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

The Manufactured McCain and the Real McCain

There’s a real John Sidney McCain III and there’s a fake one, manufactured for the public relations of US empire. Imperial PR needs to justify, even sanctify the ecocidal and genocidal rule of the rich by portraying its servants not as the venal and bloodthirsty thieves they are, but as the brightest, the best, the most noble and deserving among us. The Manufactured McCain whom the corporate media will spend another week on top of the previous one lifting up to the heavens bears only passing resemblance to the real John McCain. The real McCain was no hero. He was a lying, bribe taking, neo-nazi sympathizing politician and war criminal, who served the US empire and himself for all of his long life.

By 1904 the US had coveted Panama, the northernmost province of Colombia for some time. US global ambitions dictated the need for a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The French had already tried to build the canal and failed at a cost of billions in today’s money and 22,000 dead – black laborers recruited from around the Caribbean who mostly perished from disease. When the Colombian government refused to simply hand Panama over on US terms, President Teddy Roosevelt sent down a battleship or two and some Colombians in Washington DC were recruited to declare independence. The US immediately recognized the government of the new republic, which granted Washington the power do do pretty much whatever they liked. Like the French before them, the North Americans imported tens of thousands of black labors not their families, only the laborers – from around the Caribbean to build the canal, and they imposed a vicious southern US-style Jim Crow regime upon what they called the Canal Zone. Another 6,000 black laborers and a few hundred whites died building the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914.

The real John McCain was born in 1936 in US occupied Panama, which the empire’s law at the time considered an “unincorporated territory of the US.” That’s why McCain never took part in the Republican birther craze, which falsely claims that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and why the Manufactured McCain never talked much about his birthplace.

The real John McCain spent many childhood summers at Teoc, the 2,000 acre Carroll County Mississippi plantation which belonged to his great great grandfather Dr. William Alexander McCain. The antebellum McCains once owned at least 52 slaves who made their masters quite wealthy raising corn and cotton. There are still black McCains in Carroll County whose ancestors were owned by white McCains with whom they neither claim nor deny any blood kinship. The black McCains hold a family reunion every other year, and though they did invite Senator McCain he never attended. One of William Alexander McCain’s grandsons made brigadier general in the US Army, and another, Henry Pinkney McCain was a US Army major general. A third of Dr. McCain’s grandsons was Senator McCain’s grandfather, a 4 star US Navy Admiral. His son, Senator McCain's father was also a 4 star US Navy admiral. Their ancestors include officers in the American Revolutions related to the family of George Washington.

Despite the real McCain’s military-aristocratic lineage and those childhood summers on the plantation, the Manufactured McCain campaigning for president in 2000 ridiculously claimed he didn’t think his family had ever owned any slaves. Reporters had to produce documents with the names and descriptions of 52 McCain plantation slaves before the Manufactured McCain acknowledged his family had been slaveholders. “ It makes sense… I didn’t know that,” he reportedly said.

The manufactured war hero VS the real accident-prone pilot.

The Manufactured McCain sometimes called himself a “fighter pilot.” That’s not what the US Navy called the Real McCain. In navy language, fighter pilots are the elite of the elite, the ones who fight other planes in the air. The Real McCain flew ground attack aircraft, which in Vietnam meant bombing mostly undefended civilian ground targets.

The real McCain was a slipshod and reckless pilot who totaled 3 aircraft in incidents where navy investigators pinned the cause of the crash upon lapses in pilot’s judgment, in each and every case contradicting the Real McCain’s official reports of those accidents. A 2008 Los Angeles Times article titled “McCain’s Mishaps in the Cockpit by Ralph Vartabedian and Richard A. Serrano  examines the Real McCain’s 3 plane crashes in some detail. Aircraft are not cheap, and it’s hard to believe any military on earth allows pilots with three at-fault plane crashes to keep his wings. That is, unless you’re US Navy royalty, the son and the grandson of admirals. Decades later, as a politician writing one or another version of his autobiography the Manufactured McCain was more truthful, describing a 1961 incident in which he flew into power lines in southern Spain causing a local blackout, as “daredevil clowning.” He managed to bring the plane back to the carrier that time, trailing ten feet of power line, so that didn’t count among the Real McCain’s at-fault plane crashes.

McCain was assigned to Yankee station off the coast of North Vietnam where he took part in Operation Rolling Thunder, the US code name for 31 months of the bombing of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and killed tens of thousands of civilians at the very least. McCain flew 27 ground attack missions before being shot down in October 1967 trying to bomb a Hanoi power plant. Many have argued that bombing undefended civilian targets is a war crime. That’s certainly the way the Vietnamese viewed the matter, and they subjected the already seriously injured McCain and other downed US pilots to close confinement and torture. His own mistreatment during 5 years as a prisoner of war was the reason why Senator John McCain would later publicly disagree with 21st century US policy that publicly embraced the idea of torture.

When the Vietnamese discovered that McCain was US Navy royalty, they sensibly offered him early release ahead of pilots captured before him. Just as sensibly, he refused the offer, and the manufactured narrative of John McCain as the heroic prisoner of war began to be established, and since has been added to many times by his own writing and speeches and by others connected to actual events and not. Released after five and a half years imprisonment, he was already a kind of celebrity. McCain remained in the Navy several years after his release. His final Navy assignment was US Navy liaison to the Senate. During this time he divorced his first wife and married Cindy Hensley, daughter of one of the biggest beer distributors in the country. Hobnobbing with politicians and military contractors seemed to suit him, so he left the navy in 1981, as Jeff Gates put, cashing in his war hero chits to start a political career.

The Manufactured McCain: the straight talking war hero as venal bribe taking politician.

While still in the Navy McCain had campaigned for Ronald Reagan vigorously enough to earn warnings from his superiors, and to be a frequent guest of honor at Reagan dinners. He moved to Arizona to campaign for Congress. According to Jeff Gates’ book Guilt By Association: How Deception and Self Deceit Took America to War, his wife received a gift of $689,000 from her wealthy family just before or at the beginning of his congressional run, which probably enabled him to lend his own campaign $167,000. McCain’s prenuptial agreement allowed him to omit his wife’s multimillion dollar income and holdings from public financial disclosures.

Fresh from his insider stint as Reagan’s favorite dinner guest Navy liaison to the Senate he campaigned as the straight talking political outsider and war hero, winning election in 1982. and again 1984. As expected, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, who’d been the 1968 Republican presidential candidate retired in 1986 and McCain won the seat. Among the early investors in McCain’s political career was a Phoenix millionaire Charles Keating who got in on the ground floor. According to Gates in the aforementioned book:

Keating family members and employees made 40 donations to his first congressional campaign, at least 32 to his second… no less than 45 when ran for the Senate in 1986…

The McCains made 9 vacation trips on a jet owned by Keating’s company including … trips to Keating’s posh resort in the Bahamas. Only after the S&L scandal years later did McCain reimburse Keating…

McCain’s wife and father in law invested $359,000 in a Keating shopping mall deal. Their profit remains unknown.”

In 1984 Keating bought a California savings and loan with 26 branches. Under Presidents Carter and Reagan restrictions on how and what savings and loan institutions could invest had been repeatedly loosened. Keating was one who pushed even these limits and purchased legislators by the pocketful to sometimes meet directly with federal regulators to argue his case. The so-called Keating Five were a handful of senators receiving $1.3 million in contributions, of which McCain got $112,000. They met with federal regulators on a number of occasions, and according to one regulator, argued Keating’s case like defense lawyers. Republican John McCain was one of these, along with Democrats John Glenn and Alan Cranston and two others.

A few years later, 1,038 Savings and Loan institutions went belly-up, causing the savings of hundreds of thousand to vanish overnight, and the fund which supposedly insured them unable to cover the losses. The $150 billion savings and loan scandal was the biggest financial crisis in recent history till the crash of 2007-2008 and bribes paid to the real McCain were directly instrumental to making it happen. McCain was to spend 32 years in the Senate, and became the go-to guy for a galaxy of military contractors, telecoms, Big Ag, Big Real Estate, Big Pharma, Big Energy and more, and the Manufactured McCain ran for president in 2000 and 2008.

From 1992 till weeks before his death John McCain served as chairman of the International Republican Institute, a US government funded organization that interferes in the political processes of scores of other countries, training rebel groups to overthrow inconvenient elected governments, like that of John Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and many others. McCain and the IRI were prominent backers of neo-nazi politicians and armed militia groups in Ukraine who are now part of that country’s army and civilian government. To be fair, the Obama administration and Democrat Hillary Clinton were big backers and enablers of the same forces. After all this is the US, where we do have two government parties to choose from, not just one as in some backward and benighted places. Democrats and many in the so-called resistance are throwing flowers at the grave of John McCain. It’s a bipartisan thing.

During his 32 years in the US Senate, the real John McCain was a consistent warmonger, advocating US military intervention in Africa, South America, Korea, and almost everywhere. He sang “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” before a veterans group, and called demonstrators against Henry Kissinger “despicable scum.” The record of his public calls for coups, invasions, blockades, bombings and assassinations to advance US military and economic domination of the planet is far too long to list.

All this explains why corporate media are lifting up their whitewashed and manufactured version of John McCain. He’s one of their own, a genuine war criminal and loyal servant of capital. Lifting him up, creating and embellishing his heroic story lifts up and legitimizes the rule of the rich. Now they’ll be looking for parks, schools and airports to name after him. Just as the elementary school in Aaron Magruder’s Boondocks was named after J. Edgar Hoover, we’ll soon see John McCain’s name staring back at us from what little public property is left. Get ready for it.

Don’t forget that since Black Agenda Report was accused 3 years ago of being under Russian influence, Google and other corporate social media have suppressed the appearance of our content in search results. So the only way you can be certain you’re getting fresh news commentary and analysis from the black left, as we’ve offered the last 13 years is dark social media – email. Go to www.blackagendareport.com and hit the subscribe button to receive our content each week by direct email, which Facebook and Google cannot block and be sure to share it with friends and others by email. Give Black Agenda Radio and Black Agenda Radio commentaries a good review and rating on iTunes while you’re at it, please. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20180829_bd_mccain.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 2:26pm EDT

Early this month, Cori Bush was defeated in the St. Louis MO congressional primary, by Congressman Lacy Clay. Clay has held the seat since inheriting it from his father in 2001, and his father had it for 32 years. That’s 50 years of a congressman named Clay. Missouri’s first district includes Ferguson, an inner suburb of St. Louis. When four summers ago we saw a handful of public officials in the streets trying to chill out Ferguson protestors, there was a black congressman among them. But that was Emanuel Cleaver, from Kansas City, not the black face who’s family by then had repped the district a good 45 years.

Challenger Cori Bush lost no opportunities to remind people that Clay was AWOL during the entire Ferguson episode, but it was not enough. Bush campaigned on free college, not accepting corporate money, raising the minimum wage, restraining killer cops, more money for public education and Medicare For All, but that wasn’t enough either. She had a great personal story too, a single mother who earned a nursing degree, and spent a while living out of her car. Bush won the backing of Justice Democrats, a national outfit that had quite a lot to do with the mechanics of the Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez campaign in the Bronx a few weeks before. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez, Bush is not a member of Democratic Socialists of America, and has never identified herself as a socialist.

So how exactly did she lose? Nobody else seems willing to offer explanations, beyond shallow wisdom that “St. Louis MO ain’t da Bronx.” The folks who had a thousand good reasons Ocasio-Cortez was the front end of a blue wave have passed on explaining why this blue wave missed in Missouri.

The first thing to see is the obvious, that St. Louis really is NOT the Bronx. Ocasio-Cortez was a working class Puerto Rican woman in a largely Latino district, and her opponent was a 20 year incumbent white guy who was obviously ready to leave for a more lucrative career as a lobbyist. Lacy Clay on the other hand, really wanted to keep that St Louis congressional seat. In 2016 he faced another black woman who’d been tear gassed in the streets of Ferguson, state rep Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who got 24 thousand votes to Clay’s 56 thousand. So unlike Crowley in the Bronx, Clay didn’t sleep the 2018 race, he ran up 81 thousand votes to Bush’s 53 thousand.

Another dimension in which St. Louis is not New York is voter turnout. New York Republicans and Democrats have deliberately engineered primary elections for low turnout, requiring votes to register as Democrats many months prior to election day just to be eligible. But in Missouri you show up and ask for the Democrat ballot. So Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s 57% of the vote was just under 17 thousand. But Clay’s 57% share in Missouri was 81 thousand, again to Bush’s 53 thousand. Ocasio-Cortez said it took 120,000 phone calls to get that. I don’t know yet how many calls Bush needed to get her 53 thousand but I’ll be asking.

We have to look at the national organizations which backed Ocasio-Cortez, Bush and the rest of this blue wave which is supposed to swamp Congress and state legislatures in 2018. There are at least 3 organizations which help raise money, funnel experienced campaign help, do social media, recruit national phone and text banking assists and more. Those would be Our Revolution, Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats. Brand New Congress claims to have “recruited” Ocasio-Cortez, who was previously one of those in charge of Bernie Sanders’ New York effort. A leader of Justice Democrats served as Cori Bush’s communications director, and both outfits named Bush, who’d run statewide in Missouri for US Senator in 2016, as one of their own. Unlike Ocasio-Cortez Cori Bush has never been a DSA member either, and has never called herself a socialist.

What Brand New Congress, Our Revolution, and Justice Democrats have in common are three things.

The first is a commomn commitment to taking over or rescuing the Democratic party.

The second is a real reluctance to make any but the sketchiest reference to anything that takes place outside the US – as if the US didn’t have troops in a hundred foreign countries, at least 800 bases in a hundred countries and a trillion dollar military budget supported by most of the Democrats in Congress. Justice Democrats has a statement at the end of their foreign policy that seems to put the military budget around $100 billion instead of the actual trillion, which ten times that size. Cori Bush’s page is typical of the blue wave, it doesn’t mention anything on foreign policy or empire at all.

The most optimistic way to see this collective blind spot is that maybe the blue wave of Congressional candidates don’t want to incur the wrath of the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is running about 40 former CIA, Homeland Security, State Department, local police and military types for Congress this year, and has plenty money for last minute negative media offensives against would be peacenik congressional candidates in places where they don’t even have candidates.

The least optimistic view is that sketchy or absent references to US empire and foreign policy are how the blue wave candidates signal their willingness to adopt the imperial consensus if they are lucky enough to get elected. After all four fifths of the Congressional Black Caucus and just over half the House Progressive Caucus just voted for Ttump’s record military 2019 military budget.

The third thing they all have in common is that few or none have distanced themselves from the drumbeat of RussiaGate, the nonsense that holds Russia responsible for Trump’s victory in 2016, that posits a credible ongoing Russian plot to steal the US elections. To our knowledge none of the blue wave candidates nor the national outfits which back them have stood apart from themselves tendency to label anybody to their left stooges of Russia either.

Bringing it back to St. Louis, Cori Bush had to face something Ocasio-Cortez didn’t. It was something her blue wave backers hadn’t dealt with either. It was the peculiarities of black politics in the US. The 1st CD Missouri is 50% black and there are some unique and well established characteristics of the Democratic party in districts like that, whether they’re in Chicago or Philly or Dallas or Atlanta or wherever.

The first is the black church, which is ridden with local, and since the advent of Bush’s and Obama’s faith based initiative, federal patronage. Black churches are often tied hand and foot to local politicians for everything from real estate deals to charter school contracts, and their leaders are often fixtures in local Democratic party affairs, even public officials themselves. The second is the nonprofit industrial complex, a literal army of advocacy groups sometimes doing housing and homeless activism, sometimes feeding the hungry, sometimes doing worker centers, womens health, tenants rights, LBGTQ activism, environmental stuff. There’s another section of the nonprofit industrial complex which can’t even be called nonpartisan with a straight face, offshoots of the NAACP and the Movement 4 Black Lives. These forces are tied to the political preferences of their corporate philanthropic funders. Executive directors of nonprofit organizations who don’t find a way to support the right Democrats in primary season and all Democrats in general election put their careers, the livelihoods of all their employees, and the outfit’s good works in jeopardy. And there are the unions – heavily public sector and disproportionately people of color, again all tied to the most right wing established Democrats on the local, state and federal level.

Unlike the troops the blue wave outfits can raise once every two years, these things are permanent institutions in black communities. Remember when Atlanta civil rights icon John Lewis stood up in Ebenezer Baptist Church to tell young black folks that free college tuition and free medical care were un-American and the crowd was with him? That’s the complex of forces against which relatively leftist electoral candidates in black communities must run. In old school political language that’s called a Machine, a standing bunch of political institutions which can put significant money into broadcast ads and mailings, speakers and preachers into pulpits, hundreds of bodies in the street and hundreds more the phone banks. Clay had them, and Bush did not. All Bush had was what she could raise on the issues.

The big blue wave outfits probably hadn’t done much work in black communities and didn’t know this. Maybe they were listening to DSA theoreticians like Adam Hilton who imagine the Democratic Party in such places has no real organization. But it’s organized, and it’s very, very real. If you’re going to knock out the right wing Democrats who dominate the electoral politics of black communities you have to do more than hire the right black consultants, although Black Voters Matter and the Movement For Black Lives Electoral Justice Project will be glad to keep taking your money. Somebody has to build some other permanent organizations, some other centers of popular power in those communities. It hasn’t been done yet, and won’t be done before the 2018 midterm elections. That’s why Bernie didn’t crack the black vote in 2016, and that’s why the blue wave didn’t crash Missouri in 2018. It’ll be why the wave misses in other black constituencies.

For Black Agenda Report, I’m Bruce Dixon. Please know that Google and other corporate social media suppress the appearance of Black Agenda Report’s articles and commentary. The only way you can be certain you’re getting fresh news, commentary and analysis in audio and print from the black left each week is by going directly to our site at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribing to our direct from us to you FREE email newsletter containing links to everything we air or print each week. That’s why they call email the dark social media, because it can’t be stopped or tracked – yet. So go to www.blackagendareport.com and subscribe, it’s free.

Direct download: why-missouri-broke-the-blue-wave.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:08pm EDT

So many people call themselves "organizers" these days that the word is meaningless. The Alexandra Ocasio-Corte campaign supplies left electoral and other organizing efforts with a real world organizing benchmark -- the AOC unit -- 120,000 phone calls.

This is Bruce Dixon from Black Agenda Report with the latest in our series about organizing, what for reference sake we’ll call the 200 series. If you haven’t you really should check out the 100 series which we did two or three years ago. While of course you can always Google Black Agenda Report, organizing 101, you should be aware that Black Agenda Report is one of the news outlets – the only outlet owned by African Americans and aimed at a black audience, for which Google deliberately suppresses search results, on the basis that we are tools of the Russians or something. So the ony reliable way to find Black Agenda Report’s Organizing 100 series is to visit our site at BlackAgendaReport.com, and click the links there.

Everybody’s an “organizer” nowadays, to hear them tell it. Ever notice though, how almost none of these organizers actually tell us what that means, what this “organizing” stuff actually is? That should make you wonder a little bit right there. The fact is on the lips of many, it doesn’t mean anything at all. So let’s fix that.

In a recent interview broadcast on Daniel Denvir’s The Dig podcast, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez spelled out the technical essence of her successful campaign effort. She said it was shoe leather canvassing, a lot of door to door work in which the canvassers dropped written material on and actuallly talked with every registered voter who’d come to the door, and that’s easier in New York City than in many places, since the doors are relatively close to one another. They made sure to extract phone and email contact information from potential supporters. They distributed literature at public places, street corners, transit stops and gatherings of all kinds in the district, not just in the spirit of passing the paper, but with the specific aim of extracting email and phone contact information from people in these encounters as well. The AOC social media campaign focused on engaging the contacts gained by the door to door canvass and the street operation, so they were not just shouting into the void. And most importantly of all, Ocasio-Cortez says they made about 120,000 phone calls.

Social media is great. Literature is necessary Appearing in debates and public stuff is useful. But without those 120,000 phone calls, the people whose door you knock on in April will have long forgotten you by a June election. You have to make a LOT of intial contacts and a lot of following up by email, by text messages, and you gotta do thousands, tens of thousands of phone calls. The volunteers who make the calls were recruited from among the enthusiastic supporters encountered in the canvass, on the street, and through the social media aimed at supporters encountered those ways.

This is the essence of electoral organizing. You contact people win person with your message, and you stay in touch frequently enough and long enough to stampede them out to vote election day Since votes are actually counted, the way the organizer knows the job is going is to count the new contacts made each week, the number of first time and follow-up calls made that week.

Numbers measure the organizing process. If your electoral campaign or so-called organzing effort is not making hundreds or thousands of in person calls (not robocalls) every week to your new and old contacts, whatever you’re doing is NOT organizing. Organizers who don’t set numerical goals and strive accountably to meet them are faking the funk, it’s that simple. Numbers measure the organizing process, not signs and banners. Not “visibility” and not carrying a sign at somebody elses march or protest. In fact when your people DO attend the marches and protests put on by other outfits and fail to bring back new names for your people to contact in follow-up they too are helping you fake the funk.

Leafleting at street corners, transit stops, picnics, public events and places? Is your practice and your pitch tailored to bring back new names, phone numbers, email address? If not you’re scattering paper into the wind. Organizers get the digits and get them called back. Organizers make and sustain contact with the people they reach, and in electoral contests, that’s at least till election day. That’s exactly how Ocasio-Cortez said it was done, and it’s a formula decades old. It just has to be done.

They call 93 million miles, the distance from the earth to the sun an astronomical unit, an AU. So let’s give Ocasio-Cortez her unit, the AOC unit – 120,000 calls. Since most of us haven’t scaled up like that, we should probably call a mere 20,000 just a plain old generic unit. To keep from mixing apples with lawn furniture let’s stipulate that robocalls and text messaging do not count toward these units, that they are tallied separately. So the useful questions is how many people are on your email lists? How many new names did you add to your database this month, and how many will you add next month? How many phone calls is your organizing effort making this month? Half a unit, 10,000 calls? A full unit, 20,000 calls? If you’re not asking these questions, answering them and taking steps to get and sustain those numbers, whatever you’re doing ain’t organizing. Numbers tell the story. Get some numbers so we can tell some accurate stories.

This is North America. The almighty market uses the media to inundate us with a flood of 24/7 entertainment, making us the best entertained and the least informed people on earth. There’s plenty of public conversation, but what exists there serves the market, not those who want to make the world a better place. We don’t have much media access because the big media are owned and operated by billionaires. There is little place in their matrix for us. We have to grab people on the street or in their doorways or workplaces or public events and get them into OUR conversation. We have to supply and to engineer some of that conversation, we have to foster it, to host it and to sustain it if we intend to build a popular movement that will someday have the power to change this world for the better. 120,000 calls. Measure your organizing efforts against that. Ask how many calls is your organizing project making this month?

If you’re and your fellow “organizers” are not asking and answering these questions, whatever is going on is NOT organizing.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, where we have 12 years of news and analysis and commentary from the black left, new articles every Wednesday of every week.

Direct download: 20180725_bd_organizing-201-120000-phone-calls.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:24pm EDT

Less than a month ago, the president instructed the Pentagon to draw up plans to house 120,000 immigrants in what it described as “austere tent cities” – in plain language deliberately cruel concentration camps, apparently on military bases. The projected expansion of the US gulag is equivalent to throwing up a brand new California (129,000 inmates) state prison system almost overnight. Nothing like this has been publicly contemplated in any of our lifetimes. This is a new and uniquely dangerous moment in US political history.

So where is the Green Party? When the news became public, every vaguely leftish nonprofit and political outfit with two laptops, a cell phone, a pulse and a mailing list was appealing for funds, many calling virtual and in-person public meetings and actions at airports, detention centers, and other locations. But not the Green Party. Determined to be and to remain irrelevant, the Green Party has barely acknowledged this pivotal juncture. Although the Green Party has a substantial national mailing list, it has not bothered to explain itself or educate the public on this political moment, to give or ask for any clear stand on the part of state parties and activists. If an opposition party won’t seize the chance to grow in influence and numbers at times when millions of people are looking for effective ways to stand up, it’s hard to see that party growing into any kind of relevant force in the nation’s political life.

The Green Party has an outreach committee but no outreach operation. The Green party has a media committee but no real press operation. The Green Party has a ballot access committee, and although the party is banned from the ballot in more than a dozen states, its cannot be bothered to devise any credible plan, any achievable campaign to put itself on the ballot in those states. I know this because I was part of the crew which researched and drew up the bare bones of such a plan in 2015, a full year and more before the election for the Jill Stein campaign. But by December of that year the party’s presidential campaign was moonwalking away from any attempt to a wage coordinated ballot access drive in those key states, which contain about one eighth the nation’s black voters.

In the weeks before and after the inauguration of Donald Trump, when hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets the Green Party made no attempt to call its own meetings or events. Party leaders utterly ignored the chances to raise a million or two party-building dollars, along with opportunities for priceless visibility and outreach by putting its 2016 and 2017 presidential and vice presidential candidates on the road for a month-long “victory tour.” As a national organization, the Green Party is really good as an idea, but a hot mess as far as implementing that idea. There is, as I outlined a few weeks ago in Why Our Green Parties Haven’t Taken Off, the Green Party lacks any coherent organizing methodology, has no political clarity, has no structures to promote internal democratic discussion. Many of its activists and leaders seem to imagine they can self-organize with methods similar to those of Republicans and Democrats, and that only electoral campaigns, which they often have little idea how to conduct, will build a party. And in the name of diversity and inclusion the Green party has empowered token caucuses which pretend to represent African Americans and others, but which are centers of opportunism.

In its defense, the party was organized by liberals two decades ago who correctly assessed the WHAT – the need for something outside the two government parties but didn’t have much a grip on HOW to make any of it happen. That part is for those of us on the scene today to figure out, and the mistakes of two decades are ours to recognize, to learn from, and to undo. Or not. I still think we can undo a lot of them.

This weekend the Greens hold their annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Like many others, I won’t be there because no votes are taken or decisions are made at the meeting. The most you can do at Green annual meetings is meet some people in person you otherwise only encounter online, and be one of hundreds of faces in an applauding crowd. That didn’t seem worth the whole weekend, or the trip.

But the Greens elect several members of their national leadership body, their steering committee this weekend. I believe it’s still possible to turn the thing around, and I’m one of the 150 people who get to vote in that election. I’ll be voting for Greens who make no bones about being avowed socialists, and who understand the nature and the urgency of the tasks before them. If the Green Party can be saved, and transformed into a useful vehicle in the struggle, a lot rides on the vote this weekend. The choices are pretty stark. But at least they ARE choices.

For Black Agenda Report I’m Bruce Dixon. Google and other corporate social media are suppressing our content in their search results, so the only way to ensure you get notified of new content each week at Black Agenda Report is to visit us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com and hit the subscribe button to receive our weekly notices of new content via email. You can also find our one hour Black Agenda Radio show and Black Agenda Radio Commentaries on SoundCloud, Libsyn, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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 email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20180719_bd_greenparty.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:57am EDT

In 2005 and 2006 Democrats John Kerry and Barack Obama on the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to delay, filibuster or even closely question Bsuh's Supreme Court nominees Sam Alito and John Roberts.

We cannot and should not blame Trump and the Republicans alone for the Supreme Court. Leading Democrats had a big hand in it too.

The US Supreme Court has been around as long as the Constitution itself, more than two centuries now. Since the Warren court of the 1950s, Republicans have been quite open about their intent to pack it with judges who will repeal birth control, civil rights, labor rights, minimum wages, environmental regulation and most of the 20th century. Democrats, if they were ever a party of the people, as opposed to another party of the elite, have had sixty-some years to craft their own strategy to thwart Republicans. But no such strategy has ever emerged because Democratic elected officials have much more in common with their elite Republican counterparts than they do with the unwashed masses who vote Democratic, and who can always be rallied with the cynical cry that only electing more Democrats can save them from an evil Republican Supreme Court.

Back in 2005 the second President Bush nominated John Roberts as chief justice. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. The most celebrated, widely quoted, and closely watched Democrat on the judiciary committee was the acclaimed constitutional scholar and freshman from Illinois, Barack Obama. These were the guys on point for Democrats that season.

John Roberts had a long history of hostility to birth control, to voting rights, to organized labor, black and brown people, anti-discrimination laws and to anything else which might mitigate or restrain the rule of the rich in even the smallest degree. As a DC circuit court judge he “legalized” after the fact Bush’s illegitimate detention and torture at offshore black sites. As a private attorney he represented mining companies defending the horrifically destructive practice of mountaintop removal, and he was part of the Bush V. Gore legal team which succeeded in letting the Supreme Court overrule the ongoing tally of votes in Florida and declare Bush the winner. Roberts was also a board member of the rabidly right wing Federalist Society, which seeks to overturn virtually all civil rights and environmental law, and all regulation of so-called “free markets” whatsoever.

Republican leaning corporate media rejoiced, saying they were finally gonna get what they wanted. Environmental, voting rights and civil rights organizations sounded the alarm, but to little avail. Elected Democrats, their supposed champions, along with Democrat-leaning corporate media whined that there was insufficient evidence of Roberts’ rightward leanings to invest much effort in stopping his ascent to the court. Ranking Democrat John Kerry and Barack Obama were urged to filibuster the Roberts nomination. They pretended to entertain the idea a while, but did not. Both Kerry and Obama failed to oppose the Roberts nomination in committee, where they could have imposed substantial roadblocks and opened an ongoing debate about the sinister role of the corporate funded Federalist Society. They voted against the nomination on the Senate floor, where it made no difference, and John Roberts got on the Supreme Court with no serious opposition.

The next summer, in 2006 when Bush nominated Sam Alito to the Supreme Court the exercise was repeated. Samuel Alito had an even more balls-out reputation as an opponent of civil and human rights. Republicans exulted while lawyerly Democrats and their media mouthpieces claimed there were no smoking guns to tell whether Alito was actually the kind of judge Republicans claimed he was. Kerry and Obama, both lawyers of course were urged again to vigorously oppose the nomination in committee, and above all to make Alito’s membership in the Federalist Society a major point in opposing him and the entire wave of Republican judges it vets and spawns for local benches and the federal judiciary.

The Federalist Society was founded during the first term of Ronald Reagan in 1982, and immediately attracted lavish funding from a galaxy of right wing foundations, deep corporate pockets and wealthy individuals including the Walton Family Foundation, the Koch Brothers, the Scaife, Coors and Heritage Foundations. It swiftly established chapters in law schools across the country and became the go-to portal for young Republican lawyers on the make. The Federalist society also has working groups of law school professors and groups where practicing attorneys and prominent jurists meet and associate with law students, and in which legal arguments for new corporate rights are developed, rehearsed and fine tuned. For about a generation now, practically no Republican attorney has snagged a spot on state or federal judicial or prosecutorial benches, or appointed to federal agencies without the stamp of the Federalist Society on his or her resume.

As the two Democratic leaders of the Senate judiciary committee, Kerry and Obama were urged again and again by civil rights, environmental groups, by labor unions – by all the advocacy groups which supposedly represent the Democratic party’s base voters, to stall, to delay and to vigorously oppose the Alito nomination. By the summer of 2006 it was clear that Democrats would take back the house in November, and possibly the Senate as well. This time, Kerry and Obama said they were considering filibustering the nomination. But they didn’t, and even worse, they refused to question Sam Alito on his association with the Federalist Society, which might have made that organization’s stranglehold on Republican prosecutorial and judicial nominees an ongoing issue.

After perfunctory questioning, Kerry, Obama and their committee passed Alito out to the full Senate where he was confirmed with no significant opposition. To this day, the corporate funded Federalist Society is still choosing a huge share of judges and prosecutors.

Let’s be clear… the courts in the US were never intended to be a small d democratic institution. The founding fathers were quite open about their intention to insulate judges from the will of the electorate, even when only white men with substantial property were allowed to vote. From the nation’s beginning, its courts have always been an elite institution, staffed by and answerable to elites, not to the people. And the US elite is thoroughly bipartisan. Vigorous Democratic opposition to Federalist Society nominees a dozen years ago by leading Democrats, most notably by then senators Barack Obama and John Kerry might have made kept dozens or hundreds of right wing judges off the bench and made it impossible for Trump to nominate his latest corporate mouthpiece. It didn’t happen because elite Democrats have far more in common with elite Republicans than they do with mere Democratic voters.

So the answer to Democrat excuse makers who sagely assure us that elections DO make a difference is yeah, sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. But fighting, resisting injustice, exploitation and oppression always makes a difference. Too bad that’s simply NOT what Democratic elected officials actually DO.

For Black Agenda Report I’m Bruce Dixon. Google and other corporate social media are suppressing our content in their search results, so the only way to ensure you get notified of new content each week at Black Agenda Report is to visit us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com and hit the subscribe button to receive our weekly notices of new content via email. You can also find our one hour Black Agenda Radio show and Black Agenda Radio Commentaries on SoundCloud, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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 email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20180711_bd_SCOTUS_and-the-Dems-v2.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:08am EDT

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.”

The U.S. House of Representatives began debating, on Wednesday, a bill to impose sanctions on Venezuela for supposed human rights violations. A similar bill has already cleared important hurdles in the Senate, and it is questionable whether the Obama administration could prevent passage in both Houses of Congress, even if wanted to. It’s all part of U.S. blustering and bullying in Latin America, a continent that refuses to be treated as Uncle Sam’s back yard. Foreign ministers from all 12 members of the Union of South American Nations last week spoke with one voice, declaring that U.S. sanctions would represent "an obstacle” for the Venezuelan people to “overcome their difficulties with independence, and in democratic peace.” Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.

Unlike the Organization of American States, or OAS, the Union of South American Nations has no role for the United States or Canada, although Mexico and Panama have observer status. The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was a prime mover in creating the Union, to allow South Americans to forge their own economic and political ties without interference from the imperial behemoth to the North. Were it not for South American solidarity in the face of constant U.S. threats against Venezuela, the U.S. would be moving even more aggressively to turn the socialist government into a failed state, ripe of plucking.

These overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February.”

Ever since the defeat of a U.S.-backed coup in 2002, Washington has financed and trained a right-wing Venezuelan opposition centered in the mostly white upper classes of the country. Unable to win victory at the polls, these overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February, openly vowing to make the country ungovernable. President Nicolás Maduro’s government has been cautious in containing the outbreaks – more cautious than some of his comrades would like. Maduro has called on President Obama to stop destabilizing his country, to join a commission to discuss “peace and sovereignty” – and to call off those American factions that, Maduro says, are out to assassinate him. In his appeal to the U.S. president, Maduro noted that he, like Obama, has “African grandparents.” Hugo Chavez was also proud of his African ancestry.

However, the Black delegation to the U.S. Congress from Florida is nothing for any Black person to be proud off. All three Black Caucus members from the state – Corrine Brown, Frederica Wilson, and Alcee Hastings – signed on as co-sponsors of the Venezuela sanctions bill. Once again, the Black Misleadership Class shames 40 million African Americans with their slavish devotion to the imperial powers-that-be. Venezuela is overwhelmingly a black and brown country struggling to overcome centuries of racist internal rule and national subjugation to the will of the White Colossus in the North. The brown Obama is no better, nor are the sycophants of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose notions of solidarity begin and end with a checkbook.

If Venezuela’s sovereignty and dignity are to be preserved, it will be through their own efforts and the determination of South Americans to run their own affairs, to act in the spirit of Chavez, and the still-living example of Fidel.

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: 20140528_gf_VenezuelaSanctions.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

USA: Bad Jobs Country

USA: Bad Jobs Country

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

You will hear no countervailing vision from the Democrats, whose message differs from Republicans only in tone, not in substance.”

A new study shows that the U.S. economy has finally produced more jobs than there were before the Great Recession of 2008. The problem is, they’re mostly bad jobs in fast-food restaurants and low-wage retail. The National Employment Law Project found that there are almost two million fewer good paying jobs than there were back in 2008, but also close to two million more jobs in the low-wage sector of the economy – meaning, most of the new jobs have been bad jobs.

Actually, the change in the jobs picture during the Great Recession was just a speeded up version of what capitalism has been producing in the United States for more than 30 years. It is by design. Every time employers have turned the screws on labor, in terms of wages, benefits and jobs security, Wall Street has rewarded those companies. The Lords of Capital have also richly rewarded the politicians from both parties for removing the remaining obstacles to the direct rule of the rich.

Capital’s global plan is to reduce all workers to a state of absolute insecurity, so that they will accept those bad jobs without complaint. That requires the destruction of what we used to call the social safety net – a term that sounds increasingly quaint in the dog-eat-dog environment engineered into the system by Wall Street.

Make no mistake about it: austerity is the common program of both the business parties. That’s why you will hear no countervailing vision from the Democrats, whose message differs from Republicans only in tone, not in substance.Both answer to the Lords of Capital.

Big Capital’s intentions have been quite clear for decades.”

Barack Obama, the great actor and political chameleon, pretends to commiserate with his Democratic minority and working class constituents. Like his mentor, Bill Clinton, Obama claims to feel their pain. Yet, he is feverishly working to pass trade treaties that will further establish the legal structures of the global race to the bottom – treaties so blatantly biased towards corporations and against every principle of democracy and national sovereignty, that the language must be kept secret.

However, the main problem for American workers isn’t that Wall Street’s economic and social plans are secret – because, for the most part, they’re not. Big Capital’s intentions have been quite clear for decades. The NAFTA trade treaty has been savaging U.S. factory workers and Mexican peasants for 20 years. The Democrats were in power when the banks were set free to loot and plunder 15 years ago. Every employment study has tracked the steady decline of union membership, which the Democrats have done virtually nothing to reverse. That’s quite understandable since finance capital has steadily increased its campaign contributions to Democrats. None of this has been a secret, and no one should be surprised that, as a result, most new jobs are bad jobs. As far as Wall Street is concerned, that’s good news.

What makes the current era different from the past, is that neither of the business parties even bothers to pretend that it has a plan for a good jobs society. That means the people must put forward their own plan, through their own organizations – and learn to avoid the Democrats, whose job is to nip genuine people’s movements in the bud, so as not to disturb the corporate order.

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: 20140430_gf_BadJobs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:40am EDT

Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid

Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The judge rejected Ford and IBM’s contention that multinational corporations are legally shielded from these kinds of lawsuits.”

The United States court system, whose value to anyone but the rich is rapidly disappearing, may yet play a role in the unfinished business of South African liberation. A federal district judge in Manhattan ruled that a group of South Africans can proceed with a suit against Ford Motor Company and IBM for doing business with the white regime during the time of apartheid. The plaintiffs include victims of torture and relatives of people killed by the racist government. They will have to prove, not only that the American corporations knew that their products would be used to oppress and torture South Africans, but that Ford and IBM’s purpose in doing business in the country was to “aid and abet” the white authorities.

That’s a very high burden of proof. However, it’s a better shot than the U.S. Supreme Court gave to a group of Nigerian refugees who tried to sue Shell Oil for helping the Nigerian military to systematically torture and kill environmentalists in the 1990s. The High Court’s interpretation of the relevant U.S. law was that the crimes committed in Nigeria didn’t have a close enough connection to the United States. However, the justices left the door open to other cases that might have a stronger connection to the U.S.

This week, federal judge Shira Scheindlin – the same judge who issued the sweeping ruling against New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies, last year – gave the South African plaintiffs permission to make their case. She also rejected Ford and IBM’s contention that multinational corporations are legally shielded from these kinds of lawsuits. Judge Scheindlin found no basis in law to argue that international laws against such things as genocide, slavery, war crimes and piracy “apply only to natural persons and not to corporations.”

The South African government failed to prosecute perpetrators from the old regime and paid out only paltry reparations to the victims.”

The South African plaintiffs are part of the Khulumani Group, which was created as a response to the weaknesses of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the new Black government of South Africa. The Khulumani activists say the government failed to prosecute perpetrators from the old regime and paid out only paltry reparations to the victims. Most importantly, the Black government that came to power in 1994 and its reconciliation program provided no redress for the systematic social and economic crimes of apartheid. The Khulumani Group agreed with Frank Meintjies, a South African activist and intellectual who wrote that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission “failed to address the more collective loss of dignity, opportunities and systemic violence experienced by the oppressed.” He continued: “No hearings were held on land issues, on the education system, on the migrant labor system and on the role of companies that collaborated with, and made money from, the apartheid security system” – companies like Ford and IBM.

Thanks to the Khulumani Group’s lawsuit in Manhattan, two U.S.-based multinational corporations may finally have to explain why they gave aid and comfort to South African apartheid.

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: 20140423_gf_FordIBMSAfrica.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

Armstrong Williams Wants “Diversity” Favor from FCC

Armstrong Williams Wants “Diversity” Favor from FCC

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Williams claims that he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective.”

The Federal Communications Commission this week dealt at least a potential blow to the monopolists who have sucked every drop of social value out of American commercial television. The FCC ruled that TV stations that sell substantial portions of other TV stations advertizing, are the real owners of the station, and thus are violating rules against multiple ownerships in the same market. The practice of joint advertizing has meant that many stations are little more than shells for getting around the rules against monopolization. The National Association of Black Journalists applauds the FCC action, since shared advertizing agreements usually mean firing the whole newsroom of one of the stations. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council supports the ruling, because the shared advertizing game only helps the media giants eat up the smaller guys.

One person who’s not happy is Armstrong Williams, the Black rightwing propagandist and hustler who calls himself a journalist. Williams owns two stations that are essentially extra channels for stations already owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, which is the largest operator of non-network affiliated stations in the country. Williams claims that Black people in Flint, Michigan, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will suffer if he loses his stations there, since he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective. Now, that’s a joke! Armstrong Williams, whose mentor was South Carolina’s rabidly racist Sen. Strom Thurmond, has never uttered or written a word that was relevant to the hopes and dreams of most Black people. In political terms, Armstrong Williams most closely resembles the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.

The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit.”

But, more importantly, there is nothing on his TV stations that distinguishes them from any other corporate money machine. In Myrtle Beach, it’s a long day of Jerry Springer and People’s Court and Friends reruns, with news at 10 provided by a network owned by CBS and Warner Bros. In Michigan, his station is just another NBC affiliate, spewing the same bland corporate crap. The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit. It’s still garbage, of no socially redeeming value. Program-wise, it’s not even Black garbage.

Black people have no reason to be concerned about the survival of television stations that do not substantially serve their interests. It is true that Armstrong Williams has as much right as any white person to get rich from poisoning the airwaves – but that does not mean that we have to help him. And in fact, the airwaves still technically belong to the public. The government is obligated by law to ensure that the broadcast spectrum is put to uses that best serve the public. That means programming that is accountable to the public, including Black people.

There was a time when the FCC at least pretended to take public input seriously. The very fact that, two generations ago, the Black public could challenge the licenses of stations that ignored, abused or simply underserved them, created wondrous opportunities for intra-Black communications – opportunities that have been wiped out by corporate consolidation.

The FCC may well make an exception to its own joint advertizing ruling, on “diversity” grounds. And, that would be a victory – for Armstrong Williams. However, Black people as a whole will have won nothing, and lost a great deal.

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: 20140402_gf_FCC.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama campaign has succeeded in placing it’s Black pit bull in MSNBC’s prime time slot, where Al Sharpton will more than fulfill his promise to never say anything critical of the First Black President. MSNBC ejected a mildly leftish analyst to provide Sharpton with a megaphone to keep African American politicians and activists on the Obama reservation, where they can do no harm to Wall Street’s rulers – a perfect position for an “eminently buyable man.”

 

Is Sharpton Move to MSNBC Black “Progress”?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

All we will get from Sharpton is a demand that Blacks build a “wall” around Obama to keep him safe and secure in the White House for another term.”

Is Rev. Al Sharpton’s move to a prime time slot on MSNBC television a good thing for Black people? There was a time, two generations ago, when the placement of just about any Black personality in front of the TV cameras was assumed to be a pure plus – that is, unless that person somehow embarrassed “The Race” in full view of white people. But that was before whites with power learned how to put Black faces to corporate use. They discovered that there were plenty of African Americans that were so eager to be on television, they would say anything. These aspiring anchors would read news copy full of racist code words like “forced bussing” without complaint – glad to get the check and to be on the tube. The news didn’t really get better, in terms of its treatment of Black people and the issues that mattered most to the African American community. In fact, it’s generally gotten worse. But the presence of Black faces on the screen created the illusion that television’s news content was now friendlier, and more relevant, to Blacks.

Lots of Black folks are still playing that face-counting game, and for them, MSNBC’s decision to put Al Sharpton out front at 6pm is a sign of Black progress, maybe even a kind of coup. Look at Reverend Al! He used to take it to the streets to challenge authority, and now he’s the authority, holding down a prime-time spot. That must be good for Black people, right?

Wrong. MSNBC’s choice of Sharpton over the leftish young Turkish American Jenk Uygur is a net loss for everyone outside the orbits of power. Al Sharpton is President Obama’s paid pit bull, whose main mission is to maul and mangle any Black politicians and activists that might consider leaving the Obama reservation. He has beenbankrolled by billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is running Black and brown folks out of the Big Apple as fast as hyper-gentrification will allow. Sharpton – always buyable and never trustworthy – has completed his biggest deal yet with Power, Wall Street power, and the power of a White House that serves Wall Street. He is nestled in the bosom of the rulers, and will savage anyone that tries to mess with his sugar daddies: Obama and Bloomberg.

MSNBC’s choice of Sharpton over the leftish young Turkish American Jenk You-gur is a net loss for everyone outside the orbits of power.”

So, how do Black people, or anyone else seeking to understand reality, benefit from having Obama’s pit bull and Mayor Bloomberg’s pet taking up space on the MSNBC set, every night? Who will be better off when Rev. Al hosts Obama administration officials, or even the president, on his show? Rev. Al is not going to put forward any questions worth asking – that would violate the terms of his service to Obama and Wall Street. No, all we will get from Sharpton is a demand that Blacks build a “wall” around Obama to keep him safe and secure in the White House for another term – no matter how much of the social safety net he signs away forever.

The young Turkish American host, Jenk Uygur, showed that he could be counted on to confront the Obama administration on questions of policy. That’s why he was replaced by the mercenary, Al Sharpton.

So, we will have our Black face at 6pm. Some African Americans think what’s most important is to have Black role models on TV, for the sake of the children. That’s what’s so scary: Al Sharpton, the eminently buyable man, a role model for Black kids. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendarport.com.

Direct download: 20110727_gf_SharptonMSNBC.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:15am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

What can President Obama do to show that he cares, just a little bit, about Black Americans? Since he has done nothing so far in his term, a good a place as any would be to free political prisoners, many of whom have been held for three and four decades. Black lawyers “are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD).”

 

Political Prisoners? Black Lawyers Say Obama Could Free ‘Em All

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

This call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other.”

With their call this week for president Obama to free all political prisoners the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) have given him yet one more opportunity to actually address a specific concern of many Black and other well-meaning people around the world. And he might as well because, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has written recently, Obama hasn’t done much else for Black America since assuming office.

Instead of championing or even making plain by highlighting and careful simple explanation the plights of Black Americans, Obama is instead only reapplying a very old strategy of preparing a base support of voters. Deploying a national propaganda campaign reminiscent of the early 20th century Creel Commission, Obama has Michael Blake, as he says himself, “crisscrossing the country… taking our stories directly to people about how the African-American community is benefiting from the Obama administration... For those who say we don't have a Black agenda,” continues Blake, “I would challenge them and ask, 'How are our policies not helping the African-American community?”

Well, Ms. Taylor provides as succinct an answer to anyone not living it or not able to look out their own windows. Black adult men are suffering the highest rate of unemployment ever measured, 43%. Twenty-six percent of the Black population lives beneath the poverty line, a line already set so low as to hide how bad it really is. For a family of 4 with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term. These are so-called “Third World” conditions. Besides, as Taylor reminds us, 8% of African America has lost their homes and 21% more are in “imminent” danger of being next. And since, as Ms. Taylor also notes, there has been no real follow up to organize and mobilize by the Obamaton community of liberal leadership many other severe concerns continue to go unaddressed.

For a family of four with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term.”

Among these include the repressive levels of incarceration and the continued political imprisonment of dozens of movement heroines and heroes. So this call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other. These lawyers are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD). In part and in short this would mean releasing political prisoners who, though not recognized as such, have been demonstrated to have suffered incarceration largely due to the unjust and illegal practices of the FBI and their Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). This systematic and illegal attack on Black activists and those in support of Black liberation now has dozens held in anti-human conditions. Having been there more than three and four decades they are elderly and deserving of relative freedom.

Two new books are either out already or soon to come. One is Marshall Law by Marshall Eddie Conway and the other is Love and Struggle by David Gilbert. These are to be added to existing works on or about political prisoners such as Safiya Bukhari’s The War Before, Jalil Muntaquim’s We Are Our Own Liberatorsand the many works of Mumia Abu-Jamal among others and made the centerpiece of symposia, study groups and classrooms so that we may turn them into living documents of political organization and platform agenda items.

So while many continue to say that Obama is not the president of Black people he can still be challenged to amend his nation’s mistakes on behalf of the Black Americans still at least nominally held as citizens. He has done so little. These political prisoners certainly deserve their release, we certainly deserve them back in our communities and the world deserves to know that if they are not freed that all words emanating from this country regarding human rights are as baseless as the claims it makes to freedom and democracy.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com

Dr. Jared A. Ball is author of the newly released I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). All proceeds from the book go to support political prisoners. More information can be found online at: IMixWhatILike.com.

Direct download: 20110525_jb_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:18am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Public education’s corporate enemies – Democrat and Republican – now wage open warfare against teachers unions, seeking to strip them of collective bargaining rights. But that’s just the beginning. “The billionaires, and the politicians they have purchased, want nothing less than to destroy teaching as a profession.” In the ideal corporate world, most teachers would have the status of temps.

 

The Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Under the guise of ‘reform,’ the United States is moving in exactly the opposite direction as the rest of the world.”

As Democrats hustle to shovel a billion dollars into President Obama’s campaign coffers – making promises to rich people and their corporations every step of the way – America’s billionaires are spending even more money to seize control of the nation’s public schools. Although super-wealthy capitalists like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, fellow computer mogul Michael Dell, real estate magnate Eli Broad, and the rapacious owners of Wal-Mart, the Walton Family, would like people to think of them as philanthropists, they are nothing more than down-and-dirty investors who hope to reap much more than they sow. This mega-buck mafia's goal is to gain access to the $600 billion per year that taxpayers pump into public schools, and then to profit in perpetuity by shaping the nation’s educational system to their corporate needs. The corporate education project has nothing to do with growing new generations of smarter, socially aware, independent-thinking citizens, but is designed to raid public treasuries through wholesale contracting-out of public schooling.

This mega-buck mafia's goal is to gain access to the $600 billion per year that taxpayers pump into public schools.”

Teachers are the biggest obstacle in the way of the corporate educational coup, which is why the billionaires, eagerly assisted by their servants in the Obama administration, have made demonization and eventual destruction of teachers unions their top priority. Corporations hate collective bargaining, or working people’s power of any kind, but their vision goes way beyond simply neutralizing teachers unions. The billionaires, and the politicians they have purchased, want nothing less than to destroy teaching as a profession. Plutocrats like Bill Gates and politicians like Barack Obama may make noises about respecting teachers' life-long commitment to learning, but their actions prove the opposite. At every opportunity, whenever a real or manufactured educational crisis presents itself, the corporate gang champions charter schools and imports platoons of young, mostly white, inexperienced rookies from programs like Teach for America. Most of these neophytes have no intention of making teaching a career, so they accept low wages, turnover is high, and they have no long term interest in any particular school, or school system, or the profession in general. They are temporary teachers – which is precisely the point.

Just as corporations have revamped the private white collar workforce, replacing full-time, salaried personnel with “temporary” workers – a system in which some managers are officially temps – such are the prospects for teachers in the brave new corporate world of education “reform.”

The billionaires' propaganda machinery claims the corporatization of American education is necessary to make the United States “competitive,” internationally. But teachers in most of the countries that lead the U.S. in learning are highly respected, if not revered, and relatively well compensated. Under the guise of “reform,” the United States is moving in exactly the opposite direction as the rest of the world. The American people are being conned by billionaire hustlers who are stealing the public schools – and the national future – right in front of our eyes.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20110525_gf_TempTeachers.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:03am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If American economic hegemony crumbles, so must U.S. imperialism. An IMF report predicts Chinese economy will surpass that of the U.S. in just five years, based on the value of goods and services produced. After the eclipse, all that will remain of U.S. imperial power is its awesome military – the power to destroy a world it can no longer dominate by other means.

 

China to Become Economic #1 in 2016: U.S. Imperialism Doomed

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

At or around the year 2016 the United States will fall from the economic pinnacle it has occupied since the late 1890s.”

The end of U.S. economic hegemony in the world is near – much nearer than almost anyone thought. No less an authority than the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund predicts that China will outstrip the United States by the year 2016, when measured by the real value of what people earn and spend in their domestic economies. It’s called “purchasing power parities,” and under that measure – which is as good as any – China’s economy will outgrow the U.S. in five years, $19 trillion compared to $18.8 trillion. And the gap will continue to grow, from there.

Imagine: most of us alive today will see a watershed in modern civilization. At or around the year 2016, unless something wholly unforeseen occurs, the United States will fall from the economic pinnacle it has occupied since the late 1890s. Much more importantly, the bell will have tolled, definitively, for U.S. imperialism.

This is a subject that is separate from the question of capitalism’s continued survival as a social system in the U.S. or elsewhere on the planet. It is about U.S. empire. However one describes the Chinese system, it is not the twin of U.S. imperialism, which has maintained its supremacy through the rigging of world markets, the artificial supremacy of the U.S. dollar, and most importantly, the coercive force of its military – all of which are interrelated. U.S. imperialism seeks to entrap the world economy, to put it in service of finance capital, largely headquartered in New York and London. The Chinese system is fueled by relentless production of actual goods.

For some on Wall Street and in the Pentagon, the economic news is a signal for massive, preemptive military action.”

The U.S. and European imperialists, in one sense, dug their own graves decades ago, when they gambled that they could somehow maintain their grip on the world, while transferring the production of real goods, actual products, to the south and the east of the planet, through corporate globalization. They methodically dismantled the productive capacity of what had been the world's powerhouse, the United States, in search of ever lower labor costs in what we used to call the Third World. The outsourcing of actual production to the east and south meant higher rates of return – profits – on investors' dollars. Detroit and Pittsburgh and Chicago withered and rusted away, while Wall Street became economically and politically all-powerful.

Wall Street thought it could remain in the global catbird seat through its financial supremacy, backed up by an irresistible military. But especially since the meltdown of 2008, Wall Street has turned pure parasite All that now remains of U.S. imperial power is its military, more expensive than all the other militaries of the world, combined – in some ways, as much a burden as a weapon.

The Chinese do not spend even one-fifth the U.S. war budget, but will soon have an economy that is leaving the Americans in the dust. For some on Wall Street and in the Pentagon, the economic news is a signal for massive, preemptive military action, before the whole imperial edifice collapses. These are people who cannot envision a world in which they are not on top. They will not go down quietly. We are in, as the Chinese say, “interesting times.” The empire may not choose to go out in twilight, but in an inferno.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20110427_gf_ChinaEconomy.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:35am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The "One Nation" pep rally for Democrats wrapped itself in "movement" images and language, yet never spoke a word of Truth to Power. "Only by pretending that the Tea Party's legions are equivalent to the second coming of Genghis Khan, can Big Labor and Black Obamites justify their abject failure to fight for anything meaningful from Obama and the Democrats."

Ignominious Surrender on the Mall

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The weekend bus outing bore no resemblance to a 'movement' of any kind that Chicago's Mayor Daley would not approve."

The Black misleadership class and their labor counterparts held a ceremony of surrender to the War Party and Wall Street, on the Washington Mall, this past weekend. After spending millions to assemble a multitude, Big Labor, the NAACP and the usual Black entertainers - Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - could not fix their trembling lips to utter one demand to the Power in the White House, whose disfavor they fear even more than they dread the white nationalist hordes of the Tea Party.

Despite the constant references to Dr. Martin Luther King and the 1963 March on Washington, the weekend bus outing bore no resemblance to a "movement" of any kind that Chicago's Mayor Daley would not approve. Rather than building a popular platform to give voice to substantive demands - that Obama cease acting as Wall Street's philanthropist, call a halt to his wars, and spend the peace dividend on jobs and education - the weak and timid misleaders instead used October 2nd to transmit Power's demands to the people. Vote for the Democrats! And under no circumstances, embarrass the White House! Then, after November 2, go home and await further orders.

The Black and labor misleaders have found that the best way to hide their own cowardice in the face of corporate power and its servants in the White House and Congress, is to vastly inflate the threat posed by the Tea Party. Indeed, the Tea Party has never had bigger boosters than the men and women on the microphone at the Mall on Saturday.  Only by pretending that the Tea Party's legions are equivalent to the second coming of Genghis Khan, can Big Labor and Black Obamites justify their abject failure to fight for anything meaningful from Obama and the Democrats.

"Big Labor, the NAACP and the usual Black entertainers - Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - could not fix their trembling lips to utter one demand to the Power in the White House."

The truth is, a real people's movement could defeat the phony Tea Party "movement" and put fear in the hearts of corporate Democrats, too. But Saturday's charade was no threat to anyone, and all but guarantees a further strengthening of the Right through a bolder Tea Party and ever growing corporate domination of the Democratic Party.

With all its ostentatious, nervous patriotism and silly yammering about how Saturday's crowd was just as "American," if not more so, than the Tea Party, the "One Nation" event felt, in some ways, like a throwback to the days when Negroes were obsessed with proving to whites that they were also true blue for Uncle Sam. Ironically, one of the oldest speakers provided the only dignity to the occasion. Eighty-three year-old Harry Belafonte, alone among the main speakers, confronted President Obama directly on his wars. The famed entertainer, who spent freely of his own money to fund the Black Freedom Movement when it really was a movement, hoped that America "will soon come to the realization that the wars that we wage today in faraway lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable."

That's as close to speaking Truth to Power as Saturday's event got - except for those of us Lefties who went down to show that the movement was not yet dead. Unfortunately, our impact was minimal amid a sea of bodies bussed in with no mission other than to serve Barack Obama. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20101006_gf_ObamaRally.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:04am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Black Is Back Coalition's second march on the White House, November 13, signals that "a critical mass of activists and organizers are determined to push on to freedom, by any and all means necessary, no matter what the color of the war monger and corporate front man in the White House."

 Black Is Back: Let's March on White House Again, Nov. 13

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"On November 13, the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will once again rally in Washington, DC and march to the White House, just as we did in our hundreds in our first march in November of last year."

As the Black misleadership class sinks deeper into servility to a president wholly beholden to Wall Street and the Pentagon, it becomes ever more imperative to send a message to our own people and to the wider world: Barack Obama does not have all Black folks fooled. There still exist principled African American organizations and individuals that every day struggle against the forces of war and oppression. On November 13, the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will once again rally in Washington, DC and march to the White House, just as we did in our hundreds in our first march in November of last year. Back then, Black Is Back was only a few weeks old, but we proved that ObamaL'aide has not knocked the fight out of the real Black Left; that a critical mass of activists and organizers are determined to push on to freedom, by any and all means necessary, no matter what the color of the war monger and corporate front man in the White House.

In the year since the Black is Back Coalition appeared on the scene, Barack Obama has escalated his theater of war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, widened the war in Yemen, and stepped up the slaughter of innocents in Somalia. He has deepened the U.S. Africa Command - AFRICOM's - penetration of the continent and militarization of African society. Obama followed up his coup against a democratically elected government in Honduras with last week's attempted coup in Ecuador, as he tries to roll back Latin America's drive to free itself from U.S. imperial domination.

"ObamaL'aide has not knocked the fight out of the real Black Left."

President Obama now proclaims he has the authority to mark anyone on the planet for assassination, including American citizens, and that he owes no one an explanation why - not the courts, not the Congress, not the people, not the victim. Obama has instructed his Justice Department to launch a 21st century kind of COINTELPRO assault on the anti-war movement, through FBI raids and abuse of the grand jury system. We a Black Is Back understand that whenever the State sets out to crush dissent, it is inevitably Black folks that will bear the brunt of repression. Yet, the presence of a Black man in the White House threatens to obscure the Nazi-like nature of the government's increasing attacks on constitutional, civil and human rights.

Obama's alliances with Wall Street have resulted in the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the mankind, while his policies have led to the largest Black loss of wealth in the entire experience of Africans on the North American continent. African Americans make up one out of eight prisoners on the planet Earth, and that's just fine with the first Black U.S. president.

The Black is Back Coalition understands that he who is struck must be the first to cry out, that no one can be expected to speak up for us, but us. We also realize that the very existence of Black Is Back makes it less difficult for non-Black progressives to stand up to this president.

So stand up with the Black Is Back Coalition, on November 13, when we rally at Malcolm X Park and march on the White House. Go to the Black Is Back web site, for more information. That's www.blackisbackcoalition.org. On November 13, Black Is Back! For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at .Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

Direct download: 20101006_gf_BiBMarch.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:54am EDT

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by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

The political exercise at the Washington Mall on October 2 “held out no real challenge to power” and was, therefore, of no use to the powerless. “What is being heralded as a largely successful mobilization of a young, energetic, diverse movement led by unionized labor and civil rights organizations was really a carefully manicured slap in the face of those traditions of struggle.”

 

No Groove, Just One Nation Under a Grip

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

This grip of the Democrats is no soft hold. It is a death grip.”

A rally for jobs, justice and education that occurs only two years after the election of a president and party who apparently cannot deliver either and which blames not the party in power for those two years but only the fringe elements of the out-of-power right wing, is a rally that even with a George Clinton performance is One Nation under no groove only a grip. And this grip of the Democrats is no soft hold. It is a death grip. It is a strangle hold designed to squeeze the life out of progressive elements within their own party and throughout the rest of the country – indeed the world. In what is being heralded as a largely successful mobilization of a young, energetic, diverse movement led by unionized labor and civil rights organizations was really a carefully manicured slap in the face of those traditions of struggle. Rather than the traditions of each, which include bold, strong irreverent organized acts of disobedience today’s versions are safely cajoled spokespersons of the liberal element of the ruling elite.

For those who have been coming to Washington, DC for decades to attend these kinds of rallies there was absolutely nothing new. First and foremost is that it was yet another march in DC that had nothing to do with the immediate concerns of most of the residents of DC. Secondly, there were the same tributes to organized religion, pledges of allegiance to the United States and a choir-styled national anthem meant to convey a fraudulent grassroots image and inclusion of the Black working class. But mostly it was the same in that it held out no real challenge to power, no threat of a push against liberalism or conservative Democratery. There were the regular co-opted calls of “power to the people,” quotes referencing A. Phillip Randolph’s that enemies of health care, education and jobs are “enemies of the Negro,” comparisons made between the Tea Party and the old Dixiecrats and even an extended reading by several young people of Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech. But there was only scant reference of King’s own disillusion with his dream or the fact that the Dixiecrats of old are the Democrats of today and that these are still the “enemies of the Negro.”

A banker’s party is a banker’s party no matter the color or gender of the candidate.”

But worst of all was the consistent and clear message that the problems we face today are the result of “40 senators” and a rabid right-wing of the country whose persistent responses of “no” have held back our innocent, even heroic, current president. The calls for jobs, peace, health care and education were simply hollow given that the president all of these people elected has done nothing to advance any of these issues in ways that did not more so advance the interests of the very entities who benefit by the currently horrible conditions of each. The proud traditions of labor and human rights struggles in this country and around the world are disrespected by a leadership that simply says to vote for the Democrat who will beautify our oppression rather than end it. The argument coming loud and clear from the podium Saturday was simply that if you don’t again vote for the Democrats and Obama then there was no point in having voted for them in the first place. There was no point then and there is no point now. A banker’s party is a banker’s party no matter the color or gender of the candidate.

There was one white man I heard this weekend who seems to have not completely lost his mind. David Swanson of the Progressive Democrats of America actually called for us to devalue the role of elections and the presidency itself by massive, even disruptive civil disobedience and grassroots organization. He is absolutely correct. Calls that we vote specifically because of the lives given toward achieving that right usually miss the point of what those fighting for the vote actually wanted that exercise to deliver. Marches that only belatedly call for the elected to deliver that which their benefactors have assured they cannot are simply foolishness. New directions with newly-developed methods of popular and public challenges are needed.

For in the end Dick Gregory was right. By consistently voting for the lesser of evil and by never seeking the truth about the assassinations of people we march in honor of we follow the path that leads us to Nazis.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Visit us online at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

 

Direct download: 20101005_jb_onenation.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:47am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Newly enacted law forbids New York City police from keeping records on the hundreds of thousands of people they stop and frisk on the street - unless the stops result in summons or arrest. Not only is there  "no enforcement mechanism to make sure the cops obey the law," but the "reform" may result in more arrests, while failing to diminish the massive stops.
 
Do Not Exaggerate Victory in New York Stop and Frisk Law
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The new prohibition against keeping records on those who are not charged is likely to encourage cops to become even more aggressive in their stop and frisks."
A small victory was gained, recently, in New York City, in the mostly losing battle against the methodical construction of a police state in Black America. And, although even small victories should be celebrated, one should not get carried away.
Earlier this month, the New York State legislature passed, and Gov. David Paterson signed, a bill that would prevent police from using and keeping personal information gained in most of the nearly three million stop and frisks in New York City since 2004. Ninety percent of those stopped are non-white, and all but a small fraction have done nothing wrong, but the police department and the billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, claimed the fight against crime required that they keep the data on everyone who got caught up in their police dragnets. When lawmakers demanded to know how keeping records on the innocent is a legitimate crime-fighting tool, the cops came up with few, if any, convincing examples. But, of course, the logic of a police state is to keep records on everybody and, in a racist society, that means hyper-surveillance of Blacks and browns. The cops lost that argument.
But that doesn't mean the police lost the war that they wage daily against people of color on the streets of New York. Last week, the Amsterdam News, a local Black newspaper, asked Gov. Paterson how we could be sure that the police were actually going to throw away the data on the innocent people stopped by police - about half a million instances last year, alone. The governor replied that no had had ever asked him that question. He clearly didn't have an answer, and said he "would assume that police would comply." That's one hell of an assumption! The fact is, the legislation has no enforcement mechanism to make sure the cops obey the law. In the end, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights will likely wind up going back into court to ensure compliance.
"The whole stop and frisk regime has to go."
Remember, the massive stop and frisk practice remains in place. It is designed to create an environment of fear and intimidation in Black and brown New York. It tells non-whites that the cops can reach out and touch you any time they choose, for any fictitious reason they conjure up. It is built on a foundation of police lies about "suspicious" behavior - which is why the vast majority of those stopped are let go. The internal logic of the scheme is such that, the new prohibition against keeping records on those who are not charged is likely to encourage cops to become even more aggressive in their stop and frisks, to become even more physically and verbally provocative and then charge people with resisting police - to make up more lies in order to justify an arrest, which would allow them to legally use the data.
I can hear the police shift commanders now, urging their troops to make more arrests - not just stops.
So, here we have a small victory, for a small reform, that could potentially aggravate the larger crime: the daily denial of basic constitutional rights to the Black and brown people of New York.
The whole stop and frisk regime has to go. It is the cornerstone of a racist police state, and the intake valve of Black mass incarceration.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100728_gf_Frisk.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
Even the NAACP's language oozes weakness. "No longer are we even 'hoodwinked,' or 'bamboozled.' No, just 'snookered.' "I suppose its the difference between being outwitted and being without wit at all."
 
"Snookered" by Liberalism
by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"The NAACP makes deals with super predator Wells Fargo, accepts Obama's absence of a Black Agenda and then is "snookered" by an already-exposed media fraud into condemning Sherrod."
When discussing the case of Shirley Sherrod we cannot forget that the true culprit is an endemic political liberalism.  It is not the Right or the conservatives at Fox News.  It is not the Tea Party or its media punditry and it is certainly not some right-wing operative who keeps doctoring videos.  It is a soft reformist liberal politics that is to blame.  Sherrod is yet another in a procession of reasons to be disgusted by the absolute weakness of President Obama, the Democratic Party, civil rights leaders and of liberalism itself.  This is what was ultimately behind yet another Black woman being publicly scorned, forcibly removed from rightful position and blamed for all that is wrong in the world.  It is a liberalism that has long frustrated true progressives. 
It is why Malcolm warned of the liberal fox and King described the racial solidarity that often resulted in the liberal "walking off" with the aggressor.  And it is why Stokely called the white liberal the "weakest" element of their community whose only real purpose was to stem a more revolutionary tide.  It is this self-fulfilling liberalism, a loyal opposition liberalism, that produced the conditions in which Sherrod would be condemned.  Of course, it is this same liberalism which made Sherrod possible, which made Obama possible and makes the Black liberalism which supports them both; the Black liberalism which is the most vile of white supremacist production.
In the military we were told that "stuff" rolls down hill.  This meant that bad orders started at the top, picked up steam, while increasing in size and severity of impact, all culminating in a horrible crash upon those at the bottom.  And in a white supremacist, capitalistic and patriarchal society Black women quite naturally are that proverbial bottom upon which all society's ills fall the hardest.  Shirley Sherrod was ultimately ordered to the side of the road, told to resign and forced to pay a public and private price because of the "stuff" which formed at the top.  It formed in the failure among us to reignite more radical movements which allowed Obama to eventually be seen as progress.  It is Obama's condemnation of Reverend Wright; his refusal to attend the World Conference Against Racism; his lack of any meaningful commentary on Sean Bell; his backing down to a white cop and to an institution that routinely brutalizes Black people which ultimately supports the killing of Oscar Grant and now James Rivera, another 15 year old Black child killed this week by police.
"Sherrod is yet another in a procession of reasons to be disgusted by the absolute weakness of President Obama, the Democratic Party, civil rights leaders and of liberalism itself."
From there the "stuff" continues to roll.  The NAACP makes deals with super predator Wells Fargo, accepts Obama's absence of a Black Agenda and then is "snookered" by an already-exposed media fraud into condemning Sherrod.  Taking their cue from the president, who takes his own from the most liberal economic and politic elite, they offer a trifling apology for what only occurred because of this fundamental liberalism.  And isn't the depth of this pitiful liberalism voiced by its own language?  What organization can be popular, powerful and Black with leadership that not only can be so easily "snookered," but then says out of its mouth that it has been "snookered!?!"  No longer are we even "hoodwinked," or "bamboozled."  You know, tricked but strongly tricked.  I suppose its the difference between being outwitted and being without wit at all.  We can't even be the more 21st century "pimped."  That's how soft we've become.  Now we are "snookered."
Liberalism is our greatest problem.  Not the Right, not the conservative media and not even lunatics on television who seemingly can topple a Black president and the most revered civil rights organization.  It is by not pressing a more sustained, public and vigorous response to the ravages of racism in this country that liberalism has allowed for this, yet another demonstration of weakness.
Having mentioned one Revered Wright felled by liberalism let me close with the words of another Reverend Wright who warned of that very dangerous liberal tendency almost 200 years ago.  In 1837 Reverend Theodore Wright made a challenge to the liberal Abolitionists of his day saying, "I fear not all the machination, calumny and opposition of slaveholders, when contrasted with the annexation of men whose hearts have not been deeply imbued with [the] high and holy principles [of racial equality].... remember this prejudice must be killed or slavery will never be abolished."
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Direct download: 20100727_jb_sherrod.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:43pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The White House has reached new lows in evading responsibility for Obama's wars. In the wake of the recent WikiLeaks, administration minions now distance the president from the conduct of the Afghan war prior to December, 2009 - eleven months into office. "It is as if White House minions think that all President Obama need do to absolve himself from the crimes of his wars, is to announce a 'new strategy.'"
 
WikiLeaks Documents Expose Obama's Brutal Afghan War, White House Blames the Messengers
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"The Obama crew is behaving both more cowardly and more cynically than their Republican predecessors in the White House."
Barack Obama and his handlers think they are magicians, that they can somehow snap their fingers and separate the president from the wars he has embraced and expanded. In attempting to distance Commander-in-Chief Obama from his own wars - the sordid details of which are contained in 90,000 pages of documents released by WikiLeaks - the Obama crew is behaving both more cowardly and more cynically than their Republican predecessors in the White House. The Bush men were barbaric racists, crude cowboys whose naked American hyper-nationalism, and gross disdain for and ignorance of everyone one else on the planet was ultimately too heavy a burden for the empire to bear. They had to go, in order for the empire to live.
George Bush - and, especially, former Vice President Dick Cheney - never denied ownership of their ghastly wars. They were proud of having unleashed hell on Earth, having devoted every waking hour to the project since at least September 11th, 2001. Bush and Cheney and the rest are certainly war criminals deserving the most extreme punishments sanctioned by civilized humanity - but they are proud and defiant criminals.
Not the Obama team, which tries to wage aggressive, imperial wars while ducking and hiding from responsibility for those wars. When the avalanche of WikiLeaks documents descended, the White House trotted out National Security Adviser James Jones, who essentially said: These papers are about somebody else's wars, not my boss, President Obama. The documents cover the period from January 2004 to December 2009 - that is, about eleven months into Obama's presidency. General Jones tries to disavow everything that happened in Afghanistan before Obama announced his "new strategy" in December of 2009. It is as if White House minions think that all President Obama need do to absolve himself from the crimes of his wars, is to announce a "new strategy." Even George Bush was not so cynical.
"Obama now disavows the first year of his own administration's conduct of the Afghanistan war."
But this behavior is typical Obama, who told his corporate and military allies early on in his campaign that he wasn't opposed to war, only to "stupid wars." He now disavows the first year of his own administration's conduct of the Afghanistan war, even though he embraced it as a "good" war and expanded it deeper into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than George Bush ever dared. Apparently, the first Obama war year is now to be considered part of Bush's "dumb war" days, and the official Obama war is now dated from December, 2009. Or so we are expected to believe.
The entire White House posture is so pitiful, it's almost funny, in a ghoulish sort of way. WikiLeaks releases a torrent of secret U.S. documents, and the White House complains that WikiLeaks should have checked with the U.S. government, first - the same people that wanted to keep the gory details of war a secret from the public. That's like an organized crime family claiming that the cops ought to get permission from the Don before digging up the buried bodies of mob victims. In this case, of course, the bodies are in the millions.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100728_gf_WikiWhiteHouse.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:43pm EDT

by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
The bad new has come hot and heavy, lately: leniency for a killer cop, a draconian sentence for a people's lawyer, no parole for political prisoners, and death. "But this is the life to which we have been consigned by the dysfunction and disarray of the movements these women and men represent."
 
A Roller Coaster Week in the Anti-Amusement Park of Radical Politics
by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"The release of one political prisoner, is horribly balanced against the exchange for another and the further entrenchment of suffering for two more amidst the loss of a father, activist and frontline progressive."
I received an email the other day from a veteran political activist.  It read, "Cynthia's pops died today, Marilyn Buck was released, Lynne Stewart got 10 years and so did Sundiata Acoli.  Herman Bell was denied parole again.  What a roller coaster."  "Cynthia's pop," is James Edwards "Billy" McKinney, a former member of the Georgia State legislature and Atlanta policeman.  McKinney, as Bruce Dixon has explained, was a cop in Atlanta "when Black police officers couldn't arrest white people."  And, of course, he was the father of former Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney.  Marilyn Buck, a white supporter of the Black Liberation Movement who was convicted for (among other things) having aided in the escape of Assata Shakur, was released after more than 25 years in prison.  But people's lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 10 years for her defense of an accused "terrorist" which some say is a death sentence given her age and health.  Black Panther and Black Liberation Movement veterans Sundiata Acoli and Herman Bell were both given 10 more years in prison and denied parole respectively.  And this is that "roller coaster."  The tiniest of good news, the release of one political prisoner, is horribly balanced against the exchange for another and the further entrenchment of suffering for two more amidst the loss of a father, activist and frontline progressive.
But this is the life to which we have been consigned by the dysfunction and disarray of the movements these women and men represent. We have said many times before that the very existence of these prisoners is proof of the incompleteness of these movements.  The mere image or thought of the politics represented by these people is deemed threatening and worthy of the worst forms of punishment, up to and including death.  Remember, it was reported that Lynne Stewart, for example, was likely given such a harsh sentence not because of her particular alleged "crime," but because she was seen by the judge as insufficiently repentant.  reporter following the case said that the judge felt compelled to his act because of comments Stewart made publicly regarding her case which he took "as evidence that she was not as remorseful as she should be and that [therefore] he should increase the sentence."
"Not any alleged act but the acknowledged ideas they represent has these and others paying such a heavy toll."
Of course many other political prisoners have had their political views be the anchor to which they are tethered behind prison walls more so than any "crime" for which they have been convicted.  In the trials of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier their involvement with the Black Panther Party and American Indian Movement respectively was introduced as a reason for their incarceration.  Jalil Muntaqim was told by the sitting judge that he and his co-defendants were seen as "prisoners of war."  Even the victim's statement given by the son of the police officer they were convicted of killing says that he forgives them for "the positions they took back then" and that Herman Bell and Muntaqim were, "both victims as well of a much larger scheme which got them incarcerated to this day."  Not any alleged act but the acknowledged ideas they represent has these and others paying such a heavy toll.
As another veteran activist tells me all the time:  "We must remember that desiring and working to be free is illegal."  This was again made obvious this past week.  And remember the condemnation to death of Stanley "Tookie" Williams by the Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005.  In it the governor was clear.  Williams was not being denied clemency because of any prior crime and certainly not as a result of his stellar behavior as a model prisoner. Schwarzenegger made clear that it was his public appreciation for other political prisoners, members of the Black Liberation Movement and, in particular, George Jackson.  The governor wrote, "But the inclusion of George Jackson on this list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems."
In other words, it was an affinity for unsanctioned ideas that secured his murder by the state.  So as we continue to support the people themselves we must also fight for the right to think without sanction of the state.  Perhaps Funkadelic was already too late when warning us to, "Think! It ain't illegal yet."
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100721_jb_Prisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:01pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

An objective reading of the data from the Pew Research Center leads to one conclusion: Black Americans are suffering cognitive delusions regarding their actual condition, brought on by the advent of a Black president. But one Black writer doesn't has a different view. He sees a leap of faith.
 
Unknown Object
Black Faith VS Black Reality in the Age of Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Every detail of data pointed to 'Obama euphoria' having unsettled lots of Black folk's brains."
Black America has been the group most devastated by the Great Recession, both in absolute and relative terms. Many of the gains of recent decades - which have not been all that dramatic to begin with - have been wiped out. So deep is the damage to Black employment, household wealth, and the viability of whole sections of cities, the data are not yet sufficient for a complete assessment. The threats posed by structural changes wrought by the two deep recessions of the 21st century, are even more disturbing.
At least, such facts should be deeply disturbing. The fate of African American generations to come will hinge on the contemporary Black political response to economic and political crisis. But the results of polling by the authoritative Pew Research Center shows that Blacks claim to be the least disturbed of any demographic group at the state of the economy - despite having suffered the most. There was absolutely no doubt that Black people's ability to assess their own and their neighbor's actual economic situation had been severely compromised by the election of the first Black president. Every detail of data pointed to "Obama euphoria" having unsettled lots of Black folk's brains, way beyond Election Day.
We published two commentaries on the Pew polls, this year, one on January 20 and another last week. The January piece was titled, "Living a Black Fantasy: The Obama Delirium Effect." In it, we concluded that "ObamaL'aid is a mind-altering substance, a hallucinogen" that also "behaves like an opiate, blocking out pain." The July 7 July 14 piece was titled, "First Black Presidency Has Driven Many African Americans Insane." I wrote that "a large segment of Black America became disconnected from reality... rendered incompetent and politically useless to themselves and their families by the mere existence of a Black president."
"This is not about Sam Cooke singing, 'A Change Gonna Come.'"
Last week, Lee A. Daniels, Director of Communications for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, published an article on the organization's website, TheDefendersOnline, that  had an entirely different take on the Pew polls. Blacks were not responding irrationally to the economic crisis, said Daniels. Instead, he said, "The gateway to understanding the optimism blacks feel even in the face of an alarming deterioration of their economic position can be put in one word: Faith." Blacks' "profound experience with economic adversity" has required faith to overcome, and this is just another such episode.
But of course, the Pew data deal with much more than simple optimism. This is not about Sam Cooke singing, "A Change Gonna Come." The data show that large chunks of Black America believe that Blacks are better off economically today than ten years ago, although the opposite is true. We are not talking about hopes for the future, but a grasp of reality in the present. Lee Daniels comes close to sounding like those white racists who justify keeping Blacks in poverty because Blacks have, supposedly, been conditioned to it. It also reminds me of a quote from Harriet Tubman, who emancipated hundreds of slaves. "AnchorAnchorI could have freed more," she said, "if they knew they were slaves."
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20100714_gf_Faith.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:20am EDT

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
Post-racialism and race neutrality are fantasies; the Oscar Grant killing and trial, and the Black reaction to the verdict, are real. And so is the pervasive rage that is a characteristic - a "property" - of being Black in America.
 
The Oscar Grant Verdict: A Rage In Black America
by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
"It is this being Black in America, which as a matter of national state policy, defines Black people, limits Black people, oppresses Black people, that consciously or not draws the deepest ire from Black people."
There is a rage in Black America.  It is righteous.  It is justified.  It is unrequited.  It is a rage at being Black in America that has existed ever since there has been Black in America.  After hearing of the pitifully soft verdict handed down by the all white jury in the Oscar Grant murder trial I thought again of this rage.  And I remembered reading a few years ago one scholar's survey of Black history and his being intrigued by "the extent to which African Americans have fantasized about political violence - specifically, violent revolt" as a matter of political "instrument" or "catharsis."  He surveyed a swath of Black writing which in poem, novel or political statement included many references to what some Europeans have called "divine violence."  Frederick Douglas, DuBois, Langston Hughes, Ida B. Wells, Robert Williams, Sonya Sanchez and Jeru the Damaja were all referenced as having at one time or another, in one way or another, described acts of violence as just, even necessary.  He quoted Nikki Giovanni's lines, "What can I, a poor black woman do to destroy America? This is the question, with appropriate variations, being asked in every black heart. There is one answer-I can kill. There is one compromise-I can protect those who kill. There is one cop-out-I can encourage others to kill. There are no other ways."
I remember being at a hip-hop show featuring Dead Prez and Rebel Diaz where it was first announced that Lovelle Mixon had killed 4 cops in Oakland California.  I remember how it was reported and received as a response to Oscar Grant's killing and how this brought the very diverse crowd to increased heights of rebellious exuberance.  I saw this fervor again on display again in the pre-verdict documentary on Grant Operation Small Axe featuring Oakland's grassroots embedded journalist JR of Block Report Radio.  I see it in the post-verdict reports and online videos.  And I saw it again at a recent showing of Small Axe in Washington, D.C.  A crowd had gathered to watch the documentary which happened to coincide with the verdict coming down and the post-screening discussion went immediately to these feelings of rage and those fantasies of violent revolt.
"Black writing contains many references to what some Europeans have called 'divine violence.'"
This rage even carried most in the room to almost happily accept the powerful contradiction raised by a sister who drew attention to the fact that while many were respectful of Mixon's act few seemed to know or be concerned with the fact that he was suspected of several rapes of young women and girls in the community.  This was why the police were after him in the first place.  It was similar to the contradiction raised at a recent rally for Aiyanna Jones in Detroit where another sister drew attention to the fact that too many are angry at the police when Black men kill far more Black people than law enforcement.
But these apparent contradictions are, to me at least, explained by the fundamental rage at being Black in America.  It is this being Black in America, which as a matter of national state policy, defines Black people, limits Black people, oppresses Black people, that consciously or not draws the deepest ire from Black people.  None were excusing rape or murder committed by Black people.  But none were forgetting the fundamentality of our rage against the very nature of the state's relationship to Black people.  Malcolm X once said that simply being Black in America "radicalizes you."  We hope so because it certainly does continue to enrage.
And in just a clip of our Brother Amari's brilliant remake of Scott-Heron's Whitey on the Moon we continue to hear that rage in the face of popular contradictions: "Up Lovelle Mixon! Up Mark Essex!
 Up the mighty BPP! Understand white justice is a lie. And appeals won't get us free.
So while we sit and shout and complain and cry.
For something we'll never see. Just remember this one last thing:
Lebron is headed to Miami."
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100715_jb_black_rage.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:08am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Having transferred trillions of public treasure for the sake of Wall Street's health, Obama now picks up where George Bush left off on Social Security. Obama's deficit commission is pre-programmed to assault the last vestiges of the social safety net. The president "is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw down their arms in surrender without the dignity of a fight."
 
Obama Can't Say "No" to the Rich
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs."
Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office, in January of 2009, he promised to put all of the so-called "entitlement" programs "on the table," for cutting. There was no reason to doubt that Obama really planned to go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other programs despised by the rich. After all, he had just been elected to a four-year term in a landslide and was, therefore, as secure as any politician can be. Obama was telling everyone who cared to listen that he was would certainly not stand in the way of gutting what's left of the American social safety net. Rather, Obama was telling Big Business that he agreed with them, that the poor and the elderly were sucking up too much of the nation's wealth, and there must be a day of reckoning.
The new president immediately started the clock ticking on Social Security and other entitlements by scheduling a so-called "deficit summit" for later in 2009. But it was not yet the time for a full-court-press on poor and elderly people's programs. First, Obama needed to shore up the finances of the Wall Street bankers that were among his earliest and most generous supporters. The bank bailout was priority number one, to be followed by a farcical health care bill designed to funnel trillions to the insurance and drug industries. A frontal attack on Social Security would have to wait a year or so. It would not do for Obama to join with Republicans in stealing from the old and the poor at the exact same moment they were bailing out the filthy rich. But, once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs.
"Obama's so-called 'deficit commission' is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security."
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House who was once the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, pretended back in January of 2009 that she hadn't heard Obama when he said "everything" was "on the table" for cutting - except, of course, the military, which is immune no matter how high the deficit. "The only thing we didn't want to put on the table," she said, "is eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
In April of this year, Obama once again reminded everyone that everything is and has always been "on the table," as far as he's concerned, including Social Security. His so-called "deficit commission" is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security. It is a battle that safety net defenders thought they had won against George Bush. Barack Obama has picked up Bush's marbles and put them back into play. He is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw down their arms in surrender without the dignity of a fight. Obama, working in plain sight over the past 18 months, has constructed and rigged a deficit commission to render a kind of death sentence to the foundational program of Roosevelt's New Deal.
Obama will pretend that circumstances and Republicans are forcing him to call for austerity. But that's a lie; he came in singing the GOP's song, and is behaving precisely as one would expect from a center-right administration. Obama is in his ideal element, constantly saying "yes" to the Party of "no."
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 


Direct download: 20100714_gf_Deficit.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:46am EDT

An Interview with Omali Yeshitela

With the African People’s Socialist Party 5th Congress set for Washington, DC, July 10th-14th, BAR executive editor Glen Ford spoke with the APSP’s chairman, Omali Yeshitela. “Our people are slowly beginning to awaken to the fact that President Obama does not represent us,” said Yeshitela. “The awe of the state has worn off, and desperation is pushing the people.”

More information on the APSP is available at their web site.

Length of interview: 10:48.

Direct download: 20100707_O_YeshitelaAPSP.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:23pm EDT


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A section of Black America has lost their minds – literally – unable to make contact with reality since November 2008. Despite the horrific and disproportionate damage suffered by Blacks in the Great Recession, a psychologically impaired group of African Americans believes they are better off than before the recession began, and that the future is bright. When Obama entered, their powers of reason exited.

 

Unknown Object

First Black Presidency Has Driven Many African Americans Insane

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The psychological harm done to Black people by Obama’s presidency may be even greater than the economic and political damage.”

When debating Black supporters of President Obama, there often comes a point where even the most fervent Obamites can find no coherent defense for the president’s pro-Wall Street and militaristic policies, when his refusal to even consider race-targeted solutions to race-based problems becomes simply indefensible. Typically, at that point, the Obama supporter will play the psychological card. The advent of the First Black President, they say, has been of incalculable psychological benefit to Black people, especially to Black children, who can now project themselves into an infinity of possibilities because a Black family is in the White House. Hallelujah!

This psychological argument is the Obamite’s last bastion of defense, especially the “What about the children?” trump card. Yet there is mounting and disturbing evidence that the psychological harm done to Black people by Obama’s presidency may be even greater than the economic and political damage. Barack Obama’s presidency is driving millions of African Americans insane – stone, cold out of their minds.

The insanity is documented in the Pew Research Center’s recent report, “How the Great Recession Has Changed Life in America,” which shows that Black America, the group that has been the most damaged, by far, in the Great Recession, is also the most enthusiastic about the state of the economy. Twenty-five percent of Blacks tell pollsters that the economy is doing good or excellent; that’s almost twice as high as the number of whites that think so – even though Black unemployment is about twice that of whites. Eighty-one percent of Blacks say America is still a land of prosperity, while only 59 percent of whites think that way, even though Blacks make only 61 cents for every white dollar earned, the same as 30 years ago.

Nearly a third of Blacks say they are in better shape than before the recession began.”

A 53 percent Black majority think that the economy is starting to recover. Only 40 percent of whites hold that opinion. Yet, for the average Black or white working class person with a mortgage to pay, the situation is as bad as ever – and for Black people, that means roughly twice as bad. The Pew poll shows that 35 percent of Blacks report their homes are worth less than their mortgages, compared to just 18 percent for white people. Fifty-four percent of Blacks took a pay cut, worked reduced hours or were forced to take unpaid leave during the Great Recession. Only 37 percent of whites suffered such employment trauma, yet Blacks are consistently – and insanely – more optimistic about the future, and feel better about the present, than whites do. Nearly a third of Blacks say they are in better shape than before the recession began – a figure with no basis whatsoever in real life, and a perception that is at total war with reality. Everything is worse for every major Black demographic since December 2007. There is nothing to be upbeat about – except, for Obama supporters, the election 0f 2008. From that point on, a large segment of Black America became disconnected from reality, numb to their own pain and to the pain of their children. They have been singing zippidity-doo-dah while all around them Black America is in economic free-fall. These deluded Black folks have been rendered incompetent and politically useless to themselves and their families by the mere existence of a Black president. Obama's election was, besides the Great Recession itself, the worse thing that has happened to Black people in a long time.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100707_gf_Insane.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:26pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Words hold meaning, but sometimes they mean different things in different cultures. A new study shows the difference in the understood meanings of commonly used words is big enough to adversely affect the SAT scores of Black students. It turns out that Blacks do better than whites on the hard questions involving big words – but not enough to even the odds.

 

Unknown Object

New Study Shows Racial Bias in SATs

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Black students did worse than whites on easier questions with more common words.”

Black students that take the verbal SAT do better than whites at answering hard questions, involving longer and less commonly used words. White students do better on easier questions that use common words. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s the conclusion of a new study, which tends to confirm research performed in 2003, that showed at least some parts of the SAT are biased against African Americans. The study could become the basis for legal action to outlaw SATs as racially discriminatory.

The latest study was conducted for the University of California system, and replicates most of the results of the 2003 study. Researchers concluded that Black students did worse than whites on easier questions with more common words because some of those words have different connotations in Black and white cultural settings. For example, simple words like “bad,” “tight” and “slick” carry different meanings in colloquial Black speech than in white usage. The SATs test the “white” meanings, putting Blacks at a disadvantage for the easy questions. In the smaller number of hard questions involving words that are not normally used in everyday, household speech, Blacks score higher than whites, because these learned words don’t have multiple or culture-based meanings. Apparently, Blacks did better at learning the uncommon vocabulary than whites. However, whites do so much better than Blacks on the easier questions, white overall SAT scores are much higher.

Blacks did better at learning the uncommon vocabulary than whites.”

The research measured the performance of Black and white students who were matched “by proficiency” – that is, based on their educational backgrounds and skills, the Blacks and whites should do about the same on the SATs. There was no indication that the test was biased against Latinos. But one of the researchers for the first, 2003 study found that some of the Black students would have scored about 100 points higher on the SAT if there had been more hard questions on the test.

Critics of the SAT and other “high stakes” tests have called the new research a “bombshell” that should move more institutions to drop SATs entirely. The College Board is virtually a creature of high stakes tests. The Board withheld data from the racial bias researchers for two years, and continues to claim the studies produced “inconsistent findings.” The Board blames racial discrepancies in testing on “educational inequities” in the United States, but claims the tests are fair.

The truth is, there is both vast “educational inequity” in the U.S. and built-in cultural/racial biases in the tests, themselves. High stakes testing is embedded in the institutionally racist walls that were massively erected in the wake of nominal integration of education, in order to preserve white privilege. But the stakes have gotten even higher. Standardized testing is now used as a weapon to set public education up for failure, as an institution, so that it can be privatized and remain racially exclusive. It is a new means to an old end.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20100707_gf_SATbias.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:57pm EDT

Hip-Hop and the “Anti-Blackness Antagonism”

by BAR columnist Jared A Ball, Ph.D.

Only two corporations own minimally 80%, and usually upwards of 95%, of all the songs making the top 20 spins list on radio.”

In our recent discussion with author Frank Wilderson about his new book Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonism he described a situation where a rabid philosophy of “Anti-Blackness” demands that the nation’s popular culture depict Black people as “non-human.” Not for mere material gain, as many suggest. It is beyond that. James Baldwin described this by saying that “I exist so that you can know that you are alive,” or, “when a White man calls me nigger I ask why he needs me to be one.” This is why Wilderson chooses the philosophical description of “antagonism” which means a permanency that cannot be dealt with using our current set of tools. This is not an issue of legislation, or some failing of an otherwise perfect democracy to be corrected by a vote. Wilderson is asking us think beyond the current world which has defined Blackness, permanently, as the slave, the “non-human,” whose presence can only be to serve and define the presence of others. We are, as Malcolm X said, “America’s problem.” But not simply as an issue of economic exploitation, or as Wilderson says, “a threat to some aspects of the world. We are a threat to the cohesion of the world itself.” And this is why he says antagonisms have no “conceptual resolution” in the way that conflicts do. And this is also why Frantz Fanon, quoting Aime Cesaire said that we must “begin to destroy the world.”

Wilderson’s examples include popular films such as Monster’s Ball and Antwone Fisher. But hip-hop and R&B lovers need not wait for the more intermittent film industry to see Wilderson’s points in action. Each week, and with a volume and popularity unmatched even by film, popular rap music becomes a bludgeon in the hands of this philosophy of “Anti-Blackness.” And were we to do Wilderson’s point justice more of us would highlight with more regularity the fact that the portrayal of Blackness in popular culture is not about making money, it is not simply a business decision and it is certainly not because it is what we want.

Popular rap music becomes a bludgeon in the hands of this philosophy of ‘Anti-Blackness.’”

Any given week only two corporations, Universal Music Group and Sony Music, own minimally 80%, and usually upwards of 95%, of all the songs making the top 20 spins list on radio. Through ownership and selective promotion via payment to radio stations these companies assure that their songs, and only their songs, are played as many as 20-40,000 times per song, per month. This means a UMG or Sony Music song is playing on commercial radio every minute of every hour of every single solitary day. This means no time for news and certainly no time for other songs. Look up the lyrics of any of these songs and the function they play is clear. This week’s most played song is by Sony artist Usher with lyrics that are only about a woman droppin it and poppin it on a dance floor. It was played 6859 times last week alone. And, again, this is not about money.

Reviewing the annual reports of these companies shows that in 2009 while Universal Music Group my be the largest music company in the world it accounted for only 14% of its parent company’s total revenues. The second largest, Sony Music, only accounted for 6% of the overall sales for Sony Corporation. And by the way, the third largest music company, Warner Music Group, is run by three private equity groups who, combined, manage funds of well over $110 billion. They don’t need popular culture for money. They need it to protect their sense of self and the just nature of their exploitation.

This is why we don’t see different kinds of films being promoted and why rap albums that have a different content are never on the radio. Mos Def has been in films that have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars around the world. But he is never on the radio. Common also has a budding movie career and has been an “Artist of the Year” award recipient but he too is rarely on the radioIt has nothing to do with quality of the art or what an audience is clamoring for. Audiences want what is promoted.Dead Prez has a new album out, and its free. But it also has songs calling for radical political organization and that encourage rappers to study “Malcolm, Garvey, Huey…” and, therefore, will never be on the radio. Not because people don’t want to hear it or won’t buy it but because culture truly in the hands of the enslaved means more Malcolms, Garveys, Hueys and Harriets, Assatas and Claudias. It means an end to the world as we know it and an end to the world as it is known to those espousing a prevailing “non-human… Anti-Blackness.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Jared Ball can be reached at: jared.ball@morgan.edu

 

Direct download: 20100707_jb_AntiBlack2.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:17am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If war with Iran is insane, why is Obama acting crazy? “Stepping to the brink of war with Iran only makes a kind of macabre sense if the Obama administration feels in desperate need of a diversion.” The bigger the better, since the diversion must call attention from the goo in the Gulf and the air in people’s wallets.


Obama’s Iran Diversion: Forget About Jobs, Forget About The Gulf!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Washington seeks to create an artificial confrontation with Iran in order to draw attention from the real, profound and multiplying crises that threaten, not just the Obama presidency, but global rule of finance capital.”

If there is a consensus among the sober inhabitants of the planet, it is that an armed assault on the Islamic Republic of Iran would immediately plunge the world into economic crisis and threaten a global firestorm. Yet all signs indicate that the United States and its Israeli partner are prepared to plunge into that terrifying unknown. Israel, of course, is an inherently unstable state, that feeds on crisis. But why would the United States consider diving into the Iranian abyss at this point in time, when America’s humiliation at the hands of a determined Sunni minority in Iraq is still a fresh memory? Stepping to the brink of war with Iran only makes a kind of macabre sense if the Obama administration feels in desperate need of a diversion. Washington seeks to create an artificial confrontation with Iran in order to draw attention from the real, profound and multiplying crises that threaten, not just the Obama presidency, but global rule of finance capital.

So, what does Obama do to divert attention from the gushing catastrophe in the Gulf – a disaster that starkly illuminates the subordinate role that the U.S. government plays to the Big Oil. Every barrel of toxic goo excreted into the Gulf of Mexico is testimony to the Obama administration’s subservience to Big Oil, both in the lead-up to the blowout and the aftermath. The whole nation is a witness that BP is still in charge.

How can Obama direct the public’s attention away from the jobless “recovery” from the Great Recession, which followed the jobless “recovery” from the 2002 Bush recession – the double-whammy of which erased the brief employment gains of the Nineties for whites and Blacks and left African Americans four times further behind whites in wealth accumulation than they were 20 years ago?

Obama needs to appear to be bashing some very unpopular people: the Iranian mullahs.”

What’s an Obama to do to hide the fact that, after passage of his sham financial reform legislation, he must resume the business as usual of pleasing Wall Street by freezing discretionary non-military spending starting next year and putting the fate of Social Security in the hands of an appointed commission dominated by wealthy interests.

How can Obama mask the reality that the U.S. has no intention of leaving Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq, or of vacating any of its close to 800 military bases in nearly 60 countries – ever! – unless militarily defeated or otherwise forced out? The U.S. has never in modern times voluntarily relinquished its bases, and continues to add more at every opportunity. Iraq and Afghanistan are no different, and shuffling generals around will not provide enough of a facsimile of movement for long. Obama needs a unifying cause to rally the American public, to justify the oceans of money spent on weapons of war. And for that, Obama needs to appear to be bashing some very unpopular people: the Iranian mullahs.

And so, the U.S. and Israel now dance at the edge of the precipice, amassing forces to further encircle Iran, including the recent passage of U.S. and Israeli warships through the Suez Canal enroute to the Persian Gulf. American preparations for war against Iran are well advanced. Obama may not even know if he is bluffing or not, but he does know he needs a diversion from all the current and looming crises that have nothing to do with any Ayatollah.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100630_gf_IranDiversion.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:14pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"No one deserved rejection by Black voters more than Artur Davis," the caricature of a right-wing Black congressman who lost his bid for governor by a landslide. Davis "decided he could win tons of white votes in Alabama by blatantly giving Blacks the finger." But then he extended a digit to Obama, master of a game Davis was ill-equipped to play.

Good Riddance Artur Davis, Rahm Emmanuel's U.S. House Negro
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Davis thought he could take Barack Obama's game to a higher level."
Alabama's Artur Davis says he will never again run for political office. We only wish he had made that decision eight years ago. Davis was elected on a wave of corporate and pro-Israel money in 2002, the same year that Cynthia McKinney was knocked out of Congress by those same political forces. Earlier this month, Davis accomplished a miraculous feat. He lost in his bid for governor of Alabama, not just by a landslide - he lost the Black vote to a white candidate, decisively.
No one deserved rejection by Black voters more than Artur Davis, who has reigned as the most right-wing member of the Congressional Black Caucus since the exit of the ridiculous Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis, Tennessee.
Like Harold Ford, Artur Davis was the darling of the Democratic Leadership Council, the DLC, the corporate bagman of the Democratic Party. No sooner had Davis replaced the relatively progressive Earl Hilliard, than he was taken under the protective wing of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, now Barack Obama's White House attack dog, who was then head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Emanuel groomed Davis as the model right-wing Black Democrat. Hoping to find lots of little Artur Davises, in 2005 Rahm Emanuel put him in charge of recruiting Black candidates for Congress in the Southeast. Luckily, Davis was not very successful, and was unable to clone himself for the benefit of his corporate sugar daddies. In fact, the little club of rightwing Black Members of Congress that Davis hung with back in 2005 has now shrunk from six to only three. Georgia's David Scott and Sanford Bishop are still around, but Harold Ford, Louisiana's William Jefferson, and Maryland's Albert Wynn no longer walk the halls of Congress. With his stunning defeat, Artur Davis should be gone by next year, too, if he keeps his promise never to run for office again.
"Davis has reigned as the most right-wing member of the Congressional Black Caucus since the exit of the ridiculous Harold Ford, Jr."
Apparently, Davis thought he could take Barack Obama's game to a higher level. Obama convinced a near-majority of white people that he wasn't like the rest of Black America, that he sees the world much as most whites do; but at the same time Obama fooled Blacks into thinking he was on their side, deep down. Artur Davis, doubtless under the malignant influence of his mentor Rahm Emmanuel, decided he could win tons of white votes in Alabama by blatantly giving Blacks the finger, rejecting out of hand any involvement with traditional Black organizations. And then, he stepped off the plank, voting against Barack Obama's version of health care. Davis lost by large margins in most Black districts, including his own voting precinct in Birmingham.
So, what is the lesson, here? Unfortunately, it is not that Black people consistently vote their own interests. Not in the Age of Obama. In Arkansas, Blacks gave majorities to the dreadful Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln over a relatively progressive challenger. That's because Obama supported Lincoln.
But Artur Davis somehow believed that he could win, in Alabama, by not only rejecting Black people's political aspirations, but by going further and ostentatiously rejecting Obama, himself. That is the definition of an idiot. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 
Direct download: 20100616_gf_ArturDefeated.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:33pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
So many Black American entertainers and luminaries flocked to the World Cup opening ceremonies in South Africa, one veteran activist was prompted to remark that "these folks are crossing the picket line." It is a line that separates South Africa's poor Black majority from the real beneficiaries of the "gold" - "the soccer elites of FIFA, the elites of domestic and international corporate capital and the political elites who are making billions and who will be benefiting at the expense of the poor."

Bend It Like Imperialism! The World Cup 1, African Liberation Nil
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"These stadiums are encased in a 'Ring of Steel' to protect audiences from 'unpatriotic citizens' of South Africa."
Today, June 16, marks the 34th anniversary of the South African Soweto uprising where thousands of African youth took to the streets and where hundreds would die at the hands of the South African police and military. Today, June 16, also marks the first anniversary of that uprising to take place during the first ever World Cup on the African continent. These competing, colliding commemorations and events stand in violent opposition to one another precisely because the World Cup is corporate-sponsored spectacle playing on our emotions in the hopes that we will not realize or will ignore those who try to force realization, that the causes of the Soweto uprising, indeed the very existence of a Soweto or a South Africa, remain, are even worse now than 34 years ago. So bad are these conditions today that in response to seeing so many Black American entertainers participating in the World Cup opening ceremonies one veteran activist remarked to me that "these folks are crossing the picket line."
No one at all familiar with the history of the labor movement can hear lightly this kind of condemnation. To cross any picket line, that is, to become a "scab" is to betray the struggle of your kind, of your class. And this is precisely what major events such as the World Cup demand of its participants. And everyone did. Hugh Masekela was there to briefly blow his once defiant horn, as was John Legend and the Black Eyed Peas fresh off their Obama inauguration performance where they omitted their lyrics about the CIA being terrorists. Shakira was there in her grass skirt wiggling her light/white Latin Americanness before the world and from within the "Dark Continent" no less! And, of course, there was K'Naan the talented Somali rapper who foolishly accepts invitations from white liberals to bash Black Americans as not really being that oppressed while himself selling his liberation song Wavin' Flag to Coca-Cola to be used as the World Cup theme song absent, naturally, of its lyrical references to Somali suffering. And all the while his fellow continental Africans, who he cannot dismiss as having it as easy as their American cousins, do not have their concerns addressed either.
"Since the "fall of apartheid" White income has risen 24% while that of Black Africans has actually dropped."
So no mention of the 20,000 poor removed from stadium sites into even smaller slums. No mention that these stadiums are encased in a "Ring of Steel" to protect audiences from "unpatriotic citizens" of South Africa whose presence alone, never mind any actual protest, might heighten too many contradictions. No mention either of the 22 million Africans in South Africa who live as squatters, and have no potable water. Or the 14 million who are unemployed, or that 43% live ith less than $2 a day. And no mention that Black South African men earn what equates to $320 a month while White men earn $2,600 or that Whites as 12% of the population still hold 74% of private sector jobs, control over 80% of the land and all of the military. Further, no mention can be made of the fact that since the "fall of apartheid" White income has risen 24% while that of Black Africans has actually dropped. Of course, this is aided by the embedded model of journalism where the World Cup governing body FIFA has right of refusal to any journalist accreditations should anyone be so foolish as to actually attempt to report any of this. This will also be helpful in preventing the world from becoming aware of the fact that most of the products being sold at the World Cup are Chinese or that FIFA owns all the merchandising rights which has led one writer to explain that, "This World Cup is not for the poor - it is the soccer elites of FIFA, the elites of domestic and international corporate capital and the political elites who are making billions and who will be benefiting at the expense of the poor."
And though few will see or hear of them protests are being organized and efforts to break through the televised façade will continue. One such effort is coming from the Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA) whose statement in promotion of a call to join them June 16 in South Africa to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising says: "Therefore, our call comes at a time when the subtle and insidious mechanism of State is used to good effect by the Capitalist Overlords to ensure the willing obedience and subservience of the working-class through a twisted vocalization of what they claim is a "universal message of equality, love and justice" wrapped up in massive sports jamborees, coupled with the subtle threat that "...if we do not believe and promote their message, then we are evil and will be dealt with in ways that we cannot begin to imagine..."
In the meantime, I like many Black onlookers, will continue to watch and root for teams along the following lines: against all teams of the West, then for the teams with the most Black players and so on down the line and ultimately only for those whose struggles continue and remain ignored.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com
Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu
 
Direct download: 20100616_jb_WorldCup.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:57pm EDT

by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Washington, DC, like other majority-Black metropolises, squeezes African Americans out of its borders through gentrification, while trapping growing proportions of those who remain in a rapacious criminal justice system. Activists charge that DC’s policy of hiring more white officers from surrounding states amounts to “coon hunting” in the nation’s capital.


South Africa On the Potomac: Washington, D.C. and Black Incarceration

by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

DC is losing 2500 or so Black residents a year as gentrification pushes them out of the city proper.”

During a speech aired on Memorial Day this year Noam Chomsky said, “The drug war is used as a pretext to drive the superfluous population, mostly black, back to the prisons, also providing a new supply of prison labor in state and private prisons, much of it in violation of international labor conventions. In fact, for many African Americans, since they were exported to the colonies, life has scarcely escaped the bonds of slavery, or sometimes worse.” This week I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Kwasi Seitu, a veteran activist with decades-long experience in organizing Black resistance to police brutality and what is often a malicious judicial system. Mr. Seitu has for many years now suffered first-hand and worked against the violently rapacious nature of the system described by Chomsky as “sometimes worse” than slavery. From Mississippi to where he now resides in Washington, D.C., Seitu has been on the front lines of this on-going tyrannical relationship between the Black community and the nation’s institutions.

In Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, also referred to as the “last colony,” or a “a piece of South Africa on the Potomac,” Mr. Seitu describes the horrific procession of “hundreds of Black people” who “pass through the dungeons of D.C. Superior Court every single day.” Most of these women and men are there for non-violent drug offenses which Seitu argues is also part of a police “quota system” which rewards officers for higher numbers of arrests. The quality or just nature of those arrests is not the issue, just the numbers of Black bodies who will pass through the city’s jails. Part of the political economy of this streets-to-jail pipeline is, as Seitu says, the justification of the publicly-funded policing and incarceration budget which puts hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. But it is also, as Chomsky alluded to, an issue of “superfluous” labor, or an issue of what to do with those you cannot or will not employ. As recently as 2006 the employment rate for Black adults in Washington, D.C. was only 51% making their unemployment rate the highest in the world.

It is an issue of what to do with those you cannot or will not employ.”

Washington, D.C. is now 52% Black and losing 2500 or so Black residents a year as gentrification pushes them out of the city proper. However, according to Seitu, this has not changed the complexion of those being targeted by the various police agencies in the city. DC police chief Cathy Lanier has had her attempts at instituting community check points ruled unconstitutional and her “All Hands on Deck” policy determined to be a violation of police union workloads. But despite the setbacks Lanier’s policies of hyper-policing remain largely intact which means more of the same. Seitu argues that these tactics, coupled with Lanier’s hiring of more white officers from surrounding states, amounts to the tradition of “coon hunting” and will likely result in more Black women and men being unnecessarily incarcerated or worse still killed by police.

Of course, many of these issues have their roots in the ignoble beginnings of this nation’s relationship with African people. Others point more recently to this as an issue of DC’s lack of statehood which means, in this case, that DC Superior Court, despite the name, is a federal court with judges and prosecutors appointed rather than elected by city residents. In either case the issues against which Seitu and others struggle is the tip of a racist economic order that suffers a kind of inattention in this country that is simply inexcusable. All those who prefer the sexier issues of Israel and Palestine or Afghanistan and Pakistan will see no improvement in those issues while similar orders are in place and in practice right here at home.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Jared Ball can be contacted via email at: jared.ball@morgan.edu


Direct download: 20100609_jb_SAonPotomas.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:22am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For the Obama administration, every bit of public space and property is "on the table" - subject to privatization.  Transfer of public wealth to private hands seems a White House obsession. Next on the auction block: the nation's public housing stock. "This is gentrification and urban displacement on a gargantuan scale."

 

Obama's Scheme to Kill Public Housing and Give the Land to Banks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Obama would entrust the fates of millions of poor people to the tender mercies of the same criminal-minded class that has destroyed a generation and more of Black homeowners."

President Obama's greatest domestic imperative is the transfer of public wealth and resources to the private sector. He moved tens of trillions of dollars to Wall Street in the guise of rescuing the economy. Hundreds of billions in public funds are scheduled for transfer to private insurance corporations over the next decade or so, masquerading as a health care plan. His support for corporate-backed charter schools and other so-called public-private partnerships has dramatically escalated the privatization of education in the United States. Obama calls it a "Race to the Top." Now, the Obama administration is serving up to corporate vultures the nation's dwindling stock of public housing, with bankers as the ultimate beneficiaries.

The plan is slick, but easy enough to see through - like the president, himself.  Dubbed the Transforming Rental Assistance initiative, or TRA, the scheme would allow banks and other speculators to mortgage public housing, and then raise the rents to ten percent above market value.  The federal government would make up the difference, pumping the people's money directly into Wall Street accounts. Eventually, of course, the feds will halt or cut back payments, and the properties will revert to the bankers, who will sell them to developers and kick out the tenants. This is gentrification and urban displacement on a gargantuan scale - brought to you by the First Black President.

Imagine! Obama wants to transfer to banks and developers tens of thousands of acres of public-owned urban property - home to 1.2 million families, disproportionately Black and brown - all the while subsidizing the banksters' profits with billions of taxpayer dollars. He would entrust the fates of millions of poor people to the tender mercies of the same criminal-minded class that has destroyed a generation and more of Black homeowners and displaced legions of Black renters from the gentrifying cities.

"The scheme would allow banks and other speculators to mortgage public housing, and then raise the rents to ten percent above market value."

Obama wants to transform public housing into a Section 8 subsidy program. That is the kiss of death. Section 8 housing has always been underfunded. In New York City, alone, 10,000 Section 8 voucher holders may not be able to pay their rent because the feds won't come up with the funding.

When public housing defaults on payments to the bankers under the Obama scheme, it will be a second bonanza for Wall Street - which is how billions are made in an economy ruled by parasites who create nothing, but charge a fee for everything.

Those are Obama's kind of people. I'm not just talking about the mega-banks and hedge-funders that backed him to the hilt in his presidential campaign. Obama's closest cronies and former clients from Chicago - including senior advisor Valerie Jarret - made their fortunes milking government subsidized housing programs for the poor until the federal government had to step in and pick up the pieces.

If Obama has his way, speculators will descend on all 3,000 of the nation's public housing agencies, bribing every official in sight in a frenzy of corruption over federal land and subsidies. And the poor will start counting the days before they are put out in the street.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100602_gf_PublicHousing.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 7:57am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Rev. Al Sharpton preached that her death was a "breaking point" - but he's said that too many times before. Even the police execution of a child fails as a catalyst for change. "These issues are the result of a legacy of enslavement which has seemingly permanently inscribed an archetype of Black people as property and predators."

Her Name Was Aiyana Jones

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"Police brutality and mass incarceration are just not seen by Black leadership as issues worthy of popular attention."

Her name was Aiyana Jones. She was 7, Black, in a poor family, living in Detroit and was killed by the police. She was the victim of an unbroken and thoroughly vicious cycle of police brutality, followed by temporary, short-lived outcry and then the soon-to-come oppressive silence or worse, acceptance. Most will never hear the story, fewer will hear and follow up on it and fewer still will have yet another name to list during self-aggrandizing moments on podia, panels or in various forms of media commentary. The national eulogizer Al Sharpton spoke at Aiyana's funeral this week and said, again, that "this child is the breaking point... enough is enough" which I am sure a search would show he has said in one form or another at the never-ending cavalcade of funerals he does. But is it really enough? Is Aiyana really a "breaking point?" Absolutely not and we know it.

Precise numbers are hard to pin down but one study concluded that from 1990-2005 an average of one person per day was killed by the police. And in Chicago, for example, of the 84 people killed by police since 2000 only one was determined to be unjustified. But between under-reporting and unjust legal conclusions of incidents that are reported there remains this unbroken cycle. This cycle is irritatingly too easy to foresee and has, of course, already begun in the case of Aiyana Jones. This includes the obligatory and already mentioned Sharpton eulogy, followed by some basic local and national news coverage. Some have raised important questions about, for instance, the television show "The First 48" which was there filming the police raid which led to Aiyana's death and the role of what has to be euphemistically called "reality" t.v. in general in encouraging more action or prompting a greater degree of excessive behavior among the police. Some have asked about the "muted media" whose lack of substantive coverage prevents an appropriate societal education about police brutality or race in America. Of course, others prefer to focus on allegations that the Jones family was not well liked in their community and were themselves seen as a bad element, especially since the police were there looking for a murder suspect who was found either in or right next to the Jones household.

"One study concluded that from 1990-2005 an average of one person per day was killed by the police."

But other news reported recently speaks to the true nature of this cycle. For example, Black Agenda Report carried a story last week that was a follow up to the Jena Six case, the last major pre-Haiti earthquake cause celebre, which showed that rather than progress there has only been further repression and targeting of families and individuals who supported the six Black victims of that case. The federal probe into police killings of Black people in post-Katrina New Orleans is still on-going more than 5 years later.

And Jon Burge, the former Chicago police chief who "ran a torture ring that abused approximately 200 suspects" during the 1970s and 80s, finally goes on trial this week, decades later.

During a recent discussion with the powerful sibling duo of Michelle and Leslie Alexander whose scholarship and activism centers around the history of criminalizing Blackness the two made the point that these issues are the result of a legacy of enslavement which has seemingly permanently inscribed an archetype of Black people as property and predators demanding levels of "social control" which are only viewed as extreme or unjust if applied outside that context or outside those communities. They also both noted the "human rights nightmare" of police brutality and mass incarceration are just not seen by Black leadership as issues worthy of popular attention precisely because they often involve segments of our communities we'd rather escape from or simply not acknowledge. It is the concern summarized by Obama's willingness to defend his similarly-classed Skip Gates while dismissing as issues the killings of the under-classed Sean Bell or Oscar Grant. And it is also why this cycle is so vicious and why it is predictable that this little girls name will soon be added to the list of the forgotten. Her name was Aiyana Jones.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online go to www.blackagendareport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu

Direct download: 20100529_jb_ayana_jones.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:14pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It was like pulling teeth, but Tea Party star Rand Paul finally blurted out his core, racist ideology in front of national TV cameras.  Property rights trump Black rights, every time. "White supremacy is the connective link that holds the 'Tea Party' together - that, and relentless media coverage."

 

Rand Paul Tells On Self and Fellow Tea Partyers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"White people in the aggregate will try to preserve the essential elements of a White Man's Country in perpetuity unless the state intervenes."

Finally, a moment of clarity in American politics! Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion and winner of the Republican senatorial nomination from Kentucky, thinks business owners have the inalienable right to refuse service to Black people. It only took a few minutes for MSNBC's liberal-minded Rachel Maddow to pry the truth out of Paul - to make him elocute his racist beliefs before a national audience. What an idiot, say pundits of the left and right. If only Rand Paul had stuck with the code words that respectable white Republicans and Democrats deploy to sanitize an essentially racist American political conversation, he would still be the media's fair-haired boy. Instead, he's now the "Mad Hatter" - for blurting out on Maddow's show beliefs he and his Texas congressman father, Ron Paul, have always held, and which have served both men well in the white nationalist movement called the Tea Party.

Father and son Paul have never made a secret of their bedrock belief that the right to do whatever one wants with one's private property is the fountainhead of their of liberty. It is an idea fundamentally at odds with evolving human values, an obstacle to the advance of civilization, itself - but one that resonates deeply among whites who pine for the days when Blacks were the collective property of the white citizenry. "Our niggras," as the white folks used to say.

"Property rights is a legal construct to preserve what's left of a White Man's Country."

Just as "states' rights" was polite political cover for slavery and, later, legal segregation, so is property rights the legal construct to conserve what's left of a White Man's Country. That's what the Tea Party's kind of "conservatism" is all about. White supremacy is the connective link that holds the "Tea Party" together - that, and relentless media coverage.

Fox News anchor John Stossel last week expanded on Rand Paul's racist opening, to declare that elements of the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be repealed. Activists at the Internet-based Color of Change are calling for Stossel's head, or woe be unto Fox News - as if Fox does not thrive in a racist environment. Color of Change says, correctly, that "market forces," left to their own devices, would have perpetuated Jim Crow segregation, since whites overwhelmingly preferred to shop and travel and dine in white-only environments. Which is to say, that white people in the aggregate will try to preserve the essential elements of a White Man's Country in perpetuity unless the state intervenes. The market is responding to a racist demand.

There is a significant demand among white Americans to rid their lives of Black people. That's why Blacks are more segregated in housing and schooling than 40 years ago, and why about half of U.S. prison inmates are Black. Whites demand that it be so, in the economic and political marketplace.

Rand Paul seems to be sorry that he threw his Tea Party mob too much red meat. He says he can live with the Civil Rights Act, despite principled objections. And I'm sure he can. Money can still buy distance from all but a few Black people. The White Man's Country is still a going concern.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20100526_gf_FoxAndPaul.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:08pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball Ph.D.
Some folks are too dense even for cartoons – when they’re produced by Aaron McGruder. The Boondocks author’s political take on President Obama is too heavy for at least a portion of the audience, who tend to see the world as divided between those who are “hatin’” on Obama and those who are not. McGruder’s attempt to create Black political “space” for meaningful discussion confronts the empty spaces inside people’s heads.
 
The Boondocks as Black Public Sphere
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared A. Ball Ph.D.
If this is to be the last season of the Boondocks we need to be working to develop space for more public criticism of our horrific conditions.”
To all those who felt that Aaron McGruder had begun this season’s Boondocks with too much criticism of Obama you can rest easy, at least for now. Week two was quite a drop-off from the season-opener. After week one, where McGruder had set such a high-standard of criticism, less directly focused on Obama than on our reaction to the brand, some were actually calling him a replacement of Tavis Smiley as our “high profile… post-racial hater.” He was accused of airing our dirty laundry and was even asked why he had not felt it necessary to have Huey Freeman, his Black revolutionary “terrorist,” choose exile during the reign of Bush as opposed to only after the election of Obama. But what many seem to have missed was that Huey’s inability to pull off his escape of Obama being about having no ride was an allusion to our own political powerlessness and absence of a public sphere where these debates can actually take place. It was just as in Huey’s previous attempt at freeing political prisoner Shabazz K. Milton Burrow where he also couldn’t get a ride and where he also had no space to publicly debate or organize an end to the continued unjust imprisonment of a Black Panther Party revolutionary.
The “public sphere” has often been defined as space where a mostly bourgeois elite meet to openly discuss the politics of their time. The Black public sphere has been defined as one that challenges such class bias and which occurs in what are often considered alternative spaces but no less political or substantive in their exchanges. Churches, beauty and barbershops, street corners, parks and even – for a time – Black popular music all reflected the role of the public sphere. However, the impact on these spaces resulting from gentrification, to worsening economic crises and, most immediately relevant, to increased media consolidation among fewer owners has made these spaces harder to find. According to one scholar, if the public sphere is to be defined as that which allows for public critique of, and an offer of remedy to, the horrific conditions faced by African America, then, “A Black public sphere does not exist in contemporary America.” And it is this absence which has so many either angry at McGruder’s public airing of our dirty laundry or others of us so frustrated that this is as good as it ever gets.
According to one scholar, ‘A Black public sphere does not exist in contemporary America.’”
Given our current media environment where else is critical public discussion to occur? Even those who dismiss Tavis Smiley as being too hard on Obama need to ask where is the more private discussion they claim they want going to occur? Huey wanted exile after Obama precisely because of the deadening impact the election has had on our own political activity, as voiced by his grandfather, “the Black struggle is officially over.” He had little to say because, as demonstrated by the angry mob, even disinterest or a lack of excitement, not to mention actual fact-based critiques of the president, is risky business. As Huey did say, “hope is irrational.”
And we need more haters out there. Why should only conservatives and apologists have access to any popular media? Where are the critiques of their routine and public bashing of Black people? Why isn’t Obama properly taken to task for publicly airing our dirty laundry, especially when he airs it so often and so out of context? The president just spoke at Hampton University and dared to tell those students to stop paying so much attention to media technology, calling them a “distraction,” when his own pre- and post-election strategy has been openly expressed to be one of branding and media ubiquity with the purpose of making him difficult to pin down and critique. This level of hypocrisy was only matched by this week’s airing of Radio and TV One’s Cathy Hughes with Minister Farrakhan where she actually joined him in lamenting negative popular imagery of Black people. Her own role in killing Black radio and furthering these negative images was left untouched just as Obama’s media use and branding was not mentioned to those unsuspecting Black students.
In the absence of a real Black public sphere we have to enjoy what little we get while we work toward its development. If this is to be the last season of the Boondocks we need to be working to develop space for more public criticism of our horrific conditions. I mean, where else can we find so many public references to Ronald Reagan as a “devil?” No amount of “N-bombs” in The Boondocks can dampen that or worsen the damage done by Black political discussion as it takes place in the Washington Post, New York Times or even TheRoot.com. If we are truly dissatisfied with The Boondocks it is only because we have not cultivated our own Black public sphere.
For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Dr. Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.
Direct download: 20100512_jb_boondocks_publicsphere.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

A Black Agenda radio commentary by Glen Ford
We were right when we said it in the Sixties. The police are an occupation army in the Black community. Secret NYPD tapes reveal the cops’ quota system for stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of innocent minority residents every year. But when New Yorkers of color are victimized by crime, they “are often threatened with arrest, themselves, by belligerent detectives trying to fudge the figures.”
 
 
Secret NYPD Tapes Document Routine, Massive Police Racism
A Black Agenda radio commentary by Glen Ford
The New York City police are revealed as an occupying army that views residents of color as an enemy population.”
The New York City police force systematically withholds protective services from minority victims of crime, while simultaneously stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of innocent Black and brown citizens on the streets for no legitimate reason. Hundreds of hours of secret recordings by a disgruntled New York City cop prove beyond question that the most aggressive forms of institutional racism are the guiding management principles of the NYPD. Just as the Black Panther Party and others charged two generations ago, the New York City police are revealed as an occupying army that views residents of color as an enemy population.The predatory nature of New York City policing is captured, digitally, in a police lieutenant’s exhortation to his officers at the beginning of their shift. "You're working in Bed-Stuy,” says the shift supervisor, “where everyone's probably got a warrant."
The recordings were made during a continuous 16-month period in 2008 and 2009, and are the basis of a series of articles now running in the Village Voice newspaper. They show how the relentless pressures exerted by billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his top police brass result in a total perversion of the criminal justice system in places like Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section, where the cop with a pocket digital recorder was assigned. The turncoat cop’s recordings show that the police operate under a quota system, driven by their superiors to hand out vast quantities of summonses for petty offenses and to stop and frisk huge numbers of people. It is this quota system at the core of official police policy, that has resulted in two million innocent people being stopped and frisked on the streets of New York since 2004, close to 600,000 in 2009, alone. Eighty-five percent of the victims of this police state practice were Black or Latino – only 9 percent were white, although New York City is about 38 percent white. From roll call to end off shift, the New York police sweep the streets of non-white neighborhoods, stopping and searching more than fifteen hundred mostly Black and Brown pedestrians every day – the vast majority of whom are found to be carrying nothing illegal. Contrary to the police lieutenant's admonition to his officers, not everyone in places like Bedford-Stuyvesant has an outstanding warrant – but the police routinely act as if they do.
Police systematically discourage residents from reporting actual crimes committed against them.”
This has nothing to do with fighting crime. In fact, the secret recordings show that police systematically discourage residents from reporting actual crimes committed against them, in order to keep the crime statistics artificially low, and thus make the top brass and the mayor look good. Citizens that complain of being assaulted or robbed are often threatened with arrest, themselves, by belligerent detectives trying to fudge the figures. Felonies are routinely downgraded to misdemeanors - not because of clogged courts, but to give the appearance of a safer city. After police suppression of crime statistics was exposed in Bedford-Stuyvesant, preventing the cops from intimidating victims, felony assault statistics jumped 76 percent.
The Black and brown residents of New York City are stopped, harassed and abused by the millions, while the real crimes committed against them are swept under the rug by an occupation army in blue, masquerading as law enforcement. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100512_gf_NYPDtapes.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Weasel corporate media operatives strain to erase the stain of racism from the Tea Party “movement” – largely a media creation – while white nationalist leaders hide the hoods and nooses in the darker recesses of their bunkers. Yet the data seem to show that racism is what gives the Tea Party mass appeal (45 percent approval) among whites.
 
The Tea Party's Mass White Appeal
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
A near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people.”
The corporate media have a problem. The so-called Tea Party movement that is the latest incarnation of centuries-old white American nationalism, cannot escape its racist roots, which makes everything the Tea Partyers say fruit of the racially poisoned tree. Having nurtured the Tea Party phenomenon at every stage of its existence, the corporate media now twist and turn and contort themselves in search of ways to make white nationalism respectable. That’s a difficult mission, since the racism of both the Tea Party’s rank and file and its leadership is not easily sanitized.
Polls associated with major newspapers and broadcast networks have historically been woefully inadequate when dealing with matters of race – as should be expected, since corporate media excel at papering over racial divisions so as not to upset important segments of their audiences. That’s one reason why corporate media speak in “code,” cloaking movements and events that are actually heavily charged with race in coded phrases like “family values,” law and order,” and “fiscal responsibility.” Ever since the Republicans replaced the Dixiecrats as the White Man’s Party, two generations ago, there has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public – to use code when speaking of race, so as not to embarrass one another.
There has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public.”
But loud and obnoxious elements of the Tea Party movement have not felt bound by this agreement. They have communicated their rage at the erosion of white supremacy in ways that are not only understandable to Blacks, whose antennas are always alert to racial threats, but also to code-speaking whites, a huge number of whom like what they hear.
While the corporate media find ways to fudge the racial character of the Tea Party, academic researchers at the University of Washington released a study showing the Tea Partyers have achieved real mass appeal among whites. Fully forty-five percent of whites either strongly approve or somewhat approve of the Tea Partyers. And, among those whites favorable to the Tea Party movement, “only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy.” Put another way: a near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people. Which means, the majority of whites who look kindly on the Tea Party are themselves hardcore racists.
But it's worse than that. The real story lies in how much the general white public shares the worldview of the Tea Partyers. Sixty percent of Tea Partyers agree with the statement, “We have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country.” But 42 percent of white people in general also think that way, marking them as unreconstructed racists.
In short, the Tea Party's biggest drawing card is its racism, just as white racism was central to the success of the Republican Party's “southern strategy,” beginning in the late Sixties. Forget about the Tea Party's other supposed issues, like the budget and the bank bailout. That's not what puts fire in their bellies. This is America, remember? Race is all some white people understand. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100512_gf_TeaPartyPoll.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

Direct download: Elaine8mins00secs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:59pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A wise man once said: Be careful what you wish for. Rev. Al Sharpton has long craved entrance to the citadels of power, and may now have been granted his wish in return for services rendered to the Obama administration. But proximity to Power also brings intense media scrutiny. Can a shady-dealing preacher take the heat?

 

Al Sharpton: Obama's Junkyard Dog

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Now that Sharpton has truly hit the big time, the media spotlights will surely burn him to a crisp."

Rev. Al Sharpton and President Barack Obama have a thing going on - and I predict it will turn out badly for both of them.

Sharpton has assumed the role of Obama's political muscle among what passes for Black leadership. His job is to bully into submission those Blacks that dare to even suggest that African Americans need to agitate for their own interests, to speak Truth to Power, even when that Power is represented by a Black man in the White House. In his capacity as the president's junkyard dog, Sharpton verbally savages even the mildest critics of an administration that has greatly expanded U.S. wars while overseeing the biggest transfer in history of public wealth to private pockets. Sharpton bit into Tavis Smiley when the talk-show entrepreneur proposed that Black America formulate its own political agenda, separate from Obama's policies, which have seen Black unemployment, evictions and foreclosures reach Depression-era levels. Sharpton snarled that folks like Smiley were trying to hold Obama to a "double-standard," demanding more from a Black president than they would from a white Democrat - which is absolute nonsense, since so-called Black leadership has made virtually no demands on Obama since he announced his candidacy three years ago.

Sharpton joined in a salt-and-pepper White House-sponsored tour with right wing rabble rouser and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Gingrich and Sharpton teamed up to shill for Obama's corporate-inspired attempt to massively transform public schools into non-union, charter schools.

"Sharpton only seeks the shadows when he's getting paid for services rendered."

Like Shakespeare's Othello, Sharpton has "done the state some service," and Obama knows it. The administration has thrown its Black junkyard dog the red meat he craves: public recognition that Sharpton is a player in the power game - "Obama's New Partner," as the Wall Street Journal put it. The Washington Post has made it all but official, that Sharpton and Obama are a political couple. One right-wing Washington outfit called Sharpton a "shadow member of the Obama cabinet," which is, in one sense, quit unfair, since every day is show time and bright lights for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who only seeks the shadows when he's getting paid for services rendered.

Which brings us to the very serious down-side to Sharpton's emergence as a the newly-crowned principal Black defender of White House Power. Rev. Sharpton, who has often stated that his two main mentors in life were soul singer James Brown and boxing Mafioso Don King, has up to now enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the national corporate media. To put it bluntly, they love him, and have needed him, as their flashy caricature of a Black leader. Sharpton's sleazy dealings are legendary in Black activist circles, but he has only once been deeply scrutinized by the media. That was in 2004, when the New York Village Voice revealed that Sharpton's presidential campaign was largely financed by Republican dirty-trickster Roger Stone. Now that Sharpton has truly hit the big time, the media spotlights will surely burn him to a crisp. Al Sharpton's financial dealings cannot stand serious scrutiny. His service to Power is going to cost him dearly - and  President Obama will find himself covered with the slime, as well. Mark my words.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100428_gf_JunkyardSharpton.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:26am EDT

Amend the Constitution or Submit to Corporate Dictatorship

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With its recent ruling that corporations have the constitutional right to suborn the government through unlimited campaign spending, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered "the final mockery and insult to the very concept of one person, one vote." There is not alternative but to change the Constitution.

 

Amend the Constitution or Submit to Corporate Dictatorship

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The whole notion of government by the people will have been fully superseded by the reality of government by corporations."

A growing coalition of progressive organizations has begun a race against time, a desperate struggle to prevent corporate money from snuffing out what remains of electoral democracy in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling, that corporations have the freedom of speech right to spend as much money as they see fit to influence elections, represents the final mockery and insult to the very concept of one person, one vote. If the High Court's decision is allowed to be the final word, then the whole notion of government by the people will have been fully superseded by the reality of government by corporations acting as a species of immortal super-citizens - paper people empowered by money.

The American political system has always favored the rich - which is no wonder, since the legal edifice of the Republic was invented by some of the wealthiest men in the slaveholding former British colonies. The U.S. Constitution's intricate system of "checks and balances" was primarily designed to keep everybody but rich white men in check, and to ensure that the balance of power would weigh decisively on the side of wealth. More than two centuries later, the U.S. Supreme Court decision has put a killer knot in the noose around the popular franchise, one that can only be loosened by amending the Constitution, itself.

It is a lengthy process, by design. After ten years, including a three-year extension, the Equal Rights Amendment for women, or ERA, failed to secure ratification by the required 38 states, and died in 1982. This, despite broad, bipartisan support. The Constitutional amendment submitted by Black Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards seeks to void the Supreme Court ruling, by allowing Congress and the states to regulate the way corporations spend campaign money. The amendment, if passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate, would then have seven years to gain ratification by three-quarters of the states, or bite the dust, like the ERA. Just getting the amendment through Congress will be a test of whether corporate money has already neutered the American legislative system, even without the Supreme Court's help.

"The U.S. Constitution's intricate system of 'checks and balances' was primarily designed to keep everybody but rich white men in check."

Donna Edward's amendment has 24 co-sponsors, eight of them fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Other, more timid voices on Capitol Hill favor requiring corporate shareholders to approve of their managements' political and campaign contributions. But Republicans are certain to demand that unions be forced to seek rank-and-file permission for every contribution labor makes to political campaigns  - a totally unacceptable and unequal trade-off.

Other congressional Democrats speak of strengthening the system of public financing of election campaigns. But to be effective, public financing would have to match corporate contributions on something approaching dollar for dollar, which could go into the billions, since the sky is the limit for corporate campaign spending under the Supreme Court's ruling. In addition, President Obama relinquished any moral authority on that score, when he abandoned public financing once he realized he could raise more money than John McCain - including corporate money.

Thus, there is no alternative but to go the route of Constitutional amendment, with no guarantee of success at the end of that long road. But, as Congresswoman Edwards says, history and the Supreme Court have left us no choice.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100428_gf_DonnaAmend.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:44pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Harvard's pet Black professor, Henry Gates, blames Africans for the slave trade "so as to silence calls for reparations or the cancellation of African debt." His latest Op-Ed piece "is designed to undermine a tradition of scholarship which has for decades shown how enslaving and colonizing Africans led to a decline of Africa and an ascendancy of the West."

 

The Academic Hit Man: Henry Louis Gates and Reparations

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"He is an academic version of those who set up radical leaders for assassination."

Like elders often say, we must trust people to be who they are.  So when Henry Louis Gates describes his own career as that of an "intellectual entrepreneur" we should believe him to be who he is, an intellect for hire, or more specifically, an "academic hit man."  John Perkins speaks of "jackals" and Economic Hit Men, well Gates is higher education's equivalent.  He is an academic William O'Neal or Cotton Smith, the intellectual version of those who set up radical leaders for assassination.  Gates' targets are not individuals as much as they are entire intellectual communities whose service to their people make his assaults on them assaults on the very people those intellectuals defend.  His are politically motivated hits because of their broader ramifications and like real hits they permanently silence any meaningful public debate.

Gates' most recent hit appeared this week - as they often do - in the New York Times, which has been for decades an ideological "killing field" where anti-establishment intellectuals are routinely left for dead.  In his piece, "Ending the Slavery Blame-Game," Gates returns to his favored, if not entirely discredited, theme of African culpability in the enslavement of their own.  Gates blends his predilection for genetics with his undying need to blame Africans for their enslavement and concludes that because statistical increases in the numbers of those sold into slavery coincides with the rise to prominence of particular African ethnic groups that this is proof of a balance in benefits accrued by the process. 

His selective emphasis, or what Ali Mazrui once called, "ulterior selectivity," on one aspect of slavery versus another is designed to undermine a tradition of scholarship which has for decades shown how enslaving and colonizing Africans led to a decline of Africa and an ascendancy of the West.  But as Walter Rodney said himself, "The presence of a group of African sell-outs is part of the definition of underdevelopment."  And now they come again with what is their ulterior motive, the academic hit on Claudia Jones, Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney and many others.  In fact, Gates has previously and personally taken John Henrik Clarke to his New York Times "killing fields."  Others like Malcolm X, Chris Hani and Rodney himself were simply killed quite literally.  Each murder was carried out for similar political purposes, to assure the African world's status as permanent servant.

"Gates blends his predilection for genetics with his undying need to blame Africans for their enslavement."

Assassins mute the kinds of debate which might result in their employer's loss of power.  By simple omission Gates kills the arguments of N'COBRA, Ray Winbush, or F. Michael Higginbotham whose thoughts on reparations are far more compelling than can be allowed.  The three scholars Gates does mention, in what is really no more than a simple blog post, will not have their views critiqued by their peers within the pages of the New York Times or a mainstream media which considers the Times as "the paper of record."  So most will never know, for example, that Mazrui, a worldwide recognized authority on African history, dispatched of Gates and this incessant blame of Africans for slavery long ago.  He said that African leaders were forced into the exchange and "were themselves victims."  But, again, this view has been targeted for assassination and is preemptively (and cyclically) silenced so as to also silence, for example, calls for reparations or the cancellation of African debt.

Though perhaps this time it was to also save Gates' protector-in-chief from himself.  Remember, it was Obama who went to Ghana and blamed African crises on African corruption.  And it is he who should now have to account for the recent report of the $1 trillion in African wealth illegally expropriated to the West, and this just over the last 40 years.  And, Mr. President, the report concludes that only 3% of that can be attributed to corruption.  To this we can add an earlier claim from former Federal Reserve Board member Andrew Brimmer that through denial of access to capital, adequate public service and government benefits Black Americans have been robbed of $10 billion every year since the so-called end of slavery.  And here we have two points whose own "ulterior selectivity" demonstrates the weakness of the argument cooked up by Gates and Obama  - that African involvement in slavery and post-colonial corruption are to be blamed at all or equally to the crimes of Western Europe or the United States.  These, like the other favorite of a mythical Black Buying Power, are mere attempts at the perfect hit; the Western assassination of the Black World all covered up and dismissed as a suicide.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  On the web go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu.

Direct download: 20100428_jb_skip_gates_on_reparations.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:34pm EDT

cabrini

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. DixonWhy is the only model of unner city economic development that anybody has tried in living memory amount to moving poorer urban residents out, and wealthier ones in? What happens to the people who are moved out, and why does our black business class leadership quietly ignore, or openly collaborate in the dispersal of the very communities which made many of their careers possible?

 Black Business Class Leadership and the Crisis of Gentrification

by Bar managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Are poor people the chief and principal architects of their own poverty? This sounds like, and is, a foolish idea. But the baseless and backward notions that poverty is the result of the moral and character flaws of poor people, and that persistent concentrations of poor people cause even more poverty, something like the way mold causes more mold have furnished the public justifications of the nation's housing policy for a generation.

If you are foolish enough to believe poverty is caused by poor people then demonizing, dispersing and demolishing public housing, privatizing the land upon which projects once stood and gentrifying poor urban neighborhoods in the name of solving poverty makes perfect sense. It also makes tons of money for well connected developers, their contractors, attorneys and investors, and provides them all with good reasons to make generous contributions to the politicians that open these doors to them. Nobody in the real estate game makes a nickel off stable neighborhoods. Hypocritical justifications aside, for too much of our black business class leadership, gentrification has never been about about economic justice. Gentrification is just one more way to get paid.

Unlike their fathers and mothers, the current and corporate-trained generation of black leaders do not aspire to alleviate, let alone eliminate poverty. They are unable and often unwilling to defend the interests of poor urban constituencies, even the ones that elect them, because like their white establishment counterparts, they simply do not value those communities and their inhabitants. They collaborate in depicting their own communities as toxic sinkholes of despair, so that any excuse to demolish and disperse such places, whether its the Olympics in Atlanta (and almost in Chicago) or man-made floods in the wake of Katrina, can be counted as a public good.

But exactly where the former residents of housing projects end up, and whether dispersing their communities actually begins to lift them out of poverty are questions that our corporate-trained black leaders in the public and private sectors, and even most academic researchers refuse to ask. Research is emerging, the University of Florida's Dr. Susan Greenbaum told us last spring, which indicates that many former public housing residents are doing worse, poorer, more isolated from family and formal and informal support systems, less secure in food and housing, with less access to health care, affordable transportation, education and job opportunities than they had in public housing. Their new neighbors, believing that former public housing residents were bringing the alleged character flaws and bad habits of poverty into their new surroundings, rejected and stigmatized them. Many former public housing residents, she told us, were thrown into the same neighborhoods that became ground zero for the foreclosure crisis. Absent some swift and profound changes they are likely to be uprooted again, as those foreclosures turn to evictions.

We have reached a point where the only model of development for inner cities is demolition and gentrification. Something is profoundly wrong with that, and with the black business class leadership which is not even looking for an alternative.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Atlanta. He can be reached at Bruce.Dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

Direct download: 20100421_bd_gentrification.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:07pm EDT

golden sacks wantedA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Goldman Sachs, the most successful parasite in corporate finance and on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, “has been unmasked as one of the dirtiest players in the giant Casino that we know as Wall Street.” The villain isn't simple greed, but a system that “operates in opposition to the human economy.”
 
 
Wall Street: Phony Money and Earth-Shaking Crimes
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The casino players are back and more deadly than ever.”
The permanent government called Goldman Sachs, the banking empire that was best friend of the Clinton and Bush administrations and, now, the Obama White House, has been unmasked as one of the dirtiest players in the giant Casino that we know as Wall Street. For a fee of $17 million, Goldman Sachs put together a toxic securities package that was engineered to fail, so that one hedge fund player could beat other clients of Goldman Sachs out of a billion dollars. The Securities and Exchange Commission is charging fraud, but nobody at Goldman Sachs will go to jail for perpetrating a billion dollar robbery. You could safely bet your house that – unless, of course, like millions of Americans, your house isn’t worth the mortgage you’re paying on it. Or if, like a majority of African Americans, you don’t own a house.
In fact, nobody but the superrich and their corporations can join the giant casino that global finance capitalism has become. Their game is played with instruments of mass economic destruction called derivatives, that are now valued at $600 trillion – a figure that sounds out of this world because it has no connection to the real world economy. $600 trillion is twelve times the value of the real economy of the entire planet. The very existence of a kind of phony money worth many times the actual value of every good and service produced in a year by every human being on Earth, is proof that global corporate capitalism operates in opposition to the human economy. The Lords of Capital, playing with derivatives in their casinos, create nothing of real value, but use their phony instruments to dominate and prey upon the rest of human society. It is only a scandal when, as with the Goldman Sachs fraud, the guys that get burned are other corporations and billionaires, whose intentions are just as larcenous as Goldman Sachs and its co-conspirators.
The Lords of Capital, playing with derivatives in their casinos, create nothing of real value.”
The $600 trillion global derivatives figure is just an estimate. No one knows the exact value. But it is now commonly accepted that derivatives were the dynamite that blew the world economy apart in 2008. Back then, before the crash, derivatives were also valued at about $600 trillion. Seven former heads of European governments and five former finance ministers warned, in an open letter, that finance capital and its derivative devices were leading the world into a disaster. Their letter was titled, “Mad Finance Must Not Rule Us.” But Mad Finance stayed on the throne, and catastrophe struck, four months later. Now, thanks to worldwide bank bailouts, the casino players are back and more deadly than ever, betting against the financial survival of entire nations, and against the European currency, itself. What else is there to do, for a finance capitalist class that creates nothing, but seeks to own everything, and destroys all that is of real value to human beings, in the process.
The Democrats on Capitol Hill and their boss in the White House pretend they want to reign in Mad Finance capital and its derivatives. But the Democrats' pitiful play-acting at regulation amounts to little more than asking Wall Street to use better table manners as they eat the rest of us alive.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100421_gf_Goldman.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 4:53pm EDT

bandungA Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Dr. Jared A. Ball
The 55th anniversary of the Bandung conference that solidified the global Non-Aligned Movement, is a good vantage from which to observe the continuity of imperial policies toward what used to be called the “Third World.” Unfortunately, many of the oppressed have still not learned history’s lessons that could lead them to a “class and racial and religious consciousness on a global scale.”
 
The Anniversary of Bandung and Durban II: Eisenhower to Obama What We Haven’t Learned About “Unity in Diversity!”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Dr. Jared A. Ball
Then as now the wealth-producing nations of the so-called ‘Third World’ are essential as colonies of the West.”
55 years ago this week 29 African and Asian nations gathered in Bandung, Indonesia to develop organized resistance to Western imperialism. One year ago this week 141 mostly African, Asian and Latin American nations were gathered at the World Conference Against Racism (Durban II) in Geneva, Switzerland looking to, among other things, develop collective strategies in a struggle against racism, xenophobia and “related intolerance problems.” In each case the world’s majority joined together to speak and organize against the ravages of Western dominance; in each case many well-meaning people were inspired; in each case the West refused full acceptance or participation; and in each case the hopes and unity have yet to be realized.
In 1955 President Eisenhower refused to send a delegation despite having not been invited. In 2009, despite being invited, president Obama refused U.S. participation just as Bush had refused participation in the 2001 original World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. In 1955 the West was not invited. In 2009 the West was invited but 9 of the 23 Western nations walked out or boycotted. Whatever were the given reasons for their lack of involvement in 2009, the reasons were in fact the same as those which led to their not being invited in 1955. If the responses of the colonized are to include equality, reparations or overthrows of currently-held relationships of power the West, regardless of the particular hue of its leadership, is not interested. Then as now the wealth-producing nations of the so-called “Third World” are essential as colonies of the West. It is we who have not learned our lessons.
If the responses of the colonized are to include equality, reparations or overthrows of currently-held relationships of power the West is not interested.”
In 1955 Black American leadership knew the importance of such a gathering. In 2009, with few notable exceptions such as Cynthia McKinney, established leadership was silent both in terms of attendance and in criticism of the president’s decision not to go. Looking back on Bandung in 1963 Malcolm X noted in his “Message to the Grassroots” the importance of this kind of unity and expressed the inspirational impact it had on him. Recognizing the power in the oppressed leading their own struggles for freedom he noted that the “… number-one thing that was not allowed to attend the Bandung conference was the white man. He couldn’t come… This is the thing that you and I have to understand. And these people who came together didn’t have nuclear weapons; they didn’t have jet planes; they didn’t have all of the heavy armaments that the white man has. But they had unity.
And in at least two cases, for W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson, it took government interference to keep them from attending. Robeson sent his blessings and summarized not only his support but the precise purpose for the gathering. “How I should have loved to have been in Bandung,” he exclaimed. He added that, “The time has come when the colored peoples of the world will no longer allow the great natural wealth of their countries to be exploited and expropriated by the Western world while they are beset by hunger, disease and poverty.”
The Black leaders who could make it, included Richard Wright and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Wright would later say, “Here were class and racial and religious consciousness on a global scale [...] And what had these nations in common? Nothing, it seemed to me, but what their past relationship to the Western world had made them feel. This meeting of the rejected was in itself a kind of judgment upon that Western world!" Powell, in assessing his country’s refusal to participate said that they had, “deliberately and calculatedly imperiled the future of the United States of America for perhaps the rest of our lives.”
And given that today throughout Asia poverty remains rampant and gaps in wealth grow, and that the theft of Africa’s wealth remains key to the hegemony of the West, or that for African America the crisis of economic instability has been described as “permanent,” there remains much we can learn from the need for Bandung then and similar unification now. As then president Sukarno of Indonesia exclaimed in 1955 we today also need, “unity in diversity!”
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. On the web visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared A. Ball, Ph.D. can be contacted at freemixradio@gmail.com

Direct download: 20100421_jb_bandung.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 4:45pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The current American imperial offensive “has all the characteristics of a race war,” and is viewed as such by much of the world. “In Muslim nations, the U.S. treats the inhabitants like roaches, stomping human beings underfoot and cursing them when they scurry to get out of the way.”

Americans Kill Muslims Like Roaches
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Highways of death inevitably appear whenever U.S. troops are deployed among populations that Americans think of as less than human.”
The latest American atrocity in Afghanistan – the wanton slaughter of civilians on an inter-city bus near Kandahar – is yet more bloody proof that the United States military offensive in the Muslim world has all the characteristics of a race war. The men, women and children in the packed, full-size bus found themselves suddenly boxed in between two American convoys on a highway of death – a place where the natives are instantly liquidated if they are unfortunate enough to find themselves in proximity to U.S. soldiers. Such highways of death inevitably appear whenever U.S. troops are deployed among populations that Americans think of as less than human.
In Iraq, the road between central Baghdad and the airport was also known among the natives as the “highway of death.” American convoys routinely fired on commuters on their way to work if they felt the Iraqi vehicles got too close. Civilian employees of the United States share in the imperial privilege of killing Muslims at will. In 2005, British mercenaries took a leisurely drive along Baghdad’s “highway of death” playing Elvis Presley records while shooting Iraqi motorists for sport. So confident of impunity were the soldiers of fortune, they videotaped their ghoulish joyride, to entertain friends and relatives back home. And they were right; neither the mercenary killers nor their corporate employers were punished.
In 2007, Blackwater mercenaries opened fire on commuters trapped in a traffic jam in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, killing 17 and wounding at least 20 – apparently because they were bored. But, why not? U.S. troops had been committing mass murder in villages like Haditha for years. Early in the war, they leveled Fallujah, a city larger than Birmingham, Alabama, after first bombing the hospital. Casual killing is a prerogative of imperial occupiers when the natives are considered sub-human.
“They would never behave in such a manner in European.”
In the newly-released WikiLeaks video of a 2007 aerial human turkey-shoot over a suburban Baghdad neighborhood, the voices of the American helicopter pilots and gunners are testimony to the endemic, pathological racism of the U.S. occupying force. The Americans beg their commanders for permission to kill Iraqis milling about on the street below, presenting no threat to anyone. They are thrilled when their cannon fire rips into over a dozen men, including two journalists. "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards," says one G.I. When they fire on a car that stopped to aid one of the victims, severely wounding two children, the Americans crack that it served the Iraqis right for bringing children into a battle. But there was no battle, just Americans bringing casual death into an Iraqi neighborhood.
Americans seem unable to resist raining death from the skies on wedding parties in Afghanistan. Apparently, any gathering of Afghans, anywhere, for any reason, is sufficient cause for Americans to unleash high-tech weapons of destruction. They would never behave in such a manner in European countries because, well, people live there. But in Muslim nations, the U.S. treats the inhabitants like roaches, stomping human beings underfoot and cursing them when they scurry to get out of the way. This is race war, pure and simple. The fact that it's commander-in-chief is a Black man does not alter the character of the crime, on iota. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100414_gf_AfghanAtrocity.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:10am EDT

DC Rally Organizers:  "Arne Duncan Must Go!"

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama administration is steamrolling the privatization of the U.S. public schools, imposing a corporate model in which there is no place for teachers unions or for “anything resembling community control.” Education chief and Obama buddy Arne Duncan’s public school demolition derby would be denounced by “every progressive force in America” – if he were a Republican.

 

DC Rally Organizers: “Arne Duncan Has To Go!”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.”

The Obama administration last week named the first two winners in the $4 billion-plus Race to the Top. The bizarre contest pits the states against each other to determine which states are willing to be most ruthless in stripping away teachers’ union rights and shutting down public schools to make way for charter schools. Delaware and Tennessee won a total of $600 million. Round two of the diabolical competition begins in June. With their mad Race to the Top, President Obama and his education hatchet man, Arne Duncan, have imposed corporate morality and operational methods on American public education. Nowhere in this model is there a place for unions, and nowhere is there a place for anything resembling community control.  Public education is reduced to a “marketplace” for exploitation by cutthroat capitalists. The awesomely destructive process is called education “reform,” but looks and smells very much like disaster capitalism.

In New Orleans, school privateers welcomed Hurricane Katrina as a kind of “divine wind” that virtually swept away public education, replacing it with a system that is almost entirely charter schools. In New York City, where a judge halted the closing of 19 mostly Black and Latino schools, mass conversion to charter schools is leading to increased racial and economic segregation – an outcome confirmed on a national scale in a study by the UCLA Civil Rights Project. In Detroit, education “reform” means shutting down 44 public schools and replacing them with 70 new charter schools. Public school activists warn that private foundations plan to convert 75 percent of Detroit’s schools to charters within the next five years – moving the city closer to the New Orleans model without the need of intervention from a hurricane.

“Mass conversion to charter schools is leading to increased racial and economic segregation.”

It is, therefore, appropriate that the latest challenge to the Obama administration's assault on the public schools is centered in Detroit, headquarters of the organization called BAMN – By Any Means Necessary. BAMN heads up a national coalition that will converge on the U.S. Education Department, in Washington, on April 10 under the banner, “Our children are not for sale.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan, say the organizers, plans to create a national network of 5,000 “publicly-financed, privately-run, minimally-regulated charter schools.” The $4 billion dollar Race to the Top competition is just the bait for the planned big switch. The “race” is the cruelest kind of contest, creating a “mad scramble to abandon all tried-and-true reforms to get desperately needed federal funding and the insane competition of school-against-school, state-against-state.”

According to BAMN activists, “If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.... For any real pro-student educational reforms to occur, Duncan must go now.”

But, of course, Duncan is not a loose cannon. He's Barack Obama's basketball buddy from Chicago, where Duncan closed Black and brown schools and fired Black teachers with abandon. When demonstrators gather at the Department of Education on Saturday, April 10, they will be denouncing Arne Duncan, but the policies are Barack Obama's.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100407_gf_SchoolsRally.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:43pm EDT

Burn Hollywood Burn!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

Hollywood distorts – and whitens – everything it touches. Now, the city of cinematic Euro-fantasies has grabbed onto the story of Winnie Mandela, first lady of the South African liberation movement.  “Mandela herself has said she has not been contacted, is not at all in support of the film and is likely to sue.” Best to consign this flick to the bonfire of imperial vanities.


Burn Hollywood Burn!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

Will Winnie Mandela’s support of armed struggle be treated fairly, within the context of anti-imperial warfare?”

Brace yourselves everyone, the unrelenting purveyor of psychological warfare known as Hollywood is gearing up for a new round of abuse.  bell hooks, Ishmael Reed, and other students of semiotics, race and eugenics get your mighty pens ready, crack those knuckles and get plenty of rest.  We expect you to be busy.  Announcements and predictions abound regarding the developing projects of Winnie, the story of Winnie Mandela to be played by Jennifer Hudson, and Hoover, a new Clint Eastwood joint starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar, himself.  Public Enemy had it right years ago and it remains, Burn Hollywood Burn! 

But perhaps it was prophetic that in that classic track from Public Enemy the song ends with Flavor Flav in dialogue with an unknown film executive inviting him to play some Stepin Fetchit role only to have Flav defiantly say no when told he would not be depicting Huey P. Newton or H. Rap Brown.  Well, we’ve all seen how that turned out.  And never mind the long history of a film industry whose very fabric is sewn with the bloodied images of African people whose real life bloodied bodies far outweighed the scenes which helped produced them.  Just look today at the anti-Black, anti-woman, anti-poor cinematic hit job whose name is quite ironically Precious.  Or the film Doubt, whose subject is supposedly a pedophile priest, has as its only and most condemned figure the never-seen-on-screen Black male father.  Clint Eastwood’s last film, Gran Torino, is little more than a well-funded excuse to call Asians anything but their rightful name or to have rape victims disappear once they’ve served their role as white man’s host.  And what is perhaps the counterpart to the forthcoming film about his former wife we recently were treated to Invictus, also directed by Eastwood, where the story of Nelson Mandela is told through Matt Damon’s white male rugby player.  The one line in that film worthy of any real focus was, of course, said, never-repeated, nor ever again addressed.  In response to a question about why he was so focused on this rugby team Mandela turns to his aid and says, “because they,” the whites, “still control the economy and the military.” Shhhh….

“We recently were treated to ‘Invictus’ where the story of Nelson Mandela is told through Matt Damon’s white male rugby player.”

So what can we predict? We may not be prophets, but analysis is useless if it produces no preparation.  Winnie, with the selection of an African American actress, has justifiably angered some in South Africa, as did Invictus, who feel as though their country should provide their “Mother of the Nation” with her portrayal.   Mandela herself has said she has not been contacted, is not at all in support of the film and is likely to sue.  The book upon which the film is based was equally unsupported by Mandela, includes very few primary sources and because it apparently “writes off” a woman very much still alive has been questioned for its “participation in the neocolonial project.”  What then are we likely to learn about the recently re-emergent critical relationship Winnie maintains with the post-apartheid government?  Will we see honest attempts to answer her still relevant question of “are we in power or just in government?”  Will her support of armed struggle be treated fairly, within the context of anti-imperial warfare? And what prominent white character, real or imagined, will be installed as necessary balance a la films like Biko, The Last King of Scotland or Blood Diamond?

And ah yes, it was this last film that brought us DiCaprio’s pretty face as cover for what is the scourge of a Western-inspired (but barely depicted) anti-African diamond trade.  And now it appears as though those same looks will be used to clean up the ugliness of Hoover’s face and, worse still, his actions.  What can we expect from the aforementioned Clint Eastwood? Will Hoover’s role in the assassination or imprisonment of countless heroes be exposed or is the fact that the film is being written by the man responsible for Sean Penn’s Milk a foreshadowing of a focus on a more scandalous rumored life of the former FBI director?

One thing is easily predicted.  We must prepare our intellectual torches for the Bob Marley-like Burnin’ and Lootin’ of all illusions developed by the permanent enemy known as Hollywood.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D. can be contacted at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20100407_jb_burn_hollywood_burn.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:39pm EDT

U.S. Pushes for Somalia Offensive, But Settles for Starving the People

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What's a super-power to do when its puppet is too weak to wage a proxy war on the big guy's behalf? Starve the population, to make the whole country scream. The U.S. used the UN Security Council to sabotage the international body's aid program for Somalia, endangering the lives of millions. So much for Washington's doctrine of “humanitarian intervention.”

 

U.S. Pushes for Somalia Offensive, But Settles for Starving the People

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Washington’s Somali puppets have far too few troops to launch an offensive against anyone.”

The American-backed offensive in Somalia was supposed to be underway by now, based on months of Pentagon-planted stories in the corporate press. But there is, as yet, no offensive, because the puppet regime doesn’t even have enough soldiers to hang on to its little corner of Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu.  This is a big problem for the Obama administration, which is anxious to expand its imperial offensive from Yemen across the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately for Washington, its Somali puppets have far too few troops to launch an offensive against anyone.

Unable to make headway against the Shabab Islamic militants that control 95 percent of south and central Somalia, the Americans step up their war against the civilian population, withholding food from the millions that depend on foreign aid to keep from starving.

The subjugation of Somalia is a Euro-American affair. The European Union is paying for the training of 2,000 Somali recruits in Uganda, Washington’s always-eager mercenary best friend in Black Africa. Uganda also provides thousands of its own troops to guard the Mogadishu airport, without which the puppet Somali regime would be cut off from the outside world.

Another 2,500 new Somali recruits are in neighboring Kenya, but there’s a problem getting them into action, as well. Many of the ethnic Somali recruits are Kenyan citizens. The traditional Somali homeland includes huge chunks of Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as the French and American outpost in Djibouti. The Kenyans are afraid they will lose control of these Somali soldiers if they are turned over to the regime in Mogadishu. Kenya wants their Somalis to guard the Kenyan border against other Somalis, and has refused to turn them loose for service to the U.S. -backed puppet government.

“The Americans used one section of the United Nations to attack the UN aid mission in Somalia.”

Ethiopia, which invaded Somalia in late 2006 at the instigation of the United States, is also careful which Somalis get guns and training, and where they are stationed. Ethiopia has vetoed the deployment of some Somali militias, fearful they will wind up turning on Ethiopia. But the Ethiopians have also armed other Somali militias that promise to fight the Shabab Islamists in Mogadishu.

Frustrated that unlimited American money and military resources still can't get an offensive going against the rag-tag Shabab, Washington earlier this year decided to starve out the Somali population, to force the Shabab to surrender. But United Nations and international food agencies loudly protested, forcing U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to temporarily back off from charges that United Nations food was being diverted to the Shabab. The Americans then made an end run around the United Nations Secretariat structure, using the more compliant Security Council apparatus to issue a “report” backing up U.S. claims. Thus, the Americans used one section of the United Nations to attack the UN aid mission in Somalia. The ultimate casualties are, of course, the millions of displaced and hungry Somalis who were plunged into humanitarian crisis by the U,S. and Ethiopian invasion, more than three years ago.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100407_gf_SomaliaFood.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:35pm EDT

peniel joseph hucksterBy BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

 

Dr. Peniel Joseph Peddles Slick Marketing Constructs As “Black History”

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

...branding is not history, branding is not policy. Branding is the manipulation of images, words and symbols to call up real and imagined memories that evoke a particular emotional response from an audience.”

The job of historians in the service of democracy should be to explain and clarify historical trends for ordinary people, to help us better understand where we are, where we came from, and where we're headed. But not all historians serve democracy. As long as there have been intellectuals a great many have made their careers spinning fables which obscure more than they reveal, histories that reinforce rather than challenge illegitimate power, ill-gotten wealth, and undeserved privilege.

Dr. Peniel Joseph is a young and highly acclaimed scholar. He's the author of Dark Days, Bright Nights, From Black Power to Barack Obama. But Dr. Joseph is no peoples' historian. In a recent appearanceon Dr. Jared Ball's Jazz & Justice show on WPFW-FM in Washington, Joseph declared one of the main threads of his most recent book was explaining the campaigns and career of Barack Obama as part of what he called the “radically transformative” outcome of the Black Power movement, which he traces through Malcolm X, Kwame Toure, the former Stokely Carmichael, and the 1980s electoral campaigns of Jesse Jackson and Chicago's Harold Washington.

Actually, for black politicians campaigning inside the black community, trying to brand your campaign as the fulfillment of the Freedom and Black Power movements is pretty standard stuff. The Obama campaign managed the neat trick of turning itself into two separate brands, one fungible inside the black community and another outside it as the multiracial apostle of “there is no black America, there is no white America.” When you went to Obama's campaign web site you were greeted with a gorgeous fuzzy photo of Barack, Michelle and the kids with the slogan underneath “Join the Movement.

When black historians accidentally confuse branding with history, they are fools...”

But branding is not history, branding is not policy. Branding is the manipulation of images, words and symbols to call up real and imagined memories that evoke a particular emotional response from an audience. Branding is the tool of marketers who sell us everything from new cars and prescription meds to lifestyles, whatever those are. When blackchanginesshistorians accidentally confuse branding with history, they are fools. When they do so deliberately they are charlatans and mercenaries. Advertising Age, the flagship magazine of the marketing industry doesn't have to fool anybody. It gave the 2008 Obama presidential campaign its 2008 Brand of the Year Award.

Dr. Joseph himself said that a nuanced view of Barack Obama's place relative to the Black Power movement would necessitate examining his policy positions, issue by issue. But when the show's host used the word “imperialism” to describe the actual policies to which Barack Obama subscribes, Dr. Joseph pronounced it a “totalizing” term, called it “sloganeering” which he said puts an end to any useful dialog. So in Dr. Joseph's world we can prattle on about the “radical transformations” of democracy engineered by the Black Power movement which resulted in the Obama presidency. But with fleets in every ocean and hundreds of military bases scattered across every continent, we can't talk about empire. What's wrong with that picture, huh?

When Dr. Joseph awards Barack Obama status as a direct descendant of the Freedom and Black Power movements, which were fundamentally pro economic justice and anti-imperialist he abandons the clarifying role of peoples historian for a comfy seat in the establishment chorus. Dr. Joseph is reselling black people somebody else's marketed image, somebody else's brand name screed as our history. Dr. Joseph is the fake Wizard of Oz telling us to pay no attention to that wealthy handful of corporations behind that curtain.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Atlanta. He can be reached at bruce,dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

Direct download: 20100328_bd_no_peoples-historian.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 2:12am EDT

rikersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Degradation of captives is central to the culture of the American criminal justice system. The City of New York spares no expense to allow jail guards to routinely violate inmates’ rights and court orders through illegal strip searches – a “pattern and practice” that has cost taxpayers at least $81 million.
 
NYC Spends Tens of Millions to Illegally Humiliate Prisoners
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Guards at Rikers Island jail continued their practice of blanket strip searches in brazen violation of the court’s specific orders.”
Way back in 1986, a federal judge ruled that it was illegal for guards at New York City’s super-jail on Rikers Island to strip search peoplearrested on misdemeanor charges, like marijuana smoking, subway fare-beating, or shoplifting. That was 24 years ago, but the city’s Department of Corrections never stopped the routine strip searches, even after a series of successful law suits wound up costing the taxpayers a total of $81 million in damages.
The original court decision found that subjecting prisoners held on minor charges to automatic strip searches violated their 4thAmendment Constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure. But New York City jail officials apparently believed that court rulings were meant for inmates to obey, not themselves. The Corrections Department violated the order for 15 years, until a class action suit by former inmates forced the city to pay $43 million in damages, in 2001. Still, they kept on strip searching everyone, as if the suit never happened.
The next year, in 2002, the city settled another strip search suit, costing the taxpayers $5 million. This time, the city promised to replace strip searches with a piece of equipment called a Body Orifice Security Scanner. Prisoners would disrobe, put on a gown, and sit in a specially-built chair that would allow guards to electronically look into the inmates’ body cavities for drugs, weapons or other hidden contraband. New York City bought 50,000 gowns for the inmates to wear as they
sat in the chair. The judge thought the issue was settled.
Jailers strip search inmates to humiliate them – not for security purposes.”
But the guards at Rikers Island jail continued their practice of blanket strip searches for five more years in brazen violation of the court’s specific orders. By 2007, Rikers Island inmates had won yet another class action suit – this one for $33 million. Jail authorities had illegally strip searched 150,000 inmates, and hadn’t even used all the 50,000 gowns that had been purchased to comply with the judge’s order, most of which were still sitting in a warehouse.
In the ensuing investigation, practically every Corrections Department guard and official questioned swore to have never even seen anyone strip searched at Rikers Island – a sprawling facility through which about 130,000 inmates pass every year, more than the prison populations o35 states. Finally, the city admitted to having carried out a “pattern and practice” of illegal strip searches – nearly a quarter-century after a court ordered them to stop the practice, and at a cumulative cost of $81 million.
The moral of this sordid little tale, is that jailers strip search inmates to humiliate them – not for security purposes.Even when there are technical means available to find contraband, jailers prefer to degrade and dehumanize their prisoners. And city governments are willing to pay out tens of millions of dollars in damages to immunize lawless jailers from punishment, just as cities routinely fork over millions in damages for police officers that abuse, maim and kill citizens. Police and prison lawlessness is institutionalized in the United States. Covering it up is a big-budget item. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com. 

Direct download: 20100331_gf_StripSearches.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:50am EDT

By BAR columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Culture is the expression of collective personhood. The culture of Africa's descendants in the U.S. has been demonized, belittled and viewed as a threat ever since the days when slavemasters banned use of the drum. With the wholesale gentrification of urban America, a new wave of cultural ethnic cleansing is underway, as inner city entertainment venues are being closed, and owners of remaining night spots collude to squeeze original artists with substantial and established audiences out of commercial viability. Like coffee, some are too black, too strong.

Washington, D.C. : A Case Example of Cultural Genocide

by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Bands are literally told to leave their congas at home in order to re-form themselves as jazz or R&B bands, and the famed “pocket,” go-go’s equivalent to hip-hop’s “break beat” is said to now be off limits...”

Fuck all the corny laptop DJs that killed the realness.” I found this comment from Washington, DC-based DJ EuRok about DJs adopting new digital music technology as opposed to the traditional vinyl record to be quite relevant far beyond its immediate focus of the closing of DJ Hut, the long-time mainstay of DJ and hip-hop culture in the city. Perhaps it hit harder considering that only a couple of weeks earlier one of DC’s more prominent Go-Go music sound men told me that “go-go as a culture is going to die.” In each case, the impact of gentrification and new technologies were seen by those who would know to be having a nasty impact that goes well beyond the ravages of uprooted community. To the extent that DC represents a national trend and all that is related to issues of gentrifying communities in what has even been likened to an international return to the European model of cities for the wealthy and suburbs for the rest, the nation’s capital also exemplifies the impact on culture of colonial relocation and land-grabbing.

Of course, the cultural expression of Black people has long been a battleground of theft and appropriation. And, as all uninterrupted processes, it continues today. In this case, the long history of “racial cleansing” in the United States has a style and impact that is equally modern in its creeping and slick demeanor. For instance, Washington, D.C. has been targeted as one of Clear Channel’s “Branded Cities” or the plan for complete corporate advertising emersion where “Brandscaping” turns communal spaces into “controlled environment[s]” where “brands [are] to be experienced” and unavoidably interwoven into people’s daily lives. This is the live version of what some lament as the creeping shift of sleeker, more convenient and accessible DJ digital technology which encompasses the closing of record stores which, as all public spheres, mean so much more than a place to purchase albums. It also includes the policy of cleansing the city of its most recognizable cultural expression. Go-Go, with its live musicianship, polyrhythmic, conga-based funk has, according to sound man Greg McNeils, been all-but banned from the city proper. Bands are literally told to leave their congas at home in order to re-form themselves as jazz or R&B bands, and the famed “pocket,” go-go’s equivalent to hip-hop’s “break beat” is said to now be off limits. And similar to EuRok’s dismay at the shift to digital formats McNeils describes a similar trend where street vendors and small store operators are being forced out of business which in turn hurts the underground distribution of go-go mixtapes, or PA taped recordings of live performances, which have been the mass medium network of distribution for those without access to radio.

And he is not alone , cats have been seeing this. Oddisee, of the crew Diamond District, recounts how “mom and pop stores {are} replaced by Couture,” and Head-Roc, the “Mayor of DC Hip-Hop,” who himself has lyrically tackled the issue of gentrification, has recently launched a campaign to expose the vicious network of venue operators who continue to deny local Black artists space to perform and who assure that those who do are held in a state of Electric Purgatory or debt peonage as they must cover their own promotional costs or perceived lack of audience draw.

'“cultural genocide,...includes all policies aimed at destroying the specific characteristics by which a target group is defined, or defines itself, thereby forcing them to become something else....”'

And all of this is also slickly hidden beneath DC’s tightly-controlled media environment which is quite right-wing in general and specifically managed to assure that none of this music is heard on the city’s sanctioned radio. Just this past week, as is the case every week, the dominant “urban” radio stations had all their top ten songs, as measured by times played, or spins, selected by one of three corporations, two of whom, Sony Music’s CEO Howard Stringer and Warner Music’s CEO Edgar Bronfman, share an incestuous board of director interlock.

But the issue really is the impact of this nation’s brand of colonialism and how it manifests the “cultural genocide,” as defined by the United Nations who explain it as “the imposition of [an] alien national pattern…” which “includes all policies aimed at destroying the specific characteristics by which a target group is defined, or defines itself, thereby forcing them to become something else.” This includes assaults on the target population’s “books… language… religious works… destruction or dispersion of objects of… artistic… value” and so on. Shifts in technology which force cultural reformations, that also further limitations of the public sphere, that impose alien cultural forms or, in this case, bastardized corporate versions of the cultural expression, that disappear underground communicative traditions, and again force a removal of the drum all relate to the physical forced removal of colonized populations. And as the nation’s capitol, as goes DC, so goes the Black nation.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online visit www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is assistant professor of Communications Studies at Baltimore's Morgan State University, host of WPFW's Jazz & Justice, which airs every Monday at 1PM EST, a co-founder of CBC Monitor, and among much else, one of the minds behind VoxUnion.Com.

 

Category:politics -- posted at: 3:30pm EDT

immigrantion protestA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Tens of thousands of mainly Latino demonstrators demanded immediate action on immigration reform from President Obama, last weekend. But Obama supports a “bipartisan” bill that would vastly increase raids and arrests. Unfortunately, “as with every other issue, when Barack Obama stands for an expanded police state, most of the American Left sits down and shuts up."

 
Immigrants Should Be Careful What They Wish For From Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
On the immigration front, Obama’s practice is little different from that of the Bush administration.”
Tens of thousands of immigrants and their supporters gathered in Washington this past weekend to beseech President Obama to move this year on immigration reform. It’s doubtful they will get their wish, but supporters of meaningful change in U.S. immigration policies ought to be careful what they wish for. This president is no more interested in real reform in U.S. immigration policy than in genuine reform of the health care system.He is joined at the hip with those corporate forces that would condemn immigrants – especially those who are not white – to a world of shadows and perpetual insecurity, always at the mercy of some kind of cop.
Obama was cheered by thousands of demonstrators when his image appeared on giant screens on the Capitol Mall. “I’ve always pledged to be your partner,” said Obama, “and that’s a commitment that I reaffirm today.” But Obama’s commitments to common people are rhetorical and transient, while his ties to the economic and political elite are permanent. On the immigration front, Obama’s practice is little different from that of the Bush administration.
His administration continues Bush’s policy of deputizing local police agencies to enforce immigration laws, a formula for racial profiling and police abuse on a massive scale. The infamous 287(g) program was passed into law in 1996, in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. The perpetrator of the Oklahoma City attack was a white, right-wing terrorist, but the law allowed the federal government to turn local law enforcement loose on mostly non-white immigrants. In many localities, the program has the effect of putting people who appear to be “foreign looking” at the mercy of every racist with a badge. President Obama could bring the local police immigration enforcement programs to a virtual halt, administratively, without consulting Congress, but he has not – which shows his true intentions.
This president is no more interested in real reform in U.S. immigration policy than in genuine reform of the health care system.”
Obama is on record in support of a U.S. Senate immigration bill co-sponsored by New York Democrat Charles Schumer and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham. Under their legislation, it is generally agreed that immigration authority raids will increase, resulting in huge growth of immigrant detention centers, which already incarcerate 350,000 people per year – the fastest growing sector of the American Prison Gulag. The bill would require a national ID card – something even George Bush found repugnant, and that progressives have long opposed. But, as with every other issue, when Barack Obama stands for an expanded police state, most of the American Left sits down and shuts up.
The Schumer/Graham/Obama bill would ensure that U.S. corporations get all the low wage immigrant workers they want through programs in which guest workers would have little leverage to improve their working conditions. And, of course, the Obama administration has no intention of altering their beloved “free trade” policies that have destabilized the peasant and working classes of Mexico and Central America, fueling the human flow northward.
Jesse Jackson, Cornel West and the heads of the NAACP and the National Urban League spoke in solidarity with immigrants – which is as it should be. But there can be no triumph for immigrant civil rights in a police state, or in a world where inequality is the biggest U.S. export.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 

 

Direct download: 20100324_gf_Immigration.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:34am EDT

team tavisby BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Event Meister extraordinaire Tavis Smiley gathered his hand-picked Black All Stars for a “Black Agenda” conference, in Chicago, over the weekend. The usual suspects were in attendance, shining and rhyming luminously and voluminously. President Obama’s stock had fallen, but “blind adherence” to the Democratic Party still reigned near-supreme.

Tavis Smiley’s Annual Black “Radical” All-Star Game
by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.
For every Louis Farrakhan ‘testicular fortitude’ there was a Michael Eric Dyson ‘ovarian audaciousness.’”
This week the already blood soaked, broken and dead carcass of a murdered Black radicalism was further kicked around, then adorned, by Tavis Smiley and all those gathered at his annual Black political All-Star Game. And it truly was an all-star gathering where everyone came to play on the big stage. It had all the political ally-oops, 360 degree word play, dazzling no-look Biblical references and behind the back, through the legs, ankle-breaking alliterations. Cornell West looked spry prancing around the roundtable cheerleading and for every Louis Farrakhan “testicular fortitude” there was a Michael Eric Dyson “ovarian audaciousness.” And all but one of the attendees brought flashy Blacker-than-thou critiques of the president, all in love, of course, as was the theme Smiley laid down literally with a so-labeled centerpiece placed dramatically mid roundtable. But this truly was conservatism draped in radicalism. None advocated breaks with the established political parties, none adopted a tradition of radical intra-racial socialized economics and none called for mass protest or civil disobedience. It was post-election criticism, calls for conservative individualized self-help and obedience to the established political order.
Smiley was clear that he wanted his guests to answer for the absence of an overt support of a Black agenda by the president. So now, and only after his election, Jesse Jackson wonders why it is only a Black agenda that Obama ignores, and Farrakhan says Obama was “selected not elected” and lords over the “White House” for “white people,” and Dyson boldly proclaims Obama to be “Pharaoh… not Moses…” or even Dr. King. Dyson went on to say that he has known Obama the longest and supported him first as the political “Jackie Robinson” who might not be the best but is best suited to be first. This should, of course, be seen as an admission of political ineptitude and the fact that neither Dyson nor anyone else who appreciated that comparison brought up the impact of Robinson on the death of the Negro Leagues or use of him by the state to speak against more radical Black leaders like Paul Robeson, means that the real power of that analogy went without discussion.
None advocated breaks with the established political parties, none adopted a tradition of radical intra-racial socialized economics and none called for mass protest or civil disobedience.”
And other juicy contradictions were all over the place. Like when the sole youth representative, Raven Curling, asked about the absence of mass protests, and Jackson agreed we should not abandon such tactics, Smiley would later say that he and his roundtable of leaders couldn’t make such calls and that actions should be “individual.” The economic equivalent of the individual as power came from Author Tom Burrell who was first to shift blame of Black poverty to Black spending habits with that favorite myth of Black buying power. This sophomoric economic analysis was championed again by Julianne Malveaux and by Louis Farrakhan who took the myth to even greater contradictory heights. The minister, with calls of “do for self,” suggested separately that America was declining and, therefore, was both “for sale,” and leading toward a time when the U.S. dollar would be “worthless.” Following this “logic” we should use a mythological $1 trillion in buying power to purchase equally mythological wealth-building assets from a declining country whose currency is soon to be worthless. With confusion like this it is little wonder why there is so much to lament in the condition of Black America.
There was little more clarity in the arena of electoral politics. Ron Walters twice called for a “Black Party” but confusingly only as a bloc within the Democratic Party. This kind of blind adherence to the Democrats was further displayed when in response to audience member Phil Huckleberry of the Illinois Green Party, who said that his party was the only party with a real Black agenda, all-star panelist Angela Blackwell actually agreed but only that “green jobs” and a “green economy,” not alternative political party development, were part of a Black agenda. It is this kind of confused analysis that led roundtable participant and Civil Rights veteran Dorothy Tillman to say that Black “political empowerment” is as “diminished” today as she has ever seen it and that this is a result of the ascendancy of president Obama. But it is also true that Obama’s ascendancy and that of the gathered all-stars is also the result of a previous murder of Black radicalism.
For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
Dr. Ball can be contacted at freemixradio@gmail.com.
 

 

Direct download: 20100324_JB_TavisAllStars.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:29am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen FordACORN in NOLA
The armory of the Left, such as it was, has been greatly diminished with the demise of ACORN, the nationwide grassroots organization. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, “with Black and progressive forces at their weakest state in at least two generations.”

R.I.P ACORN: The Revolution Will Not Be Subsidized
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
There no longer exists a mass grassroots organization with the numerical forces or political will to directly confront rampaging capital and its servants in government.”
The loss of the grassroots social change organization ACORN is a huge setback to the cause of economic and racial justice in the United States. Born in the Seventies from roots in civil rights, welfare rights and workers rights organizing, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now once boasted membership of 400,000 families in chapters across the country.
This week ACORN, or what was left of it, announced that it would fully dissolve itself by April 1. Most of the group’s 20 chapters had already disbanded, in order to reorganize under different names. New York ACORN has become New York Communities for Change. California ACORN now goes by, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. And ACORN Housing became Housing Centers of America. Some ACORN activists say they are not disbanding, but simply re-branding.
No matter what it's called, the demise of the national operation is as complete as it was sudden. ACORN was brought low by what began as a political sting operation in which two right-wing operatives posing as a pimp and a prostitute tricked local ACORN staffers into appearing to give advice on hiding ill-gotten income. Republicans seized on the footage, and previous problems with the organization’s voter registration activities, to nail ACORN to the cross. Congress was easily stampeded into passing a bill to withdraw all federal funding to ACORN affiliates that assisted low-income Americans on housing and other matters – work that had earned ACORN $54 million over the years.
The legislation was, in fact, an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” – that is, special legislation designed specifically to harm a political opponent. A federal judge agreed, and issued an injunction prohibiting Congress from cutting off ACORN funds, now or in the future. But the damage was done. A cascade of private contributors withdrew their support, sending ACORN into a death spiral.
ACORN was the rock on which resistance to predatory lending stood.”
Now, with Black and progressive forces at their weakest state in at least two generations, there no longer exists a mass grassroots organization with the numerical forces or political will to directly confront rampaging capital and its servants in government. ACORN has passed into the realm of nostalgia.
For decades, ACORN was the rock on which resistance to predatory lending stood. No organization came close to ACORN in documenting and organizing against financial sector housing policies that finally came crashing down on minority neighborhoods nationwide, destroying generations of Black wealth. In recent years, it fought an ultimately unsuccessful battle for a living wage in New Orleans, the poorest big city in the United States, and provided the troops for a momentous fight against Wal-Mart in Chicago. ACORN, it seemed, was everywhere in the struggle.
And now it's gone. There are many lessons to be learned from the practice of an organization that has been at the forefront of struggle for 40 years. One is, don't depend on Democratic politicians in a pinch. They are mostly worthless. And two, don't build your house on federal funding, because the revolution will definitely not be subsidized.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100324_gf_ACORN.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:18am EDT

the multiracial sheepby Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

A government and society that is ever ready to restrict the freedoms of Black folks now offers “freedom” from Blackness. This census and social “opt-out” for the progeny of interracial couples allows them to hope to be considered “as something entirely separate, different and apart from” what Curtis Mayfield called the “dark deep well.” The Black “baggage” can be left behind.

 

 

The Multiracial Sheep IS the White Supremacist Fox

by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

More people born to interracial couples are happily accepting the racial placebo of ‘multiracial’ and multiple racial choices as official census categorization.”

Let’s be very clear from the outset.  Multiracial categorization is an aggressive defense of white supremacy.  Multiracial census categorization, particularly in the era of what some are calling the first Black and multiracial president, is, pun-intended, the bulked up steroid-induced version of the old sports aphorism that “the best defense is a good offense.”  By aggressively encouraging younger generations to identify officially as multiracial the national desire to disappear worsening racial divides gets further juice by offering folks a chance to both adopt the illusion of the “post-racial” and to seemingly categorize themselves away from, if not out of, oppression. The beautiful dialectic traditionally developed in this country’s form of white supremacy was its built-in inability to be white and forced inclusion into Black which has made Black America, if even to a fault, among the most diverse, open and accepting communities in the world.  It also increased the potential that that community would become more threatening to white domination which has led to the centuries-long development of neocolonial-styled light-skin privilege as a mechanism of siphoning off some of the more willing participants in an escape from blackness. 

This continues and now in the form of official racial category.  No longer, as a recent USA Today story suggests, will younger people be forced or even encouraged to see themselves as light-skinned extensions of Curtis Mayfield’s “dark deep well,” but as something entirely separate, different and apart from.  Younger generations are being encouraged in far greater percentages to accept forms of, what some academics call, hyperdescent, or degrees of identity up the so-called racial caste scale.

Black America is, if even to a fault, among the most diverse, open and accepting communities in the world.”

As we have previously described, there is a general delusion happening where the material conditions of Black people are worseningwhile assumptions of progress among Black people are increasing.  Similarly, we have also recently discussed, that there is right now are-inscription of America’s racial slavery caste system forcibly locking Black Americans into permanent recessions and entombment at the bottom rungs of the nation’s social or colonial pyramid.  So it seems equally alarming that more people born to interracial couples are happily accepting the racial placebo of “multiracial” and multiple racial choices as official census categorization. 

As the 2010 census is disseminated nationally this month it brings with it all the old baggage of the enterprise, that is, it is used to mask gross inequality in distribution of national wealth, the locked-down gerrymandered political districts designed to assure that this fraudulent “two-party” system remains safely intact, and the sweeping under the rug of stolen prisoners who when caught up in an equally unjust system of mass incarceration are disappeared into distant regions and used to bolster the economic and electoral strength of their captors communities while not, of course, being able themselves to access any of the benefit they help to create by their incarceration.

National offerings of mobility in racial category, combined with a president whose multiracial background is used more to blunt discussions of racial inequality than to make them known and addressed, will further allow white supremacy to go unchecked and, therefore, to become more invisible and ultimately powerful.  Self-identification is, of course, personal and ultimately up to the individual.  But racial categorization is decidedly political and, therefore, means a responsibility that goes beyond any one person’s private choice.  The history and current structure of race in this country and its impact materially on Black people who don’t have the immaterial option to be categorized out of their blackness nor the material option of avoiding that category’s real-life meaning in this society demands that we who are offered the devil’s hand up reject it and remain happily categorized with the those in our families whoare our family and who are not able to escape the ravages of being fixed to the racial floor.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Jared Ball. Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Direct download: 20100317_JB_Multicultural.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:32pm EDT

Congressional Black CaucusA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The advent of America's first Black president has resulted in Black congresspeople voting for wars that their constituents overwhelmingly oppose, which could lead to the conclusion that Obama is “a morally corrupting influence on some Black lawmakers.” More than half the Congressional Black Caucus sided with Obama – and war – last week. Three-fourths of all House Democrats did the same. George Bush should be green with envy.

 

 

Half of Black Caucus Votes for More Afghan War

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“When Obama surges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Black lawmakers who purport to be for peace, retreat.”

Slightly less than half of the Congressional Black Caucus, 46 percent, broke with the Obama administration last week to vote for a bill to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Given that the nation’s first Black president has made the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater of war his own – depicting the ever-expanding aggression as a “good war” – getting 18 Black votes for peace was probably as much as could have been expected. Black Democrats certainly behaved with more decency and sanity than Democrats as a whole, three out of four of whom voted with their war mongering commander-in-chief. Some progressive lawmakers felt it was a victory simply to have been permitted to hold a three-hour debate on the merits of war and peace, at this time of global imperial offensive, and disarray on the Left.

Nevertheless, the Black Caucus’s near-even split on Obama’s wars reveals the gross perversion of African American politics as it is filtered through a Democratic Party lurching steadily rightward under the weight of corporate money and the guidance of a president who is, if anything, more militarily aggressive in the region than his predecessor, George Bush. When Obama surges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Black lawmakers who purport to be for peace, retreat.

The 18 Caucus members that voted “Yes” for withdrawal from Afghanistan reflect the overwhelming sentiments of a people that polls have for generations shown to be the most pro-peace demographic group in the nation. That 19 members of the Congressional Black Caucus would support U.S. wars against poor people half a world away, is evidence of deep moral and political corruption among the Black leadership class. (See breakdown of CBC vote, below.)

“The Black Caucus’s near-even split on Obama’s wars reveals the gross perversion of African American politics as it is filtered through a Democratic Party lurching steadily rightward.”

We are shocked that reliably progressive congresspersons like Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee, and Bobby Scott, of Virginia, cast their votes for war, as did a number of other Caucus members who, if Obama were not the president, would surely have been counted on the side of peace. Obama’s very presence in the White House can be viewed as a morally corrupting influence on some Black lawmakers, leading them to give a “pass” to policies they would otherwise oppose.

We note that Congressman John Conyers, the Dean of the Black Caucus and usually a dependable progressive, failed to vote, as did Artur Davis, the most right-wing Caucus member, who aspires to be a senator from Alabama.

We have not singled out for praise any of the 18 members that voted “Yes” for withdrawal from Afghanistan. They were doing their moral duty and expressing the political sentiments of their constituents; therefore, no accolades are in order. There is no significant war constituency in Black America – even the advent of a Black president cannot change that fact.

The peace constituency is obligated to turn out this Saturday, in Washington and San Francisco and other locations in between, to register our outrage at America’s wars – which are now Obama’s wars. That outrage should also extend to the three out of four Democrats and half of the Black Caucus members that cast their votes for mass murder of our fellow human beings, last week. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Breakdown of Congressional Black Caucus vote on HR 248, a bill to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by end of 2010:

 

Yes (18)

Yvette Clarke (NY)
William Clay (MO)

Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
Danny Davis (IL)

Donna Edwards (MD)
Keith Ellison (MN)

Alcee Hastings (FL)
Jesse Jackson (IL)

Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Johnson, E. B. (TX)
Barbara Lee (CA)
John Lewis (GA)

Donald Payne (NJ)
Charles Rangel (NY)
Laura Richardson (CA)

Edolphus Towns (NY)
Maxine Waters (CA)
Diane Watson (CA)

 

No (19)

Sanford Bishop (GA)

Corrine Brown (FL)
G.K. Butterfield (NC)

Andre Carson (IN)

Elijah Cummings (MD)

Chaka Fattah (PA)

Marcia Fudge (OH)
Al Green (TX)

Hank Johnson (GA)
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (MI)
Kendrick Meek (FL)

Gregory Meeks (NY)

Gwen Moore (WI)

Bobby Rush (IL)

David Scott (GA)
Bobby Scott (VA)

Bennie Thompson (MS)

Melvin Watt (NC)

 

Not Voting (2)

John Conyers (MI)

Artur Davis (AL)

Direct download: 20100317_gf_AntiWarVote.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:43pm EDT

The Insanity of the African American Racial ‘Critique’ of Cuba

Cuban boysA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The 60 signatories to a letter denouncing racism in Cuba seem to consider themselves extensions of Barack Obama's State Department. The logic of their action, as articulated by Dr. Ron Walters, is to encourage the United States to “make the Black condition in Cuba 'part of any negotiations on the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.'” Then maybe the Cubans can negotiate with the U.S. on behalf of African Americans.
 
 
The Insanity of the African American Racial ‘Critique’ of Cuba
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Glen Ford and poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka will be part of a program to welcome a visiting delegation of the Federation of Cuban Women at the Harlem State Office Building in New York City, Mar 10. Details below.
They have allowed themselves to become tools of U.S. foreign policy, in the age of Obama.”
Late last year, a group of 60 prominent African Americans circulated a letter denouncing racism in, of all places, Cuba. I say, of all places, because almost any other country on the planet would be a better target than Cuba for a scathing and very public racial critique by African Americans. The letter claims that Cuba treats its Black population with “callous disregard.”
It is true that lines of color continue to exist in Cuba 50 years after Fidel Castro proclaimed the triumph of the revolution. Cuba had once been described as the most racist country in Latin America, a Spanish slave colony later subjected to 60 years of U.S. occupation and domination. It would be idiotic to think that such deep layers of racial oppression could be easily peeled away, or made to disappear by decree. But Cuba has made miraculous progress, helped in great measure by the fact that so many of its most racist citizens moved to Miami.Cuba’s solidarity with African liberation is unequaled among nations, both militarily and in support of African civil society. Cuba has offered its life-saving medical services to people of all nations, including the United States. And Cuba has been a haven, a home in exile, for Black American freedom fighters since the early days of the revolution.
So why would a celebrity list of Black Americans single out Cuba for special criticism? They have allowed themselves to become tools of U.S. foreign policy, in the age of Obama. The signatories include Dr. Ron Walters, a veteran activist and distinguished political scientist at the University of Maryland. In an article explaining his actions, Dr. Walters himself noted that there is only a one-year gap in life expectancy between Cuban whites and Blacks and mulattoes, and Cubans live slightly longer than the average for the United States. In the U.S., whites live more than six years longer than Blacks. Black Cubans live five years longer than African Americans. Dr. Walters also notes that Black and mulatto Cubans graduate at higher rates than white Cubans. These kinds of data are clear indications that the Cuban racial divide is far less pronounced than in the United States.
Black Cubans live five years longer than African Americans.”
The signatories cite figures that purport to show that people of African descent are more likely to be incarcerated than whites. But those same figures show a much lower rate of Black incarceration in Cuba than in the United States, and a far lower percentage of Blacks among Cuban political prisoners. Still, Dr. Walters wants to make the Black condition in Cuba “part of any negotiations on the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.” In that statement, Walters is saying that the United States – of all nations – should negotiate with Cuba on the status of Cuba's Black citizens, before the U.S. lifts its illegal embargo and otherwise starts behaving like a civilized neighbor. I must assume that means the Cubans will have the same right to negotiate the treatment of Black Americans: an end to mass Black American incarceration, freedom for Black American political prisoners, a lowering of Black unemployment – and all the rest of our problems. But of course, Dr. Walters and the other signatories aren't suggesting that. They're just making themselves useful to the Empire, and saying to Hell with solidarity.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 
HARLEM Welcomes Cuba’s Visiting Delegation
THE FEDERATION OF CUBAN WOMEN
Wednesday March 10, 2010
6 To 9 PM
Harlem State Office Building/2nd Floor
163 West 125th Street
*Women in Cuba Today *Cuba’s Solidarity with Haiti
* US Embargo Against Cuba *Campaign to Free the Cuba Five
*Race in Cuba Today
Special presentation by US activists: In Defense of Cuba: Expose on the Politics behind Carlos Moore’s acrimonious campaign charging Cuba with government sanction racism: Glen Ford, Executive Editor, Black Agenda Report, poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Harlem will have a unique opportunity to share an evening of information and dialogue with the leadership of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC). Maritzel Gonzalez, Foreign Relations Representative of FMC, North America Region and delegates Ana Violeta Castaneda and Yamila Gonzalez are in New York City to participate in the United Nations’ annual activities for International Women’s Day observed on March 8th.
Established in 1960 FMC’s membership is composed of 85.2% of all eligible Cuban women over 14 years of age. Its important achievements: women’s rights to higher education, paid maternity leave, childcare provisions, and free abortions and birth control. Cuba has the third highest proportion of female Members of Parliament in the world; over 70 percent of its health sector workers are women, including 64 percent of doctors; and its Family Code obliges men to share domestic duties and child care responsibilities equally with women.
Endorsements: Sankofa Law Firm, Harlem Anti-War Coalition, Cuba Solidarity NY, December 12th Movement, International Action Center, Working People’s Voice, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report), Harlem Fight Back, Harlem Tenants Council, Carlito Rovira, (other endorsements forthcoming).
Photo ID required for entry into building. Travel information: 2 or 3 Train to 125th/A, C, D to 125th. Additional information: 647-812-5188
 
 

 

Direct download: 20100310_gf_CubaRace.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:05pm EDT

Love and Struggle: The On-Going Scandal of Political Imprisonment

free all political prisonersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball
From President Obama on down, powerful forces maintain that the Black Freedom Movement is not only over, but ended in complete success. Yet decades later, scores of veterans of that movement still languish in prison. If we won, how come our bravest are still behind bars? “Despite all the hope to the contrary, there has been no successful completion of a freedom movement in this country.”
 
Love and Struggle: The On-Going Scandal of Political Imprisonment
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared Ball
No civil or human rights movement can claim victory while its most ardent supporters remain imprisoned.”
Hi All. My parole was denied today after a 2 to 3 hour hearing and my case was referred to a 3-member panel to determine the size of my next 'hit' which may be outside the normal 3 year guideline. In other words they will probably set my future parole-hearing date at more than 3 years away. I thank all of you for the fine effort you made in trying to get me released and know that you did all that was humanly possible under the circumstances. Love, and Struggle, Sundiata.”
And so were the words last week of Sundiata Acoli, one-time computer programmer for NASA turned Black Panther Party freedom fighter, whose actions in support of a liberation struggle remain, after 36 years, defined as criminal. His statement of parole denial comes on the heals of the recent and similarly decided hearings of Jalil MuntaqimMumia Abu-JamalLeonard Peltier and Hugo Pinell and, like those, is the kind of myth-breaking state-sponsored response that deserves far more attention precisely because of what it means not only for the individuals who suffer the horrors of imprisonment but what it says about the state of broader civil and human rights struggles. The denial of parole to these and others and their particular status as political prisoners, that is, people who are incarcerated because of “their political views and/or actions,” is a stark reminder that, despite all the hope to the contrary, there has been no successful completion of a freedom movement in this country.
The prison-industrial-complex is the latest in an historically uninterrupted series of legal and political machinations designed to enforce white supremacy.”
For all the on-going discussions of Obama’s place in history, illusions of progress, or arguments over whether or not there is or should be ablack agenda, the incontrovertible fact imposed on us by the continued incarceration of political prisoners is that no civil or human rights movement can claim victory while its most ardent supporters remain imprisoned specifically for their involvement in those movements. Regardless of the particular accusation none would remain imprisoned if these movements had succeeded. Their actions would not then be seen as crimes. At worse, as once described by fellow political prisoner David Gilbert, any mistakes made by these women and men would be judged by the communities for whom they work not by those against whom they struggle. It is truly this standard that should be applied to all discussions of progress. Whenever we are confronted with the latest set of myths of improvement, even before we get to the data which demonstrates the lie of forward motion and improved material conditions, we should simply ask, “which of our dozens of political prisoners has been set free?”
And while at it, we might as well throw our support behind those working to expose and end a broader system of mass incarceration which, according to yet another recent study from the Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity program at St. Catherine University in Minnesota, describes a prison-industrial-complex that, “is the latest in an historically uninterrupted series of legal and political machinations designed to enforce white supremacy with its economic and social benefits both in and with the law.” And more to our immediate concern over the political imprisonment of those seeking to make progressive change, this study addresses this system as a response to “movements for Abolition and Civil Rights” which “worked to end the institutions of slavery, lynching and legalized segregation,” but were met with “new and more indirect mechanisms” resulting in a “color-blind… de facto racism… where people of color, especially African Americans, are subject to unequal protection of the laws, excessive surveillance, extreme segregation and neo-slave labor via incarceration…”
If Obama were the real change represented by the culmination of a successful movement he would apply at least the same standard to political prisoners as he has seen fit for Bush and Cheney. If those two are not to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity because, as the president has said, he prefers “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” then why not avert his eyes from the past long enough to immediately release these political prisoners with reparations and apologies?
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be contacted at freemixradio@voxunion.com. Read more about Dr. Ball HERE. 

Direct download: 20100310_jb_politicalprisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:55pm EDT

obama at the blackboard in law schoolA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The president has signaled loudly and clearly that he and education secretary Arne Duncan have a “'final solution” for public education. Like Ronald Reagan, Obama is portraying the unions as a threat to the national welfare. “The fundamental logic of Obama’s so-called Race to the Top program, is to break the teaches unions.”
 
Obama Acts Like Reagan 1981, the Union-Buster
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Obama is is going after the teachers unions with a hatchet – just like Reagan went after the air traffic controllers.”
President Obama’s endorsement of the firing of the entire faculty and staff of a Rhode Island public school is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s crushing of the air traffic controllers union, nearly three decades ago. Back then, President Reagan made an example of a union that had supported his presidential candidacy, firing its members and ultimately decertifying the union when it went on strike. The move sent a signal to the bosses in all sectors of the U.S. economy: the president – the U.S. government – is on management’s side, and unions are a considered a threat to the general economic welfare.
Last week, President Obama sent the same kind of signal to teachers unions, when he cited the Central Falls, Rhode Island, school shutdown as an example of the “accountability” he is demanding of poorly performing schools – which invariably means poor, non-white schools. Teachers union leaders appeared to be shocked by Obama’s language and tone – but they shouldn’t have been. The Rhode Island mass firing was not substantively different than the wholesale sacking of teachers and abrogation of their union contracts elsewhere in the country. The fundamental logic of Obama’s so-called Race to the Top program – a multi-billion dollar competition to show which states are most willing to fire teachers, shut down classrooms and replace them with charter schools – is to break the teachers union. If the teachers want to save their union, their dignity, their contracts, and the institution of public education, they will have to break with Obama. Because he is going after them with a hatchet – just like Reagan went after the air traffic controllers, despite their having supported his 1980 candidacy.
Obama takes Bush's No Child Left Behind scheme to its logical, blood on the floor conclusion.”
Obama's hatchet man and basketball buddy is Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who envisions waves of school closings, teacher firings and charter school openings for the next “five or six years.” That sounds like a kind of “final solution” for teachers unions – and for public education.
Obama's plans for America's classrooms are even more aggressivethan George Bush's policies. Obama takes Bush's No Child Left Behind scheme to its logical, blood on the floor conclusion: corporate education without the encumbrances of organized teachers. Obama's anti-union vision is more ambitious than that of the old arch-reactionary, Ronald Reagan, who destroyed a union of only 13,000 members. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have combined memberships of over 4 million. They have the capacity to fight back, to make this president back off. But, like so many others who drank the Obama Kool Aid, they are in denial, refusing to believe that they backed a union-buster who is making teachers the scapegoat for America's historical failure to serve the educational needs of all its children.
Private teacher training outfits are turning out young and hungry replacements for todays teachers, anticipating a huge turnover in public schools as Obama swings his hatchet. Teachers need to revolt against this administration while they still have a union to fight for them.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com. 

Direct download: 20100310_gf_ObamaSchools.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford
Click the flash player to listen to or the mic to download an audio in MP3 format.

With the statue of limitations due to expire in six months, federal officials have extracted one guilty plea in a New Orleans police slaughter of Black Katrina survivors. The white reign of terror remains largely unpunished. But we must also ask: Why did the city harbor so many racist cops after a quarter century of Black administration?

 
Death at the Bridge in New Orleans
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The cops converged on the Danziger Bridge, apparently in search of Black people to kill.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in September, 2005, it unleashed a tidal wave of police violence against that city’s Black citizens. One particularly vicious gang of at least seven cops converged on the Danziger Bridge over the Industrial Canal, apparently in search of Black people to kill during the post-storm confusion. The officers encountered an unarmed family of five and a friend walking across the bridge on their way to a supermarket and opened fire on them, seriously wounding four and killing one. Then the cops went to the other side of the bridge and came upon two brothers on their way to a family member’s dental office. The cops killed one of the brothers, who was mentally disabled. When they were finally finished shooting, the cops put their criminal minds together to concoct a cover story and plant a weapon on the scene.
Last week, a police lieutenant pleaded guilty to his role in covering up the police rampage. The federal conspiracy charges only carry a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine. The seven officers involved in the shootings were all originally indicted on state murder and attempted murder charges, back in 2006. But a judge found that prosecutors had acted improperly in preparing the evidence, and threw out the case, leaving further action up to federal authorities.
Now the five-year statute of limitations is due to expire in August or September for the Danziger Bridge shootings and at least five other cases of New Orleans cops running amok. One involves the death of a Black man four days after Katrina hit. The victim, Henry Glover, was shot, probably by police. Later, Glover's friends sought medical assistance from a group of cops, who set upon the Black men, beat them, then drove off in Glover's car with the wounded man in it. Weeks later, Glover's car and body were discovered, incinerated near a levy in the Algiers section of New Orleans.
For more than a generation, the city's Black leadership failed to create an environment in which Black lives were treated as having value.”
It is in many cases difficult to separate New Orleans police lawlessness from the murderous white civilian vigilantism that rocked parts of city in the wake of Katrina. The white reign of terror is meticulously documented in A.C. Thompson's investigative report “Katrina's Hidden Race War,” published in The Nation in December, 2008. Police and other officials didn't even bother to keep track of Black bodies. New Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard told Thompson that “he'd simply chosen not to autopsy some twenty-five to fifty corpses.”
For 25 years before Katrina, New Orleans was run by a Black mayor and mostly Black city council. Yet in all that time – more than a generation – the city's Black leadership failed to create an environment in which Black lives were treated as having value. Clearly, there is something wrong with the African American leadership model when, after a quarter century of Black administration the police force remains so racist at its core, it descends into barbarity at the first opportunity, turning New Orleans into a killing field for its Black citizens. It's not just New Orleans. Not one Black-led major city can claim that it has substantially eradicated institutionally racist policing. Apparently, that's not a priority of the Black misleadership class.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 

 

Direct download: 20100303_gf_NOLAcops.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:22am EDT

Diversity Schmifersity: When It Comes to Black Even the Left Ain’t Right
not even the left gets it rightby BAR columnist Jared Ball

Democracy Now! is easily the progressive Left flagship multimedia daily news program.” Yet, when subjected to the same racial diversity test as Meet the Press, the Left alternative news program scores even lower than the corporate product. “ Maybe when it comes to democracy, it's time to ask "when?"

 
Diversity Schmifersity: When It Comes to Black Even the Left Ain’t Right
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR columnist Jared Ball
88 percent of Democracy Now! shows had no African American guests.”
The legendary counselor to power Walter Lippman once explained the role of the popular press in what he considered to be their essential function, the manufacturing of consent. He said that public opinions, “must be organized for the press… not by the press...” The mainstream press is not here to assist in the expansion of ideas or methods of interpretation, it is not here to offer challenges to popular or conventional wisdom. It is, as C. Wright Mills once said, here to assure that common sense be “more common than sense.” All of this came to mind again this week as we heard of more concern that in light of the pending Comcast merger with NBC that its standard-bearing flagship news program Meet the Press was still lagging woefully behind in the diversity of its on-air guest experts.
This development of a national common sense anchored by manufactured public opinion has always required a carefully manicured Black image that just as often meant an omission of Black thought – hence the name of The Roots front man. An absence of Black thought in mainstream media is nothing new and we also know that genuine diversity goes far beyond gender or skin color. True diversity is only found in ideology or politics. However, if Blackness is to be omitted in general than certainly Black progressive or radicalism stands no chance. But a focus on the mainstream alone is a bit too easy and lets off the hook entirely those who should be more of an ally to the causes of Black progressive politics. If the flagship of the mainstream suffers from an absence of diversity what of the flagship of those who sit ostensibly in critical adjacency to that dominant norm?
74% of Meet the Press broadcasts contained no Black guests.”
Democracy Now! is easily that progressive Left flagship multimedia daily news program. It, over the last decade, has solidified itself as the premier progressive alternative to the mainstream. But when we adjust our study for a focus on the presence of African American guest analyst experts we see that when it comes to diversity they too often parody the mainstream. The National Urban League 2006 study, Sunday Morning Apartheid, concluded that 74% of Meet the Press broadcasts contained no Black guests. From January 2009 to January 2010 Democracy Now! has aired 261 shows, that is, one show every week day. Of these shows 88% had no African American guests.* As it pertains to Black America the leading progressive news program is actually worse than the leading mainstream news program.
At least two points, however, must be included. One, of the Black guests invited to Democracy Now! versus Meet the Press there is a decidedly left-leaning and important difference. The politics represented by those invited to Democracy Now! would never manage their way on to Meet the Press or any other mainstream media outlet. Secondly, the overall diversity of Democracy Now!, their representation of other so-called “minorities” can easily be said to far out-pace that of all the mainstream. The broad range of worldly views incorporated into their programming is impressive and important. However, it remains, that even with far more broadcasts per week than the weekly shows considered by the Urban League report, the representation of Black perspectives is equally absent.
For Black Agenda Radio I am Jared Ball. On the web go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com. Jared Ball can be contacted at freemixradio@voxunion.com.
* The methodology employed here was simply visiting the online archives of Democracy Now! and counting Black guests. Of the 261 shows only 30 had Black American guests or 11.5%

 

Direct download: 20100303_jb_JaredDiversity.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:51am EDT

Harold FordA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Harold Ford Jr's latest senatorial hopes have been shot down, but the Black Blue Dog who lied that his own grandmother was white and avowed his “love” for George Bush, can be counted on to ooze up yet again from the corporate swamp.
 
Good Riddance Harold Ford…Again
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Before Wall Street and Barack Obama discovered each other, Harold Ford was the Great Black Hope of the super-rich.”
Harold Ford, Jr. rises periodically like muck from a sewer to pollute the national political conversation with corporate obscenities posing as public policy. After a brief but nauseating bid for the Democratic senatorial nomination in New York, the former five-term Tennessee congressman has thankfully flushed himself back to his Wall Street cesspool. Ford backed out of the race this week, claiming he wants to save the Democratic Party from a bruising battle between himself and incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand, who was the most right-wing Democrat on the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives before being appointed to the Senate last year. Harold Ford made Gillibrand look like Angela Davis.
Ford is truly a prince among corporate political prostitutes. That’s why the Merrill Lynch investment house, which is owned by Bank of America, pays him the princely sum of $2 million dollars a year – a guaranteed salary to a lawyer who has never passed the bar and has no history or visible talent in the field of investment banking. But his racial background is what has always made Harold Ford special in the eyes of the financial oligarchy.
Before Wall Street and Barack Obama discovered each other, Harold Ford was the Great Black Hope of the super-rich – the up-and-coming young politician who would make corporate predation palatable to African Americans at-large. Ford was an instant darling of the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, the mechanism for distributing corporate money within the Democratic Party. In return for Harold Ford’s worthless soul, the DLC anointed him keynote speaker at the 2000 Democratic National Convention – the same prize they would bestow on Barack Obama, four years later.
Harold Ford made Gillibrand look like Angela Davis.”
Thirty-year-old Harold was catapulted to national prominence, his reward for having created a small right-wing faction within what had previously been an almost uniformly progressive-leaning Congressional Black Caucus. Ford became one of only two Black Blue Dog Democrats, and one of only four Black members to support the invasion of Iraq. But Ford’s faction in the Caucus grew, nurtured by corporate contributions. By 2005, the Congressional Black Caucus had been rendered all but useless to progressive politics – Harold Ford’s great service to the right wing. Ford became George Bush’s favorite Black politician, an ally in the Republican assault on Social Security. In his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid in 2006, Ford flirted openly with the racist Tennessee redneck vote.
Harold Ford may be a whore with no shame – but he is Wall Street’s whore. He's still pulling down $2 million a year as a Black front for white capital. He's still chairman of the DLC, the corporate headquarters of the Democratic Party. And he's still filling the air with flatulence on MSNBC. Harold Ford will never have to pass the bar or sell a toxic security to make a living. He's a made man for the corporate mob, and loving it.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100303_gf_ByeByeHarold.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:24am EDT

newton's lawsby BAR communist Jared Ball
 
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We are constantly told that media fairness and effective access is always just over the horizon, awaiting the maturation of new technology. Yet we never arrive at the technological Promised Land. The internet, for example, will not cure what ails Black-oriented radio. It is quite possible that “the next generation of the internet will be less open than the already less-than-free medium that it is now.”
 
The Titans of Technology: The Internet, Radio and Our Newton’s Laws
by BAR communist Jared Ball
Dr. Huey P. Newton wrote that advances in technology do not improve social relations.”
Sir Isaac Newton once gave name to pre-existing universal laws of motion. His three laws can be summarized as nothing changes course without force, the size of what is to be changed determines the force required to change it and change comes to all involved in achieving it. There are, of course, political equivalents whose laws are equally universal and also pre-date another Newton who later gave them name and Black political relevance. Dr. Huey P. Newton, whose birthday was February 17, once wrote that he “studied the law to become a better burglar” and, extending the political equivalent of the other Newton, added that advances in technology do not improve social relations. They, in fact, intensify or worsen them. Advances in technology, he noted, are developed by exploiting the very workers who are then further suppressed by those advances. These laws are worthy of application to all forms of study, even those of mass media and especially their interaction with Black America. They are, in fact, what should be our Newton’s Laws.
For example, FMQB, an online media industry trade publication, reported this week that newly developing digital broadband internet technology is no immediate threat to established terrestrial radio. Simply put, the internet is a “one-to-one” communication technology where each individual listener comes at a cost of and to limited bandwidth. Radio, on the other hand, is a “one-to-many” technology allowing a set cost for broadcasting that is relatively fixed regardless of how many people tune in. The titans of technology have not quite figured out how to scale their economies so as to reach as many online as they do over the air. For the moment, it seems, radio as we know it is safe.
Consolidated ownership and advertising, payola-driven content and no news all mean that radio is a mess and needs change.”
But radio as we know and experience it is a real-life horror show. Consolidated ownership and advertising, payola-driven content and no news all mean that radio, and particularly that targeting Black people, is a mess and needs change. Many hope and even already claim that the internet is a positive solution. But here we are given information that says the internet is not prepared to take over radio’s popularity and we already have research, like that from the Pew Research Center, which shows that incremental increases in internet usage do not translate into more diverse sources, topics covered or broader ranges of frames of interpretation. The digital divide keeping Black people offline is still an issue and those following the struggle over net neutrality have every right to be concerned that the next generation of the internet will be less open than the already less-than-free medium that it is now.
The problem for the titans of technology, of course, is that control over mass media is for the purpose of having control over access to masses of people to assure their political and economic dominance. Right now even titans like AT&T cannot afford to supply enough broadband to their 9 million IPhone users and CBS denies international access to its internet streams in an attempt to protect its limited network. None are prepared to cover the hundreds of billions of dollars necessary to service an online audience that comes anywhere close to the 235 million listeners that still tune in to radio. The full media migration online is far from complete. However, we cannot afford to confuse migration with improvement. That is, the existing power struggle over radio is also migrating, carrying with it the old rules over who rules.
Our Newton’s Laws, while they demand that advanced technology will only heighten existing conditions, also demand active and aggressive response. Black Agenda Report has already called for the establishment of a News 4 The People Coalition to challenge Black radio to provide its audience with more politically relevant information. We need at least that much to honor the man whose laws we should by now adopt as divine commandments.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. And online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR columnist Jared Ball can be contacted atfreemixradio@gmail.com. 

Direct download: 20100223_jb_titans_of_tech.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:19am EDT

Obama's nuclear night
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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The Obama administration is preparing another huge corporate giveaway – this time to an industry that has been moribund for 30 years. “Nuclear power was all but dead because private capital saw the industry as a bad risk.” But, with Obama's proposed $55 billion in loan guarantees, “Wall Street can prepare to process billions of dollars in new loans, knowing it doesn't stand to lose one cent because the public is taking all the financial risk.”
 
Another Corporate Bailout: Obama Goes Nuclear
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford
Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.”
Opponents of nuclear power have now joined the ranks of those who are bitterly disappointed with President Obama, who is proposing to triple loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry. Barack Obama has long been allied with nuclear power, as have his two closest confidants, political advisor David Axelrod and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago-based Exelon corporation, the biggest nuclear power operator in the United States, was a major Obama campaign contributor. Obama’s support for nuclear power has never been a secret. If environmentalist Obamites were surprised by their president’s all-out push for nukes, they have only their own self-delusions to blame.
Back during the campaign, when Obama was getting huge checks from Big Nukes and Big Coal, environmentalists were giving him a political blank check for no other reason than Obama wasn’t George Bush. But it turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush – three times worse. By boosting federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors from $18.5 to $54 billion, Obama is attempting to bring back to life an industry that has been all but dead for almost three decades. More than just a bailout, Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.
It turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush.”
The demise of U.S. nuclear power is generally dated to the partial meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island plant in March, 1979. But nuclear power has always been a failed business model in the U.S. Construction costs consistently run amok, at three, four and five times advertised. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that loans for nuclear plant construction have a more than fifty percent chance of never being repaid. Environmental opposition to nuclear power is not the reason the industry has been moribund for 30 years. Nuclear power was all but dead because private capital saw the industry as a bad risk. So Wall Street helped elect a president who would put up the people's money. With public dollars reviving the industry, Chicago-based Exelon's stock should shoot through the roof. Wall Street can prepare to process billions of dollars in new loans, knowing it doesn't stand to lose one cent because the public is taking all the financial risk.
The public is also taking all the risk for the health hazards of nuclear power. Private industry will not insure against accidents, which could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. The public will ultimately pay for any cleanup.
Late-stage finance capitalism, like nuclear power, can only exist as a parasite on the larger society. The people pay all the costs: financial, safety, and health. The investment class puts up no money unless guaranteed a payback plus big profits. This isn't about the environment. It's about Wall Street stealing the people blind, through their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Congress and the White House. It's really a crime story.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com. 

Direct download: 20100224_gf_ObamaNukes.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:16am EDT

sean bell murder protest

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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In an age of pervasive racial profiling and militarized policing, impunity is the order of the day in local law enforcement. When summary execution and casual sadism pass for justice at the street cop level, where is the appeal of last resort? Certainly not the Obama Justice Department.
 
Obama Justice Department Joins the Sean Bell Murder Whitewash
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity.”
Twice in the space of a week, in New York City, the criminal justice system has proven incapable of protecting non-white citizens from a predatory police force. This past Monday, an officer was acquitted of shoving a police baton up the rectum of a young man who had been smoking marijuana. Two other officers got off on charges of covering up the sodomy attack – one of them was quoted as telling the victim, “You liked it, you liked it.”
The previous week, federal officials announced that the cops that fired 50 bullets at Sean Bell and two unarmed friends on the morning of Bell’s wedding, in November, 2006, would not face federal charges in the killing. The policemen had already been acquitted, in April of 2008, on charges ranging from manslaughter to reckless endangerment, a verdict that provoked a series of demonstrations resulting in the arrest of 200 people, including Bell’s surviving friends, his parents and fiancée, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sean Bell's death reached into the presidential campaign. Barack Obama, visibly ill at ease with the subject, tersely advised that, “The judge has made his ruling, and we're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down." Obama then counseled that “resorting to violence...is completely unacceptable and counterproductive."
Hillary Clinton's response was more sensitive to deeply felt Black anger. “My thoughts are with Nicole and her children and the rest of Sean's family during this difficult time,” said Clinton. She continued: “The court has given its verdict, and now we await the conclusion of a Department of Justice civil rights investigation.”
They concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.”
That investigation has succeeded only in federalizing the whitewash of Sean Bell's killing. The Obama Justice Department, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York all concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.
The Obama administration's refusal to seek justice for Sean Bell through the civil rights statutes should cause us to review the history. The feds began to prosecute killers on denial of civil rights grounds because southern white law enforcement agencies and juries refused to mete out punishment to racist murderers. Federal prosecutors felt compelled to take the civil rights route because entrenched racism made justice an impossibility in the state courts. More than two generations later, in the age of mass Black incarceration, a police state exists on the streets of New York and all our major cities. Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity. The circumstances cry out, just as forty-plus years ago, for federal intervention. But even the horrifying facts of the Sean Bell case are not enough to move the Obama administration's Justice Department.
Sean Bell's family will pursue civil damages. The victim of police sodomy has already filed a $440 million lawsuit against the city. There's a chance that both will win significant damages. But there is a lesson, here, for the victims of police abuse: You might eventually get some money, but you'll never get justice.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 

Direct download: 20100224_gf_SeanBell.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:15am EDT

Sharpton, Jealous and Morial Make Small Talk at the Big House

 three stooges visit the presidentBlack Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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The three civil rights leaders attempted a tricky maneuver with last week's visit to the White House.  How could they appear to pressure President Obama to finally act on Depression-level Black unemployment, while making no such demand? It was a fool's errand, for which they were well suited.

 

 
Sharpton, Jealous and Morial Make Small Talk at the Big House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“They left the meeting babbling about helping the president with Republicans, but with no larger commitment in hand from Obama.”

When NAACP chief Ben Jealous emerged from a White House meeting with Barack Obama, last week, Jealous told the media:"What's clear is that we have a president who gets it." Barack Obama “gets it,” alright. He gets it, that organized Black leadership is grateful just to be allowed into the presidential presence. Obama gets it, that so-called civil rights leadership is terrified of even the appearance of exerting pressure on or, heaven forbid, making demands of the first Black president. Obama gets it, as he always has, that he can treat the civil rights establishment like fools, and they will dutifully oblige him by acting the part.

By their own accounts, Ben Jealous, National Urban League president Marc Morial, and Rev. Al Sharpton, spent much of their hour with President Obama discussing ways they can help Obama garner Republican support for his programs. This is deep, deep farce. The three Black civil rights figures have virtually no influence on Republican Party politics. That’s not their constituency and not their job. The expectation was that Sharpton, Jealous and Morial went to the White House on behalf of Black people, among whom they theoretically have some influence, to pressure Obama to take stronger action on Depression-level Black unemployment. Instead, they left the meeting babbling about helping the president with Republicans, but with no larger commitment in hand from Obama.

The president himself declined to make any statement concerning the meeting – an indication of its relative unimportance in the White House scheme of things.

“Obama still hasn't come forward with a serious jobs plan for the cities.”

In fact, the three civil rights figures have been spinning their wheels and wasting everybody’s time. They seem most giddy about having clarified to the White House what Black people mean when they cry out for action on reducing Black unemployment. "This is about place. It's not about race," rhymed the NAACP’s Ben Jealous. Government jobs programs targeted on the cities would effectively bring down Black unemployment, since Black people reside disproportionately in the cities. Nobody is demanding that jobs be created specifically for Black people, said Jealous.

But that's always been the case. There has never been a serious legislative proposal to create “Black” jobs. That's a red herring created by Barack Obama, himself. It was Obama who replied to every question on Black unemployment by saying he would never support any specifically Black jobs program – even though no one was asking for one! Obama was setting up a straw man – a Black demand that did not exist – in order to knock it down.  His purpose was to impress white people by appearing to be standing up to Black folks.

Through this dishonest and despicable ploy, Obama succeeded in deflecting criticism on Black unemployment for over a year. Now Ben Jealous says the president “gets it.” But Obama still hasn't come forward with a serious jobs plan for the cities. Black people have been demanding a “Marshal Plan for the Cities” in every election in the past 40 years – except for the election of 2008, when Blacks made no demands at all on candidate Obama. And the NAACP, the Urban League, and Al Sharpton still cannot fix their mouths in the shape of a demand. A pitiful excuse for leadership.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100217_gf_WHMeeting.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:17am EDT


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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When it comes to civil and political liberties, the U.S. is a far less free place than it was, a generation ago.” Citizens acting under the slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” would have been prosecuted as criminals under the Patriot Act, as interpreted by both the Bush and Obama administrations.
 
Obama Would Have Been Jailed Under Patriot Act
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
In some ways, the post-9/11 political and legal climate is worse than in the bad old days of the McCarthy era.”
If the Patriot Act had been in effect when the Free South Africa Movement was in full swing in the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been liable for imprisonment on charges of rendering “assistance” to “terrorists.” When it comes to civil and political liberties, the U.S. is a far less free place than it was, a generation ago.
On February 23, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the scope of the Patriot Act’s ban on rendering “support” to organizations designated as “terrorist” by the U.S. State Department. The Obama administration’s interpretation of the law, like it’s predecessors’, is so broad, it could put American citizens in prison for engaging in almost any contact with any person the government linked to a designated group. This includes organizations that have never attacked the United States, and have no direct grievance with United States.
It’s all in the language, the interpretation of the statute. Justice Department lawyers claim it is a violation of the Patriot Act even to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of an organization on the list. In the case before the High Court, the U.S.-based Humanitarian Law Project insists on its right to help mediate conflicts among peoples abroad, such as the Kurdish people’s struggle for national expression and self-determination in Turkey. The Law Project wants to assist in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party. But the Kurdish party is on the American terror list, and the administration contends that even doing peace work with the Kurdish group amounts to assisting in terror. Once on the list, Americans are banned from virtually any contact whatever with the designated organizations.
Americans are being prevented from exercising their free speech rights to promote peace in the world.”
It should be noted that the Kurdish Workers Party has no fight with the United States, has never attacked American installations, and is a secular party not connected with Islamic fundamentalism.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights argues that Americans are being prevented from exercising their free speech rights to promote peace in the world.
In some ways, the post-9/11 political and legal climate is worse than in the bad old days of the McCarthy era, almost 60 years ago. Back then, said veteran civil rights lawyer Ralph Fertig, “It was not illegal to help the communists or to be a communist. You might lose your job, you might lose your friends, you might be ostracized. But you’d be free. Today,” Fertig told the New York Times, “the same person would be thrown in jail.”
Imagine, then, if the Patriot Act had been in force in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan had placed the African National Congress of South Africa and the world's most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela, on the State Department's terror list, from which they would not be removed until 2008. Yet hundreds of thousands, millions, of Americans offered every assistance possible to the liberation movement – including, or so he claims, Barack Obama, himself. Yet, the Obama Justice Department is just as eager as the Bush regime to wield the Patriotic Act as an awesome weapon of fear.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com. 

Direct download: 20100217_gf_TerrorAct.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:10am EDT

haiti kidsA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Haiti's people don't need occupying armies; they “deserve a massive human response to their material needs, and they deserve solidarity in their struggle to regain national self-determination.” Join the Black is Back Coalition this weekend for a National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti. “A free and independent Haiti can only rise under the democratic direction of Haitians, themselves – not under the guns of U.S. neocolonialism.”
 
The U.S. Ain't No “Model”: Defend Haiti in Miami, February 20
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Make our response to Haiti’s humanitarian and political crisis a model of solidarity.”
The United States ambassador to Haiti is claiming that the U.S. military takeover of that stricken nation is a “model” for American behavior in the world. If so, then the world is in great trouble. Let’s make our response to Haiti’s humanitarian and political crisis a model of solidarity with the victims of natural and man-made catastrophe. On Saturday, February 20, join with the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, in Miami, Florida for a National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti. Haiti doesn’t need a U.S. or United Nations occupying army. Her proud and long suffering people deserve a massive human response to their material needs, and they deserve solidarity in their struggle to regain national self-determination. Haiti’s future must be shaped by her own people, not by the occupiers that stole her independence, banned her most popular political party, exiled her president, massacred her most dedicated community activists, and laid her economy naked to foreign exploitation.
Haiti's dignity must be restored, along with her ability to feed, house, clothe and govern her own people. Join with the Black is Back Coalition on Saturday, February 20, in Miami, to declare that solidarity with Haiti does not come out of the barrel of U.S. guns. Demand all U.S. troops out of Haiti, and the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. A free and independent Haiti can only rise under the democratic direction of Haitians, themselves – not under the guns of U.S. neocolonialism.
Haiti’s future must be shaped by her own people, not by the occupiers.”
The Americans pile one crime against Haiti upon another, and then try to justify their illegal occupations on humanitarian grounds, while calling themselves benefactors and role models. What hypocrites and nation-stealers! The U.S. and France owe Haiti billions in reparations for their raw thievery of Haitian national resources, revenues and rights over centuries and to the present day. On February 20, in Miami, demand that the debt be paid, so that Haiti can be rebuilt along its own model, for the benefit of the Haitian people.
Washington claims to have Haitian interests at heart, but makes Haitian refugees persona non grata on U.S. soil – because they are Black and proud. The Black is Back Coalition demands that Haitians be treated the same as Cubans when seeking entrance to the United States. The U.S. pretends to be a model, but it is a model of racism. If Washington has empathy for Haitian poverty, then it should stop charging an $80 fee for Haitians to apply for Temporary Protective Status in the U.S.
Haiti owes the United States nothing, and never has. It is the U.S. and France that owe Haiti. The least that the Obama administration can do is to cause the World Bank and other financial institutions that it controls to erase Haiti's debts, and remove all restrictions on trade and aid to Haiti.
If Washington truly wants Haiti to recover from the earthquake, it must get its boot off Haiti's neck. Join the Black is Back Coalition on Saturday, February 20, in Miami, in Defense of the Haitian people. For more information, go to www.blackisbackcoalition.org.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Contact stpeteinpdum@yahoo.com or (727) 821-6620 for information on the National Mobilization in Defense of Haiti, or go towww.blackisbackcoalition.org. 

Direct download: 20100217_gf_HaitiDemo.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT

corporate personsA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Legislation to begin the process of amending the U.S. Constitution, introduced by Black Congresspersons John Conyers and Donna Edwards, “deserves broad support.” There is no greater enemy of mankind than the global corporation, which has now been empowered by the U.S. Supreme Court to further monopolize the American political conversation.

 
Amend the Constitution – and Whatever Else It Takes to Break Corporate Power
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Supreme Court empowered corporate speech to drown out all other speech in U.S. society.”
For a long time, the very idea of amending the U.S. Constitution filled many people on the Left with dread – myself included. History has given us good reason to believe that masses of angry American white folk cannot be trusted anywhere near the Constitution. As often as not, those who called for changes in the text or interpretation of the Constitution were seeking to strip Black people of any protections provided by that Founding Document.
For that reason, when Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his assistant Frank Watson released their 2001 book, A More Perfect Union, with its call for 8 amendments to the Constitution, some of us that supported Jackson's political goals were nonetheless leery of the amendment process, which looked like the kind of national free-for-all, barroom brawl that the racist Right is better at than the Left is. Opening up the Constitutional Pandora's Box, we feared, would more likely result in the abolition of the Bill of Rights than in guarantees of the right to equal and high quality education, affordable housing, full employment or any other newly explicit constitutional rights.
It seemed safer to leave the Constitution alone, rather than risk setting a process in motion that the Right might wind up controlling.
But that was before the finance capitalist class swallowed the American state, whole, in 2008 and 2009, expropriating the current and future wealth and full faith and credit of the nation, in order to back up their chips in Wall Street’s casinos. Then, in January of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations have every right to use their ill-gotten trillions to monopolize the American political conversation. The Supreme Court empowered corporate speech to drown out all other speech in U.S. society.
There is no short road to freedom from corporate rule.”
If there is to be any future for progressive electoral politics in the United States – indeed, if there is to be any point in conducting legal, above-ground political agitation of any kind, then the looming corporate monopoly on speech must be broken.
Corporate power is the enemy of all humanity. It strangles the productive forces of the world in its tentacles, creating poverty and war as the inevitable consequence of its diabolical existence. Not one of the myriad crises that threaten the planet can possibly be resolved, unless the death grip of international corporate power is removed from around humanity's throat.
In the last decade, corporate power has infested the internal workings of Black politics in the United States, spawning a new class of African American political prostitutes beholden to their paymasters in the boardrooms. The battle for independent Black politics is, of necessity, a fight against corporate power.
The constitutional amendment route to limiting corporate speech is a long and dangerous one, requiring approval by two-thirds of the Congress and three-quarters of the states. But there is no short road to freedom from corporate rule. The constitutional amendment legislation introduced in the House by Representatives John Conyers and Donna Edwards deserves broad support, as one of many strategies in the epic struggle to put people, not corporations, in charge of human affairs.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100210_gf_Amend.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:26pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Click the flash player to listen to or the mic to download an audio in MP3 format.

The Tea Party crowd is as old as notions of American Manifest Destiny. They are White Nationalists, who yearn for “a time when the United States was a self-proclaimed White Man's Country.” Tea Partiers are most threatening to the cohesion and identity of the Republican Party. But they appear to have panicked some Blacks and progressives, who want “circle the wagons around the Obama administration” in the face of racist attacks.

 
Tea Partyers Are White Nationalists, Pure and Simple
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The GOP is, at its core, a Rich Man's Party that relies for its mass support on people who want to vote for a White Man's Party.”
Corporate media go through all manner of contortions of logic and historical gymnastics to sanitize the Tea Party phenomenon – anything to avoid calling the people grouped under the Tea Party umbrella by their proper name: White nationalists. White nationalism is a taboo subject in most corporate circles – and even among some on the Left. The continued appeal of a loud and boisterous White Nationalism threatens the prevailing American mythology, shared by the likes of corporate Democrat Barack Obama and corporate Republican John McCain: the myth that racism is not endemic to American life and history.
Obama made that claim in his famous – and completely fatuous – Philadelphia campaign speech on race. Obama denounced former friend and mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright for expressing, in the candidate's words, “ a profoundly distorted view of this country — a view that sees white racism as endemic.” But there it is, for all to see, alive and kicking in the 21st century in the form of a Tea Party “movement” in whose mouths the phrase “take back America” means return to a time when the United States was a self-proclaimed White Man's Country. The Tea Partiers need go back no farther in time than Ronald Reagan, who completed Richard Nixon's “Southern Strategy” by kicking off his 1980 presidential campaign with a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place made infamous by the murder of three civil rights workers. White Nationalist support for the Republican Party is the reason the center of GOP power lies in the states of the Old Confederacy. And it is the Republican Party that is most threatened by the White Nationalist Tea Partiers.
The spectacle of raging White Nationalists on the march makes corporate-minded Democrats look positively leftish by comparison.”
The GOP is, at its core, a Rich Man's Party that relies for its mass support on people who want to vote for a White Man's Party. The two are not necessarily the same thing, as the White Nationalists of the GOP discovered with the bi-partisan Wall Street bailouts of 2008 and 2009. Anti-Wall Street sentiment runs deep in White Nationalist ranks, much of it rooted in anti-Semitism: the association of bankers and Jews. Republican Party leaders have good reason to fear that the Rich Man's Party is losing control of some of its most fervent White Nationalist troops.
Progressives have very different reasons to worry about the Tea Partiers. The spectacle of raging White Nationalists on the march makes corporate-minded Democrats look positively leftish by comparison. But that's an illusion. African Americans are especially susceptible to calls to “circle the wagons around the Obama administration” in the face of racist attack. Black activist Dr. Ron Daniels made just such an appeal, this week. It is a foolish, knee-jerk reaction, one that plays into the hands of the banking class and its servants in the Obama administration. Just because some neo-Confederates call President Obama racist names, does not mean Black folks should abandon demands on their own government for jobs, peace and neighborhood stability. Dr. Daniels wants Blacks and progressives to hold a march to support Obama. What we need to do is organize and agitate and march in support of our people's social and economic interests. There's a big difference between the two. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaRadio.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 

 

Direct download: 20100210_gf_WhiteNationalism.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:25pm EDT

stop and searchA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Click the flash player to listen to or the mic to download an audio in MP3 format.

 

Stop-and-frisk is the race-based law of the land, the American police state in its most elemental, predatory form.” In cities across the nation, police stops of Blacks and Latinos have doubled, tripled and, in New York City, sextupled since 2002. In public housing, police stops are three times more frequent than in surrounding neighborhoods with the same rates of crime.

 
 
 
On Black Streets and Public Housing, Bill of Rights is Dead Letter
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Public housing tenants in New York are three times as likely to be stopped in their own complexes than people in surrounding neighborhoods with similar crimes rates.”
When many Americans use the terms “police state” or “creeping fascism,” their point of reference is the Patriot Act or some other mechanism of the national security state. But for Black America, the police state is the daily reality of arbitrary, relentless stops on the streets of their own neighborhoods, or in the hallways of their own public housing projects.
When the numbers are tallied, they are expected to show that more than 600,000 peoplewere stopped by police on the streets of New York City, last year, 89 percent of them Black and brown. That’s almost six times the number of “stop-and-frisks” in 2002. Philadelphia stopped 200,000 people on its streets in 2008, twice the number as in the previous year. Los Angeles stop-and-frisks hit a quarter million in 2008, double the rate in 2002. And that doesn't count the people stopped in their cars in L.A.
Stop-and-frisk is the race-based law of the land, the American police state in its most elemental, predatory form, a system of methodical mass racial profiling that debases and criminalizes all African Americans, and which now serves as the primary intake mechanism for the national policy of mass Black incarceration.
The legal justification for the mass stopping and frisking of Blacks roughly dates to the beginnings of modern mass imprisonment of Blacks. In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police can stop and detain citizens based on “reasonable suspicion” of involvement in crime, rather than the higher standard of “probably cause.” Of course, in a racist society, singling out Blacks for more intensive surveillance and questioning seems eminently reasonable. And when mass Black profiling ultimately results in far more Blacks being sucked into the criminal justice system, then the racist society concludes it was right all along – that African Americans are more prone to commit crimes. Mass Black profiling is guaranteed to find what it's looking for: more Black crime. Mass Black profiling and mass Black incarceration are organic elements of the same, diabolical system that preys on African Americans as a group and makes the words “crime” and “Black” synonymous in the public mind.
Mass Black profiling is guaranteed to find what it's looking for: more Black crime.”
Nowhere is police predation more merciless than in public housing. New York City public housing is home to 400,000 people, 95 percent of them Black and Latino. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed suit, charging that police so-called “vertical sweeps” from floor to floor of public housing buildings serve no legal purpose, and routinely subject residents and visitors to illegal stops and false arrests. Studies have shown that public housing tenants in New York are three times as likely to be stopped in their own complexes than people in surrounding neighborhoods with similar crimes rates. Police stops have doubled in public housing since 2004. Visitors are so harassed and intimidated by police behavior, many no longer visit their friends and relatives in public housing. The citywide public housing tenant organization says the perception among residents is that they are living in “penal colonies.” For millions of Black Americans, the Bill of Rights no longer exists on the streets and in the hallways of their city. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
 
 

 

Direct download: 20100210_gf_StopFriskPubHousing.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:22pm EDT

The Shibboleth of "Black Buying Power”
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Jared Ball
We've been hearing the same song for decades: “Black people's buying power is [x] billions of dollars. When will we harness our buying power?” But it's all a crock, designed to fool people without wealth into believing there is magic in their pockets. “Black people have no money.” But Blacks do have twice the credit card debt as whites.

 
 
The Shibboleth of "Black Buying Power”
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Jared Ball
Poverty is a well-structured, planned outcome of an economic system which demands that it exist.”
What is there to say when gaps between demonstrable reality and people’s perceptions are as wide as the ever-widening gaps in wealth? 2010 begins with another promotional round of the popular mythology of Black “buying power.” But this economic Easter Bunny comes at great material consequence. The “great disconnect between our people’s wishful mis-perceptions and the objective reality that actually shapes our lives,” as Glen Ford has said recently, is in part due to misinformation and the conclusions reached by so many prominent thinkers in our world.  For precisely at a time when Black unemployment is worsening and predicted to reach even further epidemic levels we also hear of research which suggests that Black Americans think their lot is actually improving. This is precisely the kind of “necessary illusion” required for those targeted for massive exploitation and, in this case, is the result of the false and empty claims of economic strength which are attendant to the lies inherent to phrases like “Black buying power.”
In other words, while official unemployment numbers have Black unemployment at 16.2% and predicted to soon be well over 17%, the Pew Research Center shows that 39% of Black America, compared to 20% in 2007, now say that the situation in this country is better than 5 years ago. 53%, versus 44% in 2007, now say that the future will be brighter. This delusion, no fault of Black people, is the result of Goebbels-quality propaganda which is routinely imposed on the nation.
Precisely at a time when Black unemployment is worsening and predicted to reach even further epidemic levels we also hear of research which suggests that Black Americans think their lot is actually improving.”
This time the shibboleth – the popularly-held belief which at least some of us know to has no real meaning – comes from the laudable, but what should be laughable, BET. Their “study,” which is based on a “comprehensive” survey of “80,000 African American consumers,” concludes that because of an increased Black population, one which spends more on technology and is predicted to have a “buying power that will reach $1.2 trillion by 2013,” that there is an economic strength among Black people that simply does not exist. We must do our best to clarify, repeatedly, that “buying power” is a marketing phrase meant to define the ability of a demographic to spend its money with this or that corporation. It is not an indicator of income, wealth or access to assets (such as land, stock, rental property, etc.) all of which are real indicators of economic power and all of which point to an absolute lack of power in Black America. From these misleading numbers and conclusions we get equally misleading analysis that suggests – and by design reaffirms the lie – that, as the esteemed Black spokesperson Dr. Boyce Watkins said in response to this latest “study,” “Unfortunately, when African-Americans make money, we spend it. We don’t use it to invest or produce… When we get our tax refund, we go straight to the store.” This is an absurd explanation of poverty.
“’Buying power’ is a marketing phrase meant to define the ability of a demographic to spend its money with this or that corporation.”
First of all, it must be understood that there is no collective $1.2 trillion that wealthy investors choose to spend frivolously on clothing or hair-care products. These numbers are aggregates of money spent by millions of hard working, mostly poor people spending in relatively small amounts on items which are available to them. There are no offers of stock, nor is there land and property all awaiting sale but being ignorantly passed up by foolish savages who are incapable (apparently) of making intelligent use of their billions. Poverty is not the result of spending habits. Poverty is a well-structured, planned outcome of an economic system which demands that it exist.
Phrases like “buying power” are used to convey what is actually anti-reality or a disuniting myth. It is a psychic assault, a violent act of aggression meant to stunt people’s appropriate responses to worsening conditions. A phrase like “Black buying power” intentionally conjures a sense of economic strength and by design simultaneously convinces the world of a potential meritorious Black uplift and forces a class divisive implosion within Black America where a potentially threatening segment of society can further be bought off to testify against its own. Where else would the well-paid Black minions find such an abundant source of fuel for their invectives against the Black poor. And so it goes, “Come on People” says Bill Cosby. Stop ascribing to “victimology” says John McWhorter.
Poverty is not the result of spending habits.”
Black people have no money. Black median net worth is less than $6,000 compared to $90,000 for whites. An already wealth-deprived Black community has 90% of that little bit held by a smaller 25 % Black upper class. Black people still only earn $.62 for every dollar of white income and must withstand what will be a wage and salary loss of $142 billion by 2012. And, in fact, corporations have their fooled and hired guns to promote this myth of “buying power” while not fully explaining how this is impacting the increasing debt incurred when exercising this “power” with credit cards. Here too Black Americans have twice the credit card debt as whites, which “strangles wealth” potential. But of course it is true that those targeted for “permanent” poverty and inequality only be given access to debt increases as opposed to wealth-building assets which, it is most important to note, would require a transfer of wealth from those who currently have it to those who do not. And it is precisely this reality which the wealthy have been looking to prevent since there has been wealth to protect.
So it is true. Black people do have tremendous “buying power,” but it is a power to enrich corporations by assuming further debt to those most dominant institutions. This is not the fault or the result of Black behavior unless we read the issue of behavior in terms of continuing freedom movements. To overcome the lie in the phrase “Black buying power” we need to remove the word “buying” from the phrase and reignite the struggle called for in the two words which remain.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. For more join us online at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Jared Ball can be contacted at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20100210_jb_BlackBuyingPower.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:20pm EDT

Indict Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza, Too

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The world's only superpower is the greatest subverter of international law. But Prof. Francis Boyle believes he's found the legal hook to bring the Bush Gang to justice – and Barack Obama, too, if he continues to pursue Bush's illegal policies.

 

Indict Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza, Too

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Bush Gang, says Prof. Boyle, should answer for the crime of rendition.”

President Obama doesn’t want George Bush and his war criminals to face the bar of justice. Rather, by continuing the Bush policies of rendition, of military tribunals, of detention without trial, and all the other police state methods that have made a mockery of U.S. pretensions to decency, Obama has elevated Bush’s crimes to bipartisan policy.

The United States Congress doesn’t want any Americans to face international justice, no matter how many crimes they commit against the planetary public. Back in 2002, just as the International Criminal Court was being formed in the Dutch city of The Hague, the U.S. Congress passed a law that would authorize Washington to send troops into Holland to free Americans who might be held for war crimes. It’s been derisively dubbed the “Invasion of the Hague Act,” but it’s no joke. The law shows how resistant U.S. politicians are to the very idea of international law – when it is applied to the United States.

The U.S. refuses to sign the  treaty that would bring it under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which handles war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This has created the farce in which the United States is by far the loudest voice charging other nations and individuals with high crimes against international law, but balks at leaving itself open to prosecution. From its superpower perch of impunity, the U.S. arrogantly orders the Court to go after America's designated villains – all of whom have turned out to be Africans – but, like a mother vulture, spreads her protective wings over the Israelis that committed war crimes against Gaza, only a year ago.

“President Obama could wind up under international prosecution.”

One of the Davids in the struggle to make Goliath accountable to international law, is Francis Boyle, professor at Illinois College of Law, who has filed a complaint with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to bring a select group of outlaws to justice. The Rogue's Gallery is as follows: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales. The Bush Gang, says Prof. Boyle, should answer for the crime of rendition – the kidnapping and disappearance of about one hundred human beings. Boyle maintains these acts of rendition constitute crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, and further, that these individuals can be prosecuted despite the fact that the United States is not a party to the Rome Statue. 

Prof. Boyle, a recognized expert on international law, maintains that the criminal court's jurisdiction is activated when U.S. crimes are committed within the territory of other nations that have signed the Statute. The U.S. has practiced renditions in a number of such countries, in Europe and elsewhere. And Boyle says, if President Obama does not, himself, cease committing crimes begun by the Bush administration, he too could wind up under international prosecution for “extraordinary rendition.” And that would be extraordinary, indeed.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100127_gf_BARIntCrimCourt.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:15am EDT

Humans Have No Rights That a Corporation is Bound to Respect

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

More than a century ago, a Supreme Court decided that corporations had the rights of “persons.” Last week, the High Court awarded the paper corporate avatars the right to swallow human political affairs, whole. “The more profound effect will be to complete the corporatization of the Democratic Party.”

 

No Rights That a Corporation is Bound to Respect

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The High Court has swept away the last remaining facade of America’s Disney World democracy.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has given its approval to what was already an accomplished fact: corporate ownership of the governmental apparatus of the American state. In affirming that corporations have the right to buy as much influence as they can pay for with campaign contributions, the High Court has swept away the last remaining facade of America’s Disney World democracy. The U.S. political system is revealed as nothing more than a theme park that offers the public fake election thrills that simulate one-man, one vote.

The barbaric principle underlying the decision was established 124 years ago, when another Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the constitutional rights of persons. Like the recent ruling, the 1886 Supreme Court decision essentially ratified the emerging reality of the day: the corporations were already running the economy and government of the United States as if they owned it. It is said that more than half of U.S. senators owned stock in the railroads, stock that had been given to them by the railroad corporations as gifts in return for millions of acres in federal lands. It was the age of the rise of the great Robber Barons, who invented the modern corporation and demanded that their paper avatars be treated as full fledged citizens of the Republic. Dutifully, the Supreme Court complied, providing constitutional justification for already-existing corporate rule.

The current Supreme Court is simply expanding on the 1886 principle of corporate personhood, to fit modern, much more expensive, circumstances. The supremacy of corporate power in U.S. elections is a fait accompli – a manifest, self-evident fact. Only corporate “persons” or actual human beings associated with corporations could spend a total of $5.3 billion dollars on the elections of 2008. Barack Obama himself received $650 million, the vast bulk of it from the corporate class, who gave more money to Democrats than to Republicans.

“Wall Street is to the Democrats what Big Oil is to the Republicans.”

The Democrats are complaining that the Supreme Court ruling will further advantage the Republicans. But the more profound effect will be to complete the corporatization of the Democratic Party, whose leadership is already at least as closely allied with Wall Street as the GOP. Remember, it was candidate Barack Obama who saved George Bush’s bank bailout bill, in 2008, and put Wall Street operatives at the helm of his new administration's economic policy. Wall Street is to the Democrats what Big Oil is to the Republicans – their sugar daddies.

In response to the Supreme Court's damnable decision, more than 40,000 people have joined in support of a move to amend the U.S. Constitution, to once and forever proclaim that corporations are not people – only people are people, with the civil and political rights of human beings.  Such a constitutional amendment is necessary to reverse, not only the latest travesty from the Supreme Court, but the original sin of 1886, when corporations were recognized as persons. Those rulings created a legal construct in which the American people have no rights that a corporation is bound to respect.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100127_gf_BARSCOTUSCorpCash.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:12am EDT

U.S. Actions in Haiti are Rehearsal for Latin America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When the U.S. sent thousands of troops into Port au Prince airport, earthquake relief was clearly not the primary mission. Otherwise, ships and whole military units would not have arrived with only supplies for themselves.

 

U.S. Actions in Haiti are Rehearsal for Latin America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“U.S. naval units sailed into Haitian waters without bothering to load up with food, water and medicine at the nearby U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

The American commandeering of the airport at Port au Prince and de facto seizure of sovereignty over Haiti looked exactly like an invasion and occupation – except that Haiti had already been invaded in 2004 by the U.S., which then turned over occupational duties to its servants in the United Nations. To speak of a U.S. “invasion” of Haiti is getting a little bit redundant. The Americans never left, and they and their flunkies walk all over Haiti like an old rug.

Clearly, however, the U.S. was not on an earthquake rescue mission. U.S. naval units sailed into Haitian waters without bothering to load up with food, water and medicine at the nearby U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What kind of “relief” mission was this, in which the rescuer comes empty-handed? Thousands of paratroopers were flown in from Fort Bragg, North Carolina – and then sat at the Port au Prince airport for several days, claiming not to have transportation into town. They could have walked! The city is just beyond the airport fence and downtown and the port are only a couple of miles away.  A BBC reporter noted that, several days after the paratroopers landed, they sent small relief missions to outlying areas. Meanwhile, literally right down the street was the vast shantytown of Cite Soliel. But the Americans didn’t go there.

The United States military, except for its special operations units, is the “heaviest” fighting force in the world. That means, the Americans require more logistical support – more pounds of equipment, more fresh food, more support personnel for every grunt with a gun – than any military on the planet. When the U.S. decided to airlift thousands of troops into Port au Prince, commanders knew the logistical needs of that force, alone, would overwhelm the airport’s capacity, leaving little room for actual relief supplies. The Americans knew they would be creating a bottleneck that would become an impediment to relief efforts by the rest of the world. But they hogged the air and runways, anyway. What was the purpose?

“The Americans knew that they would be creating a bottleneck that would become an impediment to relief efforts by the rest of the world.”

The explanation is quite simple. For the Americans, the operation was not primarily a rescue mission. Often, they carried only supplies for themselves. I don't buy into speculation that the Americans were attempting to worsen the Haitian situation through deliberate delays, in order to justify taking over the country. It was clear from the first day that the earthquake was a visitation from hell that would create more than enough drama than the U.S. would ever need – and besides, the Americans and their minions were already in charge of Haiti. But the Americans' actions make perfect sense when understood as an air and naval exercise to test the capabilities of the U.S. Southern Command to move its own men and machines from one place to another, quickly. The Southern Command's 4th Fleet was just taken out of mothballs last year, and has been staging exercises in the Caribbean to threaten Venezuela. The U.S. has just opened 7 new bases in Colombia, and would be anxious to test its ability to support them with quick infusions of large units of troops and equipment. The Haiti earthquake was a good excuse. But the mission was not about them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20200127BAR_gf_USinHaiti.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:05am EDT

From Prison Inmates to Would-be Lawyers, Black Prospects Are Dimming

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The election of a Black president aside, white determination to hang on to skin privilege may be on the increase. California's governor proposes to cut prison costs through privatization, while refusing to release a single inmate. And despite steadily improving grades and test scores, law schools are enrolling fewer Black and brown students.

 

From Prison Inmates to Would-be Lawyers, Black Prospects Are Dimming

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Under Schwarzenegger's plan, the mass Black incarceration policies that have savaged Black society would be left intact.”

There have always been two distinct, although often overlapping, currents of Black America thought on how best to advance the interests of The Race. One current emphasizes efforts to deepen Black penetration in those professions that can increase the incomes and prestige of  Blacks at the top of African American society – professions like the law – a kind of Talented Tenth strategy for Black uplift. The other approach emphasizes broader efforts to improve the fortunes of the much larger group at or near the bottom, those most vulnerable to the worst abuses of racism. After two generations of a national policy of mass Black incarceration, prison inmates and ex-offenders best exemplify the bottom sector of Black society. In the current economic and political environment, African American prospects are looking bleak at both ends of the legal arena: for the millions on the receiving end of the criminal justice system, and for those aspiring to become practitioners of law.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is attempting to cope with his state's fiscal collapse by privatizing its prisons, a form of disaster capitalism that seeks to accomplish corporate political goals under the guise of economic necessity. Schwarzenegger dresses up his barbaric proposal with pledges to shift the state's spending priorities from incarceration to education, but not a single prisoner would be released under his plan. In return for promises to guarantee that a certain percentage of state spending goes to education, 170,000 inmates, overwhelmingly Black and brown, would be outsourced to private profiteers. The burden on the state would be made lighter, billions in public funds would be transferred to private pockets, while the mass Black incarceration policies that have savaged Black society would be left intact – a disaster for Black communities, especially those at the bottom.

“Law schools are shutting their doors to Black and Mexican-American students.”

And what of those young people that aspire to become officers of the court, lawyers rather than defendants? A recent study shows that law schools are shutting their doors to Black and Mexican-American students, even as these students continue to do better in their college grades and on the Law School Admissions Test. Even though law schools added 3,000 new seats between 1993 and 2008, and despite the fact that Blacks and Mexican-Americans came “very close” to closing the grade and testing gap with whites, both the percentage and the absolute number of Black and brown law students declined. That means that even as the law school pie got bigger, Blacks and browns got smaller portions of the pie.

Thus, both African American strategies for advancement are facing increased white resistance. Mass Black incarceration makes felons of majorities of Black males in some communities, while the raw numbers of Black lawyers is destined to decline, because of academic racism. Clearly, the struggle against white supremacy requires a full-spectrum mobilization operating at all levels of Black society. We need a Black Freedom Movement, now more than ever.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100113_gf_PrisonsLawSchool.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:52pm EDT

How Harold Ford Blazed the Trail For Barack Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Poor Harold Ford. Having created the model of a right-wing, corporate Black Democratic politician in search of a national podium, he was eclipsed by the more talented Barack Obama. But the backing of a few billionaires changes all the odds in 21st century America, where the “corporate boardroom is the equivalent of Hollywood's casting couch.”

 

How Harold Ford Blazed the Trail For Barack Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Congressman Harold Ford was kissing George Bush’s Republican behind long before Obama invited key Bush appointees into his new administration.”

The attempted reincarnation of former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford, Jr. as a senator from New York demonstrates that, in the United States, money is the only meaningful political constituency. Money chooses its representatives based on who can most reliably serve the interests of the moneyed classes, and it matters little which actual human constituency or geographic jurisdiction the chosen politician purports to represent. Memphis or Manhattan – what’s the difference, when the only audience that counts is Big Capital?

In the United States, the corporate boardroom is the equivalent of Hollywood’s casting couch. It is where the political actor auditions for a starring role as servant to the ruling class. In 21st century America, it is considered a great sign of progress that Black actors can now lie down on the corporate casting couch to vie for top billing in the multi-billion dollar theatrical venues of electoral politics. All that was required for Harold Ford to become an instantly viable candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from New York was the backing of three billionaires, including Michael Bloomberg, the seventh most wealthy man in the nation who bought his own job of mayor of New York City three times, and now wants to buy his very own senator.

“Ford was a Black Blue Dog Democrat years before Obama forged similar alliances on the national stage.”

By the corrupt rules of U.S. political theater, Harold Ford has earned the part. He was a trailblazer in right-wing Black Democratic politics, having paved the way for Barack Obama by aggressively wooing corporations and Republicans to the detriment of his poor and working class constituents in Memphis, Tennessee. Ford was a Black Blue Dog Democrat years before Obama forged similar alliances on the national stage. Congressman Harold Ford was kissing George Bush’s Republican behind long before Obama invited key Bush appointees into his new administration. Harold Ford joined with George Bush’s assault on Social Security years before Barack Obama put all federal “entitlements” on the chopping block. And although Ford was one of only four Black lawmakers to vote in favor of authorizing Bush to invade Iraq, while Obama was telling Illinois voters he opposed the war, Obama has since expanded America’s wars in ways that should make Bush, and Harold Ford, proud.

Harold Ford was an early Black recruit to the Democratic Leadership Council, the corporate headquarters in the Democratic Party, and now serves as the DLC’s chairman. Barack Obama always acted like a member of the DLC, and finally admitted he was their ideological soulmate two months into his presidency. So, although the Obama White House has been lobbying against Harold Ford's senatorial candidacy, it's not because of any political differences between the two right-wing, corporate Democrats. Maybe the problem is, they are too much alike, and Obama thinks there's only room for one of him on the national stage. But that may be too bad, because Harold Ford has his three billionaires, and that's all it takes to make a political comeback in the U.S. of A.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100113_gf_HaroldFord.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:47pm EDT

Black is Back Coalition Conference in Florida

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Ten months into the Obama presidency, a newly-formed coalition of Black activists and organizations gathered in Washington to confront the administration's policies. On January 23, the Black is Back Coalition meets to map out a plan of action for the new year. “Black is Back means demanding the resources that are ours by right, to shape our own destinies in solidarity with the rest of humankind in a world that says Yes to justice and peace.”

 

Black is Back Coalition Conference in Florida

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“It’s time to build on the success of the Washington mobilization and make 2010 the year when millions of Black people set their minds and bodies in motion.”

The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations is marching into the New Year fired up and determined to build a people’s movement. Last November 7 the newly formed coalition proved that Black really is back and on the move with a march on the White House, serving notice that the Black struggle will not be terminated simply by putting a Wall Street-bought Black man in the Oval Office. Now it’s time to build on the success of the Washington mobilization and make 2010 the year when millions of Black people set their minds and bodies in motion for justice, peace and the fruits of our ancestors’ labor.

The Black is Back Coalition holds its next history-shaping conference on January 23rd in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the weather is warm and the planning will be intense. Speakers include New York City Councilman Charles Barron and Larry Hamm, of the People’s Organization for Progress. Participants are coming from throughout the United States and the Caribbean, to map out plans of action for our people’s liberation through a Black-led freedom movement.

This month marks a year since the inauguration of the first Black president of the United States – twelve months of steadily escalating assaults on Black people in the United States and in Africa. In the Horn of Africa, a food crisis of horrific proportions threatens millions as a direct result of U.S. aggression against the people of Somalia, a nation targeted by President Obama’s so-called war on terror. The United States Africa Command, AFRICOM, relentlessly expands its militarization of the continent. The U.S. arms and funds the armies of Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda to wage war against other Africans, in the interests of rich men in America and Europe. After more than five million deaths, Congo still bleeds from western-supplied bullets so that imperialists can gouge out her resources.

“Blacks are the designated prey of Barack Obama’s Wall Street friends.”

In the United States, Blacks are the designated prey of Barack Obama’s Wall Street friends who have decimated Black neighborhoods and crushed the possibility of employment. Mass Black incarceration is the law of the land.

In September of last year, the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations was only an idea. But in just eight weeks, the Coalition organized itself to speak Truth to Power in Washington. Black is Back means rejection of rule by Wall Street, rejection of endless imperial wars, rejection of mass Black imprisonment. Black is Back means demanding the resources that are ours by right, to shape our own destinies in solidarity with the rest of humankind in a world that says Yes to justice and peace.

The Black is Back Coalition is inviting your participation at the January 23 conference, in St. Petersburg, Florida.  For information, go to the Black is Back Coalition website at www.blackisbackcoalition.org. That's www.blackisbackcoalition.org.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

The Black is Back Coalition can also be contacted at the Black is Back Coalition National Office: Address: P.O.Box 55601 Washington, DC 20040 Tel: 202.320.5542 email: info@blackisbackcoalition.org

Direct download: 20100106_gf_BiBJan23.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 7:47am EDT

Do Wells Fargo and Other Banksters Owe Black People

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Millions of Americans are outraged that bank officers get fat bonuses for making bad loans. But what is truly grotesque is how few people demand that these bankers go to jail for the crime of “reverse redlining.” “It is unthinkable that bank lending officers up and down the corporate chain of command might face criminal prosecution for ruining the lives of millions!”

 

What Do Wells Fargo and Other Banksters Owe Black People?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Wells Fargo’s practice of 'reverse redlining' has decimated African American neighborhoods while sparing whites of similar economic status.”

Wells Fargo, the biggest home mortgage lender in American banking, just paid back the federal government $25 billion in bailout money. That means Wells Fargo considers itself relieved of further obligations to the taxpayers that rescued the bank from the consequences of its own business practices. But what of the people whose lives Wells Fargo ruined – a hugely disproportionate number of whom are Black?

While Wells Fargo’s executives are cueing up for their bonuses, the list of lawsuits grows, charging the bank with massive racial discrimination. The latest plaintiffs are the city of Memphis and surrounding Shelby County, Tennessee, where Wells Fargo’s practice of “reverse redlining” has decimated African American neighborhoods while sparing whites of similar economic status. In some Black neighborhoods, one out of every eight Wells Fargo loans have gone into foreclosure. The proportion is only one out of 59 in similarly situated white neighborhoods because, according to the suit, Wells Fargo acted responsibly when making loans to whites.

The same pattern of racism in lending caused the city of Baltimore to sue Wells Fargo, earlier last year. Both Memphis and Baltimore argue that Wells Fargo’s disastrous Black lending practices destroyed substantial portions of the cities’ tax base by forcing so many residents out of their homes. The state of Illinois sued Wells Fargo last summer, for charging Blacks and Latinos more for mortgages than whites of similar income.

It’s the same story in Los Angeles, where thousands of Black households have been joined in a class action suit against Wells Fargo. The NAACP has launched suits against Wells Fargo and a long list of its colleagues in mortgage lending crimes.

“Not one Wells Fargo executive will spend a day in jail for participating in a racist assault against millions of Black and brown people.”

But what is the nature of the crime, and what should be the punishment? It is in the presence of massive economic outrages, coldly and systematically executed, against historically oppressed victims who are made more vulnerable in the process of the assault, that “bourgeois justice,” as some of us used to call it, is revealed as a rich man’s con game. There is no limit to what can be taken from the poor, including their lives, especially if they are Black, but the rich commit their crimes behind corporate shields, with relative impunity. Commit a crime against a bank and you face federal criminal prosecution, yet it is unthinkable that bank lending officers up and down the corporate chain of command might face criminal prosecution for ruining the lives of millions! One can earn extra years in jail for physically assaulting a person as part of a racial hate crime, but not one Wells Fargo executive will spend a day in jail for participating in a racist assault against millions of Black and brown people who were simply seeking home mortgages.

Elemental justice cannot exist under capitalism; it is incompatible with the prerogatives of money. That's why few people in our political culture even consider that several thousand bankers should be imprisoned for at least as long as bank robbers for their premeditated crimes against millions of families. But, corporate criminals like Wells Fargo don't need a Get Out of Jail Free card. Nobody even thinks about putting them in jail, in the first place.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100106_gf_WellsFargo.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 7:38am EDT

2009: The Year Wall Street Devoured the US Govt

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Something happened last year that will earn 2009 a permanent place in history: the finance capitalist class devoured the state apparatus of America. Whole. All of it. And nothing will ever be the same.

 

The Year Wall Street Ate the American State

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“President Barack Obama joined with the Federal Reserve to put the entirety of the nation's current and future wealth at the disposal of the bankster class.”

It is almost always up to historians to locate watersheds in human history, to pinpoint that period of time when accumulated social and economic changes can no longer be denied, and it must be concluded that the society has entered a qualitatively new and different period. The beginnings and ends of eras are seldom recognized at the time they occur. Only by looking back do we gain the perspective to conclude that something world-shaking has happened.

2009 will, I believe, go down in history as the year that Wall Street – shorthand for the finance capitalist class – finally chewed up and swallowed whole the government of the United States. It is, of course, true that businessmen have shaped the laws and policies of the American state since the founding the Republic – most notably, men in the business of slavery and land piracy. When plantation slavery power was broken in the Civil War, manufacturing capital, in league with banks, dominated national life. By the 1950s, captains of industry could still proclaim that what was good for General Motors was good for the country. But sometime in the 1970s – no one can definitively say exactly when – the money handlers got the upper hand over the industrialists. For the first time, the General Motors Acceptance Corporation, the financial arm of the giant auto maker, made bigger profits than its parent company.

“When the bubbles finally burst, it would require the full faith and credit of the United States to prevent utter collapse of the financial sector.”

By the 1980s Wall Street was busily dismantling the manufacturing sector of the United States. Finance capital achieved total supremacy over the Democratic Party under President Bill Clinton, whose operatives abolished all effective controls on the mass manipulation of money. The bankers were now free to create bubbles so huge that when they finally burst, in September of 2008, it would require the full faith and credit of the United States to prevent utter collapse of the financial sector.

The job of reinflating the Wall Street bubble fell to President Barack Obama, whose executive branch joined with the Federal Reserve to put the entirety of the nation's current and future wealth at the disposal of the bankster class. By July of 2009, Obama and the Fed had committed $23.7 trillion dollars of the people's cash and credit to bail out the banks. In a real sense, it does not matter how many trillions were actually spent, or will be sucked up by Wall Street in the future. The point is, the U.S. government in 2009 put everything the people of the United States own or create, or can ever hope to own or create, permanently at the service of Wall Street. Like the young “Alien” in the science fiction movie series, Wall Street has attached itself to the face and body of the nation and is sucking it to death.

The picture that best explains the historical significance of the year 2009, is President Obama holding a teleconference with bankers who didn't bother to show up for a meeting with him at the White House, in mid-December. Obama is pleading with them to at least pretend to act in the interest of the public whose national resources they have stolen. But the banksters see no need to pay even token respect to a president who is actually their servant. Having swallowed the state whole, they simply...digest it, knowing they can come back for seconds and thirds until the people's credit is exhausted.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100106_gf_WallSt2009.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:56am EDT

Obama, US Continue to Reap Trillions and Condemn Africa to Climate Catastrophe

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With humanity at risk and Africa facing “incineration,” the United States opted for “disaster capitalism” at the global climate conference, last week. “President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Copenhagen to end any possibility of a global agreement on greenhouse gasses that the rich nations would be bound to respect.”

 

Obama, US Continue to Reap Trillions and Condemn Africa to Climate Catastrophe

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The United States went to Copenhagen intent on imposing a ‘disaster capitalism’ regime on the poor nations of the planet.”

The United States, having reaped more benefits than any other nation from the industrial warming of planet Earth, now seeks to turn the resulting global disaster to its own advantage – or, more precisely, to the advantage of the U.S.-based, amoral, world-annihilating corporate class.

In Copenhagen last week, the Obama administration destroyed any chance of averting catastrophe in Africa and the developing nations of the global South. Temperatures will be allowed to rise 2 degrees Celsius on average, which translates to three and a half degrees in the hotter latitudes. As a consequence, said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Africa is the be condemned “to incineration and no modern development.”

What development does occur would be at the pleasure of the United States and Europe. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Copenhagen to end any possibility of a global agreement on greenhouse gasses that the rich nations would be bound to respect. Obama administered the coup de grace to the Kyoto accords, extinguishing all hope of an international agreement that respects the rights of all nations to develop their economies within a binding framework that protects everyone’s interests. Instead, the United States imposed its own take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum: accept the inevitability of catastrophe in Africa and across the global South. And also accept that the U.S. and its corporations will dictate how the developing world will be allowed to grow its economies. Refuse, and the uppity poor countries will be cut off from the rich man’s “aid.”

“While Africa burns, Washington gives up nothing in terms of binding commitments.”

This is “disaster capitalism” in its most hellish form. The term was coined by political writer Naomi Klein in 2005, to describe how the International Monetary Fund induced or exploited economic disasters in the Third World and then forced poor countries to surrender their national sovereignty in order to be eligible for loans and “aid” from the rich countries. The aim was to make it impossible for poor countries to control their own economic and political destinies.

The United States went to Copenhagen intent on imposing a “disaster capitalism” regime on the poor nations of the planet. While Africa burns, Washington gives up nothing in terms of binding commitments. Instead, the U.S. offers – but does not guarantee, or even promise – to create a special fund, possibly eventually amounting to $100 billion, from which “aid” will be doled out. The rich nations will determine who gets a piece of the global warming aid pie, and under what terms. The Americans insist that some of the money will come from private sources, rich corporations that are answerable to no one but their own greedy selves – which means western businessmen will determine how Africa and the global South will be allowed to develop under conditions of climate change. The U.S. reserves the right to make separate deals with favored nations, that is, countries whose leaders surrender their national destiny to the developmental wishes of the West.

Disaster capitalism holds the most vulnerable of the world’s people hostage to imperial blackmail at the hour of the planet’s greatest peril. It is a crime against humanity, and most grievously, a crime against Africa. How ironic that the chief perpetrator of the crime is himself a son of Africa.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20091223_gf_ClimateCapitalism.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:41am EDT

What Part of “We Need Jobs” Does Obama Not Get?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is as if Americans have lost the very language of social justice. The Congressional Black Caucus, finally in a mood to confront the White House on the jobs issue, find themselves having to explain that legislators have a “moral obligation” to fight for their constituents' interests. Meanwhile, “President Obama treats every appeal for attention to Black unemployment as if it is an unreasonable, or even illegal, demand.”

 

What Part of “We Need Jobs” Does Obama Not Get?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The nation's first Black president bristles at every suggestion that gross racial inequalities call for executive and legislative action.”

There is no greater testimony to the vast amount of ground Black America has lost over the past three decades, than the Congressional Black Caucus’s recent press conference on the need for jobs and elementary fairness in the current economic crisis. Caucus chairperson Barbara Lee began with a brief outline of the long-standing – and, in some cases, worsening – economic disparities that afflict African Americans, facts that are well known to the White House and congressional leadership, to whom the Caucus’s appeal was directed. The Black lawmakers found it necessary to point out that they are “morally obligated to address these systemic inequalities” – obligations that President Obama has categorically rejected on numerous occasions, invoking the rich man’s slogan, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

A generation ago, such reactionary nonsense would have been met with wholesale denunciation in Black political circles. But as we begin the second decade of the 21st century, a Black Democrat in the White House can get away with speaking like Ronald Reagan, while Black members of Congress are compelled to present moral justification for seeking redress of economic injustices.

Forty years ago, a Republican president, Richard Nixon, would have felt quite comfortable agreeing with the Black Caucus' concerns about economic fairness. Yet today, the nation's first Black president bristles at every suggestion that gross racial inequalities call for executive and legislative action.

“As we begin the second decade of the 21st century, a Black Democrat in the White House can get away with speaking like Ronald Reagan.”

So great is the weight of decades of right wing assaults on the very idea of economic parity among the races, Black congresspeople feel the need to repeatedly emphasize that they are not proposing racial formulas for job creation, but programs based on need – on the principle that those who have been harmed the most, should be targeted for greater assistance.

“We’re not talking about race,” said chairperson Barbara Lee. “We’re talking about the hardest hit.” And in fact, the United States Congress has never funded a program to create “Black” jobs, but rather, they have created jobs in urban America and jobs for residents of areas with high levels of poverty.

President Obama treats every appeal for attention to Black unemployment as if it is an unreasonable, or even illegal, demand. To be blunt, he sounds just like those professional white racists that make their livings claiming Blacks seek new and special privileges, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Black Caucus proposes to bring back jobs programs from the Seventies. Detroit's Carolyn Kirkpatrick would like to see the rebirth of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act – CETA – and Representative John Conyers would reinvigorate the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, which has been on the books, but unfunded, for over 30 years. No one is talking about reinventing the wheel, in jobs creation. For two generations, during every election cycle, Blacks have demanded a Marshal Plan to combat unemployment in the cities, where it just so happens that most Black people live. Every election cycle, that is, until the last one, when Black politicians made no demands whatsoever on candidate Barack Obama. Black America is now paying the cost of giving Obama a free pass.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091223_gf_CBCJobs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:18am EDT

Paul Krugman's Blind Spot For Corporations, and For Obama

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

At times of acute crisis, the oppressed and exploited find out who their real friends are. Old political labels become useless, as do former allies. Paul Krugman is the resident “liberal” on the New York Times op-ed page. But what use are his analyses if the economic and political predations of corporations aren't even part of the equation.

 

Paul Krugman's Blind Spot for Corporations and Obama

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“What kind of liberal gives a 40-minute talk on political economy without once uttering the word “corporation?”

The center of gravity of U.S. politics has lurched so far to the Right, the term “liberal” has lost all meaning. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a Princeton University professor and winner of a Nobel Prize in economics, is almost universally described as a liberal. But what kind of liberal gives a 40-minute talk on political economy without once uttering the word “corporation?”

Krugman was the featured speaker at a lecture held each year at New York City’s Baruch College in honor of Dr. Donald H. Smith, an esteemed Black educator and political activist who is also a great friend of mine, and of Black Agenda Report. The house was packed with Dr. Smith’s many admirers plus lots of folks eager to hear Krugman’s analysis of current affairs.

Krugman began his talk – appropriately, given the occasion – with some general thoughts on the politics of race. The United States, he said, is “not a normal advanced country” because such countries at least provide their citizens with basic health care, protect workers’ rights, and attempt to “curb extreme poverty.” The reason the United States is behind Western Europe and Canada on those points, said Krugman, has everything to do with what he calls “our original sin…slavery.”

This is an elemental truth that most white Americans find difficult to accept, unlike Krugman. So I suppose that puts him in the “socially liberal” category. And I guess that Krugman’s general support for workers’ rights, health care and anti-poverty programs qualifies him as some kind of liberal, at least by the backward standards of the United States which, as he said, is not a “normal advanced country.”

“There will be no second stimulus to help working people because that's not who Obama works for.”

But if that's all we can expect from Krugman's brand of liberalism, one must question his usefulness. In his area of expertise, Krugman whitewashes President Obama’s economics team, led by the same Clinton bankster operatives that the laid groundwork for the 2008 crash.  Former Treasury Secretaries Larry Summers and Robert Rubin and current Treasury chief Timothy Geithner are ”not stupid or corrupt” men, said Krugman, they're just “too close to Wall Street” and “not in touch with the public.” Krugman appeared sincerely startled that the Administration shows “an almost total unwillingness to appeal to the popular backlash” against the banks. He wishes Obama would push for another big economic stimulus to create jobs, but despairs of that happening. “The financial system,” in Krugman's expert opinion, “has become a ward of the state.”

The 56-year-old Nobel laureate is incapable of adding up political facts to reach obvious conclusions. No, Larry Summers and Co. are not stupid, they are cold-blooded operatives in Wall Street's successful criminal enterprise to transfer trillions into the pockets of the banking mafia. Obama is the indispensable “inside man” for the heist. There will be no second stimulus to help working people because that's not who Obama works for. The financial sector is not a “ward of the state” – it has swallowed the state, whole! And a man that spends the better part of an hour talking political economy without once saying the word “corporation,” as did Krugman, is either sworn to some kind of blood oath of silence, or totally irrelevant to the crisis at hand. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091216_gf_KrugmanLiberals.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:44am EDT

No Reparations For Killing The Planet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Even as the world approaches “the end-game of human existence,” brought on by centuries of exploitation of man and nature, the chief polluters and oppressors demand impunity from past and current crimes. The U.S. categorically rejects the “notion” of payback for global warming.

 

No “Reparations” for Killing the Planet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Those who profited so richly from the human and environmental disasters they inflicted are guilty of depraved indifference – crimes against nature and their own species.”

For the moment, forget about the lofty rhetoric spouted by the 100 heads of state gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, including the carefully crafted words of President Barack Obama. As far as the Lords of Capital are concerned, the conference isn’t really about mitigating the unfolding climatic catastrophe, the facts of which are well known. The real object of the Copenhagen conference is to determine who gets the power to shape the developmental model of the planet over the next half century.

With continued U.S. global supremacy in mind, the chief American negotiator attempted to set the terms of debate early on, rejecting out of hand any notion that the United States owes reparations to poor nations for its huge contribution to global warming over the last couple of centuries. “For most of the 200 years since the Industrial Revolution,” said U.S. diplomat Todd Stern, “people were blissfully ignorant of the fact that emissions caused a greenhouse effect.” Ignorant or not, the industrialized nations of Europe and the United States were certainly blissful about the profits they made at the expense, not only of the Earth’s material resources, but also from the super-exploitation of the non-white peoples of the world. The two exploitations – of human beings and nature – are historically inseparable, like the conquest of the America’s and the death of 90 percent of the western hemisphere’s inhabitants; like the rape of Africa’s resources and the enslavement of its people. These are the twin pillars of a 500-year project to elevate a small percentage of the world’s population to global supremacy at the expense of everyone else, and of the planet, itself. At the very least, those who profited so richly from the human and environmental disasters they inflicted along the way, are guilty of depraved indifference – crimes against nature and their own species.

The real object of the Copenhagen conference is to determine who gets the power to shape the developmental model of the planet over the next half century.”

Even as they plead ignorance – and, therefore, innocence – of past crimes, these same Euro-American powers are determined to remain on top under conditions of global warming.

That's why the Americans, in particular, are attempting to create a New World Industrial Order without a treaty that will bind both large powers and weaker ones under an enforceable contract. Capital, centered in the West, seeks to extend its power deep into the 21st century based on the rule of money. That's why the United States resists efforts to build on and strengthen the Kyoto Treaty on global warming, which the United States has never ratified. And that's why a delegate to the Copenhagen conference from Mali said, last week, that “the killing of the Kyoto Protocol...will mean the killing of Africa.”

The United States prefers that rich nations contribute a relatively puny amount of money – starting off with $10 billion or less – as “aid” to the developing world, and that the rich nations exercise controls over how developing countries spend these funds.  It is nothing less than an effort to turn a global nightmare to the advantage of the United States. At the same time, the Americans are busy trying to cut their own separate deal with China, one they hope will make the U.S. and Chinese economies symbiotic for the next 40 or 50 years, and to hell with the rest of the planet. We are witnessing disaster capitalism being played out, even as we enter the possible end-game of human existence. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091216_gf_ClimateReparations.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:43am EDT

"Progressives For Obama" Change Name To Omit the President

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It has taken almost a year for “Progressives for Obama” to make a partial break with their former object of adulation, proof that groupie-love is a powerful emotion. “Two of the founding members, Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden, are making uncharacteristically loud anti-Obama noises and acting as if they played no role in convincing Obama that he could make war and serve corporate interests to his heart’s content, without fear of any trouble from the Left.”

 

Obama’s “Progressives” Do a Name Change

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Even the president’s most loyal sycophants on the Left are running for cover.”

The organization formerly known as “Progressives for Obama” has changed its name. After almost a year of President Obama’s massive transfers of the people’s wealth to Wall Street, his escalation of U.S. wars in South Asia, his shameless alliance with insurance and drug corporations, and his callous disregard for Depression-level Black unemployment, even the president’s most loyal sycophants on the Left are running for cover. It’s not a pretty sight.

“Progressives for Obama” are now calling themselves “Progressive America Rising.” Two of the founding members, Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden, are making uncharacteristically loud anti-Obama noises and acting as if they played no role in convincing Obama that he could make war and serve corporate interests to his heart’s content, without fear of any trouble from the Left. They had his back.

The left-wing Obamites were the nastiest of all. They viciously libeled anyone that advanced a Left critique of their hero, calling them enemies of a new “people’s movement,” when in fact it was they who were shutting the movement down in favor of a fan club and cheering section for Obama. Amiri Baraka spit poison at all who failed to pledge allegiance to the Great Obama, calling us infantile ultra-leftists and just plain “rascals.” Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden stuck with Obama like little sorcerer’s apprentices as the president methodically savaged virtually every item on the progressive agenda. What else could they do? To break with Obama would amount to an admission that they were wrong about the progressive “potential” of their candidate; that he had always been a thoroughly corporate politician who would lurch to the Right as soon as he took office; and that, by failing to criticize Obama early in the campaign, they were guaranteeing that he would disrespect and ignore Blacks and progressives, once in office.

“Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden stuck with Obama like little sorcerer’s apprentices as the president methodically savaged virtually every item on the progressive agenda.”

Tom Hayden now declares it's finally “time to strip the Obama sticker” off his car.  Well, whoopee. Back in the day, Hayden would have been expected to engage in some serious self-criticism for misleading so many people about Obama. The same goes for Bill Fletcher, who appeared on a Pacifica radio show last week sounding like he'd never been an Obama fan. Fletcher said it was inappropriate for the Nobel committee to award Obama the Peace Prize when the president had done nothing to cause a “fundamental shift” in U.S. foreign policy. You can't influence a president of the United States to do the right thing, Fletcher said, by giving him awards in hopes that he will earn them. But that's exactly what Fletcher and his fellow Obama fanatics tried to pull off when they endorsed candidate Obama on a wish and a prayer when there was no reason to believe he would undertake any “fundamental shift” in U.S. foreign or domestic policy. As a result, the Left played no role whatsoever in the 2008 election. They just blew kisses at Obama, hoping he'd kiss them back after the inauguration.

Fletcher and Hayden now say it's time to crank up the people's Movement machine and get back to the business of speaking Truth to Power. Which is all perfectly true. However, Tom Hayden and Bill Fletcher and the rest of the “Progressives for Obama” clique should first demonstrate that they have recovered their faculties before assuming any leadership role in a revived Movement. The last time they were near a Movement, they shut it down, and went to the Obama party, instead.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091216_gf_ObamitesNameChange.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:37am EDT

Civil Rights Division To Clean Up After 8 Years of Bush

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Bush's minions behaved like vandals in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, trashing the very concept of equal protection under the law. But the white backlash did not begin with Bush. Civil rights has been “in a state of arrested development for over 40 years.”

 

Civil Rights Division To Clean Up After 8 Years of Bush

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Bush packed the Civil Rights Division with right-wing lawyers and administrators determined to erase even the most elementary gains made by minorities.”

The Obama administration has accomplished one solid achievement that may go down in the history books as at least a partial reversal of fortune for racial minorities in the United States. For eight long years, the Bush administration waged vicious political warfare against the very concept of civil rights, as we had come to understand it in America. Equal protection under the law became a dead letter in the U.S. Justice Department, whose Civil Rights Division was transformed into a bulwark of white male supremacy and petty reaction. George Bush’s racist appointees not only refused to enforce the Voting Rights Act and laws against race and sex discrimination in employment, they packed the Civil Rights Division with right-wing lawyers and administrators determined to erase even the most elementary gains made by minorities. Sincere civil rights lawyers were virtually barred from employment, vilified and scorned as “communists” who carried around copies of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. George Bush fought to allow the Religious Right to use federal money to discriminate. He cut the number of voting and employment rights lawsuits in half, and transformed the Civil Rights Division into a nexus of civil wrongs.

Eric Holder, President Obama’s choice as the first Black U.S. Attorney General, promised he would put the Justice Department back in the business of civil rights. In September, he announced plans to hire an additional 50 civil rights lawyers. And at congressional hearings last week, Holder’s department agreed to take measures to ensure that civil rights complaints are systematically addressed.

“Equal protection under the law became a dead letter in the U.S. Justice Department.”

All this is very good news, but it needs to be put in historical perspective. The rollback in civil rights did not begin with George Bush. The white backlash against the gains of the Sixties erupted before the ink was dry on civil rights legislation and court rulings. The backlash was in full fury when Ronald Reagan chose to announce his 1980 presidential candidacy in Neshoba County, Mississippi, site of the murder of three civil rights workers, only 16 years before. Republicans, and lots of Democrats, have been trying to make civil rights a dirty word, ever since. They have certainly succeeded in narrowing the scope of what we mean when we say civil rights.

Long before George Bush entered the White House, the non-stop white backlash had prevented full enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was designed to prevent the use of federal funds in ways that discriminate. A Justice Department Civil Rights Division that was true to the spirit of Title VI would act against discrimination everywhere it involves federal funding: environmental racism, health care disparities, the entire range of institutionally racist realties that plague Black and brown lives while aided and abetted with tax dollars. Such a civil rights agenda would move most urgently against mass Black incarceration, which literally steals Black lives and liberties by the millions.

Civil rights, as a political issue, has been in a state of arrested development for over 40 years. Its reawakening will require another mass movement, not just a changing of the guard at the U.S. Justice Department.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091209_gf_JusticeDept.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:20am EDT

Fed Fight Could Build a Movement Against Bailout, Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Nothing on the calendar of Congress, and no campaign from the grassroots, has anything approaching the potential of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to focus public anger on Wall Street and its allies in the White House and on Capitol Hill.” If the public only knew the dimensions of the largest transfer of wealth in human history, they would turn on the banksters with tooth and claw.

 

Fed Fight Could Build a Movement Against Bailout, Banksters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Now, like in 2008, Obama and the bankers, including the Federal Reserve, are joined at the hip.”

The looming battle over the powers of the Federal Reserve and the future of its chairman is the most promising opportunity yet to grow a “movement” to prevent Wall Street from swallowing up what’s left of the U.S. state. A bill to require a detailed audit of the Federal Reserve has garnered over 300 co-sponsors in the U.S. House and 30 supporters in the Senate. The legislation draws on the same diverse constituencies that almost defeated the bankers' bailout in the autumn of 2008: Wall Street's traditional enemies on both the Left and the Right. So beholden has the Democratic Party become to the finance capitalist classes, the Obama administration is the staunchest defender of the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Ben Bernanke. That should be no surprise. Barack Obama was the banksters' indispensable ally in the original $700 billion bailout, and in moving the $23 trillion ocean of money that was subsequently made available to Wall Street, much of it by the Federal Reserve. Now, like in 2008, Obama and the bankers, including the Federal Reserve, are joined at the hip – or the hip pocket.

Libertarian Republican Ron Paul is the guiding personality in the House for the bill to audit the Fed. On paper at least, a majority of House members support the legislation, including progressive stalwarts like Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers and other prominent members of the the Congressional Black and Progressive Caucuses. The bill easily passed the House Financial Services Committee, last week. The measure will have a much rougher time in the Senate, where Independent Bernie Sanders is the point man. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats but calls himself a democratic socialist. The Senate rules make it difficult to pass legislation without bipartisan support, but relatively easy for even an individual senator to block legislation and nominations. Senator Sanders has vowed to block Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke's bid for another term until the audit bill is allowed to come to a vote.

“The legislation draws on the same diverse constituencies that almost defeated the bankers' bailout in the autumn of 2008.”

Nothing on the calendar of Congress, and no campaign from the grassroots, has anything approaching the potential of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to focus public anger on Wall Street and its allies in the White House and on Capitol Hill. More than the prospects for actual passage, the debate that is likely to be generated by the bill would force the corporate media to report on the real facts of the much larger, multi-trillion of dollar bailout engineered by the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration – information about which the public is almost totally ignorant.

Popular opposition to the bailout – and therefore, to the rule of Wall Street – can only grow in intensity as debate over the Federal Reserve Transparency Act heats up, and as the facts of the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world become known. The banking class is deservedly hated, and anyone that stands between them and an enflamed public is going to get burned. That means Barack Obama and his chosen economic advisors and operatives Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner – and, of course, Ben Bernanke, Obama's buddy at the Federal Reserve.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.


Direct download: 20091209_gf_FedBillBernanke.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:18am EDT

Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Congressional Black Caucus agonizes as the accumulated miseries of their constituents force Black lawmakers to put distance between themselves and Wall Street's ally in the White House, Barack Obama. Ten members of the Caucus boycotted a vote on an Obama bill, to show their displeasure. But until they muster the nerve to vote against their president and his bankster friends, they are just shuckin' and jivin'. 

 

Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black and Progressive Caucuses will become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation.”

One can only hide from reality so long, before it catches up and bites you on the butt. The Congressional Black Caucus has been pretending that Barack Obama is the best thing to hit Washington for Black folks since the Emancipation Proclamation. It was, of course, deliriously wishful thinking, grounded in no reality whatsoever  – a self-induced illusion initially shared by most African Americans and by legions of Kool-Aid drinkers on the white Left, as well.

Obama has lied about many things. But, to be fair, he never told Black people that he had any intention of tackling the kind of institutional racism that for the last 40 years has made Blacks twice as likely to be unemployed as whites. So, when the president says, as he told reporters last weekend, that he won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment because “it’s a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States,” then no one should be surprised. This is the same guy that declared, 100 days into his presidency, that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and Black folks should just quiet down and wait for the tide.

Unfortunately, Black lawmakers’ constituents have been swamped by the tides of joblessness and home foreclosure. They want their representatives to do something about it – to at least holler when they hurt. Last week, ten members of the Black Caucus staged a demonstration boycott of a committee vote on Obama’s pitifully weak financial regulations bill, which passed anyway.

"Since last September,” said Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “we have continuously voted for bailouts and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business. That stops today." The Black Caucus, said Waters, “can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”

“Obama won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment.”

The statement makes great sense, although it comes rather late. The Black and Progressive Caucuses will only become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation, rather than staging boycotts when it doesn’t much matter. It will be easier to believe that the Black Caucus has wised up to Obama when they vote against funding his wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and against his horrific private insurance bailout bill that masquerades as health care reform.

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, Dean of the Black Caucus, has said the president bows down to “nutty right-wing proposals” on health care, and that he's tired of “saving Obama's can.” Several weeks ago, Conyers got a telephone call from the White House in which the president asked why Conyers was “demeaning” him in public. “Let's talk about it,” said Obama. Conyers says he's in no mood to “chat” with the president, and will put his complaints In writing.

Which is just as well. Obama has shown he is ideologically wedded to “the worldview of Wall Street,” as Congresswoman Waters put it. What the Black Caucus and all progressives will have to learn, is that if you want to fight Wall Street, you're going to have to do battle with Obama. It's way past time to put down the Kool-Aid, and start swinging.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091209_gf_CaucusObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:17am EDT

Rep. John Conyers: “I’m Tired of Saving Obama’s Can”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Periodically, Rep. John Conyers, one of the point-men for single payer health care, vents his frustration with President Obama. But then he, and nearly all the rest of the Progressive Caucus, vote for the president's pro-business legislation, anyway. “Obama would not have had the option of 'bowing down' to the corporations and the 'right-wing nuts' if progressives were not so predictably spineless.”

 

Rep. John Conyers: “I’m Tired of Saving Obama’s Can”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“When it comes to playing chicken with the president, Conyers and his cohorts always blink first.”

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, caused a stir last week when he blurted out: "I'm getting tired of saving Obama's can in the White House." Conyers was referring to the fact that he and nearly every other so-called “progressive” in Congress had swallowed whatever few milligrams of pride they still had left to vote for President Obama’s putrid health care legislation, on November 7. One can understand why Conyers is tired of buckling under to the White House on health care. The Progressive Caucus has been buckling under to Obama for so long, it’s second nature to them.

Conyers ought to be tired. He and other single payer advocates have been marginalized, shut out and humiliated by the White House ever since Barack Obama set foot in the building. But in the end, they have always wound up supporting the president when it came to the crunch. The pattern is always the same. The progressives bitch and moan and threaten to scuttle the deal between the White House and the drug and insurance corporations – and then, like clockwork, they cave in. With the principled exception of Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the left wing of the U.S. House of Representatives is shakier than Jello. It is no wonder the White House consistently calls their bluff. When it comes to playing chicken with the president, Conyers and his cohorts always blink first.

“In the end, they have always wound up supporting the president when it came to the crunch.”

But the congressman was in a complaining mood, last week. He noted that Obama’s phony health care plan passed by only five votes, and only then because, in his words, “progressives held their nose and voted for the plan anyway." But of course, nobody forced them to capitulate. If there really were an effective progressive caucus in the House, Obama would have had to take their threats seriously. But the White House knows from experience that, in the mouths of Democratic liberals, the word “no” really means “yes.” So Obama’s people routinely brush off progressive protestations, and have their way with them.

Having so easily and repeatedly given in to chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and his White House bully boys, the weak-willed progressives then complain that “nutty” right-wingers are always getting their way with the president. Single payer was “taken off the table from the beginning,” said Conyers. The White House is willing to sign any kind of bill. Their motto is, “give us anything and we will declare victory.”

What Conyers says, is true: Obama will sign anything and call it a new health care millennium. But Conyers and his progressive colleagues have also been willing to sign off on damn near anything. In the process, they have made Obama's strategy possible. Obama would not have had the option of “bowing down” to the corporations and the “right-wing nuts” if progressives were not so predictably spineless.

Conyers pointed out that the Obama bill doesn't even kick in for three years. By that time, said the congressman, “many of the people we are trying to help will be dead.” Unfortunately, on issues of health care, as with questions of war and peace, the Progressive Caucus in Congress is already dead.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_ConyersOnObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:52pm EDT

American Is Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. set the stage for the Afghan (and Pakistan) war eight years ago, when it handed out drug dealing franchises to warlords on Washington's payroll. Now the Americans, acting as Boss of All Bosses, have drawn up hit lists of rival, “Taliban” drug lords. “It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol.”

 

American Is Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists.”

If you’re looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it’s the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

An article in the current issue of Harper’s magazine explores the inner workings of the drug-infested U.S. occupation, it’s near-total dependence on alliances forged with players in the heroin trade. The story centers on the town of Spin Boldak, on the southeastern border with Pakistan, gateway to the opium fields of Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The chief Afghan drug lord is also the head of the border patrol and the local militia. The author is an undercover U.S.-based journalist who was befriended by the drug lord’s top operatives and met with the U.S. and Canadian officers that collaborate with the drug dealer on a daily basis.

The alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban. The Taliban appear to be gaining the upper hand in this Mafiosa gang war, the origins of which are directly rooted in U.S. policy.

“It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade.”

Is it any wonder, then, that the United States so often launches air strikes against civilian wedding parties, wiping out the greater part of bride and groom's extended families? America’s drug-dealing allies have been dropping dimes on rival clans and tribes, using the Americans as high-tech muscle in their deadly feuds. Now the Americans and their European occupation partners have institutionalized the rules of gangster warfare with official hit lists of drug dealers to be killed or captured on sight – lists drawn up by other drug lords affiliated with the occupation forces.

This is the “war of necessity” that President Barack Obama has embraced as his own. It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade. Obama's generals call for tens of thousands of new U.S. troops in hopes of lessening their dependency on the militias and police forces currently controlled by American-allied drug dealers. But of course, that will only push America's  Afghan partners in the drug trade into the arms of the Taliban, who will cut a better deal. Then the generals were argue that they need even more U.S. troops.

The Americans created this drug-saturated hell, and their occupation is now doomed by it. Unfortunately, they have also doomed millions of Afghans in the process.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_AfghanDrugs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:50pm EDT

Black Caucus Demonstrates Displeasure with Obama on Jobs, But Avoids Confrontation

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What's a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member to do when he/she is politically wedded to the Black man in the White House who is refusing to do anything substantive to tackle Depression-level African American unemployment? The CBC is approaching the moment when either they confront President Obama, directly, or abandon the pretense of representing their constituents.

 

Black Caucus Demonstrates Displeasure with Obama on Jobs, But Avoids Confrontation

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black Caucus is terrified at the very idea of confrontation with the Corporate-Executive-in-Chief, Barack Obama.”

The Congressional Black Caucus is beginning to panic at the extent of the unemployment crisis, which saw joblessness rise to Depression-levels in African American communities even before last year’s financial crash. Black lawmakers are caught in a bind of their own making. By all rights, they should be the loudest voices in protest of an administration that, at last count, has dedicated $23.7 trillion to rescuing Wall Street from self-inflicted catastrophe, but relies on a mythical “rising tide” to lift their Black constituents out of the jobless spiral. Yet the Black Caucus is terrified at the very idea of confrontation with the Corporate-Executive-in-Chief, Barack Obama.

Last week, members of the Caucus signaled their discomfort with White House jobs policies, by refusing to take part in a committee vote on Obama’s notoriously weak bill to regulate Wall Street. The move forced House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank to postpone the vote until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Frank said the Black lawmakers complained of a “lack of response to the economic situation that is confronting them...." But the chairman added that he didn’t think the Black lawmakers’ action meant they would vote against the finance industry bill when it came up again.

If Barney Frank is correct in his assessment, then the ten Black Caucus members on his committee were simply conducting a demonstration to show their constituents they are at least aware of the problem, but are not necessarily prepared to confront President Obama directly. Earlier in the week, the Congressional Black Caucus had a vigorous exchange about jobs with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. But that was a closed-door meeting.

“The president offered nothing of substance to the unemployed.”

Meanwhile, President Obama, finishing up his trip to China, indicated yet again that his priority is managing the government debt – code words for cutting social spending and blocking programs for job creation. The president offered nothing of substance to the unemployed, aside from tax incentives to corporations for new hiring, and boosting U.S. exports that might trickle down to ease joblessness.

Obama had already served notice that he would not entertain proposals for another economic stimulus at his White House Jobs Forum, next month. This was likely the red flag that prompted the Black Caucus to take some action – symbolically, at least – to indicate their unhappiness.
Democrats in Congress keep telling their constituents they are preparing legislation to tackle unemployment, but their willingness to buck their president is doubtful, and every word out of Obama's mouth is designed to discourage any serious jobs creation bill.

A new report warns that one million workers who are already unemployed will lose their benefits if Congress does not act by the end of December. The cost of extending all federally paid unemployment benefits, is $80 billion, a price tag President Obama is likely to balk at, now that his friends on Wall Street have been, at least temporarily, rescued. The Black Caucus will soon face its moment of truth, when more than a little demonstration will be required on the jobs issue. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford, On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_CBCJobsObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:48pm EDT

U.S. Sows Seeds of Wider War in East Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Like a pyromaniac, the United States threatens ignite to the entire East African region in its campaign to suppress Islamist forces in Somalia. Unable to marshal support for the pitiful puppet regime in Mogadishu, the Americans try to buy ethnic Somali recruits in surrounding countries. A new military offensive is set for late December.

 

U.S. Sows Seeds of Wider War in East Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Americans have organized mass recruitment among the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the fighting to refugee camps in Kenya.”

Somali refugees and ethnic Somali citizens of Kenya are being recruited and trained by the thousands for a U.S.-backed offensive in Somalia, to begin next month. The Associated Press, citing numerous sources among refugees, young men who have deserted from the new militia and their families, local Kenyan officials and foreign diplomats, reports that the offensive against Islamist forces in Somalia is planned for late December, the end of the Somali rainy season. That’s the same seasonal window the Americans took advantage of three years ago, when the U.S. instigated an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia that plunged the country into what the United Nations described as the “worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” That crisis continues, complicated by a severe drought and a U.S. blockade of food aid.

Washingrton supports a puppet government that controls little more than a small corner of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, and would immediately collapse where it not for the protection of Rwandan and Burundian troops that guard the airport. Most of central and southern Somalia is controlled by Islamist Shabab fighters. The U.S. is attempting to starve the region into submission by withholding 40 million pounds of food warehoused in Mombasa, Kenya.

With little support inside Somalia, the Americans have organized mass recruitment among the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the fighting to refugee camps in Kenya – a practice that violates international law. Recruits are also being drawn from ethnic Somalis who are Kenyan citizens, in the northeastern part of the country. The Associated Press has learned of similar recruitment and training in the Somali regions of Ethiopia and Djibouti, where the United States maintains a huge military base.

The recruits are lured into service with promises of $600 a month, but deserters say they are often beaten, ill-fed and unpaid.

“The Americans are fanning the flames of war among Somalia's neighbors – including Kenya.”

The Americans are playing a very dangerous game. In addition to breaking international law and discrediting aid agencies by recruiting among refugees, the U.S. is encouraging a wider conflict in East Africa. Ethnic Somalis dominate in northeastern Kenya, in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and in Djibouti. Ethnic Somalis waged a secessionist war in Kenya in the mid-1960s and continue to resist Ethiopian rule in the Ogaden. According to the Associated Press, recruits in Kenya are deprived of their identification cards and told, “You are not a Kenyan. From this moment, tell yourselves and other people you are a Somali.” Recruiters are apparently doing the same thing among ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The Americans, in their zeal to defeat the Islamist Shabab in Somalia, are encouraging Somali nationalism in neighboring countries, and thus planting the seeds of future wars of secession. Although the U.S. may think that it is turning brother Somalis against one another for U.S. foreign policy purposes, in reality the Americans are fanning the flames of war among Somalia's neighbors – including Kenya. These are the fruits of AFRICOM, the U.S. military's African Command. Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama is destabilizing his father's own homeland, and the whole of East Africa.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091118_gf_KenyaSomalia.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:26pm EDT

The Godfather's Mood Swings: Brothers Karzai and Diem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Superpower gangsters steal whole nations as a matter of routine, but feign shock when their handpicked puppets deal in unlicensed larceny. Hamid and Ahmed Karzai are no more nor less loyal to the American Project – and their own fortunes – than were South Vietnamese President Diem and his brother Nhu, who found themselves expendable 46 years ago this month.

 

The Godfather's Mood Swings: Brothers Karzai and Diem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Freelancing can get you killed by the Boss of All Bosses, in Washington.”

In the last days of 2001, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Americans’ handpicked Hamid Karzai to head that country’s new, puppet government. Eight years later, Washington is blaming Karzai for most, if not all, that has gone wrong with the U.S. occupation. Before and after Karzai’s attempt to rig his re-election, in August, various U.S. generals and politicians – including President Obama – made it clear that they wished Karzai would drop dead or otherwise disappear from the scene. 

The U.S. occupiers seemed to totally miss the irony in the fact that it was they who had rigged Karzai's initial rise to power and subsequent election in 2004. Rigged elections are fine when engineered by the U.S., but when the puppet pulls his own strings, it's a crime.

It is bizarre in the extreme how nation-stealers and occupiers cannot bear to see their own boundless corruption reflected in the faces of their Third World hirelings. Karzai was selected to be the Americans’ front man in Afghanistan precisely because of his advanced criminal skills and total absence of loyalty to his own country. These are the qualities that made him attractive to the Americans in the first place – his willingness to participate in crimes against his own nation, for a price. Freelancing, however, can get you killed by the Boss of All Bosses, in Washington. Such is the law of the imperial gangster jungle.

“Nation-stealers and occupiers cannot bear to see their own boundless corruption reflected in the faces of their Third World hirelings.”

Karzai's brother, Ahmed, has long been rumored to be a major drug lord. He's also the council chief in Kandahar Province, which is the heartland of the Taliban. The Americans pretend that the drug trade is the moneymaker that finances the Taliban, but in fact Afghan heroin has expanded to more than 90 percent of the world market since the Americans and the Karzai brothers took over the country. The same thing happened with Colombian cocaine after the Americans intervened in that country's civil war. The international cocaine and heroin “connections” are actually facilitations of the American government – specifically, the CIA. So, it is hilarious to hear Americans expressing shock and disgust that Karzai brother Ahmed, the reputed drug lord, has been on the CIA's payroll for the last eight years. Well, of course he has! That's what the CIA does. Their modus operandi, throughout the Third World, is to recruit criminal elements to subvert their own countries to America's will. In return, these favored criminals are awarded franchises in the drug trade and other illicit enterprises.

The road to American empire is paved with one criminal enterprise and subversion after another. Two other brothers in service to America come to mind. Ngo Dinh Diem became the American puppet in South Vietnam when the French were forced out. His brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, became chief of the secret police – the top communist-killer. But by 1963, the two brothers who had served the Americans so loyally, had fallen out of favor. They were killed in an American-backed coup, just three weeks before President Kennedy was himself assassinated. The Karzai brothers in Afghanistan are no doubt aware of the historical parallels. But then, gangsters get into “the life” with their eyes open. The boss can always turn on you – and the Americans usually do. Just ask Saddam Hussein.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091118_gf_KarzaiDiem.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:24pm EDT

Obamacare: Great For Drug Companies, Bad For the Public

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Why are the drug barons planning a $150 million ad campaign boosting Obama's health care scheme? They've got $21 billion worth of reasons – bonus earnings from record price hikes while wheeling and dealing with the White House. Everything the president touches turns to cash – for the corporate sector.

 

White House “Deal” Turns into Bonanza for Drug Industry

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Obama's dealmaking in the White House is nothing less than collusion with the cartel.”

President Obama is very good at talking “the language of the deal.” He made a deal with the the drug cartel this summer, ostensibly to keep drug prices down to reduce the overall cost of health care. The drug companies promised they would cut the prices they planned to charge by about $8 billion a year for the next ten years. Now an analysis for AARP shows the drug profiteers have actually raised prices by more than $10 billion in the last year, an increase of more than 9 percent and the biggest price hike in 17 years.

Good lookin' out out, Obama. Or should I say, Good job of selling out, Mr. President. The drug industry is so happy with the deal it cut with the White House, it's launching a $150 million advertising campaign to boost ObamaCare – a cheap price to pay for yet another Obama bailout of the ruling class, this time for Big Pharma.

At the same time that the industry was pushing up drug prices by 9.3 percent, the price of generic drugs declined by about 9 percent. That means the drug cartel, under cover of Obama's deal, transformed a downward trend in pharmaceutical prices into the biggest price surge since 1992.

And what else is the drug monopoly getting from the dealmaker in the White House? Thirty million new customers, served up on a platter under the banner of health care reform.  This is bait-and-switch with a vengeance. When Obama is the dealmaker, “reform” translates into instant, unprecedented profits for the corporate sector. Under this administration, the words “reform” and “bailout” are virtually synonymous.

“The drug cartel, under cover of Obama's deal, transformed a downward trend in pharmaceutical prices into the biggest price surge since 1992.”

The House version of health care reform, passed on November 7th, calls for $14 billion a year in savings on drugs, but most of those savings have already been gutted by the drug industry. So what did the Democrats accomplish by deferring to the deal struck by the White House? They have made themselves look ridiculous, irrelevant.

The drug industry pulled the same trick back in 2006, when Congress expanded the Medicare subsidized drug program by tens of millions of older people. Back then, Big Pharma seized the opportunity to push prices through the roof. Now they've done it again.

If Barack Obama is not a pro-big business president, then who is? He has guaranteed the drug barons tens of millions of captive customers, shielded the industry from pesky progressives in Congress by cutting a side deal at the White House, and then allowed the corporations to reap a $21 billion boondoggle based entirely on artificially inflated prices.

Why do Americans pay so much more for pharmaceuticals than anyone else on the planet? Because the drug industry is a cartel that sets prices as it sees fit. Barack Obama's dealmaking in the White House is nothing less than collusion with the cartel.

No one questions Barack Obama's intelligence. He is clearly a brilliant man. Therefore, one can only conclude that he is part of the con game. Obama is dealing from the bottom of the deck, passing all the good cards to his corporate partners. And the people get fleeced every time.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091118_gf_DrugPrices.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:18pm EDT

honduran soldiersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
When it comes to Latin America, there is a difference between the Obama and Bush administrations. Bush huffed and puff and blustered while committing aggression against Latin neighbors; Obama smiles and mouths words of peace, and then commits much the same crimes. He is preparing Latin America as the next theater of war.


 U.S. Stomps on Honduran Democracy, Militarizes Colombia
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The Obama Administration was playing the international community when it pretended to oppose the June 28 coup against President Manuel Zelaya.”
The “new” face of Barack Obama’s diplomacy in Latin American has become apparent, in the unfolding saga of the coup in Honduras and continuing U.S. militarization of Colombia. It is now perfectly clear that the Obama Administration was playing the international community when it pretended to oppose the June 28 coup against President Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya was kidnapped from his bed by Honduran soldiers, who then stopped at a U.S. airbase before flying their captive into exile. The United States paid lip service to opposing the overthrow of a democratically elected president, but refused to characterize it has a military coup. Instead, Washington cynically allowed the clock to run out on President Zelaya with the coup plotters still in power. Zelaya, who had been holed up in the Brazilian embassy after sneaking back into Honduras, signed an agreement that was supposed to restore him to power as head of a “unity” government, before elections scheduled for November 29. But the coup-makers reneged on the deal, and the Obama Administration has signaled it will accept the results of the elections, even though the vote will be presided over by the same people that staged the coup.
The lesson here is, the U.S. under President Obama is no less determined than President Bush to dominate the peoples of Latin America by brute force. Barack Obama has a great smile and a legendary gift of gab, but he is no more a friend to Latin American democracy than his predecessor. Honduran democrats now say they have no choice but to boycott this month’s elections.