Saturday, May 27, 2006


Eric L. Wattree

I feel compelled to reiterate a theme that I addressed in an earlier article where I emphasized that education is the key to improving our condition in the Black community.  I realize that I’m at risk of sounding like Willie One-Note, but I see the need for education in the Black community as a refrain that needs to be played over and over again, because all of our problems can be boiled down to that one simple point.  The fact is, God made birds to fly, fish to swim, and man to think.  If a bird refuses to fly, or a fish refuses to swim, they’re not going to survive very long.  The same is true of man—if a man, or a community of men, refuses to think, they cannot remain viable in this society.

Education will teach us right off the bat that the only rights that we have in this world are the rights that we can take and then defend.  Now, I don’t mean “take” in a military sense—that would be a recipe for disaster.  When I say “take”, I mean using our collective intellect to obtain.  Because it has become clear that we can’t out scream the White man, we don’t have the electronic resources. And it makes absolutely no sense to try to appeal to his compassion, because he doesn’t have any--and what’s going on in Iraq shows that we certainly can’t match him when it comes to brutality. But Martin demonstrated without a doubt that if we marshal our collective intellectual resources, we can out think this man.  We are a highly creative people—we’ve simply got to develop the gift that God gave us, as our essential means of survival.

God didn’t create anything in this world and leave it defenseless.  He gave the chameleon the ability to change colors and blend in with its environment, to make itself virtually invisible. He gave the skunk a funk that’s so powerful that nothing wants to get close enough to eat it. And some fish can blow themselves up so large that they can’t be swallowed.  He did the same with man.  He placed man on Earth as a naked ape—he wasn’t as strong as the elephant, or as ferocious as the lion, and couldn’t fly like the eagle, so God gave him a brain. It didn’t seem like much, at the time, but the human mind has allowed man to create machines that can now crush any elephant, slaughter any lion, and soar well beyond the eagle’s domain.

He’s done the same thing for Black people. He’s given us a highly developed sense of creativity, which, by definition, is a primary indicator of intellectual development.  But our problem is, we only utilize God’s gift for our entertainment, rather than using it to soar like the eagle, and step beyond the domain of ordinary men.

It’s amazing to me how the Black man fails to recognize his powerful gift of creative intellect—we’ve already seen it in action. The hill that Martin had to climb to reach the mountaintop, and see over the heads of common men, was much steeper than the molehill we have to climb today.  Yet, he managed to dredge up a strength and power from his soul that was so profound that it served to lift the rest of mankind to a higher level of humanity. That was not only a testament to one Black man(s ability to pull himself up from the dust of his humble beginnings, but also, a testament to the capacity of his people to meet the test of greatness.

Similarly, I’m also amazed that whenever I hear a discussion on Black pride, someone always seems to brings up the issue of Egypt, and whether or not Cleopatra was Black. All that's academic. We don't have to go back to antiquity to find a source of pride. All we have to do is study the life and times of our parents, our grandparents, and that generation of Black people born between the turn of the century and WWII. In less than a hundred years our people have gone from being the defenseless and nameless victims of public lynchings, to becoming people like Colon Powell, who was responsible for the defense of all of America and the entire western world. In less than a hundred years, the Black people of that generation went from housekeepers and flunkies, to the boardrooms of multinational corporations. And in less than a hundred years, we’ve gone from playing washboards and tin cans on the side of the road, to becoming the greatest musicians the world has ever known.

As a musician, I think about that time a lot—when White folks use to laugh and simply tolerated as “quaint” those “simple” brothers with their washboards and tin cans on the side of the road.  They weren’t seen as a threat, because they were deprived of going to the prestigious music conservatories that White musicians had access to. But today, America is defined by the legacy of those very same musicians.  Every time anyone turns on a radio anywhere in the world, they should have to pay royalties to Bird, Miles, Coltrane, Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye, and the myriad of other Black musicians that have carried on our legacy.  Yeah, they laughed at us in the beginning, just like they’re laughing at us now; but now, you can get a  Ph.D. in just about any university in the world for just trying to figure out what Bird was doing—and fifty years after his death, they still can’t get it right.  That is the power of creativity, and that is our legacy as a people.

So, we’ve got to start taking ourselves much more seriously—because we are a powerful people, with an exceptional intellect.  But we’ve got to develop it, and refine it, and extend it to the whole of human knowledge.  And we’ve got to stop taking ourselves for granted, and expecting one voice to speak for millions.  We must seek to educate ourselves, so that millions can speak with one voice:

Neither scholar nor the head of state,
The most common of men seems to be my fate;
A life blistered with struggle and constant need,
But as my legacy to man I bequeath my seed.
More fertile, more sturdy, these ones than I,
This withered old vine left fallow and dry;
The nectar of their roots lie dormant still,
But through their fruit I(ll be revealed.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree


The Hispanic community may have done itself a gross disservice last week. The huge demonstrations that turned out against proposed immigration reform in the U.S. Congress might well have done more to bolster alarmist arguments against Hispanic immigration than any words the alarmists could have possibly come up with on their own.    

That old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words never rang more true than during this past week. Prior to last week’s demonstrations alarmist constantly bombarded the American people with facts and figures in a desperate attempt to portray just how serious the problem of undocumented workers coming into this country each year had become. But they had a problem—the facts and figures were abstract. While the American people heard the facts and figures, they simply could not visualize what those facts and figures represented. But the mass display of humanity that flooded the streets and cities across this country last week brought the message home loud and clear--We have a serious problem.

I can only imagine how the alarmists and racists in this country are going to use those images to instill fear in the average American. When I turned on the television and saw the half million people protesting in the street on such short notice it even scared me, a progressive who tends to be sympathetic to the cause of the underdog.  Those images brought an important message home to me—we’ve had our heads in the sand for far too long.  This is an issue that must be addressed immediately, and in a firm and aggressive manner.

Last week’s images have shocked America into drawing lines in the sand—but lines that are convoluted and with the strangest of bedfellows on both sides. Unfortunately, I don’t think that bodes well for the undocumented worker. In spite of the seriousness of this matter, this entire controversy is rapidly degenerating into an exercise in what America does best—catering to self-interest.

On the one hand you have the advocates of undocumented workers who argue that these are people who only take jobs that other Americans don’t want.  They contend that they’re a people who have been exploited by American business for years, and have contributed greatly to the United States economy for very little or no reward.  They also argue that to criminalize illegal status would turn hard working and productive people into felons, and to require that they return to their country of origin would disrupt families and be unjust to their children, who, in many cases, are American citizens. The proponents of this position are Hispanic politicians who are both, responding to their constituency, and, the potential political advantage of gaining 9 million new Hispanic voters. Their partner in this position are conservative business interests who want to exploit the opportunity for cheap labor.

On the other side you have those who contend that during this time when America is under the threat of terrorism we must have control over our borders. They also take the position that the large number of undocumented workers are taking jobs from American citizens, and that they’re also placing a tremendous strain on our education, healthcare, and welfare systems. Lined up on this side are progressives who are concerned with the impact that the large number of undocumented workers are having on unions and the earning power of the average American, but standing along side them are the racists and xenophobes who are just hostile to Hispanic immigration period—and therein lies the problem for many progressives.

Nevertheless, and while I sincerely regret finding myself in the same camp with racists and xenophobes, I have to recognize that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Thus, when I weigh the relative merit of the two arguments it seems that the latter holds more weight. Every country must protect its borders—if it doesn’t, the word “country” is meaningless. And while it is true that the undocumented worker has been exploited, they placed themselves in that position when they decided to immigrate here illegally.  If they’d turn out in their own countries in the numbers that they did here in the United States they just might have been able to gain concessions in their countries of origin. 

And the argument that they only take jobs that Americans don’t want is completely
fallacious.  Undocumented workers do much more than just pick grapes—they work as truck drivers, upholsterers, meat packers, chefs, bakers, printers, and many other relatively high paying jobs that Americans would love to have. And finally, all one has to do is go to any county agency, public school, or emergency room in Los Angeles to see the negative impact and strain that undocumented workers are placing on those systems—many teachers are being threatened with the loss of their jobs if they fail to become bilingual in a given period of time, and the phone systems of many government agencies will tell a caller to, “Press 1 if you want to speak in English.” Come on, now—this is the United States!  Why should I have to press 1 to speak the native language?

So how should we handle this problem?  First, we should find out who is here and where they work by issuing work permits, and the worker should have to return to his country of origin to obtain one.  This permit would also serve as an identification card that would allow him to register his children in school and obtain other public services.  In addition, any person involved in forging, or found to be in possession of a forged card would be charged with a felony. And finally, any business that hires a worker without a card should be fined $20,000 per violation.  I think that would be a pretty good start.

Finally, I want to point out that I was born in Los Angeles and grew up with Hispanic people, so I not only have a great love, but a tremendous respect for them--In fact, I’d like to see many of their cultural attributes reflected in my own people.  Because of that fact, it was important to me that I ask myself a simple question before I wrote this article: Would I take the same position if we were talking about African or Haitian immigrants?  The answer-- absolutely.  The reason for that is, I’ve come to the conclusion that while compassion for others is one of man’s highest virtues, cutting one’s own throat in pursuit of that virtue is simply foolish.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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While I was at ARCO the other day, paying homage to King George, I noticed this brother at the pump getting progressively more agitated as he watched the numbers reel by. The brother looked so distressed that I stood there hoping the pump would stop before he had a stroke. Then he looked up at me and said, “Damn man, these numbers are whirling by like a slot machine.”  I assumed he was talking about the price gauge, because watching the gas gauge creep along was like watching paint dry.  So I told him, we’d probably be better off if it was a slot machine. Then, we’d have a shot at hitting three cherries and getting a free tank of gas.  The brother laughed and then kind of lightened up.

But it’s not a joke what the Bush Administration is doing to the American people.  They have that bottom-line mentality, and the bottom line is wealth and power.  If they have to give our all to get it, then, so be it—we just have to bite the dust.  

I never thought we’d ever see the day when it would be more cost effective to pour Chavis Regal down my tank than gas, but that day is rapidly approaching—and it’s not just hitting us when we gas up, it’s affecting every area of our financial lives.  We’re going to be paying the price of fine Scotch for everything that has to be transported by truck, which means everything we buy, from baby wipes to toilet paper.

And this is not a result of poor planning, or by accident—on the contrary, it’s a well thought out plan. It’s no accident that they’re outsourcing our best paying jobs to other countries, or opening up the borders to a flood of cheap labor, or attempting to destroy our public school system through the use of vouchers. It’s called “The New World Order.”  It’s a plan to turn America, and the entire world, into a Third World economy, where there is no middle class, and everyone is at the mercy and whim of big business.

Take the school voucher system, for example.  It sounds good on the surface—they want to give the people money-- people that they’ve never cared about before-- “to insure that their kids get a quality education.”  But tell me, what are these people going to do when the public school system is destroyed, after the public has taken all its kids out of it for $1500 a year, then the private school system goes up to $5,000 a year?  I’ll tell you what their going to do—their going to sit at home, with their illiterate children, who have no chance of ever rising above the status of their parents.  The children will then have but two choices--they’ll either have to work for whatever peanuts big business is willing to throw their way, or join the military and become canon fodder in a perpetual state of war to enhance the fortunes of Dick Cheney and Haliburton.

The agenda is clear. While our love ones are being blown apart, Haliburton--the company that Vice President Cheney headed before coming into office, and is still being compensated by--is enjoying unprecedented profits, while providing our troops with contaminated water; and as our families are being scarred for life, the children of Bush’s chicken hawks are following in their parent’s footsteps--lying back in the lap of luxurious privilege, content to cheer the heroic "little people" from the lobby of exclusive tennis clubs. And then, when we attempt to end the bloodletting, and to get our children out of harms way, they tell us we’re un-American.
Well, it seems to me that anyone who buys into that nonsense is not only a non-thinking person, but in point of fact, an absolute idiot.  But then, that brings us right back to why they want to destroy our educational system, doesn't it?  Knowledge is power, but it’s become clear that in the past five years the American people have been brainwashed into believing that independent thought is an elitist concept.  So as we slowly sink into this cesspool of virtual slavery—or neo-slavery, as it were—allow me to be the first to welcome America, to the New World Order.

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I’d like to take a moment to give a little something back to a magnificent old swinger. Being from the old school, and born and raised in Los Angeles, jazz has always been a major force in my life. So when Chuck Niles, of radio station KKJZ left this Earth, it represented the eternal silence of yet another force that went into molding what I think of as me. In my mind, jazz, Chuck Niles, and who I am today are all a part of the same continuum. Rahsaan called us Eulipians--a brotherhood of writers, poets, musicians and uncommon drunks, who thrive on a riff, and passionately embrace the proposition that man’s thirst for knowledge will someday overwhelm his lust for stupidity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I think of Chuck, I think of beautiful days and sweeter nights; a time when the promise of tomorrow was more tantalizing than the chilling passion of the night before. So the passing of this swingin' old warhorse also represents the passing of a magnificent era; an era reminiscent of an elegant lady--a lady that Chuck now, lovingly, escorts into the mist.

Support jazz, by supporting radio station KKJZ, 88.1 FM—one of the last stations in America, that truly speaks of you.

Eric L. Wattree

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Last week I mentioned in passing that the shackles on our minds have proven to be much more resilient than those that chained us to this Earth.  That comment seems to have resonated with a number of people in the community, and I’ve been urged by several of you to pursue that line of thought, so I intend to do just that.  But I want to preface my remarks by pointing out that I’ve thought long and hard over how to approach these issues, because the Black community already have too many people, both Black and White, who are much too anxious to wag their fingers and lecture, ad nauseam, both, Black people and the world at large, about the shortcomings in our community.  In fact, one “Black man”, Larry Elder, has forged a lucrative career out of dragging his own people through the mud over national radio on a daily basis (an issue I’ll be addressing in a future column), so we don’t need that. But what we do need is an honest discussion on how we can live up to the potential that we’ve already demonstrated as a people. So I’ll attempt to initiate that discussion, in a constructive, rather than self-serving way.

In that regard, it seems to me that the very first thing we must come to terms with is to realize that as a people who are the product of a racist society, we are just as racist towards other Black people as any redneck White man. Without a concerted effort, that was unavoidable, because we’ve been indoctrinated by the very same environment that indoctrinated White folks.  Of course, our first reaction is to vehemently deny that assertion, but the way in which we relate to one another says it all.

Just look around you, and yet again, I mention Larry Elder—what that “brother” is involved in day after day, week after week, and year after year can’t be described in any other way than an exercise in self-hatred.  Now, consider our reaction to it—we’ve allowed this guy to drag us through the mud with absolute impunity. He says things about the Black community that no White man would be allowed to get away with, and that’s the very key to his success.  No other group of people on the face of this Earth would allow that.  If he’d been Jewish, or Mexican, or even Aborigine, and talked about those people the way he does Black people, he wouldn’t have lasted on the air past his second commercial. Thus, the very fact that he’s allowed to prosper at our expense, speaks volumes about what we think of ourselves--and the powers that be are listening.  After all, why should they stick their necks out to fight for a people that won’t even fight for themselves?

Now let us look at the issue of drive-byes and gang related violence.  The murder rate in the city of Compton alone has reached its highest level in 10 years.  The homicide rate was reported to be up by 72 per cent last year. If that fact is not ugly enough, there’s one fact that should give us pause—out of all of the brutality committed against Black people in Los Angeles County last year, not one perpetrator was reported to have been wearing a sheet.  Again, that stat speaks volumes.

But as ugly as the facts above are, they are far from our most tenacious shackle. All of the problems sited above, and all of the problems in our community as a whole, can be traced back to one fundamental flaw-- the attitude that many of us hold towards our Black women.  
Too many of our young brothers see the need to refer to our women as “bitches” and “whoes”, as though it’s a rite of passage into manhood.  The pride that they take in being perceived as playas and pimps demonstrates without a doubt that they think being a man is about denigrating Black women.  Again, this is the root to all of the problems pointed out above, because you cannot love yourself, are have any respect for your people, until you learn to cherish the very cradle of your culture.  No wonder we can’t get the respect that we feel we deserve from the world. As long as we go around calling our women “bitches” and “whoes”, by our own definition, we’re calling ourselves “sons of bitches”—then we wonder why the world won’t take us seriously. In contrast, the White man places his woman on a pedestal, because he knows how important she is to his own self-esteem.

The way White men view their women is graphically portrayed in the movie King Kong.  When they took that White woman ashore and the natives laid eyes on her blond hair, and blue eyes, they went totally berserk—I mean, into an absolute frenzy. In spite of the fact that the island was full of Black women, the natives were convinced that nothing in this world would appease this twenty-five foot gorilla like the opportunity to lay his hands on this White woman.  And it turns out they were right, because the minute King Kong laid his hands on that White Woman he forgot about all else. Thereafter, he fought forty foot snakes, numerous dinosaurs, and finally, the United States Air Force, just for the love of this one White woman, who wasn’t even as big as his thumb.    

That is the value that the White man places in his women, and if we are ever to shed our shackles, that is the value we must place in our own.  We must learn that once our women raise us from boys to men, we must cherish, and stand by those women, and help them to raise the next generation of strong men, and loving and determined women.  So I want to challenge my young brothers.  Take a minute to call the house you were raised in, and I’m willing to bet everything I own that you’re not gonna find one “bitch” or one “whoe.” What you’re gonna find is the love and determination that dragged you into what passes for manhood--and what remains, the very key to your survival.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.
Author of  “A Message From The Hood”
(213) 399-5171

I’d like to dedicate this article to my late wife,
Valdie Lavern Wattree
Baby, ‘Til death do us part—and beyond.

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Well, Bush and his Republican cronies have pulled the wool over our eyes once again. Yet again, they’ve convinced the American people that it’s in our best interest to make the simply rich, filthy rich, by giving them a 70 billion dollar tax cut. And let there be no doubt about it, as the children of poor and middle-class people die in Iraq for huge oil companies that are gouging their mothers and fathers at home with $3.50 a gallon gas, Bush has pushed through a tax cut designed specifically for the rich: If you make $30, 000 a year, you get $9; if you make $75, 000 a year, you get $100; but if you happen to be one of those fortunate few who pull down a million dollars a year, you get $42,000.

The American people must be out of its collective mind to allow these people to run a game on us like that. And what really gets next to me is, while the rich are getting this kind of kickback, I can’t even write off the interest on my credit cards - Ronald Reagan, that other gangster, took that from us. I’ve got to tell you - they say Bush is not all that bright, but he certainly knows how to stuff his pockets. This guy puts Iceberg Slim to shame. He never saw any problem that taking "mo money" from his whoes wouldn't fix.

Here’s the game they’re running: They’ve convinced America that if we give the rich enough money, they’ll use some of that money to create jobs for the poor and middle class. Now, I don’t claim to be an intellectual giant, and I haven’t spent more than 30 minutes studying Economics, but it doesn’t take a great mind to understand that demand fuels supply, not vice versa. If I made my living selling Gucci Bags, for example, I don’t care how much money you give me, I’m not going to produce any additional Gucci Bags if I'm being forced to sell them in a homeless shelter. It wouldn’t make sense, because no one has the money to purchase them. The only way that you’re going to get me to hire people to produce Gucci Bags is if you gave that money to the people in the shelter so they’d have the money to buy my merchandise.

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

Reaganomics, for the most part, sought to undo many of the safeguards put into place during the Roosevelt era and create a business environment similar to that which was in place during the Coolidge Administration. What actually took place, however, was even more like the Coolidge era than planed. Instead of taking the money and investing it into creating new jobs, the money was used in wild schemes and stock market speculation. One of those schemes, the leveraged buy out, involved buying up large companies with borrowed funds secured by the company's assets, then paying off the loan by selling off the assets of the purchased company. That practice destabilized our manufacturing base and cost the citizens of this country millions of jobs that we haven’t recovered from to this day. In addition, the bottom fell out of the stock market. On Monday, October 19, 1987 the Dow-Jones Average fell 508.32 points. It was the greatest one-day decline since 1914 - 15 years before the Great Depression.

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

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

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

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

So I've found that a good rule of thumb is to not believe a word that comes out of either Bush or the GOP's collective mouth. As comfortable as I am in my heritage, if the GOP voted a resolution on the floor tomorrow assuring me that I was Black, I’d feel obliged to go and have my DNA tested.

Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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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There was a time just a few short years ago when regardless to what horrors were taking place in the rest of the world I thought I could take comfort in the fact that “it could never happen here in America.” With the benefit of hindsight, however, I now see that I was clearly na├»ve, since less than sixty years ago a segment of the American populous was bringing picnic baskets to the public lynching of Black people all over the South. Nevertheless, America was able to put on a good front and convinced both me, and the world, that such behavior was an aberration, and far from representative of who we are as a people. They managed to convince us that the United States was an anointed place, chosen by God to show the rest of the world the way.

But in five short years the Bush Administration has managed to undermine all of the spin, disinformation, and public relations that America has so painstakingly spoon-fed the world over the past two centuries. In the graphic parlance of the street, “he’s pimped our [whoe] card.” Ordinarily I would thank him for bringing us back to reality, but in doing so he’s created a new reality—a reality that has placed America in serious jeopardy.

During the years that America benefited from the illusion of moral propriety, even our enemies paid us a grudging respect. They had second thoughts about carrying out their more malevolent tendencies due to the fear that their conduct might offend the moral sensibilities of this great beacon of moral propriety on the hill. But in a mere five years the Bush Administration has demonstrated that America at its worst is just as immune to moral propriety as any malevolent, tinhorn dictator that the world has ever known—and it’s much more dangerous, due to its awesome political and military might.

When Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and then declared that he’s prepared to engage in preemptory military operations against any country that he perceives to be a threat to American security, essentially, he put the world on notice--what has happened to Iraq can also happen to them on just his personal whim. So in essence, he’s declared himself president of the world. As a result, friend and foe alike are looking at America in a far different way. They now see that America is greedy, power hungry, and cannot be trusted. And while they may well recognize that the Bush Administration may simply be a passing aberration in American politics, just the fact that they’ve been allowed to effect such vast changes in the American body politic demonstrates that the American character itself can turn on a dime, and therefore, makes for a highly unstable world entity. Thus, the only way to protect themselves from this hungry giant is to align themselves against it, and to move forward with programs to develop nuclear armaments as fast as they can. The nations of Iran and North Korea are perfect examples of that mindset at work.

The leaking of the Downing Street Memo is another example, but this time an example of our allies working to undermine American interests. The memo is a Top Secrete document to Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was written by Matthew Rycroft, a foreign aide to the Prime Minister, after meeting with the Bush Administration. The document points out in graphic detail the Bush administration’s game plan to deceive the world in order to justify its decision to invade Iraq. It pointed out that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” In short, it was saying that Bush wanted to go after Saddam but they were going to have to lie to justify it. Just the fact that this memo was allowed to see the light of day demonstrates that even our supposed allies are actively working to undermine this administration—and with good cause.

George W. Bush has always been a shady character and a failure at everything he’s ever attempted in life. In spite of the fact that he’s so willing to sacrifice American lives in Iraq, even after strings were pulled to place him at the front of the line to get him into the Texas National Guard to avoid going into the regular army, and possibly having to risk his own life in Vietnam, he ran away from his responsibility to serve out his term. That was swept under the rug. Then in 1978 Bush started an oil business called Arbusto Energy. It was a total failure and never turned a profit. But before the business went completely under, friends of the Bush family managed to merge it with another company call Spectrum 7 and made Bush the CEO. Within a few years that company was also in debt, but once again, Bush was bailed out by family friends. The new company was called Harken Energy. During his tenure at that company Bush was given $120,000 a year and huge stock options to do absolutely nothing. Just before that company collapsed Bush sold all of his stock for a huge profit. As a result he was being investigated by the SEC for insider trading, but by that time his father was president, so the investigation was quietly dropped. Now we find that Haliburton, the company that his vice president headed, thus, ended up getting no bid contracts in Iraq, has been knowingly serving our troops contaminated water. I could go on for many pages, but quite frankly, I don’t think it should be necessary.

Again, George W. Bush has been a man of shady character, highly incompetent, and an abject failure all of his life. Just the fact that we’ve allowed such a man to become the President of the United States is an indictment against our society, and should be a source of great shame and embarrassment to every American. But it goes much farther than that—remaining true to his nature, yet again, this man is about to crash and burn. So the question we must ask ourselves is this: Are we prepared to just stand by and allow Bush to take all of America down with him? Think about it—because daddy’s friends can’t save us this time.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.

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Friday, May 26, 2006




My sister recently forwarded me a piece of e-mail that was sent to her from a friend.  The e-mail suggested that we all wear red on Fridays as a show of support for our “heroic troops in Iraq.” In response, I pointed out to my sister that if she really wanted to support our troops, she’d stop buying into this kind of manipulative nonsense.  If we all wore red on Fridays to support our troops, every neo-con in the country would spin it as proof positive that, “regardless to what the polls say, deep down inside, the vast majority of the American people support the war in Iraq”—the very war that’s killing our young people, and destroying their families.

The neo-conmen and chicken hawks of this world stay up all night trying to conjure up little schemes like this. They need a constant flow of nonsense to try to drum up support for this illegal war. They’d do, or say anything to keep this war going for just one more day, because with every day that passes, their cash registers go “Ka-ching.” With each day that passes, they pocket more money than any of us will see in our entire lives—300 million dollars a day. And much of that money is going to Halliburton, the company in which Cheney served as CEO before becoming Vice President. No other company was allowed to bid on the contracts when we went to war in Iraq, and two years ago the contracts were estimated to be in excess of 11 billion dollars. There’s nothing that takes place in Iraq that Halliburton doesn’t have it’s hands on—from feeding the troops and providing “security” for the most awesome military force that ever walked this Earth, to repairing everything that we blowup.  If ever there was a sweetheart deal, that was it.

But what is at least as unconscionable as this mercenary war itself, is the fact that they use the very victims that they’re sacrificing for their avarice and greed--our beloved troops--as human shields against criticism of their motives.  That’s why with every speech that Bush gives on this war he’s either verbally wrapping himself around our troops, or using the troops as a backdrop at some military base.

These neo-cons have been expert in confusing issues before the American people—after all, they’re businessmen, so they bring they’re marketing expertise with them: If you happen to be anti-Bush, they say you’re anti-American; if you’re against the war, they say you’re against the troops; and when they want to suspend the United States Constitution, they call it “The Patriot’s Act”—which is to say, if you’re against it, you’re unpatriotic.  But just one moment of uncluttered thought on the part of the American people would unravel their entire game, because for them to say that coming out against this war is undermining the troops, is the same as saying that being against gang activity is undermining our young people—both are needlessly placing the lives of our youth in jeopardy.  And further, just ask yourself, were the German people who were against Hitler, and hid Jews from the Nazi death camps during WWII unpatriotic, or were they the ultimate patriots?  After all, a patriot is not one who blindly follows party lines or the demagogic whims of an individual, but one who is loyal to the ideals upon which the nation was founded.

The American people has fallen for the oldest game in the book—“Don’t believe your eyes, you don’t have any sense, just believe what I tell you.”  If that weren’t so, Americans would be asking themselves a few fundamental questions like, if this is, indeed, such a heroic crusade, then why don’t I see any of the Bush or Cheney family members over in Iraq?  And if they hold our troops in such high regard, why did they send them over there to die needlessly, before they provided them with the proper equipment?  Of course, the answer to that is that they underestimated the stupidity of the American people.  They thought they had to rush over there before we had time to think.  But as it turns out, they had nothing to fear—here it is three years later, and some of us still haven’t seen the light.

There’s a couple of other questions that we should be asking ourselves: Why does a wounded soldier who has to leave his equipment on the battlefield have to pay for that equipment before he leaves the military?  And why does a wounded soldier have to pay for his own meals while in the hospital, even as Bush is signing a 70 billion dollar tax cut for the rich?

So we need to stop buying into the political rhetoric of these neo-cons, because words are a very powerful tool, and if you buy into the words, you’ll begin to embrace the concept.  Another example of that is always referring to the troops as heroes. Our troops aren’t heroes, they’re victims.  Of course, we appreciate the fact that they’re willing to place their lives on the line for what they’re told is in the best interest of this country, but calling them heroes serves to push Bush’s agenda. First, since a hero is one who places his life on the line for a noble cause, referring to our troops as heroes serve to endorse Bush’s ignoble and blatant war of aggression.  And secondly, it serves to entice impressionable young people to yearn to become cannon fodder.  

What young people want more than anything else, especially young men, is to be considered strong and capable adults.  Now consider that young man who has always come up just a little short—he’s a capable and loving son, everyone likes him, but he never quite made the “A list.”  He was never the brightest or the most handsome guy in school, and the girl he was secretly in love with was crazy about the captain of the football team, while he could never get past second string. Then he hears all the talk about our heroic troops, and like a flash he has an epiphany: “This is my chance to shine--I’ll show ‘em all what I’m made of.  No more second string for me—I’m going to the Super Bowl, baby!” But once he gets there, he realizes a little too late, that they’re not throwing footballs, they’re throwing live grenades—and unfortunately, this time out, he’s the wide receiver.

Then, as the Sun goes down over the hood, another proud Black mother goes to bed not knowing, she’s a mother no more—and the George Bush family says, yet again, “Ka-ching!”

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.


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