Archive for September, 2010

On Eddie Long: BS Artist!

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators with tags , on September 29, 2010 by playthell

 

  The Original Sin!

             Princeton Philosopher Dr. Harry G. Frank has written a book by the daring title “Bullshit!” He chose this title because it accurately addressed his subject: people who engage in bullshit.  In choosing his title he could well have used Bishop Eddie long as his role model, because from all appearances he is a bullshit artist par excellence.  I mean, it takes no small amount of talent to bullshit 25,000 parishioners into believing that you are an honorable messenger of Jesus Christ, when you are simultaneously engaged in the kind of scurrilous behavior that would shame the Devil!

 Let me be clear, I care not a whit about people’s sexual preferences so long as they are consenting adults.  Nor have not I pronounced the Bishop guilty on the charge of coercing sexual favors from the young men to whom he is supposed to be offering moral guidance, and teaching how to be responsible citizens.  I shall leave that determination to the courts.  But the fact that there are four different complainants make their charges hard to dismiss.  Should they prove true however it would only verify my suspicion that Long is false to his profession in more ways than one, and his moral failings are worse than I thought.  I knew he was guilty of duplicity, vanity and avarice.  This is plain enough to see for anyone who understands what it means for a black southern leader to identify himself as a “conservative Republican,” while  living like an ancient Persian Pasha at the expense of his hard working congregation.  Even if they are so blinded by his charisma they have become willing dupes.

 Inside the Bishop’s Crib

 

 The epitome of vulgar opulence

 Long’s lavish Lifestyle is as vulgar as his bogus theology; which has been labeled “The Prosperity Gospel.”  On the face of it this doctrine is a subversion of the teachings of Jesus Christ, which the Bishop claims to represent. Was it not Jesus who said it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven?  Did he not chase the moneylenders from the temple?  From where I sit, it seems that the Bishop’s theology owes far more to Reverend Ike and Daddy Grace – who is rumored to be Ike’s father – than the preaching of Jesus.  When Rev. Ike says “The Absence of money is the root of all evil” the bishop says Amen!  When Rev. Ike says “The best way to help poor people is not to be one of them,” the Bishop cries “Let the church say Amen!”  The greed of these clerical worshippers of the false God Mammon is such, they appear to be willing to even make a deal with the devil in exchange for gold!

 It is this worship of wealth that has led Eddie Long into the arms of the Grand Obstructionist Party – which is a classic Faustian bargain. And it appears that he has lost his soul!  While I know that there are people who are actually too stupid to recognize the danger Southern Republicanism represents to the aspirations of African Americans, it would be scandalous for someone who has the trust of 25, 000 striving hard working black people not to understand what is at stake.  Maybe Eddie Long is just a simple minded hustler who knows not what he doeth, but given the way he dissed the great Civil Rights warrior and world famous performing artist Harry Belafonte at Coretta Scott Kings funeral he seems pretty savvy to me…and a shameless charlatan as well. 

At great risk to his career, Harry Belafonte supported King and his family during the darkest days of the movement; he walked with Martin in the shadow of death, yet Long refused Harry a podium after he was scheduled to speak because he was an outspoken critic of the horrendous and criminal invasion of Iraq – a position that Dr. king would have passionately embraced just as he came our against the Vietnam War – and long was afraid that he might say something to embarrass the Bushmen: George The First and George the Second.  And the fact that he was allowed to stay in his pulpit after that outrageous act speaks to the simple mindedness and moral confusion of his congregation. 

The most charitable explanation of their behavior is that they know little of their recent history and next to nothing about present political realities.  They walk by faith not by sight.  Hence, like most of the southern evangelical movement and the Tea Party poot-butts,  they are indifferent to facts and dwell in a fact free zone.  The alternative to this explanation is that the Bishop’s followers are willfully ignorant; in their mad rush to acquire the material trinkets of this consumerist society they are blinded by the glow from the Golden Calf before whom they genuflect. This is idolatry: A mortal sin!

Even an un-churched heathen like me can see that this is blasphemy.  However, as I write, a study has just been released showing that those who know most about religion are they who are least religious!  For instance, the study reveals that over half of the people who identify as Protestants don’t know who the founder of the Protestant church is, or what they were protesting.  And an equal number of Catholics don’t know what the wafers they ingest in the Eucharist means!  No wonder these religious Charlatans can get away with all manner of debauchery.

 Blasphemy!

 

 The Bishop Embraces the Devil

Long’s action at Coretta’s funeral – in which her daughter preached – would have been an outrage in any case.  But the fact that George I voted against the Omnibus Civil Rights Bill of 1964, which freed black southerners from a system of legal inequality based on race, and enforced by white terrorists, a system Dr. Martin Luther King gave his life to change, and George II supported a legal philosophy designed to limit the exercise of those rights by African Americans, makes Long’s decision a case of soulless treason against the interest of Black Americans!  Yet there was the Bishop, all huggy kissy with George W. Bush, who was a near perfect representation of what the devil means in  twenty first century terms.  From the big Sambo smile on his ebony mug, it was clear that there’s no shame in this neo-con man’s game.

Although I thought his theology a sham, I barely paid any attention to Long before the funeral.  I had actually visited his church once when I was in Atlanta and a friend  took me by to show me his massive church complex.   It was a Saturday and I noticed all the activity in the Gym, where young men played pick-up basketball games while hip hop music blared from the speakers. My impression was that here was a safe haven for young black males from the dangerous streets of Atlanta, which sometimes seem as violent as the streets of Baghdad!  But if what these young men are saying is true these youths were anything but safe.

This is also true of the black community’s future if we continue to follow religious charlatans like Eddie Long.  To those who offer apologia for his actions, especially his love affair with reactionary Republicans, by praising his “good works” in the community, I say he is no different from dope dealers who give away free turkeys at Thanksgiving, or sponsor basketball teams for youths in communities where their activities have diminished the life’s chances of young people.  The Republican Party is committed to a policy agenda that will diminish the life chances of Black People in America.  This is fairly easy to demonstrate, and if there are those who think my judgment is too harsh I suggest they read my commentary, “Haley Barbour is a Lying Fat Redneck!”  And if that doesn’t convince you read the text I cite in the piece, “The Politics Of Rage,” which is the seminal text on how the Republicans exploited white racist resentments to win national elections.

Sadly, It may turn out that the most disgraceful thing about this entire sorted affair is the reaction of many in the Bishop’s flock to these allegations of sexual impropriety.  Aside from the fact that he has engaged in gay bashing, which would make him a hypocrite if the charges are true, he will also be an adulterer and a sodomite based upon the theology he preaches.  Yet he was given a standing ovation by his congregation after he spoke to them last Sunday.  One need only look the response of some “saved” Christians who have come to his defense in order to understand the twisted logic of these  fanatics.   Consider the comments of this writer, who identifies herself as Sandra B. on the Atlanta Post website.

 “ …why did you wait so long unless it is to gain in a materialistic way and bring dishonor on the body of Christ,” she asks of the alleged victims, “ by going to the world instead of going to the body of Christ, and allowing the men and women of God to handle this scandal of the church…to judge it according to the word of God, if the these persons, that have come forward are in the body of Christ, for the love of God, then the word says that, we do not go to the unsaved to judge the saved, the world will not judge the saints, but, the saints will judge the angels. Even though Saul persecuted David for no reason and tried to kill him, we should respond as David did ‘I will not touch God’s anointed.”  Ah, but, we are in the last days where man does not fear man nor God. I am praying for everyone involved and for the body of Christ.”

This comment reminds me of a story told by one of the men who sued the Catholic Diocese in Boston because he was molested for years as a child by a Priest in that Church.  When asked why he didn’t tell his parents – who were devout Irish Catholics in South Boston – he said he was afraid because when his friend told his mother the Priest was molesting him she hauled off and punched him in the mouth with her fist and called him a dirty liar!  A similar naïveté was echoed in some of Long’s parishioners after his Sunday sermon: “”We know and we love Bishop,” said Annie Cannon, a seven-year member of New Birth.”We love our place of worship. My son goes to school here. We do everything here.”  It is due to this level of ignorance and fanaticism that religious charlatans continue to thrive in spite of the constant revelations that hypocrisy, perversion and fraud abound in their ranks. 

It would seem that after the scandalous revelations of superstar evangelical preachers such as Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart and Reverend Haggard, a fire eating gay basher who was outed by a male prostitute who saw him performing his anti-gay act on television and recognized him as one of his most enthusiastic customers, the Jesus freaks would wake up and become more sceptical.  But these lost souls searching for salvation in all the wrong places remain willing sheep, happily waiting to be fleeced.  This is why the force of law must intervene, especially where the welfare of children is concerned, for these unthinking fanatics cannot police themselves – and being a religous faker or fanatic does not exempt them from obeying the law.  While many will await the Bishop’s day in court to judge him, my friends who live in Atlanta have always insisted that the Bishop was a fraud.  And when he dissed Harry Belafonte, I concluded then and there, that he is a shameless charlatan who is full of BS.  And I don’t mean bible study!

 

 ******************

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i6Y6ttgkos

Click on link above and  witness the collective madness that passes for a church service at New Hope Baptist Church.  Watch the master BS artist at work!

 

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem,  New York

September 29, 2010

Harlem’s African American Parade!

Posted in Cultural Matters with tags on September 26, 2010 by playthell

 

 Reclaiming A Forgotten Legacy

 

Some Reflections On A Unique Celebration

 

Embattled Congressman Charlie Rangel Gets Love In Harlem

       

          Last Sunday Harlemites were treated to the 41st annual Afro-American Day Parade.  I love a parade, and since I am Afro-American and a long time resident of Harlem, I have a special interests in this one.  After having attended the other major black and tan ethnic parades – the Puerto Rican, Dominican and West Indian i.e. British Caribbean/Trinidadian Carnival  – I am of the opinion that the Afro-American Parade is the least well attended.  Of the four parades mentioned here, three are held in Manhattan – the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans strut their stuff downtown on ritzy fifth Avenue – and the West Indian parade is held along Eastern Parkway, where the grand Road March takes place, in “The People’s Republic of Brooklyn,” where many people from the English speaking Caribbean reside.

The West Indian Parade routinely attracts around two million revelers, the Puerto Rican and Dominican Parades over a million each; I would estimate that the Afro-American parade attracted around 300, 000.  Although this estimate is unscientific; it is based upon my observations of the crowd, buttressed by what I heard from photographers I know who were shooting the parade along Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, like the venerable photographer of Harlem life and culture Kwame Braithwaite.  Hence I advance this estimate not as a scientific certainty, but as an impressionistic speculation.

Naturally, as a highly opinionated pundit I have some thoughts on the reason for the disparity of participants between the other ethnic parades and the Afro-American Parade.  I think the difference can be explained by a couple of factors.  The most important factor is that the other groups are immigrants who are still in the process of becoming American.  Often their souls are divided between a love for the opportunities and lifestyle offered by their adopted country – which is why they emigrated from their countries in the first place – and a spiritual yearning for the culture of their homelands: their music, dances, cuisine, traditional dress, and a moment of bon homie with their countrymen. 

On the other hand, North America blacks are among the original stock that created the United States.  In fact, this nation, hewn from the vast wilderness that covered this continent, is unimaginable without the input of African Americans.  This is a fact that is too often overlooked by bumptious foreigners – white and black – who out of ignorance, indifference, racism, or opportunism find it convenient to forget.  Thus we have the absurdity of the descendants of “shanty Irishman” like Patrick J. Buchanan questioning our claims on this nation and asserting that the “Scotch-Irish” of the American South have just as valid a claim on redress for  past discrimination as African-Americans!  A subject I am itching to debate him on…if he ever grows the balls to stop ducking me

But it was equally absurd when a black Barbadian once expressed to me his indignation that Black Americans were not celebrating the birthday of “Lady Liberty,” by wearing foam rubber replicas of her crown and the like.  I patiently explained to him that he, and all black and brown immigrants who hope to gain citizenship in this country, should save their celebrations for the hundredth anniversary of the NAACP.  Had it not been for the legal battles waged by the “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” none of them would be citizens of this rich and powerful Republic today. 

Alas, most non-white immigrants have never heard of the National Origins Act; they are equally ignorant of the body of racist pseudo-scientific Eugenics dogma that informed it.  But had it not been for the litigation of the NAACP it may well have remained a guiding principle of American immigration policy.  In fact, if you read my commentary on the recent Arizona immigration law – “Some Unpleasant Facts about the Arizona Law” – you will discover that some major sponsors of this law are committed Eugenicists. In spite of the fact that it was a fundamental component of Nazi ideology that led directly to euthanasia for people deemed defective by Hitler’s regime, and the Genocide against Jews enshrined in history as “The Holocaust.”.

Black Americans have been the main opponents of these ideas throughout American history, because they were used to oppress and rob us of our labor while denying to us the constitutional rights due all American citizens.  It was also used to justify the dispossession and slaughter of Native Americans.  And while white Americans with selective memories prefer to forget all this in favor of a more flattering master narrative of the evolution of US civilization: It is an ancestral imperative of all African and Native Americans to remember. To do otherwise would be to desecrate the memories of those who fought and sacrificed, strived and dreamed, to make it possible for us to advance thus far along the way.  It would be like Buck dancing on their graves.

We have a long presence in this nation, in fact thousands of black men fought in the revolutionary war for independence that led to the creation of the United States of America.  We were everywhere in that struggle as soldiers and civilian spies.  And may of the soldiers were already military veterans because they had fought in British America’s Colonial militias in the French and Indian Wars – and every American was since.  Aside from our critical role in the formation of the nation, Black Americans have always been the strongest advocates for the principles of personal liberty, democratic government and a fair break for all workers. 

In other words our leaders have been the foremost defenders of democracy – political or economic – and the rights of minorities.  In fact, the quintessential American values are personified in the classical art of African Americans: Jazz. A modern complex instrumental music whose rhythms reflect the tempos of a machine age milieu, Jazz is democratic, reveres personal liberty and promotes invention.  This is “America as she is swung,” as Albert Murray would say. 

Hence we are such an integral part of the warp and woof of American civilization that most Afro-Americans of original stock feel no particular need to have a special day to announce our presence, and our cultural contribution is the most original and pervasive of any group; it is the basis for American popular culture as well as the incubator for the nation’s most orginal contribution to fine art. If the promoters of the Afro-American Day Parade want to increase its number then they must up the entertainment value. 

Get pop Mega-Stars like Jay Z and Byonce to serve as Grand Marshalls, and book the great Afro-American show bands from our top high schools and universities.  I know just the person to produce such an event on behalf of the sponsors, which will make it the world class show that it ought to be.  Leon Saunders, CEO of Saunders and Associates, presently lives in Atlanta but was born in Harlem. He is one of the nation’s best producers of big events – like the annual weekend concerts “Jazz In The Gardens – held in Miami.  He has also produced “Battle Of the Bands” competition featuring the top black high school bands. 

By booking the best Afro-American high school and college bands would give a tremendous – and much needed lift to the African American Parade. This parade through Harlem, which is still the citadel of Afro-American culture, ought to showcase the very best that Afro-American culture can offer. And it should exhibit the complexity and diversity of our culture.  A full fledged Afro-American marching band rolling down Seventh Avenue playing the grand marches of John Phillip Sousa like “El Capitan” and “Semper Fidelis” would be really something to see.  But all the bands I saw were into hip hop rhythms. 

This is what the Parade Needs

 

 The Fabulous Florida A&M Marching Band

        I guess my complaints are the same as the bandmaster who insisted that his band play the most challenging music, in that wonderful movie on the black college marching band drumming traditions: “Drumline.”  There should even be a float with black Opera singers performing the songs of black composers like William Grant Still, and a float featuring black singers performing tunes from the great American lyric theater. That said, however, there was much to commend the parade as it was.

To begin with the range of Afro-American professional and fraternal organizations was impressive – although few of their members turned out.  The saddest of the fraternities represented there were the Kappas.  Although I don’t recall seeing the Alpha’s represented at all, and they are a highly successful group of men who could easily have financed a fabulous float.  Afro-Americans in the uniformed services turned out and made an impressive showing.  I think this is great for the youths, who get a chance to see how many of their people are in positions that makes the city work.  The big fire trucks and official cars driven by uniformed or well tailored Afro-Americans could not fail to invoke pride in the revelers.  Especially as the Governor Patterson and Congressman Rangel were on hand pressing the flesh in a spirit of camaraderie, since they are both Harlem boys and neither happened to be running for anything at the moment.

Of the many bright moments offered by the parade, the black cowboys on their prancing spirited horses were a highpoint for me.  I have had a love affair with horses since I was a little boy.  There is something about a well built and conditioned horse that is majestic.  Even a little short pudgy guy like Napoleon Bonaparte looked heroic sitting astride a horse. And his favorite Calvary officer General Alexander Dumas, who was often described as a black giant, looked like a bronze God! 

The cowboys resurrect a phase of Afro-American history few people know about, but black pioneers and soldiers were an integral part of shaping the cowboy culture of the American West.  Aside from my portraits of some of our beautiful black, brown and beige sisters the parade, this fact, spurred by my life long love for horses, led me to focus my camera on the cowboys and girls and their marvelous mounts. 

One Cool Cowboy!

 

Sitting Astride A Beautiful Tennessee Walker

 

A Spirited Indian Paint!

 

 

 

He Made The Big Gray Dance!

 

 

 

Sistas Sat Tall In The Saddle Too

 

 

 

Large And In Charge!

 

 

 

Galloping Down The Boulevard!

 

 

 

On Point!

 

 

 

Cracking The Bull Whip!

 

 

 

Rope Tricks!

Real Magic! 

  *************

Our Beautiful Women!

 

Statuesque!

 

Miss Black USA!

 

Stunning!

 

Dashing!

 

Dressed To Kill

  

A Satin Doll

  

 

  A Sophisticated Lady!

 

  

  

  

And Charming Too!

 

 

 

Biker Chicks!

 

 

 

Mood Indigo!

 

 

 

Diminuendo In Blue!

 

 

Majorettes!

 

Breaking It Down

 

Strutting Her Stuff!

 

 

Moving And Grooving!

 

 

Double Trouble!

 

 

 

High Stepping!

 

 

Le Chic!

 

 

 Afro-Indians:  “Truth crushed to earth will rise again!”

a Part of our history lost, stolen and denied

 

An Ebony Amazon!

 

 

Eye Candy!

 

 

 

A Budding Beauty!

 

 

 

 

Dance Ballerina Dance!

 

A Star Girl!

 

****************

 

Parting Shots! 

Let The Good Times Roll!

 

    Afrocentric Style

 

 

Men Of Distinction

***************

The Prince Hall Mason’s

 

Another Big Time Harlem Boy!

Governor Patterson Rappin With The Crowd

 

The Lame Duck Governor Is Embraced By Charles Barron

 

Freedom  Party Leader Opens Arms to Battered Democrat

 

 

Intrepid Photographer “Relentless Lisa” Dubois Records it All

 

 

 And The Fruit Of Islam Was On Guard

 

 Trained for Trouble

 

*************************

 Double click to see The great Florida A&M Marching Band

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cwaBVn5nCQ

This is the type of band the Harlem Parade Desperately Needs!

 

Text and Photographs by: Playthell Bemjamin

* Except the photo of Florida A&M’s band and the pics in which he appears.

September 26, 2010

On President Obama and the Economic Crisis

Posted in Playthell on politics on September 22, 2010 by playthell

 

 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

 

 Combating Ignorance about the Eonomy

 

Yesterday the President held a town meeting to discuss the economy and was met with questions from disillusioned citizens about when the persistent economic crisis will end and they can live their American dreams – by which most mean a prolonged binge of mindless consumerism, but others wish for just a normal life free of the chaos of unemployment and poverty.  Yet in spite of assurances from our economic sages that the great recession is finally over, millions of Americans remain in desperate economic shape.  But to lash out at President Obama and vote for the Republicans is to jump out of the frying pan into a raging fire!

The mere idea of someone  voting for the Grand Obstructionist Party as a protest against President Obama’s failure to solve all the complex problems he inheireted from Bush in 18months – or staying hom on election day –  is a measure of the extent to which our politics is driven by irrational anger. This anger is not simply a spontaneous combustion; it is stoked by right-wing talking heads in the broadcast media led by the verbal arsonists at WABC radio and the Fox television network.  These people operate in a fact free zone and thus can conjure up any scenario they wish; certain their fans won’t give a shit so long as their twisted vision of the world is confirmed.

The result of this state of affairs in mass media has been to convince millions of misinformed intellectually lazy Americans that President Obama is responsible for their economic problems. While some would deny the extent of the influence exerted by these media wags, the results of this widespread dissemination of disinformation through mass broadcast outlets is that this propaganda is being regurgitated as fact by enraged members of the “Tea Party” mob.

Furthermore, the mainstream press is doing a piss poor job pointing out that these right wing zealots, and the Republican establishment that support and is attempting to control them, have no solutions to the crisis that their laizze Faire economic policies created.  And since they don’t even pretend that they would do anything different from what they did under Bush – whose diastrous economic policies they all supported – there is no reason to expect that things will be different this time around. Unless you are a wee bit nuts, a sure sympton of which is doing the same things and expecting different results.

Ever since Republican President Herbert hoover’s policies plunged the nation into the Great Depression, a Republican President has never balanced the Federal budget – in spite of all the lip service they pay to it.   The much revered Ronald Reagan  created the first trillion deficit – while transferring massive amounts of wealth from the poor to the rich – and George bush took the multi-billion surplus bequeathed to him by Bill Clinton and squandered it, plunging the economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression!   When viewed from this perspective, it is clear that only a moron could think of the Republicans as economic saviors as a viable alternative to President Obama.  It is the duty of every body with the best interests of the country at heart to rally around the President and give him as many partners in the congress as possible in the coming elections.

Maureen Dowd, the usually insightful Pulitzer Prize winning columnist with the New York Times, is a classic case of what people on the liberal left should not be doing.   In a column titled “Myth and Madness” a petulant Ms. Dowd blames the President for the rampant ignorance spreading like a virus throughout the nation.  After praising his use of passion and myth “during his campaign” she laments the fact that “These two elements…are sorely missing from his presidency.”  She evidently fails to recognize that this is because the requirements for governing are fundamentally different from campaigning for office. 

Instead of pointing out that the President is struggling against an epidemic of ignorance and apathy, which is cynically exploited and promoted by the Grand Obstructionist Party; she has joined the swelling mob of liberal/leftie whiners, agonizing over the fact that the President cannot wave a magic wand and get a moronic electorate to recognize the momentous changes he has wrought. Ironically, that’s the job of the press alas; and judging by the impassioned but clueless questioners at the Town meeting yesterday, Ms. Dowd and her colleagues have failed miserably!

During the question and answer period an African American woman who was – as the brilliant 18th century Afro-American scientist Benjamin Banneker described himself in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, “of deep the deepest dye”  – rose in indignation to upbraid President Obama.  “I’m tired of defending you and your administration” she lamented.  Then she proceeded to haughtily chastise him for not keeping his campaign promise to bring about change in America.  Her complaint was not only untrue…it was absurd! 

If you only consider the fact that he signed law that makes unequal pay for women a crime, and his health care reforms makes it impossible for insurance companies to dump you when you are sick, refuse to insure if you have been sick before and extends coverage of children on the parent’s insurance until the age of 26, it is clear that he has helped this woman immensely!  But he has done far more than that.  His reforms in the credit card industry and the sweeping financial reform laws are both historic achievements. 

Furthermore, President Obama arrested the progress of the recession and reversed the trends so dramatically that Wall Street is flourishing again and the banks are paying back their government loans with interests.  He also saved the automobile industry, preserving America’s premiere manufacturing sector. Thus people such as the lady in question, like the other ill-informed, verbose, self-righteous scolds bitching and moaning, was spouting pure nonsense!

 *********************

 

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 21, 2010

On Crissy O’Donnel: The Latest GOP Whacko!

Posted in On Republican Women, On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics on September 18, 2010 by playthell

 The Wannabe Republican Senator who’s Dumber Than Palin 

 

As the primary elections grew closer political wise guys in the Republican Party despaired over the possibility of Christine O’Donnell winning the nomination as the Republican candidate for the US Senate from Delaware.  So great was their horror at this possibility that Party leaders openly criticized her. Karl Rove, who was dubbed “Bush’s Brain” due to his much celebrated “genius” at devising election strategies, called her “nutty,” and questioned her personal integrity on national television.

Aside from being on public record uttering a host of bizarre beliefs – such as her charge that government funded scientist are cloning mice with fully developed human intelligence – O’Donnell appears to be a neer-do-well who refused to pay her student loans; had an IRS lien for unpaid taxes; her house was foreclosed by the bank and she is suspected of illegally living off campaign contributions. But these proved to be rich men’s concerns; during interviews with O’Donnell’s working class supporters they said “She’s just like us; we are struggling with the same problems.”  Alarmed by the growing possibility of O’Donnell winning the primary, Rove panicked and unambiguously warned Republican voters that she was unqualified to sit in the US Senate and could not win the general election. 

But Crissy pressed on and what seemed like a sure shot Republican conquest of vice President Biden’s old Senate seat suddenly evaporated – she won! After badly upsetting the Establishment’s candidate, Mike Castle, a former Congressman who had never lost and election in Delaware, O’Donnell is fast becoming the newest Tea Party giant killer.  In fact, she was given a hero’s reception from the kooky crowd attending the “Values Voters Summit” in Washington – where top GOP leaders are cobbling together oxymoronic phrases in speeches that attempt to turn their plutocratic economic dogma into a moral philosophy with the stamp of divine providence – and Karl Rove appears to be eating his words as I write.

It is amusing to watch the swelling internecine strife within the Republican Party between the establishment – the Country Club set – and the so-called “Tea Party Patriots;” a motley crew of misguided plebeians, deluded petit bourgeois strivers, religious fanatics, vulgar racist, armed maniacs who brandish weapons at public meetings, and assorted morons and buffoons. Having encouraged their supporters to despise government and hold public servants in contempt, the misguided mob who comprise the Republican base have become convinced that anybody can run the American government – the most complex bureaucratic organization in the world!   

Ironically, in this belief they most resemble V. I. Lenin, the Bolshevik leader of the communist revolution in Russia, who declared: “A cook can run the state!”  But, Of course, these Tea Party dunderheads are far too illiterate to have any inkling of this.  In fact, as I have argued repeatedly, the Grand Obstructionist Party count on the ignorance of their base; I am convinced that they figure it into their calculus for electoral victory.

 

Silly Sarah: Crissy’s Hero and Role Model!

 Hence it should surprise no one that a host of hysterics, ignoramuses and charlatans are running for high political office on the Republican ticket.  And Crissy McDonald, a Sarah Palin clone who attributes her victory to the Alaskan Barbarian’s endorsement, is just the latest example.  If things turn out as Rove predicts, her primary victory will be a blessing. But if Christine O’ Donnell is elected to the United States Senate – thus adding to the reactionary obstructionist right-wing Republican clique who are dedicated to defeating President Obama’s visionary programs to rescue the country from sliding into decadence – it will be a disaster for the American people, and further proof that our system of selecting competent leaders has become dangerously dysfunctional.

 

 *******************

*Since I wrote this commentary Bill Mahr has released some tape of Christine O’Donnell’s appearances on his how.  Click the link below and see what a self-righteous idiot she is!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFisw16di3w 

 

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September, 2010

 

Charlie’s Victory Comes As No Surprise

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on September 15, 2010 by playthell

Congressman Rangel Hanging Out at the Charlie Parker Festival

 

 But is it a good thing For the Democrats …Or Harlem?

Charlie Rangel was grinning like a Cheshire cat as the election returns rolled in and revealed that he had won 51% of the vote in a five way race for the Democratic nomination to become a candidate for the Congressional seat that he has held for the last forty years.  His closest rival, Adam Clayton Powell IV, garnered a mere 23% of the vote, the rest was distributed among the lesser lights in the race.  While beat reporters covering New York politics are scratching their heads seeking an explanation of this spectacular victory by the beleaguered twenty term Congressman, longtime Harlemites, such as this writer, were not in the least surprised.

Some of the Downtown reporters seemed genuinely befuddled, as they reiterated the various charges leveled against Congressman Rangel by the Congressional Ethics Committee the morning after, and wondered out loud how the people of Harlem could vote for such a man. But Charlie Rangel has been model public servant to his community, as much as it is possible to be in a predatory capitalist society where elections are polluted by dirty money, thus people who live in this predominately black and Hispanic village in upper Manhattan see the matter differently. 

First of all, we are acutely aware of the fact that the constitutionally mandated presumption of innocence is often tossed out the window when a black man is accused of a crime.  And we are also aware that there are Republican Racist and garden variety reactionaries who are out to target any progressive legislator…and especially so if they happen to be black.  

Beyond that, the torrent of racist invective and fact free propaganda designed to stoke the paranoia of white Americans about what this black President with the Arab name is really up to, has begun to agitate our paranoia and with far more justification!   Many folk uptown are skeptical of the motives and veracity of those leveling the charges against Mr. Rangel; certain that those who are howling the loudest are guilty of far greater sins.

Then there are many people uptown in black and tan Manhattan who feel that Charlie Rangel represents the best that Harlem culture and community has produced.  His life’s story is a representative anecdote of the American Dream, a true rags to richest story with all the color and drama of romance novel.  He was raised by a struggling working class single mother in Harlem.  He once told me how he was a gang leader in Harlem as a teenager. He served in the Korean War and saw combat in one of the bloodiest encounters of the war. Was honorably discharged with battle decorations, and attended college on the G.I. Bill.  He became a lawyer and won the seat of the legendary Congressman Adam Clayton, who had been a power in the Congress until he became embroiled in a scandal  and ended up wounded, just like Rangel  today.

One might well ask,” how did Mr. Rangel acquire such elegant manners and eloquent speech,” and where did get that fine sense of style that has made him the best dressed man in the House Of Representatives.  I think it all comes from having grown up in Harlem when he did. I have talked to many people who came to Harlem when Rangel  was coming of age, and they all tell me that they didn’t show their faces on Seventh Avenue unless they were dressed to kill. 

Charlie Rangel worked as the night clerk in the Teresa Hotel on Seventh Avenue and 125th Street.  The fact that downtown hotels refused to accommodate black people, whatever their stature, meant that all the beautiful, affluent, famous, black people from all over the world resided there.  Located just around the corner from the legendary Apollo theater, many world famous performing artists made the Teresa their home during their stint. 

Thus we know that during the years he was forming his identity as a young man Charlie had a bird’s eye view of the nightly doings of some of the most elegant, stylish and sophisticated people in the world.  These were black people who had succeeded in a wide variety of fields even with all of the racial barriers erected against them.  There can be but little doubt that Rangel found his role models in this fascinating cultural milieu, and the elegance of his style and manner, complimented by the surpassing eloquence of his speech, evokes that halcyon era in Harlem. Hence many Harlemites support him because he is a sterling example of the best and brightest products of Harlem culture and community.

 Star Time In Harlem

 

 Congressman Rangel Signing Autographs

 

Congressman Rangel and Theater Producer Woody King

 Solidarity: Harlemites eagerly pose with their Congressman!

Watching him at the recent Charlie Parker Festival in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, he seemed part old school hipster, benevolent potentate, and part wise elder.  But he is, in fact, a very skilled player in the field of politics.   And it is all too obvious that he still loves being the Congressman from Harlem, as his face lights up with an incandescent smile each time he is approached by an admiring constituent. The fact that it is a well practiced smile which the Congressman can call up at will makes it no less effective; although I suspect someone with more modest gifts in the thespian’s art  would not fare so well.  

In any case the way people cued up to shake hands  with the Congressman, or pose for pictures, testified to the reverence with which he is held by many in Harlem.   And most strongly believe that he is another great black man the whites wish to destroy.  Hence, to them, he is the victim of a plot by right-wing racists.                              

While virtually all Harlemites hold these general attitudes and suspicions, those of us who pay close attention to the machinations of politics understand that as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie was President Obama’s plumber, assigned to plug the loop holes that provide billions in tax relief to the wealthiest American families and giant multi-national corporations. This tax policy, initiated under George W. Bush, has ravished the US treasury, destabilized the home owning middle class, and further impoverished the working class.

Changing this tax code to a more equitable one that benefits the average American is heresy to the filthy rich free market crowd, so they targeted Rangel and hopes to use his improprieties to discredit the Democratic controlled Congress and arrest the progress of the President’s agenda for the nation.  That’s why the Republicans will be quite happy to have Mr. Rangel returning to Washington for a public trial in the House. 

They could not have wished for a more desirable villain to divert the public’s attention from the whackos Republicans are running for Congress. A radical liberal black Democrat from Harlem, who does not obey the tax laws he writes, yet votes for every tax and spend bill that comes on the house floor, is the lunatic right’s notion of a wet dream.  And they will spend millions of dirty corporate dollars to make the most of it! 

In view of this reality it might have been best if Charlie had retired from the House; he is, after all, eighty years old!   He has a long and honorable record of service, and I am tempted to conclude that he would have enhanced that honor had he retired and spared his party the ordeal of having to choose between the burdens of defending him, or the embarrassment of having to abandon him.  As the cheers go up outside my window celebrating our venerable Congressman’s victory…I find myself wondering if it is a pyrrhic victory alas.  Perhaps we have cut off our noses to spite our face, won the battle but will loose the war….and our dreams may yet go up in flames.

 

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Text and pictures by: Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York 

September 15, 2010

In Remembrance Of 9/11

Posted in Cultural Matters, On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics, Uncategorized on September 12, 2010 by playthell

 The Plane Running Into The Second Building

I saw the second plane run into the tower from my window. It was a perfectly clear day and I was standing at my bathroom basin shaving, getting ready to vote, as it was Primary Day. As one of those who faced white rednecks in the south to insure our right to vote I vote for everything!  I just happened to look out of my window atop Sugar Hill in Harlem and saw the black smoke pouring out of the first tower. I couldn’t stop staring because I knew the tower was constructed of fire resistant materials. I knew this because my cousin Jimmy Strawder, a Columbia Trained award winning Architect, had explained the building codes for the fire resistant materials specified for those type of high rise buildings.  I would also learn about the elaborate sprinkler systems that are standard fare in New York skyscrapers.  I would later learn that the clouds of black smoke were produced by the burning jet fuel.

As I was watching the pitch black smoke I saw the second plane run into the tower. I knew immediately what it was. It came as no surprise to me, because I was writing about the situation in the Middle East and expected some kind of terrorist attack to happen. I thought they would blow up the tunnels, because being trapped in a tunnel filling up with water is just about the scariest thing I could think of.  It never occurred to me that they would fly a plane into the World Trade Towers; although the Bushmen should have known because they had ample warning. Do not, however, conclude from that observation – which is verified by a mountain of evidence – that I am a part of the 9/11conspiracy crew who believe that the Bushmen planned the whole thing.  In fact I am certain that it did not, and could not, have happened.  I am equally convinced that those who believe it did are rip roaring mad!  I believe that it was a simple case of the arrogance of power swelling to the level hubris.  And hubris brought Satan down, even though he was sitting at the right hand of God.

Later that same day I sat down and wrote a piece on the attack. And a few days later I wrote my reaction to the response of Americans to this historic assault – “Aftermath Of The Disaster,” which is posted right below this essay.  I lost several friends or acquaintances who belonged to my old union Local 18 of District Council 9, the Brotherhood of Painters, Plasters and Allied Trades. But most of all, I lost my first wife Dorothy Bannister, a beautiful, brilliant, talented, Afro-Cuban lady. We had long been divorced by the time of the 9/11 diasaster but remained good friends to the end.  She did not die immediately in the crash, but was in the area and breathed that lethal toxic dust and died an agonizing death from lung cancer a couple of years later after fighting to be recognized as a victim to the end.  So like many New Yorkers, 9/11 holds agonizing memories for me.

Dorothy and Me

Back when we were blissful newlyweds

This is why I resent people who do not live in New York and have suffered no personal losses – like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich – using the tragedy to score political points with anti-Muslim propaganda that could tear this city and country apart.  It is because I have witnessed the destructive power of fanaticism inspired by hatred, that I am not one of the misguided and untutored mob who is opposed to the building of the Muslim Community Center in down town Manhattan.

Their stated intention is to help facilitate understanding between Christians and Muslims…. and the lord knows we need it.  And besides, they will be more than likely be under surveillance by a half dozen or more intelligence agencies 24/7.   They won’t be able to break wind with out someone writing a report on it; let alone build terrorist cells and plan attacks on the US.  Hence as far as I am concerned they can build a Mosque right in the middle of Ground Zero!

 

*****************

 

Aftermath of the Disaster!

 

 The Towers Aflame

 Irony, Rage, Denial, but Little Truth

 
October 02, 2001
Playthell Benjamin

As I awoke on this first Sunday after the great terror rained down from the skies over the nation’s Capitol, and the Financial Center of the world in lower Manhattan, I was greeted with rumors and rumblings of war. And as the day proceed the rattling of sabers became fairly deafening, drowning out any attempt at sober and objective analysis of both the possible causes of the Kamikaze like attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, and what strategy the nation should now employ to eradicate those causes. Most disappointing has been the pronouncements of our elected officials and Christian clerics.

Both too often speak as if they are addressing a nation of little children or adult morons. The preferred rhetoric of the day abounds with simple-minded equations of those “evil men” who are out to “destroy our democratic Christian way of life” because they envy and hate our “American freedom and prosperity.” Even as enlightened and reasonable a man as Senator Charles Schumer came on WCBS TV and resorted to moronic arguments like “They hate us because we are free, because I can go to a book store and buy any book I want” and – turning to the black woman anchor, a super intellectual lightweight – he said “they hate you because you don’t have to wear a veil.”

The question, put to the senator by the Afro-American anchor that prompted this torrent of propagandistic invective masquerading as wisdom was: “Why do these people hate us so, do they want to turn us into the Talibans?” This, as strange as it seems, is about the level of the discourse conducted by the talking airheads who control the mikes in the major media, whether radio or television. And, rather than take the opportunity television offers to speak to millions in order to raise the level of the discourse by calling for a measured response and soul searching about American policy in the middle east, the politicians and clerics have, for the most part, descended to the level of the media wags.

Yet the present crisis, which has forced the anchors to engage in extemporaneous conversation due to the many hours they are on the air covering unfolding events, has exposed how ignorant they are of world affairs as well as their moral bankruptcy. It is frightening to think that many people look upon these overpaid over hyped media personalities as well informed and ethical sources from whom they can gain wisdom about the world.

The awful truth is that many of these anchors have skills that are closer to those of an actor than what is required of a journalist. One News organization – If memory serves it is the Fox network – recently hired a third rate blond actress whose career was going nowhere on the big screen to serve as a news anchor. While serious female journalists howled in protest, the suits at the network put the blond bubblehead on the air reading the news while displaying her shapely legs ala Katie Couric – that’s what your favorite news anchor does folks, just read copy by an anonymous author off a teleprompter.

That she has been successful verifies the claim made by many journalists that it is more important for a successful TV anchor to be physically attractive and able to read news copy with the proper emotions than to develop crack journalistic skills and spend years learning about world affairs. Hence the sordid state of our present public discourse should surprise no one, for it is being conducted by morons!

However the same claim cannot be made for our clerics. Among the ranks of men of the cloth who are entrusted with the spiritual guidance of our nation are charlatans like Jerry Falwell, and pious preachers like Wyatt T. Walker, and many who have extensive educations in philosophy, religion, history, and the social sciences. But most of all, for Christians, the canonical text is the Holy Bible. The New Testament, which contains the teachings of Jesus Christ, expressly forbids the use of violence and instructs us to “Love thy enemy” and “Turn the other cheek.” Advice all too readily given to black folks suffering from centuries of horrid oppression, whether in the USA or South Africa, by the same white folks who are now whipping up the war hysteria.

I have heard one Christian cleric after another call for war against the Muslim terrorists with all the fervor of a medieval monk recruiting knights for the crusades – a term actually employed by President Bush. The teachings of Jesus – whom they all give lip service to – along with reason, are the first casualties of the nationalistic war fever that has gripped the nation. In fact, the orgy of self-righteous anger my countrymen are engaging in just now is such that it is dangerous to try and offer a reasoned argument based upon the Christian principles taught by Jesus. Indeed, in a flurry of jingoistic indignation the clerics have scrapped the biblical injunction, “Vengeance is mine! sayth the lord,” faster than the Lone Ranger could draw his gun.

It is not surprising that the clearest voices calling the nation away from this course of blind vengeance and setting forth arguments based on Christian charity and reconciliation have come from the African-American community. The first voice that I heard clearly calling for the nation to reflect upon its policies in the Middle East, and the Bush administration’s increasingly unilateralist posture in world affairs, was the Reverend Jesse Jackson who, despite the recent exposure of his adulterous affair, remains one of the clearest voices for Christian charity in governmental policies.
 
And the other was the courageous warning of the black Episcopal priest who spoke to the nation at the “Day of Mourning” ceremonies in the National cathedral. With all of the high and mighty congregated to express their anguish at the sudden attack on the nation’s centers of power, including four former presidents who are far from innocent of blame in the present tragedy, the compassionate Cleric admonished the nation not to become the evil they were seeking to redress.

Here in New York this Sunday, progressive black preachers long committed to the struggle for social justice through public policy informed by Christian charity – Herbert Daughtry, Calvin Butts, Al Sharpton, etc – called the nation away from blind rage and reminded us of white America’s long record of sinful treatment of people of color. These insightful clerics, who refuse to join in the national chant for war against the infidels, made it clear that the American government is not blameless in the disaster that has befallen our nation. That such an obvious conclusion may soon become grounds for the government to tap our phones and intercept our e-mails – scrapping the civil liberties that are one of the finest features of American civilization – is a true measure of the abysmal mess we are in.

However if the poet James Russell Lowell was right, that “Truth crushed to earth will rise again,” as Dr. Martin Luther King was fond of pointing out, then no matter how hard the official mythmakers in our government, pulpits and press try to deny any culpability on the part of America’s foreign policy establishment for the present disaster, the truth will out. And the truth is that American policies in the Islamic world – and the so-called Third World in general i.e. African, Asia, and Latin America – over the past century have created innumerable enemies with a passionate hatred for the USA.

For instance, between 1890 and 1932 the US military intervened in the affairs of third world countries 45 times. And since the close of World War II the US has conducted 20 armed interventions into the internal affairs of other countries, all of which were in support of anti-democratic forces. It is this disgraceful legacy to which the historian and lawyer Gerald Horne refers when he argues that white Americans have promoted a policy of democratic institutions for themselves, quasi-fascism for African-Americans, and fascism for third world countries.

The evidence is abundant and incontrovertible. To deny these fundamental facts is to eradicate the possibility of reaching the kind of understanding that is essential to developing a new world order that can foster peace and prosperity for all peoples. Hence it will not well serve the national interest to deny the history and present realities that so many others in the world are living or share as collective memories.

For instance, none but a Charlatan or an ignoramus can deny that the Islamic revolution, which began with the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, is a direct response to American policies in the region. The root cause of the revolution was the American decision to have the CIA overthrow the constitutionally elected government of Muhammad Mossedeh in 1953 and establish the Pahlevi dynasty – a group of greedy, dictatorial, murderers – to reign over the Iranian people as absolute rulers backed by American military might.

It is common knowledge to anyone who has cared to study the matter that torture was a standard tool for quelling dissent and maintaining the Shah’s stranglehold on the country. There was no pretense at democracy yet the US government supplied the Shah with the most advanced military hardware, which he paid for with the oil wealth of the country, wealth that the Shah squandered as if it were his personal fortune.

But while the Pahlevi’s and their US sponsors basked in Hubris, the increasingly militant clerics of Iran, led by the exiled Ayatollah Khomeni, who would burst upon the scene like and old testament prophet calling for the death of “The Great Satan,” was quietly winning the hearts and minds of the people. And when the people rose in righteous anger fueled by a militant and redemptive brand of Shiite Islam the Shah’s army, the best equipped fighting force in the region, proved impotent as the soldiers turned their guns on their officers.

Sadly most Americans, who are terminally provincial, never heard of any of this until the Mullahs ordered their Muslim troops to take American hostages. I remember well how, aside from the CIA operatives who were the architects of this mess, Middle East Scholars, and a hand full of progressive intellectuals concerned with international solidarity with the oppressed, most Americans were standing around completely befuddled, clueless. The dominant theme of the discourse among my fellow Americans at the time was: “What’s wrong with these crazy people, why are they doing this to these innocent Americans!” But to those of us who had been studying American policy in Iran the Islamic revolution came as no surprise.  Just as only the methods used by the terrorists of 9/11 surprised us, not that it happened; for that was predictable.  Yet most Americans were caught completely off guard.

Hence the dominant discourse in the aftermath of the present disaster is strangely familiar. The same mind numbing ignorance and self-righteous bombast that characterized the mainstream American response to the Iranian revolution now colors the present conversation. And the incredible policy blunders that led the US to arm Iraq to invade Iran provoking a bloody war that Iraq eventually lost but not before acquiring advanced American training and military technology.

However, when the Iraqis decided to use their military might to reclaim a part of their oil rich territory – which Sadam Hussein calls “The fifth province of Iraq – that the British colonialists had ripped off and renamed Kuwait, then placed under the control of a Bedouin Sheik whose vast oil wealth enables him to rule as a benevolent dictator, George Bush Senior, along with Dick Cheney and Colin Powell launched “Desert Storm,” supposedly to save these rascals!

The present conflict with Osama Bin Laden, and the pending invasion of Afghanistan to arrest him, is also the consequence of misguided American meddling. Ben Laden and the fanatical, super- repressive Taliban regime is a product of the largest CIA covert action since WWII, a two billion dollar operation which trained the militant Islamic forces in “urban terrorism” to employ against the Russians. Hence, if the terrorist who wreaked such devastating violence on Washington and New York were trained in Afghanistan it is a particularly horrible case of what the intelligence community calls “Blowback”!

Finally, there is America’s long-standing policy of always supporting the Israelis in their struggle with the Palestinians. On Tuesday the Arab-American leaders who met with the President the day before, held a press conference at which they candidly addressed the issue of America’s apparent unconditional support for Israel as a major source of hatred for this country in the Islamic world. Although acknowledging the danger of being accused of anti-Semitism for speaking out on this issue, they never-the-less chose to speak their minds.

But they are not alone in arguing this point. A retired Admiral associated with The Center For Defense Information made the same point in an interview with former Daily News columnist Earl Caldwell, in a live broadcast on WBAI FM last Saturday. The admiral argued that there is no purely military solution to the scourge of Islamic Terrorism; only a solution to the problems that give rise to the terrorist – whom he said were “made not born” – can finally end this deadly plague.

It was obvious to all who watched the television reports on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that Arab parents were not going to long tolerate the steady procession of caskets bearing the bodies of their children, slaughtered by Israeli soldiers for throwing rocks. That’s why the suicide bombers came as no surprise to many observers.

Listening to the swelling howl for blood vengeance that now drowns out any attempt at a rational and honest discussion of the issues surrounding the most deadly terrorist attack in US history, I fear for the future of my children. With one child living in an area where there is a major concentration of military installations, and another dwelling in the shadow of nuclear reactors, a quiet but persistent terror creeps into my soul, and I long to find the voice that could conjure the words powerful enough to turn this nation away from the path of death and destruction to study war no more. I wish for the language that could convince my irate countrymen that now is the time for diplomacy not bombs! For if history teaches us anything it is that violence begets more violence.

Sadly, since the arrogance of the largely Anglo-Saxon white male elite who still own and run this country knows no bounds, they will more than likely rush head long into the abyss and rain bombs on many thousands of innocent people – and increasingly we hear a rising call for nuclear weapons. To claim that this is a Christian response is blasphemy; to confuse it with wisdom is pitiable self-deception, to declare it just is a vainglorious lie! And, like the poet said, “No lie can live forever.” Since no man or woman of the cloth has yet shown the moral courage to say “We have reaped what we have sown” – at least it has yet to reach my ears – like Thomas Jefferson, I fear for the fate of my country and “I shudder when I reflect upon the fact that god is just!”

…………………………………………….

Copyright ) 2001 The Black World Today.

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On Pastor Jones and the Republicans!

Posted in On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , on September 10, 2010 by playthell

 Florida Fanatic Terry Jones

 

The case of Terry Jones, the Florida Fundamentalist Fanatic who has a threatened to burn the sacred texts of the Islamic world on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda, has presented this nation with an unprecedented crisis. Although he appears to be just a publicity  seeking  oddball, his present ploy has been nurtured and even inspired by the rancorous Republican rhetoric that has poisoned the atmosphere in this country and made it safe for freaks and fanatics to come out and play.  The finger pointing as to who is responsible for this mess, accompanied by public hand wringing about what to do now, is putting the beliefs of right-wing Constitution quoting super-patriots to a rigorous test, and exposing hysterical Republican charlatans as a danger to the national security of this country.

For instance, the right wing racist and verbal arsonist Patrick J. Buchanan, one of the most prominent pundits in the nation, has used this incident to once again declare the incompetence of President Obama to serve as commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces, and ridiculed his reverence for the US Constitution and credentials as a Harvard trained Constitutional scholar. Once again he has scoffed at an Ivy League education as a liability.  Which is the last thing we need in a nation suffering that is presently suffering from a crisis of educational achievement.  And undermining our chief executive at this critical moment borders on treason!

The pressing problem for America is how to avoid conflict with over a billion Muslims in the world, who believe the Koran is the revelation of God’s divine plan for mankind; Four fifths of whom are not Arabs, do not live in the Middle East, and with whom we are not presently at war. Since most of these people live in countries where the government can do whatever they please, they cannot began to comprehend how the President of the most powerful Nation in the world – a country that is now waging two wars in Muslim countries in order to tell them how to conduct their societies – cannot stop one fool from desecrating the word of God. 

The first Amendment is incomprehensible to the masses of Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, and the letter from the Indonesian President asking President Obama to stop the Koran burning suggests that their President doesn’t understand it either.  Hence to them the Koran burning is seen as an American attack on Islam. And judging by the rioting in Pakistan and Afghanistan before the act, it is reasonable to assume that this is the common view throughout the Muslim world.  And thus, as General Pratraeus has pointed out, the actions of this Florida fool will serve as a powerful recruiting tool for the Islamic Jihadists our soldiers are trying to defeat.

Only in a country where the population is over represented by the fat dumb and stupid could the Republicans and their media shills – Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and their imitators around the country – escape blame as the true cause of the present crisis.  Consider the position of venerable Republican strategist, former Speaker Of The House and presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich. 

In an attempt to project himself back into the epicenter of right wing politics, Newt has attacked the proposed Islamic community center in down town Manhattan; proffering the spurious argument that no Muslims should claim the right to build a Mosque where they choose in this country until Christians are permitted to build churches in Saudi Arabia!  Now this view is being echoed by pro-Zionist Jewish groups regarding the building of synagogues in Mecca, the holiest city of the Islamic faith.

Typical signs reflecting Newt’s Rhetoric

 

 Faces of the hysterical intutored mob!

 Nothing demonstrates the irresponsibility of the Grand Obstructionist Party more than this bit of blatant hypocrisy.  Gingrich holds a PhD in American history.  He does understand the First Amendment; hence he knows that the US government has no legal means with which to stop American citizens from building a house of worship on property they own. 

 Newt’s Progeny

 

 

Yet Newt is willing to cynically incite hatred against President Obama – whom the Republicans have managed to convince millions of Americans is a secret Muslim and undercover Jihad lover – and blind hatred against all Muslims – which produces Koran burners here at home and imperils the lives of our soldiers and civilians stationed in Muslim countries abroad. Especially since Pastor Terry Jones has now tied his decision to burn thousands of Korans to the demand that the Muslims not build their downtown mosque. 

There is a sad irony about the protest against this Muslim community center – which is neither a Mosque nor is it situated at Ground Zero, but five New York City blocks away –  is that it is being built by the Cordoba Initiative.   This organization was formed after the 9/11 attack to foster understanding and “build bridges” between the Christian and Muslim communities.  The name was taken from the Spanish city of Cordoba, because this was a place where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in peace and harmony as neighbors.  Yet Newt, shameless Christian bigot unrepentant demogogue that he is, wrongly labled the choice of name a symbol of Muslim triumphalism!  

 The Great Mosque at Cordoba

Fired up by this kind of reckless rhetoric, misguided Christians picketed the site of the proposed center while the Iman, Fisal Abdul Rauf, was touring the Muslim on behalf of the US State Department trying to win hearts and minds for America by arguing the the US is not waging a war against Islam.  Well…good luck with that.  This is why Frank Rich, the ever insightful Sunday columnist with the New York Times, argues that FOX News has stabbed US troops in the back with their constant Muslim bashing!   People who think this kind of mindless grand standing is a good for our country – ala Sarah Palin, John Boehner and legions of Republican bigwigs – do not understand how radical movements work. 

But then, they understand little about how the the world works.   Yet facts are stubborn things, and they don’t go away because one id ignorant of their existence.  An unpleasant fact about the growth of transformative movements is that they  are stimulated by visible opposition to their aspirations.  Hence in the Muslim world, where American intentions are highly suspect – to say the least – all of this provocative rhetoric serves as fuel for a Jihadist movement which dipicts the US as “The Great Satan.   

This multi-national movement is world wide and growing.  And meglomaniacal buffoons like like Terry Jones, along with his Republican comrades-in-arms, are doing their level best to insure that we will be struck by terrorist again; once on their watch is evidently not enough.  This is precisely why Republicans cannot be trusted with the reins of state power, for their reckless rhetoric, incompetent stewartship of the public interests, and scurrilous anti-Muslim antics have become a clear and present danger to our national security!

 

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 10, 2o10

Haley Barbour Is A Lying Fat Redneck!

Posted in Cultural Matters, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on September 4, 2010 by playthell

 

At launching Pad of Ronald Reagan’s “Southern Strategy”

How The Republicans Won the South

In a recent interview with a writer from the far right rag with the pretentious name “Human Events,” Haley Barbour, a self-described “fat southern redneck” and sitting governor of Mississippi – a state whose soil is permanently stained with the blood of black people – claims that it was a change of heart by his generation of white southern Republicans that ushered in the era of racial harmony in the so-called “New South. “

Haley went on to wax eloquent about how he attended “integrated schools” in Mississippi and never gave the question of race a second thought.  He explained how these newly enlightened southerners decided the system of racial apartheid that had prevailed in Mississippi since the end of the civil war was “indefensible.”  His story sounded touching but there was a problem: It was a big fat lie!

Dr. Rachel Maddow of WNBC has once again unmasked a charlatan who is trying to BS the public by substituting self-serving myths for actual history.  We are seeing this in a lot from Republican politicians these days; whether they are inventing heroic personal stories – like the candidate that falsely passed himself off as a former undercover agent – or trying to rewrite the sordid history of racial oppression in the American South. There are several blatant attempts at this sort of obfuscation and pretense.

The Virginia Governor’s attempt to organize a statewide celebration of “Confederate Pride,” and omit any discussion of slavery, is thus far the most scandalous example of attempting to substitute propaganda for history.  But the announcement by Texas that they are having their history textbooks rewritten from a “more conservative” perspective may prove a far more dangerous and enduring trend.

This is because Texas is the largest market for textbooks in the nation, and given that the publishing of textbooks is a business the imperatives of commerce not culture rule – the salesmen reign over the editors.  Therefore these publishers will do what they have to do in order to claim their share of this lucrative market.  Which means that what our children learn about their nation’s past will be subjected to the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules!

When political pressure from outraged black Virginians, and progressive white Democrats, forced the Governor to retract his attempt to whitewash the states shameful history of white supremacy and black oppression, Haley Barbour said he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about; the entire issue of ignoring slavery “didn’t mean diddly” to him.   No poor dumb tobacco chewing redneck racist from possum Trot Mississippi could have said it better.

But how are we to take such a statement from a man who has presidential aspirations?  What does it tell us about the mindset of the Republican Party that this man is one of its most influential members?  After all, we are talking about a massive crime against humanity, a system of racial oppression based on an ideology that would spawn Nazism in the twentieth century.

Well, the one thing we know for sure is that leaders of the Grand Obstructionist Party have perfected the smarmy technique of talking out of both sides of their mouths on the question of race.  Their favorite ploy is arguing for a “color blind” society.  Yet in a nation that was founded on racial genocide against the native population and enslavement of Africans, and justified both of these crimes against humanity on the basis of skin color, to become suddenly “colorblind” before it’s victims are made whole is to add insult to injury!

In the entire history of this nation, the justly celebrated Constitutional rights of American citizens have only been fully extended to Afro-Americans since the passage of the 1964 Omnibus Civil Rights Bill.  Since we first set foot on the soil of the English colonies in North America – which would evolve into the United States with the ratification of the federal Constitution in 1787 – in 1619, this means that African Americans have enjoyed the rights bequeathed to all white citizens for a measly 46 of our 391 year odyssey in the racial wilderness of North America.  So I say to Haley Barbour the same thing his beloved confederates say about their defeat in the Civil War: “Forget hell!”

*************

Of course, the problem for Haley – as for the Republican myth makers who are trying to construct a bogus narrative of the Iraq war that transforms incompetent buffoons and villains into noble knights in shining armor – is that there is an easily accessible historical record.   This is no problem for their constituents, who are willing dupes, longing for lies that will provide them a serviceable history which allows them to be proud of their scurrilous southern past.

But it is the duty of every honest reporter and engaged intellectual interested in keeping the record straight to hold up a mirror that reflects the truth about who we are.  That is especially true for those of us who lived under southern apartheid and participated in the great Civil rights movement that ended it.  For you cannot build a just society upon a foundation of lies.  If we are ever to build something different and something better in this nation, transcending our past by creating a better future: we must first admit the way we were!

Dr. Rachel Maddow: Intrepid Defender Of the Truth!

Droppin Science  at Smith’ Graduation Ceremony

Through the meticulous research of Dr. Maddow and her crack staff we have once again been rescued from a barrage of carefully crafted Republican lies.  Dr. Maddow debunked Governor Barbour’s recounting of his personal experiences with race in Mississippi by showing that in the years when he was claiming to have attended racially integrated schools, Mississippi schools were still segregated and he graduated from an all white high school.

Furthermore, when Barbour attended the University of Mississippi – which was only a few years after the riots against the admission of James Meredith, a native Mississippian and military veteran – there were perhaps three black students out of approximately 5, 000 on campus!

Even more damming, in terms of Barbour’s true feelings about racial integration, Dr. Maddow exposed the fact that the Mississippi Governor sent his two sons to an all white private school; which black southerners dubbed “seg-academies,” because they were designed to maintain segregation by boycotting the public schools.  So Barbour, like most unreconstructed pro-confederate southern Republicans, is in denial about his true heritage as a southern Redneck.  But what is the truth that we need to understand about the role of politicians like Haley Barbour and the Republican Party’s role in the “New South?”

It is instructive to know that Barbour’s role in politics began with Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, when Haley took a leave from Old Miss to work for Nixon.  Professor Dan T. Carter, a Bancroft Prize winning southern historian, provides the background information we need to properly assess the significance of this fact in his seminal study of how the Republicans conquered the South: The Politics of Rage. 

In a revelatory chapter titled “Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and the Southernization Of American Politics,” Dr. Carter  explains how the previous Republican Presidential candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona – John McCain’s Mentor – had openly embraced the white racist in the south and was creamed in a landslide victory by Lyndon Johnson, a progressive southern Democrat, so Nixon rejected that strategy.

The Definitive Study On the Republican Conquest Of The South

The Real Deal On The GOP and Race!

An astute politician who had been Vice President under Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon understood the appeal to southerners of traditional Republican conservatism on economic issues – like their anti-unionism – and he figured out that if he substituted the word “commie” for “Nigger” he could get the ear of many southerners.  He even rejected the idea that Goldwater had invented the “Southern Strategy” that would eventually convert the South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican.  “The idea that Goldwater started the Southern strategy is bullshit,” he said, and pointed to Eisenhower’s presidential campaigns of 1952-56.

Concluding that old style southern racism was a loser – and bearing the burden of having supported the major Civil Rights legislation, Nixon devised a strategy where he could hunt with the hounds and run with the hares.  He decided that although Goldwater’s campaign had resulted in the election of large numbers of Republicans in the south for the first time since the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, the naked racism of his appeal to the crackers of the deep south turned off the moderates in the border states.

Nixon would mask his support of southern racial concerns by attacking the lawlessness of black rioters protesting racism in the north – whose desperate plight had been largely unaffected by the Civil Rights acts. This legislation had been designed to nullify the legal racial discrimination of the south, de-jure, not the customary racial discrimination – de-facto – of the north.  And he constantly attacked the liberal welfare state programs personified in Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

He finally decided to aim for the emerging white middle class in the South, people like Haley Barbour.  He revealed the essence of his “Southern Strategy” to a group of southern delegates at the 1968 Republican National Convention, who controlled the votes to make him the Republican nominee.  Fending off challenges from the old eastern liberal wing of the Republican Party led by Nelson Rockefeller, and the new star of the far right Ronald Reagan, Nixon met with a group of southern delegates rounded up by the longtime Dixiecrat Strom Thurman, who had converted to the Republican Party during the Goldwater campaign.

Dr. Carter tells us that Nixon ran through his campaign themes, but “Still, the issue of race preoccupied the group.  Once again, Nixon showed that he was master of the wink, the nuge, the implied commitment.  Without ever explicitly renouncing his own past support for desegregation, he managed to convey to his listeners the sense that, as President, he would do the absolute minimum required to carry out the mandates of federal courts.  In a Nixon Administration, there would be no rush to ‘satisfy some professional Civil Rights group, or something like that.’”

We know exactly what happened in that Hilton hotel suite because Dr. Carter has a video tape of the event secretly recorded by one of the delegates.  Many of these southerners where skeptical, believing that George Wallace – the arch-racist governor of Alabama who defied a federal court order to integrate the University of Alabama by standing in the doorway screaming “Segregation forever!” – had the right idea.  And it was a widely shared opinion that Ronald Reagan was the “true conservative.”  But Strom Turman, whose credentials as a die hard southern racist was beyond question, saved the day.

Dr. Carter reveals that Thurman told the delegates: “We have no choice, if we want to win, except to vote for Nixon”…We must quit using our hearts and start using our heads…I love Reagan but Nixon’s the one.”  Then Professor Carter retreats to the heroine of that sappy southern plantation novel, “Gone With The Wind,” to explain the delegate’s behavior. “Like so many Scarlett O’Hara’s, Nixon’s Dixie delegates reluctantly turned their backs on the dashing blockade-runner and resigned themselves to a marriage of convenience with the stodgy dry goods merchant.”

It was at this clandestine meeting that the Republicans  – the long despised party of Abraham Lincoln, the party that had ended the “southern way of life” first by war and later by enforcing the dictates of the federal government – entered into a Faustian bargain with the former Dixiecrats who had taken refuge in the Grand Obstructionist Party.  And they have obstructed any attempt at progressive change in American society ever since.

The essence of the deal was that the economic reactionaries in the North and West would get to remove government restrictions on big corporations and reduce taxes on the rich, and the southern racist in turn would get to arrest the progress of African Americans. This clandestine bargain reached it’s apotheosis in the election of Ronald Reagan, who began his presidential campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi, the scene of the triple murder of white and black Civil Rights workers Cheney, Scwerner and Goodman. Both sides vociferously denied that this was their real purpose by disguising their motives with acceptable language like checking the power of big government through tax cuts, deregulation of business and preserving state’s rights.

That’s still their game forty two years later, and like all true bunko artist there’s no shame in their game.  Nobody plays it better than Haley Barbour: A lying, fat, greasy Redneck camouflaged as “new southerner” committed to racial equality and economic justice.  His revisionist tale about his racial history may be the biggest lie he’s told to date…but I wouldn’t bet on it!

 

**********************

 

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 4, 2010

Send In The Clowns!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on September 1, 2010 by playthell

 This Whacko Nearly Became Commander-In-Chief!

 

Looking like a circus performer who holds his nose and kisses a snake because the show must go on, President Obama addressed the nation and announced the end of the war in Iraq.  There was no sense of triumph in his voice or swagger in his body language, just a solemn recitation of the facts and a heart felt expression of gratitude to those who had sacrificed so much as members of the armed forces of the USA.  Having opposed the war in the first place, and being smart enough to know that the idea of “victory” in Iraq is a cruel illusion, the President kept his eye on the future and the monumental changes he is bringing about in America and the world.

 For reasons of political expedience Mr. Obama chose not to condemn George II and the Republican Neo-cons for starting this disastrous war of choice in a secular Arab nation that has unleashed an upsurge of radical Islamicists, which will almost certainly result in a barbaric civil war once American forces are out of the picture.  Instead he was very gracious – I say to a fault – in interpeting the legacy of the Bushmen in this murderous fiasco.  He said none could doubt that George Bush was a patriot, loved America and revered the troops.  He went on to add that “there were patriots on both sides” of the war.

The most interesting commentary regarding the end of the war, ironically, comes from the Republicans. Those who are familiar with Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost,” recognize that the Devil is more interesting than God as a subject for literary treatment.  Which explains the appeal of the Republicans, with their putrid rhetoric and devious machinations – it is the epitome of amoral evil.  I have long argued that the Grand Obstructionist Party calculates the extent to which their audience is too stupid to distinguish fact from fiction.  So they tell them anything.  Their commentary on the origins and conclusion of the war in Iraq is a graphic case in point.

It is no wonder that none of the Republican Party big wigs will accept Chris Matthew’s offer to come on his show, “Hardball,” and denounce any of the scurrilous lies about President Obama that is Rush Limbaugh’s stock in trade.  For they thrive on lies.  In fact, they had the unmitigated gall to parade themselves before the public seeking absolution from their sins in supporting the Bushmen in starting a war of choice – which, according to Columbia professor and Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph Steiglitz, will cost three trillion dollars all told – by telling damned lies!

Witnessing Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and John McCain protest that President Obama didn’t congratulate George Bush, because it was his brilliant surge strategy that brought “victory” in Iraq, allowing Barack to bring the troops home with dignity, I am appalled. It was an episode so filled with treachery, duplicity, pomposity, self-deception, misplaced vanity, and shameles lies that Shakespeare could not have resisted putting pen to paper in order to teach us some grand lesson about the flawed nature of human beings…. and the moral depravity that sometimes informs our actions.  But since Sweet William is no longer with us – except in his timeless texts – the task of unmasking these charlatans has fallen to we lesser scribes alas.   

Just as they recited the same mantra calling for the invasion of Iraq – “We must seize their weapons of mass destruction before Sadam gives them to Osama! ” they cried- now they speak in unison attempting to paint the worst blunder in American diplomatic history as a virtuous war in defense of the nation.  It is, to say the least, absurd.  It is also insulting to our intelligence.  Since I was one of the very few commentators who opposed this war from Jump Street – see “The Prophetic Commentary On Iraq” – it is altogether fitting and proper that I should offer an assessment at its formal conclusion.  I say “formal conclusion,” because in reality it ain’t over yet; fifty thousand troops – a sizable army by most measures – will still remain.

If truth is the first casualty of war, it is also the final casualty in the aggressor’s justification for war.  Thus we see the Republicans, whose lies and deceptions led us into an unnecessary war that cost the nation dearly in blood and treasure, now attempting to rewrite history right before our eyes.  Now, after the of tens of thousands of American lives have been lost or shattered, and perhaps a million Iraqi’s killed – most of them innocent civilians – the Republicans are telling us that the invasion of Iraq was a great crusade to liberate the Iraqi people from the oppression of a ruthless dictator and establish a modern democracy there.  The unbridled arrogance of such an ambition speaks for itself.

It is, therefore, essential that we remember the basic facts about how the US military came to invade Iraq, and assess its consequences, in order to counter the narrative of the shameless Republican mythmakers.   Evidently they have forgotten that we live in an age of video tape, but Rachel Maddow had a grand old time reminding them, as she replayed all of the significant public statements made by Republican leaders from the President on down.    In the beginning there was no talk of bringing Democracy to Iraq, it was all about retaliation for the attack  on the US by militant Islamic Jihadists on 9/11.  Which, of course, the Iraqi’s had nothing to do with – many observers, including some in the intelligence community, believe that they knew it too.   The invasion was justified in Orwellian language that cast an invading army as liberators, and war mongering became peace making.  We were told that if Sadam Hussein were not crushed he would arm Al Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction and this would enevitably lead to the fall of America.

As I pointed out in a 3,000 word commentary on the eve of the war, Sadam and Osama represented opposing forces – secular military strongmen vs. the Jihidast theocrats – that had been slaughtering each other for nearly half a century in the Muslim world.  The whole idea was absurd, but since Boobus Americans is clueless about the world beyond the shores of the US, the Bushmen managed to convince millions of Americans that this manufactured threat was real!

Paul Wolfowitz

What The Devil Looks Like in the 21st Century!

 

 The actual ideological architects of this war was Dirty Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle and the Neo-con cabal from “The Project for a New American Century,” whom Cheney installed in strategic positions within the national security apparatus.  Their mission was  to counter the conventional wisdom of the State Department and National Security Advisor – the domains of Colin Powell  and Condoleezza Rice – on foreign affairs. 

This cabal had devised the plans for an invasion of Iraq in a sweeping policy paper published by this privately funded far right think tank titled “Redesigning America’s Defenses,” long before George W. Bush was even nominated for the presidency.  That ‘s why the Neo-con ideologues like Bill Kristol fell into dispair when George Bush won the Republican Party nomination, their man was John McCain – a died in the wool hawk who was out to redeem himself for his failure in Vietnam. 

My understanding of this aspect of McCain’s character – he reminded me of the French generals who led the French expiditionary force tasked with the mission of suppressing the Algerian Revolution, after their defeat by Ho chi Mihn in Vietnam – led me to question his judgement as a Commander-In-Chief  when everybody else was praising his virtues .  I even wrote a commentary titled “General Clarke Is right: John McCain is unqualified to be Commander-In-Chief.”  In fact, it the first commentary I posted on this blog.

The Project for A New American Century plan was an ambitious blueprint for American domination of the planet in the post cold war unipolar world of the 21st century; the 9/11 attack gave the Neo-Cons their opportunity to implement it.  A clueless George Bush, whose major concern was reducing taxes for the rich – he had said publicly “My base is the haves and have mores” – panicked after the 9/11 attack and Condi’s authority was undermined by the fact that she was asleep at the wheel and thus allowed this tragedy to happen, when it could have been prevented if her head was not still preoccupied with cold war issues concerned with containing the Soviet Union, which she seemed not to notice had disappeared.

In fact, on 9/11 – after repeatedly ignoring terrorist Czar Richard Clarke’s admonitions to call a joint meeting of all of America’s intelligence agencies and have them compare notes on the activities of Al Qaeda – Condi was scheduled to deliver what was billed as a major address on national security. Her subject was building the “Star Wars” missile defense system around Russia, a clear violation of the Anti-Ballistic MissileTreaty.  Which was, after all, her area of expertise – and like all vain academicians she was determined to demonstrate her prescient wisdom.  Hence the towers burned as Condi fiddled!

Since I have written an 108 page essay that explains in considerable detail just how we blundered into this misbegotten and murderous conflict in Iraq – which will soon be posted on a website I am setting up to accommodate larger pieces as well as many of my radio shows produced on WBAI – I will not belabor the issue further here.  But suffice it to say that the American invasion of Iraq was based on official lies and deception; a concerted propaganda campaign skillfully and ruthlessly conducted by the Neo-Con cabal set up by Dirty Dick Cheney. Confused and frightened in the aftermath of Al Qaeda’s bold unprecedented attack, George II bought the Neo-Con line, and Wolfowitz and company in league with Dirty Dick hijacked American foreign policy. 

If not victory, what can Americans claim as the result of this war that lasted longer than world War II: the war that was supposed to end all wars. Any candid assessment of the objective facts must conclude that the main consequence of America’s invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Sadam Hussein – which everybody constantly points to as the crowing achievement of the war – is to create the conditions for the long festering conflict between the Shiite and Sunni Islamic factions to explode into full civil war. 

The so-called “democracy” the US claims to have established in Iraq is in fact a tyranny of the majority, in which Shiites will eventually control everything and exact revenge for centuries of oppression at the hands of the Sunnis – who recognize this and thus continue to bomb their mosques and attack them everywhere.  Furthermore the ascension of a Shiite dominated government in Iraq has expanded the influence of Iran in the region – a predictable consequence.  This has made the option of invading Iran an even more perilous adventure than it would previously have been. 

The invasion of Iraq also took away vital resources that were needed to fight Al Qaeda in the treacherous mountains of Afghanistan, and caused the US to neglect developments in a nuclear armed Pakistan – which I argued was the real danger to US security in terms of the Jihadists acquiring a weapon of mass destruction, a point of view that everybody in the National Security Establishment has come around to now.  My claim to the ear of the public at this juncture, is based on my prophetic analysis of the beginning of this war, and the many insightful  pieces that followed. Look them up on this blog and see if I am making unfounded claims.  

In view of these incontrovertible facts, the only reasonable conclusion regarding the American misadventure in Iraq is that it was an unmitigated disaster.  It was based on a lie and failed to accomplish any of its stated objectives.  For instance, we have heard about the victories of the surge ad nauseum.  But the cheer leaders for these inflated claims conviently neglect to point out – as George Bush can clearly be seen explaining on video tape – that the purpose tof he surge was to create the conditions for the formation of a successful coailition governmet in Iraq.  

Yet five weeks have passed since the much celebrted elections and the Parliament – which is riven by antagonistic factions – has convened to conduct the people’s business for the grand total of 18 minutes!   And there is a better than even chance that the whole thing could fall apart like a house of cards.    Almost a decade after this war began, after rivers of innocent Iraqi blood and many chests of American treasure, the Republican chicken hawks in the Senate,  who cheered and supported this tragic and criminal invasion, now attempt to present it as a virtuous crusade to spread democracy, and cast themselves and their hapless commander-In- chief , as heroes.

Worst of all,  not only did they fail to get “Osama been Forgotten,” they have become the main recruiters for Al Qaeda and the Taliban, with their increasingly virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric and boisterous, venom filled, opposition to the building of mosques in this country.  As I listen to the Republican play play warriors plead their bogus case in search of absolution for the innocent blood on their hands, I keep hearing the refrain from Stephan Sondheim’s  Broadway comedy: “Send in the clowns!”

 

Mitch: The  Senate Minority Leader

 

King of the GOP Clowns!

 

*********************

 

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

August 31, 2010

 

 

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