To Hell with The Turks!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , , on February 11, 2016 by playthell

Erdogan of Turkey

Recep Tyyip Erdogan: President of Turkey

Barack’s Restraint in Syria is the Right Policy

The recent outburst by Recep Erdogan, President of Turkey, accusing the US of supporting terrorists in Syria is a slap in the face of an ally whose military might alone prevented Putin from leveling part of his country, maybe even bombing major cities like Ankara or Istanbul, when he recklessly shot down a Russian fighter Jet that he claims drifted into Turkish air space while flying a combat mission over Syria.  If anybody had doubts about the extent of Erdogan’s recklessness that incident should have convinced them.  If Putin had not exercised restraint – a decision the Republican controlled Congress would have impeached president Obama over had he shown similar restraint if an American plane had been downed by Iranian fire – the US and Russian would have been at war.

By virtue of our treaty commitments as a member and dominant power in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, we would be required to come to the aid of Turkey with military force.  In such a state of hostility anything could have happened because Russia cannot successfully wage a conventional war against NATO forces, which could be deployed from the territories of countries surrounding Russia that were a part of the Soviet Union until the break-up of the USSR after the fall of the Russian Communist Party in the last decade of the 20th century.  As I have written elsewhere it was extreme folly to expand NATO – a military alliance formed to contain the expansion of the international communist movement in the post-World War II period – into Eastern Europe after the collaspe of communism.   As Professor Stephen Cohen, and other serious scholars of US-Russian relations have pointed out: It was a move that violated the spirit of the accommodation Russia made with the West ending the Cold War.

As I write the leaders on NATO are making plans to supply arms to these former Russian republics, which I view as a step towards doomsday because in any military conflict with NATO Russian will quickly introduce the nuclear deterrent by putting their weapons systems on alert.   And no knowledgeable observor doubts that the Russian nuclear arsenal is quite capable of obliterating every city in the NATO alliance within an hour!  Hence the US is doing a death dance with the devil in forming alliances with little countries whose existence has no real bearing on the national interests of the United States, countries like Turkey. These misguided and dangerous foreign policy decisions are driven by the bogus ideology of “American Exceptionalism,” which underlies the assumption that the US has a divine right, even an obligation, to shape the rest of the world in our superior image.

It is this ideology which keeps the US in a state of perpetual war by promoting the idea that American leadership of the world is essential; it is a refrain that we constantly hear from the Republicans in Congress and is a belief shared by most Americans, who are willing to squander trillions of dollars on foreign military adventures while our roads are barely traversable in many parts of the country, our bridges are falling down, our electric grid is out of date, and the water supply of an entire city is poisoned by lead from antiquated pipes and Republican budget cuts. The belief in American Exceptionalism has led us into otherwise inexplicable military alliances with third rate countries like Turkey.

After only recently taking an action that could have thrown us into a military conflict with Russia, which could plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust, Prime Minister Erdogan – a pugnacious fool who is perhaps the most admired political figure in Turkey if judged by electoral success – has now accused the Obama administration of supporting Terrorism against Turkey.  After declaring that the US was responsible for “A sea of blood” in Syria, because of its support of Kurdish forces in the YPG which the US says are the only fighters that have proved effective against ISIS; Erdogan went on the accuse the UN of double crossing them and said to Americans:

I told you many times: Are you with us or with this terrorist organization?  Is there a difference between the PKK and the PYD? Is there a difference with the YPG?  We have written proof! We tell the Americans: ‘It’s a terror group.’ But the Americans stand up and say: ‘No, we don’t see them as terror groups.’”

These comments provide irrefutable evidence that further US military involvement in Syria would be a fool’s errand, extreme folly.  The Syrian conflict is playing out in a theater built on quicksand, and in the fog of war it is hard to tell who’s who.  We have only to carefully consider President Erdogan’s statement to see that this assessment is true.  The paramount objective of the US in Syria is to overthrow the regime of Bashar al Assad and destroy the militant jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: ISIS.  And the want to do this without putting American “boots on the ground.” This means the actual fighting must be carried out by surrogate forces.  However the problem with US policy is that it is contradictory and therefore they are working at cross purposes.

Fierce Kurdish Forces to the Rescue
Kurds PKK
PKK Fighters: Reliable Allies against ISIS

To overthrow the Assad regime and defeat ISIS is a paradoxical proposition because the other forces fighting Assad are often indistinguishable from ISIS and thus are only interested in overthrowing the Syrian government and replace it with an Islamic regime.  There may be some forces interested in replacing the dictatorial Assad regime with a liberal western style democracy, but the evidence shows that they are few and far between. President Obama understands this; that’s why he has steadfastly refused to arm any of the factions, although there are signs that his resistance is crumbling in the fact of persistent and slanderous Republican criticism.  The truth be told, the two most effective military opposition forces to ISIS are the Iranians and the Kurds.  Alas, the Iranians are unacceptable to the Republicans and the Kurds are unacceptable to Turkey.

This is because in the swirl of claims, counter-claims, and ancient animosities that fuel the conflicts in the region: one ally’s hero is the other’s villain. Hence while the US views the Kurdish forces as a godsend, the Turks view them as denizens of the devil.  This is because the Kurdish militants in the PKK have been fighting the Turks in a protracted struggle for independence and when they take territory they hold it with the intention of making it part of a new Kurdistan.   But this is of little concern for the US, whose paramount objective is crushing the ISIS Caliphate ruled by Caliph Ibrahim.  In a New York Times article of August 12, 2015 titled “Why Turkey is fighting the Kurds who are Fighting ISIS,” we are told:

“Kurdish fighters have been coordinating with the American military since last October. From cloaked rooms in northern Syria, members of the militia known as the Y.P.G. have relayed intelligence and coordinates for potential airstrike targets to an American operations center hundreds of miles away.The resulting strikes have in turn helped the Kurds seize a broad stretch of territory along the Turkish border from the Islamic State. “The role of the coalition jets has been essential to these victories,” said Idris Nassan, a senior Kurdish official from Kobani.”

Since 1978, when the Kurdish Workers Party – PKK- was founded, the Turkish government has attempted to suppress them by force of arms – much like the American Civil War.  According to some estimates thousands of Kurds have been slaughtered by the Turks at a cost of around 450 billion dollars. Not willing to admit the legitimacy of their claims for a national homeland as a human right, the Turks have labeled them “Terrorists.”  But since the US was born as a result of a fight with their British colonial masters many Americans, including the Obama administration, view them differently.

Without this historical perspective it is impossible to make sense of Turkish President Erdogan’s hysterical charge. Alas it is an irresolvable contradiction, we view the Kurds as valued allies in the fight to defeat ISIS, and the Turks view them as dangerous “terrorists” who are trying to dismember the unitary Turkish State.  Erdogan wants Barack to join him in defeating the nationalist goals of the Kurds, but Barack wants no part of that…and rightly so.   The French are also unsatisfied with Barack’s refusal to be drawn into extraneous fights that deter or retard the fight against ISIS, and wants him to commit more American forces to the fight.  I say the president should keep his eyes on the prize and to hell with Turkey…France too!

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
February 11, 2016

Hail and Farewell!

Posted in On the State of the Union 2016, Playthell on politics with tags on January 20, 2016 by playthell
Barack Obama's last State of the Union -January 12, 2016
Barack’s Swan Song to Congress

 President Obama on the State of the Union

President Obama leaves the Washington scene as he entered: A brilliant and humane visionary promoting policies that will benefit Americans and the world.  In his final State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, he has never been clearer or more forceful in stating that vision; indeed he was Solomonic in his wisdom about the human condition at the dawn of the twenty first century.

In an oration that combined a relaxed demeanor with soaring eloquence, he was both the gifted politician and erudite professor tutoring us on the facts of his achievements as President, which by any objective standard is a sterling record admired around the world, and presenting a detailed vision of where the nation must go now… what is to be done.

It is the task of this essay to conduct a content analysis of his presentation and consider some of the critical questions addressed by the President as the end of his historic presidency draws nigh; the full significance of which will be the subject of lively discussion among historians a hundred years hence.  Since journalism is considered “the first draft of history” by professional historians, this is my contribution to the discussion.

Barack was showered with kisses from the ladies as he made his way to the podium in the grand entrance that marks the opening of this annual Joint Session of Congress, convened for the special purpose of hearing the President report on the condition of our nation.  After a brief introduction by a stiff, stone faced, Paul Ryan – whose position as Speaker of the House required him to speak well of the President, although his demeanor was that of a circus performer who holds his nose and kisses a pig because it’s a critical part of his act – Obama began his report on the State of the Union.   With a bit of humor to break the ice, he quickly put the GOP reactionaries at ease by giving props to their Speaker.

It was textbook perfect, the way all the instructional manuals on public speaking tell you how to do it.  And it disarmed them, nullifying their hostilities for the moment.

Tonight marks the eighth year I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.” Said the president with a chuckle; referring to the presidential primary race.  Then he offered an olive branch to Speaker Ryan: “I also understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we’ll achieve this year are low. Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families.”

Having acknowledged the rare occasion when Congressional members of the Grand Obstructionist Party worked constructively with him in conducting the people’s business as they were elected to do; the President optimistically noted,” So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.”  Hence in the space of eight and a half lines President Obama expressed humor, grace and hope; an excellent way to open a speech to a chamber half filled with venomous Republican adversaries spoiling for a fight.

The president went on to further demonstrate his mastery of political polemics by cleverly stating his agenda succinctly while disavowing his intent:

But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry; I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing: Fixing a broken immigration system; protecting our kids from gun violence; Equal pay for equal work; paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.”

Having gotten his basic list of things to do in the short run on the record, the President assumed the role of visionary humanist, a role in which he excels over any previous occupant of the Oval Office.  And here, he was clear in his purpose. “But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future.”  President Obama pointed out that we are living in the most dynamic period in human history, a time when massive changes in the structure and function of human societies are changing at warp speed, and discussed the implications of this mass transformation in human societies:

 “We live in a time of extraordinary changechange that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.”

As with much of what he had to say in his final State of the Union speech, this astute analysis was clearly directed at the “conservative” anti-science, racist, sexist, Neanderthals in the Grand Obstructionist Party; those deluded “American Exceptionalists” who think they can arrest progress by ignoring the revelations of science and who seek refuge in comfortable myths about “the good old days” when men were men, families were modeled after Adam and Eve  “not Adam and Steve,” God was on America’s side, father knew best and white was right!  Those sad old white who folks go around muttering about “taking our country back!”  To these lost souls Barack offered the following dose of reality:

“America has been through big changes beforewars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we didbecause we saw opportunity where others saw only perilwe emerged stronger and better than before. What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nationour optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of lawthese things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.”

Witnessing the upbeat character of Barack’s presentation, the careful observer could not miss the difference between his heroic optimism regarding America’s potential and the grim visage and defeatist body language of the Republican members of Congress. These people, who never tire of referencing Ronald Reagan as their patron saint, had allowed Barack Obama to claim the high ground and announce the coming of new morning in America.  Furthermore, unlike Reagan, who was painting pictures of a glorious future that he was promising to bring into being, Barack Obama was referencing the forces of progress that he had already unleashed by virtue of his policies.  Actual deeds…not mere words, accomplishments not empty braggadocio. I hope the Democratic presidential candidates were paying close attention, because herein lies the formula for victory in the coming Presidential election.  They must not repeat the folly of Al Gore by not claiming Barack’s victories and Democratic victories and running on them.

Indeed, the most powerful part of the president’s speech was when he claimed his record and stood on it; a magnificent record of achievement that no Republican President can match save perhaps Abraham Lincoln, who presided over a very different Republican Party.  Alas, the only connection the present generation of Republicans has to Lincoln is their fondness for LincolnContinentals,which would have gone the way of the dinosaurs and ceased to exist if not for the bold intervention of President Obama to save the US auto industry….a move which the Grand Obstructionist Party vigorously opposed!

This is irrefutable evidence that the Grand Obstructionist Party cannot govern; addicted to a “free market” theology which allowed Wall Street to go wild with reckless financial schemes, they wrecked the economy and then did everything they could to obstruct President Obama’s policies for preventing a worldwide depression and restoring a dying economy to health, for their picayune partisan reasons.  This is a matter of historical fact.

As if striking a dagger through the heart of his Republican antagonists and twisting it, or breaking his foot off in their ass – President Obama recited the undeniable achievements of his Administration:

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.”

Then he provided the raw numbers as evidence of the scope of the progress that has occurred under his leadership, which are staggering:

I-14.1 million new private sector jobs over 70 straight months of jobs growth

II – The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in more than 7 years

III – The deficit has been cut by nearly three fourths since 2009

IV – American manufacturers have added nearly 900,000 jobs over the past 6 years

After citing the evidence to the contrary the Prez declared with a snide and defiant smile – what hip black folk call an IDGAF – I don’t give A F….! – Smile, declared: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” Yet despite his recitation of these impressive statistics measuring economic progress, President Obama is not claiming that we have reached an economic Nirvana, nor does he make any attempt to fudge the facts about the economic challenges facing the American people in the future.

Rather, in characteristic fashion, and to his credit,  he not only enumerates the major problems but offer solutions to them that could be implemented as policy if his adversaries were as enlightened, compassionate and well intentioned as himself.  Finding the solutions to complex problems starts with asking the right questions and I believe that the President summed up the major problems facing the US in four questions:

“First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against usespecially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?”

The reader can hear the President’s full speech simply by clicking on the link at the bottom of this essay; it was one of the best speeches that I have heard from an American President, and I would bet my bottom dollar that it is one of the greatest State of the Union orations in American history.

The stony silence of the Republicans, in the face of such a magnificent record of achievement against tremendous odds – restoring the economy and ending to protracted wars overseas, salvaging the lives of young people who were being physical and mentally devastated in a criminal Republican war of choice, ending the hemorrhage of American blood and treasure – exposed them as morally deformed empty ideologues.

All but the ignorant and evil could readily see that the Republicans are intellectual and moral midgets compared to the president.  Of course, beyond the ideological stance they have taken, and are held accountable for by the untutored mob that is their base, they couldn’t applaud President Obama’s accomplishments because they were achieved in spite of the persistent and disloyal opposition of the Republicans.  Hence Barack’s achievements signal the failure of these partisan efforts; short sighted amoral folly has placed the fate of the earth second to their political ambitions – evil on steroids!

The careful observer, who could identify the principal players in the tragic political comedy of errors that masquerades as serious politics among Republicans, could not fail to be intrigued trying to read the facial expressions and body language of Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of The House, as he introduced the President to the Nation before he spoke, and all during his brilliant and moving hour long speech.

Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address
Barack Obama and Ryan What’s on Ryan’s Mind?

For much of the speech Ryan looked like he was fighting the urge to poop in his pants.  For among the things he was surely thinking is that he must not anger his racist yahoo base by appearing to show a proper respect for the “Nigger” in the White House.  Yet Ryan is no fool, and thus like all vain men who know they will one day be evaluated by impartial historians that will have the last word about their official legacy, he wants to conduct himself in ways that will not prohibit historians being kind to him.  After all, his grandchildren will one day read their books, and he doesn’t want them hiding their faces in shame when they learn that he obstructed efforts to prevent climate change.

Furthermore, there were so many brilliant ideas and bright moments of extraordinary insights in President Obama’s speech that Ryan could not resist marveling at his mastery of the art of political oratory in much the same way that saxophone players responded when they heard Charlie “Yardbird” Parker play. No matter what they said about his playing, and many felt genuinely threated because Bird was assaulting their conventional wisdom about how Jazz was to be played and making them sound obsolete, in their hearts they knew he was their superior and the music he was playing was the sound of the future!

Congressman Ryan is a practicing Catholic, and as such he is taught that the Pope is infallible in his judgements; he has even tried to claim that his backward ideas about economic policy are rooted in catholic teaching. Yet the Pope has rejected Ryan’s ideas and embraced those of President Obama’s!  This is because, as was noted in the Huffington Post in an essay by Reverend John Pavlovitz, “Rather than being the kind of showy, loud but largely loveless noise in the world that the Apostle Paul warns believers against becoming, the President’s time in the White House has yielded the kind of tangible fruit Jesus said would be the mark of the true person of God.”

The Reverend proceeds to enumerate the president’s deeds, which are always more credible than mere words; anybody can talk a good game. But as Reverend Pavlovitz shows: Barack Obama walks the walk, rather than just talk the talk, like those verbose bible thumping Republicans who rarely practice what they preach.  Unless he is a complete lying hypocrite, to be rejected by his spiritual father in favor of a man that his party denies is even a Christian, has to trouble Ryan deep in his soul.

Ryan would also love to be President, but when he ran as Vice President to Mitt Romney they were roundly defeated by Obama.  Hence no matter what stance he is compelled to take publicly, in his heart and mind he cannot but wish that he had Obama’s political gifts.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan announced that he was switching parties, after former Speaker of the House John Boehner quit his office and left Congress after a private audience with the Pope on his visit to Washington!

Although I advance this only as a suspicion: I believe the Pope told Boehner that he was risking having his immortal soul confined to hell if he continued his nefarious deeds, placing the imperatives of the plutocrats over the injunction of Jesus Christ to “feed the hungry and heal the sick” by cutting food stamps and trying to repeal Obamacare.  That would explain why a man at the pinnacle of power high-tailed it out of that decadent evil Babylon which is the Republican-controlled Congress, and the “Weeper of the House” has not been heard from since.

Perhaps Ryan, who often strikes me as the personification of the Devil, will have an epiphany and see the error of his ways. He sure looked like he was experiencing some sort of internal crisis as he listened to President Obama’s speech which, after all, contained both enlightened ideas and indisputable truths. But that hope was dashed after reading Ryan’s comments to USA Today following the speech Ryan said:

“I thought it was a fairly typical speech for the president,” Ryan said.  “Apparently ISIS is a bunch of guys riding around in trucks and a picture of a good foreign policy is Syria. I think he glossed over the economy. I think he glossed over our foreign-policy failures.” Later he said, “That’s the kind of speech he gives these days, and I think it really is divorced from reality.”

The obvious question raised by that comment is: Can the Speaker of the House be as childish and stupid as he sounds?  I believe that Ryan, like all of the spineless opportunists terrified of the wrath of their backward base, plays to the prejudices of these impassioned morons…yet in his heart and mind he does know better. The truth be told they all know better, but the Republicans that presently control Congress cannot admit it, because the only weapon they have to combat the outsized legacy of President Obama, a legacy of monumental achievements on behalf of the American people that cannot be factually refuted, is to cultivate the the blind hatred of the untutored racist mob that is their base.

Keeping that base ignorant and angry is especially critical just now, when the Presidential election is only months away.  Although the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with these hysterical mooks they are fundamental to the fulfilment of the GOP agenda; a pro-plutocrat anti-worker, anti-woman program.

Hence they must fire up “low information voters” so that their passions will overwhelm reason and prevent the election of another Democratic president who will defend and extend the progressive policies of President Obama.  However Barack envisions another America; it is a vision filled with the heroic optimism that put him in the oval office twice.  He sums up his vision at the end of this oratorical tour de force thusly:

“…. the America I know….the country we love. Clear-eyed, big-hearted, optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”

Chilly B is still heads and shoulders above his opponents!
President Barack Obama takes a shot during a game with Cabinet Secretaries and Members of Congress on the White House basketball court, Oct. 8, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
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Double Click on Link to hear the President’s State of the Union

https://youtu.be/nwpR6YfgUYU

 

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
1/20/2016

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Double Click on Link to hear the President’s State of the Union

https://youtu.be/nwpR6YfgUYU

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
January 14, 2016

Round Bout Midnight at Berta’s Place

Posted in Photo-Essays with tags , on January 9, 2016 by playthell
Cover Pic
 The Watchman Counts down to 2016

Swinging in the New Year at Berta’s

 New York City is the most exciting place in the world on New Year’s Eve.  People come from all over the world to ring in the New Year, and every musician worth is song has a gig.  In the decades that I have resided in this marvelous city I have attended many fine parties in different parts of the city – although I was always in Manhattan when the clock struck midnight – and for several years I gave some pretty exciting parties that attracted interesting people from all over.

I have even swung the New Year in down at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club nestled in Jazz at Lincoln Center – see “Swinging in the New Year at Dizzy’s Club.” But for the last few years I have swung in the New Year at Berta’s Place on Riverside Drive in Harlem, where a stylish crowd of black New Yorkers that include business people, artist, thespians, and esthetes gather to be serenaded by some of New York City’s finest musicians…..and they play straight ahead Jazz!

It is a wonderful communal effort where once the rhythm section begins to swing, any instrumentalists can contribute to the fun.  On this evening there was a variety of singers and instrumentalist that took their turn, but the highlight was the performance of two of Harlem’s Jazz Kings: tenor saxophonists Patience Higgins and Bill Saxon, who owns a Jazz club in Harlem.

Berta’s daughter, co-host of the fete, is a wonderful singer; decked out in passionate red, she looked like an ebony goddess as she took the mike, struck up the band, and anointed us with a soul serenade.  We swung in the New Year with pizazz!  Here are some of my visual impressions of that beautiful bash.

It was all Blues!
At Berta's Party - Daughter
She Sings Real Jazz!
Tenor Madness!

At Berta's Paty III

They really got Down!

A Piano Man

This Piano Man always makes the Party!
The Congero was in the Pocket

At Berta's Party II

The lively Rhythms…
Made folks face the Music…

DSCN9918

…..and do a Jazz Dance!
Others made beautiful Music

At Bertha's Party with Melodica

On Exotic Instruments
And the band Played On
Cover III -Saxson
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 Some folks were Clean as the Board of Health!

A elegant Man at Berta's II

Le Chic!

Whether they were Fly….

 At Bertha's [arty couple

Or Chic…
A Brown Fox at berta's
Folks were decked Out

At Bertha's part gele

Some wore Afro-Centic Styles
Old School Cool

A Sharp Couple

Ruled!
  There were lovely, stylish Women Evertwhere

A Silver focx at Berta's

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At Berta's Party redbone

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Cover Beauty

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Cover Black Beauty

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A pianist at Berta's

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DSCN9834

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At Berta's Party IV

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DSCN9760

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At Bertha and Daughter

Like Mother….Like Daughter!

 It was a great place to greet the New Year

At Berta's Party

It has great Atmosphere
And you get to hang with out with Stars….

Admola at Berta's

Like the Internationall Renowned Artist / enterprenuer Ademola

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Click on link to see Bill Saxon

https://vimeo.com/indra05/billsaxton

Patience Higgins at Harlem’s famous Lennox Lounge
https://youtu.be/qHgLK8bnj84
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
New Years, 2016

Angel On My Shoulder

Posted in On Natalie Cole with tags , , on January 3, 2016 by playthell
Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole: Singing with Soul

The Triumphs and Tragedies of Natalie Cole

 I cannot remember a time when the silky voice of Nat King Cole was not crooning somewhere in the background – Mona Lisa, Sentimental Reasons, The Christmas Song, Nature Boy, It’s Only A Paper Moon, When I fall In Love, Straighten Up and Fly Right, etc, the sound tracks of my life.  That’s why when I learned that his daughter Natalie was one of the students in my class at the University of Massachusetts, I was surprised and elated.  Having the daughter of Nat King Cole under my tutelage was something really special.  Perhaps, I thought, I could repay Nat for the many pleasures he had provided me by helping to shape his daughters view of the world in a way that revealed the heroism and beauty of her heritage as an African American.

Little did I know that she understood next to nothing of that heritage because of the way she was raised, and that being the daughter of old king Cole was a burden as well as a blessing to a young black woman trying to define herself in a competitive society with a racist white majority.  Natalie was smart and charming and appeared to be unpretentious and well adjusted.

That’s why I watched in surprised horror when she started doing drugs, careening down the road to self-destruction in a misguided quest to become authentically “black.”  Tragically, her idea of being black was fashioned by the decadent values of the urban lumpen-prolitariat from whom a colorful element of the black student population was recruited, the “field niggers” who had been celebrated by Malcolm X, valorized by the Black Panther Party of Oakland, and glamoried by “Superfly” and other black gangster movies that were popular in this period.

The fact that Malcolm X had no clue what he was talking about – since he was spouting mythology not history – and it was really the “house negroes” who actually organized all of the slave revolts everywhere in the Americas, renders Natalies more tragedy than farce.  Having no reference point for understanding the kind of highly privileged life she had led, I was puzzled by her apparent need to be “down” with some of the fastest and unsavory elements among the students from the inner-cities of Boston and Springfield; some of whom where obviously dead end kids.

In her new autobiography “Angel On my Shoulder” Natalie takes us into her privileged childhood, which was as different from the average black child’s in America – or white ones for that matter – as a fairytale is from the real world.  It was a life of gated communities, grand mansions, exclusive private schools, and lavish parties with some of the biggest names in American show biz, along with their mostly rich white friends.

However it was also a life as part of a family with a loving but absentee father and an emotionally remote, social climbing, materialistic mother who thought it more important to tag along behind her husband criss crossing the globe than to stay at home and raise her five children, two of whom were adopted.  On more than one occasion in this text Natalie laments the fact that her mother was not “more nurturing.’

Afro-American Royalty
The wedding cake
The Marriage of Nat and Maria Cole

Without pulling any punches, Natalie chronicles her fall from affluence and respectability and descent into the surreal world of drug addiction, where her new runnin partners were whores, thieves, dope dealers and assorted felons from the Springfield projects. In this predatory world she began to print and cash bogus checks.

Speaking of the prostitute who had befriended her when she first got strung out on heroin at the beginning of her singing career, Natalie tells us, “Peaches took it upon herself to instruct me in the fine art of extracting welfare checks out of folk’s mailboxes. When I turned out to be useless as a thief, Peaches found me another assignment: counterfeiting and check fraud.  I mean, why bother stealing checks when you could just print your own?”  And she continued to do just that, until “Big Al,” a black detective in Springfield, where she had moved after leaving Amherst, busted her.

The detective recognized her and let her walk after interrogating her about her career criminal friends, then giving her a stern warning to change her ways before somebody ended her days.  She would later view Big Al as one of several “Angels” who would intervene in her life when she was in a life-threatening crisis.  In fact, this is the major theme of the book.

Natalie got out of Springfield all right, but she was still carrying that monkey on her back.  And it would ride her into the ground on several occasions until she finally decided to straighten up and fly right, seeking medical treatment for her drug addiction.  But before she would finally clean up and kick drugs altogether, after a six month confinement in Hazelden, an exclusive drug treatment center, she would go from weed, to LSD, to heroin, to crack.  It was a tragic journey that lasted 20 years?

In the process she went through two failed marriages and a succession of bad relationships.  She became estranged from her mother and ruined many friendships of a business and personal nature. Miraculously, she wrecked her career and, like the Phoenix, rose from the ashes and soared again.  She would have a record setting night at the Grammies for her tribute album to her father “Unforgettable,” a beautiful work of art.

The most interesting part of this book is Natalie’s discussions of making music, especially her descriptions of the working styles and personalities of the many talented arrangers, composers, lyricists, studio musicians and record producers with whom she collaborated to make her many hit records.  Also of great interest are her cameo portraits of the many great performing artists and other powerful persons who were friends of her father’s.  It was a virtual who’s who of American show business that included Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Danny Thomas, Sammy Davis Jr. Jack Benny, et al.  Jack Kennedy was also a good friend, and even showed up at her sister’s coming out party.

Strangely, however, while Natalie pays generous kudos to her father’s singing, virtually nothing is said about the fact that he was also a great pianist. Yet the King Cole Trio is one of the seminal trios in the history of jazz.  This fact was also overlooked in the recent Ken Burns PBS television series “Jazz.”  And stranger still, in all of the criticisms heaped on that path breaking series, none, to my knowledge, and I read a truck load of them, mentioned the omission of Nat “King” Cole, in spite of the fact that he was selected as the pianist in several all-star bands.  Regarding his proper place in the music, it is enough to say that he elaborated on the style of the great Earl “Fatha” Hines.

Nathaniel Cole: Virtuoso Pianist
Nat_King_Cole_(Gottlieb_01511)
A Great Pianist who found Fame and Fortune as a Crooner

In the end however, what we have in “Angel On my Shoulder” is another sad tale of a tragic girl singer.  Much about Natalie Cole’s story brings to mind the self- destructive sagas of Billy Holliday and Judy Garland.  The difference however is that Natalie began her life in wealth and privilege, and she has beat her drug habit and is living a drug free existence.

Furthermore she is presently enjoying a thriving career, having recently won the NAACP Image Award for best female actress over great thespians like Loretta Devine and Candy Alexander, who played a notorious junkie in the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Corner.”  It was an award however which she correctly admitted that she did not deserve in her acceptance speech.

However, like Lady Day, Natalie Cole seems doomed to have serious man troubles for the rest of her life, despite the fact that she is looking fine these days and is holding grand theft dough.  But, sadly, she sounds as if she is a candidate for the convent in the final chapter of her autobiography, as she swears off men and seeks satisfaction in a relationship with Jesus.

Yet at the end of the book I find myself wondering, as with every tell all text of this genre, what motivates people to publish the tawdry details of their lives.  However I am of mixed feeling about it, my ambivilance in the fact that for the historian, and student of history, such revelatory texts are pearls of great price; despite the fact that professional historians view such self-authored text with a jaundiced eye and counsel against taking them as the final statement on the course and significance of an important life.

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

 To See performances double click on links below
Nat Singing  “Unforgettable” 
https://youtu.be/Fy_JRGjc1To
Natalie and Nat sining “Unforgettable”
https://youtu.be/MKCyUe4syc4
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Janurary 3, 2016
**Originally Published, November 2000

In the Sorceress Workshop

Posted in Ceramic Sculptors with tags , on December 25, 2015 by playthell

In the Wizards Workshop

Marvelous Conjurations in Clay

 Revealing the Secret Beauty Of Clay

A couple of years ago I thought of ceramics as tiles – floors, walls and ceilings – and ceramic artists were the marvelous Italian tile men that did the fabulous works in fine homes and commercial buildings in New York City – of which I had seen many during my forays into the construction industry as a member of the Society of Master Painters, Local 18 District Council 37 of the Brotherhood of Painters, Plasterers and Allied Trades.

Despite my acknowledged skill as a writer I often found myself laboring alongside my Blue Collar brethren after writing something that pissed an editor or publisher off and abruptly caused a parting of the ways.  Since I thought virtually all of them were intellectual lightweights I was usually beating them down whenever fate would have us cross swords – Alas, I regard intellectual polemics as a blood sport and neither ask, nor give, any quarter.

As a result we often came to a parting of the ways and I returned to the construction business, where I got to see the greatest artisans in the world lay tile in fantastic color coded patterns, especially the Italians, who seemed to have passed their techniques down from Roman times.  I thought I had witnessed the best of the achievement of ceramicists….and then I discovered Ceramic Sculpture!  It was a revelation when I first saw the works of Susannah Israel, an internationally renowned ceramic Sculptor and Professor of Sculpture.

I would later learn that she was part of a venerable tradition of mud magicians who could fashion works of fine art from clay.   This was all the more surprising since all of the sculptors that I knew in New York were into bronze and used clay only as a throwaway material employed to create models for the molds that produced the bronze sculptures.  The works of Susannah and her colleague Michelle Gregor first captured my imagination and I composed multi-media photo essays on their works

Under the careful direction of Professor Israel, the Resident Artist Director of the budding Oakland Museum of Ceramics – which was the original vision of her late husband Bill Lassell, who sought to provide a permanent home for the many works of Susannah and her colleaguesI have been carefully documenting these works of art for a forthcoming multi-volume photo essay on the artists and their works.  Since I find the fashioning of fine art from mud a splendid alchemy indeed, this has been a real labor of love.  Here are some selected photographs of Susannah’s work from my forthcoming book “Molding Marvels from Clay.” Some of them will be displayed in a show here in New York this winter; the invitation has been extended to me and accepted.  I will announce the time and place as soon as a firm date has been agreed upon.  This is a Christmas card for art lovers designed to make your spirit dance!

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

In the Wizard's Workshop III

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

Poseidon’s Daughter

Posieden's Daughter Edit

A Freshly Fired Beauty…..

Posieden's Daughter II

Still in the Kiln
The Marvel is….

Posieden's Horses rear view

….. Susannah Conjures the horse’s form and spirit from all perspectives

The Royals!

Royals Standing Tall

Standing Head and Shoulders above
Above the Common Lot
Royals Exacting Tribute
Their Nobility…..
Is Reflected….
Royals Presiding over their subjects
In their Regal Bearing
Wisdom and Confidence is Projected
Royals Standing Tall
In their faces and body language
An Enchanted Place where Natural and Supernatural Creatures….

The Soul Patrol III

Commune with one Another
All Manner of Visual Alchemy is Conjured Here
Fire Horse I
Even Multi-Media Marvels
Like Horses flying through Fire Clouds

Fire Horse II

Stuff that Messes wit yo Mind!
Through Imaginative  Multi-Media Minipulations….

Mimo's horde

We can make Clay horses flee New Guinea Ghosts!
Or Fly through Silver Clouds
First Choice
Like Mythic Apparitions
Then Descend to Earth under the Omnipotent Gaze of Ceramic Idols
Descending to Earth
Landing with elegance of movement and figure
Sometimes they fly in the window to escape the storms
DSCN8036
Anything can happen in the Sorcerer’s Workshop
They Even Run through Cosmic Fires
Fl
And Emerge Magically Unscathed!
Sometimes they just Cavort About
 First choice
 Racing through an enchanted Forest
The Intrepid Art Collector
Posieden's Daughter and Suitor
Will discover many rare treasures 
At the Oakland Museum of Ceramics!
 At the Oakland Museum of Ceramics
A Tent of Aesthetic Miracles!

Edit I

Where endless art treasures are fashioned from clay!
Even the Light is Magical 
Light and Shadows A Place where Light and Shadows play Hide and Seek
 Kristopher Mandell: The Sorceress’ Apprentice

The Sorceror's Apprentice

A budding Ceramic Artist
The Sorceress!

The Wizard V

Sculptor Susannah Israel Chillin in a Contemplative Mood
Or Planning her Next Magic Show

First Choice 

Bill Lassell
Bill Lassell
The Visionary who Conceived the Oakland Museum of Ceramics
PhotographerPlaythell Benjamin
DSC06963
Photographed by Susannah Israel

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

Playthell George Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Christmas Morning 2015

Donald Trump is a Dangerous Chump!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on December 10, 2015 by playthell
donald-trump_0
Populist Plutoctat or shameless Charlatan?

Yet the Republican Base loves him while the Elite Weeps

 “Ye shall reap what ye sow!”

As a Yellow Dog Democrat I confess it is amusing to witness the hand wringing of the Republican establishment as Donald Trump blows up their chances of winning the presidency and possibly lose them the Senate to boot. Beyond that Trump’s hysterical anti-Muslim rants is endangering US national security by simultaneously aiding the recruitment efforts of ISIS, while making it harder for our Muslim allies to mobilize forces to attack ISIS on the ground with US backing.  Hence Donald the Clown is a liability for the GOP in domestic and foreign affairs. Yet they are only reaping what they sowed; this is why watching their public expressions of anxiety is so funny .

The establishment of the Grand Old Party aka “The Grand Obstructionist Party,” encouraged Trump’s outrageous racist antics when he fueled the so-called “Birther” movement that challenged Barack Obama’s bonafides as a native born American, thereby questioning his right to serve as President, an office he won in a national election fair and square….twice!   The Republican big wigs were mealy mouthed or remained mum on the subject because chump’s rancid rhetoric proved to be useful propaganda in their efforts to motivate the untutored, insecure, racist, and frightened white working and lower middle classes which make up the “Tea Party” trend in Republican politics and comprise the “party base.”

This is the demographic that was identified in a recent public health study as suffering the fastest growing death rate in the country.  The major causes of mortality among this group are indicative of stress filled lives lived on the edge of despair; sclerosis of the liver due to alcoholism, and drug abuse legal and illegal top the list. Hence these are desperate people looking for a savior in the post-industrial wastelands of America, and a strongman offering simple solutions to bewilderingly complex problems seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

Since nobody understands better than the plutocrats, the wealthy elite whose interests are promoted and protected by the Republican Party, that the aims and policies of their party are diametrically opposed to the economic interests of the “base,” they placate them with racism, xenophobia, and Jingoism.  All of which are personified in Donald Trump.

From the moment he announced a second run for the US presidency, the campaign waged by this pugnacious politically ignorant racist clown had all the characteristics of a fool’s errand. I thought he had no real chance at victory, but the campaign would cost him a fortune in financial losses and damage to his reputation…which was not that good to start with among many New Yorkers.   Before the campaign had hardly begun Trump’s dirty mouth and reckless diatribes cost him plenty in terms of public ridicule and lost business deals.

After his scathing comments about Mexican immigrants, accusing them of everything from being rapist and garden variety criminals to bringing infectious diseases into the US, he was roundly denounced and ridiculed in the media, and a train of corporations with whom he was doing business cut ties with the New York real estate developer and fled.   This includes television networks such as NBC and the Spanish Language TV network Univision, which aired his beauty pageant. And the government of California has voted to divest in any Trump enterprises they were doing business with.

However considering the fact that Trump has pledged to finance his own campaign, he could end up blowing a lot more dough.  For instance, the leading candidate in the race, Jeb Bush, has amassed a war chest of over a hundred Million dollars and there are millions more where that came from.  Although thus far Bush’s bread appears to have had no effect on his standing in the race, since the last time I checked he was below 5%.  It is no secret that the Republican establishment is behind Bush and wishes that Trump would disappear, as he is besmirching the party image and alienating Hispanic Americans – a constituency that party strategist with the Republican National Committee has identified as vital to a Republican victory in the 2016 presidential election.

After fiddling around for days after Trump’s scurrilous attacks on Mexicans Jeb Bush, whose wife Columba is Mexican, vociferously denounced Trumps anti-Mexican comments as “extraordinarily ugly” and assured us they are “not reflective of the Republican party.” But Trump chumped Jeb off by pointing out that his wife was Mexican and insinuated that he was pussy whipped and thus couldn’t be trusted to handle this issue objectively.

Terrified by Trump’s no-holds barred campaign style, in which mudslinging private attacks were considered fair tactics, the rest of the Republican presidential field maintained a silence that conjures up the oath of “Omerta” pledged by Mafia members. While Trump, pompous blowhard that he is, has stood firm and remained unrepentant, and despite the fact that those contenders who first stepped up to oppose him – like former Governor Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana – bit the dust, the rest of the Republican field have been forced to increasingly abandon their mealy mouth lawyerlike double talk and sound the alarm that a Trump victory in the primary elections would spell disaster for their Party.

They are speaking out despite fact that it will offend the racist sentiments of many in the Republican base; the beleaguered white working class whom they have courted with thinly disguised racist diatribes against President Obama.  However the party pros, the strategists like Karl Rove who understand the demographic profile of the entire US electorate, well know that the people who turn out and cheer Trump are a minority.

Hence they are worried to death about what the enigmatic, abrasive and fiercely independent Trump may do or say next.  It is fair to say that the old line Republican establishment is deeply worried about the damage Trump is doing to their brand every time he takes the stage.  His latest statements about Muslims have won the opprobrium of people around the world.

The Prime Ministers of America’s closest allies Britain and France have publicly denounced his views in extraordinary comments on US domestic politics.  Even the Mayor of London was moved to respond to a comment from Trump about the dangers posed by the Muslim population of London, that he would be much more afraid of running into Trump on the street during a visit to New York.

And as any thoughtful observer might imagine, Trump’s comments have flown like a steel balloon in the Muslim world, where they have been roundly denounced by students, scholars, politicians and of course Imams.  Tom Freedman, the erudite Foreign Affairs columnist for the New York Times, tells us in a column titled “You ain’t no American Bro”:

As for Trump, well, he may be a deal maker, but he’s no poker player ready for the Middle East five-card stud sharks. His xenophobic rhetoric and unrealistic, infantile threats of massive bombing make up the kind of simplistic hand you’d play in “Go Fish” — not in this high-stakes game. Beyond playing into ISIS’s hand by denigrating the U.S. presidency and our democratic ideals, Trump is doing real damage to America’s ability to lead a coalition, the only vehicle that can effectively address this problem.”

Despite the obvious damage this Trump chump is doing to his party and his country with his reckless rancid rhetoric, this megalomaniacal corporate martinet and amateur politician charges on oblivious to the concerns and protests of his fellow Republicans, as he trashes their dreams of capturing the Oval office with his malicious follies.  And it serves them right!

They made a Faustian Bargain by supporting or turning a deaf ear to the Tea Party and Trump’s racist attacks on President Obama, and now the Devil has come to claim their souls.  It is a poetic justice.  The Grand Obstructionist Party has just the candidate their dirty deeds deserve: A race baiting pugnacious chicken hawk and Vietnam era draft dodger, itching to squander more American blood and treasure in Middle East wars, raging through the Grand Obstructionist Party with the destructiveness of a bull in a China shop.  Indeed, they are reaping what they have sown!

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

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
December 9, 2015

The Whole World in his Hands

Posted in On Pope Francis and Catholocism, Playthell on politics on December 2, 2015 by playthell

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Centre, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Obama discussed the COP21 climate change summit, and the threat of terrorism from the Islamic State Group. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Obama shares his Vision of the Future

An Ideal  Statesman for our Troubled Times

Early on in his tenure as President I marked Barack Obama as the most politically gifted, humane and visionary statesman ever to occupy the Oval Office – a space that has been occupied by charlatans, racists, anti-Semites, misogynist, slaveholders, child rapists, and mass murderers.  This was not merely partisan cheerleading, but a candid accounting of Obama’s assets as they were revealed to me in his actions.

The first thing he did upon election was to sign a nuclear arms limitation treaty with Russia; the second thing was to tackle the problem of economic recovery after George W. Bush and the GOP gang wrecked the economy; then he moved to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and seek peace with the Islamic world by travelling to Egypt, the incubator of the modern Jihad.* And like this writer he was convinced the invasion of Iraq was a misguided “war of choice” in which vast amounts of American blood and treasure was needlessly squandered. Alas, history has proved us right.** Hence unlike many American commentators on the right and left I thought that he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.***

The positions President Obama advanced at the Paris conference on Climate change COP21 – attended by 180 heads of State and 40,000 delegates from 196 countries, the largest gathering of heads of state in history – proves that I was also right in my initial assessment of him as a statesman.  The paramount objective of the conference was to put in place an agreement to reduce atmospheric emissions from Greenhouse gasses that would be legally binding on the nations of the world – like the ban on deployment of weaponized germs and poison gas in warfare.

The Paris treaty is designed to keep the planetary climate below two degrees Celsius from what it had been before the Industrial Revolution.  While this may not seem like much to the average person, it would be instructive to visit the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan and see how changes in the natural environment wrought by the toxic effects of the Industrial Revolution led to the extinction of numerous species.  Now that Homosapiens are threatened with extinction from industrial pollution world leaders have gathered in Paris with the urgent mission of preventing this catastrophe from happening.

None have been clearer about “the fierce urgency of now” than President Obama, whose active and committed leadership in this historic effort is indispensable. He addressed the conference with an amazing combination of candor and humility: “I come here personally as the leader of the world’s biggest economy and second-biggest emitter to say that America not only acknowledges its role in climate change, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.”

The tone and content of his speech is a measure of the gravitas of this issue and the depth of Obama’s character and vision; one would be hard put to find another instance of an American President admitting US culpability in the creation of a global disaster.  It is this willingness to look honestly at American history – the good, the bad and the ugly – that impressed me the first time that I heard him speak.  One cannot imagine such an admission from any Republican, and few Democrats.

Yet it was precisely the right tone for this moment, for to display any hint of the characteristic arrogance fueled by an assumption of “American Exceptionalism” would have been self-defeating…a non-starter with this audience.  The President went on to point out the concrete steps that the US, under his leadership, has undertaken to address this global crisis.

Over the last seven years, we’ve made ambitious investments in clean energy and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions.  We’ve multiplied wind power threefold, and solar power more than twentyfold; helping create parts of America where these clean power sources are finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.  We’ve invested in energy efficiency in every way imaginable.  We’ve said no to infrastructure that would pull high-carbon fossil fuels from the ground, and we’ve said yes to the first-ever set of national standards limiting the amount of carbon pollution our power plants can release into the sky.”

What he did not say however, is that he accomplished this over the impassioned objections and active resistance of the Republican opposition, who passed two bills nullifying the president’s executive orders reducing carbon emissions while he was negotiating the Paris agreement.  However this treachery by a disloyal opposition will come to naught because President Obama will veto them.

However it reveals the true character of these amoral science deniers and shills for the interests of petro-chemical magnates like the Koch brothers, who finance so much of the right-wing Republican political agenda.  By their actions they have supplied provided irrefutible evidence that they lack both compassion and vision and are willing to sacrifice the fate of the earth and the future of their grand-children to their lust for power and greed of the plutocrats.  It is no base hyperbole to argue that should the Grand Obstructionist Party seize control of the Presidency and Congress, the policies they will enact will be a disaster for all of humanity.

The most tragic aspect of the Republican argument against reducing greenhouse gas emissions is that it is based on gross ignorance and blatant lies; as are so many of their arguments.  The biggest lie is that these measures to protect our environment will stymie the economy, rather than simply reduce the profits of the fossil fuel producers.  President Obama exposed their shameful game by presenting the facts.

The advances we’ve made have helped drive our economic output to all-time highs, and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades.  But the good news is this is not an American trend alone.  Last year, the global economy grew while global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels stayed flat.  And what this means can’t be overstated.  We have broken the old arguments for inaction.  We have proved that strong economic growth and a safer environment no longer have to conflict with one another; they can work in concert with one another.”

The president went on to point out that there is reason to hope that the present trends of global warming and all the attendant evils like rising sea levels, which are already clearly apparent to peoples living on Island nations, can be reversed if the nations of the world act in concert to solve this tragic problem.  And again he cites the results of his own policies as a model for how it can be done.

“Earlier this month in Dubai, after years of delay, the world agreed to work together to cut the super-pollutants known as HFCs.  That’s progress.  Already, prior to Paris, more than 180 countries representing nearly 95 percent of global emissions have put forward their own climate targets.  That is progress.  For our part, America is on track to reach the emissions targets that I set six years ago in Copenhagen — we will reduce our carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.  And that’s why, last year, I set a new target:  America will reduce our emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels within 10 years from now.”

Leaders from every corner of the world acknowledged the problem of global warming and pledged to follow our president’s example and take action to curb emissions in their countries.  And although his piece of sovereign ground, the Vatican, emits no carbon gasses, the Pope left no doubt where he stands on this critical matter; which puts rightwing Republicans who are Catholic on very shaky ground with God, since according to Catholic doctrine the Pope is infallible!  This is why many people believe the former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, quit his office and resigned from the US Congress after a private audience with the Pope.  The word is that he was concerned about the fate of his mortal soul come Judgement Day.

It will be interesting to see how Paul Ryan, a devout Irish Catholic who is the new House Speaker, will fare on the question of global warming; a phenomenon his party officially denies. In fact, just this morning the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christy, a practicing Catholic who is touted as one of the wiser candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said on national television that he didn’t believe global warming is real no matter what the world’s leading climate scientist say.  In view of the fact that as I write the New York Times has published a story on how the US government has offered immediate immigration status to the residents of the American controlled Marshall Islands in the Pacific because they are sinkng due to rising sea levels, Christy is either fat dumb and clueless or he is a shameless lying charlatan.  In either case he is clearly unfit to occupy the most important office in the world!

Pope Francis however is unambiguous on the issue.  He told reporters aboard his private plane returning to Rome “We are on the brink. We are on the brink of a suicide, to use a strong word, and I am sure that most of those at the COP have this conscience, and want to do something.”  It’s going to be big fun for a yellow dog Democrat like me to watch these professed Catholic politicians try and snake dance around this glaring paradox.

It’s Now Or Never!

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis (C) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd R) and first lady Michelle Obama (R) as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

So Sayeth the Pope

Seeking to relieve the fears of developing countries such as India and China, who rightly feel that the developed countries like the US created this problem in the course of their development but now want to solve it at their expense, President Obama proposed a compensation plan funded by the rich countries.  His view was a comprehensive one that sought a fair deal for the rich and the poor nations; which is the only way this effort to save our planet can work.  It is yet another indication of the intelligence and humane vision of Barack Obama, beside which all of the Republican candidates appear as nihilistic moral Neanderthals.

However during his press conference before leaving Paris, some thoughtful reporters expressed skepticism as to whether these policies will survive should a Republican succeed him as President.  The president’s response to their questions was upbeat and politic; just what the situation required.  First he flashed that devilish smile for which he is famous, and said that he expected to be followed in the Oval Office by a Democrat because he had faith in the wisdom of the American people – a confidence this writer does not share – and then he became contemplative about the gravitas of the presidency and the sobering effect it has on the those who hold it.

“But even if somebody from a different party succeeded me…one of the things that you’ll find is that when you are in this job you will think about it differently from when you are just running for the job.  And what you realize is what I mentioned earlier, that American leadership involves not just playing to a narrow constituency back home, but you are now in fact at the center of what is happening around the world.  And your credibility, and America’s ability to influence events around the world, depends on taking seriously what other countries care about.  In fact there is a reason why you had the largest gathering of world leaders probably in human history here in Paris.  Everybody else is taking Climate change really seriously.”

It is to the deficit of the American nation that Barack Obama cannot run for a third term like Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, for he has conducted his office with Solomonic wisdom and is by far the wisest and coolest head among any of the candidates of either party who are likely to become president – including the Wall Street loving hawkish Hillary Clinton…for whom I shall gleefully vote against any Republican who pretends to this powerful office; the most powerful executive position in the world.  As this is the first of a two part series, I shall analyze President Obama’s position on Syria, Russia, Turkey and the global war on terror in part two.

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

This is a Muliti-media Presentation
Click on link below to see President Obama’s speech at Paris Conference
https://youtu.be/GyzrcMONm60
Clink on link to see President Obama’s Paris Press Conference
http://www.c-span.org/video/?401442-1/president-obama-news-conference
  • Citations
  • See: “Of All the Places in the Muslim World why Egypt?
  • See: The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq
  • See:Barack Obama Wins the Nobel Prize
  • See: Hail to the Juggler!
  • Playthell G. Benjamin
  • Harlem, New York
  • December 2, 2015
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