find out why in the New York Times.

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: 20130710_gf_NYTEgypt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10am EST

Surveillance in the Service of Corporate Rule

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The greatest fear of the capitalist is a world in which the game is not rigged in his favor.”

The logic of imperialism is that, ultimately, the Empire enters a state of war with everyone in the world, without regard to nationality, social system or reasonable possibilities of threat. Every capitalist yearns to achieve monopoly, to corner all markets, all the time. The capitalist imperial state is the political expression of the monopoly capitalist class, whose ambition is to dominate and profit from every aspect of human existence. Far from thriving on competition, the greatest fear of the capitalist is a world in which the game is not rigged in his favor. The state’s job is to ensure that the fix is always in. Governments controlled by capitalists are obligated to subvert, literally, the entirety of the rest of the planet.

Therefore, it should surprise no one that the United States spies on the citizens, governments and businesses of every nation on earth, including the home population, which is potentially the most dangerous population of all, if for no other reason than proximity.

The U.S. corporate media narrative, which is identical to the narrative of the corporate state, is that 9/11 was a kind of crack in time, the beginning and end of things, the equivalent of the divide between BC and AD. But the advent of al-Qaida did not give rise to the U.S. surveillance regime. The opposite is true. The international jihadist network was given birth by the Americans and their minions in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, at the turn of the Eighties. If U.S. rulers really believed Muslim jihadists posed a serious threat to American empire, Washington would not be in its fourth decade of arming and financing the jihadists, who serve as both foot soldiers and pretexts for U.S. militarism and fascism.

U.S. complaints of Chinese industrial espionage were simply a diversion from America’s own criminal behavior.”

In the June 27 issue of Counterpunch, indispensable political thinker William Blum republished parts of an essay he wrote in the year 2000. Titled “The Inalienable Right to Snoop? Eavesdropping on the Planet,” the piece reminds us that PRISM, the National Security Agency’s omnivorous mechanism for worldwide data mining and the mapping of human social networks, is a direct descendant of the pre-911 NSA system called ECHELON, launched in the 1970s. By the late Nineties, it had become clear to the Europeans that ECHELON was largely preoccupied with stealing trade secrets from European companies, and passing them on to favored American enterprises. German wind power technology wound up under patent to American rivals. French Airbus lost big contracts to U.S. outfits. A 1998 report of the European Parliament found that the U.S. was using its control of encryption software for wholesale industrial espionage against its purported allies. French military intelligence concluded that Bill Gates’ Microsoft was virtually created by U.S. intelligence agencies. 9/11 was still years away, but the U.S. was already treating the whole planet as if it were occupied by enemy peoples.

In this light, it should have always been obvious that U.S. complaints of Chinese industrial espionage were simply a diversion from America’s own criminal behavior. The global surveillance regime is a creature of a moribund empire that not only cannot compete, but refuses to countenance the very idea of fair competition and the rule of law. Osama bin Laden was always a sideshow on the road to American global dictatorship.

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: 20130703_gf_PRISM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33am EST

Obama Visits Mandela’s Old Cell, But Won’t Free His Own Political Prisoners

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama has no sympathy, however, for political prisoners of any race in his own country.”

President Barack Obama, a man of infinite cynicism, made a great show of going on pilgrimage to Nelson Mandela’s old prison cell on Robben Island, where the future first Black president of South Africa spent 18 of his 27 years of incarceration. With his wife and daughters in tow, Obama said he was “humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield…. No shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit,” said the chief executive of the unchallenged superpower of mass incarceration, a nation whose population comprises only 5 percent of humanity, but is home to fully one-quarter of the Earth’s prison inmates.

True sociopaths, like the commander-in-chief who updates his Kill List every Tuesday, have no sense of shame, much less irony. Obama feigns awe at Mandela’s suffering and sacrifice in the prisons of apartheid South Africa, yet presides over a regime that, on any given day, holds 80,000 inmates in the excruciating torture of solitary confinement. During Nelson Mandela’s nearly three decades of imprisonment by the white regime, he spent a total of only about one week in solitary confinement. The rest of the time, despite often harsh treatment, backbreaking labor, and unhealthy conditions, Mandela and other political prisoners at Robben Island and other South African jails were typically housed together. Indeed, Mandela and his incarcerated comrades called the prisons their “university,” where they taught each other to become the future authorities over their jailers.

A social death alien to the human species.”

Racist South Africa’s treatment of Mandela and his co-revolutionists was downright benign and enlightened, compared to fate of U.S. prisoners who are deemed a threat to the prevailing order. At U.S. high security facilities, the slightest evidence that an inmate is of a political bent of mind is cause for him to be condemned to a solitary existence for decades – a social death alien to the human species. At California’s Pelican Bay and the state prison at Corcoran, thousands of inmates are held in isolation, 80 of them for more than 20 years, the very definition of barbarism. Yet, Obama journeys across oceans and continents to stand for a photo op in the cell of a prisoner whose ordeal was nowhere near as horrific as the standard fare for political prisoners in his own country.

On his trip to South Africa, Obama proclaimed that “the world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island.” And, that’s certainly true, although it was a U.S. intelligence agent who lured Nelson Mandela into a trap in 1962 that ultimately led to his capture and imprisonment. Obama has no sympathy, however, for political prisoners of any race in his own country. Former Black Panther Herman Wallace is thought to be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States, having spent 40 years alone in a cell in Louisiana’s notorious Angola Prison. Obama could free him at any time, but of course, he won’t. He could emancipate Black Panther captive Russell Maroon Shoatz, who has spent nearly 30 years in solitary, or Republic of New Africa political prisoner Mutulu Shakur or any and all of the scores of other aging political prisoners – people whose dedication to human freedom is no less than Mandela’s, yet have been subjected to far worse treatment at American hands. Instead, Obama has doubled the bounty on Shakur’s comrade and sister, Assata, in exile in Cuba. She might even be on Obama’s Kill List – which is the real and authentic legacy of this country’s First Black President.

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: 20130703_gf_ObamaPoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:22am EST

Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Harriet Tubman Didn't Turn Themselves In, Why Should Edward Snowden?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

If there's one thing House tea party Republicans, liberal Senate Democrats, the White House and corrupt TV talking heads from Fox to MSNBC all agree on, it's that Edward Snowden is an ungrateful thief with an exaggerated sense of his own importance. The fact that Snowden is no heroic whistleblower, is proved they say, by his not going through legal channels, by his theft of government and proprietary secrets, by his wilfull violation of confidentiality oaths and federal laws, and most of all by Snowden's international flight, and his completely unreasonable refusal to turn himself in for possible life imprisonment and likely torture.

Federal cops and/or intelligence officials bringing secret requests under secret interpretations of law to harvest, store and data mine literally every phone call, every credit card transaction, every email, instant message, tweet, web search and digital brain fart of 310 million Americans to a secret court whose dockets and rulings are also secret, which doesn't matter much because the secret court never tells the government no ---- is either not a problem at all, or at worst something we should discuss and address through legal channels. The problem of course, is that if Snowden had not violated the law there would be insider confirmation of official crimes, and if he turned himself over to the tender mercies of the powerful criminals he exposed --- well that simply makes no sense.

A hundred sixty-some years ago Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass violated state and federal laws by stealing valuable property – their own persons – and fleeing north. While living quietly as a fugitive, Tubman armed herself and returned south again and again to steal an estimated 300 more pieces of human property. While also a fugitive Frederick Douglass became a public and highly illegal whistleblower. He lectured audiences on the evils of slavery, and eventually fled to Europe to avoid the long arm of the law. John Brown freed slaves in Missouri, led expeditions against pro-slavery death squads in Kansas and was a wanted fugitive for the remainder of his life.

The very idea of whistleblowers and dissidents needing to be “respectable” in the eyes of law and authority, and even turn themselves in is clearly nonsense. Back in the day, authorities cast aspersions on the characters of Brown and Douglass, and on any slave who rebelled, ran away or otherwise violated his legal obligation to serve. We should treat speculations on Snowden's motives, when they come from those being exposed, the same way we treat a slaveholder's opinion of Tubman, Douglass or Brown.

Every day that Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and John Brown walked the world as fugitives was a victory for real truth and freedom. Every day Edward Snowden remains free to speak and be heard is a hopeful day for all of us. He's no more obligated to turn himself in than the freedom fighters of sixteen decades ago.

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 can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com, or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20130626_bd_fugitives_from_justice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:14pm EST

The Obamas Do Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The U.S. is not in the business of fair and mutually beneficial trade – it’s about the business of imperialism.”

The President and his family are spending a week in sub-Saharan Africa, with Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa on the itinerary. The focus of the trip, if you believe the White House, is trade, an arena in which the United States has been eclipsed by China since 2009. China, by some measurements, now does nearly twice as much business with Africa as the U.S., and the gap is growing. It is now commonly accepted that the Chinese offer far better terms of trade and investment than the Americans, that they create more jobs for Africans, and their investments leave behind infrastructure that can enrich their African trading partners in the long haul.

No one expects Obama to offer anything on this trip that will reverse America’s declining share of the African market. That’s because the U.S. is not in the business of fair and mutually beneficial trade – it’s about the business of imperialism, which is another matter, entirely. The Americans ensure their access to African natural resources through the barrel of a gun.

So, while the Chinese and Indians and Brazilians and other economic powerhouses play by the rules of give and take, the U.S. tightens its military grip on the continent through its ever-expanding military command, AFRICOM.

To justify its rapid militarization of Africa, Washington plunges whole regions of the continent into chaos. U.S. policies, under presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, have utterly destroyed Somalia, made the Horn of Africa a theater of war, drawn the northern tier of the continent into America’s cauldron of terror, and killed six million people in the eastern Congo.

The Americans ensure their access to African natural resources through the barrel of a gun.”

The face of America in Africa is war, not trade; extraction of minerals by military intimidation, not conventional commerce. Washington’s priority is to embed AFRICOM ever deeper into the militaries of African states – rather than configuring more favorable trade relationships on the continent. But you won’t learn that from the U.S. corporate media, which chooses to focus on the $100 million cost of Obama’s African trip, or to look for human interest angles on Obama’s decision not to touch down in his father’s homeland, Kenya. However, even that angle is too sinister for deeper exploration by the corporate press, because Kenya’s absence from the itinerary is meant as a threat.

The United States is angry because Washington wanted the Kenyan people to elect a different president, one more acceptable to U.S. policymakers. The Americans expected the whole of Kenyan civil society to bend to Washington’s will, and reject the candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta, simply to please the superpower. When that didn’t happen, it was decided that Kenya must be shunned, despite its past services to U.S. imperialism.

Skipping Kenya was a warning that more serious repercussions may lurk in the future – which is a potent threat, because the U.S. controls most of the guns of Africa. As the U.S.-backed warlord in Somalia said in Jeremy Scahill’s excellent film The Dirty War, “The Americans are masters of war.” War, and the threat of war, is the reality behind every U.S. presidential visit, to Africa and everywhere else. Whether the terms of trade are good or bad, the declining U.S. empire will get access to the resources it needs, or thousands – millions! – will die.

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: 20130626_gf_ObamaInAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am EST

It Was Good That Blacks Expressed Frustration with Obama – But Don’t Call It “Direct Action”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Dr. Daniels said the demonstration was intended as a ‘wake up call’ for Obama.”

It’s taken four years and five months, but only this week did we witness the first White House demonstration by activists from the more traditional sector of Black politics – that is, those who have stood by Obama from the moment his candidacy was deemed “viable” but are now, well…somewhat upset. Led by Dr. Ron Daniels and his Institute of the Black World, and joined by Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., several hundred African Americans gathered in Lafayette Park, in front of the executive mansion. In Dr. Daniels words, the demonstrators were “frustrated and angry at the President's reluctance to openly address what can only be considered a moral and political crisis in terms of depression levels of joblessness, horrific gun violence, fratricide and mass incarceration in urban inner-city Black communities.” In a commentary shortly before the event, Dr. Daniels wrote that, “For some, Obama is like a Black Nero fiddling while Black communities are imploding!”

I checked with journalists and activists in Washington to confirm that this was the first White House demonstration of Obama’s presidency by Blacks who had previously supported him. However, other Blacks have marched to the White House to protest and denounce The First Black President’s domestic and foreign policies. That distinction goes to the Black Is Back Coalition, which marched on the White House twice – the first time in November of 2009, and then again the next year. The Black Is Back Coalition predicted, early on, that Obama would be a servant of the rich and the Pentagon – and they were right. Black Is Back also said that knee-jerk, reflexive Black support for Obama would only encourage and legitimize his inherently anti-Black policies.

The demonstration was mislabeled.”

Monday’s demonstration comes two election seasons late – although late is better than never.

The demonstration was also mislabeled as a Day of Direct Action. Dr. Daniels and Rev. Jackson know full well that “direct action” has historically consisted of tactics of resistance such as sit-ins, strikes, blockades of traffic, property takeovers, and filling up jails. In Dr. Martin Luther King’s words:

"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

Dr. Daniels and Rev. Jackson don’t even pretend that they’re attempting to create a crisis that the Obama administration must confront. Daniel’s, himself, says the demonstration was intended as a “wake up call” for Obama – which is something quite different than a crisis purposely brought about by direct action. Plus, direct action is always accompanied by demands – not requests and suggestions, but demands – with the clear understanding that rejection of those demands will bring consequences that will heighten the state of crisis. None of that occurred on Monday.

With Obama now a lame duck, many in the Black political class will seek to rewrite the histories of their own behavior during this shameful period when Black folks rolled over en mass for a corporate shill with a brown face. There will be lots of play-acting and revisionism, along with, hopefully, some actual resistance. Let’s be clear about the difference between direct action and political theater.

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: 20130619_gf_WHdemo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:56am EST

Be Vigilant for Lynne Stewart – As She Was For All of Us

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

She is now at Stage Four, her condition deteriorating rapidly.”

There is a vigil underway in front of the White House, a life and death watch for a heroic people’s lawyer. Lynne Stewart dedicated her professional life to building whatever barricades of law she could to prevent the rulers from running roughshod over the people. Today, with Lynne’s life perilously in the balance, she requires the people’s due diligence in demanding that she be allowed compassionate release from prison.

Lynne Stewart should have never been there in the first place, a victim of the National Security State’s wars against humanity, both foreign and domestic. Stewart, one of the nation’s best and most dedicated guardians of human rights, was sentenced to 28 months in prison for zealously defending her client, the so-called “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman, accused in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Stewart helped her client write a press release, and wound up being convicted of obstruction of justice and giving material support to terrorists. That was in 2006.

Human rights organizations warned that the sentence would have “a chilling effect on human rights defenders who stand between government agencies and potential victims of abuses.” But Lynne Stewart was not chilled. She remained free on bail during her appeal. Stewart had already undergone treatment for breast cancer. Her appeal was denied and she began serving her 28-month sentence in November 2009. But the judge resented the fact that Stewart’s spirit had not been broken. She had seen so many clients caught in the jaws of the rich man’s criminal injustice machinery, and was prepared to serve her time if she were ensnared by the system, as well. But the judge resentenced Lynne to ten years in prison. She was 70 years old, and the breast cancer had returned.

She requires the people’s due diligence.”

Stewart had been scheduled for cancer surgery the week she was sentenced, but was forced to wait another year and a half for treatment. By then, the cancer had metastasized. She is now at Stage Four, her condition deteriorating rapidly in a federal medical prison facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

Many thousands of petitioners – and many notables of the human rights community – appealed for Stewart’s release on compassionate grounds, so that she might get treatment at the best cancer hospital in New York, and spend what time she has left with her family and friends. The prison warden has signed for her release, as has the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Her husband and fellow activist, Ralph Poynter, says Lynn’s post-prison housing has been approved by probation authorities. Yet, it appears that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama, himself, are allowing Lynne Stewart’s days of life to drain away.

Ralph Poynter has taken up the vigil in front of the White House, appealing to the sense of humanity of the man inside, and his Attorney General. They need to hear from you, too. Go to LynneStewart.org, sign the petition, make the calls, and if you can, join Ralph Poynter on his vigil in Washington, DC. That’s LynneStewart.org.

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: 20130619_gf_LynneVigil.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43am EST

Detroit and America’s Racial “Exceptionalism”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen ford

The picture is of Diego Rivera's mural Detroit Industry, 1932-33, Detroit Institute of Arts.

Corporate solutions can justifiably be substituted for democracy, when it comes to Blacks.”

The great American dissolution of electoral democracy is playing out in Detroit, where last Monday the state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager explained to a crowd at Wayne State University how he would compassionately go about the business of breaking their city into buyable and sellable parts. The people and their elected representatives would have no say in the ultimate result.

The corporate media, and white folks in general, view the process as an inevitability – a kind of crude justice – not because they have rejected the principle of self-government, but because Detroit is overwhelmingly Black, and Blacks have always been the exception to the American rule. In fact, all of the Black population centers of Michigan have been divested of the right to govern themselves.

There has been no national outpouring of solidarity with Michigan’s Blacks over the loss of their citizenship rights, which can only mean that there exists an effective white consensus that African Americans are not fully deserving of those rights. Uncontrolled concentrations of Blacks are seen as pathological, by definition.

The same race-based exception was made to public education, for Blacks. In New Jersey and localities across the country, public schools in largely Black areas have for decades been under state control, denying Black parents any effective voice in their children’s education. By and large, white suburbanites supported the state in making Blacks an exception to the general American rule on local control over education. It is a right Blacks are not thought to be qualified to exercise.

Blacks were an exception to the Constitution.”

The same racial exception to the rule led to massive privatization of inner city education, through wholesale imposition of charter schools and private school vouchers. When education secretary Arne Duncan declared that Hurricane Katrina was the best thing that ever happened to public schools in New Orleans because it allowed most of the city’s schools to be converted to charters, there was no national condemnation of his remarks – since it is accepted that Blacks cannot run their own school systems. They are the great exceptions to the American rule. Corporate solutions can justifiably be substituted for democracy, when it comes to Blacks.

The problems of drugs and crime were framed as Black phenomena, requiring a more flexible interpretation of civil liberties and the creation of a vast police state. Just as the Founding Fathers actually intended, Blacks were an exception to the Constitution.

Blacks, and their alleged “pathologies,” were considered the nexus of poverty and social disintegration in America. Therefore, the social safety net was kept at the absolute minimum.

And now, all these exceptions that have been made for Blacks, are to become models for America as a whole, in the age of austerity, corporatized education, undemocratic governance, and the National Security State. In places like Detroit and New Orleans, America has been busily creating the pilot programs for the rule of the rich, by systematically undermining social democracy for Blacks.

The great exception, is becoming the rule.

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: 20130612_gf_Detroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50pm EST

What To Think of Whenever You Hear “The Worst of the Worst”?

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

There are some phrases, mostly referring or belonging to government which frequently mean the opposite of what they say, or which are shorthand for entire libraries of lies promoted by the powerful to turn reality on its head. Terms like “military intelligence,” “public charter school,” “public-private partnership,” “extraordinary rendition,” “congressional oversight” and “humanitarian intervention” are among those that come readily to mind. We take this moment to focus on a current favorite phrase oft deployed by our masters of deceit to conceal their official crimes.

That phrase is “the worst of the worst.” Official spokespeople and corporate media apply this term to those unjustly confined for torture and indefinite sentences with no trial or formal charges, like those at Guantanamo, Bahgram, Diego Garcia and an archipelago of known and unknown prisons and surrogate facilities. It's been shown again and again that the so-called “worst of the worst” in such places are often completely innocent, and sometimes include children.

No matter. The “worst of the worst” label is an open invitation to invent even more lies, to dismiss their lives, their families and the rules of international law and human decency in their cases. One of the signal policy innovations of the Obama administration over the Bush-Cheney regime is said to be the simple murder of such persons with drones rather than locking them up.

The “worst of the worst” phrase is deployed by domestic officials as well, usually to refer to the United States' world-leading total of more than 70,000 in solitary confinement in thousands of federal, state and local jails and prisons. It has become standard procedure across the country to put prisoners in solitary confinement for years for such offenses as refusing to confess an alleged gang affiliation, engaging in anything that looks like unsanctioned self-help or self-improvement organizing, the possession of books that one's jailers disapprove of, having a history of political activism on the outside, or experiencing an awakening of political consciousness while a prisoner.

The assertion of jailers that the 70,000 in solitary confinement on any day in the United States are “the worst of the worst” is nothing less than cynical doublespeak to conceal their own crimes. Solitary confinement, when prolonged for more than a few days is recognized under international law as torture, and crimes always are doubly diabolical when committed anyone on a public payroll.

Hence whenever we hear media spokespeople, military or civilian officials on any level refer to those in their dungeons and their gunsights at home and abroad as “the worst of the worst” we should not let that stand. We should know, and let everyone in our reach know we and they are hearing the worst kind of calumny, designed to conceal official wrongs committed in all our names. It's our jailers and their official enablers, not our prisoners here and around the world who are truly “the worst of the worst.”

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 via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com

Direct download: 20130612_bd_worst_of_the_worst.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:23pm EST

Rep. Clyburn: Putting Obama First – Civil Liberties, Peace Justice and Reality Last

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Congressman Clyburn has but one priority: to protect the image and legacy of Barack Obama.”

If one good thing has come out of Barack Obama’s ascension to the White House, it is that his rise has exposed the appalling backwardness of the Black Misleadership Class – a petty and puny-minded cohort whose worldview is so narrow, it can accommodate only one issue: the political fortunes of the First Black President. Nothing else matters to these incredibly parochial political midgets – not issues of war and peace, nor the precarious state of planetary ecology, not even the economic well-being of the masses of Black Americans. Certainly, not civil liberties. Only Obama.

Congressman James Clyburn is supposed to represent the interests of more than half a million South Carolinians, the majority of them Black. One might expect a Black congressman to have more than a passing interest in the Bill of Rights and protection of civil liberties. The revelation that Uncle Sam is building up a dossier on everyone with a telephone and a computer connection should be at least mildly upsetting to anyone that calls himself a Black leader. But Congressman Clyburn has but one priority: to protect the image and legacy of Barack Obama.

Rather than thank whistleblower Edward Snowden for revealing the massive scope of government spying under Obama, Congressman Clyburn sees a conspiracy against the president. Otherwise, how could a 30-year-old white boy who dropped out of high school get in a position to blow the whistle on the Obama administration. “I haven’t gotten to where I am in politics without relying on my gut,” said Clyburn. “And my gut tells me this is an effort to embarrass the president.”

No doubt, white privilege did play a role.”

Clyburn’s gut isn’t a bit queasy about the dramatic expansion of the National Security State, as long as Big Brother is Black. What gives Clyburn angry bowels is the idea that a white guy with a GED had a secret security clearance. “Where did he get the intellectual capacity to be allowed access to all this data?” fumed Clyburn. The better question is, Where did Snowden get the moral courage to go up against rapidly growing fascism with a Black face?

Julianne Malveaux is considered quite gifted, intellectually. She’s an economist, author, political commentator and former president of historically Black Bennett College, in North Carolina. But she, too, seems more upset about young Snowden’s fat salary at a law firm in Hawaii, than about threats to everyone’s civil liberties. Malveaux sounded like Congressman Clyburn’s echo. “I am still trying to figure out,” she said, “how a young white man with a GED was able to infiltrate both the respected firm Booz Allen and also the CIA, to earn a wage of more than $200,000 a year, and to know enough to whistle-blow.”

Snowden learned computers at a community college and got his security clearance while training to be a Green Beret. He left the military after breaking both legs, but kept his clearance – and the rest is history, right up there with Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers. No doubt, white privilege did play a role in Snowden’s gaining access to Big Brother’s secrets. There have also been lots of times when white privilege was put to good use for the Black Liberation Movement, and in the cause of peace. What makes certain Black folks mad at Edward Snowden, is that he embarrassed their president – which, for the Black Misleadership Class, is the greatest crime imaginable.

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: 20130612_gf_ClyburnVsSnowden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:46am EST

Ben Jealous’ Obscene “Truth and Reconciliation” Proposal

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Ben Jealous wants reconciliation without emancipation of those who sacrificed their youth for our people.”

NAACP chief Ben Jealous hasn’t taken a position on Assata Shakur, the exiled former Black Panther who President Obama’s FBI has elevated to Domestic Terrorist Number One – despite the fact that the grandmother has spent the last 29 years living peacefully in Cuba. Yes, Jealous knows that Shakur was a political prisoner before her escape, charged in the 1973 death of a New Jersey policeman. He told Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman that he thinks the NAACP will have to take a position on Shakur’s case at some point, and that he also feels for the families of the cops who died in New Jersey and in the Brinks robbery, in New York, in 1981. Jealous says he’s most interested in healing the nation from the effects of what he calls “politically motivated violence, on both sides.” What’s needed, he claims, is a kind of “truth and reconciliation commission.”

Ben Jealous’s clear reference is to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, convened in Cape Town, in 1996, by a multiracial cast of notables led by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Commission’s powers were limited to granting amnesty to perpetrators, or offering rehabilitation and reparations to victims. The hearings were quite controversial from the very start, and ultimately produced no political consensus among the races that justice was served.

What is there to conciliate about?”

It is most important to bear in mind that, at that time, an African National Congress government under Nelson Mandela had been in office for two years. The ANC’s political prisoners, including Mandela, himself, had been freed. The Commission could grant amnesty, but not administer punishment – which seemed far from fair to many members of the non-white majority who had been abused in every imaginable way for generations.

It is curious that Ben Jealous thinks this rather ineffective South African medicine can heal America’s racial wounds – especially since, unlike South Africa, and Barack Obama notwithstanding, whites are still firmly in control, here. Our political prisoners remain behind bars – scores of them, many incarcerated for more than 40 years, and some of them still in solitary confinement. What is there to conciliate about? The only decent demand is that they be set free, to enjoy what years they have left among family and comrades on the outside. Ben Jealous wants reconciliation without emancipation of those who sacrificed their youth for our people. In that light, his talk of reconciliation is an obscene diversion from the reality of still-living human beings trapped in perpetuity in America’s dungeons.

Ben Jealous wants peace much more than justice – forgetting that without some semblance of justice, there can be no peace. That’s why he stakes out a position on some fantasized truth and reconciliation scheme before taking a stand on the actual plight of Assata Shakur, on whose head his favorite president has placed a $2 million bounty. Why doesn’t Ben Jealous work his conciliatory charms on Obama, whose assault on human civilization is making conciliation with America more and more impossible for huge segments of the world’s population?

Clearly, the truth is that Ben Jealous has already reconciled himself with evil, and wants the rest of us to “turn the page” while evil is still on the throne. Sounds more like a Reconciliation and Capitulation Commission.

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: 20130605_gf_Reconciliation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42am EST

The African Union: Still Subservient After All These Years

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The African Union’s little rebellion against the International Criminal Court simply shows that African leaders understand that the Americans have no loyalties.”

Developments at the recent African Union conference highlight the abject subservience to the West of the vast majority of states on the continent – and African leaders’ occasional attempts to contest their subordinate status. On an independent-minded note, the African Union rebuked the International Criminal Court for its fixation on indicting only Africans for crimes against humanity. Ethiopia’s prime minister, who was also chairman of the AU meeting, said the court’s “process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting rather than the objective of taking care of crimes and impunities.” To drive home the point, the AU voted almost unanimously to ask the court to refer its case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice president back to Kenyan courts, saying Kenya had the capacity to adjudicate the matter on its own. Only Botswana objected to the proposal.

The ICC is known to eagerly indict just about anyone – any African, that is – who falls out of favor with the United States. The U.S. clearly favored Uhuru Kenyatta’s opponent in the presidential race, Raila Odinga – which may have been one reason that Kenyans voted the other way. Yet, the AU’s slap in the face of the court and, indirectly, its U.S. backers, is much less than it seems. Kenya remains an unwavering puppet of U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa, having joined in the invasion of neighboring Somalia at Washington’s behest. And Ethiopia and Uganda provide the bulk of the troops occupying Somalia under U.S. direction. On paper, the war in Somalia is an African Union and United Nations mission, but the war is run by the CIA and largely financed by the Europeans. The African Union’s little rebellion against the International Criminal Court simply shows that African leaders understand that the Americans have no loyalties and are capable of turning on any one them when it suits their purposes, and having them tossed into prison by the International Criminal Court. The African heads of state were simply looking out for their own heads.

A continental standing army?”

There was a lot of bluster in Addis Ababa about creating an independent African force to maintain order on the continent. The leaders voted to create an “intervening” military unit to rapidly deal with crises and coup d’etats. That would be followed by creation of a full-fledged African Standby Force – a kind of continental standing army – as early as 2015. AU spokesmen speculated that the force “could be 100 percent” African, in terms of men on the ground. However, it would still need logistical support from the so-called “international community” – a euphemism for the United States and Europe – who are, of course, the sworn enemies of African independence.

The truth is, virtually all the armies of Africa, except for Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan, have become integrated into either U.S. or French military structures, and cannot act independently. African leaders claim they will try to break free by raising taxes on things like airline flights and hotel rooms – but that’s nonsense for home consumption. The African Union’s Peace and Security Commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, spoke of the “historic nature and scope” of the AU’s tentative moves towards military independence. But they are parakeets in a cage, trying to sound like eagles, fifty years after the formation of the Organization of African Unity.

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: 20130605_AU_Force.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33am EST

The Irrelevance of the African Union at 50

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The U.S. military grip on Africa ensures that the continent will not achieve any of Nkrumah’s pan-African objectives.”

The African Union marked its 50th anniversary, this week, at an executive council meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – the city where the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, was born in 1963. Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah was the guiding intellect of pan-Africanism in those days. He envisioned a continent unified by a common market, currency and central bank, common citizenship, a common foreign policy and system of military defense – a kind of United States of Africa. A half century later, the United States effectively lords it over Africa to a degree unmatched by any single European power of the colonial period.

Africa is most unified in its abject military subservience to the U.S. and, secondarily, to France, which struts around Mali, Niger, the Central African Republic and other former colonies as if independence was a joke played on history. But, the big boss is AFRICOM, the U.S. military command established in 2008, whose barbed wire entangles the continent, linking the militaries of all but three African countries directly to the Pentagon.

The U.S. military grip on Africa ensures that the continent will not achieve any of Nkrumah’s pan-African objectives. It is the American trump card, that renders this week’s proclamations out of Ethiopia fatuous and empty. The African Union chairperson presented a draft proclamation of a continental agenda for the next 50 years – Agenda 2063 – that is to be adopted next January. It speaks to African “peace and security” and “self-reliance” – an impossibility so long as the U.S. superpower dictates the terms of war and peace, and while virtually every African head of state serves at the pleasure of the Americans, who are closer to his generals than he is.

The African Union’s opinion is irrelevant.”

The 50-year agenda celebrates social and economic development and continental integration. But Africa’s regional economic groupings have largely been converted into blocs for easy political manipulation by the Americans and their European junior imperial partners. In the Horn of Africa, IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, has been entirely subordinated to the Americans and their war to subdue Somalia and threaten tiny, independent-minded Eritrea. The African Union’s so-called peace-keeping mission in Somalia, the AU’s biggest military project, is entirely financed, armed, trained and directed by the Europeans and Americans, most notably the CIA. On the other side of the continent, ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, is thoroughly enmeshed in the French-American war machines that have invaded the region. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations is putting together an offensive brigade sponsored by the United States and France, that will surely serve imperialism’s interests in the region.

The African Union’s opinion is irrelevant, just as it was irrelevant when the U.S. and its NATO allies decided on regime change in Libya, in 2011. Muammar Gaddafi, a former AU president and bankroller was overthrown and murdered, and the AU did nothing. And yet, it speaks of a 50-year plan for an African renaissance, and claims the pan-African vision guides its deliberations.

Nevertheless, I’m sure Kwame Nkrumah would agree that the AU has been quite useful – just not useful to Africans.

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: 20130529_gf_AfricanUnion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am EST

Saving Detroit’s Art Treasures – While the Rest of the City is Picked Clean

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Rather than make common cause with the victims, whose house is being pillaged, the patrons of the ‘high arts’ want only to remove certain items.”

Elements of Michigan’s upper class are finally showing concern for the plight of Detroit, its largest city, locked in the deadly embrace of a state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager. No, the one percent aren’t upset that the city’s residents have been stripped of their democratic rights, reduced to non-citizens with literally no control over their local institutions and resources. Most of the upper crust consider the disenfranchisement of Detroit and fully half of the state’s Black population to be more of a blessing than a tragedy, much less a crime. Rather, the Emergency Manager has rattled the sophisticated gentry by appearing to covet the precious works housed in the Detroit Institute of Art, which could be valued at a billion dollars.

Wait a minute, say the high-priced art aficionados. Selling off the nuts and bolts assets of a great metropolis full of Black and poor people is one thing, but don’t you dare go after our van Gogh. You can steal the pensions of tens of thousands of retirees, and tear up every union contract in Detroit, but don’t even think about taking away my Monet!

It doesn’t matter to the privileged classes that the soulful city that produced the Motown sound – an exquisite form of art – is about to be gutted to satisfy the greed of capitalist creditors. After all, the Motown sound was produced by people from the streets, while the works of Picasso and Matisse are prized by the folks from the suites, and must be saved for future generations of that class. The very idea that masterpieces of Euro-American high culture might be thrown into the mix of expendable items like public water systems, voting rights, a living wage, and security in ones old age – why, its enough to make a connoisseur of the arts launch a revolt against the rule of Capital.

Sell the people, and their rights, but not the paintings!”

Well, not quite. Patrons of the arts have mobilized, not to free Detroit from the bankers’ yoke, but to find ways to separate the city’s artistic assets from the kind of assets that most people depend upon in their daily lives. Rather than demanding that Financial Manager Kevyn Orr and his vultures respect the citizenship rights of 82 percent Black Detroit, they’re seeking legal loopholes to keep the Institute of Art off the auction block. By all means, sell the people, and their rights, but not the paintings!

Of course, this is a false choice. A crime is being perpetuated against the people of Detroit, robbing them of the their rights as workers, pension holders, students, citizens and human beings. Rather than make common cause with the victims, whose house is being pillaged, the patrons of the “high arts” want only to remove certain items, and then run right out the door again, allowing the criminals to continue their thievery.

It probably does not even occur to the self-styled art lovers that, by attempting to separate the Institute of Art from the city of Detroit, they are also thieves. It is like slipping the wristwatch from the arm of a drowning man, rather than rescuing him, and then bragging about having preserved a fine piece of craftsmanship.

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: 20130529_gf_Detroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am EST

Chicago Teachers Build a Movement

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Chicago’s teachers are attempting to build a community fight-back coalition.”

Thousands of Chicago teachers and their community allies marched and rallied for three days in opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked school board’s plans to close 54 public schools, almost all of them in Black neighborhoods – the biggest round of closings anywhere in the country, to date. Parents and teachers say the plan puts children at greater risk as they cross the boundaries of different gangs’ turf; destabilizes neighborhoods that will lose their schools; and is part of a larger scheme to further decimate the teaching ranks and convert more schools to charters. Teachers Union president Karen Lewis says “study after study” has shown that shuffling children around from school to school accomplishes nothing unless the new schools are significantly better – yet, most of the cross-city movement in the mayor’s plan is from one poor neighborhood to another.

The mayor claims that the closings are necessary cost-cutting measures. But a report by the Chicago Tribune, which is no friend of the teachers, shows that Emanuel’s minions have fudged the numbers. For example, a school was marked for closing because it lacked adequate air conditioning, but students were then slated to be transferred to another school that also lacks sufficient air conditioning. Another school was put on the shut-down list because it would cost almost $10 million to fix. But the students’ new school requires nearly as much money for repairs. The report concludes that it would cost millions more to renovate the schools where the displaced students would be assigned, than to fix the old schools.

The teachers union is engaged in a political battle royal.”

So, this is not about costs; that’s just a cover story. It’s about further privatizing the public schools, destroying the union, and destabilizing neighborhoods full of people that the mayor and his big business cronies would, ultimately, like to expel from the city, entirely. The teachers know it, and so does a growing portion of the community, who have joined in common cause.

The teachers have filed two class action suits against the closings, and the mayor’s school board appointees were set to take a pro-forma vote on the matter, on Wednesday. However, the teachers union fully understands that they are engaged in a political battle royal with forces that are bigger than the mayor’s office. Philadelphia and cities across the country face near-identical assaults on their public schools, part of a full-fledged austerity offensive by corporate America. The Lords of Capital are privatizing, financializing, monetizing and de-unionizing everything.

American racism makes inner city public schools an easier target, and the privatizers have a great ally in President Barack Obama. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is best known as Obama’s former chief of staff, but he also made millions as an investment banker. Wall Street hedge funders and other speculators are betting heavily on school privatization as the next great investment frontier. Chicago’s teachers are attempting to build a community fight-back coalition that can break the stranglehold of corporate rule, and serve as an example to teachers unions and Black and brown communities across the nation. In the fight against austerity, and for community control of schools, the Chicago Teachers Union is on front line.

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: 20130522_gf_ChicagoSchools.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:40pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Banks have failed to pay more than half of $5.7 billion owed to homeowners from over 30 settlements since 2008.”

Attorney General Eric Holder won’t lay a hand on the cabal of banks that are “too big to fail” and far too politically powerful to jail, but DC police seemed eager to use their tasers on homeowners and anti-foreclosure demonstrators at Holder’s Justice Department, this week. Five hundred protesters from organizations around the country, including Occupy Minnesota, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the Home Defenders League, and Occupy Our Homes gathered to demand that banks be held accountable for the massive frauds they’ve committed against homeowners and society at large. Several dozen protesters were arrested, including a number of elderly persons, but Eric Holder and his top lieutenants didn’t even bother to acknowledge their presence.

If the Obama administration has been consistent on any one issue, it is the untouchability of the biggest banks. Attorney General Holder has acted more as the bankers’ bail bondsman than the nation’s top law enforcement official. When confronted with two Scandals of the Century – the massive robo-signing bank fraud and the Libor interest rate fixing scheme – Holder moved to protect the banks. He used the powers of his office to block state criminal prosecutions in favor of financial settlements and fines. Holder, who is relentless in his determination to enforce the letter of the law on marijuana, claims he is helpless to bring criminal charges against banking corporations and their top executives, because it might cause an economic crisis. The real economic catastrophe that Holder and his boss, President Obama, fear is that Wall Street might withdraw its campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.

He used the powers of his office to block state criminal prosecutions.”

Not only does the Attorney General refuse to consider putting bankers in jail, whatever the crime, he allows them to defy the terms of agreed upon financial settlements. According to the Washington Post, banks have failed to pay more than half of $5.7 billion owed to homeowners from over 30 settlements since 2008. These include robo-signing frauds, subprime mortgage entrapments, discrimination in lending to the disabled – a whole universe of criminality for which, in a just world, the offending banks would be dismantled and their top executives imprisoned. Instead, they are allowed to renege on payments to their victims with impunity.

As it has turned out, many of the banksters’ victims have received only a few thousand, or even just a few hundred dollars after years of struggle.

Even as his administration fails to live up to its Constitutional responsibilities to enforce the law, as it applies to Wall Street, Obama preached personal responsibility to the graduating class of Morehouse College, in Atlanta. The President spoke of the importance of “men who refuse to be afraid.” But he and his Attorney General are scared stiff of the power of the banks, to which they are beholden as servants. If there is no law that the banks cannot break with impunity, then this is not a nation of laws.

So, let’s stop pretending.

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: 20130522_gf_DOJDemo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:29pm EST

Black Vote Rising, Black Power Diminishing, Black Condition Worsening

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

If Black voting strength actually translates as real power, then why is the Black condition deteriorating, even as Black electoral activity increases?”

A U.S. Census report on voter turnout shows Blacks voted at higher rates than whites in the 2012 election – the first time that’s happened since records have been kept, according to Census Bureau officials. Another study indicates African Americans also turned out in proportionately greater numbers than whites in 2008, to elect Barack Obama the first time.

What is the import of the relatively massive Black voter turnout in the last two presidential elections? First, we should note that African Americans were at least as enthusiastic about voting almost a century and a half ago, during Reconstruction.

The historical record indicates that Blacks flocked to the polls in huge numbers after Emancipation in those regions where they were not held back by white terrorists. In some states, Blacks made up the clear majority of voters, with some classes of ex-Confederates barred from the polls while other whites boycotted the process. Once federal troops were withdrawn from the South, in 1877, Reconstruction was systematically dismantled. However, during this brief period of intense Black electoral activity, Reconstruction governments delivered substantial citizenship goods, including establishing the first public schools in the South.

The newly freed slaves knew full well what they were voting for: a transformation of society; an end to white supremacy; the rule of law, not of one race over another; the right not only to all the services that government provided, but to social goods, such as a public education, that southern governments had not previously provided, even to whites.

In virtually every category of well-being, the Black condition is worsening in comparison to whites.”

One hundred years after the Civil War, the masses of southern Blacks were re-enfranchised, and African Americans became majorities or strong pluralities in many of the nation’s cities. In 2008, they got a chance to vote for a Black man at the top of a major party ticket. Black enthusiasm for voting returned. But, what has been the return in terms of social goods? In virtually every category of well-being, the Black condition is worsening in comparison to whites. The bottom has fallen out of the Black economy, with household wealth shrinking to nonexistence except for a slim sliver of the Black population. African Americans make up one out of every eight of the planet’s prison inmates, their communities enveloped by an ever-tightening police state.

If Black voting strength actually translates as real power, then why is the Black condition deteriorating, even as Black electoral activity increases? Part of the answer is internal to Black America. A portion of the African American population has for the past 40 years hitched its fortunes to corporate boardrooms. Unfortunately, this selfish element also comprises most of Black leadership. This Black Misleadership Class barters Black votes in exchange for its own upward mobility. They have made a pact with the rich, who abhor the very concepts of democracy and human equality. The mission of the Black Misleadership Class is to strip Black politics of all socially transformative content so that, no matter how large the Black voter turnout, real power remains in corporate hands.

Political power is not something you add up on a scoreboard every four years; it is people pulling together to create a just society, by any means necessary. Increased Black voting levels indicate only that Blacks are interested in gaining power – not that they are wielding it.

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: 20120515_gf_BlackVoting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28am EST

Radicalized = Weaponized = Kill at Will

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the ‘radicalized’ person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation.”

Like all advanced police states, the U.S. national security regime has begun speaking its own, degenerate language. It is a mode of speech that simultaneously defines the “enemy” and justifies his or her destruction. The soulless, bureaucratic roots of National Security Speech belie the ruthless intent, which is to make the utter destruction of the targeted group or individual appear to be the natural order of things.

Self-radicalization” is one of the terms coined by national security speakers. To people like President Obama, a guy who adds targets to his Kill List every Tuesday, “self-radicalization” represents a grave threat to the American state. “One of the dangers that we now face,” said Obama, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, “are self-radicalized individuals who are already in the United States,” because it is difficult to prevent them from carrying out “plots.”

In this context, it is clear that to “radicalize” means very much the same as to “weaponize”; the radicalized person has been transformed into a weapon. A radical is no longer simply an individual “who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform,” but someone who by their very thought processes represents a clear and present danger to the United States. The line between political beliefs and illegal action is eradicated, so that the “radicalized” person or group is inherently deserving of liquidation. The operative word is “radical.”

Obama is not talking about “Manchurian Candidates” who have been programmed against their will and without their knowledge to carry out acts dictated by others. He’s talking about people who quite consciously object to U.S. policies, who might do something about it at some time in the future, or influence others’ opinions about the United States. Obama’s problem with the people he calls “self-radicalized” is that they cannot be easily entrapped or shown to be guilty by association with others who think as they do – and if they do act, their actions do not necessarily implicate others. For the fascist-minded, this must be quite frustrating.

Assata remains radical.”

Assata Shakur was radicalized at least 45 years ago. An all-white jury convicted her of killing a New Jersey policeman. She escaped from prison, and has been under the protection of the Cuban government for the last 29 years, a political exile. The cop has been dead since 1973, Shakur’s political party has long been defunct, and she is a grandmother far from home. But the FBI felt compelled to double the one million dollar reward for Shakur, and to elevate her to number one domestic terrorist. Why? Because Shakur continues to “maintain and promote her…ideology" and "provides anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message.” That is, she remains radical, and therefore, a weapon, even at the age of 65, isolated from her 40 million fellow African Americans, few of whom know her name. But the FBI pretends to fear that her “ideology” might go viral at any time.

They don’t believe that, of course. The political police are simply determined to make radicalism – of the “self” or group inspired variety – synonymous with criminality, much in the way that “Black” is now inextricably linked with crime in the public mind. According to that formula, a Black woman radical makes the perfect poster for a political witch hunt.

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: 20130515_gf_Radicals.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01am EST

From Race Men to Debased Men, Obama at Morehouse, Arne Duncan at Morgan State

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

A good friend in Atlanta observed that when President Bush used to visit, his inbox would be flooded with alerts and notices about vigils, picket lines and demonstrations. But when the current president comes to town, there's nothing.

President Obama will punctuate the commencement at Atlanta's Morehouse College next week. The only ripple that's made news is whether some preacher who criticized the president for not making enough black appointments to elite high offices should be allowed to set foot on campus that weekend. Commencement week, Morehouse officials solemnly say, is about the graduates, not politics.

At Morgan State University, another historically black institution of higher learning in Baltimore, Obama's basketball buddy and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to deliver the commencement address. There's not much publicly visible dissent behind that either, despite the fact that President Obama's Race To The Top program has closed and privatized more public schools than any other president in US history, and Arne Duncan chucks that spear. Baltimore is reportedly closing 32 schools in the near future while building only 15 new ones. One wonders whether Baltimore and Morgan State would be protesting if the same destructive policies were forced upon them by a white president without the soothing presence of a compliant black political elite as intermediaries.

There's no shortage of of pressing issues at Morgan State, Maryland state delegate Jill P. Carter informed Black Agenda Report. The school is suing the state of Maryland and its Democrat governor, charging that the state's historically black colleges and universities have been chronically underfunded. According to Carter, HBCUs across the country are watching and waiting to file similar suits if this one succeeds.

There's no shortage of bright, successful HBCU alumni who could deliver powerful, inspiring commencement address,” said Carter. “It's too bad Morgan State didn't go there instead.”

Delegate Carter has a point. It is too bad. What it's not is the least bit surprising.

The leaders of Morgan State University, of Morehouse College and many similar institutions are not really leaders at all, not the way the old style “race men” and women supposed themselves to be once upon a time, standing up and lifting up all our people. They are followers, members of a black misleadership class which values conformity, silence and careers over courageous advocacy and struggle, and prizes individual enrichment over investment in a community's collective wealth and power.

The race men have become debased men, unable even to stand up for the interests of their own institutions, let alone for public education, or against gentrification, or the interests of African Americans as a whole. Commencement addresses for them are not about inspiring the graduates about to go forth into the world and accomplish things about which their elders can only dream. They're about genuflecting to power and repeating the stale old narratives that validate and justify our class of elite black misleaders.

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 near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130508_bd_racemen_debasedmen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:04pm EST

Defend Assata, Defend Ourselves: The Black Is Black Coalition Rallies in Harlem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama is serving notice that those who share Assata’s ideology – as understood by the FBI – are subject to eradication as well.”

In doubling the bounty on former Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur’s head, the Obama administration is announcing that Black radicals are candidates for his Kill List. The message is as unmistakable and dramatic as the billboards that have been erected in Newark, New Jersey, and elsewhere screaming for the exiled freedom fighter’s blood.

One does not wind up on the FBI’s Most Wanted list based on the number of murders committed or millions of dollars stolen. The Most Wanted list is among the nation’s most political documents, in which individuals are meant to personify the scope and type of offenses that the U.S. government considers most in need of stamping out. The list is a kind of propaganda, a symbolic display of what the state considers dangerous behavior.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the two Black men who are most responsible for making Assata Shakur the face of domestic terror in the United States, are fully conversant in the language of symbolism. They are publicly defining the Black liberation movement – or what’s left of it, or those who might attempt to revive it – as a priority domestic target for repression. Shakur, a 65-year old grandmother who has not left Cuba for the past 29 years, poses no physical danger to the American state. She represents a political threat, through her “ideology,” as brazenly stated by the FBI. The Bureau has marked Shakur for priority assassination on the basis of, in the FBI’s words, her “anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message.” “Terrorism” is somehow inherent in the message of Black liberation. Advocacy of Black liberation, is the threat. The reward of $2 million is meant to silence Assata Shakur’s political speech, and remove her as a symbol of resistance to the U.S government.

The Bureau has marked Shakur for priority assassination.”

For the National Security State, “terror” is a powerful word, with vast legal ramifications. The Obama administration is informing Americans and Cubans that Assata is as much fair game for assassination by drone as the late Anwar al-Awlaki. Barack Obama and Eric Holder are serving notice that those who share Assata’s ideology – as understood by the FBI – are subject to eradication as well, because it is an ideology of terror. And they are telling those who give “substantial support” to Assata that they are subject to detention by the U.S. military without trial or charge, for the duration of the war against “terror.”

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a demonstration on Thursday, May 9, from 5 to 7pm, in front of the Harlem State Office Building in New York City, to give substantial and unwavering support to the safety and freedom of Assata Shakur; Freedom for Sundiata Acoli and Sekou Odinga, Black Liberation Army members held in U.S. prisons; and Freedom for All Political Prisoners.

They tried to kill Assata in 1973, and they're still trying. They tried to kill the Black liberation movement, but its not dead yet. Join the Black is Back Coalition and a host of other concerned organizations at the Harlem State Office Building, on 125th Street, at 5pm, on Thursday. Tell the real terrorists what you think about them, their austerity, their mass incarceration, and their wars. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

For more information, go to Black Is Back Coalition event Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/425416530887768/

HANDS OFF ASSATA! UNCLE SAM IS THE REAL TERRORIST!

On Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 5pm Eastern Standard Time, the New York City Chapter of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice Peace and Reparations (BIBC) will hold a demonstration in front of the Harlem State Office Building to protest the U.S. government’s recent announcement of the increased bounty placed on the life of Assata Shakur from $1 million to $2 million and her addition to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list.

The State claims that Assata Shakur is a U.S. domestic terrorist and is offering money to anyone who can take Assata from Cuba and bring her back, dead or alive, to the U.S. so that she can be forced to serve the rest of her “life sentence” for the alleged murder of a New Jersey state trooper in the early 1970s.

The BIBC is absolutely opposed to the U.S. governments labeling of Assata Shakur as a terrorist. Assata Shakur, like the masses of African and other oppressed peoples around the world, is a victim of terrorism inflicted by the U.S. government.

It is the U.S. government that has the longest track record of terrorism on the face of the planet. Currently there are over 700 U.S. military installations in the world today. In each of those colonized territories suffering such occupation, the people face outright terror. The Afghani people suffer civilian casualties on a regular basis due to trigger happy U.S. Marine maneuvers. The same can be said all over the planet.

In fact, Cuba, the country from which the U.S. aims to snatch Assata, has been a decade’s long victim of that same U.S. terrorism that African people in this country have come to know all too well. The economic embargos and military restrictions that the U.S. has imposed on the Cuban government and people are not unlike the public policy of policy containment of the Black community here in the U.S., a policy which serves at best as a poor substitute for economic development.

The U.S. occupation of Cuba (Guantanamo Bay) is not unlike the police occupation of the African community. The numerous assassination attempts by the U.S. on the life of Fidel Castro and other Cuban leaders is not unlike the U.S. COINTELPRO initiated assassinations of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Martin Luther King.

Assata is being labeled a terrorist by the U.S. only because of her relationship to the Black Liberation Army, which, during the 1960’s and 70’s engaged in armed struggle against the U.S. government as a means of liberating Black people from its oppressive domination.

The U.S. is intensifying its attack on all remnants and symbols of resistance from the last genuine period of revolutionary struggle in this country. This attack on Assata is an attack on the African Liberation Movement and African people in general that cannot go unchecked!

This attack on the part of the U.S. is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness and desperation that was necessary on the part of U.S. imperialism as a means of overturning the tides of history that are on course to wipe imperialism completely out of existence.

BIB also understands that the intensifying attack being made against Assata and the African Liberation Movement in general could only be made possible, with minimal political consequence, through a neo-colonial Black president Obama and U.S. attorney general Eric Holder.

While these government officials are Black, it is clear that they do not represent the interests of Black people. It is Obama who has intensified a campaign of imperialist war against African and African people around the world. It is Obama who has ordered the dropping of drone bombs in various parts of the African continent. It is Obama who has given a green light to the police throughout the U.S. to shoot and kill African people at will, an initiative that has resulted in the most recent finding that an African is murdered by the police in the U.S. every 28 hours.

The fact is that while George Bush’s regime set the stage for the bounty on Assata, it is Obama who has played the leading role in the play of U.S. imperialist repression waged around the world, a play whose final act consists of such attempts to completely wipe out any remnant of African resistance within U.S. borders.

Assata Shakur on the other hand, has represented the genuine interests of African people since she joined the movement for Black Power, as she continues to do today—even as she lives in Cuba in exile because of her acts of righteous resistance during the 1960s.

The Black is Back Coalition is calling on all lovers of genuine freedom and social justice to unite with us and attend this very important demonstration being held in defense of Assatta Shakur.

Free Assatta! Free Sundiata! Free Sekou Odinga! Free All BLA Prisoners of War! Free All Political Prisoners!


Current list of demonstration endorsers and attendees include:
Peoples Organization for Progress (New Jersey)
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report)
International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) – NYC
Diop Olugbala – InPDUM President
African Peoples Socialist Party – Newark, NJ
Nellie Bailey – Harlem Tenants Council
Ralph Poynter – Lynn Stewart Defense Committee
Students United for a Free CUNY
Occupy Wall Street (Occu-Evolve) - Sumumba Sobukwe
Lisa Davis - Chair of Black is Back Healthcare Committee
Stop Stop and Frisk Freedom Fighters
The Peoples Survival Program (PSP)

Direct download: 20130508_gf_Assata.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46am EST

End Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, Prepare to Back Hunger Strikers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Solitary confinement as a form of routine, mass punishment is beyond barbarity.”

Another prison hunger strike is looming in California, where more than 200 inmates at the Pelican Bay supermax have been in solitary confinement for between five and ten years and nearly 100 have been shut off from most human contact for 20 years or more. Across the nation, on any given day, more than 100,000 inmates suffer in solitary – about 25,000 in the federal system and another 80,000 or so in state facilities. That’s the equivalent of locking up every man, woman and child in Charleston, South Carolina, in their own little 8 by 12 foot box – for an eternity. Nothing like this American form of mass human torment has ever existed on the face of the earth: systematic, industrial strength torture, multiplied 100,000 times per day. Solitary confinement as a form of routine, mass punishment is beyond barbarity. Nowhere in human history do we find barbarians who tortured hundreds of thousands of people every day for decades at a time. Only in America.

Solitary confinement, by its very nature, is designed to ensure that no one but the torturers hears the cries of the tormented. However, knowledge of such monstrous evil compels decent men and women to action, in solidarity with those who have been wronged. The prisoners of Pelican Bay, who went on hunger strike in 2011, have sent word that they will do so again, on July 8, if the state of California does not meet their core demands. One demand is fundamental: that inmates not be confined to solitary unless they have been charged, “and found guilty of, committing a serious offense… a felony!” Instead, inmates are consigned to a life of oblivion based on anonymous allegations that they are affiliated with a gang, or for exhibiting the slightest hint of political thought – or for no discernable reason, at all. Not only is lengthy solitary confinement unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, and a form of torture under international law, it is totally arbitrary and capricious.

Support networks need to be in place, beforehand.”

In California, alone, more than 14,000 prisoners are held in isolation. The Pelican Bay inmates anticipate many of them will join the hunger strike, as thousands did in 2011, when 13 prisons were involved in the protest, and three inmates committed suicide. This time around, prison organizers have invited the participation of “all male and female prisoners across the U.S. prison systems,” both state and federal. Inmates in Georgia went on hunger strike, pressing a range of demands, in 2011 and again last year.

If the California prisoners are forced to put their lives on the line again, on July 8, support networks need to be in place, beforehand. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is putting out the call, so that the inmates at Pelican Bay and throughout the vast U.S. prison gulag will know that folks on the outside have their back. June 21, 22 and 23 have been designated as Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture, and to immediately disband the torture chambers. You can sign up by going to StopMassIncarceration.org.

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.

For more information, contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at: stopmassincarceration@gmail.com, or by calling (347) 979-SMIN (7646)

Direct download: 20130508_gf_Solitary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34am EST

The New Urban Regime: Gentrification in Atlanta Wears A Black Face

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Edgewood Courts, a modest 200 plus unit Atlanta apartment complex is widely believed to be up for imminent sale. The surrounding neighborhood, like many in Atlanta, is being reclaimed by whiter and more affluent transplants, with the open blessing of mostly black city hall. Those who show up at local meetings of the area's Neighborhood Planning Unit, the quasi-governmental contraption through which some public monies and functions are funneled without the bother of involving less wealthy, less connected residents, are mostly in agreement ---- Edgewood's residents, including its children, present a clear and present nuisance, perhaps even a danger to the property values and lifestyles of their new neighbors, as proven by the stats which measure not crime, but police activity. Police simply don't bang on the doors of the affluent, or confront and abuse the children of yuppies.

Edgewood's adults and its children, then, are deemed deserving of aggressive and sustained attention by the only domestic part of government that grows in these times of austerity --- the police. Atlanta cops, for their part make it a point to attend all Neighborhood Planning Unit meetings, presumably to be available for just such instances. And sure enough, the complaints of well-off neighbors have resulted in a number of arrests and tense confrontations between dozens of police and residents over the last few weeks.

The apartment complex is owned by H.J. Russell, a black construction and real estate firm. Like everybody else in that business, they don't make money off stable neighborhoods. They only get paid when there's people moving out, and new people moving in. So mostly white yuppies sic black city hall and black cops on their black working class neighbors so they'll feel safer, and black realtors and tycoons can get richer.

The awfulness of what's happening in Atlanta's Edgewood Courts is that it's not unique or original at all. Anywhere black politicians are in power nowadays, their chief function seems to be that of what sociologist Jay Arena in his book Driven From New Orleans calls “the new urban regime...” Black politicians are able to serve white elites, and themselves better and more effectively than white politicians ever could alone. Black politicians, under the new urban regime are successful when they divert attention away from their actual policies and onto issues of status and symbolism.

When Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed runs for re-election later this year the call will be to protect the voice of black Atlanta from its first white mayor in forty years. It won't be about the mayor's gutting of employee pension funds, or his agenda of school and transit privatization. It won't be about Atlanta's racial poverty gap, at about 4 blacks to every one 1 white, the highest in the nation's forty largest cities..

Black Mecca is over. Welcome to the new urban regime.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130501_bd_gentrification_blackface.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45am EST

Genocide Toll in Somalia Revised Upward

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Americans turned to mass starvation as a weapon of war.”

A new study shows that twice as many people died in 2011, in Somalia, than previously reported. The British government had estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 Somalis succumbed to hunger during the great drought, but the new study concludes that 260,000 died, half of them under the age of six.

As usual, corporate media coverage of the mass starvation puts the blame on the Shabaab fighters who have been resisting the United States and its allies’ war against the Somali people when, in fact, the death toll represents an American crime against humanity; just one chapter in an ongoing genocide that began in December, 2006. That’s when the U.S. and Ethiopia invaded Somalia to overthrow a broad-based Islamic Courts government that had defeated warlords supported by the United States. The savage assault from air, land and sea created what UN observers described as “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” It was a bloodbath engineered in George Bush’s Washington, and which has continued under President Obama.

The initial cause of the holocaust was not drought, but the savage slaughter of civilians by the invading Ethiopians and the resultant collapse of Somali agriculture. Mogadishu, the capital city, was put under a siege that would last for half a decade, while civilians were chased across the countryside by Ethiopian armor and bombed by U.S. aircraft. The United Nations Children’s Fund representative for Somalia spoke of the “dirtiness” of a conflict in which “children are the real target.”

Nevertheless, in the first years the war did not go well for Washington, whose Ethiopian allies who were forced to withdraw from much of the country after heavy losses. The Americans then turned to mass starvation as a weapon of war – a calculated act of genocide.

The U.S. tried to break the resistance by starving out the people.”

By late 2009, the U.S. began withholding food aid to the humanitarian relief agencies on which half of Somalis in the south and central parts of the country depended for survival, endangering three million people. The main sources of food were warehouses under U.S. control in neighboring Kenya, but the Americans drastically restricted the flow, complaining that too much food was going to Shabaab fighters. In effect, the U.S. tried to break the resistance by starving out the people – a genocide by any legal definition. By early 2011, the worst drought in decades was gripping the region, adding a natural layer of disaster to the manmade catastrophe that had begun in late 2006.

The scale of the horror was tremendous, made worse by the escalation of war and the entrance of Kenya into the carnage as an American client. Yet, the British claimed that only 50,000 to 100,000 died, and the United States declined to produce any official estimate. Finally, six and a half years after the U.S. plunged Somalia into hell, international officials are admitting that at least a quarter of a million people perished during just one period of the U.S.-backed invasion – all of them on President Obama’s watch.

The United States is an infernal killing machine, no matter the color of the criminal in the White House.

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: 20130501_gf_SomaliaDrought.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:31am EST

Rep. Keith Ellison, the Personification of the Phony, Pro-War “Progressive”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Ellison is part of the pro-war Left, whose primary mission is make self-described liberals and leftists comfortable supporting imperial wars.”
Keith Ellison, the Black U.S. House member from Minneapolis who is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, says the U.S. should push for a no-fly zone over rebel-held areas in Syria. Ellison, who is also one of only two Muslim members of Congress, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, as did Republican Arizona Senator John McCain. It is a measure of how far to the right the Democratic Party has come under President Obama, that McCain, the war monger who likes to sing about bombing Iran, and Ellison, who claims to be a progressive, are in basic agreement over Syria. Both McCain and Ellison want no-fly zones, and both claim to prefer that there be no U.S. “boots on the ground” in country. Both are raving American imperialists who believe that the U.S. has not merely the right, but the obligation to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. As Ellison, the phony progressive, puts it, “I don’t think the world’s greatest superpower, the United States, can stand by and do nothing” – which is, essentially, John McCain’s position.
Ellison has been advocating a no-fly zone for Syria for at least a year. Last May, he told U.S. News and World Report that so-called “safe zones” should be set up by the U.S. and its allies around the borders of Syria. Ellison made it quite clear that he sees such zones as a prelude to regime change. “I think the Libyan action was a good example of that,” he said.
“Both are raving American imperialists.”
On U.S. imperial policy, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between McCain, the hard-right Republican, and Ellison, who purports to be a progressive Democrat. Neither gives a damn about international law or the rights of smaller people’s to shape their own destinies. Ellison went to Saudi Arabia, the most socially backward rich country on the planet, and described the King as a “visionary leader.” He rejected George Bush’s troop “surge in 2007, by calling it “too little, too late.” Like Obama, he quibbles about whether U.S. wars are smart or dumb, too late or right on time, but never about the inherent right of the United States to wage war against the weaker nations of the world.
Ellison is part of the pro-war Left, which includes Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whose primary mission is make self-described liberals and leftists comfortable supporting imperial wars. McCain can’t do that, but Ellison can. Amnesty International is shameless enough to use women’s rights as an excuse to support continued occupation of Afghanistan.
Much of the pro-war left has been forced by events to recognize that the U.S. and its allies are backing jihadist Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in Syria – people they wouldn’t like to have brunch with. Therefore, they now demand that the U.S. intervene to make sure that the jihadists don’t get their hands on chemical weapons. Thus, the pro-war left starts off by advocating U.S. intervention to facilitate the coming to power of the rebels, but in the end winds up demanding that the U.S. do whatever it can to stop these guys from taking power. Either way, it ends with U.S. intervention. John McCain and Keith Ellison pretend to be on opposite ideological ends, but they are like Jack and Jill walking up the same hill when it comes to the obligations and privileges of U.S. imperialism.
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: 20130501_gf_EllisonProWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24am EST

US & France Intervene in Mali To Protect Land & Resource Grabs, Not Because of Al Qeda

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

On March 15, former General and AFRICOM commander Carter F. Ham testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the situation in the West African republic of Mali is, along with that in Nigeria and Somalia, “a direct threat to the national security of the United States.” In plain language, claiming a direct threat to US national security is the standard justification for murderous military intervention around the world, and Mali has just been added to the hit list.

Echoing official sources like General Ham, corporate media tell us that Al Qeda and related Islamist forces, flush with weapons from the recent conflict in Libya, are poised to overrun Mali. Should we believe them? Aren't they the same folks who once assured us Saddam, and nowadays Iran, have nuclear weapons? Of course they are, and the real reasons for US intervention are something else entirely.

Since the Clinton administration, the US has provided military aid, weapons and training to 52 out of 54 African nations, ensuring that Africa, the motherland of humanity, remains the poorest and most war-torn region on earth. The US is in Africa to lock down its resources, Africa's energy, water, minerals, timber, agriculture, and biodiversity for the Western corporate elite. Strong African civil societies are, in the view of the US and its allies, bad for business, because they would mean Africans controlling their own energy, water, minerals, timber, agriculture and biodiversity.

Al Qeda, the Islamists and Tuareg rebels aren't the big problem in Mali. The big problem is that Mali's so-called democratic government discredited itself by evicting tens of thousands of farmers and their villages to grant foreign concerns long term leases on vast tracts of prime farmland and water, so Malians didn't much care when it was swept aside by another government committed to the same policies, and seem in no rush to defend that regime either. So the US stepped in, and is currently airlifting, supplying, feeding and providing gasoline to a French mechanized infantry battalion in Mali to make sure foreigners keep that Malian land and water.

The largest of the predatory land grabs in Mali is called Malibya, that's M as in mother, A as in apple Libya, google it for yourself. Malibya was a deal signed with the Khadafi government to ensure Libya's food security with a long term lease of 150 square miles of Malian territory for a vast GMO rice and cattle plantation, irrigated by a 25 mile canal that would drain vast quantities of water from the Niger River. Libya produces vast amounts of oil but little food. Now that the US and their junior partners, the French, have re-established control over Libyan oil, they need Mali's water and agriculture to make their neocolonial contraption sustainable, even if Malians and the tens of millions downriver in other countries suffer. The Pentagon, and its local tentacle AFRICOM, also require Mali for drone, mercenary and special ops bases that can directly penetrate the dozen or so African states west of Nigeria.

Some of the forces of Malian civil society, such as Malian farmers were present at the recent World Social Forum last month in Tunisia. Western corporate media however, is uninterested in reporting their stories, and despite its highly visible and self-celebrating African American political class, there exists no effective constituency for Africa in the US.

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 state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be contacted at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20130424_bd_mali.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm EST

White Chechens Open New Vistas of Repression in America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The whole nation has been set up for a new round of domestic repression.”

The United States of America has collapsed into a phantasmagoria – an inverted world conjured up by imperial minds to fool the home population of the planet’s only superpower into believing they are under siege by virtually everyone else on Earth. The formula has worked too well, rendering the society so brittle, so anxious and afraid, it resembles a madhouse in a fortress that is trying to turn itself into a prison.

Once again, white America (and lots of assimilated non-whites) shows it has absolutely no capacity for introspection – only for projecting its own insanities on others. The New York Times for Sunday, April 21st, speculated that the suspects in the Boston bombing were motivated by “echoes” of “plots from the past” in their ancestral Chechnya, in the Caucuses region of Russia – but, in reality, the scenario was purely 21st century Americana. Where else could two young men with small arms and improvised explosives – if the charges are true – represent a threat so awesomely dreadful as to spread fear up and down the great megalopolis stretching from Boston to Washington?

If the two young Chechens were set up by the U.S. government, as their mother says, they are not the only ones. The whole nation has been set up for a new round of domestic repression. It has already begun, with the stripping down of Miranda warnings for persons arrested by police and the lockdown of whole sections of greater Boston, where the authorities treated white neighborhoods as if…well, as if they were Black.

In our post-911 world, we might expect that the events in Boston would lead to drone strikes or invasions of other countries to avenge American “honor.” But Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation, which retains its nuclear arsenal, so that won’t do. Besides, it turns out the FBI was in much closer touch with the older brother than any Russian officials – so, maybe the Russians ought to be the ones asking the questions. These were, after all, American citizens.

Some have blonde or red hair.”

We hear a lot of talk about naming the surviving brother as an “enemy combatant,” but – a combatant for whom? For Allah? You can’t launch airstrikes against God. The Americans have to be careful about trying to tie their prisoner to the Chechen Islamist fighters who have made such a name for themselves around the world, since many of them are allied with the same gunmen the U.S. has financed and armed in Libya and Syria. In the end, there seems to be no enemy for Washington to punish – except American society, itself.

In this regard, the Chechen brothers’ ethnicity opens new vistas of domestic repression. Many Chechens are white – I mean, really white. Wikipedia describes them as “exhibiting traits typical of European and Caucasian peoples.” Some have “blonde or red hair,” with blue eyes and “typically pale skin.”

Does this mean that white people will lose their immunity from being arbitrarily accosted by Homeland Security? That would certainly be a sea change in American life. But, in the enemy-filled phantasmagoria that the United States has become, anything is possible.

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: 20130424_gf_BostonBombing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm EST

Latin America Unites to Tell Uncle Sam “Hands Off Venezuela”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Republican and Democratic regimes in Washington have never acknowledged the legitimacy of the Chavez revolution.”

Venezuela has entered a new period of grave danger, the most perilous since George Bush backed an attempted coup against the late Hugo Chavez’s government in 2002. Earlier this month, Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, won a narrow victory over the U.S.-backed candidate Henrique Capriles, a front man for the business interests that still control most of the media and much of the economy in the country. Although the governing United Socialist Party won by only 1.6 percent of the vote, Venezuela’s elections system is so transparent – the best in the world, according to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter – there is virtually no chance that the opposition was cheated of victory. But that’s irrelevant to both Republican and Democratic regimes in Washington, which have never acknowledged the legitimacy of the Chavez revolution, no matter how many elections it won, by whatever margin. As the greatest disrespecter of democratic elections in the western hemisphere, the United States refused to recognize the results, holding out for a 100 percent audit, or recount. Naturally, Washington’s stooge in the race, Capriles, took the same position, and sent his people into the streets to create an atmosphere of crisis and instability. Washington also got the European Union to parrot the American line.

Latin American presidents took such extraordinary measures to show their solidarity.”

The good news is, Latin America quickly united to blunt the Yankee offensive in its tracks. Leaders of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador, met in an extraordinary summit in Peru, where they agreed to throw their weight behind Venezuela’s President Maduro. Then they flew on to Caracas, where 17 Latin American presidents and delegations from 47 nations attended Maduro’s swearing in ceremony. Even Colombia, Venezuela’s neighbor and Washington’s closest ally in the region, broke with the U.S. on the election issue. So did the Organization of American States, an anachronistic entity that has long acted as a puppet for Washington. When Spain backed off from the U.S., so did the rest of Europe, leaving the Americans totally isolated. Haiti, a country that lost its sovereignty to invasion by the United States – even helpless little Haiti named the airport in Cap-Haitien, its second largest city, after the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Why, then, did I begin by saying that this is a time of great danger for Venezuela? Because U.S. imperialism is implacable in its determination for regime change in Caracas. The closeness of the recent election only encourages Washington to believe that Chavez’s party can be overthrown by subversion, including U.S.-backed armed insurrection. That’s why the Latin American presidents took such extraordinary measures to show their solidarity with President Maduro – so that Washington would take note that Latin America is united in opposition to U.S. intervention.

The last thing these Latin countries want is to pick a fight with the Rude Boy of the planet, the United States. Rather, they are urging Washington not to attempt regime change in Venezuela – that those days are over, with or without Hugo Chavez.

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: 20130424_gf_Venezuela.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:31pm EST

Eric Holder's Ploy to Divert Attention from Obama's Expanded Prisons Budget

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Holder claims to have experienced a revelation about the impact of race on crime and punishment in this country.”

Eric Holder Holder has been the top law enforcement officer of the United States for more than four years, overseeing a federal prison system of almost 220,000 inmates and with responsibility to protect the rights of two million more prisoners under state and local jurisdiction. All of these populations are disproportionately Black – and have been so for longer than Eric Holder has been alive. Yet, the attorney general pretends to have only just discovered that prosecutors are tougher on Black defendants, and that judges give Blacks longer sentences than whites for the same crimes. Is it really even remotely plausible, that racial disparities in prosecution and sentencing are news to our attorney general? Or did Holder think that the mostly Black audience at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, where he made the remarks, was full of idiots?

(Well, then again, they do follow Al Sharpton, and might believe anything.)

Still, Eric Holder has some nerve, acting as if he’s a newcomer to the criminal justice system when, in fact, the buck stops with him and President Obama when it comes to law and order in the United States. Now in his and Obama’s second term, Holder claims to have experienced a revelation about the impact of race on crime and punishment in this country. With a straight face, he declared: “It is time to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about our criminal justice system.”

He is requesting more money for the federal prison system.”

Actually, Holder is a couple of centuries late in asking those questions, which have been answered over and over again in studies and reports too numerous to mention, virtually all of which have concluded that Blacks are surveilled and stopped more than whites, charged with harsher offenses than whites for the same behavior, prosecuted more vigorously, sentenced to more time for the same crimes, and forced to serve their sentences in worse conditions. These are facts that have been established through generations of research. Holder’s pretense of ignorance is beyond contempt. The next thing you know, Obama’s Secretary of Labor will claim to have just discovered that Black unemployment has been roughly twice that of whites for most of the last half century.

Holder is simply following his boss’s lead. The Obama style is to make little noises or gestures that appear vaguely liberal – like acknowledging the existence of unfairness – and then turn around and do something that makes the situation worse. For instance, Obama gave lots of eloquent speeches on the vital role that Social Security and other entitlements play in society –and then wound up trying to gut these same programs. Even as Obama cuts deep into the bone and marrow of vital government services, he is requesting more money for the federal prison system, including funding for a brand new state-of-the-art supermax prison in illinois that will house 400 inmates in solitary confinement – that is, in a perpetual state of torture. The Bureau of Prisons, which Eric Holder oversees, would get a 4 percent increase in funding. Holder is pretending to be some kind of babe in the woods, or even a closet prison reformer, to divert attention from the fact that this is a pro-prison administration.

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: 20130417_gf_Prisons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am EST

Detroit City Council Grovels to Power, Inflicts Further Harm on City

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The council majority have endorsed the machinery of Detroit’s disempowerment.”

The Detroit city council voted 5 to 2 to approve awarding the rightwing law firm Jones Day the contract to represent the city’s interests, even as several dozen protesters registered their disgust at the arrangement – until police cleared the chambers. Two council members made themselves absent from the vote.

Jones Day is the same law firm in which Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager, was a partner before Michigan’s governor made him dictator of Detroit. Which means that Orr, a bankruptcy lawyer who will have the power to dispose of the city’s assets, property and contracts, will work directly with his old firm. Meanwhile, Jones Day already represents a number of banks that are at opposite ends of derivative deals with Detroit, involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Jones Day and its supporters on the council claim they see no conflict of interest.

Even a blind person can see that this is not right," said Charles Williams Sr., a protester and member of the National Action Network. It was Detroit’s pro-business mayor, Dave Bing, who pushed for Jones Day to get the contract in the first place. Based on the powers that emergency manager Kevyn Orr claims to have, it would not have mattered if the council had voted against Jones Day; Orr could simply have overridden them.

The council majority have managed to inflict more injury on Detroit.”

So, why did the Council do it? That’s a question that goes beyond the current assault on democracy in Detroit. The former Motor City is no different than the rest of Black America, where a venal, self-centered Black Misleadership Class holds their fellow African Americans in utter contempt. They grovel before Power, hoping only that some of the crumbs will fall their way. Service to the people is an alien concept to this crowd, whether in Atlanta or DC or Detroit. If they were more competent, they would be even more corrupt, but as often as not they fail even to enrich themselves, and succeed only in impoverishing and embarrassing us all.

Kevyn Orr understand that all he had to do to keep a majority of the City Council in check was allow them to continue receiving their salaries, which by law had been reduced to zero and could have been kept there at Orr’s pleasure. Mayor Bing, the corporate water boy, had already proposed in his budget that each council person be reduced to one staff member – certainly not enough to keep track of the machinations of Kevyn Orr and his friends and former colleagues at Jones Day, who will surely feast on the bones of Detroit.

However, even in their impotence, the council majority have managed to inflict more injury on Detroit. By approving the Jones Day contract, the majority has certainly weakened any legal challenges to the disenfranchisement of Detroit’s people. Even though their vote was not necessary, the council majority have endorsed the machinery of Detroit’s disempowerment. It will be argued that the people’s representatives have effectively given thumbs up to the nullification of Detroit, which has ceased to exist as a real city, except as debtor and prey to the bankers.

The Black Misleadership Class cannot – and will not – defend Black people. In the end, they can’t even defend themselves.

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: 20130417_gf_Detroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10am EST

Africa: Imperialism’s High Mark of Conquest in the 21st Century

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Imperialism with a Black face has been fantastically successful, in Africa.”

At present, nothing stands in the way of the militarization and occupation of Africa by the United States and its junior imperialist partners. Every global and multinational organization of any consequence on the continent has been suborned to the service of the neocolonial military project. AFRICOM, the United States Military Command in Africa, has become the headquarters of recolonization, augmented by the militaries of NATO and legitimized by the African Union, itself, and the global credentials of the United Nations.

It is vital to note this great feat of imperialism and international white supremacy reached its zenith during first term of the Obama administration, which roughly coincides with the birth of AFRICOM, in 2008. Imperialism with a Black face has been fantastically successful, in Africa. In fact, Africa is U.S imperialism’s only generalized success story of the 21st century, to date.

Bizarrely costumed in the garb of “human rights” interveners, the greatest genociders and enslavers in human history – Europe and its superpower offspring, the United States – have nearly completed their reconquest of the African continent. Only a few patches of land are free of their military entanglements and treaties – notably, Zimbabwe and tiny Eritrea, among the few nations on the African continent that have not yet been absorbed into the AFRICOM matrix.

The United Nations and the African Union have become mere annexes of the AFRICOM military complex, under the fictitious banner of human rights.

Only a few patches of land are free of their military entanglements and treaties.”

The African Union definitively sold itself to the Devil in Somalia, where an AU-accredited force of almost 20,000 troops fights a U.S. and European Union-armed and -financed war to subjugate the Somali nation. The greatest crime of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is now in the process of being sanitized, globalized, and Pan-Africanized in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 1996, under Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, the United States has armed and financed the de facto annexation and bloody depopulation of the mineral rich eastern Congo. U.S. client states Uganda and Rwanda turned the eastern provinces of Congo into a vast killing field that has, so far, claimed the lives of 6 million people – the greatest holocaust since World War Two. All the while, successive U.S. administrations shielded their Ugandan and Rwandan hirelings from international censure – even as nearly 20,000 United Nations troops were stationed in the killing fields.

But eventually, Rwanda and Uganda’s role in the carnage could no longer be hidden. Now the United States – the superpower overlord of the Congolese genocide – drapes itself in the clothing of humanitarian savior of the Congo. It has pushed through the United Nations Security Council the creation of a new, 3,000-man force to aggressively intervene in Congo. Like the United Nations-African Union force in Somalia, the UN Congo “intervention brigade” will not move an inch without U.S. arms, training, and supervision. The U.S., which has choreographed the Congolese genocide for the past 17 years, will now pose as the great peacemaker and life-giver, through the offices of the United Nations and participating African countries. And the bought and paid for governments of the continent will bow, and applaud, and then bow again.

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: 20130410_gf_USCongoForce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EST

School Privatization Fraud: Michelle Rhee May Yet Join Beverly Hall in the Dock

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Rhee hid money that the school system actually had on hand, to claim that teachers had to be fired en masse.”

Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, DC, schools chief and poster woman for public school privatization, richly deserves to join former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall, who was recently indicted for her role in that city’s massive cheating scandal. Michelle Rhee may yet pay for the damage she has inflicted on society and its children, whom she has harmed even more grievously than her comrade in crime in Georgia. But first, the case of Beverly Hall.

Hall was a high-rolling player in the nationwide criminal enterprise to destroy public education and replace it with a privately managed, but publicly financed, system. She wound up being hoisted on her own petard, her career wrecked by the same high stakes testing regime that she supported to the hilt, and on whose altar she had sacrificed – fired – 90 school principals and countless rank and file teachers. Hall was caught in the minefield of No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top, trapped in a web of deceit.

A key purpose of high stakes testing is to “prove” that conventional public schools are inferior to the charter model, and that incompetent or uncaring teachers and their unions are the heart of the problem. The testing regimen is designed to fail large numbers of schools, so that they can be replaced with charter operations. Beverly Hall carried out a reign of terror in her overwhelmingly Black Atlanta district. Every public school teacher understood the rules: if your students get a low score, you are out the door. In return for torturing her teachers, superintendent Hall was awarded accolades and goo-gobs of bonus money and lucrative speaking engagements. She was a kingpin of the privatization gang, not too many notches below Michelle Rhee.

Hall had to rely on the lowly, terrified teachers to work her scam.”

But Beverly Hall was trapped in a contradiction. In order to fulfill her commitment to the corporate charter school mob, she had to use her powers as superintendent to disrupt the educational process and make teaching a living hell. However, if she was to further her personal reputation as a school administrator, Hall needed the students in her district to register ever higher scores on the tests. She had to prove, by the numbers, that Race to the Top worked – when clearly it does not – or wind up in the same trash heap into which she was so eagerly throwing her teachers. Since the students could not facilitate her crime by actually achieving the impossible scores, Beverly Hall had to rely on the lowly, terrified teachers to work her scam. Thus, she became the Superintendent of Cheating, and is now free on $200,000 bail.

Michelle Rhee was even more criminally ambitious, during her tenure as Chancellor of DC’s public schools. It turns out that Rhee hid money that the school system actually had on hand, to claim that teachers had to be fired en masse, for budgetary reasons. After the massacre of teachers was over, Rhee magically found the money she had hidden, and hired a whole new crop of younger, whiter, non-union-friendly teachers.

One of those caught in the Michelle Rhee massacre was Willie Brewer, a 53-year-old music teacher who sued. A federal judge has allowed his case to proceed in court, and Brewer is now amending it to include charges of concealment and fraud, that could conceivably wind up putting Michelle Rhee in prison.

Let the perp-walk begin.

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: 20130410_gf_Rhee_Hall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The billionaire former owner of BET commissioned a poll on Black political opinion that utterly fails to measure anything meaningful or useful. “What does it tell you about Black America, that Congresswoman Waters has about twice the following of Congressman Clyburn? Does it tell you anything at all?” The NAACP is more popular than the Urban League. Why? The poll didn’t bother to ask.

News Flash: Rich Black Man Pays for Useless Poll, Thinks He’s Done Something Important

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

There are no questions that would illicit answers as to how Blacks think Obama has helped or hurt them.”

Bob Johnson’s poll of Black American political views, contracted through the Zogby organization, is some pretty sloppy work. The Zogby pollsters are quite capable of framing questions that illicit valuable social insights, but I suppose a billionaire’s heavy hand can lead any pollster astray.

We find that 83 percent of Black folks are generally favorable towards the NAACP, 69 percent have good feelings about the National Urban League, and 68 percent are more favorable than not towards the Congressional Black Caucus. Hillary Clinton and President Obama get the highest ratings, because all but one percent of Black folks feel familiar with them, while 4 percent are not too sure what the NAACP is all about, and 16 and 17 percent are unfamiliar with the Black Caucus and the Urban League, respectively.

All five people and organizations are rated highly among Blacks or, presumably, would be if Black folks knew more about them. But, what do these numbers mean? What do African Americans like or dislike about the subjects of the poll? And, where are the numbers on those people and institutions that are generally understood to be unpopular among Blacks, so that we can make a comparison. How can we tell if favorable ratings in the seventies and eighties are good scores, if we don’t know what a bad score is?

Why were those particular seven persons listed?”

We get an even messier situation on question number eight, which asks “Which of the following [people] speaks for you most often. For some, unexplained reason, the poll allows respondents to choose from Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, NAACP chief Ben Jealous, Congressman James Clyburn, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and Michael Steel, the Black former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Sharpton won, at 24 percent, and Republican Michael Steel came in last, with 2 percent. Forty percent of those surveyed were not willing to follow any of the above. But, why were those particular seven persons listed? And, what does it tell you about Black America, that Congresswoman Waters has about twice the following of Congressman Clyburn? Does it tell you anything at all?

The results that got the most press attention, of course, revolved around President Obama. Seventy-two percent of Blacks think his election helped African Americans. However, there are no questions that would illicit answers as to how Blacks think Obama has helped or hurt them. The President learns nothing useful, the reader gets no guidance, and it’s a mystery what Bob Johnson gets out of it.

This is a truly incompetent, useless poll. For example, question number fifteen asks if Black unemployment is double that of whites because of: a) failure of the educational system for minorities/African Americans; b) lack of corporate commitment to hiring minorities/African Americans; or c) lack of good government policies. But, what does educational system “failure” mean? That Blacks are educationally unqualified, or that white people assume they are poorly educated, or what? What are “good government policies”? Does it mean a jobs policy? Affirmative action? Public investment? Non-discrimination policies? Who knows?

What have we learned? That a billionaire, Black or white, can spend all the money he wants asking poorly constructed questions for no other purpose than to remind people that he is still rich.

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: 20130403_gf_JohnsonPoll.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07am EST

U.S. “Human Rights” Wars: Arms Control as a Weapon

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Each of those nations designated as rogue violators of human rights were also at the top of Washington’s hit list for regime change.”

The United Nations General Assembly vote on regulation of the international arms trade purports to be a modest step away from violence in the world, but is in fact the very opposite. The newly approved Arms Trade Treaty is conceived and designed as a facilitator of war by its main sponsor, the United States.

At the core of the treaty is a ban on arms exports to countries that are under U.N. embargoes, or that are accused of promoting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But such language is only a tool of war in the hands of the U.S. The cold fact is that, since the establishment of the United Nations to this very day, the United States and its allies, clients and proxies have been the worst perpetrators of crimes against humanity. From Vietnam to East Timor to Guatemala to Iraq to Somalia and to Congo, the U.S. has caused the deaths of well over ten million people over the past 60 years.

In the 21st century, in a cruel joke on humanity, the mass murderers in Washington put on their “human rights” hats and declared themselves to be the international community’s protectors against so-called “rogue” nations. The doctrine of “humanitarian military intervention” was inflicted on the world. It was not coincidental that each of those nations designated as rogue violators of human rights were also at the top of Washington’s hit list for regime change. Haiti was attacked and occupied, its sovereignty stolen under the auspices of the UN, for supposedly “humanitarian” reasons. Libya was bombed for seven months and plunged into a race war, under the “humanitarian” umbrella. The Democratic Republic of Congo has lost six million people at the hands of U.S. humanitarian policy. Let us one day be saved from the fatal embrace of the humanitarian superpower, who has made human rights a weapon of mass destruction.

This treaty is not about limiting warfare, but about making nations into outlaws.”

The newly minted international Arms Trade Treaty, like humanitarian warfare and that racist mockery of an International Criminal Court, is simply another device to strip nations targeted for U.S. attack of the ability to defend themselves. The immediate targets are Syria, Iran, and North Korea, which is why they voted against the treaty. Twenty-three other countries abstained, including Russia, China and India. They understand that this treaty is not about limiting warfare, but about making nations into outlaws, to be more easily subdued by the United States. In a stroke of supreme cynicism, America and its allies argued that non-state actors – like their jihadist proxies waging a war of terror against Syria – should not be subject to the treaty, because “national liberation movements” should be able to protect themselves. What shameless hypocrisy! The U.S. and Europe now sing the praises of national liberation movements, after having killed tens of millions to stifle the national aspirations of most of the world’s people.

But, that is no more insane than Washington posing as a force for peace. Not only is the U.S. the top arms exporter in the world, but 8 of the top 10 war-profiteering corporations on the planet are American. On the lips of U.S. presidents, arms control is bogus, human rights is a sham, and words of peace are actually weapons of war.

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: 20130403_gf_ArmsTreaty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57am EST

Emergency Managers? School Closings? Are They Racist? Does It Really Matter?

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

In early 2009, during the first few weeks of the Obama administration, I was one of the folks planning a public discussion on health care in Atlanta. Most of those I worked with wanted the discussion to focus on single payer, Medicare-For-All. But for an uncomfortable week or two one of the organizers stalled the plans by insisting that instead of educating our audience and the public on how a single payer health care system was the only way to control costs, create new jobs and provide quality health care, that we ought to be concentrating instead on exposing race-based disparities in health care availability and outcomes.

In other words, let's not examine a proposed solution to the problem. Let's instead circle the wagons, highlight the racial disparities, and have a conversation on just how racist the whole thing is, as though rediscovering the existence of racism (surprise! Surprise!) in yet another realm of American life is a worthy end in and of itself.

This was no academic question. These were the very weeks during which newly elected President Obama, a one-time proponent of single payer who had promised that every reasonable solution to the the nation's health care crisis would be considered, a time during which the White House did everything it could to keep any mention of single payer health care off the table. As a candidate for Senate from Illinois, Obama had declared himself for single payer health care. But soon afterward Senator Obama had embraced what Massachusetts residents called Romneycare, after their then-governor Mitt Romney, who simply required every Massachusetts resident to purchase a private health insurance policy, made some policies available through a state “exchange”, and levied a tax on anyone without private health insurance. Nowadays “Romneycare” is called “Obamacare.” Go figger.

The emphasis on highlighting disparities as an end, rather than examining and comparing solutions proved useful to the White House, which defended Obamacare on the grounds that it would extend private insurance and Medicaid to some large number of new persons and thereby allegedly reduce the disparities. The coming of austerity and the fine print of course may keep it from doing even that, but the point here is that our black political class has adopted a methodology under which the hunt for and discovery of racism in every act of public policy and some other places too has become an industry, separate and absolutely divorced from any attempts to examine, let alone change the public policy.

So we hear the mayor of Chicago, in keeping with Obama's Race To The Top policies of educational privatization, wants to close 50-some Chicago public schools, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods. Is it racist? Sure. What does that tell us? Half the black people in Michigan have had local government taken from them to divert their taxes straight to banksters and privatize their public assets. Is that racist too? OK, what then?

The “what then” answer provided by our black political class is well ---- nothing. Register to vote, maybe, elect more folks, patronize black businesses or something. It's politically bankrupt. The never-ending, and always fruitful search for racism, and racial disparities has become an industry in and of itself, because it's all our black political class can offer, without questioning capitalism itself. And that is something they can't bring themselves to do.

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 can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130327_bd_is_it_racist.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:21pm EST

The Lords of Capital Seize Detroit

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Financial manager Kevyn Orr may answer to the state of Michigan, but he represents the corporate class.”

Detroit’s state-appointed emergency financial manager promised that he won’t cut the salaries of the City Council or the mayor – at least not for the time being. On Thursday, under the law that makes corporate lawyer Kevyn Orr the dictator of the 82 percent Black city, the mayor and city council’s salaries will automatically be set at zero. Which is what their powers will amount to – and what the vote of Detroit’s 700,000 people will be worth – under the new regime: zero.

Demonstrators have been protesting the disenfranchisement of what now comprises more than half of Michigan’s Black population. Rev. David Bullock says, “This is about the state taking over cities and school districts.” Technically, he’s right. But the state is only acting as a bully for the real usurpers of political power: corporate America. Financial manager Kevyn Orr may answer to the state of Michigan, but he represents the corporate class, mainly finance capital. His law firm, Jones Day, from which he has technically – and, no doubt, temporarily – resigned, brags that it represent more than half the Fortune 500 companies in the United States. On top of that, while Orr sits in the Detroit dictator’s seat, his law firm is taking over as restructuring counsel for the city. This means that lawyers for Jones Day will be handling the sale of Detroit’s property and the cancelling of its contracts as ordered by another Jones Day lawyer, Kevyn Orr. As Atty. Tom Stephens points out, under this incestuous arrangement, “the same law firm is effectively serving as attorney, client, and local government” in Detroit – a concentration of power that would be unthinkable in a majority white metropolis.

Kevyn Orr will be making decisions on how Detroit will deal with creditors that include his former firm’s Wall Street client, Merrill Lynch.”

But it gets worse. Jones Day also represents many of the banks that were primarily responsible for rendering Detroit’s tax base untenable, through devastating home foreclosures. One of them is Bank of America, the parent company of Merrill Lynch, which is a counter party to Detroit’s derivative interest rate swaps. As Tom Stephens explains, that means Merrill Lynch “is one of the city’s key creditors.” So, financial dictator Kevyn Orr will be making decisions on how Detroit will deal with creditors that include his former firm’s Wall Street client, Merrill Lynch. What Kevyn Orr calls his job description would be grounds for an indictment for criminal conspiracy in any society under the rule of law.

But, that’s the point: the corporate rulers of America have discarded the rule of law – certainly, as it affects Black people, who are targeted for disenfranchisement and outright removal from the nation’s cities. Yes, the corporate henchman Kevyn Orr is Black, which only goes to show that the Lords of Capital have enlisted a class of Black folks who will enthusiastically assist in the liquidation of African American political, civil, economic and human rights.

One of them now sits in the White House. Barack Obama is the biggest privatizer of public schools in history, far more effective than George Bush. The massive assault on local elected authority over the public schools, mainly targeting Black school districts, paved the way for privatization through charters. It was only a matter of time before Black city governments were also neutralized. President Obama has been indispensable to this whole process, as has Detroit mayor Dave Bing. So, it is true that the siege of Detroit is largely racial. It is also true that more than a few Black folks are working for the other side.

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: 20130327_gf_Detroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50am EST

A Tale of Two Political Prisoners – and You Can Help Both of Them

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Woodfox has had his conviction overturned twice.”

There are two people who deserve your attention, today – right now. One has been held in solitary confinement for most of the past 41 years. The other has been fighting most of her life in defense of political prisoners – and has become one, herself. Albert Woodfox, of the Angola 3, is 66 years old. Lynne Stewart, the famed human rights lawyer, is 73, and suffering from Stage 4 breast cancer.

Albert Woodfox and two other Black men at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison were convicted in the death of a prison guard in 1972, a case that became a cause célèbre for a variety of reasons, including the lack of physical evidence. The three had formed a unit of the Black Panther Party in the prison, in 1971. When the guard was killed, they were immediately put in solitary confinement, where two of them, Woodfox and Herman Wallace, remained for most of the intervening years under a sentence of life imprisonment. The third member of the Angola 3, Robert Hillary King, was released after 29 years of solitary confinement when his conviction was overturned and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. King has travelled the world speaking out for his imprisoned comrades and for the release of all political prisoners. The Angola 3 have been the subject of three films, one narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Woodfox has had his conviction overturned twice, most recently this past February, when a federal court found evidence of intentional racial discrimination in jury selection at Woodfox’s second trial, in 1998.

Amnesty International is asking the Louisiana attorney general not to appeal the judges ruling, so that Woodfox can be released or given a new trial. They’ve organized a “Take Action” letter writing campaign, which you can join by going to Angola3news.blogspot.com or takeaction.amnestyusa.org.

Lynne Stewart’s breast cancer was found to be spreading.”

Lynne Stewart is a people’s lawyer, who has put her own freedom on the line in the struggle to preserve all of our rights. In 2009, she was sentenced to 28 months in prison for having vigorously defended one of her clients, the so-called “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman, in the World Trade Center bombing case. When she appealed, Stewart’s sentence was increased to 10 years in federal prison – the system’s twisted revenge. At a prison near Fort Worth, Texas, Lynne Stewart’s breast cancer was found to be spreading. Her husband and longtime political partner, Ralph Poynter, says 10 years is a virtual death sentence. Lynne’s family and legions of supporters are asking that she be given compassionate release from prison so that she can at least have a chance at survival.

There is no time to waste. To join in asking for Lynne Stewart’s compassionate release, go to the International Action Center’s website, and sign the petition. That’s iacenter.org. You can also write directly to Lynne from the same address: iacenter.org.

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: 20130320_gf_StewartAndWoodfox.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10pm EST

U.S.-Sponsored Genocides: From Guatemala to Congo

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The genocide would have been impossible without the United States.”

The man who unleashed a genocide against the Maya Indians of Guatemala, former dictator and general Efrain Rios Montt, went on trial for his crimes against humanity in Guatemala City, this week. By all rights, the 86 year-old Montt should be joined in the dock by scores of still-living United States officials, including former President George Bush the First.

Back in 1954, the CIA overthrew the reformist government of President Jacobo Arbenz, whose land reform measures had angered the United Fruit Company. The U.S. termination with extreme prejudice of Guatemalan democracy ultimately led to a 36-year rebellion and civil war, with the Americans backing a succession of dictators. General Montt was the most monstrous. In the 1980s, his regime declared total war on the Mayan people of the country’s highlands. Whole villages were massacred and entire regions laid waste as the military attempted to drain the human sea in which the guerilla movement swam. Army documents show clearly that the native Maya were targeted for extermination because of their ethnicity; that all Maya – a majority of Guatemala’s population – were considered enemies of the state. Rios Montt is the first Latin American former head of state to be charged with genocide in his own country.

However, this crime is not Rios Montt’s, alone. The genocide would have been impossible without the United States, which had run the show in Guatemala since 1954 and had armed the general to the teeth. The U.S. corporate media like to call President Ronald Reagan the “Great Communicator” but, in Guatemala, he was the Great Exterminator, encouraging and financing General Rios Montt’s orgy of mass murder. Reagan described the racist butcher as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment” who was “getting a bum rap.” All told, a quarter million or more Guatemalans died in the 40 years since the CIA robbed them of their democracy and independence.

The Maya were targeted for extermination because of their ethnicity.”

In 1999, when the civil war was over, President Bill Clinton apologized for the harm done to Guatemala by the United States. But by then, Clinton had already set in motion a far larger genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo – a U.S.-sponsored holocaust that has so far claimed 6 million lives. In a just world, Slick Willie would join an auditorium full of Obama, Bush and Clinton administration operatives who, over the space of 16 years, made eastern Congo the charnel house of the planet. Susan Rice would have a place of prominence in this vast assemblage of criminals, as among the most culpable for the worst bloodbath since World War Two.

In fact, there is no auditorium big enough to hold the all the living Americans who should justly be charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. There are too many – great crowds of them from each administration, especially in the last ten years, since the invasion of Iraq. Imperialism in its last stages maintains an ever-lengthening Kill List.

Guatemala is coming to grips with its past, in a trial that will probably last a few months. The United States has an infinity of crimes to answer for. 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: 20130320_gf_GuatemalaToCongo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49am EST

On last Friday's Super Funky Soul Power Hour, the weekly radio show the eminent Dr. Jared Ball does on WPFW FM in Washington DC, our friend and comrade Kali Akuno wondered aloud at how he might soon have to explain to his now infant daughter that there used to be these things called public libraries and post offices and even public schools.

So what's happened to us? How have the repeal of the New Deal and Great Society, and the enclosures of vast new spaces in media and the natural world become possible? The answer is the elimination of black America's role as anchor of the left wing of the national polity, and the historic defection of black leadership.

This was neatly accomplished by converting the historic black Freedom Movement from a struggle for a broad spectrum of economic, human and political rights into a struggle for mere civil rights under law. In this way, with the signing of a few key laws, and a handful of court decisions, black leadership declared victory and demobilized the movement that might have transformed America. It was the autocratic vision of the NAACP, of Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshal, linked to the autocratic style of preachers like Dr. King, triumphant over the radical democratic vision of activists like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker and the young people who led SNCC.

To be fair, civil rights victories did sometimes lead to a measure of integration, to some public and private sector affirmative action, to diversity, and certainly to fat contracts for well-connected minority enterprises. But they never raised the minimum wage, or guaranteed a public education of equal quality in poor neighborhoods, or established the constitutional right to a vote, a job, or a home. Certainly the alleged victory of the civil rights movement did not protect us from the alarming growth of the prison state in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Are there really children who don't deserve quality educations, or families that don't deserve homes? Are there whole neighborhoods identified by a combination of class and race who don't deserve public transit, and a third of whose young men just plain need locking up? After the alleged victory of the so-called civil rights movement, the answer is apparently yes. The first places to lose public schools, public transit and public libraries are black communities like Detroit, New Orleans, Philly, and now ominously, metro Atlanta. It's a failure of leadership nationally, and in those places, the historic failure of the black political class,

After leading us down the blind alley of civil rights under law, and securing its own piece of the pie, the black political class of preachers, politicians, business people and wannabees has walked away from the rest of us. It never did propose alternatives to gentrification or the warfare state or environmental racism, to the fact that every 36 hours a black person is murdered by law enforcement, private security forces or vigilantes, and it never led discussions over, let alone fights against the the prison state and the privatization of education and everything else left to steal. Our leaders knew how to celebrate the sixties and how to get paid, that was about all.

And that's how we lost the public schools, public libraries and public transit. 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 can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20130313_bd_black_political_class.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:10pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

A reformist group is petitioning President Obama to end his administration’s “too big to jail” policy. The petition assumes Obama actually wants to do the right thing, even though he has “placed corporate fat cats and their cold-blooded operatives throughout his administration from the very beginning, in positions where they can do the most harm.”

 

Begging Obama to Turn on His Banker Friends

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Eric Holder admitted that the administration’s policy is to go soft on banker criminality.”

A petition is now circulating that calls for signatories to “tell Obama to end too big to jail.” It’s a project of the Campaign for a Fair Settlement, which grew out of the home mortgage robo-signing scandal. Like all the other crimes involving gangsterism by the Lords of Capital, the robo-signing scandal resulted in the incarceration of not a single Wall Street executive, much less a serious criminal prosecution of the banks involved. Instead, President Obama’s Justice Department went to great lengths to arrange monetary settlements that avoided criminalizing the corporate wrongdoers. The banks were fined, but much of the money never reached the people who had been harmed. Although robo-signing and the LIBOR interest rate manipulations were both referred to as “crimes of the century,” the corporate perpetrators shrugged off the fines as merely the price of doing criminal business.

The term “too big to jail” is derived from the U.S. Attorney General’s own statements. Eric Holder admitted that the administration’s policy is to go soft on banker criminality, for fear of causing an economic crisis. “I am concerned,” said Holder, “that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them.” The banks, said the president’s top lawyer, “have become too large” – too big to jail.

The petitioners call for an “end to the administration’s ‘too big to fail’ policy by taking immediate steps to break up the big banks and prosecute the criminals who used them to destroy our economy.”

The concentrated capital of the financial class that represents a clear and present danger to all of humanity.”

First of all, the very act of petitioning Obama assumes that the president isn’t part of the criminal conspiracy, and that Eric Holder – who, as a corporate lawyer, defended the worst criminals that boardrooms can produce – really wants to put Wall Street’s Kings of the Universe in prison or to bring the banks down to some “manageable” size. In fact, Obama has placed corporate fat cats and their cold-blooded operatives throughout his administration from the very beginning, in positions where they can do the most harm. Attorney General Holder is using Obama’s now-familiar ploy, claiming that the administration wants to do the right thing, but is helpless against larger, sinister forces. Outfits like the Campaign for a Fair Settlement encourage this kind of delusional thinking, that Obama is the good guy who needs our help. The petitioners urge Obama to “secure his legacy as a champion of justice.”

There is no such thing as cutting the banks down to size. It is not the size of the banks, but the concentrated capital of the financial class that represents a clear and present danger to all of humanity. This class operates through a myriad of financial institutions, moving money at nearly the speed of light. Breaking up JPMorgan Chase into two or three banks does not prevent the same capitalists from using all three for the same nefarious purposes, and just as efficiently. Maybe more so, since the reformers will have convinced themselves that they’ve won.

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: 20130313_gf_BankPetition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EST

The Black Caucus’ Relentless Pursuit of Insubstantial Symbolism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama’s cabinet in his second term looks just about right: its full of rich white folks, the same class that his administration really works for.”

Marcia Fudge, the Cleveland congresswoman who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, is pressing forward with her campaign to get more African Americans on President Obama’s cabinet. Fudge is saying, in effect, that Obama isn’t rewarding his most loyal constituency commensurate with the support Blacks have given him at the polls. The kind of reward she’s talking about is symbolic. She’s not talking about policy – that is, how government policies affect the great mass of Black people – but about the appearance of things.

Obama has lost two of his Black cabinet members, two Hispanics, and two Asians. However, these exits didn’t have anything to do with policy, but with personal career decisions. Black employees were treated viciously in the Environmental Protection Agency when an African American woman, Lisa Jackson, was in charge, according to the No Fear Coalition, and environmental racism was never a priority of the EPA under Jackson’s watch. Why, then, is the absence of Lisa Jackson, or some other Black person just like her, considered a loss to Black America as a whole?

The congressional Black Caucus would do better to push for specific policies at each of the cabinet level departments of government; that would be something substantive and useful to do. But instead, they complain that Obama isn’t providing enough symbolism. Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel says its damn “embarrassing” that Obama’s cabinet is so devoid of color. But, what he should be embarrassed about, is that the Obama administration does not take race into consideration, at all. The Black Caucus keeps saying that the cabinet should “look like America.” However, I think it is best that an administration look like the people it actually serves, the people who benefit from it, so that everybody will understand how policy is really formulated, and for whose benefit. In that sense, Obama’s cabinet in his second term looks just about right: its full of rich white folks, the same class that his administration really works for.

It’s best that an administration look like the people it actually serves, the people who benefit from it, so that everybody will understand how policy is really formulated.”

The Congressional Black Caucus and the whole of the Black Misleadership Class were greatly disappointed that Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice didn’t get the Secretary of State job. The fact that Rice is a rabid militarist who was in some ways to the right of the Bush administration on Africa policy, and has sheltered those who are responsible for the death of millions in the Congo, doesn’t bother the Black Caucus. U.S. Africa policy is not the Caucus’s real concern; it’s the appearances that count.

The Black Caucus once put forward Congressman Sanford Bishop’s name for Secretary of Agriculture. Bishop is one of two Black members of the Blue Dogs, a coalition of right-wing Democrats. Bishop was one of four Black congresspersons to vote in favor of George Bush’s War Powers Act, in 2002, while the vast majority of Black people opposed the war. So, how would appointing Sanford Bishop to the cabinet reflect the political will of Black America?

Frankly, I wish Obama wouldn’t appoint anybody Black to high positions in his rich man’s government. You can be sure that any Black person who gets a significant job in this administration will be worthless to the rest of us – unless, of course, you're counting Black faces in high places.

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: 20130313_gf_BlacksInCabinet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:40am EST

Black Political Class Could Pick A Fight Over Postal Service Privatization --- But Won't. Why?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Twenty, forty and sixty years ago, a job at the Post Office was, for African Americans, the ticket to something like middle class stability. Since people with steady and well-paid work, who don't have have long commutes were more able to participate in community-building and sustaining activities black postal workers were well-represented in a wide range of civic, voluntary and political organizations from the 1940s clear to the end of the 20th century.

As an activist and organizer in Chicago of the 70s and 80s, I learned countless lessons from postal workers who took the lead in struggles against police brutality, for fair housing and opposition to Chicago's long running municipal dictators, the Daley regime. When I moved to Atlanta at the end of 2000, I learned about another postal worker, John Wesley Dobbs who used to be called the mayor of Auburn Avenue, and was so well known that you could mail a letter from overseas addressed to “John Wesley Dobbs, USA” and he would receive it.

It was predictable that when, in the 1980s, public policy took a turn against steady jobs at good wages, to force more and more Americans, particularly African Americans into less and less secure jobs at lower and lower wages, at the same time it vastly expanded the prison state and made welfare as scarce and punitive as possible, that the Postal Service, a monopoly enshrined in the Constitution itself, became a target for privatizers.

In the eighties, nineties and the new century, Democrats and Republicans in Congress and successive White Houses passed special legislation and rules that restricted the postal service while enabling UPS and Federal Express to take some of its most lucrative traffic. Massachusetts liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy took the lead in passing regulation specifically crafted to make unionization impossible at FedEx. The death blow to the postal service may have been struck during the Bush administration, when Congress saddled the postal service with the absurd requirement to fully fund all pensions seventy years in advance, for workers yet unborn. It's the end game now, with greedy privatizers like the husband of Senator Diane Feinstein and others snatching inner-city properties the postal service is forced to sell far below their value to fulfill its legal directive to self-destruct.

Still, I keep wondering when I'll hear members of our current black political class speak up for the postal service and those good jobs postal workers had that made them the bedrock of black communities and civic activism everywhere. I wonder why they haven't organized forums and conferences and petitions and mass meetings to preserve the last of what used to be the good jobs that made them a potent leading force in African American communities across the country, and even made some of their own careers possible.

Barack Obama doesn't have a majority in Congress. But his favorite President Ronald Reagan never had one either, but it rarely stopped the old bastard from picking the fights he wanted to win, and often winning them. The American people as a whole DO reject privatization any time they're polled on it. That's why the Obama regime and its collaborators dare not call what they're doing to public education or the broadcast spectrum “privatization.”

The fight to halt the privatization of the postal service is certainly one the black political class, with or without the president could pick and possibly win, or at least slow down and delay for years. But fighting for good jobs for ordinary people just isn't our current black political leadership. No doubt John Wesley Dobbs and the postal workers I used to know in the 70s and 80s, are rolling over in their graves.

For Black Agenda Report, 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 state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA, and can be reached via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130306_bd_postal_privatization.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12pm EST

The Sequestration Tango: Obama and GOP Dance Through the Graveyard of the New Deal

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Austerity is the order of the day, and no one is more responsible for that catastrophe than Obama.”

Barack Obama’s mission has always been to destroy the left wing of the Democrats in order to consummate a grand bargain – a melding – of the corporatists in both major parties. He entered national politics as a newly-minted member of the Democratic Leadership Council, which dispensed corporate campaign money to business-friendly candidates and incumbents. Ten years later, President Obama has succeeded beyond our worst fears. Black politics is in utter ruin, and the collapse of the Democratic Party’s left wing is all but complete. Austerity is the order of the day, and no one is more responsible for that catastrophe than Obama, who has waged war on so-called entitlement programs since the polls closed in 2008.

He packed his presidential team with the same gang of finance capitalists that Bill Clinton had allied with to consummate his Grand Bargain of 1999: the deregulation of the banks. Obama assumed the presidency with the economy in ashes as a result of what Clinton had wrought a decade before. Immediately, Obama turned the music back up, and the Corporate Tango began anew, full of choreographed emotion, stage-managed drama and canned passion. But the dancers – Obama and the Republicans – were all going in the same, preprogrammed direction: a backwards, counter-clockwise promenade to the Right, a dance through the cemetery of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Obama was playing the old Republican game of ‘starve the beast.’”

Obama moved with such elegance and poise, his fans forgot that he was dancing with a partner: the GOP. In 2011, following Obama’s lead, the loving couple initiated their sequestration, a timed sequence of moves that would ultimately force the gutting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, along with a whole host of discretionary social programs.

As is required when doing the Corporate Tango, Obama lied through his teeth, swearing during his third presidential debate that he never proposed sequestration. But Gene Sperling, the White House National Economic Council director, was so proud of the sequestration gambit, he confessed that it was all part of the grand plan to put entitlements on the block. Obama claimed he’d been looking out for the government’s tax revenues. But the liberal economist Jeffrey Sachs put together a chart that showed Obama was playing the old Republican game of “starve the beast”; that he had undermined the government’s ability to pay for itself by supporting the vast bulk of President Bush’s tax cuts; and that the results matched Obama’s 2009 projections for government spending over the next four years, almost exactly. Obama’s train was running right on time.

Polls show that the Republicans are getting the blame for sequestration, but the stock market is hitting new heights now that austerity has triumphed, and that’s all that really matters to the moneyed classes, whether they are wearing Republican red or Democratic blue. They have won – at least until the next economic collapse, or until a new opposition to the rule of capital can be constructed. That will not happen anywhere near the event horizon of the Democratic Party, which has followed Barack Obama into the black hole of Wall Street. Once you go Goldman Sachs, you never go back.

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: 20130306_gf_SequestDance.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:13pm EST

Washington Aims to Turn Congo Military Mission into a U.S. Proxy Force

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

It will be up to Angola and South Africa to ensure that the new peace-enforcement brigade does not become a front for the United States.”

Renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo has left hundreds dead and added thousands to the list of nearly two million displaced persons. Congolese government troops are again battling so-called rebels backed by neighboring Rwanda and Uganda, two of the United States’ closes allies whose seizure of much of eastern Congo is the primary cause of the death of six million Congolese since 1996, half of them children under the age of five.

Only last month, Uganda and Rwanda and eight other African nations signed an agreement promising not to interfere in Congo’s internal affairs. The accord was brokered by the United States, the United Nations and the African Union, but Washington holds most of the cards in the region.

The U.S. arms and finances the Ugandan and Rwandan regimes, and has staunchly protected its African allies from sanction at the United Nations. In that sense, the genocide in Congo is a U.S.-sponsored holocaust. The UN, whose 17,000 peacekeeping troops have done nothing over the years to protect Congo’s territorial integrity, is so deep in the United States’ pocket, it is considering inviting U.S. drones into the region. And the African Union has hopelessly compromised itself by lending its name and legitimacy to an 18,000-troop mission in Somalia that is, in effect, a proxy force for United States policy in Africa. The same thing is likely to happen in the Democratic Republic of Congo if the recent agreement leads, as planned, to creation of a peace-enforcing brigade with the authority to actually use its guns. If the U.S. and the Europeans pay for this nominally African force, and train and equip it, as they do in Somalia, then the U.S. will actually be running the show in Congo.

The U.S. has been destabilizing Congo since the Clinton administration.”

Washington already stations Special Forces troops in Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, the Central African Republic and South Sudan – all signatories to the Congo peace accord, along with Burundi, Angola, South Africa and Tanzania. It will be up to Angola and South Africa to ensure that the new, peace-enforcement brigade does not become a front for the United States, like the Somalia operation.

The U.S. position towards Congo can be gleaned from a talk given, last month, at the Brookings Institution, in Washington, by outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson. Members of Friends of Congo were in attendance, and reported that one would not be aware, from listening to Carson, “that a substantial portion” of eastern Congo “is still under occupation” by the Rwanda-backed rebels. The truth is, Rwanda’s proxies in Congo are also America’s proxies. The U.S. has been destabilizing Congo since the Clinton administration –fomenting chaos and genocide as a weapon of foreign policy, as it has done in Somalia, and is now doing in North Africa and Syria. The U.S. objective is to bring the whole of Africa into the American military orbit. Washington’s version of “peace” is submission, dependence and surrender of national sovereignty, and there is no limit to how many Congolese they are willing to kill.

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: 20130306_gf_CongoAccord.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:03pm EST

Why Isn't Closing 129 Chicago Public Schools National News?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

If you don't live in Chicago you might not know that the CEO and the dozens of other six figure a year mayoral cronies who run the Chicago Public Schools want to close 129 public schools this year, more than a third of the city's total. It's not national news for the same reason that closing 40 public schools in Philadelphia last year wasn't national news, and massive school closings in the poorer neighborhoods of cities across the country is not news either.

It's not news because school closings and school privatization, the end game of the bipartisan policies the Obama administration, Wall Street, the US Chamber of Commerce, a host of right wing foundations and deep pockets and hordes of politicians in both parties from the president down are pushing down the throats of communities across the country, are deeply unpopular. The American people, and especially the parents, teachers, grandparents, and other residents of poorer neighborhoods where closings and privatization are happening emphatically don't want these things.

Even the word describing their policy, “privatization” is so vastly unpopular that they've taken it out of circulation altogether. The best way, our leaders imagine, to contain and curtail resistance to their deeply unpopular policies is to avoid naming them for what they are, to keep them on the down low, to not report on their implementation, and certainly to not cover any civic resistance to them.

Local elites in each city and school district concoct real or imaginary “crises” to which the solution is always firing more experienced teachers, hiring more temps in their place, instituting more high-stakes testing, closing more public schools and substituting more unaccountable (and often profitable) charter schools, frequently in the same buildings that once housed public schools. In Chicago the “crisis” is precipitated every year when the CPS (that's Chicago Public Schools – Chicago's never had an elected school board, they're all mayoral appointees) honchos announce the schools are in a billion dollar hole. The Chicago Teachers Union of course, took a look over the same books and revealed that despite the host of top $100,000 a year officials whose jobs never seem to be cut, the system was nine figures in the black, not ten in the red. Naturally, local and national media didn't report that either.

Chicago's teachers have done what those in New York, Houston, Dallas, L.A. and others have not, and spent their union dues funding outreach and collaboration with parents across the city, so neighborhood hearings on the school closings are packed to overflowing with outraged parents, indignant local business people, angry teachers and concerned students. If CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News gave the school closings and privatization story a fraction of the coverage they gave deceptive and dishonest pro-privatization movies like Waiting For Superman and Won't Back Down, the outrage against the move to privatize education would be unstoppable. The most coverage the wave of school closings have received lately was a misleading segment on Melissa Harris-Perry's weekly TV show on whether school closings were “racist” or not, with no examination of the how or why they happen or the growing resistance to them.

Oceans of ink and hot air have been expended claiming that “social media” would somehow take up the slack created by the disappearance of local news gathering organizations, and how these things can somehow fuel and sustain a wave of public outrage that can topple unjust authority and make the will of the people felt. But when it comes to the war of our elite waged to privatize public education, we haven't seen it yet.

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. A longtime Chicagoan, he now lives in exile near Marietta GA, where he is a state committee member of the Georgia Green party and a partner in a tech firm. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130227_bd_why_aint_closing_129_chgo_public_schools_news.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:02pm EST

Farewell Jesse Jr., We Hardly Knew Ye: A Lesson on the Limits of our Black Political Class

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

It was late afternoon on a special election day in Chicago, 1995. I was working for a congressional candidate, former State Senator Alice Palmer. The outcome was not in doubt, we were going to lose. But a professional does what a professional has to do, so I'd rounded up a couple brothers to work the thousands of homeward bound commuters passing through the 95th St. el station for our candidate those last three or four hours before the polls closed.

As it happened, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., the father of our main opponent was working the same crowd for his son, Jesse Jackson Jr. the next congressman from that district. When the crowd slacked off a little between trains, we talked. It was impossible not to feel good for Rev. Jackson, who was about to see his son have a chance to expand and build upon the work he'd pursued for decades. Junior, I remember telling his dad, was about to have a chance to do a lot of good, maybe even some great things, and I congratulated him before leaving.

Jesse Jr. wasn't the first or the worst African American princeling to be handed a congressional seat by his family at or before the age of 30. He probably did a lot less damage in his 17 years than Memphis TN's Harold Ford, whose folks gave one to him at 27. To be entirely fair, Junior also did a lot less harm to the long-term interests of African America than many of his other colleagues in the Black Caucus, worthless souls like Alabama's Artur Davis, New York's Greg Meeks, or Georgia's David Scott.

With longtime Jackson strategist Frank Watkins, Junior co-authored a valuable and insightful book, Toward a More Perfect Union, in which he proposed constitutional amendments for the rights to vote, to a decent job at a living wage, a clean environment, and more. The other two books which he co-authored with his father were forgettable at best.

If Junior had shown imaginative leadership in Congress, he might have been mayor of Chicago by now. But imagination and leadership seem to have eluded the young prince. Junior mostly kept his head down in Congress, voted with the crowd on Iraq and other mattters, and by 2003 he was shilling for a south side casino and a new airport in his district supposedly as “job creation” measures.

The very specific acts that led to his downfall and disgrace are almost inexplicable. Blonde bimbo stripper girlfriend, $40,000 gold Rolex watches, buying Michael Jackson's hat and living off one's campaign fund are all such obvious no-no's it's hard not to view them as cries for help from a man who might have been over his head almost from the beginning. Who knew the life of a black prince came with so much pressure, so many expectations and demands he just could not meet? Personally I hope Junior eventually gets it together and finds a way to make a real contribution.

For the rest of us, the lesson of Junior's rise and fall is that it's time to put aside the princes and princesses of our black political class, and come up with new leaders, new pathways to, and new models of leadership. That's going to mean casting aside the two party system, in the Democratic half of which our black political class have made their careers.

A young man in Junior's former south side Chicago congressional district, LeAlan Jones has apparently survived a challenge to his status on the ballot as a Green Party candidate. If Jones can get it together for the special election in April, and the November 2014 general election, maybe we'll see a glimpse of what that new leadership could look like.

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. A longtime Chicagoan, he now lives in exile near Marietta GA, where he is a state committee member of the Georgia Green party and a partner in a tech firm. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130227_bd_farewell_jesse_jr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm EST

Remember: Sequestration was Obama’s Idea

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Disaster capitalism is manifesting itself as disaster governance.”

The Obama administration has been very skillful in framing itself as the good guy in the latest looming fiscal disaster, this time under the heading of “sequestration.” On Friday, across-the-board cuts of $85 billion are set to go into effect, wreaking havoc on most government operations. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and what’s left of welfare are not directly affected, but these so-called “entitlement” programs have, in fact, always been the primary targets of this cascade of manufactured crises. Disaster capitalism is manifesting itself as disaster governance, and President Obama is fully complicit in the corporate-imposed charade. Indeed, Obama is most culpable for infecting the nation with austerity fever.

It was Obama who swallowed whole the corporate argument, previously championed by Republicans, that the national debt was Crisis Number One and that entitlement programs were the root cause. From the moment in January of 2009 when Obama served notice that Social Security and all other entitlements would be put on the chopping block, he became the chief mover and shaker for so-called entitlement reform. He created the model for austerity, through his Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission. It was Simpson-Bowles that provided the basis for the massive cuts offered by President Obama in 2011. When the Republicans balked at even a modest tax increase for the rich, it was the White House National Economic Council Director, the corporate deal-maker Gene Sperling, who came up with the sequestration scheme, which was timed to explode right after the 2012 elections. The idea was to make every popular constituency in the country scream – and accept the inevitability of massive entitlement cuts.

The Republicans are his partners, not his opponents.”

Let me repeat: Sequestration was Obama’s idea. So-called entitlement reform is Obama doctrine. Austerity was embedded in the Democratic Party’s agenda under President Obama. More than any other individual, it was Barack Obama who engineered the current disaster scenario. These waves of austerity crises were not inevitable, but they are the inevitable result of President Obama’s calculated statements and actions since Election Day 2008. The Republicans are his partners, not his opponents. The closest thing he has to an opposition – at least on paper – is the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose two co-chairs introduced a bill that would turn the austerity juggernaut on its head. It’s called the Balancing Act of 2013, and would replace all of the sequestration cuts with new revenues, and then add a $276 billion stimulus to the economy. Needless to say, the progressive bill will get nowhere, not just because of Republican opposition, but because the top Democrat, Barack Obama, wants to go down in history as the smart austerity president. Just as he said he wasn’t opposed to wars, but only to dumb wars – which is why he has built tens of thousands of the smartest drones and smartest bombs ever devised by man. He’s outsmarting what passes for a Left in the United States at every turn. They cheer him as he effectively consummates his grand bargain with the GOP, in a cacophony of manufactured crises, exhausting what little opposition remains. That’s why we at BAR call him the more effective evil.

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: 20130227_gf_Sequestration.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

U.S. Gives Haiti the Gift of Prisons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The United States somehow thinks it has something to teach Black people in Haiti about prisons.”

U.S. imperialism never runs out of tricks to play on Haiti. The latest project of the U.S. overseers who overthrew Haiti’s democratically elected government in 2004, is prison-building. The new penitentiaries will be constructed under the auspices of none other than the Narcotics Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy to Haiti. U.S. narcs care so deeply for the Haitian people, they are building them two prisons, one for men and one for women.

The top U.S. narcotics agent at the embassy says America’s concern is humanitarian. The men’s prison will replace the penitentiary that was destroyed in the coup sponsored by the United States in 2004 – so it would be fair to say that Washington owes Haiti that prison. The lack of prison space and other public safety infrastructure means Haiti’s incarcerated population – which is somewhere between two and three thousand – is held in some of the worst conditions in the world, and for a very long time. The U.S. embassy says it wants to reduce overcrowding, disease and violence in Haiti’s prisons, to bring them up to international standards.

The United States, itself, has never paid much attention to international standards when it comes to prisons. It locks far more people up for far longer periods of time than any other developed country. On any given day, 50,000 to 80,000 U.S. prison inmates are held in solitary confinement, some of them for decades at a stretch – a form of torture according to most international standards. Violence in U.S. prisons is endemic, especially rape. Through its sheer size, alone – encompassing one out of every four prison inmates on the planet – the U.S. prison Gulag contains the greatest concentrations of prison evils in the world. The U.S. serves as an example of how not to treat prisoners, and how not to treat Black people, who are far more likely to wind up in U.S. prisoners at some point in their lives. But, the United States somehow thinks it has something to teach Black people in Haiti about prisons.

The occupiers withhold from the government that they installed the means to claim even the most elemental legitimacy.”

The U.S. claims it wants to move Haitian inmates more quickly through the system. It has not done very well, here at home. On any given day, more than 735,000 inmates crowd local U.S. jails, 60 percent of whom cannot make bail. Most remain economic prisoners for at least 50 days.

Rather than provide the Haitian government with money to construct the two prisons, the U.S. is making all the arrangements, itself, and will spend between $5 million and $10 million. That’s consistent with American and European behavior since the occupation of Haiti: they deny the Haitian government funds for even the most basic functions of the state: law and order. Having overthrown the legitimate government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and virtually outlawed his political party, the occupiers withhold from the government that they installed the means to claim even the most elemental legitimacy. The Americans and their allies’ mission is to maintain Haiti as a failed state, one that can neither protect nor punish those accused of crime, nor pay the judges, police and jailers that are fundamental to any notion of government. Anything resembling the rule of law in Haiti must be seen as a gift of the U.S. embassy – a gift of prisons, from the greatest international lawbreaker of all, the United States.

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: 20130220_gf_HaitiPrisons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am EST

There is No Effective Constituency for Africa in the United States

A Black Agenda Radio commentary executive editor by Glen Ford

The greatest threat to Africa is the United States and its junior partners, the French and British.”

The general nominated by President Obama to take over AFRICOM wants the U.S. to increase by 15 times U.S. spying on the African continent. Army General David Rodriquez told the Senate Armed Services Committee that AFRICOM has only half the drones, spy planes and satellites it needs to keep an eye on northern Africa, where the U.S. is backing up the French intervention in Mali and where the U.S. and NATO dropped tens of thousands of bombs on Libya in an unprovoked, eight-month war. For the whole of the African continent, General Rodriquez is pushing for a 15-fold increase in “intelligence gathering and spying missions.” The United States already has, or will soon build, drone bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, and the Seychelles Islands, enabling the Americans to carry out missions over vast regions of Africa. That doesn’t count the drones that can be launched from U.S. Navy fleets, which have greatly increased their patrols of Africa’s coastal waters, especially in the offshore oil zones of the west coast. U.S. Special Forces have a forward base in Kenya, and are roam freely in Congo, Uganda, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. It is inconceivable that these Special Forces in the heart of Africa do not work closely with manned and unmanned aircraft, operating from a network of secret bases dotting the continent. In other words, the U.S. has already erected a formidable intelligence and command-and-control network in Africa – but General Rodriguez and AFRICOM want to expand that network 15-fold.

There is only one conclusion to be drawn: the United States is building the capability to militarily control all of Africa, in conjunction with its European allies and its African proxies. It may be true that the U.S. war machine is making a “pivot” to the Pacific, to pick a fight with China, but what the Americans are doing on in Africa is a full court press – preparations for Africa’s total subjugation.

The Black American misleadership class doesn’t give a damn about Africa.”

The Obama administration has already designated its own “Axis of Evil” in Africa. The current list includes whoever the U.S. decides to call “al-Qaida” in Africa; Somalia’s Shabaab fighters, who have been resisting U.S. and Ethiopian invasion since 2006; and Nigeria’s Muslim Boko Haram, an armed fundamentalist movement. Washington admits that none of these groups represents a threat to the United States.

The greatest threat to Africa is the United States and its junior partners, the French and British. They have already pacified most of Africa, through bribery and coercion, and are now ready to plunge the continent into endless war. Forty million African Americans could stop this growing holocaust in its tracks. But the Black American Misleadership Class doesn’t give a damn about Africa. They may buy expensive Kinte cloth for show-off occasions, and many of them make a fetish out of Kwanzaa every year – but that’s about it. Armenian-Americans will fight for Armenia, Irish-Americans for Ireland, and let’s not even mention what American Jews will do for Israel. But the U.S. can make war against Africa at will, because Africa has no effective constituency in the United States.

Now, think on that, as we celebrate Black History Month.

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: 20130220_gf_AfricaNoConstituency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EST

Christopher Dorner: The Defector Who Went Out With A Bang

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Dorner is best described as a disaffected soldier in the ranks of the U.S. global and local Los Angeles occupation armies.”

Although his fans will argue otherwise, Christopher Jordan Dorner was neither a Nat Turner nor a Spook Who Sat by the Door.

Nat Turner was a leader of men, who inspired approximately 70 enslaved and free Black men in a glorious attempt to overthrow the slave system in Virginia, in 1831. The rebellion that goes by his name was a collective struggle that shook the slavocracy to its core, and one of the few U.S. slave revolts that was not betrayed by informers. Christopher Donner enlisted no one in his fatal and solitary vendetta against those he felt had done him personal harm. He died alone trying to hide his huge Black self in a mostly white mountain recreation area, leaving behind a “manifesto” that was mainly about himself and his service to the national and local armed forces.

Chris Dorner was no Dan Freeman, the protagonist “Spook” of the 1973 movie about an urban Black rebellion in the United States. Freeman is a Black nationalist who joins – infiltrates – the CIA, learns all he can about their evil arts, then returns to the Black community to train a cadre of urban guerilla fighters. The war of liberation catches fire. Christopher Dorner’s manifesto reveals a man who – until the unraveling – had been wholly captured by the myth and mystic of superpower America, a proud reserve lieutenant in the imperial Navy and officer in the LAPD who wanted only to serve with personal honor as a man-at-arms.

Dorner is best described as a disaffected soldier in the ranks of the U.S. global and local Los Angeles occupation armies, who made his psychologically break with the forces of racial oppression – or, was broken by them – only after having first been ejected. He transformed his ejection into a bloody defection, and flamed out – effectively, a suicide-by-cop (and, almost certainly, a victim of execution by white phosphorous-like incendiary).

“He transformed his ejection into a bloody defection, and flamed out.”

His self-definition could not survive separation from the institution that became his personal nemesis. In the end, he was as lonely as Rambo in First Blood, and just as politically lost.

A public death belongs to the public. Dorner’s fans, his African American public, whom he did not serve but who would inevitably embrace his weeklong death-throe defection from the LAPD, imbue him with qualities they wish were reliably available to the struggle: a Nat Turner, a Spook Who Sat by the Door. The Bronx, New York dope dealer, Larry Davis, who in1986 succeeded in shooting six of seven cops who came to his sister’s apartment to arrest or assassinate him, achieved similar fame. Davis eluded capture for 17 days, negotiated a live surrender at his public housing hideout as residents chanted "Lar-ry! Lar-ry!" – and beat the charges of attempted murder of cops. (William Kunstler and Lynne Steward were his lawyers.) His fans forgave Davis’s dope dealing ways, just as Dorner’s fans forgave his previous service to the Los Angeles Occupation Army.

The enduring lesson of Dorner’s saga is that the transformation of the LAPD into a majority-minority police force does not change its nature as an army of occupation, whose mission is racist to the core, regardless of its ethnic composition. That fact finally dawned on Christopher Dorner – and it killed him.

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: 20130213_gf_Dorner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:28pm EST

Obama Inherits & Normalizes the Arrogance, and Impunity of Tricky Dick Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Both Bushes

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Back in the early seventies, when Richard Nixon secretly bombed Laos and Cambodia, two countries the US was not at war with, and concealed it from Congress and the public, the crime was serious enough to be the fourth article of impeachment drawn up against him. A dozen years later, when Ronald Reagan defied Congress to wage a bloody contra war in Central America funded by running drugs into the US from Central America and selling arms to Iran, Reagan only avoided impeachment by pretending he just couldn't remember much of it any more and letting his henchmen take the fall. George W. Bush too was widely reviled as a murderous fraud for his lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and more, with millions of Americans and millions more around the world protesting his invasion of Iraq before it even began.

But in the end, none of these Republican warmongers were impeached while in office or indicted afterward because Democrats, in control of Congress every time, could never bring themselves to pull the trigger. So Tricky Dick Nixon stepped down. Reagan doddered off to the ranch, and Dubya's at home right now watching American Idol. Barack Hussein Obama may be a different color and from a different party but he inherits their arrogance, their immunity, their impunity.

This White House openly brags about its “Terror Tuesday” meetings in which US special forces and drones have been dispatched to and from dozens of undisclosed countries to kidnap, torture or murder thousands of people, in the case of drone strikes mostly innocents, to the cheers and jokes of cruise missile liberals like Ed Schulz and Bill Maher, who calls Obama the “black ninja president.” The potent symbol of a black face in that high place has normalized the conduct of lawless aggressive war and secretive state murder among parts of the population which had no trouble calling a crime a crime when committed by a white Republican. In that sense, the First Black President is a little bit unlike, but mostly very much like his nefarious predecessors.

It's worth noting that in the debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, kill-at-will drone wars, the militarization of Africa, Wall Street's immunity from prosecution, and the push to privatize and charterize public education were points upon which both candidates were in complete agreement. But if Mitt Romney were president today wouldn't many more of us be in the street about these things? Black apologists, as Davey D notes, try to shut criticism of this president down in the misguided name of black unity, and some white activists stay home because they don't want to be seen as racist whites hating on the black president.

A Facebook friend in Atlanta remarked last week that whenever George Bush was rumored coming to town, his inbox would be full of emergency mobilization notices. But with the current War President about to visit, he said, it looked like his only correspondent might be the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It's going to be a long, long four more years.

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 via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130213_bd_obama_inherits_nixons_reagans_bushes_arrogance_impunity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20am EST

Just Like Crack in the 80s, the Police State Thrives on Gun Hysteria

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The presence of guns in Black inner cities is sufficient excuse to create a Constitution-free zone.”

From the moment it became known that 20 suburban, mostly white children had been massacred by a young white man in Connecticut, it was inevitable that Black America would pay the price. The nation’s reflexive response to crime and domestic mayhem – real or imagined, and regardless of the actual race of the perpetrators – is always to punish Black people. Whenever the symptoms of the national sickness – America’s endemic violence and alienation – become catastrophically acute, as in Newtown, the standard treatment is mass Black incarceration, by which huge proportions of the Black male population are expelled from the social body like foreign organisms.

The madness in a well-off town in Connecticut had nothing to do with Black inner city violence, which is overwhelmingly rooted in the absence of a legitimate economy, and a lack of social justice – and requires an economic and social justice response. But America is preprogrammed to treat violence as a Black phenomenon. As could be expected, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – President Obama’s former chief of staff – proposed mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes. It is a huge step backward. Mandatory minimum sentences have been largely responsible for making the United States home to one out of every four prison inmates in the world, and many states have been backing away from the practice. Opposition to mandatory minimums has historically been strongest in Black America. However, in the current gun hysteria, Black activists and politicians have talked themselves into a corner. When President Obama shed tears over the tragedy in Connecticut, African Americans demanded that he show similar concern for young Black victims of gunfire. It was demanded that “do something.”

America is preprogrammed to treat violence as a Black phenomenon.”

Then came the shooting death of 15 year-old Chicagoan Hadiya Pendleton. The gun violence issue now had a Black face. Whatever was going to be done about guns, would be done to Blacks, through mandatory minimum sentences and adoption of New York-type stop-and-frisk policies. According to the Gallup polling organization, 44 percent of whites own guns, versus only 27 percent of Blacks and other non-whites. Yet, white gun ownership is politically sacrosanct – untouchable –while the presence of guns in Black inner cities is sufficient excuse to create a Constitution-free zone.

Until Newtown, momentum had been building for Black resistance to the American police state. But history shows it can just as easily collapse. Back in the mid-Eighties, the Reagan administration whipped up an hysteria around crack cocaine. As Michelle Alexander chronicled in her book The New Jim Crow, Reagan’s men used the panic to institute draconian criminal justice policies, including passage of a bill that mandated 100 times the penalties for crack versus powder cocaine. Three hundred and one members of Congress co-sponsored the legislation, including a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus. Many hundreds of thousands of African Americans spent millions of collective years in prison, because Black political leaders jumped on the mass incarceration bandwagon. The stage is being set for another such betrayal – by Black leaders and activists who fail to think before they ask the powers-that-be to “do something.”

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: 20130213_gf_Guns.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02am EST

Fleets of Drones Descend on Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Drone warfare has become central to the modern U.S. version of gunboat diplomacy.”

With the U.S. and European military offensive in Africa in full swing, the drone wars are set to enter a new phase. Therefore, it is appropriate that U.S. anti-war activists will descend on the White House, on April 13, to demand “Drones Out of Africa and Everywhere!” The activists, including former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and the ANSWER Coalition, say the real target is Africa’s vast natural resources. Drone warfare, say the organizers, has become central to the modern U.S. version of gunboat diplomacy, to “force exploitative terms of trade and political accommodations.”

The West African nation of Niger has been very accommodating to the Americans, as she has been to the French, the former colonial master. According to a high Niger official quoted by Reuters news service, Niger has “given the green light to accepting American surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection of intelligence on Islamist movements.” However, there is no reason to believe that the U.S. drones will be restricted to unarmed surveillance. Sources in Washington say “there are no constraints to military-to-military co-operation within the agreement" with Niger, which presumably means the U.S. can use the drones as it likes. The U.S. base in northern Niger puts the robotic planes within easy reach of Mali, Algeria and Libya.

The U.S. already has a drone base in neighboring Burkina Faso, which also borders on Benin, Togo, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast.

Ethiopia is now home to a new U.S. drone base, as are the Seychelles Islands, offshore in the Indian Ocean.”

In East Africa, the U.S. has been terrorizing Somalia with drones since 2006, when it instigated the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. The U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, sends out drones from its large, permanent base in neighboring Djibouti, from which it can watch – or attack - most of the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea, right next door, one of the few countries in Africa that has no relationship with AFRICOM. Eritrea is under constant threat from Ethiopia, from which it won independence after a 30-year war.

Ethiopia is now home to a new U.S. drone base, as are the Seychelles Islands, offshore in the Indian Ocean and within easy drone range of most of the East African coast: Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.

In the very heart of the African continent, the 17,000-man United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo wants to use U.S. drones to monitor armed groups in the region, where U.S. Special Forces are also operating. Those drones would be deployed under much the same UN Security Council language that NATO used to launch its war against Libya, in 2011, allowing “all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.”

At the same time, another section of the United Nations is about to launch an investigation into the legality of U.S. drone warfare in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. Thus, it is possible that the United Nations Security Council could wind up calling in American drones to attack people in the Congo region, while the U.N.’s special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism is investigating whether U.S. drone warfare violates international law.

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: 20130206_gf_DronesInAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38am EST

Obama and Co. Make Up the Law as They Kill

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The white paper empowers Obama to delegate the kill-at-will authority.”

Unlike the bombast that characterized the Bush administration’s assaults on U.S. and international law, the Obama regime tends to dribble out its rationales for gutting the Bill of Rights and every notion of global legality. This president prefers to create a fog – let’s call it the fog of his war against human rights – as he arrogates to himself the power to perpetually imprison or to summarily execute anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world. Obama assures us such authority is constitutionally rooted – it’s in there, believe me, he tells us – but he never produces legal chapter and verse to prove that presidential dictatorship is lawful. Instead, we get dribs and drabs of the administration’s position from lawyers defending Obama’s preventive detention law in the courts, or from informal statements by the attorney general, or even little tidbits gleaned from an Obama conversation with comedian Jon Stewart.

The latest hors d'oeuvre to be dished out comes in the form of a leak. I say “dished out” because leaked documents are commonly placed in public view by the administration in power, to test the political waters. This leaked Justice Department “white paper” appears to have been drawn up after the execution-by-drone of U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki, in Yemen. It justifies the killing of anyone occupying a position of status in al-Qaida, or with the ever-changing universe of groups said to be “associated” with al-Qaida. The document stretches the definition of “imminent threat” to cover anyone engaged in activities directed against the U.S., whether or not an actual operation is planned or in progress. Most interestingly, the white paper empowers Obama to delegate the kill-at-will authority to "an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government." Which has a certain logic, since dictators certainly have the power to delegate the carrying out of their unjust acts to whomever they choose.

It justifies the killing of anyone occupying a position of status in al-Qaida.”Eleven U.S. senators are asking for further clarification of the administration’s legal position. But that is just more fog, since the Congress overwhelmingly passed Obama’s preventive detention law – twice!! – a law based on the same assumption that due process of law does not apply when the president says it’s wartime. Therefore, the commander-in-chief can lock up any American, without charge or trial, forever, or until he declares peace. The U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, has made the administration’s position clear enough. Due process, he says, does not necessarily mean access to the judicial process – meaning, a trial. The process is whatever the president or the nearest “informed, high-level official of the U.S. government" says it is. Obama had redefined war, itself. The president told the Congress, after bombing Libya for eight months, that by his definition – which is the only one that counts – no state of war exists unless Americans become casualties, even if the U.S. kills tens of thousands, or millions. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fond of saying that the arc of history bends towards justice. In the long term, that may be true. But Martin’s arc is not bending towards justice under this administration. It bends towards fascism, with a Black presidential face. 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: 20120206_gf_KillAuthority.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:32am EST

Seattle Teachers Boycott of Unfair & Unnecessary High Stakes Tests Spreads to Second High School

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

In the most promising teacher and community resistance to corporate education reform since the Chicago Teachers Union strike last fall, instructors at Seattle's Garfield High School are standing up for their students by refusing to administer the so-called “Measure for Academic Progress” or MAP tests given in Seattle the last three years.

Dissident teachers point out that the test, for which Seattle paid $4 million in a no-bid deal, doesn't affect graduation, so students have never taken it seriously and it is not aligned with existing state standards for what schools are required to teach, or with the materials actually taught.

The test has nothing to do with teaching or learning. Its purpose under the model of corporate-inspired “run your school like a business” education reform, is to generate so-called “hard data” --- numbers to measure student progress, numbers that indicate teacher performance, and as is happening in hundreds of school districts across the country, numbers that justify which schools will next be closed and replaced by charter operations which generate handsome profits off public dollars.

Teachers point out that the MAP test, which is also given in Chicago, New York City and elsewhere, is doubly specious because district administrators “...reported that the margin of error for this test is greater than an individual student's expected score increase...” from year to year, according to a story printed in the suthoritative Substance News.

The corporate school reform agenda insists, however, that this sort of testing go on everywhere because letting go of as many experienced teachers as possible is a necessary step in privatization. Think about it. If you're a privatizing boss, experienced teachers don't just cost more, they know how to do their jobs without you. Some of them are organized to boot, with deep roots in school communities. The corporate model calls for making teachers into temporary workers, on the Wal-Mart and McDonalds models, with no ties to local communities and certainly no tradition of collective action.

This kind of testing labels schools and their students as “failures.” Seattle teachers are refusing to set their students, and themselves up for failure. As in Chicago, community leaders and students themselves have come out to support their teachers, who have been threatened with 10 day unpaid suspensions. The test boycott is spreading to other schools in Seattle, and beyond. On January 26, teachers at a second Seattle high school, Chief Sealth, joined their Garfield colleagues pledging to boycott the test, and teachers are reportedly considering the same move at other schools in Seattle, Portland and elsewhere. There is a call in and fax-in scheduled today in support of Seattle teachers, and a number of online petitions in support of their effort.

In his 2012 State of the Union speech, President Obama dropped a phrase about how teachers shouldn't be required to “teach to the test.” We can tell however, what side the president is on not by his words, but by his policies. If he meant those words, he'll not only commend the stand Seattle teachers have taken, but suspend his signature Race To The Top Program, which forces schools to give these tests, to tie teachers jobs and whether schools in minority communities remain open to them. We're not holding our breath on that one.

For more news on the ongoing resistance to corporate school reform, check out Substance News at http://substance.net. For the latest on the situation in Seattle schools, the place to go is http://seattleducation.wordpress.com.

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

Direct download: 20130130_bd_seattle_test_boycott.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13am EST

Meeting and Greeting the Crusaders in Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

African officials were handing out orders and directives to other Africans, as if they were actually in charge of something.”

These days the so-called scramble for Africa runs through Mali, and in two directions. As the British, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish, the Dutch, the Belgians and the Danish follow the French into northwest Africa, the Africans rush up to meet them, as if these white people were old friends coming to visit, again. Cargo planes ferry French fighters and equipment into the Mali desert, where they search for jihadists – Muslim fighters that are politically indistinguishable from the ones the Europeans and the Americans backed in Libya, and are now arming, in Syria.

If the Mali operation takes much longer – which it certainly will – the United States will assume much of the airlift duties, since no other nation in the world has the capacity to resupply a long war on the African continent. Cracking northern Africa wide open is a job for a superpower – which is fine with the Americans. Don Yamamoto, the deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was hanging around the African Union meeting in Ethiopia, where African officials were handing out orders and directives to other Africans, as if they were actually in charge of something. Yamamoto predicted that “it could take several years” for the Mali mission to completed. “This is only the first phase,” he said. So, what is that mission? Will it take the combined forces of the United States, France, much of the rest of NATO, and of soldiers from all over Africa to defeat, at most, a few thousand jihadists in a treeless desert? Do the Europeans and the Americans really have to stay so long?

Oh yes, said deputy secretary Yamamoto. He claims, “A lot of the rebel groups that are now fighting in the region were under Gaddafi’s troops.” Ah, so that’s how the U.S. will tell the story.

The U.S. has much bigger plans for Africa.”

It’s true that many Tuareg nationalists seeking independence for their homeland in northern Mali worked with Gaddafi’s security forces, and emerged from Libya heavily armed. But, no sooner had the secular Tuareg rebellion begun than it was overwhelmed by Muslim fundamentalists – jihadists who were Gaddafi’s sworn enemies. The jihadists, many of them foreigners, could be run out of the cities of Mali and militarily contained with little effort. But, the Tuaregs live there, and always have. It is, therefore, necessary for the United States to claim that the entire Tuareg people – several million of them – are infested with jihadism, and that this will require a long-term Euro-American presence in Mali and the region.

The French are leading the charge into the desert in Mali, but the U.S. has much bigger plans for Africa. Deputy secretary Yamamoto told reporters that the U.S. would like to see the Mali operation evolve into an African-led affair, like the African Union mission in Somalia. However, although 17,000 Africans do the fighting in Somali, the operation is actually run by the U.S. military and the CIA, and paid for largely by the Americans.

AFRICOM is now assisting six of Mali’s regional neighbors – Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo – with their transport and equipment needs for the fighting ahead. Those countries militaries will always want American guns and financing – which means AFRICOM will never leave. At least, that’s the plan.

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: 20130130_gf_MaliHeatsUp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:49pm EST

Republicans Suppress Black Vote; Democrats Scatter It

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The real question is: Whose plantation?”

Democrats in Virginia are up in arms, because the Republicans took advantage of a Black state lawmaker’s absence to push through a redistricting bill that increases the GOP’s chances to take decisive control of the state senate. The Black state senator felt it was more important to attend President Obama’s inaugural. The Republican redistricting plan would increase the number of majority Black districts to six, from the current five. But, in pulling enough African Americans together to make a new Black district, the plan moved Blacks out of districts represented by white Democrats, weakening the party’s chances of taking the senate.

The Democratic state caucus chairman was livid. “This was nothing more than what I call plantation politics,” he declared. The real question is: Whose plantation? Certainly, Virginia Republicans intended to weaken the Democratic Party as a whole by moving African American voters out of some white Democrats’ districts. The Democrats like to scatter Black voters around, so they can provide the winning margin in a close contest. They want to keep Blacks as reliable voters on their plantation. Republicans would prefer to keep Blacks from voting, at all, but if they must vote, the GOP wants as few of them as possible in contestable districts. So, let’s be clear: both parties are playing plantation politics with Black voters, for their own purposes. In this case, it is the Republican plan that would result in an additional Black state senate seat.

The political life of the community is stilted in a process in which they must choose between the lesser evils among white politicians.”

The Democrats claim that concentrating the Black vote dilutes Black voting strength, even if more African Americans are elected to office. But that’s only true if one accepts that white Democrats who win office with Black help actually represent Black people. In reality, Black concerns rarely see the light of day in electoral contests in which Blacks are not majorities or near majorities. The political life of the community is stilted in a process in which they must choose between the lesser evils among white politicians. In such elections, Blacks never get to argue among themselves about the kind of future they want to build for their own communities. They are just fodder for white Democrats.

Truth be told, conservative Black politicians have mastered the art of marginalizing Black voters, even in majority Black districts. In 2002, former Black Republican Denise Majette defeated Cynthia McKinney for Congress, in Georgia, in a Black majority district, while winning only 15 percent of the African American vote. That same year, former Black New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a lifelong Republican, won office in a Black city as the white people’s candidate. Philadelphia’s horrible Black law and order mayor Anthony Nutter won in 2007 because of his “unprecedented appeal” to whites. And City Councilman Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, won half the Black vote but still lost by a landslide in a majority Black congressional district to Hakeem Jeffries, a darling of Wall Street and school privatizers.

Need I mention the name, Barack Obama?

No, what Black America needs are Black political conversations, preferably in Black majority circumstances. To hell with the Republican and Democratic plantations.

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: 20130130_gf_BlackDistricts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:32am EST

Symbols Are All We Need: Four More Years of Black Silence, Irrelevance

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

We've all lived to now to see the US elect thousands of African American local and state officials and re-elect the first black president.

It's important somehow, that all these mayors, congress creatures and the rest from county sheriffs to the president are black, and that they all ceaseless evoke the epic Black Freedom movement of 45 and 50 years ago. It's much less important that black leadership has few or no victories to boast for the seventies, the eighties, the nineties or the new century, apart from their own illustrious careers, or that the war on drugs and the prison state sprung AFTER the Freedom Movement ended and continue effectively unchallenged on their watch.

It matters immensely that the first black president has beautiful children and a lovely wife from the south side of Chicago descended from former slaves out of South Carolina, and that his administration's many black faces in high places along with the over forty blacks sitting in the House of Representatives are role models for black youth everywhere.

It matters much less that black unemployment remains at record levels, that US wages have not risen in thirty years and that the first black president apparently forgot his campaign promise to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour almost as soon as he made it. And it certainly matters when racist Republicans diss our president.

But it matters very little that the black role model president conducts weekly “Terror Tuesday” meetings in the White House basement at which he dispatches drones to murder and special forces to kidnap and torture in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and across the African continent. It matters not at all that the First Lady is a shameless flack for Wal-Mart, that the Department of Justice prosecutes whistle blowers instead of war criminals, or that black military and diplomats like Susan Rice are up to their armpits in African blood.

Our black political class is utterly self-interested. It cannot begin to mobilize black communities to demand higher wages, a massive jobs program to relieve unemployment, a rollback of the prison state, a new paradigm of urban economic development that isn't just moving poor people out of neighborhoods and richer ones in. It can't begin to make these things happen because foisting itself and its own advancement off as “representing” the black oppressed masses is the beginning and the end of who they are and what they do.

For them, the election and and re-election of Barack Obama is the end of black history. Addressing black unemployment, pervasive economic injustice, cutting back the warfare and prison states, opposing the neoliberal agenda of privatization and austerity put forth not just by the black president, but by an entire layer of black officials are, in their language not pragmatic or “realistic.”

So if our black leaders have anything to say about it, four more years of Barack Obama mean four more years of black silence and irrelevance on the issues that matter most to our communities --- on jobs, economic injustice, the prison state. It means black leadership will wring its hands and do nothing as federal policies drive the militarization of Africa, more police and fewer experienced teachers in our schools, and continually falling wages.

We've got our role models, and inaugural parties, and some of us have our careers. 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 state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Email him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130123_bd_4_more_years.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:26pm EST

The Coming Imperial Implosion in the Arab World

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Although the NATO powers account for about 70 percent of total worldwide arms spending, they are by no means fully in charge of their own offensive in North Africa and the Middle East.”

The French intervention in Mali and the deadly Salafist assault on an Algerian natural gas facility on the border with Libya reveal the deepening crisis of U.S. and European imperialism in northern Africa. What is playing out in the western Sahel is the direct, and broadly predictable, result of the aggressive Euro-American response to the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring.

Two years ago, Washington, Paris and London were swept by panic at the prospect of a realignment of forces in the Arab world. With Egypt’s Mubarak on the way out, the West’s henchman in Tunisia overthrown, and America’s warlord in Yemen facing opposition from all quarters, the NATO powers decided to alter the regional chessboard to what they thought would be their own advantage with a mass application of force against Libya. The assault on Muammar Gaddafi’s government, with absolutely no provocation and no basis in international law, was designed to put a Euro-American spin on the momentum of change. Almost simultaneously, Syria was targeted for massive subversion, and it was universally assumed that Algeria was next on the hit list.

This scheme for wholesale game-changer in the region necessitated an even deeper alliance with the royal regimes of the Persian Gulf. In practice, it was the West that became dependent on the Saudis and Qataris to provide Arab cover for NATO’s military and, much more importantly, to provide the Islamist fighters who would actually seize power on the ground in Libya and then Syria and beyond. Moreover, the Saudis and Qataris are rich, and can afford to pursue their own political objectives.

The Islamists hate them with far more intensity than the secular leftists and Arab nationalists that the U.S. and Europe are so keen to destroy.”

This fundamental reordering of the relationship between the West and its royalist Arab allies is reflected on the ground in Libya, where it is Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s Islamist friends who wield the guns. The real crisis in Benghazi was that the Islamist fighters for whom NATO had provided an air force were not totally dependent on the U.S., Britain and France. They have rich friends in the Persian Gulf, on whom the West is now also dependent. Although the NATO powers account for about 70 percent of total worldwide arms spending, they are by no means fully in charge of their own offensive in North Africa and the Middle East. The Islamist fighters and their Persian Gulf patrons have their own agendas.

Ultimately, the Pentagon and the CIA and their counterparts in Europe cannot win this game. They are racist imperialists who will always make themselves hated. Certainly, the Islamists hate them with far more intensity than the secular leftists and Arab nationalists that the U.S. and Europe are so keen to destroy. That’s why the Americans can’t operate safely in Benghazi.

The great contradiction is that the Islamic fundamentalism with which the West is now allied and critically dependent behaves, in practice, like a nationalism without borders. And, like nationalism, it is ultimately incompatible with imperialism, which today is corporate rule without borders.

The fighters that attacked the gas facility in secular-ruled Algeria surely entered through Libya, partially controlled by fellow Islamists who are friends with the guys who killed the U.S. ambassador, and who are also friends with the Saudis and Qataris who are supposed to be America’s allies. The Arab Spring is far from played out, and nowhere near under U.S. control. For the West, it will end in a huge implosion, because this house of cards cannot stand.

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: 20130123_gf_FranceInMali.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32am EST

Until Housing is a Right, Blacks Will Live Marginalized Lives

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The very notion that housing should be affordable to all – much less that housing is a right – has all but disappeared from major party political discourse.”

This year’s Martin Luther King Day report from United for a Fair Economy critiques U.S. housing policy, which has always been geared towards individual family home ownership. In recent decades, as Wall Street consolidated its political and economic dominance, government policy has been to treat housing as an asset whose value is to be constantly boosted; that is, housing as a wealth-building mechanism. It is a policy that ultimately serves the financial capitalists – a class that produces nothing, but grows more and more wealthy by manipulating the value of assets ever upward. Artificially inflating the price of housing also creates value against which homeowners can borrow – which is great for the banks but creates artificial bubbles in the economy that finally burst with catastrophic consequences.

In all of this mad, artificial wealth and bubble building, the very notion that housing should be affordable to all – much less that housing is a right – has all but disappeared from major party political discourse. United for a Fair Economy’s report, State of the Dream 2013: A Long Way From Home, puts housing policy at the center of what’s wrong with economic policy. Author Tim Sullivan says the steady “hemorrhaging of wealth in communities of color stems largely from treating housing policy as an asset-building policy.” Home ownership accounts for roughly half the total wealth of Black and Latino families, “but only 28 percent for white families,” who have other sources of wealth. The report urges that the government invest “in affordable housing and policies that reach people for whom homeownership is not the best or most viable option” – that is, renters, or forms of community-owned housing. Housing should be treated as a right, and housing policies must be informed by the realities of race.

The very presence of Blacks devalues the surrounding land and structures, in terms of market price.”

If anything, the report is understated. In a pervasively racist society like the United States, race becomes an overwhelming factor. Race has shaped the social geography of the United States – and, therefore, the geography of wealth – as in no other modern society. Just as Black life is devalued in the criminal justice system, so the very presence of Blacks devalues the surrounding land and structures, in terms of market price. Race – and by that, I mean white racism – distorts and deforms this country’s market system, lowering the value of assets based on their proximity to concentrations of Black people, and artificially boosting the value of land and buildings that are located at a distance from Black neighborhoods.

Informal racial redlining remains probably the most powerful pricing mechanism in the American real estate market. One can cross an invisible line from a largely Black and brown city to a mostly white town, and the property values immediately soar upward, regardless of the quality of the actual houses. Urban development schemes pre-suppose the breaking up or clearing out of Black population concentrations before any economic revitalization is even attempted. Public housing has been marked for extinction, based, at root, on the assumption that concentrations of Black people are bad for business and for society. These facts of American life require that Blacks demand that affordable housing be provided as a right, not as something that trickles down. Otherwise, African Americans will remain marginalized people living on marginalized properties.

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: 20130123_gf_Housing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22am EST

FCC Opens Rulemaking Process To Lower Price of Prison Phone Calls

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Some years ago, one of my own children was in prison on the other side of the continent. She used to call home 15 minutes each Sunday night. That brief weekly phone call cost our family almost $100 each month. We were not alone.

The families of millions of federal, state and local prisoners have been viciously squeezed by the legal collusion of long distance phone companies with jailers from the Federal Bureau of Prisons down to state departments of corrections and local sheriffs. Federal regs require phone companies to deliver cheap local phone service, with a locality usually defined as the telephone exchange, the first three digits after the area code. Rates for calls outside an exchange however, were classified as “long distance,” and not subject to rate controls.

Phone companies made deals with jailers for exclusive access to their prisons and jails in return for lucrative one time kickbacks or a percentage of the gross, along with the occasional campaign or charitable contribution. For the jailers and phone companies it was a classic win-win situation in which everybody at the table got over, except of course prisoners and their families. Researchers attempting to gather information on the actual rates across the country have often been met with non-cooperation on the part of state and local officials reluctant to divulge their manifestly corrupt deals which have constructed this onerous toll booth blocking communication between prisoners and their families.

Ten years ago a grandmother filed a petition with the FCC noting that a five minute call with her grandson cost $18. In the decade since agitation and organizing across the country has finally moved the Federal Communication to take the first tentative step to remedy the problem. On December 28, 2012, the FCC finally issued a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” the beginning of the period in which it assembles information and takes public comment prior to the issuance of new rules.

At some point in the next few months a period of open public comment will ensue, in which members of the general public can weigh in online, by mail or in person on the issue. The place to go for updated information is www.phonejustice.org, that's www.phonejustice.org.

We need to re-integrate and absorb those currently behind prison walls into our families and communities. The cost of communicating with our relatives behind those walls must come down.

Visit phonejustice.org and sign up for their email list to keep our families connected. 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. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130116_bd_prison_phone_justice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:43pm EST

Are African Union Peacekeeping Troops Really The Answer?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, in Nicaragua, Mozambique and Angola, Uncle Sam unveiled one of the era's most potent weapons of mass destruction against local revolutions in poor and underdeveloped nations. In Nicaragua they called themselves “contras” the counter-revolutionary army. The US supplied and equipped contras avoided combat with the national army, instead focused exclusively on raiding day care centers, schools, farmers' markets, health care facilities, irrigation, water and power works --- classic terrorism calculated to make ordinary economic and social life, and national development impossible.

In Mozambique and Angola, Africans had thrown off brutal Portuguese colonial rule, and were engaged in a regional war of resistance against the apartheid regime of South Africa. There the US supplied and equipped contra armies of RENAMO and UNITA followed the same brutal, cowardly course, and introduced a new wrinkle. They kidnapped children, and after forcing them to watch their parents, siblings and neighbors put to death, used them as child soldiers in wide-ranging terror campaigns that depopulated large areas of the countryside.

When the apartheid regime of South Africa fell in the 1990s, these forces lost their outside suppliers and were forced to come to the negotiating table. But the ghastly precedents had been set. In the 1980s Yoweri Museveni shot his way to power in Uganda with an army that included child soldiers, which were also seen in the 1990s Liberian civil war and other places. Both sides in the Rwandan civil war used child soldiers, and by the late 1990s an ever-shifting cast of local militia groups, sometimes fighting with and sometimes against the armies of Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Kenya, Burundi, Namibia and Zimbabwe virtually depopulated the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, killing seven million people since 1996, while ensuring that the country's raw materials, its timber, gold, diamonds and coltan, the strategic mineral used in every computer, aircraft and cell phone on earth, continued to flow mostly to the West.

And what is the Western-administered cure for the scourge of nameless militias of brutalized child soldiers? It's more men with guns, actual grownups and better trained --- peacekeeping forces of the African Union, airlifted and supplied by the masters of disaster, the same United States that trains the military of every African country except Libya and Eritrea.

You see the problem here. Men, and sometimes children with guns can start or stop a civil war. But economies and societies are built with teachers, with health care workers, by engineers, artists, and construction workers. The African Union is sending peacekeeping troops this week to the Central African Republic, but it can't send the teachers, the health care workers, the engineers and such to build hospitals or medical schools or to usher in universal free public education and health care,in the Central African Republic. The African Union can't do this for the Central African Republic because they can't do it in their own countries either --- their own governments are devoted mostly to extracting resources, rent and debt payments from their own lands and people to the west, and their outsize military establishments trained by the US are the guarantors of that anti-social contract.

Until the African Union and its member states are free enough themselves to send not just men with guns to places like the Central African Republic, but the doctors, teachers, artists and engineers it takes to build vibrant civil societies in the places that need them most, it fails to fulfill the reason for its existence.

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. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130116_bd_peacekeeping_troops_but_no_peace.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm EST

France and the U.S. Play Tag-Team in Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Only the United States has the logistical capacity to maintain a long war over great distances in Africa.”

The French military has taken the lead in attacking Islamists in the former French African colony of Mali. If recent history is any guide, the United States will be not far behind. Remember that France was, initially, the most aggressive in calling for a NATO war against Libya, in 2011. But the fact is, only the United States has the logistical capacity to maintain a long war over great distances in Africa. Without U.S. refueling tanker aircraft and the awesome infrastructure of U.S. Navy carrier groups, NATO’s eight-month assault on Libya would have been impossible.

In the same way, France would never have committed to putting at least 2,500 ground troops into Mali without assurances that the American superpower has its back. Without U.S. airlift capacity and other logistical support, neither France nor the West African nations of the region can hope for a swift victory over the rebellious Tuaregs of northern Mali.

The war in Mali is a direct result of the Euro-American aggression against Libya. The Tuareg people live in deep poverty. Many found employment in Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, as did immigrant workers from elsewhere in Africa. Some worked with Libyan security services. When Libya’s government was brought down by the U.S. and its allies, the Tuaregs gathered up as many weapons as they could in the chaos and headed south for home.

Many other Tuaregs never left, and were employed by the Malian Army and its sugar daddy, the United States. The year after 9/11, the U.S. military established its Pan Sahel Initiative, enlisting the militaries of Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania into America’s so-called War on Terror on the African front. By 2005, the U.S. had added Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria and Tunisia to what was now called the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative. This was the beginning of AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Military Command, which assumed control in 2008.

The war in Mali is a direct result of the Euro-American aggression against Libya.”

In Mali, the Americans relied heavily on Tuareg soldiers to fight their war against Islamists and independence fighterss in the northern part of the country. But when their Tuareg brothers returned from Libya, three of the four Malian military commanders in the north defected to the rebels , which then led to the virtual collapse of the Malian Army.

Now the French, as the former colonial master, have sent their warplanes to strike at the Tuareg fighters and are preparing to send in 2,500 French soldiers. A regional African force was not scheduled to come to the aid of the Malian army until September, but with the rebel advance and the French response, that timetable will be speeded up. The Americans will be arriving soon, with their massive airlift capacity. And soon the U.S. will have serious boots on the ground in Africa, when a 3,500-member combat brigade from Fort Riley, Kansas, arrives to hold exercises with military units from 35 African countries, later this year. It seems more likely that the brigade will find itself in an actual war in the Sahel.

Back in October of 2011, we wrote that NATO’s “attack on Libya threatens to set the whole northern tier of Africa ablaze,” providing “a pretext for further U.S. and French operations.” In the east, the Horn of Africa is already in flames, and central Africa has become a cemetery for millions. Now it is the Sahel’s turn to burn.

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: 20130116_gf_FranceInAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EST