Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Obama’s Legacy: al-Qaida’s Protector-in-Chief

“The U.S. war on terror is probably the greatest lie of the 21st century, and a big part of the 20th century, too.”

President Obama continues to play his three card monte game in Syria, pretending to wage an all-out war against ISIS, while at the same time helping al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s terrorist army in Syria, blend in with the other jihadists armed and financed by the United States and its allies. With Russian help, the Syrian Army may soon be in position to march against the ISIS capital, in Raqqah, and to drive al-Qaida from the country’s second largest city, Aleppo. If that happens, it would signal the final unraveling of a nearly four decades-long U.S. policy of using fundamentalist Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers for U.S. imperialism, in partnership with Saudi Arabia. That’s what is driving the Saudi monarchy crazy, because, if the jihadists are defeated in Syria, they are certain to turn on their Saudi paymasters and the other infinitely corrupt monarchies in the Persian Gulf. What goes around, eventually comes around.

And, that’s why President Obama is sending 250 more Special Forces troops into Syria, supposedly to train more of those phantom “moderate” rebels that the Pentagon last year admitted do not exist. The real number of U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq is certainly much higher than the U.S. is admitting. These U.S. soldiers are attempting to rearm and unite all of the smaller terrorist groups that are integrated with al-Qaida – that is, everyone except ISIS.

The Russians aren’t fooled one bit by Obama’s terrorist shell game. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has resisted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposals to carve Syria up into so-called “zones of interest,” a phony kind of cease-fire that would prevent the Syrian government from taking back its national territory. Lavrov is telling the U.S. that any so-called rebels that are caught fighting alongside al-Qaida will be killed, just like al-Qaida, and that the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria is not subject to negotiation.

“The U.S. presence in Syria is totally illegal.”

The Russians and the Syrian government not only have international law firmly on their side, but also the relevant United Nations Security Council resolution, which calls on the entire world to fight against both ISIS and al-Qaida’s Nusra Front. The U.S. voted for the resolution, and President Obama has repeatedly stated that Washington respects Syria’s national sovereignty. Obama is lying, of course – but then, the U.S. war on terror is probably the greatest lie of the 21st century, and a big part of the 20th century, too.

The U.S. presence in Syria is totally illegal – which is why Obama has to cloak it in terms of American self-defense against ISIS, despite the fact that ISIS grew by leaps and bounds until the Russians intervened and forced the Americans to pretend to wage war against it. The U.S. troops’ main job is to arm the various brands of al-Qaida fighters with heavy weapons, and to act as a “trip wire,” daring the Russians to bomb areas of the country where American troops are active. In other words, he is prepared to go to war with Russia to defend the terrorist armies he has unleashed on Syria.

Obama will end his term in office as the protector-in-chief of al-Qaida. What a legacy for the 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: 20160427_gf_ObamaSyriaScam.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50pm EST

Will Bernie's Burnout Lead To A New Movement? Maybe, Maybe Not.

Will Bernie's Burnout Lead To A New Movement? Maybe, Maybe Not.

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

What's going to happen when Bernie endorses Hillary Clinton? A springtime blizzard of articles and internet postings says some big fraction of Bernie's activists and voters won't work or vote for Hillary. But we all know what happens after springtime blizzards. The snow stops, the white stuff melts and the landscape changes.

When it does Bernie will hand over his volunteer lists, fundraising, email and social media assets to Hillary. Most of Bernie's activists will get out the vote for the Democratic nominee against the greater evil that is President Trump, and most of Bernie's voters will follow. But a minority, a significant number will be disposed to do something else election day, or to help build something afterward. What about them?

Most discussions of putting together a force outside and to the left of the Democratic party dwell on the issues and the demographics but fail to credibly explain how such a thing could be funded or to whom its leaders would be responsible. Democrat and Republican parties, politicians and all but a tiny number of campaigns are funded by the generous and more and more often the anonymous donations of wealthy corporations and individuals. Take the big easy money and your donors will, directly or indirectly determine your leadership. Don't take the money and you're broke, looking for new models of funding maybe leadership too.

What about the hot new funding model: lots of small donations, reaped over the internet? To tell the truth except for the internet part this is an old model, not a new one --- religious congregations have long supported ministries and pastors, sometimes in opulent style, off the small donations of mostly poor people. But it's the leaders and big donors if they have any, who call the shots in these organizations, not the small donors.

Moveon.org used to bill itself as an example of an outfit supported by tens of thousands of small donations, presumably from people of modest means. But MoveOn's leadership, like that of many organizations sustained by small donors are a self-selected and self-perpetuating crew. Its thousands of small donors cannot choose or un-choose the leaders, cannot determine or change its policies, any more than small donors to the NAACP or the Sierra Club both examples of places happy to take both large and small contributions.

When people discuss the formation of political movements outside the Democratic party in this or any other season they like to talk about ideas and policies, but not so much about how to guarantee some semblance of small d democratic leadership of these movements, leadership responsible to members. The answer pretty much suggests itself. If your funders will inevitably choose your movement's leadership, and you need your leadership to be responsible to your rank and file members, then you need to have dues paying members as your principal funders.

Membership funding, with organization structured so that leaders are directly accountable to, selected and un-selected by members. That's the model we should be exploring. This is the way genuine left and socialist parties and movements for the last hundred years have funded their operations all over world, a fact not much taught to so-called community organizers here.

Until these old lessons about choosing internal democracy and membership funding over s big donors and self-perpetuating leaders are re-learned, it's hard to see how a new political movement left of the Democratic party will ever take hold and grow.

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 Georiga Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20160420_bd_after_bernie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm EST

There’s Only One Cure for Chicago Police Lawlessness: Black Community Control

“Democracy demands that “the people must be empowered to hold the police accountable for their crimes and misconduct.”

The absolute intransigence of the U.S. mass incarceration regime is most dramatically on display in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s own special investigative task force has concluded that the “police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” The report backs up that conclusion with a now-familiar recitation of statistics that show, by the numbers, the raw nature of the police as an occupying army that perceives that its mission is to stop, humiliate, frame, physically abuse, torture and kill Black and brown people. Seventy-four percent of the 404 people shot by the Chicago police last year were Black. Seventy-two percent of those stopped on the street but who were not arrested, were Black. Three quarters of those singled out for tasering were Black. And, the bulk of the remainder were Latino.

The task force was Mayor Emanuel’s response to demonstrations in protest of a massive cover-up of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, whose death in a hail of 16 bullets was caught on video that was hidden from public view for more than a year. Since then, the killer cops have been gunning down Black folks like clockwork, including last week’s shooting of 16 year-old Pierre Loury after he ran away from a police stop. Witnesses say the cops high-fived each other over the dead boy’s body.

The mayor thinks he can hide behind Eddie Johnson’s Black face – but those days are over.”

Mayor Emanuel was forced to fire his police superintendent in the wake of the Laquan McDonald cover-up. Last week he passed over three candidates recommended by a police oversight board, to pick Eddie Johnson, a Black 28-year veteran of the force, as the new superintendent. Emanuel made it clear that Eddie Johnson’s first job is to restore the “morale” of his fellow officers. “He’s well-respected within the department among the rank-and-file officers,” said Emanuel, as if the main task is to keep the cops happy – instead of confronting the fact that they “have no regard for the sanctity” of Black lives. The mayor thinks he can hide behind Eddie Johnson’s Black face – but those days are over. Johnson’s record of service to the Chicago Police Department is a badge of shame, not honor. He served as chief of patrol, commanding 8,000 of the very same officers that have compiled an unbroken record of lawlessness and contempt for civilian authority. Eddie Johnson would not have climbed so high in such a department if he were not, himself, a protector and champion of killer cops.

The young people that forced the issue of police terror to the forefront vow that they won’t settle for anything less than community control of police. They say democracy demands that “the people must be empowered to hold the police accountable for their crimes and misconduct,” the power to tell the police how they want their communities to be made safe and secure. As Frank Chapman, Field Organizer for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression wrote on the organization’s Facebook page, “Community control of the police is not a utopian dream, it is what we are fighting for now in this present reality.”

The present reality, in Chicago and throughout the United States, is that the police are an occupation army in the Black community. If there is to be peace, that army must be dismantled and disbanded.

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: 20160420_gf_ChicagoPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:35pm EST

COINTELPRO Alive and Well in Los Angeles

“Officers of a secret police cyber-unit have been taking pictures of activists, collecting names, and then matching them with postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media.”

The U.S. corporate media would have you believe that the movement that goes under the heading of Black Lives Matter has already gained substantial acceptance in the ruling circles of the United States, especially on the Democratic side of the electoral duopoly; that progress is evident in Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of the fact of her own white privilege, and the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement of the Black Lives Matter Network’s founders by name; and that the Movement is now transitioning into the “mainstream” with twiterist DeRay McKesson’s campaign for mayor of Baltimore.

The reality is that the U.S. National Security and Mass Black Incarcerate State is intent on breaking the back of the movement through the usual means: police repression, reinforced by more recent innovations in the technology of political control. And, just as with the Occupy Movement of a few years ago, the task of containing and neutralizing the Movement will fall to Democratic administrations in the nation’s big cities. Like Los Angeles.

LA is the center of the criminal in-justice system’s counter-offensive. A batch of six Black Lives Matter protesters face possible retrial this month, after a jury failed to convict them on misdemeanor charges for barricading an LA highway in November of 2014. The trial of three more protesters is under way for taking part in a 1,000-person strong demonstration in which a commuter train was stopped, in April of 2015. Mayor Eric Garcetti and his City Attorneys seem determined to take down the movement’s best cadres, selectively prosecuting only 20 of the 330 people arrested in the 2014 protests – all of them active members of Black Lives Matter.

“Just as with the Occupy Movement of a few years ago, the task of containing and neutralizing the Movement will fall to Democratic administrations in the nation’s big cities.”

In an interview on Democracy Now! Black Lives Matter lawyer Nana Gyamfi said officers of a secret police cyber-unit have been taking pictures of activists, collecting names, and then matching them with postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. Clearly, the cops are forming maps of activist social networks and gathering evidence for conspiracy charges in the future. According to Gyamfi, letters on LAPD and state Department of Justice stationary have been sent to activists’ workplaces, informing their bosses that they have been arrested for “felony conspiracy” to commit a crime.

Sounds like COINTELPRO, the FBI’s counter-intelligence program to disrupt and neutralize radical organizations, two generations ago. COINTELPRO also coexisted with Democratic Party attempts to co-opt Black movement leadership. At the same time that Dr. Martin Luther King was making visits to the White House, the Kennedy brothers and, later, President Lyndon Johnson were authorizing the FBI to spy on his activities. They sent letters urging King to kill himself – and we all know how that turned out.

Los Angeles was the city where SWAT teams were first deployed, in 1969, against the headquarters of the Black Panther Party. It looks like LA will be the point of the spear for political police repression in the 21st century.

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: 20160413_gf_LAPD_BLM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:09am EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of April 11, 2016

Mississippi Schemes to Dismember Tax Base of Black Capital City

The Republican-run State of Mississippi has moved to seize the City of Jackson’s two airports and a medical services corridor, and is maneuvering to take over the municipal water treatment facility that proves the bulk of the 80 percent Black city’s budget. “They have a full-blown plan for dismembering this city,” said Kali Akuno, of Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. The GOP plan went into overdrive with the election of Chokwe Lumumba, arguably the most radical Black mayor in the country, in 2013. But Lumumba died after less than a year in office. If the state succeeds, “there will be very little left to actually govern and to deliver goods and services to the community.”

Blacks Should Stop Going Down the Democratic Party “Rabbit Hole”

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations packed St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, in New York’s Harlem, for a National Conference on the 2016 Elections and Black Self-Determination. BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley told the crowd that Black people have supported “Democrat after Democrat, demeaning and insulting and imprisoning Black people, none of them willing to fight on our behalf, and we pay the price of continuing down the same old rabbit hole, time and time again.”

“Dead End” Capitalism Can’t Provide a Recovery for Workers

Boston-based writer and activist Danny Haiphong said that fractures in both the Republican and Democratic parties are reflections of the general crisis of capitalism. The system is at a “dead end” and cannot “provide a recovery for workers while at the same time exploiting these workers for the surplus value – the profit – it is desperately needs,” said Haiphong, a regular contributor to BAR. “If Bernie Sanders were to win, his ‘New Deal’ program could never be implemented in such an historical epoch.” This creates “so many opportunities for revolutionary struggle.”

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Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: BAR_041116.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EST

Are African Americans “Strategic Voters” Or Are We A Captive Constituency?

Are African Americans “Strategic Voters” Or Are We A Captive Constituency?

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

Strategy is an overall plan or policy designed to achieve some objective. So what is this thing that Democrats and nominal non-Democrats call “strategic voting”?

Will this “strategic voting” thing help us roll back the vicious police and prison states? Will it make the economy work for the 99% instead of the 1%? Will it help us stop gentrification or the privatization of schools, roads, post offices and public services? Will strategic voting get the thirty million people, many of them black whom Obamacare missed real health care? Will strategic voting stop our drone bombings in Somalia and Pakistan, or US support of apartheid Israel?

The proponents of strategic voting readily admit that it will do none of these things. For them, “strategy” is simply electing a Democrat, any Democrat because Republicans are the White Man's Party. This calculus of fear, as Glen Ford has explained is the entirety of black presidential politics. It's a politics of fear, a fantasy world in which overwhelming dread of the White Man's Party is the first, the last and only thing that matters.

The problem of course is that throwing away our hopes, for a just and peaceful society, for getting off fossil fuels and creating millions of new green jobs especially in the inner cities where we need them most, shelving our demands for economic justice and radically shrinking the prison population, putting aside our struggles for higher wages and the right to unionize, for affordable day care, housing and health care, for free quality education from kindergarten through universities --- putting all these things on the back burner for fear that the White Man's Party might gain the White House, the state house or whatever house is not a strategy at all. It's just fear, and fear is not a strategy.

Fear is running away from strategy. Fear is fleeing from any meaningful struggle. “Strategic voting” means jumping back into the trunk of the Democratic party's car. If that's a strategy it ain't a good one. Democrats in office have often proved themselves the “more effective evil” executing policies like school privatization, mass survellance, whistleblower crackdowns and bankster pardons that Republicans could only dream of.

As passengers in the Democratic party's trunk we don't get consulted about what the Democrats do once they're in office. Barack Obama didn't ask black America if we wanted public schools defunded, broken and privatized or if we wanted the banksters lightly slapped on the wrist instead of broken and imprisoned. African American voters are what political scientists call a “captive constituency”. The last strategic thing we did was to let our fear of the White Man's Party induce them to climb into the Democratic party's trunk.

The Democratic party is owned by its contributors, by Wall Street and the hedge fund guys, by Monsanto and Big Ag, by military contractors, privatizers and gentrifiers. Once we're in the Democratic party's trunk, and we've been there for a generation now, the only strategic options are to remain a captive constituency or to pull the latch and escape from Hillary's and Debbie Wasserman Schulz's, from Cuomo's and Rahm Emanuel's trunk to leave the Democratic party and vote our hopes instead of our fears.

I'll be voting for the Green Party this year because it's the only party that opposes school privatization, and drone wars, and gentrification. It's the only party that thinks voting ought to be a constitutional right and that aid to Saudi Arabia and apartheid Israel ought to end yesterday, and more. Unlike a vote cast in fear, a vote from Rahm's trunk, my vote will be a strategic one. Unlike Democrats, I will be voting my hopes and demands, not my fears.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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

Direct download: 20160406_bd_strategic-voters-or-captive-constituents.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34pm EST

A Few Black Caucus Members Have Some Questions About Israel

The entire history of the apartheid Zionist state is an affront to the very notion of civilization.”

Black Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson has written a letter that puts him in the cross-hairs of the Israel lobby – and he’s managed to bring eight other members of the House with him, including three colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus. Johnson teamed up with Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, a longtime – and usually very lonely – critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The senator is the author of the Leahy Law, which requires the United States to cut off military aid “to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information” that the unit has “committed a gross violation of human rights.” Congressman Johnson believes this language applies to Israel and to military and police units in Egypt. Together, the two countries account for more than 75 percent of total U.S. military assistance to foreign states: $3.1 billion a year to Israel, and $1.5 billion to Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that the U.S. increase its annual gift to the Zionist State’s military to $4.5 billion.

Congressman Johnson’s letter urges Secretary of State John Kerry to do as the Leahy Law requires, and make a determination if Israel and Egypt have engaged in gross violations of human rights. The letter calls Kerry’s attention to specific cases of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians and the use of torture by Israeli security forces, and it cites the Egyptian military regime’s 2013 massacre of as many as a thousand unarmed civilians at Rab’aa Square, which Human Rights Watch describes as “the world’s largest killing of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.”

Washington has no problem with mass murder.”

In addition to Senator Leahy, Hank Johnson convinced eight other House Democrats to sign his letter, including Black Caucus members Andrè Carson, of Indiana, Eddie Bernice Johnson, of Texas, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional Delegate from Washington, DC.

The crimes of Egypt’s military regime have shocked the world, but Washington has no problem with mass murder, which is why the Egyptian military has been a U.S. client for the past 40 years.

And, there is, of course, not a chance in hell that Secretary of State Kerry will certify that Israel is a gross human rights violator – despite the fact that the entire history of the apartheid Zionist state is an affront to the very notion of civilization. Just two weeks ago, an Israeli soldier was caught on video cold-bloodedly shooting a wounded and helpless Palestinian in the head. A poll showed 66 percent of Israeli Jews have good feelings about the soldier’s behavior, and 57 percent don’t even want the government to investigate the murder. This is the kind of barbaric society that is bred by apartheid – a society that should be recognized as inherently evil by every member of the Congressional Black Caucus. But, only three Black congresspersons joined Hank Johnson in questioning why the U.S. spends billions to arm the last apartheid state on Earth. In 2014, every single Black congressperson, including Hank Johnson, voted in support of Israel even as it was slaughtering more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Four signatures on a letter will never erase the shame they have brought upon Black America through their support for the most racist regime in the world.

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: 20160406_gf_HankJohnsonLttr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm EST