Blues Fanfares for the Matriarch

Posted in Cultural Matters with tags , , on August 6, 2017 by playthell

Sound the Brass in Celebration

N’orleans Pays Homage to the Queen Mother of Jazz

Deloris Marsalis: Elegant, Charming, Intelligent and Compassionate

One a sizzling summer day in the Crescent City Deloris Marsalis, mother of the marvelous musical Marsalis Clan, and wife to the master musician Ellis Marsalis, danced and joined the ancestors in her eightieth year.  Although I met the grand lady only once, I feel close to her by virtue of my twenty year friendship with her illustrious son Wynton – the peerless trump virtuoso, bandleader, and brilliant composer – and her husband Ellis; two paragons of the musician as intellectual and cultural leader.  And the there were all the wonderful stories I heard about her from family friends.

However according to her obituary and the testimony of friends she was quite nonchalant about the fame of the Marsalis men.  Indeed we are told in the obit:

Being the matriarch of what would become a famous family of Jazz musicians should have been the lede, but for her it was not. That note would be reserved for the second paragraph. If you came to her to talk about her famous husband or sons it would not have been a very long conversation. If you wanted to talk about what you were doing, what you were interested in and how you were making it in the world, she was all ears.” 

We are also reminded of her generous but no-nonsense disposition.

But the absolute best of her was her…love for those who have been brought low, by life, by circumstance, by mishap, or even by their own hand. She would help those in trouble financially, and she would often lend an ear of support by letter, postcard or phone call whether you were in your home, hospital, jail, or just waiting for your next place. Other than her husband, few if any would know of the scope of her ministrations.”

However Deloris was no pushover that could be easily gamed, rather she was a schrewd judge of character who could detect the okey doke or con before it was played:

Not one to favor pity – she could sniff this out with the best – over actually helping you by getting you to help yourself. She would not tolerate “foolishness” or self-pity, if you needed a shoulder to cry on it was there, but only for a minute before you would get the “Now let me tell you something…”.

Despite her stoic manner in dealing with people in crisis, she is also remembered as a witty woman with a great sense of humor: “One of the more unique parts of her was her funny bone. It was a sudden wit and humor that would present itself no different than a strike of lightning. If you had ever thought you could get the best of her, you were quickly reminded that you had not.”  But the thing that won the heart of Ellis Marsalis, the man with whom she would spend 57 years of her life and have six sons with, was her love of music especially Jazz.  “She was one of the few girls who that I knew who actually liked jazz” Ellis recalls.

Hence, although she was not a musician, her life became deeply embedded in the music scene.  And New Orleans was the perfect venue, where the action was.  New Orleans is a city where music making is intricately intertwined with the basic rituals of life in a unique way.  It is the fabled “birthplace of Jazz,” the quintessential American art, a complex instrumental music whose origins lie in the church, the Opera House, the whorehouse and street festivals.  It is an enchanted city where people will make music and dance in the streets at the slightest inticement…a cultural phenomenon that bewitched my dancer daughter who fell under the spell of the “Big Easy.”

It is in the nature of things that music should play such a central role in the last rites for the departed in N’orleans, especially in the culture of the Afro-American community from whence the Jazz tradition sprang.  And thus it is fitting and proper that her gifted sons – whose contribution to keeping that tradition alive is incalcuable – should turn out and lead the parade in the funeral of their beloved mother – just as Wynton has done at the funerals of so many Jazz greats in New York City.

I have witnessed the black musicians of the Crescent City rise up and express the mourning of the entire city after the devastating blow from hurricaine Katrina, when the whole town went under water.  In a concert held at Lincoln Center, filed with memorable performances, the passion and pathos in the sound of the music the Crescent City players made was a healing balm for wounded spirts that gave hope to all who heard it.

Just as all who heard the musicians of the community, led by the son’s of Deloris Marsalis, joined by singers from all stations in life, felt their spirits dance while joyously singing the old hymn “I’ll fly Away.”  There was more triumph than tragedy in the air as the lyrics rang out, soaring above the sound of the horns: “I’ll fly away O glory/I’ll fly away/When I die halilujah by and by/I’ll Fly away,” while the funeral marchers cut a jubilant “second line” step for which New Orleans funeral processions are world famous.

Although the pain of loss was clearly visible on their faces – Wynton and Jason especially – one could see in the dance an affirmation of the wonderful life she lived, and the lives that are yet to be lived by future generations of the Marsalis clan.  Ellis Marsalis, her long time husband and patriach of this family that has given so much beauty to the world, was a paragon of calm dignity as he turned out to pay his final respects to his partner and queen.

Ellis Arriving at the Church

Pater-familias of the Magnificent Marsalis’

The triumphant procession was led by her grandson Mckenzie Marsalis, decked out in the grand New Orleans style with Bowler hat, gloves, shoulder sash, colorful parasol and drill master’s whistle; Cake walking down the avenue steppin high.  Mother Marsalis was given the kind of grand send off befitting a culture hero who worked her magic from the wings as her husband and progeny took center stage and weaved their alchemy in the lime light.

Yet anyone who has ever spent any time in the company of the Marsalis men will recognize the civilizing touch of this wise mothers hand.  For there is not to be found a more gracious, charming, humble bunch of superbly gifted men.   While Ellis was their muse and inspired them to make a living in music, she was their pre-eminent guide to making a good life as men of substance.  Their deep sense of loss at her departure from this life was palpable – which is poignantly portrayed in the photographs – even amidst the celebration of her life in the transcendent ambiance of the occasion conjured up in the majesty of their song.

Scenes from the Going Home Ceremony of the Queen Mother of Jazz

Wynton Directs the Musicians Waiting to follow the Casket

McKenzie Marsalis Leading the Procession

Let the Trumpets Sound!

“I’ll Fly Away”…Delfayo Marsalis Raises his Voice in Song

And Joy Cometh to his Soul

His Drumsticks Put Away…Jason Marsalis Walks in Silence

While the Brass Celebrated with Fanfares

Spike Lee Offer Words of Consolation to Wynton
The Marsalis Brothers offer a Libation to The Ancestors for their Mother

A Sunday Kind of Love

Ellis and Deloris in the Autumn of Life


Click on link to see the Funeral Procession.
First there is the dirge as the leave the church.  The band is playing “Amazing Grace.  Later they perform Elijah Jane.

“When I die halilujah by and by/I’ll fly away”
See the performance at:


Text by: Playthell G. Benjamin
Photos and Video: courtesy of the New Orleans Advocate
Harlem, New York
August 6, 2017


Donnie Dimwit in Dogpatch USA!

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags on August 5, 2017 by playthell

The Adoration of Trumpanzees


Did yall see the city slicker from New Yawk in Applachia last night playing the hicks in the sticks as if they were fiddles at the “Grand Ol Oprey?” The occasion was an announcement by the Governor of West Virginia that he was switching party affliation from Democrat to Republican.  This move could be his undoing, after Trump is driven from office in disgrace.

The speech Donnie Dimwit  gave was an embarrassing rehash of his campaign trail bunko; he sounded like a corny broken record stuck on stupid.  As the prosecutors in Washington and New York tighten the noose around his neck he fled to the only place he is sure to find some love these days: The backwoods wilderness of Applachia where the peckerwood yahoos dwell in a fog of ignorance.

As I scanned the faces in the scraggly snaggle-toothed crowd, many of whom had never visited a dentist before Obamacare, they seemed oddly familiar. I thought I saw “Ma and Pa Kettle,” “Barnie Google,” “Lil Abner,” “Moonbeam McSwine,” “Daisy May,” “The Duck Dynasty,” “The Dukes of Hazard,” “Andy Griffin,” the “Hee Haw” crowd, and the “Beverly Hillbillies.” I swear it looked like they were all there!

Somehow the Republicans think they can use these unemployed coal miners, out of work moonshiners, and scatter brained trailer trash to rag on us educated big city folks. Just cause we read books and newspapers, attend art shows and theaters, and can actually tell “real” from “fake news” we are to be treated like child molestors. Spurred on by dirty devious decievers like Donnie they are encouraged to denounce, and try and shame us, for being “elitetist.”

Fired Up Trumpanzees!

Crazy, Clueless, Crackers!

Well I don’t go for that okey doke, so I’ma just keep it real. I am happy as a bum in the Waldof to be living on Sugar Hill in Manhattan awash in books, with a commanding view of the New York manscape, listening to NPR, the BBC, WBAI, MSNBC, et al while reading the august New York Times trying to get smarter.!

I am estatic at being able to order food and wine from fabulous resturants and wineries, have it delivered to my door, and savor these delicacies while listening to marvelous solo piano performances by McCoy Tyner Valadimir Horowitz, Dorothy Donnegan, Chucho Valdez, Alicia de la Rocha, Herbie Hancock, Andre Watts, Mary Lou Williams, Art Tatum, et al.
And although an ignorant philistine like Donnie Dimwit can quicken the pulse and conjure rebel yells from the Hill billies because he comes across as being fully as dumb as them, and Trumpanzee surrogates like that muddled headed Miller guy tries to make “Cosmopolitan” sound like a dirty word….I GLORY IN BEING A COSMOPOLITE….A MAN OF THE WORLD!!!!
That’s because unlike narrow minded white trash – with or without money – I was cultivated to be a cosmopolite early on in life. You see, I attended a highschool whose Curriculum and philosophy and been shaped by the brilliant multi-talented James Weldon Johnson – the quintessential cosmopolite, who said the objective of his educational program was “to produce cosmopolites.” He and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson, penned the eight stanza art song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as the class song for the first black high school class to graduate in Florida in 1901.  This genuine American Lieder that became famous as “The Negro National Anthem, was sung at all important black community events instead of the “Star Spangled Banner” – that white war song passionately sung by slave masters and every variety of white racist!

I grew up in a all black community in Florida where the standards were set by the “Talented Tenth” that class Dr, WEB Dubois had called into existence in his famous 1903 essay “Of Mr, Booker T. Washington and Others.” Here, and in other essays in the classic anthology, “The Souls Of Black Folk,” Dr. Dubois offers a penetrating analysis of what an education should consist of, and the need to have no limits on our aspirations, encouraging us to shoot for the stars, or “jump at de sun,” as the brilliant writer/anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston said her mother advised her when she left the little town of Eatonville Florida heading for Harlem.

James Weldon Johnson

A 20th Century American Reniassance Man
WEB DuBois

The most broadly learned Visionary American of the 20th Century

The idea that one should set their sights high, and our reach should exceed our grasp, was distilled in a little ditty we used to recite: “Aim for the top/shoot yo best shot/and like Mellin told Snellin/ain’t no tellin!” This kind of foresight was conspiculously absent in the po dumb rednecks that populated the white working class community. Only the white eliete held such values, a class whom the rednecks had far less interaction with than many working class blacks because the blacks were domestic workers in their mansions and thus observed them in their most intimate moments and poor whites never got beyond the back porch!

As the great southern writer Albert Murray points out in classic books like “The Omni-Americans,” and “South to a Very Old Place,” this close relationship to the white southern elite allowed Afro-Americans to select the best that this class had to offer,while seeing them with all their imperfections and vulnerabilities. They had their eyes on Mighty Whitey, saw him for what he was, and rejected those things that were obvious flaws in their character. While looking upon the po often illiterate crackers as white trash just like the white elite saw them! Murray also pointed out that poor working class blacks had access to the black bourgeosise because of racial segregation by law,” and he called this unintended consequence “antoganistic cooperation,” because this racist system forged a community of interests that would not have existed in a racialy open society such as we have today.

Hence while I am a compulsive pedagogue who is genetically predisposed to fighting ignorance wherever I encounter it, Donald J. Trump appears to be the foremost heir to  Sarah Palin’s contribution to American politics: MAKING IGNORANCE FASHIONABLE!!!! I refuse to me intimidated by the untutored mob, the collossal Ignorami, who has the unmitigated call to gall themselves “the real Americans!” If that were true the world would be talking about “Yankee Know-Nothing” rather than “Yankee Know How!”

An Afro-American Cosmopolite

They can all can kiss my arrogant, intelligent, Black ELITIST ass!!!! Beginning with Donnie Dimwit!!!! And as far as the supposed virtues of life in Rural and small town America, well I would rather be a fire hydrant in Manhattan and get pissed on by dogs every day that a king in a castle in WEST VIRGINIA!!!!!!   And the truth be told… would that lying ass Trump: he is just scared to come home because he knows we despise him and he would be met with angry crowds telling his so!

The Classic Demagouge!

Watch Trump Bamboozling the Yahoos



Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
August 5, 2017

Dangerous White Trash in the White House!  

Posted in On Donald Trump with tags , , on August 3, 2017 by playthell


The Bunko Artist and the Soft Porn Model

 An American Dilemma

The great theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, once observed “God does not shoot dice with the world.”  Well, that may be true of God but it is certainly not the case with Americans, at least the millions who voted to place Donald J. Trump in charge of the US nuclear arsenal and give him the launch codes.  This means that as I write a delusional megalomaniac with anger issues and the temperament of a pre-adolescent can literally give a command that could unleash forces that would destroy the world in half an hour from now! As totally bizarre and unbelievable as it sounds: this is a simple and literal truth.

The obvious question all who have read thus far in my essay must be asking is: How did humanity come to such a tragic state of affairs?  The simple answer is the ignorance, apathy and amoral opportunism of a majority of the American electorate.  It is a predicament that Thomas Jefferson, arguably the wisest and most thoughtful of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States of America, worried about and issued in a dire warning at the birth of the nation. “A popular Democracy cannot work with an ignorant electorate,” he warned, “because they will elect and return the worse people to power.”

Yet considering that this warning was issued in the 18th century, a time when electricity or the internal combustion engine had not been invented, whatever horrors Jefferson might have imagined is inconsequential compared to the catastrophe that the ignorance of the American electorate has placed this nation, and all life on this planet.  Had Jefferson been able to conceive of a time when Americans would possess the power to destroy our world, I am certain that he would have demanded far more stringent qualifications for the right to vote….and especially in order to run for President

I have employed the hindsight provided by historical perspective because it shines a revealing light on some fundamental flaws in the US system of governance by popular democracy, and suggest some unpleasant truths about what must be done to correct it…lest we are all doomed.  It’s just a matter of time…and time is running out!   Alas, it is no exaggeration to declare that the whole-world is in a state of emergency.

Of the three failings that led to the election of Donald Trump – a man who by any objective measure is unfit for the job and thereby poses a grave danger to the world – the mass ignorance that has rendered the American democratic process for selecting our top leaders dysfunctional, is the easiest to remedy.  That can be solved by restoring serious Civics courses to the core public school curriculum and qualitatively raising the standards by which US citizens qualify to vote.

This can be accomplished by appointing a bi-partisan committee of political scientists and historians – equally composed of Republicans and Democrats – who will be tasked with composing a basic Civics test that will tell the Board of elections whether potential voters understand enough about the basic structure and function of American political institutions, as well as the ideology and principles of American democracy which gives them legitimacy, to cast an informed vote.  It could be based on the standard examination given to immigrants who apply for US citizenship.  Those who fail to achieve a certain score on this test will lose their right to vote.

This will be easy enough to achieve.  We can set up a website where citizens can get the necessary information to study for the test, and they can be administered at polling places and local school houses. Much like the classes people who are seeking to become new Americans attend in order to prepare for the test they must pass before being allowed to take the oath of Citizenship.  Whatever expenses are accrued from this process is a small price to pay to salvage our democracy, which at presently dangerously dysfunctional. A far more complex version of this test should be administered to any candidate who seeks to run for President, along with rigorous psychiatric examinations to test their mental fitness to hold such a pressure filled office that demand the ability to make timely and sober decisions about complex and dangerous matters.  It is safe to say that Donald Trump would never have passed such a rigorous test.

We should also adopt some of the practices of other advanced nations that limit both the time of political campaigns and the amount of money that can be spent on them.  The emphasis should be on the candidate’s positions, not the amount of money they can spend on political advertisements; which research shows often reaches the point of diminishing returns as these ads began to confuse more than they enlighten, producing more heat than light.

However, the problem of apathy i.e. a disinterest in politics, is much more difficult to address.  But since these people will have no effect on the process they are of no consequence to the outcome.  If they cannot understand that politics is the process by which relationships of power are created and distributed, and that power is the ability to do what you want, when you want, and to get the most and the best of whatever there is to get, then they are too ignorant to exercise the vote anyway. And although bitter experience may not be the best teacher, it could well be the only effective tutor for such lost souls. They will eventually learn from the trial, tribulations and cruel vicissitudes of life that Aristotle was right: Unless one is a God or a beast their life’s chances will be determined by politics!

Alas, the most dangerous condition as well as the most difficult to remedy is the amoral opportunist, because such people are prone to making Faustian Bargains – deals with the Devil i.e. compromises with transparent evil in order to achieve wealth and power.  In America today there is a leadership in the Republican Party that is neither ignorant nor apathetic, they know well the evil they doeth and they are busy as beavers!   They have concocted a calculus for victory that factors in the ignorance and moral turpitude of their constituents.   Hence, they stand idly by applauding the outrages of Donald Trump like carnival acts holding their noses and kissing pigs while playing to the cheap seats.

These soulless charlatans are reactionary tribalist that have placed the fate of their party over the fate of the nation.  This is a dangerous game when practiced in banana republics, it could result in catastrophe when it is practiced by leaders of the most complex modern society in history.  Especially when it results in placing a man in who has been officially diagnosed by thousands of professional psychiatrists and psychologist as suffering from “Malignant Narcissism” and “paranoia,” in charge of doomsday weapons that can destroy the world!  The princes and powers of the Republican Party has heard this frightening diagnosis, but in their arrogance and hubris they believe they can control “The Donald.”

Perhaps these shallow bean counters, horse traders, charlatans and scoundrels believe that they can control this guy because they can impeach him if worse comes to worse.  They are too ignorant of history to be cautioned by the fact that the last man to become head of a modern nation with this psychiatric profile was Adolph Hitler.  His actions led to a global conflagration that resulted in 50 million deaths.  And the sensible sober leaders of Germany thought they could control him too, when they helped him come to power.

German elites who scorned and mocked Hitler as “the Austrian corporal” and routinely referred to him as “swine” behind his back, enthusiastically cast the Nazi Salute with gusto in public.   These highly educated actors engaged in what proved to be a deadly duplicity because they recognized that Hitler’s mass appeal could help them defeat the Communists and socialists.   Since they embraced the evil Nazi regime there can be no pretense that their opposition to the communists was to defend and preserve democracy; the way the Republican elites who find Trump repugnant and routinely described him as “an amoral con man” during the election campaign, now adopt a permanent lips to posterior posture towards the previously vilified charlatan.  The recent cabinet meeting that we witnessed on television could compete with any Nazi cabinet meeting for fawning slavishness before the great leader!

Here we see the awful truth of Harvard philosopher George Santayana’s axion: “Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes!”  Alas, I find myself returning to this prescient warnings often these days…the tenor of the times demands it.  For this is an occasion for sober and candid analysis of the objective facts.  To the untutored mob, morally and psychologically twisted from genuflecting before the twin evils of racism and sexism, Trump is a heroic savior, while Barack and Hillary – the true friends of the working class with decades of yeoman work on their behalf – are viewed as enemies to be despised.

Karl Marx and Lenin would be baffled by this strange political pathology. For in Marx’s magisterial, insightful and original critique of capitalism it was the working class – the proletariat – whose historically appointed role was to lead the struggle to reform or abolish the capitalist exploitation of labor which was a necessary condition to perpetually increase their profits.

Confused White Workers for Trump

There was a time when this conflict between the class interests of labor and capital was understood by working people.  Now it is mostly the rich who understand that class conflict is real and are actively waging class warfare against the working class and the poor.  The main reason why class consciousness has declined so dramatically among workers is the destruction of union power as a result of the adoption of “right to work” laws in poor backward southern states. This is a reactionary region of the country where the organization of labor has been a dangerous and risky business historically, and explains why so many working-class whites ignorantly support Trump when everything in his personal history suggests that he cares nothing for their issues.

The confusion of working class whites is self-evident in their choice of a morally deformed, gluttonous billionaire who promises pie in the sky solutions to their problems of chronic unemployment due to structural changes in the US economy.  A pathological liar and con man, Trump has no qualms about telling these disillusioned workers that he will bring back millions of jobs in manufacturing and coal mining.  Yet the fact is that the whole world is moving on from using coal for economic and environmental reasons, and mass production manufacturing is being taken over by robotization.  Since Trump’s experience in business has been as a real estate huckster who builds luxury hotels and apartment buildings, golf courses and casinos, he knows next to nothing about how business is conducted in the industrial sector….and does not appear to be doing the kind of study that would bring him up to snuff.

While there are benevolent billionaires with true concerns for the public welfare – Warren Buffett Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Mike Bloomberg, George Soros, Facebook founder Steve Zuckerberg et al – Trump is the worst representative of this class who has no record of charitable giving that any investigator has been able to find…and there have been some serious attempts.  Yet when we consider the self-centered, selfish, greedy character of Donald Trump his lack of charity should surprise no one, for he is a megalomaniacal socio-path who has spent his entire life devoted to self-aggrandizement.

Alas, due to an accident of history driven by the untutored mob – the majority of whom have completely sacrificed reason to irrational passions, fired by resentments over the declining significance of whiteness – as well as a Coon Platoon composed of rich opportunistic, politically backward Negros like Jim Brown, Shakeel O’ Neil, “Uncle Ben” Carson, Fifty Cents and that punch-drunk cuckold Mike Tyson – Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States. It is proving to be a historic blunder with catastrophic consequence… and the world will be lucky to survive it!

Whereas the US Presidency, with all the vast powers that attend this high office would ideally be best served by a person of intelligence and sound character, although short of perfection, Trump has neither.   He has the morals of a gutter snipe, the ethics of a pirate, and the cultural taste of a semi-literate bunko artist.  Trump has debased the standards we had come to expect of the President in the 20th century, and he is such an embarrassment that important America institutions feel compelled to publicly apologize for his remarks after inviting him to speak.

Alas, within the last week both the Boy Scouts of America and police departments across the nation have had to disassociate themselves from Donnie Dimwit’s vulgar and thoughtless remarks.  He bombarded the boys with putrid rhetoric about his political opponents, when he should have been presenting an inspirational speech centered around the Scouts and their dreams for the future.  And he actually encouraged the nation’s policeman to brutalize suspects in their custody, as if he wanted them to behave like an American Gestapo!

Given the nationwide incidence of police murdering unarmed black men, the President should have been stressing the rights of citizens and reminding cops that their role is to “protect and serve” the people who pay their salary and whose rights are protected by the US Constitution.  Yet all of this pales into insignificance when compared to Trump’s decision to take the US out of the Paris Climate accord, a depraved action that could cause the death of millions in the future; including his grandchildren.  However, Trumps erratic and irrational amoral behavior can only be fully understood when viewed from the perspective of the Psychiatrists. (for a discussion of this see “Drumpft and Herr Hitler: Birds of a Feather?” on this blog)

Trump’s Remarks Gives License to Racist like This!

Stupid White Trash Suffering from Black Penis Envy

Trump’s off the cuff crazy call for the expulsion of transgendered soldiers from the military has been soundly rebuked by 56 retired generals who has denounced Trump’s order as a threat to the mission of the US military in a signed letter.  They consider Trump’s call a slander against soldiers honorably serving this nation who are willing to lay down their lives for this nation…something Donald J. Trump, a shameless draft dodger, has never been willing to do.  Among the myriad outrages of this “insane clown president,” as journalist Matt Taibbi has accurately labeled Donnie Dimwit, this attack on transgendered soldiers ranks right near the top!

Hence when his enablers say, “let Trump be Trump,” it is this kind of odious behavior they are referring to. Yet the transparent embarrassing truth is inescapable: Trump is the personification of “white trash!”  He is distinguished from others of his ilk only by the fact that he is wealthy i.e. white trash with money!  Alas, this is about character not cash. The Donald, who formerly lived in a gaudy gilded penthouse in a marble tower situated in mid-Manhattan – the kind of obscene opulence that empty people need to feel real – has such crass, ostentatious. tawdry taste, that he has called the White House, the Peoples House taxpayers provide for our President: “A real dump!”

Since Trump is under investigation by the House and Senate for collusion with Russian intelligence agents who helped him win the presidential election, along with criminal investigations conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, it remains to be seen how long the cowardly Republican Congress will allow this white trash to stink up the White House!

Read the Psychiatrists’ Statement on Trump’s Mental condition

watch a discussion of Trump’s Mental Illness

A Psychologist Analyzes Trump’s Madness!

On The Dangers of a Mentaly Impaired President in the Nuclear Age

A Psychiatrist’s Testimony


Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
August 3 2017

Death Planet Hep C!

Posted in Dr. Joseph Harris on Politics and Medical on July 30, 2017 by playthell


“Cure ‘em, then Cut ‘em Loose!”

Dr. Joseph Harris, MD


I’d seen jaundice, “serum or infectious?” the old heroin addicts use to ask.

I remembered Mr. Fitzpatrick, the conductor on my father’s train. Jovial older Irishman, hard drinker, his grey hair turned increasingly “Blonde”. “Drinks too much” my father shrugged.

I’d see a sad cat with ashen skin  waiting on line in the welfare office, “Public Assistance’ Elderly Boriken women murmured “Brujo” and “Diablo “. His eyes were ‘icteric’, lemon yellow, nearly florescent.

A Typical Case

I remembered an old man sitting on a Paterson Houses bench. I’d cut through the Projects on my way to clinic. A Buddha smile, his lean frame and dark skin reminded me of my grandfather, except for his huge Buddha abdomen. He looked pregnant, 9th months. The cat was my age. Me and him could have shared the same $1 works, 60’s or 70’s era shooting gallery. The difference between him and me was someone had cut my heroin with “pure D” luck as my addict uncle used to say.

Would  hepatitis C hand me a similar fate? It gnawed in my belly each day. The Summers morning heat began waning, the bench became empty and peaceful like an ancient Mosque or Temple. The old brothers spirit seemed to linger in the cool shadows like a kindly sentinel.   I never saw him again.

Swollen Stomach from Hep-C

The USA prison system is currently undertaking a grand, historic,  yet unofficial experiment.  The “US Prison study of Untreated Hepatitis C in the Incarcerated Male and Female ” as I’ve christened it, involves over 700,000 patients.  The “Tuskegee study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” involved over 600 patients.  The Tuskegee Study was largely secret, the Prison study is public.  Both were guided by the same Med-Crime against Humanity: DENIAL OF AN AVAILABLE CURE TO AN AFFLICTED OPPRESSED POPULATION FOR NON-MEDICAL REASONS.

Black Men Infected with Syphilis at Tuskegee Alabama
Human Ginuea Pigs Circa 1932

At the onset Tuskegee program had a ethical and moral basis, observation of a barely treatable condition-“Syphilis” or “Bad Blood” for a limited period wherein disease progression would be observed, after which informed patients would be treated with the Pre- Penicillin medications. Patients weren’t informed of the diagnosis nor treated until 4 decades later when a worker finally exposed it.

In the “US Prison study” patients sit in cells, recreation halls, exercise yards, solitary confinement, even death rows as their livers and lives smolder away with deadly, unrelenting, inflammation fire. Torture. Like walking under a Viral Sword of Damocles, 24/7. “When will my liver flip to Cirrhosis?” 5 years? 10 years? One year like Mumia?” How many inmates have anxiety intensified by the conditions of confinement? Victims of the reality that life in American Jails and Prisons ain’t worth a nickel or as was stated under oath, by DOC’s expert “Doctor” Jay Cowan, “$90,000”?

The “US Penitentiary Hepatitis C experiment” includes subjects from all community groups including African-Americans, Latin Americans, Undocumented workers, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, Euro-Americans, political prisoners.  Planet Hep C is truly post-racial. Mumia Abu-Jamal has reported Trump-supporting Alt-Right, and White Supremacist inmate types thanking him because his fight saved them. He spoke of amusement as some pepper him with questions and how it opens up deeper discussions on class and race. Many of the patients reported being told by snarling white guards “Now we got to treat you. All because of Mumia”. The jailers are lamenting the high cost of cure that could result in layoffs instead of death.

“The number of US residents who have been infected with hepatitis C is unknown but is probably at least 4.6 million (range 3.4 million-6.0 million, and if these at least 3.5 million (range 2.5 million-4.7 million) are currently infected; additional sources of potential underestimation suggest that the true prevalence could well be higher.” (Edlin Br, Eckhardt et al-Hepatology, 2015 Nov;(5) emphasis added). Many patients aren’t aware of their diagnosis and many patients declined testing especially prior to 2011 when Hepatitis cure rates were generally dismal ranging from 15%-80% depending on the virus genotype, genetic predisposition to cure (IL28B allele etc). Social stigma played a role as well especially prior to the availability of new effective medications. “Why get tested when you can’t cure it?”

Comorbidities (HIV/Hep B) and life style (ethanol intake), exposure to hepato-toxic are important factors in disease progression, as well as with drug or medication use.

“In the United States HCC is the fastest growing cause of cancer-related death. The incidence of HCC in the United States has increased in recent years, largely attributable to a significant rise in hepatitis C related HCC… it is estimated that in 2013 there will be 30,640  new cases diagnosed hepatitis C –related HCC (Hepatocellular Carcinoma) and 21,670  deaths due to hepatitis c-related HCC.’(Hepatitis C Online-

170 million patients worldwide have hep c. It hits poorer countries hardest especially India and Egypt. Egypt’s rate is 14.7%-26% and approx 11.5 million afflicted. (Ahmed Elgharably, Asmaa, Gomma-j. Gen Med. 2017;10: 1-6.). It resulted from vast anti-Shistosomisis campaigns of the 50-60’s when unsterile syringes were used. Similarly mass vaccination of US ‘Baby Boomers’ was the major contributing factor to the US epidemic. Other Risk factors include exchange of body fluids, transfusions, IVDU with needle sharing, increased numbers of sexual partners. Despite the markedly lower cost of the medications ($68 is the current lowest price reported for a complete 84 day course) it still remains out of reach for masses of Egyptian and Indian patients.

“The burden of hepatitis C is much higher in Corrections compared to the general community. In the late 90’s the…CDC – Center for Desease Comtrol – estimated that 16% to 40% of prison inmates were seropositive for  hepatitis C…Seroprevalence data only account for the numbers of individuals incarcerated on any given day and do not account for the movement in and out of correctional facilities. Approximately 30% of individuals with hepatitis C infection in the United States pass through the correctional system in a given year.” (Hepatitis C Emphasis added)

The high numbers reported are unreliable. ‘Reluctance to systematically perform hepatitis C testing …newly highly effective, well tolerated, short-course all oral regimens will markedly increase the number of inmates eligible for hepatitis C treatment. Unfortunately the extremely high cost of new all-oral regimes will make it increasingly difficult to garner the financial resources to actually treat the much broader number of inmates eligible for hepatitis C treatment. This changing landscape means that cost of therapy for hepatitis C in corrections will become an even greater barrier in the coming years” (Hepatitis C Online, op-cit emphasis added)

Prison medical protocols are deliberately designed mainly to deny cure as many stricken inmate as possible. Typical is the case of Mr. Abu-Jamal who despite being a “baby boomer” wasn’t tested until 2012 with  confirmatory Viral load was at last performed over 3 years later, only after conditions related to his hepatitis C resulted in his waking from a coma shackled to an ICU bed after falling into a coma.

In 2013 an 18% Hepatitis C antibody prevalance in 100,000 inmates was reported for the Penn. DOC Yet only 6,000 reportedly had chronic disease, half of the expected number 12,000 (.8 x 18,000). Most inmates (by design: see below) never get confirmatory viral load confirmation. This is a generalized finding in Correctional Healthcare Systems. This study alone excluded over 30,000 inmates due to missing date of birth, etc.

In Abu Jamal Vs Kerestes,  the district judge, the Honorable Robert Mariani, ruled that denial of cure for Hepatitis C, regardless of the patients’ clinical status, violated 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Like “Brown vs. Topeka” outlawed Jim Crow, Abu-Jamal Vs Kerestes and its consequences may indeed represent the end of Prison medicine as we now know it.

Medical malpractice, wrongful medical death and injury litigation will challenge (in paradoxical ways) the domination of American healthcare by Big Pharma and the unsustainable and inhumane combined systems of medicine and incarceration for private profit. It’s emblematic that in the midst of a major national debate on the system of health care in the US the implications of these rulings don’t seem to have been appreciated by either the bourgeois press or the legislative bodies themselves.

(Already Federal Judge N. Laughrey extensively cited Judge Mariani’s in her ruling for inmates in Postawko v. Missouri Department of Correction-5-11-2017).

The Hepatitis C crisis in the prisons and in the general population is a like precision drone strike on the central contradictions of medical care and incarceration in capitalist America.


Big Pharmaceutical profit vs. Human Life:

For the first time in modern Medical history a infectious, eradicable disease is being left untreated due to the ‘fiscal constraint’ dictated by the open drive of private capital for private profit .  It has resulted in significant numbers of tragically avoidable mortalities:

“Even though they acknowledged that thousands of patients might have to go without the treatments…The company assumed that fewer patients would be served would be served as the price rose but overall revenue would keep rising until price reached above $96,000”. (Gilead harmed patients by overpricing it’s drugs, but did it miscalculate?-M. Hiltiis-LA times 12-01-2015).

“Thousands” or “fewer” patients in the Penn DOC who likely were horribly sacrificed for the higher good of Gilead’s “overall revenue,” whose “miscalculation” resulted a price rise yet higher to $96,000. Hepatitis C previously known as “Non A-Non B” prognosis remained unclear until late 90’s. As anti-retroviral medications dramatically improved survival of HIV/HEP C confected patients, Non-opportunistic mortality rates exploded as HIV patients began dying from complications of their hepatitis C, cirrhosis HCC-hepato-cellular carcinoma and other non-hepatic conditions.

Hepatitis C has 6 genotypes (1-6) as well as sub-types.  Genotype 1, prevalent in the USA, had a poor cure rate, particularly among African-Americans whose genetic predominant variations (IL28B allele, etc) made cure markedly more difficult. Cure rates ranged from 15-50 percent depending on patient genetic variation and co-morbidities esp. HIV and hepatitis B. Other genotypes such as 2 and 3and had a cure rate closer to 80% especially for European-Americans.

Alpha-Interferon, the first  treatment available, generally required 3 weekly injections for 48 weeks . Side effects and duration made treatment, especially patient compliance daunting. A new formulation, once weekly injected Pegalated Interferon with Ribavirin doubled cure rates to the 15-20% range for African-Americans and over 50% for Euro-Americans. Later NS4A, NS3/4A protease inhibitors (Telaprevir and Bocifivir TDK)) were complicated (one hepatologist called them “Talmudic”), costly, with many side effects and were taken generally for one year. It must be noted that in general, treatment with or without- SVR (Sustained Virologic Response or cure)- slowed progression to AdvLD. (Cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis, Hepato-Cellular Carcinoma, etc). (Teleprevir was discontinued in 10/2014).

Complex algorithms, side effects, cure prognosis, estimated inflammation score and disease staging were central for an effective treatment plan. A Shakespearian quandary, “To treat or not to treat” was for years debated in educational conferences, research papers and Medical Journals articles whether to “Treat now or wait for new medications”. There were no clear cut answers.

Between late 2013 through 2014 a new series of medications DAA’s- direct acting anti-virals- were approved. Cure rates for most categories including patients who had failed previous courses skyrocketed to over 90% and in most categories nearly 100%. It was the most gratifying experience in my medical career. The 4-week lab results of my first patient receiving the 2-pill regime of Solvaldi and Olysio: Undetectable.

I rushed out of my office and shared the results to my staff. Everyone became elated, festive even. Most of the workers came from the South Bronx community and had firsthand experience with the infection from family and friends. We’d actually cured something!  Not stabilized, relieved, improved, or controlled.


I began a crash program; educating my patients on the new DAA’s and strongly encouraged them to all start the lab work and the prescription for the medications. An initial challenge was getting the for-profit HMO’s to ante up.

Elation was quickly tempered with the bitterness of betrayal. I was played; all US physicians were.  Big Pharma could have taught Iceberg Slim himself a trick or two in the way it “turned-out” the most powerful ‘guild’ in America, transforming its members into shameless whores for the Pharmaceutical industry.  For years I told anxious patients that good prospects for new medication, relatively intact liver functioning without apparent significant damage, made ‘active surveillance” or close monitoring likely the best course. The Big Pharma bosses turned medical doctors into a band of sniveling snake oil venders – myself included. The Eden of Hepatitis C cure was in sight when a Seraphim’s flaming Capitalist sword of profit bared the way forever (for some).

I wasn’t trained for this. My “King James” Bible of Internal Medicine was Harrisons, not a dividend book. Until several years post-residency I didn’t even know the prices of the medications I prescribed. With the exception of extremely expensive drugs like Vancomysin. The quality of the medications and clinical experience, judgement and training alone determined my diagnosis and treatment. That soon changed. The patient’s insurance provider, her or his HMO, now was the supervising physician.  The benevolent stethoscope, white jacketed MD was vanquished with the pock marked face of privatization, profit and doom.

Capitalist medicine: “Your money or your life” or better still, “No Money? No Problem! Die of cirrhosis, cancer, or bleed to death motherfucker. Or if credit rating permits get a drug “Mortgage”. (Buying costly Drugs on The Installment Plan: Could it work? 03/28/16-NPR-Michelle Andrews)  Denial of Hepatitis C cure for ‘fiscal’ reasons of private profit, isn’t similar to the denial of a ‘cosmetic or an ‘elective procedure’. Mass denial of cure is responsible for at the minimal several deaths daily in the US prison system and America as a whole.

“Even the Guilty Deserve Justice”

Cirrhosis death is ghastly. Pain, disfiguring abdominal swelling, yellow skin-Jaundice-irreversible renal failure (Hepato-Renal syndrome) are its hallmarks. Pruritis-itching-unremitting is maddening to the point of suicidal ideation. There’s also hepatic encephalopathy, where unprocessed neurotoxic metabolites and ammonium accumulate in the central nervous system, leading to obtundation, confusion and death.

Epidemiology of Death

In place of a cure, prison medical systems throughout the country have continued using protocols based on outdated treatment modalities. Previous to the availability of the DAA’s treatment “Priorization” were based on low cure rates, degree of liver scarring, virus genotype, genetic character of the patient etc. A patient with a relatively intact liver, yet was concerned over his diagnosis, understood the side effects and wanted to be treated, they were generally treated at least for 12 weeks when a check of the viral load determined if a full course was justified. In my clinical experience I can’t recall patients being refused only on the basis of an overly healthy liver. No “prioritization” schemas existed at all for genotype 2 or 3 patients.

The new “Prioritization” protocols are only Rationing

 “Sick people are dying in this country because of these markups, then this company doesn’t pay its taxes…(they’re) booked in Ireland…. Veterans who are dying are being turned away from the VA and other places because they say they can’t afford this…” (Jeffry Sachs- Morning Joe 10/11/16)

“The problem with Sofosbuvir is that Gilead is currently leaving millions to die both in the US and abroad…(Gilead’s) actual production cost is $100 or $1 per pill…   “… Around 170,000 people have been treated with Solvadi, this is about 1 per 1,000 of HCV-infected individual patients worldwide. In short, Gilead is making a fortune through astronomical pricing of Sofosbuvir…” (The Cure for Gilead”- Jeffery Sachs-Huffpost Blog 08/03/2016)

Hepatitis C + Prison + Capitalism = Death

In America, 700,000 incarcerated patients have Hepatitis C. An unreliable figure as to date no national epidemiologic evaluation exists. State and Federal Prison policies rang from generalized testing, ‘op-out’ testing, (right of refusal) to no consistent testing policy at all. Viral loads to determine chronicity are typically done years later if at all. Of the 80% of patients with chronic disease 5-6% yearly will annually develop AdvLV (advanced liver disease-cirrhosis, decompensated, cirrhosis, (HCC ).  Therefore, even with the unlikely assumption that no patients had Cirrhosis at the onset of the study, approximately 600-720 (12,000 x .05 and .06) annually go on to AvdLD. “The median survival of compensated cirrhotics has been reported to be 9 to 12 years” (Karla Thornton, MD, PHD-Hepatitis C online).

Annual progression to decompensated Cirrhosis is 3-6%, to HCC it’s 1-5%. (Journal of Hepatology Volume 6-, Issue 1-‘Natural history of hepatitis C’ Westbrook et al). Therefore, in the between 2004 and 2012, between (TDK) patients (.03 and .06 x 12,000) annually advanced to decompensated cirrhosis for a calculated total of 144-345 for the 8 year period. As the DOC has approved no liver transplants in the above period, the calculated mortality depending on the existence of bleeding esophageal varices and ascites approaches 50% annually.

So statistically up to (TDK) patients have un-necessarily perished in the 8 year period 2004-2012. (A Mortality report issued by the DOC reported a total of 37 deaths between 2015-2016. Thus aprox 19 annually deaths which would approximate the statistical prediction above (.5 x 18-44) between 9 and 22 deaths from decompensated cirrhosis alone. As above a DOC mortality report of at least 10 mortalities in 10 weeks in 2015 giving an annual rate of approx 50 yearly which in broad agreement with the calculated mortality above.


Most alarming are the implications of mortality rates. With US annual death rates close to 20-30,000 and with the estimated percentage of prisoners in the US being 30% as above the calculated death rate should be between 7-10, thousand. Thus weekly 140-200 US inmates perish from an infectious easily curable affliction. 20-30 men and women daily die miserable unnecessary deaths.  Already this year Federal court judges in Missouri and Pennsylvania ruled it cruel and unusual punishment. An idea of the numbers of incarcerated patients dying is given with the Penn DOC’s Death records from Jan-March 2015. In 10 weeks 10 patients died from liver disease and its complications. It is reasonable to assume that the majority if not all were secondary to hepatitis c infection.

A typical example of this sleaze is the Pennsylvania Department of Correction protocol. At a recent federal hearing the DOC’s leading Physician admitted that no patients had been treated in over 2 years, as they were in the process of developing a “protocol” for the newly released DAA medication. This Protocol was so shameful DOC lawyers citing other pending legal challenges franticly demanded Judge Mariani order it sealed.

One article reported approx 100,000 inmates tested (With 30,000 patients excluded due to missing data such as birthdates, etc.) 18,000 were determined to be hep C positive. However only approx. 6,000 had chronic Hep C. (Epidemiology of Hepatitis C virus in Penn. State Prisons-2004-2012, Larney, Mahowald et al AM/ J Public Health 2014-June) This number is nearly 7,000 patients lower than expected by statistical projection, -14,400. (.80 x 18,000).

Likely many Viral load confirmations were missing due to openly expressed aim of “limiting” patients in demanding a cure. In Abu-Jamal Vs Kerestes, the patient had a positive HEP C anti-body as early as 2012 but confirmatory Viral load was ordered 3 years later and patient got cure only 5 years later after Mr. Abu-Jamal had advanced from a mild or mod fibrosis or scarring to stage F4 cirrhosis or severe scarring. This is indefensible from a Medical-Legal point of view and in case of litigation would likely be settled out of court.

Mumia And Dr. Harris

Rescued From an agonizing Death by Cirrosis

The Penn DOC in the face of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s cure is typical of the ongoing response made by most Correctional Facilities. Lies and falsehoods.  DOC spokeswoman Anne Worden inaccurately reported that Mr. Abu-Jamal had met DOC Criteria for treatment and that 250 patients annually would be cured.  (Observers in the facility question whether treatment is actually being carried out). For over a decade the DOC performed voluntary testing or “Op-Out.”  Ms. Worden reported that the number and identities of patients who opted out were never recorded. Thus, the Penn DOC has no accurate count of the number of infected inmates.

Due to the massive increase of incarcerated elders and rates of disease progression it can be reasonably estimated that between 15-20% are cirrhotic. For the Penn. DOC number of pre-existing cirrhotic should approximate 2,888, (.2 x 14,440). With the estimated progression to AdvLD (advanced liver disease) overall at approx. 5% for annual increase of approx. 700. (14,000 x .05 ) . So, in the two years the DOC treated no patients from 2013-2015 (Dr. Noel court testimony) nearly 700 additional patients have advanced to decompensated cirrhosis which would entail transplantation or death.

Even calculated for the lower reported prevalence of the of approx. 5-6 ,000 progression .05 x o6,000. For example, in one study in the NEJM, the progression to AdvLD (Advanced Liver Disease) ranged from 1.6% (<45 year olds) to 4.4 and 5.2% (45-64 and 65+year old patients respectively). In the progression from cirrhosis to Decompensate was 5.1%, 11.5%, and 8.8% in the <45, 45-65 and 65+ year cohorts, respectively. Curing 250 patients yearly it would take over 20 years only to cure 6,000 inmates and factoring disease advance and new infections the DOC will only slow down but never stop the increasing number of inmates with the disease. This is without calculating those groups needing immediate treatment regardless of the degree of liver scarring-HIV and Hep B co-infections.

In another study chronic hepatitis c progressed to AdvLD (compensated and decompensated cirrhosis, Hepatocellular ca) at an annual rate of 6.5%. Thus in just the 2 years alone the lowest number of patients, (assuming that no patients had pre-existing advanced liver disease at the onset) nearly 360 patients (.06 x 6000) yearly would have significant disease progression. Thus the DOC’s promised annual cure of 250 inmates will never achieve eradication even assuming an nearly impossible “best case” of no pre-existing cirrhosis patients.

Therefore as all US prison systems are rationing cure due to “fiscal considerations” dictated  by private profit, the numbers above indicate the  astronomical costs of new infections and care for the 6.5% of patient advancing to AdvLD.  Transplantation (over $250,000-$1,000,000 each) dwarfs the current medication price. (In the Penn DOC no patients have reportedly been evaluated for a possible liver transplant, despite DOC mortality reports indicating numerous cases of death due to AdvLD). As inmates and families of deceased inmates, initiate litigation the legal costs alone for these potentially prolonged legal/political battles would bankrupt many State Correctional Facilities and HMO’s. A Tsunami of wrongful death and malpractice suits looms and like many other crisis’ of decaying capitalism is being willfully ignored in the current congressional debate on American health care.

The US prisons have been transformed into openly cruel and inhuman Death Camps. The calculations above indicate strongly that rates of death will increase yearly.  Two of the Medical officers Dr Jay Cowan and Dr Peter Noel involved in the Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes expressed this in emails worthy of the T-4 “Life not worthy of life” outfit of the Third Reich.


‘We should also take into account the quality of life of the patients as a factor in treatment…” (Emphasis added). Wrote Dr Cowan devilishly devising yet more obstacles for patients to overcome for cure.  To ‘life expectancy’ the only factor considered in the accepted treatment guidelines he introduced a sinister new quantity, “Survival Benefit” was introduced as a major factor in the decision to cure adding certain diagnosis and co-morbidities as justifications for denial of  cure. Thereby rejecting the recommendations of all governing organizations for hep C (AASLD, CDC, BOP, Pennsylvania Medicaid) who have held that the only condition under which cure would be denies is life expectancy of less than one year due to non-hepatitis co-morbidities.

Dr. Cowan created new obstacles for inmate eligibility. in addition to increasing life expectancy from 12 to 18 months as criteria for treatment. Under oath he maintained that “Survival Benefit” was only “Life Expectancy” contradicting several email communications laying out the treatment recommendations mentioned above. This is perhaps unsurprising for a Medical Director at Rikers under whose callous watch over a dozen inmates perished of medical neglect. Other patients needing immediate treatment, yet denied include patients with HIV or Hep B co-infection. These patients weren’t listed as ‘high priority,’ nor even acknowledged all, in the DOC’s protocol.


Currently the ruling class response has varied only in its degree of cruelty and medical incompetence. As with Hep C testing, a spectrum of treatment protocols and cure exists for the 100’s of thousands of currently infected inmates. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and New York State Department of Corrections have been slightly more appropriate, while other states are refusing all inmates. Some states have added a moderate number of inmates to its Medicaid rolls thereby using federal funds.

This systematic denial has produced a skyrocketing number of individual and Class action suits for treatment and damages.  Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes. Is being called the “Brown vs. Topeka” case for Hepatitis C. Judge Mariani unequivocally called for cure of all infected patients under 8th amendment rights. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has continued their appeal to maintain their death dealing protocol. Proclaiming falsely that Mr. Abu-Jamal had now become eligible due to his F4 cirrhosis prior to examination for varicies with EGD (esophageal endoscopy).

For nearly all prison health systems it’s been a stalling operation treating small numbers of severely ill inmates or none at all and ‘rope-a-dope’ for the rest. Using outdated recommendations and guidelines, inadequate testing patients to avoid diagnosis’, denial of cure on the basis of outdated and unethical recommendation, withholding treatment indefinitely for inmates incurring prison violations such as Cannabis, illicit drug use, tattoos, “behavioral problems” regardless of levels of liver inflammation or scarring.

Thus penalty for cannabis use for the incarcerated men and women (Whose prevalence is nearly 2x that of men) is ongoing suffering and probable death. This cruelty is unprecedented in Modern Medicine with the possible exception of the Medical Services of the Third Reich.  How many patients have experienced painful, disfiguring, humiliating deaths for the demands of Big Pharma. and private profit? Gilead. whose price of production actually runs about .02 to 2.00? (See Jeffrey Sachs above). Nearly all of the research was gov’t subsidized and entailed significant tax refunds for the Pharma. companies involved like Gilead. Who as Jeffrey Sachs reported above is not paying tax anyway.

Hopefully the Big Pharm bosses themselves will pay for the miserable deaths and suffering they’re inflicting on thousands. Justice would entail 100% expropriation and long penitentiary sentences. Suspended death sentences as well? Perhaps those investors in private prisons will be consoled with the fact that they might be profiting from their own incarceration as an acceptable ‘conflict of interest’? When the right to cure for all is won and the Big Pharma bosses will hopefully receive the humane care they denied so many others. Not ending up like a black elder smiling and dying on a Bronx Project bench.

Then Death Planet C will become Planet Cure.

End of Part One



Joseph Harris MD


Harlem, New York

An Open Letter to a Young “Progressive” Friend

Posted in My Struggle On the Left!, Playthell on politics with tags , on July 25, 2017 by playthell

Challenging the History Department at U-Mass 1969


On the “Wall of Heroes” in Philly Circa 2008

Honorees on the Wall include Mao Tse Tung, Dr. King and Malcolm X

Yo Richie!

I find your response to my critical comments on some of the political stances taken by the political trend among young people who define themselves as “Progressives” to be compassionate and well meaning, but misguided.  While I admire your stamina and commitment to helping them become politically educated and channel their activism in more productive ways, I have no patience or sympathy for their pouting, arrogance and often appalling ignorance of realpolitique.  Hence, rather than being careful and solicitous of their delicate feelings, while nudging them toward a correct understanding of our political realities, I say: They need to grow that fuck up in HURRY!!!

I don’t feel either the NEED OR THE DESIRE to coddle them! I was confronting evil red neck crackers in Florida with bloody murder on their minds when I was 17 years old!!! Most of these people have NEVER been in a racially hostile situation with their life on the line!!!! They who have won no battles have neither the intellectual gravitas nor moral standing to SIT IN JUDGEMENT ON MY GENERATION!!!

Rather it is we who have the right – earned by the actual role we played in advancing black people at home and abroad through disciplined dedicated struggle, sacrifice of career paths, and even our lives – to critique them! To ask what have they done after we handed the baton off to them??? How far have they advanced it???? These are fair questions, and people who have spent half a century in the struggle creating the opportunities they now take for granted have a right to ask!

They act like they are pissed off because we didn’t make ALL THEIR DREAMS COME TRUE…the same kind of self-absorbed, silly, muddled headed, asshole ideas that led them to sit at home and allow the Tea Party to elect 66 members to the Congress and take over the Congressional agenda, halting the visionary program of President Obama in its tracks. I bet most of these pompous ignoramuses can’t even describe either President Obama’s great, historic achievements or his visionary, humane, plans for the future.

Their silly childlike belief that Bernie Sanders has the answers to the problems that confront this nation and can actually WIN a presidential election billing himself as a “Democratic Socialist” would be hilarious if it were not so tragic!   I think there are sound reasons to believe Bernie Sanders would have been beaten far worse than Hillary in the campaign against Trump.

Alas, Bernie is a gentleman and a principled politician who prefers an intellectual approach to discussing complex problems, rather than bombast and hyperbole. Yet the untutored mob that voted for Trump obviously prefers the latter: and Donnie Dimwit is the master of hype and bombast!! If you think the label “Crooked Hillary” was effective, even coming from a mobbed-up megalomaniac crook who had been sued for screwing customers and clients 3,500 times, what do you think would have happened when Trump, a compulsive liar and reckless verbal arsonist, started calling Sanders “OLD COMMUNIST, ATHEIST, BERNIE”?

Imagine Bernie trying to explain the difference between “Communism” and “Socialism” along with his unorthodox position on religion –
i.e. “a non-practicing Jew” – to the pugnacious, anti-Semitic, untutored mob that elected Trump!!!!! Furthermore, Bernie’s ideas about economic policy are as inept as Trump’s: Both are like generals preparing to fight the last war, rather than the coming war. The ideological differences – Left vs. right – constitutes at best a DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERNCE!!!!

I would love to debate ANY of these politically disabled people that you refer to as “Progressives.” These useful idiots that help to elect Trump!!! Such an encounter could have several positive outcomes. First it would reveal that they have their heads so far up their pompous asses they can’t tell their rectum from a hole in the ground….and those who listen to the debate will get a GREAT EDUCATION IN THE ART AND SCIENCE OF POLITICS!!!!!! WHICH ABOVE ALL ELSE THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE!!!


Watch Playthell’s Extended Coommentary
“Why I Oppossed the Iraq War”

Playthell Talks with Dr. Fulani

On Politics and the Inviability of Third Parties


In Defense of Black Women

Watch Playthell Take on Scheharazade Ali



Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
July 25, 2017




Don’t Believe the Hype!

Posted in On Sports! with tags on July 17, 2017 by playthell

Bidding on the Sugar Ray vs Marvelous Marvin Hagler World Title Match

Reflections of a Boxing Wiseguy on Mayweather v McGregor

This seems to be the season for suckers, and bunko artists are running rampant!!! There are so many pootbutt marks around you don’t even have to be a real bullshit artists who has mastered the basic tecniques of the con to play these chumps! You can tell that from the third rate grifter who bullshitted his way into the White House!

So if milions of pooty-pops went forTrump – mostly dumb white folks pissed off that Obama spent the last eight years in the White House and is adored around the world, while Trump is a universal laughing stock – millions of white folks who yearn to see Pertty Boy Floyd get his arrogant black ass kicked are shelling out 89 and 99 dollars for the pay per view hoax. And he is gonna walk away with GRAND THEFT DOUGH AGAIN!!!! Floyd has whipped 26 WORLD CHAMPIONS; in the process making many of them look like amatuers at the apex of their prowess!

Mayweather Vs Carnelo in Vegas

Floyd  Taking Yet Another Undefeated World Champion to School

 Take my word for it folks, you are being gamed! The vulgar spectacle that masquarades as pre-fight press conferences – an artless clown show that is more embarrassing than entertaining – is a desperate attempt to sell this hoax to a public begging to be fleeced of their coin. Take the advice of a boxing wiseguy folks: KEEP YO MONEY IN YO POCKET AND WAIT FOR THIS BLACK AND WHITE MINSTRLE SHOW TO COME ON YOU TUBE!

Save yo money because I can tell you what will happen right now. A brawling, akward, stumblebum McGregor cannot hit Floyd Mayweather WITH A HAND FULL OF RICE!!!!!! That’s how good Floyd is at the art of pugilism…when he steps into the ring boxing becomes a “Sweet Science.” The objective of boxing is to hit and not get hit and FLOYD MAYWEATHER IS THE BEST THAT EVER DID THIS!!!!

My assessment of Floyd Mayweather’s place in the history of pugilism is based on SCIENCE NOT SENTIMENT!!! Thanks to the marvels of computer science we can now analyze boxing matches – live or on films – and see who hit whom when, where and how often. All of the great fighters matches have now been analyzd by Compu-Stat, which reveals that Floyd Mayweather is the BEST EVER FIGHTING UNDER THE MARQUIS DE QUEENSBURY RULES OF PUGILISM!!!! Which are the rules that will govern the McGregor vs.Mayweather rumble.

Hence the question on everyone’s lips who are intrested in combat sports is does Connor McGregor have a chance? What are the odds? Well, after all things are considered, I put McGregor’s chances of prevailing over Pertty boy Floyd as less than the chances of a SNOWBALL’S SURVIVAL IN A PIZZA OVEN!!!!

 Pretty Boy Floyd Cajoles His Next Victim!
 Photo by> Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
 A Grand Master of the Sweet Science at Work!


Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York

July 2017


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 7, 2017 by playthell

Finally She is done with the Troubles of This World. Now she dwells in that mysterious realm…where righteous spirits rest

A couple of days ago my baby sis, Claudia Morton, whom I loved more than any words I know can express, danced and joined the ancestors. Being an atheist, I cannot claim to know the name of “that mysterious realm where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death,” as the poet William Cullen Bryant put it in his epic contemplation of death “Thanatopsis.” Yet what I can say for certain is that if there is a paradise beyond this world, where good folks go when they leave us for an afterlife, Baby Sis is there.

I know this because I have never met a finer person in my life. Yet I have met people from all over the world, got to know many of them, and sometimes feel that I have greeted everybody twice. Hence, I have observed a representative sample of what the homo Sapien species has to offer. And Claudia represented the crème de la crème. She was smart, courageous, strong, generous, competent, loving and loyal. Plus she was a chocolate beauty who was elegant of style and manner like her gorgeous pecan tan mom – who shaped and cultivated her and my older sister Melba as if they were rare orchids.

Both of them grew up to be leaders in the educational professions because they deeply believed in the power of education to help all people make full and productive lives. It is a family value, passed on by two generations of female educators that preceded them. Yet beyond all these things Claudia was something different and something more, alas it must go unnamed because I can conjure up no suitable superlatives to accurately describe it – even tho I have command of the language that has nourished many the world’s greatest poets, novelists and dramatist – Shakespeare, Tony Morrison and the King James Bible.

Aside from Claudia’s magnificence as a person, there was the love and admiration she always showered on me; no big brother was ever more richly rewarded with an adoring little sister. About seven years my junior, I was twelve when Claudia was five and she would just tag along behind me all over the house and yard – we lived in Florida at the time and enjoyed spacious front and back yards. And she thought I could do anything!

When I have had some time to reflect, I will have more to say about my baby sister, for there is much worth recounting of her story. She spent her life helping others gain a better life, and there are many success stories that have resulted from her efforts. But at the moment, I must confess that I am puzzled. I am at a lost to explain by what cosmic accident I have outlived her; it seems the natural order of things is out of order…as if the sun suddenly began to revolve around the earth.

Claudia came into this world at the height of the hurricane season in Florida, and departed amidst the fireworks of the 4th of July.  It is no wonder that she was a bundle of energy that was prone to shake things up wherever she went. To make a difference.  Claudia’s memory will live forever in my heart and mind; my unbridled love and admiration for her will never die; and her departure leaves a hole in my soul that can never be filled. And I am certain that if there is any truth to the Bible, when the Saints come marching in…. Claudia will be in their number.


Playthell G. Benjamin
July 7, 2017
Carliase Pa