What will the Phoenix Convention of States look like?

The first and only national Convention of States since this country was founded was called by Virginia, and held at Willard’s Hotel in Washington D. C.  131 Commissioners from 21 of the 34 states attended.  Former President John Tyler presided, while at the same time his granddaughter was ceremoniously hoisting the flag at the Secession Convention in Montgomery.  The seven seceding deep South states, along with Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the distant and recently admitted California and Oregon did not send Commissioners to Washington.

A national Convention of States is defined as one which has a national, as opposed to a regional, agenda, and is attended by duly authorized Commissioners from a majority of the states of the Union.  The topic of the Phoenix Convention is Article V, and how an Article V Convention will conduct itself.  And we are virtually assured of a quorum of 26 states.  So the Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention in Phoenix will be the second national Convention of States in American history.  I don’t think we’re going to have to wait that long for the next one.

While the planning committee of the Arizona legislature hasn’t made a formal decision for the Convention’s location, it did approve sending the formal invitation to the House Speakers and Senate leaders in the other 49 states.  The invitation calls for the Commissioners to meet at the State Capitol at noon on September 12th, 2017.  This means the actual Convention will be held in the House Chambers.

There are 60 members of the Arizona House, and if you click on the link above you’ll see that the Chamber can easily be reconfigured to hold 200 Commissioners, which is the most that are expected.  No state is expected to send more than seven, and some states as few as two, so 200 looks like the most that will attend.  If it’s too crowded, a rule could be adopted limiting each state to five Commissioners at a time on the floor.

The Convention will look exactly like a state legislature, and will conduct itself in the same manner.  Most states use Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, and that will be the way business is conducted in Phoenix.  If you’ve ever seen a state legislative floor session, you know exactly what to expect.

And it will be conducted almost exclusively by state legislators, who will be the members of their state’s delegation.  Everyone knows the drill.  These people have been doing the exact same thing at their own State Capitols for years, or decades.  Everything will be regular order, with strict protocol, proper legislative procedure, and adherence to the rules.

Arizona Senate President Yarbrough an Speaker Mesnard will call the Convention to order, and the first order of business will be the election of a permanent Chair.  Nominations will be made, a vote taken, and the Chair of the Convention will take the gavel and the podium.

This will no doubt be a respected and experienced state legislative leader, one who is known and liked by many of his peers.  It is a high honor, and I trust it will be given to a man or woman who will be worthy of it.  This person will have experience as the presiding officer of their legislature, and they know how to run a meeting.

I hope there is a proper tally screen, where the votes of the states will be shown.  All 50 states should be on the board, regardless of who attends, and who doesn’t.  Every state should send a commissioner, and those that don’t should be recognized in their absence.





The general and the TV personality

Andrew Jackson, personally, made our destiny manifest.  He defended the Louisiana Purchase at the Battle of New Orleans,  and drove the Spanish out of Florida.  When one of his lieutenants, President of Sam Houston of the Republic of Texas, brought the vast territory it claimed into the Union, he did at at the request of his old commander, and idol, Andrew Jackson.

“Young Hickory”, as he was called, James K. Polk, was not just Jackson’s political protege, but virtually a Jackson pawn.  Everything he did in life, including choosing his wife, he did at Jackson’s direction.  He started a war with Mexico to get California, and he did it at Jackson’s bidding.

Personally, Jackson was absolutely fearless, even as an old man.  While President, he regretted the fact that his office prevented him from challenging one of his political enemies to a duel.  At 13, he rode as a courier for the Revolutionary forces in South Carolina.  This was a lion of a man.

So, naturally enough, I resist any comparison of Trump to Jackson.  Please.  But there were personal attributes of our 7th President that Trump does share.

Jackson was vengeful, never forgot a slight, and never apologized.  He claimed that the last words his mother spoke to him, before she left for a prison ship in Charleston to tend for her kin, were  “But sustain your manhood always.  Never bring a suit in law for assault and battery or for defamation.  The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man.”

Jackson was not a particularly well read man, and only semi-educated.  But he had total confidence in his own judgement, and in his righteousness.  One man with courage makes a majority, and he never entertained any doubts about what he’d done.  And he was brilliant.  Despite the handicap of his lack of education, he dominated the politics of his time.  He knew exactly what he was doing.

Jackson lied when it suited him.  He made up a story about a wedding ceremony that never took place in order to hide the adulterous relationship he had with his wife before their actual marriage.  He lied to the Indian tribes he dealt with.  And he lied in politics as well.

Jackson’s political career was a result of his popularity with the working men of America.  The lower, working classes and small farmers were his base.  He was a rich man, with slaves and a plantation.  But he was a man of the people, and they loved him for it.

Jackson was also a cruel and vicious man.  His treatment of the Cherokees and other tribes is a disgrace to this country.

It was, in fact, manifest that Americans were going to get the best part of the North American continent.  What really got California wasn’t the war that Polk started.  American settlers were coming in droves, and there was no way for the Mexicans to stop them.   They were going to take California, just like the Americans settled, and then took Texas away from Mexico.  We got what we did in the Oregon dispute with Great Britain because Americans were settling the Willamette Valley, and already greatly outnumbered the transient British traders.

We own this country because we settled it, not because we conquered it.  But conquering better suited the slave South, and that’s what really drove the war with Mexico.  California was going to become American, without a war, because it was Americans who were going to settle it.

Every war this country has had since its founding has been a colossal mistake, that should and could have been avoided.  It’s no different today.  I hope Trump understands that, and realizes the days of war hero Presidents are past.


Mitch McConnell’s ready to deal

Getting to 50 on the Senate health reform bill will be expensive, but the CBO gave the Republican leadership $220 billion in projected savings, and that ought to be enough.  If you can’t buy votes you can’t pass tough legislation.  Before pork barrel spending was eliminated leadership bought votes with capital projects.  One of the reasons this Congress isn’t functioning is that the squeaky wheels don’t get that kind of grease any more.  So they just squeak, and slow everything down.

McConnell is a brilliant legislator, who plays this game as well as any one.  He’ll need to work in consultation with Ryan.  The Senate can’t buy votes if it costs them support in the House.

To pass Obamacare, the Democrats bribed Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.  It was blatant, giving Nebraskans and Louisianans benefits that other states weren’t getting.  That sort of thing must be avoided.  Otherwise, you do what you’ve got to do.

The Arizona Legislature’s Article V Planning Convention Committee’s first formal meeting was held earlier today, and Representative Kelly Townsend was elected Chair.  This is a very positive development.

Kelly is a Navy veteran, having served as an Aviation Structural Mechanic.  In her third term in the House, Kelly was awarded by the AZ Republican Alliance the title, “Most Conservative Legislator”.  Americans for Prosperity calls her a “Champion of the Taxpayer”.  She is one of two Arizona legislators given an A+ rating by the NRA.  She’s the widowed mother of two adult children and one high school student.

A year ago, Kelly was at a Republican meeting where Senate President Andy Biggs was campaigning for the Republican nomination for Arizona’s 5th District.  Biggs started berating her, personally, and the Chair refused to allow her to respond.  Here’s a link to the story.  She responded to this insult with an email to the voters of the district, telling them what she thought of Biggs.  It made the race tight, but Biggs squeaked out a win.  This woman does not take well to being abused.

She’s also one of the most knowledgeable legislators in the country.  She’s currently reviewing the journals of the 1861 Convention from three states.  She may know more about Article V than I do.

At the last meeting of the Assembly of State Legislators there was an effort made to adopt some truly awful Rules.  Kelly, was, effectively, the floor leader of the opposition, which was successful.

This Convention in Phoenix is going to be a success, and Kelly Townsend will deserve a great deal of the credit.




Another Scalia? No, another Thomas!

In California, carrying concealed weapons is controlled by the local, elected Sheriff.  In Tuolumne County, where I live, it’s easy to get a permit.  Sheriff Jim Mele is a second amendment man, who has publicly stated he has no interest in enforcing ridiculous federal gun laws.  He’s a popular sheriff.

It’s different in San Diego County, which has a gun grabber for a sheriff.  It’s virtually impossible for a regular citizen to get a concealed carry permit, so suit was filed to force the sheriff to be more reasonable.  The Ninth Circuit ruled for the sheriff (natch), and the plaintiffs appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.  The court decided not to hear the case, prompting an angry and well reasoned dissent from Justice Thomas.

His dissent was joined by only one of his Associate Justices  —  Neil Gorsuch.  The proof is in the pudding, and Gorsuch is the real deal.  Scalia was the conservative darling of the Court.  But the real, honest to God conservative has always been Clarence Thomas.  If you want to read an inspiring story, get a copy of My Grandfather’s Son, by Clarence Thomas.  It’s the story of a great American, told in praise of the man who raised him.

Compare Gorsuch (and, hopefully, Trump’s next appointment) to the two women on the court who are the type Hillary Clinton would have appointed, Sotomayor and Ginsburg.  A Christian school in Missouri was denied funding for a school playground improvement, on the grounds that it would violate the separation between church and state.  The Supreme Court overruled the lower courts, and ordered that this injustice be remedied.  The two dissenters, Sotomayor and Ginsberg, would have had a third vote if Clinton had been elected.

Say what you want about Trump, he’s no Hillary Clinton.

Along with James Capretta, Yuval Levin is the health care expert I trust.  He says the Senate Obamacare bill is not a repeal and a replacement, as it was advertised.   It’s a reform of a very bad piece of legislation.  But as Levin explains, that’s all these Republicans in Congress are willing to do.  Is a quarter loaf better than none at all?

Capretta, also writing in NRO, says it’s very much needed fundamental reform of Medicaid.  If you want to stand on principle, and throw away a chance at real reform because it’s not enough, you don’t belong in politics.  You should become a preacher.  As the great Senator Ev Dirksen of Illinois used to say, “I’m a man of principle, and one of my principles is flexibility.”

Here’s a little historical nugget I read about today.  In 1826 Secretary of State Henry Clay and Senator Edmund Randolph of Virginia hated each other.  In Virginia at the time, fighting a duel was considered an honorable thing to do.  Not so in the north, where Clay, of Kentucky, hoped to get the votes he needed to eventually become President.  So Randolph continually insulted Clay with lies and vitriol, and finally provoked him into a duel.  They fired pistols at ten paces, and both of Clay’s shots missed.  Randolph was very well aware of the fact that Clay had no idea of how to handle a gun.  It’s why he wanted to duel him in the first place.  So Randolph took a shot at Clay’s leg, missed, and fired his second shot in the air.

Clay’s reputation suffered from this encounter, just as Randolph knew it would.  In politics, sometimes you have to be creative.

Oil = power

The Germans found out the hard way.  They signed the Armistice in 1918 because they’d run out of oil, and without it their armed forces were unable to fight on.  The also lost the Second World War for lack of oil.  The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor because we cut them off from our oil, and they lost the war in the Pacific because they couldn’t get enough oil.

So when “Trump calls for U. S. Dominance in Global Energy Production”, he’s not just talking about oil, and the economy, and jobs, he’s talking geopolitics at the highest level.  As a major energy exporter, the influence of the United States around the world be magnified enormously.  Especially with the countries we export to.

Being reliant on another country for your oil makes that country your ally, de facto.  So who needs our oil, and who do we want as our allies?

Number one on the list is Japan, followed by South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  These are all countries that border on China.  The logical American source for this oil is Alaska, much closer to these markets than the lower 48.

If Trump gets his way, the lion’s share of the oil we’ll need for the domination we seek will come from increased production on the federal lands in the western United States.  From Montana south to Wyoming, then south to Utah and Colorado, then South to Arizona to Mexico, within these states the potential petroleum reserve on federal land is worth unknown trillions of dollars.

Opening up oil exploration and production on the federal lands within these states, will, by itself, increase American production to make us energy dominant.  But we want a special relationship with Japan, and we want to let them import a pot of oil they’ve had their eyes on since the Prudhoe Bay discovery was made  —  Alaska.

The trans Alaska pipeline is running at 25% of capacity, and we’ll need to get it running full steam again.  Japan will take every drop of oil we can get to Valdez.  There’s one undeveloped area that could fill that line to capacity, and it’s located not for from its northern terminus.

It’s on the most godforsaken ground on this planet, its only permanent residents the native Inupiats.  Their ancestors arrived 2,000 years ago, and they have survived in the harshest environment  on earth ever since.  The part of the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve where the oil is located is Inupiat land.

The Inupiats want this oil developed.  In Inupiat culture, decisions like these are made by a Council of Elders, and they have met, and they have decided.  They want to stay where they are, in the land of their forefathers, and they want a better life.  Oil development on their land will provide an economic fortune to the few thousand Inupiats left.

I think Trump will listen to the Inupiat, and open up ANWR, and fill that pipeline.