Texas secessionists ecstatic . . . over what, they don’t know

November 30, 2012

Not sure how I got on the mailing list, but I’ll take it.

Texas bugs out on the U.S., by Paul Windle

Graphic for the New York Times, by Paul Windle

To those who commented here that the Texas secessionists are joking, and the petition means nothing at all, please note the e-mail I got today from Roxanna M.  Roxanna is the thoughtful person behind the petition AGAINST the Texas secession petition.  Heed what she says:

Hey friends!

I want to thank each of you again!  I’ve received so many emails, and I am going to be getting back to everyone, but I work two jobs so it will take me a bit.  But thank you all for your interest and your support.  It’s amazing.  There are a couple people, though, that have sent emails calling me some not-so-nice names.  I will not be responding to you, aside from this.  Thanks for being engaged and interested enough to respond, though.

I have had quite a few requests about how many signatures we have so far.  As of today this petition has 13,011 signatures. [Emphasis added here] I think we’re off to a pretty good start!  This is my first petition, so I am open to any suggestions or ideas any of you have.

I checked the “We the People” petition the day I sent out the other email, and yes, at that time the number was 117,889.  I checked it twice.  The number at that time was accurate.  It may be more now.  Unfortunately, my roommate also sends me random text messages when they get more signatures on the petition.  He was very excited when they hit 100,000.

Here’s where you can find the petition to secede:
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/peacefully-grant-state-texas-withdraw-united-states-america-and-create-its-own-new-government/BmdWCP8B

It’s actually at 118,203 as of today.

I honestly have no idea how they plan on Texas to go it alone.  There’s a lot of boasting about the our economy and how it’s the best, but I haven’t seen or heard a concrete plan as of yet.  I have heard hints that if Texas isn’t granted a peaceful secession then this could end up another Civil War.  I certainly hope not, and tend to ignore those comments, but things like that are being said.

I do not have a Facebook page for the petition.  I have posted links on Facebook, like on Formidable Republican Opposition’s page.  If anyone wants to start one, feel free!  Just let me know and I’ll send out an email with the link.  I’ve gone to a couple forums for Texas Democrats/Independents and posted links as well.  But, like I said, I’m new at this, and I work two jobs, so if any of you have ideas I’m happy to hear them.

I know that I made some grammar mistakes in the petition, and I apologize.  Unfortunately, once someone signed it (besides me), it wouldn’t let me revise it.  So yeah.  We’ll make do, hopefully.

For those of you who would like to read a bit on the secession petition:

Star-Telegram article
http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/11/20/4429851/a-peaceful-texas-secession-would.html

Examiner article with links of sites supporting Texas secession:
http://www.examiner.com/article/texas-secession-petition-response-white-house-deadline-nears-1

Any other questions, comments, concerns, just let me know.  You all are absolutely fantastic!  Thanks so much! [Note this is the petition AGAINST secession.]
http://signon.org/sign/texans-against-secession?mailing_id=7220&source=s.icn.em.cr&r_by=6253019

Many of those who signed and advocate Texas secession appear to lack an idea of scale, as well as any idea about how government works in a constitutional federal republic.

118,000 signatures from Texas?  Wholly apart from the not-really-joking suggestion that at least 50,000 of those come from Oklahoma, that’s less than the population of rural-to-suburban, southern Dallas County.  Duncanville, Desoto, Cedar Hill, and Lancaster, and all the unincorporated nodules at sea in the area, can’t get Dallas County to pay much attention to them, let alone Texas, let alone the U.S. Congress to consider letting such a tiny group secede.  Compare the 118,000 with more than 3 million Texans who voted for Obama, consider the most of the more-than 3 million who voted for Romney and consider themselves proud citizens of the U.S. who would never consider secession, and at least ten million other Texans who think secession is a stupid idea, and you get a clue as to how inconsequential 118,000 people can be.

Please consider the facts; as John Mashey suggests, and as Roxanna warns, let the secessionists make their case, and tally the costs and benefits.  It’s not a pleasant tally:

  • Gov. Rick Perry opposes the idea, dismisses it as silly and says to move on — he’s otherwise a rather randyesque maverick who loves to slam the federal government if it’ll get him a few votes or a case of beer, or a favor from a businessman.  Truth be told, Perry still thinks he can be president of the U.S., which would be impossible were Texas to secede, and even unlikely were secessionists to get any traction from the state government.
  • On straight up accounting, federal income taxes versus direct aid from the federal government to Texas, Texas is modestly a payer rather than a taker of federal largesse.  However, that accounting does not include the several Air Force Bases, Navy installations, major Army and Marine facilities, Houston’s NASA Control Center, and other federal establishments in the state.  Texas pays almost nothing for border protection, for example, while it costs billions just along the Texas-Mexico border; Texas cannot protect its own borders without the U.S.  Texas is an economic shell waiting to collapse, without the U.S.  That does not account for the several dozens of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas, who would have to move out, to stay domestic corporations.  This includes Exxon-Mobil, AT&T, Frito Lay, and dozens of others.
  • If anyone in the Texas Lege thinks it’s a good idea, they’ve got the good sense to keep quiet about it.  Texas needs federal money to balance its budget, and the Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget.  As a nation, Texas would have to borrow big time, probably spend into deficits (as responsible nations do from time to time) — that is not a popular idea among Texas conservatives, who would be the most likely supporters of secession.
  • With no one in the state government supporting the idea, 117,000 signatures on a petition is about the number of Texans Rick Perry snubs his nose at on a daily basis.  The Great State of Texas is not a signatory to any secession idea.  Congress won’t agree anyway, but especially Congress won’t act contrary to the State of Texas’s wishes.
  • While the First Amendment specifically protects American citizens’ right to petition for redress of grievances, there is no process set by which that is done on such issues, really.  Notice this petition is really just a letter of suggestion to the President, and not any requirement for any action.  Obama likes to listen to citizens (no comment on previous people holding his position, of course); this “We the People” process is a public outreach effort by the Obama administration.  Their promise is, if there is a serious issue, they’ll work to answer questions.  The informal process is, on any issue, serious or not, they’ll answer if there are more than 25,000 people who ask (“sign the petition”).  By gathering 117,000 signatures, those people have earned the right, under Obama’s magnanimity, for a letter.  That letter will probably say, “Sorry you’re disappointed, but we will continue to be the united states, in the United States of America.”
  • Were it a petition to Congress, there is still no requirement for any action. The Constitution forbade Congress from even discussing action against slavery for 20 years after the document became effective, Article II Section 9.  During that time, thousands of Americans petitioned Congress to end slavery.  Congress noted the receipt of those petitions somewhere, and did nothing.  After 1808, Congress received thousands of other petitions, and while taking note of them, rarely did anything about them.  We have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and that prevents us from being thrown into jail for pointing out the government is screwing up.  But that right ends with the petition.  There is no right of any response, nor are such petitions considered demands that government actually act.  Secessionists seem almost giddy that if they get a bunch of signatures, secession is a reality.  That’s some potent moonshine, but it’s no more than moonshine talking.

John Mashey suggested in another thread that secessionists should start running the numbers now.  They might learn from people who wanted the Iron Curtain to fall, for more than 40 years.  They seriously thought about how to fix things, and in much of Eastern Europe, once the oppressive communist regimes fell, serious people stepped up to make serious reforms in government, and some good stuff resulted — see the Czech Republic, Germany’s reunification, the economic boom and increased liberty in Poland, and the great increase in business in Estonia, for examples.  In sharp contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood complained about Egypt’s government for 50 years.  But when that government fell (not much thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood), it turned out they had not thought about how to actually run a nation; after more than a shaky year and a questionable election, the government is still wracked by demonstrations by nominal allies of the government, asking reforms of actions the former Muslim Brotherhood member President Morsi has already taken.

For good government to work, first, government must work.  Texas secessionists have not even thought through a secession process, let alone how to make things work afterward.

But Roxanna notes secessionists have given little thought to any serious next step, even of just getting a letter from President Obama.  Roxanna hasn’t seen any analysis, nor has anyone else.

Take Mashey’s suggestion, secessionists, and start running the numbers.  It will help you avoid disappointment soon, in the near-future, and perhaps for the rest of your life.

Yesterday Kathryn and I toured the National Memorial in Oklahoma City.  It is a grim, curt and hard reminder that political discontent can drive malcontents to horrific action.  Secessionists need to rein in their rabid nationalism before it destroys their patriotism.  Timothy McVeigh had a plan to try to cut things asunder, but nothing else other than ill-intent.

More: 


Cliffhanger avoidance, from Robert Reich

November 30, 2012

Economist/policy wonk/good guy Robert Reich sends along notes on the discussions in Washington (at his Facebook site, and at his personal site) (links added here for your benefit and ease of use):

Robert Reich

Rhodes Scholar, former Secretary of Labor and UC Berkeley Prof. Robert Reich

Apparently the bidding began this afternoon. According to the Wall Street Journal (which got the information from GOP leaders), Tim Geithner met with Republican leaders and made the following offer:

— $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenues over the next decade, from limiting tax deductions on the wealthy and raising tax rates on incomes over $250,000 (although those rates don’t have to rise as high as the top marginal rates under Bill Clinton)

— $50 billion in added economic stimulus next year

— A one-year postponement of pending spending cuts in defense and domestic programs

— $400 billion in savings over the decade from Medicare and other entitlement programs (the same number contained in the President’s 2013 budget proposal, submitted before the election).

— Authority to raise the debt limit without congressional approval.

The $50 billion in added stimulus is surely welcome. We need more spending in the short term in order to keep the recovery going, particularly in light of economic contractions in Europe and Japan, and slowdowns in China and India.

But by signaling its willingness not to raise top rates as high as they were under Clinton and to cut some $400 billion from projected increases in Medicare and other entitlement spending, the White House has ceded important ground.

Republicans obviously want much, much more.

The administration has taken a “step backward, moving away from consensus and significantly closer to the cliff, delaying again the real, balanced solution that this crisis requires,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in a written statement. “No substantive progress has been made” added House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).

No surprise. The GOP doesn’t want to show any flexibility. Boehner and McConnell will hang tough until the end. Boehner will blame his right flank for not giving him any leeway — just as he’s done before.

It’s also clear Republicans will seek whatever bargaining leverage they can get from threatening to block an increase in the debt limit – which will have to rise early next year if the nation’s full faith and credit is to remain intact.

Meanwhile, the White House has started the bidding with substantial concessions on tax increases and spending cuts.

Haven’t we been here before? It’s as if the election never occurred – as if the Republicans hadn’t lost six or seven seats in the House and three in the Senate, as if Obama hadn’t won reelection by a greater number of votes than George W. Bush in 2004.

And as if the fiscal cliff that automatically terminates the Bush tax cuts weren’t just weeks away.

But if it’s really going to be a repeat of the last round, we might still be in luck. Remember, the last round resulted in no agreement. And no agreement now may be better than a bad agreement that doesn’t raise taxes on the wealthy nearly enough while cutting far too much from safety nets most Americans depend on.

If Republicans won’t budge and we head over the fiscal cliff, the Clinton tax rates become effective January 1 – thereby empowering the White House and Democrats in the next congress to get a far better deal.

Watch that space.

It’s especially interesting to me how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) will work to get a solution, if the GOP continues its blockade to almost all action.

More:


Birthday of Twain and Churchill: Happy Whiskey and Cigar Day 2012!

November 30, 2012

Mark Twain, afloat

Mark Twain aboard a ship, somewhere. Place and photographer unknown (at least to MFB). Young Samuel Clemens apprenticed to be a Mississippi river boat pilot, and held a fascination for water-going vessels his entire life. His pilot years are documented, and analyzed, in Life on the Mississippi.

November 30 is the birthday of Mark Twain (1835), and Winston Churchill (1874).

In 2012, we have the benefit of having had a couple of years to digest Twain’s Autobiography, and we have the benefit of new scholarship and a major new book on Churchill, William Manchester’s and Paul Reid’s The Last Lion.

Twain had a comment on the Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education:

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.

Following the Equator; Pudd’nhead Wilson‘s New Calendar

The Nobel literature committees were slow; Twain did not win a Nobel in Literature; he died in 1910. Churchill did win, in 1953.

Both men were aficionados of good whiskey and good cigars. Both men suffered from depression in old age.

Both men made a living writing, early in their careers as newspaper correspondents. One waged wars of a kind the other campaigned against. Both were sustained by their hope for the human race, against overwhelming evidence that such hope was sadly misplaced.

churchill-time-cover-man-of-the-year-1941.jpg

Winston S. Churchill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1941, copyright 1941 by Time Magazine. Churchill’s career was built much on his work as First Lord of the Admiralty, a position he took in 1911.  While he was the goat of the Battle of the Dardanelles (and had to resign as a result), his earlier work to switch Britain’s Navy to oil power from coal, and to use airplanes in combat, kept the British Navy as an important and modern military organization through World War II.

Both endured fantastic failures that would have killed other people, and both rebounded.

Each possessed a great facility with words, and wit, and frequently said or wrote things that people like to remember and repeat again.

Both of them rank near the top of the list of people to whom almost any quote will be attributed if the quote is witty and the speaker can’t remember, or doesn’t know, who actually said it.

Both men are worth study. And wouldn’t you really love to have had them over to dinner?

Twain, on prisons versus education:

Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” – Speech, November 23, 1900

Churchill on the evil men and nations do:

“No One Would Do Such Things”

“So now the Admiralty wireless whispers through the ether to the tall masts of ships, and captains pace their decks absorbed in thought. It is nothing. It is less than nothing. It is too foolish, too fantastic to be thought of in the twentieth century. Or is it fire and murder leaping out of the darkness at our throats, torpedoes ripping the bellies of half-awakened ships, a sunrise on a vanished naval supremacy, and an island well-guarded hitherto, at last defenceless? No, it is nothing. No one would do such things. Civilization has climbed above such perils. The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention, Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible. Are you quite sure? It would be a pity to be wrong. Such a mistake could only be made once—once for all.”

—1923, recalling the possibility of war between France and Germany after the Agadir Crisis of 1911, in The World Crisis,vol. 1, 1911-1914, pp. 48-49. (Obviously, and sadly, Churchill was wrong — twice wrong.)

Image of Twain aboard ship – origin unknown. Image of Winston S. Churchill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1941, copyright 1941 by Time Magazine.

More on Mark Twain

More on Winston Churchill

Orson Welles, with Dick Cavett, on Churchill, his wit, humor and grace (tip of the old scrub brush to the Churchill Centre):

Yeah, mostly this is an encore post from past years.

More, contemporary reports from 2012:


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