Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #333

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #333

… pure fictional genius…


Nearly all of the main Tallahassee characters were real people. I used their actual names and because of the volatile nature of the events, especially in the 1950’s, I may have the legal department pulling out their hair. If I had fictionalized their names, I could never have kept them all straight. Who they were and Image result for real peoplewhat was their relation to A.O. Campbell needed to be as is. Perhaps it is due to my simple mind, but George Lewis, Charles latobsd3-001Wilson, Franklin McLoud, the Dr.’s nurses, the Dr.’s attorneys, the Prosecutors, Starke Prison and Audrie Franich, all appearing in chapter 1 & subsequently, are real.

Now, some of the machinations surrounding his trial and subsequent imprisonment, well that is a combination of speculation and fictionalization on my part. None of this tinkering affects the end result.

Robert Ford-001Carolyn Hanes and Capt. Robert Ford do have a big role in the book. Bob Ford did indeed pilot the Pacific Clipper at the outbreak of WWII and had to fly it back to New York counterclockwise. Carolyn Hanes is pure fiction. You may think she is my alter ego. That is left for you to imagine.

Ferrell's Grocery-001   In chapter 2, the Ferrell family is foundational to the story line. Most all of them are true, in the fact that they did exist. I may have exaggerated their role, but they do and did contribute to Leon County past.

Laura Bell/Olla is a key to the complicated bloodlines of the Campbell family. She is the mother of Maggie Lou, though Maggie’s erotic conception may be subject to my imagination. Maggie Lou does go on to marry the doctor in 1916.Campbell Home-001

The Campbell family, headed by Willy and Amanda, is the all-in-all. Alfrey (A.O.) Campbell had four brothers and sisters. Hosea is the most infamous, but was he such a rascal, I do not know?

More than likely, the Campbell’s were slaves at some point, but the evil Jefferson Smythwick did not exist and his Fort Sumter South plantation occupies made-up ground. You must admit though that the escape by Alfrey et al was an exciting treat. Take that mean old slave owners!

Anti-slavery-001 Chapters 3 and 4 contain the fictional Southeast Anti-slavery Society, headed by the great Herbert Love. I call him great because he is the person, who I posit, providing for the Dr.’s education. In fact, I have since learned that A.O.’s extended family may have sacrificed holdings to finance his education.Sec. of Ag-001

Love never made Secretary of Agriculture in a McKinley administration, but he would have had the qualifications. He was engaged in farming of some sort, though he takes on a lion’s share philanthropy for my purposes.

San Luis Lake-001 Siegfried and Frieda Endlichoffer, the German couple across the lake from John Ferrell, are based on a personal acquaintance. They are a sweet augmentation to the Tallahassee landscape and what better neighbors could anyone have?

Of course the Spanish American War was real. It represents the USA’s first foray into imperial policy, which has led to our global role as policeman to the world.mckinley-at-pan-american-exposition

The Horizons of chapters 5 and 6 are the recounting of what was going on the last time we entered a new century. 1900 had as many amazing changes as we have in the Catfish AL-001year 2000. President McKinley was indeed assassinated in 1901 and that was preceded by the Galveston hurricane, the Great Plague and followed by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Harv Pearson is a huge player in LATOBSD. He marries Judith Eastman in chapter 7, who is fictional and they start the Pearson-Eastman Journal, a make believe publication that gives this book the legs to reach out to the entire flat world… pure fictional genius.


… one Episode to go…

Pearson-Eastman Journal-001


Alpha Omega M.D.


Episode #333

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Mind Boggling Crime Riddles

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Crime Riddles That

Boggle Your Mind

Historical Misconceptions – WABAC Into History

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Let’s go back  and set the record straight at some crucial points in history, starting with the American Revolution, Sherman My Boy.”

Historical Myths

and Misconceptions

Whistle-Blower Handbook – WIF Spotlight

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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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #259

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #259

…The Japanese have attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, making it impossible for us to return on an eastward course. We are to make our way west until we reach New York…

Pearl Harbor by Chuck Hamrick

Pearl Harbor by Chuck Hamrick

In the cockpit of the Pacific Clipper, they are ignoring whales as well…  and anything but what is coming through to them on their radio. They are being told to proceed to Auckland and await further instruction there. Upon landing, they are instructed to head west and return the Clipper to La Guardia Field, New York. The regular return route is not safe.

braceT LFT“TO:              CAPTAIN ROBERT FORDbracket rt




It is Captain Ford’s unsavory duty to explain the situation and their dilemma. “The United States has declared war on Japan,” he begins, eliciting a gasp from the assembled two-score interested parties. “The Japanese have attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, making it impossible for us to return on an eastward course. We are to make our way west until we reach New York. To do so, we must research a possible route and make sure we are prepared to make any repairs to the aircraft along the way. This is going to take some time.”

Robert Ford-001

Most everyone is in a state of stunned disbelief. Individual inconveniences aside, these events mean that the war has hit home and it is the world’s second such in the span of two-plus decades. Leaders have come and gone, but the results are the same, which makes it hard for Americans to understand. None of these conflicts have taken place on our soil, at least until now. Could the Japanese be on their way to California?

“We will be returning to Noumea to pick up supplies and make sure that all Pan American employees are taken care of. From there we will stop at Gladstone, Australia. Anyone, who wants to get off, can do so there. In fact, I cannot make you stay aboard the Clipper, or prevent you from departing, from anywhere we land. But you will be responsible for your own passage home after we leave Queensland, Australia. I can tell you that none of our stops will exactly be exotic ports of call.

          “In the meantime, we at Pan American Airways will do everything we can to make this journey as comfortable as possible. You will be reimbursed for any personal funds that you use.” That last statement is pure speculation, be is sure that Trippe would be so pleased to see his aircraft return, that he will make good that remote promise.

Alpha Omega M.D.

“The full-throat-ed roar of the four engines filled the cabin as NC 18602 moved forward into the takeoff run.  The slap-slap of  the water under the hull became a staccato drum beat.  Spray whipped higher over the sea wings.  After a few seconds the hull began to rise out of the water but was not quite free.  Ford held the yoke steady as the airspeed indicator displayed the increasing speed: 40 knots…  50…  60…  70…

Pacific Clipper Take-off

Episode #259

“At 70 knots Ford brought the yoke back gently.  The Clipper nosed up.  Passengers seated in the aft compartments might have thought they were about to submerge as the tail came close to the water and the spray hurtling back from the sea wings splattered the windows.  At 75 knots Ford eased up a little on the yoke then immediately brought it back.  This rocking motion was necessary to raise the ship “on the step” – that area of the hull which would be the last to break free from the clinging suction effect of the water now hurtling along underneath the ship.  As the airspeed went to 80 knots the sound of the water abruptly ceased.  The thrumming beat against the hull was replaced by a sudden smoothness as the great ship broke free and began climbing.”  — from Ed Dover’s The Long Way Home

page 243

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Bermuda Triangle Trap – WIF Mysteries

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Bermuda Triagle2

Sail (or fly) into the

Bermuda Triangle

at Your Own Risk!

 A Voyage into the past…

On March 4, 1918, the USS Cyclops kept a date with destiny!


WABAC to 1918… and beyond

arrow-downBelow the surface…

Cyclops, a US Navy coal carrier (collier) heading to Baltimore with a load of manganese ore.

The Cyclops had left from Rio De Janeiro on February 16, 1918 and was supposed to arrive in Baltimore on March 13, 1918.  Mysteriously, she disappeared without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle and nothing of her or her crew has ever been found.

Chalk it up to the Bermuda Triangle?  Or was she sunk by a U-Boat?  Well, no U-Boat ever reported such a sinking and the German navy has repeatedly said they did not sink the Cyclops.  At 542 feet long, the Cyclops would be a victim worth bragging about.

It is speculated by US Navy investigators that the cargo of manganese ore may have become wet and sloshed back and forth in the ship creating an uneven load and causing the ship to turn over, but without a wreck or survivor’s account no one can know.

The Captain of the ship,  Capt. George Worley was not who he said he was!  He was actually Johan Wichmann born in Germany and an illegal alien in the United States!  He had snuck off a ship in San Francisco in 1878 and had changed his name to George Worley.  Compounding the bizarre story is the Captain’s behavior.  Tyrannical and petty, Worley was said to have run around the ship with a pistol in pursuit of one of the ensigns!  Even creepier, he was known to make his rounds of the ship wearing long underwear and a Derby hat!  His obvious pro-German bias also made him hated by non-German members of his crew.

Another twist to this incident, a passenger on this final voyage of the Cyclops was the US Consul General in Rio, Alfred Gottschalk, another well known and roundly disliked pro-German.  Investigators speculated the Captain and Gottschalk may have turned the ship over to Germany, but this allegation is still denied by the German government.

The USS Cyclops AC-4 has also made its way into popular culture, becoming the star of Clive Cussler’s novel Cyclops, featured in the video game Dark Void, and appearing in television episodes of Quantum Leap and Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!

The loss of the Cyclops, a 20,000 ton ship over 500 feet long and carrying 306 people still stands as the worst US Navy non-combat disaster ever.  As such, the Navy took a long hard look into what had happened, and came up empty!

Bermuda Triangle3

The Bermuda Triangle has captured our imagination with mysterious vanishings of ships, planes, and people and become a world-class legend for a surprisingly short period of time. Only several decades has passed since the first oceanic enigma has been reported. Atlantic Ocean has always been a mysterious and very deadly place to humans. The nature of the ocean gives people plenty of ideas to speculate about mysterious circumstances, unknown forces, unexplained disappearances, such as extraterrestrial capturing humans; the influence of the lost continent of Atlantis; vortices that suck ships into other dimensions; and other imaginative ideas. The fact remains, Bermuda was once known as the Isle of Devils. Dangerous reefs that have skunked ships sailing too close to its shores surround Bermuda islands, and there are hundreds of shipwrecks in the waters that surround it.

However, let’s honor and list the real triangle catastrophes. Vanished or abandoned ships 1918-67 in Bermuda Triangle4chronological order: Meta renamed Ellen Austin; USS Cyclops, collier; Carroll A. Deering, five-masted schooner; SS Cotopaxi; USS Proteus (AC-9); USS Nereus (AC-10); SS Marine Sulphur Queen; Witchcraft, cabin cruiser. There has been several missing aircrafts as well: Flight 19 (five TBF Avengers pictured right); Avro Tudor G-AHNP Star Tiger; Douglas DC-3 NC16002; Avro Tudor G-AGRE Star Ariel. The only one narrative of the surrounding environment during the disappearing was recorded as a flight leader saying “We are entering white water, nothing seems right. We don’t know where we are, the water is green, no white.” Officials at the Navy board of inquiry stated that the planes “flew off to Mars.” As more incidents occurred, the triangle’s reputation grew and past events were reanalyzed and added to the legend. Articles, books, and movies have appeared, suggesting theories ranging from, hurricane tornados, and alien abductions to a giant octopus.

Bermuda Triangle Trap

WIF Mysteries-001

– WIF Mysteries

Controversial Presidential Candidates – WIF Politics

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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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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