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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

With Friends Like These…

You’ve seen the movie right?

Thelma & Louise, I mean.

Yeah, you’ve seen it.

People called it the “Chick buddy movie.” I don’t know about that, seems to me that if you’ve got buddies like either Thelma or Louise maybe you should take a moment and reflect on why your life keeps biting you in the ass.

But I digress.

Anyway, to review: A waitress and housewife despair of their crappy lives. One night, rather than confronting their problems directly and doing something to actually improve their lot, they decide to hit the road. Bad choices and antisocial behavior ensue, one thing leads to another and eventually Louise kills a guy to prevent an assault on Thelma. Now, granted, in the context of the story, the guy probably needed some serious maiming, but killing? Of course, that’s what happens when you solve your problems with guns, things often get out of hand. Predictably, yet again instead of facing their problems directly and taking responsibility for their actions, the protagonists give into paranoia and panic and they just keep making things worse. Deliberately so. They blame everybody else for the situation and drive around the country getting even with every stereotype that they imagine ever did them wrong and leaving a trail of wreckage in their wake, never once taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.

Eventually it all catches up with them and in the film’s final iconic moment they hold hands and drive right off the edge of a cliff into oblivion.

Now, there are people, of course, who cheer that final moment as some kind of triumph, who see Thelma and Louise, unrepentant, as some kind of heroes who held tight to some nebulous undefined higher truth even as they roared headlong over the edge of the precipice and plunged grinning to their deaths while shouting Yeeeehaah! at the top of their lungs.

Screw you, World, that will show you.

The entire movie is a ninety minute self absorbed masturbation fantasy ala “Look what you made me do! I’ll kill myself, then you’ll be sorry, yes you will!”

Looking around today, I wonder if we’re not living our own Thelma & Louise.

In a case of raging Obama Derangement Syndrome on steroids, a woman in Arizona tried to kill her husband yesterday by running him over with a Jeep – because he apparently forgot to vote. Holly Solomon blamed her husband for the President’s reelection, an argument followed, the husband got out of the car and Solomon chased him around the parking before crushing him between the fender and a light pole.

She says she just wanted to scare him.

I suspect she succeeded, I know I would be scared shitless of that murderous psycho.

She apparently missed the fact that it would have taken an additional two hundred thousand non-voting Arizonians to flop Arizona’s eleven electoral votes from Romney to Obama. Solomon is in jail on attempted murder charges and her husband is in intensive care. According to people who know her, Solomon “really” hates President Obama and is convinced that his reelection will put an additional financial burden on the family – what impact attempted murder, aggravated assault, an extended hospital stay, and (I assume) divorce will have on the family finances I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader.

For what it’s worth, Solomon is pregnant – but the good news is that she won’t have to worry about the medical costs associated with delivery while in prison.

But I digress. Again.

Since last week’s re-election of President Obama there’s been a run on guns.

In some places, particularly in large areas of the Southwest and here in my own very, very red state of Alaska, gun sales have increased by over five hundred percent – despite the fact that there is no, repeat no, legislation currently pending to change federal gun laws in any way. Despite the fact that conservatives still hold the majority in the House and, along with a number of moderates and even a few liberals, would be very, very, very unlikely to pass any legislation restricting gun ownership. And despite the fact that even in the wake of the mass shootings in Arizona and Colorado, President Obama has repeatedly said that he has no intention whatsoever of taking up gun restrictions or Second Amendments rights.

Despite all of this, people who claim that they have no money, who are worried that Obama is going to come take what money they do have, are somehow managing to find enough money to buy guns and ammunition like Thelma and Louise spending what little they had on booze and cigarettes instead of getting out of their shitty relationships and fixing their lives.

And speaking of lousy relationships, once again Texas wants a divorce.

The logic apparently being that if at first you don’t secede, try and try again.

Texans have been trying to secede since the day they joined the Union. Or some of them anyway. There are about twenty-five million pointy-toed shitkickers who call Texas home, about twenty-five thousand of them have signed a petition on the White House We The People website asking President Obama to allow them to leave the United States and strike out on their own.

Now, Twenty-five thousand sounds like a lot, but in reality that’s one tenth of one percent of the state’s population who think they want to opt out of America.

The petition for secession goes like this:

The U.S. continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the U.S. suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect its citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.

Heh.

It would be almost amusing to let these people have their way – just to see if they could maintain that “balanced budget” and that standard of living without money from Washington while at the same time having to assume their own national defense including a standing army, air force, and navy along with highway construction and maintenance, education, research, scientific advancement at levels necessary to remain competitive in a global economy, weather prediction and communications (including satellite based systems), energy and water infrastructures, and so on right up to disaster relief (no small thing in a state prone to hurricanes and drought).

I can’t wait to see their faces when they realize that we’re taking the Navy ships and the Air Force jets and Army tanks with us, along with all the classified military systems and equipment, not to mention the intelligence and information infrastructure – see, we don’t share that stuff with enemy nations, though they can sometimes buy the lesser export versions. I suppose, if we were generous, we could let them keep the Texas National Guard’s equipment even though the federal government paid for almost all of it. Of course, there’s a catch – we’ll come back to that in a minute.

The petition specifically calls out the TSA, so I guess we’re free to take all that airport security with us too – along with federal funding for the runways and terminals and GCA systems and radars and computers and parking lots.

Speaking of airports, it’s going to be damned thin at George H. W. Bush International Airport when Continental and United Airlines pull out, they are after all American companies, and since Texas will no longer comply with TSA regulations, neither airline, nor any other American one for that matter, will be able to operate from the foreign soil of the Republic of Texas.

Maybe Texicans can park their horses in the space where the jets used to be, I dunno, I’m sure they’ll think of something.

It would be interesting to watch the Republic of Texas come to the realization that they are downstream, literally, from the United States: downstream for water, electricity, commerce, produce, animal feed, manufactured goods and etcetera – not to mention that the majority of the oil and gas feeding Texan refineries comes from the north, along with the money that finances it all.

The majority of goods flowing through Texas ports would dry to a trickle, because, see, while twenty-five million sounds like a lot, population wise it’s nothing in a global economy. 

Also, you’ve got wonder where they’ll get the gold to back their brand new Texas Sawbucks, maybe Glenn Beck will loan it to them.

I want to be there on the day that Texicans suddenly realize they are a non-voting member of the United Nations, assuming that Texas joins the UN in the first place, and that they can no longer face the rest of the world with the might of the United States of America at their backs. I want to see the expression on Texas’ face when they realize that they have no more say in global affairs and international matters than Bumfuckistan.

I wonder if they’ll still be as eager as they are now to declare war on Iran.

The cornerstones of Texas’ economy, shipping and commerce, NASA and aerospace, energy, military, federally funded higher education, will all suddenly disappear along with federal infrastructure jobs. And manufactured goods, along with water, oil, natural gas, electricity, grain, food, and all the rest of it will suddenly become much more expensive in the Republic of Texas, unless, of course, Austin decides to become a signatory to NAFTA and all those other free trade agreements.

I wonder what they’ll do when all the communications, long distance and international phones, cable TV, internet, banking Telex to name a few things, shuts down? After all, those are American communication satellites up there. Wonder what it costs to develop your own space program? Since Texicans are opposed to anything resembling a free handout, I wonder if the DOD could disable GPS over the new Republic? Just a thought.

I have to wonder if they’ll continue to buy spare parts for their castoff National Guard F-16s and M1A1 Abrams tanks from us, or if they’ll find it cheaper to buy their military hardware from Russia like other Third World countries. Of course, I suppose they could import all the raw materials they need for a modern military and build their own equipment including the space-based components – be interesting to see them tool up and do that without borrowing money from China. Personally, if it was up to me, I’d impose a tariff on every single product headed south, including water and all that fracking gas, until Texas paid back every dime ever spent there in federal money – but then I’m a vindictive bastard, I am.

I want to be there when Texas realizes what the phrase buffer state means.

See, when Texicans finally secure their southern border against illegal immigration from Central and South America, from terrorists and drug smugglers, they also by simple fact of geography end up protecting the forty-nine remaining United States (and Canada) from the same – at no charge to us. And everything they need to close that border, guns and barbed wire and chain link fence and high-tech detection gear, patrol trucks, and everything else, they’d have to buy from us, or China, or India.

Yes, that’s right, The Republic of Texas would have to pay out of their own pockets to defend a country that they despise.

That would almost be worth the price of admission right there.

Here’s a thought, is it in our best interest – the United States I mean – to allow the Lone Star Country to become a nuclear power?

I really don’t think it is.

After all, you never know what those crazy religious extremists might do if they got their hands on a bomb. And they already hate us, right? By definition.

But I digress yet again.

Texas, of course isn’t the only state suddenly interested in secession. Citizens from Alaska, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama and New York have all filed their own petitions for secession.

They’re all ready to give up on the United States, because Obama got reelected to the office of President.

They have so little faith in the country they profess to love that they’re willing to abandon it straightaway rather than help us fix it.

Because they think we’re about to drive off a cliff.

It’s ironic. These states, these people, these patriots, these Americans, share equally in blame for the current situation, for our economy, for our government, for the debt, for the partisan divide and the extremism that pulls us apart, and while they yammer on about “responsibility” their answer to the situation is to run away. Literally, just run away. They want to take all the good stuff and leave the rest of us holding the bag. 

They actually visualize secession like a divorce where they get the house and the car and the kids, and their former spouse gets stuck with alimony and the credit card bills and the mortgage.  That’s exactly what they intend for us.  As if they have no responsibility for their part of this mess at all.

Just like Thelma and Louise, their solution isn’t to face the problem squarely and do what is necessary to fix it.

Instead they’re trying to talk the rest of us into a road trip.

And, you know what? It’s entirely possible – we could end up like Thelma and Louise, we could shoot a guy and rob a store and  generally behave like louts, we could drive right off the looming cliff and plunge to our deaths screaming all the way.

Yes, we could do that.

We could engage in a mutual murder-suicide pact.

 

Or, and here’s an idea, we could choose to not to.

 

It’s really just that simple.

Here’s what we could do instead, we could take responsibility for the state of our nation and demand that our elected representative stop screwing around and get to the work we pay them for.

The so-called Fiscal Cliff is a bullshit made up crisis.

That’s right, it’s made up.

It’s a mutual murder-suicide pact entered into by a handful of angry petulant children masquerading as Senators and Representatives who are hell-bent on taking the rest of us down with them because they didn’t get their way in the last few elections.

This crisis exists solely because Congress has so far refused to take responsibility for their own selfish juvenile actions and for no other reason.

The congressmen perpetuating this hoax are little different, mentally, from Thelma and Louise, or those two assholes who shot up Columbine High School – they’ve got a list of imagined grievances a mile long and it’s not enough that they do themselves in, they intend to take down as many of their fellows as they can.

Look what you made me do! I’ll show you, I’ll drive us right off the cliff and kill us all and then you’ll be sorry.

And it’s not just the Fiscal Cliff, it’s all the rest of it too.

This congress, specifically the House, has stalled for the last two years in an attempt to blackmail Americans into giving them the Senate and the White House.

They picked a bad strategy and it cost them. They lost. The message from the citizenry couldn’t be more clear.

Now is not the time for a road trip, now is the time when adults need to put away childish things and get to work.

Look here, neither side is entirely wrong.

And neither side is entirely right.

The election is over, both sides need to put aside their selfish personal bullshit, both sides need to immediately marginalize their extremists, and both sides need to sit down as adults and start getting shit done.

First, call off the crises.

Just that, call it off.

Tell America, tell the world, hey, you know what? This is fucking nuts. We’re not going to drive off this cliff. We’re not. So stop worrying about it, we’ll fix it.

And it’s easy to do, reach an interim budget deal or extend the deadline for sequestration.

If you have to, extend the current tax levels for one year.

If you have to, delay implementation of certain provisions of Obamacare for one year.

And so on. It’s so easy a lame duck session of congress could have it on the President’s desk by Thanksgiving.

It’s really just that simple.

It can be done with the stroke of a pen.

This is will immediately stabilize the stock market and the economy. Everybody immediately benefits. Rich people, poor people, Christmas retailers, everybody.

Should we have to do this? No, of course not, not if congress had been doing their jobs all along, but that’s water under the bridge. Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda. We have to play it as it lies now.

Carve out some breathing space and get down to business – with the actual intention of fixing the problems and not making things worse by doing stupid shit over and over.

Anybody not intent on fixing the problems, marginalize. Period. Leaders of all parties need to lead. They need to send the following message: You’re either part of the solution or you don’t get a vote, decide which one you want to be.

Now for the real work:

The debt must be brought under control. The left thinks so, the right thinks so, the middle thinks so. We’re all agreed at the start.  It doesn’t matter who thinks so more.  If we go over the cliff, we all die. The solution isn’t one size fits all, unless we want to end up like Greece, and both sides need to face reality.

We keep saying we’re worried about the mess we’re leaving our kids. Fine, then don’t do it.

If you’re truly worried about our future, truly, then let’s do what is necessary to fix it.

How do we fix it?

Well it won’t be easy. We have to start with taxes.

Everybody, left and right, agrees that the tax code is a mess. Congress doesn’t want to raise taxes on the rich. Why? Because most of them are rich, a lot of them are millionaires, and the rest make well above $250K a year, that’s why.  It’s a conflict of interest.

Tough shit, time for Grover Norquist to be run out of Washington lashed to a rail. He’s not doing any of us any favors at all.

Norquist gets one vote, just like all the rest of us – it’s time for conservatives to remember that.

If we’re really serious about fixing the debt, then we should let the Bush Era tax cuts expire, all of them.

Now it doesn’t have to be all Bush Era Tax Cuts or no Bush Era Tax Cuts.

We could compromise and split the difference with a progressive tax increase, but everybody needs to pay more. And a lot more folks need to start paying, Mitt Romney was right in some regards, the loopholes need to be closed (Ironic, coming from a millionaire who didn’t pay taxes for a number of years, but I digress).

And maybe we do need to cut the corporate tax rate, maybe by five or ten percent instead of Romney’s suggested twenty percent.  But, and here’s the thing, we should get something for it. I.e we cut the corporate tax rate with the caveat “We cut taxes on your business, you hire people here at home in return and pay for their healthcare without whining. Period. No excuses. You don’t hire people within a year, we raise your taxes to make up the difference.” Exactly how many you hire, and how much less your taxes, are simply details that need to be worked out. And again, one size doesn’t fit all, big business and small business could have different thresholds.

I like Romney’s idea of a fixed limit on deductions. Tax experts, both left and right, like it too. Let’s do it.

I also agree with conservatives that we need to eliminate outdated and excessive regulations that cost us money to enforce and that restrict the growth of business. The best part about this is that most federal regulatory enforcement comes from the Executive Branch, which means the president can suspend or eliminate onerous regulation via Executive Order right away without waiting on legislation. Hell, ask Romney if he wants the job of identifying which regulations need attention, after all, he’s looking for a job and he’s supposed to be the expert.  If he really wants to help the country like he says he does, then he’ll work with the rest of us to get it done.

Entitlement Programs do need overhaul – including Obamacare.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, all need revision. And there are freeloaders who are abusing the system and should be cut the hell off.

Entitlement Programs need review by adults, without hysteria and fearmongering and threats.

There’s plenty of room for savings and plenty of ways to make sure everybody is taken care of without leaving future generations out in the cold.

The government does need to be cut back.

Starting with the Department of Defense.  Yes, that’s correct. We need to significantly reduce the defense budget, maybe by as much as one third. We spend more than the next fourteen nations combined on our military at the expense of everything thing else. That’s crazy.  We need to dump expensive systems that will never, ever, pay for themselves along with excessive bases and pork barrel programs – and I’ll cover some of those things in a future essay, perhaps later this week. 

Every single division of the federal government can be made more efficient, smaller, leaner, and cheaper. Conservatives are absolutely right about that and liberals know it. That doesn’t mean we should chop off our nose to spite our faces, or drive off a cliff to spite everybody else, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

We just have to get to it. Now, while we still can.

I’ve heard a number pundits and politicians opinion that the fiscal cliff is a good thing. That sequestration will force us to cut spending across the board and will force us to raise taxes – both of which will make us finally do something concrete about the national debt.

This is a true statement, just as it’s true to say that the Titanic disaster was a good thing because it forced us to adopt more stringent maritime safety regulations and develop better survival equipment, navigation, collision avoidance sensors, and iceberg detection. However, the good things are small damned comfort to the people who went into the water that night.

It’s true in the same sense as saying Columbine forced us to adopt better safety procedures to protect our children.

It’s true, but the cost is very, very high.

And there are better ways of improving the future.

We can’t fix what’s wrong by running people over in the parking lot or by stocking up on guns or by running away from the problem to form our own little countries.

Sure, we can solve the problem the same way Thelma and Louise did, but there turns out to be unpleasant side effects.

 

The simple truth of the matter is this: the crisis we face, the crisis we are being told we face, is false. 

There is no crisis.

Unless we make it so.

111 comments:

  1. From a Jewish perspective her last name obviously lent her no wisdom.

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  2. As stated elsewhere, the "Fiscal Cliff" is just more Shock Doctrine in action. I say lets let everything go on Jan 1st, and decide what to do on Jan 2nd. Let the President and the new Congress figure out what to do. Any laws passed can be made retroactive to Jan 1st, making the transition time between the expired laws and the new ones null. May not be what the PTB want, but it seems better than rushing to avoid this 'crisis'.

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  3. 2 things
    The city of Austin TX also has a petition for succession from the State of TX and to stay with the US.

    Thelma and Louise gave us Brad Pitt. Walking away. In Levis.

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  4. This post made me stand up and applaud, right here at my desk. Well done, sir.

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    1. So now all 50 States want to secede. I think people are just trying to make a point, and anyone that believe this to be a fact is just as crazy as those who really want to secede. And if it ever came down to it, we (the veterans) would not have any trouble defending our Texas borders. I think deep down this guy wishes he lived in Texas.

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  5. I'm sorry to mention it, but the population of Canada is only 30 million and I'm pretty sure we're not a third world country (except in the far north), so Texas could probably do pretty well on its own. They could also do what we do for defense: Rely on the USA. Seems to work pretty well. We haven't been invaded since 1812.

    Oh, right. Never mind.

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    1. Nice 1812 reference. On behalf of my country, let me extend my apologies for all that and express my hope that we can continue to rely on your fine country for all of our best comedians and as a cheap place to shoot movies that are all set in places that aren't Canada. The only thing I'd ask in exchange is that you folks maybe relax your immigration restrictions--we Americans like to threaten to move to your country (not that any of us ever will, not unless they resurrect the draft), but it isn't really a credible threat if people realize you'll just send us back because most of us can't meet your current work requirements and quotas for resident aliens.

      But as for Texas: different circumstances, my friend. First of all, Mexico has wanted that territory back ever since the Texans stole it from them in the first place. And second, the border zone is already turning into a warzone rife with well-armed drug cartels beyond the control of their government. So two plausible scenarios the Republic Of Texas (ROT) may find itself facing within its first few years as a failing state are (1) invasion by Mexico or (2, more likely) invasion by cartels establishing themselves as warlords with regional control over broad territories or microstates. Indeed, re. scenario #2, it isn't hard to imagine the Republic Of Texas becoming Afghanistan to Mexico's Pakistan minus (possibly) the (withdrawing) American military presence: i.e. a tragically perpetually failing-but-not-completely-failed border state controlled by local juntas and warlords in which instability is carefully managed by an internationally weak but regionally powerful neighbor for their own purposes; Mexico being too weak to invade and maintain control but not wanting the ROT to become a threat and enjoying whatever unpleasantness the ROT can cause the United States.

      In this scenario, obviously, the other thing citizens of the ROT can look forward to are American drone strikes targeting the drug warlords. My understanding, though, is that they'll have nothing to fear, as our drones are very, very precise and the acme of advanced military technology, and hardly ever cause any kind of collateral damage, and there are rarely any civilian casualties to speak of (or at least hardly anybody does); nor do our personnel ever inadvertently mistake a target, and our excellent intelligence establishment almost always picks out the proper targets for them.

      At any rate, I hope the citizens of ROT won't worry about our drones too much, and will quickly embrace the sense of resignation and fatalism I hear quickly creeps into the territories we're already deploying them in. The drones are very quiet and strike from a distance, you see, so worrying about them doesn't really do any good. They should worry about what they're going to buy Senor Loera for his birthday. Everybody needs to chip in what they can--I'm sure he likes nice things and he does seem to have a temper....

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    2. Completely agree with your 1 and 2 as scenarios. My husband (from Central America) points out that when British Honduras (Belize)got its independence from Britain in the 1970s (simplifying the story), one of its neighbors immediately began to move to take possession. It took a British warship and troops to back them off. Good luck, Republic of Texas, and good bowling!

      Lorraine

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    3. I followed a link here and I'm glad i did. This makes more sense than anything I've seen on the news today.

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  6. Can't we just fill up their old beater pick ups' gas tanks and buy new tires for their double wides so they can get out?
    It would be SO much cheaper than kicking their asses Appomattox Style.

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  7. You say what I've been saying for a few days now. At least since the news on these petitions broke.

    And I wonder if there isn't a desire to use this to try and influence the work on the budget issues.

    Also, speaking as a Texan, your comment about a divorce would probably be more appropriate - though something of a caricature - that Texas hopes to get the trailer house.

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  8. I often ask conservatives who's going to pay for the unemployment for all those fired/laid off government workers. The response I get is either one of two thing 1. Let them fend for themselves or 2. I don't know but we can't raise taxes.

    On Texas. We don't have to do a thing with Texas. In 15 years or so it will be a blue state. The Latino population in Texas is increasing rapidly and the white population is decreasing. If and when that happens the Dems pick up 38 electoral college votes. The Republicans will then be well and truly screwed. I hope I live long enough to see that.

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  9. Texas? Would anybody miss it?

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    1. Well, yes, actually. I would. Stonekettle Station has quite a few friends in Texas. Just saying.

      Hopefully they'll send the crazies packing, soon.

      Which doesn't, however, mean that I won't keep making fun of Texas (because I live in Alaska and picking on Texas makes me feel better).

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    2. My corner of Texas (otherwise known as northern Mexico) went blue, but personally I know as many crazy/stupid Democrats as I do crazy/stupid Republicans.

      As for making fun, I would like to recount a postcard I encountered a few years back:
      Dad: "Son, you never ask a man where he's from. If he's from Texas, he'll tell you, and if he's not, you don't want to go embarrassing him."

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    3. Hey don't worry, I'm a friend from Texas, and I agree we'd all be better off with only 49 stars...it's already the "One Star State". A little over a year living here has convinced me of that...just think, my company can move back to a real state.

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    4. But we are fond of the crazies down here. They make the rest of us look so good!

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    5. This Austinite would prefer staying with the good ol' US of A, thank you very much. I say we commandeer Florida, it's only good as hurricane bait anyway. Put all the malcontents across the nation in Florida, hell we'll even build 'em a fence, but they owe us for the land and any federal revenue we'd lose for the next five years, and cut them off. You're on your own. You didn't want to be a part of the US, okay. Be careful what you ask for.

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    6. Jim’s probably already heard this story and is now rolling his eyes, but I can’t resist an opportunity to tell it again whenever anyone mentions Texas. (Slowly I turned.) My family & I spent a year in Texas one week-end. Yes, you read that correctly. Maybe it just SEEMED like a year because we were given accommodations in a dusty old motor-home in a backyard about 20 ft from where Grandpa was buried. Yes, BURIED. In the backyard. The house itself was up on blocks and there were "bar-buh-doe" sheep roaming freely around the property. (Except the ones who were unfortunate enough to wind up in that evening’s stew. NOT kidding.) Pretty sure I’ve never heard of a barbardo sheep before and I KNOW I’ve never eaten one in a stew. My family being native Californians, we were advised not to even think about bringing any of that "beauty-fuh-kay-shun" in there because they "LIKE their junk” exactly where it is.

      Now, I readily acknowledge that this wasn’t exactly one of the larger metropolitan areas that (we’re told) exist somewhere in that state. This was Odessa, famous for the “Friday Night Lights” program or something like that. The locals call the area "Odessalation," and it isn’t hard to understand how they have NOTHING else to wrap their lives around besides high school football and gettin’ their hair ratted up REAL high at the beauty school so they can attend functions at the VFW. We were there because our daughter was (presumably) getting married to a Texas boy. Didn’t happen, fortunately for her. He ran off with one of the bridesmaids the day of the wedding and sent his daddy to tell his would-be bride (and us, her parents) about it. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, she pulled herself together and we flew her outta that hell hole the following Monday – not a moment too soon.

      With all due respect to the many civilized people that we’re told live in that state somewhere, but based solely on our personal experience in Odessa; I would be willing to help them pack if they really DID get serious about seceding. No, really. I might even consider renting the U-Haul for them. Of course we all know, Texas isn’t really going anywhere. They are just throwing another one of their dreary, predictable temper tantrums. Bummer. I really would be quite happy to help them vacate. All those nice people in Texas would be better off without them.

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    7. My suggestion? Let Texass secede. We'd be better off without them. And all the rest of these asshole secessionists? Ship em to Texas. Or better yet, round up all of these moonbats, hand em a case of their favorite ammo (Cuz they evidently have plenty of guns on their own), a case of MREs, and ship their sorry asses to Somalia. Go and "build it yourself", and show us how well your austerity measures work! Yee Ha!

      Or, if you want to stay, help, or at the very least sit down and shut the hell up, grownups are working.

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    8. Keep in mind, as Jim said, 25K is really a small percentage of the Texas population. Heck, Austin alone is over 1 million for the metro area. I think these so-called secessionists are of two varieties. 1) Illiterate, ignorant jackwads who drive around all the time with SECEDE bumper stickers on their pickemups (I see them a lot), and malcontents who think this is a fun way to protest. Every state has a bushel of both types. To say "we're better off without them" is discounting the fact that there are a lot of Texans who work hard, are highly educated (bachelor's degrees, masters, and PhDs are a dime-a-dozen here in Austin), and contribute in many different ways.

      The US is made up of 50 states, each having its place in the economics, strategic defense, agriculture, industry, etc. All kidding aside, I think these people are just voicing their opinion in the only way they--with their limited ability--know how. Having said that, just because you have access to the internet, doesn't mean you are necessarily qualified to do so.

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  10. There is also a petition to strip the citizenship of everyone who signed a petition and exile them
    Seriously.

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    1. I saw that. Seems a little silly to me, but then so does Dancing with the Stars - this shitfight seems to be on about the same level.

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    2. Well yes it's silly. That's the whole point

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    3. Indeed, I signed it because I think it's a damned good joke.

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    4. I think we should go for it, if only to watch the squeeling and backpeddling when the first few hundred are rounded up. "Hey, quit yer whinging! You wanted this!"

      Delete
    5. Joke or not, I still think it would serve them right. They can't walk away from responsibility but continue to reap all the rewards of citizenship. If they want out, they can get ALL the way out.

      Delete
    6. There's this one, too:
      http://is.gd/5jOKHC

      Delete
    7. @ Cthulhu "I think we should go for it, if only to watch the squeeling and backpeddling when the first few hundred are rounded up. "Hey, quit yer whinging! You wanted this!"
      My daughter was shocked and appalled when I told her about the petition I explained to her that blade swings both ways!

      Delete
  11. I used to work in state government. I've seen an awful lot of idiocy, but the worst was the politician-induced "Across the Board" budget cutting which makes for great headlines, but lousy reality. See, the proper way to trim the fat is to hire a group of outside auditors to go through each and every agency / department / boondoggle / office / &c. and identify where the waste is, and how it can be effectively and efficiently cut. Then cut. Obviously, with the Federal government, there are places where outside auditors can't be granted access - classified programs, &c. It may even be impossible for outside auditors to do any significant portion of the job, because of its size. We could start, however, by letting the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have a go at it, and this time not allow exemptions to the fat trimming for pork, pet projects, political reach-arounds and the like. Of course, that would mean actually committing to doing something about the problem, rather than simply use it as a tool to get re-elected and to keep the political favors flowing. Raise taxes to moderately historic levels on the super-rich; cut the fat, where fat exists, rather than simply cutting blindly; stop manufacturing one crisis after the next, to scare the public into supporting one party over the other. It's doable. The question is, can we get an already terminally entrenched Congress to actually start putting the problems the country faces first, rather than political posturing and infighting. I'm hearing idiotic shit from the Left and the Right, both, these days, from secession to killing the rich - both intended, so their advocates say, to "Take Back" the United States. The U.S. doesn't need to be "taken back." It's right here, and belongs to all of us. The question is whether we, as a people, can actually get together and continue to make our government work, or continue this insipid infighting and watch all we've built over the past couple of centuries decay and deteriorate.

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  12. Jim, I want you to run for president in 2016. Although to be honest, you make too much sense to ever have any chance of being elected.

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  13. Nonetheless, just this week I moved all my IRA money at Wells Fargo Bank, was moved into 2 credit union; accounts each Federally insured up to $250K. Not that that is a 100% guarantee when nuts like Bachmann start questioning raising debt ceiling, but what the frack else do you do. These guys are batshit crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. TimBo, you forget that Canada has policies to educate and care for its people, both of which the loonies in Texas really, really dislike. (The idiot in charge of the state board of education is from my hometown.) As an over-the-hill native, I have emergent hopes that we really will turn blue before I check out; if Jim in Michigan is right, maybe that hope's not futile.

    But, Jim, you're absolutely right: it's time for all parties to stop acting like children and instead represent the people who need them to do the adult thing. Thanks for your wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
  15. One thing that really, really needs to be changed is how federal agencies get their funding. If an agency or department within that agency doesn't spend every.single.dollar, the next year their budget gets cut, regardless of whether in that year they really need the money. We need to make incentives for agencies to save...maybe let them keep part of what they save, up to a certain percentage, for two or three years. If they can save 25% for three years in a row, yeah, it's time to reduce the budget (although that is extremely unlikely). But the current method of allocating resources is just bass ackwards. (I know, I work for one of those three letter acronym agencies).

    Also, agencies should be allowed to redirect funds across budget lines. We haven't had a raise (even a COLA) since 2008, but we had money in another part of the budget that was used for an office remodel. You can't make this shit up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The trouble with that kind of system is that then you encourage spending on useless things, just to show you spent all your money. True, some agencies will choose to spend any excess intelligently, but many more will find pork expenditures to prove to "mom and dad" that they really did spend all their allowance, and they need more.

      Delete
  16. Great article, as usual. I've been lurking around for a while, now, and I'm glad to see that Stonekettle Station's running as smoothly as ever.

    I've had my own doubts about whether any single state could secede without running afoul of the problems you outlined. I suppose if the states that made up the former Confederacy decided to secede as a group to form their own republic, they might have a chance, and maybe Texas or Alaska could pull it off, but the others are so thoroughly entrenched in Federal infrastructure that it would be impractical at best.

    Personally, I say let 'em do it, charge 'em for all the infrastructure and equipment the Federal Government has provided for them (at the very least, it would help pay down the national debt some), and see how long it takes for them to come running back, begging to have their statehood reinstated. With all the grandstanding and chest thumping coming from the southern half of the continental US, they could use a lesson in humility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Over 60% of Alaska is federal land. Combine the dollars the fed spends to manage that land, with the federal dollars we get for our own infrastructure, federal entitlement programs for our citizens, and the like and we are way up there in what-a-mess-secession-would-be.
      Our coastline is longer than all other states' coasts combined. Some might champ at the chance to fully manage our fisheries without the fed but I wonder how we would do without the NOAA weather outfit, Coast Guard (bless all of you there who work to keep us safe!),AND work out how to sell our fish to "foreign" country of the US. How long would the now federal fishery EEZ areas manage to keep out foreign trawlers under state control and at what cost? How could we possibly support it all?
      What becomes of the feds' landholdings? Do we buy them? Do we have "foreign" inholdings?
      This whole secede dealie is horsepunky.
      Bunch of brats having the vapors.
      Lazy bunch of brats avoiding the real work .

      Alaska Pi

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    2. If Alaska were to actually seceed they'd be back under Russian control within 2 years. Guaranteed. You think Putin wouldn't order it in a heartbeat?

      Delete
  17. >The logic apparently being that if at first you don’t secede, try and try again.

    you are a very bad man.. ;-0

    & of course, the loss of those many benefits of being part of a larger whole was my second thought.. the first being that the conservatives they so love are the very same who gave them the TSA & the NDAA (or at least the one provision they all clamor over).

    enjoy
    bobby

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    Replies
    1. I thought it was, "If at first you secede and don't succeed, suck cess."

      Delete
    2. That's the same philosophy the batshit crazy fundamentalist evangelical theocrats have, who want to take over the Federal all-50-states government -- if at first you aren't able to infiltrate and take over, just keep trying over and over again.

      That's what they've been doing since the days of The Moral Majority. And FINALLY, the rest of us seem to be aware of them and are pushing back. Thanks, no doubt in big part, to the explosion of social networking these past few years. No more "stealth" sneaking around by these religionists.

      Delete
  18. I just had to say that when I saw Thelma & Louise when it was in the theaters with a co-worker, I was totally expecting to love it because it was supposed to be about "strong women" and "female bonding", yada yada yada. Well, I hated it. Like you, all I could think of while watching it was "These women are SO STUPID.". But like someone up above said, it DID give us Brad Pitt walking away in Levis, which to me was the ONLY thing that made it ANY kind of worth-while. I hung around when it ended to see the credits, just to know who that "little thief" guy was. :)

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    Replies
    1. For me, I think the definitive Brad Pitt was 12 Monkeys, but then I probably have different evaluation criteria than you do.

      What?

      I'm just saying.

      Delete
    2. Jim prefers his Brad Pitt gibbering, crazy, and bearing cryptic messages from a dystopian future.

      That sort of thing really rotates his drill press, if you know what I mean.

      Delete
  19. My husband and I came up with a complete overhaul of the way the United States chooses its President. First, starting on the day after the last election any citizen over the age of 35 may choose to enter the race. Each person's name will be printed on the exact same size piece of paper and sealed into a ping pong ball. Ping pong balls will be collected by an agency that all Americans trust, perhaps Amazon.com, and transported to a giant hopper. One year before the election, entry is cut off and the hopper spins and mixes all the balls for a complete year. One election day a toddler is lowered by a crane into the hopper and chooses a ball. Voila. Our new President.

    But here is the good part. To satisfy the masses need for spectacle, during the year that the hopper is spinning the TODDLER is chosen via an American Idol style talent competition, which we have dubbed "Toddler of Destiny". Afterward the toddler, their family and the new President all get to go to Disneyworld.

    Texas totally would not want to miss out on that.

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    1. Toddler of Destiny. Is it just me, or does everybody hear Bill Paxton as Pvt Hudson from Aliens asking, "Then why don't we put her in charge?

      Delete
  20. Have you seen this?

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/strip-citizenship-everyone-who-signed-petition-secede-and-exile-them/ZbMjcwPf

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  21. I'm going to start a petition to appoint Jim Director of a new Government agency: Department of Reality Checking.

    The agency's job will be to attend all Governmental meetings, and they will be permitted to beat alarmist and hysterical Representatives of Government until they regain their senses.

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  22. *beat about the head and shoulders

    It's not as funny when I typo out part of the joke. >.<

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  23. The fear that drove that woman in Arizona to almost murder her husband is a huge problem... the things that the right believe, and that cause them to sign petitions to secede or to buy up guns... that's a HUGE problem!!! Your blog is very intelligent and thoughtful, but they 1) won't take the time to read it; and 2) won't believe what you wrote because their heads are so filled with Faux news propoganda that they really can't understand logical reasonable FACTUAL arguments. It's so scary it makes me kind of want them to secede so I don't have to go around trying to keep my head from exploding when I hear their racist ignorant repetition of some Faux News talking point... gah.

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  24. I was born and raised in the great state of Texas, still live here. LOVED this article. Thank you!

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  25. You've got a lot of good thinks in this article but---

    Aaagh! No!

    Social Security is not a contributor to the debt or deficit. It is funded by its own tax, and is in fact lending money to the rest of the Federal government, since it is currently saving to pay for the retirement of the baby boomers.

    It may eventually run into problems, after which it will start paying perhaps 75% of its mandated benefits, which modest tax increases on the wealthy now could prevent.

    Medicare is in trouble—maybe—because medical care is in trouble. Except that costs may be leveling off, so maybe all it needs is also technical fixes, but not such minor ones.

    The ACA may have a problem in that it is a privatized program, and everything that might cut into pharmaceutical or insurance company profits was left out of the final bill. My guess is the quality of the insurance issued under the ACA will depend heavily on state-level regulation, so it will be variable.

    Maybe more later.

    I've left out Medicaid—I don't know the issues there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Raven, there's a paragraph break there. A couple of them. Between debt and entitlement programs.

      I never said Social Security contributes to the debt. I said the debt has to be addressed. I said entitlement programs need review. But those statements were separate thoughts. Rereading what I wrote I see that I should have made the break a bit more clearly defined.

      Delete
    2. Sorry. They are so often mentioned together that when I hear that "entitlement programs need overhaul" I immediately think of all the cutting we hear about.

      This, by the way, is a propaganda technique. If you review Bush and Cheney's speeches, you will see that they seldom said that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11--they may have said it less than a dozen times. But their speechwriters made sure always to mention them together, creating the illusion of a connection.

      Personally, I am not convinced that the older programs need overhauls at all: Medicare and Social Security are both more efficient than any comparable private programs. In fact, Medicare Advantage, the privatized portion of Medicare, is so consistently inefficient, that it was cut in the ACA, leading to charges that Obama--was going to cut Medicare! Oh noes! Republicans have been keeping Medicare Advantage alive over the objections of the Medicare plan administrators--it makes no fiscal sense.

      More, and more careful reading tomorrow, I hope.

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    3. I also meant to include a paragraph in that same section that said "Immigration reform..." Which would have given the section multiple topics and would have emphasized that I was talking about items other than just debt reduction. I forgot it - and by then I really was mostly talking about just debt reduction. As I said, I could have written it better.

      Delete
  26. Gabrielle von StralendorffNovember 13, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    I agree with you on Brad Pitt and 12 Monkeys, Jim. Actually, I agree with you on everything else on this blog. Maybe you SHOULD run for president.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think he's too smart to want the job. Can't blame him, either.

      Delete
    2. In Franz Werfel's novel "Star of the Unborn", the planetary President was chosen by finding the one person on the planet who LEAST wanted the job. I often think we should try that.

      Or perhaps the "Hitchhiker's Guide" solution..

      Bruce

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  27. My first thought about Texas comes from "St. James Infirmary", the part about "let'er go, let'er go, god bless 'er". So we don't have to change flags, admit PR and let Texas go.

    The problem is that I will miss Austin and Houston, and the people I know there.

    What is astonishing is that while we suffer from a major lack of younger workers and consumers, we refuse to let people who want to work enter the country. The demographic problem is entirely, 100%, due to our immigration restrictions, and now the same folks who are so in favor of those want to steal the baby boomer's retirement to save their behinds.

    I used to be a Republican. I could never be a Democrat, but I'm on the left in terms of civil rights, and on the right in terms of budget and military. I have no political home in this country, and I know many others are in the same boat.

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  28. It would be interesting to see how many of these petition signers actually bothered to vote.

    Danny

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  29. You might be interested in the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report on the deficit, The People's Budget from House Progressive Caucus, which gives a very different take on reducing the deficit.

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    Replies
    1. I've read it. I don't disagree per se, but I also think that it's important to address some of the specific concerns of conservatives - for a number of reasons, most of which are implied in the post.

      Delete
    2. It's a negotiating position. But that's how the game is supposed to be played: you set out a negotiating position and work with the people with different interests to come to agreement.

      Problem is, the administration doesn't stake out a progressive negotiating position, and the Congressional Republicans have been treating any offer that isn't a complete cave-in as an insult. I don't expect them to stop because they've lost the Presidency and the support of the public.

      Delete
  30. ooops! Missing </a>. the CBPP link is here.

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  31. Well put, as always. Unfortunately, most of the people we have sent to Washington are incapable or unwilling to take the actions necessary to correct the problems we face. The are instead concerned with gaining/keeping political power, and the best interests of the nation be damned. It is nothing less than a tragedy that a nation which started with such promise has come to this.

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  32. From the Hill Country of Texas, I say you are 100% right. And we are already stockpiling cedar logs for the stakes where these silly secessionists will burn... that, just in case Mother Nature fails to do the job...

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  33. By the way, there was a bit of a really cold shower dumped on those silly secessionists. They could be allowed to go only "after" paying the Texan share of the National Debt, some $ 1.2 Trillion, which makes the price tag for each male, female, in between, and child, up to $48,000 or $192,000 for a family of four.

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  34. Jim, thought-provoking as ever, but it does come across a little like 'both sides do it'.

    If that's a rhetorical means to an end (like a parent saying to both her kids that they better tidy up their mess now, and then explaining to the younger one later that she knows it wasn't really his fault, but unless she told them both off his bigger brother would just ignore it...) - then fine. If that's what it takes to get both sides to cut a deal.

    But I'm struggling to come up with convincing examples of what Democrats need to offer that they haven't already been offering these past few years...

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  35. On the bright side, if Texas were to secede, the school text books for the United States would improve immeasurably.

    Bruce

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    Replies
    1. Agreed! I can't tell you how much i hate the fact that content is chosen by these little committees in Teas. if your child is not the type to read on their own then they know next to nothing on what really happened. I can't tell you how much i disliked high school, even the teacher (a gym teacher who needed the extra cash) didn't know how WWII actually started. They only know that Pearl Harbour started US involvement. How is that useful to anyone?

      Delete
  36. "The best part about this is that most federal regulatory enforcement comes from the Executive Branch, which means the president can suspend or eliminate onerous regulation via Executive Order right away without waiting on legislation."

    This is not true. If a law states that the Executive Branch shall do X, it must continue to do X, no matter what the President says. An Executive Order can change what department carries out the duties of X, but X must still be done. IF a law said a regulation was optional, then the President can to do what he pleases. I doubt this is the case with most regulations.

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  37. Only disagreed with you on one part. The part that the repubs don't like. We need more auditors to ensure the government gets what it pays for. You see, the government needs workers. The much ballyhooed savings we have had in recent years have come at the expense of government auditors. If one bad apple company gets a contract, technically that money is wasted. Not used efficiently. Each department should be fully staffed with auditors, checking the contract performance. Same with the military, the revenue and the other agencies that are supposedly detecting fraud waste and abuse. Some like betrayus may have been caught up with earlier, if auditors were around. Him and his briefcases of money in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'd go much further with the secessionists than you do Jim. I say deport them all to the countries of their majority origin, established by DNA.

    Why should they be allowed to live anywhere near the USA? Why should the rational people who live in those states be punished or have to move? We would have our enemies inside our borders, trying to take over other states with violence to expand their territories. Our National Security would be shot to hell.

    They hate America - they should go. No more gun rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, Constitutional protections for traitors. No American land, resources, no infrastructure for traitors. You want to secede? Pack up and go, we won't stop you. Take only the few possessions you can carry with you, just like your ancestors carried when they moved here.

    They'll undoubtedly become illegal immigrants in whatever country they move to - what country in their right mind would accept them? Then they can see how the other side lives. Outside, looking in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see a small problem here. You can determine a person's genetic makeup, but that doesn't mean they "came from" a certain country. Rom, (Gypsies) have Indian and Mid East blood, and may have been there hundreds of years ago, but may have lived in France or Italy for several generations. But that aside, assuming you could determine where they should go, what on earth makes you think that we can dump our refuse on somebody else's country?

      Many people have mainly English backgrounds. How is that going to go over in England? England, or any other country, would be well within their rights to ship them right back. That's what we do with illegal immigrants, isn't it? BTW, I don't think England would be too pleased with your description of them as having no freedom of speech or religion. Last I heard, they were a fairly free, if a little odd, country.

      This is also the silliest conversation I've had in a while. There is no chance of any state seceding. The few loonies that are for it are a very small percentage of the total population. You don't see governors and mayors lining up behind the idea. Certainly the rest of the voters in the state are not going to vote for it, and as time goes on, the idea of secession will drop into oblivion. It's really a non-issue.

      These people, like most of the far right, are angry and frightened and they have no idea what happened or what to do about it. It is like a two year old having a tantrum on a bus. There is a lot of noise and it attracts everyone's attention, but in the larger view, it is pretty much meaningless.

      There are a lot more important things going on around us that we could concentrate on and talk about. We don't need to counter their silly ideas with even sillier ones of our own. We could just ignore them, as all they will get from their posturing is attention. If we deny them that, then they get nothing.

      Delete
    2. Oops. I meant to sign my name to that since the only options I have are Google Account and anonymous, and for some reason Google has me sign in but never gives me an option to publish.

      Jeanne in WV

      Delete
  39. I liked a lot of your article, but didn't like the whole state of Texas being lumped together as "25 million pointy-toed shitkickers". As a Texan city-dweller that voted for Obama, I can testify that I have yet to pull on a pair of boots, ride a horse to work, etc.

    This state is slowly turning blue. Whenever you get a bunch of fools, wanting attention, yelling to secede - it's embarrassing to the huge majority. Creating hostility towards a whole state of people is unfair.

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    Replies
    1. Heh. Try being from Alaska. Given the number of reality shows about our state, and the fact that our big haired idiot former governor is the de facto state mascot, people are impressed by my ability to walk upright, speak English, and see Russia from my house.

      I appreciate that many Texans are NOT the stereotypical big hat wearing douchebags we see here in Alaska, sneering at everybody and everything and telling us how great Texas is while working in our oil fields because they couldn't get a job back home. The phrase "pointy toed shitkicker" was used tongue in cheek as a nod to the stereotype most Texans hate as much as the rest of us do.

      Delete
    2. Texas needs to get rid of those like Uncle Ted and Chuck Norris. (BTW - Norris can only DREAM of being an Alaskan Firefighter as he's not nearly tough enough)

      Delete
  40. Texas can keep the George W. Bush Presidential Library, though.

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    Replies
    1. There isn't much to keep. A couple of coloring books and a copy of My Pet Goat.

      Delete
  41. The last time Texas made these noises (back when the ACA was working its way through), I took a look on that subject for another blog, and came to much the same conclusions. The vindictive part of me was thinking "don't let the door hit you!" and "would serve you right." I understand Louisiana has a petition as well. It'd be interesting seeing them try to fix the levees on their own! On the bright side for the rest of the country, we'd probably save a lot of money, create some jobs, and increase our world standings in education, math, and science.

    A lot of the signatures on these petitions are apparently from people who don't live in that state. Which should tell people in Texas and Louisiana that there are quite a few who wouldn't mind pushing them. There's always some people who are yelling "Jump! Jump!" when someone stands on a ledge.

    ReplyDelete
  42. The total on the Texas secession petition at WhiteHouse.gov is 98,000 as of 1pm on 11/14. It will be interesting to see how high it gets. Several other states have passed the threshold required to get a response on the site, including Georgia and Tennessee. I suspect few if any of the signers have considered ANY of the ramifications you pointed out, Jim.

    And I agree with your post 100%, but the people who need to hear it are the least likely to ever read it. Which is too damned bad.

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  43. In addition to Rommey, Cheryl, and myself, there are a handfull of very white Texans who will join the 55% minority population in stomping the shit out of the 44% redneck assholes who want to secede from our American Texas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think you need to get your knickers in a twist over that. 98,000 people is about one half of one percent of the population of Texas of voting age. That is a very long way from the 51% they would need.

      Jeanne in WV

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  44. Jim- Once again you prove you are an adult, sentient being with a firm grasp of reality and a calm, deliberative mind, willing to cut trhough the bullshit and tel it like it is. Would it be too much to suggest that you need to up your game in service to your country? You know what I'm saying...

    ReplyDelete
  45. Great post as usual, Jim. While I feel (emotionally) "good, go away already", I know there are more decent people on all sides of the issue who live in Tejas and would suffer. (Yeah, ROT, love that acronym.) But I agree, it is nice to imagine a remote, desolate country full of only the idiots who started that petition to secede. I'd buy popcorn, sit, and watch it collapse and or burn.
    One minor quibble. You said:
    "Leaders of all parties need to lead. They need to send the following message: You’re either part of the solution or you don’t get a vote, decide which one you want to be."
    Unfortunately, political leaders cannot block members of the House or Senate from voting, not without impeachment and kicking them out. The Tea Bag nutters will get a vote. I don't know if the GOP has enough sane ones left in the House to form a majority with the Democrats. There just need to be 6-7 in the Senate to override a filibuster (unless Sen. Reid gets a pair and finally changes that filibuster rule). [Yes, the Dems have some radicals, but enough will at least negotiate in good faith. It's the GOP, not just the TeaP wing, who have blocked any compromise over the last 4 years.]

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  46. It's a tough time for a social liberal, fiscal conservative.

    I'm not seeing any relief any time soon.

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  47. What about all the people who were voted into Congress specifically because they pledged not to compromise?

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  48. 1) This is what I think of when I think of "Thelma and Louise" -

    http://www.cafepress.com/+last_great_act_of_defiance_keepsake_box,297594326

    2) There are secession petitions up for all 50 states now, I belive. Maybe a line of buffer states isn't such a bad idea.

    3) It is past time for the GOP in Congress to drop all the stupid shit and get to work doing the job for which they were elected. Contrary to Grover Norquist, et al, the country cannot run itself.

    4) IMHO, the President ought to remind them of 3) every day.

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  49. I think we should sell Texas back to Mexico if they still want it. We could still visit there (with a passport of course). Some of our friends that live there could still live there and have dual citizenship because we would sell them also, too. One thing I have never understood about Texan's is the whole Texas pride thing, as someone who has spent months there (work related) it really begs the question. If you haven't been there, trust me, there are some parts of Texas where its so flat you can watch your dog run away for a whole week.

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  50. Bless you sir, bless you! The only thing most of want if for our elected representatives to A) actually represent us, their constituents (I want to scream every time I hear an elected legislator explain that s/he could/n't vote for something because it went against the dictates of their 'conscience'!!! -- what about the conscience of their constituents?) and B) DO YOUR DAMN JOB!!! Preferably in a manner that indicates adulthood.

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  51. I love your work. I posted my thoughts earlier today. I am a proud Texian, descended from two of Austin's Old Three Hundred, and from a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto, but I stand with the Union. There is no path to secession. That question was settled by all those men who bled out on those battlefields 150 years ago. If these anti-Americans want to leave, let them emigrate. I will be happy to stand on the pier and wave good-bye. I just wonder where they would go? As for me, me and mine will stay here and keep on working to fix things, thank you very much. Keep writing. Thank you.

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  52. During the debates Romney mentioned "State's Rights" numerous times. I thought it was bad enough that some on the far right seem to be trying to push us back into the 1950s, but now it seems like we're heading for the 1860s!

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    1. We're already living in the 1890s, the 60s ain't that far to regress.

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    2. I love your blog. You make a lot of sense, though I disagree with your approach to the fiscal cliff crisis. The Republicans LOST. The only reason they have the House is that they gerrymandered the holy heck out of those districts to protect Republican seats. Obama and the Dems have *already* delayed until 2014 the implementation of many of the best features of Obamacare, even though that put them at real risk in this election season and probably had much to do with their losses in 2010. There is no reason why they should be expected to delay those features any more than they are already delayed, since people are suffering right now for want of medical care.

      The real problem is that Americans on the left and in the middle don't pay enough attention to state and local elections, and those are the pipelines for producing politicians with the recognition and experience to make it on the national stage, and the state elections are the ones that determine congressional district gerrymandering after every 10-year census, which is how the Republicans managed to stay in control of the House this time, even though the Democrats got many more votes.

      Americans on the left and in the center also don't pay enough attention to offyear elections in general, so the true believers on the right, who are constantly whipped into a state of frantic rage and fear by the 24/7 Beck/Hannity/Rush propaganda machine, and who therefore *do* come out to vote even in offyear elections, are able to wield much more influence on the makeup of the House and Senate than their actual numbers would allow them to exert if less determined, less *partisan* voters would get out and vote in the offyear elections.

      **Just a small point about Grover Norquist--nasty piece of work that he is, he is *not* the real power that the RW congresscritters are obeying. He's just the enforcer who hangs around and gives them the scary look to remind them that if they don't behave the way they have been told to, the REAL powers will come after them by bankrolling a primary challenge and kicking them to the curb--*without* the guaranteed cushy post-Congress job that they all look forward to.

      Who are those real powers?--well, who has the money to bankroll primary challengers against entrenched incumbents? CLUE: Who had the money to bankroll Super PACs for all those RW candidates during this year's presidential election?)

      It doesn't matter how deeply entrenched a House member or Senator is, either. Look what happened to Richard Lugar for daring to occasionally cooperate with Democrats on foreign policy. Grover Norquist is just the public face of a cabal of angry, white, extremely rich old men who don't want to give back anything to the country that made their vast wealth possible.

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  53. I am not a big fan of the "fixed deductions" clause. The idea of a 17K fixed limit on deductions when the price of houses, living, families are disparate could be disaster. I will be honest, my family will squeak by just under that 250K income mark. We claim about 65K or more in deductions a year. We have a 5 bed 3 bath mortgage (so a large house), we have five kids in total with two kids in college, three of our kids are special needs adoptions. We also still help support a former teen we had guardianship/foster of who is now 25 and in graduate school. We donate almost 25% of our income to many community efforts. The college bills we paid out last year was 72.5K, yet made too much to claim any of it. We do not have lavish things and do not live a lavish lifestyle, yet a 17K deduction limit would increase our tax load by 18K a year. That would be tough for us to do. I voted, supported, and campaigned for Obama this year for many reasons, and only a few were financial for me. I am surely hoping that the deduction limit that Romney suggested is not considered and I hope many of the deductions that allow us to give the money we do and support the kids we have are not taken away. I know the media makes 250K sound like a fortune, but when the money is going to help others and increase the family, education, etc and not to lavish living, you can stills struggle with cash flow issues as we do.

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  54. Among my favorite petitions in the "We the People" section was the one calling for the immediate deportation of and stripping of citizenship from anyone who signed any of the petitions for secession.

    I'm from NJ and could not help but notice how many out-of-staters signed ours. Hmm....Still sore about "The Sopranos", "Jersey Shore" or Bon Jovi perhaps?

    I also enjoyed the fact that on at least one of the Ohio petitions, the signatories described their homeland as "The Republic of Ohio". Might be getting just a step or ten ahead of ourselves here folks.

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  55. Another Texan's $0.02, and that's an inflated value.

    Another good long form post, so I'm perhaps modifying my own bias against such. Or, perhaps, I'm a victim of my own short attention span. Overall I agree. We do have more than our fair share of crazy but they didn't use to have positions of power. Life was arguably better with the crazy alcoholic uncle in power instead of the crazy evangelical preacher uncle, but crazy is a constant, pretty much.

    I have minor quibbles on Texas' utilities...Texas has its own electric grid (see ERCOT)(with exception of the Panhandle (Amarillo) area which is connected to NM and CO) and its not downstream of any significant water supply. The Red River and Sabine do form significant state line boundaries but both originate in state. Most of the water in the Rio Grande comes from Mexico, since NM sucks both the Rio Grande and Pecos mostly dry before they get here. From I-35 east there's plenty of water most years.

    You've delineated a lot of the major federal benefits for states, but a major one seems to be missing here and elsewhere: the entitlement programs (which you mention in your post, but as budget targets not disincentives for secession). I really don't think Bubba and his chromosome-deficient family realizes that taking care of grandma and grandpa (add a generation or two of great as you go eastward in the state) will become their burden without SS and Medicare. Death panels, indeed. I also doubt the US will offer a refund for those who've been paying in their whole lives. So, no defense, no monetary system, no entitlements.

    Licking crazy's ear in Texas, the writer's gift that keeps on giving.

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  56. Someone here in New Orleans has started a petition to allow us to remain in the Union if Louisiana successfully secedes: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/allow-new-orleans-and-orleans-parish-remain-united-states-event-louisiana-state-granted-secession/mCpxMxBk

    Hahahahaha! Another great piece, Jim, thanks!

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  57. Expat Ozmud might have read your blogpost, Jim, because she also filed a story today on the same topic:

    http://ozmud.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/out-of-a-population-of-25-6-million-texas-residents-25000-have-petitioned-for-secession/

    The more bloggers who weigh in on the ridiculousness of these secession petitioners, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

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  58. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredNovember 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    OK, Jim. I discovered your blog a few months ago and have since poked around a bit, read the rules, browsed (and commented on) some of the posts (old and new). I'm no expert in all the things you've written here, but I can state, without equivocation, that this is, hands down, the best thing you've written. From initial points through the ending call to action, this is awesome. While everyone is likely to agree with some and disagree with some other of your points, they would certainly serve as a reasonable starting point for the toddlers in Washington (on both sides) to begin negotiations. I hope that there are enough like thinking folks to hold them accountable.

    As always, thanks for all you do.

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  59. "Every single division of the federal government can be made more efficient, smaller, leaner, and cheaper. Conservatives are absolutely right about that and liberals know it."

    I don't disagree but I feel the need to point out that most "Professional" Conservatives have moved far beyond simply demanding greater efficiency to a place of insisting that the Government (Federal primarily but often state, and even local) is incapable of doing anything of value and that EVERYTHING should be turned over to private industry.

    Frankly after years of paying attention to such things I think it boils down to whether or not an organization has a realistic command structure (everyone knowing what their duties are and to whom they answer) and an organized, flexible, and realistic plan of action for achieving whatever their goals are.

    I've seen what I call "I don't know"itis in both public and private organizations, where you can't get a straight answer about anything and it takes ten times as long to get stuff done as it should. And I've seen the opposite again in both public and private organizations.

    Ultimately I think among the things that many Conservatives need to get a grip on is the fact that most of us actually LIKE having a Government to do certain things for us. We want that government to work better but we sure as hell don't want to flush it in favor of another corporation with its hand out telling us that what used to be provided in return for paying our taxes is now on a pay for play basis.

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    1. I agree, Roy. Not just "LIKE", there are certain functions that government does better than the private sector. Who* wants to have corporations provide inherently governmental functions like the courts, military, police, firefighting, and even basic research? Most people agree on the first four, but why the last? Corporations are ditching basic research as unprofitable, but without it, scientific advancement eventually slows down or stops. Unlike applied research, basic research is only profitable in the long run, returning $7 for every $1 invested, but the key is _long_run_. Corporations today mainly look at the short term (quarters or maybe a couple of years), so they pay for applied research. Basic research is riskier, but the payoff is huge. There was no use at all at first for semiconductors in 1833 but doped silicon turned into transistors, IC chips, photovoltaic cells, and LEDs; or coherent microwaves that turned into masers and lasers. The corporate labs that invented transistors and lasers are now closed due to being too expensive. Likewise, half of the blockbuster medications on the market today were discovered at NIH or with federal funding of universities, not by drug companies. If you want to look at a model of medical care, Medicare, the military, and the VA do things a lot cheaper and more efficiently than for-profit hospitals and insurance companies (30% overhead vs. 3% for Medicare).

      *Except for libertarians stuck in an adolescent fantasy of rugged individualism. There are many examples of well-functioning socialist-based governments today, such as in Europe, plenty of monarchies, republics, theocracies, dictatorships, oligarchies, guilds, and democracies but there are no (zero, zip) examples of functioning libertarian societies. You would think that in the ~7,500 years of recorded human history, there would be one libertarian group that worked, if it was ever going to do so. I'm not a historian, so I would welcome an example. Government has a real function benefiting the society. We've got a pretty good one.

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  60. You got it, Jim. Let's raise Texas and let taxes secede. Umm, wait...

    See, the SECEDE bumper stickers were bought because they thought they said SUCCEED. "Hey there! Did you sign that there Succeed petition? You git right on up on that Internet thingee and sign it, rat now!"

    Everybody should just remember that seceding is an act of treason. They didn't let the South do it, and they aren't going to let Texas, or any other damn fool state do anything of the sort.

    The President's answer to the petition should be, "NO! STFU. (lol)"

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  61. Has it occurred to anyone that some of that Super PAC money that went to Obama's campaign was actually from gun manufacturers who knew their sales would increase exponentially if he was elected?

    Not that I'm not thrilled with the results. Just a random thought that occurred to me while reading this.

    I'm a new fan and thrilled to discover like-minded people still exist in this country. I was seriously getting worried there for a bit.

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  62. Just wanted to say I always found "Thelma and Louise" depressing and pointless. Until now, as an illustration.

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