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« Whatever Happened to Geopolitics? | Main | Vote for the Prince »

April 26, 2009

Fact for the Day

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

48% of Texas Republicans think Texas would be better off if it seceded from the U.S.


FWIW, yours truly isn't all that interested in a discussion about whether Texas seceding from the union is a good or a bad idea. Boring. A far more appealing-to-me line of thought might be one that went roughly this way:

Wow. How weird that secession is being spoken about so openly these days. Didn't see that one coming. In fact, I can't remember the topic being spoken about like this in my entire lifetime. Bizarre and remarkable. How to account for this development? What might it mean or indicate?



posted by Michael at April 26, 2009


It could mean that Gov. Goodhair is posturing in preparation for his run against Kay Bailout Hutchison. Or it could mean that folks are getting serious about going John Galt.

Posted by: beloml on April 26, 2009 9:51 AM

Even more odd is that amid all the secession rancor from the state officials, the state asked the CDC for medication for swine flu. They can not seem to make up their mind.

It's scary that the population feels that way but this is being driven by the Governor and people in office, which is even scarier.

Posted by: Austin Barrow on April 26, 2009 10:00 AM

Hmmm...and one wonders why The Republican Party is in such a state of decline.

Posted by: Robert on April 26, 2009 11:41 AM

Weird how the people who profess their love for 'Merka most vigorously also have a tendency to remain devoted to the secessionist South. And now we get this sort of thing.

Wonder what the numbers were like when Dubya was still in office...

Posted by: Winston Smith on April 26, 2009 12:01 PM

Why is it odd to ask for medication from the CDC. Even if everyone in Texas wanted to secede, its not like they have not been paying their share of CDC budget up until now.

I think the succession movement is just posturing, Texas's way of saying we're angry and you're not listening to us. The problem with big government is that so much is at stake, if you government is taking a lot from you, you need to feel like your getting it back somehow, but the whole process is too complicated to keep track of.

Posted by: tim on April 26, 2009 12:19 PM

I think the reason for talk of succession being a bit more prominent is the combination of the very real governmental fuck-up (and screw-you, for that matter) of the financial industry, coupled with sour grapes coming from the right side of the political spectrum. It seems ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) is a more acute strain then BDS.

Posted by: JV on April 26, 2009 12:35 PM

Hold yer horses there JV, we still got a bit of a way to go before ANYTHING outstrips BDS.

As my own personal milestone, I'd have to see a bumper sticker like the one I saw on a car in front of the local faux-hippy coffeehouse, around 2004: "END THE BUSH DRAFT", yes, in all caps. Now that's deranged!

Also, Obama isn't even mentioned in the Texas article.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on April 26, 2009 1:05 PM

Todd, good points.

Hey folks, Captain Goodhair is feeling the hot breath of Kay Bailey "I'm Your Huckleberry" Hutchinson breathing down his custom barbered neck.

What better way to garner votes from the hardcore Texas right wing nuts than to hint at a little old fashioned secession?

Lordy, I miss Mollie Ivins. She would have had me rolling on the floor by now with the secession hoo-ha.

Texas is a helluva lot of things, boring ain't one of 'em!

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on April 26, 2009 1:25 PM

Todd, do you think a Republican governor would be mentioning succession under a Republican administration? A bumper sticker on a hippie-mobile ain't nothing compared to talk of succession from elected officials.

Posted by: JV on April 26, 2009 1:36 PM

I live in a small town in the Deep South. I don't hear people talking about secession here. They may THINK it, but they don't say it. Most of this talk is coming from libertarian groups who really dislike government and see a movement to local control as being in everyone's best interest. That being so, you'll find these "movements" spread all over the country. Some are quite virulent, others just making noise. I believe the politicians will exploit these movements if they can do so safely. If the U.S. comes apart, it will be because of the incompetence of elected and unelected federal officials. And we seem to have a lot of that nowadays.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 26, 2009 1:51 PM

It seems ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) is a more acute strain then BDS.

I have to agree with Todd. BDS was far more prevalent and severe (and I speak from the left side of the spectrum). Things aren't going swimmingly for Obama, so there's no big minority willing to hate him beyond all reason.

It'll come, however, if he actually manages to get through this crisis with his popularity intact.

Personally, I think what drives xDS, is the idea that not only is x evil, but he's getting away with it. BDS was far less virulent once Bush's approval ratings plunged. On the other hand, Clinton (Bill) DS was unbelievable because no matter what they dug up, people still loved him...

Posted by: Tom West on April 26, 2009 2:03 PM

Well, Michael, to actually comment on your "far more appealing" train of thought:

One of the most prophetic books of the 20th century has turned out to be Leopold Kohr's The Breakdown of Nations. His general theme is that once countries hit a certain size, they tend to split apart into smaller components. But he also looks at a paradox: For confederations to work, their individual pieces have to be sufficiently small to not be a viable threat to the others.

Examples of working confederations he uses are the US and Switzerland. One that hadn't worked (at the time of his writing, 1957) was Great Power dominated Europe. In the back of the book he has a number of maps, including one where the US is cut into unevenly matched a la Europe, and one where Europe is broken down into small enough states to unite. That last one has come increasingly true.

And sure enough, since then Europe was a) completely dominated by the superpowers (US and USSR), making even the former Great Powers equally small; b) has split into smaller countries; and c) become more united (EEC and EU) as the process continued. About the only exception was the reunification of Germany, and that's more due to the stubbornness and resentment of Germans at being divided by outsiders than anything else. I expect Bavaria will go independent sometime in the long run.

On the US side, things have grown increasingly lopsided, with California and Texas getting ever-bigger slices of the demographic and economic pies. It's funny you mention secession not being talked about in your lifetime -- I'm fairly sure you're old enough to have potentially seen Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, which has been bubbling along in sales for decades now. I can remember speculating with friends in college what an independent California would like, and that was in the early 1980s.

My point, though, is that unless one splits Texas and California into smaller states, they're both going to be pushing the envelope of our working confederation in the medium term -- say 50 to 75 years. At this point, California and Texas combine for about 20% of US GDP, 20% of its population, 18.5% of its agricultural production.

That's a heck of a lot of eggs to have in only two baskets.

Posted by: Hal on April 26, 2009 2:47 PM

"Lordy, I miss Mollie Ivins. She would have had me rolling on the floor by now with the secession hoo-ha."

True. Her plagiarism kept me in stitches...

Posted by: Footnote on April 26, 2009 2:52 PM

JV, I was talking about BDS vs OBS. Is it asking too much that you at least show a connection between seccession talk and Obama before equating it with BDS?

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on April 26, 2009 2:54 PM

Texas has about 24 million people, bigger than Denmark, Finland, and plenty of other European countries which the left adores.

So all the talk of logistical impossibility is of a piece with the talk about how it's "impossible" to enforce the border.

Posted by: asdf on April 26, 2009 4:25 PM

no matter what they dug up, people still loved him...

Correction, the media still loved him. If they didn't love him Monica would have been a story of sexual harassment -- a powerful man abusing a younger woman.

Posted by: asdf on April 26, 2009 4:28 PM

Relevant video game:

Posted by: asdf on April 26, 2009 4:50 PM

What might it mean or indicate? It means the wingnut rump has lost its mind. Another indicator, far more bizarre and remarkable than the secession discussion: torture is also being spoken of openly and approvingly.

Posted by: Steve W on April 26, 2009 10:05 PM

You know what else is hilarious?

The left is ostensibly into "local" everything. "Local" farming, "local" stores, mom & pop rather than big business, etc. etc.

Yet they can't stand the idea of local government!

Posted by: asdf on April 26, 2009 10:30 PM

asdf: Yet they can't stand the idea of local government!

I guess that must explain the Democratic demonstrations against the local governments of Berkeley, Santa Monica, Austin, Raleigh, Madison, Cambridge, Seattle...

Or the deep Democratic resistance to changes in the marriage laws in Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, New York...

Yup, it sure is telling that every time someone argues about slippery slopes, and how if even one example of a particular behavior is made legal in even the smallest jurisdiction it'll make the world higgledy-piggledy, it always comes from a Democrat, eh?

Good thing the Republicans, being good, modest, god-fearing Christian folk, always take the beginning verses of Matthew 7 to heart.

Posted by: Hal on April 26, 2009 11:59 PM

Bloghost here, hoping there's still some way to prevent this thread from turning into a Dems-vs-Repubs shootout. If not, then get on with it. But, seriously: you don't get enough of that boring baloney on TV?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 27, 2009 12:17 AM

MB, from your post:

"How to account for this development? What might it mean or indicate?"

You link to the Texas secession movement, most recently highlighted by the Texas governor's comment on the subject, an obviously political move to both indirectly criticize the Obama administration (and, at best, "the federal government" in general) and to set himself up as a GOP front-runner for the next national election.

My ODS remark was a half-joke (and maybe only a quarter funny), but I'll ask again. Does anyone think a Republican politician would make such a remark under a Republican administration? My guess is, hell no. And I extend this to the non-politicians, almost all from the right side of the political spectrum, who bring up secession. I didn't hear much about it when Bush was in office. And so this whole thing is highly politicized, so of course the comments on it will be as well, because in my view, it's partisan politics that can "account for this development."

That's my take on it. I'm not usually a partisan guy, but this thing reeks of partisanship.

Posted by: JV on April 27, 2009 12:49 AM

Michael, the main reason I called out parties by name is I don't see "right/left" or "conservative/liberal" as having much meaning any more. Increasingly, that schism is far more tribal than ideological.

My point (as usual) was to take someone's blind assertion and give counter-examples of fact. I see that, also, as being non-partisan and non-ideological.

On the other hand, you're the boss, and you're going to do what you like. (A rule of mine going back to BBSes: There's no point in disputing with the sysop.)

Posted by: Hal on April 27, 2009 4:07 AM

I have no use for either party (full disclosure: I am a registered Republican, although I really wonder why), not that it makes much difference here in California. The predominant divide here seems to be the politician-state worker union-illegal alien cheerleader axis vs. the rest of us.

That said, the secession talk is interesting, especially in light of a couple of books I've read lately. The late professor Samuel Hunington in his book "Who Are We" observed that the United States from the very start may have been a country that was "born to die." The professor's point was that at some point large scale immigration coupled with multiculturalism and our political elites' post-American attitudes would create a situation where the bonds that keep us together will become weaker and weaker and eventually disintegrate.

I don't see secession in the near future; what I do see is a "soft partitioning" where Hispanics take over the southwest and Anglos gravitate to the upper midwest, south, and Pacific Northwest. There will probably be massive transfer payment directed by DC to the Hispanic-majority areas to keep social order and level the economic playing field, which might at some point provoke a secessionist backlash from other parts of the country. But no one who is reading this blog is going to be alive by the time that happens.

Posted by: Sgt. Joe Friday on April 27, 2009 9:37 AM

Clearly, none of you (except Cowtown Pattie) are actually familiar with Texas if you think secession talk is new. I always used to hear from native Texans that when Texas joined the US, they retained the right to secede later if desired. Remember, this was the state that was once a nation. I used to live one block from the old French Legation in Austin. And then of course, there was the great standoff with the Republic of Texas folks that occurred while I was out observing at McDonald Observatory when I was a grad student.

In other words, this is same-old, same-old and the rest of y'all are making much too big a thing out of some random remarks from Perry, playing to the home crowd.

Posted by: CyndiF on April 27, 2009 12:17 PM

Don't mean to get in anyone's way, let alone kill the fun. It's just that the question "Why is secessionism cropping up as a semi-legit topic of conversation these days?" seems to me pretty interesting.

To explain: I've been a bit of a "when will the U.S. fall apart?" buff for decades, and until now the topic has never made it into the mainstream. So it's a remarkable moment we're having. Dems and Repubs doing their best to exploit and squabble over the topic -- not so remarkable. But the fact that the topic is appearing in popular publications, on blogs, etc -- that's genuinely remarkable.

Anyway: anyone have any hunches about why secessionism -- a most unlikely topic -- has surfaced as a public topic in the last six months? Have more people awakened to the fact that it isn't Dems-vs-Repubs, it's really elites-vs-the-rest-of-us? Does the political situation look more hopeless than ever before?

Beats me. But an interesting moment in any case.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 27, 2009 12:20 PM

'"Lordy, I miss Mollie Ivins. She would have had me rolling on the floor by now with the secession hoo-ha."

True. Her plagiarism kept me in stitches...'

Indeed. Why does anyone bother to read Mollie Ivins when one can go to the much superior source: Florence King?

Posted by: CyndiF on April 27, 2009 12:24 PM

MB - Yup, I think you've got it. It's not hopelessness per se, but I get the sense that ordinary people are starting to get tired of our political, business, education, media, labor, and religious elites giving us the middle finger on a whole range of issues.

Posted by: Sgt. Joe Friday on April 27, 2009 12:29 PM

I've heard secessionist rumblings here in Arizona for at least 15 years. Washington looks pretty far away from here after all.

Of course, nobody grumbles when AZ gets fat checks from Washington (highway matching, water subsidies, etc). And Arizona receives more money from the Federal government than it contributes, as do most western states. I think it's basic human nature to resent the people who are buying your lunch day in and day out.

I'm not denying that the secessionists probably all oppose Obama, but I think the bailouts are a bigger factor here. Most people will respond to anything that involves money more strongly than any other issue, because it's always close to home. And what we have here is a very visible payout of funds, mostly going to the North East (as people see it anyway). So it's "there they go again taking our money and giving it to the big Eastern fatcats. Well we'll show them!"

I think the secessionist talk would stop if bigger money was going to the Western US specifically. The current talk may be couched in terms of fiscal responsibility, but for a lot that's probably pretty empty (as it has been all along for Republicans).

Of course there is also a background trend across society towards atomization, so the stage is set. Increasingly I think people no longer want to associate with others who are different. We all want to hole up with our own, whether thats a political party or some sub culture.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on April 27, 2009 1:22 PM

"And Arizona receives more money from the Federal government than it contributes, as do most western states. I think it's basic human nature to resent the people who are buying your lunch day in and day out."

I'm not sure this is correct. I think that the people who pay federal income tax believe (rightly or wrongly) that the money is not coming back to them, so I don't think it's resentment of that sort. Just the opposite: they're convinced that they're buying everyone else's lunch and all they get in return are accusations of selfishness, racism, and behavior that is leading to the destruction of the planet. When it is then demonstrated repeatedly that members of the government play by different rules than the rest of us (cheap cottages in Ireland, tax evasion, private jets on Earth Day), they get even madder.

(And yes, wealthy businessmen play by different rules too, but if there is one thing that seems to distinguish people who call themselves Republicans from those who call themselves Democrats, it's whether they get more worked up about abuse of power by the government or abuse of power by corporations.)

Posted by: CyndiF on April 27, 2009 2:15 PM

Wait, I thought it was *liberals* who hated America?

LOL at the Republican Party. You guys catered to the dumbest and most base, and got who you deserved. The Party of Palin made their bed.

Posted by: JewishAtheist on April 27, 2009 3:22 PM

> Arizona receives more money from the Federal government than it contributes, as do most western states.

However, DC also to an extent tells AZ what to do with that money, which may not match what arizonans desire to do with it. Thus, the federal government can make a net transfer of cash into AZ without necessarily being a net economic benefit to AZ. In other words, imagine I rob some dude of a dollar and give it to you, but I also force you to buy for $3, and consume, something only half-desired by you. No one would be surprised if you didn't like me too much even though our interaction, using market values, would be evaluated as a net gain for you.

Posted by: Eric J. Johnson on April 27, 2009 4:24 PM

The left is really kind of like drug dealers with all their repeated invocations of federal money. "How can you complain, we're giving you $50 billion". They want the banks to take the bailout, Joe the plumber to take his payout, and the states to take their "stimulus" money


1) The currency is being debauched and that $50 billion is just being printed. Hyperinflation looms in the offing.

2) no one ever got rich from handouts

3) If the money wasn't being printed, lefties like to point out that red states are net recipients and blue states are net donors...but that hides the fact that at the individual level, red individuals are donors and blue individuals are recipients. nothing new there, we knew republicans were productive (aka "rich") and democrats werent'.

Hal --

I'd be very happy if Berkeley seceded from the US. I only ask that you let Texas go as well without ordering tanks in to make us "celebrate out diversity".

Posted by: asdf on April 27, 2009 4:56 PM

Let Texas secede. Look what eight years of rule by three-ball no-brain Texans did to the rest of us. Let them ruin what's left of their own state and leave the rest of us alone.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on April 28, 2009 10:08 AM

Here's my secession question: how long will we allow Marxist-inspired big-government worshippers to put classical liberalism in the moral place of slavery?

Here's what I mean: So far as nearly everyone is concerned, the Union side in the US Civil War (the War of Northern Aggression, for you un-reconstructed types) was the side of the angels because the South seceded to preserve slavery. The institution of slavery was so evil that virtually any action in pursuit of ending it was excusable if not laudable.

Now, there's a lot of warpage in the rear-view mirror here, because while the South definitely did secede to preserve slavery along with some other reasons, the Northern government didn't really march to end slavery, though anti-slavery propaganda was a mainstay of army recruiting and politico-moralistic posturing, so much so that eventually everyone thought the tail was wagging the dog.

The modern grade-school version of the rationale for the war goes like this: the South seceded in order to practice slavery without interference from morally-superior Northerners. Since slavery was a great evil, the North had to reconquer the South in order to extirpate it. Southern resistance was "rebellion" because the Confederates wished to escape or overthrow the authority of the just. That story glides past the North's actual reasons for war, which had little to do with slavery (indeed, the North allowed slavery to persist in "loyal" States until after the war).

So the standard curriculum doesn't mention that when the South lost the war, it lost, besides the freedom to keep blacks as slaves, freedom from tariffs on imported manufactures, freedom from taxation to support public works in other States, and most important of all, freedom to depart from a political arrangement (the Federal Union) which no longer suited it. The standard curriculum omits the fact that extinguishing those latter freedoms (from unjust taxation, etc.) was the North's true war goal.

Now modern secessionists wish to exercise the ultimate freedom, the freedom to withdraw from a political union which no longer serves their needs,* so they can preserve other freedoms which seem quite admirable. Those include freedom from Federal oppression (TSA watchlists, Federal bans on State-sanctioned medical marijuana, HUD persecution of neighborhood activists, etc.) as well as freedom from Federal taxes much higher and much less justifiable than the taxes which vexed the citizens of the Confederacy.

But-- whenever someone proposes any kind of political secession, whether of a State from the Union or just a small city from a large school district, modern Unionists denounce them as the heirs of slaveholders, and insist that the US is morally required to crush said secessionists because the freedom they seek-- some degree of liberation from an oppressive central government-- is the moral equivalent of slavery.

Slavery was a great evil. It was and is proper to force slaveholders to free their slaves. No one has a moral claim on a "freedom" to own slaves, because slaveholding is inherently immoral-- every slave has a right to throw off his captor by force and everyone in the world has a moral right to assist the slave against his captor. No matter what the propagandists declaim, though, not every war is a war to free someone else's slaves.

The Marxist-Leninist intellectual revolution (which occurred after the American Civil War) characterized capitalists as slaveholders (with proletarians in the role of slaves) and denounced classical liberals as their apologists. Of course this was mere cover for the movement to impose the mass slavery of Communism, where everyone belongs to** the State and the State is guided by the Party Central Committee under the wise leadership of the General Secretary-- who, exactly like the Tsar,*** appoints officials to manage his land and his serfs. In the USA we escaped Lenin and Stalin, but got Roosevelt and Nixon and Bush II and (most recently) Obama as consolation prizes. Instead of Communism all at once, we got creeping socialism in partnership with rent-seeking corporatism. And instead of a succumbing to a police state in the 1930's, we have delayed ours until the 21st Century.

In modern society the petty-tyrant slaveholders of the old South, who dispensed oppression retail, have been supplanted by the grand-tyrant slaveholders of socialist-democratic government, who dispense oppression wholesale.

The triumph of Marxist-Leninism is so nearly complete that most "educated" (i.e., propagandized) Americans hold the unexamined, but much acted-upon, belief that anyone who claims economic and political freedoms, the very freedoms for which the slaves of 1860 yearned, is ipso facto a slaveholder, because the freedoms he seeks are opposed to the "will of the people" (formerly called "the dictatorship of the proletariat," but those are big words with a somewhat offputting sound, so only scholars use them now).

I don't mean to suggest that most "educated" Americans are self-conscious Communists. They're not. But their thoughts are unconsciously organized along Marxist-Leninist lines, because leftist propaganda has pervaded the academy for so long that most modern Americans can no more express a political thought in non-Marxist terms than an medieval European intellectual could express one in non-Christian terms.

For too many modern Americans, freedom is slavery, therefore today's secessionists are the same as yesterday's and they should be crushed in the name of decency. For the future of humanity, if not this country, we have got to get our society out of that intellectual rut.

*On an individual basis, this is the internationally-recognized human right to flee an oppressive country.

**Felipe Perez Roque, the Foreign Minister of Cuba, a real card-carrying Communist, said that Elian Gonzalez had to be returned to Cuba because he was "property of the [Cuban] State." To a real Communist, everyone is property of the State.

***Please read "Property and Freedom" by Richard Pipes. Until I read that book I did not understand how fully the Bolsheviks recreated the pre-revolutionary economic and social order with the General Secretary in the place of the Tsar, and the proletarians in the place of the serfs. To a great extent, the Russian Revolution was fought merely to replace the old elite with the revolutionary leaders.

Posted by: Mark Seecof on April 28, 2009 10:08 PM

What the hell? Why is the unity of the USA more sacred than the unity of the old USSR?

The USA is a bloated, oversized, bankrupt empire-it
looks to be in need of devolution.

And Seecof is right-PC-Multicultism-Cultural Marxism(along with economic crypto-Marxism)is the de facto official ideology of the ruling elites and their Central Government. This was true under W and-so far- even more true under BHO. And what are the signs that the warfare state will be reduced under the current POTUS occupant? It is perfectly sane to want to secede from such a reality-denying regime.

P.S. One concrete example of regime nonsense:

Posted by: icr on April 29, 2009 8:32 AM

A couple of Europeans may help explain why clueless US "conservatives" and "liberals" seem to be in a perpetual state of intellectual confusion about the nature of the political system under which they live:


The reason that we find a strong conservatism in America and not in Europe is that American conservatives are not at all conservative but liberals to the core; French Revolution egalitarians and PC addicts with fear of “racism”, etc. European conservatism is of a essentially different kind, and totally unacceptable under the current world order. In the American mythology, which is the foundation for our current civilizational paradigm, the old pre-WWI Europe is the worst of the evils, much worse than Communism of fascism. After all Wilson and Roosevelt understood and respected Lenin and Stalin. It was the old (and vital!) Europe that was Satan itself in their eyes.(…)


Due to the very nature of America, and to a lesser extent, Canada, they simply cannot understand why Europeans do not go the propositional route and are deathly afraid of European nationalism, no matter how benign. Nationalism doesn’t exist in America, only jingoism and it is seen as a relatively harmless although most liberals do find it very annoying. Even the furthest of the right in America cannot be accurately described as nationalists (e.g. right wing militia groups) due to their hatred for the government. The majority of nationalists respect the role of the government even if they do not agree with it; they do not entertain paranoid conspiracy theories about what the government may be doing to them like these militia groups. Some may try to use white nationalists as a counterpoint to nationalism existing in America. I think white nationalism is a misnomer mainly because you cannot force an ethnicity into being by collecting a bunch of like minded white people from very different backgrounds and reaching a consensus on culture, language, and religion. Due to the education system and the culture of America, they can never understand the positive aspects of nationalism and always equate any right wing group in Europe that does not tow the multicultural line as fascist.(…)

Posted by: icr on April 29, 2009 8:48 AM

Why didn't Howard Deane get the Perry treatment when he toyed with the idea of Vermont secessionism?


The present movement for secession has been gathering steam for a decade and a half. In preparation for Vermont's bicentennial in 1991, public debates -- moderated by then-Lt. Gov. Howard Dean -- were held in seven towns before crowds that averaged 230 citizens. At the end of each, Dean asked all those in favor of Vermont's seceding from the Union to stand and be counted. In town after town, solid majorities stood. The final count: 999 (62 percent) for secession and 608 opposed.

Posted by: icr on April 29, 2009 9:47 AM

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