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The Russia-Texas-secession connection

So many people got played.

A sprawling Russian disinformation campaign aimed at influencing the 2016 elections found success with social media accounts promoting the idea of Texas secession, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Senate that was released Monday.

When it came to stirring up social divisions and exerting political influence, two accounts about the Lone Star State proved especially effective: a “Heart of Texas” Facebook page and a @rebeltexas account on Instagram.

Both accounts were created and managed by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company that’s been characterized by the U.S. government as a “troll farm” and was indicted by a federal grand jury.

Heart of Texas, which amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, promoted an image of the state as a land of barbecue and guns while sharing posts that attacked immigration.

The page had the most shares of all IRA Facebook accounts, at 4.8 million, according to the report, which was prepared by an Austin-based company, New Knowledge.

“Heart of Texas visual clusters included a wide swath of shapes of Texas, landscape photos of flowers, and memes about secession and refugees,” the report said.

Posts by the Facebook page cited in the report include a truck with a giant state flag and a photo of Texas wildflowers as well as another laying out the “economic grounds for Texas secession.” The page also shared memes criticizing immigration.

You can read that report here. The extent of this activity is mind-boggling, and in just about any other context we’d call it highly aggressive, if not warlike. Every now and then I see one of these yahoos with a “Secede” sticker on their car, and I wonder if they have any idea. We’re doing this to ourselves, that’s the really scary part.

Hexit?

The Chron’s Ken Hoffman asks a burning question.

HoustonSeal

Just for fun, how would the vote go if Houstonians had a crack at “Hexit” – leaving Texas?

I don’t mean another “Brexit” – in which British voters elected to leave the European Union, but apparently many didn’t know what they were voting for or against or why.

There are plenty of reasons Houston might think, “You know, Texas, this relationship just isn’t working for me anymore. I mean, we can still be friends. We’ll still co-parent Sugar Land, but maybe we should go our separate ways.”

I was talking with some friends, including one who draws a government paycheck, and we wondered, “Could Houston go it alone?”

Texas needs Houston, that’s for sure. But the other way around? Are we getting out what we’re putting in?

[…]

No need to get into social issues, but Houston doesn’t look, vote, sound, cook or think like the rest of Texas. The top elected officials in Texas look like the board of directors of Bushwood Country Club in “Caddyshack.”

Houston’s city council looks like a casting call for “The Village People: The Movie.”

This is about Houston’s cultural might and economic power. “What if” and “could it” succeed independent from the rest of Texas?

One of my buddies, who knows a lot about transportation, said, “All those highway projects in West Texas and the Panhandle and other parts of Texas – they’re funded in part by state gas taxes. Where do you think that money comes from?”

So next time you’re stuck in traffic, about to blow your stack, burning gas going nowhere on Interstate 10, 610 Loop and the Southwest Freeway, remember that we’re paying for lonely, lightly traveled roads in other parts of Texas. That will calm you down.

Most of the rest is a paean to Houston and the ways that it ranks #1 as a city in Texas. Hoffman is a features writer, so when he says “just for fun” at the beginning of this piece, he means that. This isn’t a serious exploration of the idea, just a bit of blue-sky thinking with some jokes (the “Caddyshack” one cracked me up) thrown in. So take a deep breath and try to appreciate what he’s written for what it is.

That said, I will confess that I’ve had the same thought, and for the same reasons. Especially now with the Legislature hell-bent on meddling in local affairs, the idea of telling them to get bent, we’re out of here, has a deep appeal. Go back to “Caddyshack” and watch Ted Knight’s performance if you want an idea of what the reaction at the Capitol might be like to that.

However, this is a Serious Blog, so we must consider the reality of this, which gets pretty daunting right off the bat. Putting aside the legalities that I am not qualified to address – does the city even have the ability to do this? how exactly would we apply for statehood? – several practical issues jump out at me. Houston’s borders resemble a Mandelbrot set in their complexity. We overlap three counties. There are other, completely separate, municipalities that are entirely within our borders – do they have to come along for the ride, or would they represent “islands” of Texas within our new state? And not to put too fine a point on it, but there are parts of Houston that do look, vote, sound, cook, and think like the rest of Texas, and they may not be so hot for this idea. I’m sure at the first mention of the concept, Kingwood and Clear Lake would yell out that they never wanted to be part of Houston in the first place, and they want to stay right where they are in the Lone Star State.

I’m sure there are plenty more reasons why this would never get off the ground, but you get the drift. It’s a fun idea, but in the long run the way to go is to make Texas be more like Houston. The path to that destination isn’t any clearer, but at least we know it exists.

Just leave already

Seriously.

State GOP leaders, in a predictable but closely watched vote, have defeated a proposal to ask Texas voters whether they favor secession.

In a voice vote Saturday afternoon, the State Republican Executive Committee rejected a measure that would have put the issue on the March 1 primary ballot. The ballot language would have been non-binding, amounting to a formal survey of voters on whether they would like to see Texas declare its independence from the United States.

While the proposal’s defeat was expected, the measure had sparked some heated debate on the 60-member executive committee, the governing body of the Republican Party of Texas. Seeking to avoid a protracted fight, the executive committee voted earlier Saturday afternoon to cap discussion of the issue at 30 minutes then put it to an up-or-down vote.

Tanya Robertson, the SREC member who introduced the proposal, argued at the executive committee meeting in Austin that the measure would have been “harmless,” allowing voters to register an “opinion only.” She also suggested the ballot language would have helped “get out the vote” among some Texas Republicans who have been sitting out recent elections.

“The goal of these is to take a thermometer of how Texans feels about an issue, and what better issue for Texans to do that with?” she asked.

See here for some background. I fully support Tanya Robertson and all her likeminded colleagues leaving the country if it’s not to their liking. I merely object to them trying to take me with them. Sorry you didn’t get your vote, Tanya, but seriously: No one is stopping you from leaving. It’s a big world, I’m sure there’s some other part of it that will be better for you.

One more thing:

Earlier Saturday, the executive committee defeated another controversial proposal, one in favor of moving the party’s 2016 convention from Dallas to Houston. The proposal, which was shot down in a nearly unanimous vote, was inspired by opposition to Dallas’ updated non-discrimination ordinance. Leading the charge to relocate the convention was Jared Woodfill, a key figure in the successful effort to repeal a similar law in Houston and a potential challenger to Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler.

It is never wrong to point out that Jared Woodfill is an idiot.

My one piece of advice to Barack Obama in re: Rick Perry

By now you’ve probably heard about Rick Perry’s long-anticipated announcement that yes indeedy, he is running for President. I plan to avoid this subject as much as possible, because there’s only so much blogging about Rick Perry one can do before one’s brains begin to resemble a fried egg on the sidewalk, but there is one thing I want to say to Team Obama as a longtime observer of our only Governor. His great strength is that he steers the conversation to where he wants it to be, which enables him to define the issues to his advantage. He’s stepping outside his comfort zone now, and as the new kid on the scene it may take him awhile to get to that point with the national media. This is your chance to turn the tables on him. Now is the time that the surrogates for the Obama campaign should be asking the question why someone who wanted to secede from the United States now wants to be its President. Yes, I know that isn’t exactly what he said, but so what? Let him explain the nuance of his statements about secession. If you want to be hypertechnical, his claim about Texas’ alleged right to secede is historically wrong, too. Again, let him explain the subtleties of it all. While he’s at it, you can point out that he likes to pal around with some people that really really hate America and let him explain that, too. Take this opportunity to tie secession around his neck now, because you may not get the chance later. That’s my advice, and it’s worth every penny you’re paying for it. Good luck.

UPDATE: Like this. Just from actual Obama people, not from us annoying bloggers.

What Ron Kirk says

Ron Kirk, the former Mayor of Dallas who is now the US Trade Representative, was asked a joking question about Rick Perry and his earlier statements about secession after Perry’s win on Tuesday. His response is well worth reading.

“I just wish those of you in the press would then ask, even if it’s tongue-in-cheek, so what does this (secession) mean then?

“For a state that unfortunately ranks in the bottom in investment in education and health care for our kids, leads the nation in the number of people that are unemployed, and you want to pull out of the country? And tell me, where you going to find the money to pay for Medicare with one of the highest growing senior populations in the country,” Kirk replied, growing more angry.

“In a state that’s probably $2 billion underfunded in maintaining its own highways, and now you want to pull out of the United States and take away the billions of dollars you get from the federal government? How are you going to fix your infrastructure?” Then, Kirk added, there’s the historical context of secession.

“But the thing that frustrates me most in this sense with you all is, you know, all of this “You want to go back.’ To what? I grew up in the Jim Crow South. All this states rights, secession stuff, I know what it means for people of my parents’ generation and me. And we fought too hard to get me to this point for me to be amused even a little bit by any of this states rights secession stuff,” said Kirk, who’s African-American.

“That’s not an America that I want to go back to. I think America is a vastly richer country because of our diversity, because of our inclusion, because of our commitment to educating every child and giving everyone the opportunity to advance based on their abilities than the world some of these people want to go back to.”

Remember what the general reaction was back in 2004 when some celebrities said they were going to move to Canada in the event George Bush was re-elected? Boy, those were the days. Kudos to Ron Kirk for saying what needed to be said. May more people follow his example.

Retired general calls out Perry

Damn.

A retired Air National Guard general called Thursday with three worries.

“Something bad’s gone wrong in this country,” said retired Brig. Gen. Tom Daniels, 62, of Fort Worth.

“Something’s wrong in Arlington. Something’s wrong in Austin. And something’s wrong in America.”

He flew missions in Vietnam. In the Pentagon, he served proudly under President George H.W. Bush — “whom I loved,” he added.

“Now our country chooses a black man as president — and suddenly, the governor is talking about secession? And Arlington is boycotting the president? They won’t even let children see him in school?”

[…]

“All I know is, the black guy wins, and suddenly these nuts are out there on TV and radio preaching to long-haul truck drivers all over the country,” Daniels said.

“Somebody needs to start talking back. Where are the moderates in the Republican Party? Where are the people like George [H.W.] Bush who made sense? They’re letting the nuts lead them around by the nose.”

[…]

Daniels reserved special vitriol for Gov. Rick Perry.

“He’s Air Force. He should be ashamed,” Daniels said. “I’m ashamed of him.” Perry “should know better” than to float talk about Texas leaving the U.S., Daniels said.

“Even for a campaign, it’s the wrong thing to talk about,” he said. “That’s not our Texas. We love our country. We’re not going anywhere. We don’t believe in secession.”

He had one final question.

“When is somebody in Arlington or Austin going to stand up to these people?”

Well, there’s still room in the Democratic primary for Governor if you want the job yourself, General. Be that as it may, I look forward to seeing the sure-to-be respectful and reasoned response that his remarks will engender from the rank and file of today’s Republican Party, and which will undoubtedly do nothing, nothing at all, to prove his point.

Please go ahead and leave

Meet the real America haters. And remember that even though he wants nothing to do with them now, because it would look bad, these are the people Rick Perry was speaking to when he spoke about seceding. You can run from them, Governor Perry, but you can’t hide from what you said. Trail Blazers and Texas Politics has more.

Berman not running for Governor

That’s too bad, because it means the Republican primary won’t be as mean, nasty, and bats-in-the-belfry crazy as it could have been. But while Leo Berman won’t be in the race, Bermanism will be.

Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, strolled into the University of Texas at Tyler’s Ornelas Activity Center and were welcomed by a standing ovation from more than 120 attendees at an impromptu endorsement swap.

Berman, who had been positioning himself for a run at the governor position, officially dropped his name from possible contention for the Republican primary in March and followed it by endorsing Perry’s candidacy. He did, however, announce his intent to run for a seventh term as District 6 state representative.

Perry publicly agreed to pursue to continue Berman’s four platform items on which he would run for governor, including: assertion of state’s rights under the 10th amendment, challenging the federal government’s regulation of intrastate commerce, ordering all state agencies to remove illegal residents from state benefit programs and allowing the training of state law enforcement officers to legally enforce immigration laws.

In other words, Perry bowed to Berman. The State Rep dictated the terms to the Governor. Way to show him who’s in charge here, Rick!

Perry agreed that continued diligence on the border is needed but pointed out the need for the problem, which has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars, to be addressed federally as well. The governor did express, much to the crowd’s approval, his opinion that continued assertion of state’s rights will be needed to maintain Texas’ position as one of just six states in the nation not in dire financial crisis.

That and about $15 billion in federal stimulus funds, which saved us from the same kinds of deep cuts that so many other states are making. Not that any of these guys would ever admit that.

Berman was elected in 1998, unseating four-term incumbent Ted Kamel, whom he blasted for not adhering to a promise to serve only four terms. During the campaign, Berman promised voters he would serve only four terms.

Prior to announcing his run in 2006 for his fourth term, Berman asked voters to allow him out of his term limits promise. He said he had learned that effectiveness in the Legislature is largely based on seniority. And following his re-election, he was appointed to his first committee chairmanship, heading the House Elections Committee.

At which he was a dismal failure, and as a charter member of the We’re Going Down With The USS Craddick club, he was relegated to the irrelevancy that he deserves and to which in a just world he will become accustomed. But hey, who’s counting?

Anyway. The Republican gubernatorial primary is now a three-way, with Perry, KBH, and Ron Paul disciple Debra Medina. With Berman in the mix, the potential for a screwy result, even the need for a runoff, was nontrivial. It’s still possible now, but distinctly less likely to my mind. All I can say is that I hope Perry dispatches Berman to speak on his behalf all over the state. He’s the true face of the GOP today.

You say “succeed”, I say “secede”

Bleah.

Lawmakers in the Texas House sent the U.S. Congress a message on Saturday to mind its own business.

But just so no one gets the wrong message, House Concurrent Resolution 50 now says that Texas is still proud to be part of the U.S. of A.

The resolution “is about succeeding in the union, not seceding from the union,” said Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, the resolution’s author. “It is not a slap. It is a reminder.”

Creighton objects to Congress handing down unfunded mandates, exploding the federal deficit and the intruding into the state’s authority.

The measure, which passed 99 to 36, reaffirms the state’s sovereignty and its rights under the 10th Amendment.

[…]

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, cautioned that Texans need to be careful when talking about “state’s rights.”

“Growing up in the South, there are certain words that bring up certain emotions,” Coleman said, emotions connected to the denial of rights.

More here, here, and here. What a pointless waste of time. To all the Democrats who voted for this, I say way to hand Governor Perry a PR victory.

What, me secede?

Shorter Rick Perry: “I never actually used the word ‘secede’.”

Fine, whatever. The judge grants your motion to dismiss on the technicality. But we all know that you’ve raised your national profile while gaining ground in the polls, because the voters you’ve been so assiduously courting like the secession talk just fine, whether you’ve been doing it explicitly or just making with the winks and the nudges. It’s been more than a month since the teabagging parties, at which the Governor didn’t quite say the word “secession” while addressing a crowd that clearly loved the idea, and he’s just now writing a letter to the editor to set the record straight? That’s some kind of decisive action right there.

RIP, statewide smoking ban

I thought it still had a chance after it finally passed out of committee in the Senate, but the statewide smoking ban is officially dead.

[State Sen. Rodney] Ellis held a press conference to announce the death of the statewide smoking ban in public facilities and indoor workplaces after it failed to get enough Senate support.

The announcement comes at the end of a dramatic last minute push over the last two days by Ellis and others, notably Rep. Carol Alvarado who got one bended knee and pleaded with Sen. Mario Gallegos to change his “no” vote. “If you watch the tape you’ll either think I’m a dancer or I was working votes,” said Ellis. “I can assure you, I had very little to dance about.”

Yesterday, Ellis said he was at 20 votes in the Senate, just one short of the 21 needed to bring a bill to the floor. But, things changed between the end of yesterday’s floor session and this morning. “Some of the amendments that I was inclined to take [yesterday] became even more Draconian overnight,” he said. Ellis opted to end the fight rather than “gut the bill to the point where it’s almost meaningless.”

Advocacy groups like Smoke Free Texas vows to continue their fight as they look forward to the 2011 session. “Two years from now, when the Legislature returns,” Smoke Free Texas member and government relations director for the Texas High Plains Division of the American Cancer Society James Gray said in a statement, “more states will be smoke-free, more Texas communities will have passed local moke-free ordinances – and thousands more Texans will be ill or dead from secondhand smoke exposure.”

I thought this was the year for the statewide smoking ban, but it wasn’t to be. It did get farther than last time, so you have to like its chances in 2011. Better luck then, y’all. A statement from Sen. Ellis about this is beneath the fold.

Meanwhile, in other legislative news and notes:

– The handguns-on-campus bill gets new life in the Senate after an identical House bill had been declared dead. I can’t say I’m crazy about this, but given that private schools can opt out, I’m not too worked up about it. I thought at the time of its passage that the original concealed-carry law would be a disaster, and that has not proven to be the case. I suspect in the end this will not be any different. This still has to pass the House, however, and as Floor Pass notes, it may run out of time before that happens.

– Congratulations! It’s a bouncing new state agency.

The Texas Senate, GOP-controlled and usually advocating smaller government, voted this afternoon to create a new state agency — the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles — to help streamline vehicle registrations in the state.

Earlier approved by the House, the measure includes only a transfer of registrations and three other functions from the Texas Department of Transportation.

It does not include vehicle inspection and driver licensing, which legislative leaders had earlier threatened to strip from the embattled Texas Department of Public Safety.

“Maintaining these functions under the TxDOT umbrella does not allow that agency to focus on its core mission” of building and maintaining Texas’ transportation system,” said state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, the Senate sponsor of the measure. “By separating these functions into a new agency, we can more rapidly automate the process.”

In addition to the Vehicle Title and Registration Division, the new agency will include the Motor Carrier Division, the Automobile and Vehicle Theft Prevention Division and and Motor Vehicle Division, Corona said. It will not include a transfer of overweight permits.

I thought this was a good idea when I first heard about it. I still do.

– Sen. Patrick’s slightly-watered down sonogram bill got somewhat undiluted in the House State Affairs committee. If we’re lucky, that will make it too rich to pass the Senate again.

HCR50, the states-rights resolution that Governor Perry embraced for the teabagging demonstrations, got derailed, at least for now, on a point of order.

– That burning smell you might have detected earlier today was TxDOT getting grilled by the House over HB300.

– A lot of good environmental bills are still alive.

– When you make a mistake, and you admit you’ve made a mistake, you try to fix it, right? Well, then you’re not the Texas Railroad Commission, which needs for the Lege to clean up after itself.

– And finally, it’s probably a bad idea to imply that your primary opponent’s supporters are somehow akin to prostitutes. Eileen explains. No, that’s not legislative in nature, but I couldn’t pass it up.

(more…)

I hate you! I need disaster relief!

Care to guess who is the biggest requestor of federal disaster relief funds since 2001? Why, none other than Governor Rick “Secession 4 Eva!” Perry, that’s who.

According to FEMA’s website, Texas has been the site of 13 “major disaster declarations” since Perry took office following George W. Bush’s departure in 2001. That includes five instances of severe storms and flooding, two tropical storms, one “extreme wildfire threat,” and Hurricanes Claudette, Rita, Dolly, and Ike. (Texas received significant federal assistance following Hurricane Katrina, but it did not appear on FEMA’s website in the “major disaster declaration” category.)

David Riedman, a public information specialist at FEMA, explained to me that a major disaster declaration is issued when a governor “determines the state’s resources are overrun.” From that point forward, the federal government, under federal law, is required to reimburse the state for at least 75 percent of the cost of recovery. Help is primarily targeted at rebuilding roads and bridges, debris removal, and reparing damage to public buildings. In the relief efforts that are still under way from the damage done by Hurricane Ike, the federal government is reimbursing Texas for 100 percent of all expenses, according to Riedman.

In fact, since FEMA’s record-keeping began, Texas has received federal disaster assistance more times than any other state.

Is it possible to wear out the word “hypocrite”. I mean, actually render it unusable due to too many invocations of it? If such a thing can be done, Rick Perry will be the cause.

By the way, even Sarah Palin is accepting stimulus funds for unemployment insurance. It’s just so hard to remain pure these days, isn’t it?

I hate you! Now gimme some money!

Damn those Washington elites! Always stuffing money into my pants campaign coffers!

Rick Perry has railed against Washington, but when it comes to campaign cash, the governor has raised far more than rival Kay Bailey Hutchison from the nation’s capital.

Perry has collected $2.7 million from Washington since becoming governor – four times more than Hutchison’s $670,000 from Washington during the same period, a Dallas Morning News analysis finds.

The money has come from political communities, lobbyists, individuals and interest groups.

[…]

Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said the governor’s critique of Washington is limited to political spending, not political contributors.

“He’s talking about elected officials who vote for earmarks, bailouts and out-of-control spending – that’s what he’s referring to when he talks about the problems of Washington,” Miner said.

I got nothing.

I hate you! Please help me!

I hate you!

[Governor Rick] Perry will moderate a forum Monday on President Barack Obama’s first 100 days.

Expect more talk about out-of-control Washington spending, says spokesman Mark Miner, with much time spent listening to people at the Dallas-area stop on a tour by three conservative radio talk-show hosts.

Please help me!

Gov. Rick Perry has asked for 37,430 courses of anti-viral medicine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of the swine flu outbreak.

Damn that meddling, intrusive, too-expensive federal government! Always there when you really need them!

It would be OK with me if all those who favor it decide to leave

I ask a question about secession.

Is that really what the GOP base is about these days?

I get an answer.

Do you think Texas would be better off as an independent nation or as part of the United States of America?

US: 61
Independent nation: 35

Democrats: US 82, Ind 15
Republicans: US 48, Ind 48
Independents: US 55, Ind 40

That sound you hear is me officially ceasing any attempt to try to understand the mind of a Republican primary voter. Hey, remember when not wearing a flag pin meant that you were a traitor who hated America? Boy, those were the days.

There’s more polling data at that link, much of which is summarized by BOR. You can go there and see the numbers, for what they’re worth. I just wanted to marvel at this particular factoid.

Everyone has an opinion on Kay and Rick

Former Congressman Martin Frost thinks Rick Perry has a good shot at winning his primary against Sen. Hutchison.

Perry, who won with less than 40 percent in a four-way general election field in 2006, is not popular with the general voting public in Texas. He is, however, the darling of the far-right wing that dominates the Republican primary electorate. Chances are that he may defeat Hutchison in a mean, ugly, down-and-dirty primary next March.

Most of the piece is a 10,000-foot overview of the race and an intro to Tom Schieffer, and Frost never gives a reason why he thinks Perry might win, so take this for what it’s worth. For a Republican view of that primary as it stands now, here’s PoliTex:

In response to our earlier post, Matt Mackowiak, a former spokesman for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sent us his thoughts on his old boss’s chances against Gov. Rick Perry next year. Mackowiak argues that Perry’s unlikely to beat Hutchison and his secession remarks have only hurt him.

“No one in Austin who is not employed by Gov. Perry thinks that he will beat Sen. Hutchison and there is a very large and growing number of skeptics who doubt that Perry will actually run for a third full term after ten years in office,” Mackowiak said. “Sen. Hutchison has higher approval ratings, higher name ID, will have more money raised, and she has an ability to bring new voters into an open primary in Texas that Perry will not have by appealing to a narrow sliver of the base with his recent ‘secession’ comments.”

Meanwhile, James Bernson, who was Hutchison’s campaign press secretary in 2006, says in a recent online column that, via his Tea Party appearances and secession remarks, “Perry has seized the momentum and is on fire with a large section of the Republican Party base, not just in Texas, but nationally. And it will be the wing of the party most important in the primary.”

Obviously, I’m a bystander to this fight. They’re not competing for my vote, and they don’t have any particular reason to care how I view them. So with that noted, let me say that this is looking a lot like a one-sided battle so far. Perry has been on the offensive, and has thrown all of the punches. I find it fascinating how little KBH has had to say about things like Perry’s rejection of the UI stimulus funds and more recently his whole bizarre secession obsession. I can understand the former – she did vote against the stimulus package, after all – but the latter just confounds me. Is that really what the GOP base is about these days? Is she really not capable of drawing a distinction between herself and Perry on stuff like this? Or does she perhaps think that it’s better to give Perry as much rope as he needs to hang himself. Staying quiet for now, not just on stupid things like secession but on just about everything – sending out tough-sounding fundraising letters doesn’t really count – may be the smart thing to do, but it sure strikes me as a deep position to take. Just seems like a risky strategy to let your opponent define the terms of the debate.

That’s my outsider’s view, anyway. I’ll add that while Perry is clearly taking the initiative, and is spending a bunch of time talking to his natural allies, it’s not clear to me that he’s reaching out beyond the base he already has. We know a substantial number of Republicans refused to vote for him in 2006. Have any of his antics brought them back into his camp, or have they reinforced the reasons why they abandoned him in the first place? I have no idea, and I doubt that publicly-available polling data will give us any insight.

And I still think KBH is going to do whatever it is she’s going to do for her campaign without resigning from the Senate. I think she’s boxed in on that, from her junior colleague Sen. Cornyn as well as from Perry, who I continue to believe would bash her relentlessly for putting the Senate in play for a filibuster-proof Dem majority. That, unlike the secession crap, is something that I think would play for a much wider audience.

Finally, I do think all this has the potential to be a real opportunity for the Democrats. That will require a candidate who can rally the troops, who can look good in comparison to the Kay ‘n’ Rick Show, and who can raise enough money to get that message out. Quite the tall order, but doable, at least this far out from November. Maybe that’s Tom Schieffer, as Frost wants you to believe – I’m keeping an open mind, but he’s got to prove it to a wider audience than me – and maybe that’s not. Maybe Sen. Van de Putte will run, and if so maybe she’ll have the fundraising chops to really compete. All I know is the sooner a Democratic candidate can start affecting the terms of the debate, the better. BOR has more.

Texas secession: Views differ

Looks like Rick Perry has found his audience for secession talk: Ron Paul Nation.

If you don’t feel like sitting through that (can’t say I blame you), Bud Kennedy gives the capsule review:

[Paul calls] secession “very much an American principle” and criticizing the idea of “one nation . . . indivisible” as something thought up by a “socialist.”

Secession is nothing new for Paul, who has waxed poetic in previous videos about an independent Texas with no income tax, no military draft and no interest in any military presence outside Texas.

I think that all pretty much speaks for itself, so for the pro-America response, here’s John Sharp:

I think that would be more salient as part of a gubernatorial campaign. Timely, too – is anyone really going to remember any of this in 2011 or 2012 when that Senate seat is finally on the ballot? Be that as it may, good on Sharp for stating what should be the obvious. Burka has more.

“With Brinkley and Huntley describing contrapuntally the cities we have lost”

From the “Be careful what you vaguely allude to in a plausibly deniable way in front of a frothing crowd that knows exactly what you’re talking about and is loving every word of it” department:

Rasmussen: “75% [of Texans] Opt to Stay.” But isn’t the lede here that nearly one in five Texans–18 percent–do want to secede?

Careful now, people. Consider the sort of nation Texas would become: bellicose, oil-rich, brutal–and with terrifying chemical and nuclear weapons stockpiles controlled by a dangerously irrational religious fanatic. By the political logic of Texas conservatives, that’s a pretty good formula for U.S. military action. (“Welcome to Austin, Mr. Bremer….”) Plus, Gates would certainly want it back–and he knows the geography well enough.

Apparently, Jay Leno made the same observation last night; others have since piled on as well. Isn’t it nice to be made a laughingstock? Thanks for reminding everyone that George Bush wasn’t an aberration as Governor, Rick. Evan Smith will be sending you a bouquet of roses to express his appreciation for making this year’s Bum Steer Awards edition write itself. Having Tom DeLay come to your defense while making John Cornyn sound statesmanlike, that’s just icing on the crazy cake.

All I can add to this is that the political logic noted above is not exactly unique to Texas conservatives. And that I’d bet the same poll in most other states would get a similar result. It’s not like we were the only ones infested with teabagger rallies this week, after all. The Crazification Factor suggests this; hell, if anything, that 18% number is on the low side. Hold still, you’ve got something in your eye…

UPDATE: Via Elise Hu, Rep. Jim Dunnam is trying to gin up support for HR1383, which states in part:

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the State of Texas reaffirms the pride of all Texans in both our one and indivisible National Union and in our one and indivisible State and the common heritage of both; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives expresses its complete and total disagreement with any element advocating the “secession” of Texas or any other state from our one and indivisible Union

So let’s see who’s for what. Seems an easy enough call to me, but clearly I’m not the patriot Rick Perry is.

Perry walks back secession talk

As the sun rises in the east, so do politicians who say stupid things revise and extend those remarks afterward when people start asking them questions about what they really meant. And so it was the case with Rick Perry, who insisted to reporters that he didn’t actually mean it when he said that Texas might look to secede if we got fed up enough with Washington, whatever that means. It might have been nice if the reporters had pressed him a bit more about the crowd to whom he made his initial statements, who were chanting “Secede! Secede!” in agreement with what they sure as heck thought he was saying, but I suppose you can’t have everything. Regardless, Democratic leaders such as Jim Dunnam and Rodney Ellis and gubernatorial candidate Tom Schieffer have rightly jumped on Perry for his idiocy, and I hope more will join in. (Anyone heard from Kinky Friedman on this?) It’d be nice if a few Republicans expressed some concern about making such intemperate statements, at least the ones who haven’t been busy making their own. Needless to say, I’m not holding my breath.

Of the many things that bother me about this, I think it’s the fact that once again a Texas Republican has made national news in a way that disgraces the state and makes us look like a bunch of rubes and fools. It’s been a nonstop parade of idiocy this year – Sharon Keller, the SBOE clown show, Louie Gohmert, Betty Brown, and now Rick Perry. I realize that there’s a lot of people who don’t care what others think about us, indeed who consider it a badge of honor to be looked down upon by the rest of the country and the world, but nothing good can come out of this. We can be as business-friendly a state as we want to be, but if people don’t want to relocate here because they’ve had such a negative impression of the place because of stunts like these it won’t do us any good. Exceptionalism isn’t necessarily an asset.

Most of all, I can’t believe I have to say any of this. Secession, for Christ’s sake. Because some people are unhappy that they lost an election. Remember how a bunch of celebrities whined to the press in 2000 and again in 2004 that they’d leave the country if Bush won? Remember how we all thought they were jackasses for saying that? Remember how Republicans in particular piled on them for their knavery? Boy, those sure were the days.