Dep’t of rude, idle questions

After Texas secedes, will Rick Perry still be eligible to be President

After Texas secedes, will Rick Perry still be eligible to be President?

Seriously, though:  if a Democrat had said – and repeated – something that earth-shatteringly stupid and unpatriotic, none of the Serious People would take him seriously as a candidate, and therefore he would never become a serious candidate. But as far as I can tell, no national reporter or pundit has even mentioned Perry’s threat since the Great Mentioner started to mention him for President.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

40 thoughts on “Dep’t of rude, idle questions”

  1. “Student”, thank you for the hyperlink. It shows the slightest inklings of sincerity. No more than an inkling, because it is clear either that you didn’t expect anyone to click the link or you have a deeply twisted method of reading the link’s content. From the 2007 blog post you linked, and with the caveat that I haven’t tried to listen to the 23 minute audio clip it’s supposed to link to, it would appear that when interviewed the say of the Virginia Tech Massacre, or possibly the day after it, Obama gave a rambling answer that included some sentiments about how in the face of such an atrocity we maybe should all think about what we can do to make the world a better and a less violent place. You are free to dismiss that as a bunch of empty politician’s twaddle, or to claim it’s inappropriate to the circumstances, but it does not appear to be anything like what you said it was, not was it comparable to twice proposing on tape that the state of which you are Governor should secede from the union.

  2. Proposing that the state of which you are Governor should secede from the union if circumstances ever justify it, while denying that they do at present.

    This is a petty rhetorical technique I’m not unacquainted with, having seen it in use before. Somebody you don’t like says they’d do something in extremity, and you elide the qualifiers, and pretend they’ve proposed to do it a half hour hence. It doesn’t really impress anybody who didn’t agree with you already. I suppose that’s why it’s popular among left-wing hacks: They’re mostly talking to each other, anyway.

  3. 1. CBIG is, of course, right. As in so many cases, IOKIYAR. Suggesting in jest that you might move to Canada if one of the several insane/idiotic candidates in the GOP field wins? Speaking longingly of secession? Or of armed revolution because the Dems won the presidency? Just dandy. Flying the flag of the rebellion that sought to split the nation so that the south could continue to hold 4.5 million kidnapped people in captivity? Also just fine.

    2. Jeez, why was I stupid enough to click on “student”s link? It’s always the same brainless nonsense with these people. The American right is deranged.

  4. Brett, proposing that any circumstances could justify secession ought to be disqualifying. The Dem equivalent, whatever that might be, would be disqualifying. The so-called qualifiers don’t make the statement any less outrageous. Any governor who suggests that his state should secede under any circumstances ought to be removed from office. The lack of a Constitutional amendment to that effect is another example of how Reconstruction didn’t go far enough.

  5. drkrick, I think your position is either morally incoherent, or flat out offensive. There’s no upper limit to how nasty or dysfunctional a central government can get. Essentially you’re saying that there is no higher value than keeping the union together, no matter how bad it gets. Death camps, you name it, you have to go along for the ride, right over the cliff.

    I think that position mindlessly puts the survival of the federal government ahead of the welfare of the citizenry. We don’t exist for the benefit of the government, it exists for the benefit of us. For a detailed explanation of this, see the Declaration of Independence.

  6. Warren Terra, your obfuscation on Obama’s behalf betrays a level of naïveté and loyalty to the President that is sweet, almost touching.

    Let’s go to a shorter blog post that encapsulates the relevant (offensive) quotes from candidate Obama. I’ll hyperlink to this.

    To recap: a radio comedian says something mean about some female basketball players’ looks. Around the same time, a gunman murders 32 to people on a college campus. In his assessment, brilliant President Obama states that these things are different examples (degrees?) of the same phenomenon. Remind me why he’s not a moral cretin?

  7. Amd exactly what would be the problem if Texas–and the rest of the old confederacy, for that matter–seceded? With the (relatively recent) exceptions of Texas and Florida, they’re all states that take in a lot more federal money than they pay out in federal taxes, if you look at Tax Foundation data. It would be kind of fun to watch them try to run a government without the huge dollop of money they all get from Washington–especially in the part of the country that is going to be most negatively affected by global warming. The next time Perry suggests secession might be a nifty idea, take him up on it.

  8. Student, your second link is no more useful, since it selectively quotes the same passage as the first. You (and Radley Balko, a radical libertarian) try to frame Obama’s comment as if he were creating a direct equivalence between Virginia Tech and these other forms of violence. But that was emphatically not his point. His point is that, in the face of tragedy, the best thing we can do is to help reduce other forms of violence, to improve the world. Tikkun olam. But this is another instance of the Right (and you) missing any nuance in arguments, of reducing arguments to black and white, zero-sum, good and evil. Complexity, in the Right’s view, must be wrong, or must be reduced to its simplest terms, which ends up disfiguring whole arguments.

    I sincerely think that the Right often cannot grasp the arguments of the left because the Right does not think in nuance. So the Right immediately forces any nuanced thought on the left into a broad zero-sum category. Instances of this tendency are widespread. (If you support some government regulation, you are a socialist. If you support some controls on gun ownership, you’re against the 2nd amendment. Et cetera ad nauseum.)

    Add this tendency to the parallel tendency on the Right to engage in massive hypocrisy (IOKIYAR)and you have a segment of the population filled with cognitive dissonance, fighting for ideas and things they don’t fully understand, undermining themselves and their own economic interests perpetually. It’s ok to want Texas to secede from the US, unless…..wait…..unless I can run for President and make the rest of the US in the image of Texas.

  9. wufnik, I would like to agree with you that we should allow the Confederacy to secede, but I fear that, if it did, it would reinstitute slavery. A big problem with this country is that the Confederacy still hasn’t admitted that it lost the Civil War.

  10. Perhaps I should have exempted Virginia and North Carolina from my previous comment, because they voted for Obama by slim margins in 2008.

  11. It’s really too bad that the Union survived the civil war. Just as with the Boer war, the “losers” have won, at least for the last century or so. I agree with wufnik that the southern states that think we’re on the road to serfdom in a socialist hell should be encouraged and allowed to split their unhappy asses off from the rest of the country.

    Henry – I don’t think they’d reinstitute slavery, if only because that would be bad for business. Their main client markets are no longer quite as tolerant of oppression as they were 150 years ago.

  12. Yes, if Texas secedes, any non treasonous person born in Texas is still eligible to be the POTUS, assuming all other conditions met (age and residency.)

  13. I don’t think they’d bring back slavery. All those European and Japanese companies that set up shop in the South would pull out under shareholder pressure.

    On the other hand, the minimum wage? Hah.

  14. Civil War historian James McPherson pointed out that there were 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution in 1861, and 11 of them constrained the powers of the central government over the states in one way or another. Then 6 of the following 7 amendments expanded the authority of the Congress in one way or another (although Prohibition was repealed). States later also lost the authority to have a poll tax in national elections and the authority to deny voting rights to 18-year olds in any election.

    Wars have consequences. I am not sure that we have even now digested the consequences of the Civil War. Many of our present political disputes about the authority of the Constitution and its original intent have something to do with the powers of the government in the first 12 amendments and its powers in later amendments.

    Recent talk of nullification and disunion have occurred in the context of the authority of the central government to regulate health insurance. This is a fit topic for political back-and-forth, but is the stuff of horse-trading and compromise. The Tea Party may act as if it is on the slippery slope to tyranny, rewarding politicians who react similarly. In 1860, the seceding states thought that the election of a president who believed that the central government had the authority to regulate slavery in the territories was tantamount to their subjugation under tyranny.

    Per Brett: “Somebody you don’t like says they’d do something in extremity, and you elide the qualifiers, and pretend they’ve proposed to do it a half hour hence.” The problem is what someone considers to be “in extremity.” Rick Perry, in courting the favor of the Tea Party, is implicitly accepting what the Tea Party considers to be in extremity.

    And that will be a problem for him if he gets into the race. God may tell him to do that just as He told Michelle Bachmann to enter the race.

    I always suspected that He was working for the Democrats.

  15. “In 1860, the seceding states thought that the election of a president who believed that the central government had the authority to regulate slavery in the territories was tantamount to their subjugation under tyranny.”

    That is no doubt true to some degree, but the claims of tyranny may have been largely rhetorical. The primary reason that the states seceded was that they knew that if they could not extend slavery into the territories, then slavery would eventually die out. The territories would enter the Union as free states and the slave states would no longer have a majority in Congress and the electoral college. The slave states would lose the advantages that the framers of the Constitution had given them.

  16. Mark, drkrick attacked secession categorically, under any circumstances. Not in the present instance, which Perry also opposes it in. That’s what I was responding to.

    And, yes, I could see administration policy eventually evolving into something that would justify secession, even if it doesn’t yet. There are some troubling signs of the administration’s hostility to the rule of law, such as it’s illegal refusal to license drilling, and Project “Fast and Furious”, to name just two.

  17. Brett, as I point out above, you’re succumbing to the worst tendency of the current right wing: reductio ad absurdum. If Obama proposes a little bit of regulation on an industry that needs it, the right goes into hysterics, saying that some ultimate and totalizing logical conclusion will inevitably result. That kind of thinking is idiocy.

    You say: “And, yes, I could see administration policy eventually evolving into something that would justify secession, even if it doesn’t yet.” You could have said anything: “And yes, I could see this administration re-legalizing slavery, even if it hasn’t yet.” “I could see this administration selling North Dakota to India, even if it hasn’t yet.” Do you see how these statements are similar rhetorically, in that neither is at all likely to happen? This kind of ridiculous logical fallacy seems to drive most arguments on the Right.

  18. Henry correctly notes that the irreversible loss of sectional balance accounts for much of secessionist fever. Sectional balance was the content, but the thing that doomed the Union was at the level of process.

    Alan Nevins begins his history of the period by indicting the political processes that generated the content of the dispute. “As the sectional struggle developed, nearly all groups involved in it steadily substituted emotion for reason. They used stereotypes for facts, and epithets in lieu of cool arguments; they forgot the emollient grace of humor and the wisdom of the long view. The angry issue of slavery in the Territories, settled by the great compromise of 1850 but wantonly reopened in 1854, was practically settled again by 1858. But by 1858 passions had been so deeply aroused that large sections of the population could not view the situation calmly or discuss it realistically; fear fed hatred, and hatred fed fear. The unrealities of passion dominated the hour.”

    Policy decisions may be inexpedient or imprudent, and bills often pass Congress without due consideration of their unintended consequences. This does not place them on the road to tyranny; reacting to them as if they did may distort the political process in a manner that leads to consequences more harmful than the unwise policy measures ever would produce.

  19. The Dred Scott decision was issued in 1857, so how could the issue of slavery in the territories have been practically settled by 1858? Some, including Abraham Lincoln, did not view Dred Scott as the final word.

  20. “Somebody you don’t like says they’d do something in extremity, and you elide the qualifiers, and pretend they’ve proposed to do it a half hour hence.”

    That’s pretty hilarious coming from someone who actually believes there’s an ongoing conspiracy to confiscate his precious handguns.

  21. Considering the conspiracy isn’t a secret conspiracy, but instead is known publicly as “the gun control movement”, and is quite frank about it’s ambitions at times, I see nothing to be apologetic about.

    “Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Public Health and Safety Act of 1993 on behalf of myself and nine of my colleagues: Mel Reynolds, Bill Clay, Jerry Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, John Lewis, Nydia Velazquez, Ron Dellums, Carrie Meek, and Alcee Hastings. This legislation, first introduced in the Senate by Senator John Chafee, would prohibit the transfer or possession of handguns and handgun ammunition, except in limited circumstances. It would go a long way toward protecting our citizens from violent crime.

    The need for a ban on handguns cannot be overstated. Unlike rifles and shotguns, handguns are easily concealable. Consequently, they are the weapons of choice in most murders, accounting for the deaths of 25,000 Americans in 1991.

    A 6-month grace period would be established during which time handguns could be turned in to any law enforcement agency with impunity and for reimbursement at the greater of $25 or the fair market value of the handgun . After the grace period’s expiration, handguns could be turned in voluntarily with impunity from criminal prosecution, but a civil fine of $500 would be imposed.

    Exemptions from the handgun ban would be permitted for Federal, State, or local government agencies, including military and law enforcement; collectors of antique firearms; federally licensed handgun sporting clubs; federally licensed professional security guard services; and federally licensed dealers, importers, or manufacturers.

    The Public Health and Safety Act of 1993 represents a moderate, middle-of-the-road approach to handgun control which deserves the support of all members of Congress who want to stop gun murders now.
    — Hon. Major R. Owens (Rep. NY, Introduction of the Public Health and Safety Act of 1993, Extension of Remarks – September 23, 1993”

    If that’s a secret conspiracy, it’s awfully bad at secrecy.

    I’ve seen members of Congress introduce bills that would ban all ammo suitable for hunting large game, with 30-06 cited by name. I’ve seen Congressmen introduce bills to ban gun stores from being closer to a school than the average distance between schools in populated areas, rendering gun stores illegal over almost the entire country. I’ve watched politicians try to ban large guns because they’re too powerful, small guns because they’re too easy to hide, lavender guns because, I frankly don’t get it. I’ve seen so many attempts to ban guns, that if you tell me nobody wants to confiscate my guns I’m going to laugh at how gullible they think I am.

    I know it’s commonplace for liberals to assume their foes are idiots, but amnesiac idiots? That’s pushing it.

  22. Let’s see, Phil points out that there’s no ongoing attempt to ban private handguns, and Brett replies by mentioning a bill introduced in Congress almost 20 years ago, and which went precisely nowhere then.

  23. Henry:
    I had the same question about 1857 and 1858, and was tempted to put in some ellipses where that assertion stood. “The Ordeal of the Union” is two volumes and ends just as the Dred Scott decision is about to be handed down. The thing about the passage is its sober characterization of a political process which lost the ability to consider matters in perspective. Allan Nevins wrote just after World War II, and his words are worth attending to today. I do not think that passions today run as high as they did in the 1850s, but the emollient grace of humor and perspective would be invaluable right now.

  24. And I’m pointing out that, just because a movement engages stealth mode, and isn’t at a specific instant particularly successful, doesn’t mean it’s ceased to exist. There was a time when the gun control movement thought it could win honestly. They’ve been disabused of that notion. They haven’t yet decided they can’t win, period. For instance, we have a President who claims to believe in the 2nd amendment, and who thus, by Phil’s standards, isn’t a member of the ‘conspiracy’, who has replaced 2 members of the Heller minority. Yet, strangely, the majority for McDonald was no bigger. Why?

    Because he’s a lying anti-gunner, with an anti-gun litmus test for nominations. But why insist on denying a right exists, if you have no desire to violate it?

    And he’s an anti-gunner whose administration was pushing re-instituting the ’94 ‘assault weapon’ ban on the basis of American guns reaching Mexican cartels, at the exact same time, we’ve now learned, they were deliberately supplying the Mexican cartels with those guns themselves, manufacturing the evidence they needed for their effort to re-ignite gun control mania. Possibly the first really big scandal of this administration, and it’s a gun control ‘conspiracy’ scandal, for all that Phil denies there’s still such a conspiracy.

    So, to sum up, ain’t gonna be intimidated into pretending the gun control movement no longer exists, by somebody yelling “Conspiracy theorist!” If it comes down to Phil or my lying eyes, my lying eyes are going to win every time.

    Back to the topic: Do I think Obama is going to create conditions which would justify secession? Nope. He’s going to face an opposition Congress, and may well be a one term President anyway, and that limits the damage he can do in the time he has available. If he had four terms like FDR? Yeah, maybe.

    But, of course, just as Obama’s administration has been in many ways a continuation of Bush’s lawlessness, only taken up a notch, (Bush never claimed the right to assassinate American citizens, and at least talked to Congress about the wars he waged.) it’s entirely possible the next President will, even though being of the opposite party, be just a continuation of Obama’s lawlessness. One guy doesn’t have to finish the job, if the trends continue unabated.

    So, again, not gonna be intimidated into declaring “It can’t happen here!”. It can, and the best way to clear the way is to pretend it can’t.

    Nothing wrong with Perry leaving the door open to secession, if things get bad enough.

  25. Mark’s thought experiment remains to be run:

    If a Democrat had recently (and in front of a camera) said that he might leave the country if some unspecified, undesirable political outcomes took place, and if he were now announcing presidential aspirations, how would the news media respond? How would Republicans react?

    When I run the experiment in my head, I see a firestorm of criticism and condemnation, with the video going viral not only on the internet but also on television. The political consequences would be fatal to the would-be candidate’s campaign. Every sentient carbon-based life form in the country would be aware of the video clip.

    This being a thought experiment, your results may vary from mine. But Rick Perry’s statement has so far attracted no public attention.

    If he becomes a front-runner, this will change, and will prove fatal to his candidacy. But the reaction will be delayed, and many so-called conservatives will come to his defense. Large reservoirs of resentment that fester in the heart of the Republican base will be tapped and will gush forth. The hypothetical Democrat would have no similar liberal chorus singing on his behalf. He would be toast very quickly.

  26. “He would be toast very quickly.” And rightly so.
    But the reality is that Rick Perry’s procaimation, disqualifiers or no was pure ‘pushing the right wing panic button’ BS. He would no more try to seceede Texas from the Union than try to charge up Capital Hill with an assault rifle. Either move would get him jailed or killed and he knows it. He’s just waving his imaginary bloody shirt and raving for macho effect. The rubes love that stuff.
    As a Republican he won’t be toast as quickly as a Democrat who spouted such nonsense would be but that’s because Democrats have a much lower tolerance for raving lunatics. Now the quiet lunatics often seem to get along OK.

  27. Ed, you’re forgetting, first of all, IOKIYAR.

    Second, in the 2008 race, there was evidence that Todd Palin had been a member of the Alaska Independence Party and that Sarah Palin was something of a fellow-traveler. This caused only a minor stir, primarily in the left wing media. The general public seemed not to care.

    While I think secessionist beliefs should prevent a candidate from running for President, most Americans don’t seem to share this view. In fact, most Tea Party members (including Brett, above) seem to hold the belief that merely having a Democratic president or Democratic legislation passed is grounds for secession from America. Another example of IOKIYAR. “It’s ok to actively campaign for secession from the US and still call yourself patriot, because you’re a patriot for ‘true’ American values, which all Democrats and people on the left oppose and prevent.” This is the twisted illogic we’re facing.

  28. “In fact, most Tea Party members (including Brett, above) seem to hold the belief that merely having a Democratic president or Democratic legislation passed is grounds for secession from America.”

    Except, of course, that I, along with Perry, have explicitly denied that the present circumstances, (Which, notably, include having a Democratic President…) justify secession. Merely being concerned that there are trends, which if they continue, might eventually justify it.

    So you’ve just attributed that to me in flat contradition to what I’ve said.

  29. If memory serves, there was a video of Sarah Palin as governor addressing an Alaska secessionist convention in a cordial and friendly fashion. Some Alaskans think that their state was never legitimately incorporated into the Union, and this convention was populated by people of that persuasion. The stir was very minor, and the Palin apologists said that she was merely being nice to the group and that it would be unfair to tarnish her with their views. It was a classic example of IOKIYAR.

  30. I don’t know, I think the Republican reaction to secession threats by Democrats would be something along the lines of, “Fine, and good riddance!” We rightfully despise countries which restrict emigration, it’s beyond me why a federation of states that won’t let members go their own way deserves any more respect. Just because some states once seceded for bad reasons?

  31. “Fine, and good riddance!” could be the Republican response to a Democratic threat of secession, but “Fine, you can be President!” is the response to a Republican who makes the same threat.

    I think I got it.

  32. Ed Whitney says:

    ” The thing about the passage is its sober characterization of a political process which lost the ability to consider matters in perspective.”

    I don’t think that this is a fair passage – it’s pretty much a case of ‘both sides do it (so my side is no worse). There was a whole lot of abolitionist sentiment in the North, but not enough to much done, from what I could tell. The compromise agreed to by the North was to admit states in pairs, one slave + one free. The North(ern politicians) allowed the Fugitive Slave Act. Dred Scott was, IIRC, pretty much a southern decision, and a sweeping, pull-the-law-outta-yer-*ss decision at that (shades of Rehenquist and Bush v. Gore).

    In short the North was willing to agree to quite a bit to keep the Union together, while the South demanded everything, and tried to destroy the Union when it looked like they wouldn’t get it, sometime in the future.

  33. “In short the North was willing to agree to quite a bit to keep the Union together, while the South demanded everything, and tried to destroy the Union when it looked like they wouldn’t get it, sometime in the future.”

    And nothing has changed today.

  34. Not that I think the South had a good reason for seceding, (An evil reason, rather.) but if in seceding they destroyed the union, exactly who was it that waged war against them, conquered them, and brought them back in? Canada?

    Leaving is not destroying.

  35. Aside from the fact that Brett Bellmore makes no sense whatsoever, I’m with him. Really, if South Carolina and Mississippi and even Texas want to secede, let them go their own way. They can’t pay their bills, so they rely on richer states to make up the difference to keep the gravy train from Washington rolling along. They keep electing crappy politicians that they expect the rest of us to take seriously. Their crime rates are high, their divorce rates are high, their literacy rates are low, and yet they want to set the educational and cultural agenda for the rest of us. Honestly, let them go, and then the rest of us can get on with the business of solving real problems.

  36. There you go! And back at you: Freed of the drilling moratorium and an NRC headed by an anti-nuke activist, they can export cheap energy to the US of O. A good deal on both sides! 😉

  37. an NRC headed by an anti-nuke activist

    I don’t know about the NRC, but the dude’s boss is Stephen Chu, who is quite extremely well respected and is hardly famous for his loathing of nuclear power. And anyone who isn’t quintuple-checking whether nuclear reactors’ safety precautions are up to scratch after Fukushima needs their heads examined. The same goes for the drilling moratorium: the BP disaster was entirely the result of greedheaded assholes with no accountability or long-term vision trying to cut corners against professional advice and caution, and BP’s emergency-response plan included such carefully considered measures as consulting the expert advice of a man who’d been dead for years, and measures to protect from the spill sea creatures never seen within a thousand miles of the gulf of Mexico. The drillers needed the moratorium to go back over their procedures carefully and think about how in future they could try not to be the cartoon villains they’d turned out to be.

    In any case, the notion that the only thing standing between us and cheap oil is those damn treehuggers was laughably ignorant decades ago.

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