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I wish I had written that…

Today, I offer this from Sarah Hoyt‘s blog According to Hoyt.

She begins by quoting what is arguably both my favorite and the most well-known, section of the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

There is a lot there, far more than many of us realize, including the origin of rights, the legitimate purpose of government and the ideal nature of the relationship between people and their government. Hoyt puts it this way:

“Unlike what our leftists believe, you don’t belong to the government. The government belongs to you. You’re not a subject nor a slave. You’re the owner of the joint.”

I encourage you to read both the blog post and the entirety of the Declaration of Independence from which the initial quote is taken, though the quoted section is the basis for pretty much everything else that follows.

in memoriam, dammit

It is with sadness that I note the death of R. Lee Ermey yesterday, 15 April, 2018.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Gunny Ermey. I wish I had. Best known to many as an actor, particularly for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, he was notable to military members and dependents for his often unpublicized work on behalf of those who wear the uniform and the causes they support. He served in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years, including 14 months in Vietnam, before being medically discharged as a staff sergeant. In 2008, he received an honorary promotion to gunnery sergeant from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He will be sorely missed.

Semper Fi, Gunny.

Zombie apocalypse, let me go

Yeah. I enjoy the Zombie Apocalypse genre entirely too much. The question on Quora was “What would your last stand be like in a zombie apocalypse? (more details and plot are fine)” What follows is my answer…and a very rough draft of what may be part of a longer story.

***

The old man was tired in a way he had never before experienced. No, that wasn’t right. He didn’t really get tired, anymore, not really, or at least not for very long at a time. Hadn’t for years, in fact; not since he had received the implants. They had seemed like a good idea, years ago and way back then. They froze your physical decay and ensured you could perform at the peak of human abilities for your age when you received them. Even when exhausted, your recovery time was unspeakably short. You didn’t get sick anymore. Your hearing didn’t decay and your vision never degraded. And, of course, you lived for who knew how much longer. People even called them “immortals”.

It was the last part that was the problem.

You outlived everyone you knew. All those you loved aged. They grew old. They died. Mankind had thought to fix that with the implants, but, like with everything else, there wasn’t really a solution, but only a trade-off. In this case the trade-off was madness or sterility. 98% of implant recipients went stark raving mad within the first 5 years. The remaining 2% remained as sane as they were before, but were unable to reproduce. So even if you kept your sanity, you would have no kids unless you had taken care of that beforehand.

Time and disease had taken from him those he loved most of all. First, his wife Kathleen had lost her long struggle with cancer. He had stood with his boys, Conor, Jr, Taylor and Stephen, by the grave, knowing that they were his reason for living. Over the years he had taught and guided them, teaching them to be strong, confident and compassionate. Then, one by one, he had watched time take its inevitable toll as they aged and then died.

The dead had risen almost 50 years later. By then, having grown weary of the attention that went with being an immortal, he had learned to be a “grey man” instead. Drifting from one small town to another, living off the investments he had made so many decades ago, he had become a minimalist and seemingly vanished from anyone’s radar. He hunted. He fished. He grew small gardens and raised a few animals for his meager needs. He spent long, lonely nights talking to his God, the One who had never deserted him. Mostly, he missed his family.

When the zombies appeared and the threat they presented became clear, the word went out for people to band together and hunker down. Apparently, another word went out as well, because shortly thereafter a helicopter had landed in the field of the abandoned farm he had occupied in Hancock County, Tennessee. He could remember vividly the conversation with the one star (“they sent a freakin’ General to talk to me,” he thought) who had approached his cabin.

“Lieutenant Commander Douglas” he had stated, not even pretending he didn’t know who he was.

Old habits, as it turned out, really did die hard. He had responded immediately. “Yes, Sir?”

“Your country needs you, commander. Needs you, your skills and your enhanced abilities, badly.”

He had spent the next ten years looking for survivors and taking them to places of relative safety. He had built quite a reputation for himself as the go-to person when civilians needed extraction from a place others simply could not get into or out of. Thousands of people owed their lives to the old man, not knowing how many times he had been convinced he was on his last mission, that all hope was lost and how he had considered his “failsafe” option. Each time, it was as though the dead knew he specifically was there and were searching for him. Each time, though it got worse every time, he found a way out.

The old man had been making his way toward Abilene, Texas from the northeast, coming out of Arkansas and not even on a mission, when he had encountered them. Cold, hungry and convinced they were on the verge of joining the dead, they had taken refuge in a long-abandoned gas station. The woman and oldest daughter had attempted to blockade the door with what was left of the counter, but it would not have held once the zombies started pushing. Not that it would have mattered. They had no food, so starvation and joining the dead was all that awaited them. That was when he had come upon the scene – the zombies munching on the remnants of their husband and father, the faces of those he had been unable to save watching in that sort of apathetic horror that comes from having seen and suffered too much, too fast.

He had plenty of ammo, but he hated to waste it, so he had drawn his hatchets and waded into the dead, permanently killing them all, including the recently dead man. The family, mom and three kids, Claire, Louise, Tim and Keith, had joined him on his journey to Texas. They had fought zombies and raiders, escaping death dozens of times only because of the old man’s skills and seemingly limitless physical endurance.

And now, here he was.

“Here” was a cold, windswept parking structure in the remnants of what had been Abilene, Texas. A stinging, freezing rain was falling, swept sideways by a harsh wind out of the north. They had taken refuge up here, he and the family of four he had rescued, when it became clear they were not going to make it to the newly refortified Dyess Air Force Base. The newest of the government’s steps in taking back the country from the dead, it was, according to the daily government broadcasts, secure and had food, water, medical staff and all those other things that screamed “safety.” It was so very close. And unreachable.

There had been zombies, probably attracted to the same Dyess Air Force Base and all it promised just as the living were. With the mother and children behind him, he had shot, cut, chopped, hacked and stabbed his way through the dead. They fell by the dozen, no, by the score as he and the small family made their slow, painful progress toward salvation. In the end, there had simply been too many, even for him. And so, feeling himself become tired, he had led them to the top of the parking garage, blocking access by pushing cars and rubble onto the ramp. It had been a very near thing, but it was done. The zombies couldn’t get up and they couldn’t get down. This time, there was no way out.

“Father, I am so very, very weary” he prayed silently. Yes. That was it. Weary. The fatigue of his hours-long battle had faded as it always did. The weariness, though, did not. Not this time. “I just don’t know what to do. These four need me to go on, to get them to safety, but I don’t know if I can. I just want to be done.” He looked at the family and sighed. They had trusted him when he had promised to get them to a place of safety. Without complaint they had endured cold, hunger and fatigue and followed him on foot across hundreds of miles and through hordes of the dead. He could no more abandon them now than he could deny or forget his own family. His eyes closed and he shook his head, acquiescing to the requirements of his God and of his own conscience. “Yes, Father. Once more.”

He climbed to his feet. There was work to be done.

“Claire, would you and the kids come here, please”? He opened his pack, pulling out a laminated street map he had picked up long ago, and a small plastic box with a red cross emblazoned on it. Then, he removed his rappeling gear and started assembling it.

They ambled on over.

“Yes, Conor”? It still startled him to hear his own name. Even with his missions to find survivors and mete out justice to raiders, he seldom heard it. “How are we getting out of here”? The trust in her voice hardened his resolve. He would get them to safety.

“In a bit, I’m going to get you guys to Dyess, but I need you to trust me, okay?” They all nodded their heads. After all they had been through, it wouldn’t occur to them to do otherwise. “Good. In this box, you will find four syringes with needles.” He tied off one end of the rope to the rebar extending from a concrete barricade on the side of the parking garage directly opposite the ramp. Looking over the edge of the garage, he made sure there was nothing in the street. It wouldn’t do to impale himself on a piece of angle iron.

Turning toward them, he continued. “When your mom tells you, you’ll need to inject yourselves. What’s in there will give you, temporarily, physical abilities like mine. You’ll be faster, stronger and have greater endurance than you ever thought possible”. The eyes of the kids lit up. That sounded so very cool!

“Now, I’m going to have to create a distraction for the dead. I’m going to do that by rappeling over this wall and making a lot of noise. Like I told you months ago, the nasties seem to know when I am near, so they will follow me. When they do, make your break and run like you have never run before. Claire, you take the map.” He pushed it and the box into her hands, then turned to hug each of the kids. “Save me a place to sleep once you get to Dyess, okay? Now, give me a minute to talk with your mom.” The kids moved on off, eager to get to safety and eager to experience what it was like to be like their hero.

“Claire, don’t take any detours. This stuff will give you several hours, but that’s it. When it wears off, you’ll all be exhausted. You have to be to Dyess before that happens.”

Claire looked at him a long time. “You’re not coming with us, are you? Conor, why?”

He shook his head. “There’s too many of them. Even if I give each of you the serum, you don’t have the skills to fight all the way to Dyess and there’s more of them than I can handle. Each time I face them, there’s more of ‘em. It’s like they know I’m there or something.”

Surviving the apocalypse had taught Claire just how much survival could cost. She accepted it just as she had accepted Conor’s leadership. It was simply part of life. “Will this work, Conor?” That was it. That was the only question that mattered. He thought a moment. Lying would not be an option. Finally, he was able to look her in the eyes and tell her the truth.

“Yes, it will work. It will get you and the kids to safety. Just follow the map and do not stop!” He sighed. “You all have given an old man a reason to live, these last few months. You’re a good mom and your kids will grow up strong and brave, just like you.” He opened his arms. “May I?” In all these months he had never presumed to touch her in any way. She was not his and he was not hers. Today, though, she nodded. The hug was warm, comforting, and the farewell of two campaigners parting ways. “Goodbye, Claire.”

“Go with God, Conor. You’re the best man I’ve ever met.”

He chuckled. “You need to get out more. Now, go to your kids.”

He watched as she walked over to them. Carefully, she injected first herself and then each of her kids. Conor was proud to note not even the youngest cried at the injection. As he waited for the injections to kick in, he softly recited the Rifleman’s Prayer, adding his own to the end.

“Oh Lord, I would live my life in freedom, peace and happiness, enjoying the simple pleasures of hearth and home. I would die an old, old man in my own bed, preferably of sexual overexertion.

But if that is not to be, Lord, if monsters such as this should find their way to my little corner of the world on my watch, then help me to sweep those bastards from the ramparts, because doing that is good, and right, and just.

And if in this I should fall, let me be found atop a pile of brass, behind the wall I made of their corpses.

And Father, grant me that this family of four might make it to safety and that I might see my family, once again. I miss them so very, very much.”

Even from this distance, he could see the change that came over them within minutes of the injections. Their bodies seemed to thrum with power. He waved at them. “You’ll know when to go!” Taking one final look at his hookup, he stepped over the edged and went for the road, yelling as he did so. When he reached the road, he quickly disconnected.

“Come on, you dead, stinking, rotten bastards! Conor Douglas is here!” Pulling his pistol he fired two rounds to make noise. Almost as one, the dead turned his way, even as he saw the family begin its run to safety and even as he began his quick retreat, leading them away from Claire and the kids and leading them toward his final battle.

When he finally ran out of ammo, he pulled his hatchets, killing untold dozens more before first one handle and then the other broke with the fury of his strokes. He was covered in blood and tissue when he dropped the now useless backpack and pulled the bat from where it had long ridden on it. Dozens more fell, their heads pounded into jelly, before the bat, too, gave in to the laws of physics and failed. Ten more, then a dozen and then more fell to his bare hands before he was forced to retreat to a doorway and run upstairs, the dead hot on his heels as the fatigue once again came over him.

There was no where to run, no secure place to rest up. He had perhaps ten seconds lead time when he turned to face them. Sneering at them, he pulled his failsafe from the pouch at his side. The M67 grenade weighed 14 ounces and contained 6.5 ounces of “composition B” explosive. Conor removed the safety clip, pulled the pin and released the spoon. The first zombie had reached out for him when the grenade went off.

The world went white.

The world went black.

Somewhere, in a place that was not a place, and in a time that was not a time, his God heard and answered his prayer…


Claire and the kids had never run so fast or so far. It was amazing! No wonder Conor could face the dead as if it was nothing. What it must be like to feel this way all the time. They reached the heavily barricaded gates of Dyess with minutes to spare, the emplaced machine guns mounted on the enourmous concrete walls covering them as they carefully followed the instructions of the gate guards. They were well inside when the fatigue hit, but that was okay. They were safe.


The sun was very bright when he opened his eyes. He was dressed how he knew he preferred to dress; comfortable shoes, jeans and a short-sleeve shirt. He felt rested, though that seemed odd at first. It seemed like he should be tired and that his clothes should be different.

“Conor, we have waited a long time.”

He turned. A woman stood there, with three men alongside her. They all looked familiar, somehow, but his head was fuzzy. He stared at them a long time, until the fuzziness began to clear.

“Kathleen? Conor? Taylor? Stephen? Am I…Are we…?” His head was clearing, but it was still a lot to grasp.

Kathleen smiled a smile without any hint of pain or sadness. “Yes, Conor. We, and you, are finally Home.” The way she said it made things plain.

“And, is He here, too?’

“Yes, He is. Now come, He wants to talk to you. To comfort you for all your long pain and toil.”

“Where? Where do I go?”

“Over there, dad. That’s where we are all going.” The voice was Taylor’s, but all three pointed toward a small, neat cottage not too far away.

Joined and encircled by his family and by love, Conor Douglas walked across a green field under a golden sun, toward eternity.

Fighting to not lose

Old NFO shared this on his blog. Now, I know that language changes. I also know that the definitions of words are based upon usage and that is what dictionaries reflect rather than dictionaries assigning meaning. Still, the decision by Merriam-Webster to include a worthless definition of “assault rifle” has me concerned, though probably not for the reasons many might think.

I have written before about my tendency to not believe in conspiracies. That has not changed with the decision by Merriam-Webster to add an additional definition of assault rifle to their dictionary. My concern is that two things have arguably happened.

First, those of us who know what an assault rifle is may have been guilty of doing the thing of which we often accuse gun control advocates (GCAs). We often tell them they believe the things they do largely because they live in an echo chamber. There can be some truth to that. It is hard to even seriously consider another point of view if surrounded solely or primarily by those who think the way you do. I suspect we have been in our own echo chamber. We knew what an assault rifle was, so we corrected the misapplication of the term when we encountered it. We complained/joked to each other about the ignorance of so many GCAs. We were confident of both our knowledge and the rightness of our cause. And we never saw how quickly the deliberate conflation of terms was gaining traction in the general population.

Yes, it was and remains a dishonest argument from GCAs. Yes, it was a conflation of terms and features. Yes, it was deliberate. Yes, it points to the character (or lack thereof) of many GCAs. And we have no one to blame for their success in this but ourselves.

Which brings me to my second concern. But first, a story

It is said that one of Michael Jordan’s struggles with moving to coaching and team ownership was his view of how his post Chicago Bulls team’s played. The word is that in his view they did not play to win. Instead, they played to not lose. That, I submit, largely describes how many of us who, even unapologetically, support the right to keep and bear arms (I do not like the term “gun rights” as inanimate objects have no rights, but for brevity, those who support the right to keep and bear arms will be referred to as GRAs) have “played the game.” We just wanted to get through the current push to further restrict a fundamental liberty and then move on. In some ways that makes sense. From my perspective, many GRAs, while valuing their Second Amendment rights, want to get back to their lives, not viewing the battle over the right to keep and bear arms as a central part of their lives. We are often focused on things like our work, careers and family. Liberty is important, but the battle for it sometimes seems to be an afterthought. If we can just not lose this time, that’s good enough.

No, it is not good enough and if we continue down this path we will lose and we will lose far more than a battle over the definition of a term.

The other part of playing to not lose is the tendency to see each battle as unconnected to the ones that have preceded it and the battles that will follow. Let me be clear. Though there is (and hopefully, Dear God, never will be) any shooting involved, this is not simply a series of battles. It is a war and not simply a war between GCAs and GRAs. At its heart, it is not even a war over the right to keep and bear arms. It is a war of ideas, a war of philosophies and a war of cultures. It is a war over liberty. It is in a very real sense a war for the heart and soul of a nation. In such a war, we cannot fight purely defensively, only responding to an attack and then going back to our lives, leaving a few to “keep an eye on things” and hopefully rouse us from our comfortable slumber in time and numbers to successfully resist the next attack.

We must go, and remain, on the offensive.

How do we do that? How do you do it? How do I?

If you are able to argue statistics effectively and honestly, perhaps you are the person to respond to arguments based on numbers. If discussions of the philosophy of liberty is your forte, then do that. If you are a modern-day Samuel Adams, seeking your Thomas Gage, then apply yourself to the art (and it is an art) of taunting and mocking. All of us can vote. I recommend asking every person who requests your vote if they are willing to further reduce or restrict any constitutionally protected liberty. Be specific. Ask about each one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. No one who is willing to further restrict any of them is worth your vote. Write. Call. Go on the offensive. Mock those who would sacrifice more of your liberty in the service of anything. The never-quite-realized guarantee of safety is not worth your liberty. It is trading your birthright for a bowl of porridge. Remember, the ancient story we have of that did not turn out well.

Our progressive opponents often understand this far better than we. They never stop. They never quit. Even when they lose a battle, they emerge determined to win the next battle and ultimately the war.

We must go on the offensive in this war of ideas, philosophies and cultures and we must win it, lest we be faced with no alternative but to do the other thing.

Thoughts from another site

There has been a fair bit of coverage, lately, of the call by retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Paul Stevens, for the repeal of the Second Amendment. The coverage should not be unexpected. After all, it is not only a call for undertaking a significantly difficult political action, it is also a call for repealing what many (including me) consider a fundamental right.

I want to note, from the outset, that Justice Stevens’ call is not unique. Among others, we can consider the following:

  1. This
  2. This one
  3. Oh, and this
  4. Let’s not forget this
  5. This, too
  6. And this one
  7. Can’t overlook this one
  8. And, finally, this

For years those of us who were unapologetic in our support of the right to keep and bear arms were told things like “no one serious” or “no one significant” was calling for a repeal of Second Amendment rights. While I do not know the absolute requirements to be a “serious” or “significant’ person in the eyes of gun control advocates, surely a recently retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court qualifies. Presumably, those who were making such calls beforehand not only fell short of being serious or significant, but were also not true Scotsmen.

We have been reminded repeatedly since the Heller decision, that even the Dark Lord Scalia recognized the Second Amendment allows for reasonable restrictions upon the right to keep and bear arms. The amendment we are told, is not an impediment to such restrictions and, again, “no one significant” was calling for its repeal. All those calls for repeal were meaningless and did not reflect the views of a significant number of “significant” gun control advocates. The amendment, then, was safe and all people (significant people, anyway) were seeking “reasonable” restrictions and “common sense” gun laws.

And then, Stevens.

Many gun control advocates, especially those on the American Left, are now faced with a conundrum. Shall they go “all in” with what my experience suggests many have long supported, or shall they distance themselves from the trap that is largely of their own making by criticizing the views of the man who was, during his tenure on the Supreme Court, “a leader for the Court’s liberal wing”?

Already, we are hearing that his call for a repeal was “a counterproductive distraction” and that what he said and what he meant were entirely different things.

Cockroaches and bright lights come quickly to mind, as do rats and sinking ships.

In my most dispassionate moments, and I have them occasionally, I recognize three things as true.

  1. Those gun control advocates who do not seek a repeal of the Second Amendment (and there are some), now get to spend some of their time, energy and effort, distancing themselves from Stevens remarks. For these folks, I have some degree of compassion (though none for their position). Their already uphill battle just became harder.
  2. Those gun control advocates who do seek a repeal of the Second Amendment (and as the first set of links suggests, there are some – I would argue, more than a few), will absolutely also seek to distance themselves from Stevens’ remarks. For these folks, my compassion is pretty much nonexistent.
  3. It will be, in many cases, impossible to distinguish between the two groups. I suspect many Second Amendment proponents will engage in the metaphorical equivalent of “total war” in the months and years to come. To those in the first group, allow me to suggest you brought this on yourselves. In your desire to get what you wanted, you made a common mistake – you failed to adequately distance yourselves from the more extreme members of your own movement. I hesitate to use the word “quisling,” though it does come rather quickly to mind.

Look, if you are in favor of more gun control, and your position is best described by #1, above, please remember that you were warned. Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms told you, publicly and privately, that the surveys and polls you said indicated widespread support for your ideas, were terribly flawed. We told you that our experience has been that most gun owners will either not respond to such surveys and polls or they will lie. We said, time and again, that “the devil is in the details” and that regardless of what you believe gun owners support, it is the specifics of much gun control legislation that sinks it. We told you we are far more devoted to this fight than you. We spoke of our devotion to liberty and the Constitution.

We did all those things and you ignored us and our warnings. It would have been better to listen and not become involved in efforts to engage in dishonest tactics and attempts to shove something down our throats. Now, you are associated with those folks we were assured (by both you and those in the second group) do not exist.

For those whose position is best represented by #2, you too were warned. You were told, more than once, that the American people would not simply accept your plan to remove the protection of a specifically enumerated and fundamental right. Like those in the first group, you elected to not listen. You were convinced you had won the culture war and that such a victory gave you a mandate to impose your view of the world on your fellow citizens. Allow me to suggest one of two things happened. First, it is possible your declaration of victory was premature. That is, the culture war has not ended and you have not won. The second is an alternative – that you have won the culture war and have, through your words and actions, succeeded in fostering a significant counter-culture. I am more than a little curious as to which alternative you will decide you face. My suggestion is that you go for the culture war not being over. Many of you are, perhaps, too young to remember what happens when you face a large, determined counter-culture, but the Left taught us a lot about them. You would really rather face a not-yet-decided culture war.

Regardless, we now know you* and what you want in a way we never did, before. Congratulations.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Playing catch up

Confession, I have been told, is good for the soul. I certainly hope so…

Life has been interesting, here at RM Ranch, for a while now. That’s “interesting” in the “may you live in interesting times” sense, by the way*.  Here are some things that have happened or that continue, though somewhat abated.

  • She For Whom We Do All, the delightful Mrs. RM, has been struggling with depression for several years. Her father’s death in the recent past constituted a major hit to her efforts to deal with her diagnosis.
  • I was finally forced to recognize my own struggle with depression.
  • The result of years of depression has been that both of us have huge holes in our memories re: the last few years. We both know there is “stuff” missing and are more than a little curious to know what it is (I doubt Scotland ever contacted me, saying the country would declare its absolute independence if only I would agree to be King of the Scots, but you never can tell. I keep looking for positive signs).
  • Other results: we had to back off on the whole “urban homestead” thing quite a bit. Neither of us had the energy to do all the things that needed to be done. It wasn’t fair to the animals, so we sent them all to good homes. Last year, I didn’t even plant a garden.
  • My writing was “hit-and-miss” for quite a while.

Now, there are positive things going on

  • Mrs. RM has found a pharmaceutical regimen that works for her. It’s good to see her up and about and enjoying life, once again.
  • I have found that my depression responds amazingly well to activity. The struggle, of course, is that depression can render you disinclined to do the thing that will make you feel better, but I am learning. Even if I have to go on antidepressants in the future, I’m through letting this thing rule and ruin my life.
  • The spring garden is a go for this year! Woo-hoo!
  • I am making progress on projects that had stalled for far too long. It’s good to be active. I already feel younger.
  • As I alluded to recently, I am writing, again. I missed several days postings because of unavoidable life events, but that’s okay. There were other things we had to attend to (like a pregnant friend who occasionally needs support or Mrs. RM taking an unexpected trip to the ER for what turned out to be largely a non-issue), but they aren’t the life-strangling things that depression can be.

If you, too, struggle with depression, I encourage you to not give up. While it can take a while to find what works for you, there are things that can make it better. The start is to recognize your struggle.

Gotta go. There are words to write for the ages (yeah, right) and raised beds to be prepared.

 

Note: As an aside, this “ancient Chinese curse” is of dubious origins, but I don’t care

No, California is not leaving the U.S.

Old NFO has written an interesting blog post about California. Specifically, it deals with the California secession movement, as well as the movements pushing to divide California into multiple states (Jefferson is one example). His words, which I highly recommend reading, “got me to thinking” (always a bad thing!).

I should mention that I am a big fan of states being able to do pretty much anything they wish, as long as the Constitution of the United States does not specifically forbid it (this goes along with my belief our federal government should only do that which the Constitution specifically allows, but that is a different discussion). That said, none of us live in Retired Mustang’s Ideal World. We live in the real world and in the real world, the Supreme Court has declared that states may only secede if “the States” agree.

Not gonna happen. Here’s  why

Political Reality

The most recent numbers I have found suggest the current Republican/Democratic split in the House of Representatives currently gives Republicans a 55.4% majority with 241 seats out of the 435 total (assuming no vacancies, though there are currently 4). The Democratic minority currently occupies 194 seats. If California is allowed to exit, the Republican majority would increase to 59.4%, or 227 out of 382 seats. The Democratic minority would decrease to 40.6% or 155 of those 382 seats.

The effect on the Senate would not be as profound, at least in terms of percentages. Currently, the Republicans hold 51 seats and the Democrats hold 49 (there are 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats). In the event of a Calexit, that 51% vs 49% split would change to a 52% vs 48% split.

Democrats would fight tooth and nail to avoid such a disruption in their power. In all fairness, were the percentage reversed, I have no doubt Republicans would fight just as hard.

Many states have a portion of the population that supports the secession of that state. According to Mother Jones, about a third of Californians support secession and a quarter of Americans support the idea that states should have the right to secede. Jim Gaines noted that the Southeast, Southwest and Rockies are the areas with the highest percentages of those supporting the idea of their various states seceding peacefully. That is nothing new, though. Secession has long been popular in some areas, even, as Gaines notes, before the Civil War. Still, more people oppose secession than support it, and I really doubt the idea would fly, politically, even absent the party line opposition such a proposal would encounter. It is my belief these sorts of things can have a bit of a domino effect, a sort of “huh, California seceded, maybe we here in the great state of Texas/Oklahoma/Wyoming/Arizona/Tennessee should seriously consider it, too” kind of  thing. That is intolerable, I submit, to both most politicians and to government in general.

As they pertain to this topic, government has a vested interest in (at least) two things. Those two things are maintaining order and maintaining power, not necessarily in that order. A successful bid for peaceful secession that triggered a chain of such movements would be perceived, rightly, as a threat to power and (possibly rightly) as a threat to order. With just those two things in mind, is anyone going to seriously argue the federal government, or the other states, would allow California, or maybe Texas, to secede?

Again, not gonna happen.

“Well,” you ask, “what about California splitting into multiple states and isn’t Texas allowed to divide into five states?”

Let’s address Texas, first. Maybe. That was part of the treaty that included the annexation of Texas. The question is, did Texas’ secession during the Civil War make that null and void? Some say yes, it did. Others disagree. I tend to be among those who disagree. My disagreement, like the agreement of others, is meaningless until and unless it is tested. It has, obviously, never been tested. Besides, even if Texas divides itself into chunks, those chunks become states in accordance with the Constitution, not with the desire of the “chunks” or the larger “pre-chunk” for them to be states. 

The same is true of California and any portion thereof that might be proposed as separate states. The Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” not the desire of folks in Norcal and southern Oregon to do their own thing.

Aside from constitutional issues, we are still faced with partisan politics. Consider Puerto Rico. An American territory, there would be no division of an existing state necessary for it to become a state. Given its voting patterns, can anyone reasonably suggest every Republican in the Senate would not oppose its petition for statehood? Of course they would oppose it.

Let’s pretend that over time, the laws we have relating to the various American Indian tribes, the ones that are vestiges of 18th and 19th century paternalism, are repealed. There is a forensic accounting of the BIA, going back as far as possible, and that bureau is eliminated. All that is done, but the tribes retain possession of their various reservations. Now, the various tribes petition to have their reservations admitted as states. It is  unreasonable to suggest that would fly because of the way it would affect the current political balance of power.

If Texas were to draw boundaries representing five potential new states, is it reasonable to believe partisan politics would not come into play – that politicians would not look askance at the impact it would have on the balance of power between the two major parties?

Once again, the same is true of California.

None of this means it could absolutely not happen. We are, after all, discussing politics, where far weirder things have happened. I just don’t see it as very likely.

Let me encourage you, once more, to seriously consider the words of Old NFO.