Who does Steve Bannon think he is?

Trump consiglieri Steve Bannon has been involved politically since 9-11, and is spectacularly successful.  But he only understands politics as an outsider, and he really doesn’t know squat about the inside game.  He’s never run for anything, been elected to anything, and never served in elected office.  He can be the greatest political guru in the world, but that doesn’t mean he knows anything about getting a bill through Congress.

Bannon is like a number of people I’ve known who are very good at what they do.  They think they know everything and can do anything.  Bannon knows how to win a Presidential election.  What does he know about being a member of Congress?  He knows only what he reads in books.

But I thought Bannon was a very smart guy, and it turns out he’s not.  Anybody who tells a room full of Congressmen that they “have no choice”, they must vote for your bill, is a fool.  I’ll give Bannon the benefit of the doubt, and call it taking a temporary leave of his senses, probably from stress.  But that’s brain dead dumb.  I was in a State Legislature for eight years, and if anybody ever told me I had no choice, I had to vote for a bill, I would have either cursed him or laughed at him, probably both.  In a legislature, your vote is your manhood, and you don’t let anybody take it from you.

Rand Paul’s got the right approach.  Keep talking, trying to find common ground.  There are a lot of ideas out there.  Let them percolate, and try putting something together that could pass in a Reconciliation Bill, not subject to filibuster, at the end of the fiscal year in October.

One of the attractions of the September Nashville Convention of States is that it will be a dramatic, physical manifestation of federalism.  The delegates will be seated by State, as at national political conventions.  After the chamber has been brought to order the first order of business is the alphabetical roll call of the States, from Alabama through Wyoming.  Each delegation will have a spokesman, who will identify himself and his delegation, and may have a few remarks he would like to make.

Once a State has identified itself a green light will be illuminated under its name on an electronic tally board.  All 50 of the States will be listed, but the names of the States who have chosen not to send a delegation will remain dark.  On all votes taken, the roll call of the States will be repeated, with yeas and nays reported on the screen, State by State.  This all reinforces the perception that this is a true meeting, or Convention, of the States.

We want it to be a pleasant experience, for everyone involved.  An experience they’d like to repeat.

The big bang of Obamacare

If the House Republicans can’t repeal and replace Obamacare, what can they do?  Can they cut taxes, or increase the debt ceiling, or pass a budget?  And if they can’t pass anything in the House, how do they get anything through the Senate?  I don’t think Paul Ryan and the Republicans are especially at fault. Congress has failed as an institution.  It’s broken, and needs reform.  But it can’t reform itself, because it’s broken.

Paul Ryan is a creature of Congress and wants it to function like a normal legislature, under “regular order”, where bills are heard in committee, and follow normal procedures to a floor vote.  It doesn’t work any more, and my suspicion is that we’ve seen the last gasp of regular order.

Instead, later this year, we’ll get a monster of an omnibus appropriation bill, which won’t be subject to filibuster.  And we’ll get it at the last minute, when Congressmen are under the gun, and a government shutdown and default on the national debt are at hand.  According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, that should be in October or November.

Trump predicts an Obamacare explosion, and his administration has a certain amount of leeway to time that explosion.  I’d set things up so it blows up in September, right before the debt ceiling has to be raised.  By then his tax initiatives should be stalled somewhere in Congress, and the fight over the budget should be in high gear.  So you roll everything into one bill  — Obamacare R & R, the tax cuts, the budget and the debt ceiling.  Up or down.  Do you default on the debt, stand idly by while Obamacare explodes, pass up a chance to start an economic boom with a tax bill, and go without a budget and shut down the government?   Or do you keep the government functioning normally, pass a budget, avoid a brush with national insolvency, pass a tax bill that will ignite the economy, and fix Obamacare?  Yea or nay?

One thing that won’t come out of the Monster Omnibus Bill of 2017 is a reduction in deficit spending.  I’d be shocked if we didn’t add over half a trillion to the national debt, probably closer to a full trillion.  But, don’t worry.  We’ll get around to taking care of that down the road a little bit.

It is against this political backdrop  — a completely dysfunctional Congress, unable to restrain its spending — that the Nashville Convention of States will occur.  While it deliberates, during the week of September 12th, all hell will be about to break in Washington.  The full crisis will not have come to a head, so we should get plenty of media coverage.

And what a contrast it will be.  In Nashville, two or three hundred men and women, the political leadership of forty or more States, gathered to calmly and intelligently discuss a matter of great importance  — putting an end to these crazy antics in Washington, and forcing Congress to balance its books through one or more fiscal restraints, by a Constitutional Amendment from the States, and the people.  These are the very same people who may soon assemble in the first Amendment Convention in American history.  They’ll all want to make a good impression.

People will look at that and say, Why doesn’t Congress act like that?


That’s why they’re called “entitlements.”

Republicans were counting on $1 trillion in savings from Obamacare Repeal and Replace, and that money would help pay for massive tax cuts.  I expect them to pass the tax reductions anyway.  It may balloon the national debt, but whoever lost an election because of deficit spending?   To get the economic boom he’s counting on Trump needs a big tax package, and we shouldn’t expect the self styled King of Debt to be bashful about it.  His OMB Director recently stated he could see a balanced budget ten years from now.  With the defeat of Obamacare R & R it may be 15, or 20, or never.  We really going to need a Balanced Budget Amendment more than ever.  Does anyone really believe you can get 67 Senators and 290 Representatives to vote for one?   Please.  It will only happen coming from the States, using Article V.

Speaking of which, congratulations to the Convention of States Project on their 10th State, North Dakota.  If you’re looking to start a conservative Article V campaign, Bismarck is the place to go.  The Birchers never made it to North Dakota, and all the Republican legislators are quite comfortable exercising the power conferred on them by Article V.

The BBA Task Force should be back at 29 BBA Resolutions on Monday, when the Arizona Senate is scheduled to take up our bill.   We should be live in Minnesota within a month, though that State still needs some serious work.  State Senator Chris Kapenga is poised to make his move in Wisconsin soon, and Loren Enns is in South Carolina working with a team of lobbyists hired by Lew Uhler and Dave and Suzie Biddulph.

Loren has developed into an accomplished political lobbyist, able to succeed in State Capitols across the country.  His expertise on all things Article V will be critical in getting us to 34.  Once we’ve done that, and had an Amendment Convention, I think the entire Article V world will start to proliferate, as people with money, like the Kochs, realize its possibilities.  Anyone wanting to start an Article V campaign would be well advised to give Loren a call.

We’ll find out on Tuesday if the 9-12-17 Nashville BBA Planning Convention is a go.  All signs are positive, and Arizona is poised to fill in if there’s a problem.  Dave Guldenschuh expects to be named a delegate from Georgia, and is campaigning to be named Secretary of the Convention.  He’d be perfect, and will have a lot of support.

I may try to be appointed Parliamentarian, but even if I don’t I will have one request of the host committee.  I’ve been telling my thirteen year old granddaughter about this Article V campaign for over three years.  I’m not sure if she really believes what I’ve been telling her.   So I want her to be an official page on the floor of the Convention.  At this sort of a meeting, pages actually perform a number of useful services, and my granddaughter is completely capable of doing all of them.  She will be chaperoned by Babbie, her grandmother.

She’d miss a week of 8th grade, but she’s bright enough to catch up.  This is a chance for her to see history made before her eyes, and I don’t want her to miss it.  And I’d love to show her off.


Are the Koch brothers leaving the John Birch Society?

I’ve been going hard at the Article V game for almost four years, and have yet to see any significant financial support for the cause.  The Koch brothers have spent billions on conservative politics in this period, and nary a dime for Article V or the BBA.  Worse, through their financial influence over organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, they have, in my opinion, blocked us from getting any help at all from the wealthy and influential conservative groups that should be helping us.

Their father, Fred Koch, was on the John Birch Society’s national Board of Directors in the 1950’s, and as such thought Article V was too dangerous to be used.  At the time, there wasn’t yet a conservative political movement in the country.  Liberals ran everything, and fearing an Article V Convention that would be controlled by them made sense.  But that was then, and 65 years later we have conservatives in control of 33 state legislatures.  Times change. What was once to be feared may now be embraced.  You’d think.

One institution that has not supported us may be having a change of heart, and I’m hoping it reflects a change in attitude by the Koch brothers themselves.  That would be huge.

The Democracy Institute is a think tank affiliated with the Cato Institute.  Over the years, the Kochs have contributed more than $40 million to Cato, and have control over a third of Cato’s Board of Directors.  Cato is independent, but it knows where it gets its money, and, again in my opinion, the Kochs have a veto power at Cato.

In a report available at their website, the Democracy Institute publishes an analysis of the current Article V  movement, entitled, “Opening Pandora’s Box?  Why the Convention of States Project will fail.”   In endorsing the approach of the BBA Task Force, as opposed to that of the Convention of States Project, author Patrick Basham states, “Only narrowly focused, non-partisan, single amendment solutions offer the likelihood of eventual ratification and positive change.”

The whole article is a pretty damning hit on CoSP, and an implicit, if not actual, endorsement of the BBA.  Nothing like this has ever come out of Cato before. This is progress, but we want more than kind words.  We want the kind of financial support that the Kochs could easily provide, in a variety of ways.

I think the key to closing the deal with the Kochs will be the BBA Planning Convention, currently planned for September 12th.  They will be able to see with their own eyes that the fears of their father no longer have any foundation in  fact.  Article V, in the current political environment, can be trusted.  The men and women in charge of the Convention, and its conduct, will be the proofs.

The Tennessee Legislature has apparently found a way to disarm the CoSP protesters who were blocking passage of the Resolution calling the Convention.  If, as planned, it passes out of Committee in the House next week, and quickly passes on the House floor, it looks like we’ll be heading to Nashville after all.

Special invitations will be extended to the Koch brothers.  Meeting in Nashville will be the Presiding Officers, and the legislative delegations from, as many as 40 or more States.  These are among the most powerful, if little known, politicians in the country.  I’m sure most of them wouldn’t mind having a chat with the Kochs.

If that doesn’t bring these guys aboard, I give up.



Sorry, snowflake, I was born to raise hell

Sometimes you have to eat the spinach before you get your ice cream.  For Trump, the ice cream is blowing up the tax system and replacing it with one centered on economic growth and jobs.  The spinach is dealing with the mess of the American health care system.  As long as he can claim he’s keeping his campaign promises, Trump doesn’t really care what Congress passes and he signs.  With this much flexibility I’ve got to believe he can put together 216 votes.  Aside from the Church of the Perpetually Pissed Off, and its pastor, Mark Levin, there aren’t that many principled conservatives who are going to abandon him on this issue.  The right doesn’t want to admit it, but Obama won.  Once he got the benefit passed, and people started relying on it, it wasn’t going to be taken away.   That’s a political reality and, eventually, 216 House Republicans are going to have to accept it.

I take no particular pride in saying this, but the more I watch Trump the more I see myself.  Since I was in high school, I’ve enjoyed provoking and confronting people.  That’s why a lot of people think I’m an asshole, and in some ways I guess I am.  I prefer the term provocateur,  but I’ve always gotten intense pleasure from confronting phonies and leftists, baiting them.  When I graduated from St. Mary’s College High School in 1962 I was offered financial help from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, but I wanted to go to Cal.  I was a hard core Goldwater conservative, and I wanted to confront all those liberals at Berkeley.  To that end, I ordered a Goldwater sweatshirt from National Review and wore it to class.  I soon acquired a Midshipman’s uniform from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, and I enjoyed walking around campus in it.  There were 27,000 students on campus, but nobody ever took the bait.  Maybe everybody thought I was a nut.

I only lasted one semester, and never really had any political discussions with anybody.  I was living at home, twenty miles from campus, and didn’t make any friends.  Since I liked to speak, and argue, I took a class in Speech.  But it didn’t have anything to do with speaking.  I never did figure out what this nerdy little Professor was trying to teach.  One day he decides he wants to make a point about how little we really know about people, and he uses Barry Goldwater as an example.

“What do we really know about Barry Goldwater?” he asked.  “What do we know, for certain?  Well, we know he’s the senior Senator from Arizona….” At which point I interrupt him, and say, “No, he’s the junior Senator.”  Which I knew he was.  This guy didn’t know what to do.  He just kind of sputtered for a while.  I got a “D” in that class, which helped me to realize I needed some time off from college.

In Santa Cruz last night with Babbie for the awards ceremony for the Santa Cruz County Science Fair.  My thirteen year old granddaughter, with help from her stepfather, subjected some seeds to extreme cold, using liquid nitrogen.  This was an experiment to see if such seeds could be regenerated after a flight to Mars.  She’s a natural at math and science, but she told me she wants to go to law school, because she likes to argue.  She’s like a female version of me.

A couple little boys moved in to her neighborhood, a couple hellions that take off their clothes and run around naked.  One of them, not quite three years of age, came up and grabbed her in the crotch.  When she told me about it she said she got Trumped.