Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." (Julius Caesar; Act 4, Scene 3).

Category: Editorial (Page 2 of 9)

Tips for Self-Published Authors

The link below is from author Peter Gilboy and is worth reading if you are interested in self-publishing a book. It is reprinted (via link) by permission.

http://www.fictionwriterblog.com/2015/04/5-mistakes-indie-authors-make.html

Why Won’t Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns?

Why Won’t Trump Release His Tax Returns?

For the first time in modern history, a candidate running for President on a major party ticket is not releasing his tax returns.

Why not?

The 6 best guesses are courtesy of Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, one of 3 news outlets (the New York Times and the Des Moines Register being the other two) that Donald Trump has recently banned from covering his campaign for various slights or offenses he doesn’t like (it doesn’t take much when you’re as thin-skinned as Donald Trump):

1) The Donald may have Russian business ties.

2) Donald Trump did not pay any taxes at all for 2 years in the seventies. Speculation is rampant that he has not paid his fair share of taxes since then. A 1981 report by New Jersey gambling regulators showed that Trump did not pay any taxes for 2 years in the seventies because he reported negative income—which brings us to number 3.

3) Trump may not be as rich as he claims. He once said he was worth $10 biliion. Others have said he is worth $3 billion. Still others insist he is worth far less than either of those numbers. Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, is not impressed with Trump’s wealth, saying he is a con man at the DNC.

4) Trump may donate very little to charity, despite claims to the contrary. I’m sure we all remember when he skipped a debate in Iowa to raise money for veterans, but then didn’t donate the money until newspapers tracked down whether he had actually raised and donated as much ($6 million) as he claimed. The tracking down forced Trump to make good on a campaign promise to chip in a large amount of his own and made us aware that the $6 million was actually only $5.6 until the research outed the entire process and showed that he had not put in his contribution until the day after the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold printed the true story. Farenthold also found that his charitable giving to that point was less than $10,000.

5) He is being audited. This is pure bunk. Richard Nixon released his taxes while being audited in 1973. My husband ran 2 H&R Block locations and says there is no reason that an audit should prevent him from releasing his tax returns, which many others have confirmed.

6) Trump may have Mob ties. This idea has circulated for years. Ted Cruz on “Meet the Press” said, “There have been multiple media reports about Donald’s business dealings with the job, with the mafia. Maybe his taxes show those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported.” (Of course, Trump claimed that Cruz’ father was somehow complicit in the assassinaton of JFK, so…..

In other breaking non-tax-return news, Melania Trump’s website that claimed she earned an architecture degree before becoming a model (she didn’t) has been taken down.

Buzzfeed Buzzes Trump Campaign by Rejecting $1.3 Mill Buy

Buzzfeed Axes $1.3 Million Ad Deal With RNC Over Trump
Image:
Buzzfeed Axes $1.3 Million Ad Deal With RNC Over Trump
[By Cathy Burke | Monday, 06 Jun 2016 01:45 PM]

So read the headline that outlined how Buzzfeed has refused a deal to run ads designed to elect Donald Trump President in the upcoming presidential campaign, for the same reason that they don’t run cigarette ads, “which can also be hazardous to your health.”

It is becoming clearer and clearer in the lead-up to the actual presidential campaign that Donald Trump is someone who can dish it out, but can’t take it, when it comes to criticism. Perhaps this is because he was born a child of privilege and has lived, literally, in a gilded tower.

But whatever the source of his brash, obnoxious, misogynistic, narcissistic, blowhard personality, the thrice-married Donald is not getting an “A” in “works and plays well with others” nor is he winning any Mr. Congeniality contests, nor is he likely to pick up the votes of Latinos as he continues to go after the Hispanic Federal Judge who is overseeing his Trump University case.

The appearances on television (one with Jake Tapper this past Sunday was particularly revealing) show a man who continually interrupted his questioner to pivot to the topic of how wronged he had been because the judge handling his case was Mexican, (even though he was born in Indiana to immigrant parents). Trump is like a small grade-schooler who, not having gotten his way, says he is going to “take my ball and go home.” The level of maturity from a man approaching 70 is disturbing and terribly offputting for the average voter.

There are few people who like a braggart. Humble is the goal if you’re running for office. There are fewer still who like a con man, a liar and a huckster whose chief response to being called out is to whine, like the child with his hand caught in the cookie jar. Even Newt Gingrich, Trump’s staunch ally and a name bandied about as a vice presidential running mate, knows enough to flee a burning building, and has denounced Trump’s recent racist remarks. Right now, Donald Trump is a burning building.

Former opponents whom Trump bested in the primaries (Marco Rubio, for one) are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim that they saw this melt-down coming. Others, like Paul Ryan, are trying as hard as they can to tap dance away from the onus of anti-Hispanic sentiment that their presumptive nominee is spreading like grass seed on arid soil.(So much for the “autopsy” report the GOP commissioned after their last big loss that said they should try to be more inclusive and court the Hispanic vote.)

But can the old white male vote carry The Donald to victory, anyway? Well, when George W. Bush won, he carried 58% of the old, white male vote. When McCain lost, he had 55% of this segment of the electorate. Romney got 59% of the white male vote. Right now, in exit polls, Donald Trump is polling 52% of the white male vote. And let’s not forget that Romney’s loss in ’12 was a BIG loss. Onlookers can only hope that Trump’s loss will be even bigger, thereby giving Mitt Romney his “I told you so” moment.(Romney openly denounced Trump in no uncertain terms months ago in winter.)

As far as the GOP is concerned, it is just too bad that Mitt Romney, a decent (rich) human being without the common man touch, didn’t wait until this year to run against Hillary Clinton. She is eking out a win over a 74-year-old opponent not on charismatic leadership and likability, but because the Grand Old Party nominated an orange millionaire who won’t release his taxes (Did he PAY his taxes? Clinton has released her tax returns for the past 33 years.), makes no sense, has offered no real solutions for the problems he points out, and has vilified the press, this is likely to be a drubbing of historic proportions.

The State of Texas is seeking $5.4 million from Trump University to pay back the defrauded students. “And you know this case was turned down by almost every attorney general, from Texas to….” said Trump to Jake Tapper on television on June 5th.

Five different Texas codes were violated, according to the state of Texas. Texas state investigators went undercover inside Trump University to make these claims. Huckster. Fraud. Liar. Bait-and-switch. Infomercials for the 3-day $1,495 course used more high-pressure tactics to get customers to pay $35,000 for more classes. The only business tip? Prey on foreclosure victims. And yet Trump’s attorney says that Donald Trump had his finger involved in every aspect of Trump University. The Texas Attorney General then is the Texas Governor (Greg Abbott) now, so the case was dropped when Trump said he’d leave the state never to return. “No one else,” according to Texas officials, “was going to be scammed.”

Yeah…this is the kind of guy you want leading the Free World—-NOT!

Radio Interviews on June 1st & June 2nd

“Obama’s Odyssey” continues its national radio tour with 3 stops tomorrow and some special pricing.

The stops will be: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., CT in Centralia, Illinois on WILY-AM with Tootie Cooksey’s “Hotline.”

11 to 11:30 a.m. on WAMV-AM with Bob Langstaff’s “We the People” in Amherst, Virginia.

Noon to 12:16 on KPCL-FM in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Annette Ayoub’s “Day Brightener.”

In conjunction with the radio tour, Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey” is FREE for June 1 and June 2. Volume I is only 99 cents in e-book format from Amazon. The easiest way to “click through” and get to the special offers (which will expire on June 2nd) is to go to ConnieCWilson.com and click through, although you can also opt to go directly to Amazon and type in the book’s titles (Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House) and/or my author name, Connie Corcoran Wilson).

Can Trump Win? Informed Voters Want to Know

I have spent the past three mornings holding forth on radio stations from Seattle (WA) to Burlington (IA) talking about my books, “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.” Naturally, when you’re on morning drive “live” in an election year, eventually the host (or hostess) wants to get around to this year’s presidential race. Sometimes, I beg off, saying that I’m not actively reporting on this year’s race, which is true—sort of.

The truth is that I started out getting tickets to the candidates as they streamed into Iowa for the caucuses and, if you want to make something of it, I saw twice as many Republican candidates as Democratic (i.e., Jeb, The Donald and Bernie Sanders). I don’t like labels. Or incivility. Or being penned up and vilified as “lamestream media,” so I went as a citizen. I quit after some of the press were physically attacked. (I’m sure you’ve seen the same video that I have seen.) Not my idea of a good time to be penned up so that Donald Trump can hurl insults at me, and that is what is happening with the media who are assigned to follow his campaign.

But the on-the-air radio questions just keep coming about this year, which does have some similarities to 2008. For example, the recent outburst in Nevada from Bernie Sanders followers who felt the rules were being unfairly changed is not unlike the threat by Hispanic voters in 2008 on the floor of the Democratic National Convention to walk out if their candidate, Hillary Clinton, were not the nominee. And, at that time, Hillary was a lot closer to Obama’s total than Bernie is at this time during this race.

Ultimately, Hillary herself had to come down off the pedestal she sometimes seems to occupy in regards to we common folk and urge her followers to support Barack Obama. As the song goes, she “knew when to hold ‘em and knew when to fold ‘em.” She folded, and did so with better humor than many, even ultimately taking a position in the current President’s cabinet as Secretary of State.

So, I’m not in the position I was in ’04, ’08 and ’12 to “predict” based on being “on the ground” and out amongst the common folk. But I have stayed abreast of developments. I have watched all the debates. I have read the thoughts of other commentators from Texas to Chicago to New York and all states in between and of all ideologies (last one read: Charles Krauthammer).

I like to think I’m open-minded, independent, fair, unprejudiced and thoughtful about who should and could represent me abroad with grace , dignity, and expertise, which, I feel, has been the case this past 8 years. I was proud to call Barack Obama and Michelle Obama the President and First Lady of the United States of America. They represented America well abroad.

The policies of President Obama did not always coincide with my own thoughts, but what do I know about running a nation? Nothing. I merely observed developments in places like the Middle East and Egypt and said, “What happens when this guy is gone? What happens next?” And I waited for that other shoe to fall, which it has.

What I don’t do is say, “Let’s behave like spoiled brat schoolchildren and do everything we can to obstruct and slow progress. Let’s read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor while our nation’s credit and image abroad crumbles.”

Or, on a state level, let’s go without a budget for a full year and be so lame about Medicaid payments that it takes 555 days to be reimbursed in Illinois, 49th out of the states in the Union.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Green Eggs and Ham as well as the next reader and even have a Dr. Seuss-like children’s book series (“The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats,” 5 rhyming books).

But back to the subject of this year’s election.
The Koch Brothers have let it be known that they are sitting on their wallets this election cycle. They didn’t like the way their money went down the tubes in 2012 in support of Mitt Romney and they are sitting this one out. Mitt, himself, has made it perfectly clear where he stands on the issue of a President Trump and has only recently given up the effort, forged with political commentator Bill Kristol, to find a third party candidate. Neither Bush ex-President will support Trump after the graceless, classless way he “dissed” brother Jeb. The Republican Governor of Ohio (and third place presidential candidate), John Kasich, in an interview, admitted that he does not know if he can support the presumptive Republican nominee, and this year’s convention is being held in his all-important swing state of Ohio. [In another article, I’ll repeat some wisdom from today’s Chicago Tribune, quoting Trump delegates, but let’s stick to the topic.]

On the question, “Can Trump win?” I would be the last person to say “Never ever.” He will win if good people sit on their hands and do not vote, just as Auschwitz would never have happened if the good people of Germany had stood up and said, “This sort of action is wrong; this sort of behavior is not right. It is reprehensible and it must stop.” That happened in some countries, quite famously, as in Denmark, where all citizens began wearing the Star of David and 99% of their Jewish citizens survived, but obviously collective resistance to something so obviously wrong did not happen enough to save thousands of lives. And I’d like to save thousands of lives that might be disrupted if the wrong person has his (or her) finger on the button. I don’t want the nuclear codes in the hands of a reality TV star with few other qualifications for national office. And the thought of Sarah Pain OR Newt Gingrich serving with him is no longer laughable; it is just sad.

Trump might win if some sort of national emergency were to take place on U.S soil in the run-up to the election, which, alas, is always a threat. He might win if thinkers don’t outnumber disgruntled voters so fed up with politics as usual that they will try almost anyone or anything else, even a guy as polarizing as Donald Trump. And, let’s not forget, he’s a BRAND! He’s on TV. He fired Gary Busey and Li’l John! He refused to remove his surname from his new hotel in downtown Chicago and proved he had negotiated the right to have it appear in letters that are overwhelmingly high. (It doesn’t bother me, aesthetically, but there are those who become apoplectic discussing the downtown Trump Tower building.)

It’s an interesting bit of information that the GOP, after its sound defeat in 2012, did its own internal survey and found that as a party it should be more welcoming, more inclusive, less old and white, if they wanted to win future elections. Like the country of Germany (average citizen’s age: 46), which is growing old and not replacing its youth at a fast-enough clip, the GOP has grown old and white. In 2008 there were 36 black GOP delegates in St. Paul at the RNC, which Conan O’Brien joked at the time “means that there are now 37 African Americans in the state of Minnesota.”

All joking aside, there are books out now with titles like “The Browning of America” and those books take a good look at how the Hispanic vote has swelled from 12% in ’08 to something like 32% now. African Americans go for the Democrat in the race 84% to 9% according to an NBC poll released on May 17th. Latinos go for the Democrat 65% to 28%. Independent voters prefer Hillary to The Donald 44% to 36% and moderate voters say they prefer Hillary 53% to 39%. Women are slowly coming around to Hillary’s side, with a 15 point advantage, but that is largely erased by the 11 points Trump gets from adult white males. Those with just a high school degree like Trump, which is somewhat inconsistent with the later fact that voters who make less than $50,000 a year express a preference for Hillary, while college-educated voters prefer the woman who has been First Lady, Secretary of State and a Senator from New York (not to mention wife of the Governor of Arkansas).

When asked about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and trustworthiness, poll respondents picked The Donald as more trustworthy 63% to 34%, which should give Paul Ryan some insight into (a) why the ticket lost in 2012 and (b) why Americans, in general, are down on politicians.

But can Trump win? Radio talking heads don’t like to hear a reasoned response based on reality, but the reality is that Trump should be creamed by Hillary in a general election. She is possibly the best qualified candidate to come down the pike in the last 50 years.

But, as I wrote in “Obama’s Odyssey,” way back in 2008, voters told me then (p. 78 of Volume I, on sale today for 99 cents in e-book format), “I won’t vote for Hillary, no matter what.” “Why?” I asked the voters. They told me they don’t “like” her. An Austin writer (reprinted in the Friday the 13th Chicago “Tribune”) Cheryl Wilhelm said that Hillary just doesn’t act like she likes them much, either, so, she says, the feeling is mutual. She went on to say that you don’t have to be a political analyst to know that this spells trouble. Hillary does not have Bill’s gifts as a campaigner. It was evident in 2008 and it is even more evident in 2016. Some of my friends complain about her cackle, her screech, her clothing, her hair. Nothing the woman does or says pleases them. They don’t “like” her. If a national catastrophe strikes OR the smart and educated voters stay home (including Bernie’s supporters, if they refuse to cross over), Hillary could have trouble, because she is not going to get votes because people like her so much and, if nothing else, the recent Kentucky near split should prove that. (Not to mention her loss in Oregon)

Voters did “like” Barack Obama, and still do.

Do voters “like” Donald Trump? And if so, why?

He is brash, obnoxious, overly orange, thrice-married (with in-laws who are card-carrying Communists), overly smitten with Russian leader Vladimir Putin while undersmitten with our traditional allies, the British, (who even considered passing a bill to ban him from the country). He is, as Vanity Fair likes to describe him, “a short-fingered vulgarian.” We don’t even know if the man paid the taxes he owed or is worth anywhere near what he claims, as he has not released his tax returns, something that Clinton has released from the past 33 years.

Sure, it’s nice to hear some honesty from the debate stage, but are we hearing honesty from the stage? What is Donald’s take on abortion or Muslims today? He changes views more frequently than most people change their socks and one astute columnist noted that, like Obama in ’08, Trump is essentially a blank slate with no political record onto which the voter can project his or her own reality.

And is it really necessary to use disparaging nicknames to put down political opponents? Names like “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” are new to the political process in public, if not in private. (The last person to use nicknames for everyone, George W. Bush, called Karl Rove “Turd Blossom” and was similarly denigrating to others, which they did not appreciate; it’s a sign of a troubled ego.) Usually, the candidate on a debate stage at least attempts to show deference to his or her rivals, but The Donald is rich (or so he says), smart (or so he says) and anything he touches will turn to gold, (as is evidenced by pictures of his personal residence, wherein nearly everything was gold-plated, as though decorated for a Roman orgy.) “It’ll be HUGE!” he says, while wearing his made-in-China red baseball cap.

So, what do I think is going to happen THIS time around to and for the candidate (or candidates) sadly lacking in the “Q” factor, as broadcasters call it?

There are 2 possibilities:

1) If there is a national emergency of some sort, it will all be blamed on the present administration (even though Obama will probably go down as one of our better presidents, probably even one of our great presidents–opening trade with Cuba, passing Obamacare and still trying to achieve the goals he set out in 2008 in the face of unbelievable disrespect) as he saved us from the brink of collapse during the sub-prime mortgage scandal.) Everything could blow up in HRC’s face if that emergency happens.

It is worth noting on the negative side that no Big Bankers went to jail to pay for that economic sub-prime mortgage mess, and I agree with those who have dubbed our Middle East policy “feckless.”

2) Voter turnout will be pathetic and that could be disastrous. This year’s flawed candidates seem so bad that many obituaries are cropping up with lines like, “She chose death rather than having to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump,” or “In lieu of flowers, please do not vote for ____________.” (Fill in the candidate you would not like to see win.)

But talking about using nuclear weapons in Europe, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico which THEY will pay for, deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, banning ALL Muslims and generally acting like old white men in an isolationist pose that no longer works in the days of the Internet is equally “feckless.”

The Donald says he will “make America great” again, but he has no specifics as to how he might do that. He doesn’t even seem to know the names of leaders of other countries or where those countries are. It is doubtful that he understands the intricate process by which a bill becomes law. He has announced Supreme Court nominees at a time when the current do-nothing Congress won’t move forward in conducting hearings for the nominee of the sitting president, a questionable act and yet another example of disrespect. (Hear the guy out; you can always vote against him!)

The names I’ve seen bandied about for potential VP (Chris Christie notwithstanding) are has-beens (Newt Gingrich? Sarah Palin?), know-nothings, or both. They are like the cast of “Dancing with the Stars.” One such name mentioned, Joni Ernst from Iowa, was just elected in the northwest corner of the state, Steve King’s bailiwick, where conservatives gather and give him term after term, despite his reactionary views and some stupefyingly dumb things he has said and done. She barely has her political feet wet, but she does have bad hair akin to Donald’s, so there’s that. [They could form a “Bad Hair Club.”]

So, since we are now talking about the Steven Kings of life, let’s end with the words of THE writer Stephen King, “Donald Trump is an entertainer, a carnival man, a buffoon. His followers are white, scared, and angry. He will never be elected, not as long as minorities, liberals and educated people vote. But he has certainly exposed the ugly underbelly of conservatives in America today.”

Blog Tour Ongoing for “Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. I)

Right now, there is an ongoing blog tour for the first volume of “Obama’s Odyssey,” complete with some giveaways for a free copy on some blogs.

Originally, the tour was to kick off as I returned from Cancun (April 23), but apparently it started while I was out of the country, so I will attempt to find the dates and blog links to report to you, but, in the meantime, go out to Amazon, type in my name (Connie Corcoran Wilson) and check out the 6 new reviews for Volume I (which is the only one actually “on tour” currently).

I will be doing a radio interview with a Texas station this coming Thursday morning at 7:40 a.m. and the book is currently on the shelves of Book People, the largest independent bookstore in Texas, in Austin on Lamar Boulevard.

There is also a giveaway ongoing until May 28th on Goodreads for Volume I in paperback.

As soon as can, I will post the blog tour links for this timely book, but you can see many of the reviews posted behind the Amazon listing.

Obama’s Odyssey: Vol. I-FREE E-book for Amazon Review

Get A FREE E-book of “Obama’s Odyssey” thru March 5th

Obama_cover vol2ObamaIf you would like to read a FREE copy of Volume I of Obama’s Odyssey, in exchange for an Amazon (and, perhaps, Goodreads) review, simply claim your e-book copy from Reading Deals. Here is the information:

We have created a new landing page specifically for your book, so that people who are interested can join our Review Club and start reading and reviewing your book. Here is the link:

http://readingdeals.com/free-review-books/obamas-odyssey-the-2008-race-for-the-white-house-vol-i-by-connie-corcoran-wilson

You can promote this link to your mailing list, as well as on your social accounts like Facebook and Twitter. We’ve made it easy for you with this link below which will fill out the Tweet for you:

Promote Your Book Reviews

We will also be adding your book to our Twitter queue and we will be tweeting this landing page to our 80,000+ followers to help generate more interest and more reviews for your book. You can follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/reading_deals

So, there’s that.

vol2Obama

In addition, I will be speaking “live” on Monday, February 22nd at the Root Room in Chicago from 6 to 8 p.m. about the 2 volume “Obama’s Odyssey” book, chronicling my coverage of the 2008 presidential election. I’m flying in from Texas to do so.

The entire odyssey began, for me, with articles on my own blog and on Associated Content, which became Yahoo.  I posted over 1,000 articles, focusing on entertainment and politics. I began covering the caucuses because I had recently retired and it was boring. So, a sixty-something Iowan went off on an adventure, hiking at least 15 miles a day, it seemed, and having a variety of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, which I didn’t write in book form until Yahoo kicked back the articles to the members of the Content Contributors Network in order to hire Katie Couric for $10 million. (Yahoo recently announced another big lay-off of its employees—something like 170,000—, as the Katie Couric thing isn’t working out too well, apparently.)

My coverage of the Iowa caucuses began to pick up interest as the caucus season heated up. My posts on Yahoo were “hit” roughly 3 million times. Some of my predictions (like the one, in advance, that Obama would carry Iowa) were quite controversial and generated a lot of debate.

After the Iowa caucus articles appeared, I was contacted by my editor at Yahoo, Tim Skillern, and asked if I would consider going to Denver to cover the Democratic National Convention and to St. Paul to cover the Republican National Convention.

“We’ll get you inside,” Tim promised.

I think my response was, “Heck! I’d pay YOU for that, but you’ll have to find me some place to stay that is less than $500 a night.”

Hence, I ended up in a room within a house of Yahoo bloggers, all in their twenties, sleeping on an air mattress. There was no closet in the room, which did not bother me, but the lack of a chair eventually caused me to take one of the dining room chairs and struggle upstairs with it, so I could crawl over to the chair and use it to help myself up from the on-the-floor air mattress. (The door knob was taking a beating!)

And all of it ended with me being named Yahoo’s Content Contributor of the Year.

I will be talking about my adventures in Denver (inside) and St. Paul (inside) and at the Belmont Town Hall meeting in Nashville (inside) and following Rudy Giuiliani around in Florida and talking a good friend into covering the Nevada caucuses, plus the unforgettable experience of attending the Ron Paul Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis at the Target Center as a member of the press.

My anecdotes about my personal experiences [falling down the hill outside Invesco Field while following the Fox News Team (“One More Reason to Hate the Fox News Team”)] or being detained by the police outside the “Rage Against the Machine” concert in downtown Denver, or attending various state parties after the day’s work was done are highpoints of my life. There are many funny stories among them.

I will be talking about Volumes I and II from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Root Room in Chicago (5203 N. Kimball Ave.). This presentation will be filmed and streamed “live.” The live streaming will be able to be viewed on Amazon’s Kindle Fire channel and here is the link to learn more about how that works: http://www.meetup.com/authors-showcase/about/

 

Haskell Wexler: Activist and Cinematographer Par Excellence

Haskell Wexler, world-famous cinematographer and liberal political activist, died 2 days after Christmas in his sleep at his Santa Monica home at the age of 93. It was a big loss to the world of cinema, and, on a personal level, I regret postponing the interview I planned  (which he agreed to) that I never got around to conducting. He goes right up there with Christa McAuliff as (yet another) celebrity who I should have spoken with sooner.

On the even of the Monday, February 2 caucuses in Iowa, I think back to Wexler’s work on behalf of liberal causes and sneak in the prediction that Hillary will (probably) win Iowa but Bernie could take her in New Hampshire before mentioning some of Wexler’s accomplishments and quoting his son, Jeff, who works in the industry, as does his movie producer son Mark.

Haskell Wexler was still filming (the 2012 NATO demonstrations in Grant Park) at the age of 90, and that is when the picture accompanying this article was shot, in Grant Park.

This is me, in Grant Park, with Haskell Wexler. I was star-struck to realize Haskell was shooting film there (as was I) during the big NATO trade meeting (and demonstrations in Chicago in May, 2012.) He was 90 then and still working; we should all be so lucky. Haskell died in his sleep in Santa Monica this past December 27th, (2015). He was 93.
I ran all the way across the park to meet him and have this photo taken, bailing on a Vietnam veteran I was interviewing who was going to return his medals during the Occupy protests. Later, I had the photo framed, wrote a thank you note for the hours of entertainment that his movies provided to all of us, and gave it to him, in person, at a Chicago Film Festival I was covering. I asked him if I could interview him at that time, and he was very gracious and gave me his e-mail. I planned to do it, but I first needed to do more research on his many outstanding films, a few of which I had not seen (especially his documentaries, which are sometimes hard to obtain).
That didn’t happen and now he is dead. “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
During his rise to prominence, Haskell met such future luminaries as a young George Lucas (he advised him to go to film school) and William Friedkin (“The Exorcist,” “The French Connection”) when he was working as an usher in Chicago.
Chicago was a big part of Wexler’s life. He was a native son (born at 2340 Lincoln Park West to a father (Simon “Sy” Wexler) who worked for Allied Radio, a progenitor of Radio Shack. From an early age he began filming, working as an assistant to Mickey Pallas, who chronicled unions and civil rights groups—causes which Wexler would believe in and document all his life.
Probably his most famous chronicling of politics occurred in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention when actor Robert Forster (last seen on “Breaking Bad”) starred in his film “Medium Cool” and actual protesters and police appeared in the film.  Haskell wrote, directed, shot and produced the film, getting his cousin, blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield, to do the music. Wexler’s “cinema verite” hand-held camera style on the film, much like Costa Gravas’ “Z,” has been much studied in film schools since, and, as Glenn Erickson, writing for Turner Classic Movies said, “His footage looked so good that one would think the confrontation lines had been pre-lit for his camera.”  Haskell himself described how he would coach the young female lead to go right up to the barricades and ask, nicely, if she could duck underneath them and go where the action was, with Wexler shooting her every step of the way. He captured the brutality of the thugs beating protesters against the Vietnam War in Grant Park, across the street from the Hilton on Michigan where the DNC was taking place at the time. When “Medium Cool” opened, film critic Roger Ebert called it, “The only feature film to really capture the life of Chicago’s neighborhoods.”
Haskell Wexler had a life-long love affair with Chicago, saying he always wanted to make his first film in Chicago because “Chicago is a real place and L.A. is a motel. I am a Chicagoan.”
The scenes Haskell Wexler gave us, including the black-and-white squabbling of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and the lush grassy grace of a young Richard Gere in “Days of Heaven” stay in the memory. Faye Dunaway’s sexy chess game with Steve McQueen in the original “Thomas Crown Affair” (with its split-screen shots); “Coming Home” and Bruce Dern’s walk into the sea; “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with Jack Nicholson (from which he was fired by Milos Forman); “In the Heat of the Night,” where he discovered that the lighting for black actor Sidney Poitier must be adjusted to suit African-American actor’s skin tones; “The Conversation” with Gene Hackman; “American Graffiti” with a young Harrison Ford and Ron Howard. The list goes on and on, and is enumerated below.
Haskell’s son, Jeff, who works in sound for movies, was Oscar-nominated himself for “The Last Samurai” and “Independence Day.” He relates, “Steve McQueen would come by the house and pick me up in one of his new Ferraris. Pop would take me to work. It was just terrific for me to visit the set. If they hadn’t put the camera on the dolly yet, he’d let me ride on the dolly. I was in heaven.”
Two things that few knew about Haskell Wexler, says his son Jeff, “Dad was color-blind. He kept it a secret for the longest time.” Also, when WWII began, Haskell joined the Merchant Marine, was torpedoed, spent two weeks in a lifeboat, and had to swim through burning oil to survive. That sort of sealed the deal as far as his anti-war stance.”
Wexler is survived by his son Jeff, his movie producer son Mark, a daughter, Kathy, and his third wife, actress Rita Taggart.
R.I.P., Haskell Wexler. You were truly a visionary and one of a kind.
From IMDB:
Two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler was adjudged one of the ten most influential cinematographers in movie history, according to an International Cinematographers Guild survey of its membership. He won his Oscars in both black & white and color, for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)  and Bound for Glory (1976). He had served in the merchant marine with Arlo Guthrie. (He actually won the very last Oscar for b&w cinematography that was awarded.)
He also shot much of Days of Heaven (1978), a gorgeous Richard Gere film directed by Terence Malick, for which credited director of photography Nestor Almendros — [who was losing his eye-sight], won a Best Cinematography Oscar that Wexler felt should have been jointly shared by both. “Days of Heaven” was not a commercial success but is now considered a seminal film of the seventies, especially because of its gorgeous cinematography. (Sam Shepherd was also in the film). In 1993, Wexler was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award by the cinematographer’s guild, the American Society of Cinematographers.
He received five Oscar nominations for his cinematography, in total, plus one Emmy Award in a career that  spanned six decades and lasted into his nineties, as I saw him shooting film in the park on May 22, 2012, during the NATO meting/protests. He was 90 when this picture was taken, and he was still working. Haskell suggested to George Lucas that he go to film school, and Lucas never forgot this helpful advice.
Weskell is one of only 6 cinematographers to have a star on Hollywood’s Starred Walk of Fame and once formed a business with famed director Conrad (Connie) Hall. (One of the other 6 cinematographers to have a star and whose last film was “Road to Perdition.”)
In addition to his masterful cinematography, Wexler directed the seminal late Sixties film Medium Cool (1969) and has directed and/or shot many documentaries that display his progressive political views. He was the subject of a 2004 documentary shot by his son Mark Wexler, Tell Them Who You Are (2004).
Films:

25 Things You Might Not Know About Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses (4 days away), here are 20 little-known facts about Bernie Sanders, courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek, which ran Bernie’s picture on its latest cover with the logo: “Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Want Your Vote” (going on to explain that many of its readers are hedge-fund managers).

  1. Sanders  became a national political figure by giving a speech on Dec. 20, 2010 that lasted 8 and 1/2 hours. The speech railed against extending Bush tax cuts and seemed like a filibuster, but it wasn’t. It was so popular that it was later made into a book.

2) Sanders does not enjoy selfies.”If I had my options, I’d prefer to shake hands,” says Bernie.

3)  Bernie grew up with an immigrant father in a tenement with 3 and 1/2 rooms.

4)  Bernie has attracted crowds larger than Trump’s: 28,000 in Portland, Oregon; 27,500 in Los Angeles; 20,000 in Boston; 15,000 in Seattle.

5)  Sanders has a son named Levi, who is a paralegal at Greater Boston Legal Services.

6)  When asked to describe the U.S. to a Martian he used the phrase “wealth and income inequality.”

7)  Sanders’ former Chief of Staff says he had 2 interests when Mayor of Burlington: basketball and wealth inequality.

8)  Sanders has the highest constituent approval rating and lowest disapproval rating among U.S. Senators.

9)  Sanders is a graduate of the University of Chicago and once was arrested during a civil rights demonstration (he was a member of SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, among others.)

10)  Sanders spent most of 1972-1976 running in Vermont as a third-party candidate for governor (2x), for senator (2x) and once got 4% of the vote.

11) Sanders won a weird race for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont (four-way race) by 10 votes, becoming their mayor for 8 years, a period during which the city boomed.

12)  Bernie ran for Congress twice becoming the first Independent elected to the House in 40 years.

13)  Bernie spent 16 years in the House before running for the Senate in 2006, with the backing of the Democratic Party, which he officially would not join.

14)  Bernie has 3 labor unions backing him, representing about a million workers. (*Clinton has about 18 unions representing 11 million workers supporting her.)

15)  In the 1960’s, he lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a few years before moving to Vermont. When he arrived in Vermont, he first lived in a maple sugar shack and cooked food over a coffee can filled with a roll of toilet paper soaked in lighter fluid, a poor man’s Sterno which his friends called a “Berno.”

16)  His brother, Larry, who first got him interested in liberal issues, is a Green Party politician in England. (*Donald Trump’s father-in-law and mother-in-law are both members of the Communist Party in their native land.)

17)  Until 2015, Bernie had 5 digits’ worth of credit card debt.

18)  When he ran for President of James Madison High School in Brooklyn in a 3-way race, he came in last. (*His elementary school basketball team won a city-wide championship, however.)

19)  There is a Bernie Sanders Drinking Game where, every time he mentions a free government program, you take a drink of someone else’s beer.

20)  Invited to speak to a United Way fundraiser once, he attacked the group in a short speech, telling them that they shouldn’t exist; that taking workers’ pay to do the government’s job was shameful.

21)  At Bernie’s rallies, Steve Earle’s “The Revolution Starts Now” and Bob Marley’s “Revolution” play, but not the Beatles’ famous song because it ends with the line: “Don’t you know it’s going to be all right.”

22)  Bernie ascribes to this FDR quote:  “We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.  Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today.  They are unanimous in their hatred of me—and I welcome their hatred.”

23)  Robert Reich (economist and Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton) says, “Essentially, America faces a choice between authoritarian populism, represented by Donald Trump, and reform populism, represented by Bernie Sanders.”

24)  In college, Bernie also belonged to the Young People’s Socialist League, CORE (the Congress for Racial Equality), SNCC and the Student Peace Union.

25)  Bernie’s message is that of Martin Luther King, which King termed “the urgency of now”: “If you see stuff that’s bad and you don’t respond with the urgency of the moment, you’re not alive.”

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