Very effing fascinating! Shaping opinion, psychologically!

Harvey Radin…
7 min readMar 14, 2023


Republican politicians are calling Democrats lefties, even ‘radical lefties.’ Haven’t heard words like that in a long, long time, probably not since the Vietnam War.

With those words, and thousands more, over a number of years, my transformation, from shaping opinion of products, services, corporate social responsibility, and so on, to shaping opinion of… let’s call it… nonsensical, wacky stuff, was underway. Guest articles and columns I’d written were getting published in media.

Getting readers to associate various politicians with the olden days, as a strategic goal, might mesh well, I was thinking, with former President Trump’s rhetoric, often brimming with words like ‘flunkies’ and ‘sweetheart deals,’ and ‘calling the shots.’

Holy hell!

As I’m writing, I’m envisioning such dated words and rhetoric, stacked on attic shelves, covered in mothballs.

What I’ve always relished about the process of shaping opinion, is the psychology, necessary, to move the dial.

When former President Trump was getting his shtick going, alleging ‘fake news,’ when media coverage of his presidency was less than favorable, and he’s telling reporters “You’re fake news!” Do you remember that?

Mentioning, in one of my articles, ‘why I surely could — but do not — hate the media, I’d noted several reasons why:

You wonder if they’ll quote you accurately or quote you the way you would like to be quoted. You find clever ways — you think — to repeat key messages. Reporters have this annoying habit of going to outside sources. You say one thing, someone else says something different. You know there will be counterpoints to your points. You lose sleep wondering how stories will play out.

It’s like being in the ring. But it’s strangely exhilarating, working through tough questions.

Getting the media to run publicity is ridiculously difficult. How can they ignore your ‘earth-shaking’ news?

But you don’t hate them. How foolish to hate the media if you value freedom!

Another time, in another article, it was Socialism mind games, on my mind.

They’re screwing with your mind!… I’d suggested.

That’s what hippies and others used to say in the ‘radical’ 1960s when they were discussing the Vietnam War. Those concerned about the war were often labeled as Socialists. Socialism was then — and perhaps is, right now — an evocative word. It was, after all, one of the words in an adversary’s name: the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the old USSR. It was a word used to justify fighting the 10-year war in Vietnam. There was a theory, at the time — the domino theory — that assumed Socialism would spread from Ho Chi Minh’s Socialist Vietnam to other Southeast Asian nations. Those countries would topple like dominos, to Socialism.

Well now, let’s fast forward to contemporary Vietnam. It’s market-driven. There was even news the other day about fancy, high-rise condos going up in Ho Chi Minh City. There are cool restaurants. Tourists are heading there. Business is booming. So, with 20/20 hindsight, were domino theorists screwing with everyone’s mind?

We’re hearing the terrible S-word again. The President and his fellow Republicans are all over Democrats, calling them Socialists. They’re even suggesting America could topple to Socialism because of the Democrats.

Like all those Southeast Asian nations falling to Socialism in the 1960s? Are Republicans kidding? Are they screwing with everyone’s mind?

And then, thinking about immigrants, about their plight, about children being separated from their parents, at the border, I described what I experienced, when I was an American foreigner:

Everything was different, the dialects, the mannerisms, the culture.

I was a foreigner, sometimes struggling to understand what people were saying. It was the first week of a multi-year posting, overseas, during my corporate career. I was working thousands of miles from my home country, the United States of America.

I tried taking in everything possible; that was my strategy for acclimating to the new, foreign surroundings where I was a foreigner. At work, I had to ask people to repeat things. When I was off work, even routine things you need to do, like shopping for food, were different. Getting acclimated was challenging and, at times, frustrating, but adjusting to different cultures and ethnicities became exhilarating. Everything I was taking in and experiencing helped me appreciate the world beyond the borders of my homeland. The different languages, the different styles of apparel, everything was fascinating and enriching.

Now, years after working and living abroad, I relish being in places here at home in America, where you hear people speaking differently and you see people wearing fashion that reflects their culture and ethnicity.

I’ve been keeping at… this strategic PR effort. Psychologically shaping opinion. That’s the plan, anyway.

And just recently, it was tap water… in one of my HMPRESENTLY columns:

HMPRESENTLY: Tap Water Making Us Gay?

Posted on March 10, 2023 by Harvey Radin

“An appointee to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ new oversight board in control of Disney’s special tax district… shared a baseless conspiracy theory that tap water could be making more people gay.”

Reading that in a CNN story, I’m wondering… “What about filtered water?” Would it assuage the appointee’s concerns… or anyone else’s, for that matter?

Apparently, the Florida governor is punishing Disney World for opposing what’s being described as the Sunshine State’s ‘Don’t Say Gay law.’

“All of this is to say that [the appointee, Ron Peri], a grown-up human who thinks you can catch gay from tap water, will now be making decisions that will impact Central Florida as a whole,” reported the Orlando Weekly.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has come up. In 2011, Peruvian mayor, Jose Benitez, “in one of the most unusual claims about homosexuality to emerge” back then, according to the Huffington Post, was “blaming the high mineral levels in the area’s drinking water for a perceived increase in the number of gay men residing in his town.”

The dean of the College of Pharmaceutical Chemistry of Lima had dismissed the mayor’s claims.

In 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, had “decried chicken producers who” were injecting “female hormones into their fowl,” and claimed “because of that, men” consuming chicken cuisines, allegedly, were having “problems being men.”

And not only that, the female hormones in chickens were being blamed for male baldness… that too.

This stuff gets complicated, especially if you start wondering… if such concerns could have been watered down with, shall we say, filtered water? But then again, who knows? Probably someone will have to look into that.

‘Wackiness’ is coming up an awful lot, right now, in conversations with folks my family and I know. They’re astounded there’s so much wackiness.

In the news, there’s a plethora of it. Like, for example, 2024 presidential hopeful Nikki Haley deeming “wokeness” a “virus more dangerous than any pandemic.” That was in Rolling Stone.

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy is saying Americans ought not to be governed by “deeply weird, nauseously woke people who hate George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Seuss, and Mr. Potato Head.” He did actually say that.

Senator Kennedy’s allegation about woke folks hating the venerable potato toy apparently has to do with the decision to give Mr. P. a more gender-inclusive identity by dropping “Mr.” from its brand name, reported The New York Times, back in February 2021. In the political arena of anti-woke sentiment, that might explain the Louisiana senator’s rather extreme allegation. But Newsweek subsequently reported that the Mr. Potato Head brand was being changed to Potato Head, “to better reflect the full line” of Potato characters, and that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head would continue to be ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’

As the British might say, maybe Senator Kennedy needn’t have gotten his knickers in such a twist.

The co-founder of venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz, Marc Andreesen, noted in a Fortune Magazine article that “we’re heading into a world where a flat-screen TV that covers your entire wall costs $100 and a 4-year degree costs $1 million…”

Wackiness! Can you believe it?

And what was that again… about woke folks hating Mr. Potato Head?

Oh yeah. And this, too…


Posted on March 13, 2023 by Harvey Radin

They’re all over the place, it may seem, at times… zealots… fanatically committed folks, stirring things up with political and religious dogma.

Beliefs are just fine, as long as they’re not getting way out of hand, like when some politicians are thinking physicians should face life in prison, or even the death penalty, for aborting a fetus, and even suggesting harsh punishment for women taking abortion pills.

Can you imagine, in some prison, one inmate asking another, “What are you in for?” And the other inmate, a doctor, replying, “For medically removing a fetus.”

Or some other inmate explaining, “For swallowing an abortion pill.”

Speaking of zealots, at the recent CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), Donald Trump Jr. was being interviewed by former Trump administration chief strategist Steve Bannon.

“There was a time when these two men were seen — by critics and supporters alike — as dangerous provocateurs. Spellbound fans would hang on their every word; indignant journalists would live-tweet their speeches and interviews. Now their rhetoric about ‘deconstructing the administrative state’ and ‘draining the swamp’ just sounded like white noise…” according to an article in The Atlantic.

A number of media reported CPAC seeming somewhat low energy, apparently with fewer attendees than usual.

CPAC being described as ‘low energy’ seems so ironic, since Don Jr.’s father, former President Trump, has been known to use the very same words, when he’s describing political opponents, reporters and others he doesn’t particularly care for. ‘Low energy’.

‘White noise’… now, there’s a couple of words the former president may want to use in his own rhetoric, maybe when someone like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who may be running for president in 2024, or former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who is running for president, are out and about on the speaking circuit.

One can imagine Mr. Trump saying something like, “It’s so disgusting… all their stupid, white noise!”



Harvey Radin…

Image tweaker, guest articles and commentary writer… @hmpresently