Archive for Barack Obama

Reflections on the Black Obama Haters!

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on June 10, 2013 by playthell

Barack being fortified with the laying on of hands. 

The Rock on Which he Stands

Barack Must keep Playing Past the Noise

The best thing President Obama has done from a political perspective – which is to say decisions that would help him and other Democrats get elected and then get his legislative agenda passed through both houses of Congress – was to pay the black leftist and nationalist factions no mind!  Having cut my political teeth in those ideological enclaves, I would never have believed that I would one day come to view them as a menace to black progress.  Yet I am convinced that had Barack attended Tavis Smile’s black gabfest, where all sorts of reckless rhetoric was thrown about, and allowed Cornell West to define his administration’s legislative priorities, while adopting the Black Agenda rhetoric of Glenn Ford, he would have never been President and the Republicans would have been able to take over both Houses of Congress!!

What would America have looked like had that happened?   Well John McCain would have been President for the last four years, and there is the possibility that the Republicans would have fucked things up so badly a Democrat would have won the last election.  But it would have been too late to stop the Republicans from adding two more right wing zealots to the Supreme Court, and stacking the Federal Courts around the country with same.  And it would be too late to stop a President McCain from bombing Iran and escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a futile effort to win the elusive victory that escaped him in Vietnam. (search John McCain on this blog.)

We might also be in a war on the Korean Peninsula, all of which would add another couple of trillion to our war debt – and we could already have completely rebuilt the nation’s infrastructure with half of what we squandered on the Iraq and Afghan wars.  The economy would be in shambles, because there would have been no 800 billion stimulus, the auto industry would have disappeared and McCain’s self-correcting “free market” fiddle faddle would have made the Bush depression deeper – alas chances are we would be in a second “Great Depression” that would be worse than the first one.  And all those now yapping about how the President bailed out the bankers – which was actually done by Bush but Obama would have been forced to do it too – while not addressing black poverty instead, would be singing a different tune.  They would be crying about the collapse of the financial system and how it took everybody they know down with it.

Since McCain would not be a “food stamp President” like Barack Obama, there would be millions more added to the ranks of those Americans who are literally locked in a Darwinian struggle for food, because there is an acute shortage of jobs at a living wage.  The tax code would encourage investment overseas, including those “job creators” who have created ten million jobs overseas while the unemployment rate soars here at home.  And while millions of American workers suffer from structural unemployment these patently unpatriotic acts would be accompanied by super patriotic rhetoric of the sort we hear from the likes of Mitt Romney and Darrell Issa.

Of course there would be no Affordable Health Care Act, no Lilly Ledbetter Act, the social safety net constructed under New Deal and Great Society legislation would be completely shredded, and any form of Affirmative –Action would now be illegal, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  And the way that reactionary racist grease ball Antonin Scalia feels about the Voting Rights Act, which he has called “a racial entitlement,” would be more widely shared by other Judges on the High Court.  And thus the protections afforded minorities against the efforts of white Republicans to scrap the law and rig elections would have succeeded for all intents and purposes.

There would have been no 20 billion dollar fund from British Petroleum to clean up the Gulf oil spill and compensate the businesses that were hurt due to the spill – some of which were Afro-American owned. In fact the Republican Congressman who now heads the committee tasked with oversight of the oil industry apologized to BP and called President Obama’s demand that they set up the recovery fund a display of “Chicago gangster” tactics.  The historically black colleges would be 100 million poorer, and some would be out of business altogether. Plus the banks would still be making millions off unnecessary fees from student loans,  If the Republicans had been in office the last four years, with their aversion to government spending, investment in the scientific community would be a trickle of what it was under President Obama.

Cornel West and Sidekick Tavis Silly
 Cornel West and Tavis Smilie
Heckle and Jeckle: Cackling Mischievous Crows

However listening to the President’s harshest critics you would not know that any of these achievements took place; some of historic proportions, especially the Lilly Ledbetter Act, Affordable Care Act, the Economic Recovery Act, and the Dodd –Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. All of these monumental achievements are denounced by the President’s detractors on the right and ignored by his critics on the left – once more revealing themselves to be undeclared allies.  Yet this legislation saved the nation from economic ruin, provided health care options for many people who had none and made it illegal for Wall Street bankers to engage in the kinds of practices that led to the crash.

But our verbose Dr. Cornel West, a grandstanding spotlight hog and shameless opportunist, who has set himself up as Barack Obama’s grand inquisitor and moral scold, calls the President a tool of the Plutocrats and Wall Street Bankers.  Since much of what Dr. West has to say regarding politics is little more than mindless prattle and meaningless moralizing, it bears little resemblance to reality.  The fact is that his bad political judgment is clouded by a gargantuan ego, pompous pretentions to piety, plus a tendency toward wishful thinking; all of which renders him irrelevant in the search for effective policy options to effectively deal with the mind boggling problems that confront President Obama.

It never ceases to amaze me how easily the President’s critics forget the disastrous situation he inherited, with multiple crises at home and abroad confronting him upon entering the Oval Office.  And here I am referring to those critics on the left who consider themselves politically progressive, because the right is engaged in subterfuge with no regard for the truth; they are pledged to deny this President any victories even if it means telling the most outrageous lies and manufacturing scandals.

Alas, it is well known that the leaders of the Grand Obstructionist Party, in and out of office, pledged to oppose any policy President Obama proposed.  In fact they met clandestinely in a Washington hotel room the night of his inauguration and took something akin to a blood oath to wreck Obama’s presidency by constant obstruction and thus make him a one term President.

Fancy Nancy and the Chi Town Kid

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi

 A Dynamic and Effective Duo

However all these seasoned political pros made a serious mistake: they underestimated their opponent worse than Sonny Liston underestimated Muhammad Ali. Barack won reelection and they Republicans are still recovering from the shock.  They are clearly in a state of panic.  They equally missed their mark in assessing Nancy Pelosi, who will surely be remembered in history as one of the most effective Speakers to ever run the House Of Representatives.  This smart savvy lady from Frisco, in league with the Chi-Town Kid, made a great team and passed historic legislation.

Passing Landmark Legislation….
Barack Pelosi_Obama 
…….And Making history

While there is an embarrassment of riches from which to choose the Wall Street regulation regime is an excellent example of their legacy.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Obama is the strictest legislation regulating Wall Street in American history.  It ends the kind of reckless speculation and assumption of risks that led to the financial collapse under Bush, when there was hardly any regulation at all and trillions of dollars in American wealth disappeared, throwing millions of Americans out of work.  And there would have been millions more without a massive government bailout.

Dodd-Frank also offers protections to consumers who are victimized by ruthless mortgage bankers and sleazy lenders who charge exorbitant interests for short term loans.  These are critically important developments for the American people, especially Afro-Americans, but the House refuses to fund the agencies that are tasked with enforcing the new regulations, making them the disloyal opposition.   For they have betrayed the trust of the American people by refusing to fund programs acted into law their elected representatives passed in a majority vote.

Alas the great work Of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi on behalf of the American people was halted when the Grand Obstructionist Party took back the House just two years later; little of importance has been passed in the House since. I wrote a commentary titled “Triumph of the Untutored Mob,” which argues that this election proved Thomas Jefferson was right when he warned that “an ignorant electorate would elect and return the worse people to power.”

It was an act of self- immolation to turn the House of Representatives over to a Republican Party with right-wing zealots, who called themselves “Tea Party Patriots,” setting the legislative agenda. Yet millions of Americans voted to sabotage their government by sending 66 people to Congress who had publicly declared their hatred for government and vowed to dismantle it; now they expect their party to govern the affairs of the vast and complex nation effectively.  It is madness.

When the Republicans wrecked the economy with policies that resulted in the crash of 1929 that brought on the Great Depression, it took them over 40 years before gain control of the House again, but two years after the Bush crash they put a Republican Party in charge of the people’s house who were even more incompetent and reckless than the bums who just wrecked the country.  Yet we hear little about this from the cabal of anti-Obama whiners, several of whom sport fancy academic titles but when we actually peruse their writings in search of serious policy proposals instructing us on the route the President should take in order to realize their hopes and dreams, like Mother Hubbard we find the cupboard is bare.  They are all blow and no go!

I could call them out by name but you know who they are….and they do too!  I just don’t want to give them any more publicity; that’s what they live for.  Some of them don’t really care what you say about them so long as you get their names right.  Hence I shall refer to them collectively as the Crazy Coon Platoon; it is the most accurate name I could conjure up for a group of clueless blacks on the left and right who have accused President Obama of everything from promoting sodomy and child murder to destroying the Auto-industry.

Some even denounced the President’s commencement speech to the young men at Morehouse College, a speech which contained time honored themes that has contained the bedrock values of Afro-American culture that I grew up hearing and that black colleges have always stressed.  One of the most boisterous critics of the Morehouse speech, that baldheaded buffon /failed academic Boyce Watkins, thinks its cute to cotunuously refer to the President as “bi-racial” in an attempt to question his blackness.

Well, Herman Caine is black as  midnight in a coal mine and he is what the old folks in Florida used to call “a ass kissin white folks nigger.”  What a silly thing to make an issue of, especially since Boyce looks like his ancestry may well lay in China with his pie face and big Bhudda head. But this crowd, inspite of their blacker than thou posture, have spent their academic careers in white colleges – you couldn’t get them to teach at a black college for love nor money!

Crazy Corny West even called the President a war criminal!  This charge leaves no doubt that the Doctor of Philosophy is a verbose hysteric who appears to know nothing about warfare and the requirements of national security when confronted with an enemy like the Islamic Jihadists: who are transnational fanatics that believe they are carrying out the will of God and do not recognize the rules of war as laid out by the Geneva Conventions.

The Jihadists have repeatedly demonstrated that they care nothing about civilian lives whether Muslim or Christian. In fact they consider their main enemy to be those Muslims with whom they have theological differences, as the 1800 year old conflict between the Sunni and Shiite factions will testify.  While Dr. West decries the regrettable loss of civilian lives as a result of the deployment of drones in the fight against the Islamic Jihadists, he does not offer what he would consider a more efficient and humane way of going about fighting this shadowy and ruthless enemy who spend their every waking hour plotting a more spectacular attack on the US – which is to say us – than the 911 disaster.

Their ultimate objective is to set off a nuclear weapon or at least a high radiation “dirty bomb” in New York City…or some other heavily populated American metropolis.  It is President Obama’s job to see to it that that don’t succeed, an objective that cannot be achieved by moral persuasion!  War has always been an ugly business; those who have experience it first-hand say “war is hell!”  And those who are knowledgeable about its history knows it is by nature a bloody and inhumane enterprise in which atrocities are common fare and for which civilians have little stomach.  Yet when a nation comes under attack the civilians do not hesitate to turn to the soldier for salvation.

That’s why all able bodied civilians should be subjected to a military draft.  For if everyone is required to bear the burdens of war it would accomplish two things: Every family would have to sacrifice their loved ones and would therefore be reluctant to go to war, and we would all be forced to confront the reality of war; instead of the sanitized version the public is getting now.  In the meantime those who are whining about the civilian casualties resulting from drone warfare should spend some time watching the Military Channel on cable television.  There they can see actual films of combat going back to the First World War in the early years of the 20th century.

In World War II fifty million people were killed – most were not soldiers.  Do Cornel West and the rest of the moral scolds who now call President Obama a “war criminal” include all the presidents of the past who have been tasked with waging war in defense of this nation?  There are war crimes to be sure, but to simply say that any actions in which civilians are killed, when that was clearly not the intention, constitutes a war crime?

By any objective measure, drone warfare is the least destructive method of fighting an enemy who hides among the civilian populace. It is certainly less destructive than deploying ground forces, and it cost far less in American blood and treasure. Yet even after I heard a spokesman for Iraq and Afghan war veterans tell Corny West this he keeps on saying (Look under the section titled “On Dr. Cornel West on this blog for a discussion of the incident)

It is precisely because war is the ultimate horror show that it’s details are kept secret – along with the fact that it is wise to keep your operational strategies out of the purview of your enemies.  Hence those who consider Sergeant Bradley Manning – who turned over 700,000, classified American military documents to Wikileaks to be posted on the internet – a hero are at best confused on the issue.

To be sure, some of the information contained in those documents constitutes indisputable evidence of war crimes, and one could sympathize with the crisis of conscience experienced by Private Manning.  But he should have been selective in the documents he chose to expose for public scrutiny.  Indiscriminately dumping hundreds of thousands of secret documents entrusted to his care could imperil the military mission and for that he must, and will, be severely punished.  Furthermore, Bradley Manning is a very confused guy who was undergoing a protracted personal crisis that had but little to do with is military experience.  For a discussion see my review of the recently released documentary “We steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.”

No military organization can function successfully if any of its members along the chain of command can feel free to leak classified documents to the press.  That’s why the Attorney General tapped into the phone messages and e-mails of certain journalists that had written about covert actions which thwarted a terrorist action that would have blown up civilian airliner.  And despite the anguished self-righteous cries of my colleagues in the press: He was right!  And he should stand his ground on this question; turning the tables on the press by putting the question this way: What is of greater importance, the national security of the US or the right of the press to publish secret military documents?

Exposing ongoing covert actions can put the lives of brave Americans who routinely risk everything in the service of this nation in even greater risk.  And when one considers the fact that the reporters motives are often no more exalted than getting a scoop on his competition and gaining notoriety for themselves, the aura of nobility evaporates and the claim of heroism is tarnished.

The question for the American people is what is more important: preventing another Jihadist attack on an American city that rivals or surpasses that on 9-11, or the prerogative of the press to publish anything they want any time they want?  To publish or not to publish: that is the paramount question facing the American people and the fate of the nation might well hang in the balance.

It is instructive that the arguments of Wikileaks’ champions, and those who view Sergeant Manning as a hero who should be hailed not jailed, lack this kind of nuanced analysis of the complex issues surrounding their actions.  What we get instead is an endless stream of self-righteous prattle in which everything is painted is stark black and white Manichean dualities between good and evil.  But, alas, the world is far more complicated than that and the matter of war and peace is rife with contradictions.

In the world of instant mass communications those contradictions are laid bare when secret military documents are made public.  And when you have a reckless political opposition like the contemporary Republican Party, whose motivations rise no higher than to embarrass the President and Attorney General for partisan advantage, it can hamper their efforts to maintaining national security. The hearings now being conducted by that repeat criminal offender Darrell Issa’s Government Oversight Committee is a case in point.

Here the representatives of the Grand Obstructionists Party, unable to win at the polls despite their political dirty tricks that attempted to limit voting opportunities for Democrats, are abusing their Congressional authority to nullify the dramatic Democratic victory in the last presidential election. Nothing demonstrates their hypocrisy more than the hearings around the attack on the American embassy at Benghazi, when it is they who voted to cut $300 million from the budget for embassy security.

The investigation into the Internal Revenue Service that threatens to ruin the careers of civil servants who were just doing their jobs and the ongoing attempts to discredit the Attorney General – who is a saint compared to Nixon’s AG John Mitchell, who was convicted of committing crimes in office – are equally hypocritical.  Not to mention the fact that Republicans blame Barack for not knowing what an IRS office in the mid-west is doing in trying to enforce a complicated law, when a group of Naval and Marine officers – including the notorious colonel Ollie North – ran an illegal operation designed to subvert the Boland Act from the White house basement but accepts President Ronald Reagan’s explanation that he knew nothing of it!

It is the role of serious intellectuals to point these contradictions out; especially Black Intellectuals who have set themselves up as President Obama’s inquisitors.  The recent revelations about the massive domestic surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency, which again raises the question about the requirements of national security vs. individual privacy in protecting Americans against terrorist attacks. But they are curiously silent on these critical but controversial matters.

Instead, what we get is a bunch of meaningless noise that more closely resembles a collective temper tantrum than a serious analytical discourse. Perhaps the reason they are hollering so loud and saying such crazy things is because nobody is paying them any mind….thank the lord. In spite of their boisterous and incessant caterwauling during the last election, Afro-Americans still voted for President Obama over 90%!  The haters must be quite a frustrated lot after witnessing all of their efforts come to naught despite big help from right-wing white racists.  The question is who did the black haters vote for?   Inquiring minds want to know.

They Can’t Touch This!
Barack after victory!!!!
The GOAT: Greatest of All Times!!!! 

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

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

June 8, 2013

The Pass that Settled a Strike

Posted in On Sports!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , on September 27, 2012 by playthell

                     The Great Dispute

 Revealing sad Truths about American Values

Although people who listen to my commentary may find it hard to believe, I am not necessarily a contrarian.  Even so, I often find myself marching to a different drummer.  Hence I disagree with the howling mob who wants to hang the referee’s whose controversial call gave the Seattle Sea Hawk’s a victory over the Green Bay Packers, in last Monday night’s football game.

The out roar became so loud it was echoed by hard news reporters on nationally televised news shows.   The controversy even found its way into the presidential campaign.  To the casual observer with either a cavalier interest in football, or is indifferent to game, all the hoopla must appear an absurdity. “How can adults get so bent out of shape by a missed call in a kid’s game?” they ask.

Well, as the Trinidadian historian and political philosopher CLR James warned in the opening of his seminal text Beyond a Boundary: “He knows not Cricket who only cricket knows.”  And he shows us how the game of cricket reflected the values of the Victorian upper class.   The same can be said of football, which reflects the values of American civilization.  It is the perfect game for a warlike people whose national anthem is a war song and national symbol a vicious bird of prey.  Football is literally “America’s game.”

The importance of the game in American culture is reflected in the fact that it has been referenced by both President Obama and Mitt Romney on the stump.  And the character of the candidates was exposed in their statements.  President Obama is pro-union and routinely stands with the workers in their demands for fair wages and benefits, which is why they turn out and work for him come election time.  Hence the president’s support for the refs comes as no surprise.

But when Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney called upon the owners to settle the lock out and get the “real refs back on the field,” which meant successfully bargaining with their union over wages and benefits, they were completely out of character. Their hypocrisy was shameless.  Paul Ryan comes from Wisconsin, a state where the governor has curtailed the rights of public sector unions.  And Lyin Ryan has backed his play.

But Wisconsin is also the home of the Green Bay Packers, in fact the team is owned by the citizens of the town, who hold shares in the organization.  So it was an act of opportunism by a man whose allegiance to principle is determined by expedience.  Thus while Ryan is quite prepared to deny bargaining rights to teachers, nurses, fireman, and cops, he insists that the demands of NFL referee’s be met because the home team lost.

He and Mitt could even be heard arguing that the “real refs” should be adequately compensated for their expertise.  Hence by kick off time tonight the “real referees” will be back on the field. The contract they settled will pay the over $200,000 a year and generous benefits including healthcare and a pension, for a part time job a few months a year,  Good for them.  Yet No teacher, nurse or cop anywhere in America is so well compensated.

Republican apologists for this blatant hypocrisy – in which the demands of vital public servants for fair compensation are scoffed at while they demand that the National Football League give the referees what they want – argue that the refs are different from teachers and nurses because they are not being paid from the public till.

Yet everywhere in America hundreds of millions of public dollars are spent in the construction of lavish sports arenas in order to seduce the owners of sports teams into locating in their city.  Hence this kerfuffle over a football game further exposes the duplicity, and twisted values, of the Republican ticket.

They all went for the ball

And started a fight that reverberated around the nation

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

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 27, 2012

The Real Barack Obama vs. The Reagan Myth

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on September 26, 2012 by playthell
                  The enduring Icon of the right

 On Tailoring the Master Narrative

There is a narrative developing, particularly among pundits on the right, that President Obama has accomplished nothing of importance, and that this can be attributed to his incompetence as a politician.  “If only he was more like Ronnie Reagan,” they say.   As the election heats up we hear this more and more. However it is mere cheerleading by political partisans, who never define the standard they are employing to measure the men.

That’s because the objective of partisans is to gain political advantage in the coming elections, not arrive at objective truth based on an impartial weighting of the evidence. Thus it is propaganda they seek, not history, alas.  Historians seek to reconstruct the past based on strict evidentiary rules – strictly policed through a rigorous process of peer review – so that we may better understand how we became who we are, and learn any important lessons contained in our story so that we do not repeat our mistakes.

On the other hand political propagandist attempt to selectively arrange past events to justify present policies, and often truth is the first casualty. Hence while the historian attempts to present objective truth; the propagandist hopes to create a serviceable myth. They share Napoleon Bonaparte’s view: “History is lies commonly agreed upon!”

This is manifestly what has happened with Ronald Reagan and much of the punditariat.  It is driven by the official myth-makers on the right, but it too often goes unchallenged or even echoed by the other side.  Thus the image of Ronald Reagan as a great President is the dominant view among the largely white commentariat.  But there are some outstanding historians who see things differently.

For instance, the Bancroft Prize winning historian Dan T. Carter paints a portrait of Ronald Reagan as a cynical politician who systematically exploited the racial resentments of Southern whites over the dramatic advances of Afro-Americans due to the success of the Civil Rights Movement. (see: Haley Barber is a Lyin Fat Redneck)  And he shows how Reagan became the avatar of a new wave of reactionary right-wing conservatism.

The distinguished Presidential Historian Stephen E. Ambrose, a biographer of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon,  offers a different view. “Reagan will be remembered as the president who reversed the decades-old flow of power to Washington. By dismantling some federal programs, and reducing others, he forced the states and the cities to assume more responsibility for running their own shows.”

Professor Ambrose goes on to argue that history will also remember Reagan as “the first Cold War president to preside over eight years of unbroken peace, the first to reach an arms reduction accord with the Soviets, and the American president who helped make it possible for Mikhail Gorbachev to begin the process of restructuring Soviet society.”

Dr. Ambrose also credited Reagan with the popularity of conservatism in America.  However on the question of Reagan’s greatness he offers this caveat:

These are important changes, but not of such a magnitude to earn Reagan a title of “great.” The great presidents are the ones who bring permanent changes in society. Teddy Roosevelt and conservation and trust-busting, as one example, or Woodrow Wilson and the Federal Reserve System, Franklin Roosevelt and Social Security, Harry Truman and the integration of the armed forces, Dwight Eisenhower and the interstate highway system, Lyndon Johnson and Medicare and Civil Rights.”

By this standard Barack Obama already qualifies as one of the greats, since he has brought about several profound and lasting changes in American society. The Lilly Ledbetter Act, ending the ban against open homosexuals serving in the military, and the Affordable Healthcare Act are all game changers of historic proportions that improve the lives millions of Americans.

The Recovery Act,  or “Stimulus” is revolutionizing the American economy; creating the first green manufacturing sector powered by clean energy, and revamping the educational system to bring American students up to snuff in math and science so that they can compete in the brave new world of the 21st century. Hence he has provided the most generous funding of research in American history. This is only a partial accounting of the benefits the Stimulus provides.

The President achieved these historic advances while waging two foreign wars, and rescuing the American economy from a free fall collapse.  Furthermore he did it without the benefit of a statesman like the legendary House Speaker “Tip” O’Neal leading the opposition.  John Boehner, the present weeper of the house, is no Tip O’Neal!

For all these reasons and more – like the fact that President Obama is a brilliant policy wonk and there is a mountain of testimony that Reagan was out to lunch when complex policy matters were discussed – I have no doubt that future historians, far removed from the political passions of this moment,  will place Barack Obama heads and shoulders above Ronald Reagan on the scale of great presidents.

Furthermore,  regarding political skills, I am absolutely convinced that when historians consider the fact that a young black guy with a Muslim name, managed to get himself elected President of the USA – a predominately white, persistently racist country that instructed the Nazis on racism not that long ago – they will conclude with me: Barack Hussein Obama is the most gifted politician in American history!

 The Real Deal!

The President and First Lady

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

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 25, 2012

 

The Crisis of the Black Leftist Intellectual

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , on September 10, 2012 by playthell
Dr. Anthony Montero: Clueless Marxist Ideologue

Reflections On the Pitfalls of Ideology

I have argued for some time now, that as we approach the outer limits of the right and left on the American political spectrum, the more they begin to resemble each other in their conclusions.  One need only look at the present political debate around President Obama to gauge the veracity of my claim.   Consider for instance the following statement:

Bill Clinton continued the farce in his nominating speech for Barack Obama. More than farce it is cynicism, coverup…The Dems are performing a fake populism and a fraudulent claim to protecting the economy, saving the nation from depression and defense of the working class…. This fraud must not only be criticized, it has to be rejected.”

I bet you think this is yet another slander of our President by rightwing Tea Party fanatics, who are more likely than not white racists.  But this passage was actually written by Dr. Anthony Monteiro, a black professor of sociology at Temple University, who considers himself a militant defender of Afro-American interests and the working class in general.

I have known Tony since he was an undergraduate student at Lincoln University and barely out of his teens.  Indeed, I was one of the people who inspired him to become a radical activist (see: An Open Letter to Dr. Anthony Monteiro.”) He showed great promise as an intellectual early on, and was totally committed to the Afro-American freedom movement, as was true of legions of students in the 1960’s, an era of militant struggle.  Although even then he was something of a mindless militant with a poor sense of judgment, and ended up participating in an ill-conceived act of leftist adventurism that sent him to prison.

Yet that can be chalked up to the impetuosity of an impassioned militant youth on a freedom high. The central question begged by the statement above – which is at best a clear sign of intellectual incompetence; at worse a symptom of mental derangement that renders him incapable of distinguishing fantasy from reality – is what happened?

How did Tony become a sad, deluded, bourgeois academic and de-facto ally of the Tea Party?  What drives him to serve the interests of the worst enemies of Afro-American aspirations, the Tea Party Patriots, by working to keep black Americans from voting for the reelection of President Obama?

The answer to this tragic enigma lies in Tony’s slavish devotion to a European ideology that has never managed to win the hearts and minds of the American people, especially its main targets: the white working class and Afro-Americans.  The fundamental problem is that this foreign ideology never fully addressed American realities.  Hence I agree with the great American writer John Dos Passos, in his chastisement of Michael Gold – editor of the Marxist Journal, New Masses, which was influential among early 20th century American radicals – over editorial policy.

I don’t think there should be anymore phrases, badges, opinions, banners, imported from Russia or anywhere else,” said Dos Passos.  “Ever since Columbus, imported systems have been the curse of this country. Why not develop our own?”

This is the crux of Professor Monteiro’s problem: he is attempting to analyze American politics through the eyes of a foreign ideology. Hence we shouldn’t be surprised that his pronouncements sound like unintelligible babble, unrelated to the realities that 95% of Afro-Americans, and has made him a figure of ridicule among many black intellectuals, and his ideas a dirty joke, among the black masses he pretends to represent.

Tony is a hardcore Marxist and would-be philosopher – if he could convince a philosophy department somewhere to give him a job spouting the Marxist prattle in which he is a true believer. The problem is that professional philosophers do not consider Marxism serious philosophy.  Professor Montiero is one of the last of the die-hard members of the American Communist Party who is still dealing with Post Traumatic Stress  from witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union; which to them represents the demise of the “worker’s paradise” – an idea history has proven a grand illusion.

Yet few understand the effect on the psyche of American communist when Boris Yeltsin, the leader of the Russian Communist Party, repudiated Communism as a false doctrine and scrapped the system. Professor Montero is like a committed Catholic who comes to Rome for Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, seeking guidance from the Pope, backed by his College of Cardinals resplendent in their priestly costumes. But, alas, instead of performing the traditional homily, the Pope announces that God does not exist and Catholic teachings about the world are a myth!

Based upon his writings posted on Facebook these days, Professor Montero appears increasingly lost, frustrated, and drifting into madness the way true believers in Catholicism would respond to the Pope’s revelation.   He has become so irrational in his fanatical desire to prove his Russian mentors wrong, that anybody who does not share his communist delusions is automatically viewed as a traitor to the working class – a social formation that exists for him mainly as a theoretical abstraction.

Absent ideologically induced madness or severe delusion, how else can we explain the reasoning of a college Professor who writes the following jibberish?

“The Democratic party campaign is, if anything, even more cynical and false than Romney’s, because it portrays the Democratic incumbent as the defender of working people against Wall Street interests.. and the wealthy, when the truth is the direct opposite. Obama spearheaded the destruction of jobs and wages with the auto bailout, and helped launch the war on public education that has accounted for the largest single cut in jobs of the past three years: the wiping out of 600,000 jobs of teachers and support workers by state and local governments.”

When confronted with gobbledegook like this my grandmother used to say “That fellow’s understandin’ is bad.” Aside from the fact that these charges rival the worst anti-Obama propaganda emanating from the Tea Party – the extreme right of the Republican Party – it is a burlesque on scholarship.  Everybody who knows anything about this question knows that the reductions in state government jobs are the result of cuts made by the Republican governors of those states – or layoffs resulting from severe deficits due to the prolonged economic crisis.

Furthermore, the Republican controlled Congress has blocked all the President’s efforts at more federal assistance.  Why doesn’t Dr. Montero understand this?  All he has to do is read “It’s Worse Than it Looks,” the new study of the Congress by Dr. Norman Orenstein, the leading scholar on the US Congress.  Although Dr. Orenstien is a resident scholar at the rightwing American Enterprise Institute, he is able to maintain scholarly objectivity and follow the facts wherever they lead.

Alas, Professor Montero is obviously unable to free his mind from the grip of misguided Marxist dogma.  His confused and dishonest prattle exhibits the worst characteristics of the Romney campaign: telling lies that are easily disproved.  Yet it is one thing to hear these kinds of ridiculous charges from paid right wing propagandists, who are indifferent to the truth and bank on the ignorance of the electorate to get over; but from a black professor who expects to be taken seriously in the black community?

Tony is an embarrassment.  His argument is an obscene parody of a serious intellectual polemic; the academic equivalent of a coon show.  Especially since his hysterical claim is so easily disproven by just reading the rigorously detailed study of President Obama’s Stimulus plan: “The New New Deal” by Michael Grunwald.  This award winning Time Magazine reporter has been following the trail of the Stimulus money since the bill was signed into law.  And as of this writing he is the foremost authority on the subject.  Here are some of Mr. Grunwald’s conclusions about what President Obama has done for the American people.

“The stimulus has launched a transition to a clean-energy economy, doubled our renewable power, and financed unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. It is computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system. Its Race to the Top is the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It has put in place the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, the largest research investments ever, and the most extensive infrastructure investments since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. It includes the largest expansion of antipoverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance. Like the first New Deal, Obama’s stimulus has created legacies that last: the world’s largest wind and solar projects, a new battery industry, a fledgling high-speed rail network, and the world’s highest-speed Internet network. “

This is real progress that will put this country on the path of economic recovery by creating a new economy – which is the only path to solving the critical problem of structural unemployment.  There is no Marxist solution to this problem.  Marx was a 19th century thinker who was living as an exile  in England after the failed “Young German” Democratic movement of 1848, which was brutally crushed by the Prussian army.

Like other talented “Forty Eighters” such as the great composer Richard Wagner, Marx was forced to flee Germany after their defeat and ended up in England. Hence Marx was witnessing the early stages of the Industrial Revolution in England when he was writing some of his major works, like the massive three volume tome Das Kapital.  But Marx was witnessing a very primitive form of capitalism that has very little in common with the advanced, post-industrial, cybernetic, finance capital system the exist in the contemporary USA.

Karl Marx: Father of Communism

Tony’s Messiah

But fanatical Marxists like Professor Monteiro evidently believe that Marx’s analysis is akin to Biblical revelation – not an analysis of the state of human society at the moment but an eternal truth.  An indication of how clueless self-righteous Marxists are can be seen in the comments of Grace Lee Boggs in an interview with the present writer.  The longtime wife of James Boggs, one of the most original thinkers about the place of workers in the American economy, Grace earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawyr at 23.  Now in her 90’s, she was a Marxist long before Tony was born.

And since she is a Chinese American from a well off New York family, that married an Afro-American factory worker/independent radical intellectual from rural Alabama, whom she met in Detroit during the great Depression, Grace Lee Boggs knows first-hand the struggles of real workers – not theoretical abstractions.  And since she was forced to take a secretary job at an auto plant because no university would hire her to teach western philosophy despite her impressive credentials, she personally experienced the horrors of racism.

James and Grace Lee Boggs

 Original Thinkers on the Left

I interviewed Grace when she was 92.  A longtime fan of the writings of her and James, I had taught two of James’ text when I was a history Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst – The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker’s Notebook, and Racism and the Class Struggle.” And I was reading “Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century,” which Grace and James had written together.  So I held her opinion in high regard.

Hence when she told me that she found it absurd that anyone could believe that Marxism held the answers to the problems we face in contemporary America I felt enormous relief. Her observation had confirmed my own conclusions.  Grace Lee explained that Marx, brilliant observer of human society that he was, could not imagine the problems that confront mankind today.

She said if anybody had told Karl Marx that the smokestacks which were a measure of human progress in his time, would imperil the existence of mankind as a result of air pollution he would have dismissed them as a fool…and anyone who told him that man could poison the oceans and make the sea level rise would not have fared any better.  But these observations should come as no surprise, because Marx was just a man not a prophet or Messiah, and thus his understanding of the world was limited by the state of human knowledge at the time.

Marx would be as lost in contemporary American society as the architects of the US Constitution.  This is no gratuitous comparison. I referenced the Founding Fathers of the American Republic because the fanatics on the right – a mirror image of the far left – invoke the US Constitution with the same reverence that Marxists hold for the dialectical materialist graffiti of Karl Marx.  But the truth is that neither of these 18th and 19th century documents can guide us through the complex problems we face without revision.

In his book, The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Workers Notebook, published in 1960, James Boggs had already begun to point out the inadequacy of Marxist theory to provide answers to what he saw as the central crisis facing the working class.  Boggs saw that the central problem for the working class in the future was not going to be “wage slavery,” but no wages at all due to dramatic technological changes in the production process.

The great British economist John Maynard Keynes, whose economic prescriptions rescued the world from the “Great Depression,” had hinted of this development when he predicted an increase in “technological unemployment” in the future. But neither of them imagined the phenomenon of globalization, which encourages manufacturers to abandon workers in the advanced western societies – who had successfully fought for good wages, the eight hour workday, paid vacations, a benefits package that includes health care and retirement income – in favor of workers in third world countries who willingly work under conditions that have been outlawed in the west.

And the investor class doesn’t care where commodities are manufactured so long as they get a high return on their money.  That’s why Mitt didn’t give a shit if the American auto-industry collapsed.  His business was relocating businesses overseas to enhance the profits of investors.  President Obama takes exactly the opposite view.  He has taken extraordinary measures to reverse this trend and return manufacturing to the US.  And he is right to view technological innovations that will produce new industries as the key to the revival of American manufacturing.

James Boggs predicted that the permanent unemployment of masses of workers, caused by radical unplanned changes in the structure of America’s economy, would change the antagonism between labor and capital and heighten conflict between the employed and unemployed!  That’s what we are seeing now with workers who support the plutocrats in the Republican party who want to destroy unions and reduce workers to industrial serfs.  There are no Marxist solutions to these problems, and even if there were all of our experience shows that you couldn’t sell it to the majority of Americans at this juncture in our history.

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

If we are wrong, and there is a Marxist solution, why doesn’t Professor Monteiro write a serious book that instructs us how to do it in policy terms?  The kind of detailed work Dr. William Julius Wilson has done in defense of the liberal welfare state. I have been hearing Communist talk about the revolution coming when the capitalism system fails for at least 50 years.  But we just witnessed the world capitalist system on the brink of collapse and the Communists hadn’t a clue what to do!

Since he fancies himself a political theoretician, why doesn’t Professor Monteiro tell us what his strategy is for getting his ideas through both houses of Congress?  Without such a plan he is just pissing in the wind!  Instead of this kind of detailed scholarship, which would be of real value to people in the actual struggle for a better society, all we get from Professor Monteiro is incoherent, overly emotional, nihilistic tirades on Facebook, which he attempts to substitute for substantive scholarship.

Since Tony is such an admirer of Dr. DuBois, whose legacy he is distorting due to his Communist biases, it would seem that he would at least try to follow his example of careful scholarship.  Not so!  In fact, based on his production, Tony seems to be intellectually lazy; not at all like Dr. DuBois, who was one of the most productive scholars of his time. And DuBois never enjoyed the support provided by a professorship at a major white university.  When Dr. Dubois produced his brilliant pioneering work “The Philadelphia Negro” under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, he was given the title of “Assistant Instructor” and paid a paltry salary.

Dr. WEB DuBois, Engaged Scholar

 A Great Activist Intellectual

Dr. DuBois was not allowed any contact with students and was forced to live in a cramped apartment in South Philly above a dive where violence often broke out as he was writing his masterpiece.  He also conducted his own interviews, convincing all classes of black folk to talk with him about their lives – even the criminal class.  And he was one of the best qualified men in the American academy.

In fact DuBois says that when he returned from Germany he was “educated within an inch of my life.”  Where is Tony’s update of “The Philadelphia Negro?”  This would be a valuable contribution, because the story of Philadelphia over the last forty years is a representative anecdote for the decline of urban America.

Dr. Monteiro is a sad mediocrity next to Dr. DuBois, who had  completed a Ph.D. at Harvard in history under Professor Albert Bushnell Hart – who practically invented the modern scientific documentary historical method – and also studied with Max Weber, “the Father of Sociology” in Germany.   But he had also completed all the requirements for the Ph.D. in Economics at the Kaiser Wilhelm University, including the defense of his dissertation written in German, and he was only 25!

And he did it in half the allotted time.  And most telling, while Dr. Montero pines to be accepted as a philosopher, Dr. George Santayana, Harvard Professor and one of the world’s leading philosophers, begged the young DuBois to become a philosopher, he even offered to personally mentor him, but Dubois turned him down!

The reason Dr. DuBois turned down an offer that Dr. Monteiro would exchange his balls for – if he had any – is because DuBois thought that sociology, history and economics were better weapons for an intellectual warrior committed to liberating and uplifting the race.  I think he was right, and it is as true today as it was then.

Based upon his nefarious activities in this critical election period, when the working class stands to lose every gain they have made since the passage of the Wagner Act and the New Deal, I can fathom no evidence that Professor Montero understands Dr. Santayana’s most famous axiom: Those who refuse to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes.

If Dr. Monteiro had any clue about the implications of all that European political history any Marxist worth his salt is grounded in, he would recognize the folly of the role he is playing now.  For instance he would understand that the main reason why Hitler managed to get himself elected and bring the Nazi Party to power, in the most intellectually advanced nation in the world, was because of squabbling on the left between the Socialists and Communists, and divisions in the Jewish community between Nationalist/ Zionists, Socialists and Communists.  These divisions so fragmented the opposition that the Nazis came to power.  And we know what happened after that.

Although Marxists are fond of drawing broad generalizations about historical phenomena, because they suffer from the conceit that Marxism is a “science” that has figured out the “laws of history, ” although it has proven to be about as scientific as astrology, Tony doesn’t seem to recognize that the role he, and other misguided leftist intellectuals and revolutionary poseurs, are playing can help Mitt Romney win the Presidency and the Grand Obstructionist Party take over the government in the coming elections. If he does not consider such an event an unmitigated disaster he is not only a deluded fool, but a dangerous fool.

And just what is Dr. Monteiro’s beef with President Obama that has caused his brain to go on the Fritz and decide to cut the fool in public? As near as I can tell he is pissed off because Barack can’t wave a scepter, or a magic wand, and make all his leftist fantasies come true…and what is worse there is no evidence that Barack even wants to – or would if he could. Yet the things he expects of President Obama are totally unreasonable given the political realities of contemporary America.

He does not seem to understand that this is not his beloved Soviet Union, where the Chairman of the Communist Party and the Central Committee could dictate policy with no opposition. To expect a similar result from President Obama is a retreat into absurdity.  In this country we have a two party system and divided government.  And the two major parties are further divided now than they have been since the outbreak of Civil war.

What Tony and his fellow buffoons on the far left like the shadowy and cowardly Glen Ford of the so-called “Black Agenda Report,” the pugnacious albeit clueless Comrade Dix – Bob Avaikian’s black puppet – from the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the Cornel West /Tavis Smiley traveling minstrel show, fail to take into account is that the majority of Americans do not support the things they propose.

In fact, they voted in the right-wing Tea Party fanatics to block President Obama’s progressive agenda, only two years after the Republicans wrecked the economy!   They ran on a pledge to undo the Affordable Health Care Act, and they have blocked any attempt to pass the President’s massive job creation bills.

None of the President’s verbose black critics have anything to say about the actual political realities he must accommodate.  They are silly automatons, having a collective temper tantrum in public. Just like the fanatics on the right – their mirror opposite – they view compromise as synonymous with selling out.  Yet unless we change the Constitution of the United States and create a one party state like the Communist countries, anybody who becomes President of the USA must compromise with the opposing Party in order to govern.

That’s the way the US government works, and there is absolutely no evidence that any sizable number of American citizens want to change it; the present writer included.  Because when all is said and done power resides in the hands of the people; they may misuse and squander it…. but they have it! This means that anyone who is successful in American politics must work within this system.

The thing that impresses me most about the President’s leftist critics is that their views on what the President can do bears no relationship to political reality.  That’s why the Marxist left in the US has settled for the role of national debating society.  They play no actual role in the real political life of the United States today.  All of their glory days are in the past.  And Marxist intellectuals like Tony Monteiro are producing no substantial work to convince their fellow Americans that a Communist government would be superior to the participatory democracy we now enjoy – with all its flaws.

Not only has Tony and his Marxist comrades – like that verbose simpleton Glen Ford of the so called “Black Agenda Report, who is next in line for a public chastisement – not produced any substantive policy proposals that could pass both houses of Congress, which means they cannot be taken seriously, there is no evidence that he really even understands practical politics.  Indeed, Tony often talks like one of the semi-literate white racists in the Tea Party in his assaults on the President.  Consider the following statement.

“But the only real defense of the Obama Administration and his reelection is the lesser of two evils mantra.   However, the moment in history, rather than making the lesser of two evils logic necessary has made it obsolete and an obstacle to ideological clarity and struggle.”

Since I have already written on the consequences of this point of view twelve years ago, when the left played a critical role in electing George W. Bush, I shall simply refer the reader to that essay. (See: “On Choosing the Lesser Evil.”  Suffice it to say that anybody who argues such a thing is obviously a charlatan or a fool.  I am beginning to think Tony Montero is a bit of both. Hence I have concluded that it is a fool’s errand to expect any clarity to emerge from his reasoning.

Tony Monteiro’s views on foreign policy and collective bargaining with municipal governments are incoherent and border on a kind of ideological hysteria; a condition that has much in common with the religious fanaticism of the right. Indeed it is the same class of phenomenon: one secular one sacred. The professor’s pronouncements about President Obama’s foreign policy amount to little more than silly sloganeering.  But then, this is the guy who wept when the Russian people overthrew the Communist Party.

He is like the stranger in an old Ibo proverb that came to the funeral and cried louder than the bereaved family.  The wise Ibo Elders warned us to “beware” of such people. Tony adopted the same role when he defended the murderous tyrant Mummar Gadaffi against the righteous wrath of the Libyan people; offering this profound heart-felt observation: “At least Gadaffi showed the white man he ain’t no punk!”

To people in Tony’s demented state of mind, objective facts mean little if they don’t support his scatter brained theories about the world.  Hence he can post ridiculous and dangerous comments on Facebook about the President like the following.

his actual stance on the working class, including the auto workers and teachers (an anti-teachers union film was being shown at the convention and of course the convention is taking place in the most anti-union state in the nation) is more viciously anti-union than Reagan’s attack on the air traffic controllers.”

The fact that the auto-worker’s and teachers unions take the opposite position makes no difference to him.  My sister was an organizer for the National Education Association for years before she retired, and I live under the same roof with an International Representative of the United Auto-Workers.  When I read Tony’s statements to them their answer was short and to the point: “This nigger is crazy!”   

If the facts don’t fit his ideological dogma then he just ignores them.  As in other matters Professor Monteiro refuses to consider the political context in which the Democrats must make decisions.  His blanket denunciation of Mayor Rham Emanuel regarding the Chicago teachers strike that commenced this morning is a dramatic case in point.

Like all propagandists, as opposed to scholars, Tony is not interested in the complexities, contradictions and nuances of this labor dispute.  Hence he uses it in an opportunistic rather than a principled manner.  For instance, Chicago has a law that mandates the City balance their budget, and the day Mayor Emanuel took office the School board was facing a 700 million dollar deficit.  Parents anxious about their student’s children education and safety support increasing the school day by 90 minutes, but the teaacher’s union opposes it.

The Mayor tried to make a deal with the teachers union to give them half of the 4% raise they are requesting in exchange for the extended school day. This issue, health care payments, and teacher evaluations are the points on which the negotiations failed.  The Mayor did not want this strike and urged the teachers to remain in the negotiations.

Although I think teachers are getting a raw deal all over the country, and that encroachments on their professional standing and compensation package threatens to destroy a public education system that made America the leader of the world, this is a very complex matter and it will take our finest minds and coolest heads to salvage this vital American institution so that it can continue to attract our best and brightest college grads into the teaching profession.

The public is pissed with municipal workers in general, and teachers in particular, due to the constant attacks on the benefits that they receive, and in the case of teachers they are also angry that they get the summer off, while so many kids are failing.  This attitude is mistaken and unfair, but it is real and no politician can afford to ignore it if they intend to remain in office.  Consider this letter written by a citizen of Chicago in response to an AP story on the strike this morning:

“This is just another staged democrat union stunt, the democrats probably have 50 teams of lawyers, one for each states, just waiting for November, so they file suit in every state, democrat party is nothing but communism, get real people and vote the democrats out of office.”

These kind of crazy attacks are constantly leveled at the Democratic Party from the right, while the Communist and other leftist wags are calling them right wing tools of the plutocrats, neither charge is true.  And now Mitt Romney has weighed in on the dispute with a statement in support of the parents and villifing the union, which further confuses things as he attempts to use the strike against the President.

It is the role of serious intellectuals – especially black intellectuals – to clarify these complex issues for the untutored mob.  Alas, Professor Monteiro and his leftist comrades have failed miserably; they have added to the confusion and clarified nothing!  All that matters to these misguided, narrow minded ideologues is that their “revolutionary theory” be vindicated, even if they have to bend the facts to fit it.

Tony is willing to go down this dead end road even though we have the unimpeachable testimony of former Russian leader Andropov’s official ideologist, who has publicly testified that the refusal to accommodate their ideological predispositions to observable reality was the major cause of the collapse of the Russian Communist Party and the fall of the mighty Soviet Union!  This is a clear example of the old aphorism: “Convince a fool against his will…he remains a fool still.”  And if these anti-Obama Marxist zealots are not damned fools the Gods never blew breath in one.

I pity his students, whose young innocent minds are being corrupted by bullshit like this.  Perhaps Dr. Monteiro has two faces, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: one he shows to his classes and one when he shows his silly ass on Facebook.  In any case, if Professor Monteiro spouts the same bullshit in his classroom – and here I am employing the term in the sense that the eminent Princeton Philosopher, Dr. Harry G. Frank, defines it in his book “Bullshit” – then he should be dismissed from his faculty position by his colleagues. Not because he opposes President Obama, but for intellectual incompetence: Quackery!

I have long considered Tony Monteiro to be a “Sociologist” in name only.  That’s because after many years in the academy he has produced no serious sociological studies.  He appears to be living a life of pretense, whereas he imagines himself to be an important scholar absent a body of work that would justify such a claim.

Among my friends are serious scholars who have done, and are doing, very important consequential work; people like Bill Wilson and Alan Counter at Harvard; Bernie Anderson at Penn, Gerald Horne at the University of Houston, Bernard Bell at Penn State,  et al.  When compared to these scholars Tony looks like a verbose intellectual fraud.

He is also a bust as a “Revolutionary activist.”  At a time when we are faced with the most reactionary foe in our lifetime, people who have pledged to dismantle Obamacare and undo the New Deal, instead of organizing a summer seminar to teach his students how to organize to defeat the reactionaries who will destroy their dreams for the future, our revolutionary professor took his students off for an extended circle jerk called “Philosophy and Black Liberation.”

That’s all well and good at some other time: but not this summer; not this fire eating revolutionary who sits in judgment on the President with all the objectivity of a Catholic priest Judging a Jew during the Spanish Inquisition.  The sad truth is professor Monteiro has nothing to offer in terms of political analysis but confused dogma, which results in the disorientation of the listener and a paralysis of analysis.  This is just the opposite of a serviceable critique for a people in struggle.

Alas, Tony and his Marxist comrades offer no plan of action; yet We are facing an election where the working class stands to lose every gain we have won over the last century. In the Bush economic collapse black Americans lost 67% of all the wealth that we have accumulated since the end of slavery and Hispanic lost 61% of their collective wealth.  My sister lost $500, 000 which she had gained from a lifetime of work, saving and wise investment.  Mitt Romney could be worse than Bush, and black America cannot stand another Republican regime that will destroy the world economy and wipe us out everywhere in the world again.

To dissuade black people from voting to reelect President Obama, thus aiding in a Republican victory, is worse than irresponsibility.   It is an insult to our ancestors – especially the fighters like Harriet Tubman, DuBois, Mary McCloud Bethune, and Paul Robeson – people Tony and his ilk like to identify with.  It is also a betrayal of black people today. In fact it is harder to imagine a worse abomination than for black people who declare themselves the leaders of the black community to persuade Afro-Americans to take action’s that amount to cutting their own throats.

And we may legitimately ask: what kind of black man is this, who is so alienated from his people that he cannot take pride in our first family, or give our visionary humane president a high five?  Who instead smears Barack’s name with vicious lies then has the unmitigated gall to demand that we follow him?  It is a study in delusions of grandeur.

The best thing about Tony Monteiro’s odious ideas is that nobody pays them any mind except a lunatic fringe.  Hence the damage his nihilistic vision can do is limited…and that’s a very good thing!  I am writing about him only because he represents a dangerous nihilistic political tendency on the black left, and it seemed to me that he would make a great poster boy for it; the face of black leftist nihilism.  Ironically, Tony will probably get more play from this essay than he has ever gotten before…but he won’t particularly enjoy his new found celebrity.

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

Playthell Benjamin
Harlem, New York

September 10, 2012

Confront GOP” History; Seize the Future!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on September 4, 2012 by playthell
 Big Willie Will Make the Case

 What the Democratic Convention Must Do

The Afro-American political theorists and cultural critic Harold Cruse once observed that Americans are “anti-historical and ant-intellectual.”  I often get the impression that the Republicans took Curse’s analysis to heart and are building their campaign strategy around it.  There is no other explanation that I can conjure to explain a televised convention where all of the major arguments are easily disproved lies.

The major role of the Democratic Party’s convention must be to expose the Republican lies, reacquaint the nation with the GOP’s recent disastrous history, and present a counter-vision for America’s future. The perfect entre into this discussion is to engage the question the Republicans have made their mantra: “Are you doing better than you were when President Obama took office?” In a recent speech Vice President Joe Biden has introduced a slogan that capsulizes the major issues upon which the Democratic response should be based.  “General Motors is alive and Bin Ladin is dead!” he shouted in triplicate.

This slogan supplies a launching pad for scathing critiques of Republican mismanagement of the economy and National Security – areas the GOP has owned in the last few elections. First they must attack the claim, repeated ad- nauseum by GOP flacks, that Bush and Cheney protected us from another attack by Islamic Jihadists.  The Democrats must expose this argument as a smoke screen to obfuscate the fact that the worst attack by a foreign enemy on US soil since the British torching of the White House during the War of 1812, happened on the Republican’s watch.

And the Democrats must point out that it could have been prevented; had Dr. Rice and the National Security elite not been so preoccupied with continuing cold war policies against a Soviet Union that no longer existed.  Democrats should not hesitate to present the compelling evidence that had the Bushmen been paying attention to the intelligence reports on Al Qaeda and Bin Laden, as the former Clinton anti-terrorist Czar Richard Clark repeatedly advised Condoleezza Rice to do, the 9/11 assault would never have happened.

The Democrats must also remind the voters that the tough talking Bushmen never caught the perpetrator after seven years of trying; although Osama bin Laden’s identity was well known.  Instead they launched a war of choice against Iraq.  The Democrats must use their face time with the nation to point out that Barack ended the war, protected the nation from attack, and killed Osama bin Laden!

On domestic affairs the Democrats need only remind the public that George Bush was handed a flourishing economy; with a balanced budget and billions of surplus dollars. But he wrecked it with his policies of deregulation of the banking sector, hundreds of billions in tax givaways to the rich, and launching a needless war against an unoffending country.   And the perfect man for that job is Bill Clinton, who gave Bush the booming economy.

Then they should concentrate on explaining and defending Barack’s magnificent record of achievement with the Grand Obstructionist working with the Grand Obstructionist Party. Who were pledged to make his administration a failure; even if they retarded economy recovery, put workers in danger of losing their unemployment compensation, and caused a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating for the first time in history over a routine budgetary matter.

The Democrats should constantly contrast Barack’s success with Mitt’s wacky prescriptions for solving the economic disaster; pointing out that the only other President who had a MBA from Harvard was George W. Bush!   And he, like Romney, was clueless on foreign affairs.  The Democrats should warn the nation that Romney has chosen the same foreign policy advisors – and their fellow travelers – who were the architects of the Iraq invasion

The Democrats should also emphasize the difference between them and the GOP on women’s, Immigrant, labor and gay issues. Once these facts are well known prudence would dictate a victory in the coming elections.  Yet given the widespread epidemic of ignorance, and the persistence of pervasive racism in the white working class, one never knows….anything can happen.

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

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 4, 2012

Mitt Romney Doesn’t have the Character for President!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on May 9, 2012 by playthell
  Would you buy a used car from this slimy dude?

 Reflections on a Lying So and So

By now it is clear to anyone who value ethical politics, and believe the President of this great nation must have a moral center; an inviolate sense of integrity, Mitt Romney is obviously not the right man for the job.  Unlike Barack Obama, whose squeaky clean personal life, rock solid moral principles, personal integrity, humane vision and unimpeachable official conduct, one does not have to make up fake horror stories to discredit Mitt Romney.

It is enough to honestly report his words and deeds.  The Romney campaign is based on blatant lies, both about his own and President Obama’s record.   This amoral approach to politics promotes cynicism among the youths and is a danger to the health of our participatory democracy.

It began with his first political ad, which was a deliberate attempt to deceive the public to gain political advantage.  During the last election a McCain Adviser was overheard saying if their campaign kept talking about the economy the Republicans would lose, because Bush’s policies had wrecked the economy.

Barack Obama quoted the McCain functionary statement in a speech, and the Romney supporters edited the video tape to make it look like Barack Obama was expressing his own views.  This is not a misunderstanding; it is an outright lie, and Mitt has been as silent as a feather falling on water about this perfidious deception.  In fact he has even tried to defend it when called upon to repudiate it.

Mitt is such a cold blooded liar that he makes claims for things that he is on the public record opposing, like the Auto-industry bailout; and he opposes things that he is on record previously supporting – like the health insurance mandate which he invented.  He is such a shameless liar his fellow Republicans had a field day pointing it out during the recently concluded Republican primary elections.

However, knaves and charlatans that they are, all of them are now endorsing The Mittster, and they are rapidly changing their tunes from laments to praise songs.  Although Rick Santorum’s endorsement was so tepid it amounted to damming with faint praise – it took thousands of words in an e-mail to reach his lukewarm choice.  Slick Rick reminded me of a circus performer who holds his nose and embraces a skunk because the show must go on!

Slick Rick

 Getting Ready to Embrace a Skunk!

They appear to forget that we can just go to the video tape and keep their attacks alive.  But as embarrassing as this campaign footage is, the most damming indictment of his character comes from the documented statements of Mitt himself.  For instance he now says he would have gone into Pakistan after Osama bin Laden, after going on record saying that he would expend no special effort to capture the mastermind of 9/ll.

He called such a policy reckless and foolish when President Obama said he would strike at high value targets in the global war against the Islamic Jihadist anywhere in the world, including Pakistan.  Some of the things Mitt says make you wonder if he’s abusing his meds; like when he chides President Obama for having gone to Harvard when he holds two Harvard degrees!  And his son also has a Harvard degree…whaasup wit dat?

There are far too many instances of blatant lies and shameless duplicity to catalogue here; it is enough to consider Mitt’s action on the campaign just a day or so ago.  When a wiggy woman at a campaign event announced that President Obama was violating the constitution and should be tried for treason, and asked what he would do to restore constitutional government, Mitt quickly told this obviously deranged woman he thought the constitution is a gift from God – sort of like the Ten Commandments – and assured her that he would act within constitutional guidelines.

The statement was made before the television cameras and broadcast around the world; yet Mitt never uttered a single word correcting this dangerous lie.  This was his opportunity to separate himself from the far right crazies in the Republican Party; like John McCain did when a woman on the campaign trail accused Barack Hussein Obama of being a secret Arab. Not so with The Mittster.  When asked by reporters later if he agreed with the woman he derisively said…”Of course not!”

But when the cameras were on and the President of the United States was accused of treason, a capital offense, Mum was the word with Mitt.  In a country with a history of murdering its visionary leaders – including the man who ridded American civilization from the wretched sin of slavery in the n19th century and the 20th century prophet who saved the nation from race war – it is the height of moral depravity to encourage that kind of talk in a gun crazed country by remaining silent.

As Dr. King was fond of pointing out, paraphrasing Dante, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who see evil being done and say nothing.  Lying, slimly, invertebrate may make a good jelly fish, but they don’t have the character be President of the United States.

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

Playthell George Benjamin

Harlem, New York

May 8, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Ides of March

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on March 16, 2012 by playthell

           

Barack Droppin Science in Maryland

Obama Exposes Republican Duplicity on Gas Prices

Henceforth the Ides of March shall be known not only as the day Julius Cesar was assassinated but also the day President Obama launched a devastating assault on Republican lies about the cause of rising gas prices.  I don’t know if the selection of this date was given much forethought, but the Ides of March was a great festival day for Mars, the Roman God of war!

And the President went to war with charlatans in the Grand Obstructionist Party, like “Newt the Poot,” who claim that if it were not for the president’s anti-American energy policies we could be enjoying unlimited gas at $2.50 a gallon.  As with so much of what the Republican candidates for president have to say, Newt’s claim – which has been echoed by all the candidates – is hostile to the facts.

Coupled with a sharp intellect, an abundant array of facts, and excellent lawyerly skill in presenting the evidence for his case, President Obama devastated a Republican narrative based on lies, half-truths, and transparent sophistry.  Displaying his abundant charm and streetwise panache, the president ridiculed Newt Gingrich’s three point plan to get gas down to $2.50 a gallon in record time. He asked “Why not $2.40? Why not “2.10?   He pointed out that America has become less dependent on foreign oil under his presidency than under George Bush, and that domestic oil drilling has dramatically increased since he took office.

Then he drove a spike through the heart of his detractors by pointing out that all proven US oil reserves comes to only three percent of the world’s production and we consume 20%.  Hence there is no way to end our dependence on foreign oil except to come up with alternative sources; such as solar, wind and biofuels.

He ruthlessly mocked the Republican candidates who have made fun of his attempts to wean Americans off our petroleum Jones.  “A lot of folks who are running for a certain office, who shall go unnamed,” he said with that IDGAF smile,  then surmised If they were alive when Columbus was setting out on his voyage of discovery that changed the world: “They would have been members of the Flat Earth Society” and opposed him!

President Obama contemptuously dismissed the pretenders from the Grand Obstructionist Party as shameless opportunist, who were “trying to ride the political wave of the moment….It’s been the same script for 30 years,” said the President.  Speaking to an audience of students and professors, the president’s performance was a thing of beauty, like a shark at sea.

The President painted a poignant portrait of an alternative energy future for America and dissed the chain of fools running for the nomination of the Grand obstructionist Party.   He left no doubt who had the keys to the future.  Hence like Caesar, the bogus Republican claims about reducing gas prices also died an ignoble death on the Ides of March.

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New york

The Ides of March

 

Barack or Mitt: Which Way America?

Posted in Playthell on politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 2, 2012 by playthell

             Richie Rich versus a Man of the People

Barack Tackles the Housing Crisis; What Would Mitt Do?

As the presidential election approaches President Obama is turning up the heat on the Grand Obstructionists Party and forcing the Republicans to take a stand against his proposals to address the economic desperation of millions of Americans.  His speech in Falls Church Virginia yesterday, proposing a government led solution to the housing foreclosure crisis, is his latest challenge.

He has already forced the GOP to take a stand on whether our government should directly address the unemployment crisis by putting forth the “American Jobs Act,” a comprehensive proposal that would rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and create massive employment opportunities as they construct the underpinnings of a new high tech “Green Economy.”

The Republicans who control the purse strings in the House have said a resounding no to this bill; in spite of the fact that it cuts the payroll taxes for 98% of American businesses. It also gives a complete tax holiday on up to 50 million dollars for companies that add workers, and provides a “Returning Heroes” tax cut for companies that hire veterans.  The bill would also prevent the layoff of over a quarter of a million teachers, at a time when we desperately need more teachers.  And that’s just a glimpse of all the critical economic issues this bill addresses.

By blocking its passage and trying to kill it, while vociferously opposing a picayune tax on the rich to fund it, the Republicans have made their contempt for the struggling masses of Americans crystal clear.  Although this fact should have been clear when they opposed the economic stimulus bill.  If there are those who still don’t get it, who remain unclear about which party is fighting for the working class, the President’s proposal to help 10 million beleaguered home owners and the Republican response should leave no doubt.

Although the details of President Obama’s proposal are too complex to fully explicate in this commentary, a few facts will suffice. First off all, the President’s proposal offers a broad refinancing plan that will save the average home owner $3,000 a year; then he proposed a uniform set of rules that borrowers and lenders must play by, with strict disclosure requirements designed to prevent conflicts of interest, and a greatly simplified mortgage contract that anyone can understand.

The President pointed out in his speech that his “Consumer Protection Bureau” – another magnificent gift to the American people – will chastise those who violate the rules the way they did to bring on this crisis. Furthermore the President’s proposal exempts unemployed home owners, whose homes are federally financed through FHA and other government programs, from foreclosure for a year.  Other major banks, including Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, are following the President’s lead.

To demonstrate the government’s commitment to strong enforcement of the new laws President Obama has created a task force composed of federal and state investigators from the Department of Justice; Housing and Urban Development, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  These policies will change the nature of the mortgage business, and put the government firmly on the side of the consumer.

Mitt Romney has offered no proposals to address any of these critical issues, and like all Republicans he opposes the President’s initiatives.  This bespeaks a basic difference in approach to the problem by the President and Mitt Romney, the Republican front runner.  And it tells us all we really need to know about where each party stands.  “While government can’t fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief,” says the President.

Mitt Romney, whom we are constantly told is the business wizard we need to save the nation from a Republican induced economic disaster, offers a very different solution.  “But the idea of trying to stop the foreclosure process kept it from occurring, kept the market from bottoming and recovering.  You have to let the market work and let home values recover as a result of that.  Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process.  Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”  This is the same approach Mitt took to toward the auto-industry in his now infamous New York Times Op-Ed piece: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

The difference between President Obama’s and Romney’s view of the American auto-industry, is that the President wouldn’t cold bloodedly allow a couple of million auto-workers, and other’s in related industries, to be thrown out of work, while Romney said tough shit!  Its thing with the housing crisis; President Obama’s wants to assist homeowners, whose only economic asset is their homes, and Mitt Romney views them as deadbeats who can’t pay their bills and thus should be left to the Darwinian machinations of the capitalists marketplace!

Their diametrically opposed perspectives on these critical issues mark the difference between a community organizer who worked to empower the poor – instead of taking his Harvard Law degree and rushing to a white shoe law firm – and a money grubbing vulture capitalist who is indifferent to the poor.

It is the difference between a Saul Alinsky Radical who fights for the poor, and a latter day Social Darwinist who believes the present distribution of wealth and power is the natural order of things….and only the strong should survive: survival of the fittest.  Like Barack, I want a government that helps the unfit become fit to survive.  It’s not only the Christian thing to do, as he pointed out at the prayer breakfast this morning: it is difference between civilization and barbarism!

 The Choice is Clear!!!

The Faces of Reaction and Progress

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Feburary 2, 2012

Chilly B Kills It!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on January 25, 2012 by playthell

     Here’s What It Is!!

 President Obama on the State of the Union

Once more President Obama demonstrated the power of magnificent oratory in his State of the Union address last night.  Like a theatrical performance, its power derives from three sources: The script, the performer and the setting.  Last night all three elements blended to perfection and the product was a special verbal alchemy which invests the words of the speaker with the power to touch the souls of the audience and elevate their spirits.  Such performances can even drive the listener to act on the orators suggestions:  In this case, to go out and vote for him.  And when the speaker is a gifted orator with no peer in the race, it is hard to see how he will not get his way.

That’s why the first time I saw Barack Obama speak at the Democratic Convention there was no doubt that he was no ordinary politician, and was destined to do great things.  History has since invested that suspicion with the gravitas of prophecy.  A close analysis of the content and structure of the president’s speech last night reveals an architecture which I think will prove a blueprint for success.  It began with a brilliant use of the military as metaphor; he gave the soldiers props and cited their remarkable ability to work together to solve serious problems under the most trying circumstancs.

This seized a traditional Republican issue away from them at the outset by appealling to the patriotism of the average American.   It also put Congress, which sits in the safety of posh offices far from harm’s way, on the spot by contrasting how the dysfunction resulting from partisan bickering puts the nation at risk, while soldiers routinely risk their lives to achieve objectives the government has defined on battlefields around the world.

In the same opening passage the President spun off a series of successful military missions which he ordered as Commander-In-Chief, among them taking out the arch-villain Osama bin Laden, the most hated man in America! The President’s achievements were so heroic the Republicans dare not hesitate to applaud even though it was exposing their campaign narrative, which cast the President as an appeaser, as a baseless lie.  It was a brilliant intro.

This was seamlessly followed by a succinct statement of his hopes and dreams for the future of our country that was both visionary and possible:

Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”  It is a vision that no one who wishes the country well can disagree with.  Hence the President was on his way to pitching a shutout!

Then he hit upon yet another winning theme: attaining the American Dream.  He defined it as “the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.” And he persuasively argued that  “The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important.”

President Obama’s prescription for how America can keep the dream alive was a complex mix of changes in the tax code that would raise the tax rate on millionaires and penalize multi-national corporations that ship jobs overseas; scrapping silly or redundant regulation of business, stringent measures against financial fraud and environmental pollution, government investment in education and Research/ development.  He summed his vision up this way:

As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber…. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last -– an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.” 

President Obama’s compelling oration was as specific as need be in a State of the Union Address; which is an occasion for stating grand ideas and clarifying one’s philosophical principles.  His task was to speak to the hearts of the American people, not carry on a discourse with policy wonks. Barack more than met the challenge, taking on the Republican charge that he is fomenting “class war” and dismissing it as the joke that it is.  Like a great blues song, where the singer enumerates and laments the troubles of the world, but ends the song on a note of hope, President Obama concludes with the observation:

Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team.”

The speech succeeded so well that Mitch Daniels, the latest sacrificial lamb chosen to reply to our silver tongued President, came across like a combination of Mr. Potato Head and Chicken Little, preaching gloom and doom!  And to make matters worse for the embattled Republican candidates: all the talk this morning is about another daring raid by Navy Seals in Somalia, that rescued a blond American woman with the improbable name of a soap opera character – Jessica Buchanan – from what seems to be a well armed gang of street thugs!  Life is good for the President just now….. and the Grand Obstructionist Party is in deep doo doo.

                    President Obama and the First Lady

             Good News for the Buchanan Family!

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem New York

Janurary 25, 2012

On The State Of the Union!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , on January 25, 2011 by playthell

 

 President Obama Reports to Congress: Circa 2011

 

Tonight President Obama goes before a joint session of Congress and presents his “State Of The Union Address.” This regularly scheduled speech to the American people offers a unique opportunity for the President to present his vision of the condition and prospects of American society.  This oration comes at a time when the nation is beset with myriad troubles and woes. We are in a protracted war with the global Islamic Jihad; yet we are bogged down in two Islamic nation’s where the enemy is only nominally located, while the Jihadists metastasize into a more deadly force with each bomb or drone that goes awry and slaughters innocent Muslims.

At home we are beset with increasing violence from anti-government zealots pushed over the edge by right wing verbal arsonists in the mass media, and a protracted economic crisis that has all of our most learned Doctors of Economics befuddled. No one has a compass that shows a clear path to recovery while millions of unemployed Americans sink into despair as their lives becomes increasingly chaotic. Furthermore the mindless zealots that now dominate the electorate have put a group of ideologues in office that are clearly clueless about what this moment requires of our leaders and threaten to make matters worse. 

Thus far the only thing the Grand Obstructionist Party has been clear about in their ill defined mission is that they intend to dismantle the federal government and gut the entitlements Americans now enjoy.  Thus the first act of the new Republican led Congress is to repeal the recently passed Health Care legislation.  This was a landmark event in the history of health care in the United States; it is an achievement that has eluded presidents of both parties for over a century.

Reduced to its simplest terms it is fair to say that Presidents Obama’s most serious challenge is that he is tasked with governing a land where barbarism and civilization contend for the hearts and minds of the vast untutored and backward mob, whose numbers are such that they are now a powerful force in our political culture. The danger these people represent was clearly demonstrated in the last election.

With empty heads and twisted values they are loose cannons who are a danger to their own interests and therefore a menace to the progress and prosperity of our nation. Their fetish for guns and violent, racist, rhetoric has already driven men to bloody murder for spurious political reasons.  These clowns place the President in a position where he is damned if he does and cursed if he doesn’t.  The issues of semi-automatic and automatic assault weapons are a graphic case in point: Those on the liberal left want them banned – as does the Association Of Police Chiefs. The gun freaks in the National Rifle Association on the other hand targets any politician who advocates gun control for political extinction.

Given the President’s historical erudition and political acumen I am certain he has read the tea leaves correctly. This understanding will exert a powerful influence on the shape of the President’s message. Which, in order to be successful, must be crafted to appeal to the sane elements of the American electorate who are interested in real solutions to the nation’s pressing problems.  And he will make a serious mistake if he does not rely on his impressive record of real accomplishment on behalf of the American people in assessing the State of the Union.

 

 

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New york

January 24, 2011

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