Archive for the You Tube Classics Category

Drumfp and Hitler: Birds of a Feather?

Posted in On Donald Trump, Playthell on politics, You Tube Classics with tags , on January 27, 2017 by playthell
donald-trump-giving-fascist-saluteHe says his Success is due to his Superior German Blood

 What Does the Evidence Suggest?

After meeting him Truman Smith remarked: “This is a marvelous demagogue who can really inspire people.” And Paul Von Wiegard, a foreign correspondent for the Hearst newspapers marveled at his ability to whip crowds into a frenzy during his speeches at political rallies. This is as succinct an assessment of Donald Trump as I could imagine; a poignant unvarnished portrait.  The problem for Americans is that the man they were describing is Adolph Hitler!

We learn these cautionary facts from a revealing article, titled “Early Warnings: How American Journalist Reported the Rise of Hitler, published in the venerable Atlantic Magazine, by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an editor  there.  The book under review is Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power, by Andrew Nargorsky.

I was drawn to this essay because of its title, thinking that it might offer some insight on the rise of Donald Trump to the US presidency.  I have already noted some striking similarities in the political style of Trump and Hitler in an article I published several months ago during the heat of the election campaign titled “Is Donald Trump a Uniquely American Fascist?”

Not only did this essay offer some unique insights, it was pregnant with useful revelations.  For instance, we learn:

“After the Great Depression hit, suddenly the Nazi Party became a major contender for power. Yet you had Americans meeting Hitler and saying, “This guy is a clown. He’s like a caricature of himself.” And a lot of them went through this whole litany about how even if Hitler got into a position of power, other German politicians would somehow be able to control him. A lot of German politicians believed this themselves.”

Anyone who is paying attention to the American political scene just now will have heard shockingly similar conversations regarding President Trump.  The careful listener can even discern some of the same descriptive language.  For instance, the insightful journalist Matt Taibbi has written a book based on his coverage of the Trump presidential campaign titled “Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus.” In a recent interview on the Seth Meyers Show, Taibbi said of Trump’s rise to power: “On the one hand, it’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to this country.  On the other hand it’s potentially the end of civilization.“

Taibbi’s troubling observations bring several critical issues immediately to mind.  First I am reminded of why brilliant men of humane vision like Drs. Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, and the swing dancing George Kwiatkowski agreed to work on a horrendous weapon like the Atomic Bomb.  Although they later expressed regret for bringing this doomsday weapon into the world; they did it because they were terrified that Hitler might get it first…and they had no doubt that he would use it.  The scientists’ concerns about Hitler are echoed in the Bill now being put forth by US Congressmen Ted W, Lieu and Senator Edward Markey, to restrain the danger of a bombastic, thin skinned, socio-path like President Trump launching a nuclear attack on some nation during a temper tantrum.

Upon introducing the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017” H.R. 669 and S. 200, Congressman Lieu, a Democrat from California, was clear on the danger the world faces from the fact that Donald Trump – a delusional megalomaniac whose mental stability has been called into question by several psychiatrist analyzing his public behavior – now has the Nuclear football and the Launch Codes that gives him the power to destroy the world!   :

“It is a frightening reality that the US now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be ‘unpredictable’ with nuclear weapons, and as president-elect was making sweeping statements about US nuclear policy over Twitter.  Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the US would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon.  Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war.” 

Even the Five Blind Boys can see that these legislators clearly do not trust temperament or judgement of the pugnacious martinet that presently commands America’s doomsday nuclear arsenal.

Far too few Americans understand how the Nuclear Triad works.  Reduced to its simplest terms, it is enough to say that the US Strategic Command cab launch thousands of hydrogen bombs anywhere on the globe with pin point accuracy in less than an hour from three different platforms: Land based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles; dropped from Strato-bombers of the US Strategic Air Command, and naval vessels steaming on the ocean’s surface or beneath the sea.  As things presently stands, this awesome power resides completely in the hands of Donald Trump, who alone can give the command to launch without consulting ANYONE!!!!!!   That’s why the Lieu-Markey Bill is the most important piece of legislation in history.

Herr Hitler!

hitler

He also believes his German blood was “superior”

As I have shown elsewhere, Trump, like Hitler, views the fate of the nation and his personal fate as one.  You could easily see this based on his response to the Mexican president’s cancellation of a state visit to Washington to meet with Trump.  The new President was quick to label the Mexican President’s snub of him with disrespect for the United States.  Trump’s feeling that he personifies the nation arises from the source as Hitler’s, he won the election base on his pesonality, which transcended the Republican party.  An insightful article in the distinguished German newspaper Der Spiegal, explains the role of  the personality cult in Hitler’s Rise to the pinnacle of political power:

” …there were one or two tantalizing hints that Hitler’s personal appeal outstripped that of the Nazi regime itself, and even more so of the Party. “For Adolf Hitler yes, but a thousand times no to the brown big-wigs” was scribbled on one ballot-paper in Potsdam. The same sentiment could be heard elsewhere.”

And just as Hitler used the Versailles Treaty, as evidence of other nation’s taking advantage of a weak Germany, Trump has used trade agreements like NAFTRA North American Free Trade Agreement, and the proposed TPP – Trans Pacific Partnership – which Trump recently scrapped with an Executive Order – to label the negotiators at best as “incompetent political hacks” or “stupid” and economic traitors at worst – enemies of the America people.  And just like Hitler, he uses these treaties to whip up the anger of impassioned mobs untutored in the vagaries of political subterfuge or the complexities of international trade.

Also like Hitler, many people fail to recognize how dangerously unstable Trump’s mental state is.   Listening to him argue ad nauseam with reporters about the size of the crowd that turned out to witness what he evidently thinks was his coronation, even inviting them to compare aerial photographs of the crowds that attended his and Barack Obama’s swearing in Ceremony made by the Park Service, we have to seriously worry about whether this guy is all there.

This is crazy stuff, especially when you look at the pictures. Anybody with good eyesight can see that it’s not even close; Barack’s crowd dwarfs Trump’s.   His servile staff, who he probably views as the Kings courtiers whose proper posture is lips to his posterior, dare not tell him the unpleasant truth.    They remind me of the court in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

This obsession with size – which earlier manifested itself when he felt in necessary to explain that his small hands didn’t mean that he also suffered from pant worm…this clarification was so important to him that he issued a plea for understanding from the podium during his presidential campaign – is a sign that the New US president is something of an extreme narcissist; a mythomaniac who suffers from delusions of grandeur. Just like Adolph!

Trump’s insecurity about size is also revealed in his constant talk of building up the American military, although the US has the largest, best funded, destructive military forces in the world.  As President Obama said: “It ain’t even close!”  Obsession with building military might was also a defining characteristic of Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Also like Hitler, Trump benefitted from a split on the left, where some voted for third parties and others stayed home, certain that an obviously incompetent clown like “The Donald” could not possibly win the presidency.  It reminds me of the comments from the great Hollywood film maker Frank Capra, who explained the difficulty of making anti-fascist propaganda films from the war department during the Second World War, because Hitler and Mussolini looked like clowns and it was hard to get people to feel hostile or scared watching their antics.  The main impulse of viewers was to bust out laughing!

Alas, notwithstanding the ludicrous buffoon Trump reveals himself to be on a daily basis, he is no laughing matter!  Speaking of Hitler’s position in German politics a year after he became Chancellor, Ian Kershaw writes the following in the same Der Spiegal article, titled “The Fuerer Myth:”

“Today Hitler Is All of Germany.” The newspaper headline on Aug. 4, 1934 reflected the vital shift in power that had just taken place. Two days earlier, on the death of Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler had lost no time in abolishing the Reich Presidency and having the army swear a personal oath of unconditional obedience to him as “the Führer of the German Reich and People.”

He was now head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces, as well as head of government and of the monopoly party, the NSDAP. Hitler had total power in Germany, unrestricted by any constitutional constraints. The headline implied even more, however, than the major change in the constellation of power. It suggested an identity of Hitler and the country he ruled, signifying a complete bond between the German people and Hitler”

To recognize the gravitas of the crisis in contemporary American politics, it is quite enough to acknowledge that all the powers that Hitler had in 1934 Germany Trump has now, with one exception. Trump is checked by “constitutional restraints,” but they are not worth the parchment they are written on if the members of his party refuse to stand up to him.  And thus far, possibly intimidated by his twitter attacks, they are behaving like a school of spineless Jelly fish.

Although at different Times and Places

fascist-salute-at-hitler-rally

A Hysterical Woman at a Hitler Rally

donald-trumps-fascist-supporter

It’s the Same Class of Phenomenon whether in Germany or the US

Like all authoritarian leaders and wannabe tyrants, both Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump, brothers of the blood, despise the free press. Hitler destroyed the free press in Nazi Germany, and I have no doubt that Trump would do the same in the US if he could. Restrained by the First Amendment to our constitution, Herr Drumpf has resorted to a campaign of vicious slanders and invective against the press in general – his acolytes shouting the old Nazi epithet “lougen presser!” – lying press – at the reporters covering his rallies.

Furthermore, Trump’s senior advisor Steve Bannon rivals Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, on employing the principle of the “Big Lie.”  This strategy is based on the idea that if you repeat a lie to a mass audience often enough, even if it is outrageous, a certain number of them will believe it.  That’s how hitler won the hearts and minds of the most educated ppulace on earth and convinced them to murder six million of their neighbors!

Bannon is well schooled in this practice having run Brietart, a far right wing propaganda blog spinning “alternative” facts infested with neo-Nazi views, before moving into the White House.  In a show of hostility and contempt for the major media heretofore unseen in a top advisor to an American President, Brannon, whom rumor has it is “Trump’s brain,” just called the newspapers of record – New York Times, Washington Post, et al – the “opposition party” and told them to “shut up!”

Trump’s open hostility to the working press, well trained professional journalist trying to inform the American people about the critical issues and the policies elected officials, whom we employ, are promoting. Thomas Jefferson, the wisest of the American Founding Fathers, held the free press in such high esteem he once said “If I had a choice between a government and no free press, or a free press and no government, I would take the free press and no government.”

If Jefferson’s position reveals a deep commitment to democratic government, Trump’s attitude toward the press exposes an authoritarian personality with fundamentally anti-democratic instincts. One obvious source of this difference in their approach to the exercise of power is that Thomas Jefferson was a widely read intellectual and statesman who devoted his life to public service; trying to build a great nation was the motivating force in his life.

Trump has spent his adult life as the CEO of a private corporation devoted to no higher goal than making money and personal enrichment for ostentatious display. The power structure of a corporation is by nature a pure dictatorship; you carry out the CEO’s commands or you get fired!   Just like on Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice.”

In the most generous and flattering interpretation of Donald Trump, I’d say he aspires to be a benevolent dictator!  Trump’s aggressive nationalism, like that of Hitler, imperils the peace and security of the world.  Where Hitler and Trump are most unlike, is the fact that Hitler was a fanatic deeply committed to an ideology he believed would build a “Thousand Year Reich” that would rule the world ….and as near as anybody can tell Trump believes in nothing beyond “winning.

Furthermore Hitler also fought bravely in combat for his country in World War I, whereas Donald Trump is a draft dodger who shriked his duty while other young  men his age marched off to war in Vietnam!  Although he loves to brag about his “militaristic” nature, Trump is all blow and no go!  His sole experience with military matters is a stint he spent in an expensive military high school; yet he is such a shameless braggart that he actually cited his highschool eperience as evidence of his having served in the military.  Which is further evidence that he simply cannot control his compulsion to lie!

Another great difference between the the two men is that Hitler was determined to conquer Russia, and launched an attack with genocidal intent!   The sole political virtue of President Trump, that I can clearly identify, is his refusal to be stampeded into promoting the growing anti-Russian hysteria that has been embracd by Democrats and Republicans with varying degrees of passion.   Let us hope that Trump holds his course on US-Russian relations.   For if there was ever a situation where his pigheadness could be a positive asset it is his attitude toward US-Russian relations.  Yet given all the forces at work to undermine it alas, who knows what the future will hold.

Given Trump’s bellicose approach to foreign relations, which is already antagonizing a nuclear armed China, should we get into a conflict with Russia it is anybody’s guess how Trump will react. Perhaps the most telling sign of the danger Trump’s presidency poses is that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist just moved the hands on their “DOOMSDAY CLOCK,” which warns us how close the world is to nuclear destruction, CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT!

a-terryfying-nuclear-explosion

A Clear and Present Danger!

Ten Scary Facts about Nuclear War!

HOW DOOMSDAY WILL HAPPEN!

This is why Congress Must Pass the Lieu-Markey Bill

Mankind must Destroy the Bombs or the Bombs will Destroy Us!

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Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 27, 2017 of the End Times?

On Trump’s Inaugural Address

Posted in On Donald Trump, On the 2016 Presidential Election, You Tube Classics with tags on January 20, 2017 by playthell
 trump-speech-at-inauguration
 The New President Explaining his Vision
Sellin Woff Tickets to the World
 Witnessing Donald Trump present his inaugural Address was like watching a nightmare come true. Although he no doubt thought his scripted remarks – written by some right-wing wag and probably edited by white nationalist ideologue Steve Bannon – now his personal advisor – were profound, they were SOS: the Same Old Stuff. It was bombastic, jingoistic, and devoid of the poetry, soaring eloquence and magnanimity that we have come to expect from Barack Obama.
The speech was false to history, false to the present, and unworthy of the occasion. Try as he might to sound presidential, something he has evidently only become concerned with in the last 24 hours – judging by the things he said just yesterday – “The Donald” sounded much more like a New York real estate huckster than a great statesman charged with leading the world’s most powerful nation. I suppose you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks….and at 70 years of age he is a very old dog indeed!
The new president’s vision was grim – whether describing the condition of the US or his view of America’s relations with the rest of the world! It did nothing to win friends or influence enemies to think the better of the USA. It was what he is: Pugnacious, ignorant, dishonest, filled with hyperbole, graceless, and given to fascist sloganeering!
“Make America Great Again” was filched from Benito Mousilini, the Italian distator and self- proclaimed “Father of Fascism,” whose slogan was “Make Italy Great Again!”  And “America First” was the slogan of pro-fascist Americans, such as the aviator and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindburg, during World War II.  When it was pointed out that a quote he used was coined by Musolini he said he didn’t care “I just lkie good slogans.”  The thoughtful observor is forced to wonder if they are birds of a feather.  For an extended discussion of this question see: “Is Donald Trump A Uniquely American Fascist” on this blog.
Click to see Trump’s Speech
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/index.html

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
Inauguration Day
Janurary 20, 2016

JESTER OR COON?

Posted in On Blacks and Trump, On Donald Trump, Steve Harvey visits Donald Trump, You Tube Classics with tags on January 18, 2017 by playthell
steve-harvey-and-trump
Dr. Jive and and his Jigaboo

SHOULD STEVE HARVEY HAVE MET WITH TRUMP?

While Black elected members of Congress MUST meet with the President on GOVERNMENT BUSINESS and thus understandably will meet with Trump; Steve Harvey has no official business with Trump,so what was he doing in Trump Tower?  Steve says that they talked “about golf and people we knew in common.” And then they got down to business. Which is a mystery because he also says, as you will hear in the video below, that he doesn’t “know much about politics.” Steve seems easily impressed because he assured us  Trump “is a great Guy.”  He looked and sounded ridiculous!  The first question Steve should have asked Trump is: “Why me?”

The fact that the only black people Trump has met with before him is a former football player, a psychotic rapper, and his old gangster crony and mentor from his days in the boxing game Don King, should have made him suspicious of Trump’s motives.  The fact that Trump’s only black cabinet appointment – amidst a group of reactionary right-wing white folks whose agenda is hostile to the aspirations of the black community – is a demented doctor who is totally unqualified to direct the vast resources of the Housing and Urban Development Agency, should surely have given Big Stevie cause for pause. But this joker – who, as you will see in the video embedded below, can’t even pronounce the name of the agency, tells us that he and Dr, Carson are going to work together to bring about changes in the inner-city: THIS IS A CLAASSIC CASE OF THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND!!!!!!

Alas, lest we forget, Stevie a PROFESSIONAL FOOL….which is the definition of a COMEDIAN!!!!! In medieval times they were known as professional fools. However there is an important difference between the European court Jester and the American Sambo i.e. “coon.” The Jester was allowed to display wisdom and the coon – which was a racist caricature of black personality. style and character created by WHITE MINSTRELS IN BLACKFACE MASKS – is ONLY A FOOL! Sigmund Freud, the father of psycho-analysis offered this observation about the unique role of the comedian: “Throughout history whenever powerless men spoke truth to power they donned the fool’s mask.”

What Steve Harvey should have done during his audience with Trump is present him with a list of THE names of black experts, serious policy wonks, who have studied these problems for years and have REAL POLICY OPTIONS THAT ARE READY TO GO!!!!! People like Dr. Bernard Anderson, Professor of Economics at the prestigious Wharton School, in the University of Pennsylvania – the school from which Trump got the undergraduate degree that he constantly brags about.

As the principal author of the Economic Section of the annual Urban League State of Black America Report, Dr. Anderson is the foremost authority in the world on the economic problems facing Afro-Americans. And Dr. William J. Wilson, Professor of Social Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, is unquestionably the World’s foremost authority on the condition of African Americans in America’s cities. His books on the subject are as authoritative as the BIBLE on matters of Christian teaching! To learn more of these scholar and their works see, https://commentariesonthetimes.me/…/less-preachers-and-mor…/

 Dr. William Julius Wilson: Harvard Sociologist

william-j-wilson

The World’s Foremost Authority on Blacks in Urban America
Dr. Bernard Anderson: Economist at Wharton

bernard-anderson

The Reigning Authority on blacks in the American Economy

These scholars should be at the top of the list, and if Trump didn’t call the people Steve recommended Stevie should make a clever comedy routine about it the way he did about Cornel West! It should go something like this:
“Watcha call me in fo boss? I’se jest a clown….you need to talk with some black folks that really got somethin to say and kin speak on it wit de wisdom of King Solomon in de bible,” then scratch his bald head, roll his eyes and get a good laugh while putting that bullshit artist in his place! Instead he allowed “The Donald” to get some free and positive pub, he was USED BY TRUMP!!!

Alas Stevie – probably overwhelmed that he got the call for counsel from The Donald that Cornel West hungered for but NEVER got from Barack Obama – and instead of a proud and unbought black man…a clown who spoke truth to power, we get a sheepish looking Harvey trying to explain why he met with Trump while not being able to cite a single thing we gained from it…not even a specific promise. Political tactics 101 – you NEVER go to a meeting with people who have REAL POWER with NO DEMANDS!!!!

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To watch Steve Harvey at Trump Tower click on link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBR6rgbcqVQ

The End of the World is Near!!!

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Nuclear War, On Sports!, On the 2016 Presidential Election, You Tube Classics on September 21, 2016 by playthell
a-terryfying-nuclear-explosionA Vision of Doomsday

Sixty Minutes Exposes the Doomsday Machine

God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign/No more water/The Fire Next Time!

This is an exceedingly strange political season where the bizarre has become common place.  For instance a New York real estate huckster and transparent con man with no experience in government is threatening to defeat the most qualified candidate in US history for the presidency.  Yet the fact that there is no serious mention, let alone discussion, of the unique horrors of nuclear weapons and the growing probability of an accidental nuclear war is the strangest thing of all.

For despite the false sense of security most Americans enjoy, believing the end of Communism and the Cold War with what was Soviet Russia has removed the danger of nuclear holocaust, it ain’t necissarily so.  It is a comforting but dangerous illusion that could lead to a catastrophe which would put an immediate end to human civilization and eventually all life on this planet.

Far from being hallucinations hatched in the fevered imaginations of nervous Nellies, the danger of nuclear war is as probable today as it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the Early 1960’s; the most volotile nuclear confrontation since the introduction of atomic weapons into modern warfare with the bombing of Japan during World War II.

Anyone who doubts how close the US and Russia came to destroying the world in their fight for Spheres of Influence – portions of the globe located close to the territory of major powers that claim them as being under their influence – should see Robert McNamara’s film The Fog of War.  McNamara was the US Secretary of Defense during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the US Navy put a blockade around Cuba and challenged the Soviet fleet on the high seas to prevent them from delivering nuclear missiles to that small Island, which had been attacked by the US in a CIA led a covert action intended to overthrow the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro known as the “Bay of Pigs Invasion.”  As a result of this US aggression against Cuba to prevent them from establishing a socialist economy they formed a military alliance with Russia and requested the missiles for protection.

Robert McNamara

PCC-53242 Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. January 12 , 1961. DoD photo by Oscar Porter, U.S. Army. (Released)

He Presided over the Missisle Crisis

The world came so close to destruction by nuclear war as a result of the confrontation the blockade provoked with the Soviet Union that even a half century later Robert McNamara had not come to terms with the part he played in this near catastrophe for mankind.  In his documentary film McNamara tells us how he was ready to engage the Soviet Union in an all-out nuclear war and was obsessed with finding out if his counterparts on the other side were also ready to engage.  When they told him that they were also prepared to launch their nukes McNamara was profoundly shaken and contemplates the madness of it all.  The thing that perplexed him the most was the fact that highly educated sane and rational men were prepared to destroy the world!

The relevance of this frightening tale for us today is that we are on the verge of provoking a similar crisis with Russia through our insane policy of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe; even though the Cold War is officially over and the Communist Party has been banned in Russia. As I write President Obama is giving his final speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations extolling the end of wars between major nations.  Yet despite his lofty rhetoric, soaring eloquence, impeccable logic and Solomonic wisdom the reality of US-Russian relations do not match his heroic optimism.

Even as the President speaks the US and Russia have thousands of Nuclear missiles targeted at the other’s cities and towns,  each armed with warheads over 50 times more powerful than the devastating bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima – the only time such a weapon was deployed in the history of the world.  To just stockpile such weapons is an unspeakable horror, but the fact that they are armed and on high alert – which is to say that they are on line and can be fired by computers – is a monstrous crime against humanity.

General James Cartwright

general-catwright-iii

Warning against the danger of accidental Nuclear War

When we consider the claim made by General James Cartwright, the former head of the US Strategic Command, which has responsibility for deploying our nuclear forces, that attempts by hostile forces to hack into our nuclear weapons system average ten million a day, our present nuclear strategy of keeping our land based Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles – ICBMs – armed and on high alert can only be considered a manifestation of collective madness. Since the hackers only have to get it right once!

This is why General Cartwright has been vociferously advocating disarming them and taking them off alert, pointing out that we are no longer in a cold war footing with Russia, where instant response from these missiles are necessary. The General, who knows what he is talking about, considers this policy dangerous folly that could instantly become fatal for the earth.  Alas, the fact that there is no discussion of this clear and present danger is irrefutable evidence of a flaw in human character that could well lead to the extinction of our species.

Thus the CBS Sixty Minutes feature story of October 18th,The New Cold War, should be viewed as a revelation; a final Wake-Up call to pull back from the brink of extinction; to turn away from the path to doomsday that we are presently trudging.  Done in the grand style of fact based reportage that has characterized the journalistic product of Sixty Minutes, the report provides us an unprecedented look into the command structure of America’s nuclear forces.  It is at once enlightening and frightening, for it allows a look into the abyss and see how the world could end in a bang.

The report begins by taking us aboard the USS Kentucky, an Ohio Class American nuclear submarine, the most destructive weapon in the history of the world.  The Kentucky is twice the length of a football field and is armed with 200 independently targeted nuclear warheads – enough to destroy every major city in the US and Europe!

If it were an independent nation it would have more weapons than Great Britain – which has 160 operational warheads – and only 100 less than France, which is reducing its stockpile.  Canada, our neighbor to the north has none; it dismantled its stockpile in 1984 and repudiated their use in a treaty signed in 1998.  And China has around 260 warheads.  However the US has 14 Nuclear armed subs in the “Trident” class such as the Kentucky.

Alas, the Trident submarines are but one leg of the US Nuclear “Triad” which includes intercontinental bombers and land based ICBMs: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.  Altogether the US arsenal stockpiles 6, 970 nuclear warheads and is second only to Russia, which maintains 7, 300 warheads.  Yet because of their explosive power the US arsenal is the most destructive force on earth.

In the Sixty Minutes report Captain Brian Freck, Commander of the Kentucky, explains the protocols under which he would launch his doomsday weapons, and he leaves no doubt that if these conditions were met he wouldn’t hesitate to shoot his deadly load. Viewers of this report should pay close attention to the casual way in which Commander Freck talks about taking an action that would set in motion a chain of events that would surely destroy civilization.

Commander-In-Chief

President of the United States Barak Obama visited Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Iraq April 7. This was Obama first trip to Iraq as commander in chief and took time to talk to the service members and civilians serving here.

Recieving big love from the troops in Iraq

Admiral Cecil Haney
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Commander of the US Nuclear Triad

When we leave the Submarine and are ushered into the super-secret operations center of the US Strategic Command, where we are introduced to Admiral Cecil Haney, a very powerful man that virtually no one has ever hear of, including myself, despite the fact that I served in the old Strategic Air Command with a Top Secret security clearance under General Curtis Lemay, back in the day when the B 52 Strato-bombers were the heart of the US nuclear strike force, and I  have been studying and writing about the dangers of nuclear war for years…..often alone among American pundits.  By virtue of my Top Secret clearance I was privy to the war fighting plans of SAC, and serving under General Lemay –whose colleagues on the Joint Chiefs nicknamed him “The Mad Bomber”- during the heat of the Cold War, a hot war seemed a real possibility.

Cast from a different mold than the burly, crude, bombastic Lemay, Admiral Haney is an Afro-American officer and gentleman who is soft spoken, slight of stature, and elegant of style and manner.  Yet he is the supreme commander of the entire nuclear Triad, a far more destructive force, and answers only to President Obama; who appointed him to his Command. Like the President, the Admiral has a very impressive academic record.

Haney grew up in Washington D. C. and graduated from the Naval Academy – which is harder to get in and out of than Harvard – and rose through the ranks based upon brilliant performance.  Although he says that President Obama would invite his advice in the few minutes he would have before ordering a nuclear attack, should they disagree he would have no hesitation in carrying out the president’s orders.  “I am a soldier and I will carry out the orders of my Commander-In-Chief,” said Admiral Haney.   After listening to these men who would be tasked with giving the order to incinerate millions of men, women and children discuss their mission with a near cavalier attitude I was reminded of the philosopher Hanna Arendt’s intriguing thesis about “the banality of evil.”

If America’s doomsday weapons were launched today it will be a decision made by two elegant, brilliant, Afro-American gentlemen: President Obama and Admiral Haney. The irony here is thick and obvious.  For most of my life we were told “It’s a white man’s world,” but at this moment in time the fate of the earth resides in the hands of two very wise black men!  It is a dubious honor and a supreme irony that a society still so rife with racism that a morally deformed, intellectually lightweight charlatan and buffoon like Donald Trump could become a serious pretender to the presidency, buoyed on a wave of white racist resentment, could have invested such awesome power in these black men.

It is a power one associates with the Gods.  And what this Sixty Minutes report makes clear is that it is a power only the God’s should possess….no mortal – especially one as fatally flawed as Herr Trump – should hold the power to destroy the world.  Hence the paramount problem urgently facing mankind as I write, is ridding the earth of all nuclear weapons…putting the atomic genie back in the fuckin bottle!

In his acceptance lecture upon winning the Nobel Prize for literature William Faulkner assured us that whatever happens, come what may, mankind will endure.  This faith was echoed on the other side of the globe in a different tongue, by the great Chinese revolutionary poet and philosopher Mao Tse Tung, who led the mass movement that transformed China from a feudal to a modern society.  The Great Helmsman dismissed atomic weapons as “paper tigers” and declared “The Bomb will not destroy man; man will destroy the bomb.”   I hope they are right, and if I were a religious man I would pray.  But being a prisoner to reason and an ardent student of human history….I am not so sure they are right alas.

What I am absolutely certain of is that the mere existence of atomic weapons impeirls our continued existence…and if we do not soon put an end to them they will surely put an end to us!   As things stand at this hour the preeminent experts on the question of nuclear annihilation at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist have their Doomsday Clock set at three minutes to midnight! Which means the end of the world is closer than you think.

The Most Destructive Weapon in the World
a-nuclear-submarine
A waste of wealth and technological
Double Click on link to see video and Transcript of CBS Report
 http://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/60-minutes-the-new-cold-war/
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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
September 21, 2016

 

Freedom Music that Inspired South Africans

Posted in Cultural Matters, Music Reviews, You Tube Classics with tags , , on August 19, 2016 by playthell
Maz and Abey IIRevolutionaty Music: Background sound to the Liberation Movement

The Sound Heard Around the World!

The videos posted below  brings to mind the role both Max Roach and Amonata Moseka played in the arts movement of South Africa. I say this because I got to know about Max and Amonata as a very young boy. What they did for African Americans, they also did very effectively for the arts and music in South Africa. I actually learned and got to see Max’s influence in many drummers of the early fifties and sixties in South Africa, like Gordon Mfandu, Early Mabuza, Louis Mofolo, and countless drummers who collected his music, and played like Max, emulated and refined some of his licks and so forth;

Then there was the ladies who sang in the sultry notes of Aminata  Moseka, singers like Dolly Rather, Dorothy Masuka, Thandi Klaasen, and of the younger generation, Sibongile  Khumalo – daughter of Khabi Mgoma who was the conductor of the Ionian Choir of Africans in South Africa.  He would go on to become the Director and curator of Dorkay House, lcated on Elloff Street in Johannesburg.   Dorkay House was the Hub of African Jazz musicians and music students Dorkay House was situated next to BMCC, where all the artist – painters, poets, dramatist, et al were practicing their artistic endeavors.

Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln

Max and Abbey

Father and Mother of the Black Arts Movement

These institutions were very influential in spreading what Max and Abbey were doing for the arts and music world in the USA. Max’s 78 rpm’s and LPs were exchanged amongst the artists, and we, the children of some of these musicians, were encouraged to go to BMCC to learn about up and coming painters and sculptors. Some of my young friends took piano, drum and other instrumental lessons in Dorkay House.

Khabi Mgoma, after his creation of the Ionian Classical Music choir, went on to teach in Natal. But before he left he served as the Director of Dorkay House, and this was frowned upon by the Apartheid Goons who wanted to suppress any sign of modern cultural nationalism among blacks. We children from the townships who loved Jazz got to listen to and watch our African Brothers and uncles practice the new licks from Max Roach, while hanging out with many artists like Dumile Feni, Fikile Magadlela and Solly Bobela, and so forth.

They all came out of that mix.   BMCC played a major role in churning out these young musicians and artists.. Dorkay House was also a hangout for the Musicans /Artists, etc  who played Billiards at BMCC.   It is from such settings that I got to hear and know about Max and Amonata Moseka.

Musicians played his LPs on their gramophones and newly acquired Hi-Fi Radio system. Although we grew up listening to the great drummer Philly Jo Jones and other contemporaries, Max topped the bill for our listening pleasure. This was long before there were the Jazz Clubs that have become a staple since the coming to Power of the ANC. For us, Jazz clubs during my teenage years was hanging out with all types of artists and musicians, and it was from such esteemed people, that I developed a reverence for Jazz that has stayed with me to this day.

As For Leroi Jones, I got to know him from his book, “Blues People”, but I will reserve my comments for now regarding this book. Anyway, we did not read Jazz, only form Magazines like ‘Down Beat”, but the experience of living with, hanging out, and  listening to musicians from a very young Age.  The intoxicating sound of Jazz reaffirmed the oceanic connections that we had with our African bothers, specifically in the US.   I know the influence of the “African Jazz Art society” was certainly felt in South Africa because I remember that my father used to get information on them.

Living within the Jazz Milieu of Apartheid South provided a kind of spiritual refuge…where our souls could dance freely, transcending the physical oppressions of the House of Bondage that our beautiful country had become. Thus the powerful race conscious music of Max and Amonata – such as the “Freedom Suite: We Insist Freedom Now”- made life worth living for many of us here in South Africa.

Those who fought and defeated the apartheid regime are still affected by their cultural contributions more than I can put into words. Max and Amonata was it for us, especially my Age group.   I am older now, but I still listen to my pristine Vinyl recordings of their music and am still inspired by the art of the politically conscious Jazz Giants.  All one need do to understand why is to check out their performance on the videos below.

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Freedom Day!

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Cosmic Freedom Sounds!

Max Roach and South African Pianst Dollar Brand

May the Circle Remain Unbroken!

The Struggle Continues….
Skhokho 
South African Revolutionary
August 1, 2016

THE WORLD’S MOST INTERESTING MAN!

Posted in The Most Interesting Man in the World!, You Tube Classics with tags , , on August 7, 2016 by playthell
Allen Counter_MandelaPresident Nelson Mandela Recieves Renowned Scientist Dr. Allen Counter

An American Original…Scientist and Bon Vivant

I have a friend on Facebook who likes to say that the guy in the famous Don Equis beer commercial who is advertised as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” is a Fraud! Cedrick McCliester insists that yours truly is “The most interesting man in the world.” Although I am deeply flattered by the claim, and my life has been an exciting adventure even by the standards of a romance novel, I beg to differ with Brother Cedrick and nominate another in my stead.

I believe that my former student and longtime friend, Dr. S. Allen Counter, is the most interesting man in the world. I have known several certifiable geniuses in my life time: Wynton Marsalis, John Coltrane and Allen Counter among them. And the most interesting among the geniuses is Dr. Counter. A professor of Nuero-Science at Harvard and a Professor of Medicine at the world famous Mass General Hospital, Dr. Counter is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Nobel/Korolinska institute in Stockholm Sweden, where the much coveted Nobel Prizes in medicine and biology are awarded. Many believe that Dr. Counter could become the first black scientist to win the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Counter  has published scores of original research papers in the leading scientific journals in his field and they have been simultaneously translated into all the major languages of the world. Dr. Counter is also the first black member of the world renowned New York Explorer’s Club, whose members include some of the greatest explorers in history!

Dr. Counter has led important expeditions to the North Pole – following in the footsteps of Matthew Henson, the Afro-American explorer that dicovered the North Pole who is now the second Afro-American enshrined in the New York Explorers Club by virtue of Dr. Counter’s efforts – and the Amazon Jungles, where he met and studied the Saramacans, a community of escaped African slaves who had lived deep in these jungles for centuries. A tall handsome ex-football player of high style who once considered becoming a professional actor before deciding to seek a career as a scientist, in his youth he was a chick magnet that attracted a wide array of gifted, powerful and beautiful women from all walks of life.

Dr. Counter and Oprah Winfrey

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Dr. Counter, Super Model Naomi Campbell
Actors/Producters Debbie Allen amd Sister Felicia Rachad

Allen counter_Debbie allen_Felecia rashad

Hangin with the Doctor!
Dr. Counter and the Crown Princess of Sweden
Allen Counter and Swedish Crown Princess
Commoners and Royalty alike are Beguiled by  his Charms
The Doctor Escorts  Miss Sweden to the Ball

Allen-counter-and-date-the-first-black-miss-sweden

The Knight Squires the first Black Miss Sweden in High Society

Both a man’s man and a lady’s man, Dr. Counter began what has become one of the most consequental and best lived lives ever in dire poverty down in Boyington Beach Florida, in a black community largely composed of fruit pickers and servants to the mansions of the Super Rich WASP elite in Palm Beach. His academic climb began with a scholarship to Tennessee State, a historicall black college in Nashville, which he attended with the encouragement and aid of a devoted black teacher in his all-black high school. Growing up in the segregated American south where racial discrimination and inequality were legal, his is one of the most heroic and inspiring stories of American achievement in the 20th century!

If, as many thoughtful obsrevers have argued, the “rags to riches” story is the quintessentially representative anecdote of American civiliation Dr. Counter personifies it.  Although there is an embarrasment of riches to choose from, this anecdote will suffice.  After his appointment to the Harvard faculty he went home to visit his grandmother, who had largely raised him while his parents were working.  His visit was heralded on the front page of the local newspaper where it was proudly pointed out that he was the first Floridian of any race to be appointed to a professorship in science at Harvard.

He was not in town for a day before his grandmother recieved a call from the rich old peckerwood who had employed her as a servant, and had known “Count,” as he is afectionately known to his friends, when he was a boy.  “Is that our little Allen they are raising such a fuss about in the newspaper.”  “It sho is” she responed with evident pride.  At which point the old Peck sheepishly asked if she could persuade him to come to dinner at his home because he would like his grand sons to meet him, because perhaps his example could inspire them to some higher aspiration than “taking dope and recklessly riding around the Bay on jet skis!”   When Count left racist apartheid Florida to go off to college less than a decade ago, such an invitation was unimaginable.  Hence, after all is said and done, great success really is the best revenge.

Dr. Counter and President Obama

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In Sweden for the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony honoring POTUS
Dr. Counter honoring Densel Washington 

Allen Counter - DenzelandAllen

Presenting an Award as President of Harvard Foundation
The Swedish Ambassdor to New England!

Allen Counter and Crown Prince of Sweden

“The Count and The Prince”

Artic Explorer

Allen countergreenland

Resting with is dogs
Arriving aboard a Nuclear Submarine

Allen Counter- USS Annapolis Atomic Sub_Commander _ Michael Brunner

Dr. Counter Plants an American Flag and Momento  honoring Matthew Henson
Winning Pothumous Recognition for Matthew Henson

Allen counter_audreymebane

Presenting the National Geographic Award to Henson’s Great Neice
Dr. Counter lecturing at Harvard

allen counter -lecturing on the human brain at Harvard

Unraveling the Mysteries of the Human Brain

Never forgetting the needs of communities like the one from which he came, he thinks that President Obama’s Affordable Health ACT is a good first step toward what ought to be free healthcare for everyone under a single payer system.  Dr. Counter, who is alo a licensed practicing doctor that treats patients, thinks medical care for profit is a crime against humanity. He also thinks that Dr. Ben Carson is merely a talented technician not a great scientific thinker – like the difference between a virtuoso pianist and a great composer – a clueless artist badly in need of a brain transplant to help him understand the complexities of American politics.

The videos below provide scenes from the magnificent life of Dr. S. Allen Counter, Professor of  Neuro-biology and medicine at Harvard and Mass General Hospital; Research Fellow and Visiting Professor at the Nobel Khorolinska in Sweden; great explorer; cutting edge researcher on the human brain; Pesident of the influential Harvard Foundation – where he sponsors the annual “Kumba Christmas” ceremonies put on by the Afro-American students – Author, ethnologist, filmaker;  engaged intellectual, scientific activist on behalf of the poor and powerles,  and charming personality.

All of these elements combine in him to produce the most interesting man in the world.  As you have observed from the photographs, Dr. Counter is a heroic figure that attracts stars from from all quarters, drawing them to him like a Super Nova.  He is the tallest tree in our American forest, a man who really has walked with presidents and kings yet retained the common touch….the most interesting man in the world!

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Scenes from a fantastic life

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Exposing Lead Poisioning from Industrial Pollution in Central America

Narrated by Debbie Allen

On The Kumba Choir

Each year Dr. Counter Presents them in a special Christmas performance

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Playthell G. Bemjamin
Harlem, New York
August 2016

Wynton is The Greatest!

Posted in Cultural Matters, Music Reviews, You Tube Classics with tags , , on August 2, 2016 by playthell
DSC_0250
Maestro Marsalis at work

The Evidence on Video and Audio

The great composer, arranger, bandleader and trumpeter Gerald Wilson once told me emphatically during an interview: “Wynton Marsalis is the greatest trumpeter in the world!” And as a failed trumpeter who retained a passionate love for the instrument, as well as an acute appreciation for the formidable obstacles and treacherous pitfalls which confronted the aspiring artist that attempted to master it, I wholeheartedly agreed.

As a serious lover of complex instrumental music I had listened to many great trumpeters in Jazz and European concert music – the former a New World invention, a 20th century art that expressed the Afro-American love of freedom as well as the quintessential American ideals of Democracy, Personal Liberty and Innovation. The latter a great art music from the Old World of Europe that was already centuries old, and reflected the hierarchal and highly formalized character of the societies that produced it. And although both musical idioms employ the same instrument, and the music they make is based on the same system of melody and harmony – a European invention that produced sublime sounds by their great master composers – the two musical forms were profoundly different in instrumental technique, compositional structure and artistic philosophy.

In the classical music of Europe the instrumentalist is a vehicle for the ideas of the composer. And if they perform in symphony orchestras, operas or chorales they are also subjected to the dictates of tyrannical composers. Hence in European concert music the creativity of the instrumentalist is severely circumscribed. Everything from tempo, intonation and interpretation of the music is dictated the composer and enforced by the conductor with an iron fist.  Hence conformity to tradition and achieving excellence based upon well-established standards of performance is the objective to which the successful artists must aspire.

Conversely, the art of Jazz performance demands that the performer seek their own voice, follow their personal muse, and create something new under the sun.  Furthermore the music must swing to the clockwork rhythms of the unique machine age milieu in which it was born…the most modern civilization the world had ever seen.  Hence all Jazz is modern music.  That’s why visual artists from American Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollard and Wilheim de Kooning, to European masters of Modernism such as Pablo Picasso and Salvadore Dahli lionized their music.

The difficulty of mastering both musical idioms is self-evident in the fact that of all the great musicians that have lived in the world there are so few that have achieved virtuosity in both that we can count them on our fingers and toes. Flautist Hubert Laws, Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, pianists Chucho Valdez and Herbie Hancock, bassists Ron Carter, Carlos del Pino, Richard Davis and Ortiz Walton first among them. However Mr. Marsalis is the only musician on any instrument who has won the coveted Grammy for performances in both genres.  And he has achieved this impossible feat nine times!  Four were for “Best Classical Performance” and five for “Best Jazz Performance.”

For this presentation I have chosen one of the most difficult instrumental pieces from each genre where Wynton is featured as a soloist.  Added to this are two performances with Wynton as accompanist to a singer…a fine art unto itself.  For the instrumental Classical repertoire I have selected “The Carnival of Venice,” and for the Jazz performance I have chosen “Cherokee.” As to the difficulties posed by the first piece suffice it to say that when trumpeters auditioned for the great United States Marine Band, billed as “The Greatest Brass Band in the World” – under the direction of its founder and premiere composer Maestro John Phillip Sousa – who wrote such enduring works as El Capitan, Semper Fidelis, Anchors Away! And the immortal Stars and Stripes Forever – “The Carnival of Venice “ was the piece that they were required to play.

This is because Arbans’ Carnival presents the trumpeter with a series of obstacles that requires mastery of all the technical problems posed by trumpet performance: Legato and staccato phrasing; triple tonguing, circular breathing, fingering the keys, exquisite timing, embouchure and intonation. Cleary Wynton masters them all…and with ease!  This is a heroic achievement, because a trumpet after all is just some twisted brass pipes with a hard metal mouthpiece and only three keys!  Yet it is capable of playing all the notes in the musical lexicon.

This amazing feat is achieved by manipulating sound from the way one blows into the instrument, which is to say mastering embouchure.  It is such a marvelous feat the only reason that great athletes such as Michael Jordon and Russell Wilson attract more fans that Wynton is because more people understand the greatness of what they do. Everybody has had some experience playing sports – if only because physical education is a required component of every school curriculum…and sadly instrumental music is not.  However to grasp the brilliance of Wynton’s performance on Carnival, one need only read the comments of trumpet players from all over the world under the video and note their astonishment – one even said that “suicide” would be easier and a lot less painful that the epic failure one would experience trying to duplicate this performance!”

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 Cherokee, the Jazz selection, was the piece that the hep cats at Minton’s Playhouse threw on Charlie “Yardbird” Parker to prove his mettle when he showed up at Minton’s Playhouse from Kansas City “looking country” totin his alto-sax in a cardboard case.  But when he took out his axe and begin to “cut heads” with his complex, erudite and original musical statements, Bird astonished everybody who witnessed it.  Dizzy Gillespie, a key figure in the aggregation of musical rebels who congregated in Minton’s and experimented with new ideas, said when he heard Bird he thought: “There it is, this is the sound we have been searching for.”  He said that they had bits and pieces of the music that would become world famous as Be-bop, and Bird filled in the gaps and brought the whole thing together.

From that musical communion came a genre of Jazz that would change the way musicians heard and played music all over the world. The artistic challenges Bop presented intrigued musicians from the great to near great to apprentices.  If I had to sum up Bird’s achievement I would say that he did for the world of music what Einstein did for theoretical physics: change the relationship between time and space forever.

The great writer Ralph Ellison, a well-schooled trumpet player competent in both the classical repertoire – he was a music major at Tuskegee, where he studied with the outstanding Afro-American composer in the classical European style but with an Afro-American voice. William Dawson – and was also grounded in the hard swinging blues style of the “Stomp” that was popular among the “Territorial Bands” that played in his native Oklahoma City – bird hailed from nearby Kansas City.

Ellison, was so astonished and overwhelmed by what he head in Minton’s that he wrote “They were playing be-bops…I mean re-bopped be-bops.” The drummers had abandoned the steady bass drum pulse that was so essential to the dancers who got down to the Stomp, that Ellison was horrified by the seemingly free form complexity of their rhythms and described them as “frozen faced introverts dedicated to chaos!”

The experience of hearing this new music called “Be-Bop” invented in Harlem’s Minton’s Playhouse by players like trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Thelonious Monk, bassist Oscar Pettiford, drummer Kenny “Klook” Clarke and others that he gave up playing the trumpet and became a writer -.one of the greats.  So music’s lost was literature’s gain.

When listening to Cherokee, remember that essential to the genius of Jazz is not only the requirement of virtuosity on the part of each instrumentalist…but one must be able to compose complex music while swinging the blues over chord changes  at the SPEED OF THOUGHT!!!  Hence the speed at which Wynton is playing adds to the magic of it all!  So Kick back and check out the marvelous vibes from the horn of Maestro Marsalis…THE GREATEST TRUMPETER IN THE WORLD!!!

Chillin Back Stage
Wynton in Berkley After a triumphant concert at U-Cal Berkeley
Click to see: THE CARNIVAL OF VENICE

Click to see: CHEROKEE
https://youtu.be/3blL4v-cY18
Boroque Duets: Wynton and Kathleen Battle

Watch Wynton Accompany Jazz Great Sarah Vaughn

Watch Wynton Warm up before a Concert

The concert featured legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal with the JALC Orchestra

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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
August 1, 2016
***Cover Photo by Frank Stewart
U-Cal Berkeley Photo by: Playthell Benjamin