Burger King digested
Ashcroft stalks librarians
Cory Booker roams wilderness


Dear Reader,

It is difficult to fight an enemy whose dimensions are almost impossible to envision, a foe that ravages the landscape from such heights and at speeds that human minds are not wired to grasp. Corporate financial entities soar like huge, crazed flocks of Japanese movie "Rodan" flying dinosaurs or mythic Chinese dragons, flattening cities with the flap of their wings and burning up rain forests and national economies in one foul blast of mega-breath.

I had convinced myself that I had been making progress in adjusting my worldview to the global scope of capital's predatory range - when suddenly it ate up Burger King, without even a belch.

Then came the aftershock, even more disturbing than the casual sale to a faceless conglomerate: Burger King, the world's number two hamburger icon, employer of last or first resort, repository of what passes for America's proud culture, and epicenter of thousands of ghetto franchise dreams, is worth less than a "mistake" on Worldcom's financial statement.

Diageo PLC, the world's largest liquor company, let Burger King go for $2.26 billion in cash. In the days before Rodans and dragons filled the skies, that would have seemed like a lot of money. Not anymore. This summer, the corporate citizen known as Worldcom was forced to admit that it "misstated" items on its Expense columns by $3.8 billion. This "mistake" - which may turn out to be just one fraud among many - is worth 1.7 times as much as the company at the heart of Burger King!

Black capitalists should observe a whole bunch of moments of silence. What were these brothers thinking, while dreaming those dreams of "economic parity," one franchise at a time? In a world in which all of Burger King hardly rates as a snack, a puny tidbit not much more than half the size of one accounting crime at a single corporate headquarters, human-scale acquisition is no political or "race" strategy at all.

Only entire peoples, mobilized in ways not yet imagined, can tame these dragons.

Thou shalt know fear, maybe

For the crime of stealing the equivalent of 1.7 Burger King Corporations, two Worldcom executives were arrested, early this month. It used to be that you had to steal whole countries to haul away that kind of booty. Reporters wanted some sentencing guidelines from Attorney General John Ashcroft, the fire and brimstone preacher-lawman.

"Corporate executives who cheat investors, steal savings and squander pensions will meet the judgment they fear and the punishment they deserve," intoned the Man of Justice, sounding like God talking to Charleston Heston playing Moses - but saying absolutely nothing. Ashcroft just likes using the words "fear" and "punishment." He doesn't mean it, but it makes him feel good in secret places.

Subversive libraries

Ashcroft also has a thing for librarians. Under the terms of the Patriot Act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress in the weeks following 9/11, Ashcroft's FBI agents have been harassing the hell out of librarians, asking who borrowed what books on which subjects. For the first time since the 1970s, this is all perfectly legal, requiring only an easily obtained warrant. All that the bureau needs to tell a judge is that the information sought is "relevant" to an "ongoing investigation" of some kind.

According to the online publication Working Assets, "a University of Illinois survey found that in January and February alone, 85 of 1,020 randomly selected public libraries admitted that law enforcement officers had demanded information about patrons." However, the number is almost certainly far larger, since a gag order forbids the harried librarians from talking about the data base searches to anyone except a lawyer.

Ghetto wisdom must be employed to assess the ramifications of this kind of thuggish behavior: If Ashcroft's boys are treating little old white ladies in this manner, what do you think they'll do to us ? With the Constitution on hold, these "patriots" don't know how to "act."

Booker in the wilderness

When Cory Booker's Hard Right-funded "Black Trojan Horse Express" roared toward Newark, New Jersey's City Hall, the entire national corporate media were onboard, cheering the "stealth" candidate on against four-term incumbent Sharpe James. The train, designed by the Bradley Foundation, of Milwaukee, to create a pliant, "alternative Black leadership" model for the rest of the nation, got derailed. Mayor James beat the money and the media.

Booker is now roaming in the political wilderness, having been exposed in his dealings with the men who financed the racist book, "The Bell Curve," and who drew up most of the social agenda of the national Republican Party. This is a lonely place to be, but he will have company soon enough, as established Black leadership awakens to the threat posed by nominal Black Democrats fronting for the Right. You can rely on The Black Commentator to be part of a concerted, systematic effort to identify these treacherous mercenaries wherever they raise their heads. Hopefully, young careerists will find it wise to seek some honest route to upward mobility, preferably a job that does not involve selling out the legacy of one's people.

Booker was "out-ed" in grand style, in the pages of the National Urban League's State of Black America 2002 report, released just prior to the venerable organization's national conference, in Los Angeles, last month. (You can read Dr. Martin Kilson's section of the report, on the maturation of Black electoral politics and the Newark campaign, in this issue.)

The press hides Cory Booker's shame

You would think that this story would be a must-cover for The New York Times, which focused extraordinary attention on the Newark race, and for the Star-Ledger, the hometown paper. Both publications heartily endorsed Booker, after months of acting as makeup artists, publicists, and all-around boosters for the first-term councilman. What more compelling story could there be than that their fair-haired boy had been described as a "stealth candidate" for the Right in the pages of the most important annual document issued by any Black source in the nation? The State of Black America is referenced by journalists all year long, and by historians for the benefit of posterity. Cory Booker made it into these pages at the age of 34 - albeit in the worst manner possible.

Yet the New York Times ran only a cursory Associated Press wire account of the State of Black America, and did not cover the Urban League conference, at all. The Star-Ledger, which had served as virtually an arm of the Booker campaign, took no note of their favorite's catastrophic embarrassment. These papers, along with 600 reporters representing the major national media, were sent the same press releases on the State of Black America report that were received by most of you, our readers. The New York Times and the Star-Ledger smothered an unquestionably newsworthy event for purely political purposes.

The Star-Ledger, of course, committed the more egregious crime against the public; it cannot claim to have an entire world to cover - just Newark and vicinity. The person in charge of this censorship is a Black man, city editor M. David Goodwin. We say he is in charge because he vehemently claims to be, and we believe him.

He is, at the very least, in charge of Black affairs. Ah, there's the wrinkle! Maybe matters pertaining to Cory Booker, the "stealth" Black fronting for the Bradley Foundation, aren't truly Black affairs, after all. Hmmm.

The truth is out

Fortunately, the news monopolies cannot yet monopolize the news. The State of Black America report resonates among many thousands of African American movers and shakers. Very soon, everyone of importance to Booker's previous ambitions will have read it. Booker will find that he is unwelcome on boards and committees of progressive organizations, who will refuse to allow him to use their good offices to cloak his Hard Right backers' agenda, or to allow themselves to be tainted by his nefarious connections. Indeed, we are aware that this process had already begun, prior to the National Urban League report, based largely on our unmasking of Booker.

Thankfully, Booker is not yet old enough to have developed deep ties in the community, having concentrated his attentions elsewhere in his dash for the mantle of New Black Leader. He has lots of time ahead of him to do penance, although we predict he will wind up in a cushy office with a direct cash line to his benefactors. That would be a more honest way of living well.

Faith-based political buyouts

Before anyone starts thinking that is obsessed with Cory Booker, we are well aware that he is only a tool of his rightwing supporters - the really dangerous people. Booker got his big introduction to money at the feet of the ubiquitous Bradley executive Michael Joyce, who caused to be created a previously non-existent "movement" for school vouchers. The congressional handlers of that scam on the people most direly in need of quality public education have introduced a bill to provide vouchers for up to $5,000 for private schools, including religious schools, in the District of Columbia. Americans United for Separation of Church and State warn that Washington's public schools would lose $45 million to the diversion over a five-year period.

Casting U.S. legal history to the winds, 128 House members are sponsoring a bill to allow churches to keep their tax-exempt status while campaigning for and endorsing political candidates, and contributing directly to campaigns. Churches would even be allowed to produce their own "attack ads," as long as they don't use a "substantial" part of their budget in the process.

The broad outlines of the Republican game plan now become clear. First, ministers are bought off through the transfer of lucrative government social service contracts to "faith-based" vendors - a scheme thought up with Bradley Foundation money. Public subsidies for private, church-based schools would also fill the church coffers. Then, the thoroughly corrupted congregations are unleashed as legal political machines, free to spend their surpluses in self-serving attacks against candidates who support the maintenance of a public sector safety net. This plan is tailor-made for Black America, as its designers intended. They dream of herds of Trojan Horses, led from pulpits.

Indian eradication

The racial warfare begun by Christopher Columbus and his fellow conquistadors never ceased in much of Latin America. Beneath the public façade of anti-communist counter-insurgency campaigns in the lands of the Maya, Inca and other indigenous Americans, financed by the U.S.; beneath the U.S.-funded coca-eradication programs that target entire regions and populations; lies the same old imperative: kill the Indians.

Until the collapse of his extraordinarily lawless and lethal regime in 2000, Japanese-Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was Washington's favorite Latin "strongman." (U.S. reporters who go South seem to love that word for Indian killers; it probably has something to do with "strong and silent" John Wayne.) Fujimori waged unrelenting war against the Shining Path guerillas, whose base was centered in the overwhelmingly Indian region of Peru, which is also the greenhouse of coca-cultivation.

During the course of their nightly gatherings in the bars of Lima hotels, much of the American press corps convinced each other that Peruvian Indians (45% of the population) and mestizos (37%) were in favor of Fujimori because, with his Asian features, he looked more like them. Clearly, the gringos failed to understand the bitter humor of their Indian and mestizo cab drivers - the usual "sources" of the "local color" in American press reports.

Fujimori did not love the Indians back. Before hastily fleeing to his ancestral Japan under charges of treason and illegal enrichment, Fujimori forcibly sterilized 200,000 Indian women, an apparently essential part of the process of eradicating coca plants and Shining Path insurgents. "The majority of the sterilizations took place between 1996 and 2000 in rural areas, particularly in the country's Andean region. The majority of victims were poor and illiterate women from the Quechua and Aymara ethnic groups," said United Press International.

The Peruvian government is now back in the hands of its "traditional" rulers from the white elite, who make up just 15% of the population.

Next door, in Bolivia, the descendants of Conquistadors have the same problem with the Indian majority and coca plants. The United States threatened to withdraw all aid unless the Bolivian legislature chose Washington's candidate for president of the republic - a University of Chicago-educated millionaire who, according to press reports, "speaks Spanish with an American accent."

A world of hurt

On July 24, the United States failed in an attempt to rewrite the 1989 UN convention against torture, justifiably fearing that international law might find cause to exercise jurisdiction within the American prison system, the world's largest, per-capita. If the UN persists, some kind of U.S. declaration of immunity from prohibitions against torture can be expected.

The earth's sole superpower recognizes no laws other than its own decrees.


Glen Ford

www.BlackCommentator.com, Co-Publisher

For more details on the library invasion check out this link to Working For Change:


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Other commentaries in this issue:

The State of Black American Politics: Dr. Martin Kilson's Report to the National Urban League

Dignity - Plus a Living Wage and Benefits: Home health care workers win victories - for themselves and civilization

e-Mailbox: McKinney: A Hero in Need of Money... Rep. Hilliard Rebuked on Ivy League Warning... Forget About Randall Kennedy!

Commentaries in Issue Number 8 - July 25, 2002

Hilliard Calls for New Institutions to Protect Black Interests: Defeated Congressman expresses deep distrust of Ivy League -
A Black Commentator interview

Peace and Justice Forces Rally to McKinney: By Frances M. Beal, Guest Commentator

A letter to our readers: Reparations: The Value of White Privilege... Highly Suspicious Christian Soldiers... Neighborhood Watch in Havana... Binges and Wars Over Wall Street

e-Mailbox: Troublesome author wants space... J.C. Watts claims his face helps Black people... Vouchers cure "uncivilized" behavior, enhance brain... Moderate Republicans blame for woes

Commentaries in Issue Number 7 - July 11, 2002

Voucher Tricksters:The Hard Right Enters Through the Schoolhouse Door

Randall Kennedy: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Fool... How the NAACP Handled the N-word...J.C. Watts, Gone in a Flash

Race and National Security:
"Tar Baby Outrage" Update

Commentaries in Issue Number 6 - June 27, 2002

The N-word as Therapy for Racists: Randall Kennedy's Idiotic Assault on Black People's Honor

A Monument to George Washington's Slaves: Picking favorites among Black heroes and What a real man said on the 4th of July

Goin' South:
To save itself, organized labor must capture Dixie

CIA Trumps FBI: Forget about a War on Drugs

National Security News Alert: President is Warned Race Bias “Threatens National Security”- Special Edition - Issue Number 5 - June 13, 2002

Commentaries in issue 4 - June 7, 2002:

Tar Baby Outrage!: Racism and Corruption at the Redstone Arsenal

Condoleezza's Complaint & Paratroopers in the Basement: Connie's image and the Venezuelan coup

Did the Green Party Betray Black America: by Dr. Jonathan David Farley, Guest Commentator

A Law That Gives Racists Something to Fear:by Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Fogg, Guest Commentator

Commentaries in previous issues :

Condoleezza & Geraldo, a Fine Pair: The Role Models' Burden

Hard Right Cash Defeated in Black City - This Time
Ultra-Conservative Favorite Cory Booker Loses in Newark, New Jersey

Newark: The First Domino? - The Hard Right Tests its National Black Strategy

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right's Plan to Capture Newark NJ

A Letter from Harvard: "How to spot a "Black Trojan Horse." Dr. Martin Kilson, Guest Commentator

Reparations Part One: The True Value of Some Land and an Animal

The Living Wage Movement: A New Beginning - Bread, Power and Civil Rights in 19 Languages

Rep. Cynthia McKinney's Statement on the Events of September 11: The need for an investigation of the events surrounding September11 is as obvious as is the need for an investigation of the Enron debacle.

Make The Amendment: How to Get the U.S. Government Out of the International Drug Trade

Psychologically Unfit: The U.S. Can't Handle the Death Penalty

Linquistic Profiling: By Patrice D. Johnson, guest commentator