The Week: What Caught Our Eye

July 4, 2020

Photo of an American flag on a flagpole against a blue skyO! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends:

The transition from subservience to independence was ignited not by one of the radical bomb throwers but by a full-fledged member of the Virginia gentry: Richard Henry Lee, grandson, son and brother of British military officers, diplomats and legislators, tutored at home and formally educated in Britain. It was Lee who, on June 7, 1776, presented the formal motion in Congress to declare independence from Britain: “Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

On his feet to second the motion: Massachusetts’ John Adams. But then, even after all the “intolerable acts” they had endured, the daunting prospect of independence and the certainty of war with the greatest military power on Earth gave some pause. The moderates in Congress moved to postpone. The rush to independence was on hold. As a few days passed, confidence rose. It became clear that Adams’ motion would pass, and so on June 11, 1776, Congress formed a heavy-hitter committee to write a Declaration of Independence: Jefferson, Adams and Franklin, plus Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman.

Jefferson made himself chair. At 33, he had already amassed significant political and writing experience. Two years before, as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, he had written “A Summary View of the Rights of British America.’’ In the Spring of 1776, he drafted a proposed constitution for Virginia. As he began to work, Jefferson also relied on George Mason’s Declaration of Rights and Lee’s resolution. He found a quiet space to write on the second floor of Jacob Graff’s boarding house at Market and Seventh in Philadelphia and he wrote for almost three weeks. He was not striving for originality of “principle or sentiment,” he said, but seeking to produce an “expression of the American mind.”

Having obsessed over every word and phrase, Jefferson then had to endure the trial every writer loathes: Watching as others — lessers, he might have said — “mangled” his composition, changing words and cutting phrases. Franklin saw someone needed to lessen the tension. He dropped by the house to distract Jefferson with “droll stories.’’

On June 28, the Committee of Five presented to Congress its document, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled.”  

On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to declare independence. Two days later, it ratified the text of the Declaration. Two hundred copies were printed; months later, one copy founds its way to King George III. The official British response scolded the “misguided Americans” and “their extravagant and inadmissible Claim of Independency.’’

Happy Inadmissible Claim of Independence Day, everybody!

*********

MAN OF MYSTERY: Jefferson was busy in Philadelphia and needed assistance. He turned to his closest aide, an enslaved teen, Robert Hemings. History records little about Robert Hemings except that he was a brother of the better known Sally Hemings, the woman with whom Jefferson fathered several children. https://bit.ly/TheRoleOfRobertHemings

A PAPAL NIP NOW AND THEN: Pope Paul VI is said to have enjoyed a light scotch and soda. Pope Benedict, a German beer. And now, thanks to a documentary the BBC was producing about seminarians at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, we know Pope Francis’ drink of choice. https://bit.ly/ThePopesSpiritOfChoice

DINING OUT: The Beekman boys — those branding geniuses Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge — are turning their rolling, 60-acre Sharon Springs farm into the world’s largest “restaurant.” Local restaurants have been invited to take over their property for a night, serving guests fresh fare in the beautiful outdoors. More than 100 tables are already reserved. https://bit.ly/BeekmansBiggestRestaurant

THE GREAT UPSTATE: Those of us who love Upstate New York summers (and have made peace with the winters) know it’s often an underrated place. Now, a real estate, tourism, and economic development consultancy crunched the numbers. Look who’s made the “best cities” list – and why. https://bit.ly/UpstateCityMakesTheList

VICARIOUS LUXURY: Looking to move? You could do worse than one of these places. https://bit.ly/MostExpensiveHomesByCounty

FREE SPEECH AND THE NEW YORK TIMES: Scott Alexander are the first and middle names of a San Francisco-area psychiatrist whose blog, Slate Star Codex, has been regularly featured on The Atlantic’s top 100 list of "The Best of Journalism.’’ Codex focuses on science, medicine and the future, and its coverage of COVID-19 broke new ground. Which is why The New York Times came calling, asking for information for what the reporter promised would be a positive story — with one dark condition: He would publish Scott Alexander’s full name. Alexander had not sought the coverage and pleaded with The Times not to out him. It would upset and harm his patients and put his clinic at risk. So now the popular Codex is gone, its voice silenced, and The Times is enmeshed in a Slate Star storm of controversy.
https://bit.ly/TimesLooksToOutBlogger

Photo of a bald eagle soaring against a blue skyThe iconic symbol of our nation, a bald eagle, soaring over Lake George recently was captured by the talented eye of Michael Borgos.

WHOA, COWBOY: Travel along with The New York Times’ John Branch to the “hard wrinkles of Northern California foothills” and other parts of the rural West that are contemplating the unthinkable — a year without the rodeo. “We wouldn’t have a town without a rodeo,” one Nebraska resident said. https://bit.ly/NoRodeos

FRIENDS INDEED: Ben Goldstein and Robert Brajer looked forward to their regular get-togethers, where, despite their 52-year age gap, they would bond over bagels and lox. They met through DOROT, a New York City nonprofit that serves the elderly, and they weren’t going to let a pandemic come between them. https://bit.ly/BridgingTheAgeGapDuringPandemic

RUNNERS, WHAT IS YOUR WORLD? Novelist Mitchell S. Jackson has authored a powerful, searing essay on the death of Ahmaud Arbery, shot dead on a Georgia street for the crime of jogging, including this pointed passage: “Peoples, I invite you to ask yourself, just what is a runner’s world? Ask yourself who deserves to run? Who has the right? Ask who’s a runner? What’s their so-called race? Their gender? Their class? Ask yourself where do they live, where do they run? Where can’t they live and run? Ask what are the sanctions for asserting their right to live and run — shit — to exist in the world. Ask why? Ask why? Ask why?” https://bit.ly/ARunnersPerspective

PILOTING THE PRESIDENT: A publication focused on commercial real estate talked to a former Air Force One pilot — whose duties included keeping President Bush safe as the events of 9/11 were unfolding — about what he learned that could be applicable to their industry. Turns out, anyone with an interest in improving as a leader can learn from what Col. Mark Tillman had to say. https://bit.ly/LeadershipLessonsFromAirForceOnePilot

PHOTO BUMMED: Careful, those of you who use videoconferencing or post about your #WorkFromHome life on social media — crooks are studying the images, looking for clues that can help them hack your online accounts, or worse. https://bit.ly/WFHScammersAreWatching

JUDGMENT CALL: The Onion once published a wonderful takedown of those who pass judgment about the contents of other people’s shopping carts. Sadly, like all good comedy, it was effective because it had the ring of truth. Researchers at Harvard have confirmed what they describe as a “grim double standard” when it comes to how Americans judge others based on their buying choices. Not surprisingly, those we view as poor have their choices more harshly scrutinized. https://bit.ly/LookingDownOnOthersPurchases

BETTING ON HERSELF: Poker pro Maria Konnikova would like to set you straight on what it takes to do her job well. And it has little to do with gambling. https://bit.ly/AProGamblersTakeOnLife

BEHIND THE SCENES: Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other top state officials are featured in settings the public rarely sees in this archive of photos from the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. https://bit.ly/CuomoBehindTheScenes

DISHING FOR JUSTICE: Ben & Jerry’s always has found a way to turn hot topics into cool flavors and, even under corporate ownership, it seems it’s not about to stop. Scoop of Pecan Resist and Justice ReMix’d, anyone? https://bit.ly/BenJerrysSocialJusticeIceCream

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“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 …’’
The Declaration of Independence
July 4, 1776
 

THE SIGNOFF

ROCKED HIS WORLD: At 52, Saniniu Laizer had lived a life of grueling labor, extracting minerals from the Tanzanian earth and selling what he could to support a family that includes four wives and more than 30 children. Then he hit the motherlode, unearthing two chunks of a rare gemstone, each about as big as a loaf of bread, for which he was paid more than $4.3 million. You should see the plans he has for his new fortune. https://bit.ly/MinerHitsTheMotherlode

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

Let’s make it a conversation:   mark.behan@behancom.com

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