Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Common-Sense Plan to Save the Postal Service Pt. II


A Common-Sense Plan to Save the Postal Service Pt. II

It's very easy to criticize the postal service. Everyone does it, because much like congress, the agency has become so dysfunctional over the years that it's made itself an easy target. But it hasn't been my intent over the past nine months to drag the postal service through the mud just for the pure joy of it - in fact, it brings me very little joy. But I'm convinced that its important to every American that we shine a spotlight on the practices that this agency is engaged in, and that we all have a thorough understanding of why the agency is failing as a viable organization, because today it's postal workers who are being abused - they're being used as a test case - but tomorrow it will be American workers as a whole. We're already headed in that direction.

As we sit around comfortable in our complacency and telling jokes about "going postal," postal workers are literally drowning in a cesspool of injustice and corruption that's needlessly destroying their health, well being, and many of their home lives. While that may seem funny to some, the United States Postal Service signals a pronounced change in this nation's attitude toward poor and middle-class workers. And since it is a government agency, and both our president and the policing agencies mandated to protect our interests are completely ignoring the situation, the ramifications are chilling.

The postal service is engaged in the exact same behavior that led to the collapse of Wall Street. In its attempt to emulate private enterprise the postal service has only succeeded in embracing what makes private corporations most corrupt - instituting a bonus program to enrich its top executives while ensuring diminishing returns for not only the public that it's suppose to serve, but also, its employees, and the very viability of the agency itself.

Postal executves have managed to turned the agency into their own private piggy bank. How else can we explain former Postmaster General John Potter, supposedly a "public servant," walking away from a failing public agency as a multimillionaire? That sort of thing just doesn't happen in America. That's a scenario that only happens in third-world countries, but then, that's exactly what we're allowing America to become.

The fact is, the so-called pay-for-performance program has had a grossly negative impact on the very performance that it was designed to enhance. It has caused senior executives to become more focused on their own greed than on the agency's primary mission, to serve the public. At this point many of the top executives view the postal service as simply a vehicle designed to promote their personal wealth, while having to actually deliver the mail is looked upon as merely a distraction, or an unfortunate nuisance to be passed down to their subordinates.  In addition, the Inspector General's Office, which is suppose to police the agency, has become a collusive enabler of a dysfunctional status quo. Thus, the pay-for-performance program has turned the postal service into the ultimate old-boys club, so the program should be abolished.

Since executive bonuses are based primarily on the way they look on paper, the primary motivation of postal executives is to curtail customer service, steal wages from their employees, and then cook the books to reflect a totally fictitious reality.

One station manager complained that she arrived at a new station only to find that she was short supervisors, she didn't have enough clerks to process her box mail and get the mail distributed the carriers, and she didn't have enough carriers to cover the routes. So as a result of getting their mail late, and having to help put up the routes that didn't have a carrier assigned to them, her carriers couldn't get out on the street until after 12:00 noon. But in spite of that her superiors gave her a direct order to have her carriers back and off the clock by 5:00 p.m. or she would face disciplinary action.

She said:

"This is typical of what they call managing. Instead of trying to find a reasonable way of getting the mail delivered, they simply dictate instead of manage. They knew that the order that they gave me was physically impossible for me to carry out, but they don't worry about that - they just order you to do the impossible, then how you get it accomplished is your problem. What they actually want us to do is to either hide the mail, or work our employees several hours overtime and then go into the computer and not pay them for the time that they've worked. Then if there are repercussions, they act like they're shocked at what you've done. They're forcing us to cheat and steal, then avoiding responsibility for their actions."

So as a direct result of the self-serving policies of just a handful of greedy and corrupt executives, the postal service has lost the confidence of the public, lowered the morale of its employees, and has rendered itself completely dysfunctional. And since the agency's projections are based on the inaccurate data of books that are being routinely falsified, every year the situation gets worse. This has been going on for so many years now that the only way that management can keep its head above water is to lie, cheat, and steal, just to justify the lying, cheating and stealing that they did the previous year, or what they call "SPLY" (Same Period Last year).

This has led to a situation where management is having to live from hand-to-mouth, and all of their creativity is directed toward promoting their greed and covering their collective butts instead coming up with innovative ways to move the mail.

They're currently trying to find a way to lower the cost of labor, for example, but the way they're approaching the problem is like trying to grab a handful of water. In their attempt to try to save revenue, they're trumping up meaningless charges against some of their most experienced employees in an attempt to push them out the door. They're also violating their own regulations against the discrimination of employees with job-related disabilities. But most seriously, they're violating federal law by falsifying government documents to literally rob gainfully employed workers of their hard earned wages.

Even with all that, however, they're only managing to save enough revenue to get their hands wet, while most of the revenue that they'd hoped to save is dripping through their fingers. Their corrupt and shortsighted policies are draining the agency through the cost of EEO, MSPB, and grievance litigation; the loss of experienced personnel, and the costs related to poor employee morale such as higher sick leave usage, higher accident rates, a rise in inefficiency, and the unquantifiable cost of employee passive aggression.

If these postal executives were not so preoccupied with their greed and shortsighted penchant for simply getting by one day at a time, someone might have considered working out a plan that would allow experienced, retired managers and craft employees to come back and fill the void for half their salaries.

Retired employees would jump at the opportunity. Then, not only would the postal service benefit from the knowledge and expertise that's being wasted by many former employees in retirement, but the agency would save a tremendous amount of revenue by not having to pay any benefits. In addition, such a program would go a long way toward getting employees who are currently on the rolls to consider retirement.

Many employees would benefit greatly by drawing their retirement then coming back to work for half of their salary, and if they worked a three or four-day schedule they could enjoy the best of both worlds - a financial benefit, plus many of the joys of retirement.

A few kinks may have to be worked out, but the net effect would resolve several of the postal service's most severe problems. It would be a win-win situation. The postal service would benefit by lowering the cost of labor, and at the same time managing to maintain an experienced workforce.  The agency could employ two experienced workers for the cost of one inexperienced employee, and without having to pay benefits.

In part III we'll be discussing productivity and employee morale.

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

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Common-Sense Plan to Save the Postal Service Pt. I


A Common-Sense Plan to Save the Postal Service Pt. I 

The United States Postal service is literally on the verge of collapse. Customer service is being curtailed, the price of stamps are going up, much needed employees are being excessed, and the wages of gainfully employed workers are being stolen with impunity. Yet, it has been widely reported that former Postmaster General John E. Potter walked out the door earlier this month with the greater part of $6 million in bonuses and perks in his retirement package. In 2008 Potter reportedly hauled in $857,459, while he president of the United States had to settle for less than half that.

There's something terribly wrong with that picture. It's yet another example of how those in corporate power are benefitting from a growing culture of entitlement that enrich the corporate class at the expense of poor and middle-class Americans. It's also another step by the United States towards a banana republic mentality, where the powerful are entitled to get away with murder, and to hell with the masses.

The forty-year experiment of trying to run the postal service like a private business has been a total failure. The U.S. Postal Service should stand as a poster child that attests to the fact that when you try to provide a public service using the methods of private enterprise, the greed attendant to the profit motive will invariably overwhelm the incentive to provide the service.

But the intent of the current series of articles is not to further denigrate the postal service - it's doing a far better job of that than I could ever hope to. We want to be productive, so we're going to discuss the steps that must be taken to turn the agency around. But at this point that would take a book, so we're going to layout an outline of sorts, then address each issue in a separate article.

The first issue that needs to be addressed is executive bonuses. That's the primary source of the agency's problems. Executive bureaucrats in government agencies are already being paid to do their jobs, so they should simply address their responsibilities and be appreciative of the fact that they have a job in the first place, because most of them are being overpaid in their base salaries, and they're not even earning that. I invite anyone who disagree with my contention to simply ask themselves one question - what did PMG Potter do for the postal service to warrant walking out the door with 5.5 million dollars?

Thus, it should be strictly prohibited by law for public executives to be paid, or accept, anything beyond their base salary. Creating a mindset where public bureaucrats expect to be compensated beyond their base salary can become a slippery slope that leads to the wholesale corruption of government agencies like we find in many other countries, and like we now see in the postal service. So the practice should be forbidden - period.

A related issue is employee morale. Any executive worth his or her salt should recognize that` any organization's most valuable asset is its employees. Most postal executives make the mistake of thinking that they are the postal service. But they're very wrong. The postal service is made up of its nearly 600,000 employees. Thus, if you antagonize them, you no longer have an organization, all you have is a group of unhappy people whose primary mission in life is to undermine the personal success of their handful of bosses, and as a result, they give the agency no more of themselves than is necessary to maintain their jobs.

It has become glaringly obvious that the postal service can't survive under those conditions. In order for the postal service to survive the agency needs every employee to contribute all of their individual experience, knowledge, and expertise to make the postal service more efficient. The agency needs employees who are willing to say, "I know this is not my responsibility, but I see something here that can cost the postal service money, so I'm going to take a minute of my personal time to correct it." That kind of thinking used to be routine, but most employees are no longer of that mindset. The postal service treats its employees so badly that it's lost that kind of incentive among most of its workers. While they may correct a situation that will inconvenience the public, when it comes to something that may benefit their superiors, they hope for the worst.

The postal service used to give incentive awards for suggestions that would improve the efficiency of the operation, and the post office is currently benefitting greatly from some of the improvements that the employees suggested.  But that program broke down because the agency started taking the suggestions, turning them down so they wouldn't have to reward the employee, then later incorporating the suggestion and ignoring the employees' protests. 

Routine creativity is also suffering as a result of the self-serving attitude of postal managers - and when I say managers, I mean executive managers, because we're hearing from an increasing number of irrate station managers who are also frustrated with system. In the past, some of the best, and most innovative employees would compete for positions in postal management. These were the people who were more interested in personal accomplishment and the challenge of resolving problems than they were the signs on their door. But in the current environment the people who vie for jobs in management are those who don't want to work and are willing cheat, steal, and harass their fellow employees, because having a lack of character is now a part of the job discription.

So in effect, the postal service is now being run by the very worst employees, harassing and dictating to the very best. The tail is literally wagging the dog - and what makes the situation even worse is that many of the people in management know it. A lot of the people who are now in management didn't get any respect as employees because their fellow employees saw them as lazy and inefficient. In fact, many of them wouldn't have survived as craft employees. So now, consistent with their lack of character and immaturity, they ignore the postal service's primary mission and give priority to their personal game of pay-back.

All of these dysfunctions are a direct result of the greed attendant to attaching a profit motive to public service. In the next few weeks we intend to connect the dots, one issue at a time, because we're looking for a change that we can believe in.

Where are you, Mr. President?

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

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

U.S. Postal Service Replace Own Boxes with One From FedEx?


U.S. Postal Service Replace Own Boxes With One From FedEx?

In my December 1, 2010 column (The United States Postal Service Takes Another Small Step Toward its Demise) I pointed out how on the day after Thanksgiving the postal service took the unprecedented action of closing the doors on its customers at both Barrington and Bicentennial stations two hours before its scheduled closing time without prior notification. The employees were outraged by the irresponsibility of that action and spoke out. One employee was quoted as saying,

"We were discussing the situation among ourselves, and nobody could believe that things have gone downhill so far, so fast. I've been working for the postal service for twenty-eight years, so I've seen them do some crazy things, but I didn't think it would ever get to the point where they would just close the door in the customers' faces. Doing something like that used to be unthinkable. We used to give priority to customer service during riots, floods, and Earthquakes! Now they're thumbing their nose at the public just to pad their bonuses."

Another employee stated,

"No one in a position of responsibility could possibly be so unprofessional and clueless through ignorance alone. I think they're purposely trying to sabotage the postal service to make it easier for them to privatize us. The craft employees are the only thing that's holding the post office together, and management seems to be doing everything they can on a daily basis to make that harder to do. It's like trying to do your job with a bunch of bad kids running all over the place and getting into everything. Eric, a person would have to actually come in and see it to understand what I'm saying. I know this is an overused phrase, but in this case it is, REALLY, unbelievable. Management doesn't care anything about customer service. All they want to do is save money. Then when they get customer complaints, they want to write craft employees up, even though they know that they caused the problem. This district's management has become a liability to the post office - and I want you to write that."

Well, believe it or not, since I reported the employee comments above, the employees from Wagner Station (on Century Blvd. and Van Ness in West Los Angeles) contacted me saying that they were not only in complete agreement with the above comments, but they had further evidence of their validity. They indicated that at their station management has removed all of the postal collection boxes from in front of the post office, leaving only one box for customer convenience - and that one is from FedEx.

Even though I had five independent confirmations of the report, the action they reported was so incredibility stupid that I drove thirty-three miles from Covina to Los Angeles to see it for my self and take the picture that's at the top of my website. The decision to remove all postal collections boxes then leave only a FedEx box in front of the post office is the equivalent of Sears trying to save their business by advertise for Bullocks.

How can the postal service even hope to remain viable with decision makers like this at the top of the food chain? While these people can't afford to provide simple customer services, they can afford to allow former Postmaster Potter to walked out the door with $5.5 million.  There's something terribly wrong with that picture. Congress needs to mount an honest and thorough investigation of postal operations from top to bottom, and if  congress doesn't take the initiative on their own, the American people needs to force the issue.  The United States Constitution speaks of creating a postal service to serve the people, not to make incompetent bureaucrats rich.  Why should a bureaucrat get a bonus in the first place?  Most of them aren't even earning their base salary, and a thorough investigation would show that many of them belong in jail.

The employees indicated that the decision was ostensively made because people were sticking objects into the lip of the boxes and pulling out mail. But what that actually indicates is that they're trying to save money again at the expense of customer service. If they would simply spend the few dollars that it would take to collect the boxes in a timely manner vandals wouldn't be able to reach the mail. Or an alternative would be to install long-lip boxes like the ones they use for customers to access the boxes from their cars. But this unbelievable decision clearly points out once again that the people who are currently running the postal service are neither thinkers, nor are they the least bit interested in customer service. They simply saw this as an opportunity to save a dollar - even though their actions advertise FedEx as a more efficient and reliable way to move the mail.

But management's poor judgement is having an even more profound impact on the postal service's decline in the area of employee morale. In order for the postal service to survive it's going to be necessary for each and every employee to go beyond giving 100%; they're going to have to give 110%. But current management has no chance of making that happen, because the employees not only have no respect or confidence in them, but they absolutely detest them - and that goes from station managers down to the most junior people in the chain of command. I see evidence of that every time they have a telecom. Whenever they have a telecom I'm told what was discussed within five minutes of their getting off the phone. One manager told me that the thought of her CSO getting credit for her efforts makes her nauseous. The employees feel no loyalty to these people whatsoever, and that's a sure sign of bad management.

And many African-American employees are particularly resentful. Their anger goes much deeper than simply irrate employees resenting their boss. Their resentment is cultural in nature. In fact, resentment isn't the proper word for the feelings they're voicing - in their case the word "hatred" is more appropriate. I've been saving their email to a file, and I'm going to be publishing their remarks in the very near future.

It was a clerk that gave me the idea of referring to the postal service as a "latter-day plantation." She told me that many of her coworkers refer to the postal service as "The Plantation." She said:

"It reminds me of what it must have been like during slavery. The slave master is sittin' up in the big house, and tellin' these turncoat overseers to just get the work done, and they don't care how they do it. Then they start grinin', and bowin', and sayin' 'Yes sir, Massa. Yes sir.' It makes me sick to think how hard we fought during the sixties to give some of these turncoats a chance to hold these positions. Now they're walking around tryin' to look down they're nose at us - especially Anderson and the one they call Tyrone the Tyrant. I ain't never met him, but I can't even sleep at night thinking about some of the things I've heard about him. It just makes me sick."

On the other hand, here's what FedEx has to say:

FedEx Innovation:

"It’s clear that at FedEx, innovation is in our DNA. All employees are tasked with innovation as part of their day-to-day job. But there’s one group focused solely on developing future game-changing ideas: . . . FedEx Innovation is a cross-discipline team aimed at identifying emerging customer needs and technologies to change what’s possible through innovative solutions and businesses. The team systematically researches and demonstrates bold new concepts in key opportunity spaces and develops the best concepts with accelerated prototyping, incubation, and commercialization. Long-range goals to increase revenue and drive strategic advantage are supported through fostering a leading-edge innovation culture, methods, and thinking throughout FedEx and its international network of alliances and customers."

So yes, the postal service has serious problems on its hands - and money is the least of them. Their biggest problem is that they've lost all respect from their employees because they've tried to replace intelligent and innovative thinking with harassment, cooking the books, and defrauding their workers.  Now they have a Tea Party brewing within their ranks. And since they no longer have anyone left with either the intelligence, foresight, or common sense to address the issue, it's about to explode in their face. You can mark my word on that.

In my next article, a possible solution to the problem.

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

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Monday, December 06, 2010

A Message to the Black Community


A Message to the Black Community

The hip hop community takes great pride in "keeping it real." But are they really keeping it real, or are they simply struttin' around saying, "look at me," while the corporate elite have them unknowingly doing an updated version of Steppin' Fechit - right down to the ape-like body language?

Now, it's not my intention to broad-brush an entire community of artists, because old-schoolers make that mistake every generation. Their ears just aren't attune to a new and different approach to music - Swing musicians did it to Dizzy and Bird when they developed be bop, and many musicians and critics did it to Miles and Coltrane (especially Trane) when they began to push the boundaries. But in the case of hip hop, it's a little different.

Dizzy, Bird, Miles, and Trane were all well schooled musicians with total control over content. These musicians were the best in the world. They knew more about music than a brain surgeon knew about medicine. In addition, they were totally focused on the art, not self-aggrandizement. But many young hip hoppers, on the other hand, are young, undereducated brothers off the street who are paid large sums of money to portray the Black community in their own image. So while Miles and Trane represented the genius within the Black community, many of these young brothers - certainly not all, but far too many - are rewarded by corporate manipulators to magnify Black dysfunction - and the more dysfunctional, the better.

This is not just my opinion. My position can be substantiated by facts. The fact is, most of these young people don't even have the skill to create their own music - they have to "sample" the music of their predecessors who understood the importance of taking the time to learn music theory, or at the very least, learning to play scales and chord progressions on a musical instrument. And spoken word artists like Oscar Brown Jr. and Gil Scott-Heron were actually poets who took the time to learn the rules of English grammar so they could uplift and educate the community with their eloquence. So to listen to one of these brothers not only constituted a class in history, poetry and English grammar, but they also had the ability to inspire the next generation to educate themselves.

But many of these young brothers who pass for stars today specialize in dumbing down the Black community. Their lyrics are amateurish, their rhymes are clumsy and predictable, their grammar is atrocious, and their message is dysfunctional - they denigrate black women, promote crime and drug abuse, and drag the Black community through the mud. In short, they promote the position that ignorance is bliss. As a direct result, instead of inspiring their fans to a higher level of intellectual achievement, it leaves them unable to speak simple business English, which is essential to getting through a job interview.

And this is not happening by accident. Since the corporate elite in this country can no longer physically enslave the people, they've decided to enslave our minds. In the sixties and seventies the Black community began to move forward, then in the eighties Ronald Reagan flooded the inner cities with drugs in order to support his illegal war in Nicaragua. That effectively took out an entire generation of Black people. As a result, in the following generation we were left with young people who were raised by dysfunctional parents - which means that they were severed from everything in their heritage that took place prior to their parents. These young people are not even Black anymore, at least culturally speaking, they just have dark skin. Am I lying? Count the dark skinned sisters in their videos.

The corporatists continued their assault on our identity by mounting a brutal attack on the nation's educational system and depriving young people to an exposure to history. They then took over all of our access to information by repealing the Fairness Doctrine and taking over the media, leaving our young people completely vulnerable to corporate programming. Consequently, the very same thing is happening to them - and to you - that FOX News is doing to the Teabaggers; it's just a little more subtle. So is there any wonder why young people are prone to promote a form of "music" that's anti-Black, and denigrates the very womb of their own culture? I think not.

And this situation has not only impacted the hip hop community. We now find ourselves in a community where Black people in general are just as racist towards other Blacks as any racist Hillbilly. Think about how you're treated on your job by many of your Black managers and superiors. Many Black people who work for the U.S. postal service, for example, are treated so badly by they're Black superiors that they're literally praying that these Black overseers be replaced by White people.

So if we want to save the Black community, we have a Herculean effort before us. The first thing we must do is stop allowing ourselves to be distracted by all the little goodies that appeal to our hedonism. We've also got to limit the time we spend partying and shakin' our booties and start paying more attention to our kids and what's going on around us. Excessive partying is for kids. When you're an adult it time to take care of business.

Being a parent is about much more than just sitting our kids in a room in front of the television set and feeding and watering them like plants. One of the reasons that we often wonder why we don't understand our own kids is because they're being raised by BET, MTV, and ESPN. Even as I write this sentence they're probably somewhere being programed by a radio or television whispering in their ear, teaching them twisted corporate values instead of your own.

And consider this. If they're being taught by the media that the only thing women are good for is sex, what kind of husbands are they going to become? If they never see the pimps on television riding around with kids in the backseat, what kind of fathers are they likely to become? And if they're being taught that drugs, big cars, and bling are the only things that make life worthwhile, yet, they're too illiterate to get a job, what do you think they're going to turn to? That's right - crime.

Now that, my people, is keeping it real.


We knew him as Miles,
the Black Prince of style,
his nature fit jazz to a tee.

Laid back and cool,
a low threshold for fools,
he set the tone
of what a jazzman
should be.

Short on words,
and unperturbed, about
what the people thought;
frozen in time, drenched
in the sublime,
of the passion
his sweet horn
had wrought.

Solemn to the bone,
distant and torn,
even Trane could
scarcely get in;
I can still hear the tone
of this genius who mourned,
that precious note
that he couldn't
quite bend.


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

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The United States Postal Service Takes Another Small Step Toward its Demise


The United States Postal Service Takes Another Small Step Toward its Demise

I received a flood of emails and phone calls over the weekend, and every one of them came from postal employees in the Los Angeles district angrily reporting that the U.S. Postal Service has committed yet another assault on customer service.

The employees at Barrington Station in West Los Angeles reported that on Friday, November 26, 2010, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, instead of extending its hours to accommodate the customers who were unable to transact their business with the postal service the day before, the station abruptly closed its doors two hours early, leaving customers angrily knocking on the door trying to get in. It was also reported that the same thing took place at Bicentennial Station, also in West Los Angeles.

The employees allege that the two post offices in question that locked their customers out during normal business hours is yet one more example of the culture within the Los Angeles district that places saving money - for which management is rewarded with bonuses - above customer service.

The Los Angeles Sentinel attempted to contact Steve Marney, Manager of Labor Relations for the postal service's Los Angeles district, but he was unavailable for comment.

It's not unusual for a post office to change its business hours, but in the past the postal service would give its customers ample notice of the pending change in order to ensure that its customers were not unduly inconvenienced. But in this case, several sources complained, it was done with such thoughtless unprofessionalism that even the employees were caught off guard. Several employees indicated that they were completely shocked when management simply closed the doors on customers without any prior notice two hours before the scheduled closing time. The employees said that management then ordered the window clerks off the line to help sort mail that they should, and could have had sorted the day before. One employee commented:

"We were discussing the situation among ourselves, and nobody could believe that things have gone downhill so far, so fast. I've been working for the postal service for twenty-eight years, so I've seen them do some crazy things, but I didn't think it would ever get to the point where they would just close the door in the customers' faces. Doing something like that used to be unthinkable. We used to give priority to customer service during riots, floods, and Earthquakes! Now they're thumbing their nose at the public just to pad their bonuses.

"There were customers outside banging on the doors. I know they were upset. I sure would be. It reminded me of how I feel when I'm in a long supermarket line, then just as I get close to the counter the cashier puts out a sign saying, 'Line Closed.' But at least in a supermarket they'd open another line for the shoppers to go to. But in this case, the post office just locked the doors, leaving customers outside banging on the doors trying to get in. There was no consideration whatsoever given to the fact that many of those people probably took off from work to get to the post office on the day after a holiday.

"People used to take pride in working for the post office. I remember a time when I'd meet new acquaintances I'd find a way to work the fact that I was a postal employee into our conversation. But now, these managers are so incompetent, irresponsible, and make us look so bad, that I'm embarrassed to admit where I work even when I'm asked. A lot of the public think this stuff is our fault!"

This kind of blatant and unprofessional behavior is running rampant throughout the postal service. In fact, it has become so routine that many employees are beginning to suspect that it can't be by accident. One longtime clerk stated the following:

"No one in a position of responsibility could possibly be so unprofessional and clueless through ignorance alone. I think they're purposely trying to sabotage the postal service to make it easier for them to privatize us. The craft employees are the only thing that's holding the post office together, and management seems to be doing everything they can on a daily basis to make that harder to do. It's like trying to do your job with a bunch of bad kids running all over the place and getting into everything. Eric, a person would have to actually come in and see it to understand what I'm saying. I know this is an overused phrase, but in this case it is, REALLY, unbelievable. Management doesn't care anything about customer service. All they want to do is save money. Then when they get customer complaints, they want to write craft employees up, even though they know that they caused the problem. This district's management has become a liability to the post office - and I want you to write that."

It literally defies logic how the people in upper management can possibly think that they can promote the viability of the postal service by alienating both the workforce, and their customer base. One would think that when an organization is in the position that the postal service currently finds itself that the first thing it would do would be to make every possible effort to raise the morale of the people doing the work, and to provide better service to its customers. That's business management 101. But the postal service is doing just the opposite. Instead, of trying to raise morale, it's harassing, intimidating, and stealing from its employees; and instead of promoting better service, it's undercutting employee efforts to provide quality service by putting policies in place that gives saving money priority over customer service in order to insure larger bonuses for themselves.

What makes this problem even more serious, however, is that the corporate culture in the Los Angeles district is such that its going be next to impossible to correct the situation. The primary problem is that cronyism has been running so rampant throughout the district for so long that it's gotten to the point where the people with the very least amount of talent, good sense, and integrity are at the top of the food chain, while those who are the most capable, dedicated, and knowledgeable, are routinely weeded out and kept at the bottom of the barrel.

There are a number of reasons for that. First, the more intelligent and dedicated an employee is the more integrity he or she is likely to have, but since the district's number one priority is to save money by hook or crook, it works against these people, and it caters to those of lesser integrity and dedication, and thus, more likely to be of lesser intelligence. That leads to incompetent managers promoting their incompetent cronies. And finally, since mid and upper management is literally brimming over with incompetence, competence and intelligence are frowned upon as a threat to the status quo. Thus, the bottom line is, the system rewards ignorance and dysfunction, and penalizes intelligence and innovation, so how can the agency possibly succeed?

The failures of the postal service are often held up by corporatists as an example of why public service should be privatized. But actually, the postal service is a prime example of why public service should never be relegated to the private sector. The forty-year experiment of trying to run the postal service like a private business clearly demonstrates that whenever you attach a profit motive to public service, the corruption and greed attendant to making a profit will invariably overwhelm the primary purpose of providing that service. Thus, by insisting on using that approach you will always, virtually without exception, end up with service so negligible that it can be drowned in a bathtub.

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

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Conservative Corruption of Progressive Thought (Reprise)


The Conservative Corruption of Progressive Thought (Reprise)
As one who has always tried, with varying success, to be progressive in my thinking, I'd like to make a few personal observations on the contemporary progressive movement. I want to preface my remarks, however, with the assurance that I have long since recognized that I corner the market on neither knowledge, wisdom, nor intellect, but I'd like to share my thoughts nevertheless - not as a condescending edict handed down by a self-appointed pundit, but in the hope that the thoughts of an average man with common facility are worthy of public discussion.

It is my firm belief that the appropriate attitude for a progressive to bring to every discussion is a firmness of thought and an open mind to divergent ideas. A progressive, by definition, should have the intellectual capacity to recognize that one can neither scream, nor insult, one's way to a solution to any problem. And what should always set a progressive apart from all others is an affinity for humanity, independence of thought, and a fierce determination to remain a seeker of truth above all else, regardless to where that truth may lead.

But those values no longer seem to be the case among many who define themselves as progressives today. Many contemporary 'progressives' tend to possess the very same rigidity of thought, and meanspirited, knee-jerk adherence to ideology that the progressive movement was created to combat. The response that many of these people bring to even the slightest divergence from their rigid ideological beliefs can only be described as one of radical reactionism.

That concerns me greatly, because while conservatives and today's so-called progressives remain completely divergent in their views toward governance, in terms of intellectual disposition they've become different sides of the same coin. I've often heard it stated that the regimented intolerance of reactionary conservatism is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. That may, or may not be true. But if it is, it must also be acknowledged that the intolerant regimentation of many contemporary radical 'progressives' represent the USSR at best.

Many modern progressives have allowed themselves to become infected with the exact same kind of intellectual rigidity that we previously associated with the radical conservative mindset. In fact, many who define themselves as progressives today could very accurately be called latter-day conservatives. They have a slightly updated set of values, but their rigidity and rabid defense of those values will surely morph into the closed-minded conservatism of tomorrow.

That's the primary reason that the conservatives' reckless campaign of rampant disinformation is winning the battle over reasoned and logical thought. So many contemporary progressives have taken on the conservative mindset of anger before contemplation, and reaction over reason, that there's no one left who's actually thinking. Everyone is simply reacting through anger, ignorance, and disinformation. That's an environment in which the Republican Party thrives, since as any thinking person would know, radical conservatism is reactionary by definition.

Progressives cannot out-scream the Republican Party, and we shouldn't try. The disinformation that's currently being disseminated by the GOP must be met with facts, a well thought-out plan of action, integrity, and character.

The American people are not stupid. They desperately want these qualities in their governance, but the current progressive movement is not giving them a viable alternative. Regardless to what our intent, we're acting with just as much thoughtless anger and reckless abandon as the Republican Party.

The problem is, we have not coalesced into a solid front with a clear and viable agenda. We've divided ourselves into so many factions with so many different agendas that the people no longer know what we represent. And the reason for that is that too many of us really don't know what it means to be progressives ourselves.

Too many of us fail to understand that the primary goal of the progressive movement is to create a viable democracy that serve, respect, and honor ALL of the people. But due to the destruction of our educational system, the corrupting influence of Republican governance over the past twenty years, and an irresponsible media, our ideals and what we represent as a people is only a rumor up for debate for an entire generation of Americans.

But what's worse, and the subject of this contemplation, is the above is also true of young people of the left who consider themselves progressives. The fact is, while they know that their political orientation is liberal, what they don't know is there's a vast difference between being simply liberal, and being a progressive. As a result, many of these young people approach our democracy like it's a sporting event - our team against their team. Period.

What they fail to realize is that the progressive movement is much more than just a synonym for left-wing liberalism. Progressives have also served as America's philosophers, intellectuals, and conscience. Thus, true progressives don't see conservatives as the enemy. They understand that both liberals, and conservatives, play an important role in our society. They recognize that both are necessary in order to maintain a balanced America. And they clearly understand that while there's a burning need for a Martin Luther King to remind America of its humanity, there is also a need for a Gen. MacArthur to ensure our security.

Thus, the progressive movement is not so much a political ideology as it is a philosophical attitude towards human behavior. A true progressive, as oppose to an ideologue of any stripe, will always give truth, logical thought, and the interest of humanity priority over ideology. And regardless to how much he or she may admire any politician, he will always hold that politician accountable for truth, justice, and his fidelity to mankind.

I can cite an example of that in my personal life. I'm a huge supporter of President Obama because I agree with more of his positions on public policy than I do with the Republicans. But I have both friends, and family, who go absolutely crazy on those occasions when I write a column critical of him when I disagree with something that he does, or something that he fails to do. They take the position that I'm only serving to help the Republican Party drag him down.

I take the position, as both a journalist, and a progressive, that while I support Obama, it is not my job to censor information when in my opinion he's taken a position that's not in the best interest of the people (failing to follow the rule of law regarding the atrocities of war committed by the Bush Administration, for example). Neither is it my job to protect Obama's presidency. It is Obama's job to protect his presidency, by making the right decisions in office.

Barack Obama is a politician, and a democracy can only remain viable by holding EVERY politician's feet to the fire. So it doesn't matter how I feel about him personally, as a journalist, and as a progressive, all I'm concerned with is what he does to, or for the people.

In my opinion, that's what it means to be a progressive, and I find it extremely disheartening to watch the corruption of such an essential component of our political environment. What's even more disheartening, however, is the impact that it's loss is sure to have on American life. With the demise of a vigorous and thriving progressive movement America is becoming a place where power and political ideology takes precedence over justice and the welfare of humanity, and that's a scenario that can only lead to our ultimate destruction.

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

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Monday, November 15, 2010

The Actual Factuals About the Democratic Loss in the 2010 Election


The Actual Factuals About the Democratic Loss in the 2010 Election

In President Obama's own words, the Democratic party received a shellacking in the midterm elections, but what's amazing is that he still doesn't seem to understand the reason why. He seems to have bought into the Washington punditry that the Democrats lost because unemployment was at 9%, and historically the party in power loses seats in congress during the midterms. Those things might have contributed to the loss, but he's completely missing the real reason why so many Democrats were voted out of office.

The actual reason that Democrats were turned out of office was because they deviated from the reasons they were voted into office in the first place. The voters made it clear in the two previous elections that they were fed up with the Republicans, and they believed Obama's pledge that the Democrats were going to bring in an era of "change that we could believe in." They were excited by that pledge. But once the Democrats were given the presidency and the largest majority in congress in a generation, they immediately turned into Republicrats. Their turncoat behavior angered independents because they felt lied to. It also made the Democrats look weak and unfocused to the people who were on the fence, and it absolutely disgusted the Democratic base.

President Obama took too many of his campaign advisors into the White House with him. These people are not about governing. They're constantly in campaign mode, so instead of advising the president to simply adhere to the promises that got him elected, they're continually triangulating to position themselves for the next election.

A lot of us were disgusted by that because it made us feel manipulated - after all, progressives are progressive because we're not dumb, so it's insulting to us when we feel like we're being "handled." Thus, when the campaign finally began in earnest and the Democrats came around with those very same rousing speeches that we bought into the first time we were bamboozled, they were counterproductive, because they only served to remind us of how disgusted we were over being lied to in the 2008 election.

But obviously the administration is so mired in the fallacy of beltway wisdom that all they can see is from one campaign to the next. So let me put this in campaign terms and maybe they'll get the point. Mr. President, how successful do you think you would have been if in the 2008 election you would have gone out and made the following stump speech?

"If elected, I promise to circumvent the rule of law by instructing my attorney general to let Bush and Cheney off the hook for their war crimes so as not to upset the Republicans and energize their base. I also promise to allow the Republicans to water down all legislation, even though we know they're not going to vote for the legislation in the end. And finally, I promise to never counter Republican lies and relate the truth to the American people. Again, we don't want to upset the GOP."

Maybe I'm politically naive, but I don't think Obama would have gotten very far with that message, but that's exactly the strategy he followed in his first two years. So I can't see for the life of me why the administration is so shocked that their base didn't turn out to defend the Democratic Party.

On the other hand, if the president had walked through the door and kept his mouth shut - as he should have, since the attorney general is suppose to be independent - freeing Attorney General Holder to investigate and then charge Bush and Cheney for lying to congress to take the nation into war; illegally attacking the sovereign state of Iraq; the conflict of interest, misuse of funds and corruption; the torture, killing, and displacement of a million people, among other war crimes, the Republicans would have been so busy trying to cover their butts that they wouldn't have had the time to cause so much trouble.

Yes, it would have ignited the Republican base, but it would have also energized the Democratic base, in addition to most young people, who tend to believe in Justice. It would have also done more to protect this nation from terrorism than all the bombs in our arsenal, because it would have sent a message to both the Muslim people, and the world, that the American people stand for justice.

Now that would have been a change that we could believe in, and the American people would have rallied around the administration, if for no other reason than having the courage and integrity to put the rule of law before political considerations.

But it seems that this administration still hasn't gotten the point. The new congress isn't even sitting yet and they're already sending out signals that they're ready to compromise on adding four trillion dollars to the national debt to give billionaires a tax cut.

If President Obama caves in again, he's done. He's playing right into Republican hands, because, you see, the Republicans have made it clearly obvious that they're not really interested in the issues. Their main objective is to make Obama look weak, because they understand what's most important to the American people - a strong leader.

So if Obama continues to cave in, he's going to end up the most brilliant, charismatic, and beloved president ever to be voted out of office after his first term. Because the bottom line is, the American people want John Wayne, not Mr. Rogers.

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

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Thursday, November 11, 2010




Open your arms, Dear Lord!
On this sacred day,
For a proud Marine
is well on his way.
It was like nothing we’d ever
seen before,
when he reported for duty
at Heaven’s door.
Deep in the night,
as the world slept sound,
his chariot arrived,
for a Marine homeward bound.
The ultimate grunt,
Dress Blues, now all white;
a Marine standing tall
on this most sacred night.
Young and vibrant,
wounds of battle now gone.
No more suffering or pain,
As he rose to move on.
With one final glance
at the ones that he love,
he was whisked through the clouds
to his deployment above.
His chariot was swift,
with six Restless white horses;
Then the thunder roared,
and his chariot departed.
We’ll miss his warm smile,
In our own selfish way,
But the pride of the Corps
will be back home today.
Semper Fi.
Eric L. Wattree

In memory of Lt. Col. Mario Carazo

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

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How Can You Compromise with people whose Primary Mission is to Undermine America?


How Can You Compromise with people whose Primary Mission is to Undermine America?

I love President Obama, but he's scaring me. He could be one of the best presidents that America has ever had, but he seems to have one serious shortcoming - he doesn't seem to have the killer instinct necessary to survive in Washington, D.C. I thought he'd learn something from the whipping that the Democrats just took in the last election, but he's already talking about compromise.

How can you compromise with people who have clearly shown that their primary mission is to undermine America? All their talk about a smaller government and lowering the national debt is just a smokescreen. Yes, they want a smaller government - a government too small to curb their corporate greed. And while they claim they're determined to lower the national debt, that doesn't deter them from insisting on adding four trillion dollars to the debt by giving a tax cut to millionaires.

What the Republicans are actually after are three things - their return to power, the corporate control of America, and to be rid of this Black president, and not necessarily in that order.

Yeah, I said it. Racism is the driving force behind the GOP's unprecedented anger against this administration. No, not all of them are racist, some are acting on greed, and others are simply dumb. But the greedy are the ones who are pulling the strings, and they're relentlessly stoking the flames of racism within their social conservative stormtroopers to promote their own interests.

The Republican Party is made up of three factions - the fiscal conservatives, who are the generals who control the party; the social conservatives, whose ignorant bigotry toward anyone who doesn't look, think, and act like them, make them the perfect stormtroopers; and finally, the true conservatives, who are simply being inundated by the constant drumbeat of disinformation.

The last group is the one that President Obama should be appealing to, but instead, he seems to be fixated on the first two groups, people who he will never be able to appease. Many of us are scratching our heads over that. We simply cannot understand how a man who is otherwise so intelligent can be so hopelessly naive regarding this particular issue. But, I think I know why.

I think it goes back to a coping mechanism that Obama developed early in life. As a child he's lived all over the world, so he's always been just a little bit different from everyone he's known. He grew up as the ultimate outsider. On the one hand, that has been beneficial in his development, causing him to push himself to the limit in order to maintain his self-esteem; but on the other, it has caused him to develop a go-along-to-get-along coping strategy in order to fit in. While that strategy has obviously served him well earlier in life, that's not what the American people want to see in a president, and it is the very last thing we need at this point in American history.

America is currently fighting for its very life, because corporatists within the Republican party have been allowed to become so powerful and so greedy since the Reagan administration that they're not about to be reined in now. An entire generation of corporatists has come of age not knowing anything other than having their own way, so they'll tear this nation apart before they'll give up that power, and that's exactly what they're doing.

But what's most horrifying about this situation is that most Americans are so distracted by the entertainment media, and brainwashed by the news media, that they don't even know that they in a fight.

Let's take a look at what's happened to us since we last had a functional democracy. First, Reagan all but destroyed our unions, which made us totally dependent on the corporatists. Then, they destroyed our educational system, repealed the Fairness Doctrine, and gained control of 90% of all the media in the country. By taking control of the media they are now in control of what we think, and by destroying our educational system they deprived us of both our sense of history, and our ability to be independent thinkers - which led directly to the debacle in the last election.

They've now stacked the Supreme Court with conservative cronies. The court is even more conservative now than it was when they disenfranchised the American people and handpicked George Bush as our president in the 2000 election. Now, in their "citizens United" ruling, a corporation based in Dubai can have more control over our electoral system than America citizens. Can you see where this is going?

So it is essential that the American people wake up from their trance and start making some noise. It's time that we let President Obama know, and in no uncertain terms, that we don't want to hear the word compromise slip from his lips again for the next two years.

We've already been compromised to death, so at this point in our history we don't need a diplomat - what we need is a general.

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

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

President Obama: A Living Portrait of Your United States Postal Service


President Obama: A Living Portrait of Your United States Postal Service
November 4, 2010

Mr. Ed Ruiz, USPS, Los Angeles District Manager,
Mr. Larry Brown, NALC, President, Branch 24:

Since it's become clear that the postal service has decided that the best way of handling Ms. Joann Snow's complaint of document falsification and wage theft is through intimidation, I thought that it might be instructive to provide you with a little information regarding her past history with the postal service and her current concerns.

It is indeed ironic that Ms. Snow was the victim of time fraud and theft at the hands of Station Manager Marci Luna and CSO Tyrone Williams, but after reporting it, she's the only one that "corrective" action has been taken against. She's been removed from a higher level position that she's held for 21 years (which she has no problem with - in fact, she's come to enjoy, since she's now only responsible for her own productivity), she's been issued a Notice of 14-Day Suspension, and she's been involuntarily bounced all over the city, in spite of her seniority in both craft and career. At the same time, the people cited above who falsified federal documents, in direct violation of federal law, in a conspiracy to deprive her of her rightfully earned wages have not only remained in place, but CSO Tyrone Williams has since been both promoted and awarded a Regional vice President's award for performance.

So it is clear that after Ms. Snow refused monetary compensation of thousands of dollars offered by Labor Relations Manager Steve Marney because of the quid pro quo that she must drop her demand that the two managers be removed from the postal service, the district has gone to plan B - intimidation. But as the case below clearly demonstrates, while Ms. Snow seems to be a very demure lady and has a history of being extremely accommodating to the postal service, she is not without backbone when she feels that she's being treated unjustly.

Ms. Snow prevailed in the case below (Under Clarence Thomas, no less) leading to the removal of the manager, and former Postmaster [name withheld] (then, Area Manager) would have also been removed if she hadn't dropped the charges against him in return for agency concessions to improve the working conditions of her coworkers.

So why am I sending you this document?

First, to alert you that it has been suggested to Ms. Snow that there's a possibility that she may have been illegally transferred to South Central Los Angeles (for the first time in her 27-year career) to make it easier to justify possibly experiencing bodily harm during after-dark delivers; secondly, to place Ms. Snow's concerns on the official record; and finally, to clearly establish that District Manager Ed Ruiz is fully aware of what's taking place on his watch.

President Brown, please make this communication a part of the official record of both of Ms. Snow's pending cases:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
August 20,1989
Subject: EEO Claim
EEO Rep: Eric L. Wattree
Case # : 5-D-0075-9 Joann Snow vs. [name withheld], et al.

I'd like to file a claim of racial, and sexual discrimination (including harassment, intimidation, and assault and battery) under the purview of Title VII of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. I am a black female, and I am filing these charges against the following:

Postal Station Manager [name withheld]
Postal Area Manager [name withheld]
Postal Inspector Jensen

At 9:35 on February 17, 1989 I went to my immediate supervisor, Mrs.[name withheld] , to request a little more street time since I was leaving the station after my scheduled leaving time. Her reply was, "You've been gone from your case for an hour." I corrected her by saying that I had only been gone for the time it took to take my 10 minute break and to take my CMU mail to the CMU pack-out area, which was about 12 minutes. Then Station Manager [name withheld] broke into the conversation and said,"No! You be back here on time! You've been away from your case for 30 minutes." John Bihr seemed quite agitated, so instead of standing there arguing and possibly making the situation worse, I just said ok, and went out to load my vehicle. I was upset, but I considered the incident over.

After I left the building, the next thing that I knew [name withheld] had come up behind me. He was arguing heatedly. I didn't know what was going on. I knew that they had seen that I had given my best effort, and I had also given in to their tactic and agreed to try and get back on time (in spite of the fact that it meant giving up part of my lunch), so I couldn't figure out what he was doing there. I tried to smile and talk calmly to him but it was useless.

The man was acting crazy--like he was out of control. His hair was uncombed, his clothes were all disheveled, his eyes were wide and watery with white mucus coming out of the corners, and he smelled horrible. He then began to poke his finger in my face (in a poking, not a wagging motion), saying, "You"re not doing your job! You just want to take out 8 feet of mail, and that's it (poking me in the nose with his finger to emphasize the word "it")! Two people witnessed his arguing at me and poking his finger in my face.

I think that [name withheld] actions constituted racial, as well as sexual harassment and discrimination. I've never known him to carry himself in this way with white carriers, and I know that if I had been a man he wouldn't have poked me in the nose. In fact, it seems to me that putting his hands on me is prima facie evidence of sexual harassment. All of this man's actions on that morning were contrived to harass and intimidate me--and he succeeded.

I was really afraid then, because he had crossed the line by poking me. In my mind, I knew that I should protest, because I knew that if I didn't it would make it that much easier for him to put his hands on me the next time. But I couldn't do anything but stand there. I had heard rumors about his substance abuse, and I was afraid that if I protested it might push him over the edge.

He also frightened me when I went out on the route. As I was attempting to deliver the mail, I saw him in his car following me. It's not unusual for supervisors to go out on street observation, but when they do, there's usually two of them in the car. On this occasion he was the only one in the car--not saying anything, just following. I was afraid that he was considering doing me bodily harm.

Later, when I returned to the station, [name withheld] was standing next to the time clock berating me in front of Eric Wattree, Trevor Barnes, [name withheld], and any, and everyone else that happened to be in earshot. He was saying that I didn't even know the names of the people on my route. He was referring to some political mail that had come into the station that was improperly addressed. When I picked up a handful of the letters to make a point, he slapped the mail out of my hands onto the floor. Eric had a handful too, but he didn't slap him. Eric Wattree, Trevor Barnes, and Supervisor [name withheld] witnessed the incident.

Here again, I claim racial, as well as sexual discrimination. The man was on the middle of the work-floor slandering me, and he assaulted me for the second time in one day. As I said before, Eric had a handful of mail too, but it wasn't slapped out of his hand, and the reason why is clear--he's a man.

At first I was afraid to report these incidents because I was concerned about being backed-up by the guy that was shop steward at that time. He was trying to get into management, and I felt that he had a conflict of interest. But when Eric Wattree became shop steward--who witnessed one of the incidents--I decided to proceed.

On March 1, I contacted the Postal Inspection Service. I spoke to an agent who identified himself as Inspector Jensen. After I told him of the two incidents he began to ask me the following questions:

1. Who put you up to calling me?
2. Why didn't you call sooner?
3. Do you think he really meant to poke you?

He went on to say that he didn't think that the incident was "violent enough" for him to get involved. That immediately brought two questions to mind. First, why is it that when two black supervisors got into a minor shoving match a few weeks earlier, the postal inspectors swung right into action and had them both out of the station the same day, and yet, when a black woman is assaulted by a white supervisor, it's not "violent enough" for them to get involved? And secondly, how violent does he have to be before the postal inspectors considers it "violent enough"? Do I have to wait until he goes over the edge and hurts me seriously? Maybe then they'll get involved. But maybe, too, it may be too late for me. Just because this man is a station manager doesn't mean that he isn't crazy--lunatics come from all walks of life.

As far as I'm concerned, Postal Inspector Jensen is guilty of racial discrimination.

Finally, Inspector Jensen said that there was nothing that he could do for me. He did say, however,
that he would call my area manager--and he must not of wasted any time. Less than an hour later Area Manager [name withheld] was at my case. I immediately asked for union representation. Mr. [name withheld] then asked, Who do you work for, the post office or the union? I replied, the post office, but I still want representation. He then asked me to come into the office. He then told me that if I had a problem, come to him. He went on to say that anyone who went to the union instead of him, as far as he was concerned, they should be treated differently, because they didn't trust management.

When my shop steward came to the office to see if I wanted representation, Mr. [name withheld] blocked his access to me. In spite of the fact that I was in tears and was asking for representation, [name withheld] gave my shop steward a direct order to get back to his case. Before my shop steward left, he advised me not to talk to them and not to let them intimidate me.

After [name withheld] had ordered my shop steward back to his case, I was left alone inside the office with three supervisors–Area Manager [name withheld], Station manager [name withheld], and Station Superintendent [name withheld]. At first Area Manager [name withheld] tried to apologize for what [name withheld] had done to me. He went on to say, "but was under a [name withheld] lot of pressure, so he can understand how he had done what he did." When I was unreceptive to that they started threatening to fire me. Finally I just started crying and left the office.

Area Manager [name withheld] then called me and my shop steward back to the office and the threats and intimidations started all over again. He told us both, "if we went through with this he would see to it that we were sorry." He also told [name withheld] to keep the shop steward at his case, and not allow him to investigate anymore carrier complaints.

Area Manager [name withheld] is guilty of sexual harassment, intimidation, and retaliation for trying to deprive me of my right to union representation, causing me undue stress by closing me up in a small office with three hostile supervisors and threatening me for going forward with this claim.

Then, on Thursday March 9, 1989 at about 8:10am, [name withheld] came to my case, ostensibly to check an address. He then proceeded to press his body against my butt in such a way as to force me to tell him to back off (Kimberly Patrick was at my case at the time, and she witnessed the incident). I immediately reported it to acting shop steward Trevor Barnes. He reported it to my immediate supervisor , Mrs. [name withheld] The incident was ignored.

Sexual harassment:

I don't know what's wrong with this man, but his behavior is certainly not that of a normal functioning individual. Anyone would think that since he knows that I've already brought charges against him that he would stay as far away from me as possible. But what does he do? He seeks me out! He's a station manager, not a carrier foreman. He doesn't have any reason to come into direct contact with the carriers.

I've been told, however, that what he's trying is the oldest game in the post office: First, you're treated badly and intimidated; then, suddenly, you're treated with extraordinary kindness. The object is to make you so appreciative of their new-found kindness that you'll be willing to go to "any length" to prevent them from reverting back to their old ways. The bottom line is, if I had just stood there and allowed him to rub against me, I would have been his toy from that day forward.

As representatives of a United States government agency these "gentlemen" should be at the forefront of the fight for individual rights. Instead, they've not only run rough shod over my civil rights, but they've demonstrated a blatant disregard for my rights as a human being. In light of these facts, I'm asking that Station Manager [name withheld] be removed from the postal service, Area Manager [name withheld] be removed from all areas of managerial responsibility for not less than two years, and that Inspector Jensen be placed on suspension for 14 days without pay. And also, since this has been an ongoing situation for a number of years, I'm asking for $200,000 damages for pain and suffering, and $100,000 in punitive damages.

Joann Snow
Regular Carrier
Bicentennial Station

Mr. President, the above EEOC complaint was filed 21 years ago, and since that time, working conditions within the postal service have become significantly worse - back then, at least, even Clarence Thomas stepped up to take aggressive action. Today such behavior is so routine that when its reported government officials will look at you and say, "Okay, so what's the problem?" - just like they're doing in Ms. Snow's current case.

We've brought this issue, and others to the attention of the White House on several occasions, and we've been completely ignored. Mr. President, you are the chief executive officer of this agency, so you could improve the working conditions of nearly 600,000 American citizens with a mere phone call.

Having to deal with politicians who were elected to protect the interest of the poor and middle class is like dealing with zombies. They completely ignore us between elections, then when the election cycle comes around they show up with so many rousing speeches and promises that you can't escape them. They act like we're suppose to completely forget how they ignored us when they didn't need us.  Well, we don't forget it - and CARMA is going to make it a point that the people don't forget during 2012 primaries.

Those 600,000 postal employees, along with their families and friends, might have made a big difference in the last election, but can you blame them for asking themselves, "Would this abuse still be going on if Glenn Beck complained about it?"  Frankly, I don't think it would. And can you blame them for asking, "Where is all that change we're supposed to believe in?" I'm asking that question myself, and I was one of your biggest supporters when you were 37 points behind in the polls in the Black community.

I don't understand this new brand of Democratic politics where you've decided that it's prudent to be more responsive to the people who hate your guts than you are to the ones who voted you into office. Please pardon my stupidity, but that srikes me as a patently ridiculous policy. So as I've told you before, Mr. President, I love you madly, but if you're not going to protect my interest, what's love gotto do with it?

But of course, you ignored that too, so with this writing I hereby pledge to both you, and to all currently sitting officeholders in Washington, D.C., that if this issue is not addressed in the current cycle, I guarantee you that we will not be ignored in the 2012 primaries. This administration, and the Democratic Party as a whole, are gonna have to be taught a fundamental lesson - "You dance with the people who brung ya."

The Black community didn't turn out in unprecedented numbers to simply elect the first Black president; we turned out to elect a strong Black president.  In that regard, as a student of history, I hope you recognize that you're dealing with a Rosa Parks moment here, and you're completely missing the boat.  Do you see the strong stand being taken by that one solitary Black woman above?  That's what we elected you to do.

Eric L. Wattree

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

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Friday, November 05, 2010

Mr. President: I Hate to Say I Told You So, but I Told You So


Mr. President: I Hate to Say I Told You So, but I Told You So

This is a reprise of an article that I wrote in August of last year.  I'm revisiting it in the hope that the "experts" in Washington, D.C. will start to see the light.  They are not the political experts in this country - we are.  While the so-called political experts are dealing in speculation about what we think, the people don't have to speculate - we KNOW what we think, and the Democratic base has been screaming what we think at the administration for the past two years. But remaining consistent to your beltway arrogance you decided that you knew more about what was on our minds than we did, and this past Tuesday you paid a severe price for that arrogance. 

The political class needs to always remember that you're not our leaders, you're our employees, and sometimes it becomes necessary to remind you of that - even when the political price is extremely high:
Lofty Ideals are Only as Meaningful as the Backbone that Supports Them

Is it just me, or is anyone else curious about how the GOP managed to suspend the United States Constitution, thrust us headlong into a costly and unjustified war, ravage the global economy, and destroy America's moral credibility throughout the world, while the Democrats, even after being handed the White House and a huge majority in both houses of congress, can't even manage to pass a healthcare bill that would benefit every family in America?

If like me, you've been curious about this issue, scratch your head no more. The answer is screaming at us right before our eyes, but like the angry medicare recipient boisterously demonstrating against socialism, we simply refused to believe our lying eyes.

The fact is, while it is clear that the Democratic party desperately needs to get its act together, there are two issues in particular that need to be addressed immediately. The first is that there are too many Republicans-in-drag on the Democratic side of the isle. These people have been playing both ends against the middle for years, and their unconscionable treachery is destroying the party. They keep a constant tug-of-war going that makes Democrats seem indecisive, and cause the American people to doubt the resolve of the Democratic party for its own initiatives.

But the debate on universal healthcare could be a blessing in disguise in that regard. It's a debate that so clearly separates what's in the best interest of America from the greed of private interests that it's forcing the hypocrisy of these self-interested politicians to the forefront.

America's healthcare is one of those seminal issues - like civil rights, social security, and the G.I. Bill - that clearly delineates the difference between the Democratic and Republican agendas. Thus, it can, and should be used to separate the wheat from the chaff, and flush out those so-called Democrats who pay lip service to progressive principles while working subtly in the background to maintain and protect the status quo.

Healthcare provides the Democratic party with an excellent opportunity to reveal, and then openly rid itself of its dead weight - and it is essential that the party do just that, just as Democrats had to weed out the Dixiecrats during the civil rights movement. So instead of begging, whimpering, and compromising for the vote of politicians who have already been bought and paid for by the insurance companies, Democrats should stand firm and force these turncoats into the open.

These Blue Dog, or conservative, Democrats serve no useful purpose other than helping their Republican conspirators to dilute the Democratic agenda. They're also disillusioning the Democratic base. As a result, they're having a weakening effect on the party that far exceed their numbers. So the DNC needs to take a page from the Republican playbook and use the primary system to replace these neo-crats with Democratic candidates who are loyal to the party and Democratic principles.

While the GOP is atrocious when it comes to governing, there are none better when it comes to keeping their troops in line. That's why even though the Republican base has dwindled to it lowest numbers in years, recent polls clearly demonstrate that they're still destructively effective. The reason for that is quite simple - they stick together. And they stick together because they all know that any member who falls out of line will be targeted for removal in the very next election.

As progressives, most Democrats are wedded to independent thought, so they tend not to want to adopt the Republican tactic of forcing members to toe the party line. But the GOP is using the Democratic party's idealism against them, so if the Democratic Party wants to survive in this cut-throat political environment, they're going to have to get use to adding practical political tactics to their lofty ideals.

As distasteful as this jingoistic practice is, tactically, there's a lot to be said for it. After all, in spite of the fact that the GOP has dwindled down to a regional party, its diminutive wingnut base has managed to remain in firm control of the nation's political dialogue. In fact, the Democratic party seems to be more concerned about them than it is its own much larger Democratic base.

It's time to start playing hardball. If the DNC fails to take immediate action against these thinly veiled Republicans, and start running loyal Democrats against them, it's not only going to perpetuate the neo-crats' rebellious behavior, but these so-called "Blue Dog" Democrats are going to bring the entire Democratic party to its knees. After all, there's a lot of money to be had in being a rebellious Democrat in a Democratically control congress.

Which brings me to the second issue that needs to be addressed - backbone.

For the most part, President Obama was elected based on his rousing oratory, his ability to lift the American spirit, and his inspirational ideals. But if we look back through history we'll find that while the American people will eagerly embrace these characteristics initially, what they respect most is strength. We're a scrappy bunch - we always have been, and we always will be. So while rousing oratory will often bring a tear to the eye, in the final analysis, here in America lofty ideals are only as sturdy as the backbone that holds them up, and President Obama needs to learn that lesson in a hurry.

Being from Chicago one would think that he would have already learned that, but obviously he hit the windy city a little too late in life. But Michelle grew up there, so I sure she's telling him nightly that while patting your enemy on the back has its place, kicking them in the ass is also appropriate on occasion. That's what the American people want to see in a leader, and we only need glance at history to see their attitude in that regard.

History will one day look back upon Jimmy Carter as a president who was ahead of his time. Actually, he was a very good president. He came very close to establishing peace in the Middle East, he was one of the smartest presidents we've ever had, and he was genuinely a nice guy. It was the latter that brought him down, however. He was too nice, and the American people saw that as a weakness.

The issues the GOP use to bring down Jimmy Carter had no more to do with him than the fall of the Soviet Union had to do with Ronald Reagan. Yet, while Ronald Reagan was clearly incompetent, and should have been both impeached and jailed on several issues, many remembered him as a great president. On the other hand, Jimmy Carter served with competence, honor and distinction, yet he's remembered by many as weak.

It was all about image. Ninety-nine percent of the American mystique involves image over substance, and the Ronald Reagan mystique is based on pure fluff. Reagan is remembered fondly for one reason, and one reason only - he reminded the American people of John Wayne. That was his function, and that was all he was required to do - remind America of a silver screen fantasy that bore no relationship to reality. On the other hand, Jimmy Carter is remembered as weak because he was a nice guy, he tried to do what was morally correct, and he represented reality - something that America is determined to escape at any cost.

The American people don't want reality - they want to live in a fantasy. They don't want to hear about the bestial brutality of what it took to wipe out close to an entire population of Native Americans; they want to hear about the Manifest Destiny, and how God wanted them to take this land. And they don't want to hear about the gross immorality of slavery; they want to talk about American exceptionalism as that shining light on the hill that serves as a beacon to all of humanity.

So if I could relay just one message to President Obama it would be the following:

Ok, Mr. President. You've shown me that you can be a nice guy. Now let me see you grab the GOP by the scruff of the neck and throw 'em out the saloon. That's what the American people are waiting to see. Sucking up to the Republican party is not helping your image at all. Have you ever seen Randolph Scott sucking up to the bad guys? America wants a gunslinger.

I know, Mr. President. Your ears are gonna look kinda funny in a Stetson. But that's all right. The American people will overlook that. Just hit your mark, remember your lines, and do what you gotta to do when the clock strikes High Noon.

Eric L. Wattree

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

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