Archive for September, 2012

Playing Mas!

Posted in Cultural Matters, Photo-Essays with tags , , , on September 30, 2012 by playthell

Struttin their stuff in the Road March

 A Bacchanal in Brooklyn

Once again Brooklyn’s beautiful Eastern Parkway was awash in colorfully costumed revelers on Labor Day. It is the biggest annual parade in the USA – although partisans of the Puerto Rican Day Parade dispute this claim.   On this day the Trinidadian tradition of road marches, playing mas and Calypso music is employed to celebrate the cultures of all the English speaking Caribbean.

Its Carnival time in Brooklyn and everybody “jumps up” for the sheer joy it brings.  No matter where I happen to be I make it my business to get back to the Big Apple for the Labor Day bacchanal, a restorative ritual that rejuvenates the Caribbean community through the joy of music and dance, breathes new life into the culture, cements a sense of community, and showers observers of all backgrounds with good vibes that makes the spirit dance!

It is a colorful and dynamic spectacle that is unique among public events in the US, except for Madi Gras in New Orleans, but is common fare south of the border.  Although Carnival serves many functions, social catharsis chief among them, the display of black bodies and the celebration of their beauty is a major raison d’ eter.  It’s one of the main things that attract revelers of both sexes to the Eastern Parkway “jump up.”

The big event of the day is the road march.  This is where those who dress up in costumes – which the Trinis call “playing Mas’ – stroll through the streets singing Calypso songs, strutting their stuff to the beat and trying to compete for the coveted road march prize.  The judge’s standards are demanding and the competition is fierce.  Groups are graded on costumes, floats and music.

This competition is taken so seriously that the different organizations work and plan all year in order to compete on this very special day.  This kind of serious effort is characteristic of organizations that participate in this public Dionysian ritual.  One need only look at the “Samba Schools” of Brazil or the Mardi Gras clubs in New Orleans in order to witness the intensity of the preparations.

Whatever else Carnival may mean it is an opportunity for narcissist of both sexes to display their assets; thus proving a visual feast for those who love human eye candy.   Here are some select images as seen through the lens of the internationally renowned art photographer, Ms. Lisa Dubois.

 The Joy of the Moment Beams from their Faces




Getting down and Dirty!


 The Art of Carnival


 The complexity of design is marvelous
The Goddess Oshun Personified!


 Elegant Erotica!

A Golden Gal


 Paint and feathers are pervasive in the costumes

At Carnival….


…..The Women Rule


Flying the Flags High….


 Celebrating their Island Homes
The Boy’s Rubbing Up!


She’s playing it off …chillin in the groove


 Salivating over the Pulchritude!


Intricate designs painstakingly executed


 A Trini Dougla Gal!


Africa and India meet in Trinidad


 Watch the Hands!


 Jewelry as Art

The Next Generation



 Passing on the Tradition


 At The End Road March

 A graceful stroll down Eastern Parkway


 The Masquerade is over!



Looking to next year


  “Da Mayor” of Harlem Leslie Wytche was There



Partying Hearty Jumpin Up in the Streets!





Photos By: Lisa Dubois

Text by: Playthell Benjamin

New York City,

September 26, 2012

The Pass that Settled a Strike

Posted in On Sports!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , on September 27, 2012 by playthell

                     The Great Dispute

 Revealing sad Truths about American Values

Although people who listen to my commentary may find it hard to believe, I am not necessarily a contrarian.  Even so, I often find myself marching to a different drummer.  Hence I disagree with the howling mob who wants to hang the referee’s whose controversial call gave the Seattle Sea Hawk’s a victory over the Green Bay Packers, in last Monday night’s football game.

The out roar became so loud it was echoed by hard news reporters on nationally televised news shows.   The controversy even found its way into the presidential campaign.  To the casual observer with either a cavalier interest in football, or is indifferent to game, all the hoopla must appear an absurdity. “How can adults get so bent out of shape by a missed call in a kid’s game?” they ask.

Well, as the Trinidadian historian and political philosopher CLR James warned in the opening of his seminal text Beyond a Boundary: “He knows not Cricket who only cricket knows.”  And he shows us how the game of cricket reflected the values of the Victorian upper class.   The same can be said of football, which reflects the values of American civilization.  It is the perfect game for a warlike people whose national anthem is a war song and national symbol a vicious bird of prey.  Football is literally “America’s game.”

The importance of the game in American culture is reflected in the fact that it has been referenced by both President Obama and Mitt Romney on the stump.  And the character of the candidates was exposed in their statements.  President Obama is pro-union and routinely stands with the workers in their demands for fair wages and benefits, which is why they turn out and work for him come election time.  Hence the president’s support for the refs comes as no surprise.

But when Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney called upon the owners to settle the lock out and get the “real refs back on the field,” which meant successfully bargaining with their union over wages and benefits, they were completely out of character. Their hypocrisy was shameless.  Paul Ryan comes from Wisconsin, a state where the governor has curtailed the rights of public sector unions.  And Lyin Ryan has backed his play.

But Wisconsin is also the home of the Green Bay Packers, in fact the team is owned by the citizens of the town, who hold shares in the organization.  So it was an act of opportunism by a man whose allegiance to principle is determined by expedience.  Thus while Ryan is quite prepared to deny bargaining rights to teachers, nurses, fireman, and cops, he insists that the demands of NFL referee’s be met because the home team lost.

He and Mitt could even be heard arguing that the “real refs” should be adequately compensated for their expertise.  Hence by kick off time tonight the “real referees” will be back on the field. The contract they settled will pay the over $200,000 a year and generous benefits including healthcare and a pension, for a part time job a few months a year,  Good for them.  Yet No teacher, nurse or cop anywhere in America is so well compensated.

Republican apologists for this blatant hypocrisy – in which the demands of vital public servants for fair compensation are scoffed at while they demand that the National Football League give the referees what they want – argue that the refs are different from teachers and nurses because they are not being paid from the public till.

Yet everywhere in America hundreds of millions of public dollars are spent in the construction of lavish sports arenas in order to seduce the owners of sports teams into locating in their city.  Hence this kerfuffle over a football game further exposes the duplicity, and twisted values, of the Republican ticket.

They all went for the ball

And started a fight that reverberated around the nation


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 27, 2012

The Real Barack Obama vs. The Reagan Myth

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on September 26, 2012 by playthell
                  The enduring Icon of the right

 On Tailoring the Master Narrative

There is a narrative developing, particularly among pundits on the right, that President Obama has accomplished nothing of importance, and that this can be attributed to his incompetence as a politician.  “If only he was more like Ronnie Reagan,” they say.   As the election heats up we hear this more and more. However it is mere cheerleading by political partisans, who never define the standard they are employing to measure the men.

That’s because the objective of partisans is to gain political advantage in the coming elections, not arrive at objective truth based on an impartial weighting of the evidence. Thus it is propaganda they seek, not history, alas.  Historians seek to reconstruct the past based on strict evidentiary rules – strictly policed through a rigorous process of peer review – so that we may better understand how we became who we are, and learn any important lessons contained in our story so that we do not repeat our mistakes.

On the other hand political propagandist attempt to selectively arrange past events to justify present policies, and often truth is the first casualty. Hence while the historian attempts to present objective truth; the propagandist hopes to create a serviceable myth. They share Napoleon Bonaparte’s view: “History is lies commonly agreed upon!”

This is manifestly what has happened with Ronald Reagan and much of the punditariat.  It is driven by the official myth-makers on the right, but it too often goes unchallenged or even echoed by the other side.  Thus the image of Ronald Reagan as a great President is the dominant view among the largely white commentariat.  But there are some outstanding historians who see things differently.

For instance, the Bancroft Prize winning historian Dan T. Carter paints a portrait of Ronald Reagan as a cynical politician who systematically exploited the racial resentments of Southern whites over the dramatic advances of Afro-Americans due to the success of the Civil Rights Movement. (see: Haley Barber is a Lyin Fat Redneck)  And he shows how Reagan became the avatar of a new wave of reactionary right-wing conservatism.

The distinguished Presidential Historian Stephen E. Ambrose, a biographer of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon,  offers a different view. “Reagan will be remembered as the president who reversed the decades-old flow of power to Washington. By dismantling some federal programs, and reducing others, he forced the states and the cities to assume more responsibility for running their own shows.”

Professor Ambrose goes on to argue that history will also remember Reagan as “the first Cold War president to preside over eight years of unbroken peace, the first to reach an arms reduction accord with the Soviets, and the American president who helped make it possible for Mikhail Gorbachev to begin the process of restructuring Soviet society.”

Dr. Ambrose also credited Reagan with the popularity of conservatism in America.  However on the question of Reagan’s greatness he offers this caveat:

These are important changes, but not of such a magnitude to earn Reagan a title of “great.” The great presidents are the ones who bring permanent changes in society. Teddy Roosevelt and conservation and trust-busting, as one example, or Woodrow Wilson and the Federal Reserve System, Franklin Roosevelt and Social Security, Harry Truman and the integration of the armed forces, Dwight Eisenhower and the interstate highway system, Lyndon Johnson and Medicare and Civil Rights.”

By this standard Barack Obama already qualifies as one of the greats, since he has brought about several profound and lasting changes in American society. The Lilly Ledbetter Act; ending the ban against open homosexuals serving in the military, and the Affordable Healthcare Act, are all game changers of historic proportions that improve the lives millions of Americans.

The Recovery Act,  or “Stimulus” is revolutionizing the American economy; creating the first green manufacturing sector powered by clean energy, and revamping the educational system to bring American students up to snuff in math and science so that they can compete in the brave new world of the 21st century. Hence he has provided the most generous funding of research in American history. This is only a partial accounting of the benefits the Stimulus provides.

The President achieved these historic advances while waging two foreign wars, and rescuing the American economy from a free fall collapse.  Furthermore he did it without the benefit of a statesman like the legendary House Speaker “Tip” O’Neal leading the opposition.  John Boehner, the present weeper of the house, is no Tip O’Neal!

For all these reasons and more – like the fact that President Obama is a brilliant policy wonk and there is a mountain of testimony that Reagan was out to lunch when complex policy matters were discussed – I have no doubt that future historians, far removed from the political passions of this moment,  will place Barack Obama heads and shoulders above Ronald Reagan on the scale of great presidents.

Furthermore,  regarding political skills, I am absolutely convinced that when historians consider the fact that a young black guy with a Muslim name, managed to get himself elected President of the USA – a predominately white, persistently racist country that instructed the Nazis on racism not that long ago – they will conclude with me: Barack Hussein Obama is the most gifted politician in American history!

 The Real Deal!

The President and First Lady


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 25, 2012


Glen Ford’s Black Agenda: Mass Suicide!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on September 23, 2012 by playthell

An enemy of black America and the Working class

Further Reflections on Black Leftist Intellectuals

As the listeners to my commentaries well know, I tend to write about the great issues of the day in national and international affairs.  Hence I generally leave internecine ethic  squabbles to those commentators of smaller ambitions.  However when those squabbles, which are both ancient and endless, began to affect the course of the wider discussions on the fate of the nation, and the life’s chances of the broader Afro-American community, I feel compelled by an ancestral imperative to weight in.

Last week I promised to write a series of commentaries on the nihilistic trend among black leftist intellectuals – the out to lunch bunch –that represents a clear and present danger to the life chances of Afro-Americans, other non-white minorities, women, Gay Americans, and the working class in general.

This danger lies in their demonization of President Obama – which easily rivals the anti-Obama vilification of the Tea Party – and their insistence that there is no substantive difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.  Thus voting is an exercise in futility because it really doesn’t matter who wins the coming election.

This is such a grossly ignorant and reckless view, especially when advocated by a self-styled leader of black people and the working class like Glenn Ford, that one is forced to wonder if he is and ignoramus, a megalomaniacal charlatan, or – as an increasing number of Black people believe  – a sinister provocateur paid to lead black people and workers astray.

Given the choices, dismissing Comrade Ford as a pretentious, reckless, ignoramus is the most charitable interpretation of his actions. I could literally write a book on his dangerous errors.  But I have better employment for my time.

We need only consider the question of appointments to the Supreme Court to recognize that Comrade Ford’s position on the Democrats and Republicans is dangerous folly.  More than any other group of American citizens the fate of Afro-Americans has been determined by decisions of the High Court.

They can determine our life’s chances in America

Romney must not be allowed to appoint Justices on this Court!

The Dread Scott Decision of 1857 said: ”Black Men have no rights that white men are bound to respect.”  This decision put even those blacks who had managed to acquire their freedom through heroic struggle, like Frederick Douglass, back in the position of slaves. And the Plessy V Ferguson decision of 1896, interpreted the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment -which was designed to protect the newly won civil rights of the exslaves – in such a way that it created a legal system of racial apartheid that made black Americans an inferior caste under the law for another 68 years.

In 1954 the Court reversed this decision after decades of litigation, but it took the 1964 Civil Rights Act to fully eradicate the consequences of Plessy.  But the recent “Citizen’s United” decision will make it harder to elect progressive candidates who will represent the interests of the working class and non-white minorities.

If Mitt Romney gets to appoint two or more judges to the Court they will surely end all affirmative programs for women and non-minorities – in government contracts, private industry, education, and civil service employment.  Not to mention how his promised cuts in public sector employment will devastate the black community economically.

In view of these realities alone, and this is only a partial listing of the horrors a Republican victory will surely visit upon Afro-Americans: Glenn Ford’s black Agenda is a call for mass suicide!  He is a brown skinned Jim Jones, whose politics is as poisonous and deadly as Jonestown Koolaid.

Jonestown Kool Aid Drinkers

Glenn Ford’s Black Agenda will prove just as Deadly


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 23, 2012

Pachyderms, Asses and the LOA

Posted in Guest Commentators on September 22, 2012 by playthell

Asses Confronting the Pacyderms with the Naked Truth! 

Let’s start with a quick lesson:

 Pachyderm – A person who is not sensitive to criticism, ridicule, etc.; a thick-skinned person.

Ass – A slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal used chiefly as a beast of burden.

See where I’m going with this?

Firstly, let me say that I am a life-long Democrat. My support for President Obama has been unwavering since his exemplary campaign inspired us to sweep him into office 3 ½ years ago. But it is precisely what has happened since his election that made me realize just how apt these definitions are for today’s political parties. I personally feel that if everyone on Capitol Hill did their jobs as well as the President, our nation would be much further along towards the change he promised and has worked so hard to fulfill. But this has certainly, undeniably, not been the case. hich brings me to my third definition.

The Law of Attraction – This universal law* brought to the forefront of our global consciousness by the film, The Secret, in 2006, is a theory far too broad to fully explain here. You can find info on the universal laws in the ancient text, The Kybalion but most people by now are familiar with the concept. Basically the LOA states that the universe and everything in it vibrates at different frequencies. Whatever frequency you’re generating is the frequency you’ll attract, like a tuning fork vibrating with a resonant note. “Like attracts like” is far from the full definition but will work for now.

The meteoric rise of the “black guy with the funny name” took all of our breath away. He burst onto the national scene with true swagger, not that made-up cowboy crap, but the confident, sure step of a true leader. Against all odds, and I mean all odds, he was elected to the highest office in the land: The 44th President and first African American to transcend our troubled history. The page turned on November 4, 2008 and, as with all great American movements, it was We, the People who had once again changed the trajectory of our past towards a brighter day.

 Sarah Palin

The Alaskan Barbarian at Home

Sarah Palin was the forerunner of the movement that would run counter to the hope and change that pervaded our national psyche in 2008. She tapped into a regressive vein, manipulating the fears of Whites who now faced a reality that challenged an identity that was centuries in the making. Sigmund Freud would likely identify this group as “authoritarian personalities” or “antidemocratic … those particularly susceptible to authoritarian appeal.

In his early study, The Authoritarian Personality, Freud says that these individuals “are intolerant of ambiguity” and that “When matters are complex, they impose their own rigid categories on them. Their thinking is therefore is largely in stereotypes.” “Authoritarians …” he states, “… show exaggerated concern with strength. Feelings of personal weakness are covered with a façade of toughness.

They are usually preoccupied with masculine virtues, and they stereotype women as feminine and soft. Authoritarians are cynical … distrust the motives of others and are generally pessimistic about human nature. They view members of social groups other than their own as outsiders who are different, strange, unwholesome, and threatening. They reject outsiders and place many of their own aggressive impulses onto them. They place stereotyped labels on outsiders.”

Sound like anyone you know?

Rather than take on the specter of introspection, this negligible but noisy faction of the White citizenry set about creating their own reality. Governor Palin (do you still get to be called ‘governor’ when you quit before your shift is up?) I dub her Queen Sarah of the Pachyderms. Her Hitler-esque rhetoric (yea, I said it) began the gradual thickening of the (cerebral) skin that would ultimately morph into the condition of today’s Republican Party.

Their unprecedented defiance in the face of unprecedented challenges is nothing short of treason, in my view. And the fact that they’ve stated their vile intentions, shamelessly adding bounteous lies and blatant attempts to steal the election, only confirms my point. Let’s add a fourth definition here:  Treason – “A violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.”

It is not a term I use lightly. As unpleasant as it is in today’s polite society, it applies when the Minority Speaker of the Senate states his expressed agenda is “To make sure that President Obama is a one-term President”. Doesn’t the President represent the nation? If you want him to fail, what exactly are you saying about the country you so-called serve?

The unprecedented filibusters, led by the Speaker and cronies, to block legislation that would move the country forward during these tumultuous times – even legislation they drafted and supported in the past – isn’t merely an expression of opinion. We don’t have to guess here. They have told us plain and simple what they want to do. And it’s only because of a corporate-owned media that we’re even treating it like a rational debate.

Considering the headway Republicans have made, in spite of an arsenal full of hate & lies though short on facts, might indicate an exceptional use of the LOA. When I watched them carry the Pachyderm torch from one administration to the next at the end of 2008, ignoring reality and transferring blame as if there had been no election, I predicted it would be seen for the farce that it was. But their Svengalian tactics proved more formidable than I could have ever imagined, and I watched in slow-motion horror as the tide of the “disappointed” grew, sweeping up liberals and conservatives alike.

No matter what President Obama was able to accomplish, the Pachyderms and a castrated MSM was able to counter with opinion, innuendo and by putting lies and facts on the same platform as reason. Truly a masterful demonstration of the LOA, in some ways: Focus only on what you want.

Feel it in your bones and reality will bend to your will. Apparently, seeing a Black family in the Oval Office is enough for the authoritarian personality to imagine with all his or her heart, the return of the right kind of people to the White House. The kind of people who look like them, even if they have no core and will gut the very programs they need for survival.

They can even be told that their “leaders” are going to take the few crumbs they left them and know that they will still vote for them because, until things are “in order” again, the Pachyderms cannot rest. So, armed with only the delusions of atrophied minds, the Republican presidential nominee is polling neck and neck with President Obama. Which brings us to the Asses.

I think the most amazing thing for me as I watched the unimaginable wave of “disappointment” against President Obama were the “supporters” of the President who so easily jumped ship. The same people who railed against racist tactics of their opponents during the grueling campaign were now disappointed because President Obama really wasn’t a “magic negro”. For the previous eight years they were comparably mute on “disappointment” in the Bush administration but now, they were oh so angry and so very disappointed.

They had placed their bets on the cool Black guy and he turned out to be “Bush Lite”. Forget that 1/3 of our three branches of government were unremittingly sided against him. Forget that he passed Health Care Reform, Equal Pay for Women, ended DADT, got banksters’ hands out of student loans, came out in favor of gay marriage, killed Osama bin Laden & most of his minions, just to name a few deeds. And he did it all virtually on his own with the Democratic senate before they got bulldozed by the Teapublicans in 2010.

No help from the Republicans even though we faced the worse economic crises since the Great Depression. Forget all of that. Guantanamo is still open (even though Republicans blocked its closing), there is no single-payer (but you can no longer be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition), and some Bush policies are still in place (even though the Republicans have blocked the President’s appointees to vital positions in unprecedented numbers). The Asses, perpetual curmudgeons, are bearing the burden of “reality”, reams of fact-filled analyses they’re now buried under.

Case-in-point. The overwhelming consensus about First Lady, Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was that is was a powerful, heartfelt speech deserving of much acclaim. Every liberal I excitedly asked about it said something to the effect of, “it was great, but …” This kind of reaction is common among Asses, their commitment to carrying the burden of reality never far from the surface.

No undying support from this group. Which is the very definition of “fair-weather friends.” They’ll never be caught off guard and, you know, happy. You would never hear any Pachyderm utter the slightest word of discontent about any of their flawed candidates, no matter whether they were recreating women’s bodily functions or whether they talk to chairs. Never!  The Asses’ “sure-footed” ability to scrutinize and discern is misplaced in this newly created reality of the 1%, billionaire puppet-masters.

Facts have no place in this new world and the Asses’ failure to see that their abilities are mostly serving the bizzaro reality of the Pachyderms, only adds to the confusion and doubt so effectively stirred up by their opponents. It is part of the reason why Mitt Romney’s joke of an etch-a-sketch campaign, is even close to President Obama’s reelection campaign. With the preponderance of facts on their side, the Asses are creating their own reality where they could lose the gains they’ve made by ignoring that essential fact in favor of “being right.” Didn’t we go through this in 1980?

In a world where the truth matters, thoughtful debate is a welcome part of our democracy. But in a world where the truth is crucified daily, without question or follow-up, if you want your candidate to win, you’ve got to jump on board and stop feeding your opposition ammunition. I mean, what exactly do you want from this President?  Perfection?  It all just stinks too much of the meme that Black people have to be twice as good to be equal to their White counterparts; a meme that has played out throughout American history.

The Pachyderms said as much during their convention as President Bill Clinton summarized during his keynote speech last week, “[Republicans] left a mess. [President Obama] has not cleaned it up fast enough, so put us back in.” And too many Asses are running right along with the herd. That anyone on either side could forget in such a short time the precipice we were hanging from just a few years ago and even toying with the idea of returning to the policies that brought us there in the first place, is a reality I just can’t comprehend.

The thing is, in my view, President Obama, couldn’t have done any better with the hand he was dealt. And the grace & class he’s displayed through it all is the sign of the kind of leader we need in these times. Yet the Asses find stepping on their own good fortune irresistible, working the LOA against their own interests by focusing on what they don’t have rather than turning towards the bright horizon President Obama is relentlessly working to create for us all.

This election has never been about policy as the Pachyderms have no interest in governing. All they want is to get that Black man out of the Oval Office and if they have to take the whole shebang down to do it, well by golly then that’s what they have to do. Listen up, Asses. Take heed. The Pachyderms are playing for keeps. What’s your game?

So far the evidence shows that there are folks on the right and the left who lack the emotional intelligence to delay gratification of their personal desires in favor of the whole. These people must have what they want, NOW and can’t seem to see past the ends of their noses, even if it means they never get what they want … and worse.

At this point, all the Pachyderms got is money. The heart has left the party. It’s why they tend to be such miserable fucks who not only want to keep all the goodies they’ve piled up on the backs of the average citizen, but also want the crumbs that might possibly have spilled over to you. It’s an insatiable hunger, a chronic insecurity that could never be filled any more than the Golden Calf could fill the Children of Israel.

One main component of the LOA that they’ve missed is that if what you want is contrary to the needs of the whole, then, ultimately, it cannot succeed. Theirs is a losing strategy and I think they know it but it’s all they got. When you’ve traded your soul for profit, a piece of paper becomes the only resource you have. They won’t stop, can’t stop themselves so it’s up to us to help them out.

So, Asses, you who were so done in and cowed by the Pachyderms’ relentless meme about “Obama’s failure” that you couldn’t answer the question “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” with the fact that, yes, we undoubtedly are, you must find some backbone. Stiffen your spine to stand with your President.

If you’re not sure how to suspend your self-righteous attitudes, draw from the oblivious resolve of your Pachyderm brothers and sisters. I know and I agree that this is not the way to run a democracy but desperate times call for desperate measures. There is right on your side. Common good and what President Obama has begun will strengthen the country for everyone, together.

So, to conclude, for the average citizen, Pachyderm or Ass, if you, Mr., Ms. Miss., or Mrs. 99%, sit back and watch the 1%, or heaven forbid, support the lucky fellas who actually did steal your pensions and homes in plain sight, got to keep it and continue to reap record profits, if you allow them to admittedly steal the White House, using the money they raked in by scamming you? What exactly does that say about you?

But, like our President, I’m an eternal optimist. The Pachyderms who claim broke when it comes to paying a few more dollars in taxes, are pouring billions of dollars into PACs and Super PACs trying to buy the election, in spite of the weakness of their candidate.  I think it will prove a waste of money in the end, because in the end, we really aren’t that stupid. The truly stupid ones are just louder. If we really were that dumb as a nation we would’ve fallen for the Mama Grizzly, oh Queen of the Pachyderms, back in 2008 and we all know how that turned out.

What is at stake here is our democracy and that is no joke. Our predecessors fought and died in order to leave this place, envied by much of the world, to us. The torch has been passed to us and this is what we must continue to fight for.  The choice is clear and, as long as we live in a democracy, the choice is always ours.

The Choice Couldn’t be Clearer!

A foward looking Barack…or a backward looking Mitt

 * The Universal Laws are all inter-related and are founded on the understanding that everything in the universe is energy, including us, and that energy moves in a circular fashion. At the microscopic level, we are a whirling mass of electrons and energy atoms spinning rapidly. In fact, everything in the world is comprised of energy and we are intimately connected with this sea of energy, this sea of whirling electrons. ~The Kybalion as translated by Drs. Milanovich and McCune


Katrina Taylor

Kennesaw Georgia

September 22. 2012

Mitt Romney Live and Direct!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on September 21, 2012 by playthell
                  Mad Money Mitt Preaches the Gospel of Wealth

 On Mitt, Lies and Videotape

The recently surfaced video tape showing Mitt Romney pouring his heart out to his fellow private equity cronies – a group of avaricious troglodytes that Texas governor Rick Perry calls “Vulture Capitalists” – at a 50 thousand dollar a plate coffee klatch, confirms my worst suspicions about this soulless poseur who pretends to the most powerful office in the world.

Speaking from what passes for his heart Mitt called almost half of us moochers and revealed a really sinister side to his character. I have already written that he does not have the character to be president, based on his willingness to build a campaign on outright lies that he knows are lies.  And that he believes if it works the end will justify the means.

This attitude explains why Mitt did some of the scurrilous things he has done; he is a hollow man without a moral core.  As a prep school punk he bullied smaller students to make himself big man on campus, as a businessman he kicked workers to the curb after fleecing them of their retirement benefits to increase profits for investors.

As the governor of Massachusetts Mitt raised fees at state universities, cut taxes for the rich, and left the roads and bridges in shambles, along with an economy that was 47 of 50 states in job creation.  Now he is vilifying the poor for not paying taxes, while he is worth millions and there are charges from the leader of the US Senate, Harry Reid, that Mitt didn’t pay taxes for ten years!

The depths of Mitt’s moral depravity is revealed in his attempt to hide the fact that the healthcare system he instituted as governor is working like a charm…in fact it’s working so well President Obama hired the same economist that designed Romney care to design Obamacare!

But the greatest testimony to his willingness to do anything to win, regardless of the collateral damage, can be seen in his opportunistic and unprincipled piggybacking off a national tragedy to gain a political advantage over President Obama.  When an embassy officer on the ground in Egypt attempted to calm a growing mob with bloody murder on their minds, explained that the US government did not support the blasphemous attacks on the Prophet Muhammad which had inflamed the mob, even though the film had been produced in the US, Romney immediately released a statement condemning Barack Obama for sympathizing with terrorists.

Aside from the absurdity of it, Romney is accusing the President of an impeachable offense.  However on the revealing video – a gift that just keeps on giving – we hear Mitt telling his fellow trolls that he wasn’t interested in hearing a plan to solve the Israeli / Palestinian conflict from a Middle East expert and former diplomat; he would use any flare up in the Middle East to his political advantage.

The murder of the US ambassador in Libya by an organized armed force, and the storming of the American embassy in Egypt, supplied Mitt with the perfect opportunity to launch an attack on President Obama that would call both his competence as Commander-In-Chief and his loyalty to our nation in question.

This is the objective that shaped the communique issued by Romney at the height of the crisis when the President was busy trying to save the lives of American diplomats and citizens, working to defend American interests in the Islamic world.  Anybody who would do foul Mitt like that is not only unfit to be president – and the polls show most Americans agree – but like my uncle Birney would say: “That thar boy don’t even amount to a low down dirty egg sucking dog! “



Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
September 20, 2012

Mitt Romney, Taxes and Class Warfare

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , on September 19, 2012 by playthell

How much tax does these guy pay?

 On Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Mitt Romney, aka “Mr. Chameleon,” has finally exposed his true colors, albeit unwittingly.  We have long suspected Mitt of being a selfish, sneering plutocrat but now we know for sure.  The secretly recorded meeting where Mitt lets his hair down with his fellow plutocrats, who paid $50,000 a piece to hang with him, gives us an unfiltered peek into his gilded soul.  He left little doubt that he ain’t feeling the pain of the struggling masses.

In heartfelt statements, perhaps the sincerest expresion of his beliefs we have yet heard from the The Mittster, he told his cronies that nearly half the American people are bums sitting around waiting for a handout, and since these losers paid no taxes they weren’t interested in what he had to say. Hence he was writing them off because he didn’t know how to appeal to them. Thus he was conceding the vote of these deadbeats and freeloaders to Barack; this was his constituency.

Mitt confessed that he had nothing to offer these people with no ambition, who feel entitled to a home, food and medical care and believe the government should provide these things by taking from the haves and redistributing it to the have nots through the tax system.   But since he will insist that these people take responsibility for their lives, Romney said there was no chance that any of these losers would vote for him.

The problem with this analysis is that the states that have the highest numbers of people who don’t pay federal income taxes are Republican dominated red states.  For instance 40% of South Carolinians pay no federal income tax and this is one of the reddest sates in the union.  Furthermore most the people who pay no income taxes are working, and working hard too, but they don’t make enough money to be taxed.  The second largest group is the elderly or people on military disability

However Mitt is only ticked off about poor people who don’t pay income taxes.  He is all hunky dory with the 7,000 people who mad a million dollars or more who paid no income taxes last year, or the 22,000 Americans who made between 500,000 and a million dollars who also paid no income taxes.   And he does not seem the least bit perturbed that 491,000 Americans who made more than 100,000 dollars but didn’t pay a dime in taxes.

We are still waiting for Mitt to release his tax returns from last year, which should raise the suspicions of thoughtful citizens.  Why does a rich businessman that has been filing taxes for decades, and has an army of lawyers and accountants at his command, need extra time to file his taxes? What’s he up to?

While Mitt has no problem with those making grand theft dough not paying a dime in taxes, he seems to lie awake at night fulminating over the gardeners and scullery maids who may be filching a buck or two and hiding it from the tax man – while he is hiding millions in foreign banks like a dope dealer. Yet the shameless verbal bullies in the Grand Obstructionist Party constantly accuse President Obama of waging class warfare.

But through the magic of video tape we have Mitt in living color dismissing nearly have the US population as slovenly parasites while reaffirming his belief that the rich should not be taxed to feed and heal the struggling poor…whose economic condition is proof that they are lazy and morally defective.  It that ain’t class warfare eggs ain’t poultry; grits ain’t groceries and Mona Lisa was a man!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September, 19 2012

Rage in the Islamic World

Posted in On Foreign Affairs with tags , , on September 18, 2012 by playthell
 Wilding Youths in Egypt

 Will it reverberate in the Presidential Election?

When I woke up this morning and turned on the news, everywhere I went the talk was about football and the political firestorms in the Middle East, accompanied by shocking images of raging mobs that seemed intent on burning down what little remains of their impoverished countries.  The commentary from TV talking heads intended to explain these horrific events are by turns amusing, distressing, surprising and frightening. But they are rarely enlightening.

While there is much reliable commentary from visiting experts on both MSNBC and CNN, alas most voters will get their information elsewhere.  Millions get their information from propaganda mills like Fox News, which studies show is the dumbest demographic in America; or they turn to clueless verbal arsonists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Inghram, Glen Beck, et al.  But there is foolishness even on MSNBC.

Morning Joe,  perhaps the most popular show on the network, is a forum where one finds wisdom and foolishness working in tandem.  The glib Joe Scarborough is like the proverbial cow that gives a good bucket of milk then kicks it over.  Among commentators on the right he is like an eagle among crows, but that’s a very low standard. Hence when he says something smart it is quickly followed by some asinine comment.

Thus when he is talking about the mess Mitt’s campaign is in because he insists upon being the Invisible Man, and won’t let us see where he stands on the critical issues, he’s the smart Joe.  But when he tells us that he doesn’t believe that the rage we are witnessing all over the Muslim world was really sparked by a blasphemous film about the prophet Muhammad, but the rioters are just using it as an excuse for their destructive behavior and attacks on US interests, then attempts to blame President Obama for it – he becomes Joe The Plumber.

The problems in the Middle East are long in the making, centuries in some cases, and they vary in character depending upon the countries involved.  The truth is that there is nothing any American President can do to control the course of events in the contemporary Islamic world.  The French and the British know this from experience, Americans are learning the hard way.

Hence the Republican claim that the present eruptions are the result of President Obama’s mishandling of the mass uprisings in the Arab Spring is spurious nonsense. The choice for any American president confronted with a popular uprising anywhere in the world is whether to practice what we preach regarding the virtues of democracy and support the popular movement, or lose all credibility with freedom loving peoples by supporting murderous autocrats who rule by police state tactics.

When we consider what John McCain and Mitt Romney has had to say about the Middle East region, with McCain ready to wage war everywhere and Romney anywhere, it doesn’t take a foreign policy wonk to conclude that we would be in perpetual warfare all over the Muslim world.

Hence we should view what these jokers say about the present eruptions in the Middle-East with extreme suspicion…if not `horror.  When future historians look back on this era, I am certain that will agree with me: Barack Obama has handled the complex combustible events in the Middle East with Solomonic wisdom.  That’s why he is hated by right-wing warmongers, here and in Israel.


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

Swptember 17, 2012

A Good Cause but Bad Strategy

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, On Dr. Cornell West, Playthell on politics with tags , , on September 16, 2012 by playthell
 Smiley and West Putting Their Heads Together

 Notes on the Smiley West Poverty Tour

           Watching Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on Morning Joe earlier today, I found myself in agreement with their condemnation of growing poverty in the United States; the richest country in the world.  But I remain confused about their strategy for changing it.  A persistent theme in their argument is that nobody cares about the plight of the poor.

Well, I care a lot about the poor because I’m one of them!  Unlike West and Smilie; who are makin grand theft dough, livin large and” eatin high up on the hog” as the old folks in Florida would say.  Nobody wants to see the development of a movement that can effectively address the persistent curse of poverty more than I do.  But I don’t see how any movement that is not fundamentally political can hope to change the economic structure of this country.

In the United States real political change, the kind of change that’s capable of introducing sweeping economic policies which can reduce or eliminate poverty on the scale that they are decrying, can only be achieved through one of the major political parties.

A casual survey of past and present Republican economic policies will reveal that they are not concerned with eradicating poverty; they are, and have always been, the party of the Plutocrats. The Republican solution to the problem of widespread unemployment and mass poverty is to cut taxes and regulations on private business: Let the rich get richer and it will trickle down to the rest of us. That’s it.

The Democratic Party however has a long history of fighting poverty.  In fact, all of the most effective measures against poverty, including the social safety net that prevents millions of Americans from falling into destitution, comes from two massive programs initiated by the democrats: Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930’s and Lynden Johnson’s Great Society aka the “War On Poverty” of the 1960’s.”  And president Obama has continued that great Democratic tradition of proposing policies to address the problems of the poor.

Yet he has received constant criticism from Cornel and Tavis, who seemed reluctant to make a clear distinction between the Democrats and the Republicans, and rated President Obama only slightly higher that Mitt Romney regarding concern for the poor.  While West and Tavis base their assessment of the President’s concern for the poor on superficial things like monitoring his rhetoric.

They gleefully pointed out that the word “poverty’ was mentioned more times at the Republican convention than the Democratic convention – but they should be looking at the actual policies of the President instead.  If they had they would have seen what Time magazine reporter Michael Grunwald, who has been closely watching the results of President Obama’s policies, reports in his recently published book “The New New Deal.”

Aside from the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and the Affordable Health Care, there is the President’s Recovery Act, or Stimulus, the benefits of which Smiley and West seem as ignorant of as the Tea Party zealots.  But Grunwald tells us the Stimulus “includes the largest expansion of anti-poverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance.”  Aside from these impressive achievements, President Obama has proposed massive jobs bills that would put millions of the unemployed to work immediately, but the Republicans have blocked them.

By obscuring the sharp differences between the two parties, and the profound difference in the values and vision of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, they are confusing people – along with a sob squad of leftist intellectuals who are conducting a non-stup pity party insted of getting their ass in gear and worjing to defeat thet Republicans!

These persistent whiners are turning Many people  off rather than inspiring them to vote in the coming elections.  This is self-defeating approach.  Hence while Cornel West and Tavis Smiley are promoting a good cause…they have a bad strategy for success.

 A Force for Good…

…unwitting allies of the Tea Party?


 Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York


American Exceptionalism and the Mid-East Crisis

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on September 14, 2012 by playthell
Bill Kristol: Pugnacious Chicken Hawk

 Further Reflections on the Arrogance of Power

While most intelligent Republicans – walking oxymoron’s all – either remained silent or criticized Mitt Romney’s vulgar opportunism in speaking out of turn and lying about President Obama’s position on the attacks against American diplomats in the Mid-East; the Arch-neocon ideologue and far right activist Bill Kristol, came out strongly in Mitt’s defense.

“One can question the timing and tone of Mitt Romney’s statement last night.” said Kristol. “One can note he wasn’t as fluent and clear as he might have been at his press conference this morning. Still, the fact remains that the events of September 11, 2012, represent a big moment for the country. Romney is right to sense this, and to seize on this moment as an occasion to explain the difference between his foreign policy and President Obama’s. He’s right to reject the counsel of the mainstream media, which is to keep quiet and give President Obama a pass.”

For me, this statement is proof positive that Romney is the captive of neo-cons, although there are some advisors with different views. (For a thorough discussion of the worldview and objectives of the neo-conservatives see “How the Iraq War Was Hatched in a Think Tank.”)  Since Mitt is as clueless about world affairs as President Bush was, the neo-cons will shape American his foreign policy just as they did under George II after 9/11; a prospect that terrifies this writer.

Kristol, who always reminds me of Daffy Duck with an attitude, is a dangerous sword rattler with a checkered past.  He was the director and guiding light of the Project for a New American Century – from whence the policy wonks who beguiled George Bush into invading Iraq were hatched -and thus played a major role in egging America into war with Iraq.

He is such a rabid right-wing ideologue that the New York Times gave him column but was forced to kick his keaster to the curb after a brief tenure.  Kristol is part of a group of crazed rightwing egghead policy wonks that include people like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz, who believe a unipolar world can be shaped in America’s image through the promiscuous employment of military might.

I can think of no one who is considered a credible analyst of foreign affairs that has been as wrong on the big questions as Bill Kristol.  His continued prominence as an intellectual on the far right testifies to their estrangement from reality.  His role in promoting the Iraq war should have confined him to the sidelines for at least a generation.

Yet here he is still talking the same silly warmongering smack, trying his best to get us into a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran – which would make the Iraq adventure look like a dress rehersal – while we are still fighting wars he helped launch eleven years and four trillion dollars ago.

The truth is that Kristol – an impassioned American Zionist, was calling for an invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Sadam Hussein during the Clinton Administration because he thought Sadam was a threat to Israeli dominance in the region.  In a November 16, 1998 article published in the Weekly Standard, titled “How to Attack Iraq,” Bill Kristol rants, “It now seems fairly certain that sometime in the next few weeks the Clinton administration will have to strike Iraq. There are really no acceptable alternatives.”

Since this was over a year before 9/11 why did Kristol consider an invasion inevitable?  He tells us, “Saddam’s recent demand for the expulsion of UN weapons inspectors and for the removal of Richard Butler as head of the inspections regime is mostly a ploy to buy time…The longer the present crisis lasts, the more weeks the United states spends arguing with its allies and with Russia, the closer Saddam comes to his real objective: Finally acquiring chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them.”

It is enough to know that this crazed, warmongering, rabid American Exceptionalist with grand imperialist ambitions and his ideological minions are architects of Romney’s foreign policy, and observe the present anti- American rage all over the Muslim world unfolding as I write, in order to recognize that Mitt Romney’s election to the Oval Office would be an unmitigated disaster!  It would imperil the national security of the United States and threaten the peace of the world.


Playthell George Benjamin
Harlem, New York
September 13, 2012