Much ado about nothing

How much of a hassle are we willing to inflict on people coming here from nests of Islamic fanatics, in order to prevent another San Bernadino massacre?   If we have to keep 1,000 peaceful Muslims out, in order to stop one terrorist, that’s what we need to do.  Non-citizens seeking entry to this country have no rights.  They don’t get a presumption of innocence.  As far as I’m concerned if you’re from one of these hell holes you’re presumed guilty until proven innocent.  Call it extreme vetting.

And such an uproar!   But how many deaths have resulted from Trump’s order?  None.  How many terrorists will it keep out, and how many American lives will be saved?   We’ll never know.  Better safe than sorry.  You have to give this to Trump, he doesn’t back off.  He mocks Chuck Schumer for crying.  Horrors!

But won’t this make Muslims mad at us?  What are they going to do, march around shouting “Death to America!”?   Oh, wait, they already do that, along with trying to kill us any chance they get.  But what about all those moderate Muslims?  Are they now going to become terrorists?  Is this what pushes them over the edge?

When you push people far enough you get pushed back, and the American people have been on the receiving end for far too long.  We need to make a deal with these Moslems.  You leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.  We’re not going to invade any more Moslem countries to overturn governments and build democracies.  But we will go anywhere in the world that we need to go in order to kill terrorists.  Within a year ISIS will be in shreds, and we’ll bring our soldiers back from the Middle East, and we’ll stay away unless we need to come back and kill some more lunatics who pose a threat to us.

My family post yesterday was full of errors, and I need to set the record straight.  Ten years ago I got all this Pettyjohn research off the internet, and it was an in depth genealogy.  And there they were, three Thomas Pettyjohns in a row.  I compared this professionally done research with a Pettyjohn family tree that I have, which has three straight Thomas Pettyjohns in it, and I assumed they were the same.  But it turns out I am not descended from Revolutionary War Veteran John Pettyjohn III and his offspring, Thomas Jefferson Pettyjohn, Thomas Jr., and Thomas III.  My line starts with James in 1635, then his son John, grandson James, and his great grandson Thomas, followed by two more Thomases.  A different line of Pettyjohns.  They stayed in Delaware for four generations, and then moved on to Indiana and eventually South Dakota.

I got in touch cousin Ted, with one of the South Dakota Pettyjohns, today, and hope to see him in Jackson, Wyoming for the August 21st Great American Eclipse.  If you like this blog, you’re invited as well.  Come one, come all.  Unfortunately all the rooms are booked, so you may need to bring a camper.

I remember telling my Uncle Fritz about becoming a lawyer, and he said the only Pettyjohn from our family that was a lawyer was shot in the back in Dodge City for being a horse thief.  Ted sent me a link to a book that basically confirms what Uncle Fritz said.  Grant Pettyjohn, one my great grandfathers brothers, was a lawyer, and a small town newspaper publisher in Taloga, Oklahoma in the 1890’s.  He’s mentioned  as part of a criminal gang in Getting Away With Murder On the Texas Frontier.  One of his partners was on trial for murder, and he was charged with suborning jurors, $100 per juror.  They all got off scot-free.

It’s nice to know some of the stuff Uncle Fritz told me was true.


Is it permissible to be proud of your American ancestors?

There’s an aspect of American patriotism that not all Americans share  — a long history of American ancestors.  For some reason people like Jonah Goldberg get their knickers in a knot over what they call “blood and soil patriotism.”   It reminds them of the Germans and their patriotism, which has proven to be a danger to themselves and others.  This is a false comparison.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Jonah’s blood is as red, white and blue as mine is.  I would no more question his devotion to our country than I would that of one of my personal heroes, Henry Kissinger.  Some immigrants, like the good Doctor, love this country on a more profound level than most of the native born.  It’s the zeal of a convert, the gratitude of a man who has escaped certain death, and finds himself in a land of freedom that few in this world enjoy.

My ancestor James Pettyjohn was born in Northampton County, Virginia in 1635.  I’m a 12th generation American.  Several of my direct ancestors were soldiers in the Revolutionary War.  One of them, William Pettyjohn, was a Delegate to the Virginia Assembly in 1786.  He wasn’t from the slave owning aristocracy, he was a yeoman farmer, the kind beloved by Thomas Jefferson.  I can’t prove it, yet,  but I’m sure he voted for the Resolution calling for the Annapolis Convention.  He would have also voted to send Washington, Madison and Mason, with four others, to the Philadelphia Convention.

I’m proud of that, but I don’t think that makes me a better American than anyone else.  But what does make me different is that I have hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of cousins in this country.   There are only five to ten thousand American Pettyjohns, all descended from  James and his wife, Isabel Heath.  But I’m not just a Pettyjohn, I’m a Heath, just like Sarah Heath Palin.  There’s a decent chance we’re cousins.  I’m also a Long, a Wilson, a Dodd, etc. etc.   Over the course of twelve generations Pettyjohns have married just about every common English surname you can think of.  And some of these people named Mitchell, or Wells, or Steel are my cousins.

And these people were prolific.  A family of eight was normal.  Thomas Jefferson Pettyjohn, one of the sons of Revolutionary War veteran John Pettyjohn, married his cousin Ruth Pettyjohn and they had thirteen.  He died before the seventh son was born, and he was named Thomas Jefferson Pettyjohn Jr.   He married Charity Wisbey, and they had twelve, including my great great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Petyjohn III.

These were the people who settled this country, from sea to shining sea.  Many of them never left the land.  They’re still there, in rural America.  They put Trump in the White House.  They are blood and soil patriots, but they don’t think they have any more right to this country than the people who came after them.  They married them, for the most part.  They didn’t care that Obama was black, or came from Kenya.  But they got the sense that he was more of a citizen of the world than he was an American, and they wanted something completely different.  And along came Trump.

I ran across all this ancestry on the internet about ten years ago.  I had no idea.  My Uncle Fritz told me Pettyjohn was an Irish name.  He said he was in London before the Normandy jump, and went to the Tower of London to research our name.  It went back to a pikeman, named Petit Jean, who fought alongside William the Conqueror.  As a reward for his services he was granted land in Scotland, which wasn’t worth much, since Scotland was unconquered at the time.

It was when Uncle Fritz told me this story that I started to wonder if all this stuff he’d been telling me could possibly be true.

In a box, trying to think out of it.

In 2015 the estimable Stanley Greenberg, one of the great deep thinkers of the American left, wrote America Ascendant, a guide to the 2016 election for the Democratic Party .  Two issues were foremost  — the environment and inequality.  He said it forthrightly.  “Democrats will have to make the case for governmental activism at the national level.”  In fact, during the course of the campaign, Clinton took his advice.  It was one of the reasons she lost to Trump the Improbable.  She had nothing to say.

The Democratic Party of today relies on black and Latino votes and environmental money.  Unfortunately a lot of American blacks and Latinos have bought into the federal government being their permanent best friend.  And the environmentalists would just as soon have the federal government, under their control, running everything.  And, of course, there’s a third leg to the Democratic base  — public sector employees, especially the teacher’s unions.

To the members of the Great American Middle (the 20% of voters who are switch hitters) who are not part of this base, what do the Democrats offer?  In this era of Trump, how can they distinguish themselves from him in a way that appeals to the middle?  Is there an proposal with broad public support that he opposes?

Trump is the self proclaimed King of Debt, and that $20 trillion in federal debt doesn’t faze him at all.  He thinks big.  He’s a builder, and he’s going to get a chance to build something he’d only dreamed of until now.  The Navy.  Ships, big and small, lethal and technologically state of the art.  We need a modernized Navy, and Trump is going to build it.  The Navy is more important than the debt.  There is no reason to believe that under Trump we will continue to have annual deficits of half a trillion to a trillion dollars.

The Great American Middle wants a balanced budget.  It’s a 75-25 proposition, just like term limits.  If you’re a Democrat in Maryland who wants to think outside the box, why not support a Balanced Budget Amendment?

Rescission bills have been filed in the Maryland House and Senate, and we’re in danger of losing it, just as we lost Delaware last year.  Democrats have supermajorities in both chambers, and the bills are supported by Common Cause, the public employees unions, and the Soros network of organizations.  Soros beat us in Montana two years ago, and he’s probably responsible for Delaware as well.  It’s true. We’re up against Dr. Evil.   I feel like James Bond..

Our hope is that there are Democrats in the Maryland Legislature who are willing to think outside the box.   Is it really smart for the Democratic Party, heading into 2018, to be identified as the Party which killed the Balanced Budget Amendment?  If there was ever a President who needed to be restrained in his spending, it’s Trump.  He doesn’t have the stomach to cut entitlements.  If he’s denied money he’ll have to cut back on the Navy.  Or whatever other boondoggle he’s got up his sleeve.

This is the argument that needs to be made to these Maryland Democrats, and our own Dave Guldenschuh is the man to make it.  Guldenschuh vs. Soros, one on one.  In addition to being the most prominent constitutional lawyer in the Article V  movement, Dave is a very effective lobbyist, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line.  In places like Minnesota, his drawl is disapproved of.  It’s a cultural thing.  But he’d do fine in Maryland.

Losing Maryland wouldn’t be fatal.  It would just mean we’d have to take Minnesota.  Which, if we have to, I think we can.  If it’s the 34th, and the light of day shines on St.Paul in its deliberations.



Does the “Art of the Deal” include self-dealing?

As a libertarian, I don’t like tariffs, because they empower the government.  When a trade deal is negotiated, there are winners and losers in every country involved.  Farmers’ interests may be sacrificed to favor industry, or vice versa.  The special interest with the most political power prevails.

Libertarians are not in charge of our government, or any other, and the United States is required to live in the world as it is, so we’re going to have trade deals with President Trump  — lots of them.  Britain and the Anglosphere are at the head of the line, along with Japan.  As Benny Avni points out in the NY Post, a deal with Japan sets the stage for close military cooperation with Japan, which sets up the whole alliance of Asian nations concerned about Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.  Some kind of confrontation seems to loom, unless the Chinese pull in their horns.  The outcome is foreordained:  the Chinese Navy is no match for ours and our allies’.

By successfully countering Chinese aggression, we’ll get better terms in our trade deals.  Our trading partners owe their national security, in no small part, to the United States.  Trump and his team of negotiators will get a good deal for this country, I have no doubt of that.

But which specific industries will be protected, and which won’t?   A lot of money rides on that answer, and it’s basically Trump’s call.  You want to be a Trump-stock, as CNBC’s Jim Cramer calls them.  You don’t want to be not-a-Trump-stock.  Every time a CEO visits Trump, their share price gets a bounce.  I did it myself.  When the Sprint CEO met with Trump, and promised to bring home 5,000 jobs, I bought the stock immediately. Sprint may want to combine with T-Mobile, and if they do my shares will do well.  A deal like that needs the government’s approval.  Since Sprint is now a Trump-stock, it’s more likely to happen.

This is too much power to have in one man’s hands, and it makes me uncomfortable. The Congressional Republicans may need to show some spine if it looks like Trump is somehow abusing his power.  But they won’t.  Because he wouldn’t abuse it for personal gain, but for political gain, and the Republicans will share in the winnings.  This is corporatism, a few rungs above fascism on the ladder into hell.

Add to this the executive power abuse by Obama, a precedent for Trump, and it’s something to be concerned about.

One of my favorite writers, Walter Russell Mead, along with Sean Keeley, are out with their rankings of the world’s great powers.  To the traditional Big Five they’ve added #6 India, #7 Iran, and #8, Israel.  I don’t count Iran or Israel as a great power, but they’re probably right about adding India, a natural ally of the United States.  But, who isn’t?

Maybe China, and they’re rated at a tie for #2 with Japan, followed  by Russia and Germany.  I rate the Japanese very highly, but I didn’t think they were as strong as China.  I hope they’re right.  Japan is a natural ally of the United States.  But, who isn’t?

#1 and #2 are natural rivals.  As #1, we watch #2’s carefully, and try to ensure that they don’t ally themselves with #3, #4, and #5.   In our case, Japan, Russia and Germany.  The Japanese are with us, as are the Germans.  If we have a close and mutually beneficial with Russia, and keep them from allying themselves with China, we’ll be in the catbird’s seat.  This is balance of power politics, and it’s not hard for us to do, because we have no natural enemies.  Our former enemies, Germany and Japan, are our friends.   Bring in Russia and India, and we’re all one big happy family.

This is how you get a good trade deal with China.

It’s time for me to admit it.  Trump looks like he knows exactly what he’s doing, and he’s doing it right.  I knew, in October of 2013, that the political tide had turned, and a conservative revival was at hand.  Liberal progressivism was a spent force with the collapse of Obamacare, and our day would soon arrive, a fulfillment of what Barry Goldwater campaigned on in 1964.

Up there in heaven in the place for American heroes sits Barry Goldwater of Arizona, and I’ll be he’s smiling now.  And I’ll bet he’s as surprised as I am.


Mark Levin should read the Federalist Papers

The Article V movement owes a debt of gratitude to Mark Levin.  His book, The Liberty Amendments, published in 2013, brought the issue to the attention of the conservative reading public, and to a fair number of State Legislators as well.  Unfortunately, he favors a multi-subject Amendment Convention, and this political error has had very unfortunate consequences  — in particular, the Convention of States Project (CoS).

For the last few years Levin has used his radio show to promote CoS, to the exclusion of other Article V efforts, such as the BBA Task Force.  Now that the CoS effort is gasping its last, perhaps he’ll be willing to think anew, and act anew.  At least he could acknowledge our existence.  That would be helpful.  His website, Conservative Review,  has never mentioned the Article V Balanced Budget Amendment.  This is curious, to say the least.  We do have 28 of 34, and we do have an excellent chance of hitting the magic number this year.  He could claim some of the credit.  He’s the dog that doesn’t bark, and I don’t know why.

If Mark had read Federalist 85 more carefully, he might have avoided the fatal mistake of a multi-subject Amendment Convention.  Hamilton says, “But every amendment to the Constitution, if once established,would be a single proposition, and might be brought forward singly.”  Hamilton realized Amendment Conventions should, and would, have a single subject.   He was a practical politician, and he understood the political process.  No experienced politician would ever draft a bill, or an amendment, with two or more controversial proposals within it.  It’s like politics for beginners.

Trump’s latest bromance is with Narendra Modi of India.  They talked a couple days ago, and a visit will come soon.  Trump promised the Indian and Hindu community they would have a friend in the White House, and he’s keeping his word.

I like to think this is a product of strategic thinking.  The fact that Defense Secretary Mattis’ first overseas visit will be to South Korea and Japan is also strategic, as is the visit next month by Japanese Prime Minister Abe.  Great Britain, as the leader of the Anglosphere, is also part of the strategy.  A good relationship with Vladimir Putin is also part of it as well.

I think Trump plans to confront China in the South China Sea.  It could potentially get dangerous.  The mission of the United States Navy is freedom of the seas.  It’s a service we, along with our allies, provide to all the peoples and nations of the world.  China’s claim to territorial waters off the coast of some speck of land is an affront to the freedom of the seas, and must be resisted, with force, if necessary.  If it gets down to it, we want India and all the Anglosphere, and the Japanese, and South Koreans, and, yes, Russians on our side.  This is why Trump wants to give :Putin a bear hug  — we want the Russians at our back if we have to get rough with China.

For some reason I’ve always been sort of a Russophile.  I guess because of all the great Russian literature I read when I was young.  When Babbie and I were getting married in 1971 I went to the Russian Orthodox Church in San Francisco to see if they would perform the wedding service.  No dice, so Roman Catholic it was.  When we got to Anchorage in 1974 I took her to a Sunday Mass at the Russian Orthodox Church.  This was shortly after the birth of our first child, and she wasn’t full strength.  It was a two hour service, and we stood the whole time.  Hey, I tried.

Even back during the Cold War, we really didn’t hate the Russians, just their government.  Now that they’re no longer a threat to us, we revert to a natural friendliness to the Russian people, especially the ones like Maria Sharapova.  It’s obvious from his wife’s looks that Trump is a slavophile.  I guess he thinks like me.  How can you hate a people that have such good looking women?