Wisconsin: The End of Obama-ism


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The struggle in Wisconsin, and those to come, must shape a politics that is independent of the uniparty, the Democratic section of which is headed by Barack Obama. Significantly, “students and other protesters don’t want Obama to intervene in the fight with Gov. Walker because of the president’s cuts in Pell Grants and a whole range of social supports.” It becomes clearer by the day that “Obama-ism, rather than providing the new Democratic dispensation that delusional progressives and masses of Blacks imagined, is a straight-line path to defeat.”


Wisconsin: The End of Obama-ism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A direct action movement will be the people’s only defense in a post-2012 environment.”

Herr Gov. Scott Walker, of Wisconsin, has let the other jack-boot drop with proposals for an additional $1.6 billion in cuts to schools and local governments, an assault designed to drive the most basic public services either out of existence or towards privatization through strangulation. The mostly white-bread state now stares at the prospect of 60-student classrooms, like the nonfunctional regime that is to be imposed on children in Detroit under a Democratic state administration. Democratic governors in New York, California and elsewhere are no doubt reveling in the carnage wrought by their GOP brethren in America’s uniparty system, whose depredations expand the political space for their own jihads against the public sector and its unions.

Wisconsin is, in a sense, near-ideal terrain for a showdown with the Tea Party brand of Republicanism. The actors in the drama are overwhelmingly white, putting the raw class nature of capital’s aggressions in stark relief. With relatively few Black scapegoats to complicate the issue, white folks must confront the bare facts of the way late-stage capitalism tramples ordinary people as it careens from crisis to crisis.

Or, maybe not. White supremacy is a dynamic ideology that has always been central to the domestic functions of American Exceptionalism, distorting not just race relations but all other social relations, as well. Once the foundational Nigger has been invented and given life in the public mind, with all his purported logic-bending and society-polluting defects, his characteristics can be imputed to other targeted groups – a ready-made demonization kit. Public employees in general and teachers in particular now find themselves Niggerized as lazy featherbedders, no-count malingerers, fellow travelers with welfare queens and other human malignancies that must be excised so that the free market can work its wonders.

With relatively few Black scapegoats to complicate the issue, white folks must confront the bare facts of the way late-stage capitalism tramples ordinary people as it careens from crisis to crisis.”

If the white masses can convince themselves that they don’t deserve to be Niggerized – and that neither do Black and brown folks – then they may eventually summon the clarity of mind to defeat the two-percent minority that is systematically dismantling the public sphere. This would be something new under the American sun.

The advent of a genuinely new phenomenon, a Black U.S. president, has served to objectively strengthen the hand of raging capital by neutralizing the Black half of progressive America and obscuring the face of Wall Street’s offensive, in which Barack Obama is a key player. Left activist Ben Manski, of Wisconsin Wave, says students and other protesters don’t want Obama to intervene in the fight with Gov. Walker and the GOP legislature because of the president’s cuts in Pell Grants and a whole range of social supports. Their instincts are good. There is every reason to believe that, if Obama where to go beyond the bromides he dispensed to governors at the White House, this week, he would tell Wisconsin’s Democratic senators, huddled in Chicago to avoid giving Republicans a quorum: “I know that you guys have been enjoying my fair city, but it’s time to go home and sit down and work things out across party lines. We must overcome partisan politics.” In an instant, the solid Democratic front would collapse, and the GOP would get its quorum.

Obama has undermined public school teachers as Republican George Bush never could, elevating charterization of the nation’s public schools to national policy under a Democratic administration. As education writer Richard D. Kahlenberg pointed out in the Washington Post, last week, Obama “applauded the firing of every single unionized teacher at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.” He embraced Washington, DC’s former schools superintendent Michelle Rhee, a darling of privatizers in both wings of the American uniparty, and hosted the anti-public education propaganda film “Waiting for Superman” at the White House.

Win or lose, the battle in Wisconsin and other looming confrontations with the triumphalist Right must produce a politics that is not tethered to Democratic Party structures.”

We await the First Black President’s next capitulation to Republicans on Capital Hill – an inevitability, since he has accepted the basic premises of Wall Street rule: that budget deficits are the greatest threat to economic well-being; tax cuts to corporations are necessary for economic recovery and growth; public workers wages and rights must be curtailed (he unilaterally froze their pay for two years); and war spending, except at the margins, is inviolable.

In principle, there is no difference between corporate Democrat Obama and corporate Republicans – it is only a matter of degree. And the degrees of separation grow fewer by the day.

The GOP is all but certain to win the U.S. Senate in 2012, sealing its hold on the legislative branch. We will either have a Republican in the White House or another dreadful term of Barack Obama, who will by that time have helped move the bar even farther to the Right, where his comfort zone lies. That’s why, win or lose, the battle in Wisconsin and other looming confrontations with the triumphalist Right must produce a politics that is not tethered to Democratic Party structures.

Obama-ism, rather than providing the new Democratic dispensation that delusional progressives and masses of Blacks imagined, is a straight-line path to defeat. The uniparty system is a corporate trap, and reliance on the ballot box, where money rules as never before, cannot possibly galvanize a direct action movement that will be the people’s only defense in a post-2012 environment.

It is a time to fashion new weapons, and bring back old ones.

The good news is, financial capitalism is dying. The bad news is, it wants to bring us all down with it – and is, so far, succeeding.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].


& more pls. on the corporate "whiteout" of the protests,GF

There's nothing left to be said, GF, than "thanks"*.  I get hopeful watching the video of the Madison Wisc. capitol footage on DemocracyNow earlier this week (from weekend coverage that was NOT mentioned on corporate, in which I include NPR, unless you call it National Pentagon Radio - proof today as one of the "sponsors" of NYC in "ad" called support is Intrepid war machine, retired, called "museum") www.democracynow.org.

The hopeful part for me is the young.  And, as an oldster, I did enjoy seeing old folks among the young.  On one station on weekend, I heard a caller take a "host" to task on the radio show as I spun the dial, that of course it was peaceful - viz. there were wheelchair users in the crowd (which warms my wheelie heart).

It's funny, if one has a Kurt Vonnegut kind of sense of humor for the absurd (or Lenny Bruce-like), that the few "liberal" Democrat supporter radio show hosts have to carefully as can berate the Republican policies, e.g. cuts, while ignoring that Obama is proposing the same cuts.  I like GF's distiction about degree.

Another hopeful thing for me is that it's local/state wide make it easier for folks to participate: near(er) home than go to D.C.  The state legislators who are going out-of-state to avoid quorum are doing great stuff - giving people time and information on what's in the horrific Republican legislation.

It's process....process....democracy is process and egads, I'm hopeful. *and I found a bit to say, chuckle.


my thoughts exactly

I saw the exact same thing watching that. The age diversity was really encouraging. I think many young people in this nation have become apathetic about the world around them and the government working its puppet strings... and this is coming from a young person. It's too much stimulation through media that's causing people to just shut off and become intellectual zombies. - Tyrone

Right again!

This article is brilliant, but why is the perspective of this site so rare? What happened to all of the brilliant thought patterns from the 60's? Yes, the election of Obama is the worse thing thats ever happened to black people in recent political history, and yet because as Glenn said, we want balck royalty, no one notices, or they blame what Obama does on what Bush did. First the folk in Detroit elected Kwame twice, now I guess the folk of the nation will do the same for O.

The Big Enchilada

Mr. Ford:

Excellent article, and depressing as hell.  Re Obama's continuation of the assault on public education, I'd like to re-post part of an article that appeared in Harper's  a few years ago as well as the link to the article.  When I was working as a teacher in the southeast Bronx, Jonathan was a frequent visitor to my classes.  He was my friend and a friend to the children at our school, PS30X.  This excerpt from a longer article highlights one of the motives of Obama's masters for wanting to destroy public schools:



“Some years ago, a friend who works on Wall Street handed me a stock-market prospectus in which a group of analysts at an investment-banking firm known as Montgomery Securities~described the financial benefits to be derived from privatizing our public schools. "The education industry", according to these analysts, "represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control" that "have either voluntarily opened" or, they note in pointed terms, have "been forced" to open up to private enterprise. Indeed, they write, "the education industry represents the largest market opportunity" since health-care services were privatized during the 1970s. Referring to private education companies as "EMOs" ("Education Management Organizations"), they note that college education also offers some "attractive investment returns" for corporations, but then come back to what they see as the much greater profits to be gained by moving into public elementary and secondary schools. "The larger developing opportunity is in the K-12 EMO market, led by private elementary school providers", which, they emphasize, "are well positioned to exploit potential political reforms such as school vouchers". From the point of view of private profit, one of these analysts enthusiastically observes, "the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada".





Heart Broken Over Wisconsin

It's so disheartening hearing about Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to cut the budget for schools & local governments. I grew up in Wisconsin and I was always proud of the state's committment to education. This sort of thinking is so short-sided. Doesn't Gov. Walker understand that we need to give our young people a solid education and the proper tools to keep the US on track and remain competitive? minneapolis web design

In principle, and in practice ...

"In principle, there is no difference between corporate Democrat Obama and corporate Republicans – it is only a matter of degree. And the degrees of separation grow fewer by the day." - GF - G GF """'." GF   

In principle, and for the most part, in practice, there is no difference in the two corporate parties.  That's becoming more and more obvious. And hopefully, it will provide impetus to, as you write, the fashioning of new weapons, and bringing back old ones.

Thanks for the great read.

Snake oil salesmen: Obama vs Qaddafi

I have avidly read the good work that BAR has done in exposing the political snake oil salesman Barack Obama. How surprising to find therefore that BAR is promoting another snake oil salesman, Muammar Qaddafi, as some sort of beacon for the oppressed in Africa and around the world. This is a man who signed up to Bush's war on terror, has sold his services to Berlusconi and the European Union for the persecution of African immigrants to Europe, and has run his country as his family's private neoliberal fiefdom, with the support of the likes of Tony Blair and his ideologue Tony Giddens.

In East Africa, we gained first hand familiarity with Qaddafi's politics when he intervened with military forces to prop up the crumbling Ugandan dictatorship of Idi Amin after its plunder and attempted annexation of the Kagera region of Tanzania. After the collapse of Idi Amin's military, notwithstanding the substantial intervention of Qaddafi, the Ugandan dictator fled to Libya and then Saudi Arabia, where he died circa 2003. Moreover, Qaddafi's role as a purveyor of violence through his various lumpen proxy forces in Sub Saharan Africa did not end with his support of the Ugandan dictator.

One of the most shameful and crudely propagandistic articles on the BAR site attributes Libyan racism solely to the anti-Qaddafi rebels while completely overlooking the persecution of African workers and immigrants by the Qaddafi regime (see the articles attached below), and Qaddafi's sale of his anti-immigrant services to Berlusconi's Italy and the EU. Most Africans who even vaguely follow politics  aware of the duplicitous, opportunist and gangsterish nature of Qaddafi and his regime. I therefore ask Glen Ford and his co-writers, why does BAR attempt to prettify this opportunist and criminal and his regime? Indeed, apart from his hollow and kooky anti-imperialist pronouncements, and his flowing robes, is there much to distinguish Qaddafi from Barack Obama as a mercenary for the capitalist classes?

Daily Champion (Lagos)
June 24, 2010 Thursday
Libya – Migrants Live in Fear

African migrants in Libya are “living in constant fear”, a report by UK-based Amnesty International said.

The campaign group said the North African country’s record on human rights falls well short of efforts to repair its image in the world.

It documents indefinite detentions, flogging for adultery, the continued disappearance of dissidents, and the security forces’ immunity from justice.

It was partially based on a week-long visit to Libya in May 2009.

It was the first trip of its kind in five years, facilitated by the Gaddafi Foundation – run by one of the Libyan leader’s sons, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Analysts said he is keen to liberalise the country, once a Pariah state accused of promoting terrorism to threaten Western interests but now seen as a vital source of oil and gas resources and investment opportunities.

“If Libya is to have any international credibility, the authorities must ensure that no-one is above the law and that everyone, including the most vulnerable and marginalised, is protected by the law,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director said in a statement.

“The repression of dissent must end,” she said.

“Libya’s international partners cannot ignore Libya’s dire human rights record at the expense of their national interests.”

Amnesty’s 135-page reported there had been an improvement and the “climate of repression over the last three decades was “subsiding gradually”.

“Some Libyans are now more willing to take risks – albeit modest and within limits – to speak out about issues that affect their everyday lives,” it said.

However, for African migrants and often those challenging the state directly, the situation is very different.

In recent years, Libya has been under pressure from the European Union to stop the flood of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa crossing the Mediterranean from its shores.

“Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, particularly from Sub-Saharan African countries, live in constant fear,” it said.

“Fear of being arrested and held indefinitely in overcrowded detention centres; fear of being exploited, beaten and abused; and fear of being forcibly returned to an uncertain future where they may face persecution or torture,” the report said.

The Libyan authorities’ decision to expel the UNHCR from the country earlier this month was “likely to have a severe impact on refugees and asylum-seekers”, it added.

The report also showed that the death penalty continued to be used widely in Libya, with foreign nationals particularly affected.

As of May 2009 there were 506 individuals on death row, around half foreign nationals, the director general of the judicial police, Brigadier Belkacem Abdesalam Gargoum, told Amnesty.




The Economist, Oct 12th 2000 | from the print edition


Sad, and wiser, Nigerians on the way home


PLANELOADS of bodies, dead and alive, flew back to West Africa from Tripoli this week, after Libya’s worst outbreak of anti-foreigner violence since the expulsion of Italians and Jews in Muammar Qaddafi’s coup in 1969. Survivors told of pogroms.


Emeka Nwanko, a 26-year-old Nigerian welder, was one of hundreds of thousands of black victims of the Libyan mob. He fled as gangs trashed his workshop. His friend was blinded, as Libyan gangs wielding machetes roamed the African townships. Bodies were hacked and dumped on motorways. A Chadian diplomat was lynched and Niger’s embassy put to the torch. Some Nigerians attacked their own embassy after it refused refuge to nationals without proper papers—the vast majority.


Libyans sheltering Africans were warned that their homes would be next. Some of Libya’s indigenous 1m black citizens were mistaken for migrants, and dragged from taxis. In parts of Benghazi, blacks were barred from public transport and hospitals. Pitched battles erupted in Zawiya, a town near Tripoli that is ringed with migrant shantytowns. Diplomats said that at least 150 people were killed, 16 of them Libyans. The all-powerful security forces intervened by shooting into the air.


African migrants, unfairly blamed for the disaster, were detained en masse. They once numbered over 1m but diplomats say that they have now mostly disappeared from the streets, and are in hiding or in camps pending expulsion. Over the past fortnight, hundreds of thousands of black migrants have been herded into trucks and buses, driven in convoy towards the border with Niger and Chad, 1,600km (1,000 miles) south of Tripoli, and dumped in the desert. (See link above for full article)

Three Reasons

1. Money:  the GOP sharks have boatloads of cash which allows them to launch,

2.  Successful propaganda, as they are doing now in Wisc. notwithstanding the polling that shows over 60% of Wisconites in favor of state workers collective bargaining, the propaganda  in turn,

3.  Motivates dumb-ass Americans to vote against their self-interest.

Neat, tidy, little package, huh?????

Remember, every little dickweed in American wants to be either a Reality Star or Middle Manager.  Think about this, why do American's (presumbly) side with NFL owners over players? (Aside from subtle racism? The "thugs" are making too much money) notwithstanding the owners screwing their dumbasses with stadium construction (PUBLIC) debt or threats to relocate the franchises?  No loyalty from greedy owners but loyalty demanded of the players, without whom there is no product.   Rationalizing and voting against self-interests in part of American's DNA., throw in a healthy dose of stupidity and ignorance and JOILLA!!