Archive for the Playthell on politics Category

Donald Trump’s Economic Plan: SOS!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags on August 13, 2016 by playthell

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers an economic policy speech to the Detroit Economic Club, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Charlatan at Work

Trump’s Message is same old Republican Shit

It is both accurate and charitable to say that Donald Trump’s new economic plan presented before the Detroit Economic Club last Monday is just old Republican wine in a new bottle.  He may try to change the label and brand himself a bold innovator – which is not the only illusion he confuses with reality – but it really is the same old Republican babble.   As has been noted by more than a few political wise guys, except for his anti-free trade protectionist rhetoric – which is heresy to the Republican establishment – Trump’s speech could have been given by any run-of-the-mill Republican politico!  This is because it was a script written by professional party propagandist and delivered by Trump.

The major distinction of Trump’s speech – aside from repudiating much of the dream that he has been selling the impassioned but woefully untutored mob that form the foundation of his support – is his tendency to tell blatant lies that can be easily disproved by a simple fact check, even when speaking in venues where the press is omnipresent. Although the Republican Party has thrived on lies and mass disinformation over the last 20 years, “The Donald” has taken it to new heights.  And since this arrogant churl constantly bullies the press, they will be sure to point it out every time he tells a whopper.

In the present speech fact checkers have pointed out at least 16 outright lies involving a range of issues such as Clinton’s tax proposals and her husband’s role in passing NAFTA, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.  PolitiFact, one of the more reliable sources, gave Trump a “Pants on Fire” rating – their most severe rating for liars – about his claim that Clinton promised to raise taxes on the middle class in a public statement.

A fact check quickly proved that she said the exact the opposite.   But this is characteristic of the veracity of Trump’s comments about Clinton’s tax policy – virtually everything the rascal said has been shown to be a lie by the fact checkers in the Washington Post. Then there is Trump’s constant wail about the evils of NAFTA and how the Clinton’s imposed this treaty on the nation, destroying the American industrial sector. He even claims that act accounts for the jobless rate among the working class whites who once flourished during the period of industrial prosperity when America was a manufacturing giant and huge factories littered the landscape.

However the truth is that Hillary had nothing to do with that, and while her husband introduced the Bill and shepherded it through Congress, it was George H. W. Bush that actually negotiated the agreement. Hence passing NAFTA was a bi-partisan effort.  Furthermore, when the Agreement came up for a vote in Congress the Republicans voted for it in greater numbers than the Democrats!  The leaders of the Democratic majority in the House – Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, and Majority Whip David Bonner – both opposed it!

When the vote was taken NAFTA passed by 34 votes 235 to 200, with 132 Republicans voting for it, as opposed to only 102 Democrats. It passed the Senate 61-38, 34 Republicans vs 27 Democrats.   NAFTA became law on January 1, 1994.  However to listen to Trump talk it was the evil Bill and Hillary Clinton that imposed this monstrous agreement on the US and it is responsible for the present employment crisis in the white working class.  This, like all of Trump’s arguments, is a shameless lie born of ignorance, nurtured on malice and presented with duplicity.

Reduced to its simplest terms Trump’s economic policy is based on the traditional pillars of Republican economic dogma: Sharply reduce corporate taxes, abolish the inheritance tax, and cut back government regulation of business. Since there is nothing in these policies that directly benefit the beleaguered workers who seek their salvation in Trump, as an afterthought he threw in a tax deduction for child care expenses which he claims was the brain child of his daughter Ivana, whom he claims is concerned about the plight of working mothers because she is one herself.

But since few poor working mothers file itemized tax returns this measure will be of no benefit to them alas. Ironically this deduction will benefit wealthy people like Ivana because there is no limit on the costs covered by this deduction. Trump’s economic plan is a rehash of the “Laffer Curve,” or “Supply Side Economics,” which postulates the hokum that if we give more money to the rich i.e. the “job creators,” they will in turn invest in the US economy and create more employment opportunities which will greatly reduce the unemployment rate.

However most jobs in the US today are created by small business, and when I interviewed business owners in New York, Atlanta and LA they all told me the same thing: Tax breaks alone will not prompt them to hire more workers.  That is determined by market conditions i.e. a demand for their goods or services.  Absent that demand they will simply save the tax cut or invest it elsewhere.

This type of  decision is adopted even more so  regarding the big multi-national corporations which are owned by investors all over the world and have no loyalty to nation states. Hence the decisions made by the executives, and corporate Boards of Directors that oversee their activities, are guided by the desire to constantly increase profits, not provide employment for unemployed American factory workers.  To suggest otherwise is a cold blooded deception and nobody knows this better than Donald Trump, who manufactures all of his products in foreign sweatshops lcated in places like China and Vietnam.

It is a transparent con by a megalomaniacal bunko artist and pathological liar who believes he can tell his fanatical blue collar supporters anything and they will believe it. In a moment of extreme hubris he declared: “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it!”   The truth is that Trump does not have a clue how to solve the problem of growing joblessness.  The guy is an amoral showman who will say whatever will get his act a laugh.  He even treats his wife like a prop.

The Donald and our Future First Lady?

DONALD TRUMP AND OUR FUTURE FIRST LADY

The Donald Trump show….Playing to the Cheap Seats

He has promised to bring the giant manufacturing companies back to the US if elected President, but he fails to explain how he will make autonomous corporations in a privately owned economy do his bidding. The US government does not have the power to tell businessmen where they must locate their plants.

Trump tells us that he can make these corporations do his bidding by slapping exorbitant tariffs on their goods when they try to sell them in the US market. But that will result in a dramatic rise in prices for these goods, which are in great demand by American consumers, unless he also institutes price controls.  He has also promised to “renegotiate” trade agreements like NAFTA.

Although he often talks like he thinks he is running for Benevolent Dictator rather than President, the fact is that no American president has the power to do such things.  In order to carry out these policies “The Donald” will have to gain the approval of Congress and since the Republican Party is committed to “free trade” theology his chances of pulling it off are about equal to a snowball’s chances of survival in hell.

Yet even if Trump could lure these corporations back to the US with extravagant tax holidays, the plants they build will be robotized.  This fact brings us face to face with the real problem confronting the working class; what the great British economist John Maynard Keynes, the architect of the “New Deal” that did much to halt the economic collapse of the 1930’s, called “technological unemployment” and the US autoworker /economic analyst James Boggs called “the cybernation of the economy” in his 1960 book “The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker’s Notebook.

Ironically, Boggs was a resident of Detroit when he penned this text, and Detroit was one of the world’s leading industrial centers.  Viewed from historical perspective both of these writers have proven to be prescient thinkers because there predictions have come to pass. The workers rendered obsolete by the advance of technology have vastly increased just as Keynes warned, and Detroit has turned into an economic wasteland as industrial work disappeared.

It is worth noting however, that neither Keyes nor Boggs foresaw the creation of the internet, which has been the midwife to the expanding phenomenon of globalization that has exported those manufacturing jobs that still exist  to the underdeveloped countries where workers are so desperately poor they will work for a fraction of what unionized workers demand in the advanced economies of the US and Europe.

All of these factors help to explain why the US economy emerged from the devastating Bush Depression yet left seven million workers who were employed before the crash unemployed.  Far too many politicians and policy wonks treated the economic collapse under Bush as if it were the same class of event as the Great Depression of the 30’s. But the persistence of unacceptably high unemployment after the “recovery” is caused by different forces.

The present crisis of the working class is not due to the traditional “boom and bust” of the business cycle, but to permanent changes in the structure of the US economy.  While our government planners refuse to look this problem squarely in the face and respond to what they see, there are other thoughtful analyst who are pointing to the real problem in books like “The Rise of the Robots” and “People Get Ready,”

In a review/essay on the book for the New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich, who has written so perceptively about the problems of finding employment at a living wage in the contemporary American economy, noted that the disappearance of work has not been given the attention it deserves because the educated classes considered it a problem that only affected unskilled workers.  Then she issues a note of caution.

But, as Martin Ford documents in “Rise of the Robots,” the job-eating maw of technology now threatens even the nimblest and most expensively educated. Lawyers, radiologists and software designers, among others, have seen their work evaporate to India or China. Tasks that would seem to require a distinctively human capacity for nuance are increasingly assigned to algorithms, like the ones currently being introduced to grade essays on college exams. Particularly terrifying to me, computer programs can now write clear, publishable articles, and, as Ford reports, Wired magazine quotes an expert’s prediction that within about a decade 90 percent of news articles will be computer-­generated.  It’s impossible to read “Rise of the Robots” — for review anyway — without thinking about how the business of book reviewing could itself be automated and possibly improved by computers.”

This is the reality that political leaders must address because the nature of the solution required cannot be left up to the investor class. It is not in their interest to solve this problem; they are only interested in maximizing their profits.  We know from in depth sociological studies of the dire consequence of widespread and prolonged joblessness such as “When Work Disappears,” by Harvard sociologist William J. Wilson, the absence of honest work at a living wage for large numbers of any community affects everything.  Homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse; crime and incarceration rates; suicide and marriage rates, and the number of out of wedlock births, are all affected by widespread structural unemployment.

This is what’s driving the alarming rates of all these pathologies among the white working class, which has the fastest rising death rate of any demographic in American society.  The high incidence of opiate and alcohol addiction is a sure sign of extreme stress among them.  Interestingly, black men have been suffering from these maladies for decades but most Americans – especially working a lower middle class whites – never connected this to the stresses resulting from the absence of employment opportunities.

It is no small irony that many of those who benefitted from the institutional  racism that kept black men – and women of all races – out of the good jobs in manufacturing and the trades are these same white male workers.  Having been born into a society where just being a straight white male gave them a built in advantage, they cannot cope with a transformed social order.  In today’s economy employment discrimination based on race and gender is a crime, and the educational demands of the economy take precedence over race or gender.

Hence unskilled white industrial workers are gradually discovering what non-white workers have been experiencing for a while: they are an anachronism…..DonTrump othe odd man out.  They are lost souls, insecure in the present and pessimistic about the future.  And that makes them easy pickings for a fast talking charlatan from queens, who honed his salesman skills as a real estate huckster in Manhattan and a TV reality show host.

What can be fairly predicted from the facts at hand alas, is that The Donald has sold them a dream that would quickly become a nightmare if he were elected President.  His plan for a massive tax giveaway to the rich; tacking tariffs on imported goods; loosening regulation of the business and financial sector; scrapping the Affordable Health Care Act, while introducing a large scale American military force back into the Middle East quagmire, is essentially the same formula that brought on the bad old days of the Bush collapse!

Hence we can safely predict that the angry white mob that revere Trump will find no salvation in his economic plans for America.   It’s the same old shit!

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
August 2016

 

Paul Ryan is a Shameless Charlatan!

Posted in On the 2016 Presidential Election, Playthell on politics with tags , on July 10, 2016 by playthell
Paul Ryan - charlatan
Paul Ryan: Bunko Artist

On Playing Politics with National Security

It is nearly impossible to find a principled Republican these days.  In fact, it is becoming something of an oxymoron.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way they routinely deal with the dangerous enigma that is Donald Trump – talking out of both sides of their mouth in an attempt to endorse him as their presidential candidate while disassociating themselves from his offensive and often anti-Republican ideas – and now their response to the FBI investigation into the E-mail accounts of Hillary Clinton.  After making much ado about nothing when Bill Clinton and Attorney Lynch had an unscheduled meeting on the tarmac of an airport where both of their planes were parked, the Republicans in Congress are now refusing to accept the FBI report and the recommendations of the FBI Director.

No one personifies this Republican duplicity more than Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House, a sleazy apparently amoral guy who will compromise the integrity of his office for political advantage.  This is not the first occasion that I have pointed out these flaws in Speaker Ryan’s character.  During his run for Vice-President with Mitt Romney topping the ticket I wrote four essays on Ryan.

In one essay titled “Is Ryan a Bullshit Artist” I pointed out “Ryan is trying his best to bury his intellectual debt to the atheistic Russian Social Darwinist philosopher Ayn Rand.” But “MSNBC host Laurence O’Donnell aired a video tape…recorded in 2008, where Ryan tells us that Rand is the source of his entire political philosophy; he says that she inspired him to enter politics to help realize her vision of society.  And he required all of his congressional staff to read and discuss Rand’s books “Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” 

“Then, with a devilish Grin,” I reminded the reader “O’ Donnell produced some rare footage of Ms. Ryan in an interview with Johnny Carson where she scoffs at the idea of God, said the family was not a necessary institution, and said the Vietnam war was and said he Vietnam war was an absurd American imperialism.  She is also on Record calling Ronald Reagan a moron!”  All of these positions of Ms. Rand contradict core Republican beliefs. Yet these blatant contradictions had no discernable effect on Mr. Ryan as he went merrily about his way like a drunken man running down the street and stumbles across the naked truth but gets up runs on as if nothing had happened.

When subjected to rigorous inquiries about his cold-blooded economic proposals Ryan said that his ideas were based on “traditional Catholic teachings” on social policy.  However it quickly became apparent that this duplicitous scam artist would find no sanctuary in the Catholic Church.  For as I reminded the reader “Catholic theologians and the Council of Bishops rebuked him for elevating the teachings of Ayn Rand on the ideal society over the teachings of Jesus Christ…If  Mitt is Mr. Chameleon  Ryan is trying his best to become “The Invisible Man.”

This is the tactic Ryan is presently employing in the Presidential race, where he is trying to support the Republican presidential race without mentioning their deeply flawed candidate’s name.  Hence he has adopted a strategy of tearing down Hillary Clinton without risking his political credibility by building up Donald Trump.  He has very much been the Invisible Man when it comes to singing the praises of Trump.

Indeed it is only when viewed from this perspective that one can understand the contrast between his extreme caution in supporting Trump with his reckless demand that Hillary Clinton be denied access to the classified National Security briefings that are given to presidential nominees…despite the fact that from all appearances she might well be the next president of the USA!

Yet Ryan has no objection to this Top Secret intelligence be given to Donald Trump – an undisciplined, unprincipled, megalomaniac and compulsive liar with the temperament of a schoolyard bully.  A joker whom Ryan finds an embarrassment and supports with the attitude of Hollywood stunt man who must hold his breath and role in horseshit because the script calls for it.

Paul Ryan would deny Inteligence Reports to Hillary

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina campaign kickoff rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

And give them to this guy?

This is an act of shameless political opportunism that would compromise the national security of this country if Ryan’s request were granted.  But since such an act is the prerogative of the executive branch, which means that President Obama would have to sign off on it.  Nobody knows better than Congressman Ryan that there is no chance of this happening, so it is an act of transparent and shameless duplicity designed to gain a partisan political advantage in the presidential elections.

This is clearly the act of a charlatan who is willing to play Russian Roulette with the fate of the nation in order to win an election.  It is a good thing that the America electorate was wise enough not to put this flawed man just a heartbeat away from the presidency.

***************************

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
July 7, 2016

Is Donald Trump a Uniquely American Fascist?

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , on March 14, 2016 by playthell

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina campaign kickoff rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Inciting the Passions of the untutored reactionary mob

On Fascism American Style

“It all depends on me”
Adolph Hitler, Nazi Rally
We are going to do things that nobody else can do…who can fix things better than me”
Donald Trump, Vermont rally

 At first glance the rise of multi-billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump as a hero of the white working class seems paradoxical; since his interests and that of his class and cronies are diametrically opposed to the concerns and interests of workers.  Alas Trump’s appeal to that class of voters reflects the age old tendency for desperate people to turn to the “strong man” for salvation; they invest this savior figure with nearly omnipotent powers and come to believe that their fate depends on him.  These are ideal conditions for the rise of demagogues and dictators.  More often than not such men are megalomaniacs who come to believe that they alone can lead the nation.

That’s Donald Trump’s view of his role in American politics…the man who will “Make America great again,” and he reminds me of another charismatic megalomaniacal demagogue: Adolph Hitler, who pledged to restore Germany to her former glory and create a regime that would rule the world for a thousand years.  Furthermore, even as I write many people who attend Trump’s rallies conjure images of German Brown Shirts at Hitler’s Rallies; snatching signs from protestors, verbally abusing them and even physically assaulting them.

Furthermore, they conduct these odious anti-democratic activities with the urging of Donald Trump, who told his security people to throw a protestor out and “confiscate his coat” although they were in Vermont and there was freezing weather outside! Things have gotten so bad that his recent rally at the University of Chicago degenerated into a full scale brawl and Trump’s appearance had to be cancelled.  Trump’s home town newspaper – The Daily News – who know him best summed up Trump’s campaign in bold headlines on its cover page: “BLOOD ON DON’S HANDS.”

Verbally assaulting dissenters in the audience was also a tactic employed by George Wallace – a home grown white Fascist – and can be seen on films of his mass meetings.  As I write Tom Turnipseed, the Executive Director of George Wallace’s presidential campaign in 1968, when he was the candidate of the American Independence Party,  says that Trump is running a campaign very much like that of George Wallace!   This is no picayune matter, beause the Independence Party was based on the same racial ideology as the German Nazi’s, who borrowed it from the USA – see “Some Unpleasant Truths.”* The reason that Tom has come forth is because he and Wallace would later repent for their racist deeds and denounce racism.  Hence his comments about the Trump campaign are enlightening and offer rare insights that cannot be found elsewhere.

“They both understood the use of fear” says Turnipseed.  With Wallace it was “the blacks are taking over, with Trump its Mexicans and Chinese.  They are a lot alike.” Peggy Wallace Kennedy, George’s daughter, who has denounced her father’s racist past, says Trump is nastier than her father. Mrs. Turnipseed, Tom’s wife, pointed out yet another way that the Wallace and Trump political styles are alike.  “They attract large crowds and get people all fired up and angry by describing the problems they face, but they don’t offer any solutions.”

Hence the American Independent Party, which was organized by George Wallace as a white Christian Nationalist party, mostly composed of working class Protestants that openly advocated white supremacy enforced by the legal and extra-legal use of organized violence had much in common with the German National Socialist. All of these factors are characteristic of a fascist movement and can be clearly observed in Trump’s campaign.

Alas, one need only compare the podium styles of classic fascist leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini to  Trump’s stump style in photographs and film – – i.e. hysterical facial expressions and body language accompained by hyperbolic belligerent rhetoric – to recognize the similarity of their modus operandi.  Furthermore, if one conducts a comparative analysis of Hitler’s speech which preceded his declaration of war on the US, with Trump’s speech in Vermont on January 8, you will find that both speeches are based on a series of blatant lies!   Yet in both cases their adoring audiences clung to their every word as if it was the gospels, and their response bordered on the kind of mass hysteria one observes among religious fundamentalists…true believers.  (See the video links below)

Adolph on the Stump
Adolph Hitler III
Inciting the untutored Mob
Donald Trump on the Stump

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina campaign kickoff rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini II
Notice the hysterical expressions on all their faces!

Ever since I became aware of the history of European political movements in the twentieth century, a little over fifty years ago, I have heard speculations about the possibility of those radical European political movements succeeding in the USA: especially Communism and Fascism.  I was first introduced to this discourse by old activists on the left; many of them had been radical unionists who believed that the advent of socialism was inevitable because the increasing inequality of income and wealth under capitalism would result in a revolt of the masses against the plutocrats led by the organized working class.  As Marx put it, the inherent contradictions in the capitalist system “will produce its grave diggers.”

Hence choosing a plutocrat as their leader makes as much sense as poor whites in the antebellum south, whose poverty was the result of the fact that they were competing with the slave laborers of the planter class, going off to war to fight and die to preserve this system, and the descendants continue to celebrate this shameful historical embarrassment!

White workers then, and now, are caught up in a tragic paradox.  And the poor southern whites who reject Barack Obama, the best friend they have ever had in the Oval Office, or is likely to have in that Office, in favor of a cynical, coldblooded plutocrat and vain braggart like Donald Trump – a soulless demagogue who is simply exploiting them with empty rhetoric and couldn’t care less about their concerns.  “The Donald” wouldn’t piss on one of these poor whites if he saw them on fire during a stroll in Central Park.

Of course the view of the western proletariat as the historically appointed leader of the world revolution that would end the exploitation of the working class by capitalists was conceived in the 19th century by the brilliant political economist/materialist philosopher Karl Marx.  However as the Chinese American philosopher Grace Lee Boggs pointed out in a conversation with this writer, “Marx could not have even imagined the world we live in.  In Marx’s time smokestacks in large cities were viewed as a sign of human progress; today we know that they could spell our doom.”  I have also talked to many skeptics who believe that the white American working class is more likely to support fascism than socialism.

Alas, judging from the swelling crowds of white workers that greet Donald Trump’s every public appearance; they may prove to be right!  Everywhere Trump goes he is greeted with tumultuous applause reminiscent of the kind of crowds that turned out for Sarah Palin – the former Republican Vice-Presidential candidate whose principal contribution to American politics was to make ignorance fashionable, and the rejection of reportage from reliable journalistic sources.  Through her persistent use of the term “Lame Street Media,” the Alaskan Barbarian has convinced the “Dumb Doras” and “Joe Six Packs” to be suspicious of serious news organizations that strive for objectivity, in favor of the politicized propaganda of unreliable sources like FOX Network news or empty talking radio heads like Rush Limbaugh and Sea Hannity.

These people, who number in the millions, are so confused about the political forces at play, and which of these players are committed to addressing their pressing economic and cultural concerns – i.e. returning prayer in schools; outlawing abortion; banning gay marriage; et al – that they have fallen under the spell of a verbose megalomaniacal ignoramus who may understand business but very little about history, sociology, science, foreign relations and military matters.  All of which are essential tools for good governance in the complex political and natural environment of the 21st century.  Trump’s speech at Vermont on 1/8/2016 is a model of the phenomenon that I am describing.  All the factors are there.  In many ways he reminds me of Hitler, but in a wholly American way.

If Adolph Hitler had not been a militaristic  Austrian Corporal drunk on German romanticism and myths of Nordic superiority, but a pragmatic fast talking New York real estate huckster with a salesman’s gift of gab; a television reality show host who has mastered the medium;  gifted with a comedian’s timing and a friendly fascist smile, he would be Donald Trump.

In his book “Friendly Fascism,” written 35 years ago,  Bertram Gross makes the following observation about the character of American Fascism: “ The unifying element in this unfolding logic is the capital-accumulation imperative of the world’s leading capitalist forces, creatively adjusted to meet the challenges of the many crises I have outlined. This is quite different from the catch-up imperatives of the Italian, German, and Japanese leaders after World War I. Nor would its working out necessarily require a charismatic dictator, one-party rule, glorification of the State, dissolution of legislatures, termination of multiparty elections, ultranationalism, or attacks on rationality.”

The essential truth of this observation is verified in the rise of Donald Trump.  However I would point out that in Trump we do not have a “charismatic dictator” only because the American system of checks and balances will not allow it.  But Trump is a “charismatic revivalist,” who plays the same role of all-knowing “strong man” who express the anxieties and grievances of his followers with dynamic oratory that convinces them that he alone possesses  the will and the way to solving the nation’s pressing problems.  Furthermore they are also “Ultranationalists” and regularly assault logic – even the indisputable truths revealed by the scientist of climate change.  Hence in Trump and his followers we can clearly observe several prominent features of classic fascism in the “Friendly Fascist” that Gross outlined.

The audience Trump was speaking to were bummed out white workers and people struggling to remain in the lower middle class. It was obvious from their responses to the mindless drivel flowing from Trump’s pie hole, masquerading as serious political oratory, that these people are the proto-type of “Low Information Voters.”  Poorly educated, disillusioned, frustrated, struggling white workers; many of whom are lost souls that witnessed their world of white privilege disappear like ice sickles in the blazing sun.  They are the same demographic that brought Hitler and Mussolini to power in Germany and Italy during the 1930’s.

One has only to listen to the daily broadcast of Rush Limbaugh to see why he has been branded an American clone of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda for the Nazi Reich, by Arthur Fromer; who was part of a US Army intelligence team dispatched to Germany right after the fall of the Reich to investigate the critical role of radio in the rise of Nazism.

Since I have already written about this issue I will not belabor it here (see: Is Rush an American Goebbels”)   Hence Fromer knows whereof he speaks and is as close to an unimpeachable source as one is likely to find.  It is enough to witness Sarah Palin firing up the crowd with racist anti-Obama rhetoric at an outdoor rally in Strongsville Ohio and compare it to film footage of Hitler and Mussolini – see clips at bottom of essay – to recognize that they are the same class of phenomenon.

Alas, Trump has infinitely greater means to communicate mass propaganda, since neither television nor the internet existed during the rise of the Nazi’s.  And this augmented power to beam controlled messages in sound image and text into the brains of millions of Americans means that Trump can create the hysteria the Nazi’s produced in the German people in far less time.

Although several of Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans have openly called him a “Fascist,” none have defined what they mean by it.  Originally this term was designed to describe several far rightwing movements that developed in Italy, Germany and Japan in the first half of the twentieth century, spawning dictatorial regimes that promised the people economic prosperity and a return to national greatness.

This was the mantra of the Fascist Party in Italy, National Socialist in Germany, and the Empire of the Rising Sun in Japan.  Each of these regimes had their individual characteristics; which is determined by national character and cultural styles. These are precisely the same things that Trump is promising although with a made in America style that resembles a television game show host – a uniquely American invention.

Hence Hitler’s militarism has deep roots in German history and culture.  A highly intellectual culture, thoughtful Germans had long debated the relative merits of the soldier and statesman vs the philosopher and poet to society.  Which was the higher calling?  At times, the ever present militarist tradition of Prussia ruled the nation’s sensibilities, and it is that tradition that Hitler tapped into as he campainged in the aftermath of the German defeat in World War I and the imposition of the humiliating terms of the Versallies Treaty on Germany.

The Japanese before World War II considered the Emperor a divine figure and the military was the emperor’s sword. With a long and brilliant military history based in the Samurai tradition, they confronted the rising tide of white world domination expressed by the invasion of the colored nations, colonizing them, stealing their lands and resources while reducing them to slaves in their own countries, yet the white nations of the world refused to even consider Japanese demands that racism be made a crime under international law at the 1919 Versailles Conference to shape the new world order in the aftermath of World War I.

Hence the Japanese militarized their society and declared the right of Japan to build an empire across Asia by armed force in the name of their divine emperor.  The called it “The Empire of the Rising Sun,” and adopted the slogan “Asia for the Asians.”  For an insightful and broadly learned analysis of this development see “Race War” by the distinguished historian Dr. Gerald Horne.  And Benito Mussolini, who claims to have  invented the term “fascist,” of course promised to restore the glories of ancient Rome.  Just as “The Donald” has pleged to “make America great again” by building up the military to such fire power “nobody will dare meess with us again!”

In America the most admired and celebrated figure is the millionaire and billionaire businessman/woman.  More people aspire to this status than any other.  Even our greatest athletes, and artists, along with powerful politicians genuflect to these plutocrats like ancient Israelites bowed down before the golden calf; who oftentimes own them body and soul.

When Trump combines his exalted status as billionaire with the deep seated traditions of paranoia and populism in American politics it is no mystery why a politically ignorant businessman like Donald Trump is attracting such crowds among the disillusioned and untutored white working class mob as he brazenly flaunts his wealth.  They see him as their Deliverer alas.

As I listened to the hope the white workers at the Vermont rally place in him, if I didn’t know better I would have thought they were talking about Jesus Christ.  It is a naïve hope invested in a charlatan who cannot possibly fulfill his promises.  Hence they shall become even more combustible when they feel betrayed yet again; the way they feel about the Republican establishment now; which is what created this opening for Trump.  The Poet Laureate of Harlem Langston speaks to the consequences of this kind of mass disillusionment in his powerful poem, What Happens to a Dream Deferred?   “Does it sag like a heavy load….or does it explode!”

Like desperate people throughout history, going back to ancient times – demagogue is an ancient Greek word that describes a person who deceives the masses into believing that he cares about their troubles while using them to pursue his own interests – poor whites that support Trump are turning to a “strong man” who has lured them into his camp by telling the “big lie” that the cause of their economic problems is a “stupid” black president – although Obama actually saved them from complete economic ruin after the Republicans wrecked the economy – unpopular minorities who should be driven from the country or put in their place if they stay; just like Hitler scapegoated German Jews. And Trump is proving Dr. Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich, correct: “If you tell a big lie to enough people often enough they will believe it.”  Trump is also proving the truth of Thomas Jefferson’s warning “An ignorant electorate will elect and return the worst people to power.”

Based on the observable evidence it is safe to conclude that Trump is a charlatan with fascistic tendencies – albeit American style with a fake salesman smile and informal demeanor that reminds me of the comedian Joan Rivers’ shtick “can we talk” – who is poised to seize the Republican nomination. This is a truly frightening possibility. All Americans should ask what, for instance, does Trump mean when he talks about the police acting too “politically correct” in dealing with demonstrators?  What does history tell us about how demonstrators were made to pay a price for lawfully assembling.  Well I think of “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmond Pettis Bridge in Alabama, and since he was referring to college students at the University of Chicago Kent State especially comes to mind.  For those who don’t remember the Kent State Massacre please note the Photograph below!

Is this what Trump Envisions?
Kent state and Donald Trump

Once he gets the nomination of the Grand Obstructionist Party Trump will have a chance of becoming president; which would be a catastrophe for America and the world. All progressives must now quit the squabbling among themselves and join the struggle to stop this dangerous egomaniac with a messiah complex. Our marching orders must be: “No enemies on the left!”  Do you hear that Corny West?

The Universal Fascist Salute!

Benito Mussoini

Benito Mussolini: The Father of Fascism
Donald Trump

Donald Trump giving Fascist Salute

American Fascists and Leading Republican candidate for President
Woman at a Trump Rally

Donald Trump's Fascist supporter

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  • Read “Some Unpleasant Truths” at:
https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2010/05/01/some-unpleasnt-truths-about-the-arizona-law/ant Truths
The McCain Palin Mob in Strongsville Ohio
https://youtu.be/KjxzmaXAg9E
Hitler’s Speech Declaring War on USA (English Subtitles)
https://youtu.be/QJf4yEOkMXY
Like Donald Trump’s Speech in Vermont both are streams of lies!
https://youtu.be/g0NbmltHQH0
Donald Trump Inciting Violence at his Rallies

Donald Trump Making Americans Hate Each Other!

An Excellent Well Researched Documentary Placing Trump in the Fascist Tradition
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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
March 13, 2016

Hail and Farewell!

Posted in On the State of the Union 2016, Playthell on politics with tags on January 20, 2016 by playthell
Barack Obama's last State of the Union -January 12, 2016
Barack’s Swan Song to Congress

 President Obama on the State of the Union

President Obama leaves the Washington scene as he entered: A brilliant and humane visionary promoting policies that will benefit Americans and the world.  In his final State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, he has never been clearer or more forceful in stating that vision; indeed he was Solomonic in his wisdom about the human condition at the dawn of the twenty first century.

In an oration that combined a relaxed demeanor with soaring eloquence, he was both the gifted politician and erudite professor tutoring us on the facts of his achievements as President, which by any objective standard is a sterling record admired around the world, and presenting a detailed vision of where the nation must go now… what is to be done.

It is the task of this essay to conduct a content analysis of his presentation and consider some of the critical questions addressed by the President as the end of his historic presidency draws nigh; the full significance of which will be the subject of lively discussion among historians a hundred years hence.  Since journalism is considered “the first draft of history” by professional historians, this is my contribution to the discussion.

Barack was showered with kisses from the ladies as he made his way to the podium in the grand entrance that marks the opening of this annual Joint Session of Congress, convened for the special purpose of hearing the President report on the condition of our nation.  After a brief introduction by a stiff, stone faced, Paul Ryan – whose position as Speaker of the House required him to speak well of the President, although his demeanor was that of a circus performer who holds his nose and kisses a pig because it’s a critical part of his act – Obama began his report on the State of the Union.   With a bit of humor to break the ice, he quickly put the GOP reactionaries at ease by giving props to their Speaker.

It was textbook perfect, the way all the instructional manuals on public speaking tell you how to do it.  And it disarmed them, nullifying their hostilities for the moment.

Tonight marks the eighth year I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.” Said the president with a chuckle; referring to the presidential primary race.  Then he offered an olive branch to Speaker Ryan: “I also understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we’ll achieve this year are low. Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families.”

Having acknowledged the rare occasion when Congressional members of the Grand Obstructionist Party worked constructively with him in conducting the people’s business as they were elected to do; the President optimistically noted,” So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.”  Hence in the space of eight and a half lines President Obama expressed humor, grace and hope; an excellent way to open a speech to a chamber half filled with venomous Republican adversaries spoiling for a fight.

The president went on to further demonstrate his mastery of political polemics by cleverly stating his agenda succinctly while disavowing his intent:

But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry; I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing: Fixing a broken immigration system; protecting our kids from gun violence; Equal pay for equal work; paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.”

Having gotten his basic list of things to do in the short run on the record, the President assumed the role of visionary humanist, a role in which he excels over any previous occupant of the Oval Office.  And here, he was clear in his purpose. “But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future.”  President Obama pointed out that we are living in the most dynamic period in human history, a time when massive changes in the structure and function of human societies are changing at warp speed, and discussed the implications of this mass transformation in human societies:

 “We live in a time of extraordinary changechange that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.”

As with much of what he had to say in his final State of the Union speech, this astute analysis was clearly directed at the “conservative” anti-science, racist, sexist, Neanderthals in the Grand Obstructionist Party; those deluded “American Exceptionalists” who think they can arrest progress by ignoring the revelations of science and who seek refuge in comfortable myths about “the good old days” when men were men, families were modeled after Adam and Eve  “not Adam and Steve,” God was on America’s side, father knew best and white was right!  Those sad old white who folks go around muttering about “taking our country back!”  To these lost souls Barack offered the following dose of reality:

“America has been through big changes beforewars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we didbecause we saw opportunity where others saw only perilwe emerged stronger and better than before. What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nationour optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of lawthese things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.”

Witnessing the upbeat character of Barack’s presentation, the careful observer could not miss the difference between his heroic optimism regarding America’s potential and the grim visage and defeatist body language of the Republican members of Congress. These people, who never tire of referencing Ronald Reagan as their patron saint, had allowed Barack Obama to claim the high ground and announce the coming of new morning in America.  Furthermore, unlike Reagan, who was painting pictures of a glorious future that he was promising to bring into being, Barack Obama was referencing the forces of progress that he had already unleashed by virtue of his policies.  Actual deeds…not mere words, accomplishments not empty braggadocio. I hope the Democratic presidential candidates were paying close attention, because herein lies the formula for victory in the coming Presidential election.  They must not repeat the folly of Al Gore by not claiming Barack’s victories and Democratic victories and running on them.

Indeed, the most powerful part of the president’s speech was when he claimed his record and stood on it; a magnificent record of achievement that no Republican President can match save perhaps Abraham Lincoln, who presided over a very different Republican Party.  Alas, the only connection the present generation of Republicans has to Lincoln is their fondness for LincolnContinentals,which would have gone the way of the dinosaurs and ceased to exist if not for the bold intervention of President Obama to save the US auto industry….a move which the Grand Obstructionist Party vigorously opposed!

This is irrefutable evidence that the Grand Obstructionist Party cannot govern; addicted to a “free market” theology which allowed Wall Street to go wild with reckless financial schemes, they wrecked the economy and then did everything they could to obstruct President Obama’s policies for preventing a worldwide depression and restoring a dying economy to health, for their picayune partisan reasons.  This is a matter of historical fact.

As if striking a dagger through the heart of his Republican antagonists and twisting it, or breaking his foot off in their ass – President Obama recited the undeniable achievements of his Administration:

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.”

Then he provided the raw numbers as evidence of the scope of the progress that has occurred under his leadership, which are staggering:

I-14.1 million new private sector jobs over 70 straight months of jobs growth

II – The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in more than 7 years

III – The deficit has been cut by nearly three fourths since 2009

IV – American manufacturers have added nearly 900,000 jobs over the past 6 years

After citing the evidence to the contrary the Prez declared with a snide and defiant smile – what hip black folk call an IDGAF – I don’t give A F….! – Smile, declared: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” Yet despite his recitation of these impressive statistics measuring economic progress, President Obama is not claiming that we have reached an economic Nirvana, nor does he make any attempt to fudge the facts about the economic challenges facing the American people in the future.

Rather, in characteristic fashion, and to his credit,  he not only enumerates the major problems but offer solutions to them that could be implemented as policy if his adversaries were as enlightened, compassionate and well intentioned as himself.  Finding the solutions to complex problems starts with asking the right questions and I believe that the President summed up the major problems facing the US in four questions:

“First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against usespecially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?”

The reader can hear the President’s full speech simply by clicking on the link at the bottom of this essay; it was one of the best speeches that I have heard from an American President, and I would bet my bottom dollar that it is one of the greatest State of the Union orations in American history.

The stony silence of the Republicans, in the face of such a magnificent record of achievement against tremendous odds – restoring the economy and ending to protracted wars overseas, salvaging the lives of young people who were being physical and mentally devastated in a criminal Republican war of choice, ending the hemorrhage of American blood and treasure – exposed them as morally deformed empty ideologues.

All but the ignorant and evil could readily see that the Republicans are intellectual and moral midgets compared to the president.  Of course, beyond the ideological stance they have taken, and are held accountable for by the untutored mob that is their base, they couldn’t applaud President Obama’s accomplishments because they were achieved in spite of the persistent and disloyal opposition of the Republicans.  Hence Barack’s achievements signal the failure of these partisan efforts; short sighted amoral folly has placed the fate of the earth second to their political ambitions – evil on steroids!

The careful observer, who could identify the principal players in the tragic political comedy of errors that masquerades as serious politics among Republicans, could not fail to be intrigued trying to read the facial expressions and body language of Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of The House, as he introduced the President to the Nation before he spoke, and all during his brilliant and moving hour long speech.

Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address
Barack Obama and Ryan What’s on Ryan’s Mind?

For much of the speech Ryan looked like he was fighting the urge to poop in his pants.  For among the things he was surely thinking is that he must not anger his racist yahoo base by appearing to show a proper respect for the “Nigger” in the White House.  Yet Ryan is no fool, and thus like all vain men who know they will one day be evaluated by impartial historians that will have the last word about their official legacy, he wants to conduct himself in ways that will not prohibit historians being kind to him.  After all, his grandchildren will one day read their books, and he doesn’t want them hiding their faces in shame when they learn that he obstructed efforts to prevent climate change.

Furthermore, there were so many brilliant ideas and bright moments of extraordinary insights in President Obama’s speech that Ryan could not resist marveling at his mastery of the art of political oratory in much the same way that saxophone players responded when they heard Charlie “Yardbird” Parker play. No matter what they said about his playing, and many felt genuinely threated because Bird was assaulting their conventional wisdom about how Jazz was to be played and making them sound obsolete, in their hearts they knew he was their superior and the music he was playing was the sound of the future!

Congressman Ryan is a practicing Catholic, and as such he is taught that the Pope is infallible in his judgements; he has even tried to claim that his backward ideas about economic policy are rooted in catholic teaching. Yet the Pope has rejected Ryan’s ideas and embraced those of President Obama’s!  This is because, as was noted in the Huffington Post in an essay by Reverend John Pavlovitz, “Rather than being the kind of showy, loud but largely loveless noise in the world that the Apostle Paul warns believers against becoming, the President’s time in the White House has yielded the kind of tangible fruit Jesus said would be the mark of the true person of God.”

The Reverend proceeds to enumerate the president’s deeds, which are always more credible than mere words; anybody can talk a good game. But as Reverend Pavlovitz shows: Barack Obama walks the walk, rather than just talk the talk, like those verbose bible thumping Republicans who rarely practice what they preach.  Unless he is a complete lying hypocrite, to be rejected by his spiritual father in favor of a man that his party denies is even a Christian, has to trouble Ryan deep in his soul.

Ryan would also love to be President, but when he ran as Vice President to Mitt Romney they were roundly defeated by Obama.  Hence no matter what stance he is compelled to take publicly, in his heart and mind he cannot but wish that he had Obama’s political gifts.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan announced that he was switching parties, after former Speaker of the House John Boehner quit his office and left Congress after a private audience with the Pope on his visit to Washington!

Although I advance this only as a suspicion: I believe the Pope told Boehner that he was risking having his immortal soul confined to hell if he continued his nefarious deeds, placing the imperatives of the plutocrats over the injunction of Jesus Christ to “feed the hungry and heal the sick” by cutting food stamps and trying to repeal Obamacare.  That would explain why a man at the pinnacle of power high-tailed it out of that decadent evil Babylon which is the Republican-controlled Congress, and the “Weeper of the House” has not been heard from since.

Perhaps Ryan, who often strikes me as the personification of the Devil, will have an epiphany and see the error of his ways. He sure looked like he was experiencing some sort of internal crisis as he listened to President Obama’s speech which, after all, contained both enlightened ideas and indisputable truths. But that hope was dashed after reading Ryan’s comments to USA Today following the speech Ryan said:

“I thought it was a fairly typical speech for the president,” Ryan said.  “Apparently ISIS is a bunch of guys riding around in trucks and a picture of a good foreign policy is Syria. I think he glossed over the economy. I think he glossed over our foreign-policy failures.” Later he said, “That’s the kind of speech he gives these days, and I think it really is divorced from reality.”

The obvious question raised by that comment is: Can the Speaker of the House be as childish and stupid as he sounds?  I believe that Ryan, like all of the spineless opportunists terrified of the wrath of their backward base, plays to the prejudices of these impassioned morons…yet in his heart and mind he does know better. The truth be told they all know better, but the Republicans that presently control Congress cannot admit it, because the only weapon they have to combat the outsized legacy of President Obama, a legacy of monumental achievements on behalf of the American people that cannot be factually refuted, is to cultivate the the blind hatred of the untutored racist mob that is their base.

Keeping that base ignorant and angry is especially critical just now, when the Presidential election is only months away.  Although the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with these hysterical mooks they are fundamental to the fulfilment of the GOP agenda; a pro-plutocrat anti-worker, anti-woman program.

Hence they must fire up “low information voters” so that their passions will overwhelm reason and prevent the election of another Democratic president who will defend and extend the progressive policies of President Obama.  However Barack envisions another America; it is a vision filled with the heroic optimism that put him in the oval office twice.  He sums up his vision at the end of this oratorical tour de force thusly:

“…. the America I know….the country we love. Clear-eyed, big-hearted, optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”

Chilly B is still heads and shoulders above his opponents!
President Barack Obama takes a shot during a game with Cabinet Secretaries and Members of Congress on the White House basketball court, Oct. 8, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
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Double Click on Link to hear the President’s State of the Union

https://youtu.be/nwpR6YfgUYU

 

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
1/20/2016

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Double Click on Link to hear the President’s State of the Union

https://youtu.be/nwpR6YfgUYU

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
January 14, 2016

Donald Trump is a Dangerous Chump!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on December 10, 2015 by playthell
donald-trump_0
Populist Plutoctat or shameless Charlatan?

Yet the Republican Base loves him while the Elite Weeps

 “Ye shall reap what ye sow!”

As a Yellow Dog Democrat I confess it is amusing to witness the hand wringing of the Republican establishment as Donald Trump blows up their chances of winning the presidency and possibly lose them the Senate to boot. Beyond that Trump’s hysterical anti-Muslim rants is endangering US national security by simultaneously aiding the recruitment efforts of ISIS, while making it harder for our Muslim allies to mobilize forces to attack ISIS on the ground with US backing.  Hence Donald the Clown is a liability for the GOP in domestic and foreign affairs. Yet they are only reaping what they sowed; this is why watching their public expressions of anxiety is so funny .

The establishment of the Grand Old Party aka “The Grand Obstructionist Party,” encouraged Trump’s outrageous racist antics when he fueled the so-called “Birther” movement that challenged Barack Obama’s bonafides as a native born American, thereby questioning his right to serve as President, an office he won in a national election fair and square….twice!   The Republican big wigs were mealy mouthed or remained mum on the subject because chump’s rancid rhetoric proved to be useful propaganda in their efforts to motivate the untutored, insecure, racist, and frightened white working and lower middle classes which make up the “Tea Party” trend in Republican politics and comprise the “party base.”

This is the demographic that was identified in a recent public health study as suffering the fastest growing death rate in the country.  The major causes of mortality among this group are indicative of stress filled lives lived on the edge of despair; sclerosis of the liver due to alcoholism, and drug abuse legal and illegal top the list. Hence these are desperate people looking for a savior in the post-industrial wastelands of America, and a strongman offering simple solutions to bewilderingly complex problems seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

Since nobody understands better than the plutocrats, the wealthy elite whose interests are promoted and protected by the Republican Party, that the aims and policies of their party are diametrically opposed to the economic interests of the “base,” they placate them with racism, xenophobia, and Jingoism.  All of which are personified in Donald Trump.

From the moment he announced a second run for the US presidency, the campaign waged by this pugnacious politically ignorant racist clown had all the characteristics of a fool’s errand. I thought he had no real chance at victory, but the campaign would cost him a fortune in financial losses and damage to his reputation…which was not that good to start with among many New Yorkers.   Before the campaign had hardly begun Trump’s dirty mouth and reckless diatribes cost him plenty in terms of public ridicule and lost business deals.

After his scathing comments about Mexican immigrants, accusing them of everything from being rapist and garden variety criminals to bringing infectious diseases into the US, he was roundly denounced and ridiculed in the media, and a train of corporations with whom he was doing business cut ties with the New York real estate developer and fled.   This includes television networks such as NBC and the Spanish Language TV network Univision, which aired his beauty pageant. And the government of California has voted to divest in any Trump enterprises they were doing business with.

However considering the fact that Trump has pledged to finance his own campaign, he could end up blowing a lot more dough.  For instance, the leading candidate in the race, Jeb Bush, has amassed a war chest of over a hundred Million dollars and there are millions more where that came from.  Although thus far Bush’s bread appears to have had no effect on his standing in the race, since the last time I checked he was below 5%.  It is no secret that the Republican establishment is behind Bush and wishes that Trump would disappear, as he is besmirching the party image and alienating Hispanic Americans – a constituency that party strategist with the Republican National Committee has identified as vital to a Republican victory in the 2016 presidential election.

After fiddling around for days after Trump’s scurrilous attacks on Mexicans Jeb Bush, whose wife Columba is Mexican, vociferously denounced Trumps anti-Mexican comments as “extraordinarily ugly” and assured us they are “not reflective of the Republican party.” But Trump chumped Jeb off by pointing out that his wife was Mexican and insinuated that he was pussy whipped and thus couldn’t be trusted to handle this issue objectively.

Terrified by Trump’s no-holds barred campaign style, in which mudslinging private attacks were considered fair tactics, the rest of the Republican presidential field maintained a silence that conjures up the oath of “Omerta” pledged by Mafia members. While Trump, pompous blowhard that he is, has stood firm and remained unrepentant, and despite the fact that those contenders who first stepped up to oppose him – like former Governor Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana – bit the dust, the rest of the Republican field have been forced to increasingly abandon their mealy mouth lawyerlike double talk and sound the alarm that a Trump victory in the primary elections would spell disaster for their Party.

They are speaking out despite fact that it will offend the racist sentiments of many in the Republican base; the beleaguered white working class whom they have courted with thinly disguised racist diatribes against President Obama.  However the party pros, the strategists like Karl Rove who understand the demographic profile of the entire US electorate, well know that the people who turn out and cheer Trump are a minority.

Hence they are worried to death about what the enigmatic, abrasive and fiercely independent Trump may do or say next.  It is fair to say that the old line Republican establishment is deeply worried about the damage Trump is doing to their brand every time he takes the stage.  His latest statements about Muslims have won the opprobrium of people around the world.

The Prime Ministers of America’s closest allies Britain and France have publicly denounced his views in extraordinary comments on US domestic politics.  Even the Mayor of London was moved to respond to a comment from Trump about the dangers posed by the Muslim population of London, that he would be much more afraid of running into Trump on the street during a visit to New York.

And as any thoughtful observer might imagine, Trump’s comments have flown like a steel balloon in the Muslim world, where they have been roundly denounced by students, scholars, politicians and of course Imams.  Tom Freedman, the erudite Foreign Affairs columnist for the New York Times, tells us in a column titled “You ain’t no American Bro”:

As for Trump, well, he may be a deal maker, but he’s no poker player ready for the Middle East five-card stud sharks. His xenophobic rhetoric and unrealistic, infantile threats of massive bombing make up the kind of simplistic hand you’d play in “Go Fish” — not in this high-stakes game. Beyond playing into ISIS’s hand by denigrating the U.S. presidency and our democratic ideals, Trump is doing real damage to America’s ability to lead a coalition, the only vehicle that can effectively address this problem.”

Despite the obvious damage this Trump chump is doing to his party and his country with his reckless rancid rhetoric, this megalomaniacal corporate martinet and amateur politician charges on oblivious to the concerns and protests of his fellow Republicans, as he trashes their dreams of capturing the Oval office with his malicious follies.  And it serves them right!

They made a Faustian Bargain by supporting or turning a deaf ear to the Tea Party and Trump’s racist attacks on President Obama, and now the Devil has come to claim their souls.  It is a poetic justice.  The Grand Obstructionist Party has just the candidate their dirty deeds deserve: A race baiting pugnacious chicken hawk and Vietnam era draft dodger, itching to squander more American blood and treasure in Middle East wars, raging through the Grand Obstructionist Party with the destructiveness of a bull in a China shop.  Indeed, they are reaping what they have sown!

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
December 9, 2015

The Whole World in his Hands

Posted in On Pope Francis and Catholocism, Playthell on politics on December 2, 2015 by playthell

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Centre, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Obama discussed the COP21 climate change summit, and the threat of terrorism from the Islamic State Group. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Obama shares his Vision of the Future

An Ideal  Statesman for our Troubled Times

Early on in his tenure as President I marked Barack Obama as the most politically gifted, humane and visionary statesman ever to occupy the Oval Office – a space that has been occupied by charlatans, racists, anti-Semites, misogynist, slaveholders, child rapists, and mass murderers.  This was not merely partisan cheerleading, but a candid accounting of Obama’s assets as they were revealed to me in his actions.

The first thing he did upon election was to sign a nuclear arms limitation treaty with Russia; the second thing was to tackle the problem of economic recovery after George W. Bush and the GOP gang wrecked the economy; then he moved to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and seek peace with the Islamic world by travelling to Egypt, the incubator of the modern Jihad.* And like this writer he was convinced the invasion of Iraq was a misguided “war of choice” in which vast amounts of American blood and treasure was needlessly squandered. Alas, history has proved us right.** Hence unlike many American commentators on the right and left I thought that he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.***

The positions President Obama advanced at the Paris conference on Climate change COP21 – attended by 180 heads of State and 40,000 delegates from 196 countries, the largest gathering of heads of state in history – proves that I was also right in my initial assessment of him as a statesman.  The paramount objective of the conference was to put in place an agreement to reduce atmospheric emissions from Greenhouse gasses that would be legally binding on the nations of the world – like the ban on deployment of weaponized germs and poison gas in warfare.

The Paris treaty is designed to keep the planetary climate below two degrees Celsius from what it had been before the Industrial Revolution.  While this may not seem like much to the average person, it would be instructive to visit the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan and see how changes in the natural environment wrought by the toxic effects of the Industrial Revolution led to the extinction of numerous species.  Now that Homosapiens are threatened with extinction from industrial pollution world leaders have gathered in Paris with the urgent mission of preventing this catastrophe from happening.

None have been clearer about “the fierce urgency of now” than President Obama, whose active and committed leadership in this historic effort is indispensable. He addressed the conference with an amazing combination of candor and humility: “I come here personally as the leader of the world’s biggest economy and second-biggest emitter to say that America not only acknowledges its role in climate change, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.”

The tone and content of his speech is a measure of the gravitas of this issue and the depth of Obama’s character and vision; one would be hard put to find another instance of an American President admitting US culpability in the creation of a global disaster.  It is this willingness to look honestly at American history – the good, the bad and the ugly – that impressed me the first time that I heard him speak.  One cannot imagine such an admission from any Republican, and few Democrats.

Yet it was precisely the right tone for this moment, for to display any hint of the characteristic arrogance fueled by an assumption of “American Exceptionalism” would have been self-defeating…a non-starter with this audience.  The President went on to point out the concrete steps that the US, under his leadership, has undertaken to address this global crisis.

Over the last seven years, we’ve made ambitious investments in clean energy and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions.  We’ve multiplied wind power threefold, and solar power more than twentyfold; helping create parts of America where these clean power sources are finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.  We’ve invested in energy efficiency in every way imaginable.  We’ve said no to infrastructure that would pull high-carbon fossil fuels from the ground, and we’ve said yes to the first-ever set of national standards limiting the amount of carbon pollution our power plants can release into the sky.”

What he did not say however, is that he accomplished this over the impassioned objections and active resistance of the Republican opposition, who passed two bills nullifying the president’s executive orders reducing carbon emissions while he was negotiating the Paris agreement.  However this treachery by a disloyal opposition will come to naught because President Obama will veto them.

However it reveals the true character of these amoral science deniers and shills for the interests of petro-chemical magnates like the Koch brothers, who finance so much of the right-wing Republican political agenda.  By their actions they have supplied provided irrefutible evidence that they lack both compassion and vision and are willing to sacrifice the fate of the earth and the future of their grand-children to their lust for power and greed of the plutocrats.  It is no base hyperbole to argue that should the Grand Obstructionist Party seize control of the Presidency and Congress, the policies they will enact will be a disaster for all of humanity.

The most tragic aspect of the Republican argument against reducing greenhouse gas emissions is that it is based on gross ignorance and blatant lies; as are so many of their arguments.  The biggest lie is that these measures to protect our environment will stymie the economy, rather than simply reduce the profits of the fossil fuel producers.  President Obama exposed their shameful game by presenting the facts.

The advances we’ve made have helped drive our economic output to all-time highs, and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades.  But the good news is this is not an American trend alone.  Last year, the global economy grew while global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels stayed flat.  And what this means can’t be overstated.  We have broken the old arguments for inaction.  We have proved that strong economic growth and a safer environment no longer have to conflict with one another; they can work in concert with one another.”

The president went on to point out that there is reason to hope that the present trends of global warming and all the attendant evils like rising sea levels, which are already clearly apparent to peoples living on Island nations, can be reversed if the nations of the world act in concert to solve this tragic problem.  And again he cites the results of his own policies as a model for how it can be done.

“Earlier this month in Dubai, after years of delay, the world agreed to work together to cut the super-pollutants known as HFCs.  That’s progress.  Already, prior to Paris, more than 180 countries representing nearly 95 percent of global emissions have put forward their own climate targets.  That is progress.  For our part, America is on track to reach the emissions targets that I set six years ago in Copenhagen — we will reduce our carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.  And that’s why, last year, I set a new target:  America will reduce our emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels within 10 years from now.”

Leaders from every corner of the world acknowledged the problem of global warming and pledged to follow our president’s example and take action to curb emissions in their countries.  And although his piece of sovereign ground, the Vatican, emits no carbon gasses, the Pope left no doubt where he stands on this critical matter; which puts rightwing Republicans who are Catholic on very shaky ground with God, since according to Catholic doctrine the Pope is infallible!  This is why many people believe the former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, quit his office and resigned from the US Congress after a private audience with the Pope.  The word is that he was concerned about the fate of his mortal soul come Judgement Day.

It will be interesting to see how Paul Ryan, a devout Irish Catholic who is the new House Speaker, will fare on the question of global warming; a phenomenon his party officially denies. In fact, just this morning the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christy, a practicing Catholic who is touted as one of the wiser candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said on national television that he didn’t believe global warming is real no matter what the world’s leading climate scientist say.  In view of the fact that as I write the New York Times has published a story on how the US government has offered immediate immigration status to the residents of the American controlled Marshall Islands in the Pacific because they are sinkng due to rising sea levels, Christy is either fat dumb and clueless or he is a shameless lying charlatan.  In either case he is clearly unfit to occupy the most important office in the world!

Pope Francis however is unambiguous on the issue.  He told reporters aboard his private plane returning to Rome “We are on the brink. We are on the brink of a suicide, to use a strong word, and I am sure that most of those at the COP have this conscience, and want to do something.”  It’s going to be big fun for a yellow dog Democrat like me to watch these professed Catholic politicians try and snake dance around this glaring paradox.

It’s Now Or Never!

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis (C) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd R) and first lady Michelle Obama (R) as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

So Sayeth the Pope

Seeking to relieve the fears of developing countries such as India and China, who rightly feel that the developed countries like the US created this problem in the course of their development but now want to solve it at their expense, President Obama proposed a compensation plan funded by the rich countries.  His view was a comprehensive one that sought a fair deal for the rich and the poor nations; which is the only way this effort to save our planet can work.  It is yet another indication of the intelligence and humane vision of Barack Obama, beside which all of the Republican candidates appear as nihilistic moral Neanderthals.

However during his press conference before leaving Paris, some thoughtful reporters expressed skepticism as to whether these policies will survive should a Republican succeed him as President.  The president’s response to their questions was upbeat and politic; just what the situation required.  First he flashed that devilish smile for which he is famous, and said that he expected to be followed in the Oval Office by a Democrat because he had faith in the wisdom of the American people – a confidence this writer does not share – and then he became contemplative about the gravitas of the presidency and the sobering effect it has on the those who hold it.

“But even if somebody from a different party succeeded me…one of the things that you’ll find is that when you are in this job you will think about it differently from when you are just running for the job.  And what you realize is what I mentioned earlier, that American leadership involves not just playing to a narrow constituency back home, but you are now in fact at the center of what is happening around the world.  And your credibility, and America’s ability to influence events around the world, depends on taking seriously what other countries care about.  In fact there is a reason why you had the largest gathering of world leaders probably in human history here in Paris.  Everybody else is taking Climate change really seriously.”

It is to the deficit of the American nation that Barack Obama cannot run for a third term like Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, for he has conducted his office with Solomonic wisdom and is by far the wisest and coolest head among any of the candidates of either party who are likely to become president – including the Wall Street loving hawkish Hillary Clinton…for whom I shall gleefully vote against any Republican who pretends to this powerful office; the most powerful executive position in the world.  As this is the first of a two part series, I shall analyze President Obama’s position on Syria, Russia, Turkey and the global war on terror in part two.

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This is a Muliti-media Presentation
Click on link below to see President Obama’s speech at Paris Conference
https://youtu.be/GyzrcMONm60
Clink on link to see President Obama’s Paris Press Conference
http://www.c-span.org/video/?401442-1/president-obama-news-conference
  • Citations
  • See: “Of All the Places in the Muslim World why Egypt?
  • See: The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq
  • See:Barack Obama Wins the Nobel Prize
  • See: Hail to the Juggler!
  • Playthell G. Benjamin
  • Harlem, New York
  • December 2, 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
tulsi_gabbard_in battle
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

 

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