Making My Mark

By J. F. McKenna

“Get it right. Write it tight. Make it bright. And make it march.” – Randal Brown, The Cleveland News 

My first mark as a journalist started in 1967. Under the headline Don’t Deny Vaccine to Victims of Cancer, here’s what I wrote to the editors of The Cleveland Press:

There has recently been great controversy over the Rand vaccine. In my opinion no court should take the smallest flame of hope from a victim of cancer.

If put in a position like this, the chance of life with this drug is worth it.

With the words of victims of cancer who have taken the drug and improved, how can a court of law, in a land of democracy, stand in the way of people who deserve the right to live? As the words of these men and women ring loud in our ears, why do we stand and watch this happen? Life is a precious gift.

JOSEPH McKENNA, 13, St.  Ignatius School

On a dreary Saturday morning in 1967, a photographer called our house to set up a picture of me. My Mother told the shooter to give me two hours; then she sent me to the barbershop for a haircut. The fine fellow showed up in the early afternoon— with a request for a prop I could hold. In the years to follow, I heard similar requests from other photographers. But on that dreary Saturday long ago, the shooter was delighted to borrow my Aunt Ceal’s collection of rare coins.

My short article, with accompanying photograph, appeared in the following Wednesday edition of the afternoon newspaper.

The very next day, I was a very local celeb. Even the good Sisters of St. Joseph had seen it. Sister Michelene, in fact, wanted me to read it to the class; I declined. (I wasn’t being modest. I was simply not in love with my voice.) Joe Ahern took up the reading while I sat in my discomfort.

Nine years later—after several other opportunities to display my writing skills in public—I was working for the Universe Bulletin and its sister publications in Ohio. In that 13-year newsroom apprenticeship, I often heard Russ Faist sing out a journalistic that saw. He himself had learned it from Brown at the old Cleveland News, which died in 1960. The lesson, like all of Russ’ lessons and kindnesses, has stuck with me and has been passed on many times to other wordsmiths looking to sharpen their work.

Likewise, many of my so-called graduate classes came courtesy of Stan Modic, a magazine editor whose broad vision for business and industry never deterred him from his primary desire to get the best story possible for the reader. Underneath his outwardly gruff handling of staff writers and editors lay a genuine caring about the stories featured in print and about the folks he directed to fashion those stories. (SeeStan Modic: Guardian Angel and One Hell of a Journalist.)

All in all, I have had a great time practicing journalism over these many years—starting with that letter to the editor and continuing today with Cleveland Business Review, the brain child of my friend Doug Magill. Not only is Doug a smart, innovative businessman but he’s a good friend.

My 50th anniversary reunion of the old eighth-grade class is coming up soon. I’m in Pittsburgh and going to miss it. Hope this will serve as an RSVP.

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 .

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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

I Had a Secret, You Did Too

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to seized.  – Amendment IV

Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives. – President Ronald Reagan

By J.F. McKenna

 

The National Security Agency, founded in 1952, “intentionally and routinely intercepted and reviewed communications of American citizens in violation of the Constitution and of court-ordered guidelines.” Much of it happened during the Obama regime.

Andrew C. McCarthy, writing in the National Review, detailed this mess: “The unlawful surveillance appears to have been a massive abuse of the government’s foreign-intelligence-collection authority, carried out for the purpose of monitoring the communications of Americans in the United States. While aware that it was going on for an extensive period of time, the administration failed to disclose its unlawful surveillance of Americans until late October 2016, when the administration was winding down and the NSA [National Security Agency] needed to meet a court deadline in order to renew various surveillance authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“The administration’s stonewalling about the scope of the violation induced an exasperated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to accuse the NSA of “an institutional lack of candor” in connection with what the court described as “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.” (The court is the federal tribunal created in 1978 by FISA; it is often referred to as a ‘secret court’ because proceedings before it are classified and ex parte — meaning only the Justice Department appears before the court.) The FISA-court opinion is now public…. The unlawful surveillance was first exposed in a report at Circa by John Solomon and Sara Carter, who have also gotten access to internal, classified reports. The story was also covered extensively Wednesday by James Rosen and Bret Baier on Fox News’s Special Report.

“According to the internal reports reviewed by Solomon and Carter, the illegal surveillance may involve more than 5 percent of NSA searches of databases derived from what is called ‘upstream’ collection of Internet communications. As the FISA court explains, upstream collection refers to the interception of communications ‘as they transit the facilities of an Internet backbone.’”

Did I mention that FISA got its start in 1952—244 years after the Constitution was adopted by a required ninth state, New Hampshire?

Did I also mention the National Security Agency plans to “delete the vast majority of its upstream internet data to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.”

“If men were angels,” James Madison said, “no government would be necessary.” Did I mention that men aren’t angels—and never will be?

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

 

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 .

A Judicial Valentine

By J.F. McKenna

President Donald Trump got a jump on Cupid this year, handing America a Valentine in the person of a federal judge with, as the Associated Press notes, “a writer’s flair and polished legal pedigree.” The President’s intention is to send him to the Supreme Court to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died February 13, 2016.

Like Justice Scalia, Judge Neil Gorsuch is not only a writer with flair and an enviable legal background but a jurist for whom the terms “textualist” and “originalist” are no strangers. Having served on the 10thCircuit Court of Appeals since 2006, Judge Gorsuch called his nomination “a most solemn assignment.”

“It is the rule of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives,” the judge said at President Trump’s announcement Tuesday. “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge.”

All in all, quite a judicial Valentine, don’t you think?

Of course, given the sore-loser approach of Senate Democrats, this Valentine in 2017 could translate into a pre-Thanksgiving pink slip in 2018 for Sherrod Brown. The senior Ohio senator’s vote on the Gorsuch confirmation might be a nail in Brown’s political coffin, especially to voters who passed on the donkey for the elephant in 2016.

As soon as the Gorsuch pick was known, Brown announced his opposition. He declared the nominee to be “far outside of the judicial mainstream,” with rulings that deem corporations are people, are hostile toward anti-discrimination and criminal justice protections, and oppose women’s rights to basic healthcare at places like Planned Parenthood. “The people of Ohio deserve Supreme Court justices who will defend the rights of working families over Wall Street and corporate special interests – and Judge Gorsuch’s record doesn’t pass that test,” said a statement from Brown.

Memo to Senator Brown: It’s not too late to change your mind and vote in favor of the 49-year-old from Denver.

As Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said, “His academic record, his background are extraordinary,” Cruz said. “He was a law clerk to Byron White, who is John F. Kennedy’s only Supreme Court nomination – he was a Democrat himself, Byron White – and Judge Gorsuch’s record is such that he has demonstrated the intelligence, the humility, the faithfulness to law that I think Republicans are going to vote for, but I also hope and believe a number of Democrats will as well.”

More important, Senator Cruz vowed that Senate Democrats would not be able to derail Gorsuch’s nomination, telling Fox News that “one way or another, I believe the Senate will confirm Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.”

To non-lawyers like me, Gorsuch is right in the mold of Antonin Scalia. The first Italian-American to sit on the Supreme Court, Antonin Gregory Scalia embraced an originalist, or textualist, approach to his decision-making.

“The Constitution,” Scalia declared, “is not an organism. It means today what it meant when it was adopted.”  See https://clevelandbusinessreview.org/2016/02/14/a-man-of-words-a-man-of-law/ .

In time Justice Gorsuch will be a “lion of the law,” just as Gorsuch called Scalia.

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

An Essayist? Yes, I Make an Attempt

Just as Richard Todd writes in Good Prose, “I awoke one morning to discover I was an essayist.”  Nearly six years after accepting an invitation from Doug Magill to write an occasional “piece” for his online site, Cleveland Business Review, I make the same discovery. I am addicted to crafting essays on business, politics, literature—fearlessly repeating E.M. Forester’s quote “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” After all, insists Todd in the 2013 book he wrote with Tracy Kidder, “Essayists tend to argue with themselves. The inner dialogue that might be suppressed in other writing finds a forum here. Montaigne blessed the form when he said, ‘If I knew my own mind, I would not make essays. I would make decisions.’”
Not only did Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) bless the form but the French writer expressed “subjective reflections on topics such as religion, education, friendship, love, and freedom,” according to the website bio. He called these original works essais—that is, “attempts” in French. And a new literary genre was born, the essay. By the year 1588, Montaigne had a third volume of essays in print, with such tidbits as “Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know” and “I quote others only in order the better to express myself.” The popularity of the essay has never waned since.
“Essays are self-authorizing,” write Kidder and Todd in the chapter dedicated solely to essays. “This is the dilemma but also the pleasure of the form. The chances are that nobody asked for your opinion. But if your idea is fresh, it will surprise even someone, perhaps an assigning editor, who did ask.” Moreover, the Kidder-Todd collaboration adds, “just as no word has an exact synonym, no idea can be exactly paraphrased.” And further, the Pulitzer-winning writer of The Soul of a New Machine and his patient longtime editor insist that the “essayist’s relationship with the reader depends, as always, on mutual trust, but trust of a special kind. In the essay, trust in the author and disagreement with the author can coexist.”
That’s what Doug Magill believes too. That’s why he created Cleveland Business Review in 2011 and invited folks like me to write for it. Doug, whom I met when I was adding a bit of business to the culture of Northern Ohio Live magazine in 2005, was an entrepreneur with an impressive business past. At the time, along with Paul DeLuca and Kathleen Haley, he was promoting Cleveland Business Radio on WERE-1300.
With 40 years of reporting experience behind me, I was—and remain—eager to attach my byline to stories, especially about business management. My first CBR article reflected on “talking” with Silent Cal Coolidge’s statue when I was on assignment for Industry Week magazine in the early ‘90s. President Coolidge had a penchant for what I call MBSOOTW—Management By Staying Out Of the Way. It’s a lesser-known corollary to Management By Walking Around. MBSOOTW keeps politicians and policy wonks from tinkering with market economics. If you haven’t already noticed, many pols and wonks resemble 13-year-old Monopoly addicts buying Park Place with brightly colored but wholly worthless money. Decades ago, Calvin Coolidge summed up his economic philosophy with this axiom: “The business of America is business.” He backed up those six words with restraint.
As you can see, classic business lessons are what I have traded in. Classic leadership lessons as well. To Peter Drucker’s way of thinking, the true leader is the exceptional musician who knows how to create great music, but does not delude himself into thinking that he’s the whole band. Further, Drucker argued that exceptional leaders—think those in the category of Lincoln or Churchill—understand “leadership as responsibility rather than as rank and privilege,” offering this illustration: “Effective leaders are rarely ‘permissive.’ But when things go wrong—and they always do—they do not blame others….Harry Truman’s folksy ‘The buck stops here’ is still as good a definition as any.”
And, on occasion, lessons on great messaging—from the classic essayist E.B. White to the contemporary master Arthur Plotnik. “With…readers drawn to ever-new distractions, who can afford a writing-as-usual attitude?” asks the author of the journalistic classic The Elements of Editing. “Not creative writers, not journalists, copywriters, or corporate communicators. Nor can writing students gear up in all the old ways. Even bloggers, even Match.com troubadours, must realize that in today’s forest an undistinguished post falls soundlessly.”
Hallelujah! say I. (Particularly in the last few years I haven’t seen so much settled content since my days as a bulk-buyer of generic mac-n-cheese dinner. My family, friends, and colleagues—savvy media consumers all—share that sentiment, if not my preference for the perfect entree.) With no slight at all to the use of middle-of-the-road grammar, Plotnik constructs a compelling 275-page case to the message-makers “whose composition skills compare with the next writer’s, but who itch for creative ideas, smart locutions, and realistic takes on language for today’s media.”
Whether the topic is writing, business, politics, family, or plain nonsense, E.B. White is right—“Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays.” In the contemporary world of words, E.B. White is the gold standard; the rest of us are just filling in the spaces in between. Yet we all know that each of us—including those who craft ideas for Cleveland Business Review—is, to quote White, a “self-liberated man.”
Contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in neighboring Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. whose pointed ears are greatly loved.. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

In These Soul-Trying Times America Wants Paine Relief

By J.F. McKenna
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” — Thomas Paine, The Crisis
Pamphleteer Tom Paine was a master of the opening line. Likewise, he was a craftsman of the lines that followed—well considered, well fashioned, and always timely, even to our 21st century world of instant communication, tactics to hack into that messaging, and the effective countermeasures that address such hacking. Paine, who started life in England as a corset maker apprentice to his father, understood the value of the foundation, be it in ladies’ garments or a nation desirous of freedom. Is it any surprise that General George Washington had the Paine essay—from which the above lines are taken—read to his revolutionary troops at Christmas, on the eve of their victory at Trenton.
Historian and author Gordon S. Wood declared the amazing polymath “America’s first public intellectual.” In his 2006 book, Revolutionary Characters, Wood added in his chapter on Paine:
“After Common Sense had established his reputation, Paine came to know nearly all the political leaders of the United States, including Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, and he continued to write on behalf of the American cause. The most important of these writings was his American Crisis series, essays that appeared throughout the war with Britain….
“If these important contributions were not sufficient to immortalize Paine as one of the founders of the United States, then we have his extraordinary book Rights of Man (1791-92), which became one of the most important works of political thought in the history of the Western world. Although the book was written after Paine had left the United States in 1787 and was intended as a refutation of [Edmund] Burke’s Reflection on the Revolution in France (1790), it actually sums up what he had learned about constitutionalism and political theory during his years in America. In fact The Rights of Man is the best and most succinct expression of American revolutionary political thinking ever written.”
Despite Paine’s exceptional efforts, writes the professor from Brown University, the revolutionary “never quite has had what it takes to get admitted to the sacred temple of American founders.” The good professor, who himself has won an enviable Pulitzer Prize, called the early Republic’s biographies “muckraking diatribes that pictured Paine as an arrogant, drunken atheist.” Actually, many decades after Paine died in 1809, Teddy Roosevelt said much the same thing about Paine.
In our century, Thomas Paine has yet to receive “his due measure of homage from the people and nations of the world whose aspirations he expressed with such force and clarity,” according to the late philosopher Sidney Hook. “His passion for human freedom shines through everything he wrote.”
Again to quote Professor Wood, Paine’s writing was very different, noting that the revolutionary champion “looked for readers everywhere, but especially in the tavern- and artisan-centered world of the cities.” (He understood foundational marketing, eh?) Thomas Paine, continued Dr.Wood, “spoke out of a tradition of radical republicanism that ran deeper and was more bitter yet more modern than the balanced and reasonable classical republicanism of most of the founders.”
In Rights of Man, Dr. Hook writes, Paine proposes that the government undertake “the amelioration of distress which entitles to be considered almost despite himself a forerunner of the Welfare State.” Ever so gently Dr. Hook, a 1985 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, excuses Paine’s inconsistency as “a tribute to his sense of compassion for human suffering.”
Even in this election year, when the delivery of the varied political messages is more than shopworn, Thomas Paine’s core message still is not given its due: the passion for freedom.
Maybe in time that will change, for as Paine wrote in 1776, “Time makes more converts than reason.”
CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. While at IndustryWeek magazine in the early ‘90s, he wrote a series on Total Quality Government and chaired TQG conferences across the country. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

Happiness with Long Brown Ears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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