Reports from the war on Milwaukee's poor
Bling bling politics for the young
The drug money trail, past and present




Since our inaugural issue, April 5, The Black Commentator has warned that the Right is determined to invent an "alternative" African American leadership. This sophisticated strategy of subversion and cooptation was the brainchild of the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, which has played the leading role in formulating the Republican Party's domestic social agenda. Welfare "reform," private school vouchers and faith-based contracting of social services are all products of Bradley and its sister foundations and affiliated think tanks. On Black-related issues, they are Bush and Cheney's brains.

These foundations also hatched, bankrolled and foisted upon the public a host of Black-staffed organizations to front the Right's political positions. Corporate media provided instant legitimacy to the alternative hirelings, creating the appearance of Black political polarization where none previously existed. A Black peanut gallery in support of Republican policies was conjured out of thin air - and many millions of foundation dollars.

The foundation-think tank-corporate media machinery then began direct intervention in African American electoral politics, fielding and funding its own candidates in majority-Black territory. In the space of one campaign season, they replaced two members of the Congressional Black Caucus and nearly won City Hall in Newark, New Jersey. More insidiously, they have to some degree succeeded in moving the Black political conversation, if not rightward, then into areas of unproductive nonsense and distractions - which suits the Right's purposes just as well.

Finally, George Bush is about to infest Black America with his faith-based contracting initiatives, to summon forth a corrupt class of clergy and social service providers beholden to the GOP - the actual infrastructure for an alternative, malleable Black political base. The federal treasury will fertilize the fields of bribery and patronage seeded by Bradley, Scaife, Walton and the rest, bringing to full fruition the project begun in Milwaukee less than a decade ago.

Pat Gowens writes to us from the belly of the beast. She is editor of Mother Warriors Voice in the Bradley Foundation's company town.

Here at the Welfare Warriors we've been warning everyone that the Bush faith-based initiatives are not what they seem, but rather ways to get yet one more group of potential allies to sell out, and join in, the war on the poor. Your commentary added some clarification and expansion that we hadn't even realized:

In January, faith-based bribery legislation will re-emerge with a vengeance in both houses of Congress. It is by far the most ambitious plan ever devised to destroy the Black political consensus. As we wrote last week in "Trent Lott Furor Threatens Faith-based Bribery Scheme":

Politically connected churches are to be awarded federal contracts to perform social services, setting in motion a permanent patronage system tied to the party that made the payments possible - the GOP. Ministerial allegiances would be expected to change, overnight, splintering the Black voting bloc.

In Wisconsin, funded by the right-wing Milwaukee Bradley foundation, welfare deform experimented on privatizing public benefits administration by providing multi-million dollar welfare contracts to both private corporations (Maximus and Goodwill) as well as "non-profits" (YWCA, UMOS, OIC and many more) who quickly created "for-profit" branches to accommodate the millions in profits. The Bradley Plan combined greed and prejudice to perfection, increasing African American infant mortality in Milwaukee by 37% each year since the deform began. (Welfare corporations specialize in illegal denials, terminations, and sanctions against a powerless population of mostly single moms and children, as well as racial profiling in denial of time extensions, job opportunities and imposition of sanctions.) At the same time this plan successfully silenced most non-profits who may have previously aligned with the disenfranchised, since the non-profits now received some type of government funds.

Then the Bradley Plan required the corporate welfare agencies to advertise their nay-saying welfare "jobs programs" in local media - African American, Latino, and "alternative" white media. As a result the small community publications joined the corporate media in their silence about this brutal attack on poor families and they began to regularly publish republicrat welfare propaganda. No longer could the activist mamas or any other activist groups receive coverage in these presses. The staff on one community paper recently debated printing an announcement of the Welfare Warriors Summer Fair for fear the state would pull the plug on their lucrative ads!

After wiping out non-profit and non-corporate media allies, the Bush plan now aims to persuade the churches to sell out as well, leaving the poor very much alone and in danger. Your article clarifies the divide-and-conquer strategy inherent in this faith-based plan, a strategy used successfully worldwide by wealthy euro-colonizers. Thank you for your analysis. Now how do we expose and stop it?

explores that question in "Defunding The Right Rev. Dr. Greedygut," in this issue.

Peter Abbott also hails from Milwaukee, and has seen the beast up-close.

You might want to consider another dimension of this GOP-church collaboration-in-corruption: the lobbying campaign by right-wing churches to eliminate the law prohibiting tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing candidates. That would complete the circle: a GOP-dominated government could fund the conservative clergy, and they could return the favor by endorsing Republican candidates.

Mr. Abbott understands well how webs are spun.

A third Milwaukeean, Daniel Pryzbyla, testifies to the political death grip in which Bradley holds the city.

You provide an excellent alternative to what has become a very lethal Black Trojan Horse in right wing politics. For Milwaukeeans, the Bradley Foundation has taped the mouths shut of the local Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, its reporters, politicians (white and African American, Latino) and yes, sadly, the 3 African American weekly newspapers.

It would be good to see an African American perspective of the No Child Left Behind education act (high stakes testing) as it is being used to dismantle both central city and poor rural (very often in the South) public schools. You are absolutely correct that Bradley, et al are using the poor African American communities to get their foot in the door to increase the scope to middle class areas of public schools to increase both private and religious education to this population.

As we reported in our November 14 issue ("Bush Funds Black Voucher Front Group"), the Bradley-birthed Black Alliance for Education Options became a federal contractor in October, recipients of a $600,000 grant to dispense "pro-school choice" propaganda under - the No Child Left Behind Education Act! Bush's Education Department has subverted the legislation to its own political purposes. Similarly, five federal departments stand poised to fund White House sanctioned faith-based projects, should GOP leadership and Senator Joseph Lieberman's Democratic Leadership Council prevail in this session of Congress. The alarm bells that rang out in Milwaukee now toll for the entire nation.

The Black Commentator is blessed with a brilliant readership. Our three letter writers from Milwaukee have, from their distinct perspectives, effectively constructed a compelling article on the Hard Right's New Black Strategy. Our thanks to Pat Gowens, Peter Abbott and Daniel Pryzbyla. There's still plenty of fight left in Milwaukee.

Lost in the bling bling

The Right treats alienation among Black youth as yet another opportunity for political devilment. African American young people, say the corporate talkers, are estranged from the old, "civil rights-oriented" leadership, and are open to a more "pragmatic" and "independent" brand of politics. Desperately wanting to believe the hype, that their unarticulated, age-based perspectives are better guides than the concrete lessons of their own people's history, too many young Blacks wallow in the life-style merchants' flattery. Last week, in "Hip Hop and the Hard Right," we wrote:

Like no previous age/race cohort, a large chunk of the hip-hop generation has been made to believe that they need do nothing to merit attention and praise; simply being part of their age and ethnic group - the hyper-valued demographic - is enough. Corporate marketers have relentlessly taught them so. Thus, Black youth embrace their own commodification, basking under the corporate marketer's loving gaze, believing themselves to be a powerful, autonomous force."

At 38, Theodore Marcus, a practicing lawyer in Atlanta, is about one year over the usual cutoff for membership in the Hip Hop Generation. However, such rules do not apply in The Black Commentator. We think Atty. Marcus' insights are valuable, despite his advanced age.

Your position paper on the branding, if you will, of black youth and the political non-culture they currently represent was fascinating. I am usually unstirred by the group self-analyses I read, but this piece seems to catch us between the eyes. It is as though we have been studied from afar but very closely, in your view by corporate marketers and derivatively by political watchers from the right, and every nuance, every "button" as you put it, identified. Almost like genetic mapping. This would not surprise me if it were so, as the conservative place holders for the old school racists have always been fascinated by the race(s) they despise. Case in point: I had to, I mean had to, confess that they nailed us in the first Budweiser "True" commercials. It was as if someone came to the meetings and took notes!

Alas, your article raises, but leaves un-resolved (and that is not meant as a criticism), the ultimate question: is there an un-bridgeable divide between blacks' "enthusiastic" economic participation in capitalism (not just housing, education, jobs, etc, but the open scrum of supply, demand and advertising to both), however superficial, and black commitment to traditional and still valid civil rights issues?

The hip hop generation has made a powerful if uninformed and subconscious choice: we're in it for the bling bling, the ching ching and the mean green. As a fresher and deffer (old rap, I know) Tina Turner might sing: "what's civil rights got to do with it?"

Heart of Dixie

Trent Lott's voice commingles with the shouts of oncoming war, heavily southern-accented howls and hurrahs that summon images of an enemy much closer than Iraq.

Denise Jones writes amidst the din in the "Heart of Dixie."

I have a question for Black America. Bush is asking our brothers, sons, daughters, sisters, mothers and fathers to go to Iraq and fight a war against people who look like us. At the same time, white America, via Lott and Frist are telling us that they want to go back to the "good old days" of segregation and Jim Crow. Dare we protest else we be labeled unpatriotic. When will we wake up? We can't get jobs in corporate America, yet they expect us to go and die for their profits. They are against affirmative action on one hand, yet they are the benefactors of the oldest affirmative action program in the world - "the good-ol-boy" program.

When will Colin Powell realize that his loyalty to white America is displaced? When will Condoleezza Rice recognize the fact that white America will turn on her as viciously as they turned on Lott when she no longer benefits their token program? When will the likes of Armstrong Williams and Clarence Thomas realize that they are indeed Black? With any war, there will be (and have been) casualties. This is not our war. It's their war. By the way, Frist's voting record of affirmative action and civil rights is identical to Lott's. Has the Republican Agenda really changed or is it only a change in figureheads? Are you really willing to die for a cause that does not include or benefit you? You be the judge.

Keep speaking out on issues that affect us. You are a Godsend.

The Anti-Black Forum

The abomination that is America's Black Forum continues to represent an assault on Black sensibilities - not to mention a special kind of embarrassment to co-publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, who created the TV syndication 26 years ago, this month. Since 1996 - long after Ford and Gamble made their exit - ABF has devolved into a showcase for rightwing mercenaries Armstrong Williams and Niger (Roy's Boy) Innis and the slick and slippery Juan Williams. (See "America's Anti-Black Forum," December 12.)

Ronnie Brown's letter made it easier for Ford and Gamble to bear the burden of having birthed the program.

I stumbled upon your website on a casual scan through the net. When I read that you were the creators of "America's Black Forum," I nearly fell out of my chair. This show has caused me much distress over the years. Being only a recent viewer (about two years) I never realized how far the show had fallen in terms of content and analysis. Black folks are dying for principled spokespersons. Can't we do better than Armstrong and Juan Williams? They're not brothers in the flesh, but surely they can be considered "brothers in ideological foolishness!"

I will make your site a part of my "must read" and will spread the word to other like-minded Black folk to do the same. Continue to bring the heat!

Anthony Ware took the ABF problem on at the source. He writes from Hyattsville, Maryland, just outside Washington

I'm writing to commend on the insightful America's Black Rightwing Forum article. The opinions of Armstrong Williams, Niger Innis and Juan Williams are repulsive. It's clear that these hired guns conduct anti-Black terrorism for the Hard Right with pleasure in print, radio and televised media. You expertly connect ABF's minions to Hard Right philanthropic institutions and think tanks. These guys are the kinds of racial entrepreneurs Rush Limbaugh loves.

Characterizing Juan Williams as a whiner is so true. I remember engaging Williams at Pentagon City shopping mall regarding his role as a Black Conservative. In whiny fashion he described himself as a moderate, I replied that moderates are reactionaries in drag especially when trying to defend Clarence Thomas' sexual assault of Anita Hill and his voting record on the Supreme Court.

Hopefully, BC will expose the political whoring of Right Rev. Eugene Rivers of Boston on behalf of John DiIulio and the racist underpinnings of Bush's Faith Based initiative scheme.

Keep up the good work!

Mr. Ware may live around media criminals, but he does not tolerate them lightly.

Drugs, Profits and Geopolitics

Where does all the dope come from, and who profits? Homer Fleetwood II, an adjunct professor of history at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, wants to know who - if anyone - is following the money trail.

I want to thank you for offering your truly enlightening publication to such a wide audience by offering access to your journal on the Internet. Several of my friends and colleagues, as informed as we are, still have much to lean from publications such as yours.

That being said, I would like to put a question to you. Have you ever seen or heard-tell of any attempts to attack the international drug trade by doing what broke the Watergate Hearings wide open and significantly advanced the War on Terrorism - "FOLLOWING THE MONEY?" Given the powerful effect of such a strategy for defeating enemies of the Constitution and the State, would you care to comment publicly on why it has not been mentioned in the public arena vis-a-vis the War on Drugs?

Facilitation of the international drug trade has been an essential component of U.S. foreign policy since at least the mid-Sixties. Simply put, the U.S. seeks to dominate other nations through alliances with criminals, who are in turn given impunity to sell their narco-products to the American market. This modus operandi brought us the heroin plague of the late Sixties-early Seventies (Southeast Asia), the heroin comeback of the late Seventies-early Eighties (Afghan-Soviet war), and the crack epidemic that began in the early to mid-Eighties (Central and South American wars.)

America is now fully engaged in military alliances with narco-criminals in the number one poppy-heroin producing nation (Afghanistan) and the capital of the worldwide cocaine network (Colombia.) The consequences are all around us. The CIA calls such collateral damage to the home society "fallout."

We highly recommend our April 5 commentary, "Make the Amendment: How to get the U.S. government out of the international drug trade." Follow the links to impeccable sources. Our November 21 Briefs report on "The Axis of Addiction" is also useful to an understanding of the interconnectedness of the drug trade and the Afghan and Colombian wars.

For details on how the corporate media combined to smother the CIA-crack cocaine story, check out Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" site. He's the courageous reporter whose attempt to follow the narco-money trail ended in betrayal - of Webb, and of our nation.

Enough unpleasantness. Marty Williams just wanted to wish us well during the holidays.

I just wanted to take a moment on this Christmas night to let you know that I've been visiting your website for the last several weeks. Thank you for presenting your commentaries now on a weekly basis; and thank you for the diverse and refreshing comments that you provide. Your website is a welcome change from the CNN/FOX news/CNBC/MSNBC/C-SPAN/three network, major newspaper propaganda that is brought forth daily in America. It's so nice to get another perspective of current events, especially from a Black point of view.

As with any other source that I read and hear, I haven't always agreed with you, but I've found that you've been as close to accurate in about 95% of the commentaries I've read. PLEASE, continue with your work. It is desperately needed!

Mr. Williams has raised the bar on our performance, significantly. We will try to live up to his expectations.

Marjorie Loring isn't so high maintenance. She thinks we're "fetching" - which is a good thing, and has nothing to do with Stepin Fetchit. Ms. Loring writes:

Thank you, merci, gracias, grazie, danka,

Your articles are so very well researched and written, your links so fetching and satisfying, I can only say that your E publication, is the best I have ever experienced.

It's only been a few short weeks, but without it, I'd feel a real sense of loss.

Barring a Bush "national emergency," we're not going anywhere. Keep writing.

P.S. - Oops!

In our last issue we made a technical error in the e-Mail notification many of our readers receive. We neglected to update the message attached to the RE-PRINT article. This may have caused some readers to think they were going to get more news about Strom Thurmond's black daughter. However, the click sent them to the correct re-print about African Venezuelans fear new U.S. coup against President Chavez. This was not a sneaky way to get readers to peruse this important piece, but if you got there by accident we hope you enjoyed it. We do our best to avoid dumb mistakes, but every so often one of them slips through.

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Issue Number 23
January 2, 2003



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Other commentaries in this issue:

De-funding the Right Rev. Dr. Greedygut: Faith-based bribery's sleazy constituency

Bush plans more gifts for rich... Rangel raises draft issue... Brazil-Venezuela solidarity

A Lott Missing: Rituals of Purification and Deep Racism Denial, By Paul L. Street

Commentaries in Issue 22 December 26, 2002:

Commentary 1
Lott, Thurmond and Duke: Three Kings Bearing Gifts - Lessons to re-learn from the holiday "festivities"

Commentary 2
Hip Hop and the Hard Right: Media-made illusions of power by BC Co-publisher Glen Ford

Faith-based path to the jailhouse - Anti-war Lite, and Hard-core - Trojan Horse TV

George Bush Blacked-out, Africa must wait - U.S. seized Iraq corporate client list - Rich man’s "strike" in Venezuela

African Venezuelans fear new U.S. coup against President Chavez - Written by Professor Alejandro Correa of Barlovento, Venezuela with assistance from Willie Thompson, Professor emeritus City College of San Francisco

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.