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!

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

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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 

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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

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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.

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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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A WITCH WITH A WINSOME SMILE?

Posted in 1968 Columbia Student Strike, Amy Barrett's Supreme Court Hearing with tags , , on October 16, 2020 by playthell

A Smiling Assassin?

Notes on A Dangerous, Duplicitous, Dame

Despite her innocent smile and pious religious posture, Judge Amy Coney Barrett demonstrated consummate skill employing legal jargon to avoid fundamental questions regarding constitutional restrictions on presidential power. Most shocking was her refusal to give a straight answer to the simple question: “Can the President unilaterally change the date of the presidential election”

Although it is clearly stated in the Constitution that Congress alone is empowered to set the date, and it has been clearly established on a specific date, every four years, Judge Barrett was unsure! She said she could not answer the question without having the case come before her and consulting with her clerks and colleagues. DUH? I can answer that question, or any literate person, by just reading the Constitution.

Yet this learned legal scholar and sitting Federal Judge must consult others in order to arrive at the conclusion that the President has no power to postpone an election. Interestingly, Bill Barr – that lying fat face fraud who has disgraced the Department of Justice doing Devious Donnie’s dirty deeds – was equally vague when questioned on this issue by a congressional committee.

Barr said he had never given the matter any thought and could not answer the question without studying the matter. The fact that Barr and Amy were also wishy washy on the question of the peaceful transfer of presidential following an election, a procedure that is also clearly spelled out in the Constitution is real cause for worry.

While we have been fairly inundated with evidence of Judge Barret’s accomplishment’s as a law professor at Notre Dame, the iconic Jesuit university where she was trained that is best known for its football team, and the fact that she has written 100 legal opinions during her tenure on the federal bench, she was MUM on her views on a variety of issues that are fundamental to the life chances of Americans, and the health of our constitutional democracy such as whether the President can pardon himself for past and future crimes. She was as secretive as a dope dealer!

Although Trump has stated on numerous occasions what he expects from the Judges he appoints, and it has been reported with bold headlines in newspapers and with much fanfare on television, Amy says she never heard any of it! Hence it is fair to say that is we take the Judge at her word, and she is under oath, she is a space cadet who is oblivious to current events. Otherwise, she has lied to the Senate under after swearing to tell the truth!  In which case she has committed a felony!

The history of the Supreme Court affords numerous examples of Justices who ruled against the positions of the Presidents who appointed them, but this woman was vetted by the Federalist Society. And Senator Whitehouse did a great job of exposing the hornet’s nest of invisible donors and far right organizations who investigate and select candidates to the Supreme Court with great certainty of where they stand on critical issues. Senator Whitehouse also showed that the Judges they select have an amazing record of voting the way they are expected to once installed on the High Court. He went on to show how Amy Coney Barrett is a product of this selection process.  And her explanation to Senator Cory Booker’s question as to  why she voted against an Afro-American plaintiff who claimed he was a victim of a “hostile work environment,” although his work supervisor called him “a nigger” was the essence of lawyerly double talk.

Hence, I don’t trust her. I think she is a witch with a winsome smile, a devil with an angel face.  She will be confirmed. The Republican leaders of the Senate such as majority leader Mad Mitch McConnell, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lying Lindsay Graham has already declared victory. They are rushing her through the confirmation despite the pious palaver they spouted about not confirming Supreme Court Justices in an election year!

This is the reason these charlatans gave when they rejected outright President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merritt Garland, and his black female appointee Mira Selby to the Federal bench; a seat now held by Amy Barrett, whom Trump later appointed! Amy is their girl and I have little doubt that she will do their bidding, for the next 30 years or more.

This is brazen Court packing, and the Democrats should expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court to nullify their treachery! That’s why all who oppose Dirty Donald and his far- right backers must turn out and vote to send these rascals home!

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Playthell Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 16, 2020

Witness Senator Booker Interrogate Judge Barrett

On Republican Hypocrisy

Posted in Amy Barrett's Supreme Court Hearing with tags , , , on October 15, 2020 by playthell

Devil or Angel?

 The Travesty of Amy Barrett’s Supreme Court Nomination

The confirmation hearings for Justice Amy Barrett is an act of treachery, conceived in malice and conducted with shameless duplicity. For the people now pushing this nomination are the very same people who blocked the nominee of President Barack Obama, Judge Merritt Garland, on the grounds that no nominee should be confirmed to the Supreme Court during an election year, although the nomination was made months before the election. They said that decision, who shall be elevated to the High Court, ought to be left up to the American people in the President they elect.

Now, these radical right-wing Republicans are frantically pushing Barrett’s confirmation after voting for the next president has actually begun. And when reminded of their pious pronouncements about the right of the people to decide this critical question regarding the composition of the Court, they play past the question and continue undaunted in their duplicitous actions.

Unable to present a credible defense of their transparent treachery, the Repubs inundated the public with silly sophistry that is an insult to any thinking American. Anyone who is not down with this dirty deal, or handicapped by the epidemic of ignorance sweeping the nation – a plague more dangerous than the Corona Virus – cannot fail to feel offended by these lying, amoral, shameless, charlatans that insists on pushing this nomination through.  For intelligent young people, from Jr. High-school on, the Republican duplicity provides ample reason to grow cynical about politics; to denounce it, as I have heard some young Americans do, as a hopelessly corrupt process that no self-respecting moral person should get involved in.

Senator Hirono Grills the Judge

Pressing Her Questions with Dogged Persistence

The Democrats in the Senate were magnificent in their unmasking of the Republican masquerade. They are speaking to the real issues that matter to the health and welfare of the American people. They have exposed the retrograde political objectives that Republicans have failed to achieve through politics, and now seek to achieve through a right-wing Supreme Court. And they make it clear that this is the true reason for this confirmation hearing.

Republicans on the judiciary Committee, and their colleagues throughout the Senate, are disgracing themselves and alienating the nation’s youth from their government. But they don’t give a shit, so long as their mission to pack the Federal Judiciary with right-wing judges who will not only arrest the progress women, non-white minorities, labor unions, gay people, et al – “the protected classes” – have made over the last half century. They brazenly select Judges they believe will overturn abortion rights, make it harder for poor and non-white people to vote, and take away health care from 20 million Americans!

WATCH THESE HEARINGS! If you can’t watch in real time watch it later on You Tube. Among other things, the Republican blather will vividly demonstrate what the Princeton philosopher Harry G. Franks so brilliantly described in his book: .”BULLSHIT!”  I will have A LOT more to say about what it will mean for the life chances of black folks, and the priorities of progressive forces in our country. I will offer my speculations on what it will mean for us if Judge Barrett becomes Justice Barrett.

I am unimpressed by all the hoopla about Amy’s academic performance. It is irrelevant when it comes to what she believes about the role and rule of law. Judge Barrett has said that the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a right-wing crank, was the greatest influence on her judicial philosophy. Alas, this fuzzy headed racist thought legal protections against racial discrimination in voting was a misguided “racial entitlement – a belief that is at the root of the massive efforts at suppression of the black vote in the coming election.  At first glance she strikes me as a pious, politically backward, religious fanatic with the instincts of a brood mare. Not someone who has the judicial perspectives that will incline them to vote in the affirmative on the issues progressives care about – this writer first among them.

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 15, 2020

Witness Senator Hirono in Action

WITNESSING THE WRATH OF GOD?

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , on October 8, 2020 by playthell

The Flim Flam Man Making his Game

SURE LOOKS LIKE IT!

As Dirty Donald stood on the balcony of the White House, his skin a cadaverous pallor, struggling for breath like a fish out of water, looking as if he might topple over any moment while arrogantly proclaiming his victory over the Corona virus,  any religious person steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition must recognize the striking similarities between our present plight and the biblical plagues and disasters God wreaked on nations that refused to heed his commandments.

One thinks of the pestilence and plagues visited upon the ancient Egyptians because of Pharaoh’s arrogance when told by Moses to end his evil ways and he scoffed at him.  Old Pharoah refused to heed his warnings even after Moses turned the rivers of Egypt to blood!

As we receive the news of yet another top Republican stricken with the Virus, especially those closest to Dirty Donnie, it is hard not to conclude that we are witnessing the wrath of God if one is a believer.  Don tha Con was repeatedly warned by medical scientists to heed their advice and follow their guidelines as to how the Corona Virus could be contained.

Alas, he refused and, as usual, like a bull in a China shop Dirty Donnie Dimwit went his own way, running amuck and causing untold damage to the public health, including over 200 thousand deaths of American citizens.  It testifies to the truth of former Republican strategist Rick Wilson’s book title: “Everything Trump Touches Dies!”

As for those who are lined up, anxious to forgive this wretch for his myriad transgressions, I am reminded by the Reverend Susanne Sharon, a learned Anglican priest from Canada, that the Christian concept of forgiveness is premised upon the sinner confessing his sins and begging forgiveness from those he has offended.  Dirty Donald declared that he has never asked God to forgive him for anything.  So, you know how he feels about asking our forgiveness!  Hence the wicked wretch is unworthy.  While I confess to being no biblical scholar, I do believe that somewhere among its proscriptions and admonitions the Good Book warns against “casting pearls to swine.”

The first breach in the solid support of Evangelicals for Dirty Donald was expressed in an editorial by the Editor of Christianity Today, a leading journal, that was scathing in its criticism of the Evangelical passionate embrace of the amoral flim flam man from the Big Apple.  Increasingly,  members of the Evangelical community  are deserting the movement because of their church’s embrace of this ungodly charlatan, elevating him to the status of an instrument of God because of his hypocritical pandering to their leaders.

In the eyes of the dissidents this amounts to a classic Faustian Bargain, a deal with the Devil!   And young people, who are witnessing the insane clown in the White house endanger their lives by his reckless incompetence in leading the fight against the Covid plague; while imperiling the  future of our planet by ignoring dramatic scientific evidence of climate change in the increasing incidence of destructive storms on the East coast, and raging wild fires out west, along with myriad other sins and crazy tweets, are leaving their churches en masse.

Listen to the testimony of the Reverend Rob Schenck, himself a former militant evangelical activist, speak to the crisis of faith their embrace of Trump has created among Evangelicals. As you will see in this video, Schenck was a Gung Ho soldier in the Evangelical movement. But now he has rejected the movement and heads a non-profit Christian educational group named in honor of the German pastor/theologian, Diedrick Baumhofer, one of the most outstanding clergymen of the twentieth century.

Baumhofer learned of the evils of racism from his association with Afro-Americans while attending Union Theological seminary in New York City.  He became a member of Harlem’s famous Abyssinia Baptist Church, even teaching Sunday classes, where he says he discovered how God was meant to be worshipped. And upon returning to Germany Dr. Baumhofer fearlessly opposed Hitler, and died in a Nazi concentration camp because of his outspoken witness against their evil.   This is the legacy Reverend Schenck has referenced in his opposition to Dirty Donald.  CHECK HIM OUT!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOBhHs_1n_I&t=346s

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 7, 2020I

 

 

Ye Shall Reap What Ye Sow…Sayeth The Lord

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , on October 8, 2020 by playthell

The Insane Clown President Holding a Super Spreader Rally

Mother Nature Chastises a Malignant Narcissist

On the picture above Trump is holding a recent mass rally without a mask, and if you look closely at the audience you will see that many of them are not wearing masks. Even after the prominent black Republican Herman Caine died from Covid-19 after attending a Trump rally in Oklahoma without a mask, Dangerous Donnie Dimwit continued to hold mass rallies where wearing a mask is optional. Yet, any thoughtful observer must ask: What made Trump think that although millions of Americans had become infected, he was somehow invulnerable?

Seventy thousand Psychiatrists and psychologists have signed a diagnosis that The Donald suffers from “Malignant Narcissism and paranoia.” One of the major symptoms of this mental malady is that it inflicts the patient with a chronic case of hubris: “YOU CAN’T TOUCH THIS!” But then….. there is the sobering aphorism: “HUBRIS GOETH BEFORE THE FALL!”

Trump’s attitude – his flagrant disregard for the scientist who warned him against the folly of his ways, flaunting of the public health experts recommendation that we all wear masks when interacting with others, and his relentless taunting of Joe Biden for wearing a mask- has led untold numbers of people to an early grave. The stories abound, For instance the young lady who spoke at the Democratic Convention and told the world how her father – a robust, active and happy man – followed Trump’s example, spurned the mask, and Covid killed him! She blamed Donnie Dimwit for his death.

There is no telling how many thousands of deaths have been caused by Trump’s folly. He tempted the grim reaper and his mishandling of the Virus has resulted in the US having the highest death rate from Covid-19 in the world…BY FAR! A recent international study of sources  of misinformation about the Corona Virus pandemic found that the President of the United States is number1, accounting for 36% of the world total! Now he has been infected. Seems like poetic justice to me.  As the poet said :”The arc of the Universe is wide, but it bends toward JUSTICE”

Since I am not a man of the cloth, I am not about the business of saving sinners. Hence Dangerous Don tha Con will have to look elsewhere for forgiveness. The silver lining in this debacle, this self-inflicted catastrophe, is that perhaps Trump’s infection will finally wake up the Trumpanzees to the fact that Dangerous Donald is NOT Superman, he is NOT smarter than the scientist, and if they emulate his reckless behavior they too can become infected!The most despicable thing about Devious Donald’s mishandling of this Covid-Plague is that he KNEW early on just how deadly and contagious this virus is. We know this because the great journalist Bob Woodward has him on tape saying so! And that tape has been widely played in the media. Hence it is fair to say that Donnie Dimwit is a victim of his own foolish folly.

The lord only knows how many people have been infected from his rallies, which the scientists call: SUPER SPREADERS! He continued to hold them despite persistent warnings from medical scientists. Perhaps now we will no longer suffer the fools in MAGA caps running around ridiculing and intimidating people for WEARING MASKS. Now Trump will suffer from the infliction to which his criminal  has subjected so many innocent people alas. All his life, Trump has scoffed at the laws of man with impunity, but there is one law he cannot break and walk away unscathed: THE LAW OF MOTHER NATURE!

As the US Civil War dragged on, bleeding the nation of precious  blood and treasure, Abraham Lincoln’s  advisors tried to talk him into ending the terrible carnage by accepting a truce with the south, in which they could retain their slave property in exchange for peace. But Lincoln had come to believe that that the horrors inflicted upon Americans in the Civil War was God’s punishment of white America for the sin of slavery!  And he told his advisors:” The judgement of the Lord is right and just in ALL things.”

Now, all those millions of distraught Evangelical Christians, who have formed an unholy alliance with a godless heathen who wallows in sin the way a hog loves slop, must remember that he Lord hath warned us: “YE SHALL REAP WHAT YOU SOW.”  And I say to demented infected Donald: It is what it is alas!

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Playthell G, Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 7, 2020

RUSSELL WILSON IS BEST IN THE GAME!

Posted in On Sports! with tags , , on September 27, 2020 by playthell

“Dangeruss,” the Quintessential Dual Threat Quarterback

  Destined for the Hall Of Fame!

Russell Wilson’s career is a monument to positive thinking and iron-willed determination.  When he was drafted in the THIRD ROUND by the Seattle Seahawks – despite having won the Big Ten Championship, almost won the Rose Bowl, and held the all time record for passing efficiency in college football – the choice was roundly denounced by football wise guys, and he was given NO CHANCE at success in the NFL because he was “TOO SHORT!”

Well, “Dangeruss” won the starting job in practice; despite the fact that the Seahawks had just signed quarterback Mike Flynn to a 20 million dollar contract!  He now is beginning his 9th season as a starting quarterback in the NFL and he has never missed a game nor had a losing season in eight years…the only quarterback in NFL history to achieve this sterling record.

And it is beginning to look like this could  be his best season yet.  In two games he passed for 9 touchdowns, with only ELEVEN missed passes and one interception, which came when a perfectly thrown pass went through the hands of tight end Greg Olsen.  I am including the video clip for the doubters! Of course Russ won both games, throwing 4 touchdowns in the first game and 5 in the second.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up in the Super Bowl again this year for a third time.  Yet,  if he never played another game, he is bound for the Hall of Fame!  It is written in the stars, authored by the football gods.  Despite dastardly conjurations of the Devil and his agents that conspired to keep the MVP award from him, If I were starting a football franchise, and had first pick of all the players, I would choose Dangeruss!!!  Jes sayin.

The Numbers Tell the Story and Numbers Don’t Lie

1) ONLY QB in NFL history to have played 8 seasons and in each of those 8 seasons, has passed for over 3000 yards, thrown 20 or more TDs and never had more than 11 INTs in any of those seasons.

(2) ONLY QB in NFL history to have a winning record in each of his first 8 seasons.

(3) ONLY QB in NFL history to enter the NFL as a 1st Team QB in 2 Power 5 Conferences after leading both all 4 years in TD passes AND total TDs. (

4) ONLY QB in NFL history after 4 years to have thrown over 100 TDs and rushed for over 2000 yards.

(5) ONLY QB in NFL history to average more than 25 TD passes a season, less than 10 INTs a season and rush for 500 yards a season.

(6) ONLY QB in NFL history to pass for over 4000 yards, throw for over 30 TDs and rush for over 500 yards in a season (and was 17 passing yards from doing that twice).

(7) ONLY QB to start 2 Super Bowls in his first 3 NFL seasons.

(8) ONLY QB in NFL history to take over a team coming off of 4 straight losing seasons (2008-2011) and the next 8 years lead that team to winning records each season.

(9) 1 of 2 QBs in NFL history to have 225 or more TD passes with less than 70 career INTs.

(10) 1st QB in NFL history to pass for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 in a NFL game.

(11) 1st QB in history to pass for over 100 TDs in NCAA play and over 100 TDs in his first 4 NFL seasons.

(12) 1 of 3 QB ever to lead both the NCAA and NFL in passing efficiency/rating for a season.

(13) Only QB to have led the NFL in total TDs, TD passes, passing rating and yards per carry in a season.

(14) Only QB in NFL history to win 10 or more games his first 5 seasons and also win at least 1 postseason game.

(15) Tied NFL record for total TDs in one half (4) by a rookie.

(16) Tied NFL record for a QB with 3 rushing TDs in one half.

(17) Set NFL record for a rookie QB with 385 passing yards in a playoff game.

(18) Set the NFL record for total yards (445) in a postseason game by a rookie.

(19) Set a NFL record with 5 consecutive games with 3 or more TDs, no INTs and a 128 or better passing rating.

(20) Set a NFL record for a 5 game stretch with 19 TDs and no INTs.

(21) Set a NFL record for 4th quarter TD passes (19) in a single season.

(22) Set a NFL record in TD-INT ratio (19-1) in 4th quarters in a season.

(23) Set a NFL record for percentage of one team’s offensive TDs (37 of 38) in a season.

(24) Set a NFL record for percentage of a team’s total offensive yardage in a season.

(25) Holds the NFL record for rushing yards by a QB (539) in a SB winning season.

(26) Holds the NFL record for rushing yards by a QB (849) in a SB season.

(27) Holds the NFL record for a ratio per TD pass as a rookie.

(28) Holds the NFL record for passing rating in prime time games.

(29) Holds the record for wins against teams that are at least 8 games over .500. (30) Holds the record for best passing rating in games played in December and January.

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Video Highlights from First two Games in 2020

 

Game 1 vs. Atlanta Falcons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na5Stz0v3w4

 

Game II vs New England Patriots

It Don’t Mean a Thing If it ain’t got that Swing!

Posted in Blues For A word Sorcerer, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 18, 2020 by playthell

Remembering Stanley Crouch

BLUES FOR A WORD SORCERER

Alas, the sad news has reached my ears that Stanley Crouch, a unique tribune of our times, has danced and joined the ancestors. A poet, essayist, dramatist, short story writer and novelist. Stanley was by any objective measure a GREAT writer. A native of South-Central Los Angeles, Stanley began writing for the theater in a company that grew out of the great Watts riot of 1965. When I met him in 1968, he was a Poet in Residence at Pomona, one of the prestigious Claremont Colleges, just outside LA, popularly known as “The Harvard of the West.”

I was visiting the school as a guest lecturer to help make the case for the importance of Black Studies, add Stanley was part of the black campus movement attempting to establish a Black Studies Department. At the time he was a militant Black Nationalist, decked in a dashiki, dark shades with a big Afro, and had just produced a collection of weaponized words, radical poems titled: “Ain’t No Ambulances for No Niggers Tonight!”

It was clear that Stanley shared the view of writing advocated by the peerless word warrior, Ishmael Reed: “Writin is Fightin.”  And like Ish, his esthetic conception and literary concerns were shaped by the Black Arts Movement, which like the black cultural awakening in the 1920’s which is known to history as “The Harlem Renaissance, was also born in Harlem with the founding of The African Jazz Art Society in 1958.  The founders: Cecil and Ronnie Brathwaite, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, represented a cross section of the visual and musical arts.

The writers – especially Leori Jones aka Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal – greatly inspired and influenced him would come to Harlem from Newark via Greenwich Village, and Philadelphia.  And like everybody who were studying the extremely complex art of Jazz drumming, Stanley was profoundly influenced by Max Roach, the most influential innovator in improvisational percussion of the 20th century. These influences, deeply rooted in Black Cultural Nationalism, inspired and shaped Stanley’s poetic style.

Despite being far away on the western frontier in The City Of Angels, Stanley herd the word, as it was being transfigured and weaponized by cultural warriors in Harlem’s hip black coffee House “The Truth.”  A gathering place for Black revolutionaries on the political and cultural front, word sorcerers weaved dreams with the magic of the spoken word.  Poetry that made our spirits dance and fortified us for the liberation struggle.

Roland Stone aka Yusef Rachman, Ed Spriggs, Calvin Hernton, Roland Snellings, aka Askia Muhammad Toure, Leroi Jones aka Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, Jayne Cortez, Soyna Sanchez, Aisha Rachman, were all born of this black cultural awakening in Harlem.  And as these Black Bards traveled across the country like circuit preachers spreading the good word, the Black Arts Movement caught fire.  Chit-Town produced Amus Moore and Don L. Lee  aka Haki Madibuti, and LA gave us Stanley Crouch, one of the most able of the radical Black Nationalist bards.

Although he would eventually fall under the tutelage of the celebrated novelist/essayist Ralph Ellison, and Blues Philosopher Albert Murray, weighty intellectual hep cats from our parent’s generation,  and reject Radical Black Nationalism, abandoning his leftist literary comrades, he remained a literary pugilist.   And would later savagely skewer those comrades in a critically acclaimed collection of essays: “Notes of A Hanging Judge.” For which he was awarded the highly prestigious “MacArthur Genius Award.”

‘Stanley would become one of the most decorated writers in American letters. Primarily an essayist, Stanley wrote on a variety of subjects, but his greatest distinction was as a masterful critic of the quintessential American art of Jazz, which he correctly viewed as the contribution of US civilization to the canon of great art. I discovered his love for Jazz the first time we met. After my speech he invited me over to his crib to hang out, and he had a set of drums in his living room.

Having once played the drum kit myself but had long abandoned them for the Afro-Cuban Conga drums, I had remained a fan and was interested in hearing him play. He put on a record and began to play along. He said he was working on “some different stuff,” that he was not ready to reveal. Among the students hangin out was the young lady who later became the famous television star “Judge Mable, and a young saxophonist I believe was Davis Murray, who became one of the truly original voices on the tenor sax.

After that visit I did not see Stanley again until about six years later, when we met again in New York. But I had followed his brilliant column “Crouch on Jazz,” which was published in Players magazine, a black version of Playboy. I thought they were the most elegantly crafted insightful was essays I had ever read on the art of Jazz. There was a grandeur to his conception of the music that set his writing apart from the common lot of critics, even in the Big Apple, where good writers are common fare.

Crouch’s writings on Jazz conjured up the observation of Zora Neal Hurston in a letter to James Weldon Johnson – two great early 20th century Afro-American writers who migrated from Northern Florida to the Big Apple just like me – when she said: “We are a people who love magnificence and cannot get too much of it.” In New York he joined the staff at the Village Voice, an incubator of great music critics. From his conspicuous prestigious perch at the Village Voice, Crouch quickly became the most outstanding Jazz critic in the big Apple…the world capital of Jazz. And his influence was such that Stanley became an intellectual mentor to the trumpet genius and brilliant composer Wynton Marsalis, and he was a major force in the creation of “Jazz Lincoln Center,” the nation’s most important monument to Afro-American culture!

Known as “the writer’s paper,” and the “home of the New Journalism,” the Voice, with its reverence for fine English prose and creative storytelling, was the perfect place for Stanley, as the editors prized the individual writers voice – especially the great Bob Christgeau, who edited Stanley’s finest essays penned during his tenure at the voice. Several of which ended up as award winning anthologies.

Stanley really blossomed at the Voice, as he branched out from Jazz criticism and wrote about art, literature and politics. Although the subjects of his interest changed, his pugnacious poetic style didn’t, concocting a prose style that prized poetic simile and metaphor. Often his prose seemed to dance off the page, animated by the polyrhythmic phrases.

A lover of literature, I was bewitched by Stanley’s compositions and avidly read his texts. In conversations about various and sundry issues, Stanly began to chide me about writing more, At the time my writing was limited to a few academic treatises published in obscure journals, and the lyrics to songs I had written for a great singer with whom I was smitten.

Stanley began to chide me to write more. He would say: “Listen man, it would be so easy for you because you speak in essays.” His comment really got my attention because Mike Thelwell,  my colleague at the University of Massachusetts who is a great writer and professor of Black World literature, had told me this a couple of years earlier as he pushed me to write, but to no avail.  I was a voracious reader, and I was always telling him about something I had read. But one day he said to me: “You know why you read so much? Because reading is a lot easier than writing!”

He badgered me until I began to take myself seriously as a writer. And once I started I have been unable to stop having now written hundreds of serious essays…1000 of them posted online at www.commentariesonthetimes.wordpress.com. I have written for some of the finest publications in the English language, here and in England. Along the way I have won several awards, and two Pulitzer Prize nominations for Feature Writing and Distinguished Commentary. The nominating letters are posted at Commentaries on The Times. I was in my forties when I began to write seriously, and had it not been for Stanley’s insistent prodding and encouragement, I might never have pursued a writing career. We became serious intellectual sparring partners for years.

In 2003, Stanley and I was commissioned to write a book commemorating the 100th anniversary of Dr. WEB DuBois’ classic American text: “The Souls of Black Folk.” Since I was a co-founder of the WEB DuBois Department of Black Studies at the University of Massachusetts in 1969, one year after our first meeting – the first free standing, degree granting, Black Studies department in the world, and acquired Dr, DuBois’s voluminous papers – and held a professorship in history there, we agreed that I would write the historical overview, reconstructing the intellectual milieu, in the US and Germany – that shaped DuBois’s education and worldview.

Reconsidering The Souls of Black Folk” consists of two complex essays in intellectual, cultural and political history and criticism centered around the historical context, text and legacy of “The Souls of Black Folk” and its brilliant author. The book was selected for discussion at the opening session of the National Black Writers Conference, sponsored by Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, and hosted by the Studio Museum of Harlem. C-Spans Bhttps://www.c-span.org/video/?176136-1/reconsidering-souls-black-folkook World covered the event, and I have appended the link to their video below.

See> https://www.c-span.org/video/?176136-1/reconsidering-souls-black-folk

It Don’t Mean a Thing If  Ain’t Got That Swing – Duke Ellington Orchestra 1943,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDQpZT3GhDg

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 2020