Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is John McCain Really A Hero?

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

Is John McCain Really A Hero?

One of the primary reasons that this nation finds itself in the dire condition that we currently face, is that we're extremely sloppy and less than precise in our political rhetoric. One example of that is how we fall all over ourselves in an attempt to honor John McCain as a military hero.

The fact is, while there is no doubt that Sen. McCain paid a heavy price during his service in the military, that doesn't make him a hero, it simply makes him one among millions of military personnel over the years that have placed themselves in harms way in defense of this country. The only difference between McCain and any other person that's ever raised his hand in defense of this country is that he was unlucky enough to be captured–and that in itself does not make you a hero-- it simply makes you a victim of war.

A hero is one who acts with nobility of purpose, and selflessly sacrifices his life, or places his life in imminent danger to promote the interests of the nation or his comrades. That doesn't define McCain–and by that honor being hoisted upon him by his political supporters, it diminishes the sacrifice of the true hero, who with little forethought throws his body on a live grenade to protect the lives of those he's grown to love. If the simple fact that one has undergone adversity is held as the sole criteria for being considered a hero, then anyone who was born and raised in the ghetto should at the very least be awarded a Silver Star.

The essence of a true hero, involves character--selflessness, courage, a love of country and his fellow man. I'm sorry, but I don't see those qualities in McCain. When I look at McCain I see a man immersed in his own self-interest--a man who lacked the character to stand by his first wife when she needed him most, even though she stood by him during his five years of imprisonment; a man who publicly disrespected his current wife; a man who has been willing to exploit the sacrifices of true heroes for personal gain; and a man who's willing to do or say whatever has to be done or said to promote his own interests. That's not a hero, that's an opportunist.

Take, for example, his lack of loyalty to fellow veterans. The Wall Street Journal reported that "Sen. John McCain used Memorial day to defend his opposition to a Senate bill that vastly expands education benefits for veterans. The bill passed the Senate last week 75-22 over the objections of Sen. McCain, and President Bush, both of whom argued the benefits were too generous and likely to discourage reenlistment."

In response to his opposition to the bill, McCain said, "At a time when the United States military is fighting in two wars, and as we're finally, finally are beginning the long overdue and very urgent necessity of increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps, one study estimates that Senator Webb's bill will reduce retention rates by 16 percent." The Washington Wire reports that he went on to say that "he was particularly concerned that educational benefits would reduce the number of noncommissioned officers, which he called the "backbone of the all the services."

Thus, McCain is essentially saying that it's imprudent to enhance the educational benefits of our troops because if we provide our poor and middle class troops with the opportunity for better lives, we wouldn't have anyone to fight our wars. So the obvious question is this–why not ask the upper class relatives of Bush, Cheney, and himself to pitch in and give the nation a hand? They say this is a national emergency. Aren't the children of upper class and privileged individuals a part of this nation as well? Due to the risk of creeping senility, I won't wait for an answer.

Then there's the issue of protecting our troops from the excesses of grievous war profiteering.

According to an article by HalliburtonWatch.org, a website dedicated to monitoring the performance of the Halliburton Corp., a corporation headed by Dick Cheney prior to becoming Vice President, and the largest recipient of no-bid government contracts in Iraq, during a hearing, held on June 27, 2005 by the Democratic Policy Committee, "Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a previously-secret military audit criticizing an extra $1.4 billion in 'questioned' and 'unsupported' expenditures by Halliburton's KBR subsidiary in Iraq. The audit was conducted by the Pentagon's Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). It determined that KBR had $1 billion in 'questioned' expenses in Iraq (I.e. Expenses which military auditors consider "unreasonable") and $442 million in 'unsupported' expenses (I.e. Expenses which military auditors have determined contain no receipt or any explanation on how the expenses were disbursed)."

Then in a September 20, 2005 article, the group reported that "Outrage overflowed on Capitol Hill this summer when members of Congress learned that Halliburton's dining halls in Iraq had repeatedly served spoiled food to unsuspecting troops. 'This happened quite a bit,' testified Rory Mayberry, a former food manager with Halliburton's KBR subsidiary."

In addition, Former KBR employees and water quality specialists, Ben Carter and Ken May, told HalliburtonWatch that "KBR knowingly exposes troops and civilians to contaminated water from Iraq's Euphrates River. One internal KBR email provided to HalliburtonWatch says that, for 'possibly a year,' the level of contamination at one camp was two times the normal level for untreated water."

One would think that a war hero and comrade in arms would go ballistic in response to such allegations, but Senate Republicans killed an amendment that would have established a special investigation into war profiteering by Halliburton and other companies by a vote of 53 to 44, while Sen. John McCain sat second in seniority, and silently, on the Armed Services committee.

So John McCain, a hero? I think not. Just as I don't want to diminish Sen. McCain's suffering on behalf of this country, neither do I want to diminish the sacrifices of this nation's true heroes in the furtherance of a cheap political gimmick that will only serve to send more of their number to an early grave.

I realize I'm going to get a lot of flack for this–for actually saying out loud what many fellow vets are whispering in their hearts–but bring it on. It's bad enough that we've allowed a bunch of draft dodgers to destroy our families and send loyal Americans to early, and undeserved graves, but now, to allow one of their accomplices to stand among these national heroes for profit while their families suffer, and they lie in eternal repose, that's a little too much for this former Marine to take.

An old grunt once told me there was no such thing as a former Marine. I see now that he was right, because I feel a churning in my gut that says I'm honor bound to prepare for one last battle--shaky joints and all.

Semper Fi!

Eric L. Wattree

wattree.blogspot.com



Stay on top of what's going on around you. From Hip Hop to world and national news--stay informed about those things that impact both the Black community and the entire world, as interpreted by Dr. Boyce Watkins and some of the nation's top Black writers. Stay in touch with Your Black World www.yourblackworld.com/. It's our piece of the net.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Double Standard: Is McCain Acting "Too Presidential?"

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

Who’s Really Playing the Race Card

I’ve never been one to go around looking for racial aspersions. While I know people who have made searching out transgressions a way of life, I’ve always been so thoroughly in love with being Black that I’ve found very little to be sensitive about. I’ve always understood that while we do have shortcomings within the Black community, there are shortcomings in every community, and while problems in the Black community are often more pronounced, they’ve been magnified by deprivations that we can overcome. Thus, I see that as all the more reason that we should clearly identify our problems and confront them head on, instead of luxuriating in blissful denial, or treating them like some sort of family secret. So, even as a young militant, my militancy was directed toward the eradication of ignorance, not only in the Black community, but in the White community as well, because I understood even then, that our primary enemy wasn’t the people, but rather, the ignorance that resides within the people.

Many have called me naive, as they convinced themselves that the mere acknowledgment of reality constitutes an assault on the Black community. But I remain steadfast in the conviction that any culture involved in a desperate struggle for survival, yet still manage to produce a Martin Luther King, a John Coltrane, or a Shirley Chisholm, has absolutely nothing to fear from truth. So while some search for transgressions as they try to hide our faults, and others carefully nurture their anger over what America once was, I find myself contemplating the picture of an idealistic young White woman cuddling her innocent, Black baby boy, and witnessing in amazement the miraculous improbability of what that love has wrought.

Thus, while I spend precious little time contemplating the dying gasp of Jim Crow, I’m not so naive as not to recognize that he still wields a mighty sword; and while I'm not predisposed to looking under every log for injustice, I'm far from so naive that I've failed to recognize the pivotal role the sword of injustice has carved out in this historic election.

In that regard, every since it became clear that Barack Obama was more than just a flash in the pan to be tolerated until he could be discreetly pushed to the side, desperation has forced the race card into play by the most unlikely sources. Then, every time Obama says so much as ouch, he’s accused of racist intent. It’s been very subtle, and very shrewd how the scenario is being played out--Obama is being drenched in racial innuendo on a daily basis, and he can’t say a word without being accused of playing the race card. It allows Obama’s opponents to play the race card with impunity, then precludes him from even whimpering a complaint.

I first broached the subject in an article for the Los Angeles Sentinel (5/08) entitled Is Hillary Engaged in Subliminal Messaging? In that article I pointed out how curious it was that Hillary would indicate that a Republican was more qualified to be president than a fellow Democrat. Hillary was quoted as saying, He’s [McCain] never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.

Many were shocked and perplexed by that comment, but I didn’t find it perplexing at all. Hillary was both desperate and angry at the time, because what she considered an entitlement up to that point, was being threatened by a young upstart–and a Black one, at that. So she dug into her political arsenal and came up with her most potent weapon–the race card.

When considered objectively, her intent was crystal clear. Neither she nor McCain had any experience with being president, and when you compared Hillary’s resume to Obama’s, she had less legislative experience. So what was she talking about when she said, lifetime of experience? And since McCain is a Republican and she’s a Democrat, why would she align herself with him against a fellow Democrat? There’s only one possible reason–race. And when you parse her statement, it only reinforces that conclusion.

She said, McCain has never been president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience, and I will put forth my lifetime of experience. She didn’t say legislative or governmental experience, mind you, she said lifetime of experience. Now, what do both she and McCain have in common in their lifetime of experience that sets them apart from Obama? Correct. They are both White. Then she went on to say, “Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.” She seems to have forgotten that Obama also has a lifetime of experience--in fact, his experience is much more extensive than her own.

That’s clear politispeak for the question, what experience in a Black man’s life would prepare him to be president? And her final sentence answers the question as she hoped the voters would--None. All he brings to the table is a speech. But of course, if Obama challenged her on that remark, she’d gasp and say, How dare you Because, of course, she's allowed herself plenty of room for plausible deniability.

That’s the kind of thing that Obama has to contend with on a daily basis. Another example of the blatant use of the race card is the now infamous John McCain political ad using Paris Hilton and Britney Spears superimposed over images of Obama. There are a number of racial triggers at work here. First, the mere image of attractive White women combined with that of Black man is enough, alone, to inflame many Whites across this country. Then there’s the attendant message that Obama is a high-living Black superstar who is much too frivolous, and will be much too busy playing with his transmogrified White girls, to be trusted with the serious business of protecting the nation.

Then the race card was played again when Obama went abroad. Instead of taking into account how well he handled himself, the ease in which he interacted with other world leaders, and the tremendous reception he received by the people of the world–leadership qualities America desperately needs in order to regain its lost stature in the world--they called him presumptuous, and accused him of acting too presidential. Isn’t that what we’re looking for–someone who’s ready to lead, from day one? For any White politician, that would have sealed the election, but they flipped out the race card with Obama, by implying that he’s too uppity.

So, is the race card being played? You bet it is–everyday, but not by Obama. We’re making this Black man walk on eggshells on a daily basis–and the sad part is, Black demagogues are joining forces with their demagogic counterparts on the other side ( How dare he say we need to help raise our children–what kind of turncoat brother is that? ), because there’s money to be made, and careers to be maintained in the anger, hatred, and suffering of the status quo.

Black children are told by their elders that a Black man has to be twice as good. Well, Obama is that and more. He’s not only twice as good, but I’m convinced that there’s a depth to his character that we haven’t even begun to recognize. But we’re looking under every log for transgressions, so if by some chance Obama happens to fail in this effort, it won’t be his failure, it’ll be ours.

Eric L. Wattree
wattree.blogspot.com

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The Crabs Are On The Move

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

The Crabs Are On The Move

Well, they're at it again, y'all. A small minority of Black people are hard at work doing everything they can to undermine the Black community. This time it's in the guise of trying to drag down Barack Obama by promoting Cynthia McKinney's dead-on-arrival candidacy with the Green Party.

They're touting Ms. McKinney's candidacy like it's some kind of intellectual fashion statement on Black independence, or Black people's right to speak, when all it actually represents is the same old "crabs in a barrel" mentality that we've been dealing with for the past four hundred years.

But of course, they'd say, "You people are treating Barack Obama like he's some kind of Messiah. He has flaws too, so why shouldn't Black people have the right to disagree?" In response, let me be the first to concede that they're absolutely right on both counts–Obama's definitely not the Messiah, and Black people have every right in the world to disagree–but what sense does it make to cut our own throat in the process?

In an interview with Ms. McKinney in "Your Black Politics," staff writer, Tolu Olorunda, indicates, "For many, the name "Cynthia McKinney" is synonymous with loaded-descriptions such as "progressive," "activist," "relentless," "fighter," "frank," and "courageous."Cynthia McKinney has been described by political-prisoner and internationally-renowned journalist, Mumia Abu Jamal, as "bold," "outspoken," and a "woman of substance." I'd add two other descriptors to that–questionable judgement, and voted out of office. In fact, she gained nationwide fame for her poor judgement.

Ms. McKinney represented Georgia's 4th District in the House of Representatives. On the morning of March 29, 2006, she entered the Longworth House Office Building by going around the security detectors. Members of congress are given a special lapel pin that allows them to do so, but on this morning Ms. McKinney wasn't wearing her pin. Thereafter, Ms. McKinney allegedly proceeded westward down the ground floor hallway and about halfway down the hallway was grabbed by United States Capitol Police officer Paul McKenna, who states that he had been calling after her-- "Ma'am, Ma'am!" Reportedly, McKinney then struck the officer. Two days later, Officer McKenna filed a police report claiming that McKinney had struck "his chest with a closed fist."

On April 6, 2006, Ms. McKinney rendered a Public apology on the floor of the House of Representatives, indicating that "There should not have been any physical contact in this incident." Then on April 23, 2006 during an interview, she became frustrated with the questions she was being asked, and in a Jackson-like 'hot mike' moment she called her aide, Coz Carson, "a fool." After realizing what she'd done, she said, "Anything that is captured by your audio ... That is captured while I'm not seated in this chair is off the record and is not permissible to be used ... Is that understood?" But of course, her warning was ignored and the segment was aired by CBS.

While both of these incidents are indicative of a woman who lacks a firm grasp on her emotions, they are the exact qualities that one would seek out if the motive was to undermine the presidential campaign of a Barack Obama. Her behavior tends to say, "I don't give a damn–I'll go for broke against these suckers!" Her attitude is both, in complete contrast to the reasoned and measured approach of Barack Obama, and at the same time, reflects the anger and frustration of many who feel disenfranchised by the system. So she's the perfect candidate if you want to appeal to the fist shakers.

But there's only one problem with Ms. McKinney's approach–it appeals to the emotions rather than common sense. While it may very well be cathartic to throw one's fist in the Air, that kind of behavior doesn't win elections. So for those who would waste their vote on Cynthia McKinney--the very vote that many have died to secure–the question should be the following: When all the smoke has cleared, and this election has been relegated to history, what do you want to be left with, a tired arm from shaking your fist in the air, or a president, who could possibly change the course of the world, and provide a better way of life for you and your children? Thus, it simply does not make sense to take the position that "If Obama doesn't give me everything I want, I'm going to help McCain to win--who will certainly give me nothing.

McKinney indicated in Bro. Olorunda's interview that she supports reparations and the freeing of all "political prisoners." That may sound good to many, but what chance do you think she has of winning an election based on such an agenda? After the way the Bush regime has ravished the U.S. Treasury, we'll be lucky to get social security, much less reparations. And how are we to determine what constitutes a "political prisoner." According to some, every Black man in the joint is a political prisoner. So how many White folks do you think are going to vote to swing the prison gates open? In fact, never mind that–how many Black folks would vote for such a measure?

If we're dumb enough to let John McCain win this election, he'll be able to complete the process of creating an entirely conservative Supreme Court. That could send Black people back to the days of Jim Crow and beyond. They could overturn Brown v The Board of Education, Roe v Wade, The 1964 Civil Rights Act, and even The Voter's Rights Act. And according to the ACLU in a statement entitle "No Laughing Matter," they say, "Attorney General Michael Mukasey is demanding that Congress issue a new declaration of war so that anyone that this president or the next one declares to be an "enemy combatant" can be held indefinitely without a trial. The new declaration of war would make the entire globe — including the United States itself — a "battlefield" where the president decides who will be locked up forever."

So take the time to lookup the term "Cointelpro," then ask yourself, why is a handful of Black activists fighting so hard against Obama, in spite of the horror that John McCain represents? Allowing McCain to win this election as an act of protest against Obama would be the logical equivalent of blowing your brains out to prevent the sniffles. Think about that before you decide to throw away your vote.

There are many people–both in, and outside the Republican Party–who have a vested interest in Obama losing this election. But while I want to clearly go on record that I'm not implying that either Ms. McKinney or any of the vast majority of people who support Ms.McKinney are Judas--I'm sure that most of her supporters are very honorable people who have simply been misguided--let the record also reflect my position that Judas definitely has his hand in this situation somewhere, and you can bet the ranch on that.


Eric L. Wattree

Wattree.blogspot.com

Stay on top of what's going on around you. From Hip Hop to world and national news--stay informed about those things that impact both the Black community and the entire world, as interpreted by Dr. Boyce Watkins and some of the nation's top Black writers. Stay in touch with Your Black World www.yourblackworld.com/. It's our piece of the net.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Self-Hatred Running Rampant Among Black People


BENEATH THE SPIN * ERIC L. WATTREE

Self-Hatred Running Rampant Among Black People
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As a Black man who is old enough to remember the courageously focused and determined lives of both Malcolm and Martin Luther King and their gruesome and untimely deaths, and educated enough to be cognizant of the painful sacrifices that generations of Black people have endured to make this, Barack Obama's moment - our moment - in history possible, I simply cannot find the words to adequately express my feelings of deep frustration and disgust towards the young brothers who heckled Sen. Obama during his St. Petersburg speech. For the very first time in my life, words completely fail me, but I now have a much better understanding of why the penalty for treason is so severe.
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Perhaps this example of mindless idiocy will give other Black people pause, however. Perhaps it will help those who tend to nitpick Sen. Obama to death to recognize that they, just like the hecklers in St. Petersburg, are mounting a meaningless assault on all of the hopes, dreams, and prayers whispered by millions of Black people from the day we first set foot on American soil.
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It is for precisely that reason that the hecklers have undoubtedly earned themselves a footnote in history. Considering the Black experience in America, their thoughtless irresponsibility will certainly stand out as one of the most stupid acts of self-mutilation in the history of mankind. But unfortunately, in the process they've managed to also taint the more thoughtful Black people in our community as well, since posterity will undoubtedly point to their ignorance as a prime example of why Black people, as a whole, have found it such an arduous struggle to rise above what has unfortunately become our station - at the very bottom of this society.
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It's easy to indulge in hyperbole, however. One should always substantiate one's assertions, so allow me to take a moment to build a simple scenario as proof of the of the St. Petersburg stupidity:
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If you're about to be lynched and a brother comes to your rescue, what kind of fool would stop his rescuer just as he's taking the rope away from around your neck, to say, "Wait a minute. I want to ask you a question before you touch this rope - why haven't you spoken out with more vigor in support of Affirmative Action?" Needless to say, such an act would represent the height of stupidity, but that's exactly what the St. Petersburg hecklers, and to a lesser extent, many other Black self-haters are doing during this election - and unnecessarily, since there was going to be a question and answer period after the speech anyway.
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I simply can't believe how stupid and shortsighted some of our people are proving themselves to be. It goes beyond stupid - it's a national embarrassment to every Black person with a brain. And in many cases, these are highly educated Black people. I began to suspect that we had a problem when Dr. Cornel West acted a fool on Tavis Smiley's "State of Black America" broadcast, on the very day that Sen. Obama declared his intent to seek the presidency.
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GROSS HYPOCRISY:
WHEREVER I CAN GET MINE
I'll never forget it. Just hours after this young Black man declared his candidacy for President of the United States, in the shadow of the statehouse that was once occupied by Lincoln, and being wildly cheered by Blacks, Whites, young, old, rich, poor, Jew and gentile, I turned to Tavis' broadcast, hailed as "The State of Black America." Then with my eyes still damp with emotion, the very first thing I see is Dr. Cornel West ranting about Obama, and pointing out that he wasn't impressed. He suggested that Black people should be asking Obama, "How deep is your love for your people" and Where is your money coming from?" Then he went on to suggest that people associated with Sen. Obama didn't warrant our trust. But what was most instructive about his comments was what he didn't say. He, nor Jesse Jackson on FOX news, nor the St. Petersburg hecklers, had one critical word to say about McCain, or any of the hordes of Republican politicians that's been cutting our throats for the past seven years - and I've never even heard it rumored that Jesse thought Bush should be castrated.
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So at this point it has become abundantly clear that we have a serious problem in the Black community, and we need to confront it in a head-on, and brutally forthright manner. The problem is glaringly clear, and now, undeniable. Many of us suffer from a severe case of self-hatred that we tend to cloak in petty grievances that have absolutely nothing to do with reality.
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Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that Black people become unquestioning zombies in support of everything that Obama does, after all, he is a politician, and ALL politicians need to be kept on a short rein. In fact, I am still, highly critical, and highly disturbed by Obama's weak-kneed support of the recent FISA legislation. But in that case we're talking about his support for modifying the United States Constitution and diminishing our right to privacy. Everyone should speak out in protest on such issues. I cut off my monthly financial contribution to his campaign in response to that act. So I'm not an adherent of blind devotion, but I do believe in adhering to common sense - and common sense dictates that you don't cut off your nose to spite your face.
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But in the case of the St. Petersburg hecklers, and many other Black nitpickers, some are trying to hold Obama hostage to their narrow, self-centered agenda, and others are flat-out trying to sabotage his effort because they seem to believe that Obama's national influence and celebrity tends to diminish their accomplishments and standing in the community. That's not only sick, selfish, and self-defeating, but it's Naderian in its stupidity. What sense does it make to say, if you don't give me everything I want, I'm going to help the efforts of your opponent, who will assuredly give me nothing? The only possible way of defining such a stance is self-hatred, and gross stupidity.
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The St Petersburg hecklers provided McCain with the best moment he's had during this election. McCain couldn't have paid for better publicity if he had hired those brothers - and anyone old enough to remember "Cointelpro" will recognize that's not beyond the scope of possibility. Thus, the behavior of those brothers, and the banner they held up before the world might as well have said,
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"DOWN WITH BLACK PEOPLE. WE'RE TOO STUPID TO EMBRACE LIBERATION."

Eric L. Wattree
wattree@blogspot.com

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