The log jam breaks

At last, a touch of genuine grace.  After being toasted by Mitch McConnell at the post-inaugural luncheon, Trump was invited to say a few words.  He seemed a little caught off guard, and said he figured everyone had heard enough of him.  Then he thought of something he did want to say, and warmly thanked Hillary Clinton for attending, and asked her to stand and be applauded.  It all seemed sincere and spontaneous.  It’s the kind of small gesture that sets a tone, and it’s a moment that bodes well for our 45th President.

The inaugural address was all work, no play.  I like literature, and some political speech attains that level.  But Trump talked plainly, like a man with a job to do, a man who lets his actions speak for him.  What sets Trump’s speech apart from any other I am aware of was its almost total lack of self reference.  He didn’t say one word about himself, his background, his experiences.  There was a lot he could have said, but he didn’t.  More reason for optimism.

May is just 100 days away, and I feel like a ten year old at the carnival.  This could really be a lot of fun.  Trump said it.  “We are transferring power from Washington D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”  From your lips to God’s ear, Mr. President.  This was Reagan’s project, but he sacrificed it in order to win the Cold War.  But now there can be no excuse. This is long overdue, and the benefits are going to be enormous.  So many good ideas, and legislation, has been laying dormant, waiting for this alignment of power, that all kinds of good things may happen.  Let it be.

Meanwhile, Article V marches on.  Loren Enns gave us further details on the win in the Wyoming House, which did not involve the help of a Democrat, as I’d thought.  I want to thank and acknowledge the help of Rep. Scott Clem of Campbell and Rep. Nathan Winters of Thermopolis, home of the world’s largest mineral hot spring.  And thanks, again, to Rep. Bo Biteman, for being willing to listen.  The Senate will be working on its own bills for the next two weeks, so we won’t come up until early February.  But during debate on another Resolution in the Senate, Senate President Eli Bebout made reference to ours, and let everyone know he expects it to pass.  With Eli in charge, I think we’re just fine in the Senate.

Bills are filed in Arizona, Idaho, Wisconsin, Kentucky and South Carolina.  As each bill goes through the committee process, and on to a floor vote, the BBA Task Force is going to need a representative on the ground, in the Capitol, at each step of the way.  We simply can’t rely on our sponsors.  They don’t understand all the nuances of this process, and can be misled into mistakes.  If Loren Enns had not been present for the floor debate, our sponsors would have agreed to an amendment which would have nullified the effect of the Resolution.  He was able to call Rob Natelson, who advised him that the amendment was deadly.  The floor debate, and rules committee meetings on the floor, took up several hours, with the opposition trying every trick they could think of.  We don’t really need to worry that this kind of fight lay before us in every chamber we need to pass, but we need to be prepared for it.

Dave Biddulph and John Knubel are raising money in Seattle, and are having some success.  It would seem to me that the closer we get to 34, the easier it will be to raise money.  29 sounds better than 28, and when you get to 30 and 31 it starts to look real.

It all happens in the next hundred days, just as the Trump administration is making its mark on Washington.  It will be a great beginning to a magical year.  The year of the Great American Eclipse, the revival of the American economy, and the restoration of the United States Constitution.

And the 250th birthday of the great Andrew Jackson.  It’s just two months away, on March 15th.  President Trump should visit Nashville to pay his respects at the Hermitage.  If he’s half the man Jackson was, we’re in good hands.

 

A lesson for President Trump from the Gipper

In 1973 Libya claimed the Gulf of Sidra as part of its territorial waters, and sporadically harassed American reconnaissance aircraft above its waters.  Seven months after he took office Ronald Reagan ordered a large naval force, led by the carriers USS Forrestal and USS Nimitz, into the disputed area.  Two F-14 “Black Aces”, piloted by Commander Hank Kleenmann and Lieutenant Lawrence “Music” Mucszynski, shot down a pair of Libyan Sukhoi Su-22’s which had fired a missile at them.  Since that time, no one has questioned that the Gulf of Sidra is in international waters.  If you’d like to see Kleenmann’s F-14, it’s at the Reagan Library.

China is challenging the world by claiming sovereignty in the South China Sea, and as the leading maritime power of the world it’s up to the United States to back them down, by force if necessary.  Freedom of the seas is a vital national interest, and always has been.  We haven’t been in a lot of wars, but three of them were because of this issue  — our first, Jefferson’s war against the Barbary Pirates at the beginning of the 19th century, the War of 1812, and the First World War.  On this issue, we mean business.  I expect President Trump to get this taken care of.  If he doesn’t, he’s not the man he says he is.

We passed the Wyoming House on third and final passage, 35-23.  It’s on to the Senate, where I expect Senate President Eli Bebout will see it passes quickly.  Number 29 is just around the corner.

It was a tough fight, all the way to the final tally.  The hard right wing of the Republican Party in Wyoming went down fighting.  They trafficked in pure fear mongering, and much of what they claim to be afraid of will be resolved at the Nashville Convention this summer, but they are a force to be reckoned with in these western States.    We got out of Judiciary, even though we were outnumbered there, because one member of this group, Rep. Bo Biteman, decided to think on his own.  He not only voted against his core right wing clique, he refused to do the bidding of the man who financed their campaigns, an investor from Jackson named Dan Brophy.  I hope to shake Bo’s hand some day.  If only there were more like him.

Bill Fruth tells me we also got out of Judiciary because we got a Democrat vote.  This is one of the very few time that I know of where a Democrat has provided us with a necessary vote, one we would lose without.  I think this may be significant.  We’re all worried about possible rescissions in New Mexico, Maryland, and Nevada.  But my hunch is that the Democratic State legislators in these States will not be uniformly against the Balanced Budget Amendment.  It’s politically popular, and with Trump in power it may have some appeal on the merits.  I’ll find out the name of that Wyoming Democrat.  I want to know if there are more like her out there.

I’d like to meet Dan Brophy some day.  I bet we agree on most everything.  I admire him for what he’s trying to do in Wyoming.  I wish there were more like him.  Once he understands he’s wrong on Article V, he’ll be a good ally to have.

The bear, the dragon and the eagle

Niall Ferguson is the rare historian who manages to come up with some real original analysis.  He’s teaching at Harvard now, and is hardly a provocateur like the Saker, who I have referenced earlier.  When he speaks, he deserves a listen.

A couple weeks after the election he wrote a piece for The American Interest called “Donald Trump’s New World Order.”  If you’re looking for some thoughtful discussion of where Trump may be heading, it’s worth a look.  He imagines a Trump foreign policy based on the world view of Henry Kissinger.  He understands Kissinger better than anyone, since he’s doing an authorized “warts and all” biography of him, the first volume of which came out in 2015.

Using a little imagination, he sees the possibility of a new Triple Entente for the 21st Century, consisting of the United States, Russia and China.  Taking a back seat in this new world order would be Western Europe, Iran, Turkey and most of the rest of the world.

I’ve made my opinion clear on this blog about my prediction, or hope, rather, of a Russian-American alliance.  It has to be founded on a neutral and federal Ukraine.  Ferguson agrees, and goes further.  Rather than form a common front against the Chinese, Russia and the U.S. should reach a mutual understanding with them.   Apparently the border disputes between Russia and China have been taken care of, so these two countries don’t really have anything to fight about.  And we don’t have anything to fight about with either one of them.  China is going to have to back off in the South China Sea.  They’re no match for the United States Navy, and they know it.  We take our right to freedom of the seas very seriously, as we’ve proven.  That’s what propelled us into WW I.  We will not allow China, or anyone else in the world, to cut us off from the world’s trade routes.  The Chinese aren’t crazy, and this problem can be negotiated.

The world order would revert to the what it was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, and Ferguson recommends TR as a role model for Trump.  He believed in legitimate spheres of influence and maintaining a balance of power.  With the three greatest powers in the world  — the U.S., China and Russia  — cooperating with one another, the threat of radical Islam, anathema to them all, could be eradicated quickly.

As a side note, isn’t it curious that Chinese President Xi is being portrayed by the media as some sort of benevolent force in the world, as opposed to the monster Putin?   There is more repression, and less freedom, in China than in Russia, so why does Xi get a pass?  Maybe bringing Xi in on the Trump/Putin bromance will make it more palatable to the Trump haters.

Of course, the spheres of influence and the balance of powers In TR’s time failed to prevent World War One, so maybe we should try something else?  Sorry, been there and done that.  The United Nations, or any other international body, is not the answer.  The way to avoid war is through the cooperation of the great powers of the world, and there’s absolutely no reason it can’t happen.  And I think it will.  There will be the problem of trade with China to be resolved, and that may take years to accomplish.  But as the European Union dissolves, and a Russian-American relationship flowers, the path to lasting world peace lies with the Bear, the Dragon, and the Eagle.

 

 

The silence of the hive.

It was apparent in 2012 that most Republicans wanted their politicians to take on the media.  I think it was in a South Carolina debate that Newt Gingrich basically told debate moderator Maria Bartoromo that her question about national health care was so frivolous it wasn’t worth responding to.  And it wasn’t just her question.  It was her entire attitude.  The Presidential candidates on the panel were supposed to be subservient to her and the other media.  They had to show proper respect, even deference.  It got under Newt’s skin and he went at her.  As I recall he jumped ten points in the polls to the only lead he ever had.

Everybody saw what happened, but Trump was the only one of the 17 Republicans last year who took it to heart.  He wasn’t just politically incorrect, he was politically contemptuous of the efforts to shut him up.  For the majority of the population that was sick of the disdain shown by the elite media to their values, it was irresistible, and compensated for his many flaws as a candidate.  He fought the hive, and he beat them.  No one in my lifetime has done that, and done it so spectacularly.  Even if you don’t like the guy, you have to give him credit.

As President, he will have multiple opportunities to humiliate and belittle the elite media, and I hope he takes advantage.  One of his great legacies could be the castration of the hive.  From the day I became politically aware, in the late 50’s, it was obvious to me that the networks were against what I believed.  Things have changed over the years.  They’ve gotten much, much worse.  It just may be that this is the year, 2017, when the elite media lose their power.  All the stars seem aligned, to me.  A full 50% of the country doesn’t pay any attention to anything they say, and the tide is running strongly against them.  A standard instruction given to every jury is that when a witness lies once, you’re entitled to disregard every other thing they say.  Their credibility is going fast, and without it they’re toast.

Our Resolution, HR 2, passed first reading on the Wyoming House floor today, 37-23, after barely getting out of committee on a 5-4 vote.  Kudos to Rep. Tyler Lindholm, Rep. Dan Laursen, former Speaker Bill McIlvain, and our man, Loren Enns.  We almost didn’t make it out of committee, and were saved by the somewhat surprising vote of freshman Bo Biteman of Ranchester.  He beat incumbent Rep.Rosie Berger in the primary last summer, claiming she was too moderate.  Berger was poised to become House Speaker, and had agreed to help us with our BBA Resolution.  There is a significant faction in the House Republican Caucus who are hard core, take no prisoners conservatives.  Biteman is one of them.  They are the source of our problem in Wyoming.  Once you get a chance to explain the issue to most of these people, they see the light.  If they’ll listen.  That is apparently what happened in the Judiciary Committee hearing where Biteman was the key vote.  He listened, with an open mind, and realized that Article V, far from being a threat to the Constitution, could be its salvation.

It is gratifying to think that an appeal on the merits, made by our advocates, to an open minded State Legislator, saved our bacon in Wyoming.

 

No one knows what goes on behind closed doors

In his book Diplomacy  Henry Kissinger gives readers a peek at what can happen at a Russian-American summit.  After Nixon’s trip to China, Kissinger went to Moscow to prepare for an upcoming Nixon/ Brezhnev summit meeting.  Brezhnev insisted on taking him on a wild boar hunt at a special hunting dacha, far from Moscow.  To Soviet leaders like Brezhnev, you “hunted” for boar while comfortably seated in an elevated blind.  Game keepers would attract prey by leading them to the blind by leaving trails of corn.  When the pig got close enough, guns blazed and a trophy kill was the prize.

Kissinger was no outdoorsman, and certainly no big game hunter, but Brezhnev insisted.  When they were alone (with an interpreter, I assume) the old Russian revealed the real reason for the expedition.  Far from any prying ears or microphones, Brezhnev told Kissinger what he really thought about the Chinese Communist leaders.  He couldn’t stand them, they were liars and cheats.  Needless to say, it was music to Herr Doktor’s ears.

He also gives an account of the first meeting between Nixon and Mao.  Nixon started by saying the internal affairs of China were not important.  What was important was China’s conduct in world affairs, and how such actions affected the American national interest.  In a word, realpolitik.  Reasonable estimates put the number of deaths caused by Mao’s insane domestic policies at 60 or 70 million dead.  Nixon didn’t care.  Normalizing relations with Mao and China was in the best interests of the people of the United States.  That was what mattered to Nixon.  And it appears as though that’s what matters to Donald Trump.

Russia has issues with our European allies, but not with us.  It’s in the best interests of Russia to normalize its relationship with the U.S.  And Vladimir Putin, as much or more than Nixon, practices realpolitik.  We’ve got around 1300 nuclear bombs to rain on the Russians if need be.   They’ve got around 1800 of their own.  We don’t like it, and we have to believe neither does Putin.  Trump, to his eternal credit, has put this issue on the table.  It’s the most important issue in the world.  Getting rid of as many nuclear warheads as possible is in the best interest of all humanity.  The Crimea is trivial by comparison.

From what I’ve read on the internet lately, no one seems particularly interested in nuclear disarmament any more, aside from Trump.  When Reagan was President it was a big deal.  When I was a boy in the 50’s Civil Defense was taken seriously.  Our teachers told us we might need to hide under our desks if a nuclear bomb went off in our vicinity.  We had school evacuation drills, where we all left school in the middle of the day, and walked home.  People built bomb shelters.  It was taken seriously.  Since he’s my age, Trump probably remembers those days as well as I do.  He may even hate nuclear weapons as much as I do, and that’s saying something.

They aren’t really weapons, in the traditional meaning of that word.  A weapon is used against an enemy soldier, or army.  A nuclear bomb is designed to kill everyone, men, women, children, cats and dogs.  All die.  It’s pure indiscriminate slaughter.  It defines inhumanity.

This is how Reagan felt.  He had his finger on the button, and if circumstances called for it, he was prepared to give the order which would result in a global holocaust.  He absolutely hated that responsibility.  What normal American wouldn’t?   In a few days Trump will have it.  He may be this, and he may be that, but he’s not crazy, and I’ll wager that’s a part of the job he dreads.  Just like Reagan, he realizes that these weapons not only must never be used, they should be eliminated.  No person, Russian, American, or any other nationality should have the power that Putin and, soon, Trump will have.

Ah, when the Donald and Vladimir meet, what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall.  If it goes as well as it could, the world will change.  For the better.