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

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT