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

On the Psychology of Hitler and Trump

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Donald Trump with tags , on September 7, 2018 by playthell
Trump Raging at his “Enemies”

Comparative Psychoanalysis of Hitler and Trump

So far, 70, 000 mental health professionals, have signed a petition initiated by psychologist Dr. John Gartner calling for “the removal of President Donald Trump from office due to “serious mental illness” that they agree, “renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.” Narcissistic, sociopathic, histrionic and borderline psychotic are just some of the words that have been used by prominent mental health professionals in their description of Trump.

Ironically these words are very similar to words used to describe the German Dictator Adolph Hitler by various mental health professionals over the last 75 years. These include Psychologists Dr. Henry A. Murray, in his report on Hitler to the (0.S.S.) Office of Strategic Services, Dr. Walter Langer author of the Book, The Mind of Adolph Hitler, and later by psychiatrist Dr. Harvey Cleckley in his book The Mask of Sanity.

COUNTERACTIVE NARCISSISM

Langer is quoted by Harvey Cleckley M.D.  as having said about Hitler, “he was not insane but was emotionally sick and lacked normal inhibitions against anti-social behavior.” The OSS also came to the conclusion that Hitler was “an hysteric bordering on schizophrenia.“ An Excerpt from The Introduction to Murray’s Report reads as follows. “Murray pegged Hitler’s personality as ‘counteractive narcissim,’ 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.”

Adolph Hitler

In a Characteristic Rage
THESE WORDS FIT HITLER TO A (Donald) T

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.” Attorney Elizabeth Beck in an interview with CNN, said that Donald Trump had an “absolute meltdown” when she requested a break from a 2011 deposition to pump breast milk.

Beck said, “He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there” Recognize that this Hissy fit over Breast Milk comes from Donald who had no problem when his girlfriend now wife Melania in the words of British GQ Magazine,” was featured in (a) naked profile shoot on his customized Boeing 727 wearing handcuffs, wielding diamonds and holding a chrome pistol.” He also contained his hysteria when she appeared naked and in the embrace of another naked woman on the cover of the New York Post. He did, however ,demonstrate lots of histrionics when he appeared in a video apparently attempting to breast feed from fake breasts worn by Rudolph Giuliani dressed in drag. Go to this link to see a video of this.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M

CAN A PERSON HAVE 4 PERSONALITY DISORDERS?

Sociopath is the modern word used for Psychopath, and Antisocial and Borderline personality is a word modern psychiatrists sometimes use to describe what Langer most likely meant when he spoke of Hitler’s “ bordering on schizophrenia.” Narcissistic personality is the word used now for the Narcism described by Murray. But how could a person have 4 different personality Disorders?

The answer is that in general they cannot but 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.

IT’S NOT FUNNY

Although some of the things about Trump make people laugh, similarly to how people laughed at Charlie Chaplin’s movie “The Dictator,” in the words of Larry Hamm, Activist and Chairman of Newark’s People’s Organization for Progress this weekend at a community meeting at CEMOTAP, Center in Queens, “It’s really not funny.” What Larry meant of course is that a dramatic impulsive person is now commander and chief of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Airforce and has access to America’s nuclear weapons and nuclear codes. Hitler only had access to traditional explosives and nearly destroyed Europe.

IF YOU ONLY HIRE BARBERS, SOMEBODY IS GOING TO GET A HAIR CUT

He has also threatened at least one other head of state with “Fire and Fury” and has been appointing more Generals to the Cabinet than any other president since World War II. Comedian Dick Gregory quipped before his recent transition, “This man has appointed 5 generals to the cabinet and y’all don’t know where he’s going?”

Trump has so far appointed General John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense, General Michael Flynn- retired general replaced in the wake of lying about the Russian scandal with Mike Pompeo former Army Captain and West Point Graduate, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security, Former Army Reserve Captain Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Steve Bannon, former Naval Lieutenant (Equivalent of a Captain in the Army) Trump’s chief strategist, and Commander Ryan Zinke a former Navy Seal , and former “Dean” of the graduate school at the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command as Secretary of the Interior.

Why would you need a Navy Seal to oversee, the management and conservation of federal land and natural resources, which is the purpose of the Department of the Interior? If you hire only barbers, somebody is going to get a haircut.

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Note: This essay was originally published by Dr. James C. McIntosh – a practicing Psychiatrist in New York – as part of a series on the psychology of Donald Trump in the New York Amsterdam News.

Posted at Commentaries On the Times 9/7/2018

Trump’s Attack on Press Assaults Constitution

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , , on August 8, 2018 by playthell
The untutored Mob Incited Against Reporters by Donald Trump

Devious Donald’s Anti-Media Campaign is a Menace to America!

It’s getting increasingly dangerous to be an honest reporter in the US nowadays. Of course, reporters in other countries have long been under fire from the forces of government and organized crime. Jouranalist in Latin America have been routinely menaced and murdered by the drug cartels and corrupt governments that they report on. Russian journalist are also imperiled by the super-Rich Oligarchs – who often run corporations with organic links to organized crime – that control the private sector.

And since the Russian government appears to be an autocratic kleptocracy run by Vladimir Putin, whom rumor has it is the richest man in the world, these criminal cowboy capitalists do their dirt with Putin’s blessings. Distinguished journalists have been persecuted and killed for reporting honestly on Putin’s perfidies. And if Dirty Devious Donnie continues to rant and rave against the free press, repeatedly calling us “enemies of the people,” we will see increasing acts of violence against reporters.

We have already witnessed it when Republican congressional  candidate Greg Gianforte body slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs and told him to “get the hell outta here!”  Jacobs was simply questioning Gianforte about the speech he just presented; which is what reporters are supposed to do. Hence this reporter with a major international press organization was attacked and injured by an American politician for doing his job. A job which is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, yet he was still elected to Congress by Republicans!

Many observers, including this writer, are convinced that the open hostility directed at the press by politicians when addressing their constituents, echoing the rancorous invective of the media basher in chief who presently befouls the White House and daily disgraces his high office, has so poisoned the atmosphere the it encourages violence against journalists and the assault on Ben Jacobs is a poignant example. “It was the strangest experience of my life as a reporter,” says Jacobs.

When he daily declares that the American Press are the purveyors of “Fake News” he is inciting the untutored mob to support outrageous acts against reporters, whom the President has assured them is their “enemy!” As I write there are 21 journalist imprisoned in other countries on the charge that they were publishing “Fake News.”

Trump’s attacks on the American media, in the country where freedom of the press was born, only encourages tyrants around the world who kill and imprison Journalists for reporting incompetence, crime and corruption in their governments.  Alas, Dangerous Devious Donald says he is “proud” that other leaders are following his example of calling out “fake news.”

Trump leaves no doubt that he covets the power of foreign autocrats to silence criticism their press. Yet due to the diligent work of reporters, the public has been presented with a treasure trove of evidence to support charges of “Obstruction of Justice” and “Treason”against Devious Donald. The evidence is so abundant a case can be convincingly made even without seeing the results of Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller’s investigation; which a host of former prosecuter’s, legal ethics lawyers, leading law professors, professional historians, et al believe will provide the final nails in Trump’s political coffin.

And Donnie Dimwit’s escalating attacks on the press provides compelling evidence for yet another charge of abusing his office, since he took an oath to “Defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.” This oath, which spells out his most sacred duty, is violated by Donald Trump every time he attacks the legitimacy of the press; which, like his job, is spelled out and protected in the Constitution!

When we listen to some of the things that Trump says about the nation’s best reporters there can be no question that he despises freedom of the press. The scurrilous rhetoric he employs when describing the function of reporters leaves no doubt about his seething hatred for these tribunes of the people who are leading the fight against tyranny by exposing his anti-democratic practices.

The hostile name calling and rabble rousing began during the presidential campaign, when he nearly incited crowds of supporters to violence on several occasions.   And it is something akin to a miracle that no has been assaulted, especially since Trump offered to pay the legal bills for the defense of anyone who attacked one of his critics!

Before he won Trump repeatedly claimed the election was “rigged,” and even announced that he would not accept the results if “I don’t win.”  Yet, despite the unanimous conclusion of the US intelligence agencies that Russian military intelligence conducted a widespread effort to sway the US presidential election to him, Trump continuously decries the investigation into Russian meddling as “a hoax.”

Since it is the press that has informed the American public of every development in the Russian cyber-invasion in a unceasing stream of revealing stories and insightful commentary, Dirty Donald continues to attack them like a guilty man fleeing the gallows. His comments at recent rallies reveals the extent to which he is coming unhinged. One of the psychiatrist from the “Duty to Warn” group, a coalition of mental health professionals who are alarmed by the President’s increasingly unstable mental condition, points to the following statements as evidence of the president’s rapidly deteriorating mental condition.

In an article by titled “Don’t Shrug Away Trump’s Media Attacks,” published in the Columbia Journalism Review, Pete Vernon points out that Trump reacted to US press coverage of his over hyped meeting with Korean autocrat Kim Jong Un – one of several “strong men” he has openly expressed admiration for – with a vicious attack on American journalists.

Turning to his favorite venue for presidential proclamations the twittering twit tweeted “So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. Our country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!” When we consider the fact that this criticism comes from a guy who once wondered aloud why the “National Inquirer” has never won a Pulitzer Prize, it would be hilarious if it were not coming from the US President.

Alas, NBC NEWS anchor Lester Holt, recently expressed concern that these kind of attacks will provoke violent assaults on journalists from unthinking fanatics who take this “Insane Clown President” – as Matt Taibbi has aptly identified him- seriously. Devious Donald repeated this kind of rancorous rhetoric at a series of recent rallies in the south and mid-west where he is immensely popular with the shit kicker crowd in the boonies who are bedazzled by the city slicker bunko artists selling bogus dreams. He has pointed out reporters at these rallys and called them “Disgusting dishonest people,” or worse and repeated the charge that they are “enemies” of America.”

In response to a story about growing tensions between him and White House Chief of Staff General Kelly Donnie Dumbass tweeted: “The Washington Post is far more fiction than fact. Story after story is made up garbage – more like a poorly written novel than good reporting. Always quoting sources (not names), many of which don’t exist. Story on John Kelly isn’t true, just another hit job!”

One wonders if Trump’s assault on the integrity of the Washington is partially due to his abysmal ignorance of the high quality product produced by this pillar of American journalism, or perhaps he is haunted by the memory that it was the post that exposed the Watergate scandal that brought an end to the presidency of Richard Nixon, a man far more qualified and immensely more popular than Dirty Donnie. Since his alleged conspiracy with Russian military intelligence agents to steal the presidential election from Hillary Clinton, whom three million Americans preferred to him, is a far graver crime than Watergate, I believe Trump is terrified of the fate that awaits him. This fear does much to explain his constant hostility toward the press, but I believe the causes lie even deeper.

Donald Trump is a supreme egotist who has lived an adult life running a family owned business and has never had to account to anyone for his decisions and actions. Unlike corporate presidents in publicly traded companies, who must report to a board of directors and shareholders, Trump has always been able to dictate commands and expect them to be followed without question upon fear of termination. In such an environment permanent lips to posterior is the preferred posture for employees. This is the attitude that Donnie Dimwit has brought to government; a position for which he is totally unsuited by training and temprement. Hence he finds a critical press constantly calling out his lies and bullshit intolerable, which is the hallmark of all autocrats.

Given his attitude it is a reasonable assumption that without the protection of the First Amendment Trump would destroy the free press much like Hitler, who also despised the independent press, did in Germany. In an article published in the Holocaust Encyclopedia titled “The Press in the Third Reich: Establishing Control of the Press,” we are told:

“When Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, the Nazis controlled less than three percent of Germany’s 4,700 papers. The elimination of the German multi-party political system not only brought about the demise of hundreds of newspapers produced by outlawed political parties; it also allowed the state to seize the printing plants and equipment of the Communist and Social Democratic Parties, which were often turned over directly to the Nazi Party. In the following months, the Nazis established control or exerted influence over independent press organs.

During the first weeks of 1933, the Nazi regime deployed the radio, press, and newsreels to stoke fears of a pending “Communist uprising,” then channeled popular anxieties into political measures that eradicated civil liberties and democracy. SA (storm troopers) and members of the Nazi elite paramilitary formation, the SS, took to the streets to brutalize or arrest political opponents and incarcerate them in hastily established detention centers and concentration camps. Nazi thugs broke into opposing political party offices, destroying printing presses and newspapers.

Sometimes using holding companies to disguise new ownership, executives of the Nazi Party-owned publishing house, Franz Eher, established a huge empire that drove out competition and purchased newspapers at below-market prices. Some independent newspapers, particularly conservative newspapers and non-political illustrated weeklies, accommodated to the regime through self-censorship or initiative in dealing with approved topics.”

Given his hatred for independent critical journalism such as is practiced by the major news organizations, who can seriously doubt that Trump would resort to any means necessary to destroy them if he were not restrained by the Constitution. I haven’t the slightest doubts about it! This seems especially plausible when we consider the similarities in the mindsets of the two authoritarians.

The head doctors have repeatedly drawn attention to the similarities between their diagnosis of “The Donald’s” dangerous mental maladies and the German Psychoanalyst Eric Fromm’s diagnosis of “Der Fuerer.” Both suffer from “Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia,” a condition that gives them feelings of omnipotence and infallibility, conflates their fate with the fate of the State and view all criticism as an attack by enemies.
Although the press avoids referencing the diagnoses of the doctors in Duty to Warn, which has been published in a book under this title, in deference to the outmoded “Goldwater Rule” – which was always based on political considerations rather than a scientific evidence – all one need do is look at the symptoms outlined by these mental health professionals and compare them to Trump’s actual behavior to see that they are right on the money. There is a reason why Neo-Nazis are attracted to Trump, as the old adage goes “It takes one to know one.” On more than one occasion Trump’s acolytes have used outright Nazi slogans in their demonstrations and protests. A poignant example is the torch bearing Nazi’s shouting “Blood and Soil” on their night march.

This slogan was employed by Nazi’s to define who was a “true German” and set the stage for the holocaust by calling for ethnic cleansing, or “racial hygiene” to purify the population of Germany of “undesirable aliens.” These ideas about race presently inform Trump’s attitude toward immigration policy. However they ideas whose roots are so deep in America’s racist history that they inspired the National Origins Act, which greatly restricted immigration to the US based on the country of origin, heavily favoring Northern and Western Europeans of “Teutonic” blood.  (See: “Is Trump a Racial Hygienist?” on this blog.) However, even more pertinent to the point of this essay is the use of the Nazi term for the independent press by Trump’s acolytes at his rallies.

Young white thugs, reminiscent of Hitler’s Brown Shirts, harassed and menaced reporters shouting the Nazi epithet “Lugenpresse!” Which means “Lying Press.” When video from the rally found it’s way onto the internet, those who understand the historical context in which the slur was created took notice. In an October 24, 2016 article in the Washington Post filed from Berlin by Nick Noack – “The ugly history of ‘Lügenpresse,’” we learn:

“When a video of two Donald Trump supporters shouting ‘Lügenpresse’ (lying press) started to circulate Sunday, viewers from Germany soon noted its explosive nature. The defamatory word was most frequently used in Nazi Germany….Its use across the Atlantic Ocean at a Trump rally has worried Germans who know about its origins all too well. Both the Nazi regime and the East German government made use of it, turning it into an anti-democracy slogan…“Lügenpresse” was branded a taboo word in Germany in 2015 by an academic panel after anti-Islam movements, such as Pegida, started using it more frequently in the presence of journalists. As in the United States, trust in mainstream media is on the decline in Germany.”

Alas, the proclamation of the German academics does not carry the weight of law, and contemporary Neo-fascists in Germany are continuing to revive it. And it has already begun to incite violence against working reporters trying to cover their rallys. Noaack reports: “The verbal attacks against journalists soon turned into physical violence in Germany. At times, media members were unable to cover the Pegida-organized protest marches without private security personnel. Some reporters who risked going in without bodyguards were beaten up. It is without doubt that the word ‘Lügenpresse’ has an extremely ugly meaning in modern-day Germany.”

The Washington Post article goes on to explore the horrid history of “Lugenpresse” and it is instructive about Trump’s attitude toward the American press. The term first appeared in a book released by the German Defense Ministry titled “The Lugenpresse of our Enemies,” during the First World War in 1918. It was coined by the writer Reinhold Anton to describe the propaganda of foreign enemies.

Hitler adopted it years later to attack the German press that criticized him and his NAZI Party. And now Trump’s has declared the American press to be: “Enemies of the people!” Hence Trump’s Neo-Nazi acolytes are just following his lead when they threateningly shout “Lugenpresse!” at reporters.  And what makes this bad situation immeasurably worse is that Devious Donald is closely following the Nazi Minister of Propaganda Dr. Joseph Goebbels’ axiom that a “Big Lie” repeated often enough will find believers.

Since Trump’s core supporters are mostly composed of the ignorant and the venal – whom Hillary Clinton accurately summed up as “Deplorables” – we can expect no corrective from them.  In fact, according to a report in the Daily Beast an opinion poll conducted by Ipsos found that 43% of Republicans thinks Trump should have the power to shut down news organizations that he deems to be purveyors of fake news!  This is how dictatorships began in democratic societies, fortunately for Americans our constitution guarantees freedom of the press.  However the position of these Republicans, who would grant a lying charlatan and buffoon like Donald Trump the power to silence the press is irrefutable proof that Thomas Jefferson was prescient when he warned: “A democracy cannot work with an ignorant electorate.”

Alas, that’s the best we are going to get from the Trumpanzees. But as for the rest of us, the salvation of our democracy – now seriously threatened with the specter of plutocracy – demands that we do everything in our power to get Devious Donnie’s crazy evil treasonous ass out of the White House and away from the nuclear button as soon as possible! And that process begins with the coming elections for control of Congress, because Impeachment is the fastest road to ridding ourselves of this looming menace to America and the world!

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Witness Trump’s Vicious Attacks on the Press

 

Watch Trump Argue for a Pulitzer Prize for National Inquirer

Outclassed!

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , on July 27, 2018 by playthell

Trump Receiving his Orders

Trump’s Meeting with Putin was a National Disgrace!

Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was a sad spectacle! Trump was completely OUTCLASSED!!! It was like watching a heavy-weight boxer in the ring with a fly-weight! Of course, I am not talking about physical size as Fat Donnie is much taller and his blubbery body looks swollen beside Putin’s fit physique. It is in the intellectual realm that Putin towers over Trump!

We got a hint of what was likely to happen when we saw that Putin was equipped with a pad and pencil and Trump’s hands was as empty as his head! When they appeared to issue statements on the meeting the extent to which Trump was outclassed became glaringly obvious. Putin’s statement was authoritative, broadly knowledgeable and delivered with ease; like a person who was really on top of his material.

Trump on the other hand was vague, hyperbolic in his praise of Putin and Russia, dismissive of US intelligence agencies and the press, and haltingly read from a text that sounded like it was written by Putin’s intelligence officer…which the translator probably was! Trump came across as a colossal dunce, a Russian dupe, or an American President committing treason before the world….I think it was all three. In fact. I believe what went on in that meeting was that Putin gave “The Moscow Candidate” his marching orders!

As bizarre as this may sound it is also the view of Malcolm Nance, former military counter-intelligence operative and author of two best selling books . The first analyzes the role of Russian military intelligence in subverting the US presidential election with the objective of insuring a Trump victory, “The Hacking of America,” and “The Plot to Destroy Democracy.” his second book dealing with efforts by the Russians to dismantle western democracies through cyber-warfare.
In an interview on WNBC, where he is a regular commentator on national security issues, Nance offered this uncanny prediction about Trump’s behavior in his forthcoming Summit with Putin:

“He’s just gonna lay down…we already know that based on his past statements. And he’s correct; he has been preparing for this his entire life for this…he went to the Soviet in 1987 trying to get Trump hotels. We know that he was taking Russian money and selling real estate to them For years. We also know that in 2013 he met with the top 12 Russian Oligarchs and received their version of events for over two hours and have been spouting it ever since.”

The prescience of Nance’s prediction is borne out by the response of Republican officials to Trump’s public genuflection before Vlad the Deceiver. Senator John McCain, a senior statesman of the party, described Trumps actions as:”“one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Senator Marco Rubio said Trump’s assessment of Russia was “not based in reality,” and his comments were “counterproductive, dangerous, and will fail.” And House Speaker Paul Ryan – who has displayed the spine of a jelly fish when commenting on Trump’s myriad failings and transgressions – remarked

But the most devastating criticism came from Texas Congressman Will Hurd, who asserts in a July 19, Op-Ed in the New York Times:

“Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A., I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them. The president’s failure to defend the United States intelligence community’s unanimous conclusions of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and condemn Russian covert counterinfluence campaigns and his standing idle on the world stage while a Russian dictator spouted lies confused many but should concern all Americans. By playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands, the leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to our foes abroad.”

The question thoughtful Americans who are paying attention are asking is: “What’s really going on with Donald Trump?” Not only has he insulted his American critics with a variety of insults including giving them demeaning nicknames, and trashed some of America’s oldest allies, but he has consistently refused to insult Vlad The Deceiver nor admit the full extend of Russian interference in our presidential election. For instance, even after the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller issued a detailed 29 page indictment against 13 Russian military intelligence operatives, Trump continued to dismiss the investigation as “a witch hunt.”

Trump’s charge was so outrageous it prompted a spirited defense of the integrity of US intelligence products from Dan Coates, the Director of National Intelligence and Richard Burr, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing,” says Coates. “pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

Senator Burr was equally clear in his disagreement with the President’s actions. “Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been. Nor does he want to be our friend. His regime’s actions prove it. We must make clear that the United States will not tolerate hostile Russian activities against us or our allies.”

Even more damming is the contention by Congressman Hurd in his Op-Ed:
“Moreover, the threat of Russian meddling in United States elections is not behind us. Just last week, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, cautioned that “the warning lights are blinking red” that Russia and other adversaries will undertake further cyberattacks on our digital infrastructure. This includes many of the energy companies in my home district in South and West Texas. Make no mistake, Russian disinformation campaigns are working.”

This Op-Ed is well worth the reading by all concerned US citizens, because this Congressman, a Republic who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, offers both a candid assessment of the President’s failings in dealing with Russian intrusions into the US electoral process, and also recommends a number of measures to prevent it.

The most important of these recommendations are spelled out in this statement:
“Additionally, Congress must act to give the men and women of our intelligence agencies the tools they need to confront Moscow and prevent this from happening in the future. We can start by sending the Intelligence Authorization Act to the president’s desk, which authorizes funding to support critical national security programs across the intelligence community. It also requires regular public reports on foreign threats to federal election campaigns before those elections take place, mandatory notification to Congress within 14 days after a determination has been made with moderate or high confidence that a foreign cyberintrusion or active measures campaign to influence a federal election has taken place, and reports to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on past and continuing Russian influence campaigns.”

The ongoing Russian interference in US politics is well established by our intelligence agencies, yet despite some good suggestions as to strategies for effectively combating this covert Cyber-war, the Republicans have thus far been mostly blow and no go. They appear to be paralyzed with terror at the possibility that the tweeting twit in the Oval Office will publicly crucify them on Twitter.

After all, the most recent polls show that “The Donald” has over 80% support in their party. Trump’s behavior prompted Malcolm Nance to conclude that his foreign policy is dictated from Moscow and ridicules the idea that a clueless ignoramus like Trump could have been doing anything but receiving instructions from a seasoned KGB officer and master political strategist like Putin during their two and a half hour secret meeting:”I think he has been co-opted by Russia…I think he works in the interests of Russia!”

Yet, despite mounting evidence of treason, no Republican member of the House or Senate seems willing to put the interests of the country over their personal political prospects and take steps to remove this traitorous charlatan from office. Hence Trump’s disgrace is also their own!

 

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RED ALERT!!!

Malcolm Nance’s Prediction on Trump-Putin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=tVp9ACinFpk

The Trump-Putin Press Conference
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwxqOoIyWm0

Malcolm Nance on the Aftermath of Helinski
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIz9TXzwY7I

It’s Time to Call It Treason!

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , on July 15, 2018 by playthell

Putin Instructing his Puppet?

Impeach the Moscow Candidate

The charge of treason is clearly defined in the US Constitution. Article 3 Section 3 states: 

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act.”

 Hence the question before the nation is what constitutes a state of war with a foreign country, and has Donald Trump given the enemy “aid and comfort.” First let us consider whether Russia committed an act of war against these United States of America. Like everything else in our lives, digitization has changed the nature of war as dramatically as it is changing the nature of work. Alas, it is quite enough to point out that a massive Cyber-attack by a hostile power has been added to the list of events that would justify a nuclear response. That is the ultimate act of war!  Yet the entire nation has witnessed our President giving “aid and comfort”  to the perpetrator.

Although commentators in and outside of government routinely refer to the Russian Cyber-attack that may well have determined the outcome of our presidential election as an act of war, they don’t respond to this attack with the same fervor and conviction they would have if the Russians had torpedoed an American submarine. Everyone would be up in arms demanding retaliation, and if the president dismissed the unanimous assessment of our intelligence agencies – the best in the world – and instead accepted the word of the leader of the hostile nation that launched the attack instead, there would be a deafening cry for his impeachment!

And if the President took no action to protect our nation’s assets from further attack, refused to even issue a scathing denunciation of the aggressor’s action; then arranged a meeting with the president of the hostile nation in which no one from the American government or press would be present; just the two presidents, there would be an urgent movement in Congress to impeach him for “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” Which is the definition of Treason!

All of these things are true in regard to Donald Trump’s response to the Russian Cyber-attack on our national election. Many astute observers believe the attack changed the course of American history by putting Trump in the Oval Office, and this now redounds to the benefit of the Russians. When we add the fact that US intelligence agencies unanimously concluded that the objective of the Russian attack was to help elect Donald Trump President, we have the motive for Treason! But what of the evidence people ask? Will the evidence support a charge as serious as treason?

Many legal scholars, former prosecuters and pundits – this writer included – believe the evidence is near overwhelming, a prima facie case.. However on the this a charge of such gravitas that many Americans are bewildered by the possible consequences. Indeed, Lawrence Tribe, Harvard Law Professor and the nation’s leading authority on the US Constitution, has just published a book on question in an attempt to clarify this complex process,To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.” It is no picayune matter that there have been only two impeachments of presidents in American history, and in each instance, after the Bill of Impeachment from the House of Representatives was presented to the Senate and the President was be put on trail, they beat the rap. However none has ever been charged with treason.

Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s Vice-President who ascended to the presidency after the assassination of Lincoln, was the first president to be impeached. However Johnson was impeached by the “Radical Republicans” of the Reconstruction period in the aftermath of the American Civil War, and his impeachment was the result of policy differences.The US Civil War was the most destructive and murderous war the world had ever witnessed by the mid-19th century. This is because it was the first modern war where arms could be mass produced by virtue of the development of an industrial base. Hence death and destruction could, and was, be dispensed on a massive scale.

Thus “Binding up the nations wounds” with “Malice toward none and charity for all,” as the martyred President had called for before before he was shot to death during a night out at Ford’s theater, was much easier said than done. The nation’s problems were monumental: complex, illusive, and in search of solutions in an atmosphere of inter-sectional and racial hatred, passionate resentments and despair. It was the kind of poisoned atmosphere in which there was little chance that “the better angels of our nature” would prevail, as President Lincoln had prayed.

President Johnson was a pro-union southerner who, like the northerner Lincoln, came from the poor white working class. However, although he hated the rich, arrogant, decadent, slave holding planter class he was also a virulent racist with no sympathy for Afro-Americans. Hence he opposed every effort of the Congress to help Afro-Americans overcome the handicaps resulting from 250 years of chattel slavery, a system the great freedom fighted Harriet Tubman said was “Worse than hell!” And the peerless Afro-American Abolitionist writer and orator Frederick Douglass said “would disgrace a nation of savages.” When the Radical Republican Congress, led by Pennsylvania’s Thaddeus Stevens in the House and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts in the Senate, had their fill of the Southern domcrat’s obstructionism they Impeached him! Although Johnson survived the Senate trial by one vote when Senator Edmund Ross of Kansas surprised his colleagues by voting “not guilty,” the great abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner said of him: Andrew Johnson is the impersonation of the tyrannical slave power. In him it lives again.”

A century later Richard M. Nixon, a Republican, had just won a second term in the presidency by a historic landslide when he faced imminent impeachment due to the Watergate scandal resulting from operatives working for The Committee to Reelect the President aka CREEP breaking into the Democratic Party Headquarters in Washington’s Watergate Hotel. The group, a motley crew led by former intelligence officers known to history as “The White House Plumbers,”was on a mission to find damaging information on the democratic Party that could be used to damage their presidential candidate.

Nixon’s attempt to cover up White house involvement in the crime led to Congress passing the first Article of Impeachment on July 27, 1974 for Obstruction of Justice – one of the charges now being considered against Trump. With Impeachment a certainty Nixon chose to resign instead….the only President in US history to do so. In a striking historical irony, 44 years later we have another Republican President under investigation for interfering in the campaign of a democratic candidate for president, and is also facing the possibility of Impeachment for Obstruction of Justice!

However whereas as the Nixon era Republicans used former US intelligence operatives, the Trump campaign is being investigated for colluding with active agents in the Russian military intelligence establishment, several of whom have just been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This is no picayune matter, for whereas the Nixon operatives were guilty of a botched burglary, the Trump campaign is alleged to have conspired with a hostile foreign power to steal massive amounts of documents from the Democrats that were used in an attempt to sway the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump…which he won by a mere 77, 000 votes spread over three states while losing the popular election to Hillary Clinton by 3, 000,000 votes.

This was a political event that has no precedent in US history, nor has a US president ever chosen to believe the leader of a hostile foreign power over his own intelligence agencies. Yet Devious Donald has embarked on a campaign to discredit those agencies, comparing them to the evil genocidal Nazi gestapo, and labeling the American press “enemies of the people” for objectively reporting the facts about Russian cyber-aggression and the unfolding evidence of collusion by members of his campaign. In fact, many professional prosecutors have noted that Trump’s behavior fits the description of what they call “consciousness of guilt” on the part of suspects.

Alas, it has been repeatedly pointed out by a variety of observers that Trump is famous for coining demeaning nicknames for anyone with whom he has a disagreement, including many fellow Republicans – “Lyin Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Sloppy Steve,” Low Energy Jeb,” et al – and he still refers to his former Democratic adversary as “Crooked Hillary.” But Trump has NEVER called Vladimir Putin out of his name! “Whassup wit dat?” many people are asking. Speculation about the reasons for this abound, some people have even coined some sobriquets for him. My personal favorites are: “Putin’s Puppet” and “Putin’s Pussy!”

Yet whatever Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s and other investigations proves to be the case, on the face of it we can see there is a rottening in the Oval Office. It is clear from readily available facts that the President is violating his oath to “defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.” Just now, he has become an enemy of the Constitution with his constant attacks on the legitimacy of the free press, whose independent role as a watch dog over those who govern us and a protector of the public interest is guaranteed in the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the wisest of the Founding Fathers, thought it so important he said if given a choice between a free press and no government or a government and no free press, he would choose the free press and no government. By attacking the legitimacy of our free press and trashing US intelligence agencies, the front line soldiers in the Cyber-war against Russia, setting Americans at each other’s throats in the process, Donald J. Trump has failed in his pledge to “insure domestic tranquility,” as the Chief Excutive of the nation, and by refusing to confront the Russians about their military cyber-attack on our nation he has abdicated his constitutionally appointed role as “Commander-In-Chief.”

Yet in a couple of days Trump has the unmitigated gall to meet with Putin in private without a single representative of our government, military or press in attendance. This inexplicable folly will further disgrace his office and destroy confidence in our government for millions of Americans who are already greatly disillusioned by his behavior. For many loyal Americans who have served in the military- this writer included-Trump is a draft dodging coward; a blabbermouth chicken hawk who loves to wrap himself in the flag and claim to speak for veterans, but the chump is all blow and no go! Eric Watree – a writer an honorably discharged Marine who volunteered for service in our most audacious fighting force when Donnie Dipshit was using his daddy’s money and influence to escape military service – has penned a song titled “Draft Dodging Donnie,”which gives expression to how every veteran that I know feels about this slacker stinking up in the Oval Office.

We consider this meeting with Putin a far greater offense against flag and nation than NFL players taking a knee to protest white police murders of their unarmed black brothers, a fate that could easily befall them. After all, they are simply exercising their First Amendment rights under the Constitution that Trump has sworn to defend and instead he calls them “sons of bitches” on national television. On the other hand, Devious Dastardly Dirty Donnie’s cloak and dagger huddle with KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin has the stench of Treason!

Even former CIA Director John Brennan, and former military intelligence operative Malcolm Nance – author of two seminal books on the role of Russian intelligence agencies in engineering the Trump presidency – has openly suggested the possibility that Trump could actually be a Russian intelligence asset! A kind of modern “Manchrian candidate” made in Moscow. To me it is something of a moot question, because if he is not Putin’s puppet I cannot imagine what he would do differently if he were. Alas, enough of the shilly shally: I say if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a fuckin duck! If it talks like a traitor and acts like a traitor: It’s probably a goddamed traitor! In any case it’s time to charge Trump with treason and put his ignorant arrogant ass on trial; that is the only way to finally solve this enigma that poses a grave danger to our democratic Republic.

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 15, 2018

On the Immigration Question

Posted in On Immigration with tags , on July 12, 2018 by playthell

Latin American Immigrants at the US Border

An Afro-American View

When the question of immigration is considered from the perspective of Afro-Americans it is clear that it is not in our interests. One need only look at the history of the traditional black community – those Afro-Americans who are the descendants of slaves, many of whom’s ancestors go back to the founding of the American republic – to recognize a distinct relationship between immigration and Afro-American economic development. Simply stated the pattern shows that African-Americans experience the most dramatic economic growth during periods of low foreign immigration.

Indeed, evidence of the inverse relationship between Afro-American economic advancement and immigration is not confined to statistics, but is also noted in the real time testimony of thoughtful Afro-American leaders. For instance, Frederick Douglass recalls European immigrants trying to run him off the job when he was working in the Baltimore shipyard as a skilled slave that his master hired out to collect his wages. The immigrants felt that Douglass – who soon escaped slavery and went on to become the most insightful commentator and critic of a hypocrital American society that perpetually preached the virtues of freedom while practicing a tyranny which Douglass said “would embarrass a nation of savages!”- had no right to work on the job because he was black.

Over a century later I would be told by an arrogant Eastern European immigrant on a New York construction site “you are only working here because you are black!” He was referring to the anti-discrimination laws that required the contractor to employ a racially diverse work force, which he resented. Although Douglass and I were born and raised in America, and the immigrants had literally just got off the boat, they felt they should be given preference over us in the job market.

In his 1895 speech at the World Exposition of Cotton Growing States held in Atlanta Georgia, Booker T. Washington, founder and principal of Tuskegee Institute in the black belt of Alabama, who would succeed Frederick Douglass as the most influential spokesman for black America, made a desperate plea for the economic salvation of Afro-Americans, who were trying to gain an economic foothold as a free people after enduring 250 years of chattel slavery. His famous refrain in the speech, “Cast down your buckets where you are,” was a warning to black Americans who were fleeing the increasing white terror and drudgery of rural southern peonage that the northern cities was no paradise.

Washington’s extensive visits to the north investigating the fate of Afro-Americans who had fled to the north convinced him that they were worse off in the unhealthy conditions of the wretched city slums. And he attributed their poverty to the fact that they were excluded from the employment opportunities offered by an industrializing America by the massive waves of poor immigrants from Europe!

This has been the experience of Afro-Americans with immigration. And there is no reason to believe it will be significantly different with Hispanic immigrants, a labor force made docile by the lash of hunger back home and often harboring racists attitudes toward black people, as Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has shown in his revealing PBS documentary “Black in Latin America.”

Yet, despite the opposition of many Afro-Americans to immigration, the transparent racism of Donald Trump, and the odious spectacle of US government agents snatching the children of Hispanic immigrants seeking asylum, even separating toddlers from their mothers who are then confined to cages, has turned most Afro-Americans against his “Zero Tolerance” policy. Hence it is virtually impossible for black politicians and intellectuals to assert our interests in the ongoing debate over immigration without being tainted by the arguments and policies of the Trump administration. Yet Afro-Americans have a special truth to tell regarding the negative effects of mass immigration that grows out of our experience, and it must be told.

However I share the view and concerns of Robert Beck, author of the insightful book, The Case Againist Immigration, who noted:

Unfortunately, to write about the problems of immigration is to risk seeming to attack immigrants themselves. Even worse is the risk of inadvertently encouraging somebody else to show hostility toward the foreign born.” After noting his extensive relationships with immigrants, and the fact that his children’s friends were mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants, Beck writes,” Thus, as with the case for millions of other Americans, I have a very personal stake in not wanting to hostility or discrimination toward the foreign born who are already living among us. To be sure, this proximity to so many foreign born persons include some less than positive experiences, along with the delightful, which preclude me from from a superficial, romanticied view of immigration. The influx into my own community clearly has been too fast and in too large a volume.”

Alas, the way the debate has been shaped at the moment, one is either a racist right-wing Trump supporter who is hostile to immigrants from South of the border, or a left-wing radical who believes that anybody that presents themselves at the US border with a hard luck story should be allowed to enter. The former position is morally repugnant and the latter position is well meaning but unsustainable.

Anyone who has visited Latin America recognizes that there is a multitude of people trapped in appalling living conditions with no real prospect for change. And one does not have to agree with Trump’s silly ideas about building a wall across the Mexican border – which would cost millions – to recognize that since all people want a better life for themselves and their children, they would immigrate to the US en-mass if economic hardship were made the test for gaining admission to the US.

Many people will argue that this was the basis upon which millions of European immigrants entered this country including the grandfather of Donald Trump. While that is certainly true, it must be viewed in historical context. The massive European immigration of the late 19th and early 20th century occurred during a period of rapid industrialization centered in the city, and the massive expropriation of Indian lads by white settlers in the American West, hence the US economy could absorb the new immigrants.

Today neither condition exist, rather the US economy is rapidly moving toward a post-industrial phase in which jobs are being permanently eliminated due to digitization, in which people are being replaced by robots. This epochal change is rendering human labor obsolete. Jobs as diverse as professional drivers – trucks, trains, buses, cabs, etc – to behind the counter clerks; accountants and even newspaper editors. Man of these are jobs that were believed to require human workers not that long ago. The projections of scholars studying this development concur that millions of workers who are gainfully employed today will be obsolete in the not too distant future.

Hence any analogy between the great waves of European immigration in the 19th and twentieth centuries, and the immigrants now seeking to enter the US in the second decade of the 21st century, is a false one. Hence the question of immigration must be viewed in the light of contemporary American economic realities. And aside from farm work which native born Americans appear to be unwilling to do in sufficient numbers to meet the requirements of large scale farmers.

This would suggest that immigration policy should be adjusted to meet that economic need; some have proposed a guest worker program would address this problem. On the other hand, a policy of allowing large scale immigration into the US at this time that would pit foreign born workers against the native born for a dwindling number of jobs is bound to create social anxieties and conflict that give birth to reactionary right-wing nativist movements of the sort that put Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Since this is a White Nationalists movement, Afro-Americans are bound to lose hard won ground as they enact racist policies. And should immigration policies favor “people from Norway,” as Donald Trump – a latter day eugenicist aka white supremacist – has proposed it would only swell the ranks of the white majority.

Alas, having lived under “The tyranny of the majority” – a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville to distinguish mere majority rule from genuine democracy in his magisterial 1831 study Democracy in America –” increasing the ranks of whites in the US is not an outcome that would favor black Americans.

Then there is the fact that immigrants tend to band together and aid each other to the exclusion of native born Americans. This produces antagonisms, especially with Afro-Americans who are still struggling for full inclusion in American economic life. Hence, from any point of view, large scale immigration from any quarter is not in the interests of Afro-Americans.

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 12, 2018