Big skies and purple mountain majesty

Actually, places like Midland, Texas have the biggest skies.  You can look full circle at the horizon and never see a bump.  But in Montana the sky seems bigger, because every direction you look from a place like Bozeman you see a mountain range, near or far.  After he graduated from Montana State RP Co-founder Darren has worked for three entrepeneurs who moved their families and businesses here.  They  came from Minnesota, Chicago and Maryland, and the internet allows them to locate wherever there’s broadband.  This part of America is doing just fine.

All of Darren’s friends hunt and fish, and are opposed to the Transfer of Public Lands (TPL) to the States. The man they universally loathe is Ted Turner, the largest private land owner in the state.   No one is allowed to hunt on his land, and he discourages fishing on it, even though Montana law makes all the fishing streams in the state legally accessible to the public.  These guys are afraid the State of Montana , to avoid raising taxes, would sell the land to people like Turner, who would block their access.

Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for governor, supports TPL, and according to Darren is taking a lot of grief on it.  Incumbent Democrat Bullock (the man who killed the Article V BBA Resolution in Montana in 2015) is demagoguing the issue, and as far as I can tell Gianforte has not counterattacked.  Since I’ll be here until after Labor Day, I intend to sit sown with whoever is running his campaign and offer some ideas about how to do just that  — take the offense on this issue, and win the election on it.  According to Montana  State Senator Jennifer Fielder, the new leader of the TPL movement, recent polling in the state shows a majority of voters in favor of TPL, a change from the recent past.  The incompetence of the Forest Service and the BLM in managing federal lands is responsible for many of the devastating forest fires that plague the Far West, most definitely including Montana, and people here are aware of it.  In places like Alaska and Utah federal land ownership is a huge obstacle to sensible resource development, but in Montana you can’t sell TPL that way.  You have to argue that the people of Montana know and love the land here best, and are better stewards of their own land than a bunch of metrosexual bureaucrats  in Washington D.C.

Trump was talking to a bunch of Christian ministers at some meeting, and asked if any of them were from Utah.  No one was, as he expected.  He was trying to get someone to explain how he could be in danger of losing the reddest state in the country.  His problems in Utah could be solved in one stroke  —  forceful advocacy of TPL.  It would also put Nevada firmly in his column, and would help in Colorado and New Mexico.  He doesn’t even need to mention the words “resource development”.   Just talk about federal incompetence, and entrusting public lands to the people who live on and by them.  Federalism may be one of those words Trump is unfamiliar with, but he needs to realize, especially in the Far West, that it’s a powerful , winning political argument.

Trump is wisely backtracking from his extreme position on the deportation of illegals.  He needs to do the same on TPL.  He didn’t win any votes by siding with the environmentalists in opposing  it.  He’ll win votes by supporting it.  There may be potential Trump voters back East who don’t like TPL, but it’s a relatively minor and obscure issue to them.  In the Far West, it wins states.

If Trump did a major policy speech which included support for TPL, Gianforte could ride his coattails on this issue to the Governorship.  If that were to happen, Montana would again be a target state for the Article V BBA.  A threefer;  a Trump win, a Gianforte win, and an Article V win.

Whenever I’m in Montana the world’s troubles seem far away.  The natural beauty here is so great it’s like a mini-Alaska.  With much shorter winters.

A decent respect to the opinions of mankind

We haven’t been walking very softly in this world, and we’ve been using our stick a lot.  And what have we gained?   We are despised as racist imperialists in much of the world, and resented in  most of the rest.  What’s the point?  When we finally exit Afghanistan and the Middle East, we will we have steady allies there,  other than Israel?

And exit we will, after a little police action with ISIS.  The more of them we kill, the better. We’re sending a message to the world.  We’ve been overextended in the world, and are pulling back.  But that doesn’t mean we won’t come after you and take you out if we need to.  If we can find you, we’ll come and kill you.

Aside from Israel, the Middle East is not in our sphere of interest.  It’s properly part of a European sphere of interest, and their interest lays in keeping the Russians out.  But that’s up to them and the Russians.  We, like Russia and the Middle East are an oil exporting country.  So our interests, in that regard, no longer align with the importers of the world.  That changes everything.

After WW II, when Britain was going broke, they handed off the “East of Suez” duty to us. At the time we needed the oil, but now we don’t.   Now we’re giving that beat back to them and the other Europeans.  It’s now their problem, and they’re no longer going broke, so they have the means to deal with it.  Come home America.  It didn’t make sense when McGovern said it, and the Cold War was on.  It does now.  People have had it with all these wars.   Bannon needs to figure out how to say that without sounding like a pacifist, but it’s a message that will appeal to people.

We’re getting out of the Middle East, just as Eisenhower got us out of Korea, and Nixon got us out of Vietnam.  Imperial overreach, in each case.  Truman invaded North Korea, and over reached.  Kennedy/Johnson got us into Vietnam, and over reached.  And Bush 2 got us into the Middle East, and over reached.  It’s like a pattern.  The first two were excusable, in some sense, because they were part of the Cold War.  But there’s no excuse for the level of stupidity it took to invade Iraq.  He’s the most disastrous foreign policy President since Wilson, and for the same reason as Wilson  — high minded idealism, paid for in American blood.  A pox on him.

I heard a Billy Jeff (or B.J., as I call him) Clinton quote today that sent a chill down my spine.  He was in Australia, or someplace, talking about “…the ultimate wisdom of a borderless world…”  That’s the way this dumb hippie thinks, and the harridan he’s married to as well.   These people are crazy.  And they want to run this country?  For the benefit of the world?   When Trump says these trade deals are done by stupid people he’s wrong.  They’re not stupid, they’re traitors.  They’re selling their country out, deliberately, to make the world a better and more fair place.

I think a non-interventionist policy overseas is good policy, and good politics.  There aren’t that many neocons in this country.  These are the people who took us to war in the Middle East.  They will soon be gone, but not forgotten.  They will serve as examples of stupidity in the history books..

Off to Jackpot, Nevada tomorrow.  We stay at the “93 Club”, named for the highway.  I’m always amazed to see these people in these casinos.  Looking for a little action in their lives, I guess.  Then across Idaho to Bozeman, where the prospective groom and bride await.  Babbie and I can’t wait for it to be ATW  — after the wedding.  My wife is a nervous wreck.  Other than that, I can’t complain.


The New York Times has a well done piece on the Article V movement today.  Actual journalism from the Grey Lady.  It brings back memories.  I was glad to see a picture of Gary Banz, who is a good face for the cause.  If you’re smart enough to read and understand that article, what part of the Article V BBA doesn’t appeal to you?  Maybe in a subsequent article they could explain that the successful use, by the States, of their Article V power would result in a fundamental shift in our politics, taking power from the center and returning it to the States, and the people.

I’ve been thinking about the whole Sultan/Grand Vizier business with Trump and Pence.  It’s the division between head of state and head of government.  In most countries they are two separate roles, and deep thinkers say combining both functions in the Presidency is a bad idea.  Too much for one person.  The contrast between the roles is best demonstrated by an old Saturday Night Live skit, starring the Gipper.  He’s in the situation room with his top aides, figuring out how they’e going to get money to the Contras, and he’s barking out orders.  He’s in the middle of explaining the grand strategy when he’s interrupted.  He’s got to go out and present some award to the Girl Scouts for selling cookies or something.  So he does a complete personality flip, and becomes the kindly grandfather to the sweet little girl.  Then it’s back to the situation room, and kicking ass and taking names.

The way I see it Pence is in the situation room, and Trump is with the girl scouts.  It sits with each of them.  Trump made the decision to get money to the Contras, but he lets Pence figure out how to do it.

It occurred to made that the way things look at the moment Obama could win a third term.  Thank God for the 22nd Amendment.  The Constitution wasn’t perfect, and God was not responsible for it.  For starters they left out the Bill of Rights, but had the amendment process available to put things right.  They should have included term limits and a balanced budget requirement.  Jefferson, who wasn’t in Philadelphia, said the lack of a requirement of a balanced budget was the Constitution’s greatest flaw.  As Professor Lessig says in the NYT piece, no really controversial amendment would ever be ratified.  That’s why there’s nothing to fear from an Amendment Convention.

The 22nd Amendment was needed because a popular President could become a sort of king, with the enough political power to name his successor, which is not a good idea.  George Washington understood this best, because he had the power to do that, or damn near anything he wanted to.  The only reason the Constitution was  ratified was because the office of President was designed for him.  The problem of the succession of power was familiar to the Framers.  The worst system was the Byzantine, later Ottoman.  The Sultan didn’t govern, he stayed in the harem.  Normally his first born son would succeed him, but that young man was in great danger.  His stepmothers would try to kill him so their own son could take power.  It was a messy way to do business.  The normal practice was for the new Sultan to have all of his brothers strangled, so he would have no legitimate rivals.

Life in a harem has a certain appeal, but it’s not for everyone.   One son of the Sultan was raised there, in isolation, and stayed there for 50 years.  He got to wearing steel straps on the bottom of his shoes, so you could hear him coming.  All the women in the harem had to scurry away when he approached.  He couldn’t stand women.

At the 1964 Convention I couldn’t get in the Cow Palace to see Goldwater’s acceptance speech, but I did see Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois nominate him.  Dirksen was the Senate Minority Leader, and a moderate.  But Goldwater won, fair and square, and Dirksen was a loyal Republican.  One of his favorite sayings was that he was a man of principle, and one of his first principles was flexibility.

With Trump, it’s time for something completely different.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Before I swallowed my pride and came around to Trump I used to go to some Never Trump websites to commiserate with fellow tortured soul conservatives.  I still check them out, because I sympathize with them, but their line of thinking is getting stale.  They’re making assumptions, which is never a good idea in politics.

They assume he can’t win, won’t learn and would be a failure if elected.  To which I counter: Pence, Conway & Bannon  – – aside from his family, his inner circle.  With them he’s learning, he could win, and he could govern.  They are his political brain trust, and Mike Pence is foremost among them.  We’ve heard stories about one of Trump’s sons asking Kasich to be the V.P., with responsibility for both domestic and foreign policy, while their father made America great again.  These are from Kasich, who hates Trump, so take them with a grain of salt.  But they sound right to me.  Trump’s a delegater, who remains in charge, but allows his subordinates a free hand.    Vice President Pence would be the Grand Vizier, while Trump plays the Sultan.  This arrangement has worked in other countries for extended periods of time.  I think it suits Trump’s personal desires and his own capabilities.  The Vice Presidency of Mike Pence would be like something we’ve never seen in this country.

Think about the possibilities.  As de facto President, Pence could sit down with McConnell and Ryan and actually get some things done.  Big things, which the times demand.  It’s a hope, and about the only one available.  What else have you got?

What these Never Trumpers have to admit is that he knows more about politics than they do, a lot more.  It’s not even close.  I don’t think any of these people have ever run for office, or managed a campaign, or served in elected office.  They don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to actual, on the ground politics.  They’re faculty lounge political experts, who need to understand that lack of knowledge does not equal stupidity.  Trump’s ignorant as hell because he doesn’t read books.  But not everybody that’s smart reads books.  It’s a fact.   Google it.

Trump is a public relations genius, and he just demonstrated that’s all you need to be to win the nomination of a party, and perhaps the Presidency.  It’s never been done before, and is only possible in today’s world.  Trump is a avid follower of all media, including social media.  This is what he does. He’s  P.R. guy, pure and simple.  He knows just enough about policy to get by, and the whole subject doesn’t interest him.  Let Pence handle that stuff.

Some Christian woman at one of these web sites said she can’t vote for either Clinton or Hillary, so she’ll leave it up to God.    Lady, I hate to tell you, God’s not going to decide this election, and will bear no responsibility for it.  When the wildebeest come to the crocodile infested river, they have a binary choice, jump in and maybe get eaten, or turn back and starve.  No good choice there.  Jumping in the river is like voting for Trump.  It could get ugly.  But voting for Clinton you know what you get  – – it’s over.

These guys at NRO imagine themselves as the heirs of William F. Buckley, but I’m not buying it.  I know as much about Buckley as they do, and he actually understood a thing or two about politics.  He was one of the main guys behind Goldwater.

At the 1964 Republican Convention I sat directly behind Buckley at some event in a hall somewhere.  His leg was in a cast, which people said he broke kicking a TV set, but that wasn’t true.  He broke it skiing or something.  But he didn’t discourage the story about kicking the TV.  He had the air of a bon vivant about him, and it was very appealing.

So I can talk for Buckley as much as these NRO guys.  And I say, man up, admit you were wrong, and make the best of a bad situation.



I did it my way

Trump claims to be a Christian, but you have to wonder.  Asked if he ever sought forgiveness, he said he had never done anything that needed to be forgiven.  That’s not just vanity, it’s the sin of pride.  And as the Good Book says, “Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall.”  It is the greatest sin against God, because it challenges His higher power.

Maybe if Trump had been raised Catholic, and was taught the sacrament of Confession, he might have a better understanding.  In the Coen brothers’ “Hail Caesar” Josh Brolin plays a tough as nails movie executive, who bitch slaps a movie star played by George Clooney for his commie loving ways.  But he’s a good Catholic, and when he breaks his promise to his wife, that he’ll quit smoking, he goes to church and makes his confession.  (Bitch slapping Clooney was not a sin, so he didn’t have to confess to that.) It’s not that hard.

Sister Mary Joseph taught me about Confession in the second grade.  There were mortal and venial sins.  Violating any of the Ten Commandments was a sin, but some were mortal and some were venial.  It was complicated.   When you entered the confessional you said to the priest, “Bless me father, for I have sinned.  My last confession was … weeks ago.”  Then you told him your sins, and he told you to make an act of contrition, which was usually saying the Hail Mary ten or twenty times, depending on the severity of your sins.  I think I was seven when I made by first confession, and I didn’t confess to much, but the whole thing did make you feel better.

If Trump won’t apologize to Mrs. Khan, he needs to do an act of contrition.  I suggested sending her a framed portrait of her son in uniform, but it could be some other act.  It needs to be done, and not just for the politics of it.  It’s just right.

Trump’s in a black church today, which is about time.  If he’s ever in California he should go to McFarland, in the Central Valley.  It’s about 90% Mexican-American, and was shown in the Kevin Costner movie McFarland, U.S. A.  It’s agricultural economy is devastated by drought, but the water it needs is being used to save the delta smelt, a bait fish which actually does better in reservoirs than it does in the delta.  Millions of acres of feet of water are wasted on this f…ing minnow.  Trump could go there and donate an aquarium to the high school, with some delta smelt in it.  Give McFarland the water, and it will take care of the fish.

Thank God the Olympics are over, and we can get back to politics.  I can’t watch it on TV because of Bob Costas, who makes me hurl every time I see him.  But I did see the 1500 meter race, and the winner’s dad in the stands, swearing a blue streak as his son won the gold.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

A year from today is the Great American Eclipse, and my family, friends and I will be in Jackson, Wyoming.  If you haven’t made reservations wherever you intend to be, you should get on it.  They’re jacking the prices up all across the country.  It’s a free market, baby, and to the swift go the spoils.

Different people will interpret the symbolic significance of the event in their own way.  Since it is, in fact, the great American eclipse, it must have something to do with America.  And since a darkness will come over the land, followed by a return of the light and the resurrection of the son, it should be a rebirth of sorts.    An American Revival, perhaps, or some such term.

One way or the other, a lot’s going to happen in the next twelve months.  We are not destined to live in a quiet time.