With Legitimacy Come Facts

 

By J.F. McKenna

Rep. John Lewis has been leading Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1968. He has also been called “the conscience of the Congress.” But the long-time civil rights veteran has allowed his past victories and experiences to cloud his judgment about Donald Trump and constitutional genius.

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Rep. Lewis said in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

I’m sure Lewis, the son of sharecroppers, heard demeaning comments about legitimacy during his days when Freedom Riders challenged the segregated facilities they encountered at interstate bus terminals in the South. As noted, Lewis has seen a lot in his 77 years.

Pressed on why he believes Trump’s presidency is illegitimate, Lewis told NBC: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

As The Hill reported, “Trump acknowledged this week that Russia was responsible for some hacking during the campaign, though the president-elect and many on his team assert that it had no affect on election results.”

Those results get confirmed Friday when Trump becomes the 45th President.

Which speak to the genius of our nation, as James Madison notes in Federalist 39: “The proposed Constitution, therefore, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both. In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal and partly national; in the operation of these powers, it is national, not federal; in the extent of them, again, it is federal, not national; and, finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal nor wholly national.”

 

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. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

 

Fashioning a Crusade for the Fairer Sex

When men and women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different. George Santayana

By Doug Magill

In the days following the election one of the fascinating themes coming from the need-to-be-committed Democrats is that Hillary Clinton lost the election because she is a woman.  The Democrats’ rant is that there is so much sexism in our society that a woman cannot be elected President.

Some of our crestfallen media have pursued this line of reasoning with vigor, and it crops up randomly from otherwise intelligent women on Facebook and in the loony left Internet media.  It’s one of the more stubborn ideas to come out of this election.

The line of reasoning, I suppose, is that like all else in the realms of politics, education, business and media there should be privileged classes and they need to have their turn.  We had a black President so now we should have a female one; later on, we will need to have a Hispanic one and maybe then a transgendered one, or at least a homosexual one.  Sort of a checklist of the currently fashionable parade of the perpetually aggrieved; by designating success for their representatives, we can eliminate perceived discrimination.

Something like that.  But logic doesn’t always seem to be a necessary component of such things.

However, if one were to spend any time with a gathering of conservatives and ask about, say, Margaret Thatcher, there would be instant agreement about her leadership, toughness, vision and success.  And, of course, her integral role in winning the Cold War with Ronald Reagan.  The same would be true of Golda Meir and her ability to navigate the complex and contentious politics of the Knesset while winning a war.  And our conservative Indian friends would have great compliments about Indira Gandhi.

Those of us who study history have great admiration for strong women leaders throughout history –  including Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth I, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hatshepsut, Isabella and Catherine the Great.

Today the Republican Party lays claim to some of the most prominent female leaders throughout our country:   Kelly Ayotte, Nicki Haley, Joni Ernst, Sarah Palin, Susana Martinez, Marsha Blackburn, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Carly Fiorina, Mia Love and Ohio’s own Mary Taylor.      There are a significant number of capable women in the halls of Congress, all of the state houses, and in established and startup businesses.

The problem with conflating Hillary’s defeat with the status of women is not complex: Hillary was a disastrous choice as a Presidential nominee.  Narcissistic, corrupt, dishonest and unwilling to act as a leader rather than a scold, she was thoroughly unlikeable and a vapid and boring campaigner.  Even now she is pointing fingers in every direction but her own for her failure, and most analysts are breathing a sigh of relief that she is soon to be exiled from the body politic.

A recent Pew Research study showed a large majority of Americans accept the idea of a female Chief Executive.  In fact, one recent study showed more men than women are indifferent to the sex of their leader.  The same study showed that political party was more important that sex in determining who to vote for.  The results of the election show that while the country may be ready for a female leader, it isn’t Hillary.

No conservative organization I know of doesn’t have women involved or in leadership roles, which are never a topic of discussion relative to their sex.  We have absolutely no doubt that women can lead local, state and federal organizations all the way up to and including President.

The deep and abiding problem for Democrats is their constant lurch leftward, leaving them with marginal ideological candidates for leadership roles, such as the ever-partisan Nancy Pelosi and the demagogic Elizabeth Warren.  It is even worse when one looks to the ranks of Democrats that could normally be expected to be rising and assuming prominence.

Eight years of the always-about-me Barak Obama have left the party in shambles.  His legacy is the worst party infrastructure since Reconstruction.  When he took office the Democrats had large majorities in both houses of Congress, 29 governorships and control of 27 state houses.   Today it holds only 18 governorships, and 12 state legislatures and neither house of Congress.  The raw numbers are staggering: Under Obama Democrats have lost over 900 state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats and 13 Senate positions.  Adding insult to injury, Republicans took decisive control of the Kentucky State Senate for the first time in 91 years.

It is a Republican America and the media ensconced comfortably in New York and Washington have failed to notice, with a few notable exceptions.  CNN’s Amanda Carpenter commented “Who thought Obama’s legacy would be the destruction of the Democratic Party?”  She even tweeted about Hillary being the worst candidate in modern history.

The Democrat Party is seemingly intent on a massive flameout as they are considering the radically left-wing Keith Ellison to chair the DNC.  One of the few people in the world that could possibly make Debbie Wasserman-Schultz look competent.

President-elect Trump has clarified a movement in the Republican Party that most prominent members didn’t acknowledge.  He has also caused an enormous fissure in the Democrat Party that may take years to resolve.  If they continue to fully embrace radical progressivism, they may in fact cease to be credible.

Women in leadership are an integral part of the Republican Party, and it is highly probable that soon we will see a female President.  A Republican one.

By the way, did someone mention recently that Ivanka Trump will be taking a prominent role in her father’s administration?

 

Doug Magill is the Communications Director for the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, a consultant, city councilman, freelance writer and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net.

 

 

Vanity of Vanities

Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.  Jane Austen

By Doug Magill

One of the things that seems saddest to me is those who profess disdain for the available candidates for President and proclaim that they are sitting out this election or voting for a third-party offering.  This is often proclaimed in a tone of intended seriousness or anguished thoughtfulness.

While dissatisfaction with the options is perfectly understandable, and most of us probably voted for a different candidate in the primary, this is what we are offered.   It is the way our electoral system works, and has always.  One can almost hear the anguished moans of citizens throughout history as they complain about having to vote for Adams, or Jackson, or Herbert Hoover.  Let alone the modern parade of politicians.

Today’s cry is heard loudly throughout the land: Why can’t we do better than this?

I suppose it is built into the American psyche that there is a desire for a more-perfect candidate, and disdain may be the default for the humanity of who we have to vote for.  Sometimes the system does produce a candidate worthy of the office, and we are better off for it.

When all is said and done it is voter vanity at work: I could do better than that guy, I don’t want people to think I would vote for him, I’m too smart to be associated with him, our system is terrible and I don’t want to be associated with it.

It is especially telling when I hear from those who love to profess their own wisdom how stupid Trump voters are.  See, I’m smarter than they are. Proving, of course the effectiveness and wisdom of the Democrats’ campaign of attacking Trump and avoiding issues, let alone the qualifications of their candidate.  Along with a compliant media which is uninterested in reporting facts, let alone trying to provide clarity on issues.

When the day is done, there really are only two issues, vanity aside.  In reading the party platforms one is astonished at the contrast in vision, and the reality of the assault on life, freedom, liberty, and self-determination that the Democrats profess.  The platforms represent the core of each party, and the vote in this election really is about what that core will lead us to.

The second issue is the candidates themselves.  Trump fires verbal volleys that one has to wince at.  But those pale to insignificance when compared to the deep and powerful politicization and corruption in our government, and in the Democrat candidate who wishes to politicize and corrupt it further.

A friend who is generally apolitical remarked that she hopes Trump will win just to blow up the government and bring in people dedicated to serving the county.  His outsider status would lend itself to that indeed.  As opposed to someone who understands how to use cronyism, bribery and graft to enhance power.

For those who would rather spend time stroking their egos and wallowing in vanity I don’t suppose there is much to be said.  Avoiding choices is to make a bad one.  For the rest of us, we need to work on and vote for someone who at least understands the need for change, and is comfortable in causing it.

 

Doug Magill is the Communications Director for the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, a consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent.  he can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net

 

 

In These Soul-Trying Times America Wants Paine Relief

By J.F. McKenna
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” — Thomas Paine, The Crisis
Pamphleteer Tom Paine was a master of the opening line. Likewise, he was a craftsman of the lines that followed—well considered, well fashioned, and always timely, even to our 21st century world of instant communication, tactics to hack into that messaging, and the effective countermeasures that address such hacking. Paine, who started life in England as a corset maker apprentice to his father, understood the value of the foundation, be it in ladies’ garments or a nation desirous of freedom. Is it any surprise that General George Washington had the Paine essay—from which the above lines are taken—read to his revolutionary troops at Christmas, on the eve of their victory at Trenton.
Historian and author Gordon S. Wood declared the amazing polymath “America’s first public intellectual.” In his 2006 book, Revolutionary Characters, Wood added in his chapter on Paine:
“After Common Sense had established his reputation, Paine came to know nearly all the political leaders of the United States, including Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, and he continued to write on behalf of the American cause. The most important of these writings was his American Crisis series, essays that appeared throughout the war with Britain….
“If these important contributions were not sufficient to immortalize Paine as one of the founders of the United States, then we have his extraordinary book Rights of Man (1791-92), which became one of the most important works of political thought in the history of the Western world. Although the book was written after Paine had left the United States in 1787 and was intended as a refutation of [Edmund] Burke’s Reflection on the Revolution in France (1790), it actually sums up what he had learned about constitutionalism and political theory during his years in America. In fact The Rights of Man is the best and most succinct expression of American revolutionary political thinking ever written.”
Despite Paine’s exceptional efforts, writes the professor from Brown University, the revolutionary “never quite has had what it takes to get admitted to the sacred temple of American founders.” The good professor, who himself has won an enviable Pulitzer Prize, called the early Republic’s biographies “muckraking diatribes that pictured Paine as an arrogant, drunken atheist.” Actually, many decades after Paine died in 1809, Teddy Roosevelt said much the same thing about Paine.
In our century, Thomas Paine has yet to receive “his due measure of homage from the people and nations of the world whose aspirations he expressed with such force and clarity,” according to the late philosopher Sidney Hook. “His passion for human freedom shines through everything he wrote.”
Again to quote Professor Wood, Paine’s writing was very different, noting that the revolutionary champion “looked for readers everywhere, but especially in the tavern- and artisan-centered world of the cities.” (He understood foundational marketing, eh?) Thomas Paine, continued Dr.Wood, “spoke out of a tradition of radical republicanism that ran deeper and was more bitter yet more modern than the balanced and reasonable classical republicanism of most of the founders.”
In Rights of Man, Dr. Hook writes, Paine proposes that the government undertake “the amelioration of distress which entitles to be considered almost despite himself a forerunner of the Welfare State.” Ever so gently Dr. Hook, a 1985 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, excuses Paine’s inconsistency as “a tribute to his sense of compassion for human suffering.”
Even in this election year, when the delivery of the varied political messages is more than shopworn, Thomas Paine’s core message still is not given its due: the passion for freedom.
Maybe in time that will change, for as Paine wrote in 1776, “Time makes more converts than reason.”
CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. While at IndustryWeek magazine in the early ‘90s, he wrote a series on Total Quality Government and chaired TQG conferences across the country. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. 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

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.

 

 

 

 

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 .

It Is Well

Featured image

by Doug Magill

Grander earth has quaked before,
Moved by the sound of His voice.
And seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard.

There is a sign at Volcano National Park in Hawaii that claims greenhouse emissions can be reduced by limiting the most common sources of carbon dioxide (CO2): transportation, solid waste and energy production. One presumes the National Park Service has no sense of irony, as nearby is the caldera for an active volcano, Kilauea. This volcano has been erupting since 1983, its record one of the longest.

Civic-minded propaganda aside, one has to search elsewhere to find out that Kailauea emits at least 4,000 tons per day of sulfur dioxide, presumably without a permit from the now-godlike EPA. That amount of SO2 sometimes exceeds the capability of current instrumentation to measure. It also emits more than 4,000 gallons per minute of water vapor and about 10,000 tons per day of carbon dioxide. For comparison, the average car emits about five tons of CO2 per year. There are other chemicals put into the atmosphere every day such as hydrogen, hydrogen chloride (which results in acid rain downwind), hydrogen fluoride and carbon monoxide.

There’s more: at least a ton a day of lead, copper, gold, silver, zinc, bismuth and mercury are wafted into the air by Kilauea.

Such has been the story of volcanoes throughout history, particularly ones in modern history: massive amounts of gases, ash and contaminants spewed into the sky. Current estimates are that active volcanoes emit 300 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Krakatoa alone (1883) disturbed weather patterns for years, lowered average temperatures and caused a year without summer around the world. Timbora, in 1816, caused global disruptions on an even greater scale. There have been others, tending to wreak havoc with the media’s favorite oracles – climate models.

Some models claim that the effects of Krakatoa alone lasted for a century and caused ocean cooling which delayed global warming due to human activity. Then again, more recent studies say that those models incorrectly accounted for heat sink effects and conclude human activity will not have as great an effect on atmospheric CO2 therefore temperature changes will not be as great as originally predicted.

Ah, computer models. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Having been involved with some of the earliest computer modeling in automotive manufacturing, I can state that it had a revolutionary effect on how cars are designed, and how quickly. It subsequently became an essential part of aeronautical engineering, and Boeing’s recent Dreamliner, the 767, was exclusively designed with computer models (results still to be determined).

But there is a vast difference between design and prediction. The record for computer models in the predictive arena is much less impressive – just ask the Sales VP who got fired because his actual annual results did not match his forecast.

Or the weather people, for that matter.

I have been involved in the development and utilization of a number of computer models over the years, and there are inherent inaccuracies in every model, with increasing complexity of the model causing those inaccuracies to increase exponentially. Many times the coefficients in models are inexact, sometimes even guessed. They are really ranges of potential values. By tinkering with these you can get a whole range of results as well.

Robert Caprara, who developed computer models for the EPA wrote that his job was more like a lawyer than a scientist, building a case for his client. His epiphany occurred after his superiors kept having him tweak his models until the results they showed aligned with the department’s need for grant renewals. He stated “there is no denying that anyone who makes a living building computer models likely does so for the cause of advocacy, not the search for truth.”

We know that climate computer models are wrong simply because they have already been refuted by experience. Even though they may be marvels of programming and design and take weeks to run on the world’s most powerful supercomputers, their ability to model an incredibly complex and chaotic climate is not only impossible today – it will never be possible (See Dr. Christopher Essex’s lecture on the limitations of computer modelling) . It is silly to even presume that what is done with a programming language could even resemble what happens in the world.

Another volcanic eruption on the scale of a Krakatoa or Timbora would render most climate models obsolete overnight.

There is also the data question. The daily emissions estimates from Kilauea were revised upward in 2014 by a factor of 2. Moreover, estimates of the results of volcanic eruptions worldwide are certainly not exact. A recent book on air pollution noted that “It has been estimated that all air pollution resulting from human activity does not equal the quantities released during three volcanic eruptions: Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883, Katmai in Alaska in 1912, and Hekla in Iceland in 1947.”

The operative word is “estimated.” And therein lies the big issue. The accuracy of any model is dramatically affected by the quality of the data. Any person with experience in converting computer systems will tell you that if the data isn’t good, the results can be wildly problematic.

In climate science there are layers of estimates on top of layers of assumptions. It is well known that the desperadoes at East Anglia modified their data. Michael Mann of the now-discredited “hockey-stick” graph on global temperatures left out any data that didn’t fit his conclusion, including historical warming periods. Congress is investigating data adjustments by the unionized bureaucrats at NASA which always resulted in later temperatures being adjusted upwards to make recent years seem warmer by comparison. A recent announcement that 2014 was the warmest year on record was quickly followed up by a more quiet notification that maybe it wasn’t. There have been recent articles about data adjustments at remote locations like Paraguay for no explainable reason. Adjustments, by the way, that also make the past seem cooler and today warmer by comparison.

The questions about data are not only germane, they are critical. One has to wonder at the utility of surface temperature readings that encompass only 30% of the earth’s surface (though there are a few on ships) and that have to be adjusted to be meaningful. Satellite measurements cover only a few recent decades and show no warming trend.

Yet the climate is changing. It always has. Ice core samples, tree-ring analysis and other arcane fields of study tell us the earth has been warmer in the past. Settlements in Hudson’s Bay and Greenland and new discoveries in the Alps tell us in warmer times there were places colonized that have not recently seemed very habitable.

When terms like “settled science” and “consensus” are hurled as a means to eliminate questions, one has to wonder what scientists really mean when the word “certainty” creeps into the conversation.

Mike Kimmit early this year wrote about 10 new species recently discovered, which shouldn’t be a surprise as there are estimates that there may be up to 10 million more to be discovered. Yet other scientific sources tell us about estimates that 99% of all species that ever existed are extinct. Those wonderful guys in the white coats who opine about facts don’t really know how many species there have been or are or will be.

Science, thy motto is “estimate” – with the intent to frighten.’

And thy purpose is to drive political debate with the result of more funding.

There are also more fundamental questions we should be aware of and discussing. Our air is about 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, .9% argon and .038% carbon dioxide (CO2). Of what are considered greenhouse gases, water vapor is 90% and carbon dioxide is 4%. Of that 4%, mankind contributes about 3% which comes out to about .12% of greenhouse gases that are the result of human activity. I have yet to see a reasonable explanation of the connection between what seems like negligible amounts of carbon dioxide and global climate change. There is a huge assumption at work: more carbon dioxide means global climate change. Which leads to the next huge assumption: human contributions of carbon dioxide are causing an increase in carbon dioxide.

Greenhouse gases are essential to life on earth and levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have been higher in the past; but they have lagged global temperature changes. Correlation certainly does not imply causation. Such inferences get us back to that “science by estimation” circus leading to the supposition game that has become the world of science today.

National Geographic has swallowed the whole global warming mythology right up to its rod and reel. A recent issue devoted a great deal of copy speculating what southern Florida would look like if sea levels were to rise five feet. It certainly wouldn’t be pretty, but the article elided over the whole greenhouse gas thing to the presumptions that global warming is occurring, increases in carbon dioxide are to blame and mankind is causing it. That’s a lot of speculation wrapped in an apocalyptic view.

One thing they did mention was a developer who is planning on making money off the whole climate change thing by building luxury homes on tethered islands that would be unaffected by sea level changes. One has to love an opportunist who can find a way to make money regardless of circumstances.

When all is said and done there is room for questions and debate. Nothing as complex as our environment will be settled science, no matter how angrily liberals scream that it is. There are lots of questions and much to be known. Certainly when one considers that millions of lives can be affected by the imposition of new taxes, the concomitant reduction in standards of living, and the reallocation of huge portions of our economy to government control to affect something that may not be caused by us and may not be changed by anything possible we could do.

Unfortunately that is the liberal ethic these days: change without regard to consequences. Certainly there will be no concern about those who will lose by their proposals, particularly the poor. Environmental extremism has conquered California, and the recent drought has caused farmers to have to line up for food stamps. Not due to the drought, but rather because of regulations, lack of investment in water management and misallocation of resources to protect fish even though farmers are bankrupted.

When we were given dominion over the earth in Genesis, that did not mean control as anyone who has felt an earthquake, seen a tornado, escaped a hurricane or has watched the relentless advance of lava can attest. We were given stewardship, which implies care and responsibility. I suspect most people agree that we need to respect and use the earth wisely.

My grandfather’s generation celebrated the advance of the automobile because of the increasing waste inundating cities due to horses. It won’t happen in my lifetime and probably not my children’s, but someday our use of fossil fuels will be superseded by something else. In the mean time we need to use what the earth provides while working to enhance and improve the lives of all.

Ultimately we need to remember that something majestic is at work. Science can see some things, but there are still vast mysteries for which we are incapable of understanding or even knowing how to comprehend.

We know that humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii every year to mate, calve and nurse their young. To see them and to hear their plaintive cries underwater is breathtaking. But, we don’t know why or how they initially learned to do this. Yet it is majestic.

There are indeed millions of species yet to be discovered, and many of them are in the deeps where we have very little knowledge. One can look at the stars to see the enormity of a universe unknowable in human terms. Incredible mysteries yet to be seen, and maybe never to be understood.

This grand earth is majestic and has changed dramatically in the past and will do so again. It is well. Hubris aside what we do or do not do will have little effect through millennia as the earth will abide. Our most important thing to learn about it is awe.

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see.
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea.
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name.

Doug Magill is a former IT executive, communications consultant, voice-over talent and freelance writer. He can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net

Lyrics are from It is Well, by Christine DiMarco, Bethel Music

Taking Occam’s Razor to Campaign 2016

By J.F. McKenna

John Nance Garner, who played No. 2 to FDR once upon a time, declared the vice presidency not worth “a warm bucket of spit.” While not exactly striking a tasteful tone for the average seventh-grade civics text, Garner’s appraisal remains indisputably accurate.

Worse, though, Garner’s mucilaginous evaluation applies to the all-important top post today. Just ask the regular folks—those voters discouraged by everything from a badly tuned economy to a capriciously managed foreign policy. Come to think of it, this figurative second bucket isn’t even warm.

The nation is a mess economically, militarily and spiritually. The taxpayers are hungry for real-world leaders toting solid ideas and tested solutions. They are weary of empty promises, “presumptive candidates,” and the media’s tiresome coverage of the road to The White House.

Time to break out Occam’s razor, the long-celebrated tool of epistemology that says the best solution is typically the simplest at hand. As my gift to fellow citizens, allow me to unclasp and wield that centuries-old razor: Let’s settle on the Fiorina-Kasich ticket in the GOP camp, and be done with it.

Now allow me to relax the suddenly formed wrinkles in your face and the all-new questions in your mind. Former business executive Carly Fiorina is no stranger to success, and certainly no stranger to making mistakes and failures out in the open. What really stands out—and makes her ideal for the toughest exec job in the world—is that Fiorina has learned management lessons in the unforgiving private sector.

As The New York Times recently chronicled, “When Ms. Fiorina, formerly a top executive at Lucent Technologies, took over at Hewlett-Packard in 1999, it was the largest publicly traded company ever to be led by a woman. Yet she also outraged some feminists by saying, ‘I hope that we are at a point that everyone has figured out that there is not a glass ceiling.’ Her business career ended a few years later in one of the more notorious flameouts in modern corporate history. After orchestrating a merger with Compaq that was then widely seen as a failure, she was ousted in 2005.”

An unabashed and outspoken conservative, Fiorina has stayed on the nation’s radar, even after losing a Senate challenge to California’s Barbara Boxer in 2010 and sharing such sentiments as “America is the most innovative country” while cautioning the U.S. that it can’t keep said status if its runs away “from the reality of the global economy.”

And, as noted, she’s not above owning up to her own failings. When the Los Angeles Times showed she had failed to vote in most elections, Fiorina responded: “I’m a lifelong registered Republican but I haven’t always voted, and I will provide no excuse for it. You know, people die for the right to vote. And there are many, many Californians and Americans who exercise that civic duty on a regular basis. I didn’t. Shame on me.”

Certainly this 2005 Fiorina quote suggests a Lincolnesque job-readiness for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: The worst thing I could have imagined happened. I lost my job in the most public way possible, and the press had a field day with it all over the world. And guess what? I’m still here. I am at peace and my soul is intact.

Which brings me to another strong soul and the ideal 2016 running mate—Ohio’s own John Kasich. A heartbeat away from the Presidency, Kasich would have the big heart, and the good head, to take on the challenges of this proposed constitutional partnership.

As politically savvy Buckeyes know, the former Greater Pittsburger has been a public actor in Ohio since his days working with State Senator Buz Lukens in the ‘70s. Kasich can boast eight turns in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected Ohio’s governor in 2010 and re-elected four years later, handily defeating Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald the second time around.

Kasich, now 63, has drawn a salary in the private sector as well, having worked with broadcasting’s Fox Corporation and with investment banking’s Lehman Brothers as a managing director. Like Fiorina, Ohio’s guv is no stranger to difficulty, criticism and failure. He’s also a tough-minded reformer.

Kasich, who has been on the fringe of presidential politics over the years, is considered an independent, policy-first thinker who aims for results and not just PC kudos. Criticized for a mostly male cabinet some years ago, Kasich responded this way: I don’t look at things from the standpoint of any of these sorts of metrics that people tend to focus on, race or age, or any of those things. It’s not the way I look at things… I want the best possible team I can get.

This former history student considers that last quote and says, “Move over, Mr. Biden: make way for a guy who’ll always be ready for governing.” So do a lot of other Americans, I suspect. Combine Kasich’s executive thinking with Fiorina’s well-spoken customer-first philosophy and America is looking at as capable a 2016 presidential ticket as any primetime pundit promotes in the evening. Just a bit better.

Awhile back in this corner, I quoted a fellow named Twain who had shrewdly observed that the nation and its ingenious republican system is far more important than any candidate who tells us that he or she can improve on the machinery that Washington, Madison and Hamilton put in motion. “No country,” old Mark warned in 1873, “can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law, and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.”

As I carefully put away Occam’s razor for use another day, I tell myself that it would be great to elect a woman President.

The right one, of course.

 

J.F. McKenna, a former resident of Cleveland’s West Park, has worked as a reporter, business editor and communication specialist. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. His online work also appears on the site Steinbeck Now. The Cleveland native and his wife, Lady Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .