Rhetoric and Reality

nader vs obamaby Ralph Nader

Humans learn to about the same time we learn to talk.  It's just part of the package.  It's quite unrealistic therefore, to suppose that our political life and discourse would be free from lies.  Ralph Nader has been untangling political truth from fiction for more than a generation.  This week he tackles a piece of mail he recently received from the president.

African Pastoralists Directly Threatened By Climate Change

african pastoralists 1by Aaron Tesfaye

The first victims of the change in global precipitation patterns will not be people from rich, polluting nations who engage in ruinous consumption, but the poorest of the poor – such as African pastoralists who exist ‘precariously at the periphery’, Aaron Tesfaye writes in Pambazuka News. As world leaders prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference in December, Tesfaye looks at why the summit’s agenda has ‘produced serious divisions between developed and developing nations’, with one side seeking to maintain a way of life, and the other struggling to meet basic needs. 

The End of Black Politics As We Knew It: Will Atlanta's Next Mayor Be White? Should We Even Care?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

36 years of black Atlanta mayors have given birth to a thriving and empowered class of black managers, attorneys and contractors. But even after moving tens of thousands of poor blacks who once lived in public housing to areas beyond the city limits, fully one third of black Atlanta remains below the poverty level, making Atlanta number 5 in black poverty among the 40 largest US cities, according to current US Census data. So have the generation of black mayors and the crew that brought them in really done African Americans that much good?

Freedom Rider: Backwards with Obama

backwardby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Barack Obama has a peculiar effect on other world leaders: he causes them to regress on climate change and to revert to racist type in relations with formerly colonized nations. Obama brings Europeans down to the American level, while making them feel good about it. No wonder they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize. “Not only does the U.S. consistently act against the interests of the rest of the world, but it forces other nations to behave equally badly.”  

The Phony Fight: Obama VS the Insurance Barons

health care A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If you believe the hype, the president and Big Insurance are going at at each other's throats over health care. But it's a sham battle, “like TV wrestling.” The insurance companies have already won the biggest prize they could ever wish for: 50 million new customers dragooned by the federal government. All the too-late huffing and puffing from the White House is “a hollow threat, for public consumption only.”

Three-Tier Race-Based Wage Scales in Manhattan

constructionA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Click the flash player below to listen or the mic to download.

A full-blown apartheid labor regime flourished in the Manhattan construction industry, with Irish immigrant workers at the top of the heap. New York's attorney general is demanding millions in back wages and an end to racial discrimination on the job. “If you give the bosses enough leeway, they'll bring back slavery.”

Two Studies: Drop-out or Push-out, and the Consequences of Jim Crow Medicine

two studiesA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Click the flash player below to listen or the mic to download.

The Sixties and the decade's aftermath remains a fertile field of study. Researchers conclude that the end of Jim Crow medicine “provided the health care basis for southern Black advances on standardized testing in the 1980s.” But change also brought social disarray, massive school dropouts, and a national public policy of mass Black incarceration.

Black Leadership In the Age of Obama: Motown's New Mayor Unilaterally Ends Almost All Union Contracts


By Diane Bukowski

For decades unionized jobs, especially those in the public sector have provided a precarious foothold in the middle class for those black families lucky enough to have them. Unionized employees cannot be as easily terminated, and are far more likely to have medical and retirement benefits than non-union workers. But the new generation of black elected officials are responsible only to the corporate privatizers that bankroll their careers. In black Detroit, one of many cities that will elect a mayor on November 3, change is up, but hope is down, with civic mistrust and betrayal at an all time high...

Can Democrats Avoid a Populist Health Care Rebellion?

by Kevin Zeese

Democratic leadership is committing political suicide by attempting to force all Americans to buy shoddy insurance policies from profiteering private corporations. Already, activists who worked hard for Obama are putting their bodies on the line to halt the White House capitulation to corporate healthcare. Medicare for All is the only alternative.

Highlights of the SleptOn.TV White House Press Conference on Obama's Receipt of Nobel Peace Prize

by SleptOn.TV
Nobody, the president said, was more surprised than him.  Nobody except maybe Henry "the Christmas Bomber" Kissinger.  Slept)n.TV brings us their version of the White House press conference.
If you don't see the video above, click here.

Obama's New Katrina Recovery Bucks Less Than One Week's Worth of War in Afghanistan

obama_nolaby Patrick Martin
Last week's drive-by to New Orleans showed President Obama at his public relations worst, inviting comparisons to his predecessor in the White House. Obama lectured and insulted critics, compared concerned citizens of the ravaged city to “special interests,” and pleaded Constitutional impediments to delivering more federal assistance.  it's hard to argue that electing a black president made much difference to the present and former black residents of the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Military: A Global Force For Good? Maybe Not.

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

A cartoonish recruiting campaign underway by the US Navy brands it “a global force for good,” as though military forces existed to build hospitals or schools or public works rather than to break things, kill and terrorize people in the service of America's global empire. If you want to know what kind of force the US military is oveseas you might ask new mothers in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, mothers whose wombs are spitting out the bitter fruit of our “global force for good.”


True Crime: White Privilege and a Police Killing in an Obama-Mad College Town

Iowa cityby Paul Street
Iowa City, Iowa went wild for Barack Obama in '08, earning a reputation among it's more conservative neighbors as “The People’s Republic of Johnson County.” But when a white deputy sheriff shot to death a homeless Black man at the urging of a local white drunk, the “liberal” oasis behaved much like any racist backwater town.

Education Reform's Rule Number One: Blame The Teachers

blame the teachersby Kesi Bem Foster
Teacher union-bashing has become a sport among the business class and their minions in both major parties. Teachers unions, it is claimed, keep “bad” educators on the job, doing the public a disservice. But few politicians attack police unions for defending officers “accused of using excessive force against citizens, even when such force results in death.” And grossly overpaid incompetents on Wall Street put the entire world economy at peril – yet are rewarded with taxpayer dollars.

Sit-ins in 9 Cities Begin To Put Single Payer Back On The Table

Thursday in Phoenix and Portland, in Los Angeles and Washington DC and five other cities across the nation 54 people were arrested while many hundreds more conducted nonviolent demonstrations outside the offices of piratical health insurance companies.  The election is over.  Maybe a movement is beginning.

If you cannot see the video above, click here.  To find out how you can help put single payer, the people's choice for medical care back on the table in your city, go to

Top Ten Reasons President Obama Should Give Back the Nobel Peace Prize

HOPEby BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
At the Nobel announcement of this year's peace prize a reporter asked the Nobel spokesman “why”, since the man had only been in office less than a year, and had done so little to merit the honor. The spokesman replied that the prize had been given not so much for anything Obama had done, but in the spirit of hope and encouragement, for what he might do.  Maybe.

Freedom Rider: Michelle’s Family Tree

Michelle Obama's familyby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Strange things happen when members of the oppressed and despised group rise to power and fame. Their backgrounds are magnified, yet still remain one-dimensional in the larger society's eyes. In failing to respect Michelle Obama's ancestors, whose story is common to most Black lineages, the New York Times disrespects the First Lady, as well.

We Need a Black-Led Movement for Peace, Not a Phony “Prize”


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Click the flash player below to listen or the mic to download.

“When Barack Obama declares he is presiding over 'necessary' wars, then those who seek peace must organize the necessary resistance to his wars.” That responsibility weighs even more heavily on Black activists, who must “reignite a Black-led movement to confront this administration's war policies, at home and abroad.” The date is November 7th. The place is Washington, DC.


Four U.S. Presidents and Four UK Prime Ministers Charged With Genocide

bloodbathA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Charges of genocide against four administrations in Washington and London document the continuity of U.S. and British crimes against Iraq. For nearly a generation, the U.S. and U.K. have collaborated in the attempted murder of a nation. It remains a crime in progress.

Global Resistance, Local Action, and Vision

Cynthia McKinneyby Cynthia McKinney
A successful movement for change needs more than energy and commitment – it also requires “people feverishly working to redefine for all who want to be active...just what the prize is.” When a war-expanding president is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, peace itself is in need of redefinition. Only the forces of death prosper when “people believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength, and lies are truth.”

Militarist Obama and Corporate Nobel: Peaceful Partnership

you tell meby Saswat Pattanayak
Nobel Prizes are offered by the royalists, the status quo upholders, the deniers of class society.” Such people don't want peace, but stability for the existing order. The Nobel Committee prizes continuity above all else. That's why they gave Barack Obama their vote of confidence in his bid to maintain U.S. global domination while shouting less and smiling more. “Barack Obama’s win is the most natural continuation of Nobel Peace Prize tradition.”

A Nobel Worthy Effort: Ending Youth Violence From Chicago to Afghanistan

Chicagoby Jesse Hagopian
The White House kicked off its national initiative against youth violence in Chicago, but community activists charge Administration school policies have exacerbated the mayhem on the streets. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan set off a spiral of violence when he closed down Black neighborhood schools as head Chicago's system. Duncan's shutdowns forced students to cross gang lines to get to and from school every day – a sometimes fatal journey that students across the country will travel more often under President Obama's education plan.

Riots, Real Estate, and Selective Memory

urban sceneby Beryl Satter
Wall Street's subprime mortgage assault on Black America threatens to wipe out a generation of African American equity, but it's not the first time. The FHA-HUD scandals of the 1970s laid waste to Black neighborhoods in cities across the nation, causing far more damage and urban instability than the “riots” of the previous decade. It appears that few things are more destructive than felonious capital.

Beyond Science Fiction: Europe’s False Claims to Civilization and the Coming Attack on Iran

target iranby Henry D. Rose
The U.S. and Israel, the “most aggressive” nations in the world, routinely commit crimes against international law and civilized norms. Yet they feel quite comfortable in claiming moral authority in the community of nations. Meanwhile, “freedom fighters are branded as terrorists,” and “resistance to oppression is deemed divisive and futile.” Black America understands U.S. barbarity from direct experience. “For the African-American people, the battle cry must be: No War on Iran!”

Now that President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, what should he do?

* Refuse it, like Vietnam's Le Duc Tho did in 1973, because nothing like peace is even on the horizon
* Take it and laugh, like Henry Kissinger also in 1973, less than a year after his Christmas bombing of Hanoi
* Donate the money to Palestinian children maimed by US ordnance in Gaza last year
* Convene another beer summit with Bibi Netenyahu and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (he can drink O'Douls)

7 Arrested in Chicago Demanding Single Payer Health Care; Protests In Ten More Cities Next Week

by the Editors

On October 8, seven demonstrators were arrested at the Chicago offices of Cigna Insurance.  The protests are part of a series begun in New York last week and slated to spread to at least ten cities next week including Washington DC. 

"Single payer is inevitable; it’s going to happen," said Kevin Zeese of Prosperity Agenda, one of the nationwide initiators of the campaign. "The question is when."  Those who want to make it happen, he added, can sign up at  Just under 700 have already volunteered to risk arrest to make Medicare For All, the only workable plan for universal health care, a near-term reality.

Will Civil Disobedience For Health Care Make Obama and Dems Listen?

Last week 17 people were arrested in the New York offices of Aetna Insurance, demanding Medicare For All.  This week the wave of sit-ins will hit insurance companies in Chicago.

Next week, say organizers, as many as 15 cities will see civilly disobedient actions demanding the kind of everybody-in-nobody-out kind of health care that polling shows two thirds of Americans want, but Washington seems unable to deliver.

Freedom Rider: Obama Disses Black Politicians

preaching to the choirby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The first Black president, having just smacked down New York state's first Black governor, refuses to endorse the Democrat who would be New York City's second Black mayor. Is there a pattern here? And where is that “newly energized, enlightened and involved citizenry” that Barack Obama had called forth. Black voters appear to have returned to the apathy from whence they came.

The Olympics and Rio's Black Poor

the real rioA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The gentry-pursued Black and poor population of Chicago got a reprieve from the Olympic committee last week. Now it's Rio de Janeiro's turn to invent clever ways to clear out the shantytowns so the games may begin without the distractions of poverty. Walls are already going up around the favelas, to keep the dark hordes from spoiling the sports.

Media Tell the Rich Man's Story, Starve the People of Real News

bentley ownerA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A new study shows the corporate news media behave as if their primary audience is comprised of the rich and powerful. Issues dear to the hearts (sic) of bankers in New York and Washington insiders dominate the “news,” while stories about jobs, housing and consumer prices are few and far between. In the Great Recession, “the rich use their media monopoly to starve the public of the fundamental facts of national economic life.”


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