Archive for November, 2015

Playing Russian Roulette with the World!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on November 24, 2015 by playthell
Russian Fighter PlaneThe Russian Fighter Shot Down by Turkey
Drifting into Nuclear War over Syria

Caliph Ibrahim is laughing his ass off!   Here the powerful and meddlesome “crusaders” from the East and West – Russians and Americans – the infidels and swine eaters that have come to destroy his Caliphate, are about to destroy each other in a tragic/comic fiasco.   In fact, looking at the issues involved it is hard to foresee a solution that will not end badly.  The only question is how badly.

The Turkish Air Force has shot down a Russian fighter plane flying combat missions over Syria; the Turks say the Russians violated their airspace but the Russians deny it.  The radar records released by the Turks is confusing; which means that even if the Russian aircraft did violate Turkish air space it was  a close call and it lasted only a few moments before the Turks shot them down.

Listening to the television talking heads, even on CNN, one gets no clue as to how dangerous the present situation is. Hence most Americans have no idea of the catastrophe that confronts us as this dangerous drama unfolds.  As I write NATO is in an emergency meeting and President Putin is meeting with his advisors formulating a response.   This is the kind of situation that I have long feared and warned against; the kind of situation that could lead to a military confrontation between the US and Russia.

Looking at the situation objectively, one could argue that this was bound to happen.  The proximity of combat forces on conflicting and sometimes confusing missions made a US/Russian confrontation inevitable. The Russians are in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government, with whom they are allied.  Hence Russian firepower is directed at all the armed opponents of the Syrian government.

This puts them at odds with the US and NATO, who is committed to overthrowing the Syrian government; which makes NATO de-facto allies of ISIS, Al Qaeda, al Nuesra, and other Islamic Zealots whom NATO has defined as their paramount enemy. Hence the idea of a moderate opposition is a dangerous fiction; any arms that the US gives to anti-Assad forces will end up in the hands of the Jihadists.

As I write the world awaits the Russian response to the Turks and  depending what they decide to do in retaliation, the security of the entire world could suddenly be at stake.  The fact that a third rate country like Turkey could plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust demonstrates in no uncertain terms the folly of the NATO alliance, where the USA is bound to join Turkey and even Estonia in any military conflict in which they are engaged.

This might have made some sense during the Soviet era when were in a Cold War with Russia and forever trying to encircle and outflank them.   But it makes no sense at all today.  Alas, the nature of the alliance means it is a relic from another era, one that endangers US national security far more than it enhances it.  As I write President Obama is making a speech at a news conference with the President of France, whom he is huddling with in an attempt to put together a strategy for destroying the ISIS Caliphate.

However his speech rings hollow against the brewing crisis over the downed Russian plane by a member of NATO.  Yet I have listened intently and there has been no mention of the growing crisis in relations between the US and Russia.   If ever there was a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees this is it!   The eradication of ISIS is a picayune matter when compared to the possibility of an armed conflict between the US and Russia.

If any country had willfully shot down an American plane there would be no question of retaliation with superior military force.  Alas, should Russia respond in the way Americans would we could end up in a war between the world’s foremost nuclear  powers and NOBODY can  say how it will end.  Alas, while the French leader blathers on about building a grand coalition against ISIS at the White House, it seems further and further away.

This point is underscored by the anemic response to a question from reporters to President Obama.  His response was woefully inadequate given the gravitas of the issue.  Instead of expressing regret for the downing of the Russian plane he chose to lecture Russians on their policy of supporting the Assad government.  I thought it was arrogant and unfeeling.  Given the fact that Russia cannot hope to prevail in a military conflict with NATO, it would not surprise me if we find ourselves on the brink of a nuclear confrontation in the following days.

The Russian jet crashed into the Mountains
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And no one knows where it would lead

When a similar question about Turkey’s downing of the Russian fighter was put to the French Prime Minister, he followed the example of President Obama; pontificating about who the Russians must target in Syria, although they have no clue who is and is not a “terrorist” among the forces fighting President Assad. The self-righteous declarations of the US and French presidents cannot fail to be insulting to the national pride of the Russians. All the pugnacious buffoons who have been calling for establishing “no fly” zones in Syria, like the Republican presidential candidates, should take note.  These are very dangerous times indeed and pugnaceous motormouth airheads can only add to the danger!

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 24, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulsi Gabbard is Right on Syria!

Posted in On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on November 22, 2015 by playthell

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, waits for a photo with Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol after the new 113th Congress convened on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, in Washington. The official oath of office for all members of the House was administered earlier in the House chamber. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Military Officer, Combat Veteran and Congresswoman

 Barack Obama should listen to her Wise Counsel

While Hillary Clinton rattles her sabers and talks tough in an attempt to show that she is hawkish enough to be Commander-In-Chief, and most members of Congress support the Presidents dual policy of overthrowing the Assad government in Syria and defeating ISIS, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard – a Democrat from Hawaii – is boldly calling this policy what it is: a contradictory plan at war with itself that is doomed to failure!  Her logic is so impeccably clear it is puzzling that President Obama, and the Congress for that matter, does not see it, especially since it is supported by our recent history in the Middle East.  As a wise wag once observed, “To do the same thing over and over yet expect different results is the definition of madness!”

The central theme in Gabbard’s critique of US policy in Syria is that the goals of overthrowing President Assad and defeating ISIS are in conflict; both objectives cannot be achieved simultaneously and that, as in all realpolitique, we have to choose the lesser evil.  And she argues correctly, as does President Vladimir Putin of Russia, that Assad is the lesser evil.

While the two senior GOP Senators who covet the Oval office – John McCain and Lindsay Graham – advocate arming the “Syrian opposition” against Assad, and point to their military experience as policy credentials, Gabbard, who has actual combat experience in the region, unlike these old farts from the Vietnam era – dismisses their arguments and offers the following analysis.

“The US and the CIA should stop this illegal and counter-productive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and stay focused on who our enemy actually is: The Islamic Extremist Groups,” says Gabbard.  “Right now we can see why this is counter-productive…by working to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad we are strengthening our enemies, the Islamic extremists who will lock in and take over all of that country.”

Her reasoning is based on an astute recognition of reality that is supported by logic and the motion of history.  The points she makes that the overthrow of Assad would result in the expansion of Isis by placing control of Syria in their hands; CIA actions at the behest of the Obama Administration to overthrow Assad are illegal and US activities in Syria could result in an “accidental war” with Russia, who is a longtime ally of the Assad regime are irrefutable!

Although there can be no disputing the factual basis of her arguments – all of which I have made in several previous essays – it is a point of view that is seldom voiced by members of Congress.  While I am convinced this dangerous campaign of silence regarding these critical facts about the Syrian situation is partially the result of ignorance, which is bad enough, the imperatives of domestic politics is responsible for the silence of the chicken hawks who are willing to send our young people off to die on foreign soil in yet another misbegotten war while squandering trillions in American treasure and ponds of American blood.

However unlike these armchair warriors who talk tough out on the stump and on the floor of Congress, but will do anything to keep themselves or their progeny out of harm’s way, Gabbard is an officer in the Hawaiian National Guard who has done two tours of duty in Iraq.  Hence to her war is not a rhetorical abstraction she can exploit to win votes: It is a tragic fact.  She has lost friends and comrades in arms to wars in the Middle-East.  And she does not hesitate to cite their views on this matter.  And they all agree that American policy in Syria amounts to dangerous folly.

Major Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi-gabbard-promoted-major-courtesy-her-office

Earning her Brass

Although she does not employ this specific language in her criticism of US policy in Syria, her descriptions nevertheless corresponds closely with historian Barbara Tuchman’s view of folly in her important book “The March of Folly,” in which folly is defined as the continued pursuit of a policy that all the observable evidence demonstrates will end in disaster for the pursuer.  By this definition US policy in Syria may well prove to be Barack’s Folly.

This is why the President would do well to listen carefully to the advice of his Hawaiian home girl; for although she is a surfer babe who looks like a Playboy center fold, she is one smart tough cookie.   Hillary should thank her lucky stars Gabbard didn’t decide to throw her hat in the presidential race; given her eloquence, intelligence and fearless independence she might have proven as formidable an opponent as Barack.

Major Gabbard on the Battlefield
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A fearless leader of men

 An important part of the Congresswoman’s critique of US Syria policy is her observation that the overthrow of Assad will simply be a repeat of the catastrophic events in Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, et al.  In each case she correctly argues, a “secular dictatorship” was overthrown by the US and her allies only to result in an Islamic Jihadists take it over of the government.  It is astonishing that proponents of overthrowing the Assad government could have failed to grasp this tragic reality and wish to take us there again in only a decade.  If ever the philosopher George Santayana’s axiom rang true it is now: “Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.”

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This is a Multi-Media Presentation

Double click to watch Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard present her argument
https://youtu.be/IHkher6ceaA
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
November 2015

 

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Swings Berkeley

Posted in Cultural Matters, Music Reviews, Photo-Essays with tags , , on November 17, 2015 by playthell

 

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Maestro Marsilis conducts the Boys in the Band

 An Evening of Gilded Memories and Divine Music

Standing in front of Zellerbach Hall waiting for the great Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to hit, my mind was filled with random thoughts; all provoked by being in that particular place on that particular occasion.  The University of California at Berkley has a unique niche in my memory bank.  I first became aware of this campus in the 1960’s, over half a century ago, when it had a dual identity both as a center for radical ideas and activism, and the University with the most Nobel Laurates on its faculty.

Furthermore it was located in a part of America whose exotic manscapes and landcapes looked as if they had emerged from a fairy tale to my East Coast eyes.  The aura of “radical chic” was enhanced by the fact that Berkeley was located just across the Bay from San Francisco, then the home of the Hippy Counter-Culture which I had observed first hand upon my maiden voyage to the City, where I found myself living at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.

The Square outside Zellenboch Hall
First Choice

It was as if I had stumbled into an alien world unbeknownst to me.  I had been raised in the racially segregated black community in St. Augustine Florida, where I was socialized on the values of the “Talented Tenth;” the enlightened striving class who set high standards for the Afro-American community and guided us away from “the worst in our own and other races” as Dr. DuBois had called upon them to do in 1903.

And I made my maiden voyage to San Francisco directly from the comparatively staid and culturally conservative environment of Philadelphia.  I had driven up from Los Angeles with a young mathematician who had worked on the Appollo Space Project plotting maps around the moon. And her sister, a young MD, lived the Haight-Ashbury District.  It was the now iconic “Summer of Love,”  a time and place where like the song says “anything goes.”  It was sex, love, acid, Psydchelic rock music, and people were tuning on and tuning out. I was fairly shocked at the way white folks were carrying on in “the Haight.”  The few black folks I encountered were Jimi Hendrix acolytes, and at that time I thought Hendrix had lost his cotton pickin mind.

Me and the Mathematician

Playthell and Rose

Dr. Fine: My Sanfrancisco Guide

At the time I was a disciplined member of the leadership of the Revolutionary Action Movement – an armed underground movement of Afro-Americans which gave birth to the Black Panther Party of Oakland, a matter I have written about extensively elsewhere – and as a doctrinaire Maoist I viewed the entire counter-cultural movement as a mass exercise in bourgeois self-indulgence that only well off white folks could afford to fool with.  I was a soldier in the black struggle, a committed warrior intellectual who had been trained in the use of arms by the US military.

My first visit to the University of California Berkley was occasioned by an invitation to present a speech on the importance of Black Studies in the struggle to eradicate white racist ideology and behavior from American life.  Given the nature of the times – with massive urban riots in which it seemed that the torching of American cities had become common fare and the country was on the verge of race war – this subject matter was considered an urgent matter and Universities were trying to define a useful role they could play in resolving the racial crisis. Normally presenting this argument was easy work; I had already presented it with great success at universities and school boards across the country, including the Claremont Colleges and four of the campuses of the University of California.

But to my mind Berkeley was different.  I was all too aware that this was the incubator of the “Free Speech Movement,” an Ivory tower where great minds communed about perplexing problems in the social and physical world.  Hence when I walked through the imposing gates on Telegraph Ave and set foot on the campus I felt an intimidation that I had never felt before.  Nobody really knew me there yet I got a big audience because I was on the program with Afro-American writer Alex Haley, whose collaboration on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” had made him the most famous author in America, and read around the world.

At the time Haley was a Writer-in-Residence at the university and was working on a new book that he called “Before the Anger,” but was later published as “Roots,” an epic saga about African slavery in America that became one of the bestselling books in the history of publishing and was made into a riveting blockbuster television saga that made ratings history.  As a devotee of Brother Malcolm, whom I knew well, and a big fan of the book, I was delighted to meet Mr. Haley, whom I thought had done America a spiritual benefaction by writing the “Autobiography.”

He was a warm and unpretentious southern brother that reminded me of church deacons that I had known in Florida.  I expressed my gratitude for his labors which he accepted with grace. As I waited to go on after his remarks, I pondered how to approach this audience, who routinely heard great minds hold forth in this space.  It was as if I suddenly had a revelation; I heard an inner voice say “What would John the Prophet Do?”

It was not the biblical prophet that I had in mind but the modern day sound sorcerer John Coltrane, whose music we revolutionaries were convinced was the sound track of the black Revolution.  And when he showed up at a speech of mine in North Philly at a rally organized by radical activist/Jazz Pianist John Churchville, a leader in the Northern Student Movement and we spent the rest of the evening rapping, I was convinced that we were right….Trane told me so.  “I say it all with my horn young brother,” he replied when I invited him to speak to a Black history class I was teaching in the basement of Mt. Zion Church, pastored by the Reverend Doctor Leon Sullivan, “The Lion of Zion!”

After pondering the question for a moment, I decided that if Trane was in my place he would come out and wail, knowing there was no profounder musical truth than that which he was preaching….so that’s what I did.   The audience bought what I was selling – being a skilled orator trained by my aunt Rosa, an exacting tutor, made the task a lot lighter – and they rewarded me with a standing ovation! All of these memories swirled around in my head as I waited for the concert to start in Zellerbach Hall.

Although I am a former history professor who left the profession for other endeavors, I have never lost my love for the study of history and how it can illuminate our understanding of present realities.  It is especially gratifying when you can reflect on events that you participated in that have now become important historical milestones and the people now famous whom you knew back when.

I found special satisfaction in how Black Studies have become a standard part of university curriculums across this nation. This was not always true; I know because I was a co-founder of the first free standing, degree granting, Black Studies Department in the world at UMass Amherst in 1969, just a couple of years after I spoke on this campus, and we were the first to incorporate Jazz Studies taught by seminal artists into the curriculum when we awarded full professorships to instrumentalists/Composers/bandleaders Max Roach and Archie Shepp.

I also have a deep pride in what the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has made of itself since I was present at its inception and produced the most extensive media report on the opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center, presented on WBAI FM in New York. I have also worked on a book project with the world famous photographer Frank Stewart, who is the official photographer for the JALC Orchestra.

Titled “Magic Moments in the House of Swing,” the book documents some of the great performances in this Mecca of Jazz in words and pictures.  Some of my essays were written as program notes for important concerts at Rose Hall, and they were illustrated with Frank’s photos.  As I write the manuscript is finished but unpublished because publishers say a picture book is too expensive to publish correctly and books on Jazz don’t sell well enough for them to make the investment.

The slice of history that I was most conscious of that evening was a story told by Dr. Ortiz Walton – bassist extraordinaire, insightful music critic and Ph.D. in sociology – who had been a doctoral student when Duke Ellington and his Orchestra performed on campus circa 1966.   Walton – who would later write the great book “Music: Black, White and Blue” – was shocked and appalled by the absence of black students at the concert. In order to provide a scientific explanation for what was obvious evidence of a cultural disconnect Walton designed a questionnaire and administered it to the Black students at Berkeley, and the results provided evidence a cultural disaster!

The dominant answer of the black students was that they played past the concert because Duke Ellington’s band “didn’t play Black Music.”  Walton was astonished!  Duke Ellington, the greatest composer in the Afro-American musical tradition, had become a stranger to his progeny; a prophet without honor in his own land.  It was the predictable results of a music business driven by the imperatives of commerce rather than a commitment to promoting high culture, and a educational system that has either removed musical instruction altogether or continues to priviledge European concert music over the indigenous art music of America.

This experience led Walton to write two important books about music and the Afro-American tradition.  A musically ambidextrous virtuoso on the double bass violin, Walton was a principal bassist with the Cairo Symphony and also played with John Coltrane.  Like Wynton, he is a master of both musical Idioms.

Hence one of the things I paid close attention to was the number of black students, or young black people from whatever walk of life, who attended the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra concert.  Although half a century has passed since Duke’s band was here, and the world has turned upside down, black student disinterest in serious Afro-American art music has evidently remained pretty much the same. Here the old adage “the more things change the more they stay the same” applies.  The scant black presence at the concert dribbled off to near nothing when it came to young people, who were outnumbered by their elders despite, and among those that I talked to only one young couple were not musicians; the rest were all aspiring musicians.

However the diversity of the crowd and the young musicians who sought Wynton’s musical advice is eloquent testimony to the widespread influence of the Afro-American art of Jazz; which in its love of personal freedom and promotion of invention makes it the quintessentially American art. (see: “Jazz Around the World” on this site.)  And that art has never been on finer display than it was at Zellenbach auditorium on that enchanted evening.  The band, an aggregation of virtuosi on all instruments, was in fine form.  The ensemble play was perfectly balanced, with each musician contributing his unique voice to a musical tapestry composed of many intriguing colors.

The program moved effortlessly as the music went from the classic big band repertoire to the most modern Jazz styles; the entire tradition of complex Afro-American art music was traversed and each was true to the performance style of the period. The essence of Jazz is individual improvisation in conversation with the ensemble, which places the soloist at the center of the action.

Here the JALC orchestra offers an embarrassment of riches as each instrumentalist speaks with a highly original voice and individual style that moves the audience to repeated ovations.  I think the seeker would be hard pressed to find a Jazz orchestra that ever played the music better than this one, now or at any period in the past.

Maestro Marsalis: Leader of the Band
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The Brighest Star and Guiding Light

Wynton Marsalis, Pulitzer Prize winning composer and multiple Grammy winning trumpeter, remains the Orchestra’s guiding light as Artistic Director, as well as its most celebrated and inspirational performer.  When the orchestra sounded its last note the audience, hungry for more of these celestial blues drenched sounds that make body and soul dance, rose to its feet in a thunderous ovation and shouts of “Bravo!” rang out in the auditorium.

I have seen this Orchestra play many times; they are always excellent….and on this night in Berkeley they served up the music straight with no chaser, swinging hard and straight ahead.  The audience showed their love through vigorous applause when the musicians were on stage, and something akin to hero worship during the reception backstage when they got a chance to meet and greet them.  I was there, and I had my camera.  Below are some of my visual impressions of the evening.

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The sold out audience was mostly white, Asian…..
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………..and long in the tooth
 This couple were the only young black people……

Edit

…..who were not musicians
The Afro-Americans in attendance were Seasoned Fans

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Like Heidi Moore-Reynolds
Maestro Marsalis

Edited Version

Positions himself to meet and greet the crowd
And they came in droves

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Some just wanted to speak to the great artist
Other’s posed for Pictures

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A momento that, like fine wine, will grow more valuable with time
Other band members soon joined Wynton in the reception lounge

Ali edit

Ali Jackson shares tricks of the trade with a young drummer
Trombonist Don Gardner
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Imbibed Spirits with the adoring music lovers
A brilliant composer and arranger

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He always takes the time to talk with aspiring 
Alto Saxophonist / Arranger Ted Nash

 Edit III

Was right at home among the Cosmopolites
With Oakland’s City Council President Jane Doe on left

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And Sculptor/Professor Susannah Israel to his right
Sophisticated Ladies from all walks of life….

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……….vie for his Attention
 And Music students ask complex technical questions

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Demonstrating the proper embrocure for trumpet
Other times he conducts impromtu discourses

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Discussing weighty questions about music theory
The City Council President paid close attention

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And listened closely
So did Professor Israel

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Who gloried in the marvelous music and good company
Wynton autographed every program presented to him

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Most are musicians 
People from all backgrounds turn ot to hear the Band

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Proof that Jazz  lovers are EVERYWHERE!
And I was there with my Camera!
Wynton and Me - Copy - Copy - Copy
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Double click on links below to see the JALCO
Wynton and JALCO members tuning up before a concert
https://youtu.be/ZqtHqCIMyMs
Watch the Lincoln Center Orchestra in concert featuring Wayne shorter
https://youtu.be/yMFgqHuvF6U
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Text and Photos by: Playthell G. Benjamin
*** Cover photo and Wynton in Perormance by: Frank Stewart
****Photo of Playthell and Wynton by:Susannah Israel

Is Ben Carson Nuts?

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on November 12, 2015 by playthell
Dr. Ben Carson - Crazy
Dr. Ben Carson on the campaign trail

 An Idiot Savant Who is good with his hands?

Without a doubt the most interesting thing about the rise of Dr. Ben Carson as a leading candidate for the Republican presidency is that nobody has made an issue of his race.  That no one seems to notice this is further evidence of its uniqueness as an American political event.  Although Carson will be loath to admit it – given that he is the darling of the ignorant lunatic right that make up the Republican base – the reason his race is not an issue is because the outstanding presidency of Barack Obama has laid the silly question of whether a black man is capable of handling the job a moot point.

It is proof that the advice given to generations of black Americans by their teachers, preachers and parents is true: If you are the first black person to enter an arena you must be “twice as good” as your white competitors so that the door will remain open for the next black person to enter.  Arguably, Barack Obama has been more than thrice as good as his predecessor George W. Bush.

Despite his pristine Anglo-Saxon pedigree and Myriad advantages as the son of a former US President /plutocrat, the incompetence of George W. Bush  led to the first successful military assault on the US since the War of 1812 -despite several warnings of the impending attack; the worst collapse of the American economy since the Great Depression of the 1930’s; a war of choice against an un-offending nation that has destabilized the entire Middle East – which they had also been warned would happen by experts on the region – created ISIS and produced the conditions for a military conflict between the US and Russia that could easily spiral into a nuclear confrontation capable of destroying the world.  In fact, its gonna take a miracle to prevent this grim scenario from materializing.  Hence by any objective standard the leadership of Barack Obama – who corrected course, stabilized the sinking ship of state, and kept the nation afloat – has been a blessing.

It is incontestable that Ben Carson greatly benefits from the fact that he is running in a political environment in which a sitting black President saved the American Auto industry; led the economic recovery from the Bush crash; protected the American homeland from major terrorist attack; killed Osama bin Laden; kept the USA from starting anymore foreign wars; provided the American people with an affordable health care plan;  made equal pay for women the law; blocked the environmentally disastrous dirty oil pipeline from Canada; signed a major nuclear arms treaty with Russia and won a coveted Nobel Peace Prize for it, and many other achievements far too numerous to list here.

However the data is easily available online for anyone who wants to find it. And the book “The New New Deal,” which details how wisely the 700 billion dollars appropriated under the Economic Recovery Act was invested in the public interest free of any evidence of corruption is readily available on Amazon.

Barack The Maginificent!

Barack being fortified with the laying on of hands.

Church Leaders Laying on Hands

Although our President has been dubbed “Barack the Magnificent” by the great and wise Calypsonian “Mighty Sparrow,” a Trinidadian, Ben Carson has not, and will not, admit his debt to President Obama is yet another example of how contemptuous he, and the Republican Party in general, is of the truth.  As I write Carson is deeply embroiled in multiple controversies about things he wrote in his Autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” which cannot be corroborated by independent investigations conducted by professional journalists.

As it looks increasingly probable that Dr. Carson was lying about several incidents that are critical to the myth he has carefully constructed about himself, the pertinent question is why?  When Dr. Carson wrote this book he was already considered one of the greatest neuro-surgeons in the world.  And he had risen to this exalted status from the slums of a deindustrializing Detroit.  As the son of a single working class mother he had not been afforded any of the advantages that most kids who go to Yale and become world renowned surgeons took for granted.  He had done it all by his own hard work, exceptional intelligence and iron discipline; a model of intestinal fortitude fueled by grand ambitions.

This would be an outstanding resume for anyone.  Hence the question is why did he feel the need to invent a series of incidents to embellish this already marvelous story?  One thing is certain; we won’t get an explanation from Dr. Carson, the author of these fables.   Indeed he has decided to adopt a stance West Indians call “wrong and strong.”

When reporters interrogate him about his claims to have met with General Westmoreland, the commander of US forces in the Vietnam War, at a time and place that the General’s schedule shows he was not present; or his claim to have sheltered white students in the biology lab of his high-school during black rioting following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, which none of the white former students interviewed by reporters remember; or the offer of a scholarship to West Point, when admission to the elite military academy is by congressional appointment and all expenses are paid, Carson becomes surly and accuses the press of being out to get him.

 Carson in a Hissy Fit
Ben Carson IV
The Liberal Media are after Me!

A rank amateur at the art and science of politics, Carson evidently had no idea of the intense media scrutiny he would receive if it looked like he could end up in the Oval office.  Now he is running around like a chicken with a freshly wrung neck leveling ridiculous charges against the press; which will only insure that they will increase the scrutiny and all the skeletons in his closet as well as the bald faced lies he has told will be uncovered and held up to public scrutiny. In other words, he has chosen a self-destructive path from which it is difficult to forsee a road to victory.

As I write the press continues to break new stories about Carson that cast further doubt about his veracity and raises new questions about his character.  For instance the Washington Post just broke a story about Dr. Carson being a defendent in a paternity suit brought by an unidentified woman in Florida, which Carson denounces as “blackmail,” yet refuses to submit to a paternity test.

This response does not pass the smell test; as a doctor Carson knows that the easiest way to determine truth from a lie in this instance is to take a DNA test.  So what’s up wit dat?  Carson may be viewed as a victim by anti-media conspiracy kooks and the fundamentalist fanatics on the Christian Right, but he is increasingly looking like a pathological liar and pompous prick to the rest of us.  Yet despite the hysterical claims that the “liberal media” is out to get him the question remains: Why did Ben Carson fabricate stories about his life?

It is conventional wisdom among medical professionals that talented surgeons suffer from “a God complex.”  When you consider what they do it is not hard to imagine how they might develop such an inflated self-concept because some of the things that they can do are God like.  Saving lives by entering a person’s body and removing malignant organs or correcting the function of body parts to make them perform better, even transplanting organs from one body to another, replacing faulty parts with good ones like taking your car to a body shop, is incredible stuff that we mere mortals can only marvel at.  Thus it is not hard to understand how a person who is capable of such amazing feats, that literally give people new and better lives, could develop a God Complex.

Alas, despite his attempts to appear humble, Ben Carson is beginning to come across as a raging megalomaniac who is out of touch with reality.  His response to a reporter who questioned him about whether he would submit to brain surgery conducted by someone who had never attempted it before reveals the extent of his egomania and hubris.

He contemptuously dismissed the question with the comment that anyone who would ask such a question, suggesting it is analogous to his run for the presidency has no idea of the level of intelligence and skill it takes to conduct neuro-surgery.   It is such a silly statement, unconnected from any sense of reality, one is forced to wonder if he is delusional, on drugs or some special species of idiot savant: a guy who performs life enhancing miracles in the operating room and spouts dangerous life threatening drivel outside.

If we followed Dr. Ben Carson’s prescriptions it would result in the deaths of many innocent people; whether we are talking about affordable health care, gun control, or his militaristic views on foreign relations – especially our relations with Russia, which would hasten the pace of our movement toward nuclear catastrophe in which millions would perish.

Given his religious fanaticism it is worth asking if Dr. Carson would welcome such a doomsday scenario, after all many fundamentalist Christians  believe that the world will end in a fiery holocust come the Rapture, which will follow the Battle of Armegeddon when God and the Devil has the final throw down; the brawl for ir all!   As crazy as this may sound to rational people, there are millions of Americans who actually believe this deranged fantasy and many of them believe that the holocaust fortold in the Bible represents nuclear war between Russia – the forces of evil, and the US the elect of God.

One need only listen to the things Carson says regarding US-Russian relations to become suspicious of whether he shares these views.  Among the things Dr. Carson has advocated on the record is “We should fight them everywhere” and “We need to be supplying weapons to the Ukraine.” This is a plan of action that would lead inexorably to a war with Russia.

Since any military conflict with the US would involve all the members of NATO, a military alliance that the US has craftily constructed to surround Russia militarily – violating the spirit if not the letter of the agreements that ended the cold war – the Russians would have no choice but to go on a nuclear alert, and should the conflict proceed we could accidentally slide into nuclear war.

The way Carson talks about setting up a “no fly zone” in Syria and ordering American planes to intercept any Russian aircraft that crosses it suggests that he views the situation like a schoolyard fight where one kid draws a line in the sand and dares  the other to cross it.  He even employs the language of a school yard fight, calling Vladimir Putin a “bully” who we have to “stand up to.”   As outrageous as his statements on the Affordable Health Act are, or the self-aggrandizing lies he tells to spice up his life narrative, they pale in relation to his positons on a nuclear armed and increasingly nervous Russia.

To any sane and sober observer it is clear that the election of Dr. Ben Carson – a medical version of “Dr. Strangelove” – is a terrifying thought.  Hence, contrary to his cries of harassment by the “liberal media,” bringing out the truth about just what a whacko Carson is represents their finest hour.  It is amusing to hear right-wing whites who are borderline racist accuse the press of attacking Carson because he is black!

It is a scurrilous charge that insults both the integrity of honest reporters and the intelligence of the American electorate.  The fact is that, as I previously pointed out, race has nothing to do with Carson’s troubles with the press; it is his incessant lying about his personal history and his willingness to say anything to placate the crazies in the Republican base – people who can only support a black person who is willing to deny his people’s history of oppression – i.e. the real history of the USA.

A case in point is how he speaks of America’s history of “freedom,” this from a man that would have been a slave when the constitution was written, and whose children could be auctioned off like piglets –a wretched condition that lasted 250 years!  Another striking example is his support of white racist flying the Confederate flag at NASCAR events, flying in the face of the struggle by black and white Americans to remove this symbol of slavery and treason from American life after the mass murder in a South Carolina church by a young white mass murderer who was enamored of the flag and all that it symbolized. .   The things that Carson says in defense of these positions suggest a man who is totally out of touch with reality.

For instance he says: “Swastikas are a symbol of hate for some people, too. And yet they still exist in museums and places like that. If it’s a majority of people in that area who want it to fly, I certainly wouldn’t take it down.”  This comment won him the endorsement of the retired redneck NASCAR star Richard Petty, who describes the doctor as “very humane.”  Carson is so ignorant of the world beyond the operating room he comes across as a character in a comedy of the absurd.

He apparently does not know that flying a Nazi flag in public is illegal in Germany, and if those rednecks dared to fly a Nazi flag over their events the organized Jewish community would drive NASCAR into obscurity and ruin by getting all the major corporate sponsors  withdraw their support and no television networks would broadcast their races – including FOX.  NASCAR would revert to the backwoods cracker event that it used to be. And they well know it; so that’s not going to happen.  Is this guy really so out of it that he cannot distinguish the difference between displaying a Nazi flag in a museum exhibit denouncing Nazism and triumphantly flying a Confederate flag at a NASCAR race?

Whatever one may decide in this instance, the overall character of his comments – of which we have discussed a representative sample – suggests that he is either a soulless charlatan ready to tell as many lies as he thinks he needs to in order to advance his political career; a colossal ignoramus about history, politics, economics and foreign affairs; or he has serious mental problems.  His performance in the Republican primary debate tonight, November 10th, leaves no doubt that he is an ignoramus in all of these critical areas.  He is a super-lightweight vying for the Heavy-Weight crown of politics, and his mental stability remains an open question.

How then do we explain his appeal to so many white Republicans? After all, they have put him within a few points of the lead in the Republican presidential campaign, heads and shoulders above capable career politicians like Governors Jeb Bush, John Kaicish and the governor of New Jersey, all of whom are talking crazier in an effort to compete with the frontrunners Trump and Carson. I believe the answer to this enigma lies in the nature of the contemporary Republican/Tea Party.

This is a party that has built a worldview based upon the denial of science, failure to recognize the international realities but clings to the outmoded and dangerous ideology of “American Exceptionalism,” rejection of the facts of US history, weaving a web of outright lies about their democratic opponents, and continues to refer to Russia as the “Soviet Union.”

It is also a party that resists taxing the rich among us despite a mountain of evidence that the distribution of wealth between the rich and the rest of us is economically inefficient; morally bankrupt and unchristian; openly despises the government as an institution and has convinced millions of Americans that the Federal government, which they elect, is also their enemy.  It is no wonder that such a party cannot govern.  The recent Republican rule under George Bush more than adequately makes this point.

Given the bizarre world of the Grand Obstructionist Party it is not surprising that Ben Carson looks like a hero to his base and a weirdo to the rest of us.   Carson is common fare for black Republicans; whom I have repeatedly pointed out are all strange birds – remember Herman “Suga” Cain and “Uncle” Justice Thomas, Mr. “Nine Nine Nine” and the black mummy on the Supreme Court who acts like a sounding board for the opinions of that right-wing greaser Antonin Scalia.  There seems no end to the irrational things Carson has said he believes; his vociferous insistence that the Pyramids of ancient Egypt were a granaries built by Joseph to store grain for the Jewish people, not tombs for the pharaohs as archaeologists have demonstrated for over a century.

 As dangerous a religious fanatic as any ISIS soldier
Dr. ben carson professes his religion
Nobody told this egotistical Buffoon that the US is a secular society?

 He clings to this silly belief despite the fact that, as the big builder and political rival Donald Trump pointed out, the Pyramids are solid rock structures with room for little else except the pharaoh’s tombs.  This kind of information is very easy to research, but Carson says he got his information from the Bible, which suggests that Carson has no interest in factual information or scientific analysis outside of the medical field.

This is reason enough to confidently conclude that to elect him President would be a danger to the entire world!  After all the known facts are carefully considered, one thing is certain: Something is missing in the mind and character of Ben Carson that unsuits him to be the Chief Executive of the American government and especially Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces – the last thing the world needs now is another tough talking religious zealot and reckless chicken hawk directing American firepower.    If I had to sum it up succinctly, I’d say the guy is nuts!

To View some of Carson’s Lunacy Click Links Below 
https://youtu.be/hb1LgGlk3tw
On the origins of the Universe and Evolution
Hear Dr. Ben Carson’s prescription for starting a nuclear war
https://youtu.be/tTaDo-QrXP4

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Playthell Benjamin
Harlem, New York
November IIth 2015