Archive for January, 2010

On The State Of The Union

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on January 30, 2010 by playthell

 

 President Obama Answers His Critics…

and  Offers A hopeful Vision Of The Future

 

Once again Mr. Obama’s demonstrated superiority to his Republican predecessors from Nixon to Bush – in terms of intellect, vision and character  - is so apparent that it should be abundantly clear that voting Republican after he has had only a year in office is the antithesis of wisdom.  Taken as a whole, President Obama’s State Of the Nation address was a vision for a New American Century that is not based on our ability to project military might around the globe. 

Rather it is a vision that relies on the power of our science and technology guided by the universal humanism of American ideals, expressed in international cooperation to help raise all of mankind higher. Yet one need only listen to the Republican stiffs who gave the GOP response, the newly elected Virginia Governor Bob McDonald and Senator Lamar Alexander, to realize that the Republicans have no useful ideas to offer in this heroic effort.  

Although McDonald was an improvement over Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in attempting to craft a reply to President Obama’s eloquent multi-faceted address, this is like saying Spiderman is better looking than Freddie Kruger alas. His speech was a transparent attempt to put a reasonable face on the same old Republican dogma that led the nation to ruin. According to Senator Alexander, the President should have limited his concerns to “jobs, debt and terrorism.” 

Yet these are precisely the areas that were devastated by the previous eight years of Republican rule.  And Alexander’s opposition to the President’s proposal to take fifty billion dollars of the TARP money repaid to the government by the big banks and provide immediate capital to community banks, which would be loaned out to small businesses to stimulate job growth and aid desperate home owners, exposes the fact that Republican thinking is hopelessly mired in antiquated ideas from the mid twentieth century.  That’s why they have nothing to contribute to solving the present crisis, which their flawed policies created; yet this remains a prerequisite to moving the nation into the 21st century.

While it is smart politics for the President to continue to reach out to Republicans and invite them to participate in his efforts to restore the nation’s health in principle, in practice it’s time for the Democrats to go gangsta; put on some brass knuckles and drive dem crazy bald heads outta town, employing any means necessary to realize their agenda!   

The smack in the face he gave the Justices of the Supreme court whose decision to remove all legal limits on corporate spending in elections, overturning a hundred year precedent in a brazen display of judicial activism, suggest that he intends to pull no punches in the ensuing struggle. 

And the dramatic rise of his approval ratings in the polls, from 50% to 71%,  suggest that Mr. Obama is winning the debate.  Yet one thing is certain: if the Republicans succeed in arresting the progress of the President’s programs, there will come a time in this century when America will no longer be the leading power in the world. 

 

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Harlem, New York

Janurary 30, 2110

Behind The Democratic Defeats

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on January 27, 2010 by playthell

Was Martha Cokely The Wrong Candidate?

 

 On the Vacillations of an Ignorant electorate

The recent democratic defeats in three major state wide races have led many commentators to argue that the Democrats should listen to the people.  The question is which people?  And what is their message?   The answers to these questions alas, remains a mish mash of incoherent blathering that amounts to little more than the mumbo jumbo of frustrated and clueless people engaging in a public temper tantrum. The polls show their confusion.  President Obama still enjoys the confidence and affection of the majority of Americans, but the numbers also reveal that a commanding majority of the electorate believes that we need less of a role from the federal government.

Yet these are the same people who want the government to rescue them from the economic crisis caused by the managers of the privately owned sector of the economy in the absence of rigorous regulation. They also want the government to micro-manage the affairs of business to the point of setting salaries and bonuses – as we are witnessing in the hue and cry to punish the banks and Wall Street brokerage houses – at the same time that President Obama is being denounced as socialist/communist /fascist dictator for the rather tepid measures he has taken to regulate the reckless greed of the banking sector.

Yet Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, a left leaning liberal, points out that almost half the Independents in Massachusetts said they felt “Wall Street has more influence in Washington than Main Street.”  But then they voted for Republicans?  These are inconsistent positions.  It seems that a large part of the American electorate, people who are legally adults, never learned a lesson that every child is expected to know: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too!”  

The only way that the President can quickly reduce the unemployment rate is by direct government intervention into the economy in the form of stimulus packages.  And we need only look at the response to the 700 billion stimulus program he has already instituted to recognize what a thorny path that has been. First off, the economists and public officials cannot agree on whether the stimulus was too much money or too little. 

The recently anointed Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman, says the stimulus package should have been twice as large; while the right wing “free market” ideologues like Dick Arhmey insist that the President’s stimulus program is hastening the destruction of American capitalism. And the Republicans in Congress, who approved all of George Bush’s wacky policies that led the country to the brink of disaster, have opposed every effort to rescue the nation from the consequences of those policies by the Obama Administration.

The public’s response has been mixed: those who benefited from the stimulus effort love it and those who have not loathe it.  We even hear that workers who are laid off in the private sector resent the fact that stimulus money was used to keep public servants such as cops, fireman and school teachers on the job. Do these people really believe that losing vital public servants will make their communities better or their lives easier?

Hence the Republicans will take comfort in theses election results at their peril.  Any analysis of voting patterns in these elections will show that they are being largely decided by the independents. Since Republicans and Democrats are entrenched in their party’s positions, the independents are loose cannons who can decide elections. And their mercurial behavior, which is based far more on passion than reason, is impossible to predict.  

 

 The Angry But Untutored  Mob:

Boobus Americanus representin!

 

Furthermore, we can safely conclude that anybody who hasn’t taken sides in this contentious political environment, when the issues are momentous and clearly defined, is either abysmally ignorant or not really serious about political and economic affairs. Thus they can be swayed by any kind of outrageous propaganda, even sheer nonsense, such as equating President Obama’s plans for health care reform with “death Panels” and “Nazi concentration camps.” 

Hence elections are more and more becoming the province of spin doctors and bunko artists. And when you marry the carefully cultivated corporate financed paranoia about the role of government in our society with mass ignorance or indifference, we have the preconditions for the kind of political chaos that is virtually impossible to plan for without abandoning all principled positions and basing your program purely on political expedience. 

It seems that at present the driving force among the independents is to lash out at the party in power.  Beyond that there is no coherent ideology or political philosophy among this group.  That’s how it was possible for a Republican ideologue to run as an independent.  Alas, the old adage is true: People who don’t stand for something will fall for anything!  This explains the mindless vacillations of the independents, which appear to be driven by a combination of blind rage and frightful ignorance. 

The fact that any Republican could win a Senate seat that has been held by the Senate’s most liberal Democrat for half a century is of itself a crushing defeat. But when that candidate is Scott Brown, a  Republican ideologue who made it clear that he would kill the President’s Health Care Bill, the great social project of Senator Kennedy’s political life, this defeat is an unmitigated disaster not only for the Democratic Party, but for the American people at large. 

Watching Senator elect Brown at his press conference the next day, it is not hard to see how he managed to pull of this stunning victory.  A former model that looks like a movie star, he is charming and articulate in the same way as Ronald Reagan, and he seems just as adept at talking out of both sides of his mouth.  On the one hand he says that he is going to look out for the interests of Massachusetts, but on the other he swears that he will never be involved in any back room deals.  

This is nonsense!  You can’t have it both ways.  He will be only one vote in a hundred, and one does not have to be a mathematician to figure out that this means he will have to engage in horse trading and back room deals in order to bring home the bacon.   As a member of the Massachusetts State Senate, where he was one of only five Republicans out of forty senators, the New US Senator knows all too well how the game goes.

So our newly minted reformer is already engaging in double talk, which suggests to this writer that he will soon be engaged in double dealing once he is ensconced in Washington.  Considering that the Republicans are offering nothing different …and nothing more, than they have offered in the past, but Martha Cokely was offering something different and considerably more, alas what the Bay State debacle and the other Democratic defeats prove more than anything else is that Thomas Jefferson was right: An ignorant electorate will elect and return the worst people to power!

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Harlem, New York

January 27, 2009

The Supreme Court Legalizes A Parliament Of Whores!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on January 22, 2010 by playthell

 

 The Corporate shills who sold Our Democracy!

 The supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United V. The Federal Election Commission, a campaign finance case, may prove to be as influential in shaping the character of American society as Dred Scott and Plessy V. Ferguson.   In the Dred Scott Decision the court declared that “black men had no rights that white men were bound to respect” when the Constitution was drafted. Although Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a former slaveholder, was historically correct in his opinion, the question before the Court in this case was: Did America recognize black men as men?  If so, then the principles of the Declaration Of Independence which spelled out the fundamental values which the Constitution supposedly codified also applies to them.  The Dred Scott Decision sharpened  antagonistic forces to the point that the country exploded in civil war four years later. 

The present decision has opened the doors for big corporations to transform what is left of our participatory democracy into a plutocracy, the outright rule of the rich.  If this does not happen it will be due to the high public morality of corporations, who will hasten to elevate the public interests above their greed for personal profit – the very thought of which is heresy to most C.E.O’s.  Since the Supreme Court has scrapped a century of legal opinion on the use of corporate money in the political process, and empowered the corporations to directly finance advertisements for candidates of their choice, the voice of the people, those “polish factory workers” and their sons whose interest Justice Scalia has pledged himself to protect, will be drowned out by the clamor of corporate shills in the media.  And when you see a political Neanderthals and moral degenerates like Jim De mint and Newt Gingrich praising this as a victory for the people, we can see the horrors that lay ahead for those of us who really do care about preserving the power of the people.

We need not look far to see what this will mean for the political process.  The self-styled corporate funded “Tea Party “movement” that has been so influential in confusing and nearly derailing the President’s effort to bring much needed reform to the healthcare industry is exhibit A.  These reforms not only address the sickness of our minds and bodies, but also the survival of our economy. Every responsible economist who have studied this question – regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum – believes that the present healthcare system will eventually bankrupt the American economy.  Yet it will still fail to provide medical coverage for millions of citizens.  Hence the changes the President is proposing will literally rescue the economy and make us healthier as a nation.  What could be a more sensible, admirable and Christian goal?  But look at the way the corporate lobbyists confused this issue  – at an expenditure of a million dollars or more a day.   That is just an inkling of what politicians who seek to protect the public interests against the prerogatives of corporate interests will be facing.

 While one Republican big wig after another lined up to applaud the Supreme Court’s decision, Democrats see the matter differently.  In his dissenting opinion Justice Stevens noted sarcastically:“Under the majority’s view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.”  And Fred Wertheimer,  the founder and President of the advocacy group Democracy 21, which has a venerable record of fighting for campaign reform that would limit the role of private money in political campaigns, views the decision as an unmitigated disaster for the American people.

 “Well, I think I start off from the standpoint of citizens and the idea that this levels the playing field for citizens is dead wrong.”  Says Wertheimer. “What this decision means is major banks, major insurance companies, major drug companies, major energy companies can spend five or $10 million or more directly to elect or defeat a federal candidate. Now, what that means is a member of Congress or a candidate that is sitting there, knowing that if they vote against the interests of these major corporations, they will be blown out of the water by expensive campaigns the likes of which we have never seen.” 

 I think he’s right!  And the implications of this decision for President Obama’s agenda is dire, as members of Congress become frozen with fear in face of this new corporate power to sponsor candidates to run against them.  Decisions like these are the reason why it is so important who appoints justices to the High Court: liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans.  Every Right-wing kook knows this, but many on the left have yet to learn.  This is reflected in their simple minded insistence that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties; crazy talk that helped elect George Bush and thus saddled us with eight years greed, incompetence, reckless foreign adventures, and the present reactionary Supreme Court who passed this horrendous radical right-wing decision. 

One response to this judicial disaster is for Congress to pass laws that require immediate disclosure of the source and amounts of all campaign  contributions, but a better solution is to keep President Obama in office for eight years – when Scalia will be Eighty – and hope he gets to replace one of the conservatives and change the 5-4 majority that rendered this decision. For there is no question where the President – a brilliant Constitutional law professor – stands on the Supreme Court’s decision to pave the way for corporations to turn the US Congress into what the humorists P.J. O’ Rourke calls “A parliament of whores!”

 

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  Harlem, New York

January 21, 2010

A Democratic Debacle in the Bay State

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on January 20, 2010 by playthell

 

  Senator Elect Scott Brown

 

 Did Hubris Bring Martha Cokely Down?

 It is almost impossible to overstate the magnitude of the political disaster in Massachusetts.  If the Senate seat held by the recently departed Teddy Kennedy for nearly half a century – in a state that had not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1952 –  could be won by a man who ran on a platform to kill the Health Care reform Bill that was the great goal of Kennedy’s political career, then anything can happen in the present political environment. For among other things, it means a majority of the people of Massachusetts failed to honor the legacy of a man who served them honorably for 47 years…He died working for them and he never needed the job!

The recent losses in Governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, were hard to take, but the loss in Massachusetts is devastating because it threatens to scare many other Democrats into timidity on the great issues that form the Obama agenda for substantive change.  This is especially true of the so-called Blue Dogs, those Democrats in Red states who were already a recalcitrant lot bogging down the President’s legislative agenda.

 It may turn out that nothing of significance is now possible; if the members of Congress panic and choose political expedience over principle, then the President’s program will be wounded beyond repair.  Much of this will depend upon how the election results are interpreted and what strategy the Democrats adopt going forward. The first problem that any Democratic strategists must confront is that it is hard to come up with a logical explanation for what happened in the Bay State, or a coherent plan to deal with it, because the political choice made by the voters was irrational.  

There is nothing the Republicans are selling that is different from the bill of goods they sold us before, which drove the country to near collapse.  It’s the same old song.  It’s not even old wine disguised in new bottles; it’s old wine in old bottles.  Any content analysis of the Republican’s rhetoric will reveal the absence of serious argument addressing the major issues that the Obama Administration is grappling with.  Perhaps that’s why Martha Cokely and the Democratic Party thought the election was a done deal.   And no matter how they try to spin this defeat, it is obvious that they viewed the outcome of this senatorial race as a fait accompli for the Democrats. 

 I have no doubt that future historians will view this as one of the greatest debacles in US political history, brought on by the decision of the democrats to count their chickens before they hatch.  They forgot that, as in sports, no matter how favorable the prognostications of the wise guys: You’ve got to play the game and it ain’t over til it’s over.  Historians might well conclude, along with this writer, that it was a toxic combination of an ignorant electorate and Democratic hubris that led to Martha Coakley’s defeat.  Going forward, Democratic strategists would do well to remember that it was Hubris that brought Satan down, and he was the favored Arch-Angel of God!

 

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Harlem New York

Janurary 20, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Dr. Cornell West, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on January 18, 2010 by playthell

 

 Martin Luther King Jr.

 A Twentieth Century Prophet

  In 1964, as the Civil Rights Bill was being debated in Congress, the black people of St. Augustine Florida, where I grew up, were waging a bloody struggle against the racial caste system in the nation’s oldest city.  And they were joined in their struggle by people of good will from all over the country.  There were contingents of clergymen representing Catholics and Protestants, Gentiles and Jews.

There were also members of the American elite like Mrs. Mary Peabody, the mother of Endicott Peabody, the sitting Governor of Massachusetts, and poor righteous teachers and students.  The magnet that attracted this broad coalition of conscience to St. Augustine was Dr. Martin Luther King, an extraordinary man of the sort that may appear once in a century.

Some misguided critics on the left and right, black and white, have attempted to deny or minimize his importance in bringing about the radical changes in American society – especially regarding race relations – that occurred during the last half of the twentieth century. While I recognize that the sweeping changes which destroyed the legal basis of the racial caste system was the result of a long arduous struggle that enlisted many soldiers, I also understand that Dr. King’s contribution was unique.

No one else could command the allegiance of the privileged classes and the impoverished masses like King did.  In the second volume of his masterwork on the life of Martin Luther King, “Pillars of Fire,” Taylor Branch tells us that the distinguished theologian, philosopher and Orthodox Rabbi Abraham Heschel, called Dr. King a “prophet.”

A European immigrant, Rabbi Heschel had been a famous theologian in Germany until he was forced to flee the Nazi holocaust, and he was a professor at the Jewish Theological seminary in New York when he met Dr. King in Chicago, where both attended a conference on Religion and Race in 1963.  For Heschel, Branch points out, racism was heresy and the Rabbi bluntly told the conference: “You cannot worship God and at the same time look at a man as if he were a horse.”

Heschel, who had written a seminal book on the ancient Hebrew Prophets, argued that what marked King as a prophet was not his power to move people with visions of better tomorrows expressed in great oratory, because “Moralist of all ages have been eloquent in singing the praises of virtue.”

In Heschel’s view “The Distinction of the prophets was in their remorseless unveiling of injustice and oppression.”  Furthermore, the prophet avoided lapsing into despair by viewing unwarranted suffering as redemptive – a theme reiterated many times in the speeches of Dr. King.  Hence, according to Heschel’s definition, Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed a prophet.

Yet even without Rabbi Heschel’s vast knowledge of the Hebrew prophetic tradition, the masses of southern black people had already concluded that Dr. King was some species of prophet or messiah who, like Moses in the bible, was ordained to lead them to the Promised Land of freedom.  Dr. King so embodied this tradition that even as late as June 2003, the Hasidic Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, Oxford Chaplain and author of over a dozen books, told this writer, “Dr. King brought the teachings of the ancient Hebrew prophets to life and made their teachings relevant to the modern world in a way that no rabbi I know of has been able to do.”

The black folk of St. Augustine were all raised on those Old Testament stories about the suffering and deliverance of the Jews, indeed the “Negro Spirituals” they sang were based upon them. So they were well conditioned to receive Dr. King’s message. While sophisticated thinkers may view the scriptures as symbolic or allegorical, to the toiling black masses of the south, where King’s ministry of struggle was born and raised, the stories in the bible were literally true.

As Dr. DuBois points out in the chapter “The Coming of the Lord” in his 1935 masterpiece Black Reconstruction, the freed slaves who flocked to the Union Army felt that God was alive and that they had met and talked with him in the dark of night.  This was the tradition in which the black culture of St. Augustine was rooted.  Thus their feelings about the divine nature of his mission were real. It was by this faith that they walked unarmed amid the murderous white mobs like Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

The Doctor, as King was affectionately known among friends and colleagues, had something for everybody.  He was the good shepherd to his church flock and an intellectual of the first rank – a PhD in systematic theology from Boston University.  He was both a child of the black church and a paragon of the “Talented Tenth,” who accepted the ancestral imperative set forth by black men of prophetic moral vision such as: Father Alexander Crummell, Bishop Daniel Payne, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Benjamin Mayes, et al, and he used his splendid education to lead the oppressed masses by preaching a gospel of liberation.

He was the ideal son that every black mother wished for, the eloquent orator who did the black middle class proud, and the rousing preacher whose powerful baritone voice and rhythmic cadences could summon the spirit of God for the righteous, and inspire goose pimples and fear in the infidels! Indeed, he could soothe the savage beasts of hopelessness and despair with the sound of his voice.

In Martin Luther King Jr., both traditions of the black preacher – the learned and the vernacular – converge.  He could move seamlessly from a learned philosophical discourse, to a sermon based in the religious folkways of the black southern masses.  Dr. King could calmly preach to the text, or deliver a free wheeling stem-winder with the best of the great extemporaneous preachers who rely on inspiration rather than education when interpreting biblical texts, those un-tutored clerical bards whom the learned poet and freedom fighter James Weldon Johnson immortalized in “God’s Trombones.”

He was also a splendid example of Black male style as it evolved in the US, his sartorial elegance matching his verbal eloquence; two highly regarded attributes in black male culture. And like his contemporaries Ralph Ellison and Malcolm X, King was also a great dancer, having won the Jitterbug Champion-ship of Atlanta as a teenager.

When all is said and done however, what distinguished Martin Luther King Jr. from the vast majority of preachers and secular intellectuals was his willingness to place his body in harm’s way on behalf of the oppressed. While he could have had an easy life, even in apartheid America, he did this over and over again in the face of opponents with bloody murder on their minds.  So, it is altogether fitting and proper that we should pay homage to this twentieth century prophet, who died so that a better America might be born.

A Genuine Man of the People!

Evidence of a mispent youth?

 

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To Hear the Greatest Orator of the 20th Century, Dr. M L King 

(Double Click Here)

http://youtu.be/HlvEiBRgp2M

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem New York

Dr. Martin Luther King Day!

Is Haiti Cursed By God?

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics with tags , , on January 15, 2010 by playthell

 The Leader Of  The Haitian Church

 

 Unmasking A False Prophet!

 To thoughtful and humane people all over the world, the earthquake that exploded in Haiti – which measured a devastating 7.2 on the Rictor scale – is a grand human tragedy of classical proportions, because mere  mortals are pitted against the forces of nature.  To peoples of the ancient world, who inhabited a pre-scientific universe, this would have been interpreted as the wrath of the Gods.  But at the end of the first decade of the twenty first century, when we have the science of seismology to explain such things, attributing this disaster to the wrath of an angry God is prima facie absurd…the ranting of  a crackpot!   But that is exactly what that old religious charlatan,  racist provocateur and Icon of the American Taliban Pat Robertson attributes Haiti’s tragedy to. 

According to Robertson, who made his announcement on his so called “Christian” television show shortly after the disaster, Haiti’s troubles result from the fact that they made a deal with the devil during their revolution which overthrew slavery on that island in the 18th century.  “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti,” he said  “and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French . . . and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’  True story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’  One is forced to wonder how someone with a law degree from Yale could actually hold such beliefs in this advanced scientific age. 

Perhaps it’s all  part of his act, and he is just doing what he always does: laying B.S. on the believers – a group of lost souls whose fealty to a fuzzy headed old fool like Robertson is irrefutable evidence that they are mental retards and moral cripples. The sunny side of this sad situation is that this kind of rancid Rhetoric  is such crazy evil talk it might result in the unintended  consequence of swelling the ranks of atheists among the intelligent and humane – even as it rallies the self-righteous semi-literate Christian fanatics – and the ideas promulgated in Christopher Hitchens’ text  – “God Is Not Great” – shall gain bright new adherents.

Since Haiti is officially a Catholic country Pat Robertson’s charge, like that of Rev. Jon Hagee, another southern protestant lunatic who calls the Catholic church “The Whore of Babylon,” is a slander against Catholicism. It is tantamount to applauding the collapse of the National Cathedral in Haiti – a sacrilege in the eyes of all devout Catholics. We will see if Mr. Donahue, a militant defender of the white American catholic church, will step forward and call Robertson – a dime a dozen Republican chicken hawk and shameless coward whose US Senator father pulled him off a troop ship that was heading for the battle zone during World War II – the depraved religious faker that he is.   

But all the pugnacious Irish Alter Boys – Pat Buchanan, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly first among them – seem to fold like wet noodles when their church is attacked by these icons of the Protestant Christian Right.  These guys, soulless opportunists that they are, know what side their bread is buttered on.  Thus they are only able to find their voices when they are attacking black clergyman like Reverends Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton, or Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation Of Islam.  

Beyond all this, Pat Robertson’s pronouncement regarding Haiti begs the question: If Haitians made a Faustian Bargain in order to achieve their independence what about the USA?  The black Haitian’s had far more justification for their revolution than the white Englishmen in the North American colonies. The Haitian Revolution overthrew slavery, the American Revolution protected the rights of slaveholders and their New Constitution prohibited Congress form taking any action to restrict the slave trade for 20 years after it’s ratification in 1887.  Furthermore, the Constitution permitted the southern slaveholding states to count their slaves as 3/5 of a man for purposes of apportioning membership in the House of Representatives.   If this was not a deal with the devil there is no such thing!  

As a Yale trained lawyer who pretends to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ, Pat Robertson cannot be innocent of this knowledge; which is further evidence of how right wing Republicans operate in a fact free zone where any sort of putrid nonsense can be passed off as divine revelation.  Still, one is forced to wonder what sort of moral cretin could conjure up a vision as twisted as Pat Robertson’s.  However we need not look far to find his soul mate: that racist dope fiend Rush Limbaugh’s take on President Obama’s rapid response in mobilizing the American government to provide humane assistance on a scale adequate to the size of the disaster, is equally depraved and morally deformed.  But that’s par for the course with the amoral bloviators on WABC radio.

Alas, this is far from the first time Robertson has interjected himself into tragic situations with malicious mystical Mumbo Jumbo; he also declared that the devastating 9/11 assault on New York City, and the Katrina disaster that put the Crescent City under water, were acts of retribution by God against the sinners who inhabit these cities, which he views as sinful sex pots where homosexuality and licentiousness flourished like ancient Babylon; a wicked nation God also destroyed in his righteous anger.  In any case, like so much else Pat Roberson preaches’ his charge makes no sense, and could only have been made a silly deluded old white racist. 

Pat says the Haitians made a deal with the Devil to rid them of the French, but to the African slaves of Haiti, whose life expectancy was four years in the cane fields and whose rectums were stuffed with gunpowder and exploded when they failed to meet their production quotas, the white French slave masters were the devil!  Just like white American slave holders were Pharaohs to African American slaves, and  false prophets spouting white supremacist theology today look like devils in the eyes  of many black people today!  This writer included.

 Pat Robertson

 The Anti-Christ foretold by the Prophets!!!

 

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 Harlem, New York

January 15, 2010

Should Senator Harry Reed Resign?

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on January 10, 2010 by playthell

 A Deeply Repentant Senator Begs For Absolution

 “Beware of the Stranger who comes to the funeral  ….
…. and cries louder than the berieved!”
 Traditional Ibo Proverb

 

 The Sunday morning TV talkfests were alive with hysterical chatter about the revelation that Nevada Senator Harry Reed told reporters during the Presidential election that he thought Barack Obama had a chance to win the presidential election because the Illinois Junior Senator “is light skinned and only speaks in Negro dialect when he wants to.”     What the Senator actually meant when taken in context was that he thought Barack Obama – whom he considered superbly qualified for the job – could only transcend the racist animus and suspicion that millions of white Americans continue to hold regarding their African American countrymen because he wasn’t too black and talked like white folks.  Well…duh?  Is there anyone in the United states who is not an ignoramus or a damn liar that would dare dispute the transparent truth of Senator Reeds claim?

The loudest voice of protest from the African American community as I write is Michel Steele – the Republican puppet and shameless intellectual quisling who pretends to head the Republican Party, but whose protracted lips to posterior genuflection before Rush Limbaugh reveals who the real boss is.  However since President Obama has already absolved Senator Reed by swiftly and graciously accepting his apology, mischievous Michel is in the untenable position of trying to be more royal than the king!  

Furthermore,   the fact that a militant black man and Yellow Dog Democrat like me ain’t mad at the Senator, the sanctimonious ramblings of a poot-butt Kneegrow shill for the party of white racist reaction strikes me the same way that the stranger at the funeral struck my wise Igbo ancestors.  He bears watching with a jaundiced eye! The late Audley Moore – who was popularly known as “ The Queen Mother” Of the black radical movement of the 1960’s – was fond of saying that “Negro” meant “No, Nay, never grow!”   And in the case of Mikie Steele that’s apparently so.

However the black community would be making a fatal political error if they go for this okey doke and allow themselves to be distracted from the real  life and death challenges confronting African Americans and the world.  The solution to these problems – availability of health care, strong government enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, ending racist police brutality, serious regulation of financial institutions, working for peace among nations, strong funding for public education, increased support for the arts and sciences, saving the environment, eliminating nuclear weapons, stimulating a failed capitalist market economy, an intelligent approach to combatting the Islamic jihadists, etc – can only be found in government actions.  In spite of a constant barrage of Republican propaganda to the contrary, the history of the expansion of freedom and prosperity in the US Republic confirms my argument.

Hence we Black Americans must vigorously resist attemps by  Cynical Republican charlatans to involve us in any effort to remove Senator Reed from the US Senate – which would greatly benefit their backwards anti-black anti-worker agenda.  We must judge him by his deeds as a legislator, and right now, as the man who guided the massive health care reform bill through the Senate in face of an unprincipled and reckless Republican resistance – something no Majority leader has been able to do in a century – he is batting a thousand!  

Hence Senator Reed is a true hero for our times.  And those hypocritical white wags who are attempting to draw a moral equivalence between Senator Reed’s statement – which was a candid statement of the racial attitudes of millions of white Americans – with the ex-Republican Senator and unrepentant Mississippi red neck neo-Confederate Trent Lott’s praise song for the late South Carolina Senator and racist hypocrite Strom Thurman, an argument in favor of the NAZI like ideology and apartheid practices that I grew up under in the old South, expose themselves as moral cripples beyond redemption! 

Everybody knows who cares to know – including Colin Powell himself – this was exactly the same reason Republicans thought Colin Powell could win the Presidency: He is light skinned and didn’t sound black like Jesse Jackson!  Any Republican  who denies this  is “a liar and a mink/their feet stink/ and they don’t love Jesus!” as the old Afro-American folk saying declares.  Hence it would be wise for us black folks to stand by Senator Reed and pay the racist reactionary Republicans and their Negro Marionette “no rabbit as mind” as my wise grandfather Walter surely would have advised.

 

****************** 

Harlem, New York 

January 10, 2010

On Guns, Race and the NBA

Posted in On Sports!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , on January 8, 2010 by playthell

Gilbert Arenas: Gun Slinger!

 

 Should The NBA  Ban Gun Ownership Among The Players?

 Although I am rarely impressed by anything the sports reporter turned pundit Steven A has to say that does not involve playing the game, I found his comments on WNBC’s Ed Show last Thursday regarding the present imbroglio over whether NBA players should be allowed to own guns especially silly.  His remarks on this occasion were prompted by allegations of gun play in the Washington Wizard’s locker room involving mega-star Gilbert Arenas and team mate Javaris Crittenton.  According to press reports the beef between the two players started on the plane traveling back to Washington D.C. from a road game. They were gambling and Arenas lost but refused to pay up.  At which point Crittenton is alleged to have threatened to shoot Arenas in his surgically reconstructed knee – a comment Crittenton insists was a joke. 

However from the events that followed it does not appear that Arenas found the quip funny.  At the next home game we are told that Arenas showed up in the locker room with several of his own guns and issued a challenge to Crittenton.  Arenas insists that it was a prank and that his guns were unloaded, but some reports say that Crittenton took the matter seriously, pulled his own gun and shoved an ammo clip into it!  If the facts in these allegations prove true, then both players should be tossed out of the league for life. 

If these ballers are so simple minded and irresponsible as not to recognize that they are highly privileged and extremely fortunate individuals, whom the game of basketball has afforded a lifestyle that most people in the world would be willing to give up some years of their life to enjoy, they do not deserve it and both should be forced to live like the rest of us who must struggle to make ends meet during this prolonged economic recession.  It is high time that these pampered athletes – grown men who live like kings from playing a boy’s game – understand that there are certain responsibilities that come with this great privilege.

For one thing, whether they wish to be or not, they are role models to the nation’s children who love sports and idolize them.  When confronted with this simple but undeniable truth, many of these tarnished idols who have been subjected to public opprobrium because of anti-social behavior flippantly remark that they do not wish to be role models; they argue that “parents should raise their children.” 

But given all of the hoopla that surrounds them by virtue of their exploits in the game, their influence on kids often supersedes that of their parents.  Hence we have a right to expect a certain standard of behavior from professional athletes, and those who find it too difficult to meet those standards should be forced to do something else;  like go get a real job if they can find one.  I doubt that many of them will choose this route, but whatever they choose it is their call.

Having said that however, the question of whether NBA Commissioner David Stern should have the right to ban ownership of guns by all NBA players is another matter entirely.  In the first place I am as certain as a non-lawyer can be that this would be illegal and thus would never survive a legal challenge by the players bcause it is prima facia discrimination.  If the laws of a state allows for the ownership of firearms then so long as they meet those requirements they have the right to bear arms like the rest of the citizenry. 

Furthermore given the high visibility of NBA players, the fact that their high salaries are publicized in the media, and the reality that many of them have family ties and good friends who reside in dangerous urban neighborhoods, they are prime targets for all manner of criminals and deviants.  And there is no paucity of examples of their victimization.  The fact is that Professional athletes, especially black athletes, are excellent candidates for legal gun ownership including licenses to carry concealed weapons.

Therefore a ban on gun ownership by the NBA Commissioner would raise another thorny issue that David Stern would be a fool  to conjure up: Racism!   And this writer will be leading the charge to raise this issue!  How could anyone justify such a demand for NBA players while hockey and  tennis players are allowed to bear fire arms, and what about NASCAR drivers?  Everybody knows they are gun freaks.   The fact is we live in a gun crazy culture, a culture where whackos are allowed to show up at presidential rallies brandishing guns while holding aloft signs denouncing President Obama as an enemy of the American people, a secret ally of Arab terrorists.  And everybody in America knows that had black radicals showed up at President Bush’s public appearances brandishing fire arms while denouncing him in similar terms they would have be arrested if not fired upon. 

If people want to get exercised about guns the fanatical white racists is where they should focus their attention first. As the Department of Homeland  Security warned us theses people pose a real threat of committing acts of terrorism on American soil.  Hence those who want to ban guns should concern themselves with organized white nationalist militias that produce people like Timothy McVey, the Oklahoma City bomber, and the websites that inspire lone assassins like Richard Popolowski, who slaughtered three innocent policemen in Pittsburg.  Absent such demands on all these far more dangerous parties, banning gun ownership among NBA players is racist in fact not just appearance!  

 **************

The problem with players like Arenas and Crittenton is the result of both personal and cultural problems. The former athlete, long time sports sociologist, and expert on black athletes Dr. Harry Edwards – who is himself African American – explained the phenomenon in a recent interview. Edwards convincingly argues that the root cause of the Arenas / Crittenton affair resides in the gangster culture that is so influential among black inner-city youths. This ethos is  constantly projected in the imagery and lyrics of Gangsta Rap records and shootemup movies, and it has become so powerful that it even affects the behavior of some young black men who come from middle class backgrounds that are trying to project themselves as “hard.”  Gilbert Arenas is a case in point.  He does not hail from “the hood;” he is playing a role.   Perhaps that’s why he does not know that you don’t pull guns unless you are ready to use them.  A similar prank in the hood – in the back room of a club for instance – could have gotten him killed. 

Hence it is the seduction of gangster culture and the anti-social behavior flowing from it that the NBA should seek to address, not institute a blanket ban on gun ownership among all players in the league. Over a century ago the pioneering Afro-American sociologist Dr. W.E.B. DuBois observed that if whites really wanted to piss black folks off, just act as if all black people are the same!   African American athletes are a varied lot, and thus almost any generalization beyond the fact that they are black and play sports for a living runs the serious risk of being baseless.  And to assume that they are all criminally prone hot heads who must be denied the same rights as other citizens is unacceptable. 

The Commissioner, therefore, should confine his concerns to the behavior of NBA players on the job.  It is fully within his purview to ban guns in the basketball arenas and during team travels, or on any occasion where league business is involved.  And I am shocked that he has not already done so. Beyond that it’s none of David Stern’s business who owns fire arms; no matter what Steven A and other members of the chattering classes may think!

 ******************

 Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 8, 2010

The Obama Administration Must Chastise Dirty Dick!

Posted in On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on January 5, 2010 by playthell

 

 

President Obama At War

 Anyone who understands the symbiotic relationship between mass media and their audience will recognize the danger in the reckless rhetoric that has become the Republican stock-in-trade. Media outlets like FOX television and WABC radio employ a rogue’s gallery of verbose charlatans, fools and soulless whores to harangue the listener 24/7, spouting slickly packaged disinformation that the untutored mob enthusiastically accepts as truth, they are generating a dangerous rage in an economically insecure and increasingly desperate segment of American society.  Since the GOP has become the party of the neo-Confederacy, that menacing mob is mostly white, Christian and racist.  Working in concert with the Republican Party leadership, The latest campaign of slander and hysteria by the far right verbal arsonists in the media was sparked by the nearly successful attempt by a 23 year old Nigerian student to blow an American airliner out of the sky on Christmas Day. 

If there are those who still hope that the Republicans will behave responsibly in a national crisis, i.e. put the interests of the nation above partisan politics, Dirty Dick Cheney – who along with Rush Limbaugh has emerged as the voice of the Republican Party – made it clear that that hope is misplaced.  Rather than rally round the flag and try and calm public anxiety by assuring them that the holes in our security net will be repaired, and all we need fear is fear itself, Dirty Dick has seized upon this near tragedy to launch more cheap shots at the President and cast himself in the role of an all knowing elder statesman.  Alas, Dirty Dick is not alone in this malicious and dangerous folly.

 Dirty Dick!

 

 Would you buy a used car from this creep?

 

I have not heard one constructive comment on this near tragedy from the Republican leadership; they have nothing useful to offer, and what is worse they don’t seem to give a damn!  Not really.   Their opposition to President Obama goes far beyond simple disagreements on political philosophy or policy issues. It is becoming a danger to the national security that borders on treason because it could well hamper the President’s ability to carry out his constitutionally mandated duties; thus giving aid and comfort to the enemy.  For instance, the reason that we have no Director of the TSA, which is tasked with airline security, is because Republican Senator Jim DeMint is holding up the president’s nominee for purely ideological reasons.  And still the Republicans have the unmitigated gall to howl about the Obama Administration not taking the terror threat seriously.  Only a person who is convinced that his audience is composed of morons would dare make such an argument.

The recklessness of the increasingly rancid Republican attacks could even lead to the assassination of the President.  If anyone thinks this is an overblown reaction to the incendiary rhetoric employed by Dirty Dick and other Republican leaders, they should check out what the experts on Presidential assassinations like Gerald Posner – author of “Killing The Dream” – have to say on the matter.  For instance, Posner was a law student in San Francisco when the Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk  were murdered by the right-wing nut Dan White, and he says the hostile atmosphere the Republicans are creating around President Obama today reminds him of the atmosphere in San Francisco when that tragedy occurred.  This is the same thing that Speaker Of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was also in San Francisco at the time, also recalls.

Yet if all of those gun totin so called “Tea Party Patriots” believe the things that Dirty Dick and his co-conspirators on Fox and WABC are saying about the President, then it is not a big leap to believe that his murder would be construed as a patriotic act in defense of the nation.  After all, this is what happened to the last Illinois legislator who became President in troubled times: Abraham Lincoln.  Ironically, the problem is concentrated in the same region of the country and at bottom the issue is fundamentally the same: The proper status of black men in America!

For millions of racist whites the election of a black president with a Muslim name is an abominable blunder made possible by white race traitors in league with non-white minorities – whom many see as inferior mud men – and this catastrophe must be corrected by any means necessary, including murder. Some of these self-styled white Christian nationalists are unambiguous on this issue; showing up at presidential appearances brandishing guns while displaying signs that declare “The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”  Word’s chillingly reminiscent of the words of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s Assassin. No serious person can deny that if members of the Revolutionary communist Party had shown up at President Bush’s appearances with guns they would have been arrested if not shot!  And they same right wing charlatans who offer simple minded apologia for these pistol packin misfits – even trying to justify the murder of Dr. Tiller because he performed abortions.  These are very dangerous people.

Hence it is a serious mistake to believe that the scurrilous attacks upon the President by the racist untutored mob, egged on by Dirty Dick and his deranged Republican posse, can simply be ignored with no serious consequences. The manner in which these right wing propagandists have so confused the issue of health care that millions of Americans believe it contains death panels – Sarah Palin’s contribution to our political discourse – and are the equivalent of Nazi Concentration camps, should provide all of the evidence we need that big lies allowed to go unchallenged can become reality for “Boobus Americanus.”  Especially if the issue is wrapped up in the issue of race.  Hence the Obama Administration must began to respond to the volatile lies of Dirty Dick and his butt boys, or sit idly by and witness the erosion of the American people’s confidence in President Obama’s ability to lead  our nation in these increasingly troubled times.

 

The Right Man To Chastise Cheney!

 

 Joe Biden: Smart and Scrappy

 

I am not suggesting that the President himself answer Dirty Dick; the forked tongue paleface should not be granted that level of importance. This would be a great task for Vice President Biden – who is both a compelling orator and an expert on foreign affairs – in league with National Security Advisor General Jim Jones and especially Secretary Of Defense Bob Gates, who also held the same position in the Bush Administration after the myriad blunders of Reckless Rummy forced the old murderous fart out of office.  Since most Americans have the attention span of a five year old struggling with attention deficit problems, the administration’s response should carefully reiterate Dick Cheney’s actual record on national security matters.  And it ain’t pretty!

 Since I have written at length about Dirty Dick’s role in the deadly debacles of the bush era in a 108 page essay “The Emperor’s New Clothes” which will be published in a forthcoming collection of my essays and commentaries, and the passages relevant to this discussion will be posted here within the next few days – I will refrain from a detailed discussion of Cheney’s foibles, follies and crimes in this commentary. Suffice it to say that the Bushmen had many warnings of the impending attack on 9/11; the facts were so clear that it has spawned an international fraternity of doubters who believe that the Bush Administration planned the whole thing in order to create a climate of crisis where a panicked American electorate would allow them to vastly expand the police powers of the government. As far fetched as this is, they simply can’t believe that such incompetence is possible in a survellience society that expends upwards of thirty billion dollars a year on clandestine intelligence operations.   

While it is child’s play to expose such views as paranoid foolishness for anyone who is conversant on the relevant evidence, as is this writer, I very nearly came to blows in a television studio recently when a fellow panelist and I discussed this issue.  It’s a good thing we weren’t on the air at the time because we got to calling each other muthafuckas!   The situation became so volatile that I refused to go back on camera with him.  The very existence of  such passionate  9/11 doubters tells us that the level of incompetence in the Cheney/Bush administration was such that many otherwise reasonable and intelligent people refuse to accept the possibility that such a thing is possible on the part of officials entrusted with managing the most powerful nation in the history of the world! Hence it is shameless hypocrisy for Dirty Dick to be running all over the place accusing the President of not recognizing that we are at war; It was they, the Bushmen, who refused to believe that we were at war!

Not only had I stopped going through tunnels for a year before the 9/11 attack, I implored my children and everyone I cared about not to go through tunnels if they could avoid it.  I told them we were due for a terrorist attack and blowing up a tunnel was the most terrifying thing I could imagine. I had no crystal ball in which to gaze and predict the future; my conclusion was based upon my analysis of American policy in the Muslim world; especially our government’s support for the repressive policies of Ariel Sharon toward the Palestinians.   Although I thought first of the Palestinians when I wondered who flew the jumbo jet I saw crash into the second world Trade Tower, It came as no surprise that the attackers came from Egypt and Saudi-Arabia, for we had long been supporting murderous dictatorships in both countries. I knew radical Arabs were after us; they had already blown up the World Trade Center once.  The burning question is: Why didn’t Dirty Dick and the Bushmen know that we were at war with the Muslim Jihads? 

Furthermore, after the 9-11 attack Dirty Dick was also the major architect of the ill fated and criminal invasion of Iraq.  I, however, opposed this action from Jump Street and wrote a 3000 word commentary explaining the basis of my opposition and published it before the invasion.  Titled “The Iraq Attack, Bush’s March Of Folly,” it can be read on this blog.  This essay also provides a detailed analysis of the pro-war hyperbole that flowed from the purple pens of leading American print pundits.  I thought all of the saber rattling from chatty chicken hawks was dangerous nonsense then, and I think it dangerous non-sense now!  That’s the point the Obama administration must  make it unmasking and chastising that shameless charlatan and soulless scoundrel Dirty Dick Cheney!

 He Had A bird’s Eye View Of The Sins Of Dirty Dick

 Robert Gates:

Secretary Of Defense in the Bush and Obama Administration

 

 ****************

 Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

Janurary 5, 2010

 

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