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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

By signing the preventive detention law that his operatives in Congress helped to craft, President Obama has nullified the pillars of the Bill of Rights: due process of law and freedom of speech. Journalist Chris Hedges is suing the would-be King Obama, while Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan dares the president to charge him with “sedition and treason.” Every potential political dissenter can now be “locked up for the rest of their lives without charge or trial – essentially, on the president’s say-so.”

 

Barack Obama vs. Farrakhan, Hedges and the Bill of Rights

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

That act signed into law by our president is an act that is destined to stop those of us who speak truth to power.”

When it comes to preventive detention, journalist Chris Hedges and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan agree: President Obama has signed and codified into law a measure that would abolish free speech and due process of law in the United States.

Chris Hedges, the author and former New York Times correspondent, suspects that the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state.” He has sued President Obama in the Southern District Court in New York City, challenging the National Defense Authorization Act that Obama signed when most people were celebrating New Years Eve. Hedges is especially troubled, and with good reason, by the language in the law that describes who can be locked up for the rest of their lives without charge or trial – essentially, on the president’s say-so.

The people that may be deprived of their fundamental rights are those that “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” The key words are “substantially supported” and “associated forces.” In legal terms, “substantial” support, as opposed to “material” support, could easily be applied to speech that the government decides gives “aid and comfort” to al Qaeda or the Taliban. And “associated forces” could be anybody that the president’s men claim have some kind of association with terrorists – and that, too, could be in the form of speech.

This is a dungeon big enough to throw all kinds of people into, including reporters and citizens simply expressing their political opinions. “Dissent,” says Hedges, “is increasingly equated in this country with treason.”

The real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state.”

Minister Farrakhan told a Chicago radio host, That act signed into law by our president is an act that is destined to stop those of us who speak truth to power.” The Nation of Islam’s lawyer said the law might be interpreted as a “justifiable basis to detain [Farrakhan] in military custody without benefit of his constitutional right to trial” if he dissents with official U.S. policy. Farrakhan noted that the late Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad was imprisoned during World War Two for advocating resistance to the draft. “If America goes to war,” he said, President Obama may be forced “to take Farrakhan off the streets; and charge him with ‘sedition’ and ‘treason.’”

The point here, of course, is not that Louis Farrakhan or Chris Hedges is in imminent danger of preventive detention in perpetuity, but that everyone is, because the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for due process of law, and the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech, no longer exist if a president finds them inconvenient.

Black America has always championed civil liberties, and could not possibly support preventive detention. But too many African Americans have failed to pay attention to Obama’s actual policies. They have treated him like an icon, or worse, a king. Now, with preventive detention the law of the land, he has become King Obama, a monarch with no constitutional bounds. Next year, it could be King Mitt, or King Newt – and it really doesn't matter which.

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: 20120118_gf_Detention.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama administration is, arguably, already at war with Iran by most legal and civilized standards – a war of economic strangulation and covert aggression. African Americans have historically opposed U.S. wars against the developing world, but Obama has “blurred the lines between war and not-war,” claiming that his 7-month bombing campaign against Libya was not really a war. Meanwhile, the corporate media “is full of fake news about Iranian threats, when it is the Americans who are doing all the threatening, all the killing.”

 

Obama Provoking War with Iran

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama has been as methodical in his buildup to war with Iran as George Bush was with Iraq almost nine years ago.”

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, which represents the views of the American corporate establishment, says “The probability of armed conflict between the United States and Iran is higher now than at any point since 1988.” That’s because the Obama administration has methodically steered the U.S. military juggernaut towards war with Iran since the day Obama entered the White House. Washington is busily organizing a world economic war against Iran, bullying other countries, and even pressuring the Chinese – so far, unsuccessfully – to boycott Iranian oil, which is an act of war. The U.S. and its allies are hell bent on regime change in Syria, Iran’s neighbor and ally, covertly supporting armed insurgents that have killed more than 1,500 Syrian soldiers and police, while western corporate media blow the bugles of armed intervention. U.S. warships commit daily provocations in the Persian Gulf, hoping to create a pretext for a shooting war. And, just this month, another Iranian scientist was assassinated, either by the Israelis or the CIA, the fifth such murder in the last two years. Such targeted aggressions would be considered acts of war if the Iranians committed them against the US. or Israel.

Iranians know what can happen when the U.S. Navy maneuvers in the Gulf. In 1988, an American missile cruiser shot down an Iranian civilian passenger airliner over the Gulf, killing all 290 people aboard. It was a crime against humanity – and the Iranians remember it well, even if the self-contained American public, does not. The American media, addicted to lying in the service of the U.S. State Department, is full of fake news about Iranian threats, when it is the Americans who are doing all the threatening, all the killing, and subjecting Iran to economic strangulation. Cuba’s Fidel Castro is correct in his assessment that world peace is hanging by a thread.

Wars, once set in motion, have momentums of their own.”

President Obama has blurred the lines between war and not-war. No sane person could deny that the United States and its NATO allies were at war with Libya during seven months of non-stop bombing, until they finally achieved regime change. But President Obama defied U.S. law and the U.S. Congress, denying that a state of war ever existed. He will doubtless make the same claim when and if he attacks Iran with bombs and missiles. This is a lawless government.

Obama has been as methodical in his buildup to war with Iran as George Bush was with Iraq almost nine years ago, moving step by step to the brink. He might want to avoid pushing gasoline prices to six or eight dollars in an election year, but wars, once set in motion, have momentums of their own.

In February of 2003, only weeks before George Bush invaded Iraq, the Zogby polling agency asked the question: “Would you support or oppose a war against Iraq if it mean thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties?” A large majority of white males and more than a third of white females said, “Yes,” go ahead with the invasion. Only 7 percent of Blacksfavored an invasion that would kill thousands of Iraqi civilians. Today, with a Black commander-in-chief, I would hope that African Americans would be just as solidly against a full-blown war against Iran. Very soon, that question may rendered moot by the relentless warmongering of our First Black President.

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

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

Direct download: 20120118_gf_WarIran.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38am EDT

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

A vote is a terrible thing to waste, they say. But exactly when are votes wasted? Are they thrown away when cast for the least of multiple evils. Are they squandered when cast for what people really need and want, even if that means a Democrat might not win? Are they lost when people with few or no good choices stay home? Or have voters already been robbed when the menus is limited to corporate-funded Republicans vs. corporate-funded Democrats?

How To Waste Your Vote In 2012

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

They would never dream of allowing us to vote on the price of gas, food, housing, credit or college tuition. But they don't mind at all letting us choose between corporate-funded Republicans and corporate-funded Democrats...”

It's true enough. Your vote really is your voice, and in the modern era, every government on earth claims to rule with the consent of the people. This bestows upon the vote a unique kind of legal and symbolic power. The gap, however, between this legal, this symbolic power of the vote and any real ability to change things for the better is a vast one. The authorities rightly fear the people's voice, and so have contrived law and custom to ensure that we are seldom heard and almost never heeded.

They would never dream of allowing us to vote on the price of gas, food, housing, credit or college tuition. But they don't mind at all letting us choose between corporate-funded Republicans and corporate-funded Democrats. The powers that rule our economy, our media and our politics won't let us vote on whether to bring the troops home from 140 countries and the seven seas, or whether to continue spending more on weapons of death and destruction than the other 95% of humanity combined. But they will let us choose between an ignorant, crazy or racist Republican who promises to give banksters, polluters and corporate criminals a free pass, and a sane, smart, level-headed free market liberal Democrat who does exactly the same thing, no matter what he promised.

The authorities won't let us vote on whether the broadcast spectrum should be privatized, whether we should have the right to start and join unions, whether to create millions of good-paying green jobs. They won't allow voters to decide whether corporations deserve more rights than flesh and blood people, or whether the president should be able to kidnap, torture, imprison and murder people without trials or even charges. But they will let us choose between a white guy and a black guy. As long as it's their white guy, and their black one as well.

This is how the game is played. This is how the legal and symbolic authority of millions of our wasted votes is hijacked every election cycle...”

This imposition of false and meaningless choices is how, in these United States, our voices are suppressed, our votes wasted and made irrelevant, with the black vote rendered most irrelevant of all.

The gaps between black and white employment and household wealth are greater, and expanding faster than at any time in the last six decades. But the black vote will go to a man who doesn't believe black unemployment or dispossession or even black mass incarceration merit any special attention. Though black voters are historically more opposed to foreign wars and military intervention, their votes this time are pledged to a president who made a war speech while receiving a peace prize, who invaded Arab and African countries with drones and special forces, and who heartily endorses Israeli apartheid.

This is how the game is played. This is how the legal and symbolic authority of millions of our wasted votes is hijacked every election cycle, making possible wars we do not endorse, ratifying policies we never wanted, and pretending to believe promises we know, or should know will never be kept. This is what Eugene Debs referred to a century ago, when he declared he would rather cast a meaningful vote for what did want, and not get it, than a fake and hollow one for what he didn't want, and get that.

And so, a hundred years later, the game is still the game. If we want our votes to have any meaning, it's time to reject the fake choices between the two corporate parties. It's time to wise up, to grow up and like adults, to take a view longer than dessert, or the next two or three elections.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, where he also serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

Direct download: 20120118_bd_how2_waste_yr_vote.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:32am EDT