Thursday, October 29, 2009

Joe Lieberman: To Hell with the American People


Joe Lieberman: To Hell with the American People

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has announced that if the senate includes a public option to healthcare reform he's prepared to side with the Republicans in a filibuster to prevent the bill from coming up for a vote. In other words, he's prepared to fight to block the will of the American people.

This is the same Joe Lieberman that Democrats sweat blood and treasure to support in his bid for vice president in the 2000 election; the same Joe Lieberman who signed a pledge with seven Republicans and six other Democrats not to filibuster any of Bush's judicial nominations in 2005; and the very same Joe Lieberman whose own Connecticut constituents polled 21 to 68% (a 47% margin) in favor of a public option. But he doesn't care about all of that. All he cares about is protecting his cash cow - the insurance industry.

It should disgust this man to even look at himself in the mirror. But obviously he has more greed than shame. Thus, while a Senator cannot be recalled, the people of Connecticut should add a scarlet letter to his name by passing a resolution renouncing him, apologizing to the American people, and demanding that he resign. And in the meantime, the Democrats should strip him of all seniority and banish him from their caucus, because this man lacks the honor of Benedict Arnold.

Let us take a moment to place Lieberman's treachery in perspective. Think of healthcare like buying gas. Let's say we have two gas stations right across the street from one another. At gas station one, RepubliGas, where the average citizen is forced to buy gas, the gas is six dollars a gallon. And not only is the gas high, but we're forced to pay the cashier before we pump. Then after we pay, if we find that there is no gas in the pump, when we go back to the cashier to get our money back, he simply points to a sign that says, "ALL SALES ARE FINAL. PURCHASE AT YOUR OWN RISK. That would be fine if we had other options, but the problem with that is RepubliGas is the only gas station that we're allow to buy gas.

Then right across the street is DemoGas. At DemoGas the gas is only two dollars a gallon. And not only that, you're guaranteed that you get the gas you pay for. But there's only one problem. DemoGas is only allowed to sell gas to the elderly, federal employees, and members of congress. So President Obama decides that's not fair. He feels that all of the people should be treated equally, so he writes legislation to that effect. But then, Joe Lieberman and his cohorts in congress, who are being generously paid by RepubliGas, come together and indulge in all manner of political obstructionism to prevent the senate from being allowed to even vote on the matter.

Then even though the American people are shouting that it's not fair, and complain that they can't get to work, and their children can't get to school, these so-called representatives of the people completely ignore them. After all, they're comfortable in their lives, they're getting cheap gas, and they're being paid well by RepubliGas just to maintain the status quo. So in short, they say, "To hell with the American people. Let them eat cake."

That's exactly what's happening with healthcare reform. So this is about more than just healthcare - it's about a system that has completely broken down. This is about a congress that we've spoiled, and allowed to give themselves so many perks and raises that they can no longer identify with the very people they're suppose to be representing. They've become a class within themselves, and have started thinking of themselves as royalty. They've become a group that Marie Antoinette would envy, and the very thing that our founding fathers fought hardest against.

Many of these people claim that they're worried about the cost of healthcare, and they're concerned about leaving a debt on our children. But they lie. They didn't give a damn about our children when earlier this year they voted themselves a $93,000 increase in (get this) "petty cash" - each. Then a month later they gave themselves an additional $4,700 raise. And they did all this while their constituents were suffering, losing homes and jobs, and the country was in the midst of the deepest recession since the great depression. But now, they're willing to move Heaven and Earth to avoid giving the people who elected them affordable healthcare.

So again, this is about much more than just healthcare. This is about maintaining the integrity of the United States as a nation "of the people, by the people, and for the people." If we let these people get away with thumbing their nose at us after the American people have made it clear that we want robust healthcare reform, we will render ourselves completely meaningless.

During the last century, big business and the American people were a partnership. The business community hired us to manufacture their goods, and paid us a living wage that was sufficient to purchase those things that we manufactured. It was a symbiotic relationship. They paid us well, and guaranteed us jobs for life, which gave us the confidence to borrow from the banks and purchased what they produced. It was perfect.

But now, in this new world economy where big business is selling their goods all over the world, and competing with countries who are paying their workers pennies a day, the American worker is no longer looked upon an asset, but more of a liability. Those same American businesses who once relied on the American worker are now international in scope. So they now look upon the American worker, with our relatively high wages, as an extravagance that they can do without. While they still want to sell us their goods, they no longer want to pay us to produce those goods.

That left small businesses to step in and fill the vacuum left by the large corporations. But the insurance industry, who became comfortable with the deep pockets of the large corporations, refuse to adjust to the new reality. That's why it's essential that we have a public option to bring stability to skyrocketing heathcare costs under control. It's the only way that small businesses, and thus, our economy, can survive.

One of the things that prevent small and medium size businesses from hiring more workers is not the wages, but their inability to satisfy the insatiable greed of the healthcare industry. Walmart, one of the largest corporations in the world, has been struggling with the healthcare issue for years, and has been highly criticized for their refusal to provide affordable healthcare for their employees.

Ceci Connolly pointed out in the Washington Post that "Though proud of what it sees as dramatic progress, Wal-Mart itself warns that in a global market with a weakened economy, it cannot -- or will not be able to -- accept annual health-care increases of about 8 percent indefinitely." Thus, if Walmart is having a problem with the cost of healthcare, just imagine what it's doing to the bottom line of small businesses.

Yet, these fat cat politicians are content to sit back and watch America suffer in order to feather their own nests - and very well. Because the insurance industry is willing to pay these Republicans and Liebercrats huge sums of money to prevent the government from reining in the industry's greed. And even though these politicians know full well that the greed of the insurance industry is a drag on our economy and costing the American people jobs, lives, and personal hardships, this group of prima donnas have decided to place their own interests before the welfare of the American people.

But a new twist has been added this time. This is the first time that a politician has been as blatant in his treachery as Joe Lieberman. In a very real sense, he has all but literally told 47% of his own constituents to go straight to Hell. And the reason he thinks that he can get away with it is because Bush and Cheney proved for eight solid years that the American people are so disengaged that politicians can get away with anything.

So if the American people ever expect to return to the standard of living that we've come to expect, we're going to have to undo that precedent here and now. It is incumbent upon us to network, and begin to replace every politician that gives any indication that he or she is trying to ignore the will of the people - and we should start that process with the high profile and extremely deserving Joe Lieberman in order to magnify our intent. that will send a strong message to all future politicians, no matter who they are or how charming they seem to be, that in this country, it's the people who are running things.

On the other hand, the consequences of our failure to act on this matter will be both chilling and unavoidable. The fact is, if we fail to mount a forceful response to the treachery of Joe Lieberman and his cohorts, we will establish a precedent that will ultimately lead to Americans becoming the first new peasants of the new world order.

Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009




The one factor that contributed most to the downfall of the Democratic Party during the seventies and eighties was allowing conservative Republicans to seize control of the political rhetoric. The Democrats simply sat back and allowed themselves, their constituency and their agenda to be redefined in the eyes of the American people by conservative "spin doctors" without rebuttal.  As a direct result, they've allowed the term "liberal" to become a bad word in the political lexicon.

When you consider how methodically the conservatives went about mounting their assault on the liberal agenda you can't help but recognize that it was a stroke of genius. Ironically, the conservatives took the Democratic Party's strength and made it a political liability. First they took the party's penchant for being concern with the plight of the downtrodden and coined phrases such as "bleeding heart liberals" and "tax and spend Democrats." They then played on the frustration of the middle class by tying civil rights legislation, welfare, and crime into one neat bundle as the source of middle class woes; then they attributed all of these problems to what they called the Democrat's tendency to be " bleeding heart liberals". Once the connection was made between minorities, welfare, crime, and the liberal agenda, it was just a matter of repeatedly hammering the message home.

In addition, conservatives used such tactics as spitting out the word "liberal" as though they were saying rapist. In this way they not only implanted a negative attitude toward liberalism in the mind of the voter, but it was said in such a way that the implication was made that it went without saying that all the negative stereotyping of liberalism was true. In other words, their attitude seems to suggest, "I could substantiate what I'm saying about liberals, but I don't think it's necessary since we all know what they're like." And in the election that spawned the "Republican revolution" the voters said, yes, we do.

Through these strategies conservatives accomplished three goals with one ingenious stroke -- they defined minorities as slovenly criminals, they define liberal Democrats as "soft on crime", and they allowed themselves the freedom to place these thoughts in the American psyche without having to substantiate their facts. Moreover, they accomplish all this in every sound bite, and without seeming to be racist, with the use of just one word, "liberal." In fact, conservatives have been so thorough in their disparagement of liberalism that at this point the word "liberal" is treated like vulgarity, and simply referred to as "the L word."

One would think that Democrats would be up in arms in defense of their liberal tradition. It would seem that they would be falling all over one another in an attempt to debate this issue. But instead, these people are falling over one another trying to put distance between themselves and the liberal tradition. Where are their backbones? Where is that one Democrat willing to say, wait a minute! Read your history! It was the "bleeding heart liberal" policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that brought this country back from the brink of disaster.


In 1921 -- eight years before the great depression -- Republicans took over the helm of this nation for 12 years. During that time there were three Republican administrations, the first of which was the administration of Warren G. Harding. History remembers Harding's administration for one thing more than anything other -- scandal. It was during Harding's presidency that the Teapot Dome Scandal erupted. His administration was considered the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States -- until Nixon's, and then Reagan's.

Next, in 1923, came Calvin Coolidge, the president that Ronald Reagan is said to have most admired. Coolidge's policies of large tax cuts, allowing business a free-rein, and his encouragement of stock speculation contributed greatly to the impending stock market crash and the great depression that was to come.

Then in 1929 Herbert Hoover came to power. During his administration the stock market crashed, starting the great depression. In spite of the fact that by 1933 the unemployment rate was at 33.3% with 16 million people out of work, the Republican, Hoover, just sat, thinking that the economy would eventually rejuvenate itself. During Hoover's administration 15,000 WWI veterans marched on Washington demanding that they be paid what they were owed by the government. Hoover responded by calling in federal troops to throw these ex-servicemen off government property.

Finally in 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a liberal democrat, was elected overwhelmingly. He immediately surrounded himself with a group of the finest minds in the country, including Columbia professors Adolph A. Berle, Jr., Rexford G. Tugwell, and Raymond Moley, known at the time as the "Brain Trust." After assembling these men and others he went about the business of developing a" New Deal" for the working class people of this country.

The New Deal had two components -- one to help the economy to recover from the effects of the great depression, and a second component to give relief to the American people and to insure that they were never be placed in a position of total destitution again. To help heal the economy Roosevelt created programs that regulated business, controlled inflation, and brought about price stabilization; to bring relief to the people he signed The National Labor Relations Act which guaranteed workers the right to collective bargaining, and he created the Social Security Administration to guarantee workers some sort of income once they became too old to work. He also signed the Fair Labor Standards Act which protected workers rights and set a minimum wage for workers.

With his New Deal in place Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this "bleeding heart liberal", not only led this country out of the worst, Republican generated, crisis that this country has ever faced, but went on to lead the free world in victory over Hitler in WWII. He then ushered in the most sustained prosperity that the world has ever known.

One would think that conservatives would have seen the light, but their passion to further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the middle and lower classes seems to supersede all logic. Therefore, from the moment that the New Deal went into place, conservatives have been determined to dismantle it. The closest they've come to succeeding started during the Reagan administration with Supply-Side Economics, or, "Reaganomics" -- and the battle is currently raging in Washington D.C. as we speak.

Supply- Side Economics was a scheme hatch by U.S.C. economist Arthur Laffer and the Reagan crowd which was supposed to cut the deficit and balance the budget. The theory behind Reaganomics was ostensibly, if you cut taxes for business and people in the upper tax brackets, and then deregulated business of such nuisances as safety regulations and environmental safeguards, the beneficiaries would invest their savings into creating new jobs. In that way the money would eventually "trickle down" to the rest of us. The resulting broadened tax base would not only help to bring down the deficit, but also subsidize the tremendously high defense budget. When the plan was first floated, even George Bush, Reagan's vice president to be, called it "voodoo economics."

Reaganomics, for the most part, sought to undo many of the safeguards put into place during the Roosevelt era and create a business environment similar to that which was in place during the Coolidge Administration. What actually took place, however, was even more like the Coolidge era than planed. Instead of taking the money and investing it into creating new jobs, the money was used in wild schemes and stock market speculation. One of these schemes, the leveraged buy out, involved buying up large companies with borrowed funds secured by the company's assets, then paying off the loan by selling off the assets of the purchased company. This practice cost the citizens of this country its industrial base. In addition, the bottom fell out of the stock market. On Monday, October 19, 1987 the Dow-Jones Average fell 508.32 points. It was the greatest one-day decline since 1914 - 15 years before the Great Depression.

And what about Ronald Reagan's promise to balance the budget and lower the deficit? By the time he left office he was not only the most prolific spender of any president, but he also added more to the deficit than all of the other presidents from George Washington to his own administration combined. And what does the Republican Party propose to do about that? One of the Republican proposals in their "contract with America" is a capitol gains tax cut -- for the rich.

History is clear. The conservative Republicans don't mind spending money, they just don't want to spend it on those who need it -- us. Remember, they're the party of Alexander Hamilton, one of this country's founding fathers who believed that only those who owned property should even be allowed to vote. He also said:

All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and wellborn, the other the mass of the people.... The people are turbulant and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government.

Debates of the Federalist Convention (May 14-September 17, 1787).

So, let's set the record straight. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that "bleeding heart liberal", not only brought the nation back from the Great Depression and saved the world from Hitler during his life, but his "New Deal" for the American people gave us the greatest prosperity we've ever known, and allowed him to reach back from the grave to save the nation from Ronald Reagan 50 years after his death.

That isn't to say that the liberal Democratic philosophy corners the market on what is in the best interest of the nation -- it is clear that both parties have had illustrious moments in the past -- but rather, this is one of those defining issues in American politics that determines whether this is to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, or a government where the citizens or nothing more than disposable resources for big business.

In the past the Democratic Party has always been there to draw a line in the sand on this issue, but in recent history the liberal philosophy has been distorted to the point that even Democrats are distancing themselves from their own political philosophy.

But what makes America great, are those dramatic moments in American politics when that one individual has the courage to put everything on the line to defend, protect, and save the American people disaster. And the annals of modern American history will clearly show that during those moments, it was a "bleeding heart liberal" that stepped up to the plate. First FDR, then Bill Clinton, and now Barack Hussein Obama.

Thus, future historians will record that there is nothing more honorable in American politics than a bleeding heart . . . Because those hearts bleed for America.

Listen to this heart bleed:


Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Conservatives Waking Up in Droves


Conservatives Waking Up in Droves

Well, it seems that the GOP is finally coming into its own. Both its numbers, and its rhetoric, reflect that its rapidly becoming more of a cult than a political party. Recent polls indicate that now only 20% of the American people will even admit to being Republican these days. That's down from 32% in November. If its current rate of decline continues, after the 2010 election there won't be enough Republicans left in Washington to throw a card party - and that's with good reason.

History doesn't lie, at least, until Republicans get a hold to it. But with their desperate attempt to regain power at any cost, this current crop of GOP 'leaders' have inadvertently betrayed their true agenda - to promote the interest of big business at the expense of the American people. Every initiative that they champion is transparently designed to do just that.

And this is not a new agenda for Republicans. It's just that this current group of Republicans are so inept and blinded by greed that they've allowed their animus to be revealed. Alexander Hamilton, the father of Republican thought, advocated that the poor didn't even have sense enough to think, therefore shouldn't be allowed to govern - and the Republican attitude towards the average American hasn't changed a bit. Hamilton said the following:

"All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and wellborn, the other the mass of the people.... The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive an advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government." (Debates of the Federalist Convention, May 14-September 17, 1787).

Thus, the GOP, literally, treats the American people like mindless children who lack the capacity to remember what took place the day before. So many well-educated and thinking conservatives are falling over one another as they leave the Republican Party. The reason for that is that they've been given a front row seat to witness how undereducated Republicans and wing-nuts are being manipulated through use of the "isms" and xenophobic fear by the Republican leadership to act against their own interest.

They're beginning to recognize that internal American politics is no longer driven by race or ideology. In the new world order the GOP leadership no longer sees any profit in such nonsense. The GOP even sees America's eternal fight for freedom in terms of dollars and cents - THEIR freedom to make a dollar. In short, it's all about class, stupid.

A perfect example of that can be found in the case of a young lady by the name of Jamie Leigh Jones. This young woman had the ridiculous idea that she wanted to do something for her country, so she went to work for KBR, a subsidiary of Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton. But as soon as she hit the ground in Iraq, she was drugged, gang raped, and thrown into a shipping container under armed guard for twenty-four hours by KBR employees. She was only 19 years old at the time.

Now Ms. Jones is seeking justice, but she's being blocked by a stipulation in the Halliburton/KBR contract indicating that her only recourse is to go through arbitration - a kangaroo court designed to protect the contractor. In response, a newly elected Democratic senator, Al Franken, drafted an amendment to the senate defense appropriation bill to reverse the policy that's preventing Ms. Jones from seeking legal recourse. The amendment passed by a 68 to 30 vote, and all 30 votes against the amendment was cast by White Republican males.

This is only one of thousands of votes that are routinely cast in the United States Senate. But this vote holds particular significance, and should certainly go down in the annals of political infamy. Because it clearly demonstrates that the Republican Party has crossed the line that separates their advocation of a thriving and robust business environment, to a position that promotes the primacy of business interests over the justice and welfare of the American people. Thus, it's no wonder true conservatives are leaving the Republican Party in droves. The GOP has literally embraced a philosophy that is clearly, and blatantly, un-American.

But this has been the case for some time. It's just that only now are Americans beginning to believe their lying eyes.

If the American people ever started looking back through history they'd notice that the same policies, the very same names, and the same corruption is recycled by the Republican Party every generation. As I've  pointed out in a previous articles, as far back as October 29, 1929, the Republican Party ushered in the Great Depression under President Herbert Hoover, and it took Democratic president, Franklin Roosevelt, to bail the nation out; then on October 19, 1987, under Republican Ronald Reagan, the stock market fell 508 points due to the excesses of Reaganomics. Then, again, due to the continued freewheeling fiscal policies of conservative Republicans, between 1986 and 1989, spanning the presidencies of Reagan and Bush Sr., the FSLIC had to pay off all the depositors of 296 institutions with assets of over $125 billion.

Then in 1988 Silverado Savings and Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers $1.3 billion. It was headed by Neil Bush, brother of George W. The investigation alleged that he was guilty of "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest." The issue was eventually settled out of court with Bush paying a mere $50,000 settlement.

Then there was the Lincoln Savings and loan scandal in 1987 involving John McCain. The scandal was very similar to the one that is currently playing out on Wall Street. He was one of a group of senators dubbed "The Keating Five" involved in a scandal by the same name.

In 1976 Charles Keating moved to Arizona to run the American Continental Corporation. In 1984, shortly after the Reagan era push to deregulate the savings and loan community, Keating bought Lincoln Savings and Loan and began to engage in highly risky investments with the depositors' savings. In 1989 the parent company, which Keating headed, went bankrupt, and it resulted in over 21,000 investors losing their life savings. Most of the investors were elderly, and the losses amounted to about 285 million dollars.

After having received over a million dollars from Keating in illegal campaign contributions, gifts, free trips, and other gratuities, the Keating Five--Senators John Glenn, Don Riegle, Dennis DeConini, Alan Cranston, and Sen. John McCain--attempted to intervene in the investigation into Keating's activities by the regulators. Later, they were admonished to varying degrees by the senate for attempting to influence regulators on Keating's behalf. Charles Keating ended up being convicted for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy, for which he received 10 years by the state court, and a 12 year sentence in federal court. After spending four and a half years in prison, his convictions were overturned. But prior to being retried, he pled guilty to a number of felonies in return for a sentence of time served.

Now, even at this writing, Sen. John McCain is involved in a bill that would allow telecommunications companies to partition off the internet for profit, and Dick Cheney is pressuring Obama to go off half-cocked like he did in Iraq, yet again: "Come on, wimp, lets get this war rollin'. You must me scared, or something." And of course, I'm sure that Cheney's hurry to 'get it on' has absolutely nothing to do with Halliburton's profit line.

And these are the people who want us to turn our backs on President Obama, and place our faith in them: "Just trust us . . . again."

Yeah, right.

Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Tribute to American Diversity: A Man Called Chuck


We tend to give politicians all the credit for who we are as Americans. But the fact is, politicians with all their self-serving agendas, more often than not, stifle the American spirit rather than enhance it. It is the Average American, doing what they do in their daily lives, that makes us who and what we are. So as a tribute to those Americans, I’m launching this series called “A Tribute to American Diversity”.

A Man Called Chuck

I’d like to take a moment to give a little something back to a magnificent old swinger. Being from the old school, and born and raised in Los Angeles, jazz has always been a major force in my life. So when Chuck Niles, of radio station KKJZ left this Earth, it represented the eternal silence of yet another force that went into molding what I think of as me.

In my mind, jazz, Chuck Niles, and who I am today are all a part of the same continuum. Rahsaan called us "Eulipians"- a brotherhood of writers, poets, musicians and uncommon drunks, who thrive on a riff, and passionately embrace the proposition that man’s thirst for knowledge will someday overwhelm his lust for stupidity.

I can't begin to describe the impact that this grand old cat has had on my life over the years. I first came across him when I was a kid listening to "The Knob"- Radio station KNOB. I’ve heard people talk about how tough KBCA was, and indeed it was a powerhouse of jazz, but nobody in the history of radio swung it like The Knob. They had people like Tommy B, Tollie Strode, Stevo, and of course, the ever swingin' Chuck Niles.

Man, those cats swung it 24-7 like it was their last day on Earth, and every one of them had an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz. So there was never a lull in the music - Bird, Monk, Miles, Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean, one after the other, all day, and all night long. I mean, these guys would be smokin’, and every time you thought they couldn't possibly get any tougher, they'd kick it up a notch. As a youngster, I couldn’t live without them, but even back then I understood the meaning of sacrifice - so I’d sleep on Tuesdays.

Chuck and his cohorts at The Knob not only provided me with a Ph.D. in the world of Jazz, but they also laid a foundation for a way of life that has served me quite well over the years. By the time I was 16 I had gained a wealth of knowledge into the beauty of what contributed directly to who I am. Jazz became a hook upon which I could hang other knowledge - both historic and political. I became curious about such things as what kind of political environment led to the development of a Charlie Parker or Thelonious Monk. That, in turn, led me to consider the realities of my own political environment.

Then later in life, during those moments when life became funky, I'd only have to consider my roots to know that I had what it took to carry on. The love of jazz, and the cultural message it related, taught me to take pride in my ability to deal with hardship. It also taught me to never have more respect for anyone else’s ability to think than I had for my own. It put a swagger in my outlook that has stood up to the most severe adversity, and a love and respect for knowledge, creativity, and achievement that has allowed me to truly overcome.

After all, any group of people who could navigate the chord progressions of any tune ever written, and at breakneck speed, couldn't possibly be inferior - and I was one of those people. So I never felt the need to convince the world that "I am somebody" - thanks to people like Chuck, I simply knew it.

So these cats didn't just spin records, they were educators. They provided a foundation and a philosophy of life upon which many young cats like myself have based our entire lives. And at the same time, they also promoted a tradition that assured the viability of modern jazz - an unassailable tradition, that stands as a monument to the creative genius of Black people.

Chuck Niles, even though he had white skin, was as dedicated to that proposition as any Black man I've ever known, and he continued to stoke the flame right up to his final days, with a new generation of believers at KLON (now KKJZ) on the campus of Cal. State Long Beach (a listener supported station that’s always in dire need of our support).

Today we live in a world of hip hop, Nikes, and jogging suits. But Chuck represented a different world - a world of bebop, Florsheims, and Brooks Brothers suits. His was a world of unspoken class, magnificent ladies, and shinny new Cadillacs glistening against the Moonlight; of Ray Brown's sweet bass struttin' down uncharted avenues of the blues; of Charlie Parker's bittersweet serenade to the angels; and of course, a passionate young Miles with his muted horn, sweetly brooding to Stella By Starlight, into a smoke filled night.

When I think of Chuck, I think of beautiful days and sweeter nights; a time when the promise of tomorrow was more tantalizing than the chilling passion of the night before. So the passing of this swingin' old warhorse also represents the passing of a magnificent era; an era reminiscent of an elegant lady - a lady that Chuck now, lovingly, escorts into the mist.
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

GOP ‘Patriots’ Strike America Once Again


GOP 'Patriots' Strike America Once Again

My computer is still warm from my last article where I pointed out that the GOP is no longer conservative, and has become anti-American. Now, reinforcing my position, they've struck out against America again. In last week's column, "Limbaugh-Beck and the GOP Patriots Against America", I pointed out that you can say what you will about true conservatives, but they are fiercely patriotic, and will ALWAYS, support America, regardless to what the circumstances.

But this current group of renegade Republicans are clearly demonstrating not only that they're not true conservatives, but they're not even loyal Americans. With every day that passes it becomes increasingly clear that their only concern is making money, regaining power, and accommodating their own self-interest, and they're more than willing to throw America under the bus to achieve those goals.

Evidence of that fact is they've left no stone unturned to protect the insurance industry, deny Americans affordable health care, and literally celebrated America's loss of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Now, as though to reinforce my thesis, these so-called patriots have struck again by attacking President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Regardless to your politics, just take a moment to ask yourself, considering America's low ebb in world opinion over the past eight years, would any true conservatives, regardless to their domestic grievances, criticize the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the President of the United States? Absolutely not.

To have such an honor come to these shores should be a cause of celebration for every American in the country, since even the biggest fool in America should recognize that this honor gives our president the added international cachet to successfully pursue American foreign policy abroad. But in spite of that, upon receiving news of this honor coming to America, the Republican National Committee issued the following statement:

"The real question Americans are asking is, 'What has President Obama actually accomplished?' It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain - President Obama won't be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action."

The question that the world must be asking is, 'What kind of idiots are we dealing with here in the United States that would be so actively working against their own government?'

The GOP seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize is not limited to simply what has taken place since the inauguration, but what the rise of Barack Obama represents overall. After all, What other world leader in history has done more to inspire the hope of people all over the world than Barack Obama, and in such a short period of time? This man is, literally, perceived as the walking, breathing personification of hope for people all over the world, so to have given the Nobel Peace Prize to anyone else would have been remiss.

In addition, by indicating in its formal GOP statement that "President Obama won't be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action", the GOP is betraying the fact that they think the American people are stupid. One would think that the Republican Party wouldn't even want to mention these issues since it is only due to Republican malfeasance in office for the past eight years, their fiscal irresponsibility, and failure to adhere to their 'small government' rhetoric that has caused Americans to be without jobs in the first place.

But the American people have come to ignore such nonsense from the Republican Party, because they recognize that due to a clumsy Republican attempt to manipulate public opinion, most GOP missives of this sort comes from Michael Steele, the closest thing to a love child between Michele Bachman and Snoop Dog (Sorry about that Snoop).

The fact is, I challenge anyone reading this article to give me the name of any other person alive who could have rejuvenated America's stature in the world more effectively than Barack Obama. I also challenge anyone to give me the name of any person alive who could have brought more hope to the people of the world than Barack Obama. This man could have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize upon inauguration and it would have been perfectly justified.

I only wish the president hadn't chosen to apologize for receiving this award, because there’s absolutely no doubt that he’s exactly the kind of man that Alfred Nobel had in mind when he created it. Thus, this honor wasn't bestowed based on stats - this was an azward that came directly from the heart of the people, as it should always be.

So President Obama had absolutely nothing to apologize about. He not only deserves this honor, but by receiving it he’s elevated the stature of all those who preceded him.

The Republican Party claims that Obama only received this award because of his superstar status. But as with most things, they have it completely backwards. President Obama didn’t receive the honor because he’s a star, he’s a star because he has the very qualities in a world leader that deserves to be honored.

Even so early in his presidency, our forefathers are smiling down upon this man with pride. Even as I write, I can hear Thomas Jefferson saying, "Scoot over Abe, we've got company."

So wake up, America, before it's too late. The GOP deals exclusively in hatred, fear, and war. Torture, death and descension is their forte, because there's no money to be made in peace.

Congratulations, Mr. President. Alfred Nobel has never been done so proud.


Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Limbaugh-Beck and the GOP Patriots Against America


Limbaugh-Beck and the GOP Patriots Against America

If anyone had any doubt about whether or not the GOP has become anti-American, all doubt should now be laid to rest. Rush Limbaugh, the titular head of the Republican Party, slipped into an altered state of bliss after hearing the news that the United States lost its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The man was completely beside himself with glee. God only knows what would have happened if we'd also been attacked - his body fluids would've had to be cleaned off the studio floor. I watched the video of Limbaugh's antics over and over again in total disbelief. It's literally unbelievable what's happened to the Republican Party.

This man is not a true Republican, and comes nowhere close to representing conservative values. No true conservative would celebrate an American loss of anything, no matter what the competition, who we were competing against, or what the circumstances were surrounding the competition. You can say what you want about the Republican Party and conservatism, and I've said a lot of mean things, but a true conservative ALWAYS comes to the defense of America.

For those progressives who are too young to understand my breaking ranks to come to the defense of conservatism, it's important to understand that as a baby boomer I know and understand the conservative mind-set, because as baby boomers we all started out raised as conservatives - society was geared that way.

For baby boomers, the first thing we did when we arrived at school was to recite the pledge of allegiance; the second thing was to recite the Lord's Prayer. Then after the Lord's Prayer it was social studies, where we learned that America never loses, has never done anything wrong, and anyone who said differently was evil. That's conservatism, and I believed every syllable until I became old enough to start thinking for myself.

During the fifties all children were raised with the very same values. So just like any other child in America, I pulled for the cowboys against the Indians, and rode with John Wayne as we single-handedly went about slaughtering the bad guys - which was anyone who didn't happen to look, think, or act like us. And as I looked up at the screen, even as a Black child, I was completely convinced that I was a part of "us." It was only later in life that I began to recognize that I represented "them."

It was only due to the shock of that recognition that many of us became progressives. We made it our mission in life to turn the conservative myth of America into a reality. So the difference between true conservatives (as oppose to racists) and progressives wasn't a disagreement over the American ideal, but whether or not that ideal was a reality for all.

So I throughly understand the conservative mind-set - been there, done that. Conservatives can be insensitive, and in my opinion, delusional about what America represents, but the Republican Party has always been fiercely patriotic. So I can say without hesitation that Limbaugh, Beck, and these current batch of demagogues who currently run the GOP are definitely NOT true conservatives, or conservatives of any definition.

There was a time when a Dick Cheney wouldn't have even been able to work as a gofer in the Republican Party. A true conservative would've never put up with a man who took five deferments to avoid defending this nation, then publically admit that he didn't serve this country because "I had other priorities." Yet, in today's Republican Party he was able to make that statement with total impunity, even as he lectured America on patriotism.

No, that's not the GOP I knew. A true conservative would never have tolerated such a man - a man who moved hell and Earth to avoid his own servce, now wants to teach us how to protect America. Such a man would never have been allowed to carry the Republican banner.

Can anyone imagine Cheney telling General Eisenhower that I didn't defend my country because "I had other priorities"? Ike would have told him in no uncertain terms that there ARE no priorities more important than serving your country. And there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that if Ike had been president, Cheney would have been unceremoniously shot for outing a CIA agent.

Ike was both a true conservative, and a true American. He had an unwavering set of convictions that didn't vary as the wind blows, and more importantly, he had the courage of those convictions. Unlike Beck, or Rush Limbaugh who avoided serving this country by claiming a boil on his ass, Ike was the kind of man that one could have serious disagreements with, but still feel compelled to call him sir.

Ike said that he understood these people, because he helped to create the military/industrial complex in an effort to mobilze America during WWII. But as one of his last acts in office he warned America to keep its eye on them, because their greed could become a threat to both America, and the world. Thus,Ike anticipated Cheney's corrupt disregard for America and the world, long before the Cheneys and Limbaughs seized control of the Republican Party.

So am I smply indulging in hyperbole? Think about it. Is there anyone who was alive during the fifties and sixties who believe that conservatives would allow the Republican Party to be taken over by draft dodgers, and worse yet, allow draft dodgers to send our troops to a senseless death? I don't think so.

Even as a progressive, as a former marine I think I'm safe in going on record for Ike and every American in Arlington Cemetery as saying that it is unforgivable that America let our young troops and their families down like we did. We let this bunch of demagogues send these young people to an untimely grave. And for what? The horrible, and inescapable facts are, they died for no other reason than to enrich a bunch of cronies who made it a point to not only avoid their own military service, but made very sure that their children avoided any harm as well.

Conservatives? No, I don't think so. These are a bunch of conspirators against America who used the nation's pain over 911 to victimize this nation and accommodate their own greed. Like the vultures they are, they decided not to let a good crisis go to waste.

And they knew exactly what they were doing. As the bodies of our brave young troops were carried off the battlefield, they were honored in secret, because the dishonorable men who sent them to their deaths didn't want America to see the true price of their vulturous greed. For if these young people did indeed die for this country instead of simple greed, where were the bodies of the sons and daughters of those who sent them? Aren't they also patriots, and don't they also love this country? Oh, Of course they do, but their job is to luxuriate in the lobbies of the nation's country clubs, paying lip service to patriotims, and drinking martini toasts the brave sacrifice of all the little dead people.

Where is Liz Cheney? She's all over the media these days claiming how much she loves America. Can't she drive a truck? If she can't, I'm sure the marines would be more than happy to teach her.

So does this batch of GOP scoundrels truly love America? Let's take a look at that through a simple analogy. For the sake of this discussion, let's think of America as a football team. Suppose a member of our team didn't like the coach and was angered because he had to ride the bench during the Super Bowl. What would you think of him if he started openly pulling for the other team, then once our team lost, he ran out on the field and started dancing and celebrating? Could he ever convince you that in spite of his actions, he loved our team? I don't think so.

Well, that's exactly what's taking place in America with Limbaugh, Beck, and all of their new-and-revised Republican colleagues. So as progressives, we should stop referring to these insurrectionist turncoats as conservatives, because by doing so we do a gross disservice to a long and honorable tradition, and a LOYAL opposition - even though we may seriously disagree with the tenets of that tradition.

If these neo-fascists were truly representative of conservative thought, Barack Obama would not be in office today. Let there be no doubt about it. This man was not elected by progressives alone.

Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Wake Up Progressives, and Get Rid of the "Liebercrats"


Wake Up Progressives, and Get Rid of the "Liebercrats"

Can you just imagine what the Republicans would do with their man in the White House and a majority in congress the size of the majority that the Democrats currently enjoy? They'd be invincible. The Republicans are horrible at governance, but they do know how to wield power. Just look at the mayhem they managed to commit under George Bush. So why is it, with their huge majority in congress, the Democrats are struggling to pass a healthcare bill that would benefit every family in America? The answer is clear - they tolerate too many Democratic turncoats.

Yes, I've said this before, but it seems that it bears repeating. If the Democratic Party wants to continue to exist, it's simply got to get rid of its "Liebercrats." What's the sense of even having a party if it's going to allow people like Joe Lieberman and his clones within its ranks to sabotage its very reason for being?

It is very commendable that progressives are so dedicated to their belief in social, political and intellectual, egalitarianism. It's commendable that they believe that all Democrats should be left to their own conscience with respect to public policy. But Democrats must keep in mind that they are also a party. Their only reason for being is to promote a progressive agenda. So while it's commendable to believe in a Blue Dog's right to independent thought, it's stupid not to demand some measure of basic loyalty while that politician is benefitting from their political brand, and living on their dime (make that, their constituents' dime).

The turncoats within the Democratic Party is not only making them look incompetent, but foolish. It's no wonder the American people are prepared to accept a Republican lie before they'll accept a Democrat pointing out what's right before their eyes. At least the Republican will tell his lie with conviction, and stand up for what he's lying about. There is such a thing as being too tolerant, and Democrats are just that. They allow people to walk all over both them, and their truth - even other Democrats.

Just think about the treachery that Joe Lieberman committed against the Democratic Party. After the Democrats oozed blood, sweat, and tears trying to get him elected to the vice presidency, this man turned right around and started snuggling up to the very man who literally stole the election from the Democrats. Then, he not only supported the Republican Party two elections later, but became the darling of the Republican convention.

Now, after winning the 2008 election, the president and Democratic congress not only welcomed him back, but passed over a loyal Democrat to give him a chairmanship - even though his own Democratic constituency had long since rejected him.

Can you even imagine the Republican Party doing such a thing? Of course not, because, again, even though Republicans are lousy at governing, they recognize that as not only bad politics, but down right stupid. The Democrats might as well have let the Republican Party bug the DNC. No vote is that valuable.

And what did Democrats get in return? They got a self-serving sociopath with absolutely no character. Lieberman has simply thumbed his nose at all of the loyalty, effort, and money that millions of Democrats put into supporting his candidacy in the 2000 election. And is he the least bit repentant? Not hardly. Even now, in a healthcare reform initiative that the Democratic Party has sought since 1947, Lieberman's public position is, maybe we should hold off just a little bit longer. He wants to hold off just a little bit longer as 45,000 Americans a year die due to a lack of affordable health care. This man is nothing short of Benedict Arnold, in a party filled with them.

But this is the people's fault. While I'm ordinarily not one to quote the Bible, in this case the verse seems to be particularly appropriate - "God helps those who help themselves." But the Democratic Party seems to be too foolish to recognize that fact.

The Democratic base should be up in arms over their party supporting such people. Their resources are being literally squandered on people who are Democrats in name only - and in the case of Lieberman, not even that. The DNC is wasting their time, money and effort propping up politicians who are only Democrats when it's convenient to use the Democratic brand to help them obtain power and prestige, or receive Democratic contributions to help them be re-elected. These are people, just like Lieberman, who give lip service to Democratic principles in public, but when the rubber meets the road, they're hard at work behind the scenes sabotaging anything that challenges the status quo.

But there is a very simple way to weed these people out. As the very first order of business with each new congress, the Democrats should caucus and agree upon a reasonable, but firm, primary agenda. Thereafter, bills should be put forward and amendments considered to address minor concerns. But after a bill has been agreed upon by the Democratic leadership, any Democrat who fails to support that bill should be stripped of any positions they hold due to Democratic seniority, and targeted for replacement the very next time he or she comes up for re-election.

Democrats simply have to take disloyalty more seriously. They shouldn't even have to discuss the matter. It should be routine - just so the turncoat will know there's nothing personal. If a politician wants to use Democratic resources to be elected, he should be willing to stand in solidarity behind Democratic initiatives. If he wants to be independent, he has that option. But let him be true to his fiscal or ideological philosophy and run as independent, so as not to waste Democratic resources. That way, he can support the Democrats when it's convenient, and the Democrats will support him, when it's convenient.

I'm sure there are those who will say that's extreme, since Democrats come from districts with varying political persuasions. But since many of these people can't seem to find the integrity to put their constituents before self-interest, we have to find a way to force integrity down their throats. You can't always get politicians to act in the best interest of the people, but you can be virtually certain that they'll always act in their own best interest. In addition, with this process the Democratic leadership can be held directly accountable when legislation favors lobbying interests over the interests of the people.

It's up to the DNC and the politicians themselves to educate the public about exactly what the Democratic Party stands for. A Democrat shouldn't have to lie to the voters about being more conservative than he actually is to be elected. He should be elected because he and the DNC have done an effective job of educating the voter that the Democratic Party's agenda is directly aligned with their best interest. If the party is effective in that area, when a voter votes for a Democrat they'll know exactly what they're getting before they even cast their vote - as they should.

Sure, Democrats want to remain a "big tent" party. But big tent doesn't mean a party that compromises its basic values, and neither does it mean a party that includes all manner of wing-nuts. A big tent party is one that is reasonable and measured in its effort to reach its primary goals. But when a tent becomes so big that it begins to accommodate those who would deny basic and affordable healthcare to the American people, that should send up a red flag that it's time to trim back a bit.

Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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