Dirty Donald Walks Again!

Posted in The Second Trump Senate Impeachment with tags , on March 1, 2021 by playthell

Portrait of a Malignant Narcissist

 Jamie Raskin Calls for Impeachment

 And Presents a Great Opening Argument

If you care about the fate of our constitutional democracy, you should pay close attention to the second Impeachment trial for Dirty Donald, the fascist minded criminal buffoon who tried to disrupt the well-established, constitutionally mandated, peaceful transfer of power. This transfer of power is the litmus test for a democracy. And Congressman Raskin, who was instructed in Constitutional law by the great Lawrence Tribe at Harvard and spent 30 years as a Professor of Constitutional Law, gave a brilliant analysis of the LIMITS of the speech that is protected under the First Amendment. And he explained why Dirty Donald’s incitement of a mob attack on Congress is not protected under the First Amendment, which is the heart of Don tha Con’s defense.

If a president who loses an election which is verified by the legally constituted state election boards, and verified by SIXTY COURTS OF LAW, attempts to block this transfer of power by inciting an armed mob to attack the US Capitol while Congress was in session, with the intention of disrupting this fundamental constitutional function by maiming or killing key members of Congress, in the hope that he will be able to declare marshal law amidst the ensuing chaos, this is treason.

Democrats make Airtight Case for Constitutionality

The Senate impeachment trial of Dirty Donald Treasonous Trump has begun, and the democratic managers from the House of Representatives who are presenting the case are brilliant in their opening arguments. There are many reasons to watch this trial, privileged among these is the opportunity to learn much about the constitutional history and laws of the United States, and the intellectual stimulation of listening to a great debate, especially when poignant examples of erudition and sophistry are dramatically on display.

As I write it is obvious that the Republican strategy, presented by a career Pennsylvania prosecutor, Bruce Castor, a clever bumpkin who was obviously caught off guard, will attempt to obfuscate the erudition of the Democrats with a pile of transparent bullshit…shameless sophistry! The question under discussion this morning is whether the Impeachment proceeding itself is unconstitutional, which is the argument of the Attorney’s for Don tha Con. The Democrats response to this claim was characterized in equal parts by erudition and eloquence of a very high order.

The opening argument was presented by Congressman Jamie Raskin, who was a Professor of Constitutional Law for 30 years before his election to Congress. His argument delved deeply into the history of the Impeachment powers defined in the Constitution. In an amazing display of learned analysis, he cited case after case, and examined numerous legal opinions on the impeachment powers by jurists and constitutional scholars across the ideological spectrum, dating back to the earliest days of our constitutional republic.. These arguments sound the death knell before Dirty Donald’s mouthpieces – smarmy characters who attempt to pervert the letter and spirit of the Constitution in defense of Treacherous Treasonous Trump for fool’s gold – ever says nary a word.

Congressman “Professor” Raskin was followed by two very able Congressmen who are excellent trial lawyers, and the case they presented was deadly! Citing legal precedent and the opining of distinguished legal scholars, they drove the final nails in the coffins of Trump’s advocates as if they were intellectual corpses.

I can envision no convincing comeback for these compelling arguments. And to the optimist who say, “well you never know, where there’s life there’s hope,” I say but for the pervasive moral rot and cowardice among Republican Senators – which is at the root of our present national tragedy – I would put Dirty Don tha Con’s chances of exoneration at less than the chances of a snowflake in a pizza oven!  After Congressman Neguse, a handsome brilliant young East African from Colorado, and a third Congressman whose arguments were no less erudite and compelling than his colleagues that preceded him, concluded their arguments, Congressman Raskin returned to close out. Then the Republican arguments began.

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IN DEFENSE OF DONALD TRUMP

SOPHISTRY, DUPLICITY, SHAMELESS LIES!

Bruce Cantor Fumbles the Ball

The American adversarial system of trial practice, in which contending sides offer competing narratives of the issue at hand before a jury of peers who will decide the issue in a public trial, has been a blessing and a curse.  It has proved effective in exonerating the innocent and convicting the guilty.  But it has also been used to convict the innocent and exonerate the guilty. Alas, which outcome one achieves is due to a variety of factors: the competence of legal counsel, the nature of evidence, the intelligence, competence and impartiality of the jury.

The nature of legal advocacy is such that it does not require the lawyer be completely convinced of their client’s innocence.  All accused have a right to legal representation under the US system of jurisprudence.  The accused has a right to plead innocent. The 5th Amendment protects them from being compelled to testify against themselves. And the duty of the advocate is to make her clients accuser prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty. Alas, a competent lawyer can construct a counter-narrative that makes the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt difficult even in cases where the guilt of the accused seems obvious to the average person.

The Trump defense lawyers – who remind me of the Three Stooges – did a masterful job of that today.  They followed the dictates of the conventional legal wisdom: If the facts are on your side, argue the facts.  If the Law is on your side argue the law.  If neither is on your side, then impugn the character and motives of your adversary and engage in obfuscation designed to confuse the facts and the law. Leaving the jury unable to distinguish fact from fictions, the truth from a lie.

We saw a textbook example of this today.  To be sure, much of these shenanigans would not have been allowed in a courtroom, but this is an impeachment trial in the Senate, where almost anything goes. For in a courtroom information introduced as “evidence” in a trial must be relevant and material to the case under litigation.  Hence all of the footage from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations against police murders of unarmed black men, would not have been admissible because it is irrelevant and immaterial to this case.

The only way such information could even appear to be relevant in this proceeding is to view it devoid of context.   In the case of the invasion of the US Capitol by Dirty Donald’s red caped MAGA militants, armed with a variety of weapons, these suckers had been cultivated for weeks by torrent of lies fed to them by their President.  Despite the fact  Dirty Donald has been flagged for telling over 20,000 lies during his tenure in the Oval Office by professional fact checkers at the Washington Post and the Toronto Star, these untutored zealous Trumpanzees, unquestioning devotees of the Trumpist cult, continue to regard his every utterance as gospel truth!

However, the measure of their success in this exercise in mass deception is not the intellectual gravitas of their legal polemics, nor even if they make sense when subjected to basic critical analysis; it is their effectiveness in achieving the goals of the Trump defense.  And this cannot be considered apart from the audience at which their arguments are directed.

The Trump Defense team are not directing their arguments to the legal establishment, or the law professors, nor even their Senate colleagues on the other side of the aisle, for they have already been rounded rejected by legal luminaries from these communities on the left and the right, liberals and conservatives! The are zeroed in on two objectives: Providing a fig leaf that will give cover to Republican Senators who refuse to convict Dirty Donald, although they know he is guilty as sin!  And providing lawyerly double talk, lies in legalese that serve as apologia for Donnie’s dirty deeds, confirming the beliefs of the untutored mob of MAGA cap wearing morons that fill the ranks of the fact free Trumpanzees in the Trumpist cult.  By this measure, I believed they have succeeded spectacularly.

ON THE CONFLATION OF LEGAL ARGUMENT AND BULLSHIT!
David Shoen: Legal Bullshit Artist
REFLECTIONS ON DON THA CON’S CONSIGLIERES

 

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit…What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.”

“On Bullshit,” Dr. Harry G. Franks, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton

While the House Democrats who are managing the impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the Senate attempted to appeal to the better angels of our nature, Dirty Donald’s lawyers Bruce Castor and David Shoen shamelessly played to the cheap seats, and appeared to be attempting, once again, to incite the worst passions of the untutored mob of Trumpanzees; bamboozled boobs whose murderous invasion of the capitol is the raison d’etre for the impeachment.

While their true motives – malice, deception, avarice, ambition? – remains a mystery, the ineptitude of their arguments is beyond dispute. These guys were just not up to the job; they came across like the legal profession’s gang that can’t shoot straight. While the Democrat’s attack was brilliant and deadly, repeatedly hitting their targets with devastating accuracy, the shameless Republican flim flam men were like blind riflemen who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. After Congressmen Jamie Raskin’s opening assault on Dirty Donnie and his barbarian hordes he ordered to sack the capitol, laying the Republican defenses to waste, Congressmen Joe Neguse and David Cicilline were like avenging angels who swooped in and wiped out the wounded with formidable legal arguments.

Castor, a small-town prosecutor who is probably a big deal in his neck of the woods but came across as a bumbling boob who substituted guile for intellectual argument and was more shyster than scholar. The jiveass joker also seemed to be suffering from a severe case of “the cutes.” A frog who thought he was a prince. When he was not attempting to intimidate the Senators and the TV audience looking on, by predicting more uprisings of clueless enraged Trumpanzees should the Trump trial proceed, Castor’s argument suggests that he thought he could win the Senators votes by flattering them, openly pandering to their vanities. It was an embarrassing performance that never addressed the question at hand: Is the trial of Treacherous Treasonous Trump unconstitutional?

Castor’s co-Counsel, David Schoen, is a quirky pugnacious little bald head mumser who came across like Elmer Fudd on crack. As I listened to his rapid fire presentation that seemed designed to confuse more than enlighten, I remembered what my Grandfather, Deacon George Benjamin Senior, said the day that I told him I wanted to become a lawyer. He looked up and said matter of factly:” Well, If you gonna be a good lawyer, you got to be a good liar.” No doubt it was shameless charlatans like these Deke had in mind, legal mercenaries who hide behind the Constitutional mandate that all accused must have due process which requires legal representation.

Hence they can go about their nefarious deeds cloaked in the robes of justice, wearing the white hats of good guys. They are sleight of hand artist, bunko artists whose burlesque on legal argument resembles a game of Three Card Monte. However, any Time Square hustler who has managed to survive in the Darwinian milieu of the New York streets, which like the jungle is red of tooth and claw, can play the game better.

Aside from incoherent arguments filled with irrelevant anecdotes and curious legal citations, Shoen murdered a poem in broad open daylight! They were so bad it was funny, the Mutt and Jeff of the legal profession. One Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, from the deep red state of Louisiana, was so appalled by their feckless performance he switched his vote in favor of the Constitutionality of the Trial, which was a vote in favor of pressing on.

Word on the wires is that Dirty Donnie Dimwit is freaking tha fuck out over the fight being waged by his defenders, literally screaming at the television. I almost wish the bubble head bullshit artist had his Twitter account back, so we could share the tweeting Twit’s hysteria and rejoice. Being denied that guilty pleasure, I anxiously await the comedians take on this scene.

Mutt and Jeff’s comic debacle offers them an embarrassment of riches in terms of fresh material for their acts. It is farce masquerading as tragedy, a sad show that lends credibility to the cynicism of a growing number of Americans who increasingly view the legal profession as a haven for lying soulless charlatans who will passionately argue that war is peace if the price is right.

Although there is no paucity of bi-partisan invective heaped upon the hapless lawyers dispatched on an impossible mission – cause Dirty Donald is guilty as sin – it fell to the grand legal savant Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, to provide a sober and candid assessment of the Trump team.

Having recently published a book on the impeachment process, Professor Tribe is quite familiar with the issues at hand. And no doubt comparing them to the magnificent performance of his former student Jamie Raskin, he succinctly summed up the performance of Castor and Shoen: ”They lied…and they SUCK!”

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CONGRESSMAN NEGUSE MAKES HIS CASE!

Joe Neguse Holding Forth

Colorado congressman Joe Neguse is made an air tight case that the insurrectionist were mobilized by Dirty Donald’s outrageous lies about a stolen presidential election, then he invited them to DC to do their dirty deeds.  Congressman Neguse told how Treasonous Trump assembled “an armed angry crowd on the Washington mall ready to be provoked, and he provoked them!” By “spreading the Big Lie.” He cited evidence that Dirty Donald was ecstatic watching the armed mob with murder on their mind storm the capitol. And how Donnie Dimwit was puzzled that others did not share his joy.

When they, the police, was being attacked, Don tha con said to the mobsters:” We love you, you are very special people….president Trump alone had the power to stop the mob but he didn’t.” Instead he showed how Dirty Donald “Encouraged it!” Then he left us with this parting thought, if we let this go unpunished, he will do it again!”  One thing is certain, anyone who is intelligent enough to get themselves elected to the US Senate, is certainly smart enough to see that the Democratic Managers who have presented the argument for treason, HAVE BRILLIANTLY MADE THEIR CASE, because they know that NONE of them could have done it better!

Their arguments were superb, flawless in its reasoning and unimpeachable it its evidence! Hence we can safely conclude, that those who fail to vote to convict this treasonous amoral criminal, are prepared to impose a fascist autocratic plutocrat over a democratically elected enlightened career public servant who is a master at the art of governing. The choice is crystal clear.

For Dirty Deranged Donald Treasonous Trump has defecated on our nation’s most cherished ideals: ad hoc attacks on the judiciary; constant attacks on freedom of the press; contempt for Congress; and inciting an armed crazed mob of Trumpanzees to assault the capitol, while the Congress was in the process of certifying the peaceful transfer of power based on the votes of more Americans than have EVER turned out to cast their vote for president!  As Congressman Neguse presented the case, there was no room for ambiguity: Popular Democracy or Fascist Plutocracy!

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Bravissimo Madeline Dean!

Weaving a Compelling Narrative

Congresswoman Dean painted a devastating portrait of Dirty many blatant attempts to interfere in state election outcomes by personally pressuring state officials to change the election results.  She shows how he was so persistent in his efforts an election official in Georgia that if he continued to claim the election from him, he would inflame passions to the point where “Somebody is gonna get shot.  As a lawyer and a former Professor of writing, she is highly skilled in the art of constructing a compelling narrative.  And those skills were prominently on display in here presentation today, driving yet another nail in dirty Donald’s Coffin!

BEAUTY AND BRAINS GALORE!

STACY PLASKETT MAKES A DEVASTATING CASE 
Stacy Plaskett On A Mission

Stacy Plaskett is a special species of statuesque, brainy, ebony beauty that is cut from the same cloth as Michelle Obama. Born in Brooklyn for parents who immigrated from the American Virgin Islands, in 1966, her mother was a court clerk and her father a cop. As one of the intellectually gifted students selected by “A Better Chance,” ABC, the same program that produced Deval Patrick, the first black governor of Massachusetts, she was provide the opportunity to attend – Cohate Rosemary Hall – an elite private high school.

It was a boarding school that took her out of the Brooklyn Projects into the rarified precincts of the American upper class. The education she received there prepared her for admission to Washington’s Georgetown University, where she earned a degree in History and Diplomacy, and from there to American University Law School, where she studied Constitutional Law under her fellow Democrat impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, who must be brimming with pride over his student’s performance in this trial.

As the Non-Voting Delegate from the Virgin Island, where she now lives in St, Croix, Ms. Plaskett has presented cogent fact driven arguments based on sound legal principle, which formed compelling narratives of Dirty Donald’s dastardly deeds. Her arguments have been distinguished by an abundance of erudition and eloquence forcefully and convincingly rendered.

I will have a more exhaustive analysis of Ms. Plaskett’s arguments, both in her presentation of evidence and her response to the question and answer session following the Trump defense team obscene exercise in sophistry, duplicity, obfuscation, and hypocrisy!

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A SEASONED PROSECUTER AT WORK!!!!

Congressman Eric Swalwell

Congressman Eric Swalwell, a former California prosecutor, was relentless in his systematic presentation of the evidence supporting the democratic narrative that Trump’s culpability for inciting the armed insurrectionist attack on the Congress. The noose is tightening not just around the neck of Dirty Donald, a crude deranged fascist thug, but the ENTIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!! It has been one of the more able presentations in a day filled with outstanding legal argument. BRAVO!

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“THE PEOPLE WHO ATTACKED THE CAPITOL ARE NOT PATRIOTS!”
“THIS IS ONE OF THE DARKEST DAYS IN OUR HISTORY!”

Congressman Ted Lieu as a Military Officer

These comments were made by Phil Scott, the Republican Governor of the largely white state of Vermont, as he denounced the invasion of the US capitol by a murderous untutored mob of Trumpanzees of February 6. It was cited by Congressman Ted Lieu, a brilliant Chinese American Democrat from California, a retired US Army Colonel and a former prosecutor, who is one of the House Impeachment managers presenting the case for convicting Dirty Donald in the Senate.

Although he has been called a “communist” by some Vermont residents, who are pissed off by his public health policies designed to fight the Covid19 Virus, Scott is one of a growing number of high ranking Republicans – including elected officials, and former White House civilian and military advisors to Don tha Con – who are speaking out and denouncing Trump’s central role in inciting the attempted “Insurrection.”

Congressman Lieu – who once sponsored a bill with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey to restrain Ditzy Donald from initiating a nuclear war on an impulse, was cool as a cucumber as he presented a treasure trove of evidence regarding Treasonous Trump’s culpability in inciting the barbarian Trumpist hordes to commit armed sedition. Among those whose words we heard were five sitting Republican governors.

The evidence presented by Congressman Lieu was precise, well documented, compelling, and CONVINCING! It was just more fuel to a raging fire of truth that is steadily consuming Dirty Donald and the Neo-Fascist Trumpist Party, formerly known as the “Republican Party.”

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CONGRESSMAN CASTRO NAILS TRUMPS ASS TO THE CROSS!!

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas 

Using video tape as effectively as the great sportscaster Warner Wolf, author of the famous lines “lets go to the video tape,” Congressman Castro constructed an airtight narrative of events, showing step by step how Dirty Donald, the Big Apple bunko artist, inspired an armed mob to come to Washington, and incited them to invade the capitol.

His argument is irrefutable to the eyes and ears of ANY intelligent objective observer. If the Republicans vote against his impeachment, it is a confession that they prefer a corrupt, incompetent, ignorant, fascist plutocrat to a democratically elected President who s committed to democratic government with social justice.

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THE DEFENSE CLOSES!

Michael Van der Veen

Lawyerly Double Talk and Blatant Bullshit Wins the Day!

Michael Van der Veen, who delivered the closing argument for trump, aside from being a bumbling bore, is the portrait of a charlatan skilled in the techniques of obfuscation. He rambled on about “due process,” and what would be disallowed in the courtrooms in which he normally practices. But, ironically, the majority of his presentation would be disallowed in any regular court of law due to irrelevance and immateriality!  The false faced clown talked about EVERYTHING but the charges against Trump so skillfully argued by the Democrats on the House Managers team that prosecuted the case against Dirty Donald.

He rattled on ad nauseum about the violation of Trump’s First Amendment rights, an argument that has been widely discredited by legal scholars.  And he resorted to blaming the Black Lives Matter movement for normalizing mob violence, when he was unable to defend Trump’s actions, so graphically recounted in brilliant video tape presentations of Dirty Donald telling his followers over and over that the election has been “Stolen from them.” They showed how he whipped up a mob of fanatical true believers who descended on Washington to “stop the steal” on January 6, the day the Congress was certifying the victory of Joe Biden, and incited them to stormed the Capitol building.

He talked about anything and everything except the facts in the case against Trump for inciting an insurrection. As has been the strategy of the Trump defenders, Mr. Van der Veen was relatively brief. With the ability to distract attention to the issues in the case by roaming far and wide, introducing issues with no relevance to the case, and resting assured that virtually all the Republican Senators would vote to acquit Don tha Con, the Trump defense team was assured of victory. Their only mission therefore, was to provide cover for the Republicans who would vote to exonerate, and to supply legal skullduggery that can be seized by the reactionary right wing press to confirm the Trumpist cult in their beliefs.

Since Trump was later found not guilty by a vote of 57 to 43 in the US Senate, we must conclude that their strategy worked, although based on transparent lies. It was the most bi-partisan impeachment vote in US history, with 7 Republicans voting to convict. This may be a viewed as a victory for Dirty Donnie, but it is a grave defeat for American democracy, as one major political party has chosen to support an anti-democratic authoritarian with fascist views!

Let us hope the many legal challenges that Dirty Don tha Con will face in real courts of law will finally give this wannbe fascist dictator his just desserts. In the meantime, the Republican Party will have to contend with the Trumpist fanatics who have infested their party, many of whom now feel betrayed and conned by Don, as they and their comrades face a variety of criminal charges from their participation in the assault on the Capitol.

This alienation and hostility is bound to grow worse as the arrests and trials of hundreds continue. And all of the young charlatans like Senators Hawley, Cruz, and Rubio will agonize over the possibility of Trump running for President again, dashing their hopes for the Oval Office.

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Watch Congressman Jamie Raskin’s Opening Argument

(1) Jamie Raskin makes opening arguments – YouTube

Watch Congressman Joe Neguse’s Opening Argument

(1) Rep. Joe Neguse delivers opening remarks at Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial – YouTube

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Watch Bruce Castors Opening Defense of Dirty Donald

(1) Trump attorney Bruce Castor Jr. presents defense – YouTube

Watch David Schoen’s Opening Defense

(1) Trump Defense: Full opening statement by Donald Trump attorney, David Schoen – YouTube

Watch Congresswoman Madeline Dean Opening Statement

(1) WATCH: Rep. Dean on why the Senate should convict Trump | Second Trump impeachment trial – YouTube

Watch Ted Lieu’s Opening Statement

(1) WATCH: Rep. Lieu on why the Senate should convict Trump – YouTube

Watch Congresswoman Stacy Plaskett’s Compelling Argument

(1) WATCH: Del. Plaskett on why the Senate should convict Trump – YouTube

Watch Congressman Eric Swalwell

(1) WATCH: Rep. Eric Swalwell on why the Senate should convict Trump | Second Trump impeachment trial – YouTube

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Watch Michael Van der Veen’s Closing Defense!

(1) WATCH: Trump impeachment defense lawyer Michael van der Veen delivers closing argument – YouTube

 

Playthell G, Benjamin
Harlem, New York
2/16/21

***Posted 3/1/21

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood on His Hands!

Posted in A Remembarance to Aretha With Love with tags , , on January 15, 2021 by playthell

The Sedition FullofshitticusI

A Menace to the World

A Rottening in America…The Danger Zone is Everywhere

Langston Hughes, the late great Poet Laureate of Harlem and one of the most important American literary voices of the 20th century,  penned a powerful poem that posed the question: “What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it dry up like a raison in the sun?  Does it cake over like a syrupy sweet and then run?   Does it sag like a heavy load?  Or does it explode!”  What we witnessed in the deadly assault on the US Capitol by an enraged, racist and untutored white mob, was the result of Don tha Con, a flat footed New York flim flam man, selling them a bogus dream of turning the clock back to a time in which white supremacy reigned supreme.  It is a dream totally at odds with political reality.  And when the election results, much of which was fueled by black political activism, deferred that dream…they exploded in the nation’s capital!

White trash with money, Devious Dirty Donald beguiled, emboldened, and mobilized white trash  across the country, the bamboozled boobs in the boonies, the clueless Trumpanzees to whom he is patron saint , to realize this grand delusion.  And the whole world witnessed the US president exhort this mad motley mob to assault the peoples house, drive Congress into hiding fleeing for their lives, and killing five people, including a capitol police officer.  The question now facing the American people is: Where do we go from here?

At the conclusion of the Civil War, the world’s first modern war and by far the most destructive, Abraham Lincoln pronounced “With malice toward none, and charity for all, we shall bind up the wounds of the nation,”  It was a message that signaled to the southern traitors who had tried their damdest to destroy our constitutional republic, that he intended no retribution.  It proved a mistake, for there had been no change of heart among the southern traitors as they rose from the ashes of defeat to create a system that while not chattel slavery, was far from the “Freedom” promised Afro-Americans in the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th 14th and 15th Amendment to the Constitution, buttressed by the seven Civil Rights Bills passed by Congress between 1866 and 1875.

And judging from the parade of confederate battle flags – the ultimate symbol of the treasonous fight to preserve black enslavement in America, which has also become the adopted flag of the neo-Nazi movement in Germany because it is illegal to display any Nazi insignia –  inside and outside of the supreme parliament of Republic, many of the descendants of that treasonous southern scum remain unrepentant 175 years after the defeat of the Confederacy on the battlefield.  Hence, contrary to the swelling chorus of timid, misguided, and conciliatory voices employing decorous language pregnant with sappy sentimentalism and Christian reconciliation, we cannot simply move on from this tragic episode in our history without a reckoning with the fascist, racist, rebels who wreaked destruction and bloody murder in the great House of the People.

To begin with, before we can seek higher ground, we must face the facts of our history and stop lying about who and what America is!  Those who profess shock at the fact that millions of Americans were willing to believe and act upon the transparent lies of Dirty Donald, a man whom professional fact checkers at the Toronto Star and the Washington Post had catalogued thousands of lies emanating from his lips, are exemplars of self-deception.  For Americans have been prepared to believe colossal lies about who we are, and what American is, all of their lives.  Too much of what has passed for history in  our public schools are blatant lies that would shame a nation that values truth.  Alas, when truth contradicts the Master Narrative of American civilization lies are revered, propaganda is privileged over history, amoral bullshit artist are afforded center stage while wise and moral men languish in the wings.  And this makes certain that we as a people will fulfil the prophetic warning of the Harvard Philosopher George Santayana: ”Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes.”

The almost total ignorance of two critical cautions offered by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to succeeding generations of the new nation they had founded, lay at the very heart of our present crisis.  In his farewell address to the nation in 1796, George Washington, the nation’s first President, told some timeless truths and warned us about the dangers of the factionalism created by political parties.

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests. However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government…”

I strongly implore the curious reader in search of a fuller enlightenment on our present tragedy, when the foundations of our constitutional democracy are being challenged, to read President Washington’s words carefully, then consider its relevance to this moment of national crisis.

As the first man in world history to willingly give up power, Washington’s expressed views on why he would not stand for office again are especially propitious.  For our nation is plagued with a president who is a criminal amoral buffoon, a coward in war and corrupt in economic and political life, who is willing, like Adolph Hitler, to wreck his country if he cannot remain in power.  Although Washington, a shameless hypocrite who, like all of the founding fathers save John Adams, kept or defended the keeping of African slaves as chattel – a horrendous crime against humanity – nevertheless concluded that serving for eight years – from two years after the Constitutional Conference in 1789 to 1897 – was enough.   None had led Americans in war and peace as he had, yet he told an admiring and grateful nation:

“Friends and Fellow Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.  I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.”

Dirty Donald Dimwit shall not compare favorably to this example.  The thoughtfulness of President Washington’s Farewell Address, the eloquence of language, and the deeply felt love of the nation all serves to highlight the lowlife, amoral, treasonous, cowardly, inarticulate, treacherous, Nature of Dirty Donald Dimwit!

This is also a propitious occasion to remind the nation of the prescient warning of Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence, who is widely considered the wisest of the Founding Fathers.  A leader of the American version of the 18th century Enlightenment, which privileged reason over religion and physics over metaphysics, in their quest to understand how the world worked, Jefferson was an impassioned advocate of public education and the free press.

He succinctly summed up these sacred passions in two statements: “If I had a choice between a government and no free press, or a free press and no government: I would take the free press and no government.”  And “A popular democracy cannot work with an ignorant electorate, because an ignorant electorate will elect and return the worst people to power…There never was a people who were ignorant and free, there never was and there never shall be.” 

The profound prudence of these statements, and their self-evident relevance for our times, should be all to obvious to those who are not intellectually handicapped by excess air in their heads, and holes in their souls.  Alas, the 74 million Trumpanzees who voted for Dangerous Devious Donald in the past election, even after all his evil deeds have come to light, offers unimpeachable evidence that widespread ignorance and spiritual corruption pose a greater danger to the health, and wealth, and domestic tranquility of Americans than the Covid plague!

Trumpanzees Commit Murder and Mayhem in our House!

 See ABC TV Chronological Narrative

A visual timeline on how the attack on Capitol Hill unfolded – ABC News (go.com)

 

Enraged Trumpanzees Storm the Barricades!

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Crazed Trumpanzees Storm the Halls of Congress!

 

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Terrorists Invade and Trash Speaker Pelosi’s Office

Defiling the Highest Level of the US Government

This Treason Must and Will be Punished!

 

Playthell G, Benjamin
Harlem, New York
1/15/2021

TWILIGHT OF THE HYPOCRITES!!!

Posted in On Donald Trump, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on January 13, 2021 by playthell

VIDEO TAPE EXPOSES THEIR HYPOCRISY!

 THEY KNEW WHO DIRTY DONALD WAS FROM JUMPSTREET

Ever since the reign of Ronald Reagan – a bigoted old Dunce and B movie Actor who bullshitted his way into the US Presidency –  successfully brought angry white working-class Democrats over to the patrician Republican Party of plutocrats, exploiting their racist resentment of the Democrats role in passing Civil Rights legislation and convincing them to vote against their economic interests, I have warned that the Republican Party was the servant of wealthy private interests and didn’t give a damn about the public interests! Which is to say, they did not care about the fate of the working class except as a means of expanding their share of the electorate.

I pointed to their hostility toward labor unions – which are responsible for the wages and benefits that allowed these people to gain a middle class life style – and their constant tax cuts for the super-rich, which amounts to a reverse Robin Hood syndrome of robbing the poor to make the rich even richer, as unimpeachable evidence for my claim. But even so, the Republican elite did NOT want Donald Trump to represent their party. All the members of the “Lincoln Project,” the intelligentsia of the “Grand Old Party,” have quit the Republican Party since Trump’s election. However, even the top elected officials of the party that contested for the Republican nomination in the last presidential election, described Trump in quite candid terms as an amoral, ignorant, corrupt clown.

But Trump captured the allegiance of the Republican “base,” which comprises quite a few former “Reagan Democrats,” and his opponents who once spoke the unvarnished truth about this megalomaniacal Big Apple Bunko Artist, all began to bow down and adopt a permanent lips to posterior posture. Since then they have behaved as if their heads were buried so far up Trump’s rump they apparently failed to see, or just refused to acknowledge, that the corrupt abuse of power by Dirty Donald was endangering the existence of our popular constitutional democracy.

However, the murderous attack on the nation’s capitol, the great house of the people, have reminded us all that they had pegged him right in the beginning. Yet in their corrupt quest for power. they ignored their own warnings when it became politically advantageous to do so. By their hypocritical actions, the leadership of the GOP – GRAND OBSTRUCTIONIST PARTY – has disgraced themselves and dishonored their vows to “Defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

Alas, the former “Grand Old Party,” a party that came into existence during a time of national turmoil, of “irrepressible Conflict” between different political factions in the 19th century, that led the fight to defeat a treasonous insurrection of rich southern slaveholders aided by their white trash pawns, has now become the party of treason and insurrection under Dirty Donald Trump!  It is a tragic historical episode recast as contemporary tragi/comic farce.

Charlatans and scoundrels all, Republican leaders have shown the world that when it comes to protecting American democracy, their allegiance is dictated by expedience! Just listen to the things leading Republicans, many of whom collaspsed like lawn chairs when the national interests, that they had sworn to uphold, required that they stand up to this home grown American Fascist!

Check them out on this video, then compare it to their genuflection to the cult of Trump, and you will have a poignant portrait of just how far these Republican leaders have fallen. And it will become apparent, even to the casual observer of politics, how their corruption has contributed mightily to the present crisis.

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 To View the Evidence See

https://youtu.be/6FXuXqzUO9E

 

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York,
1/13/21

WHY TRUMP ACTS LIKE PUTIN’S PUPPET?

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , , on December 24, 2020 by playthell

 

Puppet and Puppeteer

Malcolm Nance Explains Dirty Donald’s Treasonous Behavior

 

                                    Malcolm Nance on active duty. 

I am a great admirer of expertise, knowing what you are talking about, an invaluable asset that has been under assault for some years now. Alas, the celebration and elevation of ignorance has reached crisis proportions with the advent of the internet and “social media.” With the rise of websites where anybody can express an opinion on complex current events, even pretend to be an authoritative source on these issues, despite being unable to distinguish their rectum from a hole in the ground…metaphorically speaking, our public discourse, the life’s blood of popular democracy, has degenerated into a tower of babble!

Although in theory having a worldwide forum – that’s what www means, “World Wide Web” – where anyone can speak their mind, is the apex of ‘popular democracy” in action, alas bitter experience has now demonstrated that this is a double-edged sword. And the liabilities may well outweigh the benefits. For what we have is an unmediated forum where damned lies masquerade as essential truth, and wise men are routinely subjected to the interrogations of bumptious fools and pugnacious ignoramuses!

Alas, time will tell whether the rise of social media is a good or a bad thing in general, but I know from personal experience that in the hands of smart, principled, public spirited people it is a powerful weapon in the fight for what’s right. It has been indispensable to my work; giving me a medium to publish my “Commentaries On The Times” world-wide. And I have readers around the globe to prove that my ideas are getting into conversations far and wide.

However I am an award winning professional journalist who has held professorships in history and journalism. (See:https://commentariesonthetimes.me/about/) who is very careful about the FACTS! When I post an article I employ the same journalist standards that guided my work in the Sunday Times of London, the Manchester/London Guardian, the Village Voice, New York Daily News, et al. Furthermore, I understand far better than most journalists that I am WRITING A FIRST DRAFT OF HISTORY!

In other words, I am not only writing to inform people in this moment; I am also writing for posterity! I know that 100 years hence – if the Homo Sapien species does not destroy itself in a nuclear holocaust, or by human promoted global warming, or protracted pandemic plagues – my Commentaries will be welcomed by historians studying these troubled times. If only because it was written by AN INDEPENDENT BLACK PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL WHOSE COMMENTARY IS UNMEDIATED BY WHITE EDITORS OR CENSORS!

Malcolm Nance, the Brother who is interviewed in this video, is an unusual black man. He is a professional spy who has come out from the murky world of Counter-Intelligence, to tell us what he knows from 30 years of intelligence work on the highest levels. He was the first to call out and explain the Russian interference in the 2016 election that put Dirty Donald Treasonous Trump in the Oval office. He published a book titled: “The Hacking of America,” in which he gave the first comprehensive explanation of who done what to the American public. Now he has written another book titled “THE PLOT TO BETRAY AMERICA,” in which he offers an explanation of why Dirty Donald acts like Putin’s Pussy and provides a motive for TREASON!!!!

I think it altogether fitting and proper to point out that  Brother Nance and I have led very different lives, except for a brief period in my youth when I served in the US Strategic Air Command, on a nuclear strike base whose mission was the destruction of the Soviet Union with atomic weapons. I was assigned to a unit tasked with preventing Russian spies and saboteurs from penetrating our nuclear weapons systems, a job that required a TOP SECRET security clearance. Which means that I was privy to US nuclear war fighting plans. Hence when Nance talks about the constant orientations, he received on how to detect when you were being “worked” or “recruited” by Russian intelligence agents is very familiar to me because I received the same orientations.

However, once I left the military, I joined the “Ban the Bomb” movement and became a vocal advocate for NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT! I believe the very possession of nuclear weapons is a colossal crime against humanity – especially in this cyber age when nuclear weapons systems can be accessed online and are therefore vulnerable to hackers. Some of whom hold apocalyptic religious beliefs and want to hasten the end of this world.

I also became an ardent foe of western imperialism, which promotes white supremacy world-wide. This was a normal progression for me because, unlike Nance, I was an activists in the Civil Rights Movement whose objective was dismantling the racial caste system that was the foundation of White Supremacy in the US.  Hence, I often found myself opposed to the imperialist policies of the American empire. Malcolm Nance was a soldier of the empire, who based upon his telling of his family’s  military history seems to have been born to the role.

Generations of the men in my family also served in the US Military, as enlisted men and officers, from my grandfather Master Sargent Walter Bellamy Sr. – who is buried in a gleaming white hero’s grave in the National Cemetery at St. Augustine Florida, to First Lieutenant James Strawder Sr. the first black combat officer in the Pacific Theater and came home with battle decorations.  But they returned to civilian life at the end of the two World Wars and added their voices and myriad personal actions to the resistance against white supremacy.

Now Malcolm Nance is employing the lessons he learned as a military spy to help us identify THE TRAITOR IN THE WHITE HOUSE!!! In this effort we are comrades.  It is a perfect example of what Vladimir Lenin meant when he coined the phrase: “POLITICS MAKE STRANGE BEDFELLOWS!”

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

Check out brother Nance,  SEE: “THE PLOT TO BETRAY AMERICA” at

https://youtu.be/frR1No8gGZQ

 

Playthell George Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Christmas Eve, 2020

A TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT MAX ROACH!

Posted in Music Reviews, You Tube Classics with tags , , on December 13, 2020 by playthell
PANEGYRIC TO A PEERLESS PERCUSSIONIST VIRTUOSO
A FOUNDING FATHER OF BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT
One of the brightest moments of my youth was when I came home from school on my 16 BIRTHDAY and found a set of white mother of pearl drums with Zyljan cymbals exactly like those played by the great Max Roach! They were a gift from my Aunt Marie, a classically trained pianist, organist, choir master and certified music teacher who taught music privately and in the public schools go 50.years. Along with the “Negro Spirituals,” her curriculum consisted of mostly European Classical concert music.
However she also loved the music of Ragtime, Stride and Boogie Woogie pianists such as Scott Joplin, Hubie Blake, James P. Johnson, “Fats: Waller; Mead Lux Lewis, et al. And would play them right beside Bach and Beethoven. Her brother, my grandfather the legendary Walter ” Big Nang” Bellamy, was also a pianist and band leader, of whom she would say:” I have the training but Nang has the gift.” She loved all great music and musicians, thus she understood my reverence for the great Max Roach.
Along with her sister, Aunt Rosa, they encouraged me in every worthy endeavor in which I expressed an interest. An English teacher who introduced me to the plays and poems of “The Bard of Avon,” taught me the art of oratory, and gave me beautiful books on every subject on which I showed an interest – from horses to physics – Aunt Rosa is the principle reason that I became a professor of history and journalism, an able orator, award winning journalist and a published Shakespeare critic.
And Aunt Marie is the reason I became a drummer, band leader and widely published music critic. Although I ended up playing conga drums rather than the jazz set, which was my original ambition. However it was because of Max that I became attracted to the drum kit, and also the reason why I quit!
When Aunt Marie gifted me with a replica of Max Roach’s drum set it was a surreal experience, because Max was a God like figure to me! He was everything I aspired to be: Elegant of style and manner, a man’s man and a ladies man, the epitome of hip, a paragon of cool, and the greatest drummer in the world!  When I first heard him play I was a fledgling trumpet player in our school band who was strongly attracted to the drums. A hip young band master and music teacher told us one day in “Music Appreciation” class, that he was going to introduce us to ” the greatest quintet in modern western music!”
Then he put on an album of the Max Roach Quintet featuring Clifford Brown ” Live at Newport.” Although that was over 60 years ago, I can still remember the cuts he played: “Move” and “Delilah.” I had two reactions. After hearing the sonic alchemy of “Sweet” Clifford Brown, I PUT THE TRUMPET DOWN! But after hearing the majestic poly-rhythmic thunder of Max Roach’s drumming, I was smitten by the drums. It was a transcendent sound that lifted my spirit up…and it never came down!
However just a couple of years after my Aunt Marie gifted me the drum kit, I went off to Florida A&M and got involved in the black student Sit-in Movement that swept the south in the spring of 1960, sparked by the courageous students at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro. My commitment to the Black Liberation Movement as the 1960’s unfolded became all consuming, and I recognized the I had to make a choice between activism or striving to become a great musician like my idol Max Roach, a once in a century artist who, like Charlie “Yardbird” Parker with whom he collaborated, greatly expanded the possibilities of his art.  Nobody had ever played the drum kit like Max; a true innovator.
I chose the movement, and devoted myself to the enormous amount of study it required in order to make an important contribution to that great struggle. So I stopped playing.  However, Max would again emerge as a culture hero and inspiration to me when he became a founder and leading figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s that TRANSFORMED the vision and aspirations of black artists and challenged them to commit themselves to the liberation struggle.
There are several versions regarding the origins of the Black Arts Movement – a transformational event which one could argue was a rebirth and detention of the Harlem Renaissance that flowered four decades earlier during the 1920’s.  However the true birthplace of the BAM was the founding of the “AFRICAN JAZZ ART SOCIETY in 1958 by artists and photographer, Cecil and Ronnie Brathwaite – who metamorphosed into Elombe and Kwame, Max Roach, and his beautiful multi-talented wife Abby Lincoln – singer, songwriter and actress. The album the produced together, “WE INSIST: FREEDOM NOW!”* became the sound track for the Black Liberation Movement.” I can say these things with unimpeachable authority BECAUSE I WAS AN EYE WITNESS TO IT ALL!!!
Hence even after I had abandoned my musical ambitions Max Roach remained a great hero and inspiration to me. During the 1960’s I got to know and became great friends with my boyhood hero. The high points of our relationship was when I got to play Conga’s in a performance with his band in Philly, and we brought down the house on Dizzy Gillespie’s famous tune, “A NIGHT IN TUNISIA.” And the apex was when we appointed Max to a FULL PROFESSORSHIP of Jazz Studies in the WEB Dubois Department of Black Studies, of which I was a founder at U-Mass Amherst. It was as if the Gods and the noble Ancestors had competed the circle of Destiny.
In the photograph above, shot by Ed Cohen, a great Amherst photographer, whose prolific portraits of Jazz musicians are a PRICELESS TREASURE TROVE! I was offering a libation to Max’s memory along with a spoken word eulogy I presented, in a Tribute held in Max’s native home, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, after the master musician, great man, and indefatigable cultural warrior, had recently danced and joined the ANCESTORS. ACHE!

We Insist!  Freedom Now

The Background Sound of the Black Revolution!
Such Sweet Thunder!
(69) Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite – YouTube
Great Artist Conjure Sonic Alchemy

A Blast From Our Cultural Past!

Posted in Cultural Matters, Film Criticism, Movie Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , on November 27, 2020 by playthell

Spike Lee and the Malcolm X Movie Mess

A reprint from 1991

“We know we can’t satisfy everybody’s vision of Malcolm X. He has achieved mythic proportions …but we knew going into it that we’d have that problem,” said Spike Lee about his current work-in-progress, then he declared his intention “to be as honest as possible” and “to make a great film.” But in tackling this project Spike has not only undertaken a monumental artistic task, he has also waded into troubled political waters.

It will be hard enough to capture Malcolm’s complex personality and the epic tale that is his life story within the scope of a single feature film. But that may turn out to be the easy part. For around this film all the prickly questions of the relationship of politics and art have already begun to swirl. Given a decent script, I have no doubt that Denzel Washington will resurrect that warm charm and sunny smile, biting sarcasm, regal bearing, fearless posture and verbal virtuosity that combined to form the alchemy of Malcolm’s persona. But Spike will have to negotiate myriad hurdles-artistic and political-before the Malcolm X story reaches theaters.

This is not the first attempt to project the amazing life of Malcolm X onto the silver screen. All the other attempts failed. And they all faltered attempting to produce a .workable script that would satisfy the decision makers who could green light the project. Some distinguished names are associated with this history of failure, which extends over a period of 20 years. In 1967 film producer Marvin Worth acquired the rights to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, co-authored with Alex Haley, from Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz, now an administrator at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. Worth commissioned the distinguished Afro-American novelist James Baldwin to write the script.

On the face of it, this was an excellent choice. For not only did Baldwin know Malcolm personally, he was also deeply committed to the black liberation struggle. However, after a year of livin’ large in Tinseltown at studio expense, he failed to come up with a usable and finished script. Two other novelists tried their hand at it and failed: David Bradley, a black college professor and author of the celebrated novel The Chaneysville Incident, and Calder Willingham author of the novel Eternal Fire. Two Pulitzer prize-winning dramatists also bit the dust trying to produce a viable script: Charles Fuller and David Mamet.

Fuller, a product of the sixties Black Arts Movement, was significantly influenced-like most of us of that generation-by the example of Malcolm X. So there can be no doubt that he took his task to heart. A brilliant playwright who has taken us on marvelous excursions into the soul of African American culture, he seemed destined for the project. But alas, zilch. After Fuller wrote the script, director Norman Jewison, with whom Fuller had collaborated on the Academy Award-nominated film version of his Pulitzer prize-winning’ play, A Soldier’s Play, abandoned the project.

Jewison told Mother Jones, “If I knew how to do it, I would move heaven and high water tomorrow to do it. The man’s an enigma to me. I just haven’t licked it. I know Spike Lee wants to get involved, and, at the moment, I would encourage him to do it because the film should be made.” As for Charlie Fuller, he ain’t talkin’. So perhaps we’ll never know what really went down with the script. And David Mamet, the much acclaimed white playwright, met a similar fate after writing a script that • director Sidney Lumet described as having a “breathtaking sweep and extraordinary language.” But perhaps its untimely death was the best fate, because Lumet had planned to cast Richard Pryor in the lead role. That would have been a travesty, for while Pryor is an extraordinary performer, he does not posses either the physical stature or the resources as a mature dramatic actor to play Malcolm X.

So if Malcolm’s story is going to reach the screen anytime soon, in a fashion that will do him proud, it looks as if Spike is going to have to do it. Whereas all the other writers have chosen to start from scratch, Spike is rewriting the James Baldwin script which had been completed by Arnold Perl. I thought it was a great script except for the last third-because a lot of history about Malcolm’s assassination has come out since it was completed.” But even with the Baldwin/Perl script as a foundation, Spike will have his work cut out for him.

First of all, there is the question of a suitable length. Everyone who has worked on this project agrees that the normal two and a half hours allotted for most feature films will not suffice. And while the question of length involves aesthetics, in Malcolm’s story it is also political. It is difficult to imagine a situation where the competing claims of politics and aesthetics impinge upon the creative process as much as in the present film. One film pundit confided, “If Spike makes this film anything less than four hours long he’s doomed.” Another assured me, “It can’t be done in one movie. The only way you can tell Malcolm’s story effectively is with two movies of about three hours and ten minutes each.”

But Spike is tightlipped about the length; all he is saying is, “I will have final cut-It’s an epic story.” An epic story indeed, for Malcolm X’s life symbolizes the triumph of the African American spirit over the crippling experience of racial caste oppression. It is also a metaphor for the American Dream: the rise from poverty to prominence. Hence it is a quintessentially American story that embodies as much of Americana as the music of Duke Ellington. Neither of these phenomena could have happened anywhere else in the world. As the premier American promoter and great bullshit artist Don King would say, “Only in America.”

The story of Malcolm X begins with a working class black family in Lansing, Mich., where the father-a militant black nationalist and Garveyite preacher-is mysteriously killed by a trolley car. The mother, a West Indian immigrant who could pass for white, is driven mad while Malcolm is still a child. The family is fragmented and Malcolm ends up years later as a Harlem hipster who only wants to snort nose candy, rag down in fly zoot suits and lindyhop his ass off at the Savoy Ballroom and other dance emporiums.

He has a strange sadomasochistic love affair with a beautiful Boston white girl whose folks are holding grand-theft dough. He later goes to jail, after participating in a variety of criminal activities, and in yet another incarnation emerges from his dungeon as Malcolm X, the most devoted and inspired disciple of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam. As the chief spokesman for the Nation, Malcolm becomes one of the most influential charismatic revivalists of the turbulent sixties. Like Othello’s, his is a hell of a story.

No one understands the magnitude of the task of telling Malcolm’s story more than Spike Lee, who has said, “Everybody else who’s working on this film-if they don’t think this is the most important film in the history of cinema, I don’t want them on it.” Spike is gping all out to bring forth a film that will be distinguished by its fidelity to Malcolm’s life and times. Aside from Malcolm’s autobiography, Spike is reviewing journalistic accounts from the sixties, reading Malcolm’s speeches, watching TV clips and, most of all, interviewing family, friends and associates.

Among those he has personally interviewed is Minister Louis Farrakhan. This is a critical interview, because Farrakhan and Malcolm were as tight as Dick’s hat band during the crucial years of Malcolm’s ministry in the Nation of Islam. And beyond that, Farrakhan, although never linked to the shooting, in the minds of many people who lived through that era, was implicated in Malcolm’s assassination. This question continues to dog Farrakhan, and it came up in an interview conducted by EMERGE(see August 1990).

Farrakhan burst into tears when confronted with a clipping from Muhammad Speaks, in which he seems to be calling for Malcolm’s demise because he was a traitor to the Nation of Islam. By his account, Spike did not fudge the issue when he spoke with Farrakhan. “I showed him the paper clippings from Muhammad Speaks, where his comments suggested Malcolm ought to be killed,” said Spike of his meeting with Farrakhan in Chicago.

He frankly admitted his role in creating the conditions of hostility leading to Malcolm’s assassination and said, ”It was the climate of the times. I would do it differently if I had to do it over again.” But interestingly enough, it was not his own image that caused Farrakhan concern. ”He was most concerned about how the Honorable Elijah Muhammad would be portrayed,” said Spike. ”But Minister Farrakhan did not ask to see the script or anything. He just said, ‘Listen to everybody’s truth Spike, pray, and then come up with your own truth.'”

The greatest danger to the realization of this film has to do with neither art nor commerce but with politics, intergroup and intragroup politics. On the one hand there is the age-old struggle of African Americans to control their image in the mass culture and on the other, there is the fight for artistic autonomy from those in-group political factions that would make creative endeavors subservient to the demands of politics.

The fight waged by Afro-Americans to control their own image goes back to the 18th century, when Benjamin Banneker-scientist and writer-was forced to challenge and debunk Thomas Jefferson’s racist ruminations on black people by word and deed. This resistance grew throughout the 19th century and manifested itself in a steady stream of written and spoken polemics, political struggle, art, music, dance and finally, musical theater.

One could argue that history was a major impetus to the rise of a native Afro-American musical theater that produced works like Chlorindy: The Origin of the Cake Walk, by the Paul Laurence Dunbar and composer Will Marion Cook, or In Abbyssinia , a musical review by Bob Cole, J. Rosamond Johnson,  and his brother James Weldon Johnson. “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a multi-stanza art song popularly known as the ”Black National Anthem,” by James Weldon Johnson and his J. Rosamond Johnson.

Afro-American film historian Donald Bogle, the premier authority on blacks in American movies, concluded, “American films are still dominated by stereotypes and distortions. And the history of blacks in films remains one in which individual actors and actresses have often had to direct themselves; rather than playing characters, they have often had to play against their roles.”

The first black character in American movies appeared in the 1903 silent film Uncle Tom’s Cabin, based on the 19th century novel of the same title. But as Bogle points out, “The great paradox was that in actuality Torn was not black at all. Instead he was portrayed by a nameless, slightly overweight white actor made up in black face.” And he offers this analysis of the evolution of the Afro-American image on the silver screen: “After the Torn’s debut, there appeared a variety of black presences bearing the fanciful names of the coon, the tragic mulatto, the mammy, and the brutal black buck. All were character types used for the same effect: to entertain by stressing Negro inferiority.”

Bogle argues that these archetypes survived into the 1980s and says, of the white American films of the last decade that, “the 1980s might be viewed as the age of the hybrid stereotype: a time when major stars played characters who were sometimes part coon/part buck, sometimes part coon/part mammy. Then, too, black men frequently found themselves de-sexed, rarely permitted romantic roles. Women had few major parts.”

The fabulous flowering of the first authentic Afro- American cinema was sparked by the achievements of one young man: Spike Lee. Like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis-who has almost single-handedly inspired a renaissance in classical acoustic jazz-Spike is the father of the contemporary black film movement. In his five films that have made it to theater screens, he has given us a fascinating portrait of Afro-American life. From the outset, Spike has sought to bring artistic values to black cinema. Hence, we have an array of vigorous and varied black characters that run the gamut from sophisticated cosmopolites to uncouth ghetto fools. He has explored important topics previously ignored in American movies and brought African American art music, i.e., jazz, to the sound tracks of his films, thus introducing it to new audiences around the world.

And while Spike has not always succeeded in his creative efforts, I agree with Bogle’s assessment of his contribution, that “the director’s style (and his refusal to make a formula picture) proved fresh and original.” She’s Gatta Have It “was a true rarity; a black film with a black sensibility.” However, this assessment is not shared by some members of the black community.

Some even accuse Spike of subverting black culture, distorting the history of the black liberation movement, and just generally calling us out of our names. Some of the charges that are now being leveled at Spike, by people who oppose his efforts to make the Malcolm X film, are equivalent to calling him a charlatan or an ignoramus. Most offensive in this regard is Amiri Baraka, ne LeRoi Jones, the aging sixties radical, who recently showed up . at Spike’s door and presented him with a letter stating his concerns about how Spike would handle Malcolm’s story. “We were holding a meeting at the time,” said Spike. “So, I just accepted the letter and told him I would read it.”  But before he could respond, Baraka went public.

Railing against Spike at a Harlem rally on August 3, Baraka exhorted a crowd of about 200 listeners not to let Malcolm X’s life “be trashed to make middle-class Negroes sleep easier.” He also announced that he had come “to bring the issue of Mr. Lee’s exploitation film to the masses.” However, some observers who have worked with Baraka in the past and know him well, are skeptical about what motivated this latest outburst. Dr. Maulana (Ron) Karenga, whose Kawaida philosophy Baraka once passionately embraced and then denounced-along with Karenga himself-when he converted to Marxism, thinks: “LeRoi Jones is just trying to call attention to himself, get a little free publicity.”

And writer Greg Tate takes a similar view: “Baraka is just jealous because he’s no longer getting the kind of attention he used to get. Spike has the ear of the people, and he doesn’t anymore, and I believe he can’t stand it. He seems to hate any young black person who is successful.” One irony is that Spike has collaborated on three books, all associated with the release of his films, with Lisa Jones, who is Baraka’s bi-racial daughter by his first marriage.

But whatever motivated Baraka to launch this bitter and ill-conceived attack on Spike, his speech up in Harlem suggests that he is losing his grip on reality. After all, he denounces the black middle class, while just retiring from a protracted war with Rutgers over tenure demands. And what, pray tell, is more bourgeois than a tenured professor at a major white university? And the 200 or so curious onlookers hardly constituted the African American “masses.”

Indeed, this appears to be the rhetoric of a sadly deluded man. And it is not the worst of it; there are other aspects of Baraka’s behavior regarding the role of Spike Lee as a filmmaker that are troubling. For instance, when Baraka appeared on my radio show over WBAl on July 30, he argued that Spike was part of a conspiracy to trash and discredit the Black Liberation Movement of the sixties and subvert the black cultural revolution, a phenomenon he never defined. As proof of Spike’s evil intentions, Baraka pointed out that Spike had refused to publish his critical treatise on Spike’s movies in his recent anthology Five For Five (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). And he said of Spike, “There is a retrograde trend to people here who are being aggrandized based on the fact of their opposing the historical struggles of black people, and I see Spike Lee as one of those. I don’t see where his films have supported the Black Movement.”

This attack was bad enough, but when I read Baraka’s essay “Spike Lee at the Movies,” I knew why Lee didn’t publish it. A vulgar Marxist tract, handicapped by leaden prose and anachronistic ideas, it reads like the ranting of a religious devotee who has flipped his wig. Coming from the pen of one of the most important writers to emerge from the sixties Black Arts Movement, it is a sad and alarming document that is distinguished by a total absence of original thought.

Baraka’s essay is riddled with Marxist cliches and sloganeering which often substitute for thoughtful analysis. For instance, Spike’s innovative and artistic low-budget satire on male-female relations, She’s Gotta Have It, was “tied to an ingenuous bourgeois feminism. (It’s best defense.) The ‘turn-around’ Nola practices, as equality, is still not correct. Revenge, perhaps, but here an entitlement of her philosophical freedom.” Then he tells us why the film is finally unrighteous: “Womanizing among men is negative and needs to be opposed. Manizing by ‘free’ women is normal bourgeois society.”

The fact that Baraka can only perceive Spike’s sexy, stylish and riotously funny film in such morose terms exposes this self-proclaimed revolutionary as a closet puritan. But Ishmael Reed, a novelist poet and essayist of extraordinary intellect and imagination, who is attacked along with Ralph Ellison in Baraka’s cliche-ridden diatribe, has Baraka’s number on this issue: “His remarks about Spike Lee just reinforce the stereotype that the black intelligentsia slavishly devouring intellectual scraps that are thrown out from the academic big house. They seem to always be behind the trends. Marxism, as an economic theory, is being abandoned all over the world. They are still writing essays that use the language of deconstruction when this theory is being abandoned. They still think phenomenology is hip. If Baraka doesn’t like Spike’s films, he should make his own.”

Spike concurs with Ishmael’s view: “With all the problems that plague black people, why are they attacking me? Baraka is full of shit. “When Malcolm was alive, I was a little kid but Baraka was a grown man. And what was he doing? He was running around the Village with Allen Ginsberg being a beatnik. He didn’t even move uptown to Harlem until after Malcolm was assassinated! I don’t tell Baraka what to write in his books, and he can’t tell me what to say in my films.”

However, Baraka is not alone in his skepticism about Spike’s intentions for Malcolm’s story. A pamphlet issued by the hastily formed United Front to Preserve the Legacy of Malcolm X and the Cultural Revolution echoes many of the questions raised in Baraka’s essay. In fact, much of it reads as if written by Baraka, whose name is prominently displayed in it. The United Front is largely composed of middle-aged political activists, many of whom knew Malcolm X. Its purpose is to further ,Political objectives. But Spike Lee, and all artists, must fervently resist any effort to reduce them to nothing more than vehicles for political propaganda. For this possibility poses a far greater danger to the future of African American culture than any honest mistake Spike might make in telling Malcolm’s story. In a work of art, the vision of the artist must be paramount.

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

Playthell G. Benjamin

Reprinted from Emerge Magazine

November Issue, 1991

 

 

A Stench of Fascism is in the Air!

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Trump and Hitler with tags , , on November 3, 2020 by playthell

The Face of Friendly Fascism American Style
The Donald: Ignorant, Incompetent And Evil!

From the inception of Donald Trump’s candidacy, the assault on the norms and etiquette of our democratic political culture began. Early on I could see clear signs that Dirty Donald had the instincts of a dictator – the result of having inherited valuable political/business contacts from his father that enabled him to spend his life as head of a small privately held business. Absent a corporate structure  common to big business, which requires the Chief Executive to report to a Board of directors with the power to fire him, Dirty Don was in fact a dictator.  And in the mobbed-up world of New York’s construction business, Donald learned how to play real dirty.

Yet he was born to play the role, having been raised by a father who was a bigoted crook with a social Darwinist view of human relations better suited for animals in the jungle: “The world is composed of winners and losers and you have got to be a killer to win.”  Since Dirty Don tha Con has told us that this twisted guy is, “the wisest man I have ever met,” we know what he is in his heart of hearts, despite his burlesque of concern for the struggles of the poor and working class.  For the careful intelligent observer, Dirty Don’s contempt for the MAGA cap wearing working class morons who flock to his rallies and cheer his blatant lies and myriad absurdities is obvious.  As I have observed elsewhere: The pretentious Big Apple Bunko Artist wouldn’t piss on them if their ass was on fire!  Fat Don tha Con views them with the same contempt all flim flam men have for their marks, the suckers who fall for their bogus game.

His niece Mary Trump, a PhD in psychology who has who has observed “The Donald” all of her life, has labeled him “The most dangerous man in the world,” in her recent book on this odious miscreant whose reelection could result in the transformation of our fledgling popular democracy into a Fascist plutocracy – a society where the power of the wealthy few will nullify the popular will of the majority, enforced by the police power of the government. Anybody who thinks this scenario is far fetched does not know what time it is in America, for the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case has already paved the way for this transformation by allowing unlimited spending by corporations and super rich individuals on behalf of their preferred candidates.

Alas, our great hope in reversing this retrograde trend, the appointment of enlightened progressive Justices to the Supreme Court, has been defeated as a consequence the election of Devious Donald to the Presidency. Following the dictates of far-right ideologues of the Federalists Society, in Collusion of Mad Dog Mitch McConnell, the backward Kentucky Redneck and unrepentant neo-Confederate – who saved Treacherous Trump’s traitorous ass from removal after impeachment by the House, Dangerous Donnie Dimwit has stacked the federal courts with Right-Wing ideologues.

Some of the 300 Justices appointed by Donnie Dimwit to the federal courts have been ruled unqualified by the American Bar Association and professors in our leading law schools, the ultimate authorities on the matter.  Yet this should surprise no one whose head has not been buried in their ass. For it has long been obvious Donnie Dumbass knows as much about the US Constitution, and the caliber of person best equipped to interpret that living document in an enlightened and humane manner, as an orange orangutan knows about playing Bach!  Most of Don tha Con’s appointment to the bench are young, and their appointment is for life!

Hence even if we kick the muddle-headed wannabe martinet to the curb today, the song may be over, but the discordant strains of his malignant melody will linger on.  They will linger on in the armed fascist formations that he has openly encouraged and endorsed.  They will linger on in the decisions of Judges who so misinterpret the Second Amendment that they overrule elected officials who ban thugs with guns from the polls, intimidating citizens who are trying to exercise their FIRST  AMENDMENT rights.  They will live on in the hatred and distrust of our free press whose reporters are products of the nation’s great journalism schools which hold factual reporting sacred.  They will live on in the idea that allegiance to the checks and balances that limit presidential powers should be dictated by political expedience.  And the twisted tumultuous passions that motivated millions of Americans who pledged to support Trump if he challenged the duly certified election results and refused to peacefully leave office, will linger on.  They will linger on in the greatest division in the American populace since the great Civil War of the 19th century!  Alas, all these tropes of Trumpism….will live on.

As a long and devoted observer of world politics and history, it did not take  long for me to recognize that Donald “Jiveass” Trump was a dangerous, devious dunce!  It was abundantly clear early on in the game that Donnie Dimwit was clueless about the imperatives of leading a complex, multi-ethnic and racially diverse, economically stratified, democratic republic whose political norms are dictated by the written Constitution that created it.   Indeed, Paul Ryan – a former Republican Congressman and House Speaker who gained notoriety as a brilliant, if backwards, policy wonk – said that after his initial meeting with Trump as president-elect: “This guy knows NOTHING about government.”

Hence the untutored mob that comprise a large share of the electorate – with the generous help of a million and a half Russian disinformation messages placed online to confuse Americans and injure Hillary – put a mobbed-up New York bunko artists in the Oval Office, making a draft dodging coward who thinks soldiers are suckers the Commander-In-Chief of the nation’s armed forces – which he is itching to deploy against dissident demonstrators.  We know this by the way he has deployed anonymous federal agents dressed in battle fatigues to the streets of Portland , and the fact that he insisted on the Chairman-Of-The Joint Chief’s of Staff, the nation’s highest ranking military officer, to join him in a photo-op walking to a religious shrine – a misguided act for which he has profoundly and profusely apologized.  And only to strike a defiant publicity pose holding the bible upside down…which was all the same to Dastardly Donald, since he does not read it.

Yet, he is more than willing to exploit the prestige of the church and the authority of religion, to realize his will to power.  But his true feelings are sympatico with Benito Mussolini, who had contempt for the clergy, and would have slaughtered them like the Jacobins did during the great French Revolution if it had served his purpose better than collaborating with the Catholic Church in the famous Concordant of 1929, Pacta Lateranensia.”

In his definitive study, The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, David Kertzer tells us: “how in a very brief period of time, Mussolini came to realize the importance of enlisting the pope’s support.”  We learn that in 1933, the year Adolph was elected leader of Germany on the Nazi Party ticket, Catholic priests routinely opened Fascist rallies celebrating mass.  The churches and religious icons were routinely employed as propaganda props in El Duce’s Fascist Follies,

Professor Kertzer also presents compelling evidence that Pope Pius XI willfully placed the Prestige of his exalted office as absolute leader of the world-wide Catholic community, and the sanctity of the Church itself, at the service of Benito Mussolini and the Italian Fascist Party!  Indeed, the low point to which the Catholic Church sank in this unholy alliance with the Italian Fascists is best demonstrated in the Pope’s decision to bless the bombs Mussolini’s planes dropped on Ethiopia, an unoffending African nation which had no air force. Yet this was not the lowest point of the Catholic Church’s relations with Africans and other non-European peoples of color; which was characterized by genocide and slavery.  See: “An African Pope as an Act of Penitence”

at:https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2013/03/14/an-african-pope-as-act-of-penitence/:

Dirty Donald exploits his unholy alliance with the Evangelical Protestant church in the USA, which confers its moral authority on an evil buffoon, just like the Evangelical Protestants of Germany did for Hitler.  This, along with the spectacle of impassioned mobs at mass rallies, fully prepared to sacrifice their lives for the “Great Leader,” whether on foreign battle fields or risking infection from a deadly virus; contempt for the courts and the press who don’t do the leaders bidding; encouraging mob armed violence against dissenters who oppose his policies; calls for the arrest of the opposition leader; extreme nationalism – America First = Deutschland Uber Alles – along with a dramatic arm’s build-up of  the military, and, like Hitler, conflating his personality with that of the nation. Thus, making any opposition to him synonymous with an enemy of the state, rendering a peaceful transformation of power difficult if not impossible.

All of these Fascist sign post are prominent in our president predicament, and there is a good chance the blood of innocents will be spilled before we are finally rid of Dirty Don the Con – a man I once declared “shallow as a dry creek bed during a drought,” after closely observing him while attending a party he gave when we were both in the big time boxing business.

This is the same guy that now occupies the White House, and nobody who knows him believes he will leave without turmoil. I am reminded of the prescient observation of Dr. Bertham Gross – a professor of social and political science at Hunter College – in his 1980 book “Friendly Fascism: The New Face of American Power,” in which he predicted that American style fascism would not be represented by goose steeping leaders in military uniform, but by a smiling businessman in a suit.

The fear of violence, which is the hand maiden of fascist politics, has caused such stress and anxiety that psychologists have coined a medical term to describe it: “Election Stress Syndrome.”  That’s why businesses are being boarded up all over the country in anticipation of chaos in the after-math of this election. Indeed, until Dangerous Dirty Donald is gone, excised from our body politic like the malignant political cancer that he is, the stench of Fascism will continue to foul the air of America!

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

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Election Day, November 3, 2020

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

For a Deeper Understanding of Trump’s Fascist Character

Read: Is Donald Trump a Uniquely American Fascist?

at:

https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2016/03/14/is-donald-trump-a-uniquely-american-fascist/

Read: The Psychology of Trump and Hitler

By: Dr. James McIntosh, Psychiatrist and Professor of Medicine

https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2018/09/07/on-the-psychology-of-hitler-and-trump/

How Fascism Works

by: Dr. Jason Stanley
Listen to Yale Philosophy Professor Discuss his Book

How Fascism Works: A Warning for the U.S.

It’s Lookin Like Lebanon Yo!  

Posted in On Guns and Violence in America with tags , , , , on October 29, 2020 by playthell

 THE ARE SPROUTING LIKE WILD FLOWERS!

On the Growing Militia Menace

Since the American government fell under control of a mobbed up lying thieving real estate flim flam man – who according to professional fact checkers have told the American people in excess of 20,000 lies during his tenure in office – our country has been going down hill. An amoral charlatan who, according to a signed statement by 70, 000 Psychiatrist, suffers from the same mental maladies that afflicted Adolph Hitler – Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia, Dirty Don tha con has unleashed the worst passions and paranoid delusions of the American lunatic fringe…especially on the White Nationalist right.

However, the lax gun laws in some states that permit “open carry” of guns by armed citizens, and Dirty Donnie’s constant vocal support for “Second Amendment Rights,” has led to increasingly bold action by armed para-military citizen formations. But the difference from the Sixties is that Afro-Americans, among which are many thousands of combat veterans from overseas wars, are also their Second Amendment Rights!  And they are teaching their combat skills to others in their militia group.

The Not Fuckin Around Coalition

 A Black Militia Sworn to Defend the Black Community 

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

White Militiamen Menacing Peaceful Black Demonstrators

This has put Devious Donald in a pickle. Since he cannot say that only whites have a right to bear arms, because that would provide irrefutable evidence that he is a White Supremacist! Thus he is silent when black militia’s appear; preferring instead to slander the Black Lives Matter activists who are vocally committed to non-violence. Alas, the hands of law enforcement are tied, because brandishing military assault weapons on city streets and even in government buildings is legal, when the guns finally go off between these contending militias the police are gonna be caught in the crossfire.

Militias Vs. Police

Caught in the Crossfire…or Secret Allies of White Supremacists

And I wouldn’t bet a funky monkey that white cops will not melt into the White Nationalist ranks, as things go crazy with white and black cops firing on each other! I know this sounds shocking but that’s what we are facing folks. A Michigan Judge has just ruled that it’s legal to bring guns to polling places, this is beyond reckless in a state where the Governor was a recent target for kidnap and murder by an armed white militia. And  a local sheriff said on the record that he was not sure that the militia men were committing a crime if they had abducted the governor.  They would just be exercising their right to conduct a “citizen’s arrest,” if they witnessed someone committing a crime.  However, he neglected to point out that their plan was not only to arrest her but hold a secret trial and possibly execute her.  The whole proposition is absurd!

With right-wing whacko’s like this guy enforcing the law, and some of these white militia s believe that county sheriffs are the paramount law enforcement agencies, and Ditzy Donald Trump urging them own by calling the heavily armed militia men that invaded the Michigan legislature protesting public health measures to protect the populace against Covid infection “Liberators,” it is no wonder the militias are growing out of control.

The video report below paints a poignant picture of the clear and present danger that threatens the “domestic tranquility” of the United States as I write, although the Constitution requires it and all president’s swear to insure it.  Hence, in promoting civil strife by encouraging armed thugs masquerading as a people’s militia defending Dirty Don tha Con has once more betrayed the oath of his high office.  And from the look of things on the street, which looks like scenes from Lebanon or Afghanistan, before the presidential election is over…there will be blood.

The solution to this growing catastrophe is to REPEAL THE SECOND AMENDMENT.  I have made the case for repeal in the essay “A Gun Crazy Nation!” on this blog.

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 29, 2020

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

CHECK OUT this report on the growing militia menace.

SEE: https://youtu.be/d2qr45i-Azk

 

 

 

Dream Girl of the Lunatic Right

Posted in Amy Barrett Ascends to the Supreme Court, Guest Commentators with tags on October 27, 2020 by playthell

 A Religious Fanatic and Right-Wing Ideologue

 On Judge Amy Coney Barrett

She is the Federalist Society’s darling, and for excellent reason, she is by far one of the purest Constitutional Originalists I have read in over thirty years. She goes much further than her mentor Scalia ever did in his interpretations. She absolutely terrifies me, in part because she is bright, pragmatic but even more, she is an absolute ideologue. She hides it well; she dances brilliantly. Still, it is there, and she is the antithesis of everything Ruth Bader Ginsberg stood for.

Yet after hearings that were polite and without real merit, Lindsey Graham, without qualms and without a full committee, pushed her nomination to the full Senate for a vote that will be taken on Monday 26 October 2020. For those of you that are counting, that is six days before the next president’s election. She will be the next Justice unless some GOP members of the Senate find their moral backbone and say NO to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the spineless enablers and say YES to the American People.

Just to make clear, I am not an Attorney and have no formal legal training. What I have is decades of watching the court in action and reading legal briefs and scholarship. It is an interest of mine. Do I get it perfectly? Absolutely not.  What follows is simply a concerned citizen’s understanding of what I have seen and been able to discover of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

I watched three days of hearings before the Republican-led Senate Judicial Committee. Farcical is the politest term I can come up with. Three days of Republicans, grandstanding, campaigning, and praising her laundry skills, mothering skills and, of course, the brilliance of her legal mind as an afterthought. The comparisons to Ruth Bader Ginsberg were, for most of us, insulting.

She is not now and will never be, except perhaps in the mind of the Federalist Society and those who put her on the highest court in the land, comparable to the Notorious RBG. The truth of the matter, Amy Coney Barrett, is the dream jurist of the Right and a nightmare for the rest of us. Most notable for me and many others were three items she would not commit her ‘brilliant’ legal mind too:

  • A president could not unilaterally change or delay an election.
  • Voter intimidation is illegal under any circumstance.
  • A president cannot pardon himself.Add to the above, when pushed by several Senators on recusal, she refused to commit. Despite the president’s public statements of his reason for fast-tracking her nomination, his desire to have her on the bench to tip the balance in his favor when he challenges the election outcome should he lose.

It is difficult to truly explore Judge Barrett’s legal thinking. She has only been on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since October 2017, three (3) years. Prior to her short time on the bench, she was a Professor of Law; much of her time in this role was spent at Notre Dame, where her published writings are protected. Her limited exposure to litigation was in private practice, with the only notable case being as research assistant on Bush v. Gore. She never argued a case, certainly not in front of the Supreme Court.

I do not want to entirely dismiss her; she clerked on both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. She has earned a great deal of praise for her research, writing and teaching. She is beloved by her students. However, none of this makes her ready for prime time; none of this makes her a worthy inheritor of the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Consider some of her available publications first; one that stood out for me was Catholic Judges in Capital Cases. While there were no surprises, there was a significant discussion surrounding the loyalty owed to the Church and its teachings. There wasn’t a suggestion that a judge should ever attempt to align the law to the Church, but that their moral behavior must align instead; ultimately, where the two did not or could not recusal would be the answer.

What does this mean in cases she might hear in the future? Either she will ignore her own advice, or she pushes the agenda, we all believe she has. Areas where the Church and the law are out of alignment? Abortion, IVF, several Civil Rights areas, including protections for LGBTQ people (e.g., housing, medical services, marriage, adoption). What is her answer? She has said she can judge without bias; however, I have to ask the question: can she?

The next read for me was actually three separate essays written over five (5) years on the subject of Stare Decisis[1]. The Stare Decisis doctrine directs the court to stand by the established precedent set by the court. The court rarely overturns its own precedent, though it has, in some cases, which signifies it has a new way of looking at a legal issue that has been presented. Based on her writing, though, it seems she is only supportive of courts and judges taking the initiative of ignoring precedent when that precedent is not aligned with the court or the judge’s thinking.

It is frankly a very murky area. An example of a previous court ignoring precedent is Brown v. The Board of Education (1954), where the Separate but Equal doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was ultimately overturned. This is an example where a Super Precedent existed and was challenged. During her hearings before the Judicial Committee, she would not say whether she agreed with the Brown decision.

Judge Barrett says she does not believe Roe v. Wade is a super precedent simply because of the number of challenges. For an interesting read on precedents and super precedents, try this one, which provides an overview of how we should view them[2]. The reality is it would be inconvenient for Judge Barrett to view Roe as a super precedent, just as it would be inconvenient for her to recuse from the ACA battle that will be her first Court case upon being seated on the Bench. She has written more than once regarding the ACA and has even taken issue with a decision by Justice Roberts to uphold the ACA.

In my reading, I found a common theme in Judge Barrett’s view of the courts’ ability to create common law[3], even overruling legislative authority. I was fascinated by this view as it derives from her reading of the Constitution and her ‘Originalist’ stance. While I think we all agree that we have separate but equal branches of government, each with their own powers, now we have a nominee who has been seated on the highest court who apparently believes that court has the ability to legislate from the bench. Although she vigorously denied it during her confirmation hearing.  However, her writings suggest otherwise, and in my opinion, she puts us all in great jeopardy.

I have had several discussions about Judge Barrett since her nomination. It seems to me her own words condemn her. We need only listen to what she said in 2016 at the death of Antonin Scalia. I believe those we put on the Supreme Court should not only be legally able, but they should also be morally and ethically sound. Someone said Presidents serve for 4 years, not 3, and certainly not 5. Her nomination extends the current term of Donald J. Trump to five years, even if he is by some terrible chance re-elected her nomination and confirmation should wait until after November 3.

If she had an ounce of moral fiber, she would have withdraw herself until after the elections, as her former colleagues at the Notre Dame Law School has advised her to do in a signed open letter.  Instead she rejected their advice and is now an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.  I believe there are some troubling times ahead, as her ascension to the High Court will result in catastrophe for progressive causes.

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

By:  

Guest Commentators

October 27, 2020
Republished from the blog, OBG_TILTED_TIARA

To hear Amy Barrett Sing the Praises of Justice Scalia, a right-wing screwball, who was an advocate of an “Originalist” approach to interpreting the Constitution.  This is a very narrow backward looking view, which distorts the influence of history on the meaning of the Constitution both in 1787 and today.  He opined that legal protections against suppression of Afro-Americans’ right to vote amounted to a “racial entitlement” in a decision to strike down Title 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which opened the door for the massive voter suppression actions by Republican controlled state governments that Democrats are fighting in the 2020 election.  Barrett worships this man, and says in this interview that she did not think it right to replace him on the court with a liberal because it would tilt the Court creating an imbalance of judicial philosophy.  However now that her ascension to the Court is eminent she has changed her views.

      To View Amy Barrett’s Interview as a Law Professor See:

To Hear Amy Barret’s Argument that President’s should not appoint judges based on the belief that they will carry out their views rather than objectively interpret the US Constitution.  Another view that she has discarded in reference to her own nomination, since Trump has specifically stated on numerous occasions how he expects judges he nominates to rule on specific issues.  See, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yjTEdZ81lI
To read some of Judge Barrett’s Opinions Click on links below

 [1] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1219801

https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship/767/

https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship/450/

[2] chrome-extension://nacjakoppgmdcpemlfnfegmlhipddanj/http://www.georgemasonlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/14-2_Sinclair.pdf

[3] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1014661.

Pete Souza’s Images of the Obama Years!

Posted in Obamas The Way Pete Sousa Saw Them, On Domestic Terrorism with tags , on October 18, 2020 by playthell

The Time of Her Life! A 106 Year Old Senior Dances With the First Lady

Photography as a Cultural Document and Political Weapon

From the moment the great Afro-American Abolitionist activist orator/writer Frederick Douglass saw the new art of photography, introduced to America by the black New Orleans photographer Jules Lion, who had worked with it’s inventor in Paris, Douglass recognized it’s potential as a powerful weapon to fight the racist images of black Americans propagated by white Americans in drawings, dolls and the developing black face minstrel show. We were provided a powerful example of Douglass’ vision in action in the marvelous television  special featuring selected images from the almost two million photographs of the Obamas, shot by the official White House photographer.

If you missed “The Way I See It,”  an hour- long documentary on MSNBC featuring the photographs and commentary of Pete Souza, the White House photographer for the entire eight years of the Obama Administration, you slept on a great cultural event.  Many of the photographs that we all loved – like the fist bump with the Hispanic cleaner in the White House, and the little 5 year old black boy who wanted to rub President Obama’s head, to see if Obama’s hair was the same as his – and all those magical love scenes between Barack and Michelle…REAL LOVE, not that staged fake BS between Don that Con and Melania Mannequin – were shot by Pete Souza.

Real Love!

The Kinda Love that You feel…..

****When you feel what you never felt before!

As a lover of photography, and having shot a few thousand pictures, I was especially moved by Mr. Souza’s work because his approach to photography is the same as mine. I am not a big fan of posed pictures – although it is an art and some great artists have produced stunning works. But when I had my exhibition “The Elegance of Afro-Americans,”* I sought to capture our folks just going bout their business lookin good the way we do it!

Pete Souza’s work is guided by this approach to his job as White House photographer. And what he produced is a treasure trove of marvelous images. Which standing alone testifies to President Obama’s generosity of spirit, his sense of humor, his love and concern for the American people. Mr. Souza also produced poignant images that captured President Obama’s devotion to his children…and his profound love for ALL children.

Hangin with da Boyz

Happy and Nappy

Black Like Me?
Barack Loves the Babies!

Truth be Told….He’s a Baby Whisperer….Cause they Can Sense it

He also shows how the Obama girls Melia and Sasha, received the best of parenting; how they were molded and polished like black diamonds by  two fabulous black women: His wife and her wise mother under whose guidance cultivated Michelle into the  formidable woman she is.

 Obama and His Ladies: Michelle, Sasha and Melia

America’s Black, Brown and Beige First Family

Watching their family life as it unfolded, not staged scenes for the publicity mill like the photographs we see from the Trump White House, we recognize how much the nation has lost, our moral decline, now that the Obama’s have been replaced by a mobbed up real estate flim flam man from the Big Apple and his Euro-trash wife.

A college dropout, and soft porn model who lied about having a college degree in “architectural design,” Melania is so stupid she actually read Michelle Obama’s speech verbatim claiming it was her own.  Alas,  while Michelle was a successful Harvard trained corporate lawyer, who once mentored Barack in the law, the Mannequin’s greatest accomplishment is hooking the trick of a lifetime and accidently becoming America’s First Lady….with critical Russian help.  The disastrous fall from highly accomplished, Ivy League educated, meritocrats, to white trash with money in the White House, is poignantly portrayed in the photographic record of Pete Sousa.  The photos speak for themselves.

The Portrait of Barack Obama in his official role as Chief Executive of the USA, is compelling.  We are provided a bird’s eye view of the inner workings of the Obama Administration at critical moments in the history of the United States.  Here Mr. Souza’s voice over commentary adds powerful perspective to the visual images he created.  We are there in the situation room when the Islamic Jihadist leader Osama Bin Laden – master mind of the 9/11 terrorist attack – was taken out.  We watch President Obama save the American auto industry from collapse, in his efforts to salvage the economy from the mess the Republicans made under George Bush, and we witness the trial and tribulations of the ordeal mirrored in his face and body language.  But we also witness the joy and jubilation President Obama and his Democratic colleagues experience when thy achieved major victories like the passage of the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare.”

Commanding the Daring Take Down of Osama Bin Ladin

Jubilation!

Applauding the Brilliance of Speaker Pelosi in Passing Obamacare

Then there are the lighter moments that tell us so much about the character of President Obama and his First lady.  Like the time during the Second Inauguration ceremony when Souza asked Barack if he could join he and Michelle in the presidential limousine, and he said no, because they were planning on “making out” in the back seat during the procession down the boulevard!   And the time he was playing a one on one mano a mano game of basketball with his assistant Reggie Love.

Posterizing Reggie!!!

Barack Replaced the Bowling Alley with A B-Ball Court
The President Confronts the King on His Court

Souza pointed out that although Barack failed to make the starting five on his High-school basket-ball squad in Hawaii, and was six inches shorter that the former star of the formidable Duke University varsity basketball team, Barack, whom we see had mad hops from other shots of  him in action on the court, blocked Reggie’s shot!   And Souza says President Obama asked if he had captured the block and insisted that he blow the photograph up to poster size and hang it on the White house Wall.  He says Barack was the most competitive player he had seen.

Interestingly enough, it was Barack’s basketball game that won over her father and brother.  Her father had always counselled her brother that if you want to take the measure of a man’s character get him on the basketball court. A view that no doubt flowed from the glorious Basketball tradition of Black Chicago.  And as a Princeton basketball star, and Division I basketball coach, he had quite an insight into what a player’s game said about their character.  Amazingly, what he saw in Barack on the Basketball court, and reported to Michelle,  turned out to be a reliable indicator of the way he behaved as husband and father. And how he acted as President.

The fact that Pete Souza became fonder of Barack the more he saw of him – and having total unfettered access he saw a lot – tells us volumes about the kind of man President Obama was.  For there is more than a little truth in the old adage: “No man is a hero to his butler!”  Well, Souza had  more access to the President than any British Butler ever had to the princes and powers that ruled Great Britain.  And yet his admiration grew into genuine affection.   Indeed,  Souza has published two books of his photographs, one of which is titled “Shade,” where he adds captions to his photographs candidly showing the contrast between President Obama and Dirty Donnie Dimwit – as man and politician.

Souza shows that Barack is one of the very few men who can walk as an equal with kings; yet retain the common touch.  This is demonstrated over and again in word and images from almost two million photographs, the way Souza sees it in this graphic gift to the world, this generous spiritual benefaction, that will never stop giving. Future historians will find this a pearl of inestimable value, which delights Pete Souza, who rightly considers his work “a first draft of history.”

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Playthell G. Benjamin
 Harlem, New York
 October 17, 2020

 How Souza Saw it Through His Camera Lens

My Favorite Things…

Obviously, with two million photographs to choose from, all of them with a special beauty, one is overwhelmed by the embarrassment of riches.  Hence selecting among them must be viewed as nothing more than the reflection of one’s biases, a reflection of personal.  And has been often noted: “There is no accounting for personal taste.”  It is, alas, what it is.   So, here are a few of my favorite things.  If you click on the link below you can hear the great John Coltrane – whose music Barack, like myself, adores – playing “My Favorite Things” as you view the pictures.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWG2dsXV5HI

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A Black and Tan Fantasy!

The Sound Portrait Maestro Ellington Had in Mind 
Daddy’s Girl

She Will Always Hold Men to High Standards
Ole!  Dancing the Tango with Panache

Doopus Donnie Dimwit can’t Groove Like This!
Smooching With his Boo

I Only Have Eyes For You

A Sunday Kinda Love

The Kind that Lasts Past Saturday Night
You Can Always Tell the Good Guys

Cause They Love to Play with Babies*****
******And Pets

They Are Embraced By the Righteous

Paying Homage to John Lewis: An An Elder on Whose Shoulders he Stands
And Chill With Holy Men

The Pope’s Pronouncements are Revered as Dogma by Millions
Good Guys See People as Just People

A Real Man of Faith: All Are Equal in the Eyes of God
Good Guys are Always Trying to Improve….

The Man in the Mirror….

And Maintain their Cool
Even If They Are the most Powerful Man in the World!

Pete Souza Saw it All

Bearing witness With His Cameras

His Poignant Images A Benefaction to Our Posterity

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