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).

Tag: Connie Corcoran Wilson (Page 1 of 10)

The 35 Best U.S. Films About Politics Ever Made

The 35 Greatest U.S. Political Films of All Time

By Connie Wilson

In preparing a list of “the greatest” of anything, you are limited by your own exposure to the films (i.e., ‘Did you see these movies?”) If you did see them, do you remember all of them?

Fortunately for those of you longing for a political fix that isn’t nauseating (but actually entertaining), I have personally seen every single movie on this list—some of them more than once.

I concentrated on the American political experience, not that of another country. For that reason, films like “Z” by Costa-Gravas, or his equally impressive “Missing” (Chile) or Helen Mirren’s“The Queen” were deleted, as they focus on the political process in other countries. Warren Beatty’s movie “Reds” would have qualified if we wanted to open the list to Mother Russia.

But my emphasis is on politics here in the good old United States of America. (Also known, recently, as the Divided States of America, but that’s a topic for another day.) Steve McQueen’s 2008 film “Hunger” about the Irish Republican Army prison inmates certainly deserves a place on a list of great political films, but not if we’re concentrating on America, American politicians, and American politics. Similarly “The King’s Speech” (2010) had to go. “V for Vendetta”(2005): out. “Metropolis” (1927): a classic, but not really a film about American politics.

And that brings me to another criteria for my list. The primary focus of the film had to be on politics or the political process or a political candidate. One other list I consulted while researching my list included “Children of Men” (2006) and “The Godfather: Part II”.

The second “Godfather” movie definitely brings politics into the plot. But let’s be honest about “The Godfather” films. They’re about the Mafia family the Corleones. They’re not purely about politics, except peripherally. When it seemed like it might be a good idea for the Corleone family to become involved in the political process, by hook or by crook, they were buying Senators, yes, and perhaps planning more, but the films do not scream POLITICS to me.

Nor was Coppola’s other masterpiece, “Apocalypse Now” a movie about politics (as one list would have had me believe). Yes, Martin Sheen is traveling up the river to find Kurtz (Marlon Brando), but don’t most of us think of “Apocalypse Now” as a war movie? I know I do; I was surprised to see it on lists of “greatest political films” and I was equally surprised to see Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece “Citizen Kane” or Gregory Peck’s turn as Atticus Finch in “To Kill A Mockingbird” listed as “political” movies.

Well, yes, there is politics involved in both,— if you really stretch the definition of what you want your list to represent. Were they really short of candidates when they made their list(s), because I had no problem at all listing 35 films that I guarantee you that you will find enjoyable, entertaining and informative. (No attempt to say, “THIS is the very best one.”)

I eliminated documentaries, such as Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” because it isn’t a feature film. A great documentary like the Oscar-nominated “The Look of Silence” about the Philippines therefore lost out on two counts: it’s a documentary AND it is not about the United States. There are any number of great Errol Morris documentaries (“The Fog of War,” “The Unknown Known”) that would have been included, if I included documentaries. But these are all feature films on this list, made about the U.S. and being recommended to you for future viewing.

For those of you still reeling from the election of 2016 who want to see a good movie that will both entertain and enlighten you and is about politics in the U.S. of A, this is the list for you!

I admit to having seen every single one of them, which demonstrates why I get so little real work done. After the thumbnail sketches of the films, I’ll list a few “oldies-but-goodies” that I admit woulda’/shoulda’/coulda’ made the list—if I had seen them. Or, in at least one case, if I remembered it, which, apparently, I do not, or I would have included it.

Most of those films pre-date my movie-going career, (which has been very, very long).

THE FILMS:

1949 & 2006: “All the King’s Men”
– Broderick Crawford won an Oscar for playing Huey Long in the original movie (and then moved on to television, where he had a long-running role on “Highway Patrol.”) Sean Penn took on the part again in 2006. I’ll take the original over the remake, especially for the scene featuring Huey’s violent death as he exits the Capitol building. The film was based on Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and here’s what IMDB says it is about: “The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal.” Amazing how these old movies retain their timeliness.

1962 & 2004: “The Manchurian Candidate” – For many years, this was my All-Time Favorite Flick. Laurence Harvey as the hit man who was brainwashed and is now the pawn of the evil Angela Lansbury (his mother) is magnificent, and Frank Sinatra is racing against the clock to prevent catastrophe in this plot that involves putting a Russian pawn in the White House. After the assassination of JFK, the film was withdrawn from release for many years, but re-emerged and the John Frankenheimer (“Black Sunday,” “Seven Days in May”) version was re-shot with Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber in the title roles and the conflict updated to the Korean War. Direction in 2004 was by Jonathan Demme (“The Silence of the Lambs”). Both are good films, but I vote for the original 1962 version.

1962: “Advise and Consent” – Otto Preminger directed this film that starred Henry Fonda and Franchot Tone. The film was adapted from the Allan Drury novel that I once had to read for and with a young student from Chicago who was enrolled in a political science class at Augustana College and had been assigned to read the book for his class. The IMDB plot write-up: Senate investigation into the President’s newly nominated Secretary of State, gives light to a secret from the past, which may not only ruin the candidate, but the President’s character as well. (Nothing like this could ever happen in today’s world—right?)

1964: “Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” – Stanley Kubrick’s film with Peter Sellers in multiple roles is so good that I once cornered my entire family and made them watch it on Christmas Day. After all, what is more entertaining than the sight of Sellers’ facing off against Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott. I’ll never forget the scene where Sterling Hayden is ordered to machine gun a Coca Cola vending machine and Hayden defiantly says, “Well, all right, but you’ll have to answer to the Coca Cola Company,” or words to that effect. The plot (IMDB): An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. Oh! THAT could never happen in real life, now, could it? Slim Pickens riding the bomb. This film cries out for viewing in today’s political climate.

1964: “Fail-Safe” – Henry Fonda steps up to the political plate once again, in a film directed by Sidney Lumet (“12 Angry Men,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Network”) that features a rogue attack on the U.S.S.R. (Remember the Cold War when Russia was our adversary and not our good friend?). The launch a mistake caused by an electrical malfunction and the question is: “Can we avoid an all-out nuclear war?”

1964: “Seven Days in May” – John Frankenheimer directed the original film that starred Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner and Martin Balsam about a plot against the President of the United States by military leaders because the president supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and the military fears a Russian sneak nuclear attack. Nominated for 2 Oscars.

1972: “The Candidate” – I still have a political button that says “Bill McKay: A Better Way.” The theater gave them out to advertise this Robert Redford starring movie about a candidate running for the Senate in California and his handlers. Real Senators Alan Cranston, Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern had cameos. Howard K. Smith of ABC News played himself. I always felt that this treatment of the run for office was probably more accurate than most.

1974: “The Parallax View” – An ambitious reporter played by Warren Beatty gets in way-over-his-head trouble while investigating a senator’s assassination. Everyone who knew anything about the Senator’s death seems to be dying. He discovers a vast conspiracy involving a multinational corporation behind every event in the world’s headlines. Directed by Alan J. Pakula (“The Pelican Brief”) and co-starring Paula Prentiss.

1975: “Three Days of the Condor” – A bookish CIA researcher (Robert Redford) finds all his co-workers dead. (You never know what you’ll find your co-workers up to when you return from a coffee run). He must outwit those responsible and figure out whom he can trust. Directed by Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford’s kidnapping of Faye Dunaway (he needs a place to hide out while he figures things out) leads to some moody cinematography of her photography and, ultimately, to the salvation that releasing facts to the media (i.e., the “New York Times”) used to mean. Ah, for those good old simpler days.

1976: “All the President’s Men” – Starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post, the two uncover the details of the Watergate scandal (primarily from informant “Deep Throat” played by Hal Holbrook) that leads to President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office. Again directed by Alan J. Pakula, based on Bernstein and Woodward’s books. I showed this to a class at Eastern Iowa Community College to illustrate “whistle-blower” films, and the credits are of an old manual typewriter banging out the information, so its credit opening seems very dated.

1979: “Being There”
– The great Peter Sellers plays Chance, the gardener, and Shirley MacLaine co-stars. I’ll never forget Chance saying, “I just like to watch.” Jerzy Kosinski wrote the novel on which the plot is based and also wrote the screenplay for the film, which was directed by Hal Ashby (“Harold & Maude,” “The Last Detail”). A poor simple gardener becomes an unlikely trusted advisor to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics (These days, that phrase is redundant). Is Chance really dumb, or is he crazy like a fox? Melvyn Douglas won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor, but the film also had another 13 wins and 15 nominations for a variety of film critics’ awards that year.

1981: “First Monday in October” – This film starring Jill Clayburgh and Walter Matthau was about the appointment of the first woman to the Supreme Court. Jerome Lawrence wrote the play and the screenplay and Ronald Neame directed. Clayburgh is the Conservative (think Scalia) and Matthau is the liberal (think Ruth Bader-Ginsberg). It eventually leads to a romance not unlike that of the Ragin’ Cajun of the Democratic party, James Carville, and his Republican wife Mary Matlin—[before she bolted from the GOP, anyway].

1992: “Bob Roberts” – Tim Robbins wrote it. Tim Robbins directed it. Tim Robbins starred in it. Here’s the IMDB plot summary: “A right-wing folk singer becomes a corrupt politician and runs a crooked election campaign. Only one independent muck-raking reporter is trying to stop him.”

1993: “The Pelican Brief”
– Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts are on the trail of who murdered a Supreme Court Justice of the United States and why. Based on the John Grisham best-selling novel. Alan J. Pakula (“All the President’s Men,” “The Parallax View”) wrote the screenplay and directed.

1995: “The American President” – Aaron Sorkin wrote it, Rob Reiner directed it, and Michael Douglas and Annette Benning play the widowed President, who falls in love with a lobbyist. I actually knew the guy who made sure the dye in the carpet was the same as the real Oval Office. (He also dyed the Trump baby’s layette for a photo shoot for “Vanity Fair”, but that “baby” our current president’s second daughter, with Marla Maples, is now the young Tiffany Trump.)
1997 : « Conspiracy Theory » – Mel Gibson & Julia Roberts. A man obsessed with conspiracy theories becomes a target after one of his theories turns out to be true. Unfortunately, in order to save himself, Mel has to figure out which theory it is. Directed by Richard Donner (“Lethal Weapon”).

1997 – “Wag the Dog” – Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor (Robert DeNiro) and a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal. Directed by Barry Levinson (“Diner”) and co-starring Anne Heche. My favorite scene involved a young girl clutching a bag of potato chips to simulate a baby, which would be “green screened” into a touching war scenario that would distract from the REAL scandal. The movie is a hoot and a half and rings even truer today!


1998: “Primary Colors”
– A man joins the political campaign of a smooth-operator candidate for president of the USA, played by John Travolta and loosely modeled on Bill Clinton’s charisma. Directed by the late great Mike Nichols, who joins Alan J. Pakula in heaven as one of the best directors of a political movie since 1970. Based on the Joe Klein novel that hit New York Times best-seller lists as written by “anonymous.”

1991: “JFK” – Oliver Stone directed from a script that he and Zachary Sklar co-wrote. The bio-pic explores the assassination theories that New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison believed to be true. Too many courtroom scenes, but a decent bio-pic about the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, starring Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald, Brian Doyle Murray as Jack Ruby, Sissy Spacek, Kevin Costner (as Garrison), Tommy Lee Jones, John Candy, Jack Lemmon, Ed Asner, Vincent D’Onofrio, Wayne Knight and Michael Rooker among a very large cast.

1992: “Malcolm X” – Spike Lee directed from the book “Malcolm X” by Alex Haley (“Roots”). Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett and Delroy Lindo starred in this bio-pic about the Black Muslim leader who was assassinated in New York at the age of 39 on Feb. 21, 1965.

1995: “Nixon” – Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen and Powers Boothe headed up the cast of this Oliver Stone bio-pic. I have to admit that I thought Hopkins was the wrong physical type to play Nixon, but he did his usual great job. Film was nominated for 4 Oscars. It got nominations for its screenplay, its original music, and both Allen and Hopkins were nominated, but did not win.

1998: “Bulworth” – Warren Beatty wrote this, starred in it, and directed it, with Halle Berry as his co-star. Bulworth is a liberal politician, Senator Jay Billington Bullworth, who is so suicidally disillusioned that he puts a hit out on himself. At that point, he feels that he can now be completely honest with his constituents. I did not like this movie as well as most of the others on the list, which was because the plot had Bulworth embracing hip hop music and culture as he waits to die. But it’s a Warren Beatty film and deserves to be on the list as an examination of to what lengths (or depths) politics can drive a candidate.

1999: “Election” – A very young (and obnoxious) Reese Witherspoon is Little Miss Goody Two Shoes in teacher Matthew Broderick’s classroom. A compulsive over-achiever, Broderick’s life becomes very complicated (and the film becomes very hilarious) when the campaign and run for Class President comes down to a vote or two against opponent Chris Klein (“American Pie”). I loved this movie and laughed out loud; it didn’t hurt any that the inexpensive film used the Midwest chain Younkers in the background of some shots, because you’re not going to see THAT every day! (Founded in 1856 in Keokuk, Iowa, Younkers stores only exist in 50 Midwestern locations.)

2000: “The Contender” – Joan Allen strikes again, this time as a Vice Presidential contender named Laine Hanson. Information and DISinformation threatens to derail her confirmation. What a cast! In addition to Allen, the co-stars include Gary Oldman, Christian Slater, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott and William Peterson. (I met Joan Allen at the Chicago International Film Festival a few years back, when she was being honored as a local girl made good. She is a Rochelle, Illinois native who attended both Eastern Illinois University and Northern Illinois University, my husband’s alma mater).

2005: “Good Night & Good Luck” – George Clooney wrote, directed and was one of the stars of this film about Edward R. Murrow’s attempts to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy. Clooney admitted it was a passion project for him. David Straithorne played Murrow, with Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson, Frank Langella, Matt Ross and Robert Downey, Jr., also in the cast. Nominated for 6 Academy Awards.

2007: “Charlie Wilson’s War” – Tom Hanks portrayed Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who attempted to covertly supply Afghan rebels with the weapons to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. The film’s tag-line was: “Based on a true story. You think we could make all this up?” Co-stars were Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman (again), and Amy Adams from a script written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Mike Nichols.

2008: “Frost/Nixon” – Ron Howard directed Frank Langella (Nixon) and Martin Sheen (Frost) in this film adaptation of the Broadway play that detailed the information that Nixon finally admitted during David Frost’s interviews of him on national television. It was essentially a two-man play, but the movie also featured such name actors as Kevin Bacon, Toby Jones, Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt and the director’s brother, Clint Howard.

2008: “Milk” – Sean Penn beat out Mickey Rourke this year (in “The Wrestler”) to take home the Oscar for Best Actor in this drama about California’s first openly gay elected official. Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin (as the shooter) star in this Gus Van Sant project.

2008: “W” – Josh Brolin portrayed George W. Bush in Oliver Stone’s bio-pic, with Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney and Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld. Toby Jones portrayed Karl Rove, Jeffrey Wright played Colin Powell, Ellen Burstyn was Barbara Bush and Colin Hanks played a speechwriter.

2011: “The Ides of March” – Ryan Gosling portrays an idealistic staffer for a candidate who learns more than he wants to about dirty politics. The play on which the film was based was written by a former Howard Dean staffer, Beau Willimon, who now helps helm Kevin Spacey’s “House of Cards” TV series. George Clooney, who directed and co-wrote, also played Governor Mike Morris. Others in the cast included Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld on television now), Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright.

2012: “Game Change” – Jay Roach directed from the book of the same name, in a film about Sarah Palin’s ascendancy to the vice presidential slot on John McCain’s ’08 presidential bid. The film starred Julianne Moore (as Palin), Woody Harrelson, and Ed Harris as John McCain. (These were “the olden days” when we thought Sarah Palin was the worst know-nothing candidate one could put on a presidential ticket.)

2012: “Argo” – Ben Affleck both directed and starred (along with Bryan Cranston and John Goodman) in this film based on Tony Mendez’ book “The Master of Disguise.” The book detailed how a team posing as filmmakers scouting a location for a sci-fi movie rescued 6 of the Iranian hostages in 1980. Won 3 Oscars, including Best Picture of the Year.

2012: “Lincoln” – Based on the Doris Kearns Goodwin book, Stephen Spielberg cast Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and he won the Oscar this year as Best Actor for the bio-pic about Lincoln’s trials and tribulations as the Civil War raged. The film was also nominated as Best Picture. Co-stars were Sally Field (as Mary Todd Lincoln), David Straitharn (again), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle-Haley, Hal Holbrook and John Hawkes.

2012: “Zero Dark Thirty” – Kathryn Bigelow helmed this story of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by Navy S.E.A.L. Team Six in May of 2011. The film starred Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton and Kyle Chandler. It won one Oscar.

2014: “Selma” – Ava DuVernay directed from a script by Paul Webb. The film documents the Martin Luther King civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. David Oyelowe played Martin Luther King, and would later make his mark again in “Twelve Years A Slave.” Carmen Ejogo portrayed Coretta Scott King. Won one Oscar.

I’d just like to add that 1964’s “The Best Man,” as well as 1939’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and 1957’s “A Face in the Crowd” would have made the list if I had a better memory. I know I saw them, but they are lost in the mists of memory, while I do remember all others on this list. Also, haven’t seen “Snowdon” (Oliver Snow) and perhaps “Dave” with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver could make the list, but I was trying for films with the stature of “Argo” and “Lincoln,” so some (like “War Games”) were intentionally omitted.

Enjoy!

Paperback “Goodreads” Giveaway Ends in 8 hours

I’m giving away 5 autographed copies of “Obama’s Odyssey, Volume I” through Goodreads, to end tonight at midnight (May 28th). I’ve been mentioning it on the national radio tour I’m on, which will continue on June 1st and June 2nd.

If you don’t mind reading the book as an e-book, on those 2 dates you’ll be able to get an E-book copy of Volume II FREE and a copy of Volume for 99 cents, in conjunction with the radio tour, so that is $30 of paperback books in e-book (Kindle) format for under a $1. (Sweet)

Also, I’ll be at the IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association) tent from 10 to 2 on the first day (Saturday, June 11th) of Printers’ Row and from 2 to 6 on Sunday, June 12th. Stop by and pick up the nonfiction or fiction books (30 at last count) for special pricing and have them autographed.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Obama's Odyssey by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Obama's Odyssey

by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Giveaway ends May 28, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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.”

Specific Times & Stations for Radio Tour

It was pointed out to me that potential listeners would not know, from my previous post, what station to tune in to (if they happened to be in cities ranging from Ocala, Florida to Minneapolis, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington.)

So, here is a more specific update by station and show and time for May 18th, Wednesday, only. There will be an additional 5 stations on May 19th and then it will jump till June 1st.

Don’t forget: on May 18, 19, 20 and June 1 and 2, you would be able to download BOTH “Obama’s Odyssey” books for a total of 99 cents, because of the radio tour. Volume II will be totally free and Volume I will only cost 99 cents (normally $4.99) for the dates mentioned here.

Wednesday, May 18:
1) Harrogate, TN, WCXZ-AM with Tom Amis in the Morning from 7:30 to 7:40 a.m.
2) Willmer, MN, KWLM-AM with Bill Dean’s The Morning Brew from 7:50 to 8:00 a.m. (*Note: Bill Dean once attended the Mason City, IA, auctioneer college.)
3) Charleston, SC, WTMA-AM with Charlie James from 8:06 to 8:16 a.m.
4) Minneapolis, MN, KBEM-FM, with Ed Jones from 8:40 to 8:50 a.m.
5) Charlotte, NC, WSAT-AM, with Buddy Poole from 8:50 to 9:00 a.m. (*Note: Buddy is now General Manager of the station, but he owned it up until 2014.)
6) Lexington, KY, WMST-AM, Dan Manley’s Mid-Mornings on Main from 9 to 9:30 a.m. (*Note: this is a full half-hour on Kentucky radio. Yee haw!)
7) Hartford, CT, WJJF-FM with The Lee Elci Show from 9:40 to 9:50 a.m. (*Note: Lee used to play pro baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.)
8) Ocala, FL, WOCA-AM, Larry Whitler’s The Source from 10:05 to 10:15. (*Note: This is a Fox News Outlet).
9) Festus, MO, KJFF-AM, Matt West’s The Morning Magazine from 10:30 to 10:40 a.m. (*Note: Festus, Missouri, is just south of St. Louis, I’m told.)

Thanks to all the radio hosts and wish me luck at those hours in the morning!

Writers for New Orleans over Labor Day Is Energizing

DSCN0741

The link above will take you to a Twitter picture of me, apparently in tears, on a panel MC-ed by New York Times best-selling author (Caitlin Strong series) Jon Land.DSCN0736

Jon has been a great friend to me. True story: I was at my first ITW (International Thriller Writers) conference in New York City. I didn’t know a soul. I was in the bar at the hotel where it is always held and a group had formed around a gregarious sort who was holding court. At the time, I had no idea who this energetic person was. (Nor did he know who I was).DSCN0729

Rather than simply ignore me,  (as most would have done), Jon asked me, “What are you working on?” At the time, I was working on the 2nd volume of my “Hellfire & Damnation” series, organized around Dante’s “Inferno.” Each level of Hell is represented by a story focused on the crime or sin punished at that level of Hell. Completely out of the blue, Jon asked, “Would you like me to write a blurb for that?” I had not asked because I didn’t know him (well or at all) and I didn’t think anyone famous would care about a retired English teacher who grew up (and went to school) in Iowa and had few credits. I stammered out that I’d be delighted if he would write a blurb for this slim volume of short stories and Jon wrote one of the best blurbs I have ever received, unbidden. What a guy!DSCN0733

I also ran into Jon in Chicago at “Love Is Murder” and again at the Spellbinders Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii when he was MC-ing panels again and I was on one. It was a great conference, but woefully under-attended.

DSCN0751

Lance Taubold and Rich Devin of 13Thirty Books with the anthology “Fear Phobias,” which I have a story in about fear of dreams and dreaming.

This time out in New Orleans, all of the panels I saw Jon run or participate in, or the actual interview concerning his work that Molly Bolden of Bent Pages Bookstore conducted were well-attended, and he was in rare form.DSCN0726

Since I now knew Jon slightly better (and vice versa) he chose to give me some tough questions and, since I was on the end of the panel, I got the “speed round” question (in 5 words or less) and a few others that required some intense thought, and you’ll see, in that Twitter link (should you check it out) that I appear to be in tears…or distress.  DSCN0727

Jon went on to do an equally great job on his topic of “How to Write a Novel in 3 Easy Steps,” which featured him energetically pacing the room and taking suggestions from the assembled masses.DSCN0744

It was a very good presentation, and I enjoyed it very much. The entire conference was one of the best ever, and, since it took place the same weekend as Southern Decadence Weekend, there was plenty to see and do outside of the Hotel Monteleone in the heart of the French Quarter.DSCN0752

A great Labor Day

Mel Reynolds: The Mighty Have Fallen

There was a time when Mel Reynolds was one of the most promising young politicians in Illinois.

That was before he was sent to jail for having sex with a 16-year-old underage campaign worker. That was before he became a registered sex offender in 1995, forbidden to live within 500 feet of a school. That was before he was charged with failing to file income tax returns from 2009 through 2012. (Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison or a $250,000 fine on conviction.) That was before he was found to have child pornography, tried to sabotage the case against him, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

In 1997, Reynolds was convicted, while serving time in prison, of 15 counts of illegally raising campaign cash and defrauding banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. For that, he got 6 and 1/2 years in prison.

He served 2 and 1/2 years in state prison and was then transferred to a federal prison, but in 2001, Bill Clinton commuted his sentence hours before leaving office, at a time when Reynolds had 2 years left to serve.

In 2003, Reynolds made several attempts at a political comeback, running against another sterling example of rectitude, Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2004 Democratic primary. That failed. Ten years later, Zimbabwe would deport him from that African country on charges that he had sexually explicit photos and videos on his mobile phone, in violation of a censorship law…in Africa! Although the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor visa violation, he was sent packing and came back to the U.S., where, on July 31st, while leaving the Dirksen US. Courthouse in Chicago, he was trying to find a place to spend the night.

Reynolds was able to secure a court-approved place to stay on an emergency basis and was ordered to appear in court at 2 p.m. on Friday with a more permanent address. Asked by reporters who he was talking to on his cell phone, Reynolds declined to answer fully, saying only, “This is a one-night deal,” and, of the charges of failing to pay taxes for four years, “The narrative has been that somehow I didn’t pay my taxes. I didn’t file.  By going to trial, this is going to set the record straight.” Mel Reynolds is 63 years old, claims to have a “very sick” daughter in Africa, and is a convicted felon.

Maybe he and Jesse Jackson and Anthony Weiner can start a club aimed at “Redemption” (the sign in the background of the old campaign photo.).Mel Reynolds

 

“Hellfire & Damnation III” Offered for 99 Cents on June 27, 28; July 4, 5, 6

As part of a KDP promotion, the third book in the Hellfire & Damnation series will be reduced in price to 99 cents on June 27, June 28 (in other words, tomorrow, Saturday, and the next day, Sunday) and again on July 4, 5 and 6.

The third installment in the short story series organized around Dante’s “Inferno” and the 9 Circles of Hell, you can read more about the entire series and see trailers at www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com.

 

 

 

Jennings Radio Podcast with Connie (Corcoran) Wilson

Jennings Wire. @: [Connie Wilson Podcast on Jennings P.R.](http://www.jenningswire.com/marketing/podcast-secrets-to-successful-self-publishing/)

This is the link to the Jennings Wire podcast I took part in recently. The post was about promoting what you write after you write it. Can’t say I’m an “expert” on this subject, but, after 12 years of learning by doing, I know a few things.

 

Wisconsin Cheeseheads Knock Off Unbeaten Kentucky on April 4, 2015

Wisconsin’s Big Ten team knocked off the unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats in a frenzied finish that saw the Wisconsin Badgers emerge as the ultimate winners who will face Duke for the national NCAA championship on Monday, April 6th.

As we were in Cancun, the bar of the Royal Sands represented a cross section of fans from both Kentucky and Wisconsin, but I’d have to give the nod to the Wisconsin fans, who came with their red and white shirts and cheered noisily throughout.

Enjoyed the game.DSCN0010

New Blog Tour Review from the U.K.

Here’s a link to today’s review from Nylah in the United Kingdom. There are also 12 other reviews up on Amazon.

Check out Nylah’s Words of Wisdom:

Winter Reads : BOOK TOUR: Hellfire and Damnation III by Connie Corcoran || INTERVIEW, REVIEW,…

sunshinesunscreenandabook.blogspot.co.u

Page 1 of 10

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén