From the White House to the Out House!

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , on February 20, 2017 by playthell
mike-flynn
General Michael Flynn

On the Strange Fall of Mad Mike

The more fake President Trump tries to explain why he kicked his National Security Advisor to the curb the more confused the situation becomes. Like much of what the whacko in the White House, The Great Prevaricator, says it makes no sense and displays a flagrant disregard, if not outright hostility to verifiable facts.  At his news conference yesterday – a bizarre affair that left most who witnessed it befuddled and one Senator described as “a voice from a parallel universe” – The Donald told us “the leaks were true” but “the news was fake.” Alas, these paradoxical statements are common fare in the public pronouncements of the newly elected US President.

Trump also told us that the General – who was once a star in the military intelligence community as Head of the Defense Intelligence Agency – had done nothing wrong, except lie to Vice President Pence about his conversation with the Russian Ambassador, during the interim period between the election and inauguration of Trump.  The controversy arose because of the allegation – now verified by the FBI – that Flynn had discussed the Sanctions placed on Russia by President Obama as punishment for interfering in the recently concluded US presidential election.

President Obama imposed the economic sanctions after all 17 US intelligence agencies reported that the Russians had covertly intervened in the US election for the express purpose of crippling the campaign of Hillary Clinton and aiding the victory of Donald Trump.  The scandal here lay in the charge that Flynn offered assurances to the Russian government that once Trump took office he would scrap Obama’s sanctions, and that explains why Putin did not respond forcefully to the announcement of the US sanctions.

If that is true, then Flynn has not only violated long standing protocols regarding deference to the sitting president – i.e. we can only have one President at a time – but when Flynn denied having such a conversation with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kasleyev, to FBI interrogators he committee a felony! So what began as an embarrassment to the Trump Administration when Vice President Pence went on major television news shows and repeated the National Security Advisor’s denials and then Flynn later admitted that he was lying, has become a serious criminal matter after it was revealed that he also lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

If routine legal proceedings obtain Flynn will soon be indicted, its automatic. However, the charge must be brought by the Department of Justice, and given their contempt for laws they don’t like it remains to be seen if he is charged.   Trump’s position on this imbroglio stretches the boundaries of credibility.  For instance, he tells us that although he didn’t order Flynn to contact the Russians, he would have had Flynn mentioned it to him.

If this is true, that lying to the Vice President is Flynn’s only transgression, and that otherwise he is a “good man,” the obvious question is why did Trump fire him?  This issue takes on additional mystery when we discover that others in the White House, including Presidential Advisor Steve Bannon and the President himself both knew that Flynn was lying for three weeks but it only became an issue when the story was leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times?  And the whole affair became an unfathomable enigma when Trump blamed the entire affair on the “fake news” promulgated by a hostile dishonest press.

Witnessing the President spouting this gibberish brought to mind the observations of Colin Powell – who has served as Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State – who said during the campaign “Donald Trump is a national disgrace…who talks to us as if he thinks we are fools!”  My feelings exactly.  The real question regarding former General Flynn is why was he chosen for such a vitally important position?

Given his personal history he should have been no-where near the Oval Office, let alone the top advisor to Donald Trump on the ways of the world. This is especially alarming when we consider the fact that Trump’s head is a blank slate when it comes to real knowledge of political affairs, foreign or domestic, and therefore in a real sense personal is policy.

Hence we have a guy who had unlimited access to the ear of the most powerful man on the planet who has publicly proclaimed that “Islam is not a religion it’s a political ideology” and it is “rational to fear Muslims.”  This kind of thinking will turn what is a regional fight with Arab Jihadists into a world-wide struggle against a billion Muslims of all nationalities.  This is the apocalyptic vision of the world promulgated by Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington in his “Clash of Civilizations” thesis.

This is a view of the world that has been opposed by knowledgeable foreign policy wonks from Washington to Tel Aviv, both the analyst in the CIA and their counterparts in the Israeli Mossad.  This is why in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack by Islamic Jihadists on Washington, President Bush visited a mosque and made it clear that our enemy was not the religion of Islam, which he pointed out means “peace.” Then Bush clearly identified our enemies as a rebel sect that had appropriated and distorted Islam for their own nefarious purposes. This attitude is just the opposite of those that want to start a war with entire the Islamic world like Flynn.

Yet even if Flynn didn’t hold these reckless and dangerous attitudes toward the Islamic world, his unhinged behavior and penchant for embracing outrageous conspiracy theories are reason enough to disqualify him for a vital position in the US government such as “National Security Advisor.” A cursory examination of conspiracy theories promoted by Flynn, based on a search of his Twitter account conducted by Politico, reveals that he tweeted accusations that Hillary Clinton was involved with a Satan worshipping child sex trafficking ring, run out of a Pizza Parlor in Washington D.C.

This outrageous lie provoked a shooting by an armed right-wing fanatic who said he was trying to rescue the imprisoned children in the basement!  Flynn also claimed that Hillary was involved in a secret war against the Catholic Church.  And President Obama was an undercover Muslim who secretly laundered money for the Islamic Jihadist. Flynn promoted the rumor that Hillary’s campaign manager participated in underground occult ritual where human bodily fluids were consumed!  And there was more, just as outrageous and just as crazy.

Yet this is the guy whom Donald Trump appointed as his most important advisor on how he should view critical events in the world, and even after firing him in less than a month, insists that he is a “good man” that was destroyed by a lying press spreading “fake news” about him.  Alas, this is not the first time Flynn was fired from a highly placed intelligence job by a US President, he was also fired from his previous position as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency for insubordination by President Obama.

On this occasion he got into trouble by contradicting the official position of the Obama Administration on the state of the US war effort against the Islamic jihadist. And several former military colleagues, who hold Flynn in high regard as an intelligence strategist, say his bitter resentment about being fired explains his hostility toward Hillary Clinton, and embrace of Donald Trump.

In a wide ranging, well informed and insightful article on what motivates the retired general – “How Mike Flynn Became America’s Angriest General” – published by Politico (10/16/2016) and written by James Kitfield, a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and a seasoned reporter on foreign policy and national security matters, we are told:

“Those who’ve known Flynn for years wonder how a kid from an Irish Catholic family of blue-collar Democrats who went on to be a dedicated, much-admired soldier ended up being a top national-security adviser to a man widely viewed as a demagogue, friendly to Russia and widely seen as ignorant of foreign policy. They worry that in his political naivete and innate loyalty Flynn is being used—and will be branded as a radical himself. And some of them are concerned that Flynn, who believes he was pressed into early retirement for appearing to question the Obama administration’s public narrative that Al Qaeda was close to defeat, is being handed a national stage to play out his personal frustrations.”

This explains Flynn’s bizarre behavior in spreading insane in the brain nonsense about his former colleague Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring and leading the chant “Lock her up!” calling for her arrest at a Trump campaign rally; referring to President Obama as “weak and spineless;” while characterizing his leadership as “fumbling indecisiveness.”

It is this raging bitterness that sparked his embrace of Trump, and fueled his determination to undo Obama’s legacy that led Flynn to call the Russian Ambassador and diss the sitting President by telling him not to worry, because dat coon will soon be out the door and his sanctions are going with him!  Hence it is reasonable to conclude that Flynn’s loose lips sank his ship….again!

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
February 20, 2016

An Evening of Triumph and Travesty

Posted in Cultural Matters, Music Reviews with tags , , on February 14, 2017 by playthell

beyonce-at-the-grammys

 Beyonce In Performance!

 Reflections on Queen B and the Grammys

Last Sunday night Beyoncé experienced both triumph and travesty at the Grammy Awards. Appearing on stage visibly pregnant the popular music Diva performed a moving tribute to motherhood that was so spectacular even the language of Shakespeare, Chaucer and the King James Bible seems bereft of superlatives sufficiently powerful to adequately describe it! But thanks to the magic of this cyber medium you can witness Beyoncé’s  performance.*

It will no doubt go down as one of the greatest performances of all times on this show that has hosted countless great performances, where marvelous musicians of all genres display their gifts before their peers. Although Beyoncé won a couple of awards she should have won at least one more: “Best Album of the Year,” a view shared by the winner Adele, the gifted British singer / songwriter who sang beautifully and walked away with the lion’s share of the prizes, a total of five.

In an unprecedented gesture of generosity and grace, Adele turned down the “BEST ALBUM” Award. Calling Beyoncé “The artist of my life…my idol,” Adele said that Beyoncé should rightly have won the award for “Her monumental album Lemonade.” Her declaration left everybody in the vast Staple Center in LA speechless! A reaction that was no doubt shared by the millions of viewers around the world who also witnessed it. Adele would later ask of Beyoncé: “What the fuck does she have to do to win?” My question exactly!!!

Monumental is precisely the word to describe “Lemonade,” a major work that expands the boundaries of what we previously believed could be achieved in this popular art form. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the video version – which won the “Best Video Award” for one of its segments “Formation,” a highly political statement that sparked a furor when it was performed live at the Super Bowl last year – is a work of fine cinematic art!

Formation!

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 01: Beyonce performs during the Formation World Tour at the Georgia Dome on May 01, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. Beyonce wears a custom lace corset and stockings by D Squared. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage )

(See Video at bottom of this essay)

However, the many faceted album was confined to the “Best Urban Contemporary” award. This is where the controversy arose and it raises many questions of sufficient depth regarding race, politics and art.  To begin with, like everything else in the USA, music marketing is segregated, with albums by black artists placed into certain categories that industry people recognize and this is how the product will be promoted.  Hence whether a record is promoted as “Pop.” “Rock” Rhythm & Blues,” “Urban Contemporary,” and so on.

Of course, white record company executives, promotion men and music journalists will deny that race plays any role in these designations; they will argue these categories are determined by musical styles alone. Yet if this were true you wouldn’t have black artists automatically assigned to the R&B category when their music sounds like Pop or Rock, and white musicians who are performing Rhythm & Blues classified as “Pop” or “Rock.”  Since virtually all popular music in the US and Britain spring from black roots – US or Caribbean – virtually all white popular music by artists from these countries contain black musical ingredients.  It’s just a matter of degree.

Even a cursory glance of US musical history will reveal the truth of that claim. From “Ragtime,” to “Dixieland Jazz,” to “Blues” to “Swing,” to “Modern Jazz i.e. “Bebop” to “Rhythm & Blues / Rock and Roll,” to “Hip Hop,” are all the creations of Afro-Americans.  Yet as soon as some white musicians learned to play it competently they were made “The “Original Dixie Land Jazz Band,” or “The King of Jazz,” or the “King of Swing,” or the “King of Rock and Roll,” or the “Queen of Hip Hop.” i.e.  Nick La Rocca, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Elvis Pressley and Iggy Azalea

White artists could get away with this cultural appropriation in the past because the white audience had no idea who the real original artists were.  Even after the advent of sound movies and television, black artist were so seldom presented in these media that this situation persisted to the extent that many white American Rock musicians with prodigious record sales said they had no idea that the Blues they were playing was invented by their black countrymen until white British Rockers like “Eric Clapton” told them so!

However, when it became no longer possible to deny the creative genius of Afro-American musicians the music industry came up with these different categories that allowed them to continue marketing their white artists to the lucrative white majority, while shunting black artists off into “Special Markets” departments.   All this tawdry history came to bear in determining how Beyoncé’s visionary musical masterpiece became confined to the “Urban Contemporary” category when it was clearly the “Best Album of the Year,” even in the eyes of the artist who was given the award!

Aside from “Lemonade’s” artistic excellence – the music, poetic lyrics, dazzling dance, splendid costumes, lush imaginative settings, stunning cinematography and excellent direction – the fact that it is officially Black History Month offers an additional rationale for presenting Beyoncé with the Grammy for Best Album.   The album is full of historical references and allusions to Afro-American culture and contemporary political issues.  However, let me hasten to say that this fact alone would not be reason enough to bestow this prestigious award on the record.

I agree with Mao Tse Tung in his “Lectures at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art, where he addresses the role of art as propaganda designed to promote the goals of a mass movement for progressive change.  “All art is propaganda but all propaganda is not art,” Mao argues, “in order to be effective as propaganda it must first succeed as art.”

This explains why Beyoncé touched so many people with her album, which means it would be important as a cultural artifact in the Afro-America musical tradition even if had no higher ambition than making art for the sake of art.  And instead of condemnation she might well have been wildly applauded by those who do not wish to be emotionally disturbed by being forced to confront unpleasant realities that contradict the master narrative of American Exceptionalism.

After all, even the most racist white Americans have been seduced by the power and charm of Afro-American song and dance.   It is a strange paradox that compelled Dr. WEB DuBois to remark during the height of white terrorist attacks on innocent Black Americans in the early 20th century: “White Americans lynch the Negro while singing his songs.”

Hence so long as black artist just sing and dance but keep their mouths about the unpleasant realities of black life in the US all is well, but they are to be chastised if they dare to speak truth to white power.  I salute Beyoncé for not caving in to this well-known but unwritten rule: NOT EVEN A HUNDERD GRAMMYS WOULD HAVE BEEN WORTH IT!!!  The white cultural gate keepers may have denied her the Grammy but she has won the admiration and respect of her people…. and that is INFINITELY MORE VALUABLE!

 

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Click on links below to see:
Formation Performace at Super Bowl
https://youtu.be/c9cUytejf1k
* Beyonce’s Performance at the Grammy Awards
– http://www.independent.co.uk/…/grammy-awards-2017-beyonce-l…
The Album Lemonade
 https://youtu.be/gM89Q5Eng_M?list=PLxKHVMqMZqUSPF11Ghs0KqDfOGhB9Vw5E
 
Playthell G. Benjamin
 Black History Month
 February 14, 2017

Should Democrats Overhaul Their Party?

Posted in On Donald Trump, On the 2016 Presidential Election with tags , , on February 5, 2017 by playthell
donald-trumpPresident Elect: Donald John Trump

Reflections on the Trump Election: What is to be Done?

In one of the most improbable scenes in US history Donald Trump – New York Real Estate huckster, Reality Show Host and narcissistic bunko artist – raised his right hand and was sworn in as the 45th President of the United states of America. It was a day that will live forever in Infamy! His rise to the most powerful office in the world surprised both the wisest wags among the punditariat and scientific pollsters alike.

They all had assured us that there was “no path to 270 delegates” for Trump, a rank amateur at the art of politics who gave every indication of being clueless about the matter of governance.  An impression that has not changed despite the victory that has put him in the Oval Office.  This is a frightening reality to most thoughtful people that have some idea what the duties and responsibilities of the Presidency are.

As the Democrats recover from the shock of it all, the conversation is about what went wrong?  It is a question that is bound to result in a lot of soul searching and finger pointing. Some think the essential lesson of the electoral defeat is that the Democratic Party needs to be revamped, fire the leadership and remake itself. I disagree.  I think we should first of all adopt the position “no enemies on the left;” calmly assess the reasons for the Trump victory and devise a strategy to fight back and limit the damage that right-wing ideologues who dominate the Grand Obstructionist Party can do before we remove them from power in the election.

I insist that this is not the time to talk about “reforming” the Democratic party; for the election had virtually nothing to do with the shortcomings of the Democrats.  The fact is that they are already miles ahead of the Republicans in protecting and advancing the interests of the working and middle class demographic that voted for Trump. That’s why Hillary Clinton was endorsed and supported with manpower and money by the leadership of America’s great labor unions. Although much of their politically backward rank and file supports Trump, which could have been largely avoided if the unions offered political education classes and made them mandatory as a condition of Union membership wherever possible.

Yet, even so, Trump barely got elected by the skin of his teeth based on a peculiar algorithm employed by the Electoral College, who has the final word in deciding who shall be President.  Yet it is an unassailable fact that Donald Trump, now President of the richest and most powerful nation in the world, actually lost the popular vote registering the will of the American people to Hillary Clinton, who won by almost three million more votes than Trump!   This was by far the largest margin a candidate has ever polled in a US presidential election and yet lost to their opponent.

Ever the hype artist, Trump declared in a December 11th, interview on Fox News: “We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.” This is pure historical fantasy that wouldn’t be plausible as historical fiction; let alone real history.  The fact is that Trump won the Electoral College with a mere 306 votes, which is far from a landslide.  Trump got 56.88% of the Electoral College, while Barack Obama got 67.84%; this is 11 points higher.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt got 98% and George Washington got 100%.

These are landslides; Trumps victory actually ranks in the bottom quarter of all the Presidents that have followed George Washington!  Another measure of how far Trump’s anemic victory was from a landslide consider the fact that in 1964 Lyndon Johnson got 486 Elector’s votes to Barry Goldwater’s 52 votes.  In the election of 1972 “Dirty Dick” Nixon got 520 Electoral College votes to George McGovern’s 17!

Trump’s margin of victory was a mere 77 thousand votes, spread over three states in the rustbelt where the prolonged misery of structural unemployment led them to seek salvation in a fast-talking bunko artists cum real estate huckster who knows nothing of industrial production or running a government.  A sober assessment of the electoral numbers show that it is nonsense to talk about a sweeping Trump victory, such exaggerations run the risks of overestimating their mandate and underestimating their vulnerabilities.

One of their vulnerabilities that will become increaingly manifest is that Republican policies will inflict pain upon these voters because they are the most reliant on goverment programs.  For instance, the 500 counties that voted for Hillary Clinton produce 60% of the Gross Domestic Product, while the over 2000 counties that voted for Trump produce only 37%, and receives the lion’s share of government assistance!   Hence it’s only a matter of time before they begin to feel the pain.

I am not arguing that there is no room for improvement in the Democratic Party program, rather I am pointing out that this is not the main reason for Trump’s victory.  In fact, we can reduce Trump’s victory to two factors: The general ignorance and apathy of the electorate and the increasing disappearance of good paying blue collar jobs with benefits that were once commonplace in the industrial centers of the Mid-West. Yet by any objective measure President Obama’s management of the economy was outstanding; the best that could have been done under the circumstances.

When he came into office Obama inherited an economy in the worst state of crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, a worldwide economic collapse initiated by the 1929 Wall Street crash.  Among the consequences of that economic crisis was the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany, a panicked and desperate population was prepared to make a deal with the devil if he could end their suffering.  Although Barack Obama had nothing in common with Hitler, the election of an African American to the US presidency was also a radical act of desperation on the part of a populace that was thoroughly disillusioned with the conventional political leadership.

It turned out to be a very good choice President Obama rescued the economy from disaster, saved the US auto-industry from extinction; prevented millions of Americans from descending into poverty by virtue of the Economic Recovery Act – the most corruption free big money government program in history – signed the Dodd-Frank and also signed the Lillie Ledbetter Act making it illegal to pay women less than men for the same work, and passed the Affordable Health Care Act –which gave 20 million Americans life-saving health care for the first time in their lives. And as I write the final jobs report of the Obama era has come in at 4.8%, a great number that reflects the longest sustained period of job growth in the private sector in American history!

President Obama tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden, while devastating the leadership of Al Qaeda and rendering them virtually impotent.  He wound down the Iraq and Afghan wars while keeping us out of new wars in the Middle East by crafting foreign policy with Solomonic wisdom. The President also signed a Nuclear arms agreement with Russia that reduced the threat of nuclear annihilation which won him the Nobel Peace Prize

The benefits Barack Obama bequeathed to the American people – which are far too numerous to recount here – have been outstanding, despite the machinations of the Grand Obstructionist Party.  I have no doubt that historians of the future will look upon the presidency of Barack Obama as a golden age in American Civilization, one that could have matched the age of Pericles in ancient Greece had his vision for America not been throttled and his progressive program arrested by the Tea Party takeover of the Congress.

Hence the real lesson for progressives who now lament the victory of “The Donald”- an unmitigated disaster that will take this country backwards, the only question is how far – is to agitate and organize just as the Tea Party did.   The conditions are propitious for the success of such an effort.  Already the people are animated and rising up in a wave of spontaneous combustion.   Now it must be organized into a coherent political movement with clearly defined goals.  The polls show that this nascent resistance movement is more popular after two weeks that the Tea Party was at its peak: 43% to 60%!

Savvy organizers are already employing social media in highly effective ways.  One effort that offers great promise is posting the schedule of public appearances and Town Hall meetings of every member of Congress along with their voting records.  This will enable them to direct protestors to the meetings of elected representatives who opposed the progressive agenda and vote against the public interests.  This strategy will put their business in the streets; there will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Righteous Anger of the People

Anti-Donald Trump protest is held at Trump Tower in 5th Avenue in New York, as Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has been calling for barring all Muslims from entering the United State. Dec 20, 2015, New York.

This is a good place to begin.  However, like all mass movements, the present uprising has many factions and leaders with varying views of the problem.  What unites us is the desire to put Trump in check and take back the Congress in two years the way the Tea Party did, and they accomplished this following what was arguably the most disastrous presidency in history!

Under George Bush the nation experienced the most devastating attack on American soil by a foreign force since the War of 1812; the second worst economic collapse in our history, and launched a disastrous war of choice in Iraq that has not only expanded the power of Iran in the region since it put the Shiite majority in power in Iraq, but also brought Al Qaeda into the area and created ISIS.  Furthermore, they squandered over two trillion dollars in this misbegotten foreign adventure which, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, could have financed the rebuilding of the entire American infrastructure while putting a million or more Americans to work in its construction!

If the Tea Party could re-elect Republicans to control the nation’s purse strings in the face of such a recent disaster perpetrated by the Republican Party, organizing to take back the Congress in the face of the chaos that Donald Trump is unleashing upon the nation, and his obvious bait and switch in promising to “drain the swamp” and instead increasing the population of crocodiles from the previously vilified muck of Goldman Sachs, or promising not to repeal Obamacare before having a cheaper and better program in place “without missing a day,”  or to keep us out of foreign wars while taking steps that will surely lead us into a much wider war in the mid-east and increasingly hostile relations with China.  Not to mention the devastating effect that starting trade wars with Mexico and China will have on the pocketbooks of his long-suffering working class voters!

In view of these objective facts, all the talk about the need to completely rebuild the Democratic Party appears wrongheaded to me.  What we need to do is what we are doing, stay vigilant and oppose every effort to turn back the clock by taking away benefits from the American people won over a century of struggle. Then use these struggles to educate and organize!   As New York Times columinst Charles Blow warned: The enlightnement must not surrender to the ignorance and hysteria of the inquisition!  Yet we also must recognize that the Tea Party had a Trump card that progressives don’t: White racial resentments!

This is a recurrent pattern in American civilization where every dramatic advance by Afro-Americans have been met by a white reaction. But, fortunately, the election of Donald Trump does not just offend the sensibilities, injure the life’s chances and endanger the interests of Afro-Americans, but also jeopardizes the gains of a broad segment of the US population that transcends racial divisions. Hence coalition building around common goals must be our principal method of struggle.  Now is not the time to emphasize identity politics such as “Black Agendas,” our  slogans must promote inclusive themes: “No Enemies on the Left!”  “Unity in Diversity!”  “All Power to the People!”  “The People United Can Never be Defeated!”  “No justice No Peace!”

To avoid the pitfalls that led to the squandering of the vast potential of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which died from the self-inflicted wound of apolitical folly, we should heed the advice of the Ghanaian political philosopher/activist Kwame Nkrumah: “Seek Ye first the Political Kingdom and all else will be added there unto!” And to accomplish this our method at this juncture we must take the advice of the great Frederick Douglass.  In 1895, a period  of political reaction much like our own, when Douglass was literally in his last days, some youths asked what should they do?   The great “Drum Major for Justice” summed it up in three words: AGITATE!  AGITATE!  AGITATE!

In this Douglas summarized what he had long preached, it is a message that has withstood the test of time without revision:

 “History holds no more august claim than where there is no struggle there is no progress. Men who profess to stand for freedom yet denigrate agitation are men who would have corn without plowing the fields; rain without thunder and lightning; the ocean without the awful roar of her many waters.  Where there is no struggle there is no progress!  The struggle may be moral, or physical, or it may be both: but there must be a struggle!   Power concedes nothing without demand, it never has and it never will.  Men may not always get what they pay for in this life, but we shall sure as hell pay for all that we get!!!” 

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THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!!!

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

February 3, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Opposition Research Files

Posted in Guest Commentators with tags , on February 4, 2017 by playthell
donnie-trump-and-the-devil
A Convocation of Devils?
Notes on Trump’s Actions during his First Eight Days in Office

The best Organizers are the ones with the most knowledge on the issues. They are able to use the facts at their disposal to galvanize support, squelch opposition and sometimes even convert opponents. Because of the depth and breadth of Trump’s many actions against our country is hard to fathom.  Thus, I have checked off 15 actions or reactions to Trump that caught my attention in particular.  This does not include information purged off the White House and other and other government websites.

Pre-Inauguration Hype/Post-Inauguration letdown? (MLK Week January 15th-22nd):

I- Trump feuds with Civil Rights Icon and Congressman John Lewis. In the past year, Trump has gotten into public disputes with a beauty queen anthe Muslim parents of a dead soldier. But on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Trump went back and forth with a man whom John McCain once called “one of the most respected men in America.” – Cleve Wootson Jr. (Washington Post 01/15/2017).  Congrats Mr. President-Elect, for any political capital or good-will you might have even attempted to garner from the Progressive-Wing of The Democratic Party, was squandered right here before you even took one step in the Oval Office. Trump actually showed his true-self so effectively that out of 192 Democrats in the House of Representatives over 1/3rd of all members of the Democratic House Caucus, about 70 members, skipped the Inauguration, reports Simone Pathe, on rollcall.com 01/17/2017).

II –What is Trump’s Obsession with Crowd Size, anyhow? Delegitimizing the media is important to Trump because delegitimizing certain facts is important to Trump.”-Ezra Klein (Vox.com 1/21/17).
III – Monday January 23rd
On Trump’s first week-day on the job, Trump implemented a Hiring Freeze on all Federal Workers:
“President Trump’s hiring freeze will prevent many veterans from getting jobs. At the same time, it will cause longer waits for VA medical care, and increase the backlog on VA disability claims.” – Harry Stein. (The Hill.com 1/27/2017). I thought the goal was to put people to work, not put them out of work.

4-Killing TPP! “The US president, Donald Trump, has signed an executive order formally withdrawing the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, following through on a promise from his presidential campaign.” – Al Jazeera 01/23/2017). TPP probably is one of the most widely debated issues we have going on, split among both major political parties. Democrat for President Bernie Sanders was very much opposed to it, as was Hillary Clinton. (Although, I’m not entirely sure Hillary had much conviction in opposition, or just went where the wind blowed, here).

5-Trump reinstates the “Global Gag-Rule”; Having Women’s Rights Groups Reeling.

“In the past, the global gag rule meant that foreign NGOs must disavow any involvement with abortion in order to receive U.S. family planning funding. Trump’s version of the global gag rule expands the policy to all global health funding. According to Ehlers, the new rule means that rather than impacting $600 million in U.S. foreign aid, the global gag rule will affect $9.5 billion” – Michelle Goldberg (Slate.com – 1/24/2017).  The re-enforcement of the Global Gag Rule, is not a surprise to anyone who has knowledge of this ruling. It was started by President Reagan in 1984 and has gone in and out of existence internationally depending on who is President of the USA and who isn’t. And if you didn’t notice, it is a favorite ruling of Republicans, but is swept away under Democrats.

VI -Tuesday January 24th
DAPL and the Keystone Pipeline is Resurrected

This action is yet another rung up the ladder towards our ever expanding Ecological Apocalypse. “President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed executive actions to advance approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. The decision to advance the pipelines cast aside efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to block construction of the two pipelines, while making good on one of Trump’s campaign promises” – Diamond, Jones, Krieg.”  (CNN.COM 1/24/17).

The long-term consequences of this could be potentially devastating. For a country and a world that already has such an over-dependence on Oil, I find this move equal to that of a Crack Addict moving from smoking it daily, to having an IV of it in both his legs and both of his arms to get a quicker longer-lasting sustainable high.

Not only that, but DAPL is further homogenizing our country and our world, displacing Native Americans from their home and deliberately trying to wipe out one of the few remaining indigenous populations we have left in the United States.“The outcome of this battle, and the way it gets told, may set the stage for similar environmental and humanitarian disputes yet to come. For members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the pipeline is a major environmental and cultural threat. In addition to trampling over ancestral lands, they are concerned a break near the Missouri River could pollute the reservation’s water supply.”- Cayte Bosler (11/23/16 Observer.com).

For more on Standing Rock, visit: http://www.ienearth.org/stand-with-standing-rock-no-dapl/
VIII-WEDNESDAY JANUARY 25th

 Build Walls not Bridges?  “President Trump has signed two executive orders related to immigration and border security, moving ahead with his plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and to deport people who are in the country illegally” – Chappell, Keith, Kennedy (NPR.ORG 01/25/2017).  Aside from the diplomatic fall-out from this (noted on Thursday’s headlines) this just goes to the heart of the image people have of America. Depending on who you ask, they usually will give you an opinion on this matter one way or another.

IX -Trump and Immigration/Sanctuary Cities my blood is starting to boil over this one. “President Trump released an executive order on Wednesday to support immigration enforcement and punish local governments that don’t comply with federal authorities. 

In some so-called “sanctuary cities,” officials refuse to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation. Because jails are typically run by counties, rather than cities, county policies can matter more to immigrants.” – Darla Cameron (Washington Post 01/25/2017).  Again, here we see and can anticipate huge ripple effects.

X- THURSDAY JANUARY 26th

 American and Mexican Relations make a significantly sharp turn for the worse. “Peña Nieto said on Twitter on Thursday that his administration notified the White House that he won’t meet with Trump Tuesday, as originally planned. “The cancellation came after Trump tweeted earlier in the day that “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” The cancellation of the long-awaited meeting between the two leaders marks the first significant diplomatic rift between the two countries in decades”. – DeCordoba, Montes. (WSJ/marketwatch.com 01/26/2017)

XI – FRIDAY Janury 27th

“Trump banned Refugees on Holocaust Remembrance Day. That says everything. Cecilla Wang.  (theguardian.com 1/28/2017).

XII -Public Officials Cowering to Trump’s Sanctuary Ban; the Miami-Dade Mayor is among the most notable political cowards!!!

XIII – And of course there is always more and more evidence that most of us suspected, Donald Trump is a Man-Child, and he and his people can’t keep secrets worth a damn! (WaPost 1/26/2017).

XIV – Probably the most damaging Anti-Obama Care Attack than any other hollow statement or non-binding resolution. “The Trump administration has pulled the plug on all Obamacare outreach and advertising in the crucial final days of the 2017 enrollment season, according to sources at Health and Human Services and on Capitol Hill. Even ads that had already been placed and paid for have been pulled, the sources told POLITICO. This decision sends the clearest signal yet that President Donald Trump is determined to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare”. – Paul Demko (politico.com 1/26/2017).  I mean this action by Trump right here, to pull ads already paid for to get people to enroll in the open-market to get health insurance. Why doesn’t Trump just pull the plug on Obama Care and deal with the consequences of it now?

15- Saturday January 28th

Let us not forget about the damaging Anti-Muslim Ban Trump implemented over the weekend, which has created mass-protests all across just about every International Airport in America.

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

demonstrations

The Growing Opposition to Trump’s Folly!

Note:

I did not post anything about “The Women’s March” even though all across the country, it was lit!  I also didn’t post anything on Trump’s “Unfounded claims” on mass-voter fraud. Nor did I bring up this crazy 20% tariff Trump wants to put on Mexican goods, or Trump’s trashing of environmental protection laws and banking regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act, or repealing the ban against mentally ill people acquiring fire arms.  All of which endangers the safety of the American public that he has pledged to serve and protect!  I also didn’t bring up how California’s is more serious about leaving the Union than they have ever been.

Nor did I bring to attention any of the bruising confirmation fights ahead to fulfill Trump’s Cabinet.  Although, the confirmation hearings, I believe have been widely covered far and wide as these confirmation battles are often long simmering stories, but other News, traveling at the speed of light, doesn’t always get its due!

Also, if I were to assume we all knew about “ALL” of his actions and misdeeds, I’d be doing a disservice to all of us, by letting us forget how much damage he has already done during his already incredibly brief time in office. In fact the damage he’s done to this country started well before he got inaugurated, but I think some of our lasting memories of Trump and the staying power of “Trumpism” is best captured starting with the week leading up to his Inauguration.  Hence, why I started with Trump’s incorrigible behavior towards Congressman Lewis.

A Definition of Trumpism – “A gospel politicians preach to instill fear in locals: illegals are bringing crime and robbing their jobs, and radicals among Muslim refugees are terrorizing the “infidels.”  (Urbandictionary.com)

By: Joshua Pressman Jacobs
New York,  February 2017
*NOTE: No person or entity can re-publish this post without the expressed written consent of the author.

 

Drumfp and Hitler: Birds of a Feather?

Posted in On Donald Trump, Playthell on politics, You Tube Classics with tags , on January 27, 2017 by playthell
donald-trump-giving-fascist-saluteHe says his Success is due to his Superior German Blood

 What Does the Evidence Suggest?

After meeting him Truman Smith remarked: “This is a marvelous demagogue who can really inspire people.” And Paul Von Wiegard, a foreign correspondent for the Hearst newspapers marveled at his ability to whip crowds into a frenzy during his speeches at political rallies. This is as succinct an assessment of Donald Trump as I could imagine; a poignant unvarnished portrait.  The problem for Americans is that the man they were describing is Adolph Hitler!

We learn these cautionary facts from a revealing article, titled “Early Warnings: How American Journalist Reported the Rise of Hitler, published in the venerable Atlantic Magazine, by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an editor  there.  The book under review is Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power, by Andrew Nargorsky.

I was drawn to this essay because of its title, thinking that it might offer some insight on the rise of Donald Trump to the US presidency.  I have already noted some striking similarities in the political style of Trump and Hitler in an article I published several months ago during the heat of the election campaign titled “Is Donald Trump a Uniquely American Fascist?”

Not only did this essay offer some unique insights, it was pregnant with useful revelations.  For instance, we learn:

“After the Great Depression hit, suddenly the Nazi Party became a major contender for power. Yet you had Americans meeting Hitler and saying, “This guy is a clown. He’s like a caricature of himself.” And a lot of them went through this whole litany about how even if Hitler got into a position of power, other German politicians would somehow be able to control him. A lot of German politicians believed this themselves.”

Anyone who is paying attention to the American political scene just now will have heard shockingly similar conversations regarding President Trump.  The careful listener can even discern some of the same descriptive language.  For instance, the insightful journalist Matt Taibbi has written a book based on his coverage of the Trump presidential campaign titled “Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus.” In a recent interview on the Seth Meyers Show, Taibbi said of Trump’s rise to power: “On the one hand, it’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to this country.  On the other hand it’s potentially the end of civilization.“

Taibbi’s troubling observations bring several critical issues immediately to mind.  First I am reminded of why brilliant men of humane vision like Drs. Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, and the swing dancing George Kwiatkowski agreed to work on a horrendous weapon like the Atomic Bomb.  Although they later expressed regret for bringing this doomsday weapon into the world; they did it because they were terrified that Hitler might get it first…and they had no doubt that he would use it.  The scientists’ concerns about Hitler are echoed in the Bill now being put forth by US Congressmen Ted W, Lieu and Senator Edward Markey, to restrain the danger of a bombastic, thin skinned, socio-path like President Trump launching a nuclear attack on some nation during a temper tantrum.

Upon introducing the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017” H.R. 669 and S. 200, Congressman Lieu, a Democrat from California, was clear on the danger the world faces from the fact that Donald Trump – a delusional megalomaniac whose mental stability has been called into question by several psychiatrist analyzing his public behavior – now has the Nuclear football and the Launch Codes that gives him the power to destroy the world!   :

“It is a frightening reality that the US now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be ‘unpredictable’ with nuclear weapons, and as president-elect was making sweeping statements about US nuclear policy over Twitter.  Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the US would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon.  Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war.” 

Even the Five Blind Boys can see that these legislators clearly do not trust temperament or judgement of the pugnacious martinet that presently commands America’s doomsday nuclear arsenal.

Far too few Americans understand how the Nuclear Triad works.  Reduced to its simplest terms, it is enough to say that the US Strategic Command cab launch thousands of hydrogen bombs anywhere on the globe with pin point accuracy in less than an hour from three different platforms: Land based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles; dropped from Strato-bombers of the US Strategic Air Command, and naval vessels steaming on the ocean’s surface or beneath the sea.  As things presently stands, this awesome power resides completely in the hands of Donald Trump, who alone can give the command to launch without consulting ANYONE!!!!!!   That’s why the Lieu-Markey Bill is the most important piece of legislation in history.

Herr Hitler!

hitler

He also believes his German blood was “superior”

As I have shown elsewhere, Trump, like Hitler, views the fate of the nation and his personal fate as one.  You could easily see this based on his response to the Mexican president’s cancellation of a state visit to Washington to meet with Trump.  The new President was quick to label the Mexican President’s snub of him with disrespect for the United States.  Trump’s feeling that he personifies the nation arises from the source as Hitler’s, he won the election base on his pesonality, which transcended the Republican party.  An insightful article in the distinguished German newspaper Der Spiegal, explains the role of  the personality cult in Hitler’s Rise to the pinnacle of political power:

” …there were one or two tantalizing hints that Hitler’s personal appeal outstripped that of the Nazi regime itself, and even more so of the Party. “For Adolf Hitler yes, but a thousand times no to the brown big-wigs” was scribbled on one ballot-paper in Potsdam. The same sentiment could be heard elsewhere.”

And just as Hitler used the Versailles Treaty, as evidence of other nation’s taking advantage of a weak Germany, Trump has used trade agreements like NAFTRA North American Free Trade Agreement, and the proposed TPP – Trans Pacific Partnership – which Trump recently scrapped with an Executive Order – to label the negotiators at best as “incompetent political hacks” or “stupid” and economic traitors at worst – enemies of the America people.  And just like Hitler, he uses these treaties to whip up the anger of impassioned mobs untutored in the vagaries of political subterfuge or the complexities of international trade.

Also like Hitler, many people fail to recognize how dangerously unstable Trump’s mental state is.   Listening to him argue ad nauseam with reporters about the size of the crowd that turned out to witness what he evidently thinks was his coronation, even inviting them to compare aerial photographs of the crowds that attended his and Barack Obama’s swearing in Ceremony made by the Park Service, we have to seriously worry about whether this guy is all there.

This is crazy stuff, especially when you look at the pictures. Anybody with good eyesight can see that it’s not even close; Barack’s crowd dwarfs Trump’s.   His servile staff, who he probably views as the Kings courtiers whose proper posture is lips to his posterior, dare not tell him the unpleasant truth.    They remind me of the court in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

This obsession with size – which earlier manifested itself when he felt in necessary to explain that his small hands didn’t mean that he also suffered from pant worm…this clarification was so important to him that he issued a plea for understanding from the podium during his presidential campaign – is a sign that the New US president is something of an extreme narcissist; a mythomaniac who suffers from delusions of grandeur. Just like Adolph!

Trump’s insecurity about size is also revealed in his constant talk of building up the American military, although the US has the largest, best funded, destructive military forces in the world.  As President Obama said: “It ain’t even close!”  Obsession with building military might was also a defining characteristic of Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Also like Hitler, Trump benefitted from a split on the left, where some voted for third parties and others stayed home, certain that an obviously incompetent clown like “The Donald” could not possibly win the presidency.  It reminds me of the comments from the great Hollywood film maker Frank Capra, who explained the difficulty of making anti-fascist propaganda films from the war department during the Second World War, because Hitler and Mussolini looked like clowns and it was hard to get people to feel hostile or scared watching their antics.  The main impulse of viewers was to bust out laughing!

Alas, notwithstanding the ludicrous buffoon Trump reveals himself to be on a daily basis, he is no laughing matter!  Speaking of Hitler’s position in German politics a year after he became Chancellor, Ian Kershaw writes the following in the same Der Spiegal article, titled “The Fuerer Myth:”

“Today Hitler Is All of Germany.” The newspaper headline on Aug. 4, 1934 reflected the vital shift in power that had just taken place. Two days earlier, on the death of Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler had lost no time in abolishing the Reich Presidency and having the army swear a personal oath of unconditional obedience to him as “the Führer of the German Reich and People.”

He was now head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces, as well as head of government and of the monopoly party, the NSDAP. Hitler had total power in Germany, unrestricted by any constitutional constraints. The headline implied even more, however, than the major change in the constellation of power. It suggested an identity of Hitler and the country he ruled, signifying a complete bond between the German people and Hitler”

To recognize the gravitas of the crisis in contemporary American politics, it is quite enough to acknowledge that all the powers that Hitler had in 1934 Germany Trump has now, with one exception. Trump is checked by “constitutional restraints,” but they are not worth the parchment they are written on if the members of his party refuse to stand up to him.  And thus far, possibly intimidated by his twitter attacks, they are behaving like a school of spineless Jelly fish.

Although at different Times and Places

fascist-salute-at-hitler-rally

A Hysterical Woman at a Hitler Rally

donald-trumps-fascist-supporter

It’s the Same Class of Phenomenon whether in Germany or the US

Like all authoritarian leaders and wannabe tyrants, both Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump, brothers of the blood, despise the free press. Hitler destroyed the free press in Nazi Germany, and I have no doubt that Trump would do the same in the US if he could. Restrained by the First Amendment to our constitution, Herr Drumpf has resorted to a campaign of vicious slanders and invective against the press in general – his acolytes shouting the old Nazi epithet “lougen presser!” – lying press – at the reporters covering his rallies.

Furthermore, Trump’s senior advisor Steve Bannon rivals Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, on employing the principle of the “Big Lie.”  This strategy is based on the idea that if you repeat a lie to a mass audience often enough, even if it is outrageous, a certain number of them will believe it.  That’s how hitler won the hearts and minds of the most educated ppulace on earth and convinced them to murder six million of their neighbors!

Bannon is well schooled in this practice having run Brietart, a far right wing propaganda blog spinning “alternative” facts infested with neo-Nazi views, before moving into the White House.  In a show of hostility and contempt for the major media heretofore unseen in a top advisor to an American President, Brannon, whom rumor has it is “Trump’s brain,” just called the newspapers of record – New York Times, Washington Post, et al – the “opposition party” and told them to “shut up!”

Trump’s open hostility to the working press, well trained professional journalist trying to inform the American people about the critical issues and the policies elected officials, whom we employ, are promoting. Thomas Jefferson, the wisest of the American Founding Fathers, held the free press in such high esteem he once said “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.”

If Jefferson’s position reveals a deep commitment to democratic government, Trump’s attitude toward the press exposes an authoritarian personality with fundamentally anti-democratic instincts. One obvious source of this difference in their approach to the exercise of power is that Thomas Jefferson was a widely read intellectual and statesman who devoted his life to public service; trying to build a great nation was the motivating force in his life.

Trump has spent his adult life as the CEO of a private corporation devoted to no higher goal than making money and personal enrichment for ostentatious display. The power structure of a corporation is by nature a pure dictatorship; you carry out the CEO’s commands or you get fired!   Just like on Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice.”

In the most generous and flattering interpretation of Donald Trump, I’d say he aspires to be a benevolent dictator!  Trump’s aggressive nationalism, like that of Hitler, imperils the peace and security of the world.  Where Hitler and Trump are most unlike, is the fact that Hitler was a fanatic deeply committed to an ideology he believed would build a “Thousand Year Reich” that would rule the world ….and as near as anybody can tell Trump believes in nothing beyond “winning.

Furthermore Hitler also fought bravely in combat for his country in World War I, whereas Donald Trump is a draft dodger who shriked his duty while other young  men his age marched off to war in Vietnam!  Although he loves to brag about his “militaristic” nature, Trump is all blow and no go!  His sole experience with military matters is a stint he spent in an expensive military high school; yet he is such a shameless braggart that he actually cited his highschool eperience as evidence of his having served in the military.  Which is further evidence that he simply cannot control his compulsion to lie!

Another great difference between the the two men is that Hitler was determined to conquer Russia, and launched an attack with genocidal intent!   The sole political virtue of President Trump, that I can clearly identify, is his refusal to be stampeded into promoting the growing anti-Russian hysteria that has been embracd by Democrats and Republicans with varying degrees of passion.   Let us hope that Trump holds his course on US-Russian relations.   For if there was ever a situation where his pigheadness could be a positive asset it is his attitude toward US-Russian relations.  Yet given all the forces at work to undermine it alas, who knows what the future will hold.

Given Trump’s bellicose approach to foreign relations, which is already antagonizing a nuclear armed China, should we get into a conflict with Russia it is anybody’s guess how Trump will react. Perhaps the most telling sign of the danger Trump’s presidency poses is that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist just moved the hands on their “DOOMSDAY CLOCK,” which warns us how close the world is to nuclear destruction, CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT!

a-terryfying-nuclear-explosion

A Clear and Present Danger!

Ten Scary Facts about Nuclear War!

HOW DOOMSDAY WILL HAPPEN!

This is why Congress Must Pass the Lieu-Markey Bill

Mankind must Destroy the Bombs or the Bombs will Destroy Us!

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 27, 2017 of the End Times?

On Trump’s Inaugural Address

Posted in On Donald Trump, On the 2016 Presidential Election, You Tube Classics with tags on January 20, 2017 by playthell
 trump-speech-at-inauguration
 The New President Explaining his Vision
Sellin Woff Tickets to the World
 Witnessing Donald Trump present his inaugural Address was like watching a nightmare come true. Although he no doubt thought his scripted remarks – written by some right-wing wag and probably edited by white nationalist ideologue Steve Bannon – now his personal advisor – were profound, they were SOS: the Same Old Stuff. It was bombastic, jingoistic, and devoid of the poetry, soaring eloquence and magnanimity that we have come to expect from Barack Obama.
The speech was false to history, false to the present, and unworthy of the occasion. Try as he might to sound presidential, something he has evidently only become concerned with in the last 24 hours – judging by the things he said just yesterday – “The Donald” sounded much more like a New York real estate huckster than a great statesman charged with leading the world’s most powerful nation. I suppose you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks….and at 70 years of age he is a very old dog indeed!
The new president’s vision was grim – whether describing the condition of the US or his view of America’s relations with the rest of the world! It did nothing to win friends or influence enemies to think the better of the USA. It was what he is: Pugnacious, ignorant, dishonest, filled with hyperbole, graceless, and given to fascist sloganeering!
“Make America Great Again” was filched from Benito Mousilini, the Italian distator and self- proclaimed “Father of Fascism,” whose slogan was “Make Italy Great Again!”  And “America First” was the slogan of pro-fascist Americans, such as the aviator and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindburg, during World War II.  When it was pointed out that a quote he used was coined by Musolini he said he didn’t care “I just lkie good slogans.”  The thoughtful observor is forced to wonder if they are birds of a feather.  For an extended discussion of this question see: “Is Donald Trump A Uniquely American Fascist” on this blog.
Click to see Trump’s Speech
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/index.html

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
Inauguration Day
Janurary 20, 2016

The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump

Posted in On Donald Trump, Playthell on politics with tags on January 20, 2017 by playthell
.trumps-inaugaration
Herr Drumpf takes the Oath
A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY, IF CIVILIZATION SURVIVES!

Today Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office, in which he will pledge to “defend the US constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.” The problem is that the greatest danger to the Constitution may well be the new President himself. According to Lawrence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, Donald Trump will be in violation of the Emoluments Clause due to his failure to divest his sprawling business holdings by placing them into a blind trust to be liquidated by an anonymous trustee. Indeed, Professor Tribe, who is widely regarded as our most authoritative voice on the evolution and intent of the clauses in the Constitution, has laid out five constitutional violations that will make Trump eligible for Impeachment the moment he takes office in a few hours.

Of course this will not happen immeditely, because impeachment proceedings must begin in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by fanatical ideologues who have placed the interest of the Republican Party – the Grand Obstructionist Party – above the national interest, and privilege a thirst for power over their love for the Constitution – despite the endless lip service they give to its sacred place in American life. However, I predict that just like Richard Nixon with the Watergate affair, Trump’s business interests, and perhaps the relationship of his campaign and subsequent election to Russian intrusion in our presidential election could eventually result in the impeachment of Donald Trump.

The fact that the new President’s commitment to conventional Republican ideological dogma is suspect by party stalwarts, who would much prefer Vice-President Mike Pence in their heart of hearts, makes Trump’s removal from office a real possibility. There is a precedent for this in the history of the Republican Party. Party ideologues – i.e. the leadership and most of the Congress – view this election as a transformative moment in US political history akin to the period following the Civil War.

They see this as a chance to make sweeping fundamental changes in the character of American society, just like the “Radical Republican” Congress that shaped Reconstruction policy. Although the Republican Party had complete control of the government, they had an uncooperative President who was at odds with their agenda. This circumstance was a consequence of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln which propelled Vice -President Andrew Johnson into the Oval Office.

Johnson had been picked by Lincoln as a gesture of conciliation toward the defeated states of the southern confederacy because he was a pro-union southerner; the only southern senator who refused to leave the union when his state seceded. Johnson’s selection was a concrete expression of President Lincoln’s promise in his second inaugural address, when he held out an olive branch to the defeated south with the promise that he would proceed “with malice toward none and charity for all we will bind up the wounds of our nation.”

However despite his pro-union loyalty, Johnson was a racist southern reactionary who did not share the vision of the Radical Republican Congress, and thus he opposed their agenda. And when they had had enough of his obstructionism they found grounds to impeach his contrary ass.
The validity of these charges yet remains a subject of controversy among American historians. However, given Trump’s opposition to conventional Republican wisdom on such fundamental issues as “Free Trade,” fiscal conservatism, and Russian policy, they could decide to remove him in favor of the ideologically pure Pence. And given the sloppy state of President Trump’s business affairs they will have little trouble finding valid grounds for impeachment.But all of this is only gross speculation that must be filed under the category of “what if.”

As it stands in a few hours Donald J. Trump is being sworn in as the 45 President of the United States of America, in an orderly transfer of power that has proceeded unimpeded for two centuries. It is a process that remains the marvel of the world and something in which all Americans can take pride. After all, he was elected, so far as we know, in a free and fair election.

However, there are two investigations underway – conducted by a Senate committee and by the FBI – that may yet reveal that the election was not fair; that the outcome was manipulated by a foreign adversary intent upon destroying the campaign of Hillary Clinton, who was clearly the most qualified candidate for the presidency in American history, in favor of Donald J. Trump who from all appearances is the least qualified candidate in US history!

One need only compare the hostile attitude toward Russia held by Hillary Clinton, with the warm fuzzy bromance between Trump and Putin to fathom why the Russians prefer Donnie. In my view this is modern tragedy, because cultivating better relations with Russia – a nuclear armed nation with the capacity to obliterate every city and town in America in a half hour from now – is one of the most critical problems facing our nation’s survival.

Yet, alas, as Dr. Stephen Cohen – our most learned Russian scholar – has argued, the suspicion that President Trump may be Moscow’s candidate has cast a cloud of suspicion over the Trump presidency before he even takes office and could arrest any progress that he might wish to make in a rapprochement with Russia.

The tragedy lies in the fact that Trump’s refusal to be seduced or coerced into promoting the growing anti-Russian hysteria – fueled by loose talk from politicians and the mindless blather spouted by many in the mass media – is his sole virtue….at least as far as I can see, and I’m watching him like a hawk spying on a chicken. We will have to pay close attention to the investigations and await their verdict before we know for sure if our presidential election was free or fair.

What we do know for sure is that Donald Trump will be our next president, and if he does what he has promised to do, it will be a giant step backward for our nation. If he expands the military budget – which already exceeds those of Russia, China, England and Japan combined – it will add nothing to our safety because we already have the capacity to kill every living thing in the world several times over.

But it is certain to spark a new arms race that will endanger everybody’s security, including ours. And if he succeeds, in league with a compliant congress, in carrying out the tax cuts that he has promised, it has been estimated by neutral experts that it would result in a ten trillion dollar budget deficit within ten years!

If President Trump signs the bill already passed by the Republican Congress to repeal Obamacare it has been estimated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Offic that 18 million American citizens will immediately lose their health care coverage – many of them the very people who voted him into the Oval Office! It will indeed be a bitter pill to swollow to watch billionaires take away the medical care of the poor.  And if he carries out his pledge to defund the National Endowment on the Arts, he will greatly impoverish the cultural life of the nation, injure our spiritual life, deny the nation’s youth of the opportunity to experience the wonder of artistic creativity, and thus diminish our humanity.

If President Trump also carries out his threat to slap a 45% tariff on goods coming from China, he will throw many Americans out of work – because even products manufactured in the US depend upon critical parts produced in China – and dramatically raise the price of goods working class Americans rely on. It will put Walmart as well as your local hardware store out of business! And if he continues with the folly of reinstituting a “two China” policy we could well end up in a war with China, which we have no chance of winning by conventional means, and would thus place us in a nuclear confrontation – which the Chinese believe will result in the extinction of Americans, who only number some 300 million souls, but some of the billion and a half Chinese will survive.

This is why the handing over of the nuclear “football” and the codes to fire our doomsday weapons to Donald Trump – a clueless ignoramus who has cavalierly talked about employing the nuclear option even in Europe – is so terrifying to those of us who recognize their destructive capacity. These doomsday weapons can literally destroy our planet! This is what we now face as a conquence of electing Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the US. It is hard to envision a scenario that will not end badly.

Our only hope for a brighter outcome alas, is that President Trump will experience something akin to the “Beckett Syndrome,” where Thomas Beckett, a flunky for the king of England, was elevated by the King to the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, the powerful head of the Church of England, in the belief that he would do the King’s bidding. But once in office Beckett looked at his reflection in the mirror, decked out in the Arch-Bishop’s robes and went through a conversion where he swore to God that he would do all within his power to serve the best interest of the church….the king be dammed!

As I write this morning, the skies are grey and the birds are not singing. Talking to a friend in California I am told that the rains are pouring there, and it’s threatening to rain on the presidential parade in Washington. If I were the sort who believed in the pre-scientific concept of God, I would think that the gods were crying over the catastrophe we face….one of our own making……on this this day that will live in infamy….if we survive!

Donald Trump now has this Power!

a-nuclear-explosion

All he has to do is give the Word!

Witness the Inauguration Ceremony

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
January 20, 2016