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

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
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