Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones but. . . .

False words are not only evil in themselves
But they infect the soul with evil.
— Plato, Phaedo

I should have known, and am embarrassed by my initial reaction. My reaction was triggered by the headline on the front page of the New York Times on September 23, 2017. It said: “Dictator’s Reply Turns Personal.” I immediately assumed it was referring to, among other things, DJT’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly, in which he called North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, “rocket boy,” and said Mr. Kim was “on a suicide mission for himself.” On twitter he said Mr. Kim is “obviously a madman” and “will be tested like never before.” As I said, I should have known. The “dictator” to whom the NYT was referring was Kim Jong Un.

It was, of course, DJT who introduced the concept of “personal” into the verbal exchanges between the two men during the week in which DJT addressed the U.N. General Assembly. Mr. Kim’s rejoinder was considerably more poetic than the DJT insults, and if we were confronted with the possibility of a formal declaration of a war of words between the United States, let by DJT, and North Korea, led by Kim Jong Un, there is little question who the winner would be.

In a lengthy commentary entitled “Statement of Chairman of State Affairs Commission of DPRK,” that was said to come from “Respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, Mr. Kim explained what he had expected from DJT’s remarks. “Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereo-typed prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment, as he had to speak on the world’s biggest official diplomatic state.” Instead, said Mr. Kim, DJT “made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors” adding, perhaps for color, “A frightened dog barks louder.”

Continuing his commentary on DJT’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Kim seemed to be anticipating DJT’s address in Alabama that was given by DJT in the evening of September 23, the same day Mr. Kim’s remarks were published. Perhaps as a word of caution, Mr. Kim said that DJT should: “exercise prudence in selecting words and . . . be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.” That thought was given voice only hours before Mr. Trump gave free rein to all, to call those of whose actions one disapproves, “sons of bitches.” Parents who, until that moment, had thought that particular pejorative should be reserved for the locker room, were surprised, if not appalled, that it would be used by the president of the United States when “making a speech in front of the world.” Parents were not the only ones who were appalled.

The foregoing were not the only sensible thoughts that emanated from a man known to be a mad man who, as DJT said in a tweet, has “starved and killed his own people” including, but not limited to, his uncle, his half-brother and assorted other family members. Mr. Kim also said that DJT’s remarks “remind me of such words as ‘political layman’ and ‘political heretic’ which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign. . . . After taking office, Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme commander of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.” Although those words aptly describe Mr. Kim, they undeniably apply to DJT.

The high point of Mr. Kim’s comments, from a literary standpoint, came when Mr. Kim introduced the word “dotard” into the conversation. Its appearance in his prepared remarks sent many U.S. citizens rushing to their dictionaries to learn its meaning, and it is almost certain that, thanks to Mr. Kim, “dotard “will find a presence on the verbal stage that it has not enjoyed for many years. Mr. Kim first used it saying: “Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.” Later Mr. Kim again used the word saying: “I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. . . . I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” Probably knowing that he was losing the war of words in which he was engaged, DJT responded to Mr. Kim’s statement saying: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”

With these two buffoons on the public stage, the public is being tested like never before. So sad.

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