Archive for the On Domestic Terrorism Category

Pete Souza’s Images of the Obama Years!

Posted in Obamas The Way Pete Sousa Saw Them, On Domestic Terrorism with tags , on October 18, 2020 by playthell

The Time of Her Life! A 106 Year Old Senior Dances With the First Lady

Photography as a Cultural Document and Political Weapon

From the moment the great Afro-American Abolitionist activist orator/writer Frederick Douglass saw the new art of photography, introduced to America by the black New Orleans photographer Jules Lion, who had worked with it’s inventor in Paris, Douglass recognized it’s potential as a powerful weapon to fight the racist images of black Americans propagated by white Americans in drawings, dolls and the developing black face minstrel show. We were provided a powerful example of Douglass’ vision in action in the marvelous television  special featuring selected images from the almost two million photographs of the Obamas, shot by the official White House photographer.

If you missed “The Way I See It,”  an hour- long documentary on MSNBC featuring the photographs and commentary of Pete Souza, the White House photographer for the entire eight years of the Obama Administration, you slept on a great cultural event.  Many of the photographs that we all loved – like the fist bump with the Hispanic cleaner in the White House, and the little 5 year old black boy who wanted to rub President Obama’s head, to see if Obama’s hair was the same as his – and all those magical love scenes between Barack and Michelle…REAL LOVE, not that staged fake BS between Don that Con and Melania Mannequin – were shot by Pete Souza.

Real Love!

The Kinda Love that You feel…..

****When you feel what you never felt before!

As a lover of photography, and having shot a few thousand pictures, I was especially moved by Mr. Souza’s work because his approach to photography is the same as mine. I am not a big fan of posed pictures – although it is an art and some great artists have produced stunning works. But when I had my exhibition “The Elegance of Afro-Americans,”* I sought to capture our folks just going bout their business lookin good the way we do it!

Pete Souza’s work is guided by this approach to his job as White House photographer. And what he produced is a treasure trove of marvelous images. Which standing alone testifies to President Obama’s generosity of spirit, his sense of humor, his love and concern for the American people. Mr. Souza also produced poignant images that captured President Obama’s devotion to his children…and his profound love for ALL children.

Hangin with da Boyz

Happy and Nappy

Black Like Me?
Barack Loves the Babies!

Truth be Told….He’s a Baby Whisperer….Cause they Can Sense it

He also shows how the Obama girls Melia and Sasha, received the best of parenting; how they were molded and polished like black diamonds by  two fabulous black women: His wife and her wise mother under whose guidance cultivated Michelle into the  formidable woman she is.

 Obama and His Ladies: Michelle, Sasha and Melia

America’s Black, Brown and Beige First Family

Watching their family life as it unfolded, not staged scenes for the publicity mill like the photographs we see from the Trump White House, we recognize how much the nation has lost, our moral decline, now that the Obama’s have been replaced by a mobbed up real estate flim flam man from the Big Apple and his Euro-trash wife.

A college dropout, and soft porn model who lied about having a college degree in “architectural design,” Melania is so stupid she actually read Michelle Obama’s speech verbatim claiming it was her own.  Alas,  while Michelle was a successful Harvard trained corporate lawyer, who once mentored Barack in the law, the Mannequin’s greatest accomplishment is hooking the trick of a lifetime and accidently becoming America’s First Lady….with critical Russian help.  The disastrous fall from highly accomplished, Ivy League educated, meritocrats, to white trash with money in the White House, is poignantly portrayed in the photographic record of Pete Sousa.  The photos speak for themselves.

The Portrait of Barack Obama in his official role as Chief Executive of the USA, is compelling.  We are provided a bird’s eye view of the inner workings of the Obama Administration at critical moments in the history of the United States.  Here Mr. Souza’s voice over commentary adds powerful perspective to the visual images he created.  We are there in the situation room when the Islamic Jihadist leader Osama Bin Laden – master mind of the 9/11 terrorist attack – was taken out.  We watch President Obama save the American auto industry from collapse, in his efforts to salvage the economy from the mess the Republicans made under George Bush, and we witness the trial and tribulations of the ordeal mirrored in his face and body language.  But we also witness the joy and jubilation President Obama and his Democratic colleagues experience when thy achieved major victories like the passage of the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare.”

Commanding the Daring Take Down of Osama Bin Ladin

Jubilation!

Applauding the Brilliance of Speaker Pelosi in Passing Obamacare

Then there are the lighter moments that tell us so much about the character of President Obama and his First lady.  Like the time during the Second Inauguration ceremony when Souza asked Barack if he could join he and Michelle in the presidential limousine, and he said no, because they were planning on “making out” in the back seat during the procession down the boulevard!   And the time he was playing a one on one mano a mano game of basketball with his assistant Reggie Love.

Posterizing Reggie!!!

Barack Replaced the Bowling Alley with A B-Ball Court
The President Confronts the King on His Court

Souza pointed out that although Barack failed to make the starting five on his High-school basket-ball squad in Hawaii, and was six inches shorter that the former star of the formidable Duke University varsity basketball team, Barack, whom we see had mad hops from other shots of  him in action on the court, blocked Reggie’s shot!   And Souza says President Obama asked if he had captured the block and insisted that he blow the photograph up to poster size and hang it on the White house Wall.  He says Barack was the most competitive player he had seen.

Interestingly enough, it was Barack’s basketball game that won over her father and brother.  Her father had always counselled her brother that if you want to take the measure of a man’s character get him on the basketball court. A view that no doubt flowed from the glorious Basketball tradition of Black Chicago.  And as a Princeton basketball star, and Division I basketball coach, he had quite an insight into what a player’s game said about their character.  Amazingly, what he saw in Barack on the Basketball court, and reported to Michelle,  turned out to be a reliable indicator of the way he behaved as husband and father. And how he acted as President.

The fact that Pete Souza became fonder of Barack the more he saw of him – and having total unfettered access he saw a lot – tells us volumes about the kind of man President Obama was.  For there is more than a little truth in the old adage: “No man is a hero to his butler!”  Well, Souza had  more access to the President than any British Butler ever had to the princes and powers that ruled Great Britain.  And yet his admiration grew into genuine affection.   Indeed,  Souza has published two books of his photographs, one of which is titled “Shade,” where he adds captions to his photographs candidly showing the contrast between President Obama and Dirty Donnie Dimwit – as man and politician.

Souza shows that Barack is one of the very few men who can walk as an equal with kings; yet retain the common touch.  This is demonstrated over and again in word and images from almost two million photographs, the way Souza sees it in this graphic gift to the world, this generous spiritual benefaction, that will never stop giving. Future historians will find this a pearl of inestimable value, which delights Pete Souza, who rightly considers his work “a first draft of history.”

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Playthell G. Benjamin
 Harlem, New York
 October 17, 2020

 How Souza Saw it Through His Camera Lens

My Favorite Things…

Obviously, with two million photographs to choose from, all of them with a special beauty, one is overwhelmed by the embarrassment of riches.  Hence selecting among them must be viewed as nothing more than the reflection of one’s biases, a reflection of personal.  And has been often noted: “There is no accounting for personal taste.”  It is, alas, what it is.   So, here are a few of my favorite things.  If you click on the link below you can hear the great John Coltrane – whose music Barack, like myself, adores – playing “My Favorite Things” as you view the pictures.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWG2dsXV5HI

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A Black and Tan Fantasy!

The Sound Portrait Maestro Ellington Had in Mind 
Daddy’s Girl

She Will Always Hold Men to High Standards
Ole!  Dancing the Tango with Panache

Doopus Donnie Dimwit can’t Groove Like This!
Smooching With his Boo

I Only Have Eyes For You

A Sunday Kinda Love

The Kind that Lasts Past Saturday Night
You Can Always Tell the Good Guys

Cause They Love to Play with Babies*****
******And Pets

They Are Embraced By the Righteous

Paying Homage to John Lewis: An An Elder on Whose Shoulders he Stands
And Chill With Holy Men

The Pope’s Pronouncements are Revered as Dogma by Millions
Good Guys See People as Just People

A Real Man of Faith: All Are Equal in the Eyes of God
Good Guys are Always Trying to Improve….

The Man in the Mirror….

And Maintain their Cool
Even If They Are the most Powerful Man in the World!

Pete Souza Saw it All

Bearing witness With His Cameras

His Poignant Images A Benefaction to Our Posterity

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But What If They Are Wrong?

Posted in On Domestic Terrorism, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on June 17, 2013 by playthell

New Yorkers running for their lives on 9-11

              New Yorkers Running For Their Lives on 9/11         

Are the Leakers Endangering National Security?

As I listen to the media chatterboxes scream bloody murder over revelations that the National Security Agency has been monitoring the phone calls of US citizens in an attempt to foil terrorist plots, I am amazed at the combination of naiveté and self-importance exhibited by many of the commentators.  To listen to them talk about their fears that the government may be spying on them one is forced to question the extent to which these people have a grasp on reality.

I have some questions for them: If you are not engaged in a criminal enterprise or a terrorist plot what are you worried about?  And if you are worried about someone listening in on an embarrassing conversation, why don’t you just stop whacking off on the phone or dangling your weenie in cyberspace like former Congressman Weiner?   And do you really believe that your personal privacy should be given a higher priority by our government than protecting the nation from a devastating terrorist attack?  Do you believe that the Obama Administration is using the effort to defend the American people against terrorism as a smoke screen to disguise his real purpose, which is to spy on the American people and create files on everybody because he is a tyrant that wants to enslave us all?

If you believe these things you are a paranoid ignoramus, or a self- righteous libertarian, which are dangerous personality disorders that can lead you to do some really crazy things.  Like expose classified documents and other government secrets which are lawfully held and that you have sworn not to disclose as a condition of accepting employment under the threat of severe legal sanction should you violate this agreement.  This is what Edward Snowden agreed to of his own free will when he applied for a Top Secret security clearance and took a job working for the Central Intelligence Agency, and later as an independent contractor providing computer related services.

Predictably conspiracy theorists on the left and right, who view our government as an oppressive apparatus out to reduce us all into some kind of new age slaves – despite the fact that we voted for them and can easily remove them with our votes – have declared Snowden and his ilk to be heroes.  If we listen to the conspiracy mongers in the press and elsewhere one would think we were living in a police state, where a dissenting opinion will land you in a dungeon somewhere or in front of a firing squad – since that’s what happens in a real police state.  It is all absurd!

However people who believe this hysterical Tommy Rot and applaud Snowden for breaking his confidentiality agreement also view him as a champion of the American people in their struggle to free themselves from an oppressive government.  But I agree with the lawyer/journalist/legal scholar Jeffry Toobin who observes: “For this, some, including my colleague John Cassidy, are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.”  This is also a fitting description of and prescription for Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame and his partner in crime Private Bradley Manning.

Listening to young progressive broadcast journalists like Chris Hayes and others on MSNBC – the liberal/left counterstatement to that burlesque on journalism FOX News – who are all over this story as if they think it is a new Watergate, we see how far afield some of them have gone.  Chris Hayes pronounced with great pomposity that he never gave Facebook and Google permission to give the government access to his information, and conclude that these social media corporations “are in trouble.”

It is hard to imagine how anyone could be more clueless.  If he thinks these companies are going to suffer any substantial loss of business over this he is thoroughly deluded.  Most Americans think thwarting terrorists is more important than the concerns that exercise him.  And they don’t care if the government has to look at their phone and internet records to do it; especially since they feel they have nothing to hide.  I think the response of Lawrence O’Donnell after quietly listening to Chris Hayes’ passionate fulminations on this question is typical of most Americans: “I have heard nothing among the things you point out that scares me,” he calmly pronounced. To which I say “ditto!”

Furthermore, the press doesn’t rank that high in the opinion of average Americans – which is a tragedy because we need a strong independent press – so these Prima Donnas who can’t resist preening before the cameras had better watch their step!  They could be engaging in self-immolation.  Especially if people get the impression that they are endangering national security by publishing classified intelligence documents.  For instance there are claims from the intelligence community that this type of electronic surveillance has foiled terrorist plots in 20 different countries as well as the USA.

When compared to this record, concerns from average citizens about somebody in the government snooping on their lives sounds trite, if not ridiculous, since many of these peopled don’t even find their lives interesting themselves; let alone some government intelligence official trying to uncover a terrorist plot.  As I wrote in “Barack Obama and the Global Jihad, posted on December 16, 2011, “The measures President Obama is taking to wage war against the Jihadists is neither unprecedented nor unconstitutional.”

What Americans who are concerned with protecting civil liberties for the majority of law abiding citizens should really be worried about is what will happen to our democracy if the Jihadists should succeed in detonating a dirty bomb or nuclear weapon in a heavily populated American metropolis.  Should this ever happen, we will lose all of our civil liberties with popular consent!  People will be so frightened by the horror of it all they will agree to anything if they it will make them safer.

The three times Pulitzer Prize winning foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, Thomas L. Freedman echoes my sentiments exactly in a June 12, 2013 column titled Blowing a Whistle.   “Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11 – abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened.  But I worry even more about another 9/11…not because I don’t care about civil liberties, but because…I believe that if there is one more 9/11 – or worse, an attack involving nuclear material – it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it.  If there is another 9/11 I fear that 99% of Americans would tell their members of Congress: ‘Do whatever you need to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again.”

They Jihadist are at work recruiting soldiers for Al Islam 24/7

Uprising

To join the fight against the “Great Satan”
 And they have an unlimited number of fanatics to recruit from!
Blog_0 And we have got to keep them and US associates under Surveillance

Those Libertarians and other anti-government hysterics who argue that the NSA survelliance programs are unconstitutional because they violate the privacy rights guaranteed under the 4th Amendment should first of all read the text, and then they should bear in mind that the Constitution “means” whatever the Supreme Court says it means at any given time.

The history of constitutional law leaves no doubt about that assertion.  We have but to consider the Court’s decisions in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, and Brown V. the Board of Education in 1954 to find irrefutable evidence for this claim.  Hence when the text of the 4th Amendment prohibits “unreasonable” search and seizures they purposely left room for interpretation depending upon the conditions that prevail at the time.  And I have no doubt that were they confronted with a shadowy, sinister, deadly, enemy who have already committed mass murder against American citizens and are preparing to do it again  – or far worse – once they get the opportunity, the architects of the US Constitution would find the NSA survelliance program entirely reasonable!

The burden of proof in demonstrating that the program is unreasonable falls on the critics.  For as Abraham Lincoln said during the terrible Civil War: “The constitution is not a suicide pact!”  And as for the likes of Private Bradley, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, and this guy Snowden: I think they should be tried under the espionage act and hung for giving aide to the enemy during war time – preferably on Prime time television in order to discourage others that may be thinking about following their example!

The know it all  whiners who think these leakers are heroes, defenders of our freedom, glibly assure us that Jihadists terror attacks can be checkmated without the kind of electronic surveillance the NSA is conducting………but suppose they are wrong?

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
June 17, 2013

  

 

On Terrorism and Civil Liberties

Posted in On Domestic Terrorism with tags , on April 16, 2013 by playthell
A runner and race officials react to an explosion during the Boston MarathonBombs Exploding at Boston Marathon

 Is Freedom and Domestic Tranquility Incompatible?

As we witnessed the carnage from the Boston Marathon in living color on CNN – a sporting event which has been held without incident, except for an unruly drunk here and there, for 117 years – an old friend of mine who has lived in New York City for over 70 years turned to me and asked: “Is this what the future of American society looks like?  Will we ever return to the feelings of peace and security that I have known most of my life?”

I was tempted to say that his was the view of a black man that has always lived in the North, because Afro-Americans of his generation who grew up in the South lived under the constant threat of terrorism from our white neighbors, a fact I can personally attest to, but I understood what he meant.

What he was really asking is whether incidents of random carnage wrought by bombs or mass shootings, whether from foreign or domestic sources, is the “new normal” in America?  In view of the frequency of these events it is a reasonable question.  The massacre of innocents are now occurring so often that the public is becoming emotionally detached, desensitized.   It is a means of retaining one’s sanity and maintaining one’s cool, because the alternative is to become paranoid and paralyzed with fear.  Some people are becoming afraid to go out of the house.

A Massive Intelligence Failure

imagesCAP7Z1YT

Reaping What We Sowed

It is easy for anyone with an active imagination to conjure up terrorist attacks that have not happened yet, but would be so easy to pull off you wonder whi it hasn’t happened.  What is most frightening about this fact is that if it is possible for ordinary citizens to imagine these catastrophic scenarios…it is certain that the pros have thought of it.  The only mystery is why they have not done it.  When we think of such horrors as derailing high speed passenger trains, placing bombs in the New York subway system at rush hour, igniting a tanker truck filled with highly flammable gas in a tunnel at drive time, or downing passenger jets with shoulder held surface to air missiles – which were given to the Jihadists by the US Reagan Administration and trained in their use by the CIA, when they were the “heoric” Mujahidin fighting the Russians in Afghanistan – it is enough to make one paranoid and scared to go anywhere.

An Afghan/Arab Mujahidin firing a Stinger Missile

afgh-rpg-o9

They can take down a plane and Reagan considered them Heroes!

The alternative to this is to go about your business with an optimism that is based more on faith that everything will be alright than a sober assessment of contemporary American realities.  Of course statisticians  will pull out their calculators and insure us that there is a small probability that any one of us will become a victim of terrorist attacks – but it is unconvincing to the people from the sleepy bedroom community of New Town Connecticut, who just months ago witnessed the mass slaughter of their children in their school, and then barley missed being blown to bits as the ran in the Boston marathon in remembrance of their slain children.

It is also unconvincing to the lady who survived a mass shooting only to end up in another mass slaughter by a mad gunman in a dark movie theater in Aurora Illinois.  And the staticians are also unconvinving to those of us witnessing these tragedies on television.  The frequency of mass murderers and the diversity of their targets – whether by home grown or foreign terrorist, and assorted mad men with military assault weapons looking for an easy path to newspaper headlines and the history books – is creating an increasing sense of insecurity and borderline panic in the American people.  What Dr. DuBois said about the murderous violence directed against black Americans by whites in the early 20th century, has become true for random violence directed against all Americans: “Not all the time but anytime…not everywhere but anywhere.”

As Congressman Bennie Thompson, of the Homeland Security Committee is pointing out on MSNBC as I write, there are a 1000 organizations in the US identified in Homeland Security reports as having terrorist affiliations or objectives.  This is a sobering fact that right-wing Republicans were quick to deny as a liberal attack against “conservatives.”  It gives us some idea of the complexity of the job that those tasked with maintaining “domestic tranquility,” a fundamental role of government as defined in the US Constitution, are faced with.

With the recent assassinations of law enforcement officials – prosecutors in Texas and a Commissioner of prisons in Colorado – police agencies are confronted with an unprecedented threat to maintaining law and order.  There can be no greater evidence of this than the fact that a federal prosecuter quit the investigation of the Aryan brotherhoodin Texas for reasons of “personal security.”  The emergence of foreign and domestic terrorists willing to commit mass murder and assassinations of those whom we have elected to maintain the peace, requires the American government to adopt unprecedented measures to arrest their efforts at creating chaos in America.

This requires us to think the previously unthinkable, to ask questions that would have made one a Pariah in polite company not so long ago. Yet despite its odiousness to virtually every American, the question must be asked: In order to insure domestic tranquility must Americans be willing to abridge or even surrender some of our constitutional rights?

For instance, I believe that the only way to solve the growing carnage from gun violence is to repeal the Second Amendment, and make the penalty for illegal possession of a gun so Draconian that most people won’t even fantasize  about it.  And we would rely on the police for protection from criminals the way other advanced civilized nations do.

And should we become convinced that the American proclivity for slaughtering each other with guns – routinely producing far more casualties on the “peaceful” home front than on foreign battle fields – is a cultural problem, then we must not hesitate to ban certain kinds of violence in television, movies, and print media.  We must do this even if it means abridging the First Amendment.

I say this as a left-wing libertarian, one who believes the role of government should be to  maintain domestic tranquility, defend the nation against foreign enemies, and “give people stuff,” as Mitt Romney inelegantly put it – taxing the rich at whatever rate necissary to pay for it.  I have long been suspect of the government having the power to control free expression whether in politics, entertainment or serious literature.  And of course I consider academic discourse sacrosanct; yet in the absence of domestic tranquility the quality of life, such as it is, will be greatly degraded.

Thus the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness – which the Founders thought was divinely ordained – will surely slip our grasp.  Hence the fundamental question that confronts American civilization at this juncture in our history is: Can American society successfully fight the forces of terrorism – which  will eventually destroy our peace of mind, imperil our personal security and diminish  the quality of our lives – while simultaneously preserving our civil liberties as we have previously enjoyed them.

To be, or not to be, totally free: that is the question.  In seeking an answer to this troublesome riddle, considering the fact that their are home grown lunatics running around with assault rifiles wreaking havoc everywhere, and legions of fanatical Islamic Jihadists who have dedicated their lives to killing as many Americans as possible by whatever means they can,  inshallah, I would remind the reader to consider Abraham Lincoln’s response when he was called a tyrant for suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War: “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

A Day at the Races….
US-MARATHON-BLAST

…..ain’t what it used to be!

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New york

March/15/03