Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let Us Put an End to Poor and Middle-Class Abuse


Let Us Put an End to Poor and Middle-Class Abuse

A journalist should never get personally involved in a story. He should simply record the facts, or in my case, comment on what is taking place. But what if he's covering a story and observe a child drowning, do journalistic ethics require him to just stand there and record the event? I don't think so. Well, as I see it, American workers are drowning, and I have no intention of just standing by and watching it happen.

I thought my activist days were behind me. But as a creature of the 60's, it's just not in my nature to turn my back on injustice and the exploitation of the weak. Thus, in last week's column I mentioned the creation of CARMA (Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse). CARMA is currently building it's database, but once we've attained sufficient numbers to make an impact on the system, we're going to lay OUR law down on the political establishment - and that means BOTH political parties.

While the Republican Party is undoubtedly guilty of obstructionism, the Democratic Party is equally guilty of allowing it to happen. Both parties are engaged in a game of "good-cop-bad-cop" in order to maintain the status quo. The Republican party is doing everything it can to undermine the interest of the working class, then the Democrats will throw us a bone and come back wringing their hands saying, "Well, we tried - can you send us a little more money?"

That's a bunch of crap. They're not trying, and that's what's got everybody up in arms. The only time they've managed to come to a nonpartisan consensus was in the decision to bail out Wall Street. When it comes to addressing the needs of the American people, however, they haggle for months until the bill is watered down to nothing.

Congress was whining over the impact of extending unemployment for 26 weeks to jobless Americans. They complained that it would add $33.9 Billion to the deficit. Yet, they're fighting to extend Bush's tax cut for the richest 2% of the population, which, in its entirety, will add $4.4 TRILLION to the deficit. They also just authorized $37 billion to go shoot at rocks in Afghanistan - and that's in spite of the fact that a DOD audit indicates that $8.7 billion simply disappeared in Iraq.

And where do you think all of those dollars went? Well, here's a hint. The bottom 50% of the nation's population now only own 1% of the nation's wealth. So, I don't know about you, but it's clear to me where these "Houdini funds" ended up, and it's also clear to me why so many in congress insist on keeping these wars raging - and all on the back of the poor and middle class, I might a add.

The richest 2% of this country have a great scam going for themselves. The poor and the middle class provide all the sacrifice, while the rich reap all the benefits. Our tax money is funding the wars and our children are providing the human cannon fodder, while the rich are reaping windfall profits and we're paying their taxes. Then, as the most ironic of all ironies, they call us greedy socialists when we ask for a crumb to feed our families. What a scam!

But we're no longer going to play that game. If congress can't manage to carry out its responsibility to the American people with integrity, we need a different group of people in congress. So CARMA is designed to be a different kind of organization. Unlike many organizations, our primary reason for existence is getting results, not raising money. We're only about raising three things - raising voices, raising votes, and raising hell. We don't need your money, because we're not going to give politicians a penney of bribe money. They're already being paid - in fact, much more than they're worth. So we're going to MAKE them do their jobs. If they don't, we're getting rid of them with the use of pure and unmitigated human outrage.

It wasn't money that made the administration so anxious to fire Shirley Sherrod that they made her pull over on the side of the road, it was the administration's weak-kneed fear of public outrage. They were afraid that Glenn Beck was going to call the administration racist. Then after the true facts were revealed, it wasn't money that had the administration crawling back to Ms. Sherrod trying to apologize - it was that very same weak-kneed fear of bad publicity.

If it were not for the fear of public outrage Shirley Sherrod would be at home licking the wounds of her injustice and trying to file an EEO like the thousands of gainfully employed postal workers who are literally being robbed of their wages with impunity on a daily basis.  So the Sherrod episode clearly demonstrates what this political system is all about. It demonstrates that in order to obtain justice in this country it's not enough to simply be right, you must also have the ability to become a political embarrassment. In short, the only ones who can expect a change they can believe in are those with the clout to make it a change that they can demand - and that's what CARMA is about, gaining the attention of the corporate press and shining a light upon injustice. Only then will the rest of America's workers receive the immediate justice that Ms. Sherrod had the good fortune to enjoy.

Thus, CARMA is convinced that we can have an impact on this corrupt system with just the clout of human capital alone - with the raised voices and focused outrage of dedicated activists. If we can grow our numbers enough to gain the attention of the corporate media and make enough noise to get the attention of the average voter, all the corporate money in the world will be rendered meaningless.

So please, urge all of the sincere activists among family, friends, and associates to join this effort to bring focus to our mutual concerns. We can do this! - and we're going to do it.

We don't need one voice speaking for millions; we need millions speaking with one voice.

Eric L. Wattree
CARMA on Facebook

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, July 25, 2010

Jews, Zionism, and the Stupidity of Bigotry


Jews, Zionism, and the Stupidity of Bigotry

I guess I'm going to have to retrace my steps, yet again. Last week I reprise an article on Zionism (Maybe I'm Dumb, but Could Somebody Please Tell Me the Difference Between Zionism and Racism?).  Due to a response to the article by a young Black man the first time it ran, I found it necessary to write a follow-up article the following week. That seems to be necessary once again:

I try to Avoid addressing the same issue in consecutive columns - that's my only defense against my natural tendency to be tedious and predictable. But this past weekend a young man, let's call him Rob, came up to me and said, "Brother, I got to give you props - you really stuck it to those damn Jews last week." As soon as the words came out of his mouth I knew I had to clarify my message by revisiting the issue of Zionism. I didn't have the time, at that moment, to stand there in front of the store and explain to the young man that my article wasn't against Jews, but on the other hand, I wanted to make sure that he understood the distinction between hating a philosophy, and hating a people. So I asked the young man to be sure to pickup the following week's paper because I was going to write an article especially, and specifically, for him. So Rob, as promised, this one's for you - and I sincerely hope that God gives me the skill to make my point.

Rob, while my last article had to do with a segment of Judaism, it wasn't intended as a diatribe against Jews. I'm not against Jews, or any other group of people. I'm against various behaviors.

It would be a pity to go through the pain and suffering that Black people have experience in America and not come out the other end with at least some measure of wisdom. One would think that we would have learned through the blood, sweat, and tears that we've shed, that trying to paint any group of people with the same broad brush, whether it's to say that they're all good, or they're all bad, is not only the height of stupidity, but is the very mindset that has caused Black people so much misery here in America. How can I claim to detest racism, only to turn around an embrace that very same ignorant philosophy?

No, I'm not against Jews, I'm against the injustice of Zionism - a philosophy which dictates that one group of people are entitled to the land of another by virtue of their religious beliefs alone. But while I argue passionately that Zionism is a gross and unjust philosophy, I always keep in mind that all Jews are not Zionists. In fact, many Jews are more adamantly opposed to Zionism than non-Jews.

It's important to recognize that fact, because efficient thought requires that we always recognize subtle distinctions. While knowledge is power, knowledge can only yield its power when combined with the wisdom of truth. Evident of that is the fact that one of the most prolific problems that we have in this vast world filled with knowledge, is our tendency to circumvent that knowledge through thinking with our brain stems. Instead using our higher cognitive abilities and taking the time to be precise in our thinking, we find it easier to lob preconceived generalizations at every problem - and more often than not, those generalizations cater to the very darkest side of our nature. Look at what we're doing with our knowledge in the Middle East. Instead of using that knowledge to enhance the quality of life for all of humanity, we're using it to spread death and destruction around the entire world.

We've got to learn to stop thinking in terms of Black and White, Jew and Gentile, or whether a person is Gay or Straight. As long as we think in those terms and continue to antagonize one another, we sabotage every opportunity to form coalitions to fight for our common good. That's why people like Bush, Cheney, and much of the GOP crowd thrive in a hostile environment. They love keeping us ignorant, because ignorance keeps us divided, and that very division allow them to step in and conquer all of our hopes and dreams as a people. It is a must, therefore, that we develop the wisdom to understand that there are only two kinds of people in this world - good people, and bad people.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Black people forget their history and engage in a rousing chorus of Kumbaya, that would be fool hearty. But it behooves Black people to not only understand, but remember, that while malevolent White men did indeed place us in shackles, it was malevolent Black men who made us available to be shackled. We must also recognize that we commit a gross injustice by forgetting the sacrifice, and the families, of the thousands of White men of good character who gave their lives to unlock those shackles.

So while we witness the horror and atrocities that the state of Israel is committing against the Palestinian people and we lean toward condemning all Jews, we must keep in mind men like Joel Elias Spingarn, also a Jew, and a prominent literary figure of his time. He not only gave great support to the Harlem Renaissance, but helped W.E.B. DuBois to establish the NAACP as a driving force for change in America. Spingarn also established the Spingarn Medal in 1913 - and to this day it's awarded annually for Excellence in African American Achievement. So as we're formulating our opinions about Jews, we should remember this man and many others who made great contributions to the African American people.

Spingarn was Chairman of the Board of the NAACP from 1913 until his death in 1939. We should also keep in mind that during that period the NAACP board was predominantly Jewish - W.E.B. DuBois was the only Black man on the Board of Directors. In fact, the NAACP didn't elect its first Black president until 1975. Think about that.

But it's become less than politically correct to bring up issues such as these - probably because many of us are afraid of becoming associated with Black opportunist, turncoats, and White apologists like Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes, Larry Elder, and the like. But it's important that we keep these facts in mind and pass them down as part of our history. Facts such as these represent valuable knowledge to our youth. It's a source of knowledge to young people that says - as the three misguided Black men mentioned above clearly atest - everybody that looks like you is not your brother, and conversely, everybody that doesn't look like you is not your enemy.

That's an invaluable lesson, not only for Black people, but for all of America, because we will never truly overcome until all people of good faith come together as a coalition - and that will never happen until we begin to recognize that true brotherhood is not of the skin, but of the soul.

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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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Maybe I'm Dumb, but Could Somebody Please Tell Me the Difference Between Zionism and Racism?


Maybe I'm Dumb, but Could Somebody Please Tell Me the Difference Between Zionism and Racism?

I'm about to do something that I generally make it a point to avoid - discuss the collective nature of White folks. The reason I make it a point to avoid this subject is because I don't want to add to the disinformation disseminated by many Black racists (oh yes, racists come in Black too) that there is something more intrinsically evil in White people than there is in any other racial group.

The fact is, as humans, just as intellect is distributed equally across our species, so is malevolence. We all have a tendency to be self-serving and corrupt given half a chance. The only difference between White people and any other group is that they have the power, thus opportunity, to reflect that side of their nature - and to anyone who wants to challenge my assertion in that regard, I invite you to witness the Black-on-Black mayhem that's currently taking place on the continent of Africa. Or take the police out of the Black communities of America and see the level of enlightenment that prevails - it would be the survival of the fittest within a week.

So it seems that the common trait shared by all those who tend to be inhumane and corrupt is neither race, creed, nor color. What they all have in common is power, opportunity, and greed. And let there be no doubt, that's the source of all of the turmoil in the Middle-East - the power, opportunity, and greed of Israel and the American military/industrial complex.

But whenever anyone seeks to examine this issue they're immediately met with hysterical charges of being either unpatriotic, anti-Semitic, or both. So while everyone is aware of the problem, we tend to turn a blind eye to it.

This is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed, because due to our failure to do so, American troops are dying, the United States treasury is being looted, and the entire world is being placed at risk. So enough with all of the name-calling and accusations. Israel's behavior needs to be scrutinized just like any other country in the world.

Pure, objective, and unadulterated truth is not nearly as complicated or elusive as we try to make it seem in this country. But since truth doesn’t lend itself to being Black, White, Jew, or Gentile, when the truth comes up less than a perfect fit to our carefully constructed comfort zone, we tend to beat, distort, and convolute it into a more comfortable fit. In the process, however, we do ourselves a gross injustice, because no matter how you distort it, truth will always prevail in the end. That is the source of most of our problems in this world. We all seek to distort the truth in a way that is most palatable to our special interest - and this problem is magnified by the fact that our writers, political pundits, and politicians have a natural tendency to seek applause and self-interest over truth. But if we’re indeed dependent on the truth to set us free, let us not doom ourselves to a life of death, carnage, and intellectual bondage by living a lie.

And the truth is, our poor and middle-class young people are being wooed by slick government commercials to become cannon fodder in a war for profit. But young people, take it from an old Marine, it’s all a lie. They're only showing you the benefits and upside of military life, with standing proud and strong in your spotless uniform at home, with all the girls looking at you with admiring eyes. They’re not showing you the real picture, of you lying in 120 degree heat in agony thousands of miles from home, bleeding to death from the stub that use to be your leg, or looking at your foot in a bloody boot twenty-five yards away from where the rest of you lay dying. They’re being criminally remiss in not showing you that side of military life.

Now, don't get the impression that I’m a pacifist, or hate the military, however - I’m not. There IS a time when war is justified, but this ain’t it. You know it’s time to go to war when you’re prepared to see your own love ones become it’s first casualty, but it's abundantly clear that no one in our government has reached that point as yet. If they had, they'd be encouraging their kids to enlist.

Where is Liz Cheney, or the Bush girls? They can drive a truck. But no, not on your life - they're idea of patriotism is cheering on the dying "little people" from the lobby of exclusive tennis courts. So be all you can be, but don’t be a fool. You won’t be fighting for your country, you’ll be fighting for Exxon and Halliburton's collusion with Israel to rob the people of the Middle East, and gouge the American taxpayer.

The truth is, the dispute over Israel is nothing less than "The Manifest Destiny" being reenacted. When the Europeans came to America and began to strip the indigenous people of their land, they justified their unholy atrocities by declaring that it was God’s will that they settle and bring his word to this "uncivilized land"– it was their manifest destiny. So in true civilized, Christian fashion, they began to spread the Holy word of God through the hot muzzle of a Gatlin gun. It was a brutally unconscionable and gruesome event, but what could these good Christians do? After all, it was God’s will that they slaughter those "Godless savages." That is the exact same scenario that is currently taking place in the Middle East today. It began with the "creation" of the state of Israel in 1948, and the campaign continues as I speak - but this time, it’s called Zionism.

In 1882, while Jews were being massacred throughout Russia, Leo Pinsker, the founder of the Zionist movement, published a small booklet entitled "Auto-emancipation". It pointed out that Jews would never find equality in Russia, so it was necessary for world Jewry to establish their own homeland. At first he didn’t care where it was located - in fact, the area encompassing Zaire, Africa was even considered. But later, Pinsker recognized that in order to get Jews to immigrate in numbers large enough to establish a homeland, he needed a location that would inspired the Jewish soul, and no location in the world would suit that purpose like Palestine, the land of Zion - "the land that God had promised the Jews." The fact that there were indigenous people already living in Palestine never even crossed his mind.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Zionism as follows: "Zionism: An organized movement of world Jewry that arose in Europe in the late 19th century with the aim of reconstituting a Jewish state in Palestine. Modern Zionism is concerned with the development and support of the state of Israel."

Thus, Zionism, by definition and design, is a doctrine dedicated to the taking of Palestine - and on May 14, 1948, European Jews did just that. Between 1944 and 1948, due to their experience with the Nazi’s, Eastern European Jews wanted to get off the European continent by any means necessary, so various Zionist organizations created the Bariha (escape) Organization that helped close to 200,000 Jews to leave Europe and settle in Palestine. Prior to that time, in July of 1922, the League of Nations (the progenitor of the United Nations) gave Great Britain a mandate to protect the people of Palestine, but on November 29, 1947 when the U. N. General Assembly passed a resolution to partition off Palestine between the Arabs and Jews, Great Britain announced that it was terminating its mandate. The end of the British mandate was to go into effect on May 15, 1948, but on May 14, 1948 the Zionists declared the creation of Israel, a Jewish state.

But in order for the new State of Israel to have any legitimacy it had to be recognized by the United States. The U.S. State Department was less than enthusiastic about creating a Jewish state in Palestine, but shortly after President Truman took office, European Zionist, Chaim Weizmann, convinced the president that it was only just that the survivors of the holocaust would be given their own homeland. Truman agreed, and recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, and all hell’s been breaking loose every since.

The Israeli-American alliance was a match made in Hell from the very outset - they didn’t even trust each other. One of the largest units in the CIA is dedicated to the prevention of Israeli spying on the United States, and one of the biggest spy scandals in U.S. history involved an Israeli spy name Jonathan Pollard, an American of Jewish descent, born in Galveston, Texas. But in spite of that, Israel receives more U.S. foreign aid than any other country in the world, and we’ve made them one of the most formidable military forces in the world. The reason for that?--oil.

Israel stands as an extension of the United States in the Middle East, within easy striking distance of Middle Eastern oil fields. So what we have in the Middle East is an unholy quid pro quo -The United States will help the Israelis steal Arab land, and the Israelis will help the United States steal the oil beneath the land.

So the Israeli claim that their slaughter of the Arab people is simply an attempt to defend themselves is nothing but a farce. Granted, when someone invades your home you do have a right to retaliate against them, but Europeans have about as much right to call Israel their home as I’d have of tearing off a part of China simply because I converted to Buddhism.

Far be it from me, however, to say who’s a Jew and who’s not, but I think we can all agree that European Jews are not the same Jews that were spoken of in the Bible. But, of course, you’re not suppose to even whisper such sentiments here in America. To say that European Jews don’t belong in Israel, or to speak out on any atrocity that the State of Israel might commit, is considered anti Semitic in this country. But even that’s a farce. There’s a big difference between being anti Semitic and anti Zionist. To be anti Semitic is to be against a people, while being anti-Zionist is to be against a philosophy. After all, all Jews are not Zionist. But there’s another issue here as well. How can you be anti Semitic towards Europeans? They aren’t even Semites.

The situation above describes exactly why we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Thus, all of the killing in the Middle East is about European hubris, injustice, and greed. The entire justification for Europeans being in the Middle East at all, is based on a lie - and that includes Europeans by way of America.

How can you go into your neighbor’s home and kill his family, then call him the aggressor? And now they’re talking about invading Iran! It’s all about racism and greed. Think about it-- as bad as the Germans and Russians treated the Jews over the years, you’d think the Jews would have been given part of one of those countries. If they’d done that, European Jews wouldn’t have even had to leave home. But White folks don’t play that - no matter how much they hate each other.

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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Monday, July 19, 2010

Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)


Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
It's Time to Fight Back

It is time for poor and Middle-class workers to start fighting back. The corporate community has become increasingly prone to take shortcuts on safety, create hostile work environments, undercutting and even stealing wages from gainfully employed workers in the name of grossly obscene profits.

These unconscionable practices in the name of ever more profits are not only having a negative impact on the quality of life of the poor and middle-class, but often, literally, sacrifice their very lives, as we've seen in an increasing number of cases, as in the coal mine disaster in Kentucky that took the lives of 29 coal miners, and the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico less than a month later, that took the lives of 11 oil workers.  Both of these "accidents" were avoidable, and due to reckless penny-pinching by the corporations.

What the corporate community is calling "unfortunate accidents" are not accidents at all. They're actually the corporate community's reckless response to the new global economy - and it's having a devastating impact on the American middle-class standard of living, and an even worse impact on the poor.

What we once thought of as American corporations have now become international in scope. They have no loyalty to any one nation, nor do they have any respect for any geographical boundary. They're now competing with countries that pay their workers less per week than many American workers spend on lunch per day. As a result, the American middle-class standard of living has become a liability and is under an aggressive assault by both the corporate and governmental establishment.

Something has to be done, so in response to this attack on our quality of life I've recently become associated with three gentlemen who share my belief that it is essential that the middle-class beat back this assault by every means at our disposal. These gentlemen include the following:

  • Lewis Maltby: Attorney, author (Can They Do That?), and former president of the worker's Rights Division of the ACLU. Lew is also current president of the National Workrights Institute.

  • Dr. Steve Musacco: Therapist, author (Beyond Going Postal), occupational psychologist, and 30-year veteran of the postal service, retired. Steve was involved in the development and implementation of both the Voice of the Employee Program and the Employee Assistance Program for the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Rick Owens: Publisher of the Postal Employee Network. Rick's publication reaches the workforce of the postal service's 600,000 employees.

  • My name is Eric Wattree. I'm an author (A Message From the Hood), and I write a political column called Beneath the Spin. My column is carried in the Los Angeles Sentinel, New York's Black Star News, and several other publications in America's heartland. I'm also a staff writer for Veterans Today - a publication that is global in scope.
We've come together to establish a non-partisan organization called CARMA (Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse). We're currently in the process of developing a database to increase our numbers. We intend to consolidate and flex the political clout of poor and middle-class workers in a way that will be impossible for politicians, unions, and the corporate media to ignore. We also intend to use our clout to address the reckless assault on the poor and middle-class through both political action, and in the courts.

We intend to take no prisoners, nor give any group a pass based on political concerns, be they corporations, unions, or politicians. So we urge every American worker to become part of this important effort to defend poor and middle-class workers. If maintaining or enhancing your standard of living is important to you, please contact the e-mail address below and become a part of our database. If you're already a part of our database, please distribute this message to your family, friends, and neighbors.

We don't need one voice speaking for millions; we need millions speaking with one voice.

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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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wake up, Mr. President - The GOP has Launched a Jihad Against America


Wake up, Mr. President - The GOP has Launched a Jihad Against America
We all know you're a nice guy, Mr. President, but this is a seminal moment in American history. The Republican Party has revealed themselves to be the American Taliban. They're inciting insurrection, protecting corporate corruption, denying unemployed Americans subsistence, and they threaten to cripple the nation as a whole with their irresponsible use of the filibuster. The Republican agenda is to keep America ignorant and miserable at any cost. So at this point we don't need nice, we don't need bipartisanship, and we don't need a diplomat. What we need at this point in our history is a Commander-in-Chief to lead us in the fight against Republican tyranny. So it's time to suck it up and "fix bayonets," sir.

The Republican Party is a coalition of three separate constituencies with confluent interests. The first group is made up of traditional conservatives. These are highly patriotic Americans who believe in limited government, the primacy of the people over government, and fiscal responsibility. But the other two groups that have coalesced within the GOP are much more malevolent - international business interests, and social bigots.

It is the former of these two, international business, that controls the GOP. It's made up of highly educated individuals with huge resources and plenty of clout - and they use every bit of their resources and clout to manipulate what has become their citizen army - the social bigots. The social bigots are the people we see armed to the teeth at presidential speeches, disrupting townhall meetings, and fighting against their own interests. In short, these are the "Joe the Plumbers" of the world.

While the traditional conservatives are legitimately concerned about the direction of the country and assuring that the nation remains fiscally sound, big business could care less about the condition of the American people, because for the most part, they've become international in scope. That should be clear to anyone with eyeballs, considering how they first, created an economic crisis in this country, then used the very crisis that they created to gouge the American people.

So all big business is concerned about is making money at our expense, and more often than not, to our detriment. These are the very same people who have gouged America dry, given themselves huge bonuses, then rented post office boxes in other countries to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

And if that isn't bad enough, these corporations then used the very money that they avoided in taxes to buy politicians, who are suppose to be representing us, to feather their nests even further. They're also using the incredible wealth that they've managed to maintain - again, thanks to our tax dollars - to clog our airwaves with propaganda in order to incite every undereducated social bigot within earshot to near insurrection. They're using these people to distract us from examining the true issues that would serve to protect us from their greed.

And the social bigots are easy targets - not only because they have less than a tenuous grasp on reality, but in many cases, they're willing stooges. These are not true victims. Due to their bigotry - and I don't mean simply racial bigotry, but bigotry against anyone who doesn't happen to share their beliefs - and anger over losing the last election, they're willing to accept any kind of nonsense disseminated about the government, and you, Mr. President, in particular. Due to that blind anger they're perfectly willing to not only accept the most blatant nonsense, but they're also willing to cut their own throats, and that of their families, if it means striking a blow in the name hatred.

Take the issue of socialism, for example. Shouldn't even the most misguided idiot understand that there's a big difference between the government protecting its citizens from the greed and predatory business practices of large corporations, and their claim that government is taking over the free enterprise system?

Even a child should recognize that some things are just too important to our society to be left to for-profit business interests. Those things include police, fire, national defense, and public healthcare. Imagine calling the police to report your daughter has been raped or kidnaped and the police inform you that they were sorry but there was nothing they could do - your daughter just turned 18, so she's no longer covered in your rape/kidnap policy.

But the social bigots can't see that - they don't want to see it - because they've been whipped into a mindless frenzy by the corporate media. Yes, I said mindless - anyone who can be convinced to demonize the very person who is trying to protect THEIR families from corporations that just two years earlier came close to gouging them into another Great Depression, is by definition, ignorant and brainwashed.

That's a dangerous level of stupidity, Mr. President, and it is essential that you recognize that fact. You simply cannot be reasonable with people like that. Neville Chamberlain tried it prior to WWII. It didn't work then, and it's not gonna work now.

So you need to drop this (I'm sorry, Mr. President) irrational need to cater to these people. Yeah, I said it - irrational. That's why you're dropping in the polls. You're putting so much effort into catering to people that you'll never win over that you're allowing them to dilute legislation that they have no intention of voting for, and they're causing you to turn your back on the people who elected you.

Yes, Mr. President, you've accomplished a great deal in your short tenure - probably more than any other president in modern times. But unfortunately, you're also being judged on what you're FAILING to do. For example, Bush and Cheney should be under indictment for war crimes by now. You simply cannot sidestep your failure to act in this area. This is not a political issue where there's room for debate. This issue represents the rule of law, and the rule of law is THE most important component in any democracy. You're a constitutional scholar - you should know that.

You promised us a change we could believe in, Mr. President, but frankly, I ain't feeling it. So as Duke Ellington used to say, "We love you madly," but your falling poll numbers is our way of telling you, this ain't what we voted for.

So suck it up, my man, and be all that you can be.

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, July 10, 2010

Postal Service Gets Break, Union Officials Get Paid, And Workers Get the Shaft - Again


The following report comes directly from an audit by the Office of Inspector General. It was released on July 1, 2010. Further comment is not required. It speaks for itself:

"We also found that union representatives received excessive payments from grievance settlements. Union representatives in four districts (Colorado/Wyoming, Alabama, Mid-America, and Capital) were involved with the allocation of class-action grievance settlements for six grievances that resulted in union representatives receiving payments that were significantly more than other members of the class. Specifically, union representatives received $33,447 (or 24 percent) of $141,639 in settlements for these six grievances. One union representative in the Mid-America District received as much as 35 percent of a grievance settlement, while other payees received less than 1 percent.

"This occurred because the Postal Service has not established procedures for reviewing the allocation of settlements to ensure that payees whom the union identifies are part of a class action. Once the Postal Service negotiates a settlement, they often have no involvement with its allocation. As a result, union representatives may be receiving payments to which they are not entitled.
Payments to Union Representatives

"We noted during our audit that union representatives received excessive payments resulting from grievance settlements. Union representatives at four districts were involved with allocating class-action grievance settlements for six grievances that resulted in union representatives receiving a significant percentage of the settlement amounts, while the grievants received very small percentages of the settlement amounts. A union representative in the received as much as 35 percent of one grievance settlement, while other payees received less than 1 percent. For the grievances we reviewed, union representatives received $33,447 (or 24 percent) of $141,639 in settlements for these six grievances. The following items describe theindividual examples of union representatives receiving more than most of the grievants.

  • "In the [Name Withheld] a class-action grievance paid the local American Postal Workers Union president $16,934 (or 30 percent) of the total settlement of $56,448, which was more than the amount most other grievants received. The grievance was settled through arbitration. To abide by the settlement, two local unions and the postmaster negotiated a total settlement amount. Once the amount was determined, the union president decided who to include in the settlement and how much each grievant would be paid. The local union president allocated 30 percent of the total settlement ($16,934) to himself. In addition to the president, there were eight other grievants. Four grievants received $1,128.96 each (or 2 percent); two grievants received $5,644.80 each (or 10 percent), and one received $22,579.20 (or 40 percent). One grievant filed an unfair labor practice complaint based on allocation of the payment. The union settled the case out of court for the amount paid to the local union president, according to Western area officials.

  • "In the [Name Withheld] in FY 2009, we found the local union president received $9,000 from two class-action payment settlements. He received $4,000 of a $25,000 settlement and $5,000 of $30,000 settlement for union expenses. The Postal Service' Labor Relations team settled this grievance at a significant discount for the Postal Service, but the union also allocated the payments, including the payment of union expenses to the local president.

  • "In the [Name Withheld] a local union president received $5,850 (or 35 percent) of a $16,928.73 settlement. The person most affected by the contract violation received $2,000.73 and 67 other individuals received between $110 and $1,000 each.

  • "In the [Name Withheld] we noted a union steward named in two class-action grievances received the highest payments —$805.46 (or 18 percent) of a total settlement of $4,457.32 for 25 grievants and $857.56 (or 10 percent) of a total settlement of $8,805.28 for 34 grievants. For one of the grievances, he received almost twice the amount of the next highest payee. We determined that, although the Postal Service calculated the settlement, it was the union steward who identified the individuals eligible to receive payment based on his knowledge of who was available for overtime and the documentation provide to the dispute resolution team (DRT). The DRT settled the grievance but did not receive any additional information from local management to dispute the union' information, so there is no way to know whether the allocation was distributed accurately.

  • "The Postal Service has no procedures in place to review the allocation of settlements and ensure the payees identified by the union are part of the class action. Once the Postal Service negotiates a settlement they often have no involvement with its allocation. Union representatives may be receiving unwarranted payments by filing grievances and potentially violating fair labor practices with regard to Postal Service employees."
It is clear that many within the institutions that the poor and middle-class have depended on to protect them in the past can no longer be relied upon. At best, they're turning a blind to our best interest, and at worst, they're picking our pockets while we sleep. That isn't to say that all politicians or all unions are corrupt, but too many of their number are beginning to reflect the corrupt nature of our society for us not to come together to protect our own interest.

I've been contacted by Lewis Maltby in response to the series of articles that I've been doing on the Postal Service since March of this year. Mr. Maltby is an attorney, former Director of the Employment Rights Division of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), author of the book, "Can They Do That," and current president of the National Workrights Institute.

He indicated that he was aghast at what he read was going on in the postal service, and that he's prepared to bring a class action lawsuit against the postal service that could very easily reap tens of millions of dollars on behalf of postal employees. From there he intends to broaden his focus to address the assault on the middle-class as a whole.

So if you are a postal employee who are the victim of time fraud, being forced to work without pay, or have been intimidated into working through your lunch and breaks, he wants to hear from you. He's setting up an organization called Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA) to fight this kind of abuse both in the courts, and with the help of your numbers, in Washington, D.C.

If you're ready to fight back, please contact the e-mail address below in order to create a data base. It's time for the poor and middle-class to convert their vast numbers into political clout.

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, July 06, 2010

GOP Stumbles Over 'Homeboy' Steele - Again


GOP Stumbles Over 'Homeboy' Steele - Again

The national media has seized upon yet another Michael Steele gaffe. This time he's caught on camera suggesting that the war in Afghanistan is now President Obama's war. The statement is troubling for the GOP on so many levels that it would take an entire article just to explain it, but that's not the point of this article.

This is a reprise of an earlier article, which refers to yet a previous article regarding the Republican party's troubles with the illustrious Michael Steele, the conservative Snoop Dog. Now the GOP desperately wants to find a graceful way to get rid of him, but to put it in Brother Steele's vernacular, 'We don't roll like that, Dawg' - and further, he doesn't have sense enough to resign. Why should he when he gets to 'boogie-down' on the world stage? 'This is better than being on Soul Train, my man.'

I tried to warn the GOP about the character of a turncoat. Well, I hate to gloat, but I told you so . . . Dawg. I could have predicted this - oh, wait a minute - I did, didn't I? You see, Black people have had centuries of experience with people like Steele. Now it looks like you're cynical attempt at political manipulation have finally come back to bite you directly in the rectum - and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch. And ironically, Steele is the perfect symbol for the GOP - a bunch of self-serving clowns.

Immediately after the election of Michael Steele as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I pointed out in my article, Republicans: "Look Y'all - We Got Us One Too!", that The RNC ploy to elect Steele as the first African American chairman in its 153 year history was not only grossly transparent, but was going to backfire in a very big way - and I was so right on target with that prediction that the RNC should hire me as chief consultant against Republican stupidity. Steele couldn't have been a worse disaster for the GOP if he'd been planted.

The very first thing I pointed out in the previous articles was that you elected Michael Steele chairman of the RNC for all the wrong reasons. I indicated that "anyone with an ounce of sense can see that this is a gimmick. Republicans were defeated so badly in the last election, and Obama is so popular, that they figure Black must be the political flavor of the season, so they went out and "got them one" – it didn't matter who, just long as his skin was dark. But again, they're so politically jaded that they're completely out of touch with the American people."

I then went on to pointed out that "the American people didn't elect President Obama because he's Black - they elected him because he demonstrated that he was an intelligent and competent statesman." In addition, "He was also elected so overwhelmingly because for the past eight years the Republican Party has clearly demonstrated that it was overflowing with corruption, incompetence, and greed . So while it's hard for the RNC to believe, for the very first time, we've had an election that was based strictly on the issues and relative competence, and not race" - which seems to be a point that still hasn't struck home with the Republican Party.

The RNC also turned a deaf ear to the suggestion that "if part of the Republican calculation was that by making a Black man head of the Republican Party it was going to help their numbers in the Black community, they're going to be sadly disappointed –in fact, they've hurt the Republican brand even more." The fact is, "If they'd ever taken the time to truly get to know the Black community, they would have known that the only thing more toxic to Black people than a flat-out racist, is a Black conservative, with the notable exception of Colin Powell – because we suspect he's not truly conservative [at least by today's definition], simply loyal" to those who helped to promote his career.

What has contributed greatly to the Michael Steele disaster, and many other problems within the Republican Party is the unmitigated arrogance of their leadership. Many Republican leaders confuse economics, social status, and ivy league diplomas with intelligence. They equate the quality of one's life and social standing with the quality of one's intellect. They fail to realize that there's a vast difference between the two. That's why they're rapidly becoming a regional party. They so greatly underestimate the intelligence of the American people, that it's gotten to the point where the only people they appeal to are the minority of Americans who are indeed ignorant. Thus, their entire platform has become one of lending comfort to the uninformed.

They fail to recognize that intelligence is not limited to the upper class. Nor do they seem to understand that social stature and the ability to obtain an ivy league diploma means nothing more than one has the resources to purchase a seat in an environment where knowledge is available. Intelligence entails much more than regurgitating information by rote in a rarified environment with ivy growing up the walls. Granted, there are many brilliant professors at Harvard, Yale, and many of our other universities, but brilliance isn't transmitted through osmosis. If one is committed to learning there is just as much knowledge to be absorbed on google or the corner library as there is at Harvard.

Thus, while these institutions of higher learning can, and do, confer diplomas, no institution in the world can confer common sense, wisdom, nor intelligence. These are qualites that are distributed equally throughout the population, so these Republican leaders need to recognize that they're making a serious error in thinking they can look soberly into the camera and begin to hemorrage their lies and disinformation upon the American people. It is, in fact, only they're own arrogance and stupidity that allow them to assume that they corner the market on intelligence

Clear evidence of that is the fact that the RNC, with all of it's experts, "political savvy", and think tanks, was completely oblivious to a fact that their attempt to push Michael Steele down America's throat as a Black clone of President Obama was the height of stupidity. It takes much more than black skin to create a Barack Obama. Any high school kid in any ghetto in America could have told them that - in spite of their atrocious educational environment.

Many of these academically deprived young people would have had the innate intelligence to inform the RNC exactly what I did:

"Most Black people have very little use for Black conservatives. It's not that we disagree with everything they say, but because we're suspect of the reasons they're saying it. Without exception, every Black conservative I've come across is an opportunist. Their conservatism tends not to be so much grounded in their actual philosophy as it is an opportunity to gain exposure. They realize that conservatives are looking high and low for Black people who will step forward to validate [Republican] views towards the Black community, so they gleefully allow themselves to be used in return for personal wealth, position, and notoriety."

So as we in the Black community sit back and watch the Republican Party struggle with this Michael Steel disaster, for once, we're having the last laugh - and believe me, the entire Black community is rolling in the isles. Because, you see, as "uneducated and politically unsophisticated" as we are, we had more than enough common sense and, yes, intelligence, to know what you were getting. So we're loving it, and hope it continues for months on end. Just this once, we've lived to see Uncle-Tomism work to our advantage. And even beyond that, we now have prima facie evidence of your unmitigated stupidity.

As I pointed out in my earlier article, "Black people have suffered a long history of such people [as Michael Steele], going all the way back to slavery. These were the very same people who would informed on slaves who were trying to escape to freedom: 'I don't know what's wrong wit him, boss. Ya jest can't get him to appreciate nothin' you do for us. What he needs is a real good beatin'. Want me to do it?'" But this time, due to your clumsy attempt at political manipulation, you're stuck with him.

What did he tell you? "Either fire me, or shut up!"

Don't think he didn't get a kick out of that. Even as an Uncle Tom (Yeah, I said it), he's more than cognizant of our history of having to lick the "master's" boots. So now that he's got you by the short-hairs, he wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to tell you to kiss his ass - his Black ass - and that's exactly what he did. And the beauty of it is, you're gonna have to do it - publically. That's what happens when you lie down with dogs. Next time have your "think tanks" consult any Black kid over twelve.

So next to the election of President Barack Obama, hearing that statement come from the lips of a turncoat to his master was the most delightful moment of my political life. It's nothing short of poetic justice.

While it's generally not my nature to gloat, watching the Republican Party - THE GREAT MANIPULATOR - being played like a two dollar whore by a third rate tennis shoe pimp, strips me of all pretense of social propriety. And here's the great part - it doesn't matter who wins or loses, whether the RNC or Michael Steele. Regardless to how it turns out, we win.

It's a situation so perfect in it's design, it simply has to be an act of God.

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, July 03, 2010

A Fourth of July Message to America: The Lady Wears Shackles


A Fourth of July Message to America: The Lady Wears Shackles

For over a hundred and twenty years the Statue of Liberty has greeted immigrants to these shores with open arms and the promise of the kind of freedom that they had never known. As a result, that towering, stately, and majestic lady has come to represent the quintessential symbol of freedom, liberty, and justice for people all over the world. Just the sight of her brought hope and inspiration to millions of European immigrants as they entered New York Harbor, and that initial vision sustained them as they started their new lives in America.

The scene must have seemed surreal as their boats slowly moved past her in the harbor. Oceans of tears must have flowed as the immigrants stared in awe at this magnificent lady. In her right hand she held the burning flame of passion and enlightenment - outstretched and high, as though reaching for the very face of God. In her left arm she held the tablet that represents the rule of law, and the guarantee of equal justice for all, and on her right foot, the broken shackle of a freed slave. That's right - millions of European immigrants were welcomed to America by the statue of a freed slave.

On the pedestal upon which she stood, were the words that had inspired their journey. It says... "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse to your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

As a child in school I was taught that the idea of the Statue of Liberty was conceived by a Frenchman, Edouard Laboulaye, as a monument to the collaboration and friendship of the United States and France during the Revolutionary war, and that it was sculpted by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. But at the urging of one of our readers I revisited the issue, and did a little research. As a result, I found that Laboulaye did indeed conceive of the Statue of Liberty, but not as a monument to the Revolutionary War. The Statue of Liberty was conceived as a monument to the end of slavery, and to honor those men, women and children who had been enslaved.

Laboulaye conceived of the Statue of Liberty in 1865. That was a hundred years after the Revolutionary War, but it just happened to be the very year that the Civil War came to an end. And it also turns out that Laboulaye wasn't just any Frenchman - he was not only an abolitionist who had dedicated his entire life to the abolishment of slavery, he was a leader of the French abolitionist movement. In addition, the sculptor who actually created the Statue of Liberty, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was connected with the abolitionist movement as well.

In an Associated Press interview, Richard Newman, a research officer at Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research is quoted as saying, "It is widely believed in academic circles that Laboulaye meant for the statue to honor the slaves, as well as mark the recent Union victory in the Civil War and the life of Abraham Lincoln."

The Statue of Liberty wasn't actually completed until 1886, but there's a 21 inch replica of the statue that was completed in 1870 on display at the Museum of the City of New York. That replica, or, original, is not white, it's terra cotta (brownish-orange), and it is said to have been designed in the likeness of a Black woman. In addition, the replica has a broken shackle around her left hand. The 151 foot statue in New York Harbor has a more . . . Discrete shackle around her foot.

The words at the base of the Statue of Liberty from the poem, "The New Colossus", by Emma Lazarus wasn't added to the statue until 1903, during a time when there was a huge surge in European immigration, and that's when the fiction began. During an interview with the Associated Press, Rebecca M. Joseph, a Boston-based Park service anthropologist is quoted as saying, "There is wide agreement that Liberty's now-familiar association with immigration was not planned by the statue's creators."

Nevertheless the thoroughly ironic scene of European immigrants weeping as they passed the Lady's flame must have played out thousands of times. It's the stuff that movies are made of - and just like most movies, the irony of a magnificent subplot churned discretely beneath the surface. One of the ironies is that now, many the grandchildren of some of those very same immigrants - those indigent immigrants that Lady Liberty welcomed into this country with open arms - have used voting fraud, unfair labor practices, redlining, blatant discrimination, and every other device, in an attempt to undermine the very people that we now know the Lady was originally created to embrace.

So irony is the operative word in this piece, and exquisite in its irony is the deplorable state of ingratitude of many of the people that this magnificent symbol of Black liberation welcomed to the country. It is all but a complete indictment on human nature that some of the very same people that Lady Liberty served as a symbol of hope, and who she welcomed to this country as literal vagrants, would now attempt to slam the door of hope and justice on the very people that she was created to enshrine.

Considering that ironic twist brought a tear to my eye as I researched this issue, because as a kid, I couldn't help but be awed by the majesty of that Lady - and that was in spite of the fact that I thought she was created for everybody but people like me. But now to find that she was created specifically for me, and even that was stolen, is almost too much to bear. Just think of how many young Black lives might have been salvaged by just the simple nudge to their self-esteem that something so grand and majestic could have provided had they known what it was created to represent. Just that knowledge alone could have given them the sense of pride, dignity, and purpose that might very well have sustained them throughout their lives.

But in spite of that, or maybe because of it, the Lady continues to hold her flame high as a tantalizing subplot silently plays itself out beneath the surface. For even as pernicious ingrates continued to indulged in their evil machinations, yet another immigrant quietly sailed passed the Lady's burning flame. He was a solitary young man from Kenya who presented papers in the name of Barack Obama.

I'm sure the immigration official laughed as he examined the papers and said, "Who?" But little did he know that it wouldn't be long before the entire world would provide him with a resounding answer to his question.

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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