Thursday, September 21, 2017

Home Tweeet Home

Knowing I lov’d my books, he furnish’d me,
From mine own library with volumes that
I prize above my dukedom.
—Shakespeare, The Tempest

It was simply two coincidences that gave birth to the thought. It started on September 14, 2017. That was the day that conservative columnist and commentator, Ann Coulter, disclosed a dramatic change of heart. She, it will be recalled, was one of DJT’s early and ardent supporters when he was running for office and, subsequently, elected. In a book she wrote that was devoted to DJT, she even had a chapter with the captivating heading: “I Don’t Care What They Say, I Won’t Stay in a World Without Trump.” Although I’ve not had the pleasure of reading her book or even the cited chapter, and am not sure what she suggested she would do were he not elected president, the chapter title suggests an enthusiastic, if mindless, supporter. Mindless perhaps, but reflective of the millions who supported DJT. As so often happens when a lover is jilted, wild enthusiasm is replaced by mindless recrimination, and Ann Coulter is nothing, if not a jilted lover.

Senator Chuck Schumer and Democratic House Leader, Nancy Pelosi had not had time to fully digest the White House dinner they enjoyed September 13, 2017, when the jilted lover (who had not even been invited to the dinner) responded to its news. The news, as most readers know by now, was that, contrary to what DJT had said earlier, he was no longer committed to deportation of those who were the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) should Congress fail to act within the six-month period he had set earlier. Employing the means of communication that is now preferred to thoughtful comment, Ann tweeted: “At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?”

Her jilted lover response had been building slowly since DJT had assumed office. In May she had expressed distress over how quickly DJT’s positions seemed to shift and how slowly things were progressing in the construction of the promised border wall between Mexico and the United States. In a phone call with the Daily Caller she had said: “I think everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque. It was the issues.” To describe a former adored candidate as possessing a “grotesque” personality suggests the person doing the adoring is lacking in judgement. Be that as it may.

On a much happier note, the following day former President Obama spoke at an event that took place in downtown Chicago. It pertained to his Presidential Library that is being built on Chicago’s South side. In his comments, he emphasized that the library should be used to afford opportunities for young people who want to have careers in architecture, construction and technology. He urged architecture and tech firms to hire apprentices in order to give them career opportunities in those fields. Reading former President Obama’s comments caused this writer to consider that it is not too soon to start thinking about a Trump Presidential Library. Although the prospect of impeachment seems, at this point remote, (Ms. Coulter’s tweets to the contrary notwithstanding,) it is much more likely that at some point in the not too distant future, DJT will announce that, having accomplished in only a few months more than any other president ever accomplished in the history of the country, he will resign from office to resume the vacation he was enjoying before it was rudely interrupted by his tenure in the White House. And that being the case, it is none too soon to begin thinking of a presidential library.

As followers of such things know, there has recently been a great deal of interest in tiny homes. Tiny homes are dwellings of somewhere between 120 and 500 square feet in size. Colorado has some 12 businesses that are specializing in their construction, and in an event known as the Tiny House Jamboree that took place in 2015 and 2016 in Colorado Springs, tens of thousands of visitors showed up. DJT communicates largely through the tweet and is known to read little, if anything. Although few of his formal writings are public, (if any exists), the Tweetessphere is full of what passes for thought when promulgated by DJT. Accordingly, a proper presidential library would be a repository for his tweets and a tiny library would be ideal. It would, of course, be more elegant than the typical tiny home, and thought would have to be given to proper organization of Tweets for easy retrieval. Fortunately, there is already one site that has anticipated the need for tracking tweets. It has carefully catalogued what DJT has tweeted and organized them by word and concept going back at least as far as 2012. The authors of that site would almost certainly be happy to begin working with architects to see how best to organize what would be known as The Tiny Trump Presidential Library. Beneath the name of the library in smaller print might appear: “Tiny Thoughts from a Tiny Mind.” Some people may object to the inclusion of all Trump tweets, since some of them make light of violence or are astonishingly crude. It would, nonetheless, be a mistake to omit them. They do, after all, accurately portray the president of the United States who has, as Ann Coulter accurately says, a grotesque personality. Quite sad. Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kobach and Windmills

“‘Vote early and vote often’ the advice openly displayed on the election banners in one of our northern cities.”
— William Porcher Miles, 1858 Speech in the House of Representatives

A number of you have written asking if Wikipedia is wrong. They cannot believe that Kris Kobach, the man whose awesome educational background is described in Wikipedia, is the same man who spends his time attacking 21st Century windmills. Those asking the question should remember that Don Quixote de la Mancha, too, was an educated man, who saw in windmills foes to overcome. For Don Quikobach de la Kansas, the windmill has been replaced by the electoral system.

Don Quikobach graduated with highest honors as an undergraduate from Harvard, went on to Oxford where he earned an MA and PhD in politics, and from there, went on to Yale Law School. His post graduate career is proof that, as one university president said of college graduates, although they had graduated, you could never be sure they were educated men. Don Quikobach is proof of the pudding. His academic credentials notwithstanding, his life is filled with windmills that serve as his opponents and he is the hero of all who, like him, focus on those perceived enemies.

Don Quikobach’s favorite windmill is voter fraud. No matter how often he is told that there is no evidence of voter fraud, he continues to detect it and remains determined to defeat it. As Secretary of State of Kansas, Don Quikobach tried all manner of devices to make it more difficult for people to vote. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013, that states could not impose proof of citizenship requirements on those registering to vote in federal elections, Don Quikobach persisted in his efforts to make it more difficult for people in Kansas to register to vote. He joined in a lawsuit seeking to force the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to add a requirement for proof of citizenship to the U.S. voter registration form used in Kansas. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked imposition of that requirement. Undaunted, Don Quikobach engaged in a series of actions intended to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. He went so far as to propose that the votes of those who registered in Kansas using the U.S. registration form, only be counted for U.S. and not Kansas races. He was again thwarted by the courts. In his attempt to apply the birth certificate requirement to federal elections, the windmill at which he tilted was abruptly removed from the field by the federal judge overseeing the law suit. In turning down his request that proof of citizenship be required before those seeking to register could do so, she observed: “There is evidence of only three instances where noncitizens actually voted in a federal election between 1995 and 2013.” She further observed that during that period, only 14 non-citizens attempted to register.

Although Don Quikobach was unsuccessful in tilting at Kansas windmills, thanks to the national election that took place in 2016, Don Quikobach has been given a new assignment by a president as delusional as he. His assigned task is to tilt at the non-existent windmills representing voter fraud that both he and the man who appointed him, believe occurred on a national scale. He is being assisted in that noble cause by none other than the vice president of the United States, Michael Pence aka Sancho Panza Pence. Sancho Panza Pence is the chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral-Integrity that is charged with uncovering voter fraud and Don Quikobach is its vice chair. The first field of windmills they have discovered is found in New Hampshire.

Although Don Quikobach had a distinguished academic career, the years that separate him from his education have dulled his legal skills and intellectual ability. His foray into the voting fields of New Hampshire have offered sad proof that his legal education was for naught. In a triumphant piece in Breitbart News, he gleefully howls that there is “proof” that 5,513 voters who voted in New Hampshire in 2016 were not eligible to vote. He bases this on the fact that those voters used out of state driver’s licenses for identification when they registered, but then failed to obtain New Hampshire drivers’ licenses or register motor vehicles in New Hampshire, there is nothing in New Hampshire law to suggest that the requirements on which he relies exist. There is no legal requirement in New Hampshire that automobile registration take place in order to validate the vote of someone using an out of state driver’s license as identification. There is no requirement that someone using an out of state driver’s license as identification when registering, obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license after voting. Don Quikobach does not care. Neither facts nor the law are permitted to replace preconceived ideas in the mythical world in which he lives. In that respect he is very much like the man who created the commission on which he serve


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dreams Become Nightmares

But I being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

— William Butler Yeats, He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

It is the thought that counts-not the amount that funded the thought. I refer, of course, to the extraordinarily generous offer of DJT to give to Hurricane Harvey flood relief, $1 million of his “personal money,” as spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, described it in a meeting with reporters at the White House on August 31st. Sanders said that DJT had not yet decided to what specific charities he wants to give the money. She said he was soliciting advice from the purveyors of what he has repeatedly called “fake news” who were at the meeting. As she explained: “He’s actually asked that I check with the folks in this room since you are very good at research and have been doing a lot of reporting into the groups and organizations that are best and most effective in helping and providing aid. He’d like some suggestions from the folks here, and I’d be happy to take those if any of you have them.”

If DJT’s annual income is $60 million, as some reports say, it would mean that DJT is giving away slightly less than 5 days’ worth of income. Of course, since he lives in the White House at taxpayer expense, the loss of $1 million for a 5-day period is not going to have a huge impact on him or his family, so it is not as great a sacrifice as it at first appeared. And then, of course, there is the question of whether he’ll in fact make the gift. Last year he promised to make a gift of $1 million of his own money and $5 million he said he had raised, to veterans’ organizations. Because of what must have been merely an oversight, the gifts were not made until reporters’ asked him, months after he’d made the promise, who the recipients of the funds were. And for what were surely good and sufficient reasons, the amounts given were less than the promised $6 million. None of that is, of course, meant to detract from the enormous generosity his promised $1 million gift for Hurricane Harvey victims demonstrates. The early estimates of the cost of Hurricane Harvey is $190 billion and as those affected by Harvey would surely say, every penny given for flood relief helps. DJT has given his penny.

DJT’s penny does not simply go a long way towards helping flood victims. It goes a long way towards showing that, executive actions suggesting otherwise notwithstanding, DJT is deeply concerned about people. Showing that concern and compassion was needed when, less than a week after announcing his generous gift to hurricane relief, DJT sent a surly surrogate, Jeff Sessions, (a poor substitute for a tweet), to announce that DJT was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program known as “DACA, “that had been created by President Obama. It was created because Congress refused to enact legislation to address the plight of immigrant children brought into this country as youngsters by their parents. Those children had no contact with the countries from which they were brought and, in many cases, do not even know the language in their home countries. Eliminating the program, even though postponing the effective date for six months, introduces a plague of uncertainty into the lives of those who have been beneficiaries of the program. Many of them work in medicine, law and other occupations, or are in college or secondary school hoping to complete their educations. They are now confronted with the terrible uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds for them.

The rescinding of that program is not approved by all Republicans. In expressing his opposition to the elimination of DACA, Senator Orrin Hatch (R. Utah) said that rescinding DACA would “further complicate a system in need of a permanent legislative solution” that, he said, should come from Congress. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R. Wisconsin) also said that DACA should not be eliminated but that Congress should come up with a permanent solution. In a radio interview, he said it was up to Congress to determine how immigrants who had enrolled in DACA should be treated. Senator John McCain (R. AZ.) said it was the wrong approach to immigration policy and risked sending innocent children out of the country.

The lives of 787,000 people (as of March 2017) will be affected when the program is ended. They are the people who are now protected by its provisions. They may recall, ruefully, that before ending the program, DJT had repeatedly said that: “We love the dreamers. We love everybody” and, “I think the dreamers are terrific.” The Dreamers might have taken comfort from those words before the end of the program was announced. Had they done so, they should have considered by whom those words were spoken. DJT had certainly expressed similar sentiments to his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends before leaving them. The ex-wives were, of course, better off than the Dreamers. They got alimony and property settlements. The Dreamers are left with only memories.