Saturday, February 20, 2016

'Who Is The Biggest Liar' Reality Show Cancelled Because It's Been Too One-Sided

Good Day World!

I'm sorry to say that "Who Is The Biggest Liar" reality show - aka Republican pre-primary presidential campaign tactics - has been cancelled because of lack of competition.

It's just been too one-sided. 

Like watching a basketball slam dunk competition between LaBron James and Justin Bieber. Or, a contest to see who can throw the football further between Tom Brady and Pee Wee Herman.

With a world-class round-up of liars I really thought the premise of pitting them against one another would be entertaining and competitive.

I have to admit I thoroughly underestimated Donald Trump's ability to brazenly lie and then double down on the lie when confronted with facts.

Because Trump wakes up and starts his day Twittering trash, his breathlessly brazen fabrications have been flooding media outlets daily.

In a society where politicians routinely throw shit up against walls hoping it will stick, Trump has managed to stand out with his enormous ego and ability to use fear to gather devotees.

As good as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio are at telling falsehoods, they're minor leaguers compared to The Donald.  

So today, with heavy heart, I'm cancelling what might have been an awarding-winning reality show. I guess that's show business/politics for you!

Time for me to walk on down the road...  

Friday, February 19, 2016

World's 1st Political Consulting Firm Hired By Republicans To "Destroy" Opponent, Upton Sinclair

Good Day World!

Following this year's crazy and combative presidential campaign has made me wonder when public relations first became crucial in politics.

The field of political consulting was unknown before Leone Baxter (L) and Clem Whitaker (R) founded Campaigns, Inc., in 1933. Photo by George Skadding/Time Life Pictures/GettyCREDIT
The advertising that most of the candidate use consists of innuendos and outright lies about opponents. Very little form and substance.

In particular, I've been following the money that is being poured into the political arena to influence the average voter.

Check this out: Who Has Spent the Most Money On Their Campaign So Far?

So when was advertising via the collective media first used in our political elections? 

In 1934, acclaimed author Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California on the Democratic ticket. His platform, known as the End Poverty in California Movement (EPIC) gained him the support of the Democratic Party.  

As migrants flowed into California fleeing the Dust Bowl the state's conservatives attacked him with propaganda, portraying him as a staunch Communist who wanted to overthrow America.

Conservatives were so concerned about Sinclair's rising popularity that they hired an advertising agency to conduct a smear campaign - opening up the door for modern politics.

California's newspapers (owned by Republicans) and led by William Randolph Hearst and Harry Chandler (LA Times), covered only incumbent governor Frank "Baldy" Merriam's activities, while mocking Sinclair day after day with quotes from books and novels taken out of context (sounds familiar today).

Profiling two of the creators of the anti-Sinclair campaign - Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter - upcoming writer Carey McWilliams would later call this (in The Nation) "a new era in American politics - government by public relations."

He was right on in that accessment. Whitaker and Baxter founded the first political-consulting firm in the history of the world in 1933.

The New York Times called Sinclair's campaign "the first serious movement against the profit system in the United States."

In the middle decades of the twentieth century, political consultants replaced party bosses as the wielders of political power gained not by votes but by money.

Despite eventually losing to his wealthy and connected opponent, Sinclair would leave a positive literary and political legacy that has endured until today. 
Who remembers "Baldy" Merriam?  

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

About Apples, Proverbs, and Poison

Good Day World!

Before I had false teeth, I loved eating a nice crisp red apple. Now, I eat applesauce, or apple slices.

But that's not the topic for the day (sigh of relief!).

Have you ever heard the proverb, "An apple a day will keep the doctor away?" 

Wonder where it came from?

As far as I can tell, after surfing Google, the saying goes back to an 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine.

"A Pembrokeshire proverb. Eat an apple on going to bed, And you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread."

There's been numerous variants of the rhyme since then.

In the 19th century and early 20th, the phrase evolved to "An apple a day, no doctor to pay" and "An apple a day sends the doctor away," while the phrasing now commonly used was first recorded in 1922.

As long as you don't eat the apple seeds you're perfectly safe to enjoy the fruit (after washing it of course). But too many seeds will have the opposite effect of the old proverb and you'll need to see a doctor!

Why? The seeds contain trace amounts of poison. Apple seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which turn into cyanide through an enzymatic process. 

A few seeds aren't going to hurt you. A lot of them can cause adverse reactions. As long as you don't make a habit of eating the apple core embedded with those sneaky seeds, you'll never have a problem.

One more Apple Proverb:

"You are the apple of my eye." Here's the origin

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why Is Donald Trump Really Running For President?

Good Day World!

There's absolutely nothing in Donald Trump's backround that shows he's interested in serving the American people.

You can't tell me he relates to the average American. He's the son of a millionaire. His father, Fred Trump, had a well-earned reputation as a New York slumlord.

Music legend Woody Guthrie moved into an apartment complex owned by Fred Trump called Beach Haven in 1950. In a letter found in Guthrie's archives he wrote this about Fred Trump:

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts.
When he drawed
That color line
here at his
Eighteen hundred family project...

Donald Trump is just a chip off the old blockhead. He was sued by the Feds for not renting to African-Americans in 1970.

He tells lies without blinking an eye. For example, early in his campaign he said, "I have a great relationship with the blacks. I've always had a great relationship with blacks." 

His insideous plans for different segments of our society run counter to everything America stands for.

If you say he hires minorities, that's hardly a recommendation for equality when he wouldn't even rent apartments to them until forced to.

Here's a real character reference:

Donald Trump sued for fraud in California and New York

The biggest thing to consider about Donald Trump is he'll say anything (just like the politicians he supposedly reviles) to get a vote. His life is about flip-flopping (making deals) on issues for expediencies sake.

With no track record of serving anyone (let alone a majority of Americans) he wants to be president.

The real question is why does Donald Trump really want to be the President of the United States?

Anyone who knows him is aware of his out-sized ego and temper. He's like a petulant child when things go wrong.

Above all, Donald Trump, the reality show host, has transcended into a dangerous demagogue. He has learned how to exploit fear and runs his campaign on it.

Ask yourself if he really cares about you, and making America Great Again, or if he sees an opportunity to get richer by lowering taxes on corporations like his own?

For starters. We're talking a field day for the 1%ers.

Remember that he always describes himself as a "businessman first." That should be your first clue.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When I Was in the Nam, Feb. 1970: Videos - CBS Follows Combat Patrol & Ironic Documentary

Good Day World!

A friend of mine recently sent me this news clip (CBS NEWS) about Vietnam in 1970; the year I was there.

It's interesting footage actually showing a platoon on a combat patrol. 
The striking thing to me is the fact that the platoon -  Alpha Troop 1- was operating near the Cambodian border somewhere between February (this month 47 years ago) and March of 1970.

Vietnam War, 1970: CBS camera rolls as platoon comes under fire

The footage really took me back to those dark days. You get a very intimate look at what it was like on patrols, and you'll witness an ambush.

In late May, I was part of a combined force of Americans and South Vietnamese that crossed the Cambodian border in search of enemy headquarters.

I lost my best friend in an ambush in Cambodia in similar circumstances. Instead of patrolling, we were carrying out arms and food from an underground bunker when a lone sniper lit us up!

That sniper also got away.

In closing I want to share one more film from 1970 in Vietnam. Probably the most ironic documentary you've ever seen.

John Pilger - Vietnam - The Quiet Mutiny [1970]

It's a great look at my world there (I was attached to the 9th Cavalry Division during that time (photo above) this was filmed prior to going into Cambodia). I was a rebellious 19-year old who just wanted to go home.
Note: I was in the 31st Eng Battalion, 79th Engineer Brigade - EOD

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Daily Heroes: Meet Josh

Good Day World!

I'm putting together a collection of essays on what I call daily heroes.

They're the kind of people who face massive challenges every day bravely and creatively.

These Daily Heroes I'm introducing you to haven't made the news anywhere. There's no viral videos of any of them. They're just average Americans I've had the honor of meeting and knowing.
Meet Josh

The YMCA's gym was eerily quiet at 8:30 a.m. with the exception of a basketball being dribbled on the wooden floor. Soon another sound became apparent.

The sound of a wheelchair screeching to a sudden halt...followed by the unmistakable sound of a basketball swishing through the net.

Pleased with his shot Josh pumped his one good arm up and down. The stump on the other side steadied him as he rose up slightly.

The young African-American man was strapped in at the waist because he had no legs. It didn't seem to bother him as he raced his specially designed wheelchair towards the hoop.

 A smooth layup without pausing. Just another day playing hoops. I stopped shooting baskets on the other side of the gym to watch him.

We were the only people there. I saw that he had ear buds in and was grooving to some kind of music while shooting and chasing the ball.

I always considered myself "Basketball Jones." My happiest memories have always been about playing basketball on teams, pick-up games, and just shooting the ball by myself. 

At 65-years old, I'm no longer in basketball shape. I can't jump thanks to back surgery and bad knees. I get gassed easy. But I was thankful that I found a place where I could go and still play some hoops.

After watching an obviously happy Josh, I know we were soul brothers-in-basketball. As we both left the gym so a Zumba Class could take over, I introduced myself to him.

The next day Josh arrived at the gym before me and was already speeding down the court in his competition wheelchair when I got there at 8 a.m. 

I slowly stretched while watching him make 18-foot shots with one arm.

He was poetry in motion, manipulating the ball like a member of the Harlem Globe Trotters. He didn't have a particulary big hand, but it must have been strong as he held the ball like a grapefruit.

By the time I joined him he had a nice bead of sweat despite wearing a head band to absorb it. We greeted one another.

"Good to see you," I said.

"Good to see you too, sir," he replied.

"Let go of the "sir," Josh. Call me Dave. Now that we have that right what's your favorite shot?"

His smile was so big I had to smile back. 

"All of them! From all over the court!" he said with conviction.

"Wow! You're absolutly right! Can't have a favorite shot or everyone will know it and guard you better. Let's play HORSE.

That hour of basketball and conversation went by too quickly. Our conversations were short and honest. I asked him if he was a veteran and he said no.

I quickly assured him that I didn't need to know what happened; why he only had one good arm and no legs. The moment passed and he hit a pretty shot from about 15-feet out from the left corner.

I had to to make the shot, or I would have all the letters and be a HORSE. In a semi-serious tone I acted like I was the announcer in a big game, "And the crowd roared as he released the ball with one second to go!"

And he missed it!
Josh hooted happily and held his hand out to receive my high five. I promised I'd get him in the next game.

As the days turned to months Josh and I became good friends. I learned a little more about him every day, and the challenges he faced with such courage.

Thanks for reading this condensed version of Josh's story. The full version will be in a book form of collected essays that I'm working on.

Time for me to walk on down the road...  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Christian Racism in America: A Country's Shame in the Name of God

Good Day World!

If you are the kind of person that doesn't want to know how Christians have traditionally treated minorities in America, stop reading right now. It's not pretty.

The truth seldom is.

The idea that racial or ethnic groups should be persecuted is popular in the Bible. God himself was keen on exterminating whole peoples, such as the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:3).

Believing that they had replaced the Jews as God's chosen people, Christians figured it was alright to freely persecute non-Christian people. They even thought it was their duty.

After the Civil War Christians had to abandon the practice of slavery, but they believed non-whites were inferior to them spiritually, morally, and mentally.

Falling back on their Bible again, Christians cited Joshua 9:21 as proof that Blacks were inferior..."Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water."

In 1943, you could go to a theatre and watch cartoons like "Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs" by Merrie Melodys.

Everywhere you looked segregation was on full display right on through the 1960s.

We still contend with racism today, although it's no where near as blatant as it was in the past. 
Scroll down slowly to see images that will shock you...but remember, at one time good Christian folks thought nothing of these images.

All images via Google Commons

Time for me to walk on down the road..

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...