Archive for October, 2012

In Memory of Manny

Posted in On Sports! with tags , , , on October 26, 2012 by playthell

                        Manny and Protégé Hit Man Hearns

 Panegyric to a Master Teacher

While trekking up the rock cliffs in the wilds of Northern Manhattan communing with the forces of nature, my senses titillated by the Technicolor foliage of autumn in New York, and my spirit dancing to the myriad birdsongs that had attracted Robert Audubon to this sanctuary, I suddenly found myself thinking of Emanuel Stewart, Motown’s Master Teacher of the Sweet Science, who lately danced and joined the ancestors.

I thought of the fact that he was two years my junior, yet I felt fit as a fiddle as I smoked some high grade wisdom weed and scaled a rock surface to my favorite spot overlooking the great rivers, where I reflected on the meaning of death.  Without giving it a thought, the poet in my soul began reciting lines in my mind from Thanatopsis, the epic contemplation of death in William Cullen Bryant’s timeless poem.

“So live

That when thy summons come/To join that innumerable caravan / which moves to that mysterious realm/ where each shall take his chamber/ In the silent halls of death/ Thou go not like the quarry slave at night/ scourged to his dungeon/ but sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust/Approach thy grave like the man who wraps the drapery of his couch about him…and lies down to pleasant dreams.”

I believe that’s how Manny went out…for his was a life well lived.  While all life may be equally precious in the sight of God, some lives have been lived in a way that makes them more significant than others.  Manny Stewart lived such a life. At first glance the listener of delicate sensibilities may question why a man who taught other men to fight in the brutal sport of boxing is worthy of celebration.  On the face of it the question seems fair enough, but only to those who are untutored in the art of pugilism…the sport the late great essayist E. J. Liebling called “The Sweet Science.”

Alas, constraints of time and space restrains me from defending the Sweet Science of pugilism here, but If you require convincing that there is virtue in this manly art you need only read the essays in two anthologies: “The Sweet Science,” by Liebling, and the elegant insughtful essays in Professor Gerald Early’s “The Culture of Bruising.”  I shall simply offer the testimony of former World Middle Weight Champion Rocky Graziano: “Boxing takes bad guys and makes good guys out of them.  If it wasn’t for boxing I’d be in Sing Sing or San Quentin.”

Lennox the Great!

Manny with Heavy-Weight Champ Lenox Lewis

 The Real Deal!

 Manny with Evander Holyfield and M.C. Hammer
 Wladimir Klitschko
 Manny and the Russian Assassin

 Hence the true greatness of Manny Stewart lies not in the fact that he trained more great world heavy-weight champions than anyone in history – with a record in title fights of 45 wins, two losses and two draws – or that he trained the great pugilistic artist Thomas “Hit Man Hearns,” the “Motown Cobra,” from an amateur fighter to Five world titles in different weight classes; but in the thousands of young men he rescued from the destructive pitfalls that are ubiquitous in the post-industrial urban wastelands of America…where spunky young men often turn to crime in the Darwinian struggle to survive.

The Motown Cobra!


Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns

Not all of Manny’s students became great, but the discipline and values of fair play they learned under Manny’s tutelage helped them to succeed in other professions, choosing to be law abiding productive citizens over a life of crime.

Although spawned in the Brewster Street Fight Club, from whence the great Joe Louis emerged, in a city that also produced Sugar Ray Robinson – whom the boxing wise guys have crowned “Pound for Pound the “Greatest Boxer of All Time” – Manny never rivaled these great pugilist in the ring, but he was arguably bout for bout, the greatest teacher of the sweet science ever!   Alas, we may never see his like again.

 The Master at Work

King of the Kronk

With his Star Pupil


Manny and Tommy: A perfect Match


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 26, 2012

Backward to the Future!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags on October 25, 2012 by playthell
Paul Ryan revealing his master plan at Cleveland State

 Ryanomics is Smoke and Mirrors

Watching the presidential election unfold, I am reminded of an observation on the American character posited by the late political theorist and cultural critic Harold Cruse: “Americans are anti-intellectual and anti-historical.”  One need only look at the opinion polls on likely voting patterns of the American electorate – which has President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney running neck and neck – in order to see the obvious truth of Professor Cruise’s observation.

In less than four years after the Republicans wrecked the economy – despite inheriting a multi-billion dollar surplus from the Clinton Administration  –  President Obama stepped in and saved the world from a financial catastrophe,  resulting’ from a total collapse of the American banking system.

Yet while the President has employed  innovative policies to restore the economy, the Republican ticket of Romney/Ryan are proposing the same policies employed by the Bushmen that led to the great disaster.  As  President Clinton observed, Ryanomics is Bushinomics “on steroids.” And the GOP is counting on millions of Americans being too ignorant to recognize it…alas.

This is why Ryan could feel confident in presenting a speech that gets the rhetoric right but the policy wrong.  Trying his best to look empathetic he opined:

Too many children, especially African-American and Hispanic children, are sent to mediocre schools and expected to perform with excellence. African-American and Hispanic children make up only 38% of the nation’s overall students; but they are 69% of the students to the schools identified as the lowest performing. That’s unacceptable. We owe every child a chance to succeed in life in this country.

He even quoted Abraham Lincoln, a man whose legacy has been disgraced by reactionary Republicans like him.  “In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we all owe them an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”  Since Lincoln was killed before he was faced with dealing with the plight of the newly freed slaves it would have been far more informative to quote Frederick Douglass, who pointed out that both the Egyptian Pharaohs and the Russian Czar was  more generous to their bondsmen than white Americans upon freeing them.

Only in the US were slaves given nothing to get them started after 250 years of slavery. Instead whites erected a system of institutional discrimination that was protected by law 100 years after the country fought a very bloody war to end slavery.  Not only did “Lyin Ryan” dodge any meaningful discussion of the legacy of racism in the USA, the government programs that Ryan trashed in his speech, were indispensable to the progress of African-Americans…and poor whites too.

Ryan recited the same silly superficial Republican talking points about the glories of the free market, which he assured us if left alone without government regulation or taxation will solve all our problems and provide a new heaven on earth.  The problem is that we have heard it all before.

Ryan’s ideas are just recycled dogma that we first heard as “The Laffer Curve” or “Supply side Economics,” which was the economic model of the Reagan years that resulted in the greatest shift of wealth from the poor to the rich in American history, and created the first billion dollar deficit.   We heard this persistent Republican prattle again when George Bush adopted it as the basis of his economic program,  and dare we forget how close these policies brought this nation to economic destruction?

Ryan closed his scripted spiel with the following drivel:

“Whether we are rich or poor, black, brown or white, American by chance or by choice, we are one nation, rising or falling together,” he said. “That is the promise of America, and we can make it real in the lives of the many who feel left out. To all those Americans, I ask you to support our campaign, because our cause is yours, and yours is ours.”

The simple fact is that the policies Ryan proposes cannot achieve this promise.  It is not as if we are in unfamiliar territory here; we have the recent record of the results of Democratic and Republican economic policies. After eight years Bill Clinton left the federal budget was balanced and created a surplus, while lifting 8 million people out of poverty.  Under eight years of Bush the surplus was squandered, the economy crashed, millions were unemployed, record deficits were created, 8.3 million Americans was reduced to poverty and poverty rose among children by  3%.

When we examine the proposed Ryan ‘Prosperity Budget” – which has been passed by the Republican controlled House and Romney has previously approved – there is no way to achieve the promises Ryan made in his Ohio speech.  For instance he plans to pay for the 5 trillion  dollar tax cuts  – the lion’s share going to the rich – by cutting funding to programs that serve the neediest Americans by 62%.  He would severely cut food stamps, healthcare benefits, the child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Taken together these programs have prevented millions of Americans – children and adults – from falling below the poverty line and going to bed hungry.  This is why the bishops and theologians of his professed Catholic faith have called Ryan’s economic vision for America inhumane. It has been roundly denounced by the largest national coalition of church congregations the PICO network.

“The mission of the Church is to ‘bring good news to the poor’ and to protect the vulnerable, not to justify the impoverishment of the very young, the very old and the sick in order to enrich the wealthy…” Their statement said in part.

Father John Baumann independently echoed this view and exposed Congressman Ryan as a hypocrite:

“It’s the height of hypocrisy for Rep. Ryan to claim that his approach to the budget is shaped by Catholic teaching and values,” said Fr. John Baumann. “A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.”

Hence while Ryan’s  economic philosophy reflects the vision of ungodly Social Darwinist Ayn Rand – whose ideas Ryan is captured on videotape claiming as both his inspiration and guide as a politician –  but it does not keep faith with the teaching of Jesus Christ.  Hence even if these policies get him elected vice president, they will not get him into the kingdom of heaven….and life on earth, here and now, will become a hellish experience for everybody but the rich.

Ryan Exposes His True Intentions

The are all running from it now!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 25, 2012

About Face!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags on October 23, 2012 by playthell
           Mitt Capitulates on Everything

 Mitt Romney Flees From his Neo-Con Positions

Once again Mitt Romney shamelessly abandoned positions he has been preaching all across the country in one campaign stop after another, and suffered a beat down from President Obama who called Mitt out as he flipped the script. Mitt’s wishy-washy posture is a reflection of the dilemma he faces; he must say certain things to keep the far right whackos in the Republican base onboard, no matter how absurd, and at the same time present himself as a reasonable man.

The problem for Mitt last night is that aside from further exposing himself as a political chameleon that has no moral or ethical core, he had to repeatedly concede the wisdom of the President’s foreign policy. One can only speculate as to what his strategy was; but using the cost/benefit analysis that appears to be his modus operandi, it seems that he decided whatever disillusionment and disaffection it might cause among the Neo-Cons it would be more than compensated for by the support he would gain among the broader electorate.

However as Beau Biden pointed out On Morning Joe earlier today, Romney disavowed the positions he held just the day before and in so doing he further demonstrated that he will say anything it takes to close the deal.   While such behavior is perfect for a salesman it disqualifies him for President and commander-In-Chief due to questionable character.

Hence the right-wing Republican/Tea Party crowd is in disarray today as they lick their wounds from two injuries: Their standard bearer kicked them to the curb and he lost in the opinion polls too.  It was a bad night all around for this crowd of losers.  My greatest fear is that a majority of the electorate will prove too stupid to properly evaluate the candidate’s arguments on these complex questions.

If voters really understood these issues in depth, the polls would be lopsided for the President because Romney is clearly a charlatan. After coming close to calling President Obama’s foreign policy treasonous for months, Mitt suddenly became his cheerleader. That’s why nobody can say for sure just what the Republican candidate actually stands for.

Trying to get Mitt to say what he believes is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.   Therefore it is impossible to predict what he would do in office.  Alas, for all his public exposure Mitt remains a stealth candidate and voting for him is like buying a pig in a poke.

As usual the Republican tough guys were whining and howling like banshees.  Glenn Beck has suggested that perhaps conservatives should stay home on Election Day. Hoorah!!!!!   John McCain and his daughter Megan, who is something of a pretentious airhead, led the pack of whiners.  Johnny Mack was a big loser in this debate, because Mitt ran away from his warmongering positions like a fox escaping a forest fire.

Like the pot maligning the kettle for being sooty, the Mack Man accused President Obama of “cheap shots” – which is the Republican stock in trade – because of the “horses and bayonets” comment sparked by Mitts absurd comment on the battle readiness of the US Navy.   I thought it the best line of the night; just slightly behind President Obama’s accusation that Mitt was “airbrushing history.”

Al Sharpton got it just right when he observed that Mitt came out in the first round like a bully, but after getting smacked around in the second round, he stumbled out in the third round like a punch drunk pug and  held onto his opponent in a permanent clinch…never landing a punch on the Chi-Town Kid.


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 23, 2012

Mitt’s Foreign Policy Channels Bush!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags on October 22, 2012 by playthell
 The War Mongers: Bolton, McCain and Mittens

A Clear and Present Danger to Peace

American foreign policy is an extremely complex subject; how it is handled can determine if our nation is at war or peace.  Hence the top echelon of the foreign policy/national security establishment, where policy is formulated, is no place for pugnacious charlatans and impassioned ideologues intoxicated on the opiate of American Exceptionalism.

This is especially so if they are committed to aggressive military adventures against other nation’s as the preferred method of promoting American policy objectives. Alas, looking at the advisors shaping Mitt’s foreign policy there is cause for serious alarm, because there is every reason to believe that his vision of the world is being shaped by the same gang who hijacked the foreign policy of a clueless George II, after the successful Jihadist attack on the American homeland of September 11, 2000.  This is what voters should bear in mind as they listen to the debate tonight.

While the Romney campaign is quick to point out that their candidate has a variety of advisors, 70% of Romney’s advisors on foreign policy are former members of the Bush team.  And six of the 22 advisors are members of the Project for A New American Century, the think tank that gave us the architects of the Iraq Invasion. Based on Mitt’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric on foreign affairs it is obvious that they are the ones who have his ear.

Indeed Mitt is warmly embracing far right hawks like Cofer Black, a former CIA official and executive in the private-security firm Blackwater, which secretly supplies private armies that carry out the dirty work of the American government in the most dangerous countries in the world. They often operate outside the law and have been accused of myriad war crimes.

Cofer is joined by Eliot Cohen, who worked in the State Department under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Paula Dobriansky, Douglass Fieth and especially John Bolton.  As a member of the moribund Project for a New American Century, whose members convinced Bush to invade Iraq with manufactured “evidence,” Bolton signed several letters authored by interventionist neo-con foreign policy wonks urging Bill Clinton to invade Iraq!  And he has called for scrapping the United Nations among other absurdities. Yet Romney says: “John’s wisdom, clarity and courage are qualities that should typify our foreign policy.”

One need only read the “Open Letter to President Obama” of March 27, 2012 from the Romney Advisors, which Bolton also signed, in order to see just how divorced from reality these right wing hawks advising Romney really are.  Reading this letter will identify the origins of Romney’s absurd and dangerous proclamation that “Russia is our number one geopolitical enemy.”  This statement caused Republican stalwart General Colin Powell to break his silence and denounce Mitt’s position as provocative and misguided fiction.

Romney’s hawkish positions on continuing the war in Afghanistan, maintaining a sizable military presence in Iraq, intervening militarily in Syria, attacking Iran in conjunction with Israel, and adding two trillion dollars to the military budget has compelled the far right Libertarian / Republican Senator Rand Paul to denounce the Mormon Bishop’s criticisms of President Obama’s policies while advocating a more interventionist policy.

“I do not… support a call for intervention in Syria,” Rand says. “We owe it to ourselves, our soldiers and our children to take a more careful look at our foreign policy, to not rush into war, and to not attempt to score political points with wrongheaded policy ideas…”

Yet given the record of Mitt’s advisors this does not seem likely.  The authoritative White Paper, stating the Romney Doctrine, is titled “An American Century.” And its principal author is Eliot Cohen, a founder of the Project for a New America Century – whose disastrous role in the Bush Administration is richly detailed in my essay “The Iraq War Was Hatched in a Think Tank” at   All things considered, like the old bluesman Louis Jordan, I’m singing: “Beware Brother…. Beware!”

Romney this is a Wise Man: Be Afaid…be Very Afraid


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 22, 2012

The Boss Backs Barack!

Posted in Music Reviews on October 19, 2012 by playthell


Two Powerful Voices

 On the Power of Art in Politics

The fact that singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen has cast his support behind President Obama is no picayune affair; notwithstanding the attempts of some pundits to dismiss it’s importance.   When “The Boss” sings “We must care for our own;” then stands before a multitude of screaming admirers, looks into the cameras, and tells millions of listeners around the country: “I believe President Obama feels this in his bones!” it matters.

It could even sway white workers to vote for the President in Ohio, where the president already enjoys a commanding lead.   And Bruce is paired with former President Bill Clinton, the wildly popular Elder Statesman of Democratic politics, who is a master political strategist and spell binding orator. But nothing has the power to move people’s emotions like music.

For centuries poets and philosophers spouted lines of wisdom and truth over the strumming of lutes.  The greatest of these became famous troubadours and traveled from town to town spreading joy and enlightenment.  Even in a culturally crass era like today, when our society is moving to the rhythms of a clockwork world, and there seems no place for poets to be somebody, Bruce Springsteen, the Poet Laureate of popular song, is still packin em in everywhere he goes.

It is self-evident that he’s saying something that touches the souls of the people, because unlike jazz or European classical music, which showcase the art of the instrumentalist, popular song is word driven – especially after the rise of the politically conscious song/poets of the 1960’s, led by Bob Dylan.   Bruce has paid the cost to be “The Boss” by writing a stream of songs that combine spiritual depth and intellectual gravitas in such a way that even his ideological enemies find them irresistible as campaign fighting songs – songs that could inspire their partisans to action.

The Republicans made that mistake with Born in the USA, and the Clinton camp made the same mistake during the last Democratic primary campaign.   Chris Christy, the governor of Bruce’s home state, has all but prostrated himself before the The Boss in an effort to get him to perform at some event in his behalf.  I can recall no instance, now or in the distant past, when a powerful politician has so shamelessly genuflected before a poet!  Not even Sweet Willie Shakespeare was so honored.  This is because everybody wants a Bruce Springsteen Song as their rallying cry.

The power of music to move the masses is well understood by students of transformative movements, smart politicians too. That’s why every time a reactionary regime with totalitarian tendencies comes to power in the world they either ban or attempt to control the music.  This is true whether the regime is guided by religious imperatives such as the Islamic governments of Iran and Afghanistan – which banned music from the airwaves – or the German NAZI’s, whose policy was to use all art forms and celebrate artists so long as their art served the objectives of the Third Reich.

Thus film maker Leni Refinsthal and composer Richard Wagner both found favor as heroes of the Reich.  Refinsthal made the classic documentary The Olympiad, which documented the Berlin Olympic Games, and the propaganda film the changed the world: Triumph of the Will.  In the works Richard Wagner, such as The Ring Cycle, Hitler found a model of the preChristian warrior nation whose love of war and conquest found expression in the Nazi Party.  Such is the power of great art to promote political ideals.

Hence the clever ad-men who conjure up campaign propaganda try and snatch sound bites from Springsteen songs even if their overall themes and basic philosophy are ideologically opposed to their candidate’s platform. So rich is the musical offerings in his oeuvre.  That’s why it’s a very big deal that the Boss backs Barack!

Making his Plea for the President

He believes President Obama stands with the people


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 19, 2012

Wipeout on Long Island!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags , , on October 17, 2012 by playthell
                     Barack Calling Romney Out on His Lies

 Barack Exposes Romney as Mr. Chameleon

Democrats are dancing in the streets this morning after toasting the President’s feisty performance last night.  He gave no quarter in his head to head debate with challenger Mitt Romney, who conducted himself like a schoolyard bully in their last encounter.  But when Mitt tried it this time the President smacked him in the face.  It caught Romney off guard; evidently he has spent too much time listening to media talking heads prattle on about what a great debater he is.

The President’s aggressive posture struck such a dramatic contrast with his accommodating stance in the last debate that several people who heard my Open Letter to the president on the news yesterday called to ask if I thought he had read it.  And if you consider my instructions on how to wage the debate – take the fight to Mitt, expose every false move, attack from many angels, slip his attacks and counter-attack etc. – then compare them to the President’s tactics in seems a reasonable question.

However I thought of Dr. Albert Einstein’s response to a group of Rabbis after publishing his General Theory of Relativity.  The learned Rabbis asked the scientist if he was claiming to know how God made the world.  To which Dr. Einstein replied that he had made no such claim…but God could have made it this way.  Likewise I don’t flatter myself that the President read my letter, which is published at, but had he followed my instructions he would have done nothing different.  And just as I predicted, it was a wipeout.

The President repeatedly took the fight to Romney.  His attacks were sharp and well placed, and every time Romney tried to get away with arguments that were transparent sophistry intended to confuse and obscure, rather than clarify and enlighten, the President got up in his face and forcefully beat him down with the facts.

There were several critical areas in which Romney was exposed as a fraud.  On taxes, on women’s issues, on the auto industry, on assault weapons, on the coal industry, on outsourcing jobs to China, and on foreign policy – particularly the recent Libyan attack.  Romney set himself up for knockout on Libya because he introduced the subject of the President’s response to the event with such drama…only to be proved factually wrong by both the moderator Candy Crowley and President Obama.

To the informed observer it was clear that Romney was playing politics with an American tragedy, even though the father of one of the slain victims has publicly asked him not to.  And Barack made him pay in one of the most dramatic moments of the debate.

Speaking from the position of President and Commander-In-Chief the President told the nation that America’s Foreign Service workers are his personal emissaries and called Romney’s charges of a cover-up “offensive.”

Romney also took a whipping on the immigration and women’s issues.  The President’s policies on both of these questions are very strong and Romney and his party’s positions are weak.  They are opposed to the Dream Act – which offers a path to citizenship to young people brought to this country by parents who are illegal immigrants – and Romney had no answer to a direct question as to whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act that makes it illegal to pay women less than men for comparable work.

Both issues provided the President with opportunities to speak directly to these important constituencies with personal stories that touch the heart.  He was eloquent, brilliant, genuinely compassionate, and had the facts on his side.  He demonstrated that facts and brilliant oratory matters.  When all these elements are combined with President Obama’s infectious charm it becomes an irresistible force.

Despite the frantic spinning of Mitt’s Republican surrogates and media shills; the sophistry and banal commentary of much of the punditariat who sometimes seem clueless, and the persistent confusion of an ignorant electorate – “Boobus Americanus” – I called it for the Chi-town kid by a knockout!


 Playthell G. BenJamin

Harlem, New York

October 17, 2012



The Brawl for it All!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags , on October 16, 2012 by playthell
 It’s On!  It’s Obama Time!!!

 An Open Letter to President Obama

Yo Chilly B!  Can we conversate for a minute.  You in a real fight Dog.  Debate is a form of verbal pugilism, so think like a fighter!  You gotta smash this chump tonight.  Kick the niceties to the curb, jump on that lyin low life sucka, and beat his ass down to tha ground!   Last time you came for an evening of polite conversation, a genteel sparring match where you would gracefully outfox your challenger and win on points.  But the other guy decided to fight dirty and caught you off guard.

Last time you seemed to channel Sweet Saoul Mamby – the master boxer from the Bronx that the late writer and boxing aficionado Jack New field said was harder to hit than the lotto jackpot, who out boxed Roberto Duran but lost the decision.  This time take a lesson from Aaron the Hawk Pryor: attack, throw blows from all directions non-stop, slip Mitts feeble attempts to counterpunch and cut off the ring every time he attempts to retreat…let the chump know he can run but he can’t hide.

I know your handlers filled yo head up with foolishness about sitting on yo lead and acting “presidential.” They figured you the Champ and the people already loved you; so all you had to do was maintain your cool and hold on to the love and your lead.  And they told you to avoid the appearance of arrogance at all cost, because if you appeared to be condescending and trying to humiliate your opponent you could win the fight but lose the love!

However they forgot to tell you that Americans are very fickle and they love a winner.  Many of them don’t even care how you win…so long as you win!  I know this is offensive to a principled man like yourself who always plays by the rules, especially since you came into the fight knowing Mitt couldn’t win cause of the moral and intellectual shape he was in, and you couldn’t lose cause of the science you use!

You were well prepared for the bout and had every reason to believe that The Mittster couldn’t hit you with a hand full of rice.  You could see all the flaws in his game and the gaping holes in his defense.  And you figured the referee would keep everybody honest; which means that feints, false moves and missed shots would be called as such and scored accordingly!

Not so!   The other guy came to win by any means, like they do in the private equity game, including playing dirty and breaking all the rules.  And the referee – an over the hill pootbutt who turned out to be blind, deaf and dumb – let the joker get away with sucker punches on the breaks and hitting below the belt.

But now you got a rematch, a chance to redeem yourself.  So take some advice from an old warrior who has never lost a bout on the podium in over half a century…and I’ve done battle with a lot tougher opponents than that jive pile of Mitt.  First of all take the true measure of your opponent: you are the champ he is a chump.  He wants what what you got and you gotta make him take it.  Maintain your cool at all cost; protect yourself at all times; roll with the punches and make him pay for every false move; beat his butt til it ropes like okra; think wipe out: Louis Schmeling II.  And enter the match like you wanna kill a mosquito with a hatchet!!!!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 16, 2012

The American Exceptionalist Fraud!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags on October 15, 2012 by playthell

 Thomas Jefferson Emboydied the Schzoid American Character

On the Imperative of Learning from Our History

It is fashionable among those who pretend intellectual gravitas to quote the 19th century Harvard philosopher George Santayana’s axiom “Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat its mistakes.”  Yet few of them, whatever their political persuasion, can identify its origin or adhere to its advice.  This is especially true of those who subscribe to the self-righteous, vulgarly nationalistic, bogus doctrine of American Exceptionalism. 

The great danger of this false doctrine lies in the fact that this myth is widely regarded as fact, and even serves as the basis for policy decisions in both domestic and foreign affairs. It is at the root of the belief that Americans are morally superior to other people in the world. And undergirds what Dr. Henry Kissinger has recently called the “Evangelical” character of American foreign policy; which justifies American interventionism all over the globe.

One need only listen to the explanations given by American policymakers who speak casually about attacking Iran because they may be developing the capability to make one bomb; even while the US has tens of thousands of advanced nuclear weapons, as well as weaponized germs and poison gasses in large quantities – most of which are US inventions – to recognize the danger of this conception of American civilization. But uprooting this false and dangerous doctrine is no easy task, because so many white Americans have an emotional investment in it.

Consider the following commentary written in Sunday’s New York Times of 10/14/12, by Christia Freeland titled “The Self Destruction of the 1 Percent,” an excerpt from her learned book about how greedy elites self-destruct: Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.  “In theearly 19thcentury,” Ms. Freeland writes, “the United States was one of the most egalitarian societies on the planet.  ‘We have no paupers,’ Thomas Jefferson boasted in an 1814 letter. ‘The great mass of our population is of laborers.  Our rich, who can live without labor, either manual or professional, being few…most of the laboring class possess property, cultivate their own lands, have families, and from the demands of their labor are enabled to exact from the rich and the competent such prices as enabled them to be fed abundantly, clothed above mere decency, to labor moderately and raise their families.’”

Ms. Freeland goes on to observe, without a hint of embarrassment or shame: “For Jefferson this equality was at the heart of American Exceptionalism.”  Alas, this passage from Jefferson’s letter reveals that even the smartest white Americans were as deluded about American reality at the founding of the Republic as they are today.  The wealth of the colony of Virginia, where Jefferson lived at the time, was based on the labor of African slaves and their American descendants, who were neither well fed nor well clothed.

Nor were their families recognized in the law; in fact they were classified as live-stock, which is why plantation owners could sell their children like piglets.  Furthermore, poor whites could not bargain for fair wages because they were competing with a workforce that was working for free!

And all of the prattle about the land they owned conveniently overlooked the fact that the whites acquired it through genocide against Native Americans and the greatest land grab in history!  Jefferson – who owned 200 slaves and sired seven children by a slave concubine, all of whom remained his slaves til he died – acknowledged these crimes when he lamented “I shudder for my country when I reflect upon the fact that God is just!”

Failure to admit these facts is the reason why Americans refuse to recognize the role of historic and present racism in producing the dismal statistics regarding health, wealth, education, employment, incarceration, and life expectancy among the Afro-American, Native American and Hispanic populations – and to a lesser degree the white working class – today.  Hence the problems persist.

The great 20th century Afro-American novelist and essayist James Baldwin put it best in a speech to a group of white New York City School Teachers in 1964: “If you have to lie about anybody’s history you have to lie about it all…and If I’m not what I’ve been told I am, you are not what you have been told you are either.”

The refusal of white Americans to confront this fact is the reason why so many of them believe that Affirmative Action policies are unjustified – as does their right-wing black lackeys in the Grand Obstructionist Party. While some whites oppose these remedial measures out of ignorance, others who know better play upon the resentment produced by that ignorance to maintain the racial status and avoid the issue of Reparations for the victims.

However, since they are all bible thumpers who claim Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, instead of running around the country slandering President Obama, our great biblical scholar Dr. Cornell West ought to be warning these people that denying this nation’s crimes might get them over politically: But living a lie won’t get them into the pearly gates of heaven!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 15, 2012

The Strange World Of Mr. Ryan

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , on October 12, 2012 by playthell
                    A Deer Caught in the Headlights?

                    Reflections on the Veep Debate

Listening to the pre-debate chatter on CNN and MSNBC, there was much talk about whether Joe Biden would fare better against Congressman Paul Ryan, the vice-presidential candidate of the Grand Obstructionist Party, than President Obama did against their standard bearer, Mitt Romney, in their first debate. But as the other commentators fawned over Mitt Romney’s “performance,” Reverend Al Sharpton provided a reality check and pointed out the obvious: “All Mitt did was lie!”

Sharpton argued that it’s easy to win a debate if you are allowed to tailor our answers to suit your needs at the moment regardless of the facts.  This is especially so if nobody calls you a liar.  Hence, like this writer, Reverend Al remains unimpressed.  In our eyes Mitt just looked like a lying Low-life charlatan.   In a strictly monitored debate where facts mattered, Chilly B. woulda murdered da bum!  .

I felt like breakdancing when honest Joe summed up Lyin Ryan’s first bogus, but well-rehearsed, spiel with the candid comment: “Malarky!”  Those of us who approached this debate with the attitude of ancient Romans on their way to the Circus Maximus, where preachers of false doctrines could be devoured by lions if they make a false move, were thirsty for blood.

Most thought that a combination of Biden’s vast knowledge of domestic and foreign policy matters, coupled with his pugnacious style, would inable him to trounce the wonkish lyin Ryan. And events proved them prophetic.  Totally relaxed and up on his game, Biden refused to allow Ryan to get away with lyin, and kicked a mud hole in his ass.  The Veep jumped on him and beat him down with the facts. Throughout the debate Biden laughed, cajoled, wore a recurrent IDGAF smile, and treated Ryan with the amused contempt he deserves.

The Republicans are trying to save face by accusing the Obama Administration of covering up the fact that the Libyan embassy attack was carried out by organized terrorist rather than by enraged protesters as they originally reported.  The Republicans argue that the attack proves the Obama Administration had been negligent about Embassy security.

It proves no such thing. In the state of widespread disorder in Libya after the fall of a forty year dictatorial regime it was impossible to know exactly what happened in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the US embassy.  To insist otherwise, and to fain outrage over the supposed “inepitude” of the Obama Administration and declare the country insafe under his leadership, is patent nonsense!  It is a transparent act of desperation.

And all this from a Republican?  A man whose party’s last administration under George Bush ignored repeated warnings from the intelligence community that Islamic terrorist had targeted the US for a big hit before 9/11. Yet they have always insisted that the Bush administration was blameless, even as the facts demonstrate otherwise. I am not a truther however; I am accusing Bush of incompetence not complicity.

When Honest Joe confronted Ryan with the fact that he voted to cut $300 million from embassy security, Ryan came off like the kid who murders his parents then whines and seeks sympathy because he is an orphan.  Alas, that was the high point for Ryan in the foreign policy debate.  Ryan was mum about how a Ryan/ Romney Administration will end the war in Afghanistan, and he proved abysmally ignorant of the dynamics of mass movements comprising the “Arab Spring.”

Biden exposed Ryan as a charlatan when he directed the audience to read two letters written by the Congressman, begging for stimulus money because he believed it would create jobs in his district, at the same time that he was denouncing the stimulus program as a sham and a failure.  This is the unmistakable mark of a charlatan.

Biden also exposed the fact that the numbers in the Romney/ Ryan tax plan just doesn’t add up.  And he also exposed the fact that the constant attacks on the investment in green energy are based on lies and misrepresentations.  The fact is that the investment in green energy projects is one of the best uses of public funds in American history, because it is laying the basis for a green economy that has the potential to wean the world off fossil fuels forever. Hence this is a technology that has the potential to save modern civilization.

As Biden adroitly pointed out, independent investigations have found the Green Energy program to be free of corruption.  But this hostile attitude toward the development of alternative sources of clean energy – while they cream in their jeans at the mere thought of  ripping up the countryside mining “clean coal,” drilling for oil and poisioning our aqufirs fracking for gas – exposes them as latter day neanderthals stuck in the technologies of the past, with no vision for the future.

Perhaps the most profound revelation about what Ryan really believes about individual liberty and the role of government came when Ryan was asked to state his position on abortion and he said he thought the matter should be left up to Congress to decide.  It was shocking!

The guy who prattles on as if he has diarrhea of the mouth about the evils of government regulation, wants the predominately male state legislatures to decide whether a woman can have an abortion!  Paul Ryan is a burlesque on a modern, enlightened statesman; a morally twisted poseur with a pathological passion for politics.

Joe Biden, who is a real man of the people in origin and philosophy, exposed him for just what he is: a sanctimonious fraud and shameless lackey for the Plutocrats.   I called it for Biden by a knockout!  Yet given the ignorance of the American electorate; the soulless sophistry of paid Republican flacks and  right-wing radio wags weaving a web of lies 24/7; plus their innocence of knowledge about relevant facts and the rules of evidence, who knows how the untutored mob will see it.


 Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York,
October 12,  2012

Playing the Race Card!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on October 5, 2012 by playthell
Crazy Johnny!  A recently minted white man spouting racist drivel

 On Race, Romney and the Republican Party

       While MittRomney’s chief surrogate Crazy John Sununu – an effete clueless old fart with an attitude – fires racist innuendos aimed at President Obama, as the election draws near, the Republicans reveal their true character as the party of angry white racist and greedy Wall Street Bankers.

This is a bizarre political formation; a party that defends the interests of the plutocrats while it’s mass base is composed of poor whites.  It is the Party of Abraham Lincoln, and was roundly hated by whites but loved by black people, when I was a boy growing up in Florida.

Afro-Americans loved the “Grand Old Party” for the simple reason that they opposed the Dixiecrats – the southern branch of the Democratic Party that was populated by unapologetic white racist who favored maintaining a legal racial caste system based on white supremacy.  But in the half century since I quit Florida, the Democrats have become the hated Party of the white majority while the Republicans are flourishing.

This radical transformation of political allegiance was sparked by the critical role Democrats played in passing Civil Rights legislation that destroyed the evil but legal caste system.  President Lyndon Johnson, who signed the Civil rights legislation into law, told his Press Secretary Bill Moyers after signing the 1965 Voting Rights Act that radically changed the political landscape of the south, the Democrats would lose the region to the Republicans for a generation.  He was right, but it has lasted longer than a generation.

Although the old de-jure racial caste system has been destroyed, and millions of whites would give a year off their lives to be able to hang out with Jay Z and Beyonce or Lebron James, and millions more would jump at the chance to spend an evening with the elegant and brilliant Black First Family in the White House, alas deep-seated racist feelings and resentment over black success linger among poor, working class, and especially elderly whites all over America.

These people long for a world has all but disappeared.  And they view the election of Barack Obama to the presidency as irrefutable evidence that the world they grew up in is gone with the wind.  That’s why we hear their pathetic and irrational cry about “taking our country back.” The rabid racists who cannot reconcile themselves to this unprecedented development in American politics that put a member of America’s traditionally untouchable caste in the Oval Office, a great leap forward, may number over half the white population.

Since the princes and powers of the Grand Obstructionist Party know they must attract a good percentage of this untutored mob in order to win national elections, they have been increasing hostile, disrespectful and openly racist toward the President, shamelessly employing age old racial stereotypes that are deeply embedded in the collective consciousness of white Americans.

Within the last two days John Sununu, whose status as a white man would have been an iffy proposition in Florida back in the day, has basically called the president a lazy coon who is too stupid to carry out the duties of the Presidency.  Rush Limbaugh – the philosopher king of the ignorant, racist, powerless white mob that comprise the Republican base – said yesterday that the President is unqualified because he has never had to earn anything in his life – unlike like Mitt and George Bush for instance.

And former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, a decadent old redneck cracker sophist posing as a political sage, said Barack is not a real President because he doesn’t do what a president is supposed to do.

This is the electoral strategy of the Grand Obstructionists Party, endorsed by the Mormon Bishop who leads them, at the dawning of the 21st century.  They have revived the strategy of playing to white racial resentments originally called the “Southern Strategy” that made the Republicans the favored party of the South and put both Nixon and Reagan in the White House.

In 1900 Dr. WEB DuBois predicted the color line would be the central problem of the 20th century and his prediction proved prophetic.  More than a hundred years later that line has been largely erased and become somewhat invisible; yet color prejudice remains a problem in the USA, and the Grand Obstructionist Party is making the most of it.


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 5, 2012