July 19 2002

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Call For No More Philip Morris B.S.

by Ernie McCray

I went to the affair, a Catfish Club luncheon featuring a spokesperson from Philip Morris, USA, expecting a bunch of B.S. and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed.

The speaker, a bright stately well coiffured and well dressed black woman wearing a sunny smile, articulated Philip Morris, USA’s claim of having learned from “their mistakes.” She spoke of the products the company sells besides cigarettes and about all their positive contributions to society.

She’s the Vice-President of External Affairs and she spoke so enthusiastically I couldn’t help but think about another of the company’s super salespeople, a dude named Little Johnny, a character from my

childhood, back in the 30’s and 40’s, who used to cry out to me and the rest of the world in a clear and resolute voice: “Call for Philip Morris!”

Little Johnny, in his sharp bellhop outfit, was a cigarette selling machine. His image was everywhere to be seen. Smiling in the newspapers and the magazines. Tacked on the Post Office walls next to the thugs on the Wanted List. Flashing by on the sides of buses and taxis. It seemed like if there was a wall Little Johnny was on it copping his plea: “Call for Philip Morris!”

He was the man. His B.S. had us in the palms of his hands. And he wasn’t alone in the tobacco industry’s Master B.S. Plan. Unh unh. And the B.S. on hand from a couple other cigarette brands was:

”With Men Who Know Tobacco Best - It’s Lucky 2 to 1.” “I would walk a mile for a Camel.”

Oh, how the B.S. flew. Smoking was sold as just about the hippest thing in life for one to do. The likes of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, dressed in the latest fashions, oozing with sex appeal, smoked on the movie screen. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, sitting at conference tables discussing war and crafting his New Deal, smoked on the world scene. Some people, all caught up in the B.S., smoked just to be seen.

And smoking as the B.S. in thing to do crossed all lines. Color lines. Border lines. Bread lines. Unemployment lines. Battle lines. Age lines. Religious lines. Philosophical lines. Political lines. You name

a line and somebody was smoking in it. And there wasn’t much anti-smoking rhetoric around other than an occasional feeble B.S. declaration of “Smoking stunts your growth” as the 8 foot man at the carnival blew smoke rings high above our heads, making me wonder how tall he would have been. Nobody let on that men who knew tobacco best were wheezing to death - if they were still alive. Nobody was heard to say: “I’d walk a mile for a Camel - if I could only breathe.”

Smoking is no longer billed as fashionable but, as can happen through B.S., the Little Johnnys are now sophisticated promoters, creative marketers like the woman at the Catfish Club who tell their companies’ stories so well. But to me it doesn’t matter how many boxes of Oreos or packages of Kool Aid this woman’s company sells or how many scholarships it provides. I hear: “Call for Philip Morris!” knowing that millions of people on the planet huff and puff and cough their lives away everyday and Philip Morris produces a billion a day from which they can choose.

“Philip Morris is encouraging families to exercise more,” the woman says. Well what about those whose lives the company helped destroy? How many jumping jacks can somebody with emphysema or lung cancer do?

“Philip Morris is promoting ‘supplier diversity,’” the woman brags and her status literally screams that the company most definitely has come a mighty long way, but providing people of color and women opportunities to sell products that kill is not a great fulfillment of the American Dream. “Philip Morris doesn’t promote or advertise cigarettes anymore” the woman assures the audience as though nobody knows where to buy smokes and as if Philip Morris isn’t ingrained in society’s head as a cigarette company above all else that they do.

“Philip Morris supports ‘We Card’ programs and sponsors youth smoking prevention programs.” For all those millions of children throughout the rest of the world who smoke as though there is no tomorrow, too?

I say it’s B.S. that Philip Morris has learned from its mistakes or, to be fair, they surely haven’t learned from their biggest mistake which has been and continues to be selling cigarettes, commodities that have no redeeming value. Absolutely none. Our world would be much better off if there was a “Call for Philip Morris” to stop running those nasty little life destroying things along conveyor belts into crinkly little packages. Until they do that they haven’t really made any significant contribution to society.

And that’s no B.S.

A Gray Future?

In the last several months, Governor Gray Davis has shown that he plans to campaign with his pocketbook. While the state struggles to deal with a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, Davis has been bringing in an average of $1800 dollars an hour in campaign donations, according to figures published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

If Davis governed with as much energy as he employed in fundraising, our state might not be in its current predicament. The recent budget shortfall and energy crisis have exposed the governor’s ineffectiveness. When Californians go to the polls, they will show Davis that voters, not donors, determine the results of our elections.

Michael Craig Hirshman
San Diego

History of the Pledge Allegiance

The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy. It was first given wide publicity through the official program of the National Public Schools Celebration of Columbus Day which was printed in The Youth’s Companion of September 8, 1892, and at the same time sent out in leaflet form to schools throughout the country. School children first recited the Pledge of Allegiance this way:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

“The flag of the United States” replaced the words “my Flag” in 1923 because some foreign-born people might have in mind the flag of the country of their birth instead of the United States flag. A year later, “of America” was added after “United States.”

No form of the Pledge received official recognition by Congress until June 22, 1942, when the Pledge was formally included in the U.S. Flag Code. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954, when Congress passed a law, which added the words “under God” after “one nation.”

Originally, the pledge was said with the right hand in the so-called “Bellamy Salute,” with the right hand resting first outward from the chest, then the arm extending out from the body. Once Hitler came to power in Europe, some Americans were concerned that this position of the arm and

hand resembled the Nazi or Fascist salute. In 1942 Congress also established the current practice of rendering the pledge with the right hand over the heart.

The Flag Code specifies that any future changes to the pledge would have to be with the consent of the President.

Please contact our local and state officials showing support for prayer and pledge in our schools.

Jo Anna Garza

Love Your Column


Me gusto mucho tu ultima carta. Buena onda, siguele echandole ganas!

Amalio Escobar
San Diego

National City Police Review Board

Thank you La Prensa for having your eye on what’s happening in National City. You are correct a Citizen’s Police review board should not be under the authority of the National City Chief of Police. National City’s resident are in great need of an independent, unbias civilian review process of their Police Department. Such a review board should also have supoena power so it can more readily and effectively seek out safer more honest anwers for the community. Let’s thank God an era of darkness is leaving NC.

Virgil Pina
Chula Vista

Pass the President’s Plan for Corporate Responsibility

In recent months, Americans have been outraged to learn about the extent of the corporate accounting crisis. Shareholders and pension holders have lost their savings, while CEOs have reaped ill-gotten gains. The time has come for both Wall Street and Washington to act decisively to reform a flawed system of corporate accountability.

President Bush’s call for a return to honesty and integrity in American business is exactly what’s needed to restore trust in the system. The President has challenged corporate executives to stand by their financial statements and to justify their lucrative pay, and he’s backing it up with jail penalties for deceitful accounting. His plan includes strong investigation of corporate practices by creating a Corporate Fraud Task Force to provide direction for investigations and prosecutions of criminal activity and tough penalties for crimes associated with corporate wrong doing.

It’s time for the Senate to act responsibly and pass the President’s proposal.

Francisco J. Martinez
San Diego

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