If it’s Hubris, it Couldn’t be Hillary

By Doug Magill
 
Dang it, I never did get the hang of using these dumbass things.
 
Computers are for little people – I prefer the voice-activated conveniences of power.  When I yell for a minion, someone comes and adjusts whatever thingy I need to change.  Especially TVs, I hate trying to figure out remotes.  After all, that’s what my worshipping followers are here for.  Now, if I could get them to wear those cute yellow outfits with the goggles….
My neurologist – that nitwit – thinks I need to do more mental exercises in case my brain was scrambled with that last stroke so he suggested I write stuff.  Who cares?  My scrambled brain is better than the unbroken ones of the yokels who adore me.  See – yolks – a joke!  I’ve still got it.  Oh, I said yokels and meant yolks.  How do I change that?  Oh hell, Cheryl never seems to be around when I need her.  Someone will fix it for me later.  Someone always does. 
What the heck?  I have to get a new TV.  Who knew a shoe could break one?  My arm is still good.  Ha, lots of practice throwing pottery at Bill.  Too bad he didn’t get brain damage from all the earthenware I’ve bounced off that horny little skull.  The stupid TV kept showing clips of my comments about that basket of deplorables.  What’s the difference?  I thought the basket thing was a nice touch, you know – a place for towels and kittens (disgusting creatures).
Besides, I meant to say basket of deportables.  I mean, Trump Top wants to get rid of all of the illegal aliens – good little future Democrat voters.  Did I say little?  I mean dependable.  Same thing.
Anyway, if he wants to get rid of our little brown brothers (crap, I said little again – must be the medication).  So why can’t I say I want to get rid of those pathetic morons who think that more Democrats is a bad idea?  Put all those Bible-loving gun-carrying freaks in a boxcar and ship them out of here.  Let Mexico deal with them.  Hah, then who’d want to build a wall?
Speaking of walls a couple of my mansions need better fences – mostly to keep the bimbos out if I get elected.  Bubba boy will be partying his little deplorables off and I can’t stand coming home and throwing out lingerie that’s lying about.  If only they knew.  Well, maybe some of the clones at CNN do, they figure they’ll get in on the action if they keep hiding Bill’s bacchanalian blowouts – as if I didn’t know how to hire private eyes. 
Been doing that since Little Rock.
Oohh….alliteration. “Bill’s bacchanalian blowouts.”  Stroke, shmoke.  Love it.  And they say I’m a wooden speaker.  Speaking of wood, haven’t been laying it down for a while.  Gotta get this weight off.  To think, that mousy little writer from Powerline called me a “muffin- top of mendacity.”  Gotta talk to the boys.  What’s power if you can’t use it?  We’ll see how many pieces we can make her pedestrian car explode into.
What was I saying?  Oh yeah, blasted adorables.  That’s what I meant to say.  I mean, aren’t those fanatical, hairy beer bums that like Trump just cute?  Cute like in spiders that need to be squashed.  I know that’s what I meant.  I love everyone, even snakes.
Ooh, gotta go, Huma is coming with those funny green pills she keeps making me take before she puts on those weird Accepting the Koran tapes.  I always fall asleep anyway.  Maybe I can get her to get another keyboard too, this drooling thing gets really messy, especially with the H key in the middle when I want to keep typing all the wonderful things that start with H….
Doug Magill is a communications consultant, city councilman, voice-over talent and freelance writer.  He can be reached at Doug@MagillMedia.net

Happiness with Long Brown Ears

Happiness gets so tangled in life’s blind alleys and grand abstractions that you miss the long brown ears. With The Duchess, though, the long brown ears were the first thing you noticed.

“What a pretty dog!” declared Carol as soon as she laid eyes on the Beagle who would change our lives. “I could swear she just smiled at me. Isn’t she a dear? That brown coat is so soft. And look at those ears!”

“Soft for good reason, too,” said Jerry, Carol’s son. “Ambray and I bathed her more than once after we lured her out of the woods. We figured someone had let her escape a kill-shelter; but when she made it to the woods nearby, she quickly found herself very cold and very hungry. She was on her own—lost, scared, and searching for something to eat. Getting dirty in the woods just happened.”

“What are you calling her?” asked Carol, who lays claim to the most-tender heart this side of Heaven.

“She likes the name Holly, it seems,” said Ambray, Jerry’s wife. “She almost seems to smile when she hears the name, almost as if that were her given name from the start.”

“This pup,” I said, “looks almost regal—those long brown ears and those bright brown eyes. She could be the candidate for any magazine cover—Here Comes The Duchess of Hollingsworth!” At that moment, Holly looked at me and seemed to smile, a long grin carefully shaped as an upside-down triangle, with her eager tongue creating a sort of bright pink exclamation point.

The stately title of Hollingsworth was a given; that’s Carol’s maiden name.
“She likes you, Joe,” Ambray said. “I don’t see her go to many men since we found her. But she definitely likes you!”

To confirm Ambray’s comment, the little Beagle rubbed herself affectionately against my pants. “Hello, little Holly,” I said, even as I reached down to pat her head and touch her ears, which were as soft as a woman’s fanciest purse. Holly responded by nuzzling into my pant leg all the more affectionately.

“I think you’ve got a friend for life,” said Jerry, who was ready to fire-up the barbeque grill for dinner. Carol and Ambray agreed.

“She’s probably expecting something better than hamburger,” I said. “I told you she had all the marks of a duchess.”

“An always-hungry duchess, to be sure!” Jerry said.

As our dinner of hamburger and salad commenced, little Holly sat next to me, right below the table. In no time she was giving me a playful nudge, a reminder that she was my new friend and that she liked hamburger as much as any two-legged creature. Every time I looked at her, Holly would smile that triangle smile and flash that empty tongue. Before long, pieces of my hamburger were finding their way under the table.

The humans ate and talked and laughed; once in a while, Holly would remind me that she was still under the table and still hungry. Since Carol and I were weekend guests, the four of us at the table were in no hurry to let the day end.
As it turned out, neither was The Duchess.

After dinner we cleaned up the dishes and then Carol and I started to all get ready for bed. Jerry and Ambray had the guest room ready for us. That’s when the surprise of the evening occurred. As soon as I hopped on the bed, a brown streak moved across the room and jumped up next to me.

“Well, Holly,” said Carol, laughing, “I don’t think there’s any more hamburger.”
“That’s right, my girl,” I said to Holly.

All of a sudden Jerry and Ambray popped their head into the bedroom. In unison our hosts proclaimed: “She wants a lot more than a hamburger.”

As Carol and I found out when The Duchess added a touch of royalty to the evening by sleeping between—yet very close to—Carol and me the rest of the night. And that’s where she stayed the rest of her life.

The Duchess of Hollingsworth died November 10, 2015, having enjoyed many hamburgers lovingly prepared by Carol. CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. McKenna and his wife now live in neighboring Steeler Country with their remaining dog, Lord Max. whose pointed ears are greatly loved as well. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

We’re All Second Amendment People

By J.F. McKenna
Donald Trump rejects claims he was advocating violence against Hillary Clinton when he suggested at a rally August 9 that there might be something “Second Amendment people” can do to stop her from picking judges, telling Fox News he was talking only about their “political” power – and saying about the media coverage: “Give me a break.”
In fact, much of the press needs to give the rest of the citizenry, along with The Donald, a break.
As soon as Trump let the words fall from his lips, the pro-Clinton machine set to the task of the day, which was reminiscent of many days before­—beating on the GOP candidate. Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook called Trump’s comments simple and dangerous, adding that “A person seeking to be the president…should not suggest violence in any way.”
Like it or not, to my mind, Trump was not suggesting that at all. He was promoting the right to bear arms within the limits of generally acceptable reason. After all, we citizens are Second Amendment people the same way we are First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendment people. (For starters, may I suggest reviewing the 1990 case of U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez.)
If contemporary history texts read better for you than legal decisions, take a look at Richard Brookhiser’s ingenious, extremely well-written What Would the Founders Do? In his 2006 text the popular writer and historian reminds his audience that the founding fathers’ own defense-related backstory is linked to England’s earlier struggles with James II and its changing fortunes thanks to the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Here’s a part of Brookhiser’s take:
William Blackstone, a mid-eighteenth-century legal commentator, explained the right of ‘having arms’ as a firewall, a ‘barrier…to protect and maintain’ other rights when ordinary protections had crumbled. “It is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”
“How can Blackstone’s ‘natural right of resistance’ find a place in the Constitution in any case?” asks Brookhiser. “It is the starting point of Declaration of Independence, which opens with a recipe for just revolution.” As I wrote in June, consider just a handful of the indictments against the King of Great Britain in 1776 (and consider if the same charges do not address some leaders in 2016). https://clevelandbusinessreview.org/2016/06/29/facts-submitted-to-a-candid-world/
As does human nature, history loves an encore, no?
Again, here’s Brookhiser: “Was the Second Amendment then a bulwark of liberty, or a pious irrelevance? The framers of the Constitution doubted that any Bill of Rights was necessary, which was why they left it out. Under the Constitution power would derive from the people; how could the people oppress themselves? But Madison became midwife for the Bill of Rights, under pressure from his enemy Patrick Henry, and prodding from his friend Jefferson,” who considered it a useful prop.
As our history has shown, the Bill of Right is more than a prop, for sure. And as our current election cycle shows, there are no other Madisons, Jeffersons, or Henrys coming to the fore for the rest of us.
Let’s hang on to what we have.
CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

Facts Submitted to a Candid World

By J.F. McKenna

Every American knows that July Fourth marks the nation’s birthday. Yet every citizen, even 240 years after the event, remains vague about the details of the birth announcement.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Drafted by the eloquent Thomas Jefferson the month before its appearance in July 1776 is a birth announcement that traces it inspiration to other, older thinkers but is, and remains, America’s initial commitment to personal freedom. To quote the singular historian-journalist Richard Brookhiser in his 2006 book What Would the Founders Do? the Declaration of Independence, followed by the Constitution and The Federalist Papers, is the first among the nation’s “user manuals.”

 

“Our founders are close by,” writes Brookhiser, “and they cast long shadows.” In fact, to read the Declaration today is to remind ourselves that the founders’ shadow is one of and for liberty against tyrants who are often not merely petty but petulant toward fellow human beings. Consider just a handful of the indictments against the King of Great Britain in 1776 (and consider if the same charges do not address some leaders in 2016).

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Before 56 names found their way to the bottom of this document, the Declaration offers this charged summary: In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Before the first hot dog gets mustarded out and before the first cry of “Play Ball!” is heard next week, maybe a bit of recharging of our Americanism is in order. The same year my birth announcement was issued, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis declared the value of doing so.

“There is in most Americans some spark of idealism, which can be fanned into a flame,” Justice Brandeis wrote. “It takes some time a divining rod to find what it is; but when found, and that means often, when disclosed to the owners, the results are often extraordinary.”

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

Complexity-Through-Joy

By J.F. McKenna
That phrase above remains one of the most poignant expressions of one man’s life and work, written by essayist and storyteller E.B. White in 1957 and later shared in Hal Hager’s brief biographical notes at the end of Essays of E.B. White (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1992). To quote Hager, Elwyn Brooks White debuted in the final year of the 19th Century and “found joy in nearly everything he saw,” from brown eggs to Thoreau’s Walden to, as White wrote, “the nature and beauty of brevity.” More important, White shed his singular light on such parts of our world and coaxed a new appreciation for them, insisting that “writing of the small things of the day, the inconsequential but the near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sanctity or grace.”
In a world in which instant communications try but fail to demonstrate more pull than gravity itself, White’s principles and style endure—even though originally batted out on a standard manual typewriter. To quote William Shawn of The New Yorker, “His literary style…was singular, colloquial, clear, unforced, thoroughly American and utterly beautiful.” Shawn offered that praise as a White eulogy in 1985, but a modest White himself may have rendered the best appraisal of his work in 1977: “Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays.”
Though I have no notion of ever sharing work space with E.B. White, Lady Carol took pity on me recently and purchased a copy of Essays for her congenitally self-centered husband. As she knows, I have been a reader of White’s work since my earliest newspapering days. And before that, as a Boomer high schooler, I regularly carried around my paperback copy of The Elements of Style, written by William Strunk Jr. in the early 20th Century, and revised by former student White in 1957.
Today, according to one source, the book remains the most frequently assigned text in U.S. academic syllabi. Writer White, no surprise, deserves the lion’s share of the credit for sales. “Professor Strunk, although one of the most inflexible and choosy of men, was quick to acknowledge the fallacy of inflexibility and the danger of doctrine,” White explains in his late-Fifties’ essay on Professor Strunk. “It is encouraging to see how perfectly a book, even a dusty rulebook, perpetuates and extends the spirit of a man. Will Strunk loved the clear, the brief, the bold, and his book is clear, brief, bold. Boldness is perhaps its chief distinguishing mark.”
Then, too, White’s contributions to children’s literature are nothing less than monumental—fromStuart Little to The Trumpet of the Swan to the publishing blockbuster Charlotte’s Web, whom one librarian recently declared to be found nowhere else but at the peak of children’s books today. Without question, White’s long work as an essayist for his adult audience prepared the stage for his young-reader classics. In his 1947 essay on the death of a pig, The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine writer displays an enviable eloquence about an expected occurrence among Maine farmers:
“I have written this account in penitence and in grief, as a man who failed to raise his pig, and to explain my deviation from the classic course of so many raised pigs. The grave in the woods is unmarked, but [White’s dog] Fred can direct the mourner to it unerringly and with immense good will, and I know he and I shall often revisit it, singly and together, in seasons of reflection and despair, on flagless memorial days of our own choosing.”
What has made, and has kept, E.B. White a brilliant essayist all these decades? One can find it in his praise of Henry David Thoreau: “Thoreau said he required of every writer, first and last, a simple and sincere account of his own life.” Then White added, “Having delivered himself of this chesty dictum, he proceeded to ignore it.”
In the introduction to his own essays, White called this form of exercise that of the role of second-class citizen to other writers, and he told the reader to “leave the essayist to ramble about, content with living a living a free life and enjoying the satisfactions of a somewhat undisciplined existence.” But, added White, he “cannot indulge himself in deceit or in concealment, for he will be found out in no time.”
CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

‘Can You Spare That Twenty?’

By J.F. McKenna

“Men will pursue their interest. It is as easy to change human nature, as to oppose the strong current of the selfish passions. A wise legislator will gently divert the channel, and direct it, if possible, to the public good.” – Alexander Hamilton, 1788

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has announced that former slave and Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman will be the new face on the $20 bill by 2020, taking the space now occupied by the face of President Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, a crack-shot duelist of his day, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, and the trigger for many late-night “beer and bull sessions” at Kent State dormitories in years past. Secretary Lew also has remodeling plans for the back of the $5 bill to highlight various 20th century folks and events at The Lincoln Memorial.

Whether all this planned money-changing will generate additional public good is a topic for another day, although some public figures are quickly weighing in with comments. The Donald has dismissed this $20 image-transfer as “pure political correctness,” and Dr. Benjamin Carson has joined Mr. Trump in that criticism. After suggesting that Tubman appear on “another denomination,” such as the $2 bill, the retired neurosurgeon gave Secretary Lew’s move a thumbs-down: “Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget, where we had no national debt. In honor of that, we kick him off of the money.”

But let’s give the Treasury Secretary some credit for a channel diversion of sorts: he originally planned to displace the image of Alexander Hamilton himself from the $10 bill and then changed course, only to declare a fuss with the back of the bill as a way to honor well-known American women.

To refit a quote from an old KSU history prof of mine: “Partial credit, Mr. Lew—you didn’t completely disrupt this everyday glimpse at historiography. But keep in mind—Hamilton was the first boss of the Treasury.”

Were Hamilton still in charge of the Treasury, interestingly enough, he’d likely not be trying to score political points with the citizenry by retooling the look of its paper money; instead, as historians and economists have long noted, he’d be trying to retool the national economy toward being the world’s leading one again. Probably no finer summary of the Hamiltonian effect on the early Republic is that of Gordon S. Wood’s 2006 book, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different (The Penguin Press).

Often in a figurative second row when pictured with Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and Adams, Alexander Hamilton left a bastard childhood in the British West Indies to become, as Wood writes, “celebrated for his nationalism, for his administrative genius, for his financial expertise, and for his hardheaded realism in foreign affairs.”

In 1789 President Washington—anyone can readily find GW on the $1 bill today—appointed Hamilton secretary of the treasury. Wood calls that pick “almost a preordained choice” that brought Washington’s “surrogate son’s brilliance” into the first national administration. “He treated Hamilton very differently [than other department heads],” Wood relates, “partly because he knew little about public finance but also because he believed the Treasury Department was constitutionally different from the other departments.” Ergo, Hamilton aimed to “strengthen central authority and the Union ‘by increasing the number of ligaments between the Government and the interests of Individuals.’”

“The severe criticism of Jefferson’s slaveholding and racial attitudes over the past several decades,” continues Wood, “has offered an opportunity for some positive reappraisals of Hamilton. He was after all opposed to slavery and worked to end it in his home state of New York. Also, in a land of immigrants he was the only one of the leading founders not born in what became the United States. In a major exhibition…at the New York Historical Society, Hamilton was once again celebrated as ‘the man who made modern America.’”

Admittedly, writes Wood, “Hamilton’s plans for an imperial America were out of touch with the realities of his world in 1800. Two centuries later, however, these plans do not seem so bizarre. Hamilton would be right at home in the present-day United States and present-day world.”

As will his image continue to be on the new $10 bill.

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

At the Core of Apple

By Doug Magill

I find that principles have no real force except when one is well fed.  Mark Twain

The FBI has reported that it has found a way to access the data on the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter, Syed Farook.   While not releasing details of how it was able to accomplish this, Apple’s internal technology team is probably overloading cell towers with calls to known commercial encryption technology companies trying to discern who may have been working with the government.  With the long term intent of hounding them out of business.

The NSA probably had the means to break in to the iPhone but, interestingly enough, that secretive organization has not been mentioned in regard to this controversy.  Because it reports to the Defense Department and the FBI to the Justice Department, there were probably statutory concerns that prevented the NSA from being involved.  Regardless, the FBI undoubtedly was able to solicit the assistance of a foreign company to help them – to avoid dealing with the political issues associated with using any government or foreign intelligence resources.

In an interview a few weeks ago John McAfee – of McAfee antivirus fame – claimed he could put a team together in a matter of weeks that could crack Apple’s security.  If the FBI was interested he said he would be glad to help them as he knew who to contact.  The implication being that there were a number of individuals in the security world that had the expertise and the tools to crack an iPhone.

The controversy got quite heated, with Apple CEO Tim Cook issuing a blistering 1100-word letter to Apple customers criticizing the government and trying to position himself, and Apple, as champions of privacy.

The controversy centered on the 10-attempt safeguard Apple uses.  It anyone attempts more than 10 times to access a locked iPhone it automatically wipes itself clean (no cloths involved).  The FBI had a court order from a judge to force Apple to find a way to disable that security feature, and then they would use their own technology experts to discern the password and access the contents of the phone.

Apple has cooperated with the government before in accessing contents of its devices, but the head of the company decided that this would be a great opportunity to market the iPhone’s enhanced encryption and security features and show disdain for parochial American concerns.  After all, it is a multinational company worried about Chinese and European customers that wanted to feel that whatever business they transacted with their phones would be secure from government intrusion.  Any government’s intrusion.

The FBI did not appear to overreach in this case, only desiring a way to disable the phone-wiping protection on this single phone.  Contrary to Cook’s claims, they were not looking to create a permanent backdoor into Apple’s encryption methodology.  But, why waste a good marketing opportunity?

Lost in the press releases and angry letters and vitriolic statements is the fact that 14 people were killed by the owner of that iPhone.  And he, along with his wife, may be connected to others that have similar designs on their coworkers and neighbors.  Should another incident occur and be connected to Farook, the condemnation of Apple and the government would reach volcanic proportions.

But Apple’s worldwide marketing concern seems to be the core of its reaction to this event.  Which is sad, because at best marketing can be informative, while at worst it can lead to portraying an image that is misleading and possibly downright dishonest.  Apple was joined by Facebook and Google – a rare triumvirate in the viciously competitive high-tech world – in claiming moral superiority in the concern for privacy over security.

All three companies profess the standard liberal bromides about caring for people and international self-righteousness over the narrow parochialism of national sovereignty.  Unfortunately, by focusing on Apple’s concerns and not the country’s security, they have exposed themselves as greedy and self-interested.  They are not worried about the effects of their policies on individuals, and not interested in cooperating to help alleviate legitimate fears about a phenomenon that is causing consternation world-wide.  And ultimately, they really aren’t interested in the well-being of the people who use their products.

One supposes that the decision makers at these companies feel they are above nationalism, and have a vision that transcends narrow individualism.  Not unlike our uninvolved and pathologically dishonest president.  With a compliant and partisan media, they will continue to comfort themselves in the shroud of smug superiority.  Right up until the moment a bomb goes off in one of their buildings and they run screaming into the streets and find the only means to deal with the now worldwide threat of terrorism lies in the expertise of the government they disdain.

 

Doug Magill is a former Chief Technology Officer for a major corporation and is now a freelance writer, voice-over talent and communications consultant.  He can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net.

 

 

 

 

If You’re Going to Accept a ‘Final Mission,’ Make it a Great One

By J.F. McKenna

On the bus home at day’s end, Patty Corcoran, a St. Ignatius School classmate, chatted frequently about TV’s Star Trek. She could talk incessantly about the sci-fi series, about Captain James Kirk, about intergalactic travel, and about Kirk’s second-in-command, an annoyingly precise spaceman who was half-human and half-Vulcan.

“Spock is very cool,” I recall Patty saying on the No. 22 bus, whose own journey ended daily at the West Park transit station. “He’s got this Vulcan Salute—Live long and prosper! Really cool!” I myself couldn’t mimic the salute separating the two middle fingers; nor did I care that much about it. My grandest 13-year-old accomplishment was not getting caught executing the one-finger salute known throughout America. Such was the convergence of two different worlds in 1966 Cleveland.

As generations of TV and movie viewers now know, Spock and Company didn’t stay moored in the ‘60s. The Star Trek phenomenon, as fiction and as the inspiration of actual new-world seekers, has continued unto this day. And all along the journey has been Spock himself—the actor and artistic polymath Leonard Nimoy.

The end of February marks the one-year anniversary since the death of the legendary actor who surrendered to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by chronically poor airflow that typically worsens over time. The main symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and sputum production. Most people with chronic bronchitis, it is said, have COPD.

COPD affects more than 30 million Americans, making it the third leading cause of death. Surprisingly, more than a third of these Americans suffer the symptoms of the disease – coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and breathlessness – without ever being diagnosed.

As Spock would say, this is “highly illogical”—since early detection and treatment can reduce suffering and extend lives.

Nimoy’s daughter, Julie, and her husband, David Knight, are determined to continue the actor’s “final mission” to raise awareness about COPD, currently producing a new documentary titled COPD: Highly Illogical: A Special Tribute to Leonard Nimoy. Here is a mission that will conclude only with the last patient.

“The film is going to be an intimate look at my father’s life, legacy, and his final years advocating for greater awareness around COPD,” Ms. Nimoy said. “My Dad felt an urgent responsibility to educate people about it, frequently tweeting and speaking about the disease and its causes.”

The couple launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo last month to raise the additional $150,000 required to produce the documentary. They are hopeful of securing the funding by mid-March so that the film can be released near Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary later this summer.

To view the documentary film trailer and to link to the Indiegogo funding page, go to www.copdllap.com. For a direct link to the funding page, go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/copd-highly-illogical-a-tribute-to-leonard-nimoy#/.

If you’re going to accept a “final mission,” make it a great one: this the Nimoy-Knight Clan has done. Nimoy and Knight’s mission is as iconic as the decades-long role Leonard Nimoy played as executive officer of the Starship Enterprise. The only difference is that it’s not playacting.

Which prompts the age-old Latin expression—Ad Astra Per Aspera. “Through hardship through the stars” is a perfect saying for the man best known as Spock.

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

A Man of Words, a Man of Law

By J.F. McKenna

By both his life and his death, Antonin Scalia reaffirmed the genius of the American culture, best exemplified by the generations-tested document securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” The 79-year-old Associate Supreme Court Justice took his role as arbiter seriously, but understood that his role was but one part of the fabric of the Republic, whose solid basis was the consent of the people.

Justice Scalia, who died on a Texas hunting trip this weekend, was widely known as the model of conservative thought on the high court for 30 years. The first Italian-American to sit on the Supreme Court, Antonin Gregory Scalia embraced an originalist, or textualist, approach to his decision-making: “The Constitution,” he said, “is not an organism. It means today what it meant when it was adopted.”

From there, the Justice took this approach when he wrote the Heller v. District of Columbia decision, which declared the Second Amendment as upholding individual gun rights. In similar fashion, in a 1992 dissent, Justice Scalia charged his colleagues with “personal predilection” in reaffirming the constitutional right to abortion. “It is difficult to maintain the illusion,” he said, “that we are interpreting a Constitution, rather than inventing one, when we amend its provisions so breezily.”

And only last year, he injected expressions such as “pure applesauce” and “interpretive jiggery-pokery” into his dissent on Obamacare and tax subsidies.

Of course, what should one expect from the son of a professor of languages who had taught at Brooklyn College?

“The two most important things to remember about Scalia — apart from the fact that he was a family man and a faithful Catholic — are the following: He was a heck of a writer, and he was a defender of one of the most important institutions our civilization is based on,” Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote online yesterday. “I think there’s a good chance Scalia might have wanted to be remembered as a writer first, and as a jurist second. Most non-lawyers don’t associate the law and legal documents with great reading, and I don’t blame them. But the legal profession really is all about words, and the best legal minds are by necessity minds that love words and, at least sometimes, know how to use them.”

The good Justice was just such a legal mind, as is detailed in a 2012 New Yorker piece titled “Writing With Antonin Scalia, Grammar Nerd.” Written By Alex Karp, the article follows the relationship between Scalia and lawyer-writer Bryan A. Garner. Here’s a bit of Karp’s account:

Justice Scalia had initially proposed the breakfast after declining to sit for a more formal interview on writing and legal advocacy. By the end of their meal, Scalia had changed his mind, and the two have gone on to form a productive and collegial, if unusual, working relationship. The interview, Garner’s first with a sitting Justice, took place the following October, and he has completed others with almost two hundred state and federal judges, and nine of the eleven Justices who have sat on the Court since. “You’re something of a SNOOT yourself,” Scalia told Garner as they ended their interview, invoking Wallace’s pet phrase for a grammar and usage fanatic, “and that makes me happy.” (Other SNOOTs, according to Scalia, include former Justices Harry Blackmun and David Souter. Ruth Bader Ginsburg shares their zealousness, but, Scalia said, she’s “too polite.”)

Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges,” the first book co-authored by the pair, appeared in 2008. Their second book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,” was published by Thomson/West last month. The nearly six-hundred-page tome details Scalia’s judicial philosophy, which they call “textualism.”

“My calculation is we spent about eighty-five to one hundred hours side by side for ‘Making Your Case,’” Garner said. “Probably sixty of those hours, once we had a draft, we actually went through sentence by sentence, together, reading it aloud. We ended up really co-authoring every single sentence of the first book.

Justice Scalia’s words, both his legal reasoning and his linguistic crochets, will be with us for some time, as shall (pray God) The Constitution. In fact, I think it’s fair to suggest that the Justice himself would probably agree that President Obama engage his lawful right to seek a successor for Justice Scalia.

At the same time, I can’t help but think that Justice Scalia—from his new vantage point in a much higher court—is whispering in the President’s ear to choose wisely, with the People in mind.

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

A Page Borrowed from Twain

By J.F. McKenna

Mike Pitts is a South Carolina legislator whose sense of constitutionally telling mischief reaches across the nation. Interestingly enough, he reminds me of an old mischief-maker named Sam Clemens, who made it a professional practice to gore oxen with reckless abandon.

The Republican Pitts, with prepared legislation reportedly in hand Tuesday, proposed a mandatory journalist registry and potential jail sentences for violators. The legislation itself even carried a fancy name for censorship—the “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry.”

As U.S. News and World Report explained this week—with complete freedom, I should add—“If it became law, people working as journalists without registering would face $25 fines. Second offenses would be misdemeanors punishable by a $100 fine and 15 days in jail, and repeat offenders would face $500 fines and 30 days in jail.

“Media outlets,” the magazine continued, “would have to conduct criminal record background checks on prospective hires and journalists would be ineligible for registry if they had ‘demonstrated a reckless disregard of the basic codes and canons of professional journalism associations, including a disregard of truth, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability.’”

No surprise to this long-unlicensed member of the press, the uproar was quick and certain. Many network television and print journos found their Brooks Brothers’ knickers in a bunch, and they rushed on camera to discuss the imminent fall of the Republic.

The hour’s top story: Woe to We the People. Right after this message.

Being a semi-reformed troublemaker myself, I suspect Mike Pitts of the S.C. legislature was having a good laugh. The day after unloading his constitutionally errant measure, he wrote this on Facebook:

“I filed this legislation as an experiment to make a point about the media and how they only care about the Constitution when it comes their portion of the 1st Amendment. In doing so, I put the media under the microscope, and they did not like it.

“They constantly attack people who follow their Christian beliefs and attempt to portray them as bigots, and they certainly do not like the fact that normal everyday Americans gather to petition the government and air grievances. Look no further than how they have demonized the Tea Party. Furthermore, they love to trample on our 2nd Amendment rights to ‘Keep and Bear Arms.’ If they had their way, there would be no 2nd Amendment.”

As various gored oxen wailed in the background, Pitt had made his point: The U.S. Constitution is not a legislative buffet for those who think they can simply opt for a figurative salad and cottage cheese and deny another patron his ground steak and french fries. Take it the way it has been served since 1787.

That sly Rep. Pitts would certainly win plaudits from old Sam Clemens, who said that “There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press.”

At his 1873 talk at the Hartford, Conn., Monday Evening Club, Clemens continued with this critique: “[The press] has scoffed at religion till it has made scoffing popular. It has defended official criminals, on party pretexts, until it has created a United States Senate whose members are incapable of determining what crime against law and the dignity of their own body is, they are so morally blind, and it has made light of dishonesty till we have as a result a Congress which contracts to work for a certain sum and then deliberately steals additional wages out of the public pocket and is pained and surprised that anybody should worry about a little thing like that.

“I am putting all this odious state of things upon the newspaper, and I believe it belongs there — chiefly, at any rate. It is a free press — a press that is more than free — a press which is licensed to say any infamous thing it chooses about a private or a public man, or advocate any outrageous doctrine it pleases. It is tied in no way. The public opinion which should hold it in bounds it has itself degraded to its own level.”

“Though his admonitions target the newspaper as the archetypal press, it’s remarkable to consider how prescient his remarks are in the context of today’s online media,” noted Maria Popova in her wonderful website, Brain Pickings—brainpickings.org .  Do check it out.

Applying so-called “fixes” to any part of the Bill of Rights is tampering with all constitutional security. To quote the Hudson Institute scholar Christopher DeMuth Sr., “Our Constitution is treated as a reliquary, worthy of reverence but no longer of much practical use. Yet the Constitution reflects, in many deep and subtle ways, the character of the people who established it and have lived and prospered under it for centuries.”

People like Mike Pitts and Sam Clemens, that cagey book author who observed that “in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.”

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor and marketing-communications consultant. He also attends all meetings of the Mark Twain Society of Penn Hills, a small and informal literary gathering near Pittsburgh. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .