Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A thief is a Thief - Even When They Work for the Government


A Thief is a Thief - Even When They Work for the Government

This article started out as a letter to Inspector General David C. Williams of the United States Postal Service. Then it occurred to me that the travesty of justice that's described below is much too serious to be dealt with as a single incident. This is a growing and systemic issue that is so blatant and egregious that I'm sure the OIG is well aware of it. It is also an issue that is such a looming threat to the American people that I decided it needed to be dragged into the light of day.

I recently found out that a friend of mine was the victim of repeated instances of forced labor and time fraud committed by her manager in the U.S. Postal Service. When I first became aware of it I was shocked, but not alarmed. I thought I could simply contact the OIG's office and have it, and the manager involved, taken care of. I was certain that the OIG would be anxious to investigate the matter and get the offending culprit out of their midst. But to my amazement it not only took two reports, but over a month before I was even contacted on the matter.

Then when I finally was contacted and explained to the OIG inspector, Special Agent Reid Robbins, that a postal manager, Marcie Luna, was forcing an employee to work between four and six hours a day without pay, and was committing fraud by falsifying a government document and changing the employee's official clock rings to reflect a three (3) hour lunch that the employee wasn't permitted to take, I was essentially met with a yawn.

"And who are you? How do you know this employee?" Then after we finally got past what felt like an interrogation to determine whether or not I had a right to NOT mind my own business, Agent Robbins went on to explain that the OIG's office generally doesn't investigate time issues - which was a blatant lie (they just don't investigate it when the government is doing the stealing).

Then after giving the matter further thought, I began to ask myself, "What kind of crime fighting organization doesn't fight crime?" It is my understanding that the Postal Inspection Service investigate external crimes against the postal service, and the Office of Inspector General investigate internal crimes within the postal service. So if the OIG doesn't investigate the intimidation and coercion necessary to force an employee to work six hours a day for free, or the falsification of documents necessary to steal an employee's wages, the OIG must not consider employee abuse a crime.

So I attempted to contact Agent Robbins at the number he provided, but he failed to return my calls, even after six attempts. So I decided to leave a message on his voice mail asking him the following questions: 1) Whose office would handle the matter if the situation was reversed, and the employee worked only eight hours and falsified her time to be paid for twelve? 2). Whose office would handle the falsification of government documents? And finally, is he going to investigate the matter, and will anyone be held accountable for the commission of this crime?

I have yet to receive a response.

But it doesn't stop there. The next day the employee involved called to advise me that Agent Robbins had contacted her. She went on to say that he seemed to be more interested in how she knew me than he was the crime that had been committed against her. She also said his tone was aggressive and intimidating, and he told her that when she accepted the job of acting supervisor, working overtime without pay came with the job - another blatant lie.

The National Association of Postal Supervisors advised me that a certified supervisor can be required to work a maximum of 30 minutes without pay (in emergencies), 204Bs (acting supervisors) who are covered under various craft employee contracts must be paid for every minute they work. We know this information to be accurate because if it wasn't, it wouldn't have been necessary for the manager to falsify government documents to achieve her objective, to rob the employee.

But even worse than giving the employee inaccurate information, and failing to investigate the complaint, Agent Robbins also revealed both the complaint, and the nature of the complaint to postal management, and that's supposed to be confidential information.

As a direct result, this highly productive employee who has held the same position for over twenty-one years - longer in the same position than any other supervisor, manager, or postmaster in the Los Angeles district - has been demoted by a manager who didn't even entered the postal service until six years after the employee was a productive supervisor. And even worse, while the manager, Ms. Marcie Luna, who had recently been demoted from area manager herself, was informing the employee of her demotion, she allegedly commented to the employee, "I just want you to see how it feels when the postal service doesn't appreciate all that you've done for them."

What!!? Is this manager actually saying that she wants the employee to suffer because she feels that she's suffered an injustice? How was the employee responsible for the manager's demotion?

In the interest of full disclosure, I became personally (but objectively) involved in this matter because I know it to be particularly egregious based on my personal knowledge of the employee involved. It also speaks directly to an issue that I've been addressing in many columns and is of particular interest to me - the negative impact of America's new business model on the middle class. So while admittedly, I know the subject of this piece personally, the facts in this case alone clearly demonstrate the business community's full-throated assault on the America middle class.

The character of the manager and agencies mandated to protect the rights of the employee is revealed through the facts in this case, but what about the character of the employee?

Employee Background

I became involved in this case when the employee, Ms. Joann Snow, was acting unusually depressed. I became immediately concerned because I've known her for over twenty-five years, and what makes her most unique WAS her bubbly, Life's-a-bowl-of-cherries-type personality. Everybody loves her - especially in her workplace. Her superiors depended upon her because of her can-do, A type personality, and her subordinates would seek her out for council, knowing she could be depended upon to do the right thing (making sure they were properly paid, for example, or doing battle on their behalf with their immediate supervisors over injustices). In addition, she would donate her vacation leave every year to employees who became ill and ran out of sick leave, because she never found the time to take a vacation herself.

This woman was so highly depended upon by her superiors and dedicated to her job that for years she was working seven days a week just to cover their backs against any oversights. And since she had been in her current position for over twenty-one years - again, probably longer in one position than any other supervisor, manger or postmaster in the United States Postal Service's Los Angeles district - when the administrators needed any kind of information, or any issue addressed, in many cases they wouldn't bother with the station manager - those people would come and go - they'd wait until after 11:00 a.m. when Ms. Snow arrived so they could address the issue with her.

A former manager said the following:

I was the Manager of Customer Service at Bicentennial Station in Los Angeles from 1997 until I retired in 2001. I was Ms Snow's manager during this time. Prior to coming to Bicentennial Station, the two previous managers, Lloyd Curtis and James Barnett had apprised me of Ms Snow's supervisory skills and total dedication to duty and company. Upon coming to the unit I was not disappointed and found all they had told me concerning Ms Snow was true.

Ms. Snow was one of my closing and weekend supervisors. She had an exceptional knowledge of the overall operation and excelled at running a difficult unit and she required little to no supervision. She could be counted on to work beyond what was normally considered an average work day without complaint. She always finished her assignments no matter how long her day was extended and this included weekends. She has excellent interpersonal skills which you need supervising the diverse workforce at Bicentennial Station. Ms Snow exceeded my expectations relative to handling my business customers and resolving complaints. In addition to all of this, Ms. Snow would routinely call the office on her scheduled off day to see how things were going and offer her assistance if needed.

Joanne Snow proved to be an invaluable asset and even now in retirement, I often think of her and thank her when I talk to her for helping make my tour at Bicentennial successful.

Eugene Jeffries

At this writing Ms Snow has voluntarily postponed a long needed vacation in order to train her own replacement so the postal service and the people they serve won't be negatively impacted by her departure. My response to that was to ask her if she was insane - but then, she lives by a different code of moral responsibility than I do.

So I think that answers the question of why our government, and particularly the postal service, is so dysfunctional. It's clear - because the wrong people are in positions of responsibility.

Regarding OIG Response

Agent Robbins handled this matter atrociously - both unprofessionally, and unethically. He also made a serious personal error. He made the mistake of thinking I was simply an employee reporting an injustice committed against a friend, which is partially true - I'm a former employee reporting an injustice committed against a friend. But I'm also a journalist.

I write a political column for several publications across the country, including the Los Angeles Sentinel and the Black Star News in New York, two of the most prestigious publications serving the Black community in the country. I'm also a staff writer for Veterans Today, a publication whose reach spans the globe. VT will be particularly interested in this case, because not only does government corruption and the assault on the middle class have a negative impact on returning veterans, but Ms. Snow's only son is a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. Thus, while he's off defending this nation, his very own government is both robbing and abusing his single mother who he's left behind at home.

In addition, the OIG is thumbing its nose at the law of the land. The federal law is clear. 18 U.S.C. § 1001 reads as follows:

Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully - (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

So I intend to do my very best to put both the postal service, and the indifference of the OIG's office, on severe blast across this country. I also intend to move hell and Earth to see to it that this issue ends up on President Obama's desk, because this sort of institutional crime is not representative of America. Both of these United States government agencies are guilty of reckless and unconscionable behavior. They are both also guilty of failing to carrying out their respective mandates to protect the rights of the American people - especially our right not to be subjected to slave labor.

And let their be no doubt about it - this is not just an isolated attack against one postal employee. This is an institutional attack on the American middle class. It is in direct response to a new business model brought on by a global economy and the new world order. So if we fail to standup as a nation and fight back, it will eventually come knocking at all of our doors.

Columnist's note - The United States Postal Service is an American institution that's older than the nation itself. It was created by Benjamin Franklin and is the only agency that was specifically mentioned in the United States Constitution.

The U.S. Postal Service is the second largest employer in the United States, and as a U.S. government agency, it should be in the very forefront of the fight for workers' rights. So the employee abuse that's going on within this agency should send a chill through every working-class person in America.

An assault on the rights of postal employees is nothing less than an assault on the United States Constitution itself. The things that are going on within the postal service represents a fundamental change in the government's attitude toward the rights of nation's workers as a whole.

There are two things that's gotten my attention. First, we have a United States agency running a plantation. And secondly, President Obama could improve the lives of over 600,000 citizens with a phone call, yet, after several White House contacts, he has not made that call. So where is that change that we're suppose to believe in? And I ask this question as one of President Obama's biggest supporters.


If you are aware of any instances of time fraud being committed by the postal service, please contact me at Giving in to fear and intimidation is not an option, because it's only going to get worse. It's time to bring this institutionalized crime against poor and middle class workers to an end. We must shine the light of day on this covert and increasingly routine business practice. As you know, it's been going on for years, and this is your chance to do something about it.

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, March 12, 2010

Is there a Method to Liz Cheney's Madness?


Is there a Method to Liz Cheney's Madness?

Many observers have found Liz and Dick Cheney's fervent crusade to ensure that President Obama define terrorists as "enemy combatants," and the fight against terrorism as a "war" on terrorism quite curious. Why would a former vice president break the long established tradition of fading into the woodwork to engage in a silly debate over semantics? Now we also have his daughter, Liz Cheney, attacking standards set down by the United States Constitution guaranteeing due process and equal protection under the law. Liz Cheney has now branded attorneys who defended 'alleged terrorists' the "Al Qaeda 7," and she's calling the United States Department of Justice - that's simply carrying out the prescription set down by the United States Constitution - "The Department of Jihad." Could there possibly be a reasonable explanation behind such radical behavior? I think there is.

The Cheneys are engaged in a preemptive strike against the Obama administration in general, and the Justice Department in particular, in order to stir up public opinion against the prospect that the Obama administration will finally decide to prosecute Dick Cheney for war crimes - as the rule of law demands. They're busily laying the groundwork to incite insurrection across this country to counter the application of the rule of law.

While the GOP is atrocious when it comes to governance, they're absolute geniuses when it comes to stirring up their base for war - and in this case, they're preparing the nation for an all out internal conflict. One can hear it in every speech as they sprinkle little gems like 'secession', 'socialist', and 'government takeover' into the political dialogue. Thus, the threat that they pose to America makes Al Qaeda pale in comparison.

They started exactly one month after President Obama entered office when on February 21, 2009, the New York Post published a cartoon portraying President Obama as a monkey being shot by the police. There was a lot of subliminal messaging in that cartoon. True to their usual method of operation, they began to dehumanized the enemy, just like they did Saddam, by portraying the enemy - President Obama in this case - as a monkey. They then show the police shooting the president in order to prevent him from pursuing what they consider an unpopular initiative. By showing the police - respected authority figures - shooting the president, that's intended to lend legitimacy to the action.

I immediately recognized what was afoot, and I pointed it out in my article, The Assassination Cartoon:

"That cartoon literally sent a message out to every deadbeat, and bigoted loser in the country that they can finally make something of themselves. They can finally find purpose in their previously miserable and lackluster lives by assassinating the President of the United States. Thus, what the New York Post is calling a meaningless joke is actually a clarion call to every bigoted fool in the United States. It says that there are people in this country who will consider you a hero if you bring violence against the president–and they know it. Can you imagine the hue and cry coming from Republicans if the New York Times had run a cartoon depicting the assassination of Ronald Reagan?"

I also pointed out that -

"We’ve had enough experience with neo-cons and radical conservatives where anyone with even an ounce of common sense recognizes that nothing is a joke with them–especially when they’re out of power. They’re dead serious, and they’re desperate. Conservative Republicans know better than anyone that considering their atrocious eight years of governance, combined with President Obama’s competence and responsible statesmanship, that the Republican Party faces an extremely bleak future. So they’ve gone to plan B, to eliminate Obama at all cost, and by any means necessary. As ugly as it seems, anyone who doesn’t recognize that reality has blinders on.

"Look at the facts. Their proven method of operation is to demonize, dehumanize, then eliminate. When the neo-cons decided to exploit Iraqi resources instead of going after Osama, as was the intent of the American people, they first began to demonize, then dehumanize Saddam Hussein–a former ally--in order to prepare the American people to accept the idea that it was necessary to take him out."

If there was any doubt about my contention, however, it should have been immediately resolved when they trotted out turncoat and perennial loser, Alan Keyes. Keys called into question President Obama's legitimacy as president. He referred to the president as "a radical communist." He went on to say, "He's [Obama] going to destroy this country and we've either got to stop him, or America will cease to exist." He also indicated that since Barack Obama wasn't legitimately the president, if something wasn't done about it we were going to end up in "civil war."

Thus, these are people are clearly without limits, and have an absolute disdain for the United States Constitution. They're only concerned with one thing - power, and that's the only thing they respect. So President Obama's inclination to compromise and appeasement is totally lost on them. All appeasement does is give the GOP the breathing room to engage in further calculation and plotting. Their strategy was clearly demonstrated in the healthcare debate. Even after the president allowed them to water down the bill, they voted against it. That's their method of operation. They're not interested it compromise - they want nothing short of complete control.

So when the president signaled Attorney General Holder that "we should look forward, not back," even though the president was obviously ignoring the rule of law to accommodate them, they didn't appreciate that. They didn't say, "Wow, this is a good guy;" they said, "This guy is weak - we're going to run all over him."

Had President Obama followed up on his campaign promise of change, on the other hand, and simply allowed the rule of law to play itself out, his entire base would still be behind him, and the Republican party wouldn't have dared engaged in the obstructionism that they are currently engaged in. First of all, politics as usual wouldn't have flown in such an environment; and secondly, the roots of Bush and Cheney's corruption undoubtedly sink so deep into the Republican party that in response to a DOJ investigation a large percentage of the GOP would be too busy trying to cover their own butts to have time obstruct the president's agenda.

During a recent debate I was having on this issue a gentleman indicated that this was no time to investigate war crimes. "President Obama has to pick his battles." While it is true that it's important for the president to pick his battles wisely, there is no battle more important to the American way of life than protecting the rule of law.

One can only wonder if the gentleman would have taken the same position if one of the charges involved the torture and murder of a member of his own family. I think not.  Thus, the day that America can turn a blind eye to the injustice and murder of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children - including our own troops - is the day this nation ceases to be America, and thus, effectively place us all in jeopardy. How long would it be before the Cheneys decide it's necessary to murder attorneys who represent people they don't like?

This goes beyond a personal or political issue. The fact is, in any democracy, maintaining the rule of law must always take priority over all else. Without the rule of law there can be no democracy, since a democracy is established by the rule of law.

After all, what's the sense of enacting healthcare reform, or any other law, if a precedent has been established that renders the rule of law meaningless?

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, March 07, 2010

Mr. President: By Refusing to Look Back, you're Jeopardizing What Lies Before Us


Mr. President: By Refusing to Look Back, You're Jeopardizing What Lies Before Us

I undoubtedly have neither the information nor wisdom to question the vast majority of your presidential decisions. But it takes neither classified information, nor wisdom, to question your decision to "move forward and not look back" regarding the Bush administration's actions leading this nation into the Iraq War, and the alleged war crimes committed thereafter.

During your inauguration you swore that to the best of your ability you would act to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Yet, your decision to circumvent the rule of law in response to the Bush administration's actions leading up to and during the War in Iraq does everything but that. Your position in this matter is diametrically opposed to one of the fundamental principles of this nation - that no one is above the law.

This is not a partisan issue, Mr. President. The concept of equal rights under the law (which also means equal consequences for the violating the law ) is both central to the United States Constitution, and a fundamental cornerstone of the American ideal. Without that concept - the concept that no man is above the law - America is no longer America. So by choosing to ignore that ideal, you're not only in violation of your oath of office, but you're striking a much more devastating blow against America than Al Qaeda could ever manage.

And I'm not speculating here. We've already seen the negative consequences of setting such a precedent. Hundreds of thousands of people have died just because we failed to hold Richard Nixon accountable for Watergate.

Had Richard Nixon been held accountable and sent to jail for Watergate, chances are Ronald Reagan wouldn't have embarked upon Iran/contra. And if Reagan had been impeached then imprisoned for his actions during the Iran/Contra episode - including flooding the inner cities of this nation with drugs (an action the Black community is still suffering from) - Bush and his cohorts would have been placed on notice that ANYONE who circumvents the laws of this land will face heavy consequences.

Thus, had Bush and Cheney known that America stood united and unequivocal in that stance, the War in Iraq probably never would have happened, which in turn would have saved the lives of thousands of American troops, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens.

One would think, Mr. President, that you would be particularly sensitive to the importance of adhering to the rule of law. While I'm in total agreement with your position that you were elected to be the president of ALL the people, there was no way you could avoid bringing the experience of the African American collective into the White House with you. That experience should inform you, in a very personal way, of the negative consequences of ignoring the rule of law.

Let me make it clear that I'm not one who subscribes to the belief that because you're a Black president that you owe Black people any more than you owe any other American. In fact, my article immediately prior to this one is in direct opposition to Tavis Smiley's position in that regard. I view Tavis Smiley's position as both self-serving and shortsighted, because the corollary of his position is that all of the White presidents who follow you owe a special alliance to White people, and as I see it, that is exactly the position that the civil rights movement was established to oppose.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't bring the knowledge and wisdom of the Black experience to bear as you carry out your job as chief executive. And part of that experience should be the wisdom to understand that this nation's failure to strictly adhere to the rule of law led directly to the lynching of Black people and the bombing of Black churches in the South. It also led to Jim Crow, rules that distorted the law of the land and were specifically designed to circumvent the law's intent.

So I sincerely hope that you will consider the historic symbolism of your position in this matter. After all of the hardships that Black people have gone through as a direct result of this nation's penchant to ignore the rule of law "for the better good," regardless to what you accomplish on behalf of this nation as president, future historians will look back upon the first Black President of the United States taking a position to ignore the law and "not look back" on the unjust murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people and thousands of American citizens, as grossly unconscionable, and a dark mark upon your presidency.

But even if you can live with that, current events clearly demonstrate that the slippery slope in which the nation has slid over the past thirty years is becoming even more steep as this column is being written. Who would have thought just a mere thirty years ago that the validity of war crimes, torture, and the blatant invasion of privacy of the American people would even be a subject for debate in this country? And who would have thought that a Vice President of the United States would be under a cloud for revealing the identity of a CIA agent, or that a corporation that he formerly headed would be guilty of providing American troops with contaminated water for profit?

And further, who would have thought a mere thirty years ago that American troops would be sent into an unnecessary war without the equipment necessary to sustain their lives, then when wounded, made to pay for the equipment that had to be cut from their body and left on the field of battle? And who would believe that this nation would then force those brave troops to pay for their own meals while lying in the hospital recuperating from their wounds in the nation's defense?

Yet, now you say let us, "not look back?" Oh no, I don't think so. I don't think that once the American people come out of the shock of the past ten years they're going to let that fly. They already sense that there's something terribly wrong with our government; they're just currently in shocked disbelief - but they'll be coming out of that shocked disbelief somewhere around the 2012 election.

In my opinion you're one of the best presidents that we've ever had in many ways, but there's only one chink in your armor - you seem to be unwilling to confront the GOP in an aggressive and forthright manner. Ordinarily that might be considered less than important, but in the current political environment it is just as serious a shortcoming as if you were reluctant to confront Al Qaeda.

The GOP leadership is a much more serious threat to the American way than Al Qaeda can ever be. While Al Qaeda is undoubtedly a physical threat to the American people, the GOP is attacking America's soul. They're attempting to alter what America is as a nation - and you're failure to address that issue is so counter- intuitive to your political base, who, after all, voted for change, that many are beginning to wonder if you're not part of the problem.

In short, Mr. President, we don't give a damn about the appearance of bipartisanship. In this case, to be bipartisan means, "Ok, let's comprise and just destroy America a little bit." You're political base - which includes Democrats, Independents, and Republicans - are not interested in that. We're looking to you to defend the American way of life, by any means necessary - period.

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, March 02, 2010

Would Tavis Smiley's 'Black Agenda' Help the Black Community, or Bring America to its Knees?


Would Tavis Smiley's 'Black Agenda' Help the Black Community,
or Bring America to its Knees?

I want to begin this column with an apology. I went completely ballistic in my last column (Urban Comedy: Tavis Smiley - A Crab Determined to Reach Beyond His Grasp). Although I feel that it was with good cause, a cooler head convinced me that even though he may agree with my sentiment, by indulging my need to rant, I did both the readers, and the publications that provide me with a platform to keep the public informed, a gross disservice, and I agree.

I don't work for Fox News, so it's not my job to ram my opinion down the readers' throats. As a responsible columnist my job is to simply present the facts, discuss what those facts represent from my point of view, then allow the readers to make up their own minds. Anything short of that is both condescending and less than informative to the reader. So again, I want to apologize. But while I apologize for admittedly falling short of professionalism in my approach, I don't retract one word of my sentiment in this matter.

On Tuesday, February23, Tavis Smiley went on Tom Joyner's Morning Show and did a commentary indicating that Rev. Al Sharpton, Ben Jealous, Charles Ogletree, Valerie Jarrett, Marc Morial, and Dr. Dorothy Height said that President Obama doesn’t need a Black agenda. In doing so he not only grossly distorted Sharpton's comment that the president didn't need to "ballyhoo" a Black agenda, but he also left the impression that President Obama was ignoring the plight of the Black community - which is blatantly untrue.

So yes, I was quite angry - and one of the things that set me off was his disingenuous self-righteousness. He said:

"I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity. This is the way I’m going. If it means suffering a little bit, I’m going that way. If it means dying for them, I’m going that way. Because I heard a voice saying, ‘Do something for others."

For a man who loves to quote scripture, he seems to have missed King James 3:14 - "But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth." One would have to be blind to believe that Tavis is less than envious of President Obama, or that he doesn't have selfish ambition in his heart. And one would have to be a fool to believe that Tavis is willing to die for the hungry. Personally, I don't see that kind of selflessness in his character. And while he may indeed be genuine about hearing voices, whose voice he's hearing should be up for serious debate.

But I was angered even more by his hypocrisy. It was clear that he requested to go on the Tom Joyner show (after giving up his spot as a regular commentator on the show well over a year earlier) to create a controversy just to promote an event that he organized in Chicago for later this month. In his commentary he said the following:

"I know 'What’s going on.' I know “We shall overcome,' but I don’t know this new tune, the president doesn’t need a Black agenda. And I’ve been hearing from other members, Tom, of our Black chorale, all across America as well, who either, like me, don’t know these new lyrics or have heard the song but ain’t down with singing it. That said, it’s time for a choir rehearsal so that we’re all singing from the same page. And so, our choir rehearsal will be held Saturday, March 20, in Chicago at 8:00 am, at Chicago State University, with Dr. Wayne Watson. Now, for all of those who can’t attend the choir rehearsal in person, this rehearsal will be broadcast[ed] on national television."

Don't forget to Mark you're calendars, now. That's Saturday, March 20, at . . .  He sounded like he was doing a used car commercial.

Tavis is also fixated on accountability, and how "he choose to identify with the underprivileged," yet, as I pointed out two years ago in my article, The 2008 State of The Black Union, while he may choose to identify with the underprivileged, he hangs out with the heads of corporations - and you're known by the company you keep:

". . . how accountable is it to produce a show called The State of the Black Union then sponsor it with companies that are largely responsible for the very conditions that you're complaining about? One of the sponsors was Allstate Insurance–a company that is alleged to have denied the claims of thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims. One victim, Michael Homan, alleges that Allstate denied his claim based on their position that Katrina wasn't windy enough. Another sponsor was Exxon/Mobile–a company that's raking in record profits while many Black people have to flip a coin to decide whether they're going to eat or put enough gas in their car to get to work. Wal-Mart was another sponsor–a company that's committed to blocking collective bargaining, providing their employees fair wages and healthcare, who destroy jobs by running other businesses out of the community and purchasing their merchandise from outside the United States, and who humiliate their customers by searching them before they leave the store."

Is that accountability? Does it sound like any of those companies are committed to a Black agenda? It sure doesn't sound like it to me, and I'm a mere heathen who's not willing to die for any cause. As a former Marine I was taught that we don't willingly die for anything - boot camp 101. "A Marine only dies, because he failed to duck.

I was also angry with Tavis because he's preaching to the Black community through ignorance. He's trying to lead Black people while he himself is obviously ignorant of history. He seems to be completely unaware of the fact that Richard Nixon also had a Black agenda. Nixon was the president who signed affirmative action into being, and when he did it, he had his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek.

Prior to AA we had a thriving civil rights movement. Not only Blacks, but thousands of whites were out marching with Martin Luther King, demanding equal opportunity for Blacks people.

Then President Nixon said, Ok, they want to fight for the rights of Black people, let's see how they feel when I allow Blacks to start taking their jobs and replacing their kids in the universities - and his scheme to undermine the Black movement worked like a charm.

While we were busy celebrating our shortsighted "victory," our victory led to USC v. Bakke, the emergence of Ronald Reagan, and White folks flooding into the Republican Party in droves. These people were far from racists, but it's human nature to protect one's own interest. Thus, Bakke's lawsuit against affirmative action brought White support for the civil rights movement to a screeching halt, and led directly to Ronald Reagan and the Republican era.

And what did we get in return? The only people in the Black community that benefitted were those who needed the help least. The cream of the crop was skimmed out of the community and went to work for large corporations. And with them, they took all of the talent, imagination, entrepreneurial skills, role models, and jobs. That, in turn, left young Black people with no one to look up to in the community but drug dealers.

Then thirty years later Barack Obama arrived on the scene, and the GOP was caught completely off guard. They were shocked. Where did he come from? But more importantly, where did all these people come from who're willing to vote for a Black man for president?

I'll tell you where they came from. Those were young Whites, and the closet moderates and progressives that fled the Democratic Party during the Affirmative Action era. They were so anxious for a change from the GOP that they got behind Obama even before Black people saw the light - that's why I'm so critical of Obama for failing to firmly initiate the change that he promised, an accommodation to the GOP that may, indeed, lead to his downfall.

But while I strongly disagree with his policy to be less than firm with the GOP, Obama is a very astute and intelligent man, so he's not about to listen to the rantings of Tavis Smiley. He understands history, and he's not about to make the same mistake twice.

Affirmative Action was a wonderful initiative, but as a result of it, the Black community was bamboozled into making the biggest political mistake in modern history - allowing AA to be based on race rather than need. Had it been based on need, it's roots would have reached down into the Black community to those who needed it most. It would have also included poor Whites, which would have prevented the GOP from using it as a weapon against us.

So as a direct result of the very kind of policy that Tavis Smiley is advocating, the GOP was able to turn AA into a liability for the Democratic Party that destroyed the most effective progressive coalition that this country has ever known. It was AA that allowed the GOP to turn the term "liberal" into a curse word in the political lexicon.

AA was also used to create Judases like Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele, and Alan Keyes - and they're not the only ones. Anyone who has ever worked in a major corporation or a government agency knows that these Judases are sprinkled throughout our workforce. As we speak, I'm investigating a piece on the Los Angeles District of the U.S. Postal Service where I have absolute proof that minorities (including veterans) are being forced under the threat of losing their job to work as much as a half day (daily) without pay.

Think about that - I have proof that Blacks and Hispanics who have risen to positions of authority due to Affirmative Action are now being used, and given huge bonuses, as overseers in a United States Government agency to enforce slave labor in the twenty first century! It's been going on for years (I have documented proof of that as well), and the unions and the Inspector General's Office know about it (also documented), and they're doing absolutely nothing about it.

So yes, I'm angry, because Tavis is a corporate tool and manipulator. While he's trying to keep the people focused on the last war in order to promote his own interests, the powers that be have moved on to a class war. They don't care any more about poor White folks than they do Black people - the healthcare debate should demonstrate that to anyone with any sense at all. Sen. Joe Lieberman just told the White folks of Connecticut to go to Hell.

So if the people would open their eyes they'd see that Tavis' self-serving nonsense is an unnecessary distraction. Blacks, and Whites, are now under the gun. So this is no time to be distracted by a self-serving wannabe. He's not one of us, the poor and middle class struggling to survive - he's made a few dollars. His chumminess with Walmart and those who oppress us clearly demonstrates that he's one of them. But don't take my word for it - ask the people of Inglewood, Ca. whose agenda he promoted during their battle with Walmart.

Obviously, the only thing that will satisfy Tavis and his cohorts is for President Obama to throw his fist in the air every time they play Hail to the Chief.  While Tavis is demagogueing the issue to promote his own agenda, here's what the president is doing for ALL of the people, including the Black community:

- Spur Job Creation: “In addition, to help those most affected by the recession, the Budget will extend emergency assistance to seniors and families with children, Unemployment Insurance benefits, COBRA tax credits, and relief to states and localities to prevent layoffs.”

- Reforming the Job Training System: “The Budget calls for reform of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which supports almost 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers nationwide and a range of other services. With $6 billion for WIA at DOL—and an additional $4 billion in the Department of Education—the Budget calls for reforms to improve WIA.” Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement: “To strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, religious, and gender discrimination, the Budget includes an 11 percent increase in funding to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. This investment will help the Division handle implementation of a historic new hate crimes law. The Budget also provides an $18 million, or 5 percent increase, for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This increased investment will allow for more staff to reduce the backlog of private sector charges.”

- Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities: “The Budget proposes $642 million, an increase of $30 million over the 2010 level, to support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition to this discretionary funding increase for MSIs, the Administration supports legislation passed by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate that would provide $2.55 billion in mandatory funding to MSIs over 10 years.”

- Help Families Struggling with Child Care Costs: “The Budget will nearly double the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle-class families making under $85,000 a year by increasing their credit rate from 20 percent to 35 percent of child care expenses. Nearly all eligible families making under $115,000 a year would see a larger credit. The Budget also provides critical support for young children and their families by building on historic increases provided in ARRA. The Budget provides an additional $989 million for Head Start and Early Head Start to continue to serve 64,000 additional children and families funded in ARRA.”

- Reform Elementary and Secondary School Funding: “The Budget supports the Administration’s new vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) … The Budget provides a $3 billion increase in funding for K-12 education programs authorized in the ESEA, including $900 million for School Turnaround Grants, and the Administration will request up to $1 billion in additional funding if Congress successfully completes ESEA reauthorization.”

- Increase Pell Grants: “The Recovery Act and 2009 appropriations bill increased the maximum Pell Grant by more than $600 for a total award of $5,350. The Budget proposes to make that increase permanent and put them on a path to grow faster than inflation every year, increasing the maximum grant by $1,000, expanding eligibility, and nearly doubling the total amount of Pell grants since the President took office.”

- Help Relieve Student Loan Debt: “To help graduates overburdened with student loan debt, the Administration will strengthen income-based repayment plans for student loans by reducing monthly payments and shortening the repayment period so that overburdened borrowers will pay only 10 percent of their discretionary income in loan repayments and can have their remaining debt forgiven after 20 years. Those in public service careers will have their debt forgiven after 10 years. The Budget also expands low-cost Perkins student loans.”

- Prevent Hunger and Improve Nutrition: “The President’s Budget provides $8.1 billion for discretionary nutrition program supports, which is a $400 million increase over the 2010 enacted level. Funding supports 10 million participants in the WIC program, which is critical to the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants. The Budget also supports a strong Child Nutrition and WIC reauthorization package that will ensure that school children have access to healthy meals and to help fulfill the President’s pledge to end childhood hunger. The President continues to support the nutrition provisions incorporated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).”

- Revitalize Distressed Urban Neighborhoods: “The Budget includes $250 million for HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program, which will target neighborhoods anchored by distressed public or assisted housing with physical and social revitalization grounded in promising, measurable, and evidence-based strategies.”

- Increase Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program: “The President’s Budget requests $19.6 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program to help more than two million extremely low income families with rental assistance to live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice. The Budget continues funding for all existing mainstream vouchers and provides flexibility to support new vouchers that were leased and $85 million in special purpose vouchers for homeless families with children, families at risk of homelessness, and persons with disabilities.”

- Preserve 1.3 Million Affordable Rental Units through Project-Based Rental Assistance Program: “The President’s Budget provides $9.4 billion for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program to preserve approximately 1.3 million affordable rental units through increased funding for contracts with private owners of multifamily properties. This critical investment will help low-income households to obtain or retain decent, safe and sanitary housing. In addition, the Administration requests $350 million to fund the first phase of this multi-year initiative to regionalize the Housing Choice Voucher program and convert Public Housing to project-based vouchers.”

- Promote Affordable Homeownership and Protect Families from Mortgage Fraud: “The Budget requests $88 million for HUD to support homeownership and foreclosure prevention through Housing Counseling and $20 million to combat mortgage fraud. In addition, the Budget requests $250 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation’s (NRC) grant and training programs. Of the $250 million, $113 million is requested for foreclosure prevention activities, a $48 million increase (74 percent) over 2010.”

- Fight Gang Violence and Violent Crime: “The Budget provides $112 million for place-based, evidence supported, initiatives to combat violence in local communities, including $25 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiatives that aim to reduce gun and other violence among youth gangs in cities and towns across the country, and $37 million for the Attorney General’s Children Exposed to Violence Initiative, which targets the youth most affected by violence and most susceptible to propagating it as they grow up.”

- Expand Prisoner Re-entry Programs: “The Budget provides $144 million for Department Justice prisoner re-entry programs, including an additional $100 million for the Office of Justice Programs to administer grant programs authorized by the Second Chance Act and $30 million for residential substance abuse treatment programs in State and local prisons and jails. In addition, the Budget provides $98 million for Department of Labor programs that provide employment-centered services to adult and youth ex-offenders and at-risk youth..”

- Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant Program: “The Budget provides $4.4 billion for the Community Development Fund, including $3.99 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Formula Program (CDBG), and $150 million for the creation of a Catalytic Investment Competition Grants program. The new Catalytic Competition Grants program uses the authorities of CDBG, but will provide capital to bring innovative economic development projects to scale to make a measurable impact.”

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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