FROM: Co-Publisher Glen Ford

TO: Our Readers

Re: Condoleezza & Geraldo

Dear Reader:

It’s as good a time as any to gauge how Condoleezza Rice is measuring up to her Image Award.   Ever since the televised presentation back in March, lots of us have wondered how NAACP executive director Kweisi Mfume had come to the conclusion that Bush’s national security advisor should be counted among those “who advance the ideals of the NAACP through image, personal achievement and service to all people of color.” 

Maybe the producers decided that Rice has qualities that make for compelling TV.  The Image Awards show is, after all, designed to make money to fund the NAACP’s good works. 

The White House also seems to think Rice works well with media.  Last fall, she was the operative assigned to warn the TV networks to adjust their coverage of the World’s Biggest Story.  Osama bin Laden’s tapes were getting too much play, stealing Bush’s airtime.  It took the charming Dr. Rice no time at all to convince the corporate media chiefs to muzzle their reporters and news producers.  The nation was made a safer place, as “sleeper” terrorists across the country were forced to watch for their coded messages on Arab satellite television.  This cost the Al Qaida network lots of money in satellite dishes and fees, seriously disrupting their operations.

Rice was trotted out again in the wake of the failed, U.S.- backed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.  Perhaps not coincidentally, television network owners, an important part of the white oligarchy opposed to Chavez, spearheaded the bufoonish power grab by the country’s business class and a portion of the military.  The two-thirds of Venezuelans who are mestizo, mulatto, black or indigenous can’t even get into the audiences of their networks’ endless pop music and game shows.  (If you think I’m exaggerating, check out your local Spanish language channel.  The programs from Venezuela are super-white.)

Caracas’s privately-owned stations all but choreographed the day of demonstrations leading up to the coup, directing crowds to rallying points in the capital, describing the protesters as representing the will of the Venezuelan people, charging the President with crimes against the populace, and cheering his arrest by corrupted officers.  If it’s on TV, it must be true, right?

Wrong.  Rich, white television switched to cartoons and soap operas when the dark-skinned districts of the capital regrouped to demand their President back.  The coup collapsed in less than 48 hours, as slum dwellers joined loyal soldiers to recapture the presidential palace.

Yes, for the U.S. the issue is oil, oil, oil.  To the people of the Caribbean rim, power is also about race.  In Panama, for example, the common folks have a term for their ruling classes: the white-asses.

Such racial/political nuances may be unknown to the learned Dr. Rice, an expert Sovietologist in a world without a Soviet Union.  Shocked that U.S. subversion of an elected Latin American government had actually fizzled, Rice offered the reinstated President Chavez the most backhanded advice imaginable.  "I hope he takes advantage of this opportunity to right his own ship which has been moving in the wrong direction frankly for quite a long time," she told the cameras in Washington. 

In other words, Watch out.  We will get you, next time.

I would hope that Mr. Mfume agrees that such sentiments are not in keeping with the “ideals of the NAACP.”   Nor would Venezuela’s overwhelmingly non-white poor find her public role to be one of “service to all people of color.”

We interrupt this program….

Rice and her bosses must have thought they were watching Channel Zero.  Nothing was going according to script.  Not only did Washington’s Venezuelan coup implode almost as soon as it had begun, but the assembled heads of state of the entire Western Hemisphere acted immediately. They seriously threatened sanctions against the plotters.  It was enough to make Bush, Condoleezza, the New York Times and the Washington Post catch the vapors.

The Organization of American States insisted on honoring a treaty signed by all members, pledging them to act in concert whenever an elected government is removed by non-constitutional means.  The U.S. is a signatory too but, hell, can’t they take a joke?

This treaty stuff complicates Bush’s world and makes Condoleezza’s job a lot more difficult.  Only days after the Venezuelan debacle, the U.S. was made to appear pro-genocide in the eyes of much of the planet when it boycotted ceremonies ushering in the permanent international criminal court. The tribunal will have jurisdiction over charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  The U.S. wants immunity.

Under the treaty, even the tiniest nations are empowered to invoke the tribunal’s authority.  The Bush administration vows never to sign onto the document, even if American soldiers are given wide exemptions.  Apparently, no exemption is big enough to safeguard the U.S. from being indicted for whatever actions Condoleezza is advising Bush to take after July 1, when the international court’s authority kicks in. 

If the rule of law gets any more popular among nations, Rice may have to look out for more than just her image.  The BBC’s assessment of the new court’s mandate is that, “in theory, any American, from high-ranking officials like the Secretaries of Defense or State to soldiers in the field, could be accused of a crime.”

Condoleezza needs to touch base with Henry Kissinger, quickly.  Kissinger started out in Rice’s job, and his High Crimes in the Nixon White House are still dogging him around the globe.  Last month he found himself darting among the shadows in London, avoiding a looming subpoena from a Chilean judge who wants to know about Kissinger’s role in mass political murder following the U.S.- backed 1973 coup.  Last year, a French judge with questions for Kissinger about the fate of his countrymen in Chile and Argentina, forced the evil little troll to skitter furtively around Paris like a man with outstanding warrants.

Imagine: Condoleezza and the rest of Bush’s crew get another shot at Hugo Chavez, unleashing murderous, rightwing terror on the people of Caracas with a ferocity worthy of her predecessor, Henry.  Ten years from now, she’ll be a wanted woman in every world capital except Tel Aviv.  Will the NAACP take her in, then?  What about the image thing?

The Role Model’s Burden

Condoleezza Rice is 129,915 tons of deadweight.  There, I said it, and it felt good. 

Actually, that’s the deadweight tonnage of the oil tanker previously known as Condoleezza Rice, christened in her honor by Chevron for services rendered while Rice sat on the oil giant’s board of directors, from 1991 until the day before Bush took office.  That’s right, she went straight from a job with Big Oil to a job with…Big Oil.  So did half of the White House.

Naturally, they’ll all be going back to their respective oil companies when Bush leaves the Oval Office.  A fleet of oil tankers will be lined up along the Potomac River, newly emblazoned with the names of their returning executives and directors.  The Altair Voyager (Bahamas registry) will once again sail the slicked seas as the mighty Condoleezza Rice.

Waving good-bye from the pier, misty-eyed, will be the Awards Committee of the NAACP, proud that a member of The Race is part of the Great Fleet. 

Not fair! cry the Guardians of Condoleezza’s Image. Every minority group needs the vicarious exhilaration of seeing one of its own in high places. 

That’s certainly true.  African Americans are not alone when it comes to the pain and heartbreak of honoritis.   Geraldo Rivera is an excellent example.

The World’s Most Famous Puerto Rican is regularly spoofed on Saturday Night Live and other comedy shows.  His actual presentations from Afghanistan for Fox News are more ridiculous than anything the comedy writers could concoct.

Allow me to share with you the following from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a progressive media watchdog organization:  

If he found Osama bin Laden, Rivera vowed, "I'll kick his head in, then bring it home and bronze it" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/6/01).

November 20:
”We want to be there when they bring Osama bin Laden to justice. We want - I've got a New York City fire department hat I want to put on - on the body of his - you know, the head of his corpse. It's deeply personal, on the one hand. On the other hand, it is my professional calling.”

November 29:
Rivera: “We’ve been in various conflicts, and we keep our chin up and keep focused on the fact that we want Osama bin Laden to end up either behind bars or six feet under or maybe just one foot under or maybe just as a pile of ash, you know. That's it.”
Fox anchor Laurie Dhue: “All right. Well said, Geraldo.”
Rivera: “We want to win.”

December 6:
“As you are about to see, this rat can still bite.... We're undaunted, though. We're going back up the hill. These guys are getting ready to mount their third straight day of assaults on the Tora Bora complex.... And then, you know, then it's going to get really ugly. Then it's going to be brutal hand-to-hand, eyeball to eyeball, bayonet to bayonet fighting to root the rats out of their last nest.”

December 7:
“Every boom I kind of said, 'Go for it, boys. How’s this, Osama? Remember September 11.' And they were rockin' all night long, rockin', rockin’, one shot that you could tell were the precision-guided munitions, and then the clusters of a half a dozen or so from the B-52s. But they did not sleep in Tora Bora. I mean, imagine, if we're here a couple of miles away, we were shaken, I can imagine what the rats in the nest are feeling as the ground above them really rattles.”

December 7:
“You know, my head's been filled with pop cultural references all morning long. I just remembered the one from Police and Sting. You know, there is speculation that bin Laden, because he is so sophisticated, is monitoring Western news organizations with a satellite dish and may indeed be watching this broadcast right now. If he is, remember that Sting lyric, ‘Every move you make, every step you take, we'll be watching you,’ Osama….

I think the noose is tightening. These Mujahideen freedom fighters, helped by the plastering that bin Laden and the terrorist thugs have been getting all night long from our B-52s and fighter bombers - it's only a matter of time, Rita, and I want to be there - I want to be there for the final chapter.”

Geraldo wrote these reports all by himself.

Rivera is awash in honors, including one from the National Puerto Rican Coalition.   Prior to his latest Afghan adventure, Rivera was lauded by the coalition as “an inspiring example of the significant contributions that Puerto Ricans are making at every level of American society."

Condoleezza and Geraldo.  As we used to say, they’re both “a credit to their race.”

Very truly yours,

Glen Ford, Co-Publisher

PS:  Check out the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting web site.  They do good work.

Here’s a link to a site with some witty remarks about Condoleezza and her tanker.

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Other commentaries in this issue:

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

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.




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Commentaries in issue number1 you may have missed are:

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

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

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

Linquistic Profiling: By Patrice D. Johnson, guest commentator