Mountain Man Peter Ranne, the first black American in California

Peter Ranne was a black mountain man. We would know nothing about him, but for the journal of Harrison Rogers, hired as his clerk by Jedediah “Diah” Smith for his epic South West Expedition of 1826.

The new firm of Smith, Jackson and Sublette had just been formed to trap beaver in the Rockies and all the Far West. While his partners led expeditions to established fur bearing country, Smith left the second fur rendezvous at Cache Valley, Utah with 19 picked men to explore and hunt for beaver in the virgin territory of the American Southwest. Peter Ranne was one of these men. They were not employees. They were free mountain men, who sold their furs to the firm which engaged them at $3.00 a pound.

From the Idaho-Utah border they headed southwest, across what Smith called a Country of Starvation, until they reached the Virgin River near present day St. George Utah, following it down to the Colorado. Then west, across the Mojave Desert, reaching the San Bernadino Valley on November 26, 1826. They stayed at Mission San Gabriel, waiting for the Mexican authorities to grant them permission to travel north, in search of beaver. After a long delay, the were granted an interview with the Governor-General in San Diego. Smith chose Peter Ranne to accompany him for this critical meeting.

Ordered to leave the country the way they came in, Smith and his party headed back east, but decided to ignore their instructions and follow the western side of the Sierras to the north, in a search of pelts. They harvested 1500 pounds of beaver, and in May of 1827 attempted to cross the Sierras up the rugged canyon of the American River. Unable to make the passage with their goods, they retreated back into California,

Smith needed to meet his partners at the summer rendezvous of 1827, so he left his party and all his goods in California, and headed back across the Sierras through Ebbetts Pass with two men. This was the first crossing of the Sierra Nevada by any man other than an Indian.

After conferring with his partners, Smith left the third rendezvous at Bear Lake, on the Idaho -Utah border, on July 13, 1827, with a party of 18 men. He returned to California, again crossing the Mojave Desert into the San Bernadino Valley, and eventually rejoined Ranne and eight others remaining from the 1826 expedition. Rather than try again to pack out all their pelts, they were sold to a ship’s captain. With the proceeds Smith purchased 250 horses, at $10 a head. They headed north into Oregon with this herd, intending to drive them east, back to the fur country in the Rockies, where they could be sold at great profit.

Half way up the Oregon Coast, they camped where the now named Smith River joins the Umpqua. On the morning of July 14. 1828 Smith and two others left to scout the trail for the day’s journey. The remaining 16 men, including Ranne, were attacked by a band of 100 Kelawatset Indians. Only one, Arthur Black, escaped alive.

Thus ends the tale of Peter Ranne, the first black American to reach California by land, and the first to see the state for himself, from San Diego to Oregon. He survived great hardships, and died young, but lived the life a free American man, free as only the mountain men of the American far west ever were.

Impeachment and the Salem witch trials

Biden’s time begins in the laughable theatre of the absurd, the vengeance impeachment of his accomplished predecessor. The farcical nature of this trial is a prelude to the entire two years remaining under Pelosi and Schumer. Congress has sunk low in the past, but these two years will mark a new low, lower than any Congress in the last 232 years.

Nothing will be done, but the drama will be continuous. Just like the impeachment. All show, no substance. And what a show it will be. The left hates this country and all it stands for. These people have been coddled since birth, given every advantage of a rich country. They hate themselves, so naturally they hate their country.

I feel like I’m in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693. The hysteria is reaching a fever pitch. It’s madness, but back then 30 were declared witches, and 19 hanged.

They’d do that to us again, if they could, but they can’t. They’re weak. But they’re going to damage this country, as much as they can.

But this is a very strong country, and it is defended by strong men and women. When the hysteria passes, we’ll get this country back on track.

As Webster County goes, so goes Georgia

Webster is a small, rural county in southwestern Georgia. Maybe a thousand votes. These people are farm people. 54% whites 44% black. In November Trump carried it by two. Webster just reported, amazingly early, that both R’s are winning by four.

So the first concrete sign is good. But no matter what the result, either way, we have, effectively, gridlock. Nothing’s going to get done, not a budget, or anything big. House Democrats are split, and any number of small groups of co-conspirators can block any bill. The Senate has multiple power blocs, all able to thwart any bill.

This is going to be ugly.

Alaska judicial tyranny, 1982, and now?

Republican Governor Dunleavy will reapportion the state, and Democratic Alaska Supreme Court won’t like the result. Their political opponents, Republicans, will gain seats. They hope to see a Democrat elected Governor in 2022, and they want that Democrat to do the job. That way their Democratic allies in the legislature will gain power.

Forty years ago, it was the same — a Republican Governor (Hammond) and an election for governor coming up. Jay Rabinowitz didn’t want to rule Hammond’s plan unconstitutional. There would be no point to that, if Hammond was succeeded by another Republican. If a new Republican governor could fix Hammond’s basic plan, there would be no point to overturning it.

But if a Democrat won the election, that new Governor could start over, and gerrymander the state for the Democrats. So Justice Jay Rabinowitz didn’t issue a ruling. He took the case challenging Hammond’s plan under advisement, waiting on the results of the election. Sure enough, a Democrat won, and Rabinowitz decided Hammond’s plan had been unconstitutional all along, and gave Democratic Governor Bill Sheffield unfettered authority to reapportion the state.

As a result, I only served two years in the Alaska State Senate. Governor Sheffield gerrymandered me out of my seat. I’ve been pissed off about it ever since. And I’ll do what I can to see that it doesn’t happen again.

The Revenge of Clarence Thomas and Friends

29 years ago Joe Biden chaired Senate Judiciary, and presided over the “high tech lynching” of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Since then, Brett Kavanaugh has been subjected to similar treatment by the Democratic members of the same committee. Alito, Gorsuch and Barrett were also unfairly abused, it not quite so brutally.

Clarence Thomas didn’t just take the abuse. He fought back, telling Biden to his face, ” . . . I think that this today is a travesty. I think that it is disgusting. I think that this hearing should never occur in America.” Given what Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett were forced to put up with, I think he spoke for all of them.

But given the constraints all five Justices were subject to, they could not really respond adequately to all the cheap shots, character assassination, and abuse they were forced to suffer. Now, together, they can let their actions speak for them.

Their first salvo was Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, when they told Democratic Governor Cuomo of New York to stop harassing his church-going constituents. It’s only appropriate that this first exercise of power by the new Thomas Majority should be in defense of the religion in which they were all raised — Catholicism.

There is more to come, so much more that it will amount to a judicial counter-revolution. Undoing Roe v. Wade is just for openers. We’ve got 85 years of judicial activism to work with. Talk about your target rich environments!

This isn’t the work of one term, or one presidential administration. This is the work of a generation. Thomas is 72 and Alito 70, and they are both in good health, and good spirits. For the next ten years, at least, we can expect the Thomas Majority to hold, and it’s not unreasonable to expect both Thomas and Alito will be able to retire during a Republican administration, thus assuring their judicial legacy will continue. Kavanaugh is 55, Gorsuch 53 and Barrett 48. They’re all going to be around for a very long time.

Restoring American liberty is a big job, and they’ve got all the time in the world.

In 1973 Fritz Pettyjohn ran for President of the Student Bar Association at UCLA School of Law. He promised to abolish the association if elected. He got a quarter of the vote.