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 .



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 jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

Things Not Otherwise Noted: October Edition

By Doug Magill

To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.  Friedrich von Hayek
The contretemps of the government shutdown has faded quickly in light of the now-burgeoning disaster known as Obamacare.  The non-functioning web site, the cancellation of millions of policies, the lack of accountability or even responsiveness of the government agencies responsible, and the mind-boggling distortions and rationalizations of liberals has made October a witches’ brew of confusion, politics, and heated rhetoric.

None of which even remotely begins to address the enormous problems that were foreseen, understood, and attempted to be resolved.

Unfortunately, once radical liberals begin the process of re-ordering society under the guise of helping a few unfortunate individuals, millions of people will be hurt.  The one thing left-wingers never talk about when trying to change human behavior is what the results will really be.  As we have seen from experience there are always catastrophic unintended consequences that leave us all worse off in the end.

Somewhere Madison weeps.

In the highly-regarded Federalist No. 10, Madison recognized the possibility of the government being hijacked by a faction intent on its own purposes against the common good.  That is why he argued for a republic rather than direct democracy.  He felt that the cauldron of opinion that he expected Congress to become would simmer out radical ideas and calm the passions of the moment to result in compromise, yet effective legislation.

His experiment failed with Obamacare.  Radical Democrats used the reconciliation process in the middle of the night to pass legislation larded with payoffs to implement something that was neither well thought out nor truly targeted to solve the problem which it was intended to address: the lack of health insurance for some Americans.  By definition this law was not leavened by the political process – not a single Republican voted for it.

Most people forget that many attempts were made during the latter part of the administration of George W. Bush to fix many of the problems with prevailing insurance regulations.  All of them were stymied by radical Democrats.  And, every single piece of legislation that would have led to better and more affordable insurance coverage was voted against by then-Senator Barack Obama.

The web site itself is a technological nightmare.  IT experts will tell you that interfaces are hard and the most difficult part of making a new system work.  The definitions of data elements change between different systems, and once a change is made to one system the change ripples through the interface to the other systems.  A nightmare to set up, make work, and keep maintained. In addition, the sheer volume of expected traffic can break most code and requires enormous expertise to enable continuous operation.

As is true of most of the administration under Obama, no one was really in charge, and no one is actually responsible.  Bleats about bringing in technology experts cannot fix what is essentially a management and organizational problem.  No one in this administration has any experience that would lead to the understanding of the issues, and the incremental changes needed for success.

This problem will be with us for a long time.  Millions (billions?) more will be spent, and the results will still be unsatisfactory.

But, technology solutions will not fix the underlying problems, which are mammoth and intractable.  It was lousy legislation to begin with and really doesn’t address any of the real world problems of affordable health insurance.

When the smoke clears it will become obvious that it is indeed a huge wealth transfer program, and will leave millions without health insurance or with unaffordable health insurance.  The losers are the middle class, and those with families.

This single piece of legislation may be the most anti-family law ever passed.  Another unintended consequence.

As the thousands of other unintended consequences ripple throughout our economy and society, the most heart-rending thing to behold is the millions who are beginning to realize they were lied to.  And continue to be lied to.  They will now be unable to find a doctor or treatment they need, can’t afford a vacation or new house because of the costs of insurance, can’t have the child that they desperately desire, can’t find work because of the effects on the economy, have had hours reduced or their job eliminated, and who may be unable to save for retirement.

This from an administration that really doesn’t care about the effects of the law on individuals, only that it is accomplishing the desired objective of destroying health care insurance.  And who arrogantly mischaracterizes current insurance as “sub-standard” and pretends that there have been no harmful effects of the law.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Nirschl knows that Obamacare is destroying the Hippocratic oath and the only solution is to enable patient control:

The McBama Burger

Most people don’t realize that Obamacare implies a reduction in choice.  As plan options are reduced, so are treatment ones.  A stage-4 cancer patient explains how she is one of the losers:

Fighting Cancer, and Losing with Obamacare

The mainstream media are reluctant to report on the origins of Obamacare, and are loathe to acknowledge the outright lies that underlie its premise and implementation.  Still, there are a few organizations that are beginning to report that the administration knew from the beginning that the intentions of the law were not what was told to the American people: millions will lose their insurance coverage by design:

The Destruction of The Individual Market was an Obamacare Design Feature

One doesn’t expect much in the way of truth or accurate reporting by liberal mouthpieces like the New York Times or even our own Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Yet, once in a while honesty shines through such left-wing stalwarts as the Washington Post:

The Washington Post Gives Obama Four Pinocchios

Liberals are finding they have to invent new words to try to engage in the rhetorical pretzel-making used to justify the Obamacare lies.  House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer tried to claim that the President should have “caveated” his promises relative to Obamacare.  George Will finds an intellectually elegant way of calling Democrats liars:

New Dimensions of Sophistry 

The President’s oft-repeated promise that you could keep your health insurance was always a lie.  From the beginning.  The grandfather clauses in the Affordable Care Law had exceptions that HHS has used to invalidate millions of policies.  Which exceptions, by the way, were not applicable to union insurance policies:

Americans Duped by Obamacare Promises

It gets worse.  When the illegally-delayed employer mandate kicks in, millions more will have to deal with cancelled plans and being ejected from company-paid health plans.  At least 51 percent of those covered will be so affected:

Insurance Losses to Get Worse With Employer Mandate

Doctors knew from the beginning that patients would not be able to keep them as their physicians due to the restrictions of Obamacare:

The Loss of Your Doctor was Known From the Beginning with Obamacare

The numbers are staggering – this is fraud on a massive scale.  A Detroit native and nationally-recognized health care expert, Avik Roy is a graduate of MIT and Yale Medical School.  He posits that at least 93 million Americans will lose their coverage under Obamacare.

93 Million Will be Unable to Keep Their Health Care Plans

Mathematical analysis clarifies that Obamacare is doomed to failure.  Unfortunately, most Democrats don’t do math:

Obamacare vs. Arithmetic

Doug Magill is a cancer survivor who had to learn more than he ever wanted to about health care and health insurance.  His is also a freelance writer, voice-over talent and consultant.  He can be reached at Doug@MagillMedia.net

Securing the Most Important Bond Rating We Have

By J.F. McKenna

Remember the expression “My word is my bond”? You don’t hear that used very often anymore. Is it because promises are so ingrained in business and life that the expression is considered a given–or have such bonds become so devalued as to be worthless?

All indications point to the latter.

The pledge to take little Elmo to the zoo is rendered null and void because “it’s raining too hard” or “given the fact that the Bronx Zoo lost its cobra last week, we probably should postpone our visit to the Cleveland Zoo to another day.”

The brand promise of “Serving You When You Call” typically translates into “Please wait for the next available agent.”

An agreement between company and customer now comes with standard boilerplate qualifying each and every circumstance that, “in effect, may alter the previously stated terms, as determined by the servicer.”

Then there are the bonds guaranteed by government and its agents and representatives. “If men were angels,” James Madison griped, “government would not be necessary.” Not only are men less than angelic, their elected and appointed representatives are devilishly bad at making and fulfilling straightforward compacts. The continuing soap opera about federal government funding immediately comes to mind.

Famed Christmas Story author Jean Shepherd satirized this bond issue perfectly. The title of one of his books is In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.

The devaluation of one’s word may be the single greatest crisis we face. We have accommodated a “fudge factor” into our language, and our dissembling has corrupted all of our commerce, both social and corporate.

More than 50 years ago, author George Orwell scolded the world about such abuse. “Our civilization is decadent,” he wrote, “and our language–so the argument runs–must inevitably follow in the general collapse.”

In his essay Politics and the English Language, Orwell laid out the crisis this way: “A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fails all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

Things have devolved even further since Animal Farm’s author put those angry words to paper. Michael Maslansky calls ours the Post-Trust Era, dating it specifically to 2008.

“Every year, public relations firm Edelman tracks people’s level of trust from their news outlets to their banks,” he writes in The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics. “The 2009 Trust Barometer found that three out of four Americans trust business less than a year ago. To make things worse, trust levels are down in every major market….In short, this not a blip on the screen. This is a transformation in trust. And for anyone with anything important to communicate to people, it’s a crisis different than any we have ever seen before.”

Maslansky is CEO of Maslansky, Luntz & Partners, a firm that turns a profit by telling clients how to win and keep customers. Toward that end, Maslansky and his colleagues always recommend being a little more godlike (in the beneficent sense, of course) or prepare for more skepticism and fewer customers.

At the conclusion of his book–which I recommend reading before day’s end–Maslansky preaches the gospel of basic change for the better. My mother used to call such behavior “being decent.”

“The mentality of saying whatever is expedient, creating false urgencies, making a sale of killing a piece of legislation at all cost, and scurrying back to our holes will eventually destroy us,” he warns. “We will get crushed under the weight of public opinion by a new public. And once we get kicked out, we may never be let back in.”

But the crisis, as Orwell pointed out a half-century ago, is reversible. “Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.”

At the heart of that reform is honesty: saying what you mean and meaning what you say. (Incredibly, I suddenly find myself channeling a cadre of Sisters of St. Joseph and the Brothers of Holy Cross. I guess I did learn something in school.)

Professional communicator Maslansky is likewise hopeful, saying that “we are starting to embrace values that should have mattered in the first place. Honesty. Transparency. Empathy. Acknowledgement. Traits that build long-term relationships. Traits that send out signals that people can trust you, and that it is safe to do business with you. But more important, traits that define us as human beings.”

Don’t worry if you can’t find the time to read Maslansky’s book or to dig out Orwell’s essay from the bookshelf. Just don’t delay building or maintaining a AAA rating for the bond you call your word.


J.F. McKenna is a veteran business journalist and communications consultant. Reach him by email at jf_mckenna.com .