Occasional comments about business and politics in Portland, Oregon, mixed in with stories from our city's colorful if not always compliant past.
"May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not." -- Millard Fillmore
Daniel Berrigan came to prominence in 1968 when he and eight others invaded the office of a draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, gathered up the registration records, took them outside, and burned the papers. On many other occasions during the Vietnam War, protesters burned their draft cards. The stories and images of Father Berrigan's anti-war protests came back to the public mind when he died last week at 94.
Conservative Republicans are remembering Father Berrigan in their own way, burning not their draft cards but their voter registration cards, to protest Donald Trump's securing their party's nomination. If Father Berrigan's views on immortality have turned out to be correct, he's doubtless looking down, pleased that the means of protest that he helped to start has become bipartisan.
In my delight at how the constitution's workings could result in Mitt Romney being elected president with Hillary Clinton as his vice president, I overlooked the change that the 12th amendment brought about. The 12th Amendment, adopted in Thomas Jefferson's term, was a response to the awkwardness that developed in 1796, when the electoral college put John Adams in first place and his bitter opponent Thomas Jefferson in second place, resulting in Adams becoming president and Jefferson being his ostracized vice president. The 12th amendment changed the procedure somewhat: instead of the House of Representatives selecting two of the top three finishers in the presidential race to be the president and vice president, the House selects the president (still with one vote per state) from among the top three in the presidential race, and the Senate selects the vice president from among the top two in the vice-presidential race. There's still an opportunity for constitutional mirth, but it's a little more complicated than I had described.
Let us continue to suppose that the Republican convention nominates Donald J. Trump and that he selects, say, Ted Cruz to be his running mate. (I think his best choice is Jeb Bush, but that's an analysis for another day.) The party's old guard puts together a third party and runs Mitt Romney, with (let's say) John Kasich as his running mate. The Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton, who picks Sherrod Brown, a second-term Senator from Ohio, as her running mate.
The election comes. The Clinton-Brown ticket receives the most electoral votes, but not the 270 required for election. Trump and Cruz finish second. Romney and Kasich finish third, winning a few states. The day after the November election, the candidates will know that the House will choose the president from among Secretary Clinton and Messrs. Trump and Romney, and the Senate will choose between Senators Cruz and Brown. Let's suppose that the Senate flips to the Democrats but the House remains Republican.
The nation will know that on January 3, the new House will select Mitt Romney as the president (I can't imagine the Republican majority lucidly voting for Mr. Trump), and the Senate will select Senator Brown as Mr. Romney's vice president. But wait -- the House and Senate don't select from the top finishers in the popular vote; they select from the top finishers in the electoral vote, and the electoral vote doesn't actually happen until mid-December. The important point is that the House and Senate cannot elect a dark horse candidate; they must choose from among the top three presidential candidates and the top two vice presidential candidates.
The Democratic leadership might have the interesting idea (I would in their place) to request the Democratic electors to swap their votes: to ask that in December when they meet in their state capitals to cast their votes, they should cast their Presidential votes for Senator Brown, and their Vice Presidential votes for Secretary Clinton. She will now be one of the top two finishers in the Veepstakes, and the Democratic Senate will elect her over Senator Cruz.
Ladies and gentlemen: I again give you Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman vice president of the United States.
I've enjoyed the debate over whether Ted Cruz, now running for the Presidency, is eligible to serve. The Constitution requires that the president be a "natural-born citizen" of the United States, a phrase that the Supreme Court has touched on three times, most recently in 1875. In those three early cases (The Venus, 1814; Shanks v. Dupont, 1830; Minor v. Happersett, 1875), the Court suggested that citizenship extended to persons born in the United States to parents of whom at least the father was a United States citizen, without, however, explicitly defining the constitutional term.
Senator Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Under the law of the United States, he became an American citizen at birth. So he is a "natural-born citizen." Yes?
Not so fast, maybe. It's possible that not all persons who are citizens at birth are natural-born citizens. The wrinkle is the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, which includes as its first sentence: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." A court might find, if it undertakes to decide the question, that the Fourteenth Amendment defined natural-born citizens to be only those persons born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction (so excluding children of foreign diplomats). Congress, the court might say, has the power to extend citizenship at birth to other classes of persons, including children born abroad to American citizens, but has not the power to change what has been from 1868 the only constitutional definition of "natural-born."
I imagine that if someone sues a secretary of state to keep Senator Cruz's name off the ballot on the ground that he is not a natural-born citizen and therefore not eligible to serve, any lower court faced with the case will hold that it is a political question and not one for the courts. If the question is political, then elected officials would have to rule; for example, had Senator Cruz run four years ago and faced a challenge to be listed on the Oregon ballot, the question would have gone first to Oregon's secretary of state, our now-Governor Kate Brown, who was born in Spain.
It's time to remedy the disrespect that President Obama showed to the memory of William McKinley when he restored the name of Denali to Mount McKinley in Alaska. The President has taken some flak from Ohioans and Republican candidates, including Donald Trump, who has vowed that if elected he will change the mountain's name back to McKinley.
William McKinley never visited Alaska, but he was a staunch supporter of American business, and it would be appropriate to commemorate him by attaching his name to something of commercial significance. How about renaming this building the McKinley Tower?
It amuses me that someone who proudly displays the Confederate battle flag under which Innes Randolph (the author of the quoted line) fought can, without experiencing any cognitive dissonance, exult when our national government drops bombs on rebels in other nations.
The tour guide at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California, an energetic and enthusiastic woman of about Isaac's vintage, painted a sympathetic portrait of our 37th president. For example, she described the 1960 presidential election as a contest between a highly intelligent vice president seasoned with eight years in the administration, experienced in foreign policy, with a steady hand, against a naive and inexperienced playboy. She did reluctantly admit that John Kennedy was handsome and attractive, and Richard Nixon . . . "well, he had to work with what he had." The Nixon Library did have a remarkably fair and balanced depiction of Watergate and the events that led up to President Nixon resigning the office, installed after Mr. Nixon died to replace the exhibit that he had approved.
Three things struck me. One was when our guide, in talking about the famous people who had visited the Nixon Library, told us that Justice Brennan had visited the Library a year or two ago and was very impressed with it. Justice Brennan died in 1997. The second thing was when she mentioned that the British had burned the White House in World War II, conflating a war in which we were allies with a war 130 years earlier in which we weren't.
The third thing was one of the delicious ironies which is either a complete coincidence or the result of an Isaac-like humorist at work behind the scenes. On the bus to the Library, our group was shown a half-hour film about President Nixon, produced in the early 1990s with the President's cooperation. (He died in 1994.) The film had to discuss the Watergate scandal, which it did -- almost exactly 18-1/2 minutes after the film started. A coincidence? You be the judge.
It all boils down to what I would most like to do as a musician. Put songs on people's lips instead of just in their ear. I wish I could live long enough to see more people singing again, either solo or in groups. For recreation. For reverence. For learning and laughter. For struggle. For hope, for understanding.
I know I won't live that long, but if this world survives, I believe that modern industrialized people will learn to sing again.
-- Pete Seeger, Where Have All The Flowers Gone: A Singer's Stories, Songs, Seeds, Robberies (1993)
Hatsutaro Azumano came to the United States from Japan in 1902 as a teenager to pursue the American dream. In 1917 he married a recent immigrant from Japan, and in 1918 while living near Front Avenue and Main Street they had their first child, a boy whom they named Ichiro (a common Japanese first name for eldest sons). Ichiro's parents may have remained traditional even as they pursued business -- Hatsutaro Azumano became a salesman for Fuji Grocery and Produce a few years later and by 1930 had moved his family from the crowded Front Avenue lodging house to a private house on Williams Avenue -- but within a few years after his birth they had given their son the additional and very American name of George.
A young man with the good old American name of George, born in Portland, Oregon, who graduated from the University of Oregon in 1940 with a business degree, and who went into the United States Army in 1941, might be forgiven for thinking ill of his native country for imprisoning him with thousands of other Americans from 1942 to 1944 in the Minidoka camp simply because of where his parents had been born. If Mr. Azumano resented his war experience, he rarely talked about it.
Had he wanted to, Mr. Azumano, who died this morning at the age of 95, could have told of the time that the city of Portland prohibited its Japanese-American citizens from leaving their homes between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., or of the other governmental restrictions on their lives before the trains left for the concentration camps. He might have told of being penned in the old livestock yards in Portland with the persistent smell of cow dung in the air while he and his family awaited the trains east to the camps. Instead, he mostly maintained a serene, and in his later years a stately, manner as he went about his business.
Or, more accurately, his businesses: in 1949 Mr. Azumano opened his own insurance agency, soon adding a travel agency, and grew both businesses over the 40 years that followed. He also invested his time and money in civic enterprises, establishing scholarships for needy students, serving on commissions, and doing other things to benefit Portland, in a quiet way. Eventually the awards and recognition followed: service as a trustee of Willamette University, the Order of the Rising Sun in 1982 from the Emperor of Japan, and many others.
Through his long and remarkable life, Mr. Azumano was proud to be an American. It says something about a man's character when he can raise a family, succeed in business, contribute to civic life, help educate the poor, and still be loyal to the government that denied him the rights of his neighbors. Portland will miss him.