Sunday, December 22, 2013

Never Whine over Adversity - Because Adversity Makes Us More, Rather Than Less

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

Never Whine over Adversity - because Adversity Makes Us More, Rather Than Less
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I've been through all manner of hardship, and I've found that we often suffer needlessly over minor adversities. We should never agonize over minor setbacks or disappointments. As long as you and the ones you love have your health and well being, everything else in life is transitory and insignificant. Much like physical pain, adversity merely serves the purpose of alerting us that corrective action is necessary. 
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When I look back over my life, I now see that many of things that I thought were horrible at the time, had to happen in order for something that would have a positive impact on my life to take place. Thus, thinking that we can control every aspect of our lives is a myth. We only have limited control over our lives. Life plays itself out in the way that life plays itself out, and our control over it is limited to making the right decisions once unforeseeable events take place, good, or bad. So all we can do in life is to prepare ourselves to make the right decisions when we’re confronted with adversity, and take advantage of opportunities when opportunity presents itself. Many unforeseeable things are simply going to happen, and the course of our lives are determined by how we deal with them when they do.
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A perfect example of that is when I was exposed to drugs as a kid. My mother thought that was the most horrible thing that could ever happen in life. But her control over the situation was limited, because young people being exposed to drugs is a fact of life in the inner city. But she had done her part to help me face that challenge when she raised me, so even as I was using drugs, I knew it was stupid. But drugs did control my life long enough to cause me to go to my mother’s office begging for money when I was 16 years old. That’s where I met my late wife, Val, who my mother had hire as a young girl to address Christmas cards to the patients, and we made an immediate connection.
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So the time had come for me to face my first major bout with adversity, but it was a moment that my mother had already prepared me for. So little did I know when I walked through the door of that office to con my mother out of some money to get high, that due to the foundation that my mother had laid when she raised me regarding the horrors of drugs and a man’s responsibility to a woman, combined with the young man I saw reflected in this young girl’s eyes when she looked at me,  that I was walking out of one life, and into another. While I had no idea at the time, at that very moment the trajectory of my life had changed.
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While my exposure to, and use of drugs, was undoubtedly one of the adversities faced by many young people as a result of inner city life, the combined influence of the foundation my mother had laid for me, and the passion that I felt for this young girl (who would later become my wife), placed me in good stead to face my very first challenge in life - finding the strength to face down adversity, and the wisdom to seize the opportunity that life presented in it’s stead.
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Because the challenges of adversity invariably come hand-in-hand with the rewards of opportunity and growth, and one’s fate is invariably tied to whether one collapses in the face of adversity, or can conjure up the strength and presence of mind to embrace the opportunity that comes along with it. Then, if one does manage to conjure up the strength and good sense to beat back adversity and embrace opportunity and growth, that strength and presence of mind will remain theirs forever. So we become stronger, and wiser, with each challenge of adversity that we overcome.
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For that reason, I raised my children not to agonize over adversity. While no one welcomes adversity, when it does come into one’s life, it should be viewed as an opportunity for growth, because there’s nothing more formidable than an individual whose been dragged through the pits of Hell and then manages to come out the other side as a well-adjusted and knowledgeable adult. That’s why I take great pride in referring to myself as a hood rat. Some people tell me that I’m denigrating myself, but I wear that title with great pride, because it says that I have a PhD. I'm a Doctor of Adversity, and no institution of higher learning in the world can confer a more prestigious, or learned degree. 
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About a year later, after Val and I had become a couple, and I had decided to make some changes in my life to make sure I kept her, I was sitting down one day talking to my mother. I was telling her about my dreams for the future, and the changes that I intended to make in my life to bring those dreams into reality. I didn’t know it, but my stepfather was standing in the door behind me, listening to my every word.
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Varnell wasn’t an altogether bad guy, and we didn’t have a bad relationship. He was a hardworking man, but he was also a hard-drinking and hard-gambling man of the street with a no-nonsense demeanor. So as I was pouring my heart out to my mother he broke in, "Don’t let him bullshit you, Verlee!  Eric is just tryin' to soften you up so he can stick you for some money to get high. You, him, and I all know that he’s gonna spend the rest of his life up there on that corner dealing drugs and chasin’ women - and that’s if he’s lucky and don’t get his brains blown out first."
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So again, I was faced with adversity. It may not seem like much now, but at the tender age of seventeen that was a crushing, and very embarrassing blow to an extremely fragile ego. So that was a pivotal moment in my life. I could have caved in to adversity, lashed out at him - and my mother for failing to defend me - and stormed out the house to whatever fate awaited me.  But instead, I used that moment to strengthen my resolved. At that moment, I immediately learned two of life's great lessons - never feel sorry for yourself, and never, ever let a bout with adversity go to waste.
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When faced with the challenge of adversity, that's no time for self-pity. It's a time to marshal all of the strength and resolve at our command, so we can use the experience to hurl us forward. So instead of lashing out, I just looked at him in stony silence, and then walked into my room and made absolutely certain that I absorb all of the pain, embarrassment, and humiliation of that moment - not so I could feel sorry for myself, but so I could use the experience like a slingshot to strengthen my resolve and hurl me toward the vision that I had for my life, and away from his - because there is no motivator on the face of the Earth more potent, than the simple words, "I'll show 'em."      
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And in the end, I did manage to give up drugs and get off the street, but the challenges of adversity continue throughout one’s life. No matter who you are, how old you are, or what your status in society, life is going to continue to present you with a series of challenges and opportunities, and your fate will be directly tied to how you address those issues. This is how and why we become wiser with age. 
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My next challenge came after Val and I were married and had two small children. In that case I was laid off from my job unjustly. I was an Assistant Warehouse manager for a nationally known furniture and mattress company, and I was one of only two Blacks with the company. The other Black person was an older gentleman, and a highly skilled master upholsterer. So when the company had a minor business reversal, instead of laying off someone with lessor seniority, they decided to lay me off. At the time, I was devastated and hurt. I thought I had a future with that company, so not only was I devastated because my young family and I were already struggling, I was also hurt over the gross injustice and blatant racism that led to my layoff.  It was the first time that I had ever come face-to-face with raw and unvarnished racism.
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I was 23 years old, married less than three years, and I already had two children, so I was in a panic, because it was my first real challenge as a new father and the head of a household. So I went out looking for another job - on foot. The economy was slow, and jobs were scarce, so I decided to go from one company to the next, so I didn’t need a car. I decided upon a strategy of selecting one block each day in the industrial section of the city, and then go from one business to the next until I either found a job, or the day came to an end. I covered several miles a day for weeks, with no luck (I’ve only since found that a recent study showed that a White man with a felony conviction stands a better than equal chance of being hired on a job than a Black man with a clean record - and it must have been much worse back then).
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But one night while looking at television I saw a commercial by the Army. They were trying to recruit new enlistees, and it mention the V.A. benefits that were afforded veterans. So being a Marine Corps vet, I decided to try checking into school again to take advantage of my veterans benefits - I had checked into school immediately after I was discharged, but the benefits took so long to be processed that I ended up having to dropout and go find the job from which I had just been laid off. But this time the benefits started almost immediately, and they were great at the time. Even though my wife was working, I could have supported the family by myself on my benefits alone.
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Then shortly after I began school, my old job contacted me requesting that I return to work. But of course, I told them that I wasn’t interested. I thought that would be the end of the matter, but two weeks later they called again, and asked me if would I come and meet with them. Through pure curiosity over their hutzpa, and to see why all of a sudden they were so interested in having me return - along with the opportunity it presented for me to tell them to shove it in person - I agreed.
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It turned out that their deliveries were backed up to nearly the week that I’d been laid off. I didn’t even recognize the warehouse - it was overflowing with undelivered merchandise. My primary job was selecting merchandise to be loaded onto the trucks for delivery every morning. The company had a catalogue of the types, models, and various colors and fabrics of the furniture they produced, but having to look through the catalogue for everything before having it loaded onto the trucks was extremely time consuming. In addition, there were very small variations in the color, fabric, and styles of various items that had to be recognized to insure the right product was delivered.
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I had memorized the catalogue and every item that they produced, so that expedited delivery. It also prevented customer frustration and the costly necessity of redelivery. It seemed that the manager, who was now doing my job, obviously hadn’t taken the time to do that. When I was doing the job the crew was always ahead of schedule, so after I had them prepare merchandise for the next day’s deliveries, we spent a lot of the afternoon just sitting around, with the exception of doing will calls and stocking merchandise. Perhaps that’s why the company thought I was expendable.
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I had already told my immediate boss (the manager) and the head of the department that I wasn’t interested in returning to work when I spoke with them over the phone, so my meeting was scheduled with the Vice President of Operations - go figure it, little old me meeting with a man who wouldn’t even bother to say good morning when I was working there. But as soon as I walked into his office and sat down he said, "Let’s get right to it. Do you have another job?"
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I made it a point not to tell him what was going on in my life, or about my returning to school, because a good rule of thumb in life is to always make sure that you have more information than the other person when involved in a serious discussion. So for the benefit of future employees, I decided to base my refusal on principle. So I told him, "No, I don’t have another job. He then asked, "Then why don’t you want to return to work? I told him that I didn’t want to return because of how unfairly I was treated when I was laid off. Without once mentioning race (I didn’t think I had to), I pointed out that all of the people who were working under me are still down there working, yet, I was laid off, and I didn’t think that was fair.
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He told me that he agreed, and if I returned to work he would find out whose decision it was to lay me off and he would see to it that they paid a price for that decision. In response, I told him that I wasn’t interested in retribution. "I was a loyal employee, and I took great pride in working for this company. I expected the same in return, but I didn't get that. The company made it clear that I wasn’t appreciated, so in spite of any hardship that I might have to endure, I’ve decided not to return."
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To that he said, "You can’t be serious. Don’t you have a family? It’s rough in this economy without a job. I’ll tell you what. I don’t want our company to be responsible for any hardship for you and your family, and somebody in this company is responsible for your being treated unfairly. So here’s what I’ll do - first, I want to apologize on behalf of the company; in addition, I will give you a raise and a promotion to manager; and I will also see to it that whoever made the decision to lay you off pays a severe price." To which I said, I accept your apology and I appreciate your offer, but no thank you. I feel that I have to move on. Then I stood up and held out my hand.
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As I was leaving he said, "Well, maybe you’ll change you’re mind later. If you do, I will stand behind my offer." I thanked him again, and left.
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Again, when those people first laid me off, it devastated me. I thought my entire world was coming to an end. But as it turned out, what I thought was a horrible event, was simply a moment of adversity that I had to endure in order to gain an opportunity to change the direction of my life. If it were not for that adversity, I probably never would have gotten an education, and I’d still be there working in their warehouse for chump change. 
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So adversity should never be look upon as something bad. It’s simply inconvenient. One should always view adversity as one of life’s challenges, and an opportunity for growth. Because adversity makes us stronger and wiser, and we wouldn’t grow without it. Body builders have such muscular bodies due to the adversity of repeatedly lifting heavy weight against the pull of gravity, and the only reason we even learn to walk and talk is because as babies we had to deal with the adversity of not being able to get around and tell people what we wanted. And chances are, the only reason that President Obama is President of the United States is due to the tools that he had to cultivate in order to deal with the adversity of always being an outsider throughout his formative years.
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So finally, after I finished college and was doing pretty well for myself, I stopped by my mother's house for a visit. I was around twenty-six years old at that time, and many of my articles were being featured in the local paper. As was my custom, before I went into the house to sit and visit with my mother, I'd go back to the garage to holler at Varnell and his crew who could always be found on the weekend in the garage playing either cards or dominos. As I walked through the door, one of Varnell's friends said, "Hey! There he is, my main man. Brother, I want to be just like you when I grow up!"  Then, without ever looking up from his dominos, Varnell told his friend, "I'm sorry, man, but you'll never grow up to be like Eric - you have to be born that way."  He then looked up from his hand and directly into my eyes for just a fleeting moment, sorta smiled, and then immediately back down to his dominos. The message was clear. After nearly ten years he hadn't forgotten. I guess that was Varnell's way of apologizing to me after all those years.
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So while adversity may hurt for a moment, if handled properly, in the long run it makes us more, rather than less, and that edge can be very satisfying. Because on those occasions when I'm forced to step on the presumption of a racist or Ivy League snob, I make it a point to let them know that they'd just been obliterated by a hood rat.
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The Hood Rat
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I’m sure you know that I love you;
You’re everything that I need.
You fit the bill of all my desires,
a perfect match for all of my dreams.
You’re everything I’ve always craved,
that luscious vision from across the tracks;
that delicate flower,
just beyond my grasp, and
now here you are at last.
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But what you ask is foreign to me;
You need something that I'm not.
You said, if I'd tweak my nature, just a bit,
you’d give everything you’ve got.
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But that "tweak" you need is who I am;
It's my essence, can't you see?
You want to abolish the hood rat from my life,
the very thing that makes me, me.
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While a hood rat may seem trite to you,
a hood rat’s what you see;
So forget about what the other’s say -
here’s what it means to me:
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I’ve been brutally dragged through the pits of Hell,
yet, managed to survive,
well educated and fully functional,
when I came out the other side.
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I scrounged the lessons taught at Harvard,
because knowledge, I found, was free;
But Harvard can't teach the lessons I've learn -
that knowledge is unique to me.
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While they've heard the sounds of a mournful Trane,
and Miles moaning in the night,
not against the backdrop of hunger and pain,
or injustice, hatred, and blight.
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Yet, these are the things you want me to purge,
and spurn the life I’ve led.
Well, I’m sorry sweet thing, as much as I love you,
the soul of a hood rat is my edge.
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Eric L. Wattree
http://wattree.blogspot.com/
Ewattree@Gmail.com
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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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, December 17, 2013

Does God Love White People More Than He Loves Blacks? - Because they're Sure Rewarded Better

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
Does God Love White People More Than He Loves Blacks? - Because they're Sure Rewarded Better
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Even as a kid, I saw the cat danglin’ out the bag that let me know that my "pastor" was standing up there in the pulpit spewing a lot of total nonsense. Every week he’d stand there screamin’ at us about what God was gonna do for us if we listened to him, and what he was gonna to do TOO us if we didn’t listen to him - and all the while, driving a big car, wearing a brand new suit every week, and wearing Florsheims that cost more a pair than my grandfather made all week trying to put food in our mouths. And even though my grandparents followed his words to the letter, every week, week after week, month after month, and year after year, they showed up at church just as poor as if they’d ignored him. And the irony is, they would have been doing much better if they HAD ignored him, because they were giving him every extra penny they could scrape up.
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it drove me absolutely crazy, because even as a kid it was clear to me that this man didn’t know any more about God than a drunk passed out in the alley behind the church - and he probably didn't have either as much character, or sense. Imagine how either clueless or deceitful a man has to be to go around claiming that God "called him" to speak for on his behalf. He's either a fool, or a hustler. His "calling" probably went something like this - "Man, I am so tired of having to get up and go to work every morning . . . wait a minute, is that you, Lord!!!?"  That's how most of them are "called."  So he wasn’t preaching the word of God. What he was preaching was bribery and threats, to keep the people coming, and to keep them paying him to scream at them every Sunday.
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Now, admittedly, I don’t know any more about God than a drunk passed out in an alley either (in fact, I've been known to pass-out a few times myself), but I do know about common sense, and it seems to me that if God did tell men what to say, he’d be more interested in telling us how we should treat "OTHERS," and why you should live a good life - not how to avoid Hell, or how to get into Heaven. God would probably say, "You should do what's right because it’s right to do right, and that is your reward." But what this man was spewing was religion based on selfishness, or "What am I gonna get out of it?" So that wasn’t the word of God. That was the word of the reverend, hustlin’ to keep that collection plate full.
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But I did recognize that the pastor was right in one regard - I would indeed be rewarded if I acted more like him, because he was there EVERY Sunday, without fail, begging his ass off. But that too perplexed me. I never understood why he needed to do that. Whenever we needed something, he'd tell us to go pray on it, but wherever HE needed something, he didn’t go to God, he came to us. Even when he wanted to take a vacation - or as he put it, "visit a sister church in Hawaii to spread the Gospel" - he’d pass the basket to us for his airfare and hotel accommodations - and what was our reward? "We had the satisfaction of going home just a little more poor than we were the week before, but, knowing we were "blessed" for helping the Reverend "spread the word of God" to every beach in Hawaii - and, of course, knowing that God would look kindly upon us . . . by and by.
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But even at 14 years old, I had a few questions about that. 1) Why did the Reverend have to go to Hawaii to "spread the Gospel," didn’t they have preachers in Hawaii? And 2). Why did he always have to come to us for financing? Why couldn’t he just ask God to inspire American Airlines to let him on the plane for free, and that the people at the Hawaii Hilton set him up in the Jesus suite? That’s what he told us to do when the rent was due, and I didn’t just keep these views to myself. I used to bring these issues up whenever I got the chance to speak with him, and he never came up with a reasonable answer. He’d simply tell me that the Devil had gotten into me somewhere, and I needed to pray for God to help me to see the light. But I did see the light, only too well. That, was the real problem.
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My grandfather used to joke about the fact that I was gonna get ‘em kicked out of the church. He was a highly religious man, but I think deep in his heart he was proud of the fact that I was willing to confront the man that everybody else in the church held in such high esteem. But I guess it’s just a flaw in my character, because to me, he was just another dude in a black rob spewin’ total nonsense, pimpin' in the name of the Lord.
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One day my grandfather told me, Rev. Hill came up to him and asked, "Mr. Wattree, where is that boy gettin’ all that stuff? I know he's not gettin' it from you and Mrs. Wattree." Actually, I can't even answer that question myself. I guess I was just born immune to voodoo. I've never understood how Black people could become so dedicated to a lie that was taught to them while they were tied up next to the mules. It was obvious that even the people who taught it to them didn't believe it; if they had, Black people wouldn't have been in the condition they were in.
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Later that Summer when I was MANDATED to attend Bible School, the reverend assigned the assistant pastor to council me, and according to my grandfather, "After a few sessions the assistant pastor disappeared and we ain’t seen him since." I just had to take grandfather's word on that, because the following Sunday the pastor preached a sermon telling all the pretty young sisters in the church that they needed to stop wearing naturals and all of those short, revealing miniskirts. That was the last straw for me. I left church after that sermon and, except to attend funerals, haven't set foot in one since.
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But if the reverend wasn’t anything else, he was tenacious. When I showed up at my uncle’s funeral as an adult, he preached the sermon looking directly at me. But he stepped over the line. He said, "This isn’t the last funeral we’re going to see in this family." The meaning was clear, and it wasn’t lost on anyone, but I wasn’t in any mood for that. My uncle was my mother’s youngest brother, so we were more like brothers than uncle and nephew. He had been shot and killed right after he'd dropped me off for my first day at the university, and I was devastated by it. So while everyone was absorbed in grief, I caught the good reverend after the funeral and demonstrated the assorted colors that I had added to my vocabulary since we'd last seen one another, and I never had a problem with him thereafter.
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I went into all of this for the specific purpose of relating one message for my Black readers to consider - if the reverend is right that God rewards people for following his word, he must view White folks as much better Christians than Black people, because he’s sure compensating them a whole better. That should be clear evidence to Black people that what they're being fed is pure unadulterated nonsense. So Black people need to get up off their knees, stop giving their money away to these preachers, and start hustling to move the community forward. Because as the old saying goes, "Free your mind, your ass will follow" - and not until then, regardless to who's in the White House. But don't just take my word for it:
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Matthew 6:1-34
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"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues [churches] and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues [churches] and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward . . ."
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So if you're trying to "sanctify" your way into Heaven, forget it. God's got your number. In fact, he's probably gonna to want to know how you could possibly be so selfish about getting yourself into Heaven that instead of using your money to feed your kids, or dedicating your tithes to helping the poor, you thought you could buy admission into Heaven by making your preacher rich? That's not thinking about God, or the poor, that's thinking about you. So are you gonna follow the word of God, or continue to worship your preacher? If you truly believe in Heaven and hell, you need to consider that question along the verse above very closely - and here's another one for you:
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John 8:32 - The Truth will Set You Free.
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Bible School wasn’t completely lost on me.
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Eric L. Wattree
http://wattree.blogspot.com/Http://wattree.blogspot.comEwattree@Gmail.com
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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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, December 12, 2013

A Contemplation of Good, God, and Evil

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

A Contemplation of Good, God, and Evil
I'm a freethinker on the subject of religion. I’m not a Bible thumper, I never attend church, and I don’t have much use for preachers. In fact, I just can’t see the logic in getting up early on Sunday morning and getting all dressed up just to go pay somebody to scream at me for two hours. I don’t see the logic in that, and I never did, even when I was forced to participate in the ritual as a kid. But I am a spiritual person, because logic, and the night sky, does inspire me to lean toward the belief that there is indeed a supreme force that governs the universe. After all, the universe didn’t just come from nothing. Some force had to caused the universe to spring into existence, and whatever that force was, I’ve chosen to call it God.
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Now, an atheist would undoubtedly tell me that I have no proof of the existence of God. The fact is, one told me that just today, and he was zealously insistent upon it. He dismissively suggested that by embracing the concept of God, it was tantamount to my embracing a belief in the "Flying Spaghetti Monster." That was clearly a dismissive assault on my intellect, but I recognized that for some reason, many atheists tend to take great pride in being arrogantly disdainful of the intellect of believers. So instead of vigorously objecting, I simply took note. I did point out, however, that his tone sound quite similar to that of a religious zealot, to which he responded, that religion required faith, and atheists have no use for faith. They deal in pure logic. So I thought I’d examine that contention.
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I pointed out to him that it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a believer, because believers do have the existence of the universe to point to as a basis of support for their belief, while all an atheist has is his belief, or "faith" that God doesn’t exist. Thus, faith in the non-existence of God is an integral part of what we have now established is his religion.
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I then went on to point out that in order to maintain the atheist position that God doesn’t exist, he bears the burden of having to prove that something (the universe) came from nothing - or that an effect was "initiated" without a cause - and, from out of nowhere. And since it is my contention that whatever force is responsible for the universe, order, and existence meets the definition God, how can an atheist know with any degree of certainty that nature, and/or the universe itself, isn’t God? After all, is it not true that the universe is responsible for the existence of all living things? That defines God.
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Thus, the debate, I went on, is no longer one of whether or not God exists, but rather, the NATURE of God’s existence. And that, in turn, leaves an atheists with only his "faith" and/or "religious" conviction to support his claim that God doesn’t exist. Therefore - contrary to what atheists would have us believe, and in spite of their renowned disdain for the silliness of religious dogma - atheism itself is nothing more than just another religion clothed in intellectual pretense, and their denial of the existence of God is merely another religious doctrine. That pretty much shut down the discussion.
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But that said, neither do I buy into the way God is portrayed by religious zealots of the opposite stripe. The mere thought that in a universe with over 800 billion galaxies - with each containing an average of 300 billion stars, and with each star separated by light years of space - that God would be fixated on the infestation of a mote in the ghetto of an insignificant galaxy is beyond belief. But then, most religious doctrine go even further than that. They suggest that God is so fixated on us that he's watching everything that each of us do, jumping through hoops, and performing magic tricks to get us to worship him (I'm using "him" to keep things simple). That takes us beyond delusional - it’s absolutely psychotic - the accompanying mood-setting music in the background notwithstanding.  It constitutes an absurd attempt by man to turn God into some kind of circus performer.
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The mere assumption that God is preoccupied with everything we do is merely a reflection of man's arrogance and exaggerated sense of self-importance, and the very idea of God being obsessed with trying to get man to worship him is patently ridiculous. That would be the direct equivalent of man spending every hour of every day trying to demand the respect of the germs under his toilet seat. That would be stupid, and while God may be many things, I doubt very seriously that stupid is among them. 
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Thus, since I view the foregoing perceptions of God as so grossly out of touch with reality, it should go without saying that I don't believe in Heaven or Hell. The entire concept just reeks of man’s tendency to threaten and/or bribe other men into subservience. And besides, if God was indeed watching and evaluating our behavior, he would have long since hit the delete button.
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So the fact is, we can only know God’s will by what he has done, and as I’ve said many times before, God made birds to fly, fish to swim, and man to think. He anticipated our needs when we were created, so he gave us the intellect to answer our own prayers, and the common sense to live the kind of life that would create our Heaven right here on Earth, if used properly; but if used improperly, we could also create our own Hell, which we have done. So we don’t require a Pat Robertson as God’s Special Envoy and Chief of Staff, nor do we need the Bible as a user’s guide to dictate how we should live our lives any more than fish need a swimming coach or birds need a compass to know which way is south, or a calendar to know when to head in that direction. Again, he blessed us with common sense to be our guide - at least, most of us.
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That leads me to the concept of good and evil. Actually, it’s quite simple. "Good" is to act with common sense, and what most people call "evil," is nothing more than ignorance. It’s as simple as that. Thus, the key to living a good life is to be an independent thinker, to use our intellectual capacity to explore what it actually means to live a fulfilling life, and to have the good sense to avoid the ignorant machinations of other men. I've boiled it down to one sentence - Never give anyone else's ability to think priority over your own.
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At this point I’m sure that many have come to the conclusion that I have a disdain for religion, but that’s not true - I have a disdain for the ignorant way in which it’s practiced. There’s nothing wrong with religion itself, if that’s what butters your bread. Some people find it comforting and inspirational to "fellowship" with others. But the problem is, man tends to completely ignore the primary point of religion - to inspire one to treat his fellow man with more caring, and to reinforce the idea of living a good and honorable life. He embraces dogma instead, those things that make his religion different from everyone else’s, and that’s not by accident.
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The bottom line is, while we pay it a lot of lip service, man doesn’t want to "love his neighbor." Due to his personal insecurity, and the resulting need to feel like he’s a part of a special breed that’s been anointed by God, he wants an excuse to hate, feel superior, and look down upon his neighbor, and religion gives him a "God-approved" pretext for doing just that. Man wants an excuse to say, "It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does." That’s why what we refer to as "The Bible Belt" also just happens to be the most bigoted and intolerant region in the entire country, and you’ll find the same to be true throughout the world - the more religious, the more bigoted, narrow-minded, and intolerant. Does that sound like the work of God? Personally, I don’t think so.
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So I look upon organized religion as a form of ignorance, and as I mentioned above, I equate ignorance with evil. You show me a man who believes in talking snakes, and I’ll show you a man who may be learned, but he’s not very bright, so he can be convinced of anything. So does organized religion have to be evil? No it doesn’t. But wherever you find hoards of insecure and unthinking people, you’re also going to find excess, hatred, subservience, and greed - or in short, evil.
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Eric L. Wattree
Http://wattree.blogspot.comEwattree@Gmail.com
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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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, December 08, 2013

Tavis Smiley: "Mr. Accountability" Shuns Professional Accountability

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

Tavis Smiley: "Mr. Accountability" Shuns Professional Accountability
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"Accountability." That’s a hugely important word in Tavis Smiley’s vocabulary - that is, until it’s applied to himself.  While Smiley has gone around the country hawking a book that he wrote on the subject and has literally forged a living out of lecturing President Obama - and any other high-profile Black personality who views the political landscape differently from himself - on the need to be accountable, he's been blatantly, and shamelessly, shunning his responsibility as a journalist and his accountability to the people in favor of his own self-interest for over a decade now.
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Mr. Smiley has been in direct violation of the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists for over ten years now. Theystate the following in part:
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ACT INDEPENDENTLY

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
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Journalists should:
 —Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
 — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
 — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
 — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
 — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
 — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
 — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
*

In response to President Obama's remarks on race in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict, Tavis Smiley tweeted, "Took POTUS almost a week to show up and express mild outrage. And still, it was as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid."
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That was a curious remark considering the fact that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West traveled all across the country on a bus under the pretext of being so passionately concerned about poverty in America that they just HAD to take a stand - but of course, that was BEFORE the election, and when they had books to sell. But now that the election is over, and they don't have any new books to sell, they couldn't bring themselves to walk down the street from Tavis' office to support the Black Friday demonstrations taking place all across the country against Wal-Mart - Tavis' major sponsor, a member of ALEC, and the biggest abuser of the working class in America today.
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And not only did they fail to attend ANY of the demonstrations taking place across the country against Wal-Mart, they didn't even issue a comment of support. All we've heard coming from the Smiley/West camp are crickets - and as everyone knows, that's extremely uncharacteristic of Cornel West, who's renown for being willing to trade a kidney for a sound byte. Thus, that just about says it all about those two.  All subjective assessments aside, the facts alone suggest that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are two of the most blatantly self-serving hypocrites that the Black community has ever suffered.
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According to Scott Collins in his article, Tavis Smiley's bumpy 10th anniversary with PBSin the Los Angeles Times:
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"Such is the life of a public-television personality. Unlike most TV hosts, who simply do their jobs and collect a paycheck from a network, Smiley has to go out and raise most of the money for his program, which costs between $7 million and $8 million a year to produce. PBS generally contributes about $1 million of that sum. The rest comes from corporate sponsors, which Smiley has to round up himself.
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"The sluggish economy and reduced corporate spending have threatened the show's viability. But luckily for Smiley, Wal-Mart, a longtime sponsor, stepped up again, this time with a three-year commitment. (PBS can only offer a maximum of two years on renewals because, as a government-supported entity, it must be periodically authorized by Congress.) But Wal-Mart covers only about a quarter of the costs" (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-tavis-smiley-pbs-20131212,0,6312121.story#ixzz2ndW5CAp5).
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And therein lies the problem - and, the reason for the prescription in the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics that "Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know." You cannot serve two masters. In the instance above, Tavis Smiley had to choose between the public's right to know, and his personal self-interest, and the public lost - and it's not the first time the public lost to Smiley's self-interest. 
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A QUESTION FOR BOTH TAVIS SMILEY AND CORNEL WEST
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Mr. Smiley, do you intend to return the Millions of dollars that you reportedly made from herding poor Black people and Hispanics into the Wells Fargo “Ghetto Loan” scam to the people who lost their money and homes? And Dr. West, in your learned opinion, what is the appropriate course of action for your friend and associate to take - in accordance with the "prophetic tradition," of course?
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A discrimination lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, and several articles, including one seeded on Newsvine entitle, “Tavis Smiley - "Ghetto Loan" Peddler for Wells Fargo,” closely associates PBS talk show host, Tavis Smiley, with the Wells Fargo Bank scam targeting poor and middle-class Black and Hispanic borrowers. The article quotes Kelvin Boston, host of "Moneywise, and Keith Corbett, of the Center for Responsible Lending, as calling Tavis Smiley “the big draw” of the Wells Fargo scam. Specifically, the article states the following:
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“Smiley was the keynote speaker, and the big draw, according to Boston [host of “Moneywise”] and Keith Corbett, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending, who attended two of the seminars. Smiley would charge up the audience — and rattle the Wells Fargo executives in attendance — by launching into a story about how he hated banks, and how they used to refuse to lend him money for his real estate projects in Compton, Calif., and elsewhere... But what appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth was actually just the opposite, according to a little-noticed explanation of the "Wealth Building" seminar strategy, contained in a lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
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“Wells' plan for the seminars all along was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building, the suit charged. And the seminars were a part of the bank's overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.”
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Subsequent to the law suit, Richard Prince reported in The Washington Independent that Smiley issued a statement indicating that he would sever all ties with Wells Fargo until charges that the company steered minorities into higher-rate loans are resolved. The article went on to say,
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“Wells Fargo sponsored Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International, and underwrote the annual C-Span-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes. Smiley’s foundation also distributed Wells Fargo materials to young people at foundation events, he told Journal-isms.
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‘“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,’ Smiley declared. He said the move cost ‘a lot of money’; he said he did not know how much.”
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On July 12, 2012 Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times that Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay $175 million to settle the discrimination suit which, according to the Department of Justice, targeted over 30,000 Black and Hispanic borrowers for subprime loans with a higher interest rate than for similarly situated White borrowers between 2004 and 2009.
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What makes it particularly ironic that Tavis Smiley would be associated with this scheme to target poor and middle-class minorities is that Smiley is the primary promoter of what he calls “The Poverty Tour,” along with his friend and associate, former Princeton professor, Cornel West. During the tour, on their joint radio talk show, and on numerous media appearances, Smiley and West have gained a reputation for being President Obama’s harshest critics, indicating that the president is not sufficiently focused, and “accountable,” to the nation’s poor and minority community.
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In a statement by Wells Fargo put out after the bank agreed to a settlement of $175 Million, they said that while not admitting to any wrong doing, Wells Fargo agreed to a settlement of the law suit because the bank felt that it was the right thing to do.
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CNNMONEY quoted Mike Held, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, as saying, "Wells Fargo is settling this matter because we believe it is in the best interest of our team members, customers, communities and investors to avoid a long and costly legal fight, and to instead devote our resources to continuing to contribute to the country's housing recovery."
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The settlement includes Wells Fargo paying the Black and Hispanic victims of discrimination $125 million in compensation, and an additional $50 million in down-payment assistance to borrowers in the affected communities.
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So the question that remains is, if Wells Fargo Bank feels that paying compensating to the poor and middle-class victims of this scam is the right thing to do, shouldn’t Tavis Smiley, the most strident advocate of “accountability” and fervent crusader for the interest of the poor, feel obliged to do the same? Certainly, benefiting from the misery of the poor and minority community would run counter to Mr. Smiley's zeal for the need of the powerful to maintain accountability.
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We’d also like to put that question to Smiley’s friend and associate, Dr. Cornel West. What do you think your good friend and associate should do, Dr. West? What does the “prophetic tradition” dictate is the proper course of action?
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We’ll be anxiously awaiting your response.
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Poverty Pimp, Inc.
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What Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and Boyce Watkins Won’t Tell the Black Community

In addition, there's the appearance that news is being manufactured.  People like Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and Boyce Watkins are going out of their way NOT to tell the Black community that the United States Constitution gives sole control of spending to the United States House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans.  So the only way that President Obama can spend any money to assist the Black community is to get the Republican House to go along with him.
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That’s why it’s so important for the president to hold together a coalition of Blacks, women, gays, Hispanics, and every other segment of the American population.  He needs ALL of us to place pressure on the Republicans to loosen the purse strings in order for him to get anything done. So anytime you hear Tavis, West, or Watkins pointing their finger at what President Obama is doing for any other segment of the population, they’re doing you a disservice.
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Here’s how politics works - you support me when I need you, and I’ll support you when you need me. So whenever President Obama does anything for other segments of the population, he’s building up political capital so he can help you. But, he doesn’t discuss what he’s doing for the Black community for a very good reason - as Cornel says himself (when it’s convenient), “Race Matters.”
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These gentlemen know full well that if President Obama runs around bragging about what he’s doing  for the Black community, the Republicans are going to use that as leverage to tear his coalition apart. They would tell women, gays, Hispanics, and everyone else in America that Obama doesn’t care about them, and that all he wants to do is help his own people, and that message hurts the Black community. Don’t these so-called intellectuals recognize that? If they don’t, they’re dumb. If they do, that means that they’re purposely trying to mislead the community. The question then, is why?
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So the fact is, when people like Tavis, West, and Watkins run around telling you that the proof that President Obama is not working for you is that he refuses to throw his fist in the air, these people are working against you, not for you - and they know it.  President Obama is trying to help ALL of the people - and that includes you.
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But the primary agenda of the people mentioned above is NOT about helping the Black community, or anyone else, for that matter. Their primary interest is to service their own hatred, envy, and greed.
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You see, they've never been able to get past President Obama's rapid rise to prominence in our society.  So instead of taking pride in what Obama has achieved like the vast majority of the Black community, they see his accomplishment as diminishing their stature among Black people, and it's killing them. So their primary agenda is not about helping you, or keeping you informed, it's about helping Obama's enemies tear him down, and getting rich in the process.
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What makes this so sickening is, while these “brothers” are telling the people how much they love them, and want to keep them informed, at the very same time, they’re depending on the people’s blind ignorance in order to promote their own agenda.  But some of us have been around long enough to have seen this before. This is the exact same tactic used by the “brothers” who were planted inside the Black community by the FBI to sabotage the civil rights movement of the sixties.
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I’ve discussed the issue of agent provocateurs in previous articles with respect to the activities of Tavis Smiley and Cornel West - including the similarity between what’s going on today, and the FBI’s CoIntelPro operation that brought down the civil rights movement of the sixties. But at this point it goes even farther than that.
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“Operation Cointelpro,” initiated by Edgar J. Hoover, involved sending so-called brothers into the community to divide the various civil rights organizations - both, against one another, and within the organizations themselves. In order to accomplish this, the FBI plants would go into the community and convince the people that certain individuals weren’t militant enough. As a direct result of this ploy, Dr. King was the victim of the exact same kind of character assassination as Smiley and West are now trying to use on Obama. The Smiley and Wests of that era used to call Dr. King, “Martin Luther Coon.” So it is indeed ironic that these two individuals are now trying to use Dr. King’s own Bible in a tactic used against him, to now defame Barack Obama. It’s disgusting, in fact.
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They’re playing the same old game of dividing the people that kept Black people from rebelling against slavery, and that has held Black people down for over 400 years. The only difference is, during slavery the turncoats would do it for a pat on the back and a new pair of shoes. But today, it involves millions of dollars.
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Just ask yourself, how many millions of dollars would Tavis’ cronies at Wal-Mart, Exxon/Mobile, and the other members of ALEC be willing to pay to bring down President Obama?  Let me give you a little insight into that, right out of the mouth of an irate Black Republican operative.
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In his article, "My Republican Party has Abandoned Me," Black Republican activist, Raynard Jackson, says the following (http://www.freedomsjournal.net/2012/10/31/my-republican-party-has-abandoned-me/):
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"For many years, I have approached the party and its supporters about underwriting programs to bring together Blacks who are Republican or lean Republican so we can weave them into every facet of the party structure. The answer is always, no! But, twice this year some of these same people have approached me about funding for some election year tricks that they (White Republicans) have conjured up and simply need a Black face to execute the plan. On these two separate occasions, these funders were willing to spend upwards of $20 million to have me organize a national campaign to identify Blacks who would be critical of President Obama." 
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So there you are, and with that kind of money up for grabs, we would be ridiculously imprudent not to minutely scrutinize the rationale behind every syllable that slips from Tavis and West’s mouth. Because Tavis may be opposed to many things, but he’s certainly not one who’s opposed to making money.
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After Tavis miscalculated his clout in the Black community by trying to punish candidate Obama for failing to come on his show, Tavis Smiley is quoted in “Black Enterprise Magazine” as saying the following:
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“I went from making about $1 million a year in speaking fees to barely $100,000 because people stopped inviting me to speak in certain places,” he recalls. “Personalities like me have a Q rating, and mine dropped lower than Michael Vick’s after the dog fighting conviction. I couldn’t engage new sponsors or get the ones who have been with me to raise their spending levels.”
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The article goes on to say, “So what did Smiley do? He rallied his troops to “stay focused on the work” as he conjured up new ideas and led his team to launch a new radio program, publish a slate of books that became top sellers, and create a traveling museum backed by Wal-mart, a long-time sponsor, among other ventures to fortify the company. “He kept going full steam ahead.”
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What the article didn’t say was his radio show was financed from the proceeds that he made off the misery of poor and minority borrowers who lost their money and homes after Smiley herded them into the Wells Fargo “Ghetto Loans” scam.
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The article goes on to point out the holdings of Tavis Smiley, Inc:
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"His numerous holdings include:
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• TS Media Inc., which produces the Tavis Smiley talk show that airs weeknights on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), viewed in 96% of U.S. households with approximately 400,000 viewers nightly.

• Smiley Radio Properties, producer of his radio programs, The Tavis Smiley Show and Smiley & West, which he co-hosts with Cornel West, a close friend and one of the nation’s leading black intellectuals, for Public Radio International (PRI). Together, the programs reach more than 500,000 listeners daily.

• High Quality Speakers Bureau, which, in addition to Smiley and West, offers lecture representation for approximately 17 social commentators and motivational speakers such as Henry Louis Gates Jr., Iyanla Vanzant, and Dr. Robin Smith. (Denise Pines, Smiley’s partner and marketing guru for 15 years, holds a minority stake in the company.)

• SmileyBooks, a co-publishing venture with Hay House Inc. that has published 22 books to date including several best sellers.

• Tavis Smiley Presents…, a unit that has managed and produced company-sponsored public events.

• SIVAT Productions, a company that develops documentary films.

• America I AM: The African American Imprint, a four-year traveling museum that has developed a number of spin-off publications and products.

"The Tavis Smiley Foundation, the philanthropic arm that has raised $322,000 to teach youth leadership skills as well as Smiley’s investments in residential and commercial properties in California and his home state of Indiana are also under the TSG umbrella. He also owns a number of Marco’s Pizza franchises throughout Indianapolis.”[It doesn’t mention how much goes to the kids, and how much goes to his “investments” - and notice that they say “raised” for the kids, not donated].
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But Tavis’ various holdings are very enlightening. They seem to explain Smiley and West’s over-the-top rhetoric. It seems that they’re generating their own news, and then they’re turning around and profiting off of the controversy that they themselves are creating. By creating controversy, that enhances their speaking fees (West, $30,000 a speech), book sales, and also enhances their television and radio audience. Then, Tavis will go back with his production company and produce a documentary on the screaming people that he’s managed to convince that they’re being ignored by the president.
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Even the latest book that they went around the country hawking was disingenuous. The title of the book is “The Rich And The Rest of Us.” Who is the “US” that they’re talking about? With all of the money that they’re pulling down, they certainly couldn’t be talking about themselves. They’re not one of “US,” they’re part of “THEM.” You’d be wise to never forget that.
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Tavis’ holdings also explain why in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, where 26 people were killed, including 20 children, West seemed to be more interested in making headlines than mourning over the senseless death of these innocent people. West said, “We can’t just shed tears for those on the vanilla side of town with the Middle Class.”
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West knew full well that the president's response had absolutely nothing to do with what "side of town" this tragedy took place. President Obama was responding as a father - as a human being - to the horrible tragedy of 20 innocent children being murdered while sitting in school. It didn't matter whether those children were Black or White; the tragedy was uniquely significant due to the horrific circumstances surrounding their deaths. Yet, even in the face of such a horrible tragedy, West couldn't resist his irresponsible urge to score a twofer for he and Tavis' team. He immediately saw an opportunity to both, criticize the president, and to garner headlines, which could later be converted to even more publicity, and cash.
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For an individual who’s supposed to be a man of God, that was a horrible thing to say - in fact, it would have been a horrible and dumb thing for anyone to say, regardless to what their beliefs. But this seems to be Cornel West’s pattern. Instead of putting his agenda aside just long enough to support initiatives that are in everyone’s best interest, he insists on being divisive, incendiary, and self-promoting. By doing so, he not only detracts from the effort to get guns out of our communities - including the Black community, which he claims to be so much in love - but in the process, he also manages to desecrate the memory of 20 innocent children.
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The man is shameless, and quite frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if his intense envy, and the resulting hatred, of President Obama might have pushed him over the edge. Because, other than Tavis Smiley himself, I've never seen another man of relative stature who seems to be so completely oblivious to his own destruction. And watching this drama play out on the public stage is absolutely surreal.
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Is West's reckless behavior what one would expect of a true intellectual? I don’t think so. He's engaged in the kind of irrational behavior of a man who can’t be trusted - and he's been headed in this direction for quite some time. It was this very same kind of thoughtless, ego-driven, and self-serving behavior that caused Cornel West to be so instrumental in getting the entire country in the disastrous situation that we currently find ourselves.
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In the 2000 election George W. Bush won the presidency by winning Florida by 537 votes. The Nader/West coalition peeled way 97,488 votes in Florida alone. So even for those who say that Bush stole the election, if it hadn’t been for the efforts of Nader and West, the election wouldn’t have been close enough for Bush to steal. Thus, all of West’s ranting about what Obama’s not doing is tantamount to a man who’s dug a ditch, and who’s now complaining that Obama’s not filling it in fast enough.
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The Black community has had its share of poverty pimps, but we’ve never been pimped like this before. The poverty pimps of the past tended to just have little disorganized hustles, but Tavis Smiley seems to have created “Poverty Pimp, Inc.” He’s gaining the people’s confidence by staying in the public eye, and he stays in the public eye by financing his own shows with the money he derives from the people’s misery. So it seems that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are the Iceberg Slim and Trick Baby of public pimpdom.
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Thus, the Smiley/West coalition is well worth watching, because it’s a coalition forged between the Bogeyman and the Devil.

Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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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, December 06, 2013

NELSON MANDELA: HOMEWARD BOUND

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

HOMEWARD BOUND
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Open your arms, Dear Lord!
We shout today,
For your messenger of justice
is on his way.
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It was like nothing we’d ever
seen before,
when he left to meet you
at Heaven’s door.
Deep in the night,
as the world slept sound,
his chariot arrived,
and he was homeward bound.
*
Dressed like a prince,
all in white;
His spirit aglow
on this sacred night.
Young and vibrant,
All sickness now gone;
No more
Suffering or pain,
As he rose to move on.
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His chariot was swift,
with six
beautiful white horses,
and
the thunder roared
as his chariot departed.
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With one final glance
at the ones that he loved,
he was whisked
through the clouds
to his new home above.
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We’ll miss
his warm smile,
In our own selfish way,
But you’re warrior for justice
will be back home today.
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God’s speed, Nelson
Eric L. Wattree.

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Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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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, December 03, 2013

Barack Hussein Obama Will Be Remembered As One of Our Greatest Presidents - Here Are the Facts

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

Barack Hussein Obama Will Be Remembered As One of Our Greatest Presidents -
Here Are the Facts
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I am sick to death of these so-call Black "intellectuals" spending so much time criticizing President Obama - not because I don’t feel that EVERY politician’s feet should be held to the fire, I do, but because most of the nonsense  they’re spewing is pure, unmitigated, ignorance. And what makes it worse is it’s either purposeful ignorance, or ignorance due to a lazy-mindedness that could be corrected with less than ten minutes of objective research.
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The irony is, people like Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, the entire GOP, and a lot of other uninformed haters are severely criticizing the President, while Obama's is showing himself to be one the most fearsome warriors for the American people that this nation has ever had. That's why the GOP is trying to impeach Eric Holder, because he and Obama are killing their cronies on Wall Street for the abuse of the American people that led to the Great Recession.
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Most American's have all but forgotten about the Wall Street debacle, at least in terms of recouping our losses. They’ve simply written it off as a loss, but not Obama. He's made Wall Street pay all of the bailout money back to the American taxpayer, with interest (Bailout Payment Tracker), reimburse customers, admit guilt (which leaves them open to private lawsuits), made them pay billions of dollars over and above what they stole, and THEN, he’s making them cooperate in their OWN criminal prosecution! These corporations may be "too big to fail," but if President Obama has his way, their managers won’t be too big to jail.
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But at the same time, President Obama realizes that he's walking a tight rope. While he understands the importance of having Wall Street pay a price that they won't soon forget, he also understands the importance to the economy that while he's exacting that price, that it not be perceived as blind retribution or reckless political point gathering. So Obama is going about the business of admonishing Wall Street in his typically thoughtful and pragmatic manner. This is exactly how a president should conduct business, by defending the interests of the American people, but at the same time, thoughtfully enough to take all of the pros and cons into account so as to minimize the chances of unintended consequences.
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But nobody's talking about that, and Obama doesn't believe in tootin' his own horn. The man is in Washington walking on water, while his critics are talking about him like a dog. But even as they criticize, he's quietly performing one miracle after another, and then casually walking away without saying a word. So if he has any shortcoming, that’s it - he obviously finds it prudent to pursue the nation’s interest without fanfare.  He fully recognizes the political realities that come with being the first Black President of the United States. Things have to be done just a little bit differently, by necessity - and bragging about his accomplishments is definitely one of those things.
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A perfect example of that is, if the Republicans had captured or killed Osama Bin Laden, they'd still be bragging about it, and at this point, George W. Bush’s image would be near completion on Mt. Rushmore. Clear evidence of that is how the GOP was bragging about how valiantly they were killing innocent people in Iraq in response to 9-11 - Bush even showed up in a flight suit (presumably the one he ran away from when he was actually SUPPOSE to be in the military).  Every Republican in the country was running on it, but all they actually did was spent a trillion dollars with nothing to show for it - which was actually the plan. They purposely used 9-11 to start a senseless war, give Dick Cheney's old firm a huge no-bid contract, and passed a huge tax cut, to enrich their cronies, and intentionally ravaged America’s coffers so they could use that as a pretext to attack the social programs put in place by the New Deal, the GOP’s primary reason for being for over seventy years. 
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How do we know this?
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We know this because after Bush and Cheney spent seven years, a trillion dollars, and were responsible for the death and/or maiming of thousands of American troops, Barack Obama came into office and casually took out Bin Laden with three helicopters and a handful of America's finest. He then simply announced Bin Laden's demise to the American people and walked away to address other issues just as casually as he accomplished it. Yet, we have Republicans running around claiming that he's the most incompetent president that we've ever had - and that's in spite of the fact that they, literally, had to hide Bush and Cheney for two election cycles.
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So to his severe detriment, President Obama just doesn't like to toot his own horn, but he should - if for no other reason than to bench the demagogues. The American people should be lovin' this guy, and they could be of great assistance in helping him move the country forward. So by emphasizing his accomplishments he could not only shut down the Republicans, but he could also shut the mouths of these so-called Black intellectuals who are so busy bashing the most powerful symbol of Black competence in the world, that they’re providing cover for Republicans who are, literally, cutting America’s throat. How could these people not recognize that, and how can President Obama not recognize the value of shutting these people down? But I suppose he has his reasons, and in light of his track record, I'm not prone to second-guess him.
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And again, take what he’s doing in response to the Wall Street scandal. While Obama is walking around smiling and being Mr. Nice Guy in public, Wall Street and the Republicans know who he REALLY is under that nice guy fa├žade - Attila the Hun. While he's being criticized by uninformed idiots as being a tool of Wall Street, Obama has some of the biggest names on Wall Street in the woodshed bent over with their pants around their ankles. He's taking no prisoners - if you screwed the American people, you're going down - and some of the people going down were his biggest supporters, James "Jamie" Dimon, for example, the head of JPMorgan. I bet Cornel West couldn’t tell Jamie that Obama is "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats." President Obama is, laterally, shaking that man’s world.
Forbes Magazine: Economically, Could Obama Be America’s Best President?
http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2013/05/16/economically-could-obama-be-americas-best-president/

JPMORGAN AGREED TO PAY $13 BILLION, AND IN A FIRST, ADMIT GUILT
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According to a CBS News report:
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In the past, "The banks in all the SEC cases were allowed to neither admit nor deny wrongdoing - a practice that brought criticism of the agency from judges and investor advocates.
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"But in a first for a major company, JPMorgan admitted in the agreement with the SEC over the $6 billion trading loss in its London operation that it failed in its oversight. The admission could leave the bank vulnerable to millions of dollars in lawsuits. JPMorgan also reached settlements over the trading loss with the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Britain's Financial Conduct Authority."
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In response, the government in January 2012 set up a task force of federal and state law enforcement officials to pursue wrongdoing with regard to mortgage securities.
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In September, JPMorgan agreed to pay $920 million and admit that it failed to oversee trading that led to a $6 billion loss last year in its London operation. That combined amount, in settlements with three U.S. and one British regulator, is one of the largest fines ever levied against a financial institution. In another case, the company agreed to pay a $100 million penalty and admitted that its traders acted "recklessly" with the London trades.
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To sum up the pound of flesh that Obama is extracted from this one corporation (and one of his biggest supporters) for the abuses that it perpetrated against the American people, Obama has demanded the following:
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1). Of the $13 billion, $9 billion is fines or penalties and $4 billion will go to consumer relief for struggling homeowners.
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2). JPMorgan also agreed to provide cooperation in investigations against individuals within the company.
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3). JPMorgan settled SEC charges in June 2011 by agreeing to pay $153.6 million and reached another such agreement for $296.9 million last November.
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4). As part of the tentative agreement, JPMorgan dropped its demand for the Justice Department to take a "non-prosecution agreement" off the table, which means a criminal investigation of the bank's conduct being handled by federal prosecutors in Sacramento, Calif., continues.
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"Mounting legal costs from government proceedings pushed JPMorgan to a rare loss in the third quarter, the first under Dimon's leadership. The bank reported Oct. 11 that it set aside $9.2 billion in the July-September quarter to cover a string of litigation stemming from the financial crisis and its "London Whale" trading debacle. JPMorgan said it has placed a total of $23 billion in reserve to cover potential legal costs."
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And they’re not through paying yet, because in spite of this "settlement" the administration is STILL coming after them with MORE charges, including criminal. And again, in another first - the head of JPMorgan, James Dimon, was one of Obama's biggest supporters. So Obama has taken a "take no prisoners" approach - if you screwed the American people, you're going down, no matter who you are. That’s a new wrinkle in American politics (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57608321/jpmorgan-chase-justice-department-reach-tentative-$13-billion-deal-over-mortgage-backed-securities/).
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And Obama’s accomplishments go far beyond simply punishing Wall Street. In addition to getting Osama Bin Laden - again, something that Bush spent a trillion dollars allegedly trying to do - Obama, literally, saved the world from slipping into another Great Depression. While the Republicans, and many Black Obama haters, have the audacity to ask "Where’s the jobs?," these people are conveniently failing to recall that under George W. Bush the nation was hemorrhaging 850,000 jobs PER MONTH. So compared to that, we’re experiencing a robust economy. Obama also saved the American auto industry, cut the deficit in half, and he’s providing health insurance to millions of Americans who couldn't previously obtain it.
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In addition, he’s gotten Syria to give up their chemical weapons, and persuaded Iran to allow nuclear weapons inspectors inside the country. If George W. Bush had been as effective in Iraq as Obama has been in both Syria and Iran, he could have saved the nation a trillion dollars, and saved the lives of more than a million people.

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With that said, I'm going to repeat myself here, because I feel obliged to ram the following point home. Compare President Obama's accomplishments above with the fact that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, two of his most persistent and severe critics, traveled all across the country on a bus under the pretext of being so passionately concerned about poverty in America that they felt honor-bound to take a stand - but of course, that was BEFORE the election, and when they had books to sell. But now that the election is over, and they don't have any books to sell, they couldn't bring themselves to walk down the street from Tavis' office to support the Black Friday demonstrations taking place all across the country against Wal-Mart - Tavis' major sponsor, a member of ALEC, and the biggest abuser of the working class in America today.
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And not only did they fail to attend ANY of the demonstrations taking place across the country against Wal-Mart, they didn't even issue a statement of support. All we've heard coming from the Smiley/West camp are crickets - and as everyone knows, that's extremely uncharacteristic of Cornel West, who's renowned for being willing to trade a kidney for a sound byte. 

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So I'd say that just about says it all about those two - Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are two of the biggest hypocrites that the Black community has ever suffered, and their constant denigration of the most powerful symbol of Black competence in the world is a slap in the face of the Black community, and nothing short of a distraction that allows cover for the GOP to more easily pursue their agenda of cutting America's throat.  
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Thus, contrary to the criticisms of the GOP, and the attempted character assassination of the president by a handful of self-serving, and/or clueless, Black "intellectuals," Barack Hussein Obama has already accomplished enough to be remembered by history as one of our greatest presidents.  So, he, the Black community, and his supporters, would be well served to begin to trumpet that fact, and tell the idiots, demagogues, and poverty pimps to go take a nap - and that has nothing to do with becoming an Obama cheerleader or lending blind support for everything that he does. It's about reflecting the facts, supporting our own best interests, and countering the brutal assault on Obama being staged by self-serving demagogues whose activities are lending comfort to those who have morphed into the domestic enemy of the United States.  

 
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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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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