SAUDI GOVERNMENT KILLS JOURNALIST!

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on January 16, 2019 by playthell

Jamal Kahshoggi

DID TRUMP’S POLICIES HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT?

Waddling along like an overstuffed porcine pugnacious Panda, Mike Pompeo huffs and puffs as he romps around the Middle-East visiting the Trump Administration’s partners in crime. In the land of the Pharoah’s he dutifully dished dirt on the legacy of President Barack Obama at the behest of his jealous master, Devious Donald. The basis of this disdain was Obama’s emphasis on the protection of human rights and the expansion of democratic freedoms for the Egyptian people and other Arab populations that opposed autocratic leaders during the mass upheaval of “The Arab Spring.”

Conversely, the major theme of Trump’s speeches when he visited Arabia and spoke to the Sheikhs of the Gulf area fiefdoms was that America would not interfere in their internal affairs the way President Obama had done; so long as they protect American interests in the region. This is also the major theme in the pronouncements of Secretary Pompeo, who is, after all, Trump’s messenger boy.

Tis a pity that a content analysis of the speeches given by Pompeo and Barack Obama in Egypt is beyond the boundaries of this essay; it would tell us much about dramatic differences in the character and intellect of Barack and his defamers: Dastardly Don and Mikey Mouse. But, alas, the objective of this commemtary is to interrogate the facts around the Murder of Jamal Kashoggi, and try to divine their meaning.

Now that we know Jamal Kashoggi- Saudi citizen, permanent US resident and Washington Post columnist – was the victim of a grotesque murder and dismemberment by agents of the Saudi government in their Turkish embassy, and the CIA has concluded it was ordered by the ruling sovereign, prince Muhammad bin Salman: What is the US government going to do about it?

Well, Donald Trump’s response makes it abundantly clear that he plans to do nothing. Trump is perfectly willing to accept the Saudi government’s bogus exoneration of the Crown Prince over the claims of the CIA, just as he has done with their assessment of Russian interference in the presidential election. Indeed, in a shameless display of moral depravity, Trump threw up his hands in mock despair and said we will probably never know the truth about who was behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

It is obvious that Trump has made a Faustian bargain with the Saudi royals, in which he openly bartered the reputation and moral standing of the United States for petro-dollars, Saudi support for Israel, and promotion of hostile US policies against the neighboring Shiite state of Iran.

In a written statement on the gruesome murder Trump first attacked Iran with a deluge of propaganda – although the Iranians have nothing to do with the issue at hand – then he had this to say regarding the Saudi murderers:

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors.

If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!..Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi…In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

This statement raises so many troubling questions that it will require a separate essay to adequately discuss them. Yet even from the excerpts cited here, Devious Donald’s concerns are abundantly clear. There is no shame in his game as he brazenly elevates money above principle, letting the world know that corporate and personal profits mean more than truth, justice, freedom or life to the Trump administration.

After all, Trump has bragged about the enormous sums of money the Saudi royals have spent with his companies, even pulling several of his hotels out of the red. And the President’s bad judgment in citing the Saudi ruling clique’s claim that Mr. Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” calls to mind his repeated accusation that American journalists are “enemies of the people.”

Hence it is entirely reasonable to assume that this shared attitude toward journalists is what led Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salmam – whom the CIA has fingered as ordering the horrendous hit “with high confidence” – to conclude that there would be no American sanctions for his crime. And if it is left up to his buddy “Dirty Donald” he is right.

However several US Senators have endorsed the conclusion that the crown prince ordered the murder after attending a CIA briefing conducted by by agency Director Gina Haspel. Senator Lindsay Graham, the shifty Carolina charlatan whose moral commitments appear to be negotiable, was unambiguous in his view of the Prince’s role: “I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.” Another Southern Republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, co-signed Lindsay’s views:”All evidence…leads back to the crown prince.” Senator Shelby went on to declare, “This is conduct that none of us in America would approve of in any way.” This is a significant development because these senators represent the most avidly pro-Trump sections of the country.

Members of Congress who are inclined to support Trump’s amoral coddling of the Royals might view the matter differently when they realize that Trump’s cavalier attitude toward the sins of the Saudi’s – while attacking Iran and pledging unqualified support for Israel – confirms the widely held suspicion among the Arab masses that the Jihadist are right when they say “America is the Great Satan!” This will push many who are ambivalent into the camp of the Jihadists and nullify Trump’s claim that “It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

Indeed, one need not be a great strategic thinker, or an expert on the Middle East, in order to recognize that Trump’s policies will revitalize anti-American radicalism among the youths in the Islamic world; for it takes away the most powerful weapon the US has in the battle for the hearts and minds of young people from whom the Jihadist recruit their soldiers: The argument that “America stands for freedom, truth and justice.”

Despite the American government’s despicable collaboration with the Saudi murderers, members of the journalistic profession and folks who treasure democracy everywhere, are shocked and appalled as we mourn the death of Jamal Khashoggi, whose only transgression was that he dared to criticize the Saudi Royal family in his writings. To fully understand the true character of the Islamo-fascist Saudi regime, it is essential to understand who Jamal Khashoggi was and the nature of his relationship to the Royals that rule the Kingdom with absolute power. While he has been portrayed as an uncompromising hero of the dissident democratic movement in the Arab world by journalists in the western press, that characterization has been challenged by some radical Arab intellectuals who felt that his criticism of the Saudi royals was milquetoast at best.

For instance, David Hirst of the London Guardian argues Khashoggi was a committed advocate of “truth, democracy, and freedom.” While the Director of Human Rights Watch, which monitors the activities of repressive governments around the world says Khashoggi was a paragon of “outspoken and critical journalism.” However As’ ad AbuKhalil – a lebonese Arab intellectual who is a professor of political science at the California State University at Stanislaus and author of “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” – takes a different view of Khashoggi. Recounting his career as a “journalist” in Saudi Arabia Dr. Abukalil tells us:

“Khashoggi was an ambitious young reporter who knew that to rise in Saudi journalism you don’t need professionalism, courage, or ethics. In Saudi Arabia, you need to attach yourself to the right prince. Early on, Khashoggi became close to two of them: Prince Turki Al-Faysal (who headed Saudi intelligence) and his brother, Prince Khalid Al-Faysal, who owned Al-Watan (The Motherland) where Khashoggi had his first (Arabic) editing job. Khashoggi distinguished himself with an eagerness to please and an uncanny ability to adjust his views to those of the prevailing government. In the era of anti-Communism and the promotion of fanatical jihad in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Khashoggi was a true believer. He fought with Osama bin Laden and promoted the cause of the Mujahideen.”

Hence Abukhalil believes far too much as been made of Khashoggi as a fearless defender of democracy, and he challenges the widely influential columnist David Ignatius, a colleague of Khashoggi’s at the Washington Post, who describes Khashoggi’s stint with the Moujahidin during the anti-Russian Jihad as “an embedded reporter.” According to Abukhalil, Osama bin Laden – a dogmatic theocrat who was no fan of democracy – would never “invite independent journalists to report on their war efforts.” Instead “The entire project of covering the Afghan Mujahideen and promoting them in the Saudi press was the work of the chief of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki, Khashoggi’s principal patron-prince.”
Abukhalil argues that there is no real honest Journalism or “free press” in Saudi Arabia, where all media is owned or controlled – like everything else – by senior Princes of the House of Saud. Thus, all positions of influence in the Kingdom depends upon sucking up and gaining the favor of one of those princes. Hence the principal cause of Khashoggi’s fall from grace was due to his choice of the “wrong princes” to suck up to, not an uncompromising fight for democracy as we understand it in the US – which professor Abukhalil claims is amply verified by his writings in the Arabic language media, which his defenders like David Ignatious does not read.

Alas, Khashoggi chose two princes who have now fallen from grace with the new absolute ruler Muhammad Salman. According to this analysis, the Saudi government is even more repressive than many western observers of Khashoggi’s fate believed! However this critique of Khashoggi must not be confused with attempts by the Republican right to smear him and besmirch his character. They cite Khashoggi’s participation in the Afghanistan Mujaheddin as part of the Arab contingent in order to associate him with Osama bin Ladin, a leader of the “Afghan-Arabs who went on Jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan, an effort encouraged and supported by the US and Saudi governments.

Indeed, at the time they were engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Jihadists were hailed as heroes by the US government and supported by the CIA, who trained Osama bin Ladin in terrorist tactics! Hence the Republican effort to smear him for those activities is based on disinformation that flies in the face of historical fact.

As I write the story the evidence that has been examined by the CIA confirms the Trukish government’s version of what happened. According to Turkish intelligence the Saudi government, presently headed by Crown Prince Salman aka “The Notorious MBS,” sent a hit team to Turkey that murdered and dismembered the Washington Post columnist inside their embassy while he was on an official visit to get documents he needed to get married, as his fiancee waited on him outside.

What the world must do now is demand that the Trump administration release the tapes of the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi provided by the Turks. By some accounts we can hear his fingers being cut off before he is beheaded. They say the forensic pathologist who headed the team can be clearly heard telling his ghoulish gang of cowardly assassins – with whom Donald Trump has now cast his lot – to play music as they butcher the journalist’s body for disposal.

Aside from the horror of it all this is an outrageous, reckless display of hubris. A respected American journalists is murdered in cold blood because the Crown Prince was offended by something he said? Although Lindsay Graham is feigning outrage, if you listen closely to his protestations Graham makes it clear that our outrage should be aimed solely at the Crown Prince not the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; a sophistic statement which offers a distinction without a difference.

Alas, this atrocity was predictable given Donald Trump’s assurance to the Saudi royal Family – and all of the Arab despots of the gulf region – that so long as they keep the oil flowing at a cheap price and support his policies in the region, the US government will turn a blind eye to the oppression of dissenters struggling to democratize their societies. In May 2017 Trump spoke to a gathering of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, and he left no doubt about his stance on their repressive policies.

“I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith. In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust….And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect.”

When you add to this license for governments to abuse their power should they deem in in their interest, Trump’s constant charge that a critical oppositional press is “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE,” this is the result! Alas, shameless, souless, megalomaniacal charlatan that he is; Dirty Donald is unrepentant! In fact, he not only continues to cling to an absurd version of events obviously concocted to shield the Crown Prince from culpability in this treacherous crime, but it appears that the Trump administration may be that co-author of this absurd charade.
Their version, which is as believable as the murder was committed by women from Venus, is clearly designed to provide plausible deniability to the Saudi Crown Prince. Despite the CIA’s conclusion that the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi came straight from the top, the Saudi’s insist the prince was clueless about the entire episode and the American President muses:”it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!…That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.” Then Devious Donald quickly reaffirms the solidity of the US-Saudi alliance:

“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels…As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests… Very simply it is called America First!”

Partners in Crime!

A Faustian Bargain

Fred Ryan, Publisher and Executive Editor of the Washington Post, responded in a November 21 Editorial in which he wrote:

“A clear and dangerous message has been sent to tyrants around the world: Flash enough money in front of the president of the United States, and you can literally get away with murder…Failing to demand accountability for these crimes does not make the United States more secure. Stable, peaceful societies, governed by leaders who respect the rights of their people, need journalists who can expose wrongdoing and hold the powerful to account. It is no mere coincidence that many of the worst abusers of press freedom are also some of the world’s most dangerous actors. The CIA has thoroughly investigated Khashoggi’s murder and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the crown prince. If there is reason to ignore the CIA’s findings, the president should immediately make that evidence public.”

There is an urgent lesson for American journalists in all this, because the way Trump is whipping the highly armed, half baked Republican base into a frenzy against Democrats; the “liberal leftist” and their partners in the “fake news” media, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! In fact, just recently Dirty Donald was speaking in Montana, whipping a Republican crowd into a frenzy by singing the praises of a congressman that attacked a reporter for the London Guardian. And this was after a Trump fanatic mailed bombs to his critics in Congress, the press and private citizens.

Who knows what will happen if the Democratic controlled House of Representatives – the legislative branch that best expresses the will of the people – initiates impeachment proceedings against Trump and he whips his base into a state of paranoid hysteria by denouncing it as a conspiracy to bring down his presidency by the lying Press, the Democrats, and the “Deep State” intelligence forces.

It is abundantly clear that the greatest danger to the free press and the personal safety of reporters in America, and around the world, is Donald Trump! If Journalists are assaulted here on American soil by right-wing fanatics it would come as no surprise to me.

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

Listen to Kashoggi Discuss the problems of Saudi Leadership

https://www.c-span.org/video/?437464-1/jamal-khashoggi-discusses-saudi-leadership-2017

Did the Soviet Union Fall Due to Afghan War?

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags on January 10, 2019 by playthell

Russian Troops Retreating from Afghanistan

Donald Trump Thinks So

Foreign policy wonks around the world were aghast at the version of the Afghan/Russian war spouted by Donald Trump as he answered reporters questions off the cuff during a cabinet meeting held the day after New Year’s break. Although the fact that Trump is a verbose ignoramus and compulsive liar with an unvarnished contempt for facts has now become conventional wisdom for those who know enough to recognize it, he somehow still manages to say things that astonish us. Given the fact that many Americans already believe that Devious Donald is a Russian puppet at the pinnacle of our government – some even call him “The Moscow Candidate” – it is astonishing that he could take the favorable positions he took regarding the motive and consequences of the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Jimmy Carter, who was President at the time, thought it was such an outrageous act he canceled American participation in the Moscow Olympics! The US government didn’t take this severe action even during the NAZI Olympics Games in Berlin. This was no easy decision for Carter because he understood that he was dashing the hopes and dreams of young American athletes who had labored a life time for a chance at their moment of Olympic glory. Yet Donald J. Trump enthusiastically endorsed the Russian invasion, declaring it the just and wise thing to do. Dumb Donnie opined:

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union, Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.”

Aside from revealing a deep ignorance of his subject, part of his statement sounds like it was written by a Russian intelligence officer tasked with conducting a disinformation campaign designed to obfuscate rather than clarify events. This passage would be considered a big victory for whoever was managing the disinformation campaign: “the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.”

Here we have the President of the United States justifying the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan, a major triumph for Russian propaganda. It is almost a verbatim recitation of the new resolution that the Russians have crafted justifying their invasion of Afghanistan.  It is these kind of things that has alarmed some Americans to the point that they are openly calling for the US military to arrest Trump for treason! As crazy and alarming as it is, you can find an abundance of these calls in the comments below You Tube news videos that address Trump’s relationship with Russia!

Yet, given the absurdity of Trump’s claim that the Russia invasion was a response to the “terrorist” threat, it does not require a dramatist’s imagination to envision Putin laughing out loud. For it is obvious that Trump has no clue how the US government’s response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan led to the 9/11 attack, in response to which his Republican predecessor launched a disastrous war of choice in Iraq and invaded Afghanistan; falling into the quagmire the Russians had left. These wars continue as I write, albeit on a reduced scale, and are now America’s longest wars. And at a price of four trillion dollars they are also the most costly! Yet the “terrorists” we are fighting were created by the American Central Intelligence Agency, including Osama bin Laden, who organized and directed the devastating 9/11 attack!

What Putin, a former KGB intelligence officer, understands well is that it was the USA who equipped the Taliban with the modern weapons they later used wreak havoc on US forces a few years after the Russian retreat from Afghanistan. There is even a major movie about it featuring Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War, which details how the Texas Republican Congressman Charlie Wilson persuaded the US government to supply the Afghan Rebels with Stinger Missiles, a high tech shoulder held surface to air missile that can bring down a heavily armored attack helicopter. Although the claim that the introduction of this weapon was a game changer in the Russian/Afghan War is in dispute, there is no doubt they were deployed to great effect against American forces in the war against the Taliban after 9/11.

Why did the US do it, why did the American government go down a road that has cost this nation so much blood and treasure? It was a classic case of folly that should be a crime. In a Pulitzer Prize winning book, The March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuckman analyzes elites across time and place that pursued self-defeating policies, despite the fact that all the observable evidence suggested that it would lead to disaster. And she labeled this class of phenomenon “Folly!”

A careful examination of the facts, viewed in retrospect, leaves no doubt that the decision to arm and train the Afghan Jihadists who came from all over the Islamic world to answer the call to Jihad against the Russians, was a classic case of folly! They called themselves Mujaheddin, “Holy Warriors,” and the US government celebrated them as “heroes,” with little skepticism, and no public opposition from the American media. Instead the media were willing mouth pieces for the government’s point of view…which is what happens when objectivity is overwhelmed by the passions of patriotism.

Alas, US policymakers should have know better. After all, the experience of Iran offered compelling evidence of the dangers of intervening in the affairs of a Muslim nation and helping to overthrow a secular government that that the US disliked. In 1953 the CIA engineered a military coup that toppled Muhammad Mossedeh – the democratically elected Swiss educated liberal secular leader – because he wanted to nationalize Iran’s vast oil resources and demand a fair price from the US and British companies. This nefarious covert action set forces in motion that would radically change Iranian society.

In President Mossedeh’s place the Eisenhower Administration installed the arrogant, oppressive, autocrat Shah Reza Palevi, whose excesses led to the first Islamic Revolution in the modern world and put the Ayatollah’s in power.  And they declared America “The Great Satan!” All of our present troubles with Iran stemmed from this misbegotten decision to overthrow their secular elected government.

Having witnessed the myriad problems posed by a radical Islamic state, prudence dictated that we avoid empowering Muslim Fundamentalists elsewhere. It was easy to see as a white elephant in a crowd of pigs. So why did wise men rush in where fools feared to tread?

It is impossible to understand the folly of America’s decision to arm the Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan, unless we view it from the perspective of the Cold War – the term of art employed to describe the struggle for global dominance between the US and the Soviet Union short of direct military confrontation between these nuclear armed nations check mated by the MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – doctrine. Aside from psychological warfare designed to win the hearts and minds of the hundreds of millions in emerging Third World Nations, the US supported “proxy wars” against pro-Russian forces all over the globe.

Based on this strategic view of the relationship of forces in the world, it made perfect sense for the US government to promote a militant Islamic Jihad in Afghanistan so long as they were willing to kill Russians! It was a short sighted view; the definition of Folly. Had US policymakers viewed the Afghan struggle from the Jihadists point of view they would have known their efforts would eventually backfire, because it is clear in the theology which guides their actions that the Jihadists found American beliefs as odious as Russia’s.

To the Muslim Jihadists who eventually overthrew the Marxist pro-Russian government of President Mohammad Najibullah in 1991, two years after the departure of Russian forces, both democratic Christian American Capitalism and totalitarian atheistic Russia communism are abominations; the work of barbaric apostates contemptuous of Sharia Law, Allah’s divine plan for man. Their alliance with the US in the Holy War against Russia was based on the old Muslim adage: “The enemy of my enemy is a friend.”

Hence, when the Saudi government called upon the US to oust Sadam Hussein from Kuwait, and offered to provide a base for American operations on Saudi soil, Osama bin Laden, a leader of the “Afghan -Arab” contingent that answered the call to Jihad in Afghanistan, pleaded with them not to station swine eating liquor drinking American barbarians on the sacred soil of Arabia where Mecca and Medina – the holiest cities in the Islamic world – are located. He begged the king to support his veterans from the Afghan war that had played a decisive role in their “victory” over a European super power.

The king chose to rely on American armed forces instead, and when US forces put boots on the ground in Arabia both the Royal Family and the US became targets of the Jihadists; resulting in the 9/11 attack on the US homeland. Planned and ordered by the former CIA apprentice in terrorist tactics Osama bin Laden, who had returned to Afghanistan to build Al Qaeda, the spectacular terrorist assault was carried out by 15 Saudi citizens and four from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. All counties that enjoyed good relations with the US. And, contrary to conventional wisdom on the subject, the Jihadists were not all from the poorer classes, some were quite well to do. Osama’s personal fortune was put at nearly 300 million dollars.

In retaliation George Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, and was also talked into invading Iraq by the neo-con clique of warmongers from the Project For a New American Century that “Dirty Dick “ Chaney had installed in the Bush National Security establishment.* The overthrow of Sadam Hussein, a secular military strongman, who had prevented the rise of a militant Muslim movement in Iraq, opened the floodgates for a host of Jihadists to enter Iraqi territory.

This development was a major factor in creating the conditions for Al Qaeda to operate on Iraqi territory and gave rise to ISIS, a new militant Jihadist formation. All of these developments have their roots in the American intervention on behalf of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan. That is the lesson that is not being discussed in the hail of rhetoric being banded about regarding Trump’s musings on the causes and consequences of the Russian- Afghan War.

Of course Trump’s claims about the central role of that war in the collapse of the mighty Soviet Union stray even further from reality, and thus offer no useful insights. The remembrances of Robert Gates and Morton Abramowitz are far more valuable in helping us understand what actually happened. Although Gates is primarily known as the Secretary of Defense during the Administration of George W. Bush, and was held over by President Obama, he was a CIA officer in 1979.

Hence Gates was present at the meeting when the CIA decided to arm and train the Mujahideen. Gates recalls that their objective was “sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire.”  In other words, they hoped Afghanistan would become for Russia what Vietnam was for the USA, a historic blunder in which they would expend massive amounts of blood and treasure in a futile war.

However in an interview with the London Guardian Morton Abramowitz, who was the Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence recalls: “In 1985, there was a real concern that the Mujahideen were losing, that they were sort of being diminished, falling apart. Losses were high and their impact on the soviets was not great.”

The first hand testimony of these principle players in the Afghan drama Trumps the fallacious fables of dumb devious Donald.
The reasons for the fall of the Russian Communist Party are complex- which is really what we are talking about- are far beyond the scope of this essay. Yet I feel compelled to address the issue since Trump was so emphatic in his views. The best way to sum up the problem that led to the collapse of the Communist experiment in Russia is to reiterate the views of the official Ideologist to soviet leader Andropov, who confessed in a PBS interview: “When reality contradicted our ideology, we dismissed reality.”

That’s why they were able to ignore flaws in the system that were baked in at the beginning. Things like the lack of economic incentives for excellence; the growing evidence that government bureaucrats cannot manage a large industrial economy efficiently, and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” had degenerated into the Dictatorship” of the Communist Party.

This critical flaw in the leadership model was noted by the seasoned revolutionary anarchist Emma Goldman, a Russian born naturalized American citizen who returned to Russia in January 1920, after the triumph of the communist led 1917 revolution that overthrew the Romanovs. A brilliant and careful student of revolutions, Emma was a sympathizer with the Russian revolution;  yet she would later write searing a book – “My Disillusionment  In Russia” –  richly detailing her disappointment at what she found:

“The Russian workers, like the peasants, also employed direct action.  They possessed themselves of the factories, organized their own shop committees, and were virtually in control of the economic life of Russia.  But soon they were stripped of their power and placed under the industrial yoke of the Bolshevik regime…Just because I am a revolutionist I refuse to side with the master class, which in Russia is called the Communist party.”

Yet upon reflection it is clear that the situation could not have been otherwise.  For despite the ideal of a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the true proletariat does not possess the education or the leisure that’s required to read and comprehend the complex texts of Karl Marx; hence the great Russian “proletarian” revolution was led by de-classe intellectuals like Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.

Alas the “workers paradise” became something of a nightmare when the need for internal peace and economic stability became the paramount objectives of the Communist Party, who considered any independent workers organizations to be counter-revolutionaries because the party represented the interests of revolutionary workers. And when attempts to criticize these arrangements resulted in harassment, prison and even death, the seeds of the system’s eventual destruction were sown…it was just a matter of time. When compared to these unresolved issues Afghanistan was a sideshow.

Dumb Donald Holding Forth on the Afghan War

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
1/10/2019

An Open Letter to Tommy Sotomayor

Posted in On Tommy Sotomayor: Selfhating Coon with tags , on December 21, 2018 by playthell

Me and my Beautiful,Brilliant, Talented Afro-Cuban Wife

Message to a Black Self-Hatin Troll

 

YO Uncle Tom!!!!

Instead of putting your mental illness on public display for the world to see, why don’t you seek professional help? I suspect that your problem comes from the fact that you are the product of a racist Hispanic culture that prizes whites, mestizos and mulattoes, and despises black skin, nappy hair and West African features in general. So It is not hard to imagine the misery a little frog faced black runt like you must have suffered!
But from the constant attacks you level against black women on your You Tube Channel SotomayorTV.Com, you obviously have a big problem with our Sistas! From your persistent whining it is all too obvious that your hostility results from the fact that you have been a dismal failure in your attempts to court and win their affections. Alas, if you can’t get a fine educated black woman HERE IN THE USA, which you obviously can’t, it is not because you are black and African looking: It is because you are an ignorant, nauseating, self-hating Pooty-Pop who does not LOVE HIMSELF!
What you evidently don’t understand is that you constantly reveal how fucked up you are in your public behavior! And this is what you project to women. I can say this with confidence because I know where-of I speak. In other words I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two! I beseech you to please seek treatment my brother cause you are a sick Mofo, and one need not be a mental health professional to recognize it!
You have a twisted view of women, especially the marvelous women of your own race. I have been around the world and spoke to everybody twice! I am an Old School Player and Master Cocksman; a Cosmopolite who have enjoyed the love of beautiful brilliant gifted women of all nations. Having been mostly single until my mid thirties, my life as a ladies man has been spectacular; even by the exaggerated standards of a romance novel. The Spanish Mami’s – who range from light/bright/damned near white; to deep ebony black – called me “Chocolate Caliente!” The British West Indian Ladies called me “Sugarcane” – Those really in the know called me “Guyana Cane,” because they say Guyana grows the biggest, hardest and sweetest cane! The women of the French Antilles called me “Bon Bon.”  All the rest called me simply “SWEETS”! 
I have lived a life with the ladies that a homely little troll like you cannot even imagine, with your deeply embedded inferiority complex.  There were white women who loved to wash my dirty drawers and shine my shoes that were so fine, pootbutts like Dirty Donnie Chump – the Quintessential Trick – would pay them to piss on him like the Russian girls…and a pitiful little punk and mental midget like you couldn’t convince them to spit on you for a King’s ransom! However, most of the beautiful, talented, brilliant sensual, women I have known – as lovers and friends – have been BLACK WOMEN!!!!

Check This Out Chump!

An Art Photographer
A Trini Lawyer who loves to Play Mass   

A Latina Businesswoman

A Brilliant African Doctor

The Puerto Rican Dancer who Introduced me to the Conga Drums
Artist, Educator and Fashion Designer

A Mathematics Professor

A Great Artist

A Black and Tan Fantasy!

I’ve had a Grand Time with the Colored Ladies…
These photographs span fifty years of my life. I was 23 when the first picture was taken and I was around 71 when the last photos were shot.  They speak for themselves regarding the variety of beautiful accomplished women that were ever present in my life as friends, wives, lovers and colleagues.   As all with eyes can see: I am very much a Black man.  Hence I find your weeping about the trials of being a black man Tom, especially in your relations with black women, bizarre. I am convinced that your problem resides with the man in the mirror.  Think about it my troubled young Brother.
I would, however, like to offer further evidence to support my claims regarding the uniqueness of lack women. According to the American Council of Higher Education, lack women are the most educated demographic in the United States! And their intellectual brilliance, although often stifled by racism and sexism, still managed to shine through the haze of bullshit. Watch the movie “Hidden Figures,” based on real life characters. The story of the American Space Program would have been qualitatively different had it not been for them.
Somehow, in all of your silly vicious put downs of black women, you have overlooked their history of heroism and fidelity to black males even when we were at our lowest point in the world! I adore and revere the black women who have shaped my life; my greatest teachers have been black women.  I have been nurtured and doted over by them all of my life. 
So you Tom are both a mystery and an embarrassment to me. You are what my grandfather used to call “Breath and britches posing as a man!”  I wonder what your mother, grandmother, sisters, aunts and girl cousins think of you? Do you ever even consider how the horrid things you say about black ladies affects them?   Listening to you deride and defame black women I get the impression that you hate them…which I suspect is a tragic projection of your own self-loathing.

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As regards our sister’s beauty, I have attached two poignant photo-essays that I compiled as a homage to the beauty of BLACK WOMEN IN AFRICA AND THE AMERICAS! I challenge you, Pootbutt Tom, to put together a photo-essay of the alabaster or Asian babes you shamelessly and slavishly worship, that can compare to these stunning Black, Brown and Beige Sophisticated Ladies.

These black magic women served as the inspiration for the great Duke Ellington’s compositions by those names. Duke celebrated in elegant song the grace and beauty you cannot see…. because your empty head is buried too far up yo silly ass! If you take issue with me, then introduce your own photo-essay! I double dare you little boogabear looking Troll! In the meantime, here are my photo-essays. See:
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRLS IN THE WORLD,” https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2016/09/10/the-most-beautiful-girls-in-the-world/
AND: “AFRICAN BEAUTIES”: https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2016/09/18/african-beauties/

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I have chosen not to repeat the putrid pathological slanders against black women by Tom.  Anyone one who is interested in the mindless blather of this cretin can check him out on his You Tube channel. To see what a sick MOFO he is, check him out before he got bold enough to reveal his identity.  See,

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
The Yule Tide Season
December 20, 2018

Blues For Brother Zach

Posted in Cultural Matters, On the Passing Of Brother Zach, Playthell on politics with tags , , on November 5, 2018 by playthell

Zach as Student Leader at Columbia

On The Passing of a Tireless Freedom Fighter

Upon hearing that the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy had passed, the novelist Gorky said on behalf of other Russian writers whom Tolstoy had inspired:”Now… we are all orphans.” That is how many of us feel who recognize, and often relied upon, Brother Zach’s leadership; he was indefatigable in his efforts to uplift and advance the interests of the Black community. He seemed to be anywhere and everywhere, anytime and all the time, lending his considerable talents to a wide array of causes 24/7. More often than not he did it pro-bono, which is the truest measure of commitment.

Brother Zach was what they called “Race Men” in the 20th century, the century that shaped him and defined his values. And he has planted positive seeds in many places that will bear fruit to nourish the minds and spirits of generations yet unborn. With his ever present smile and heroic optimism in the face of persistent adversity, he was one of a kind.

Over the course of what has turned out to be a fairly long and eventful life, I have traveled over the ocean seas, and resided for nearly half a century in this grand metropolis at the center of the world. It sometimes seems that I have met every variety of human being and spoke to everybody twice, thus I am certain that I have met a representative sample of what humanity has to offer.

Yet I have never met a better man than Brother Zach, and I am certain that I never will. As our Ibo ancestors – whose prolific and profound proverbs appear to have encapsulated all the world’s wisdom regarding the human condition and the vicissitudes of life – would say on this question: “A better man than Zachary Husser has not been born….and his mother is dead.”

When I heard Brother Zach had danced and joined the ancestors, I was devastated. I had just hung out with him a few weeks ago and he seemed healthy as a race horse, moving in triple speed running hither and yon as was his habit. He was a man on a permanent mission, a man who lived a purpose driven life. One need only look at his Face Book page in order to see a catalogue of the myriad activities that he was involved with. It caused the thoughtful observer to wonder when he slept…or just chilled.

Yet despite the fact that he was always in the trenches did not make him bitter or depressed. Like the blues, Zach understood that life could be a low down dirty shame…but we had to keep on swinging anyway. It was this irrepressible spirit embodied in the blues that enabled the Afro-American people to keep our souls in tact in the face of the horrors of American racism.

Hence Zach always had a ready smile; whose incandescence was made the brighter when contrasted with his regal ebony hue. He was – as the brilliant 18th century Afro-American scientist Benjamin Banneker described himself in a letter to Thomas Jefferson introducing a mathematical treatise authored by himself – “a negro of the deepest dye.”

There was a grandeur about him that reminded me of the ancient Ethiopian King Menelek the II, and a benevolence worthy of a saint. I cannot remember a time when Brother Zach was not in good spirits and convinced that if we just kept the faith and continued the struggle…victory is assured!

Hence the question before us now is how do we remember such a grand spirit? How should we honor and celebrate him? Well, first we must approach the task with humility given the gravitas of the subject. I have searched for words sufficiently poetic and profound to describe the debt we owe for his service to us. And more importantly how do we pay it.

Although words are my game, they sometimes desert me when the gravitas of a subject is such it challenges the power of words to describe – even if one relies on the poetic treasure trove manifest in language of Shakespeare, Gwendolyn Brooks, The King James Bible, Zora Neale Hurston, Chaucer and James Weldon Johnson. Now is such a time.

However, knowing Zach as I do – and I knew him very well – I think we will honor him best by continuing the fight for the things he fought for since he was one of the leaders of the historic student strike at Columbia University as a teenager.*  He would no doubt have smiled at the many good things that will be said of him, but joining the struggle is the best way to keep his spirit alive. His works will live on because great works, whether in literature or life….will long endure. 

This Struggle Attracted National Leaders

Chillin On the Beach

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* To read about the Columbia University Strike see:
https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2018/06/10/the-real-vanguard/

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem

November 6, 2018

Bomber’s Hit List is Trump’s Enemies List!

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , on October 28, 2018 by playthell
Dirty Donnie: A Very Sick Guy

Trump Shows Symptoms of Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia

The best proof that the major media is not the vicious antagonist that Trump claims they are is the mealy-mouth pussy footing way they are responding to his tweet in the aftermath of the bombing plot. For instance, any serious attempt to explain the irrationality of Trump’s tweet should logically begin by referencing the diagnosis of Trump’s mental maladies provided by alarmed psychiatrists who signed the “Duty to Warn” statement; which has now reached 70, 000!

The mental health professionals tell us that Donald J. Trump, the Moscow Candidate who became president of the US in an election rigged by the Russians – which many knowledgeable observers believe is the reason why Trump is so uncharacteristically deferential to Putin – is suffering from Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia. All one need do is check out their descriptions of the symptons of these psycho-pathologies and compare them to Trump’s public behavior to see that their diagnosis is right on the money. It is so obvious and in yo face one does not need any professional training to see it.

Ordinarily Narcissistic people are just annoying and boorish, but those suffering from “Malignant Narcissism” are dangerous. And if it is manifested in the leader of a great nation with enormous power it can be deadly! If the person is also “paranoid” – which causes him to believe that everyone is “out to get him” – then the danger that they will inflict great harm is dramaticly increased. The last leader of a great nation who declared himself a “Nationalist” started World War II, in which 50 million people were slaughtered! Hence having a US President in command of a nuclear arsenal, who is suffering from the same sicknesses as that leader, is no picayune matter.

In legal parlance there is something called Prima Faice evidence, which in layman’s terms means that on the face of it, without further investigation, we can draw certain conclusions from a cursory examination of the evidence that an offense has occurred. In face of the indisputable evidence that the bombers hit list corresponds exactly to Trump’s enemies list – people whom the US President routinely targets for scurrilous verbal assaults – Trump tweeted the following:

“A very big part of the Anger we see in our society today is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that I call fake news. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act FAST!”

After calling for unity among the American people on Wednesday Devious Donnie was up to his old dirty tricks again on Thursday, when he blamed the press and the Democrats for the bombs sent to their leaders. And on Friday he said that he bore no responsibility for the bombings; that his language on the stump is fine because the people love it. He mentioned the nut that shot the Republican Congressman last year and pointed out that he was a Democrat. All in all Trump pretends the attempted bombings are an unfathomable mystery, and the fact that the bombs went to all the people that have criticized him, and he has repeatedly attacked in the most vicious ways, is merely coincidental.

The fact that the bombers hit list corresponds precisely with his enemies list does not appear to persuade Trump that his rhetoric had any role in motivating attacks by the “MAGA bomber” – as he is being called after the FBI arrested Ceasar Sayok, connecting him to the bombs by fingerprints and DNA. The FBI has produced pictures of Caesar at Trump rallies, and he rode around in a van covered with pro-trump signs and photographs; yet Dirty Donnie denies any responsibility for provoking this guy with his rancid incendiary rhetoric.

The MAGA Bomber

A Fanatical Devotee of the Trump Personality Cult

Ceasar’s Trumpmobile

The Signs Celebrate Trump and Fingers his Critics

Shockingly, even after these stunning revelations, Trump went right out and denounced the press and the Democrats before a howling untutored redneck mob in North Carolina. All the while coldly announcing that he had not called any of the intended victims of the “bomber” to express his support; winking to those who say the entire bombing affair is a hoax, giving silent consent to keep it up. “I’ll pass” he said doubling down on his decision not to call the intended victims. Alas, Michael Bechloss, a leading historian of the American presidency, says: “I spend my life studying history and looking for parallels, but I can find no parallel to the behavior of Donald Trump in this situation.”

Trump has also warned against comparing him to “villains of the past.” These statements reveal a personality that is incapable of being self-critical. It also exposes Trump’s belief that he is so much smarter than his acolytes – a motley crew of sycophants and assorted failures fanatically committed to Trump’s personality cult – that he can piss on their heads and convince them it is warm summer rains. How else could he have the chutzpah to come before them and tell outrageous lies that are so transparent even Stevie Wonder and the Five Blind Boys can see through them? Yet he was greeted by cheers, which speaks to the pathological symbiosis Trump has with his boosters that serves to nourish and reinforce his madness.

The exact nature of that madness is described by Dr. James McIntosh, a practicing Psychiatrist and college lecturer, in his essay: “On the psychology of Hitler and Trump,” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2018/09/07/on-the-psychology-of-hitler-and-trump/. Quoting from studies commissioned by the OSS – Office of Strategic Services, the US intelligence agency that preceded the CIA – on Adolph Hitler during World War II, Dr. Mcintosh tells us:

“An Excerpt from The Introduction to Murray’s Report reads as follows. “Murray pegged Hitler’s personality as ‘counteractive narcissism,’ a type that is stimulated by real or imagined insult or injury. According to Dr. Murray, the characteristics of this personality type include: holding grudges, low tolerance for criticism, excessive demands for attention, inability to express gratitude, a tendency to belittle, bully, and blame others, desire for revenge, persistence in the face of defeat, extreme self-will, self-trust, inability to take a joke, and compulsive criminality.”

Dr. McIntosh then poses these questions:

“Does Inability to take a joke describe Donald Trump, the man who goes on a tweet tirade because he is made fun of on Saturday Night Live? Do the words belittle and bully describe the man who said of Rosie O’Donnell, “If I were running my business, I’d fire Rosie, I mean, I’d look her right in that fat ugly face of hers and say, “Rosie, you’re fired?” Doesn’t every word in Dr. Murray’s description describe Donald Trump? Histrionic is the modern word that approximates what was meant when Hitler was described by Dr. Murray as “Hysteric.”

Dr. McIntosh – who is one of the psychiatrists that signed the Duty to Warn statement- goes on to offer this diagnosis of of the comparative psychology of Hitler and Trump:

“people often have characteristics from several personality disorders in the same Cluster or family of personality disorders. The particular cluster that so many have thought describe both Hitler and Donald Trump is called Cluster B. The 4 personality disorders in Cluster B are Narcissistic, Histrionic, Borderline and Sociopathic. What the Cluster B disorders have in common are Dramatism and impulsivity.  Hitler had many Cluster B traits with perhaps narcissism and Sociopathy predominating and so does Donald Trump.”

Der Fuerer and The Donald: Two Deluded German Chauvinists!

Mighty Whitey Uber Allies!

Even in the absence of any credentials as a mental health professional the intelligent reader can see the accuracy of this diagnosis by just observing Trump’s antics on a daily basis. Hence what explains the reluctance of commentators in major corporate media to reference the psychiatric analysis of these highly qualified medical doctors – which include professors from Harvard and Yale?

I think a major part of it is that they are big corporations whose commitment to it’s bottom line trumps their devotion to telling certain controversial truths. And some blame must lay with the excessive deference paid to the so-called “Goldwater Rule.” Whereas the corporate concerns can be dismissed as opportunism inspired by commercial imperatives, there is some virtue in the motives of journalists who believe in maintaining the integrity of their reportage – their product. And aside from any consideration of lucre, they believe this commitment to avoiding certain controversies will retain the public trust.

However, while I have labored as a journalist for the past 30 years, before that I was a history professor. Hence I am schooled in the function and methods of both professions. And while journalism is the first draft of history and it is enough for journalists to report proven facts – which is essential to the work of dispassionate historians trying to accurately reconstruct the past – it is quite appropriate for those who write commentary to speculate, theorize and employ the methods of other disciplines to help interpret what the facts dug up by reporters actually mean. And it is the duty of the public intellectual to debate these issues in public forums. This is the role that I have presently chosen to play: an independent public intellectual.

Hence when Trump warns against “careless comparisons with villains of the past,” I heartily agree: That’s why my comparisons of him and Adolph Hitler have been very carefully done! At Present I have written 51 critical essays on Donald Trump, the present essay included. (See: https://commentariesonthetimes.me/category/on-donald-trump/) Just enter the tag “Trump and Hitler” to access the essays that specifically address this issue, there are seven in all; one by Dr. Macintosh and six by the present writer.

While Dr. McIntosh employs the tools of his trade, I have employed the method of the comparative historian. Although historians privildge close examination of specific facts about discrete situations, and thus is suspect of the historical analogy, it is quite possible to draw accurate historical analogies provided it is done with the care and procession of a surgeon, rather than the reckless abandon of a butcher. Hence I have chosen the approach of the surgeon when I examine the similarities in the character and political style of Donald Trump and Adolph Hitler.

The first essay that I ever wrote on Donald Trump was inspired by my recognition of some fundamental similarities between the political style of Hitler, Mousilini and him. It was published online at “Commentaries On The Times” as “Is Donald Trump a Uniquely American Fascist?” In an essay of several thousand words I argued:

“At first glance the rise of multi-billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump as a hero of the white working class seems paradoxical; since his interests and that of his class and cronies are diametrically opposed to the concerns and interests of workers.  Alas Trump’s appeal to that class of voters reflects the age old tendency for desperate people to turn to the “strong man” with simple solutions for comple problems for salvation; they invest this savior figure with nearly omnipotent powers and come to believe that their fate depends upon him.”

These are ideal conditions for the rise of demagogues and dictators.  More often than not such men are megalomaniacs who come to believe that they alone can lead the nation. That’s Donald Trump’s view of his role in American politics…the man who will “Make America Great Again,” just as Benito Mousolini pledged to “Make Italy Great Again.” and he reminds me of that other charismatic megalomaniacal demagogue: Adolph Hitler, who pledged to restore Germany to her former glory and create a regime that would rule the world for a thousand years.  Furthermore, even as I write many people who attend Trump’s rallies conjure images of German Brown Shirts at Hitler’s Rallies; snatching signs from protestors, verbally abusing them and even physically assaulting them, and shouting the Nazi slogan ‘Lugenpresse!’ at reporters.”

This essay is a multi-media presentation with texts, photographs and video. At the top of the essay there is an epigraph that establishes the commonalty of vision between the two major fascist leaders of the 20th century – Adolph Hitler and Benito Mousilini – and Donald Trump, a wannabe autocrat of the 21st century. To demonstrate this connection I employed the following quotes from the three men.

“It all depends on me”
Adolph Hitler, Nazi Rally
“We are going to do things that nobody else can do…who can fix things better than me”
Donald Trump, Vermont rally
“Make Italy Great Again!
Benito Moussilini
“Make America Great Again!:”
Donald Trump

Trump’s response when told that his MAGA slogan was coined by Mousilini, the founder of the Fascist party in Italy, he shrugged and said “It’s still a good slogan.”

Six more carefully written fact driven essays on the things Hitler and Trump have in common would follow. As I researched this connection between Trump and 20th century Fascist autocrats, I discovered one thing that was frighteningly similar about Trump’s tactics and those of the Nazi Party in 20th century Germany: The employment of the “Big Lie” as crafted by Dr. Josef Goebbles, the Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich.

Whereas Hitler had one Propaganda machine spewing lies and disinformation, Trump has three: Sean Hannity, Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh. They all thrive on the principle of the Big Lie. It is the means by which these verbal arsonists keep their listeners in a constant state of rage, and truth is the first casualty of their assault upon reality. The steady stream of disinformation from these right-wing verbal arsonists has succeeded in reducing political discourse among “low information” Americans – which includes a lion’s share of Trump’s devotees – to a tower of babble!

It is an unspoken iron rule of American journalism that any comparison of an American political leader with Adolph Hitler, is a disqualifying act for a journalist. But I have no hesitation of venturing into this thorny forbidden terrain, and I welcome all challengers to my views…in fact, I double dare them to step to me. For I believe that any such intellectual kerfuffle can only enhance my reputation at the expense of the hapless fool who accepts this challenge.

The facts are on my side and I am skilled at the art and science of systematic argument, hence victory is assured. The objections of my adversaries are well known and can be easily demolished. The most ubiquitous objection is that Hitler was guilty of murdering six million European Jews plus 27 million Russians on the Eastern Front, and what, they earnestly ask, has Donald Trump done to rival these monstrous crimes?

Well…the thoughful answer would be “Give him time.” After all Hitler didn’t kill all those people in the length of time Trump has been in office. But when we consider the possible consequences of Trump’s policies on Climate change – he has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and dismissed the warning issued by scientists commissioned to study the problem by the United Nations who told us that humanity has about 12 years to accomplish a dramatic change in the way we assault our environment or it will be too late to salvage our planet…which will bring about the death of hundreds of millions of innocent souls and most animal species.

Added to this is Trump’s threat to initiate a new nuclear arms race on the planet by scrapping the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a historic agreement negotiated by Ronald Reagan and Mikail Gorbachov in 1987. Trump answered critics of this move with the simple minded comment: “We have the most money” so we will win any arms race!”

Yet people who know most about this issue have a very different view. Consider the response of Dr. George Shultz and Mikail Gorbachov, two men that played a critical role in crafting and signing this nuclear treaty; which both sides hoped would be a big step toward total nuclear disarmament. Both men published OP-ED pieces in the New York Times on Friday October 26. Dr. Shulzt was the US Secretary of State at the time and had enormous input into the treaty. He wrote:

“Nuclear weapons are a threat to the world. Any large scale nuclear exchange would have globally catastrophic consequences. Conscious of this reality, President Ronald Reagan and Mikail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, worked in the 1980’s to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal of getting rid of them…Now is not the time to build larger arsenals of nuclear weapons. Now is the time to rid the world of this threat. Leaving the treaty would be a huge step backward. We should fix it not kill it.”

George Shultz and Ronald Reagan

In his Op-Ed, Mikhail Gorbachev wrote the following reflections about the impending demise of the INF Treaty.

“I am being asked whether I feel bitter watching the demise of what I worked so hard to achieve. But this is not a personal matter. Much more is at stake. A new arms race has been announced. The INF Treaty is not the first victim of the militarization of world affairs. In 2002, the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; this year, from the Iran nuclear deal. Military expenditures have soared to astronomical levels and keep rising…Yet I am convinced that those who hope to benefit from a global free for all are deeply mistaken. There will be no winner in a ‘war of all against all’ – particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that’s a possibility that can’t be ruled out. An unrelenting arms race, international tensions, hostility and universal mistrust will only increase the risk.”

Gorbachev and Reagan

Signing Historic Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Missiles

Militant American nationalism accompanied by a flagrant disregard bordering on contempt for international treaties that the US has signed, is sure to inspire similar behavior in other nations; which is a clear path to global conflict.

When these realities are viewed from the perspective of the policies Trump is implementing, the death tolls resulting from the conflicts engendered by these policies could well make Hitler’s crimes look picayune by comparison. One need only consult the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, an organization that has had 37 Nobel Laureates in Physics,” in order to see how Trump’s policies are bringing humanity closer to extinction! Hence, when we consider that he is a pathological compulsive liar; an extreme megalomaniac of limited knowledge about the world and a short attention span; who is also paranoid, belligerent, and manifestly unqualified for his job, it is no exaggeration to say that Donald Trump is the most dangerous man in history….in this he reigns without a rival!

Dirty Devious Donald Wants to Scrap the Treaty

A Dangerous Dastardly Demagogue!

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ATTENTION!!!!!!

In the two video presentations below we get an arresting portrait of a charismatic narcissist in action.  His audience responds to his hackned cliches  and blatant lies on cue, like Pavlo’s dogs salivated at the sound of his whistles. Witness what the MAGA Bomber Heard Trump say about The PRESS and the DEMOCRATS, and you will better understand MAGA bomber’s actions and President Trump.s culpability in his actions!!!!!
https://www.nbcnews.com/video/bomb-suspect-heard-trump-claim-media-was-at-war-with-campaign-during-2016-rally-speech-1354099779634?v=raila&

Trump’s MAGA Rally

After We Learn Bomber is Ardent Trump Supporter
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=yXDMeXLjTOI
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 28, 2018Trump and the MAGA Bomber

Saturday Night at Bill’s Place!

Posted in At Bill's Place, Cultural Matters, Music Reviews with tags , on October 7, 2018 by playthell

Bill Saxton: Jazz Guru and his Diciples

An Intimate Setting for Classic Acoustic Jazz

For those in search of a unique Jazz venue reminicent of oldtime Harlem Jazz clubs, Bill’s Place is the joint. Located in a former Speakeasy from the 1920’s, that fabulous era when Harlem was the most famous neigborhood in New York – a period vividly dscribed in “When Harlem Was in Vogue,” written by Puliter Prize winning historian David Levering Lewis – Bill’s Place features world class virtuoso’s who have performed all over the US and Abroad, sharing the bandstand with up and coming youngsters trying to learn the art of Jazz performance.

For unlike European classical music, whose techniques can be taught in the academy, the secrets of playing extended improviastional solos over chord changes, creating coherent musical statements at the speed of thought, telling a nuanced story while swinging with a Blues feeling, can only be learned jamming on the bandstand with masters of the trade.

Bill’s Place – founded by Virtuosso saxophonists, composer, arranger and band leader Bill Saxon, and his lovely brilliant wife Theda, is the ideal spot for the young seeker after the blues and abstract truth that is the essence of Jazz. Harlem born and bred, Bill Saxon – whose name suggest that he was born to play the saxophone and thus presages his destiny – is a graduate of the prestiegous New England Conservatory of Music.

Bill was annoyed by the fact that most of the Jazz clubs were located down town. Yet uptown Harlem was a major incubator of this quintessential American art, invented and bequeathed to the world by black musicians in the United States; the most imitated performing artists in the world! Hence, along with his lovely wife Dr. Saxon, they opened Bill’s Place with the objective of providing a place for Jazz afficianados – performers and fans – to enjoy an authenic evening of real Jazz in an intimate friendly environment devoted to unabridged performance of this modern complex instrumental  art music.

The photographs below capture some magic musical moments from a typical Saturday night at Bill’s Place. The images show a mixed group of performers and fans comprising men and women representing the “gorgeous human mosaic of New York,” as former Mayor par excellence David Dinkins put it. It is a visual representation of the inclusive democratic character of the art form; which promotes individual liberty and improvisation that by nature assaults conventional wisdom. At the bottom of my Photographs is a video link showing Bill and friends jammin at Bill’s Place.

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The Sax Sorceror and his Apprentices

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Trading Twelves

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Groovin High

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Talkin Back

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The Rhythm Section was Swinging Hard

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The Songbirds Swooped By

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They Were Singing Bebops!

I Mean Rebopped Bebops

They Were Rightously Wailing

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Mesmerized by the Muslc…

The Audience Came from Everwhere

They Came All the Way from Sweden

And Amsterdam

In Search of an Authentic Harlem Jazz Experience

Lydia and Samaad….

A Sunday Kinda Love…that Lasts Past Saturday Night

 

Internationally Renowned Artist Artist Ademola Was There

Cultural Entreprenuer and Co-Owner of Harlem’s Dwyer Cultural Center

She Came Up From Baltimore

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The Joint Was Jumpin

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Old School Cool

Chillin On Hot Jazz Vibes

Baptized in Blues and Swing!

By the Jazz King of Harlem

Bewitched by a Conjour Man

We Were AnointedWith Soul!

 The Wind Beneath his Wings

Dr. Theda Saxon: Manager of Bill’s Place

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Listen to Bill and other Muscians discuss the history of Harlem Jazz

Listen to Bill and Friends Perform Monk’s Music at Bill’s Place

“Evidence,” Composed by Theolonius Monk

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Sunday Arts Feaure

10/7/18

Text and Photographs by: Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York

 

To Queen Aretha with Love!

Posted in A Remembarance to Aretha With Love with tags , on September 19, 2018 by playthell

The Greatest Bows to the Queen

Another Cultural Icon has Slipped Away

Today, Friday October 31, Detroit held a going home ceremony for their illustrious daughter Arethea Franklin, the legendary “Queen of Soul,” and what a celebration it was! As was to be expected, many luminaries from the music world were there, and through the alchemy of television and the internet the whole world bore witness as her memory was praised in soaring song and magnificent oratory….. as few have ever been praised.

Testimonies came from preachers and politicians, community leaders, fellow artists, engaged scholars, iconic Civil rights leaders, family and friends. There has seldom been as many heavenly voices and marvelous musicians gathered in a single performance, and the music was heavily based in the gospel tradition of the black church; the sacred smithy from whence Aretha’s artistry was born, forged and continued to be inspired.

There were so many magnificent performances it could inspire admiration and even provoke envy from a choir of angels, and thus is beyond the scope of this remembrance to adequately cover no matter how erudite and able the writer. Hence I recognize that to chose any one performance for special attention would be arbitrary, and thus appear to do injustice to all the others that were equally as worthy.

That said, as I write my spirit is dancing to the powerful singing of Ms. Adurey DuBois Harris, and the amazing Chaka Khan. Thus I feel compelled bear witness. Beyond this I will urge all who loved Aretha to witness the celebration themselves on You Tube. Unless you got a hole in your soul you will experience a baptism by sonic fire, sweet tones that touch the soul. Music with a message crafted in grand poetic phrases, delivered by God’s Trombones in the intoxicating cadences of the black protestant church; gushing forth like waterfalls that bathe you in the word. Mind that you don’t find…..your spirit dancing too.

As my Grandfather Deacon George Benjamin would declare: They had church at the Greater Grace Temple in Motown today. The grandeur of the Afro-American church was on full display. It was an Amazing Grace of such power it could even touch the soul of an un-churched heathen like me.  I was moved to tears by Ron Isley’s rendition of “His Eyes Were On the Sparrow,” a song I heard my Grandmother Claudia – as righteous a Christian woman as ever lived – sing many times when I was a boy, while accompanying herself on the piano.

When I heard that Aretha Franklin had finally danced and joined the ancestors it didn’t come as a shock. Having witnessed several of my friends go through this ordeal, once I heard she was in hospice care I knew this was the final step before death. Yet, despite the fact that I was expecting it, I am having a hard time finding words adequate to express what I am feeling just now. And I never have problems finding the right words for any occasion; writers block is a alien phenomenon to me. Whenever I wish to write something about anything I just sit down and do it.

I have been told by my fellow scribes that this is a gift, perhaps so, but it is a gift that for the moment has stopped giving. As I sit staring at the blank page through the tracks of my tears, I wonder if there are any words that can capture the magnificence of the Grand Diva whose soulful voice provided the background sound for so many magic moments in my life…in and out of bed. For years I would tell people that Aretha had permission to sing in my head, my heart, or my house whenever she felt like it!

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Despite the fact that I knew many of the Afro-American icons in my life and time, I met Aretha only once, and only briefly. It was at the beginning of her career, before she became a big star. She was playing the Showboat, a small Jazz club on Lombard Street in Philadelphia. The Showboat was legendary as a venue for straight ahead Jazz virtuosi like John Coltrane and Art Blakey, who were known for their artistry rather than commercial success.

The Showboat attracted an audience of “purist” for whom “going commercial”- which is to say becoming too popular and making money – was the kiss of death for a “serious” musician. This, of course, was a distinction that was born with the Be-bop revolution ushered in by musicians of genius such as Charlie Yardbird” Parker, John Berks “Dizzy” Gillespie, Kenny “Klook” Clarke, Theolonius Monk, Oscar Pettiford, et al. These master musicians were obsessed with being considered “serious artists” rather than mere “Negro entertainers.”

The masters of big band Jazz such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and Andy Kirk were not burdened by this artistic angst for they were unconcerne with such matters. Like William Shakespeare, a theater owner, they understood that performers could be great artists and be popular i.e. commercially successful too! Aretha was cut from that cloth.

At the Showboat gig she played piano with her trio and sang magnificently. I attended the last set of a Saturday night show. And as the witching hour approached she played Theolonious Monk’s Jazz standard Round bout Midnight, and as Sunday morning came in Aretha turned to the audience and began to speak while playing softly on the piano.

Aretha told us that she was a child of the church and learned to sing in the church choir. She explained that her daddy was a great preacher, the Reverend  C.L. Franklin of Detroit – who was one of the first preachers to make his sermons available on commercial recordings – and that if she were home her daddy would expect her to sing at the morning service. Then she said: “So I’m gonna take yhall to church this morning. Open the doors and let everybody seeking fellowship in.” 

Accompanying herself on piano, she gave a marvelous solo performance of Precious Lord Take My Hand.” This song, which introduced the modern Gospel sound into black church music, was composed by Thomas Dorsey and first recorded by the incomparable Gospel Diva Mahalia Jackson; it is a healing hymn, a balm for the wounded spirit. The character of this song was shaped by it’s raison d’etre.

Professor” Dorsey, as he was popularly known, was a bluesman; the pianist and arranger with blues Diva Ma Raney’s band. He was travelling with her on tour when he got word that his wife was in the hospital and was having difficulty giving birth. He left the road immediately and hastened to her bedside…. but she and the baby died before he reached her.

It was in the depth of this pain and dispair that Dorsey composed “Precuous” Lord.” Hence the poignant poetry of pain and pathos bordering on dispair, rescued by appealing to the grace of God. It is a perfect marriage of words and music that produced an artistic edifice powerful enough to shelter the battered soul. Aretha’s rendition of this healing hymn was so deeply moving she invoked the spirit of God in “the house of the Devil.” She would evoke this same soul power when she sang it for Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral. Aretha’s soul stirring rendition of this song concluded her set to rousing applause.

I made my way over to her and expressed my admiration for her musical gifts, and predicted that she was going to be big! History has proved me prescient in this instance; for she became very big indeed! Not only is there no singer in 20th century American music more important than Aretha Franklin, but the amazing line of Afro-American Divas in the Rhythm&Blues / Pop music genres are her artistic progeny.   Natalie Cole, Whitney, Mariah, Mary J. Blidge, Byonce, etc On her first hit record “This Will Be,” Natalie Cole come perilously close to outright imitating Aretha’s style. Whitney was taught the art of singing by her mother, Cissy Houston, a fabulous singer who sang back up for Aretha.

When I was hired to write the official CBS biography for Mariah Cary by Marylin Laverty, Director of Publicity for Columbia Records Group, before the release of her first album, Mariah told me that although her mother was an opera singer and she had been around classical singers growing up, Aretha Franklin was the major inspiration for her. And if one has discerning ears, you can hear Aretha’s influence on Mary J, whether she says so or not.

White singers and musicians were also influenced by Aretha. Ten time Grammy Award winner Bonnie Rait says he got both her concept of how to be a singer and a woman from listening to Aretha’s records. Elton John says she is his favorite piano player, and Paul Mccartney has been effusive in his praise of her artistry and generously confesses her effect on the Beatles. The tragic British Pop Diva Amy Winehouse was so influenced by Aretha that some misguided British toblid wags had begin to call her “The Queen of Soul!” I wrote a brutal critique of that bogus claim in my essay, “ Fallen Angel.”

It is enough to declare that as a vocal artist, in the realm Gospel/Rhythm and Blues, Aretha reigned without a rival! Her 18 Grammy’s, numerous gold and platnum albums, myriad other honors and acolades, plus the love of millions of faithful fans around the world for over half a century, provide unimpeachable evidence for this claim.  The power of her artistry so moved the great Leontyne Price, Prima Donna Absoluta of the Grand Opera, she testified that when she wanted to listen to a singer for pure pleasure in private moments…she always chose Aretha. Now let every head bow and every tongue confess the Queen’s majesty.

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But beyond the extended praise for Aretha’s mastery of song – the apotheosis of which was 91 year old actress Cicily Tyson’s rendition of Paul Laurance Dunbar “When M’Lindy Sings,” there were many remembrances of Aretha’s contributions to the liberation struggles of her people. Since that struggle has always been based in the black church from the movement to abolish slavery in the 19th century, to the great Civil Rights struggle that abolished the legal racial caste system that arose to arrest the progress of Afro-Americans after Civil War and Reconstruction destroyed the system of chattel slavery, many of the Civil rights leaders that paid tribute to Aretha’s activism were ministers. Since I can command no superlatives to adequately convey the full granduer of their testimonies, a mere description of their panegyrics will have to suffice.

They arose, Gods Trombones, and offered their fanfares one after the other: the Reverends Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Bishop William Barber and Aretha’s homeboy the Reverend Doctor Michael Eric Dyson – erudite philosopher and preacher – among others. In the rolling cadences of the Afro-American sermon, an art which the literary masters Zora Neal Hurston and James Weldon Johnson called “epic poetry,” they called upon great thinkers from Dr. WEB Dubois to William Shakespeare, to modern prophets like Dr. Martin Luther King, to the prophets of the Old and New Testiments.

They told how Aretha went on a nationwide tour with the great actor/singer/activist Harry Belafonte to raise money for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference when Dr. King didn’t know how he was going to pay the organizations bills, thus keeping the most important organization in the Civil Rights Movement alive. And we learned that she defied her conservative Christian father when she bailed Angela Davis, a Communist radical activists, out of jail. This is a side of Aretha that many of her fans do not know.

Alas, when the Reverend Jasper Williams Jr., pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Georgia, took the podium we were reminded that the black American church has it’s progressive and backwards tradition. Rev. Williams belongs to the conservative fundamentalist wing. I had never heard of him before, but based on his sermon he would be right at home with the reactionary white southern Evangelicals.

In a discourse on the meaning of “soul,” which began with some interesting insights on the subject inspired by a a passage in one of Rev. C.L. Fanklin’s sermonsJasper’s presentation quickly degenerated into a gaggle of fundamentalists fiddle faddle that posited false dichotomies between the need to have “good housing” vs. having “good homes,” when the plain truth is we desperately need both!

Then he rattled off some figures on black lives lost as a result of racist attacks vs. black lives snuffed out by the predatory black criminals that plague our neighborhoods. While this is a touchy subject that should be honestly confronted, Jasper’s speech lacked the proper context and nuance; hence it sounded like the victims and perpetrators are in it together. To the naive or malicious this provides a rationale for the argument that victims share the blame for their victimization.

This is a well worn tactic of the racist reactionary right, and this speech might well give them new ammunition to attack us with racist propaganda. It’s much like a sheriff who rids into t town ravaged by bandits…and shoot the wounded!  Before Jasper spoke, Dr. Dyson had pointed him out as an exemplar of a style of black preaching called “Whooping,” a style common to old style down home black preachers. celebrated by James Weldon  He proved to be a master of the style, but the gravitas of his sermon did not rise to the artistry of his oratory: He was preaching pious prattle!

Yet a few moments folly could not seriously injure the magnificent veneration ritual that served as the last rites for the Queen of Soul. This celebration of a life well lived will be much noted and long remembered, which is fitting and proper for a great performer, whose profound artistry touched millions of souls around the world repeatedly.

The universality of Aretha’s appeal was dramatically on display when she appeared at a Kennedy Center Honors ceremony where the prolific songwriter Carol King was being honored, apparently unbeknownst to Ms. King.  Decked out in a fabulous gown accented by a full length fur coat, her ever present pocket purse marking her an elegant black church lady til the end, Aretha strolled onstage and sat down at the piano. To the astonished delight of Carol King, and everyone else in attendance,  Aretha began to sing “Natural Woman” in a way that only she could do it.

The power of her performance mesmerized the multi-racial cross-generational audience and moved President Obama to tears. As her performance brought back poignant memories of ladies I have loved before, the great loves of my life, I found myself silently weeping too. That’s when I realized how my adult life has been continually enriched by the power of Aretha’s songs; she inspired many bright moments in my life.  Hence in profound gratitude for the Queen’s prolific benefactions, I felt compelled to pen this remembrance to Aretha with love….

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The Videos Below Show Scenes from the Funeral

And a couple of Aretha’s great performances.

Smokey Robinson’s Eulogy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pE3cu0pfNc

President Bill Clinton’s Tribute to Aretha

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5nvihg6Yw8

The Reverend Al Sharpton’s Eulogy and Reading of a Letter from the Obamas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLts9vLmS4A

Watch Jennifer Hudson’s Electrifying Performance of “Amazing Grace”

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

The Reverend Jesse Jackson Eulogizes His Friend

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

The Extraordinary Tribute to Aretha by HomeboyDr. M.E. Dyson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3Os2dc6bFY

Another Detroit Soul Icon Ron Isley Eulogies Aretha and stirs our Souls with Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFoEnT85UdE

Chaka Khan Gets the Mourners on their Feet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYEkgnBIyJ8

Cicly Tyson Reads Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s poem “When m’lindy Sings”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nB71IdcsNc

A Natural Woman

Aretha’s Magnificent Performance at the Kennedy Center

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHsnZT7Z2yQ

Aretha Sings “Precious Lord” at Dr. King’s Funeral