Adapt or die

When  the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump, it repudiated Bushism.  Bush Republicans are recycled Rockefeller Republicans, and, in that sense, Trump is another Goldwater.  As an original Goldwater Republican, I am well aware that Trump is something completely different.  He is an adaptation to changing political circumstances.

Back in the day, conservative Republicans were all free trade.  Economics told us that each country should produce goods where it had a comparative advantage, and trade with nations for goods when it had a comparative disadvantage.  Everybody would be better off.  It made perfect sense, and still does.

But the globalist and corporate Republicans, as well as the corporate Democrats (the Clintons), hijacked free trade and screwed the American worker.  It was happening right before our eyes, but we didn’t see it.  Free market Republicans saw the United Auto Workers lose members, and thought that unionization had made American labor overpriced.  But it wasn’t the unions that screwed the worker, it was the globalists.  At the altar of world harmony, they sacrificed the working men and women of their country.  A pox on them.

Another aspect of Bush Republicans was neoconservatism, or the Great International Crusade for Truth, Justice and the American Way  — that is, Iraq.  That disastrous decision, and the thinking that led to it, had to be repudiated for the Republicans to regain power.

In its 2012 post mortem, the Bush Republicans at the RNC advocated easing the stance against illegal immigration, in order to win more Hispanic votes.  This was the third leg of Bushism, and the most idiotic.  If Trump won on one issue, it was immigration.

These three Trump policies  — “America First”trade agreements, the rejection of foreign interventionism, and the enforcement of our immigration laws   —  are now mainstream Republican positions.  But it is a brand new face of the Republican Party, free of the control of the donor class.  Because the donor class are Bush Republicans.

The Democrats need to reject Clintonism just as the Republicans have rejected Bushism.  And then they need to escape the control of the public employee unions.  I don’t know if they can manage that.  But until they do, they will  be the party of government in a country that doesn’t like the government.  That’s a tough sell.

A correction:  Maryland Senate President Mike Miller was not a protege of Senate President Jim Clark.  This was pointed out to me by Senator Clark’s daughter, Martha.  Senator Miller was a co-sponsor of the BBA Resolution, and voted for it.  But he was not bosom buddies with Senator Clark.

We passed the Wyoming Senate on first reading, 20-10.  Final passage should be on Friday.  The Convention of States (CoS) failed in the Arizona State Senate, 13-17.  Bill Fruth was engaged in hand to hand combat in a Tennessee House subcommittee today, fighting for the Resolution calling the Nashville Planning Convention.  The people he has to fight are CoS.  If they are included in the Resolution, the Convention is off.  They don’t care.

The sooner these people go away, the  better.

Senator Jim Clark was a glider pilot in World War Two, and landed a glider full of 82nd Airborne Paratroopers in Operation Market Garden.  One of them could have been my Uncle Fritz.  These glider pilots were total bad asses.  They not only fly their flimsy, overloaded gliders, once they land they’ve got to become paratroopers.  Senator Jim Clark, R.I.P.

Me and Mike Miller

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller and I have one thing in common.  We’re on the same list  —  State Legislators who have voted for an Article V Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.  He was a 34 year old freshman Maryland State Senator.  I was a 37 year old freshman Alaska State Senator.  No one’s done a count, but i’d guess that there are around 4,000 other Legislators on the same list, from the 28 States which have passed BBA Resolutions.  By the time we get to 34, there will probably be 5,000 people on the list.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the most significant things I did in my legislative career.  Mike Miller had a different career than I did, and I don’t know how he feels about that vote.  I do know that Senate President Jim Clark carried the bill, and, from the looks of it, Miller is a protege of Sen. Clark.  Mike has been President of the Senate for 30 years, but before him it was Jim Clark for eight years.  I doubt that Miller could have been elected Senate President without Clark’s support.  I’m sure he remembers that.

Senator Jim Clark, along with Representative David Halbrook of Mississippi, started the Article V BBA movement in 1975 by introducing and eventually passing Resolutions in their respective legislatures.*  Quickly joined by Lew Uhler, by 1979 the movement, begun by Clark and Halbrook, had won 30 Resolutions, only four shy of the goal.

39 years later we’re at 28.  We were down to 17 at one point, and we’ve been clawing back.  One big problem we’ve got is that there aren’t that many Democrats like Jim Clark any more  — fiscal hawks.  There are a few, but they’re far between.  Maybe Mike Miller is one of them.

30 years ago, when she was a Delegate, Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp led a rescission effort, passing her Resolution in the House of Delegates.  Mike Miller had just been elected to succeed Clark as Senate President, and Kopp’s bill never made it to the Senate floor.

Kopp is back at it.  She’s been the Maryland State Treasurer for fifteen years, and she’s the driving force by the rescission effort in Maryland.  She hasn’t quit.  We’ll see if Mike Miller has.

To say that Mike Miller’s career differed from mine is an understatement.  But then, Mike is a natural born Irish pol, a Tip O’Neill type, with five kids and fourteen grandchildren.  Maybe he thinks about the debt he’s passing on to those kids.

He started practicing law when he was 23, and was elected to the House of Delegates when he was 29.  Four years later he was in the Senate, where he’s been ever since, the last 30 as President.

I was a State Senator for two years, then the Governor gerrymandered me out of my seat.  That was the high point of my political career.  I should have walked away from politics, but I wanted revenge, so I ran for the State House and spent two years trying to destroy Gov. Bill Sheffield, politically.  By the time we were done with him his own party wouldn’t nominate him, so I had that.  Then I decided that if I became Speaker of the House I could run against Ted Stevens, so I wasted four years chasing that rabbit.

So, Mike Miller and I don’t have that much in common.  But we’re both on the list, along with Jim Clark.  It would be a shame to see that name taken down.




*Setting Limits by Lew Uhler, p. 186

Who counts?

Politics is arithmetic, and numbers count.  The most fundamental count is a majority, 50% plus one.  We’ve devised other counts, supermajorities such as 2/3 and 3/4.  Politics is about who and what counts, and who does the counting.

Under Article V the 50 States each count, and 34 of them must agree for an Amendment Convention to be called by Congress.  What constitutes an agreement?   What counts?

Formal Legislative Resolutions, passed by  both chambers of a State Legislature, that’s what counts.  It is the province of Congress to determine if 34 such Resolutions have passed, and to examine each of them to see if they count  — if they can be Aggregated.

Since Congress has never before been called upon to consider this question there are no direct precedents, no clear guide from the past.  But there are parallels.  One such is State Ratification of Constitutional Amendments proposed by Congress.  3/4 of the States must vote for Ratification.  What, exactly, counts as a Ratification?

It’s up to Congress, and it is their right to exercise wide discretion.  Such discretion was freely exercised by Congress with respect to Ratification of the Civil War Amendments, the 13th, 14th, and 15th.   Anything that resembled a Ratification counted.  They were very forgiving.

I have this on the authority of a leading constitutional scholar, attorney Mike Farris.  I met him at the December, 2013 ALEC meeting, and he told us of the research he’d conducted while he was opposing Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.  He’d been to the Library of Congress, and personally examined the originals of the Civil War Amendments’ ratifications.   He was amazed at their diversity.  Congress counts what it wants to count.

Congress is not a court, and Congressmen are not judges.  The question of what constitutes a Ratification is a political decision, not a legal one.  The same goes for Aggregation.  If Congress wants to count something, it will.  If it doesn’t, it won’t.

The Courts have no jurisdiction in the matter, other than to, at most, review it to see that Congress had a rational basis for its decision.  If the left had taken over the Supreme Court it’s possible they might have considered intervening on the question of Aggregation.  But with the Roberts majority intact, it’s quite clear that will not happen.  The majority Justices understand the concept of Federalism.  Most, if not all, of them are associated with the Federalist Society.

Apparently Gov. Abbott of Texas has drunk the Kool-Aid, and thinks the BBA has an Aggregation problem.  That’s because Abbott is thinking like a lawyer, considering a legal question.  It’s not a legal question,  but a political one, and I find it hard to believe Gov. Abbott doesn’t understand that.  But lawyers think everything is a legal question, and Abbott is a lawyer’s lawyer.

So we may need to pursue trifurcation, making each of the three parts of the CoS Resolution aggregate with a single subject Resolution on the same subject.  It’s little unwieldy, but it can work.  Gov. Abbott can redeem himself by making sure this trifurcation is done properly.

If this is done correctly, we don’t lose Texas.

Now the CoS is causing trouble in Tennessee, threatening to cause the cancellation of the 7-11-17 Planning Convention.  We’d have to get another State to issue the call, and that will be done if necessary.  But it would be a shame.  Nashville would have been perfect.




Why can’t Europe defend itself?

Why is Russia superior to Europe militarily?  Their technology isn’t better.  They’re outnumbered, and they’re poor, by comparison.  They have no allies to speak of.  So what have the Russians got, that the Europeans don’t?  Why do we need to be involved?

Most European countries spend between 1% and 1.5% of their GDP on defense.  The average for the Euro area is 1.4%.  The U. S. spends 3.3%, and Russia spends 5%.  Europe is far more wealthy than Russia, and has the money to bury it in an arms race.  But they don’t want to spend the money, so we have to do it for them.  What’s wrong with this picture?

And look at the German Army. It’s a national joke.  The Germans are sick of war, and don’t have the stomach for another one.  After their losses in World War One, the once mighty French Army became a shell.  So many young Frenchmen had been slaughtered, the French people had no more use for war.  I think the same thing has happened to the Germans.  They’re afraid to wave their own flag, for Pete’s sake.

But Americans will still fight, so we have to take on the Russians, because nobody else will.  But I don’t think we will fight, not in Europe, against the Russians.  John McCain, and Vice President Pence, for that matter, may say otherwise, but, on this one, I don’t think they speak for the American people.  We don’t want to go to war.  Anywhere.  And President Trump is not going to try and force a war on the American people.  In his gut, he knows we shouldn’t fight the Russians.

We have to be bombed into war, as at Pearl Harbor, and on 9-11.  And Russia is no threat, of any kind, to us.  In point of geopolitical fact, the Russians are our natural allies.  A great Eurasian land power, and a mighty continental island ruling the waves.  No wonder the world is so terrified of a Russian-American Entente.  We could rule the world, if we wanted to.  But we don’t.  In America, we want freedom of the seas, and to be left alone.  If Russia was our friend, we could be a restraining influence on them.

A report has surfaced that the shenanigans in the Texas Legislature last week were part of an elaborate ruse, and were not the doing of the Convention of States.  If that is the case, the accusations I made against that organization were based on a false premise, and are withdrawn.  We’ll get to the bottom of this next week.

If this report is true, it will be a great relief.  Losing Texas would have been close to mortal.



A stab in the back

Moving quickly and quietly, the Texas State Senate is attempting to sabotage the Balanced Budget Amendment.  This at the behest of the Convention of States organization, (CoS), headed by Mark Meckler.  The BBA Article V campaign has 28 States, with a clear path open to 34.  CoS has 8 States, and a possible path to no more than 15, total.  In the solid Republican States of Arkansas, South Dakota and Wyoming they have lost on floor votes, this year.  If a Balanced Budget Amendment Convention is held, the CoS organization disintegrates, and Mark Meckler will have to find another way to support himself in the lifestyle to which he is accustomed.  For CoS to survive, the BBA must be killed.   To hell with federalism, and to hell with avoiding national bankruptcy.  First things first, and Mark Meckler needs to make a living.

Yesterday in committee, the Senate passed SJR 38, rescinding their BBA Resolution, and then quickly passed the CoS Resolution, SJR 2.  There was little discussion and no debate.  It was wired.  Since the CoS Resolution has a provision specifically devoted to the BBA, this committee action makes no sense, except as a naked political hit job.

The question is:  where is Texas Governor Greg Abbott?  Is he a party to this treachery?   If he thinks he can kill the BBA, and then turn around and pass CoS, he is fundamentally ignorant.  If the BBA dies, the entire Article V movement dies with it.  With the BBA blazing trail, all sorts of possible Article V Amendments are possible.  Without it, the thought of a multi-subject Amendment, such as CoS, is laughable.  It will never happen.  Does Gov. Abbott want that on his record?  Does he want to be the man who killed Ronald Reagan’s dream of forcing Congress to balance its budget?

In the 28 States that have passed the BBA Resolution, there are hundreds of legislative leaders, from Florida to Alaska, who have worked to make President Reagan’s vision a reality.  To these men and women, Greg Abbott will be revealed as a self serving, and foolish, politician.  His name will be mud.

But we don’t know, for sure, that the Governor is a party to this plot.  If he’s not, he needs to make that clear.  There is another possibility, that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is behind this scheme, but not Gov. Abbott.  Whomever is pushing it, they need to realize that they are in the process of making a whole lot of enemies in State Capitols, all across this country.

Including Boise, where a week from today the Senate State Affairs Committee hears our Resolution.  Right now the vote looks close, and the Georgia Peach, David Guldenschuh, will testify and attempt to lock down a majority.  If we get out of committee, the floor votes are there, and Speaker Bedke promises quick action in the House.  While this is taking place, 400 miles to the east in Cheyenne, the Wyoming Senate is scheduled to be taking up our Resolution in third and final reading.  All signs point to #29.  We all need a win, for the sake of our mental health.