Archive for January, 2012

An Open Letter to Dr. Anthony Montero

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on January 28, 2012 by playthell

      Marxist Ideologue and Rabid Obama Hata

Yo Tony!  I was shocked at your response to my question this morning.  All I did was respond candidly to a billboard that you sent me announcing your forth coming conference on the life and works of Dr. DuBois at Temple University next month.  When I looked through the list of invited speakers and saw the name of Mumia Abu Jamal at the top of the list, I confess to being surprised; since he is doing life in prison with no chance of parole. Then I saw some other people on the program who don’t know their rectum from a hole in the ground, or at least that is the impression I get from talking with them.  So what, I wondered, could they know of a man as complex as DuBois?

I began to get a really strange feeling… so I ventured a speculation that perhaps what you are really organizing is a council of mystics and Marxist ideologues, which are the same class of phenomena, and the distinctions make no difference, since Marxism is about as scientific as astrology.   In any case what was clear is that this will not be  a conference where scholars will be free to present a variety of interpretations of the life and work of this great Scholar/Activist.

It seems closer to the “Sociolgical Conventions” Dr. William Julius Wilson attended in Communist Russia – back in the 1970’s when we were both Professors at the University of Massachusetts – where the “sociological papers” presented by Eastern European “Scholars” had to pass review by Communist Party Ideologues!  Bill would tell me with a sense of sadness how the Eastern European Sociologist would tell him in private – in their few unsupervised contacts – how they knew the papers they presented were bullshit but they had no choice!  Since this is the system that you defended to the bitter end, it is not surprising that you have adopted their methods.

My worst suspicions were confirmed when you fairly shouted:”We’er going to be talking about the revolutionary DuBois!”  Considering that Dr William Edward Burghardt Dubois lived nearly a century –  a considerable part of which he spent as “A mystical Ethiopianst” as the great scholar Dr. Wilson Jeremiah Moses has shown, and spent only a small part of that life as a committed Marxist, with virtually no time as a member of the CPUSA – your comment convinces me that you are far more interested in Propaganda than history!  But if propaganda rather than history is your project, then you will naturally stack the roster with “special pleaders” and Marxist ideologues like you!

Since I know that, as Harold Cruse so aptly pointed out in “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual,” nothing is duller than a group of Marxist “theoreticians,” reciting hackneyed dogma in styles that are the verbal equivalent of Sominex; blathering on ad nasuem in highly esoteric language that only a hand full of Marxist eggheads understand, I wondered why you did not invite me to add verbal panache and a erudite  counter-narrative to your boring Marxist clap/trap.

But you blurted out “We don’t want any Barack Obama apologist on this program!”  I was shocked; it caught me completely by surprise.  Your hysterical babbling was surreal; it reminded me of a scene from Ishmael Reed’s great absurdist novel “Yellow Back Radio Broke Down,” where a character suddenly  blurts out: “Mash potatoes on my mother fuckin chest!” Your response made just about as much sense!

If you feel so strongly about your position Tony why are you so afraid to have anybody present a counter view? When I was hosting a radio show on WBAI I invited you to present your position on numerous occasions and I have the air check tapes to prove it – yet I was not a Marxist – because I had no fear that I could defend my position….and if I couldn’t?   Well then I would abandon it in the face of new knowledge.

That’s how SERIOUS INTELLECTUALS behave.  You on the other hand are an ideological automaton – the secular equivalent of a religious fanatic – hence you cannot abide a counter narrative.  Like all Communist you wish to suppress or deny any view that does not accord with your Marxist line….motherfucker don’t you know THAT’S WHY THE SOVIET UNION FELL?

You need to hurry up and  and check out the statement by Andropov’s official ideologists as to why the Russian communist party collapsed.  Here is what he said: “WHEN REALITY CONTRADICTED OUR IDEOLOGY WE DISMISSED REALITY!!!!!”  That’s exactly what you are doing in your ideologically induced diatribes against President Obama!

You are an intellectual coward who willfully deceives himself.  Exactly what is yo beef with Barack Obama?”  You appear to be mad that he is not a communist.  Duh….?  Here is a reality check for you Dr. Montero: THERE WILL NEVER BE A COMMUNIST ELECTED TO THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES…AND THERE IS NEVER GOING TO BE A COMMUNIST REVOLUTION IN THIS COUNTRY!!!!!!

Let me ask you a question Dog: Why tha fuck would Americans ever choose a communist dictatorship when POWER IS ALREADY IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!   The problem is that they are too ignorant to use it in their best interests.  They are the manifestation of the fears expressed by Thomas Jefferson “A democracy will not work with an ignorant electorate, because they will elect and return the worst people to power!!!”  I know this observation goes againts your Marxist “theory,” which praises the wisdom of the masses before enslaving them.  Alas old H.L. Mencken’s “Boobus Americanus” is alive and well!

Barack Obama understands the political realities that he must work within…and he is clearly the ONLY FRIEND OF THE WORKING CLASS THAT IS LIKELY TO BE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT!!!!!   Your failure to see this means that you will automatically be dismissed as a deluded fool by all THE REAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE WORKING CLASS…LIKE YOUR OLD FRIEND JUNE!!!!!!!

The actual leaders of the working class are the elected leaders of the great unions – although I understand as a doctrinaire communist elections mean nothing to you – and the one’s I’ve talked to view Marxist ideologues like you the same way the wise Ibo elders viewed boisterous intruders at a funeral: “Beware of the stranger who comes to a funeral and cries louder than the owners of the corpse!”

In any case Tony, there is a reason why Barack, who is younger than you – is the first black President and you are still running around spouting meaningless Marxist prattle!!!  Barack understands and works within the limits of political reality; he knows that politics is the art of the possible.  Barack understands what it takes to succeed in real politics, as opposed to political polemics: and you are clueless!!!!!   Just so you know: I wouldn’t take a million fuzzy headed Marxist ideologues like you  for one effective politician Barack Obama!!!

A basic question for the record Tony: if you can’t convince Americans to vote for your COMMUNIST program….how do you propose to get them to wage an armed struggle to achieve it?  It’s sad to see that after all these years, and all your study, you still believe in fairy tales!!!!!   Go ahead and have your little concave of leftist ideologues, where you slap each other on the back and each confirm the other in their foolishness!  But it won’t alter the fact that you black Marxists, like your white tutors, are irrelevant!

Yet I feel compelled to remind you that you are entitled only to  own opinions; not your own facts!  Facts are stubborn things that refuse to be wished away.  Yo, here is a serious fact for you Dog:   IF YOU WANT TO HAVE ANY LASTING INFLUENCE ON THE INTERPRETATION OF DR. DUBOIS’S LIFE AND LEGACY, YOU WILL HAVE TO WRITE A WORK THAT CAN DISLODGE DAVID LEVERING LEWIS’ TWO VOLUME MASTERWORK!!!!  Both volumes of which won the Pulitzer Prize for history…an unprecented event.

To have any chance at such an achievement you will have to stop with the feel good sessions, where all you leftist mythmakers congregate and prattle on ad nauseum, and get yo ass to work!!!!!!  As things stand Professor Lewis’ tomes is the seminal work that ALL SERIOUS SCHOLARS IN THE WORLD CONSULT!!!  You are insignificant as a DuBois scholar, and these kind of leftist talkfests will not advance your standing in the world scholarly community one iota.  In other words, outside of your little circle of leftist ideologues you DON’T COUNT!!!!!

As far as I can tell, you have made no significant contribution to preserving the memory of Dubois and his work!!   What institutions have you built that bear his name? What books have you written?  I on the other hand have founded an Academic Department in his name; it is the first degree granting Black Studies department in the world by the way.  And it’s still going strong after 41 years!!!

Thus I was a founder of the academic discipline in which you now make your living!  We convinced the University Of Mass to purchase Dr. DuBois’s voluminous papers from his wife Shirley and create the DuBois Library.  We gave her a professorship in the department, and we convinced the U-Mass Press to publish multi-volumes of Dr. DuBois’ unpublished papers under the Editorship of Dr. Herbert Aptheker….your tutor!!!!

I personally spoke before the board of Trustees in behalf of an appointment for Dr. Apteker as a Professor in the University, and I co-wrote a book on “The Souls of Black Folk!”  My essay, which is 200 pages and covers 4/5ths of the book, addresses three themes: the historical context in which the book was written, and analysis of the text, and a commentary on “The Doctor’s” intellectual legacy.   My modesty restrains me from repeating some of the accolades that have been heaped upon that essay in intellectual and cultural history.

WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE TONY?  Why are you so full of yourself? Tell me what you have done besides exploit Dr. Dubois’ name and memory to promote your silly communist agenda….which has about as much chance of succeeding in this country as a snowflake’s chances in a pizza oven!!!!  Come on tell me what you have done to preserve the legacy of Dr. Dubois: “I’m all fuckin ears!!!!!!!

As I told you before, you remind me of nothing so much as the Hasidic Jews who endlessly study Torah as they wait for the Messiah to return!!!  The mere fact that you get so frustrated that you rant and rave and hang up the phone, like a petulant child who can’t have his way, is proof of how shallow your argument is!!!!  As near as I can tell your rap against President Obama is about AS DEEP AS A DRY CREEK BED!!!!!!

Over the years that we have been out of touch, you seem to have become a pompous, narrow minded, sophist Tony.   You are wise to avoid me Tony, because I don’t believe your critique of Barack Obama can stand up to the intellectual fire I will light under yo ass!!  That’s why when I spoke in Philly recently defending Barack Obama, I invited you to come and participate…I was right in yo back yard at Broad and Diamond, but you didn’t show.  You say I didn’t tell you the time and place; I think this is the flimsiest of excuses.  I believe i gave you all the instructions, but even so, all you had to do was e-mail me or send me a message on face book.

I took the bolt bus down and was online the whole while – perhaps it is unreasonable for me to expect a well-to-do bourgeois professor like you to know anything about bus travel!…that’s for the working class!  I had even announced that you were coming on Face Book. I was prepared to give you an ass whipping of epic proportions Doc!!!!!!

All the old soldiers were there – even Dr. Eddie Robinson, who is 96 years old and was a member of the communist Party and close comrade of Paul Robeson, Benjamin Davis, William L. Patterson et al before yo mamma was born!!!!!!!!!  The ass whipping I was prepared to give you on that occasion would really have been something to talk about!!!!!  Alas, in spite of your considerable erudition you can’t win cause of the shape you in…and I can’t lose cause of the science I use….I be droppin real science Doc; not that Marxist mumbo jumbo you be rappin !!!!!!

You see Tony, I have no fear of opposing points of view…that’s how it is when you are have never lost a debate in yo life – after nearly half a century on the battle field!  And I have no doubt that I will whip yo ass now just like I would have 40 years ago when you were a RAM Cadre…an armed revolutionary organization that I co-founded with Max Stanford – aka Dr. Muhammad Ahmed, at 23ard and Diamond in 1962!   I know you remember back then, because you recently reminded me that we first met on the night I gave a speech on African history on Ridge Avenue, and JOHN COLTRANE was in the audience!!!

That’s how I was rolling when you were a college student!!   Now Dr. Monterio, whenever you can pump yo heart and grow a pair of balls big enough to step to me on Barack Obama, just write your critique and I will reply and post them on “Commentaries On The Times” for all the world to see!!!!!  We can duke it out in a two hour special over WBAI FM here in “The Fruit,”  and we can have it out in a live debate if you like; here or in Philly…pick yo poison!!!!!!!

But know this: I think that you anti-Obama leftists  ideologues are as dangerous to the future of black people and the progress of all Americans as the TEA PARTY!!!!!!  While Herman Cain, Michael Steele and Alan West are Uncle Toms on the right…you Dr. Cornel West, and Bob Avakian’s wind-up doll comrade Dix are uncle Toms on the left!…Just like Richard Wright described yhall.  All of you silly niggers hate Obama and yhall will contribute equally to the election of the most reactionary right wing forces of the last century!  I think all of you are TRAITORS TO YO RACE!!!!!!!!

Your treason lies not in the fact that Barack is black; Sugar Cain is blacker than Obama and I would like to tar and feather that nigger!  No!  Don’t attempt to reduce it merely to race – which I don’t even believe except as a socio/political construction.  The science of the human gnome left no doubt about that.  Yet as a sociologist you know that perception is everything in the world of human interaction; hence racial oppression is no easier to bear because it is a sociological perception rather than a biological reality!

Thus your treason lies in helping to elect forces that will set black Americans back more than a half century   There is no question that the surest chance for dramatic progress for the masses of black Americans lies with President Obama and the democrats!  By doing anything to obstruct this you have rejected the ancestral imperative to continue the struggle for our people’s advancement.  NO ONE WOULD HAVE UDERSTOOD THIS BETTER THAN DR. DUBOIS!!!!!  I BELIEVE HE WOULD BE TAKING THE SAME POSITION I AM TAKING!!!!!!!!   If you want to debate that proposition Tony just say when and where.  Since you fancy yourself a Dubois Scholar step to me!!!!!

The reactionary forces in the Grand Obstructionist Party  could wreck this country, take away all of the gains the working class has made in the 20th century, and defer the dreams of their children for a century! But then…why concern yourself with such practical matters Dr. Montiero…after all, like Dr. Cornel West, you are a pampered, tenured, bourgeois academic who will do just fine pontificating on our misery as tens of thousands of government workers are kicked out on the bread lines and the unions of workers – who you pompously claim to speak for, another dangerous leftist fantasy – are destroyed in the public and private sector!

Isn’t it enough that you mis-guided “revolutionaries” helped elect George Bush by your refusal to support Al Gore?  That bone headed move resulted in 9/11 (because they were so fixated on encircling Russia with anti-ballistic missile systems they refused to act on clear intelligence that such an event was in the planning) And the world-wide economic crash – which wiped out the savings of many innocent hard working Americans) and also brought us the “Citizens United Decision”  which surely sounds the death Knell for what vain hopes you might have had of your communist agenda ever succeeding!!!!!!

In fact the Supreme Court has set the stage for a real Plutocracy…although in your fevered ideologically distorted mind you probably believe we already have a Plutocracy.   So go ahead with your leftist sideshow posing as an academic conference….in the grand scheme of things it won’t mean shit!!!!!  I doubt that it will even make a ripple in the academic community, let alone the wider world.

Tis a pity that you have chosen to squander your academic training chasing ideological fantasies rather than doing some useful work, something that can actually help our people understand how to deal with the forces that seek to destroy us, and offer some policy options politicians could convert into legislation…work like Dr. William J. Wilson is doing…serious studies like  “When Work Disappears,” “The Truly Disadvantaged” etc.  Or work like Dr. DuBois did.  An update on “The Philadelphia Negro” for Instance?  Instead you prefer the role of the boisterous dog who stands aside and barks as the caravan moves on!!!!

As far as I can see Tony you are ALL BLOW AND NO SHOW!!!!!!!!!!   You evidently fancy yourself more of a philosopher than a sociologist, so why aren’t you in the Philosophy Department?  I bet they won’t have you because you don’t measure up to their standards with your simple minded Marxist drivel.  Since you are so enamoured of philosophy let me suggest an important text by an eminent Philosopher, Dr. Harry G. Franks of Princeton.  I recently recommended it to Newt Gringrich – who talks about our President almost as bad as you – because it describes the essence of both your arguments succinctly.  The title of Dr. Franks’ book  says it all: “BULLSHIT!!!!!

Let’s be real Tony.  I have absolutely NO RESPECT for your anti-Obama diatribes.   I double dare you to step to me with your half assed bullshit arguments about President Obama; you may get away with that light-weight  prattle with your students and acolytes: but I will whip yo ass like a runaway slave!!!

That anti-Obama bullshit you  are talking may make you a hero to the deluded misfits on the moribund American left, but I see you for exactly what you are: a mediocre academic in a mediocre university; still holding fast to the illusions of your youth!  You need to grow that fuck up already!!!!  Alas, like all true believers – whether Christians, or Muslims, or Hasidic Jews – yours is a faith based analysis, which means that you persist in believing things for which there is no evidence, and you cannot face the hard realities of life without your Marxist religion!!!!!!!!!!

 Yo Tough Tony!!! 

Step to me if you dare!!!!!!

PS: You brought this public flaggelation upon yourself Tony.  I tried to appeal to your pride in private…failing that I am forced to peel yo hide in public!!!!!  I  have a mind to show up and write a critique of the proceedings at your conference…since you invited me to observe!!!!!!!!!!  You should be careful what you ask for…since I am certain that the conference will be rich in pathos and bathos; affording endless opportunities for biting satire and ribald parody.  You should have better sense than to insult your critics….especially if they are as broadly learned and can write as good as me!!!!!!!!

Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

January 28, 2012


Is Newt a Historian or Propagandist?

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on January 27, 2012 by playthell

     “What is this silly motherfucker yapping about?”

 Reflections on a Lying Fat Fraud

Newt Gingrich tells us that he was paid 1.6 million dollars by the quasi-government mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack for his skills as a “historian.”  But Newt has no standing among professional historians.  Dr. Gerald Horn, the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History at the University of Houston, the most broadly learned and prolific historian presently writing in America, considers Newt a joke, a shameless poseur.

Newt was paid grand theft dough for peddling his influence with former colleagues; the was a ho for dough!  I regard his claim to be a historian as equally bogus: he is a propagandist!  The difference between the two roles is vast.  Who and what a historian is are questions that only professional colleagues can decide based on the standards they set, and one’s work is evaluated through the process of peer review.

Newt constantly refers to his Ph.D. in history, but that’s a credential: It’s the product that matters.  Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a distinguished historian, never got a Ph.D., and Barbara Tuchman – who twice won the Pulitzer Prize for her historical texts – does not hold a Ph.D. either!  Yet I know of no distinguished…or even important historical studies that are cited by professional historians which were authored by Newt.

He is a pompous poot-butt with a Ph.D.  I say he is full of Bullshit: Piled high and Deep….that’s what Ph.D. means when attached to Newt’s name!  A point of clarification is in order here.  While “Bullshit” is the term of art employed by the untutored in order to describe people with diarrhea of the mouth who constantly talk shit, I am also referencing the term as defined by Princeton Philosopher, Dr. Harry G. Frank, in his learned book on the subject aptly titled “Bullshit.”

When I listen to Newt speak, I hear a master bullshit artist and an unprincipled propagandist who will say anything for political advantage; not a careful objective historian whose motive is ferreting out the truth of the matter by the unbiased judicious weighting of the evidence. The dispassionate reading of the record.

This is fundamental to meeting the standards demanded by professional historians, whose primary objective is a faithful rendering of the past so that we might better understand from whence we have come, in the hope that it might shine some light on how we became what we are today.  And the best of all outcomes would be if that knowledge can help us find a way to a better future!  True historians understand that if we lie about it, or attempt to manipulate the facts, we will have defeated our purpose.

On the other hand there are others who claim the mantle of the historian but are labeled “Special Pleaders” by their peers.  The worst thing one who pretends to practice the historians craft can be called is “a propagandist!”  This is because propaganda perverts the objectives of the honest historian.

Whereas historians are studying the past to cast an objective light on the present, the propagandist distorts the past, even lies about it, in order to justify actions in the present.  It is a perfect definition of what Newt is about. The pompous fat fool is a virtual one man propaganda machine, who shamelessly plunders the past in order to fashion lies and half-truths that will serve his political ambitions.

He is convinced that the vast majority of Americans will have no clue as to whether he knows what he is talking about….and on this he is right.  As the cultural critic/political theorist/historian Harold Cruse pointed out, the average American is “anti-historical, anti-cultural and anti-intellectual.”  Hence a pie faced, poot-butt, pretentious propagandist can pass himself off as “a historian.”

There are an abundance of examples I could cite to demonstrate that Newt is more propagandist than historian; but Newt’s recounting of his relationship with the late icon of modern Republicanism, Ronald Reagan, says it all!  In a recent debate Newt cited Ronald Reagan 50 times, yet researchers have produced a record of Newt’s comments during Reagan’s tenure as President that showed utter contempt for Reagan’s key ideas and policies on critical foreign and domestic issues. For instance, he totally dissed Ronnie’s most significant achievement: Détente with a nuclear armed Soviet Union.

I was no fan of Ronald Reagan’s; in fact I think that Clarke Clifford, the ultimate Washington insider and power broker, got it exactly right when he called Reagan “an amiable dunce!”  But as one who served in the Strategic Air Command with a “Top Secret” security clearance, no one understood better than I the real danger of life on earth being extinguished as a consequence of an accidental nuclear war.

Hence I applauded Reagan’s attempt at Rapprochement with Communist Russia, it removed the world away from the precipice of nuclear disaster.  But that’s how a Reagan hater felt about the Gipper’s diplomacy; what about his contemporary acolyte Dr. Newt?  Writing at the website, The National Review Online, Elliot Abrams, a Reagan insider who was an Assistant Secretary of State, recalls “Such was Gingrich’s faith in President Reagan that in 1985, he called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”

The outrageousness of this statement is completely lost on the average American – even college educated Americans – but those who study the causes of World War II will recognize just how outrageous a statement that is.  It is a consensus of opinion that Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, failed to recognize the evil of Nazism and instead of confronting him appeased him and this gave Hitler a Red light to invade Europe because he considered chamberlain a wimp.  Reflecting on his meeting with Hitler Neville Chamberlain wrote:

 “However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbor, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on her account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues than that. I am myself a man of peace to the depths of my soul. Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me; but if I were convinced that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by fear of its force, I should feel that it must be resisted.

Under such a domination life for people who believe in liberty would not be worth living; but war is a fearful thing, and we must be very clear, before we embark upon it, that it is really the great issues that are at stake, and that the call to risk everything in their defense, when all the consequences are weighed, is irresistible.”

Clearly this was a man trying to avoid a second world war in a generation, but he badly misjudged Hitler’s character and intentions, and disaster ensued.  When events are viewed from the perspective of history hindsight is always 2020, but nobody could have foreseen the full extent of the catastrophe Hitler’s forces inflicted upon the world.

This is the root of the bogus “appeasement” label the Republicans are trying to pin on President Obama…a label that clearly doesn’t fit.  Barack has a record of engaging our enemies that any Commander-In-Chief would be proud to claim. It is the same label that Newt put on Ronnie Reagan.

Hence this was no picayune charge Gingrich leveled against President Reagan, the man he now attempts to channel for legitimacy among right-wing zealots.  But this joker seems to forget there are video tapes, newspapers, radio shows, and living souls who are willing to testify to the perfidy of this shameless charlatan posing as a dedicated public servant.

Reagan insider Elliot Abrams recalls: “As a new member of Congress in the Reagan years — and I was an assistant secretary of state — Mr. Gingrich voted with the president regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at Reagan, his top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism. Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong.”  Enough said, you heard it from the horse’s mouth!  Newt is a lying fat fraud!!!

His attempt to pass off propaganda as history, an exercise in which ideology is substituted for fact, in the Reagan incident, mirrors what he is now attempting to do with President Obama now.   His present knock down drag out fight with Mitt Romney –  who is contesting Newt in the GOP primary for the position of Charlatan in Chief, reveals that he is willing to say anything in his quest for power.  And he is a mouthpiece for hire.  Pay him enough money and he will concoct a version of history to suit your prejudices.

Hence the arch Zionist billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adeslson, promises Newt a few million dollars – 10 mil thus far – for his campaign to win the Oval Office, and Newt comes up with a convoluted interpretation of Middle East history which concludes that “The Palestinians are an “invented people!”  Every professional historian I know scoffs at “Heavy G’s” tirade; they point out that using his standards of evidence and twisted logic it is fairly easy to construct a narrative where the Israeli’s are an “invented people,”  Americans too!

But this  kind of Bullshit is the stock-in-trade of Nasty Newt: a shameless charlatan, and dangerous propagandist who pose as a historian.  The Republican big-wigs know he is a low down dirty Georgia dog; that’s why they are uniting to oppose him and try to wipe him out in Florida.  The Grand Obstructionist Party  is cannibalizing itself and Newt is the Big Barracuda….I love it!  Can’t get enough of it!!!!!!!

Ugly Plastic People

Newt and his Home Wrecking Harlot!



Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 27, 2012

Chilly B Kills It!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on January 25, 2012 by playthell

     Here’s What It Is!!

 President Obama on the State of the Union

Once more President Obama demonstrated the power of magnificent oratory in his State of the Union address last night.  Like a theatrical performance, its power derives from three sources: The script, the performer and the setting.  Last night all three elements blended to perfection and the product was a special verbal alchemy which invests the words of the speaker with the power to touch the souls of the audience and elevate their spirits.  Such performances can even drive the listener to act on the orators suggestions:  In this case, to go out and vote for him.  And when the speaker is a gifted orator with no peer in the race, it is hard to see how he will not get his way.

That’s why the first time I saw Barack Obama speak at the Democratic Convention there was no doubt that he was no ordinary politician, and was destined to do great things.  History has since invested that suspicion with the gravitas of prophecy.  A close analysis of the content and structure of the president’s speech last night reveals an architecture which I think will prove a blueprint for success.  It began with a brilliant use of the military as metaphor; he gave the soldiers props and cited their remarkable ability to work together to solve serious problems under the most trying circumstancs.

This seized a traditional Republican issue away from them at the outset by appealling to the patriotism of the average American.   It also put Congress, which sits in the safety of posh offices far from harm’s way, on the spot by contrasting how the dysfunction resulting from partisan bickering puts the nation at risk, while soldiers routinely risk their lives to achieve objectives the government has defined on battlefields around the world.

In the same opening passage the President spun off a series of successful military missions which he ordered as Commander-In-Chief, among them taking out the arch-villain Osama bin Laden, the most hated man in America! The President’s achievements were so heroic the Republicans dare not hesitate to applaud even though it was exposing their campaign narrative, which cast the President as an appeaser, as a baseless lie.  It was a brilliant intro.

This was seamlessly followed by a succinct statement of his hopes and dreams for the future of our country that was both visionary and possible:

Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”  It is a vision that no one who wishes the country well can disagree with.  Hence the President was on his way to pitching a shutout!

Then he hit upon yet another winning theme: attaining the American Dream.  He defined it as “the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.” And he persuasively argued that  “The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important.”

President Obama’s prescription for how America can keep the dream alive was a complex mix of changes in the tax code that would raise the tax rate on millionaires and penalize multi-national corporations that ship jobs overseas; scrapping silly or redundant regulation of business, stringent measures against financial fraud and environmental pollution, government investment in education and Research/ development.  He summed his vision up this way:

As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber…. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last -– an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.” 

President Obama’s compelling oration was as specific as need be in a State of the Union Address; which is an occasion for stating grand ideas and clarifying one’s philosophical principles.  His task was to speak to the hearts of the American people, not carry on a discourse with policy wonks. Barack more than met the challenge, taking on the Republican charge that he is fomenting “class war” and dismissing it as the joke that it is.  Like a great blues song, where the singer enumerates and laments the troubles of the world, but ends the song on a note of hope, President Obama concludes with the observation:

Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team.”

The speech succeeded so well that Mitch Daniels, the latest sacrificial lamb chosen to reply to our silver tongued President, came across like a combination of Mr. Potato Head and Chicken Little, preaching gloom and doom!  And to make matters worse for the embattled Republican candidates: all the talk this morning is about another daring raid by Navy Seals in Somalia, that rescued a blond American woman with the improbable name of a soap opera character – Jessica Buchanan – from what seems to be a well armed gang of street thugs!  Life is good for the President just now….. and the Grand Obstructionist Party is in deep doo doo.

                    President Obama and the First Lady

             Good News for the Buchanan Family!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem New York

Janurary 25, 2012

Gop Reveals True Identity in Carolina

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on January 21, 2012 by playthell

                        Newt Inciting Scared Sad Sack Southern Whites

 Playing to white Fears and Resentments

In their efforts to win the votes of white Carolinians the Republicans are revealing their true identities: soulless opportunists who are willing to play to the worst instincts of their base in order to win votes.  In South Carolina this means shamelessly playing the race card, stoking the fears and hatreds of white Republicans regarding Afro-Americans and Hispanic immigrants.

Historically South Carolina has been one of the worst states in terms of race relations.  The harshness of the system of white supremacy in this state goes back to colonial times when the African population substantially outnumbered the whites.  At one point in the 18th century the ration was three to one.

This required severe measures to keep the black population under control, which was codified in the law.   The society that emerged in South Carolina was so dependent upon oppressed and exploited black labor, first as slaves then as peons that South Carolina started the Civil War in order to maintain their slave system.

However black enslavement was not just an economic system, as professor Eugene Genovese has shown in “The Political Economy of Slavery,” it was the basis of antebellum southern society.  That’s why the patterns of race relations formed through two and a half centuries persisted for a century after slavery under the system of Segregation, which included denial of Civil Rights and widespread tenant farming or crop lien systems.

This amounted to a de jure racial caste system, enforced by legal and extra-legal police state tactics and systematic terror perpetrated by home grown terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan; whose members often included officers from the local police department.  This was the South Carolina where I often visited relatives during summers as a boy.

It was solidly Democratic and it’s most famous politicians Ben Tillman and Strom Thurman – redneck crackers to the bone – were fire eating racists.  In 1948 Strom Thurman led a “Dixiecrat” revolt in the Democratic Party, when they added a civil rights plank in the party platform at the insistence of Minnesota delegate Hubert H. Humphrey.  However this very same South Carolina Redneck died a stauch member of the Republican Party!

When Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress and signed it into law in 1964, and then signed the Voting Rights Act into law the next year, the white south abandoned the Democrats en mass with the success of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” that systematically exploited white fears and resentments at the dramatic successes of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Republicans used this white angst to cultivate hatred and distrust for the Federal government, which they exploit in their efforts to scrap government regulation of business and lower taxes; measures which are favored by the plutocrats in the Republican establishment. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows!

This explains why dumb rednecks, “po as snakes without a pit to hiss in,” as my grandfather used to say, have struck a Faustian bargain with the Plutocrats and are supporting a brazen “One Percenter” like Mitt Romney, and a rotund compulsive liar, shameless hypocrite and serial philandered like Newt Gingrich; who has grown fat off the government teat while denouncing the President for extending food stamps to the impoverished masses.  People whose desperate economic condition was created by Republican economic policies that Newt supported!

With Perry dropping out, Ron Paul lost in space, and events moving so fast Sick Rick Santorum has to run just to say where he’s at;  it looks like the choice has boiled down to these two souless, morrally deformed, contepmtible montebanks.  These power hungry amoral scoundrels are prepared to play to the worst fears of this confused and racist crowd in order to win their vote.  But they could be digging their own graves with their reckless verbal arson, which respects neither truth nor civility, and Barack will bury them in the general election….unless Boobus Americanus proves even dumber than I think!

The Front Runners


Face of a serial Killer!



Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 21, 2012

On The Burden of History

Posted in Cultural Matters, My Struggle On the Left! with tags , , , , , on January 17, 2012 by playthell

        The Great Encounter

  Malcolm, Martin and the Black Freedom Struggle

The publication of Dr. Manning Marable’s new book “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” has sparked yet another debate on the place of Malcolm in the pantheon of black leaders.  As always this soon becomes a conversation on the relative importance of Malcolm’s ideas, leadership style and accomplishments when compared to Dr. Martin Luther King.  Now this debate has gone global through Facebook; particularly the Study Group organized by Rev. Matthew, a Christian minister with a graduate degree in theology from Princeton.

Recently he posted a video of Professor John Hendrik Clarke, an excerpt from the documentary “A Great and Mighty Walk,” discussing Malcolm and Martin, and asked for comments.  I watched the video, in which Clarke gave Dr. King some props, but it struck me as close to damming with faint praise.  He pointed out that since Dr. King “died for what he believed in, and we are still here talking, who are we to criticize him.”  But then, he fairly quickly went on to sing the virtues of Malcolm at the clear expense of Martin.

It seems the fact that Malcolm expoused a Black Nationalist philosophy and was finally  willing to call himself an “African,”  was quite enough for Clarke.  However in Malcolm’s case, this recognition was a dramatic evolution; for the first few years that I knew him he called himself an “Asiatic Black Man.”  Since Dr. Martin Luther King was present at the Independence ceremony when Ghana was born in 1957 – at the invitation of President Kwame Nkrumah – and had known many African students in Atlanta in his youth, unlike Malcolm Martin knew exactly what his relationship was to Africa.

John Hendrik Clarke viewed Africa in much the way that ancient Greeks wrote history: myth and fact combine in the narrative to create a desired reality.  I doubt that there is a black person on earth who had the good fortune to hear Professor Clarke give a lecture on the golden age of African Civilization that did not fairly burst with pride.

Clarke belonged to another age, he was of one heart with the 19th century African Redemptionists like Bishop Alexander Crummel and Edward Wilmot Blyden.  From his comments on Malcolm and Martin alas, it appears that ostentatious declarations of one’s African identity weighs heavier on Professor Clarke’s scale than leading a mass movement that actually transformed a nation and expanded the horizons of black Americans beyond the wildest dreams of his generation.  I see the matter differently!

          Queen Mother Moore

She tutored us all in Radical Politics…including Malcolm X 

I knew John Hendrik Clarke very well…he was introduced to me by Queen Mother Moore in 1962.  He was one of my major mentors – along with Queen Mother and Harold Cruse – I loved him like a father, although he and Cruse couldn’t stand each other!  And like everybody else I was enthralled with his eloquent and passionate lectures on African History – the breadth of his reading was amazing.  But what the Professor is saying in “A Great and Mighty Walk” is sophistry; it sounds profound until you subject it to a rigorous critique based on the historical evidence!

Clarke says that he doesn’t know of anything important that came out of the great March onWashington in 1963…duh?  How about the Omnibus Civil Rights Bill that transformed the South…and the nation?  I grew up in the South under segregation – as did Clarke when things were at their worse – and in my hometown of St. Augustine Florida, where Dr. King walked with the black community on some of the most dangerous marches of his career, that Bill changed black folk’s lives and life chances qualitatively.  Andrew young, who was there, has just produced a film on it.

The St. Augustine struggle was pivotal in the passage of that landmark legislation – see “Let the Trumpet Sound” by Professor Stephen B. Oates, and “Parting the Waters” by Taylor Branch, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his writings on the life and work of Dr. King – and it was the 1964 Civil rights bill that made it possible for the people of my hometown to rise up and overthrow that evil century old de jure racial caste system that made our lives so miserable under the force of law.

The fact is that in the South, where the real life and death struggle of our people was taking place, Malcolm X played no significant role at all!!!!   He was barely known by most southern blacks, and most of those who did know of him thought he was crazy!!!!!!  It was the Christian clergy that led that great transformative mass movement and the black church was its base!

  A Typical Church Meeting, Albany Georgia 1963
 The incubator of the Struggle

Hence Malcolm X, with his foreign religion and talk of taking up guns against the white South, was viewed as some sort of heretical maniac!  For the last couple of years I have been interviewing the survivors of the St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement and when Malcolm X is mentioned in conjunction with their struggle they stare at me incredulously: like country cows staring at their first steam engine.

I had left town and relocated in Philadelphia, where I was born and spent the first few years of my life, and I was a staunch admirer of Malcolm by the time Dr. King came to St.   Augustine.  Hence in preparation for my interviews I have been reading the materials on the Civil Rights era in the historical archives of the city.  Since St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city, they have excellent archives because history is their business.  Thus one can follow the progress of the Movement on a day to day basis.

Reading accounts of the heroism of my friends and neighbors in 1964, when the Civil rights bill was being debated, I am astonished at their bravery in the face of injury and death!  When I asked them where they found the courage to conduct the night marches – so that people could go to work during the day – they said it was the fact that theMarches formed at either St. Mary’s Baptist Church onWashington St.or St. Pauls’ AME onCentral Avenue– which is nowMartin Luther King   Boulevard!

They told me it was the great preaching and singing that fortified them because they were convinced the “God was on our side.”  On one of the most dangerous night marches where they knew that the local redneck leader, “Hoss” Manucy, was laying in wait with members of the “Ancient City Gun Club -” which we later learned as a result of an investigation by US Marshalls was organized by deputies in Sheriff L. O. Davis’ office – two of my old friends told me “It was when we heard that Jackie Robinson was going to march with us that we decided to do it.  We thought if Jackie Robinson was going to march with us we couldn’t lose!”

To these people Malcolm X was just a crazy loud mouth guy talking tough inNew York!  And the contemptuous things that he was saying about Dr. King – whom many regarded as a modern day Moses bordered on blasphemy!   He had no admirers that I have been able to find inSt. Augustine.

While Malcolm was talking a good fight surrounded by fanatical body guards in northern cities, Dr. King and Jackie Robinson was marching with them in the shadow of death.  While Malcolm was running his mouth about what he would do to the white devils in Harlem, my neighbor’s Reverend Goldie Eubanks and his son Richard shot it out with Klan members and killed a couple of them!!

Then they were put on trial for murder facing the death penalty.  Had it not been for the brilliant and fearless lawyer William Kuntzler, who was sent by The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, Goldie and Richard would have been electrocuted in “Old sparky” which is what we called the electric chair in Florida.

Jackie Robinson, who was a former Calvary Officer in the US Army – where he faced a possible court Marshall because of his militant stand against racism in the military and only the intervention of Heavy-Weight Champion and national hero Joe Louis prevented it – once got tired of Malcolm’s heckling and called his bluff straight up.  When the LA police invaded the Mosque and beat up the “Fruit Of Islam,” badly injuring some of them, Jackie called Malcolm out when he responded by hiring a lawyer and pursuing a legal remedy instead of taking the kind of militant action that he always TALKED ABOUT!

Jackie Leading  on the Front Line  A Dangerous Night March in St. Augustine
A Real Warrior
A Swashbuckling Calvery Officer
Comrades in the Struggle
Martin and Jackie

To Jackie, a fearless soldier in the struggle, Malcolm X was all blow and no go!  Malcolm never said a word in response because he knew that Jackie was right!!!  It was these kinds of instances that began to shake Malcolm’s faith in the philosophy and tactics of the NOI.  His shock over the discovery of Elijah Muhammad’s serial affairs with his secretaries shook his faith, and his remarks about the Kennedy assassination brought matters to a head.  But it was his growing doubts about their tactics, which was to stand on the sidelines and belittle the activists who were putting their lives on the line, which began Malcolm’s alienation from the NOI.

One of the advantages of having lived through the era as an active participant is that I can fill some of the gaps in the Malcolm/ Martin narrative from actual experience. However Malcolm X’s speeches are available on recording and printed transcripts, so what he believed and when he believed it is a matter of public record.

The excellent historian of the movement and Stanford Professor Clayborne Carson – who was a grat admirer of Bob Moses, a leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committe, who were considered uncontrollable guerillas by the Civil rights Establishment; which is why they made John Lewis change his speech before delivering it at the Great March when a Catholic Cardinal threatened to walk out – has complied a volume “The Co-In-Tel-Pro papers of Malcolm X,” which examines the FBI files on Malcolm.  Carson, who is the Editor of the Martin Luther King Papers, shows that in his last days Malcolm was desperately reaching out to the Civil rights leadership in the hope of affecting an alliance.  The late great actor/activist Ossie Davis was his emissary.

John Henrik Clarke
A great thinker, but wrong on Malcolm and Martin

 This was confirmed in my interviews with Charles Kenyatta for a 7000 word cover story on Malcolm’s last days for Spin Magazine, written at the height of the last period of Malcolmania when Spike Lee’s movie came out.  Having lived through this period as a gun totin Maoist revolutionary in the Revolutionary Action Movement, and a featured lecturer on African and Afro-American history on “The Listening Post,” which was a pioneering talk radio show on WDAS am– a major black radio station in Philadelphia, produced and hosted by Mr. Joseph H. Rainey III – I had many personal conversations with Malcolm X.

Whenever he came to speak in Philly, Camden New Jersey, or Wilmington Delaware, he would come on the program to hype his appearance because all of these venues were in the broadcast range of the station.  I admired his selfless commitment to the liberation of our people, and at the time I favored his militant stance – which was purely rhetorical – over the “passive resistance activism “of Martin Luther King.

Joseph H. Rainey III Interviewing Jackie Robinson
“The Listening Post” Was also Malcolm’s Favorite Show

 During this period of the 1960’s I even said some of the same kind of foolishness that Professor Clarke is saying on this video – after all he was my mentor at the time. I was always coming up from Philly to visit him at his office in the Harlem YMCA, which was right across the street from the Schomburg Collection – the original public library which is right next to the present center that was designed by my neighbor Max Bond.

However it is time for the militant Marxist and Black Nationalist – and as a “Revolutionary Nationalist” I was both! – to admit that we were wrong and the civil rights movement was right in their tactics!!!  That is something that few of the Sixties “revolutionaries” are willing to admit, although the historical record is indisputable on this question.

I confess that I was not that enthusiastic about tackling Dr Marable’s 600 page tome because of some of the quotes that I have heard from it.  Like the claim that Malcolm X was the most important black man of the twentieth century.  That claim is prime faice nonsense!!!!!  There is no objective measure by which one can demonstrate that Malcolm X was more important than Martin Luther King, and no professional historian weighing the evidence of the two men’s careers would ever make such a statement.

Among historians such extravagant claims in the absence of compelling evidence to support them are routinely dismissed as “special pleading.”   In whose estimate is Marable’s claim regarded as a fact?  Certainly not the people who put their lives on the line in the bloody struggles that transformed the South and this nation!!!

That struggle ended the legal system of apartheid that I grew up under, opened up the professions so that the militant black professorate who now scoff at that movement in proclaiming the virtues of Malcom X could exist, and put a black family in the White House.  On my score card Malcolm’s achievements do not even come close to Martins – no contest!!!

Furthermore, if you compare Malcolm with his counterparts who were engaged in real revolutionary struggles such as Dr. Franz Fanon, Nelson Mandela, Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah, et al he sounds positively naïve…a babe in the woods.  For instance Dr. Fanon, who literally wrote the book on the function of violence in mass transformative movements with revolutionary objectives, said that the establishment of an Islamic state in the twentieth would be “a return to primitive Medievalism” at the same time as Malcolm saw it as something African Americans should aspire to in our struggle to create an advanced revolutionary society.

The truth is that Malcolm X was just beginning to develop an understanding of world politics in general and revolutionary politics in particular.  All one need do to understand how little Malcolm X understood about the implications of his own preachment about “Nationalism” “capitalism” and armed struggle is to read his contemporary Harold Cruse, especially the essay “On the Intellectuals and Force and Violence.”

Dr. Franz Fanon

A Real Revolutionary/Activist Intellectual

Harold Cruse 

A far deeper radical thinker than Malcolm X 

One the critical points Cruse makes in this essay – which is contained in his canonical text, “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual” – is that the black people who actually did pick up guns to oppose white violence in the South were neither Muslims nor Black Nationalist.  For instance Robert Williams – whom all the northern nationalist revolutionaries latched onto as their symbol of the quintessential black revolutionary because he resisted the Klan with guns – was an ex-Marine, and President of the Monroe north Carolina branch of the NAACP.

Furthermore, the only organization that took up the responsibility of defending Civil Rights workers in the Deep South from Klan violence was a group of staunch churchmen The Deacons for Justice! Malcolm X was around when these things were happening, but he never joined in these efforts.  Instead, the NOI played off their inactivity by denigrating the goals of the Civil rights movement as misguided.

The Deacons were led by Robert Hicks, a former star football player in high school and an all-black semi-pro league. Hicks was a leader of the NAACP and headed his all black segregated paper mill workers union.  He was active in fighting for voter’s rights as head of the Civic and Voters league.  And of course, he was a deacon in the church.

Hicks was not only a great husband and father to his own children; he was a father figure to all the children in his neighborhood who collectively called him “Dad.”  In other words he was a solid American citizen! In all of this Robert Hicks is characteristic of all the men who actually took up arms against racist white aggression.  Malcolm X only hurled threats at whites from the safe precints of the north, and he had as many body guards around him as the US President when he did it.

The truth is that most of the movement Malcolm X stood on the sidelines up North and denounced the brave struggles of black southerners led by the preachers in the Southern Christian Leadership Council.    And he was very ashamed of the role he had played in his last days.

 Robert and Mable Williams: Real Warriors!
 Where was Malcolm X?
A Movie Reenactment of the Deacon;s Stand
The real thing was even more dramatic 

Hence Marable’s assessment of Malcolm’s importance is embarrassing hyperbole!   Yet even this is not enough for the hero worshipping haigiographers like Leroi Jones aka Amiri Baraka, who has attacked Dr. Marable because he said “Malcolm X was not a historian.”  To anybody that has the slightest understanding as to what the art and science of historical writing is, that was a perfunctory statement that borders on the banal.

Not only was Malcolm not a “historian,” which is someone who composes an original narrative about past events from primary documents, he was not even a good history teacher; which is someone who teaches the texts composed by historians.  In fact, Malcolm’s lack of historical understanding led an entire generation of black nationalists, and radicals of various persuasions, dangerously astray on a critical issue.

It was Malcolm’s thesis about the “House Negro” and the “Field Negro” that led the radicals down the dangerous path of anointing the least educated ghetto elements among us as the natural leaders of the revolution.  This resulted in what I call “the romance of the lumpen” which began with RAM and reached the height of absurdity in the Black Panther Party of Oakland.

Eldridge Cleaver: Minister of Information 

A Lumpen Psuedo-intellectual and BPP Icon 

This was a giant step backward for the radical tradition among Afro-Americans. It was a dramatic retrogression from the black Marxists of earlier decades, who were sober intellectuals and disciplined workers with solid personal values, good work habits and a willingness to study complex theories of politics and economics. They aspired to the highest achievements of mankind under the assumption that nothing was too good for the working class, that these achievements were the heritage of all mankind!

They understood that not only could the Lumpen-Proletariat not lead a revolution; they couldn’t even be organized. They were in fact dangerous to a revolutionary movement because their “street hustler” values predisposes them to petty criminality and thus places them in a position to be arrested and turned into informers against the movement in order to avoid incarceration.  All of these things came to pass in the black radical movement as we recruited these criminal types.

We looked not to previous militants like Paul Robeson, Ben Davis, William L. Patterson, Harry Heywood; people with a wealth of experience in organizing a radical revolutionary movement, seasoned veterans who could have steered us away from self-destructive actions, in favor of people who didn’t have a clue about what is required to make revolutionary movement in an advanced capitalist state…people like Malcolm X.  As the eminent historian Dr. Gerald Horne has pointed out: The rise of Malcolm X was only possible because the FBI had destroyed the real black revolutionaries in the 1950’s, thus creating a vacuum of militant leadership which Malcolm X filled.

It is long past time for the surviving elders of the Black Liberation Movement of the last half of the twentieth century to fess up and admit that we were wrong; not compound our blunder and mislead another generation of black youth’s by trying to make Malcolm X into something more than he was. Chanting the silly mantra that had Malcolm lived he would have had the answers to the present crisis that confronts us.

At the time of his death Malcolm X was a confused and demoralized man desperately looking for a viable program, and was murdered by the thugs he had trained.  The ultimate irony is that he said on the record “If somebody was saying the things I’m saying about Elijah Muhammad and I didn’t personally know that it was true, I’d kill them myself!”  So he died by the rules he lived by.  Thus the claim that “he died for us” is a far more fitting eulogy for Dr. King…one could argue that Malcolm X died from his own folly.

Malcolm After the Gunmen Opened Fire in Audibon Ballroom

Murdered by Assasins he trained: An enduring tragedy

Four Revolutionaries Who Survived

Playthell, John Bracy, Dr. Muhammad Ahmed aka Max Stanford and Askia Muhammad Ture

Note: Between the four men in this picture are founders of the Revolutionary Action Movement, Black Studies  in the University, and the Black arts Movement.  All of us began in the Civil rights Movement, and evolved into radicals as the white resistance stiffened.  We were all discipline activist intellectuals who  read all of the canonical texts on the mordern world revolution.  And we all personally knew Malcolm X, much beter than we knew Dr. King.  And we all shared  Malcolm X’s views over Dr. Kings.  Hence my position in this essay is the result of long and sober reflection.


Below are links to video clips from speeches by Dr. King and Malcolm X.  I have chosen clips where they both speak on the same topic: the importance of self-esteem.  Listen to the difference in how they approach the subject.  While both agree on the importance of self-esteem Malcom’s description of how black folk should control business in the black community, which he saw as a revelation,  was old news to Dr. King, who was from Atlanta; which enjoyed a booming black business community…as did the black communities in Florida where I grew up.  The fact is that Malcom X, and black nationalist in general, have a nihilistic view of the Afro-American experience, whereas the Civil Rights movemet was driven by a heroic optimis!  That;s whay all the great gains for black Americans were produced by the Civil Rights Movement!

Double Click to hear Dr. King

Double Click to hear Malcolm X

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 17, 2012

On Republican Economic Amnesia

Posted in Playthell on politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 13, 2012 by playthell

                        A Stockbroker Watching the Market Crash

 Reflections on Republican Denial

President Obama’s outstanding performance in the area of foreign policy and National Security forced the Republicans to rely on economic issues as their propaganda weapon of choice.  But now that the unemployment rate is only half a point from the 8% he promised during the last election, and we have seen three years of economic growth, they are retreating into fantasy, denial, and willfully induced amnesia.

Just this morning Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, accused the President’s policies of putting 25 million workers on the unemployment line; even as the non-Partisan Congressional Budget Office credits the president with saving over two million jobs with his economic stimulus plan.

Mitt’s tactics mirror those adopted by the rest of the Republican field; which is to blame Barack for not being able to magically cure the devastation of George Bush’s economic policies while arguing that the economy is coming back in spite of the President’s policies.  The truth is Barack’s performance has been magnificent when the situation he inherited from Bush, and Republican obstructionism in the Congress, is taken into account.

When Barack took office the world financial system was on the brink of collaspe.  George Bush had dramatically admitted the abject failure of his policies when he was forced to ask Congress to rescue the banks and other financial institutions that were “too big to fail.”  By some estimates trillions of American assets were lost in the financial meltdown, and if the shadowy Credit Default Markets – which is estimated to top sixty trillion dollars – had been allowed to collaspe the crisis would have been too big for the government to manage and the world would have plunged into a greater depression than the 1930s.

However in an authoritative report from Bloomberg News of March 11, 2010, about 13 months after Barack took office, we learn the following facts:

“One year after U.S stocks hit their post-financial-crisis low on March 9, 2009, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen more than 68 percent, and it’s up more than 41 percent since Obama took office. Credit spreads have narrowed. Commodity prices have surged. Housing prices have stabilized.  We’ve had a phenomenal run in asset classes across the board.  If he was a Republican, we would hear a never-ending drumbeat of news stories about markets voting in favor of the president.” 

The Report goes on to note “The economy has also strengthened beyond expectations at the time Obama took office. The gross domestic product grew at a 5.9 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, compared with a median forecast of 2.0 percent in a Bloomberg survey of economists a week before Obama’s Jan. 20, 2009, inauguration. The median forecast for GDP growth this year is 3.0 percent, according to Bloomberg’s February survey of economists, versus 2.1 percent for 2010 in the survey taken 13 months earlier.”

 The private business sector went on to enjoy record profits – three trillion – but decided to sit on the money rather than invest in the country whose taxpayers rescued them from disaster!  Professional economists have pronounced the recession over; which is to say the private sector has recovered.

Unemployment remains high because the corporate sector has decided to ship millions of jobs overseas, where they can maximize profits employing cheap labor with no benefits…These are precisely the policies favored by Mitt Romney at Bain Capital that Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are now dogging him about.  They argue that Mitt’s financial wheeling and dealing is “Vulture” capitalism rather than “Venture” capitalism. And Mitt has yet to renounce these predatory practices, even as he aspires to become our president.


               Mitt Romney is a Shameless Charlatan!

A Contemporary Gordon Gieko?

 On Mr. One Percent and Vulture Capitalism

It is amusing to watch Mitt Romney complaining about being misquoted, his remarks taken out of context, when just a couple of weeks ago he approved a commercial that told a blatant lie about President Obama…a far worse offense.   Mitt’s ad presented an edited video-tape in which President Obama was quoting an advisor to John McCain to make it look like the remark was a statement of the President’s position.

It was a blatant lie, everybody knew it was a lie, and yet Mitt tried to justify it as just hard ball politics. In the present controversy Mitt actually said he “liked firing people.”  And when his defenders rush to point out that he was talking about insurance companies, I would hasten to remind them that Mitt has publicly proclaimed “corporations are people!”  You can’t have it both ways.

But since Mitt is a charlatan lying, or otherwise misrepresenting the truth, is his modus operandi.  Anyone who thinks my judgment of the Mittster is too harsh should Google charlatan: “A person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame, or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.”  Sounds like a perfect description of The Mittster to me.  Not only has Mitt put false statements in the President mouth, he is even trying take credit for the success of Barack’s brilliant strategy that saved the US auto-industry. The guy is such a compulsive liar he seems to forget that there are video tapes of his statements.

The fact is that Mitt Romney vehemently opposed President Obama’s plan to rescue the auto industry.  In a November 18, 2008 Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” he wrote; “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.  It won’t go overnight, bit its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”  Well, the American auto-industry is not only back, but in grand style.  It is once again leading the world.  This is a genuine American success story.

In his desperation to bask in Obama’s glory, Mitt even went so far as to announce on CBS Wednesday morning: “In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler – closed factories, closed dealerships laid off thousands and thousands of workers – he did it to try to save the business..”  The real issue here is that General Motors – a company that turned out B-29 Bombers, a flying fortress with 2 million moving parts, every 28 minutes in the middle of the last century – was collapsing, along with Chrysler, and when they appealed to the government for a loan Mitt said let them go bankrupt!  Barack Obama saved them!

President Obama’s speech with business leaders at the White House as I write, outlines a very different vision of American prosperity and unveiled a plan to do it; in fact they are doing it.  This real life Gordon Geiko, who calls himself Mitt, has no answer for Obama’s innovative approach to the economy; that’s why he is desperately trying to take credit for the President’s rescue of the auto-industry. It is unassailable evidence that the slippery rascal is a shameless charlatan!

 Detroit is Back!

 At the Detroit Auto Show January 2012!


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 12, 2012


Long Live Calypso!

Posted in Cultural Matters, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2012 by playthell

 Aldwin Roberts aka  “Lord Kitchener”

“Calypso Outlived Rock and Roll and Calypso Will Outlive Soul”

Lord Kitchner 

Although it is little known outside of the English speaking Caribbean – formally known as the British West Indies – the Calypso tradition of Trinidad is one of the great contributions to twentieth century music.  Like all great art that rises up from the folk, this music is a sound portrait of the Trinidadian people, a sonic mirror that reflects the deeper precincts of their souls.

Although I have never visited Trinidad, a short coming that I shall one day correct, I have met and befriended many of them here in New York City – the most cosmopolitan city in the world –where there is a sizable Trinidadian community.  I have found them to be a physically beautiful people who are more often than not charming, eloquent, and swift on the cap; which is to say smart as whips.

In my extensive forays among the Trinis I have never had an unpleasant moment, nor have I ever met a Trinidadian that I didn’t like.  There is no other group of people about whom I can say that – not even Afro-Americans – and I’ve met so many people of all nations I feel like I’ve been around the world and spoke to everybody twice!

Try as I might, have been unable to muster any armaments to defend against the seductive bewitching Charms of Trini Women –  hot chocolate honeys with thick succulent lips and jaunting gluteus maximis; teasing tan Mulattresses; long haired honey brown Dougla gals ….and down Coolies too.  And when they dutty wind it makes me lose my mind!

It could be that I have been lucky enough to only meet the best Trinidadians, the exceptions.  But I think the mathematics argues against it.  For my contacts with Trinis have been too random…too unconnected.  Hence I tend to believe that the Trinidadians that I have met are a representative sample; and what I see is what you get from these delightful, graceful, people.

Thus it seems in the nature of things that Trinidadians should produce an art form that is optimistic, humorous, ironic, highly intelligent, inventive, and filled with joi de vivre!  That is what we have in the art of Calypso.  It is a musical literature for the masses that explore all the issues great literature has always addressed.

It’s themes are universal and speak to the entire human condition – triumph and tragedy; the nature of morality; the consequences of technology; local politics; world politics, history – ancient and modern – sports, religion, sex, or any issue or topic that should arise in the news of the world and attract the interests of their audience. Calypsonians are the great bards of the people and they have an intimate relationship with their enthusiastic audience.

It is a unique relationship between artist and audience that can elevate the spirit of a nation and provide clarity on the issues, personal and political.  That’s why the Trinidadian political philosopher / cultural critic /  Pan-African revolutionary /and  intellectual polymath C.L.R. James – one of the great independent radical thinkers of the twentieth century – suggested that since the Caribbean politicians couldn’t figure out how to construct a functional federation perhaps “Sparrow should write a Calypso about it” to show them the way.

As lyricists Calypsonians employ all of the devices used by great poets: complex allusions, graphic imagery, extended metaphor, rhythmic complexity, double entendre, allegory, satire, parody, burlesque, pathos, bathos and symbolism.  And like Sweet Willie, the Bard of Avon, father of all poets who write in English – although one could argue that Hip Hop poets owe more to the French Playwright Moliere  – they tell complex tales in verse.  It is difficult enough to write good poetry, but the Calypsonians’ task is complicated by the fact that they must write serious poetry to music.  And all the masters have managed to pull it off marvelously!

The full effect of Calypso is realized when the text is accompanied by great instrumental music.  Some of the best trained musicians in Trinidad work in the calypso tradition.  Each band offers an opportunity for instrumentalists, composers and arrangers.  The traditional bands that accompanied the great bards usually consisted of a rhythm section and horns, brass and reeds: trumpets, trombones and saxophones.

The horns imitate the sound of voices and punctuate the Calypsonians lyrics, which are delivered with panache as the storyteller assumes the dramatis personae of his characters, and the horns even laugh and cajole the singer.  The Calypso is a unique expression of the universal character of West African derived music:  Anti-phony, Polyphony and complex poly-rhythms.

Observers who know what they are looking for can easily identify these characteristic in the music of Afro-Cubans, Afro-Brazilians, Afro-Americans, et. al. – although each have created their own distinct genres. However the inventiveness of Calypso music in instrumental terms is best demonstrated in the art of the Pan.  I would argue that the Trinidadian pans, upon which a Chopin etude or the re-bopped be-bops of the great Jazz innovator and saxophone virtuoso Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, can be successfully performed, is the only new acoustic instrument that enriched Western music in the twentieth century.

In the Trinidadian pans we can clearly observe the relationship between culture and environment.  For instance, the invention of the musical pan would not have been possible if there had been no oil industry in Trinidad.  The pan is half of an oil drum, two thirds of a barrel or the entire drum – depending upon whether the instrument is pitched in the bass, alto, or treble clef.  The great Trinidadian craftsmen convert these oil drums into musical instruments by tuning the metal to the notes in the European scale. This enables the skilled musician to perform a wide repertoire.

All of the things that I have described can be clearly observed in the music of great Calypsonians such as Lord Kitchener, Crazy, Chalk Dust, Calypso Rose, The Mighty Sparrow, Black Stalin, et al.  These great artists  are an interesting and eclectic group of personalities, and each speak in a unique voice.  This is a basic requirement for Calypsonians; just as to win the respect of one’s colleagues, and gain a following,  Jazz musicians must find their unique voice on the instrument.

The Calyponians also bring different gifts to the art form.  For instance Chalk dust holds a PhD in history from the University of Michigan, and Lord Kitchener is a first rate musician who plays the double bass.  Hence if you listen to the Calypsos of Chalk Dust you will hear the most artful blending of historical analysis and narrative poetry one is likely to find.  Watch his performance of “I in Town Too Long,” on You Tube *(see link below”) it is history as epic poetry, Homeric.

Chalk Dust

Griot of the Nation 

In his narrative of life in this Trinidadian town Chalk Dust aka Dr. Hollis Liverpool, relates the saga of a nation.  His performance is deeply moving.  This is no accident, for Dr. Liverpool believes that the analysis of society rendered by Calypsonians is just as incisive and it should be considered on par with academically trained social scientist.

In a 2008 speech at the University of Trinidad and Tobago UTT  – where he is Honorary Distinguished Fellow,  Chalk Dust offered the following analysis.  “Most governments never recognized calypsonians as being intellectually stimulating in the same way as social scientists…. governments don’t see artistes as capable of research.” But, he argued, both groups analysis “depend, to a large extent, on common sense,” and that compared to the work of social scientists the observations of Calypsonians were just as “potent, authoritative, and true…and their conclusions are the same in most undertakings.”

To hear Kitchener in all of his glory as a virtuoso instrumentalist just check him out on Be-Bop Calypso, a panegyric to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, two Afro-Americans who created a genre of instrumental music so complex it demanded virtuosity from every member of the band. Kitchener and his boys swing very hard, playing the” re-bopped be-bops” that Ralph Ellison heard in Harlem’s Minton’s Playhouse…and they speak the musical vocabulary without accent!



Spouting Prophetic Visions

Looking like an old testament prophet in space age robes, Edwin Ayong, whose stage moniker is “Crazy,” is a great Calypsonian.  He can write “Jump Up” music for bacchanals, or brilliant social and political commentary that incites the imagination such as “In Times to Come.”  This moving Calypso, an epic poem whose arresting imagery and intoxicating beat captivates the careful listener, combines a broad intellectual grasp of current events; technological developments; social and cultural criticism; a sharp irreverent wit; and the apocalyptic vision of a futuristic prophet fired up on high grade wisdom weed!

Crazy recalls proudly that when he predicted America would have a black President “They say I singing stupidness.  They pelt the tapes at me!”  He dismissed them as “Doubting Thomases” and declares “I am happy to live to see history in the making.  I may not live to see my other predictions.  But I live to see this one.  This is the big one, baby, as Sanford would say.”

Here Crazy was referring to Redd Foxx’s sitcom character Fred Sanford.  This reference is an indication of how Calysonians gather ideas from all forms of popular culture.  On Barack’s election he says “This is great for America.  This is fantastic for black people all over the world.”

Finally there is The Mighty Sparrow’s erudite and uplifting Calypso “Barack the Magnificent.”  No American songwriter to my knowledge has written anything that remotely approaches the intelligence and esprit de corps of this insightful panegyric.  It is no wonder CLR James thought Sparrow could instruct the politicians on the problems of Federation in the West Indies.

Through the magic of You Tube, all of these Calypsonians can be seen and heard everywhere in the world 24/7, with just click on the links at the bottom of this essay – often they are performing live before their primary audience.  Check them out; they are the greatest song poets in the world!

Dr. Francisco Slinger aka The Mighty Sparrow
The King!
View Performances of The Great Calypsonians on clips below
Double click on Link to see Crazy
To Hear Lord Kitchener double click on link
(Be-Bop Calypso)
To See Chalk Dust Double click on Link Below
(I in Town Too Long)
To hear the Mighty Sparrow Double click Link below
(Barack the Magnificent!)

On the GOP, Obama and the Class War

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , on January 6, 2012 by playthell
President Obama Appoints Richard Cordray

 It’s Time For OWS Activist to Target the Class Enemy

President Obama’s recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General, Richard Cordray, to fill the long vacant post as Director of the newly minted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, forces the Republicans to take a stand for or against the interests of the majority of working Americans.

The President was forced to make this appointment when the Senate was in only partially in recess because the minority in the Grand Obstructionist Party has relentlessly employed the Filibuster to block the appointment of a Director for this agency. They are viscerally opposed to its regulatory function; which is to protect American consumers from predatory financial institutions that are not regulated under banking laws.  Hence they are determined to cripple the bureau’s ability to function.

Yet there is a mountain of evidence showing that many Americans – especially the elderly – have come to financial ruin due to the unethical but entirely legal practices of these usurious businesses. The new laws passed by the Democrats and signed  by President Obama makes these practices illegal and the CFPB is tasked with enforcing these new regulations.

This is walking the walk, not just talking the talk about protecting the American consumer from financial fraud that could prove ruinous.  One need only listen to the denunciations of the president’s appointment from the leading candidates for the Republican nomination, as well as congressional leaders, in order to clearly determine where each party stands.

John Boehner, “The House Weeper,” cried “”This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama.”  And he despaired that the President’s appointment “would have a devastating effect on the checks and balances of the Constitution.” Mitch McConnell, a shameless hypocrite and unreconstructed southern redneck, whines: “This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by the President.”

The fact is that President Obama has less than half the number of recess appointments as George Bush at this point in his presidency, and FDR made 160 appointments in a day!  Since the Republicans are blocking over 200 of the President’s appointments some observers, this writer included, think he should have appointed them all!

The comments of Republicans seeking to become their party’s presidential nominee are just as silly and hypocritical as the Congressional leaders and need not be reiterated here! There is no shame in their game, after all Mitch has been leading the effort to block the President’s appointments to critical agencies – especially those that protect the interests of working people like the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  The GOP has used the pretense of being in session to prevent the President from making recess appointments, but Barack has outfoxed them.

The President  beat the Republicans down and appointed his people to both institutions.  Aside from Richard Cordray he appointed three pro-labor people to the National Labor Relations board, reversing the Republican trend of stacking the board with anti-labor people.  “When Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk,” he told a cheering crowd in Cleveland Ohio, Cordray’s home state,  “then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.  I’ve got an obligation to act on behalf of the American people. And I’m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of people that we were elected to serve.”

The President layed out the role of the new Director in no uncertain terms, and they are so clearly in the interests of the overwhelming majority of the American people that opposing them will be like coming out against mothers milk!  “His job will be to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions.” the President said of Mr. Cordray.  “Right away, he’ll start working to make sure millions of Americans are treated fairly by mortgage brokers, payday lenders and debt collectors.  In fact, just this week, his agency is opening up a simple, 1-800 number you can call to make sure you’re getting a fair deal on your mortgage, and hold banks and brokers accountable if you’re not.”

After this beat down the Republicans are whining and crying foul like all bullies when you smack them in the face.  President Obama welcomes Republican efforts to obstruct the business of the CFPB, because it will make it clear to everyone who is not hobbled by ignorance, jaded by financial interests, or blinded by ideology, which party stands with the people and protects the public interests, and which party is a shill for the plutocrats and other special financial interests.

The present struggle will answer this question so clearly that even the OWS militants who, if we are to believe their rhetoric, apparently believe the Democrats and Republicans are the same, can recognize the difference.  A difference they must concede and take sides in this raging class war, if the ant-Wall Street movement is to amount to anything more than a series of boisterous protests where people huff and puff… but fail to blow down any walls!

 The Class Enemy!

Hides his Money like a Dope Dealer


Playthell Benjamin

Janurary 6, 2012

Harlem, New York


After Iowa: It’s Mitt and Rick!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on January 5, 2012 by playthell
 A win by the skin of his teeth

 A Fanatic or Charlatan: Pick Your Poison

In an election  which, according to the New York Times, offered the voters in the Iowa Republican Caucuses a choice between “right, far right, and far far right” each candidate took more and more ridiculous positions in order to convince voters that they are the one.  In an election where we have seen many shooting stars who flared up on the right of Mitt Romney and then burn out on the way down to earth.  After the first primary we can see these fallen stars moving off into obscurity as they read the handwriting on the wall telling them it’s over.

From the look of things Silly Ricky Perry, the swashbuckling Texas cowboy who turned out to be all hat and no cattle, seems to be throwing his hands in the air and acting like he no longer cares.  And despite an attempt at bravado Michelle Bachman, the hysterical verbal arsonist from Minnesota who constantly refers to American history, although she knows less about it than a cow knows about playing the piano, is singing her silly swansong as I write.

This heartless witch, a shameless shill for the plutocrats, is wrapping herself in the cloak of Jesus Christ even as she calls for kicking the sick to the curb and starving the hungry!  Since this sacrilege offends an un-churched heathen like me, I am forced to wonder why the “prophetic” Christian theologian Corny West so silent in the face of this outrageous blasphemy?

Mad Mickie and her Momma 

A boisterous, hilarious, buffoon, sure hate to see her go 

Ron Paul, the undercover Klan lover from Texas, will probably trudge on because he has a motley band of true believers who are the kind of fanatics that in a different cultural milieu would be suicide bombers.  But he is on a path to nowhere.  The tragedy of Congressman Paul is that he is the only person in the presidential race – including President Obama – that is willing to speak frankly about American foreign policy.  This is the source of his appeal to many of the enthusiastic youths who are working tireless for him.

Nowhere is this clearer than in his recent endorsement by Santorum’s nephew John Carver, a University of Pittsburg student, on the January third edition of “The Daily Caller,” a libertarian blog. “It is because of this inability of status quo politicians to recognize the importance of our individual liberties that I have been drawn to Ron Paul.” Says Santorum’s nephew in an article titled “The Trouble With My Uncle, “Unlike my uncle, he does not believe that the American people are incapable of forming decisions. He believes that an individual is more powerful than any group (a notion our founding fathers also believed in).

Carver goes on to say: “Another important reason I support Ron Paul is his position on foreign policy. He is the only candidate willing to bring our troops home, not only from the Middle East, but from around the world.” This sort of disillusionment with establishment politicians of both parties, buoyed by the mumbo jumbo Congressman Paul spouts about the Federal Reserve System, appeals to a wide variety of kooks, crazies and economic illiterates.  This is in the nature of things, because Paul is a kook and a crazy economic illiterate!

So we are left with The Mittster, Newt The Poot and Sick Rick.  Of these three stooges it is hard to fathom how the other two will manage to arrest the ascension of The Mittster.  His money, organization, willingness to say anything to gain political advantage, and support of the Plutocrats – which is to say the Republican establishment – give him advantages over his adversaries that appear to be insurmountable.

My reluctance to award the race to The Mittster at this point is based on the fact that the mathematics do not support such a conclusion.  For instance, Bachman has dropped out, and should Newt and Perry follow, their supporters might very well jump on the Santorum band wagon as the far right alternative to “The Mittster.”  This could prove Romney’s Waterloo.  So I’m hedging my bets on the winner of this contest and watch the game play out.

Newt “The Poot” Gingrich, like Herman “Sugar” Cane, appears to have entered the Republican race to sell books and increase his public profile, which would translate into mad dollars.  Hence these mugs were totally unprepared to run real campaigns nationwide.  Silly Ricky, who burst on the national scene like a white Texas Tornado, has the money but not the brains.  So we are left, it seems, with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorium, both of whom were kicked to the curb by the voters in their last statewide elections.

In The Mittster we have an unrepentant member of the “one percent” that has ravished the nation’s wealth and resources so thoroughly that 80% of us are on the brink of financial ruin, without “Obamacare” one catastrophic illness would send us to the poorhouse.  Ironically, the Reactionary Republican sloganeers are going to rue the day they ever decided to bestow the sobriquet “Obamacare” on this great entitlement of the American people.

Now that Chilly B, who is the greatest orator in American politics – so long as he is not matched with some of those preachers and lawyers in the Congressional Black Caucus – has decided to take that name and own it!!!  What, pray tell, is the flacks in the Grand Obstructionist Party to say when the President says defiantly: “Yes Obama Cares! The question is: Why don’t you!”

Yet Mitt clueless has the unmitigated gall to announce that his first act would be to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, President Obama’s magnificent gift to the American people, which was originally his idea.   This is the mark of a charlatan!  And the sleaze factor increases so long as The Mittster behaves like a dope dealer when asked about his income and taxes.  As my grandfather George would say: “Dat boy’s a liar and a fink, his feet stink, and he don’t love Jesus!”  The kindest thing that can be honestly said about Mitt is that he is a political Chameleon; Newt has called him a liar!  Although Newt’s assessment may be closer to the truth, it is a comic case of the pot maligning the kettle!

Rick Santorum is the prodigal son trying to come back home after selling out his peeps. However while much of the punditocracy is swooning over his nostalgic commentary about his grandfather’s hands, especially those who are sentimental about their immigrant roots; the elected representatives of organized labor ain’t buying it.  Although his record on labor matters are wildly liberal compared to everybody else in the Republican presidential race, the AF of L-CIO gives him a lifetime rating of 13%.   Yet even this tepid showing is going to cost Santorum dearly with the Tea Party types – whom he presumes to represent – once The Mittster’s propaganda machine targets him.

Silly Santorum!


A Bonafide Fanatic

Of course Santorum’s wacky ideas about human sexuality and reproduction, in which he says doctors who perform abortions should be tried for murder, and has pledged to work to ban contraceptives when he becomes President, will surely win him big props from the far right evangelical crowd of all colors, as well as conservative Catholics and Orthodox Jews: but it is scaring the hell out of everybody else!

Then there is Santorum’s pledge to reinstate “Don’t ask don’t Tell” in the military when a gay Marine, fighting on the front lines overseas, was booed when he spoke on a telecast at a Republican debate.  Instead of coming to this American heroe’s defense Sick rick smacked him in the face!

It was the most shameful episode in a parade of shameful episodes in this Republican primary race. That should be enough to keep Santorum in the game for a while, and it will be interesting to see how Mitt Romney handles these questions involving basic questions of women’s health and reproductive rights – considering that he had a pretty progressive record on these matters as Governor of Massachusetts, a highly civilized state where science is respected and education is revered.

From where I sit, it’s gonna be fun to watch as the Republicans cannibalize each other in a verbal blood bath!  Who can say what tomorrow will bring, ESPECIALLY AS Newt begins to launch broadside on The Mittster – from what we have seen this will include exposing the jobs killed and workers thrown on the streets by deals Romney made as an investment banker at Bain Capital.

“There will be a great debate in the Republican Party before we are prepared to have a great debate with Barack Obama,” says Newt, who has made it clear that he is ready to join with his good friend Rick to bring Mitt down.  As I write Republican primary voters seemed ready to settle for a fanatic or a charlatan.  And since I’m betting my money on the certainty that either one of these jokers will be dog meat for Chilly B. in the coming elections: I’m jumping for joy over here!  If I could break dance I’d be spinning on my head as I write!!

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

Janurary 4, 2012


Part II

Will the Republicans Survive Iowa?


        The Silver Lothrio and his home wreckng Hussy!               

 Candid Reflections on the Republican Primary

In order to understand why the things Republican candidates say while vying for their party’s nomination in Iowa sound so crazy to New Yorkers, one must take into account that we live in a large and diverse country  divided into urban, suburban and rural communities. The differences in racial demographics, religious tolerance and lifestyle shape our vision of what America is…or ought to be.  The issue of gun ownership, for example, clearly illustrates this difference

In rural America guns in the home are as common as cooking pots; whereas in urban America it is harder to legally buy a gun than to walk on water. Pro-gun Republicans argue that in rural America and the suburbs guns are used for hunting and protection of life and property; it is in the nation’s cities that guns are employed by criminals to wreak mayhem and commit crimes against their fellow citizens.

Hence rural lawmakers, heeding the demands of their constituents, refuse to pass any law restricting gun ownership.   They routinely dismiss desperate pleas for gun control laws from the Mayors of big cities, whose streets have been turned into free fire zones, arguing that “the cities have a cultural problem.”  It is a thinly veiled reference to the racial composition of the cities vs. suburban and rural America.

Republicans in suburban and rural areas tend to be White, Christian fundamentalists, suspicious of science, hostile to the federal government and closet racists.  They mostly get their vision of the world from FOX News, despite a recent study showing that people who rely on FOX for news are the dumbest people in America.   Iowa is 91% white, 88 of its 99 counties are classified as rural, and evangelical Christians are a powerful force among the GOP base there.  Hence the candidates believe they must dumb down to compete.

That’s why a former tax attorney with the IRS like Michelle Bachman can promise to get rid of taxes.  And a Harvard educated man like Mitt Romney, or a former history Professor like Newt Gingrich, talk as if they don’t believe in science or government regulation and shamelessly misrepresent their political records as if they assume the voters are stupid.  All are prisoners of the gun lobby.  Hence the things they say sound crazy to us because …well they are crazy!

The Iowa caucuses are a remarkable exercise of the democratic process, politicians vying to become the most powerful person on earth come out in the sticks and virtually grovel for the votes of farmers, farmhands, school teachers, waitresses, domestic workers, housewives etc. Then in a series of small gatherings of friends and neighbors, they cast their vote to select the candidate for the next President of the United States.

It is the Apex of participatory democracy. The problem for Republicans however,  is the crazy stuff they are saying to appeal to backward Yahoos in this primary will fly like a lead balloon when the Democrats confront them with it in the general election.  Perhaps even in Iowa, giving Barack another victory in that mostly rural state, mostly white state.  And that’s a good thing for America!


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New york

December 3, 2012