One more time: No, Texas cannot secede; no, Texas can’t split itself (2012 edition)

November 13, 2012

Someone in Texas, I swear, sells do-it-yourself-at-home lobotomy kits.  Worse, about 50,000 Texans buy the kits every year, and give themselves a self-lobotomy.  Then, when something happens in national politics or something else that doesn’t please them, having put an ice pick through that part of the brain that carries reason and self-control, and scrambled it, they start spouting nonsense about “Texas ought to secede.”

Texas splits from union, trespasses on Mexico

If Texas seceded from the U.S., would it be trespassing on Mexico?

This issue heated up last just after President Barack Obama took office and stopped the national slide into recession; Texans got ticked off that Obama hadn’t let them slip down the bung hole, and the Tea Party was born to push and make sure no one stopped such a slide in the future.  Rick Perry, our peripatetic occasional governor and head coyote persecutor, threw gasoline on the fire.  I posted this explanation back then.

Comes the 2012 election, Democrats and other supporters of Obama rise up and re-elect him.  One of the previously mentioned fools found a feature President Obama’s team added to the White House website, whereby anyone can start a petition on a subject; Obama being the fair-minded man these fools claim he is not, Obama and his team said they’d answer any petition that got more than 25,000 signatures.  Several people started petitions asking for secession.

Think about that for a moment.  They’re appealing to President Obama to let the secede, because they don’t like Obama’s reelection.  Compounding the irony, they’re using a citizen-feedback system designed by Obama’s team.

But then the pro-secession, anti-Obama people threw all sense to the wind.  This process is almost outside official channels.  While Congress will accept petitions, there’s no guarantee that these petitions will go to Congress — only that the Obama White House will answer the petition in some form.

More than a few of the signers are convinced that if they hit the magic number of 25,000 signatures, the action becomes semi-0fficial and will get real consideration.  Here’s news:  You might get a letter from President Obama.  Won’t that please them no end?

Gov. Perry already disowned the current round of zaniness.  It interferes with the zaniness in the run-up to the bi-annual Texas State Legislature meeting, for which “prefiling” of bills started this week.  Even and perhaps especially political zanies can handle only so much zaniness at one time — they’ve hit their zenith of zaniness for 2012.

But the bloggers and Facebookers still jump up and down.  Now, Dear Reader, you are a person of some intelligence:  You don’t think evolution is “from the pit of Hell,” you vaccinate your children and get an annual flu shot, you haven’t been abducted by alien spaceships recently, you worry that your home insurance will continue to climb until we act as a nation to stop air pollution that causes climate change, you understand Hawaii has been a state since 1960 and so a man born there after that, or at any time after annexation in 1898, is a U.S. citizen eligible to be U.S. president, and you don’t fear the UN is going to come take your golf course away (especially since golf-loving Barack Obama is our president); so I warn you, those yahoos who forgot entirely about the Civil War and think they might get a chance to secede from the U.S. and NASCAR just by putting their name on an internet petition, are not going to believe you, nor will they grant any credence to the facts outlined below, as to just why Texas cannot and will not secede.

But, here’s the explanation, anyway:

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Rick Perry put his foot into something during one of the Astro-turf “tea parties” on April 15 [2009].  Someone asked him about whether Texas should secede from the United States, as a protest against high taxes, or something.

The answer to the question is “No, secession is not legal.  Did you sleep through all of your U.S. history courses?  Remember the Civil War?”

Alas, Perry didn’t say that.

Instead, Perry said it’s not in the offing this week, but ‘Washington had better watch out.’

He qualified his statement by saying the U.S. is a “great union,” but he said Texans are thinking about seceding, and he trotted out a hoary old Texas tale that Texas had reserved that right in the treaty that ceded Texas lands to the U.S. in the switch from being an independent republic after winning independence from Mexico, to statehood in the U.S.

So, rational people want to know:  Does Perry know what he’s talking about?

No, he doesn’t.  Bud Kennedy, columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (still one of America’s great newspapers despite the efforts of its corporate owners to whittle it down), noted the error and checked with Gov. Perry’s history instructors at Texas A&M and his old high school, both of which said that Perry didn’t get the tale from them.  (Score one for Texas history teachers; rethink the idea about letting people run for state office without having to pass the high school exit history exam.)

A&M professor Walter L. Buenger is a fifth-generation Texan and author of a textbook on Texas’ last secession attempt. (The federal occupation lasted eight years after the Civil War.)

“It was a mistake then, and it’s an even bigger mistake now,” Buenger said by phone from College Station, where he has taught almost since Perry was an Aggie yell leader.

“And you can put this in the paper: To even bring it up shows a profound lack of patriotism,” Buenger said.

The 1845 joint merger agreement with Congress didn’t give Texas an option clause. The idea of leaving “was settled long ago,” he said.

“This is simple rabble-rousing and political posturing,” he said. “That’s all it is.  . . .  Our governor is now identifying himself with the far-right lunatic fringe.”

Three false beliefs about Texas history keep bubbling up, and need to be debunked every time.  The first is that Texas had a right to secede; the second is that Texas can divide itself into five states; and the third is that the Texas flag gets special rights over all other state flags in the nation.

Under Abraham Lincoln’s view the Union is almost sacred, and once a state joins it, the union expands to welcome that state, but never can the state get out.  Lincoln’s view prevailed in the Civil War, and in re-admittance of the 11 Confederate states after the war.

The second idea also died with Texas’s readmission.  The original enabling act (not treaty) said Texas could be divided, but under the Constitution’s powers delegated to Congress on statehood, the admission of Texas probably vitiated that clause.  In any case, the readmission legislation left it out.  Texas will remain the Lone Star State, and not become a Five Star Federation. (We dealt with this issue in an earlier post you probably should click over to see.)

Texas’s flag also gets no special treatment.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard Texans explain to Boy Scouts that the Texas flag — and only the Texas flag — may fly at the same level as the U.S. flag on adjacent flag poles.  Under the flag code, any flag may fly at the same level; the requirement is that the U.S. flag be on its own right.

Gov. Perry is behind Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in polling of a head-to-head contest between the two to see who will be the Republican nominee for governor in 2010 — Hutchison is gunning to unseat Perry.  He was trying to throw some red meat to far-right conservative partisans who, he hopes, will stick by him in that primary election.

Alas, he came off throwing out half-baked ideas instead.  It’s going to be a long, nasty election campaign.  [Yeah, those two paragraphs are dated; they are here as historical footnote.]

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Update [2009]: A commenter named Bill Brock (the Bill Brock?) found the New York Times article from 1921 detailing John Nance Garner’s proposal to split Texas into five.  Nice find!

Another update: How much fuss should be made over the occasional wild hare move for some state to secede?  Probably not much.  A few years ago Alaska actually got a referendum on the ballot to study secession.  The drive to secede got nowhere, of course.  I was tracking it at the time to see whether anyone cared.  To the best of my knowledge, the New York Times never mentioned the controversy in Alaska, and the Washington Post gave it barely three paragraphs at the bottom of an inside page.

Texas has a slightly grandiose view of itself. TM Daily Post image

Texas has a slightly grandiose view of itself. TM Daily Post image

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Vote Irish for the presidency in 2012: O’Bama it is!

March 17, 2012

I’d forgotten about the birthers’ greatest nightmare — Obama’s got Irish blood in him!

Democratic Underground features a series of photos of President Obama with an Irish cousin at one of my favorite old haunts in Washington, the Dubliner.

President Obama at the Dubliner, March 17, 2012 - Democratic Underground image

President Barack Obama drinks a Guinness with his ancestral cousin from Moneygall Ireland Henry Healy, center, and the owner of the pub in Moneygall Ireland, Ollie Hayes, right, at The Dubliner Restaurant and Pub and Restaurant on St. Patrick's Day, Saturday, March 17, 2012, in Washington

Many great memories of the Dubliner.

In 1974, when I interned at the Senate, it was just a small bar on the first floor of the Commodore Hotel.  Rocky Johnson of Sen. Mike Gravel‘s office, one of my roommates, introduced me to Guiness.  The Dubliner was the most reliable source in D.C. at the time.  The bartender was a guy named Paddy.  It was never crowded — and they had good fish and chips with a fine, imported malt vinegar. I wasn’t exactly a regular, but I made several visits.

Ironically, for my summer job that year with the Louis August Jonas Foundation, we had a trip to D.C. planned with about 16 “boys from abroad” and the designated hotel was the Commodore — it was cheap and met our needs, being close to the Capitol.  I was asked to chaperone, and happily went.   So Freddy Jonas, the great benefactor of the foundation and Camp Rising Sun, and I could sneak down to the Dubliner for a nightcap.  Michael Greene, the foundation’s executive director, warned me that Freddy would always ask if you wanted a second drink, but Freddy would not take one himself — and so, of course, neither should staffers.

One night while Freddy and I were capping off the evening we ran into a friend from interning, Avis Ortner, a rodeo barrel rider who had starred in a Kodak commercial series, and who worked in a Washington law firm.  She and Freddy struck it off very nicely.  I was surprised at how much Freddy knew about horses, and the questions he had about rodeo riding.  At some point in the evening he asked me if I were going to have a second drink, and of course I declined.  “Well, you only live once.  Avis and I are having a second one, and you should join us.”  People who knew Freddy well still don’t believe me when I tell them the story.  But it’s true.  It’s the magic of the Dubliner.  [Is Avis still cleaning up at bridge in D.C.?]

I was back in D.C. in 1975, again with the Jonas Foundation bunch, and again at the Commodore.  The Dubliner had a successful year, and had taken over the small cafe/dining room next door to bar.

In 1976 I visited again, and after a very successful year the Dubliner kicked out the gift shop of the hotel and opened a second bar there.  It was crowded on weekends.

In 1979 I moved to D.C.  Within a couple of years the Dubliner bought out the Commodore.  You couldn’t get a seat at the bar most nights.  St. Patrick’s Day 1980 the line wrapped around the block, and though the place never had a great stage, the live act was the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem, if I recall correctly.

Reconstruction and massive redecorating made the hotel into a great stop.  Eventually the bar company sold the hotel, but kept the location.  After Kathryn and I got married, we’d walk over to the Dubliner for lunch at least a couple of times a month, and the fish and chips at the Dubliner got better.  I may have done in half the cod from the Grand Banks all by myself.

We’ve been in Texas now since 1987.  I miss the Dubliner.  Obama’s lucky he could get in, on St. Patrick’s Day.  I hope he appreciates his luck.

(Kenny’s in Baltimore tonight — more irony.  Girl Talk on Federal Hill (I think it’s an outdoor concert performance).  Better than waiting in line at the Dubliner.  Go when the crowds aren’t there, and you can savor the place.)


Goldie Taylor at TheGrio.com: Why Obama shouldn’t have to “show his papers”

May 1, 2011

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Are Trump and the birthers hypocrites? Racists?

April 28, 2011

You will love this post from Day Riffer:

Looks Like Trump’s Right: How the Hell Did This President Get Into Those Ivy League Schools?

Politics

- “The dean looked over Barack’s transcript and college boards and then suggested in a kindly way that he apply to some less competitive colleges in addition to Columbia.”

- “There were no class rankings at his high school, but Barack never made honor roll even one term, unlike 110 boys in his class.”

- “His SAT scores were 566 for the verbal part and 640 for math. Those were far below the median scores for students admitted to his class at Columbia: 668 verbal and 718 math.”

- “At Columbia, Barack Obama distinguished himself primarily as a hard partier, and he managed to be detained by police twice during his university years: once for stealing a Christmas wreath as a fraternity prank and once for trying to tear down the goalposts during a football game at Princeton.”

- “Obama’s transcript at Columbia shows that he was a solid C student. Although a history major, he sampled widely in the social sciences and did poorly in political science and economics while achieving some of his best grades (the equivalent of a B+) in philosophy and anthropology. The transcript indicates that in Obama’s freshman year, the only year for which rankings were available, he was in the twenty-first percentile of his class—meaning that four-fifths of the students were above him. Yet at the same time that he was earning Cs at Columbia, Obama displayed a formidable intelligence in another way. At his induction into the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, he and others were asked to name all fifty-four pledges in the room. Most were were able to name only five or six. When it was Obama’s turn, he named every single one. Later he rose to become president of DKE, and he was also tapped into Skull and Bones, an elite secret society to which his father had also belonged.”

And then he somehow got into Harvard for graduate school.

Oh, wait.

My bad.

I made a mistake.

Please replace the reference to “high school” with “Andover.”

Please replace “Columbia” with “Yale.”

Please replace “Barack Obama” with “George W. Bush.”

Thanks.

(PresidentProfiles.com)

Read more: http://dayriffer.com/category/28/l/2056/looks-like-trump-s-right-how-the-hell-em-did-em-this-president-get-into-those-ivy-league-schools#ixzz1Kr8k1xVN

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny, back from China and “digging deep” in his new studies.


Obama’s birth certificate: Putting the sideshow freaks and carnival barkers on the hot seat

April 27, 2011

No, it’s not particularly important, especially since we knew from so many other sources that Obama was, indeed, Honolulu born.

The White House pried the old birth certificate out of the records of the State of Hawaii, and released copies to the world today.

The White House video:

ABC Television’s report:

View a .pdf of the form here:  President Obama\’s original Hawaiian birth certificate

I predict Orly Taitz, Donald Trump, and all the other sideshow freaks and carnival barkers, will continue to bark away.  Remember, when P. T. Barnum made a copy of the hoax “Cardiff Giant,” people paid a premium to see the fake of the hoax.  P. T. Barnum’s ghost stalks and stomps on Republican and birther grounds now.

More:

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Boy, looking at this, you gotta know that Obama planned this all out, as Morgan claimed in comments below — just so he could get this story from Juan Williams and Shepard Smith at Fox News:

Oh, For Goodness Sake posted that video, without any other comment, as “National Mirror Moment.”  Birthers, Palinistas and Republicans must be choking on their dinners from that report.  Has the Fox turned on ‘em?

Always a good site to expose the inanity and insanity of Obama’s critics, especially on the issues of Obama’s history, Oh, For Goodness Sake has a particular bead on the hypocrisy of those same critics:

How many times have you heard the promise: The president could end this today if he’d just release his long form birth certificate? So now they’ve got the f—ing long form birth certificate, is it done for the Birthers?

No. No. No. No. No. No. And Nope.

Bigots.  Probably no small amount of racism in there, too.  Plus, they’ve exposed themselves as genuinely opposed to America’s good health.  David Gardner and Milton Goldstein pegged it, even if we have to paraphrase them a bit:  Had a foreign government tried to do what the birthers are doing, we’d have considered it an act of war.  History is not kind to idlers, those who fail to call out injustice, nor idiots.


Scary idea: Obama is now the greatest tax cutter in history

April 24, 2011

Why is that scary?  Because cutting taxes as a policy to fix our ills, doesn’t work.

Politicususa explains:

According to the Orange County Register, “For the past two years, a family of four earning the median income has paid less in federal income taxes than at any time since at least 1955, according to the Tax Policy Center. All federal, state and local taxes combined are a lower percentage of per-capita income than at any time since the 1960s, according to the Tax Foundation. The highest income-tax bracket is its lowest since 1992. At 35 percent, it’s well below the 50 percent mark of much of the 1980s and the 70 percent bracket of the 1970s.”

The problem is that the tax cuts have not promoted economic growth and have caused the federal deficit to explode, “Those lower taxes have helped give the U.S. government the lowest revenues as a percentage of gross domestic product of seven industrialized countries surveyed in 2010 by the Congressional Research Services. (The other countries were Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France.) The U.S. also had the lowest spending as a percentage of the GDP. But with the biggest gap between revenues (31.6 percent of GDP) and expenditures (42.2 percent of GDP), the U.S. also posted the largest deficit as a percentage of GDP – 10.5 percent.”

No conservative would dare give Obama credit.  Is Obama a noble enough leader to decline ownership of the tax cutting title?


Benson courts controversy: Obama’s political resurrection

April 17, 2010

When he interned for our office, he was such a clean-cut, return-missionary sort of guy.  Steve Benson’s cartoons continually push the envelope for what is acceptable in an editorial cartoon, not exactly what I had come to expect from his early work with conservatives.  A welcome surprise.

This one was probably quite controversial in Phoenix, don’t you think?

Obama's political resurrection in health care debate, Steve Benson in Arizona Republic, 4-2-2010

Steven Benson in the Arizona Republic, April 2, 2010


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