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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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The United States Postal Service is a Microcosm of America as a Whole


The United States Postal Service is a Microcosm of America as a Whole

As anyone who frequents this column knows, I'm all but fixated on bringing corruption within the postal service to an end. It's not simply because I'm haunted by the feeling of leaving a job undone, but because I've long since recognized that as a microcosm of the nation as a whole, as the postal service goes, so goes America.

So as I sit here on this election night watching Americans cut their own throats, it's like deja-vu. It reminds me of what I watched happening to postal workers as a union rep over twenty years ago. Back then, just as now, when I tried to warned the people of what I saw so clearly, it was like spitting in the win. The people were content to live their lives from day to day not wanting to get involved, and totally apathetic to what was happening to the people around them.

It would have been so easy to correct the situation at the time, because that was before corruption had become institutionalized within the agency, and there were still people around who understood that the primary role of any United States government agency was to protect American ideals, and to be in the very forefront of the fight to protect the rights of American workers.

At that time all an employee had to do was document criminal corruption on the part of a postal official, and no matter who it was, the official woul be held accountable. I know that for a fact, because I was personally responsible for ending the careers of several people very high in the chain of command. But now, managers are promoted and given awards based on thier willingness to be ruthless and corrupt.

The people simply stood by and passed the scalpel that was used to cut thier own throats.  They allowed themselves to be seduced by power, and they much more interested in their own personal interest than they were the conditions under which many of their coworkers were forced to suffer. You see, at the time the postal service was engaged in a classic example of divide and conquer. The agency under-adjusted the workload for part of the employees, and overloaded others. Then they'd point to the "performance" of those with a lesser workload to justify the harassment of those who were overloaded.

I remember the very moment that I recognized the slippery slope that the postal service had embraced. I personally in a meeting discussing the future of a manager who had poked a female employee in the nose. As part of the negotiations, the area mnager called in a fellow union rep into the meeting and promoted him into management on the spot, just to show me the goodies that awaited me if I only had good sense to play ball. The manager involved ended up biting the dust, but the corrupt area manager later became the postmaster.

That strategy of divide and conquer served two useful purposes. First, it served to drive a wedge between  the workers. Secondly, it both conditioned and desensitized all the workers to the gross harassment and underpayment of their coworkers. After all, it wasn't harassment they were witnessing - "All they're doing is trying to make those lazy employees as good an employee as I am. If they'd just do their jobs as efficiently as I do, they'd leave them alone and pay them for the work that they do."

So when I approached the employees to discuss the importance of sticking together and serve as witnesses against the harassment and the underpayment of their abused coworkers, it was like trying to get someone to step up in defense of Nancy Pelosi at a Tea Party convention. They'd actually get angry at me for trying to defend "those lazy deadbeats."

Then as the years passed many of the veteran warriors of the labor movement retired from the union, along with those professionals in management who understood the importance of public service, and who also understood that postal employees were the postal service's most valuable asset in helping to meet the ageny's goals. But now, in far too many cases, just like in our overall political environment, these professionals have been replaced with self-serving cronies who are undereducated, don't know nor care anything about the history or tradition of the positions they hold, and who can always be depended upon to put their personal interest before that of the agency, and/or the people they represent.

Here's a prime example of that. As many of you know, we've been calling for the removal of both Postmaster General John E. Potter and Inspector General David C. Williams since March of this year for running what we compared to a "latter-day plantation." Well, Postmaster General Potter just recently announced his retirement (under what conditions I don't know). But read the responses of the respective presidents of the American Postal Workers Union, and the National Association of Letter Carriers below:

President William Burrus, American Postal Workers Union:

“I have no inside information about the reason for Potter’s decision, and no reason to believe that his retirement was demanded by the Board of Governors; but if it was, the Board has made a terrible mistake. The Postal Service is at a crossroads, and its relevance in American society is being questioned. The U.S. Postal Service needs a leader like John Potter to ensure its continued viability . . . filling Potter’s shoes will be a major challenge. Postal workers are losing a strong advocate for the USPS and its employees."

President Fredric V. Rolando, National Association of Letter Carriers

". . . Although we have had profound strategic differences with Jack in recent years . . . He was an honorable partner in collective bargaining and served his country well during a very difficult period in the history of the Postal Service."

"Jack?" "An honorable partner?"

Here's what Arbitrator Sherrie Rose Talmadge had to say in her December 2, 2009 decision regarding  the time fraud of employees under the watch of "Jack", this "honorable partner": "Management’s violations were so egregious over a period of many years that punitive damages were awarded to deter the service from further clock ring violations.”  I don't know about others, but if a mugger is robbing me blind, I don't want the police who show up to be on a first-name basis with him.

Thus, as a direct result of their apathy and refusal to become involved, postal employees have allowed employee abuse to become institutionalized, and many of the people that they've elected to represent them have been conditioned to accept it as business as usual. Therefore, now when government documents are falsified to modify the employees' time to steal their wages, instead of viewing it as a federal crime with a penalty of fives years in federal prison as prescribed in 18 U.S.C. § 1001, many of their representatives view it with a yawn, and handle it as a routine grievance. This allows the agency to treat any violation of that law as a mere business expense, as it continues to rob the employees of millions of dollars a day.

One attorney charged that the agency run by this "honorable partner" who's "a strong advocate for the USPS and its employees" of being in violation of the RICO Act (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), the law passed by congress to go after the Mafia. And he was absolutely right. Forcing employees to share their wages with the postal service under duress is nothing short of extortion (blackmail, use of intimidation or force in order to obtain something - money, information, etc.). The only difference is, instead of robbing the employees in the parking by threatening their lives with a gun, they're robbing them in the office ny threatening their families' lives with a pen. Then when the employees scream for help, instead of getting the police, they get a union official who refers to the mugger as "an honorable partner." This kind of robbery has become so blatantly routine in the postal service that now it's done by memo:

Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 11:28 AM

Effective Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010 all delivery supervisors will be required to stay until all their carriers are back. Unless specifically documented and requested, no extra time will be given without my personal approval. No exceptions!
Any questions, call me.
Joe Digiacomo SOM-2

Now I'm hearing from many of the very same employees who didn't want to get involved when they could have nipped this in the bud. Now they're begging for outside assistance, because they've elected people to represent them who won't bother to return their phone calls, refuse to give them copies of documents used against them by management ("I can't give you a copy of the documents. THEY'RE UNION PROPERTY."), and either don't have the sense, or the inclination, to use the union's numbers and political clout to demand that federal crimes be prosecuted as CRIMES, not simply grievances.

As a result, corruption has become rampantly pervasive throughout the agency. It's been factored into the postal service's bottom line for so long now that it has become an essential part of the agency's very survival. So at this point, it's gone far beyond irrdication without outside intervention, because they've got a generation of managers and union officials who don't know any other way.

So as I sit here watching the election returns coming in tonight, I sit in horror and an uneasy feeling of deja-vu - because I fear that all of America is doomed to suffer a fate that I know all too well . . . and real soon.

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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