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

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT