Monday, June 20, 2016


Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

There are many in the mainstream media who don’t take writers and journalists outside the mainstream, and corporately controlled, media seriously. In fact, they consider us presumptuous to even have the audacity to offer a considered opinion.  A few years back, Chris Matthews made the remark on his show, Hardball, that "I don't consider them [progressive bloggers] Democrats. I consider them Netroots. And if I see they vote in every election, or most elections, then I'll be worried. But I'm not sure they're regular, grown-up Democrats. I think a lot of these people are troublemakers who love to sit in the back seat and complain. They're not interested in governing this country. They never ran for office, they're not interested in working for someone in public office. They get their giggles out of sitting in the back seat and bitching."
In response, Markos Moulitsas, founder and spiritual leader of the very popular website, Daily Kos, set that loudmouth gasbag straight, very effectively, and in no uncertain terms. He pointed out the following:
"In 2003, when Bush landed his plane in the aircraft carrier, and spoke in front of the banner that said, 'Mission Accomplished,' Chris Matthews had an entire show based on that event, and he said everybody knows that we won the war, except a few critics. Well, I was one of those few critics. People like me in the Netroots were some of those critics. And it turns out that we were right and the Beltway conventional wisdom was wrong. And once again, we're in a situation where people like Chris Matthews don't learn from these mistakes. They're trapped in this bubble and they think that they know better."
And he handled Tom Tancredo several weeks earlier with the very same finesse. He literally ran Tancredo off the Ed Show, and again, without busting so much as a sweat bubble. The reason he doesn't have to raise his voice, is because he's confronting Washington hypocrisy with facts and courage - something that the mainstream media seems to have lost. The mainstream media has degenerated into cheerleaders with an unspoken agreement not to step outside the approved parameters of the status quo. Then Moulitsas is that guy who shows up at the dinner party with a crude but unyielding truth: "No, that's not a bad egg - somebody farted." That's who bloggers are, and that's exactly what America needs.
When I started writing over two decades ago, a serious journalist could pick and choose what publications he or she wanted to contribute to, but many of those resources have dried up as the corporate media has consumed and sucked all of the air out of the free press in order to dumb down America and propagate their conservative, self-serving, and narrow point of view. That’s why you’ll find some of the oldest and most prestigious publications in America begging for donations over the internet just to stay afloat.
So serious, objective, and conscientious bloggers represent the new face of the American press. We’re what mainstream reporters and columnists USED to be - remember those old-school reporters of the 30's and 40's in the rumpled suits, a crumpled hat, and a pencil behind their ear? Those are who serious bloggers are today. Those bigshots who sit on plush sets in flawlessly tailored suits, and who never ask the hard questions or follow up, they're not journalists, they're corporate hacks.
So we’ve got to learn to listen to one another, do our own research for the facts, and most important of all, learn to think for ourselves. We've got to redefine journalism in this country. So seek out those bloggers that you find to be trustworthy and credible, and then support their blogs. That way, YOU choose who you want to place your trust in, not some executive directed by Wall Street. 
If we fail to do those things we’re lost, because there’s a new paradigm at work in this country today that many of us haven’t caught on to yet. We’re used to a situation where it’s Blacks against Whites, Jews against Gentiles, gays against straights, and so on. But in today’s world there’s only two factions, at least to the ruling class - the 1%ers against the working class. And as I write this, only five (5) corporations control 90% of all of the information that we consume, so we’re being drenched in corporate propaganda. They’re telling us what is acceptable, what’s not acceptable, who to like, and who not to like - and they have absolutely no compunction against sending your children off to die in order to fatten their bank accounts. They’ve already done it in Iraq. So we should keep these facts in mind - especially Black people when they sit their children in front of the sillyvision to be mesmerized.  The mass media is teaching Black children that it is their role in life to be criminals, drug addicts, and at the very bottom of society. 


On September 15, 2002 - six months and four days prior to the Iraqi invasion - I published an article entitled "Would Bush's Saber Rattle as Loudly Against China?" in the Portland Independent Media Center (no one else would publish it at the time) that said the following:

Now that we've reached the anniversary of 9-11, I am consumed by one thought - in light of what I've seen over the past year I find myself much more afraid of Bush, Cheney, and Ashcroft than I am the Al Qaeda. While I understand that terrorists strike without warning to destroy life and property to promote their own agenda, it has become increasingly clear that Bush and his cohorts threaten to be even more destructive by attacking life, liberty, and the very foundation of this nation in the promotion of theirs.
Over the past year these conservative war mongers have been playing the American people like a fiddle. Now they want to sacrifice American lives for nothing more than their own political advantage. Just ask yourself, what does Saddam Hussain have to do with 9-11? Absolutely nothing. Evidence of that can be found in the fact that if Saddam had been involved in 9-11 the administration would have gone after him initially. So why is it suddenly so imperative that we invade Iraq now? I'll tell you why. Since Bush was unable to produce the head of Osama Bin Laden, he now needs another villain to take Bin Laden's place in order to keep his numbers up in the polls - and if that means having to sacrifice a few American lives and ignite even more terrorist activity on American soil in the process, so be it.
It is a well known political fact that the American people tend to rally around the president when the country's at war. That's why the Bush Administration fell all over themselves after 9-11 to declare "a war against terrorism." And the American people reacted just as planed - Bush's numbers immediately went up in the polls. But now with the mystery surrounding the fate of Osama Bin Laden, the administration has found itself without a war to sustain those numbers, so now they have to create one.
While I'm not prepared to say that the Bush Administration allowed 9-11 to take place, it is clear that the timing of the 9-11 tragedy was without a doubt the best thing that could ever happened to Bush's presidency. Bush was a lame duck the minute he was sworn in. It seems that as soon as Bush entered The Oval Office the stock market began to falter and the economy started to weaken. And whenever he spoke, the next day's news was not so much what he said, but whether or not he got through the speech without falling on his face. In addition, his big tax cut that was touted as the key to boosting the economy turned out to be a bust, and he was so inept in dealing with congress that a Republican senator changed parties costing Bush control of the senate. As a result, when 9-11 took place, it was embraced by conservatives more like it was a football rally than the sober occasion that it was - thus, all the flag waving, ceremonies, and strutting about.
But where was all that bluster prior to 9-11? ABC News reported on May 16th of this year that the Bush Administration acknowledged that U.S. Intelligence officials informed President Bush weeks before 9-11 that Osama Bin Laden's terrorists might try to hijack a plane. It was also reported that Bush privately alerted transportation officials and security agencies, but other than that, he simply sat on the information. The administration claims that the information they received was non-specific, but one would think that even if they couldn't determine exactly when and where the attack was going to take place, at the very least they could have warned the American people. If they had, maybe some of the people who died would have chosen not to fly - or possibly, chosen to leave their children behind. But no, this president who now claims to be so concerned with protecting our welfare that he feels compelled to launch an unprovoked attack against Iraq, was at that time more interested in the impact that warning us would have on the airline industry.
What the American people needs to understand is that the power elite in this country doesn't view the United States in the same way as its citizens. They see the United States as a huge corporation, with its various industries as its subsidiaries. They see American citizens, particularly the lower and middle class, as simply pawns to be cajoled and manipulated in whatever way is necessary to meet the goals of the corporation. Therefore, they didn't view the tragedy of 9-11 in the same patriotic way as the average American citizen. After the initial shock, they saw 9-11 in terms of dollars and cents. Ultimately, it was viewed as an assault on their corporate superstructure. Later they recognized that the incident could be used as a distraction for the American people, and still later, an opportunity to move on Middle Eastern oil interests.
So let there be no doubt, all of the flag waving, ceremonies, and patriotic speeches have nothing to do with 9-11; they are designed to whip the American people into such a frenzy that they're blinded to Bush's actual agenda. And that agenda includes the following.
1).Committing America (and American lives) to a war in order to get himself reelected.
2).Taking control of Iraqi oil fields to benefit his friends in big business.
3).Keeping the American voter distracted from considering the ramifications of the recent corporate scandals.
4).Keeping the American people from recognizing how inept he is as president.
The rest of the world sees Bush's agenda for what it is, and the American people would too if they'd stop waving their flags long enough to consider the flag's true meaning. The American flag represents freedom and justice, not trying to dictate who should lead other countries. It represents the open debate of issues, not intolerance to any and everyone who disagrees with your point of view. It represents the guarantee of personal freedom, not the suspension of the Bill of Rights. If the American people would just stop to consider these facts, it would become clear that even while Bush and his conservative cohorts are frantically waving our flag, they are simultaneously waging war against the very values that the flag and this great country represents.
These issues can, and will, be debated ad nauseam, but the American people need only ask themselves two questions to put all of the administration's nonsense into perspective. First, would the administration be so anxious to go to war if we were talking about China as opposed to Iraq? And secondly, do we think that invading Iraq will make us more, or less safe from terrorist attacks? If we answer those questions honestly, it becomes clear that the administration is being disingenuous at best.
Could Obama Fall Victim to a Change We Can't Believe in?

At this point Obama's presidency could go either way - he can either become one of the greatest presidents this country has ever known, or go down as an exciting experiment that went bad. It's all up to how he handles the expectations of Independents.

The biggest problem that Obama currently faces is becoming a victim of his own effectiveness. During the campaign he raised the nation's expectation so high that just being a good president won't do. He promised a change that we can believe in, which led many of us to believe that he intended to trash the way business is done in Washington, but that promise seems to be totally inconsistent with what seems to be his irrepressible desire to hold hands and sing Kumbaya with the very Republican leaders from which we wanted a change.

This has fueled the growing suspicion by many that both parties are beholding to the same cabal of power, and only feign having differing philosophies toward governance. That suspicion lies very close to the surface for many Independents - after all, that's why they're Independents in the first place.

And President Obama hasn't helped himself in that regard. For a man who is ordinarily so politically astute, even before he became president he did a curious flip-flop on the FISA issue. According to, on October 24, 2007, Bill Burton of the Obama campaign indicated, "To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." But by June 20, 2008, Obama issued a statement reversing his position, indicating that our national security needs were more important than his objections.

That deeply disappointed many Independents, since a citizen's right to sue a telecommunications company for invading his or her privacy in violation of the law has nothing to do with national security. Those are the very constitutional rights that we're trying to keep secure. But while many Independents have kept that in mind, at least Obama had the integrity to take that stand prior to our making the decision on whether or not to vote for him.

But then once he was elected President, Obama made another curious statement with regard to the criminal activities and alleged war crimes committed by the Bush administration. In spite of the fact that there are strong allegations and prima facie evidence of torture, and some of the most unconscionable violations of the Geneva Convention since the Nuremberg trials, President Obama stated that he wanted to move the nation forward, and not look back.

Many Independents have two problems with that. First of all, President Obama seems much too willing to move forward with regard to the fat cats, while lower-ranking personnel are rotting in prison. That's in direct conflict with the American ideal of equal justice under the law. And secondly, since most of these atrocities were committed against the citizens of other nations, it is the height of arrogance for us to be "the deciders" of whether or not those responsible should be held accountable. That also runs contrary to American ideals, and the concept of "a shining city on the hill."

And now we're talking about sending thousands of more troops to Afghanistan. The question is, why? The nation has yet to be provided with a reasonable explanation of why we should be meddling, once again, in another country's internal affairs. One would think we would have learned something about the futility of that by now. It's a recipe for disaster.

There's only two legitimate reasons to have our troops in that part of the world. The first is obvious - to make damn sure the nuclear missiles in Pakistan don't fall into the hands of Al Qaeda. The second reason is to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. So why can't we simply pull out of Afghanistan and deploy enough troops in Pakistan to protect the missiles, then let the CIA and law enforcement deal with Osama? That way we save both treasure and lives, and we're not creating more enemies for the United States by killing innocent people.

But many Independents suspect that there's another agenda afoot. Actually, Cheney's giving it away. Independents recognize that Dick Cheney has absolutely no integrity, so when he gets passionate over an issue we know to follow either the money or power. Thus, many Independents suspect that what's actually behind Cheney's insistence that we go recklessly rushing into Afghanistan has much more to do with Halliburton's bottom line than it does America's best interest. And while Obama has shown himself to be an excellent president in many ways, his one shortcoming - and a shortcoming that may very well bring him down in the end - is his tendency to try to appease the stupidity and greed of the GOP.

The President needs to recognize that there is nothing he can do that's going to make him acceptable to the GOP - that is, unless he agrees to appoint a Republican vice president, then resign. By now it should be clear that even while he's asleep, the GOP is trying to hatch plans to destroy him. So by spending more time thinking about them than he is his base, he's playing right into their hands.

I mentioned power as one of the reasons that Cheney's trying to rush the president into Afghanistan. I wonder if the president has considered the fact that Cheney just might be trying to get him to make the same kind of mistake in Afghanistan that the Bush Administration made in Iraq in order to take the Iraq issue off the table for the 2012 election? If during the 2012 campaign America is bogged down in Afghanistan with the useless death of thousands of U.S. troops, all of a sudden, Bush, Cheney, and the GOP won't look all that bad. The president should think about that possibility, since the machinations of Dick Cheney makes Machiavelli look like a trainee.

On the other hand, if the president would have the CIA go after Osama Bin Laden (through the use of intelligence, instead of blindly shooting at rocks), then pull out of Afghanistan, and make an agreement with the government of Pakistan to help them protect their nuclear arsenal, he'll be looking pretty good in 2012, and he won't have the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops to have to justify.

And he'd look even better if he allowed Attorney General Holder to do his job with respect to the Bush administration's war crimes. First, he'd firm up his base by restoring their confidence that he stands for the rule of law, and he would also allay the fear that he might be a puppet, controlled by some powerful cabal.

Another upside to that is that once Holder begins his investigation into the Bush administration, there's absolutely no doubt that he's going to find criminality, cronyism, and corruption seeping so deep within the GOP that Republicans will be so busy snitching on one another, and covering their own asses, that they won't have the time to plot against either him, or the American people.

Now, THAT, would be a change that we could believe in.
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney squandered over $3 trillion of taxpayer funds "chasing" Osama Bin Laden. President Obama brought him down with 2 helicopters and 2 detachments of Navy Seals. If Bush had done that he'd be on Mt. Rushmore today, but the mainstream media all but ignored what Obama had accomplished.


An Open Response to Halliburton's
Demand That I make A retraction

Ms. Gabriel,

I’m writing in response to your June 23rd request for an immediate correction to a statement made regarding the Halliburton Corp. in my June 20th article, Healthcare: Why Can't We Get the Congressional Option? Your communication reads as follows:


The article, “Healthcare: Why Can't We Get the Congressional Option?” posted Saturday, June 20, on The Wattree Chronicle contains information about Halliburton that is completely misleading and incorrect.

Halliburton is not a military contractor. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, and serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the lifecycle of the reservoir – from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field.

You will note that all of the government services and engineering and construction businesses have been and remain with KBR. To confirm, KBR and Halliburton are completely separate and independent of each other. Halliburton separated KBR from the company in April 2007 (

We respectfully request you make this correction immediately.
Kind regards,

Diana Gabriel
Senior Manager, Public Relations
Office: 713.759.2608
Cell: [Redacted]
Fax: [Redacted]

While I am always careful to obtain multiple sources for any assertions that I make in my articles, nevertheless, I went back to objectively revisit the facts just in case it was necessary to accommodate your request. Halliburton is only mentioned one time in the entire article, and the paragraph reads as follows:

“And there's a very logical reason for that. Business, by it's very nature, is designed to generate profit, not to provide services - there was ample evidence of that during the Bush administration. Prior to the military turning over many of its support services to Halliburton, for example, we never heard about our troops being given contaminated water or being electrocuted in the shower. The reason for that is our military's top priority was maintaining the troops, while Halliburton's top priority is maximizing its profits. The very same dynamic is at work when it comes to insuring our citizens - and the politicians know it, but they don't care, because again, for them, it's about me first, and only then, the public good. I mean, am I the only one sick of these people dictating what is on and off the table? I don't think so.”

Try as I might, Ms. Gabriel, I can’t find anything inaccurate about that statement. While you pointed out that “Halliburton separated KBR from the company in April 2007," testimony before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee indicates that KBR was providing our military with substandard services long before then - and then, being rewarded for it.

On May 20, 2009 Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, opened the hearings on “Rewarding Failure: Contractor Bonuses for Faulty Work in Iraq,” with the following statement, which reads in part:

“Today’s hearing is a result of this Committee’s continuing investigation into the deaths of over a dozen U.S. soldiers by electrocution in Iraq. That investigation has led us to internal Pentagon documents showing that in 2007 and 2008, contractor KBR received bonuses of $83.4 million for work that, according to the Pentagon’s own investigation, led to the electrocution
deaths of U.S. troops.”

That doesn’t mean that the work was performed in 2007 and 2008 - that’s when they received the bonuses.

The committee’s third witness was Mr. Charles Smith. Mr Smith was the former Chief of HQ, Army Field Support Command, Field Support Contracting Division. According to Sen. Dorgan’s opening statement, “In that capacity, he [Mr. Smith] managed the massive LOGCAP contract that the Pentagon awarded to KBR, until he was forced out of his job in 2004 when he refused to approve paying KBR more than $1billion in questionable charges." He went on to say, "I should note that Mr. Smith was removed from his job despite the fact that in November 2004 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld awarded him the Department of Defense’s Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service.”

Mr. Smith’s testimony includes the following:

“In August 2004, the Army’s approach to KBR underwent a complete change. The goal of award fee boards became one of making KBR financially sound, even if it was not performing in accordance with the contract. This was consistent with actions to rescind the 15% withhold definitize contract cost estimates well above the DCAA recommended amounts, and remove me from my position. The Army’s stated reason is that it was afraid KBR would cease performance or allow their subcontractors to cease performance. I did not think this was a credible threat, as KBR would have lost its military business entirely by this action. I do not believe the Army has
stated the real reason for its change in approach to KBR.”

So frankly, Ms. Gabriel, I don’t see where I was inaccurate at all. In fact, Halliburton’s position seems to be completely analogous to a man who gets his hand shot off while committing a robbery, then pleads not guilty on the grounds that he’s no longer associated with the hand that held the gun.

Thus, with all due respect, I think I’ll let the article stand as is. I don’t see where it is the least bit misleading. In fact, upon review, I don’t think I went far enough - but I fully intend to remedy that situation in the very near future.


So what I'd like to know is this - if a shade tree journalist sitting up in his den in the heart of a Los Angeles ghetto could see what was going on in these instances, why couldn't the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, CNN and all of the other media networks; why couldn't Harvard, Yale, and all of the various and sundry Ph.D.s from America's great institutions of learning; and why couldn't the nation's so called "think tanks," all of the nation's political scientists, and the United States Congress figure it out?
The answer is, they had, but they simply turned their backs and allowed young patriotic Americans to march off to their deaths, because that was more profitable. The most irrefutable evidence of that? None of their children died. 
Now, the Mainstream Media - and the New Democratic Party, of all things - is doing the EXACT same thing to this nation, and on behalf of the EXACT same people (the 1%ers) by turning their backs once again on the law, democracy, and common sense:
The Clintons acted with great enthusiasm when it came to the mass incarceration of Black people, but what about when they break the law? Massachusetts law is clear and unequivocal:
"Within 150 feet of a polling place…no person shall solicit votes for or against, or otherwise promote or oppose, any person or political party or position on a ballot question, to be voted on at the current election. No campaign material intended to influence the vote of a voter in the ongoing election, including campaign literature, buttons, signs, and ballot stickers, may be posted, exhibited, circulated, or distributed in the polling place, in the building where it is located, on the building walls, on the premises where the building stands, or within 150 feet of an entrance door to the building. ( 950 CMR 53.03(18); 54.04.22),)"  
But in spite of that law - THE PEOPLE'S LAW - Bill Clinton feels so entitled and thinks the people are so stupid, that we can't recognize that he constitutes a walking 'Bill'-board for Hillary Clinton. He also retards the vote by creating a distraction, his presidential entourage prevents people from getting into the polls, and it extends the time that voters have to wait in line - time that many voters don't have.  Didn't Bill Clinton know this,?  If he didn't, he has very poor judgment, If he did, what was his motive?  He wasn't voting, so why did he have to enter the polling site in the first place?  The answer is clear - to cheat, to circumvent the law, and to do whatever he had to do to get what he wanted. Haven't we had enough to these dishonest slicksters in office?  Aren't these exactly the kind of people we're trying to get OUT of office? Can you even imagine Barack Obama doing something like that?  Could you imagine Bernie Sanders doing something like that?  Absolutely not! And that's exactly why this nation can't be trusted in the hands of people like the Clintons. They lack character, they feel entitled, and they think that their interests - and the interests of their rich Wall St. cronies -  should be given priority over the interest of the average American.
The DailyKos reported, ". . . the most serious charge leveled at Clinton’s March 1st Super-Tuesday antics is that he was blocking poor people from voting, in one of Massachusetts most distressed communities, where the median family income is $49,000, [which is] $110,000 less than the Massachusetts town where presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went to college, Wellesley.  Although electioneering within a polling place is a misdemeanor, interfering with voting rights is a state and federal civil rights violation and felony."

Americans are currently living under the illusion of democracy. In a REAL democracy, Bill and Hillary wouldn't be celebrating a victory in the primaries, and in a REAL democracy, the people wouldn't be cheering them on and the Mainstream Media would be as silent as a church mouse. In a REAL democracy both Bill, and Hillary, would be out on bail and facing felony charges. So at the rate we're sliding downhill, this nation - at least as we've known it - can't possibly last.
God help us.

Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)

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

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