Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Words: Tell us more about home

Tell us more about home...

By an unnamed copy-
writer employed by Nash-
Kelvinator Corporation
for a full page adver-
tisement in the
October 3, 1944 issue of

Magazine; additional
Memorial Day commentary
by Walter Haan,,

Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. That's a
name from the American past. It made
cars under the Nash brand and home
appliances under the Kelvinator name.

During World War II, American automobile manufacturers
stopped making automobiles in order to manufacture
tanks, bombers and military trucks for the war effort. A
lot of those trucks lasted a long time. I remember
riding around in Studebaker 2 1/2 ton trucks in the
60s while in the Army.

But the American automobile manufacturers wanted to remind the
public that someday, when the war was won, they would be back
manufacturing automobiles again. Cars that were bigger, better
and safer.

The edited copy appearing below is from one such institutional ad
by an auto maker, in this case Nash, and is very appropriate to
reread today, 65 years after the Allies won World War II. Did you
know that in 1944, we had nine manufacturers of automobiles in
this country, with another started one year later. Now we have
three companies that manufacture cars. When GM and Chrysler
went bankrupt last year, I wondered if they went under where
America would get needed military vehicles. I immediately
thought of foreign manufacturers such as KIA which I decided
stood for Killed In Action when they broke down and we were
waiting for parts from Korea.

Here is the copy from the Nash ad in 1944's
Look Magazine.

"Tell us more about home...

"It's a long trip we're on...

A long time...a long way...

"And home is long ago.

"Tell us more about home...

"Tell us how bright the dresses swirl when girls go into Putnam's
in the afternoon for cokes. Tell us they still laugh and joke and make
a game with drops of water and wrinkled jackets off their soda

"Tell us they're still beautiful, still true as they were two years...
one hundred and four hundred and thirty days...
seventeen thousand five hundred and twenty hours ago. Tell us
more about home...

"Tell us the church still stands and [about] the rusted gate.
Tell us the trees are gold as they ever were and bells sound clear
on the autumn air and the reverend's voice still leads a prayer...

"Tell us more about home...

"Because out here, the roar of motors in the dawn and the take-
off of hundreds of planes and jets of flames from a thousand guns
set a wild pulse beating and wild blood leaping...and the will to
kill fires our brains.

"Tell us more about home...

"Tell us the power that built squadrons and hundreds of squadrons
of planes and fleets and scores of fleets of ships and submarines will
be the power not only to destroy but to create, and build, a dream...

"Our dream of us...

"Our dream of home...

"Our dream of you we're longing for...

"Our dream of America we're hoping for...

"Our dream of the world we're fighting for!"

Great words for every Memorial Day. I hope many get to read this
instead of the Memorial Day sales flyer from Wal-Mart.
--Copyright © 2010 by Walter Haan,,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, and now, Richard Blumenthal

Blumenthal learned, “The past is not dead, it’s not even past.”

By Walter Haan,,

Educated, affluent young men were running for cover to avoid going to Vietnam in the 60s and early 70s. Men like former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Cheney, former President Clinton and, now we learn, Connecticut’s attorney general Richard M. Blumenthal, currently seeking the nod to run for Senator Chris Dodd’s senate seat.

Ever since the Vietnam War era, those with less opportunities have served as our Armed Forces enlisted personnel, with barely a college graduate in sight. Since the repeal of the draft, the situation has gotten worse, with military and economic systems that literally force poorer young people to join the regular forces and the National Guard.

The Angrist-Krueger analysis of World War II veterans suggests that they earned five percent less over the decades after their service than those who did not serve. Joshua Angrist’s study of the Vietnam experience calculates that military service during the Vietnam War reduced average overall earnings for white males by 15 percent. Skills acquired in the military do not make up for lost civilian work experience.

It is arrogance on our part to maintain a two-tier system where the disadvantaged that do serve are economically punished for the rest of their lives.

Former Vice President Cheney is on record as saying that it was inconvenient for him to serve in the military. That is probably how Blumenthal felt, perhaps only joining the Marine Corps reserves when it appeared he might be drafted.

During World War II singer Bing Crosby said on his radio show, the Kraft Music Hall, "Don't let anything you do undo what they died for." Blumenthal’s misrepresenting his military service to gain election does that.

General William T. Sherman, famous for Sherman's March through the old south during the American Civil War, defined war as he saw it: "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it."

Now that our economy is in free fall, everyone is suffering including the families of our servicemen and women across the country. No one can blame our armed forces' soldiers, sailors and airmen for what is happening economically. But imagine dodging bullets in Afghanistan after reading a letter from your wife that she needs food stamps to help feed their children.

The current unemployment rate for veterans is 30% higher than for those who never served.

As Sherman defined it, war is cruelty. Not including the sons and daughters of all classes in our military is cruelty too. It means that it is only our poor who serve in the military and wind up in Afghanistan or Iraq or both. Not only unfair, it is cruel to a targeted segment of our population.

I suggest reading Monk's War in Vietnam by a real former Marine, Frank M. Beyea (2009; ISBN: 978-0-913337-70-7). A paragraph from Beyea’s book, illustrates what Blumenthal went to great lengths with his deferments to avoid:

“I was having a hard time getting my breath back and all hell had broken loose since the explosion. Three NVA were coming at us down the trail with guns blazing, and as I tried to get off my back and into a firing position, I discovered that the entire stock of my M-14 had been blown off at the narrow part of the grip just behind the trigger. Nevertheless, I did manage to fire off a short burst that got one of the NVA and that’s when a round grazed my shoulder and knocked me down once more."

Now in his 60s, Beyea has suffered from prostate cancer, possibly due to his exposure to Agent Orange.

I wonder what the lives of the current crop of American servicemen now in Afghanistan will be like 15, 20 years from now without education, without association or connections to men and women from other segments of society. Probably not that good. Why? Because the privileged of this country allow, even encourage, men and women with limited futures to enlist for death or a debilitating injury.

Headlines ask whether Afghanistan will be Obama's Vietnam. That's the wrong question. It should be: Will America be even more divided in the future, with ill, homeless veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq roaming our streets. And will privileged Americans continue to step over these veterans as if they were dirty puddles?

William Faulkner once stated: “The past is not dead, it’s not even past.” Connecticut’s attorney general has just been reminded of that.--Copyright © 2010 by Walter Haan,,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

CBS TV show NCIS slammed book business

CBS TV show NCIS slammed book business

By Walter Haan,,

A week ago today, on May 4th, the CBS TV show NCIS included the following line in its script:

"Books are a dying business."

That's like the kettle calling the pot black, sort of. The book business is down slightly in sales, but broadcast network television is tanking as far as ratings. All three of the network television news programs are down in the number of viewers compared to a decade ago. NBC , the network of Uncle Miltie, Friends, Jerry Seinfeld and ER needs mouth to mouth, last of the four broadcast networks in ratings. Don't forget the Jay Leno 10:00 pm debacle. Back in the 50s, the DuMont TV network was in fourth place and by 1957 was gone. NBC is the DuMont network of our day. Jackie Gleason started his TV success on DuMont but it isn't where you start, it's where you finish. He finished on CBS.

Another plus for book publishing today is the number of books being published now, way up from five years ago. And there's now new platforms to deliver books to readers. Undoubtedly some of them will be gone shortly, but the new platforms show that the book business is innovative. How is network broadcast TV innovative? (Think Jay Leno again. Or think about broadcast TV networks not developing any new shows for Saturday night. Is retrenchment innovative?)

Not only that, there are many more book publishers today than ten years ago. Sure, most of them are smaller firms, but more fleet of foot than the bigger publishers owned by the Germans for example. In this age of technology, being able to act on a dime is important.

Broadcast TV networks are putting less resources in their broadcast shows and are hooking up with cable networks. For NBC, think MSNBC for example, For ABC, think the ABC Family Network, also known as rerun city around my house.

Tonight another new episode of NCIS will run at 8:00 pm eastern time. What industry will it slam tonight to cover for broadcast network TV's rapid slide? --Copyright © 2010 by Walter Haan,,