Intellectuals Need Not Apply

By J.F. McKenna

Dwight D. Eisenhower once called the intellectual a man who “takes more words than is necessary to tell more than he knows.” The wise people of this nation know that today just as sure as their parents and grandparents knew that in the1950’s.

Myself, I was a mere tadpole in 1954. But my family was wary of showoffs who “used more words than necessary.” That was what I inherited from my mother, father, and the rest of the family. Tell people what you know—then shut up. Even though everybody was a Democrat in those days, they liked Ike, as did a hell of a lot of the nation. Not merely tested by World War II, he was a big factor in winning it.

Back in 1954, when he gave a speech on the Cleveland municipal tarmac in October, leadership was all demonstration. No rhetoric was involved.

“Two years ago,” said Eisenhower, the retired five-star general and supreme commander, “we voted for a very great change. And I think it would be well to take just a few moments to recall to ourselves what was the change we wanted.

“First, we wanted clean Government. We were tired of hearing the word ‘Communist’ every time it was mentioned being called a red herring. We were tired of scandals in the Internal Revenue department, and other places of Government. We wanted clean Government.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there has been no single appointee of this administration who has been confirmed by the Senate who has later been charged with any kind of wrongdoing, dismissed from the service, or indicted. They have a record of spotless integrity in your service.

“Throughout the Government, from top to bottom, there has been applied a security program, a security program that is tough and thorough, but is absolutely fair. No man can say that his civil rights have been unjustly damaged through the operation of that security program.

“And then we wanted prosperity. And we wanted prosperity in a world at peace. We wanted an end to the Korean war. The Korean war, with its futile casualty lists and loss of Americans, has been ended. And following that war, measures were instantly instituted to see that this country should pass from war production to peace production without the terrifying depressions that have always characterized such transitions in the past. This has been done.

“First we started out and we removed controls from the economy. Do you remember when we said we were going to take off price controls? And the prophets of gloom stated-they said that prices would go out of sight, that food prices, clothing prices, rents, would be impossible for the average citizen? We proved they were wrong.

“The money policies of the Government have been adjusted to our needs,” continued Ike. There has been a vast extension of the social security system, for old age pensions, for unemployment insurance. A housing program has been established that makes certain that every American can have a good home.”

The new President reminds me of Ike. What do you think?

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 dogs, Lord Max and Prince Teddy. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

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Following the Same Old Timetables

by J.F. McKenna

The other day I mentioned to my father-in-law that the general advancements in advertising—the speed of delivery in particular—haven’t done much to improve advertising in general, much to my regret and others. I myself have engaged in advertising at times, and I figured I’d find a sympathetic ear with dear old dad. I did. He chimed in with, “Yeah, Joe, advertising is instantly worldwide now, but it doesn’t sell any better than it did 40, 50, or 60 years ago.”

That got me to thinking about Daniel Joseph Boorstin and some of his historical scholarship from 40-plus years past. In 1975 I was a newly minted Kent State graduate, with a newspaper job in Cleveland to go along with my journalism major and a history minor. Boorstin himself was a well-established historian and a 1974 Pulitzer winner for his latest book. Moreover, Boorstin was a grand critic of advertising from as early as 17th century England: “Never was there a more outrageous or more unscrupulous or more ill-informed advertising campaign than that by which the promoters for the American colonies brought settlers here.”

With a distinguished pedigree that included Harvard, Oxford, and Yale, Boorstin was named the 12th Librarian of Congress in 1975 and served in that role until 1987; he died in 2004 but lives on in his books and other writing—not just about advertising but about history, canned food, and air conditioning.

As newsman Wayne Green wrote almost three years ago, “Boorstin came to believe that the central features of American history were to be found in what the nation agreed on, not what was fought over. There were disagreements in American history, as Boorstin saw it, but they were within a narrower range than we see in Europe (no royalists, no real socialists) because there is a greater reserve of mutual assumptions in the American experience. This made him a leading light in the so-called Consensus School of history writing and put him in contrast to the Progressives of an earlier era–Fredrick Jackson Turner, Charles Beard, and Vernon Parrington.”

Green also noted: “Rather than looking for revolutionary changes, Boorstin emphasized the continuities of American history. Boorstin was distrustful of doctrinaire thinking. As an undergraduate he toyed with Communism and eventually rejected it soundly. In his histories, he minimalized the role of thinkers, and emphasized the role of problem-solvers. Boorstin was conservative in his politics and his approach to culture. He had disdain for canon-bursting ideas, such as minority study programs. He was a capitalist. He was repulsed by the vulgarities of American life and advertising.”

In his Timetables of History, published in 1975, Boorstin wrote about how the “historian’s neat categories parse experience in ways never found among living people. For people in the past, just as for us, experience has had no academic neatness.” For instance, the Declaration of Independence was issued in the same year as Gibbon’sDecline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. And to facts like that, Boorstin warns, “We must therefore be wary of assuming that because different events occurred in the same year they were known to contemporaries at the same time.”

The flood—a deluge today, actually—“of confused contemporaneity has itself become a dominant and bewildering feature of life in our time,” adds Boorstin.

If you don’t believe him, just watch five minutes of advertising on TV or the Web.

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 Papillions, Lord Max and Prince Teddy. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

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 .

 

Bloviating Is So Last Year

“Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” – James C. Humes

Jamie Humes should know. He has written for Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. Frankly, no matter what you think about that list itself, each man on it was certainly auditioning for leadership at a particular moment—and certainly auditioning for Clio’s approval at that moment and moments to come.

As writer, historian, and public speaker Humes opens his 2002 book, Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln, “Leadership is selling. And selling is talking.” To repeat myself, he should know. And many ghostwriters, myself included, appreciate Humes’ sharing of the 21 powerful secrets of history greatest speakers.

I also appreciate the vignettes Humes shared throughout the book—particularly one featuring the thoughts of The Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan. In the chapter titled Power Button, Humes relates a discussion with speechwriter Tony Dolan about Reagan’s aversion to bloviating.

Dolan shook his head, saying, “The governor doesn’t like that kind of thing. He thinks it sounds like Senator Claghorn.” (Claghorn was a comical windbag politician on the Fred Allen radio show in the 1940s.) And it’s true, if you lard your talks with phrases like “so, my fellow citizens,” or “and so, ladies and gentlemen,” you might sound like some state senator bloviating at a county fair.

Reagan had his own test for a talk. He would imagine the way he’d talk to his barber, Jack, in Santa Barbara. He liked language that you would use in talking at the kitchen table or over the back fence.

Might be an idea for the new presidential entourage come January: a no-bloviating zone. The Donald and his underlings might want to read Reagan In His Own Hand, which was published about the same time as Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln.

The book, with a foreword by George P. Schultz, proves that the former President was not the simpleton that liberal detractors made him out to be. Schultz, who served as Reagan’s secretary of state, writes:

Reading through the essays in this book, I thought about all the times I had been with him when he spoke without notes or briefings, forcefully and clearly spelling out what would be the policy positions of the United States. Somehow he always seemed to know what to say.

To many people, President Reagan was a mystery….

The answer to that mystery may lie in these essays, which were written well before he became President. Apparently, even then, he knew quite a bit.

The new President will do well too, I suspect.

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

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

 

 

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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cYHs8tVb-U

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: http://www.wsj.com/articles/travel-back-to-an-early-clinton-scandal-1473982077) 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”: http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2016/10/11/secret-service-officer-gary-j-byrne-hillary-clinton-i-know-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.

 

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

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

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

‘Can You Spare That Twenty?’

By J.F. McKenna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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