THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 146

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 146

…What Francine cannot say {the devil’s-in-the-details} is that an out-of-control computer has an itchy trigger finger or that the destroyed Sang-Ashi space probe had itself likely destroyed Space Colony 1 …

— True to his word, Roy Crippen arranges for a hotline conversation with President Sanchez, irrespective of the leader’s chosen availability. It is midterm Congressional election season and Sanchez and the Democrats may be busy clinging to their support base, fundraising, campaigning, and solidifying their slim majority.

“If I were president, I would be spending less time on politics and more on sound policy,” he mutters to himself. He doesn’t much care for Pete Sanchez as a person, let alone his policies. It is at times like these that Roy feels he could make a real difference in the White House; a thinker and a doer he would be, not a manipulating party person who is mentally missing when things really matter.

A mere 7 meaningful minutes is going to pass as the secure cellular call bounces off
 three different satellites on the way to Keokuk Iowa via Washington D.C. That tiny towns in agricultural Iowa or the town halls of New Hampshire carry any weight in political circles, speaks volumes about the very drivel that is keeping Roy from jumping into the national arena with both feet. Today, the country’s business is being conducted from an ethanol plant in the middle of 100,000 acres of corn.

Roy thinks compassionate thoughts about Francine, who is currently in the midst of her maiden news conference. International incidents rarely have their roots sprouting from the hopeful unknown of the space program and the New Mayflower Incident, as it is being called, is being blown way out of proportion.

Peering out to the newly constructed conference room, with ten rows of ten chairs, he sees Francine control the room with cool familiarity. Perhaps they were going easy on her, hands are raised, questions concisely put, shouting at tolerable levels, and hardly a discouraging word expressed.

This is itchy

What she cannot say {the devil’s-in-the-details} is that an out-of-control computer has an itchy trigger finger or that the destroyed Sang-Ashi space probe had itself likely destroyed Space Colony 1, to set these events into action.

This is the stuff that comprises a competent Press Secretary. Give them enough information to fill column inches or that 30 second video clip for the evening news.

“I believe that I have answered all your questions for now and I look forward to dealing with you folks in the near future. Thank you and good day.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 146


page 180

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

…My God, any morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office…

As his role of back-seat-driver, Roy Crippen can only sit back and be a worrisome observer of situations he has minimal control over.

Take the United States’ inaction as it applies to the mounting evidence that the United Korean Peninsula is engaged in active sabotage against the World Coalition. That they can enlist the help of the ever-dangerous, sprawling Talibanistan, is even more infuriating to him and he discusses these and other issues with his new Press Secretary Francine Bouchette, “If I were president, I would have put an end to that nonsense a long time ago. We have allowed them to swallow South Korea whole and why, because we were afraid that they would use their nuclear weapons on some defenseless nation.”

“On the subject of president,” Francine ignores his long held worldviews and moves on to the now of things, “it seems there is a growing faction of Republicans who are touting you as the party’s nominee for 2032.”

“You are sounding like my Political Advisor, instead of Press Secretary.”

“Advisor, mouthpiece….what’s the difference? One of the reasons you hired me is because you did not have the time or interest in keeping track of the extraneous details.”

“And dealing with the media hoard… which you have lifted off my plate. I owe you my debt of gratitude for that, among other things, if you know what I mean?”

“Let us keep the “other things” out of this. Once this nation gets past this Space Colony malaise and things return to normal, it is going to need a Republican leader with a clear vision, not (current President) Sanchez’ V P Sylvia Freelove!”

“Are you telling me that Freelove is the Democratic frontrunner for ’32? My God, Image result for toilet flushing gifany morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office.

“So if you do not want traditional marriage banned or the damned ACLU to become Attorneys General, you better start thinking about listening to the conversation.”

“I don’t have the money to make a run at the presidency? It takes big bucks to get to the White House.

“If the world wants to restore the America of our great-grandfathers, the dollar$ will take care of itself.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 141


page 174

Contents TRT

The White House – WIF Fun Facts

Leave a comment

Fascinating Facts

About

the White House

lego-white-house

One of the most famous, if not the most famous, Presidential homes in the world is the White House, which is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Over 6,000 people visit it every day, and it is one of the top tourist attractions in America’s capital. Of course, besides being a famous monument, it is also a home that is steeped in history.

 These are 10 of the most fascinating facts about the White House and the people who lived in it.

10. They Had A Design Contest To Build It

In 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, which established Washington, D.C. as the capital of the United States. Congress also ordered that the capitol buildings, including the President’s House needed to be built within 10 years.

In order to find architectural plans for the house where the President would live, Congress held a contest. At the urging of George Washington, Irish-born architect James Hoban submitted his plans, which Encyclopedia Britannica said was influenced by Leinster House in Dublin.

Hoban won the contest and his reward was $500 and a lot in D.C. He was also hired on to oversee the construction of the President’s House, which started in 1793. The second President, John Adams, moved into the house in 1800, before it was actually finished.

The total cost of building the President’s House (its name before the White House) was$232,372, which is the equivalent of about $100 million today.

9. It Was Built By Slaves, Freed Slaves, And Immigrants

In July 2016, former First Lady Michelle Obama made some waves during her speech at the Democratic National Convention when she said “…I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” After the comment, several prominent people said it wasn’t true, or justified the use of slavery by saying they were “well-fed” slaves. However, Obama’s statement was totally correct.

According to the book The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House, about 400 of the 600 people who built the Capitol, including the White House, were slaves. The other 200 were about 50 freed slaves and the remainder were poor immigrants.

The White House Historical Association confirms that slaves did help build the White House, but they weren’t government owned. Instead, they just rented them out from slave owners. Because that totally makes it OK, right?

8. The British Burned It Down

In June 1812, the United States, which was only 36-years-old at the time, declared war on Great Britain. There were several underlying reasons for the war, but one of them was to take over Canada, which was a British colony, and make it part of America.

Throughout the war, each side had major victories and suffered terrible losses. One of the biggest military defeats for the Americans happened on August 24, 1813, when British forces invaded Washington, D.C. In retaliation for sacking York, which is now Toronto, the President’s House was relieved of a few souvenirs before it was set ablaze. The ensuing fire nearly destroyed the building. After torching the President’s House, several other prominent buildings in Washington were burned to the ground.

Rebuilding started soon afterwards and the White House was restored to its original architectural plans. In fact, James Hoban, who oversaw the original construction, was rehired to oversee the reconstruction to make it as close to the original as possible. The reconstruction was completed by 1817, just in time for President James Monroe to move in.

After the Burning of Washington, the Americans fought back against the British and won several important victories. This led to the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. Part of the treaty was that any captured territory by either side would be returned.

What’s interesting is how this part of history is taught in schools in the United States and Canada, who have had uninterrupted peace with each other since the War of 1812. In the United States, students are taught that the War of 1812 was a war that earned the respect of the British and strengthened the nation as a whole, allowing them to expand westward.Canadian students, on the other hand, learn that the War of 1812 was the one time that the aggressive Americans tried to invade Canada and for their troubles, they got their capital and the White House burned down.

7. Why Is The White House White?

One myth about the White House is that it’s white to cover up the fire damage that was caused when it burned down in 1814. However, that isn’t true because it was white before it was set on fire. In 1798, a lime-based whitewash was painted on to protect the porous stone from cracking. Usually, the whitewash would have weathered and faded away. However, instead they kept reapplying the whitewash until 1818, when it was painted with lead-based white paint.

The house was originally called the President’s House, but since it was distinctively white, its nickname was the white house for almost a century. It wouldn’t officially become the White House until 1901 under President Theodore Roosevelt.

6. Pets There Have Included Alligators, Badgers, Bears, and a Dog Named Satan

Besides being home to the First Family, the White House has also had its fair share of pets. Out of 45 Presidents, there are only three Presidents who have no record of owning a pet: Chester A. Arthur, Franklin Pierce, and Donald Trump.

In most cases, the pets were dogs or cats. Abigail Adams had a dog named Satan, for instance. However, it’s also been home to some more exotic pets. Calvin Coolidge had a menagerie and the main attraction was a 600 pound pygmy hippopotamus named Billy.

Two different Presidents had alligators roam the White House grounds – Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams. Supposedly Adams kept a gator in the bathroom in the East Room and used it to scare guests.

Martin Van Buren was given two tiger cubs by the Sultan of Oman. However, supposedly Congress made him donate the cubs to a zoo.

Finally, Theodore Roosevelt had a badger named Josiah and was given a bear, which his children named Jonathan Edwards, by a group of voters in West Virginia. However, he didn’t have the proper accommodations for the bear, which Roosevelt called “queer-tempered,” and he ended up donating the bear to the Bronx Zoo.

5. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Shower

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, was a relentlessly hard worker who was known for getting things done. He was also a man with a strong sexual appetite who seemed to be obsessed with his own genitals. He was known to whip it out whenever and where ever he wanted to. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that he had some odd requests when it came to his shower.

According to Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, Johnson wanted to have several nozzles that switched from hot to cold. He also wanted the pressure to be intense, like a fire hose. Finally, he wanted a nozzle pointed directly at his genitals and to shoot up his rear end.

When the plumber said it couldn’t be done, Johnson himself called the plumber and chewed him out. To inspire him, Johnson said, “If I can move 10,000 troops in a day, you certainly can fix the shower.” So the plumber tinkered with the shower and it ended up with four nozzles. One time, an usher apparently tried the shower and it pinned him to the wall.

When Nixon moved into the White House in 1969, he ordered the plumber to get rid of Johnson’s shower.

4. Market Value

Before Donald Trump was elected President, we could say with certainty that the White House would never go on sale; but now, who knows what will happen? He is a real estate mogul, after all.

If he were to put it on the market, what would be a fair asking price? Well, the real estate website Zillow came up with an estimate for the house, which is a single family home with 142 rooms on six floors and about 55,000 square feet, and sits on an 18 acre lot. If you were to include all the historical artifacts with it and the hot tub that was installed under Bill Clinton (because of course Slick Willie installed a hot tub), then it would cost $398 million. Or if President Trump wanted to rent it out, it would cost $2,079,473.

3. The White House’s Deadly Water Supply

The ninth President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, holds two Presidential records and the common belief is that these two records are connected. The first is that Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech, which he did outside on a cold and miserable March day without a coat. The second record is that he was President for the shortest amount of time. He died on April 4, 1841, 32 days into his presidency, from what was believed to be pneumonia, which he caught while giving his long inauguration speech.

However, according to Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who did a modern-day medical investigation, Harrison most likely died of Typhoid Fever and not of pneumonia. The source of the typhoid fever was the White House’s water supply. Mackowiak also thinks that the water in the White House killed President James K. Polk, who died in 1849, three months after leaving the White House, and president Zachary Taylor, who died in office in 1850.

2. Does It Have Secret Passages?

One of the most mythical elements of the White House is its secret passages and tunnels. For example, it was rumored that John F. Kennedy used the tunnels to sneak out of the White House to meet Marilyn Monroe. However, that’s all they appear to be – myths.

While there have been renovations of the White House over the years, including additions, the White House wasn’t really designed to house things like tunnels and secret passages. The closest thing to a secret lair is the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, which was built after the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time, the Council of National Defense urged Franklin D. Roosevelt to move out of the White House because they thought it was a “firetrap.” His compromise was to build a bomb shelter in the White House.

The Presidential Emergency Operations Center is in the basement of the East Wing. It serves as the communication center and it is able to withstand a nuclear blast. It’s also important to note that the shelter is not the same as the Situation Room, which is in the basement of the West Wing.

One notable time it was used was on September 11, 2001. Vice President Dick Chaney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, were evacuated from their offices into the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.

1. It Was Almost Torn Down In 1945 Because It Was In Such Bad Shape

By 1945, the White House had been lived in for 145 years and it was in rough shape. Besides being nearly destroyed in 1814, there was another fire in the White House on Christmas Eve 1929. The White House was hosting a party and when the fire started in the West Wing, Herbert Hoover left the party to oversee the removal of papers and documents from the Oval Office, while the First Lady kept the party going. The fire ended up gutting the West Wing, including the Oval Office.

Another problem was that the White House wasn’t constructed to have indoor plumbing and electricity and that was all added well after it was built. This added a lot of stress to the structure of the building. It got to be so bad that Harry S. Truman thought it was going to collapse. In fact, his daughter’s piano fell through a floor into the room below it.

The condition of the White House got to be so bad that it would have been cheaper to tear it down and build something new in its place. However, since it was a national monument Truman was against the idea. They chose to gut the interior of the White House and rebuild it as close to its original design as possible. The reconstruction took four years, during which time Harry and Bess Truman lived in Blair House, which is across the street from the White House.


The White House

wif-fun-facts-001

– WIF Fun Facts

Whistle-Blower Handbook – WIF Spotlight

Leave a comment

WIF Spotlight-001

Whistle-Blower HOF

(as of 2003)

But some people reach a point where they can no longer keep the secret. Whether it’s because they are morally outraged or just want plain revenge, some people risk their status, friends, careers, and even their lives to bring the truth to the light of public scrutiny, no matter how ugly or damning it may be. We call those people “whistle-blowers.” Here are the top ten of them who saw something wrong, and could not remain silent.

10. Cheryl Eckard

cheryl eckard

Of the great advancements in science that marked the 20th Century, one of the most remarkable has been the creation of thousands of new drugs and medicines. Diseases and conditions that once caused suffering and death across the globe can now be treated with just a few pills. Life expectancy is up, and people can live healthier lives than we ever dreamed possible. Unfortunately, sometimes the guys who make these wonder drugs are more interested in raking in as much cash as they can than making people’s lives better. Take GlaxoSmithKline for example.

In 2003, Glaxo Quality Assurance Manager Cherly Eckard warned her bosses that standards at one of their huge factories in Puerto Rico were leaving a lot to be desired. Drugs were being contaminated and frequently contained more or less of the active ingredients than they were supposed to. Eckard’s warnings went unheeded. Despite the fact that her job was on the line, she repeatedly complained to the company and tried to get the factory up to code. For her trouble, GlaxoSmithKline fired Eckard. Undeterred, she went to the authorities and blew the whistle on the company’s wrongdoing. After a lengthy legal battle, GlaxoSmithKline was fined $750 million and forced to clean up the problems at the factory. And Cherly Eckard? She was awarded a cool $96 million in damages. Doing the right thing can be profitable sometimes.

9. Marc Hodler

 

In theory, the Olympics are meant to be an international expression of cooperation, brotherhood, and the power of sport to unite mankind across cultures. For the athletes who participate in them, they are a culmination of years of struggle and preparation. They are a place where they can show the world their best and represent their country in beautiful displays of human achievement. For others, namely the people who organize the Games, they are sometimes seen as little more than a gold lined trough. One of the worst examples in modern history of the corruption that lies underneath the Olympics was the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Frustrated at repeated failures to win the Games (the closet one being the 1998 Games that went to Nagano, Japan), Salt Lake officials decided that they were going to get the games no matter what it took. And what it took was a whole lot of gifts to the people who choose the host.

It seemed that The International Olympic Committee (IOC) members had a price, and Salt Lake was more than willing to pay it. They gave cash, expensive trips, jobs, and even plastic surgery to IOC members in order to secure their votes. No one knows exactly how much was paid out, but it wasn’t an accident that the Salt Lake City Games were nearly $400 million over budget. Unfortunately, this was business as usual. But then one member, a former Swiss ski coach called Marc Hodler, had had enough. He went to the press and threw a light on the whole sordid affair. Thanks to him, several members were sacked and a new set rules were introduced. The Olympics are still mostly about money, but at least now they’re less about buying expensive gifts for Eurotrash.

8. Mark Whitacre

mark-whitacre

In 1992, Mark Whitacre was on top of the world. He was rich, happily married, and a rising star at his company. An executive at food industry giant Archers Daniel Midland, he was president of their Bioproducts Division which oversaw the use of food additives. But things changed dramatically that year when he became involved in an international scheme to fix the price of additives such as lysine and citric acid. Along with several major Agribusiness companies from around the world, ADM artificially set the world price for these additives and committed one of the biggest corporate crimes in American history .

Under pressure from his wife, Whitacre went to the FBI with details of the plan. If that had been the end of it, Whitacre would still probably be remembered as a great whistleblower, but he went one step further. For the next three years, Whitacre went undercover for the FBI and secretly recorded hundreds of meetings all over the world to expose the plot. His evidence led to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the companies involved. Unfortunately, Whitacre was also busy embezzling $9 million dollars from the company at the time, so he ended up in jail himself, and for much longer than any of the people he helped expose. He’s since been released and even got to be played by Matt Damon in the 2009 movie about the case The Informant!

7. Coleen Rowley

rowley

When the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th, 2001, the nation and the world were overcome with shock. From out of nowhere and with no warning, a small handful of terrorists had staged a massive attack in the largest city of the most powerful country on the earth. Suddenly war and terror weren’t something that happened “over there.” The fire, destruction and death that America had been spared for so long were right here on the doorstep. How had these men been able to strike at the heart of the country without raising a single bit of suspicion? Well, the truth is, they didn’t. It turns out that government agencies had intelligence that the attacks were imminent.

The FBI in particular, received a report from its Minneapolis field office that Zacarias Moussaoui was possibly involved in preparations for a suicide hijacking. That office, and Field Agent Coleen Rowley requested permission to search Moussaoui’s rooms and laptop, but were denied by her bosses. Once the attacks happened, Rowley was sure they could have derailed or delayed them if they had had the chance to go after Moussaoui. And she wasted no time in telling her superiors and the 9/11 Commission. Because of her honesty and willingness to come forward, changes were made in the FBI to improve counterterrorism investigations and intelligence gathering. She soon retired and was named one of TIME’s “Men of the Year” for 2002.

6. Peter Buxtun

peter_buxton

There are a lot of dark chapters in American history. A lot of times where the government or large institutions did horrible, horrible things, safe behind walls of silence and complicity. One of the worst examples of the US government treating its citizens like lab rats was the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. For 40 years, the U.S. Public Health Service researched the natural progression of untreated syphilis. Unfortunately, to do this, they needed a group of people afflicted with the disease to not receive treatment. Despite the fact that it was unethical and grossly violated the Hippocratic Oath, the doctors who conducted the study decided to not only deny treatment to the participants, but to also deliberately mislead them as to the nature of their disease. They watched and took notes as 399 poor, African-American sharecroppers suffered the ravages of syphilis, even though a simple cure was discovered early in the study and could relieve them of their suffering at any time.

When Peter Buxton, a venereal disease investigator, joined the study in 1966, he started to raise concerns over the lack of ethical concerns. When his superiors decided to continue their research anyway, he went to the papers. In the ensuing investigation, it was revealed that the men in the study had, in many cases, also given the disease to their wives and passed it on to their children. The study was stopped and the government was forced to pay the participants and pay for their medical care for the rest of their lives.

5. Frank Serpico

serpico

After a hardscrabble youth on the streets of Brooklyn and a stint in the Korean War, Frank Serpico joined the New York Police Department in 1959. He rose through the ranks and quickly was promoted to plainclothes work exposing racketeering. Unfortunately for him, Frank Serpico was just about the only honest cop in New York City at the time. Appalled by the rampant corruption he saw all around him, Serpico went to his superiors with his evidence and waited while the charges made their way through the convoluted department bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the officers who weren’t so honest didn’t appreciate some upstart detective fouling up the good thing they had going.

Things only got worse when Serpico, out of fear that he was about to be discovered by his coworkers, went to the New York Times with the whole story. His courage led to the creation of the Knapp Commission and his testimony helped the badly tarnished New York Police Department clean up their act. Well, a little, anyway. Serpico paid a dear price for his whistle-blowing however as he was shot in the face during a job and wasn’t assisted by his fellow officers. Serpico survived the attack and soon retired from the force. He took his share of the hit book and film royalties (he also got to be played by Al Pacino) of his story and ended up living in the Swiss mountains for ten years. He remains today one of the prime examples of what one person can do if they have the courage to blow the whistle.

4. Karen Silkwood

silkwood

Karen Silkwood was a worker at the Kerr-McGee nuclear power plant in Oklahoma. Silkwood soon became active in the Oil. Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union and was in charge of investigating the health and safety concerns of workers at the plant. Despite the company’s assurances, Silkwood found what she believed were major violations of health and safety regulations. She reported her concerns to The Atomic Energy Commission, hoping that Kerr-McGee would make their workplace safer. Instead, her life became a living hell. Almost immediately after she went to AEC, Silkwood tested positive for massive plutonium exposure. Unable to determine where she had been exposed, investigators found that several surfaces in her house had been contaminated with plutonium. Kerr-McGee claimed she was deliberately exposing herself to create sympathy, while Silkwood alleged the company was giving her contaminated testing equipment.

Frustrated and afraid for her  and her family’s health, Silkwood decided to show her evidence to The New York Times. She left a union meeting with binders and documents to meet the reporters. She never arrived. Police found her car run off the road and Silkwood dead inside. There were no documents to be found. The case remains controversial and Kerr-McGee has always denied any wrong doing. Still, the chilling end of Karen Silkwood is a reminder that sometimes the price of blowing the whistle can be very high indeed.

3. Bradley Manning

Bradley_Manning

Although the long term ramifications of his act have yet to play out, Bradley Manning has definitely earned a place among the most famous whistleblowers of all time. A low level Army intelligence analyst, Manning was single-handedly responsible for one of the largest leaks of classified data in the history of the world. Serving in Iraq, Manning circumvented Army security and downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as pages after page of diplomatic cables.

Frustrated with the war, and his treatment by the army, he passed the trove on to Julian Assange, who rel;eased them to several newspapers and is currently in the process of publishing them on Wikileaks. Despite the lack of a clear “smoking gun” in the documents – they mostly add color to events already known or suspected – and Manning’s murky reasons for releasing them, it still remains an impressive revelation. It will take years for the true value of the document’s release to be gauged, but Manning will go down in history as a man who – right or wrong- ripped the lid off United States foreign policy in the 21st Century and forever changed the face of whistle-blowing.

2. Daniel Ellsberg

daniel-ellsberg

Long before Bradley Manning downloaded government documents onto Lady Gaga CDs, another man walked out of his government office with hundreds of documents that catalogued in great detail the malfeasance of American government institutions. The man, Daniel Ellsberg, was a graduate of Harvard, former Marine Lieutenant, Pentagon official, and researcher for the RAND Corporation think tank. Originally a supporter of the Vietnam War (and combatant in it) Ellsberg became disillusioned and decided he had an obligation to do whatever he could to try and bring the war to an end. Luckily for him, he had access to a report commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that became known as thePentagon Papers. The report detailed not only the history of the U.S.’s involvement in the war, but also how the White House had repeatedly lied to the public and Congress about their prosecution of it.

Originally, Ellsberg only circulated it among friends, but once the New York Times got a hold of it, he decided to leak it to several major American newspapers. A patriot at heart, he then surrendered to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stand trial. At the trial, it was revealed that the same burglars who had broken into The Watergate had also broken into his doctor’s office looking for incriminating evidence. This, coupled with the revelation that the government had illegal wiretapped Ellsberg, led to his release. Ellsberg continued his anti-war activism, and remains today a hero for all those who believe a transparent government is an essential condition of democracy.

1. W. Mark Felt (Deep Throat)

W. Mark Felt

Although more than 40 years have passed since W. Mark Felt (then known only as Deep Throat) spilled his secrets to Robert Woodward in a dark Washington carpark, he still remains the most famous whistleblower of all time. The details of the case are well known. For many years, the administration of Richard Nixon had been involved in illegal break-ins, covert operations, and campaign violations. But if it hadn’t been for Felt, these events may have remained secret forever. His inside information on the Watergate Scandal helped Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein publish a series of damning articles in the Washington Post and indirectly led to the destruction of Richard Nixon’s presidency.

But why did he do it? Associate Director of the FBI at the time, some have speculated that he was upset at being passed over for the Directorship after J.Edgar Hoover died, while others have claimed he was a profoundly moral man who felt he had a patriotic duty to expose the malfeasance of a corrupt Administration. Whatever his reasons, W. Mark Felt’s leaks did no less than change the way the American public viewed its most powerful institutions. From that time forward, the American people would no longer implicitly trust the president, and a deep culture of pessimism continues to surround almost every aspect of political life in the United States. All because W. Mark Felt told someone the truth.


Whistle-Blower Handbook

– WIF Spotlight

Controversial Presidential Candidates – WIF Politics

Leave a comment

WIF Politics-001

10 Controversial

Presidential Candidates

in US History

America’s political system is designed to always pull toward the center. You have two parties who can’t get much done without compromise, a rigorous primary system to weed out the fringe candidates, and an electorate which has more Independents than any other affiliation.

Yet things don’t always work out that way. Sometimes, a controversial candidate manages to slip through the system and launch a genuine White House bid. This year, it’s Donald Trump. Next election, it might be Bernie Sanders or Ron Paul. But, no matter how polarizing these names might seem, none of them could hold a candle to some of America’s historical candidates. All of the below were nominated to lead genuine political parties. And all of proved mind-blowingly controversial.

10. Earl Browder

browder

In American politics, the idea that anyone who self-describes as a socialist could get a party’s nomination seems ridiculous. That’s why in 2016, Bernie Sanders is losing to Hillary Clinton. But Sanders is far from the most left wing candidate in history. In 1936 and again in 1940, Earl Browder ran as a pro-Moscow Communist.

A WWI draft dodger, Browder was rabidly anti-Hitler, rabidly pro-Stalin, and connected to Soviet spies who were monitoring FDR’s government. His stated policies were to overthrow capitalism and turn America brick red. He received direct funding from Moscow and was married to a suspected Russian agent. When he was nominated to run as the Communist Party’s candidate, he posed for photographers with a giant hammer and sickle.

Browder was controversial for more than just his super-left beliefs. At the time of his nomination, he was under bail for forging passports. Before the election, he was sentenced to four years in jail. Nonetheless, he managed to pull down 48,557 votes – a mere 0.1% of all those cast, but still more than you’d expect a common criminal to get.

9. John Charles Frémont

fremont

In 1856, the newly formed Republican Party was looking for someone respectable to catapult their anti-slavery positions into the mainstream. John Fremont could have been that man. One of California’s first two senators ever elected, he was known for his absurdly heroic expeditions into places like Utah and the route West from Wyoming. To top it off, he was a self-made millionaire and had appeal in both Northern and Western states. What possible problems could there be?

Cannibalism. Cannibalism could be a problem.

Back in 1848-49, Fremont had led an expedition into the Sierras. When their guide got lost, the group had nearly starved. Some resorted to cannibalism to survive. When election time rolled round, you better believe Fremont’s opponents made use of this.

Fremont was publicly labelled a cannibal in the press. While we don’t actually know whether Fremont engaged in cannibalism to survive, the public definitely thought he had. The controversy lost the Republicans the election, although Fremont still managed to net around 33% of the vote. If the accusations were ever found by historians to be true, it’d mark the only time in US (and likely world) history that a known cannibal attempted to run for high office.

8. Barry Goldwater

goldwater

It’s often said that you can judge a man by the company he keeps. It’s a phrase that would come to define Barry Goldwater’s run against Lyndon Johnson in 1964. A vocal conservative at a time when most of America was made up of New Deal liberals, Goldwater was more like a modern Republican: anti-taxes, anti-government spending, and hawkish on defense.

Unfortunately, Goldwater was also a political opportunist. Hoping to hoover up Southern votes from the Democrat administration, he voted against the Civil Rights Act. This won him the official endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan.

To the non-racists sitting at home, this made Goldwater look like the Klan candidate (Klandidate?). While some Southerners lapped it up, nearly everyone else was appalled the Republicans were offering up an apparent racist for election.

Goldwater only got more controversial when LBJ successfully painted him as a warmonger intent on causing a nuclear confrontation with Russia. The famous ‘Daisy’ ad screened before the election showed a little girl getting obliterated by a nuclear fireball as the result of a Goldwater presidency. The ad had the desired effect. By November, Goldwater was so controversial that he only picked up six states and 38.5% of the vote.

7. Eugene V. Debs

debs

A socialist in the truest sense of the word, Eugene V. Debs is today a cultural icon. Kurt Vonnegut loved him. Bernie Sanders has called him his hero. Yet in his heyday (roughly 1900-1920), Debs was more controversial than Sanders could ever dream of being. In 1920, he ran for president while languishing in prison.

A former union member who’d done time for leading a large strike in the late 19th century, Debs became the Socialist Party’s standard bearer in 1900. He kept that position for the next five presidential elections, convinced that America’s workers would one day hear the siren call of socialism and rise up against the system. In the 1912 election, he even picked up six percent of the popular vote – equivalent to nearly one million votes.

But his most controversial election came in the aftermath of WWI. A conscientious objector, Debs had refused the draft and been thrown in jail. Many in the country now saw him as no better than a traitor. Yet Debs still ran for president from the confines of his cell. Impressively, he picked up another million votes, showing just how much of a hero to some people this supposed ‘traitor’ was.

6. George Wallace

wallace

If Barry Goldwater aligned himself with racist causes out of political miscalculation, George Wallace was the real deal. A man so committed to the separation of whites and blacks that he physically tried to block two black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama. A man who famously declared “segregation forever.” There was no way a presidential run couldn’t be controversial.

In 1968, Wallace launched the American Independent Party and announced his bid for the White House. He was the most openly racist candidate to run in a generation, and his bid sent America into meltdown. Wallace publically railed against hippies, the Supreme Court, and the government. At his rallies, supporters surrounded black protestors and chanted “kill ’em, kill ’em, kill ’em!” As his running mate, Wallace chose a guy who wanted to use nukes tobomb America’s enemies into oblivion.

Amazingly, Wallace’s campaign almost did the impossible: not win the presidency, but blur the results so badly that neither Republicans nor Democrats could claim an outright victory. He carried five states, nearly carried two others, and netted 13.5% of the popular vote (equivalent to nearly 10 million votes).

5. Huey P. Long

long

Huey Long is unique on our list in that he didn’t actually run for president. He was fully planning to go for the White House in 1936, but was shot dead by assassin Carl Weiss in September 1935, only a month after announcing his bid.

Yet in the short period of time between his announcement and his death, Long (known in his native Louisiana as the ‘Kingfisher’) still managed to be one of the most controversial candidates in American history. Many thought he was deliberately modelling himself on Benito Mussolini.

A brash populist who surrounded himself with openly anti-Semitic advisors, Long’s campaign had associations with fascist sympathizers like Father Charles Coughlin. He went everywhere with state troopers, who dressed in uniforms that recalled Mussolini’s Black Shirts. While some of his policies were to the left of FDR, his demagogic tendencies meant plenty in the establishment feared he was a fascist dictator-in-the-making. Had he not died, Long would likely have been more controversial as a candidate than anyone else on this list.

However, Weiss killed him before America got a chance to find out. The movement Long had inspired dissipated soon after. In sign of how divisive the Kingfisher was, both his funeral and the funeral of his assassin attracted huge crowds.

4. Victoria Woodhull

woodhull

Everything Victoria Woodhull did seemed designed to offend the sensibilities of the American mainstream in the 1870s.

At a time when women still didn’t have the vote nationally, she ran to be America’s first female president. At a time when slavery had only recently been abolished and Jim Crow was just around the corner, she put former slave Frederick Douglass on her ticket. She advocated free love, the legalization of prostitution, the practice of eugenics, and giving women the vote. When she was made head of the Equal Rights Party in 1872, the country’s media lost its mind.

Woodhull’s ideas were so out of whack with the 19th century that members of the public vowed to murder her. People wrote to her and her party, saying they would poison her or burn her alive – the sort of threats modern candidates get every day on Twitter, but were significantly rarer back then. By the time of the election, she’d even been imprisoned for “using the mail for the circulation of questionable literature.”

Unlike some on our list, Woodhull’s divisiveness didn’t translate to votes. The Equal Rights Party received so few it worked out as statistically less than 0.1% of the popular vote.

3. Pat J. Buchanan

buchanan

The most recent candidate we’re going to cover, Pat Buchanan ran on the Reform Party ticket in 2000 after failing to get on the Republican one in ’92 and ’96. There was a good reason for this failure. Buchanan supported some positions that went beyond being merely controversial, and into out-and-out bigotry.

One aspect of Buchanan’s platform was to halt non-white immigration. The move won him support amongst white nationalists and far-right extremists, but alienated nearly everybody else. He was also openly anti-gay, calling AIDS “nature’s retribution” against gays and labelling homosexuality a “disorder.” Finally, Buchanan was also widely regarded as anti-Semitic, not least because he’d once praised Adolf Hitler as “an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe.”

With such views, Buchanan would have been controversial at the best of times. But he additionally ran on a platform that would have essentially banned abortion and loosened gun rights even more than George W. Bush did. His candidacy was so extreme it was later called the final nail in the Reform Party’s coffin.

Interestingly, Buchanan’s campaign continued to be controversial even after the election. In Florida, around 3,000 Jewish retirees were found to have accidentally voted for him, due to poor design of the state’s ballots. Many claimed these people were intending to vote for Al Gore and Bush’s election should thus have been nullified.

2. George Edwin Taylor

taylor

If you want the definition of bravery, look no further than George Edwin Taylor. The Liberty Party candidate in 1904, Taylor’s shot at the presidency was history in the making. Not because he was running for a recently revived party (the original Liberty Party had stopped fielding candidates in 1848). Not because his platforms included reparations for ex-slaves at a low point in US race relations. No, what was incredible about Taylor was that he was the first African-American in history to run for president.

The son of a former slave who had been left homeless and uncared for as a child, Taylor had used his natural talents and fierce drive to work his way up the ranks at a newspaper, eventually becoming editor. Although he was incredibly sharp and a gifted speaker, the mere color of his skin sent most of the US into meltdown. Taylor was considered a dangerous, extremist candidate and shunned by most of the media. Ultimately, he would receive less than 2,000 votes. But for the sheer brass of being a black man running for president at a time of Jim Crow, racial violence and race hostility, he deserves to be remembered.

1. Grover Cleveland

cleveland

Many presidents have been more controversial than Grover Cleveland. But few have had to deal with such big scandals before they even won the election. During his time on the campaign trail, Cleveland found himself at the center of a controversy that utterly shocked the public of the day. It was discovered the Democratic nominee had been hiding a secret love child.

If that doesn’t sound particularly scandalous, you have to remember this was 1884 – a time when Victorian morals were an everyday reality. On top of that, there’s some evidence to suggest Cleveland impregnated the mother through rape, then abused his power to have her thrown in a mental asylum so she couldn’t tell anyone about it. Even if this was embellished, it was dynamite stuff. The modern equivalent would be the FBI finding an email on Hillary Clinton’s server headlined WHY BENGHAZI WAS MY FAULT.

In other words, Cleveland should’ve been sunk. The public hated him, and Republicans were turning up at his rallies and shouting “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” The press branded him a libertine. Unfortunately for the Republicans, their guy – James G. Blaine – was openly corrupt and had traded congressional favors for cash. The vote came down to a knife-edge count in New York, with only one state separating the two candidates. New York went Cleveland by a mere 2,000 votes. As a result, one of the most-controversial candidates in the 19th century wound up becoming the 22nd president.


Controversial Presidential Candidates

– WIF Politics