Vanity in History

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.  Abraham Lincoln

By Doug Magill


I recently watched the movie Lincoln, and was impressed at its historical accuracy, as well as the incredible talent of the actors involved, particularly of Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln.  I was also struck by the gritty portrayals of the members of the House of Representatives: venal, vain, sometimes obtuse but very human.  Certainly not unlike today.  And, I suspect the movie got the backroom dealing and compromising right.  Democracy isn’t pretty, and passing legislation is a complex process done by fallible people.

I thought of this in light of the recent media explosion over a tape of Donald Trump expressing some rather vulgar and demeaning thoughts about women.  I don’t recall as much crocodile-tear outrage over a man’s words since the early days of the “feminist revolution” and the lame attempts and angst by the nerdy guys trying to get laid with their militant girlfriends.  Usually it was about something the athletes or fraternity guys did or said.

That said, Trump certainly didn’t add anything dignified to the presidential contest, did he?  One has to suspect that as marriage historically has been the method for gentling and dealing with the baser instincts of men, that his wife and daughters will clarify for him what is acceptable to say in public about women.

Knowing the media, it is not surprising that they will try to make as much out of this as they can.  Long ago having lost credibility and any pretense to integrity, it is their secret-society sworn duty to bring Trump down.  Our narcissistic millennials are easily influenced by this goal, thinking that this is something new and are eager to impress their self-absorbed peer group of their compassion and concern.  Most people who dislike Trump will be reinforced, but those who support him will be unfazed.  Alas, for those who truly wish to get perspective, the road ahead is difficult.

Ah history, thy appeal is difficult to discern.

We have certainly had large egos in the Presidency, and the quality of presidential language has not always been Catholic-school approved – along with their less-than-saintly actions.  Kennedy turned the White House into the Play House for his frequent frolics, as did one William Jefferson Clinton.   President  Johnson was more than well known for his earthy expressions as is Senator McCain.  Who can forget the disgusting and x-rated antics of Senator Edward Kennedy and Chris Dodd – the least desired guests in a jaded Washington?

One of the most foul-mouthed offenders, according to those who know her well, is Hillary Clinton.

One has to remind our younger and uninformed progeny about the impeachment of then-President Clinton.  Eleven counts, including lying to a grand jury.  Disbarment and fines.  All because of romping with an intern – an intern! – in the White House.  Yet at that time the media described it all as just sex, personal and not relevant.  The special prosecutor was viciously attacked as being a pervert for even investigating.  How far we have come.

Still, the question to be asked is, which will harm America more, Trump’s stream-of-consciousness invective in the past, or the actions of a ruthless and avaricious Hillary Clinton whose stated objectives are to overturn the Bill of Rights and cause enormous damage to the American experiment?

One has to be shocked, saddened and dismayed at the would-be president’s capacity for mendacity, even under trivial circumstances.  The most chilling  is where her actions have directly lead to personal destruction and even to the deaths of others.  The mother of Sean Smith plaintively asks what happened to her son, while Democrats cavalierly walk out of the Congressional hearing where she was testifying:

Hillary abandoned him to die at Benghazi and lied about it to his mother’s face, and later tried to call her a liar.  Patricia Smith is still waiting for an answer.

This is Hillary’s character, and her history.  At 27 years old and as a staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee she was fired by lifelong Democrat Jerry Zeifman.  When queried as to why, he stated “Because she was a liar.  She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer.  She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the Committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

Throughout her career there are innumerable examples of her dishonesty.  From Whitewater to her role in enabling her husband’s transgressions to Travelgate and the destruction of Billy Dale and his staff (see Peggy Noonan’s reminder of Hillary’s responsibility, lying, and evasion: to Benghazi to her server to her compromising national security with her emails and the corruption of the Clinton Foundation the constant is her complete and absolute willful perversion of the truth for her own benefit.

Recently, Secret Service Officer Gerry Byrne called her a “complete pathological liar”:

Beyond that there is the enormous disconnect between her words, her actions and her desires should she obtain office.  Her empire games in Libya have resulted in countless deaths, her complicity in the withdrawal from Iraq has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands and her disdain for Africa has resulted in multiple atrocities.  To say nothing of what the rise of radical Islam has meant to women.

Her lack of support for DC vouchers, her unholy ties to teachers’ unions and the resulting condemnation of poor minorities to third-world schools, her alliance with anti-police  forces leading to rising crime rates in already desperate inner-city communities all lead to a destructive and anti-human set of policy prescriptions that would be disastrous for our country.  Her desire to treat abortion as an unalloyed social good will lead to the death of millions of more babies, and ultimately to further erosion in human dignity as we creep ever-closer to euthanasia and the forced termination of services under government-controlled health care.

It is understandable that there is hesitation to support Trump because of his free-form verbal onslaughts.  Yet, to an America sick of mendacity and corruption one is reminded of Abraham Lincoln, in responding to criticisms of General U.S. Grant and his occasional forays into excess alcohol, “I can’t spare this man – he fights.”

People back Trump because he fights.

Doug Magill is the Communications Director for the Cuyahoga County Republican Party.  He is also a councilman for the city of Solon, a communications consultant, voice-over talent and freelance writer.



The Debate Is Over: America Celebrates a Platinum Exec

By J.F. McKenna

To this day Britain cherishes its Iron Lady, the tough-talking, tougher-acting former PM Margaret Thatcher. Now we can send our counterpart, America’s Platinum Executive, to the White House.

That is, if we’re smart enough as a nation to elect her.

(Just in case you’re thinking I’m writing about Hilary Whatshername, please leave the site immediately. CBR has a closely administered IQ minimum for readers.)

With the digital housekeeping rules executed, let’s get back to Carly Fiorina, and to her exceptional performance at that sometimes chaotic CNN presidential debate. All totaled, hers was a 13-minute performance marked by facts, honesty, clarity and toughness.

No surprise, though, given the source. Here’s a bit of what I wrote about Carly from this corner back in March— :

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. ”

These days, the Platinum Exec’s soul looks even stronger. Only days before the CNN debate at the Reagan Library, Carly had been asked about The Donald’s smarmy comment about her face. Her answer was that she didn’t “really care what Donald Trump thinks about my face.”

The question came up again at the debate, and Carly shut it down by saying that all American women had clearly heard the comment. Case closed.

On the far more serious issue of foreign affairs, she won my heart with her comment on her first planned day in the Oval Office. She’d call PM Bibi Netanyahu to say America has Israel’s back again and then call Iran’s leadership to employ a much-less-friendly tone about nuclear inspections.

Likewise, when the debate turned to the issue of abortion and federal law, the Platinum Exec donned her executive cloak on behalf of all America and spoke about “the character of our nation,” a phrase that has been misused as a thin and tasteless rhetorical topping as of late.

“I can win this job,” Carly said the day after the debate, “and I can do this job.”

As I wrote in March, I tell myself that it would be great to elect a woman president.  The right one, I said then. The Platinum Exec, I say now.

J.F. McKenna, a former resident of Cleveland’s West Park, has worked as a reporter, business editor, speech writer and communication specialist. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. The Cleveland native and his wife, Lady Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at .

The Lerner Phenomenon

By J.F. McKenna

Just in time for Independence Day 2014, Uncle Sam blazes a trail in the forest of bureaucratic apologia, a new and improved version of “The dog ate my homework, teacher.” Like most federal concoctions, this one is wildly egregious as well as potentially expansive, asking the citizen to swallow whole the equivalent of “The dog ate my homework, and then a bear ate my dog.”

And there’s no better site to perfect such a stress test on facts than the Internal Revenue Service, whose unofficial motto is borrowed from that master stretcher-teller Mark Twain, who once declared, “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.”

Twain, of course, was making a satirical point when he first uttered that bon mot. The IRS & Co.—in particular, former tax-lady Lois Lerner—is in dead earnest about official prevarication.

Allow me to quickly recap several earlier acts of the comic opera I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help. The IRS has been hip-deep in controversy over disputes about its scrutiny of political groups, especially tax-exempt organizations not in full concord with the current administration.

As the journalistically redoubtable Wall Street Journal recently summarized, “The former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations was at the center of the IRS targeting of conservative groups and still won’t testify before Congress.” OK, to be fair, let’s hear it for that constitutionally enshrined right against self-incrimination. Score one for civil liberties.

At the same time, though, consider Lerner’s overall rights-for-me-but-not-for-thee record, again as laid out by the WSJ in a recent lead editorial: As an IRS director, Lerner “shipped a database of 12,000 nonprofit tax returns to the FBI, the investigating agency for [the Department of] Justice’s Criminal Division. The IRS, in other words, was inviting Justice to engage in a fishing expedition, and inviting people not even not even licensed to fish in that pond.”

Obviously, emails between Uncle Sam’s agencies can fill in many a bureaucratic blank about this situation. Yet, as the Journal wrote, a year had passed before the IRS could locate Madame Lerner’s high-tech missives, which by then had attracted the scrutiny of a House Oversight Committee.

“The Oversight Committee had to subpoena Justice to obtain them, and it only knew to do that after it was tipped to the correspondence by discoveries from the judicial watchdog group Judicial Watch,” the newspaper reported. “Justice continues to drag its feet in offering up witnesses and documents. And now we have two years of emails that have simply vanished into the government ether.”

That’s right—confidential digital documents gone, followed by the announcement that other IRS offcials’ emails had vanished, followed by The White House’s saying that it had “found zero emails” related to Lerner, followed by the latest announcement that the former IRS official’s hard drive had been recycled. (Oh yeah, just for good measure, add in the latest discovery that the IRS cancelled its email-server contract after the reported crash three years ago.)

To borrow one more line from the WSJ, “Never underestimate government incompetence, but how convenient.” The only other dramatic touch this tale lacks is a voiceover from The Twilight Zone host Rod Serling—“For your consideration….”

Speaking of consideration, where does the tax-paying citizen factor into The Lerner Phenomenon, other than picking up the tab for the damages? And the damages will prove to be profound, especially in terms of the open exercise of individual rights.

As noted at the top, this Beltway farce unfolds even as we get ready to celebrate the nation’s independence. It might be worthwhile to re-examine two of the indictments the authors of our Declaration of Independence leveled against England’s king in 1776:

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.

Generations later, good old Mr. Twain improved on the Founding Fathers’ lyrics but kept the general tone of public dissatisfaction—and certainly anticipated our current dilemma as framed by The Lerner Phenomenon: “The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble.”

And that, most definitely, is the unvarnished truth.


J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a veteran business journalist and marketing-communications consultant. 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, Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at

Things Not Otherwise Noted: May Edition

By Doug Magill

There was a time when going to the airport was interesting, and farewells could be extended.  The massive bureaucratic overreach of the TSA has certainly put the fun in dysfunction and made traveling a chore.  But, the TSA was never about safety, it was another means to spend money on a government entity that could be unionized and lashed to Democrat bloat:

End the TSA


While Harry Reid wails at the Koch brothers, a very influential shadow group, the Democracy Alliance, finds ways to funnel millions to left wing groups and candidates to disguise their sources.  It is clear that labor unions and wealthy liberals want influence, they just don’t want it to be known.  And this doesn’t even include Tom Steyer who has broken the brazenness bank with $100 million for Democrats.

Confidential Documents at the Democracy Alliance Donor Conference


As global warming has morphed into global climate change, the power politics behind the increasingly shrill warnings and proclamations never discusses with probity the reality of what this massive wealth and control redistribution plan really means.

Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change


Even knowing that cap and trade and other socialistic schemes will have a destructive influence on the economy and society, government regulations already cause huge problems.

Regulations Take a $1.8 Trillion Bite Out of the Economy
The reality of Hollywood liberal hypocrisy is pretty much well known to all sentient beings in this country.  Still, it is especially disheartening when the depths of that dishonesty is revealed when money matters more than our country, or its energy independence.

Project Veritas Records Hollywood Liberals Willing to Sacrifice America


Speaking of Sharia, there are a number of other projects that should be revealed are financed by practitioners of that medieval and horrific code.

Other Hollywood Projects That Support Sharia


Our ever-gloomy president recently unveiled another in a long line of political attempts to find a way to make your money no longer something you’re entitled to use.  The third annual National Climate Assessment is the usual cut-and-paste collection of anecdotes and hysterical proclamations.  Problem is, it’s getting less and less believable.

Other Scientists Call White House Report Pseudoscience

Himalayan Glaciers Not Disappearing

Over 31,000 Scientists Claim Climate Change is Unsettled Science

Worried About Rising Sea Levels?  Do the Math

Antarctic Climate Change?  Well, Not So Much

Prominent Scientists Issue Pointed Rebuttal to White House Climate Claims


For the pollyannas who chant “solar energy, wind turbines” at mentions of climate change it should be mentioned that no one has, to date, come up with an economic case for wind turbines that makes any sense without massive government subsidies.

Why Wind Energy is Another Crony Capitalist Enterprise


Micahel Mann has now entered the ranks of the infamous with his “Hockey-Stick” graph of global warming based on data manipulation and logical leaps that Evel Knievel wouldn’t have attempted.  Still, when called out on his egregious errors and lack of honesty he thinks the American judicial system can help him where science cannot.  His attempts at recent lawsuits are another example of doubling down on dishonesty.

Michael Mann is a Liar and a Cheat


In other now-common news, the President has found it is becoming particularly convenient to ignore, circumvent and forget about laws that are inconvenient.  Ted Cruz reminds us how serious this is becoming.

76 Lawless Actions by Obama


Once one gets in the political payoff game, its can get complicated when two of your crony donor groups have opposite desires.  Figuring that green energy gets him more positive press than labor union support – besides, he doesn’t need to work to get the unions – Obama figures radical environmentalism trumps labor.  On top of the Keystone XL dithering, why not contradict the wage jihad political plan when there are big donations to be had?

Between a Labor Rock and a Solar Hard Place


One of the standard-issue stereotypes that gets liberals polemically-lathered is the tried and true “McCarthyism” chant.  Forgetting that most liberals don’t have a clue who McCarthy was, they certainly understand the idea of blacklisting.

The Left Embraces Blacklisting


Donald Sterling has now entered that descending pit of infamy reserved for the most egregious purveyors of the now worst-possible sin of racial prejudice.  While no one sympathizes with what he said, occasionally a few calmer heads recognize he does indeed have a right to say what he feels.  It is not often that one points to Bill Maher for common sense, but in this case he indeed understands it.

Our Emerging Liberal Dystopia



Doug Magill is a Communications Consultant, Freelance Writer and Voice-Over talent.  He also a Producer and Co-Host of a radio show on culture and entertainment called The Avenue.  He can be reached at


Let Us Review Recent Aprils, Fools

By J.F. McKenna

In April 2008 the presidential candidate declared that “This is your chance to say ‘Not this time.’ We have a choice….We can do what I did in Illinois, and in Washington, and bring both parties together to rein in their power so we can take our government back.

“We can be a party that says and does whatever it takes to win the next election. We can calculate and poll-test our positions and tell everyone exactly what they want to hear. Or we can be the party that doesn’t just focus on how to win but why we should….We can seek to regain not just an office, but the trust of the American people that their leaders in Washington will tell them the truth. That’s the choice in this election.”

April Fool!

That candidate won. Since then, spring has been a strictly meteorological event for America. If you don’t believe me, ask your spouse as he or she frowns at the weekly grocery receipts. Check with your co-worker—if you still have one, that is. Or get an arm’s length perspective from a worried digital “pen pal” living elsewhere on the globe. The land of tomorrow of which Emerson speaks looks more and more like a played-out territory:the once-sweet land of liberty that has allowed its distinctive flavor to fade.

Consider, for openers, the baseline rationale for establishing a national government in the first place—common security. Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan observed that this “most peaceful, least warlike nation in modern history” was not the cause of the world’s evils. “But for the sake of our freedom and that of others,” he added, “we cannot permit our reserve to be confused with lack of resolve.”

Today, lack of resolve casts America as a very minor character—most notably in the world stage-left, where Western Europe cautiously treads the boards opposite Mother Russia, a scene-stealer indulging her geo-political hot flashes. His own role as a former presidential rival notwithstanding, Mitt Romney regretfully reviews the situation this way: “It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of the failure, I submit, is due to…failure to act when action was possible, and needed. ”

April Fool!

The scorecard on America’s domestic agenda is not much of a keeper, either. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms, the number of citizens not working is greater now than when the Bush family turned over the house keys in 2009. Methinks, as do others, reliance on government bureaucracy and rule-making is no substitute for free enterprise in its truest sense.

“After recessions, employment used to bounce back quickly, but not this time,” writes John Stossel, author of No They Can’t! Why Government Fails but Individuals Succeed. “What employer wants to hire when doing so requires fighting incomprehensible complexity and risking punishment for violating some obscure rule? We should be afraid to build a serious business. Today’s laws are so complex even the lawyers don’t understand them. When government is big, we become smaller. When we’re trapped in the web of their rules, we don’t innovate….”

April Fool!

Which is a convenient segue for a brief observation or two about contemporary political sense in America. For the most part, like G.K. Chesterton’s Christianity, American political sense in 2014 has not been tried and found wanting—it just hasn’t been tried. At least for the most part. And certainly not when it concerns The Beltway.

That was amplified for me when I recently read a comment by Bernard Lewis in his latest book, Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian. Reflecting on Americans’ proclivity toward easy answers, the great British-born scholar recalled this observation during his first visit to America: “I often thought of Adlai Stevenson’s remark that for the Americans every question must have an answer and every story a happy ending. I would add a gloss however: the answer must be a simple one, and the story must have a hero and a villain.”

You know the drill by now—April Fool!

As James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, if men were angels government would not be necessary. He never bothered to extensively address the issue of mortal fools in our contemporary Republic. For that I point you in the direction of any elementary schoolyard, where you can regularly hear Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

Not that it is much consolation in the short term—but there is one constitutionally enshrined limit to federal-level fooling. Think of it as protecting ourselves from ourselves.

It’s called the 22nd Amendment.

J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a veteran business journalist and marketing-communications consultant. 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. A native of Cleveland, he and his wife, Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at .

Things Not Otherwise Noted: September Edition

By Doug Magill

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.  Ayn Rand


Having built a monstrous batisse of government mandates and perverse incentives coupled with a gross misunderstanding of human nature and incentives, the Democrat party refuses to compromise on any portion of Obamacare.  Even though our President in a rather extra-constitutional fashion has suspended portions of it, granted waivers not to be found in the law anywhere, and pandered to the new ruling class of government workers by providing subsidies also not found in the law.

So, using the impending problem of raising our debt ceiling (which our memory-deprived President railed against while a senator), we now find ourselves at a budgetary impasse.  So?

It is news to most Americans who have been short-changed on their understanding of history (now who benefits from that?) that budget crises and government shutdowns are neither new nor particularly bothersome.  This current event is the 18th shutdown since 1976.  I can hear all of the ideology-blinded liberals whining that this is different, but it really isn’t.  The rhetoric is more heated – particularly from those same self-righteous liberals – because the media allows it, but the causes and effects are pretty much the same.  And, the results will be too.

The big surprise is that we haven’t had a shutdown in the last twenty years or so.  According to Andrew Stiles “At this point in Ronald Reagan’s second term, for example, the government had already shut down six times, for a total of twelve days, as a result of failed budget negotiations between the White House, a Republican Senate, and House Democrats under the leadership of Tip O’Nell (D., Mass) precisely the opposite of the dynamics that exist today. “

Guess who worked under Tip O’Neill and forgot all about this?  None other than Chris Matthews, the resident TV blabbermouth who hasn’t stopped talking to learn anything new since he first went on the air.

The avuncular O’Neill, who could play hardball politics with the best of them, managed to be involved in twelve different government shutdowns, five with Jimmy Carter, and seven under Reagan.  So, Big Daddy Tip was involved in two-thirds of government shutdowns since the current budgeting methodology has been in place.

I don’t recall anyone ever calling O’Neill a “terrorist”, or accusing him of waging “jihad” against the American people.

Ignorance is incendiary when it involves politics.

Who remembers that under Carter the government shut down because of disagreements between the House and the Senate, even though both were controlled by Democrats?  C’est ridicule!  But, of course the media doesn’t remember, or remind us of these things.

Obamacare is deeply unpopular, clearly flawed, and is the only entitlement program ever passed entirely on partisan lines with lots of backroom political bribes and in the dead of night using parliamentary trickery.  Study after study has shown it will cost a lot more than advertised, will not cure the problem of uninsured citizens, will have devastating effects on our health care system, and has already created huge disincentives for business growth and development.  Rational minds would consider fixing some of these things.  Democrats say no.

And Republicans are accused of intransigence.

We know, however, that the real goal is not Obamacare.  The liberal crusade is for total government control of health care, and this step in that direction is not to be given up.  Like so many things in the totalitarian temptation that drives liberals, efficiency and effectiveness are not to be considered when the possibility of total control can be grasped.  Those who study history have seen this before.


The impecunious Davy Crockett, an American hero, had a better picture of the role of government than those overheated windbags that occupy his place in the House of Representatives.

Davy Crockett and the Government Shutdown


It was an idea that only a liberal would love.  Let’s make a documentary (really hagiography) about Hillary Clinton in time for the 2016 elections!  Once CNN announced its plans, NBC jumped in with an idea for a mini-series with Dianne Lane as Hillary (one wonders if her role in Unfaithful was considered good background).   Producer Charles Ferguson has dropped plans for his project, and NBC has subsequently decided they weren’t interested.  Ferguson blames Media Matters, both political parties, and especially the Clintons for the insurmountable difficulties he faced.  Interestingly enough he describes a meeting with Bill Clinton where “he proceeded to tell me the most amazing lies I’ve heard in quite a while.”

CNN’s Hillary Documentary Canned


The abortion controversy is debated in ways that conceal the truth, and history.  We know that the founder of what is now Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, believed in eugenics.  We also know that Roe v. Wade was a textbook example of judicial overreach – liberal judges and attorneys acknowledge this.  That Supreme Court decision was the result of a clear strategy by its proponents to overrule elective politics through the courts because of the consistent unwillingness of the American people to allow unlimited abortions on demand.  We are discovering that a fetus can feel long before we ever imagined it could, while medical science allows babies to be saved astonishingly early before full term.  Yet, these things are clouded by the media’s focus on the perceived needs of the mother, without really ever focusing on what effect abortion has on society, and individuals.   There has been astonishingly little exposure given to the men that supported abortion on demand, and what it means in their lives.

What Men Choose With Choice


The media also gives scant coverage to organizations that have been outraged by the mandates issued by HHS in regards to contraception.  And, effectively abortion on demand.  Pundits blithely mention religious exemptions and never mention details, or effects.  Hobby Lobby, a Christian organization, won a resounding victory against the HHS regulations in Federal Court.  There has been very little explanation of why this victory is important.  Other organizations that are religious in nature have also been affected, and have had to fight – even though it does not suit their nature, or their image.

The Fight For Religious Freedom by The Little Sisters of the Poor


Catholics rightly wonder why does this conclusion not seem obvious?

Nancy Pelosi Should Be Denied Communion


Unions have been vocal in their criticism of Obamacare.  The AFL-CIO convention a few weeks ago was prepared to issue a strong condemnation of the health insurance legislation, but Obama personally intervened to block the statement.  We don’t know what accommodation the President will reach with the unions, but we know that they feel betrayed.

SEIU On Strike Over Obamacare


Seymour Hersh is a liberal author who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.  He is not a fan of conservatives, and the feeling is mutual.  Yet, he is disgusted at the state of the media in this country, explaining that 90% of editors should be fired as the only way to fix journalism.

Seymour Hersh Slams US Media


Baseline Budgeting is a horror that keeps on returning, annually in fact.  Every government agency, department, and office knows that if you don’t spend the money you are allocated you will lose it in next year’s budget.  That way, every year your budget will go up.  And, what the heck, it’s someone else’s so spend it on whatever seems desirable at the time.  Though the noise has died down about outrageous government jaunts and conferences, the problem is real, and growing.  Nearly 60% of the federal budget is spent in the fourth quarter of the budget year.  And since it ends at the end of September all kinds of spending is flowing out of the scuppers of the bureaucracy.

What Budget Crisis?  The Government Keeps Spending.


Though NASA has strayed far from its original mission, there are a lot of companies that are interested in the commercial potential of spaceflight.  The administration has funded a number of efforts to assist in this, and last Sunday Orbital Sciences became the second company to successfully send a resupply mission to the International Space Station.  Today, these companies are funded by the government, so while they still represent government programs they are undoubtedly vastly more efficient than anything NASA could accomplish these days.  Elon Musk – founder of SpaceX – has found that rockets and cars can do very nicely on government subsidies.  Still, it does move us closer to the commercialization of space.

Super Sunday for Commercial Spaceflight.


I know we all wish we could go back to college at times.  And why not?  Brown University has certainly found another good way to entice students to attend class.

Bet This Is Not An Outdoor Class at Brown.


While the editorial comments write themselves, it is intriguing to attempt to understand the culture of our Saudi allies.

Saudi News: Driving Damages Ovaries.


You knew someone had to figure it out.  And why not MIT and Harvard, whose students probably dearly hope that they can find something to use to break up the tedium of droning liberal professors?

Yep, The Lightsaber Is Real.


Doug Magill is a freelance writer and voice-over talent and also co-hosts The Avenue, a radio show dedicated to culture and entertainment.  As a cancer survivor he has a number of concerns with the health insurance law misnamed the Affordable Care Act.  He can be reached at


What Happened to My Son?

The anguish of the mother of Sean Smith meets the “compassion” of Democrats who walk out of a congressional hearing rather than listen to her, and pursue the truth.

Congressional Democrats Walk Out of Hearing Before Testimony

Our Gelded Age

By J.F. McKenna

Mark Twain remains the nation’s foremost social critic, even now tearing apart our 21st century devotion to the wrongheaded if not half-assed notions upon which he first poured satire and vitriol more than a century ago. He skewered simple personal vanity and railed against the horrors of economic slavery. Likewise, Sam Clemens made it his crusade to expose every blatherskite and poseur as part of the scouting party for mankind’s unwitting trip to hell. He knew the ranks of those scouts were deep and certain to outlast his mortal efforts to rid them from the territory.

“By the Law of Periodical Repetition,” Twain once warned, “everything which has happened once must happen again.”

Were he able to review today’s Internet, Huckleberry Finn’s father might certainly be impressed with the speed of news delivery, but not with the familiar content. Especially when it comes to man the political animal, whose smart phone and instant messaging can’t disguise the hoary perversions and pettifogging of venal politicking, be it government’s bending of personal privacy or the disruption caused by such social engineering as Obamacare. “Pretty old fare,” Twain would conclude. “Charles Dudley Warner and I plowed over much of that ground back in 1873, when we collaborated on The Gilded Age.”

Twain and Warner’s 63-chapter political novel doesn’t rank particular high in the canon of most Twain buffs. Outside of the graduate-level venue, in fact, the last time I heard of anyone teaching it was in 1972, at old St. John College in downtown Cleveland. The work has been relegated to noted but not very notable. That said, The Gilded Age deserves more than just a passing acknowledgement 140 years later.

Twain’s first novel, albeit a 50-50 effort with Warner, provided the Post-Civil War era with a spot-on label. “The novel skewers government and politicians, big business and America’s obsession with getting rich,” writes R. Kent Rassmussen in Mark Twain A to Z. “The novel specifically deals with hypocritical politicians, vote-buying, conflicts of interest, court corruption and the jury system.” And Milton Meltzer, in his Mark Twain Himself, declares The Gilded Age “the only contemporary novel to attack the fevered speculation and expose the political muck of its day. The lobbyists, the Wall Street financiers, Washington’s political hacks, the boom towns of the West, the railroad builders, the vulgar new aristocracy of wealth, ‘the great putty-hearted public’ that tolerated the plunder—all fall beneath the axe Twain had been sharpening since…1867 when he had watched Capitol Hill in action.”

That summary handily mimics the news budget on Yahoo’s home page, doesn’t it? The Gilded Age employed A Tale of To-Day as its subtitle. Concoct an updated version of the novel and you don’t even have to alter the secondary appellation outside of losing that quaint hyphen.

But I would revise the main title itself. Much more accurate for the 2013 successor to the original text is The Gelded Age.  After all, our contemporary political corruption and citizen indifference have left the country in a castrated state.

The facts back that up. American foreign embassies are closed en masse in the face of increasing jihadist activity. The Russian bear, as The Wall Street Journal reports, thumbs its furry nose at us over the Snowden affair. The Affordable Care Act looks more every day like the Single-Payer Debacle. Nearly three-quarters of the citizenry believes that government surveillance of phone and Internet data is used for purposes other than fighting terrorists. Politically induced fiscal implosions threaten once-great Midwestern cities. And mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner resets the parameters of personal shame for a new generation of public servants.

In his celebrated biography Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, Justin Kaplan notes that The Gilded Age is “a novel of reaction and despair. Even the naivest of its characters, Washington Hawkins, finally experiences the shock of futility: ‘The country is a fool.’” Sad to say, I’ve heard echoes of Hawkins’ lament along the highways and byways more than once this year.

Mark Twain, Kaplan insists, nonetheless leveraged much good out of his book-length cynicism. He used his novel as practice to give the world such classic works as Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi. To be sure, Kaplan writes, Twain transformed his Gilded Age pessimism into “a somber and cautious affirmation of democracy itself.”

As noted from this corner before, Twain rendered one outstanding observation in The Gilded Age: “No country 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.”

In this gelded age of ours, with no other Twains in sight, we might keep that advice close for ready reference. You’ll find it in Chapter 39.


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, possibly the smallest literary gathering east of Pittsburgh.  Reach him at or through his LinkedIn profile: Jos. F. McKenna.

Things Not Otherwise Noted: June Edition

By Doug Magill

This is a mournful discovery.
1)Those who agree with you are insane
2)Those who do not agree with you are in power

Philip K. Dick


A talented writer of clairvoyance and power, Philip K. Dick often wrote about monopolistic corporations and authoritarian governments.  Many of his characters discover that their world is not as they had believed, and is constructed and controlled by political conspiracies.  His dark themes and fear-based calls to action resulted in such films as Blade Runner, Total Recall, and The Adjustment Bureau.

Although he died at age 53 in 1982, one could imagine the creative fervor with which he would be struck at our current political and cultural firestorm.  Indeed, he might feel his works were not dark enough to encompass the potential for harassment, control, and even evil that now clouds our republic.

The clever attempt at disengagement with which Lois Lerner slipped the news to a somnolent media that Tea Party groups had been targeted by the IRS is a classic case of Friday news fogging that this administration utilizes so well.  Release bad news at the end of the week and expect that the compliant friends in the press will spin it into innocuity by the beginning of the next.

Even now panting liberal hacks are attempting to spin this crisis into “it wasn’t really that bad” and “well, it was sort of done to other people too” kinds of inanities that one weeps for the clarity of a real journalist.  Make no mistake, there are a few that see the danger and the incredible damage that can be caused by this abuse of power, but what passes for mainstream media blinks and moves on.

One searches in vain for a historian that understands how far we have come down the road to authoritarian diminishment of individual freedom.  When the income tax was first passed it was claimed it was for the rich only, and that it would never be a rate that would be burdensome.  Similarly when Social Security was passed the claim was that it would help only the really old and destitute and that its hallmark of identity – everyone’s Social Security number – would never be used for universal identification.

Yesterday’s paranoia is becomes more widely accepted as an inconvenience and then a slowly-dawning horror at an ever-encroaching wave of government control.

Up until recently the IRS was to be feared but the expectation was that it was professional and objective.  We now wake up to the fact that it is a political tool for a vindictive administration, and the extant means of personal destruction should we profess the wrong opinions or not be correctly aligned politically.  That pathway has already begun to be blazed.  With the linkage to Obamacare the invasion of our privacy will be deep and penetrating, and will indeed lead to ever more pervasive and intrusive questions and categorizations of things unrelated to medical care or income.

And now we find that the IRS is unionized with a leadership that contributes overwhelmingly to Democrats.  Two of its top officials have taken the Fifth Amendment and cannot be fired without a long and expensive process.  And their pensions – at a level that you and I will never be able to see – are guaranteed regardless of wrongdoing.

One doesn’t have to be paranoid to know that this does not bode well for those of us that pay the salaries of these imperious and arrogant mandarins of an ever more voracious government.

Philip K. Dick knew the increasing need of government to control and dictate, and that the administrative class would become an empire unto itself.  We were warned.

The rot of political harassment certainly pervades the EPA as well.  Conservative groups have now found that it uses political criteria in its selective enforcement:

EPA Waives Fees For Left-Wing Groups

One of the liberal heartthrob intentions of Obamacre was to tax healthy and more well-off workers to pay for insurance for low-income Americans.  Like everything else the government is involved in, intentions do not match the reality of what will really happen:

Obamacare Not Really Affordable For Low-Wage Workers

The Democrat Party has for decades been the real party of the rich and the back-room deal.  We keep finding more and more ways that Obamacare helped Democrat supporters and donors and secretly enhance the party.  Never one to pass on an opportunity to help himself and his rich friends, John Kerry finds a way to have Obamacare work for him:

John Kerry’s Back Room Obamacare Deal

Businesses are scrambling to understand and adapt to Obamacare.  The people that get hurt the most?  Workers that have to pay more in premiums and are having their hours cut to help employers save on an unknown amount of increased costs.

Businesses Scramble As Obamacare Train Wreck Chugs Forward

At one time the Federal Registry was inconsequential, as Congress believed in its duty to write laws that were clear and enforceable.  Congress now writes laws that are little more than statements of intent and the bureaucracy issues regulations causing the Registry to explode and we are ever more minutely-controlled in our lives.  And the cost to our economy is enormous:

The Regulated States of America

Of course the regulatory burden of Obamacare will fall most heavily on those who it was purported to help:

The Regulatory Burdens of Obamacare on the Poor

Jonah Goldberg issues a challenge to all of the dewy-eyed supporters of Obama who never asked any intelligent questions about who the candidate was or what he stands for.  Let’s see them pay up for the “hope and change” in Obamacare:

Pay Up Obama Supporters

The logical consequences of affirmative action?

White People Should Be Excluded From the Democratic Process

If you can’t sell a dumb idea, change the rules to pretend it makes sense.  Anyone familiar with the “social cost” of carbon?  Get used to it as the EPA changes its definition to implement an ideology that is anathema to our country.

The Social Cost of Carbon Gambit

Those in this now-imperious government who threaten the freedom of us all would do well to remember this week in our history, 150 years ago when 51,000 men died for the wispy, formless, yet awesomely-powerful concept of freedom at Gettysburg.

Echoes From Gettysburg

Doug Magill is a freelance writer and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at

Things Not Otherwise Noted: May Edition

By Doug Magill

We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.  Carl Bernstein

Karen Carter Peterson is the head of the Louisiana Democrat Party and a State Senator (D – New Orleans).  She took to the floor of the Louisiana State Senate and claimed that opposition to Obamacare is “….about the race of this African-American president.”  Not only is her statement appalling on its face, it is a sign of the moral bankruptcy of the Democrat party.  Dennis Prager theorizes that there are only two – equally bad – possible explanations.

Do they really believe this?

One wonders what the Jesuits are thinking when they hire people such as Michael Eric Dyson as a professor at Georgetown.  As the incident with Ann Coulter revealed at Fordham last fall, the religious order of our new pope is less tolerant of conservative views than incomprehensible ignorance from liberals.  Filmmaker Glenn R. Towery blasted Dyson for recent comments on the fantasized history of the movie Django Unchained, saying “…I witnessed a man with a PH.D. make one of the most asinine statements you may ever hear from the lips of a well-educated man.”  Seemingly desirous of achieving a world-class award for ignorance of the Constitution, our government and the Bible, Dyson recently commented on MSNBC that Attorney General Eric Holder is “…the chief law-giver of the United States of America,” and “…the Moses of our time.”

Michael Eric Dyson misinterprets the Bible.

There has been so much discussion about increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the supposed connection to global warming that the basic biological science concerning this essential chemical compound has been overlooked.  A rocket scientist and a physicist explain why we may, in fact, do not have enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and why more may be better.

Why we need more carbon dioxide.

The President has often spoken in support of electric vehicles, and a number of manufacturers have come out with models in recent product cycles.  They have been a tough sell, and most people view them with suspicion as they do not fit the multi-purpose needs of most consumers.  And, what is not discussed is their overall deleterious effect upon the environment, in contrast to the image that celebrity environmentalists would have you believe.

The dirty secret of electric vehicles.

One of the most egregious examples of Department of Energy money wasted on dubious green energy schemes in the electric automobile field is Fisker Automotive.  You remember, the electric car company whose $100,000 cars couldn’t even get past the initial test drive at Consumer Reports and which had an unfortunate tendency to catch fire?  The one where the company bought an abandoned GM plant in Joe Biden’s home state to build cars that ended up being manufactured in Finland despite Biden’s claim that the company would create “Billions and billions of dollars in new jobs.”

At least Fisker cars didn’t spontaneously catch fire, oh wait….

Many Americans and a number of congressional supporters believed Obamacare was ultimately a good thing because it would provide a way to force (not assist, mind you) coverage onto those unable to otherwise have insurance.  And, of its many jury-rigged and complex provisions the requirement that the young and healthy effectively support the old and uninsured was always a questionable tactic, and certainly problematic concerning those not otherwise in need of health insurance.  Knowing a number of young people that do not carry health insurance today because of its cost, it is a virtual certainty they will not do so in the future because of the incredible increases in premiums due to the mandates of the law.  Which, will throw the whole thing out of whack and create a much bigger problem than we ever would have had if we had done nothing.

Uninsured Americans may not decide to use Obamacare.

Most people do not remember the intricacies of the scandals related to the era of the robber barons.  They just think it was related to a bunch of capitalists that were greedy and had to be reined in by the government.  Those, however, who study history remember that the main problem was the corruption endemic to the involvement of the government in loans and grants.  Usually where there are big scandals, the government is either actively involved or encouraging investment for political reasons that would not otherwise be supported by the market.  People without a knowledge of history get caught up in these things and think there is something new to be learned, while the government never remembers and is happy to engage in the same complex and corrupt schemes that it always has.  The California high-speed rail project is just the latest in a never-ending stream of wasted money and backroom dealings.

Corruption in the California high-speed rail project.

The moral case for Obamacare was the expansion of Medicaid to cover more poor and uninsured patients.  Like almost everything that the government gets involved in, it will take the worst possible action, exacerbate the problem, and create a bigger crisis which the government will have to solve.  The underlying assumption of Obamacare was that increased access to health insurance would lead to better health outcomes.  The New England Journal of Medicine performed a study that blasts this assumption, and calls into question not only the rationale of the program but its long term effects on the problem it was originally intended to solve.

New Study shows Medicaid has no effect on health outcomes.

Obama’s budgets are sometimes creative works of otherworldly thinking.  In fact, his recent submissions have set records for how few members of Congress voted for them.  The last two budgets received zero – that’s right, zero – votes in three different floor votes in Congress, including members of his own party.  One would think he might learn something from such massive rejection.  Nope.  The 2013 version includes new spending, new taxes, and maybe sort of balances by 2055.  No one in Congress believes anything in it.  One has to feel sorry for the poor accountants who have to put these things together year after year knowing they will get more laughs than the total of all night-time TV comedians over the last half-century.  Even worse, the 2013 budget contains a strange, and frankly ominous proposal.  It has stringent caps on deferred tax-savings in IRA’s and 401k’s, which is also half the amount than you-know-who is planning on getting himself.

Obama budget caps retirement income – except for him.

The South is dramatically transforming.  For the first time since Reconstruction there will be a black Republican in the Louisiana State Senate.   Formerly Democrat Sen. Elbert Guillory is becoming a Republican because of his disenchantment with a party that he believes has moved away from the values of the majority of Americans.

Sen. Elbert Guillory blasts Democrats and becomes Republican.

Doug Magill is a freelance writer and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at