Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
The Obama Legacy: It’s No Crime For Corporations To Steal From the Public, or the Poor

The Obama Legacy: It’s No Crime For Corporations To Steal From the Public, or the Poor

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Today we’re going to look for the Obama legacy in how the federal government treats those who steal from the public or from the poor.

The current bankster scam in the news right now is Wells Fargo, whose bosses deliberately incentivized thousands of $12 an hour employees to buckle down and sell connected financial services to customers who did not need or want them in order to keep their jobs or be eligible for promotion. For the record, Wells Fargo is not the only bank to do this, it’s been a standard kind of corrupt bankster move all over the world for decades. Wells Fargo made billions doing it this time alone.

So how do scamming banksters get handled in the age of Obama, and is it any different from what came before?

The answer is that a thousand or two bank workers will be disciplined or fired. For a small fine, a mere fraction of what its executives stole, Wells Fargo got the Obama Justice Department to co-sign on their professed innocence of any crime and to guarantee their immunity to lawsuits filed by the people they robbed.

Obama’s first attorney general famously declared the banksters too big to prosecute or even investigate, and his second attorney general wrote the fine print on the similar “get out of jail free” and the “can’t be sued by the people I robbed” cards Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and of course Wells Fargo received in 2008-09. It wasn’t always this way. When savings and loan officials scammed the public out of billions during the first Bush administration, federal prosecutors put a couple thousand of them in prison. Obama could have done, and was expected by millions of his voters to do the same. He simply chose not to, which helped Democrats lose the Congress in 2010. In 8 years Democrat Barack Obama has gone further to protect criminal banksters and their investors than any Republican dared go before him.

Take a quick look at the Obama administration’s handling another kind of theft from the poor, wage theft.

Economist Richard Wolff estimates the yearly value of wages which employers refuse to pay, illegally withhold or otherwise steal from their workers in this country at several times the value of all the reported burglaries and armed robberies. Employers traditionally are not prosecuted, and in Los Angeles it’s reported that 83% of workers who WIN a case filed for stolen wages against an employer never recover a cent. Wage theft seems to be an area where little has changed. Previous administrations never bothered themselves about it, and neither did the Obama administration.

Finally not even the briefest of Barack Obama legacy on elite financial crime is incomplete without noting the president’s role in the massive expansion of the charter school racket. The Obama administration spent $4 billion in federal stimulus money outside any congressional or other oversight to incentivize the closing of thousands of so-called “underperforming public schools” mostly in black and poor communities. The near-complete absence of public accountability on the part of charter schools predictably ushered in a nationwide white collar crime wave, as charter school operators, their officers, contractors and their sugar daddy investors scrambled for shares of the cash that used to go to public education.

Thus the past 8 years reveal the definitive Obama legacy on elite financial crime. It’s not just too big to jail. It’s simply not punishable, or even investigatable as long as you steal from the poor or from the public.

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 the co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta Ga, and can be reached at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20160921-bd-obama-legacy-elite-financial-crime.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:41pm EDT

Murder by Occupation: Tulsa 2016, Baghdad 2007

“That looks like a bad dude.”

The narrators of the murder were high in the sky, circling the scene of the unfolding, racist crime in their police helicopter. Down below, a large Black man named Terence Crutcher was standing with his hands up next to his disabled car. Four Tulsa, Oklahoma cops had arrayed themselves like a firing squad; one of them, Officer Betty Shelby, was the wife of Dave Shelby, one of the cops in the helicopter. From his elevated vantage point, Officer Dave Shelby provided the voice-over to Terence Crutcher’s last moments of life. “He’s got his hands up there for her now,” said Shelby. “This guy is still walking and following commands.”

You’d think that was a good thing. But, the other cop chimes in immediately: “Time for a Taser, I think.” Officer Shelby says, “I got a feeling that’s about to happen.” His partner clearly wants some damage done to the Black man, below. “That looks like a bad dude, too,” he said. “Could be on something,” he adds -- already providing some kind of drug-crazed justification for the murder that his fellow cops are about to commit. Then, with heaven and her husband Dave watching, Officer Betty Shelby blows Terence Crutcher away. The two cops in the helicopter express no surprise, no shock, no emotion whatsoever. As Terence Crutcher lays dying, the first thing out of Officer Dave Shelby’s mouth was about re-routing traffic around the killing zone.

The helicopter police voice-over of Terence Crutcher’s execution was a ghastly reminder of the video released by Wikileaks of a 2007 mass murder of Iraqi civilians by U.S. helicopter gun crews over Baghdad. The Americans were engaged in what I’m sure some of them called “hajji-hunting,” which is the same as what the good ole boys back home call “coon-hunting” -- searching for colored folks to kill. Circling unseen way above the city, the Americans opened fire at an innocent group of unarmed men on a street corner.

Mission Unjustifiable

“Keep shootin. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’,” hollered one of the killers. “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards,” said his partner. “Nice. Good shootin’,” the other soldier complimented his accomplice in murder. But they weren’t through, yet. The gunship then attacked a van driven by a father with two of his children inside. The voice of American Soldier #1 is heard saying, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

These voices over Baghdad and Tulsa speak the same language: the language of Occupation. When spoken by Americans, this language is always racist, but it also has its own, particular quality of horror. Occupations are always justified as “peace-keeping” missions. Domestic occupiers are called “peace” officers. But their mission is war against a civilian population -- to inflict preemptive terror on an entire mass of people. Since the actual mission cannot be justified, the Occupiers lie to themselves and everybody else about the real nature of their mission. In the end, the Occupied peoples have no choice but to expel their tormentors, or become as insane and morally degraded as they are. This applies just as much in Tulsa as it does in Baghdad. We need Black community control of the police, and an end to the Occupation.

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: 20160921_gf_TulsaToBaghdad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:59pm EDT

Murder by Occupation: Tulsa 2016, Baghdad 2007

“That looks like a bad dude.”

The narrators of the murder were high in the sky, circling the scene of the unfolding, racist crime in their police helicopter. Down below, a large Black man named Terence Crutcher was standing with his hands up next to his disabled car. Four Tulsa, Oklahoma cops had arrayed themselves like a firing squad; one of them, Officer Betty Shelby, was the wife of Dave Shelby, one of the cops in the helicopter. From his elevated vantage point, Officer Dave Shelby provided the voice-over to Terence Crutcher’s last moments of life. “He’s got his hands up there for her now,” said Shelby. “This guy is still walking and following commands.”

You’d think that was a good thing. But, the other cop chimes in immediately: “Time for a Taser, I think.” Officer Shelby says, “I got a feeling that’s about to happen.” His partner clearly wants some damage done to the Black man, below. “That looks like a bad dude, too,” he said. “Could be on something,” he adds -- already providing some kind of drug-crazed justification for the murder that his fellow cops are about to commit. Then, with heaven and her husband Dave watching, Officer Betty Shelby blows Terence Crutcher away. The two cops in the helicopter express no surprise, no shock, no emotion whatsoever. As Terence Crutcher lays dying, the first thing out of Officer Dave Shelby’s mouth was about re-routing traffic around the killing zone.

The helicopter police voice-over of Terence Crutcher’s execution was a ghastly reminder of the video released by Wikileaks of a 2007 mass murder of Iraqi civilians by U.S. helicopter gun crews over Baghdad. The Americans were engaged in what I’m sure some of them called “hajji-hunting,” which is the same as what the good ole boys back home call “coon-hunting” -- searching for colored folks to kill. Circling unseen way above the city, the Americans opened fire at an innocent group of unarmed men on a street corner.

Mission Unjustifiable

“Keep shootin. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’,” hollered one of the killers. “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards,” said his partner. “Nice. Good shootin’,” the other soldier complimented his accomplice in murder. But they weren’t through, yet. The gunship then attacked a van driven by a father with two of his children inside. The voice of American Soldier #1 is heard saying, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

These voices over Baghdad and Tulsa speak the same language: the language of Occupation. When spoken by Americans, this language is always racist, but it also has its own, particular quality of horror. Occupations are always justified as “peace-keeping” missions. Domestic occupiers are called “peace” officers. But their mission is war against a civilian population -- to inflict preemptive terror on an entire mass of people. Since the actual mission cannot be justified, the Occupiers lie to themselves and everybody else about the real nature of their mission. In the end, the Occupied peoples have no choice but to expel their tormentors, or become as insane and morally degraded as they are. This applies just as much in Tulsa as it does in Baghdad. We need Black community control of the police, and an end to the Occupation.

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: 20160921_gf_TulsaToBaghdad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:59pm EDT