Secession movement spreads well beyond Texas

September 21, 2009

By DAVE MONTGOMERY dmontgomery@star-telegram.com

AUSTIN — As head of the Texas Nationalist Movement, Daniel Miller of Nederland believes it’s time for the Lone Star State to sever its bond with the United States and return to the days when Texas was an independent republic.

“Independence. In our lifetime,” Miller’s organization proclaims on its Web site.

When Gov. Rick Perry suggested that some Texans might want to secede from the Union because they are fed up with the federal government, the remarks drew nationwide news coverage and became fodder for late-night comedians.

But to Texas separatists like Miller and Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Kilgore of Mansfield, secession is no laughing matter. Nor is it exclusive to the nation’s second-largest state.

Fanned by angry contempt for Washington, secession movements have sprouted up in perhaps more than a dozen states in recent years. In Vermont, retired economics professor Thomas Naylor leads the Second Vermont Republic, a self-styled citizens network dedicated to extracting the sparsely populated New England state from “the American Empire.”

And on the other side of the continent, Northwestern separatists envision a “Republic of Cascadia” carved out of Oregon, Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

While most Americans dismiss the breakaway sentiments, sociologists and political experts say they are part of a larger anti-Washington wave that is rapidly spreading across the country.

Challenging Washington

More commonplace are states’ rights movements to directly challenge federal laws, a citizen revolt that one scholar says is unparalleled in modern times. Among the actions in which states are thumbing their nose at Washington:

■ Montana and Tennessee have enacted legislation declaring that firearms made and kept within those states are beyond the authority of the federal government. Similar versions of the law, known as the Firearms Freedom Act, have been introduced in at least four other states.

■ Arizona lawmakers will let voters decide a proposed state constitutional amendment that would opt the state out of federal healthcare mandates under consideration in Congress. The amendment will be placed on the November 2010 ballot. State Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said five other states considered similar versions of the amendment this year and at least nine others are expected to do so next year.

■ Nearly two dozen states have approved resolutions refusing to participate in the Real ID Act of 2005, which requires that driver’s licenses and state ID cards conform to federal standards. A similar resolution was introduced in the 2009 Texas Legislature but died in committee.

■ A campaign called “Bring the Guard Home” is pushing legislation in 23 states that would empower governors to recall state National Guard units from Iraq on the premise that the federal law authorizing such deployments has expired. “It’s gaining momentum, to say the least,” said Jim Draeger, program manager for Peace Action Wisconsin. He said the initiative has a respectable chance of passing the Legislature in his state.

Rising public anger over the way Washington does business has produced a growing outcry for state sovereignty and strict adherence to the 10th Amendment, which says powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution belong to the states.

Texas was an epicenter for this year’s “tea party” protests, in which thousands of Americans displayed their contempt for rising taxes and federal intrusion.

‘Unprecedented’ defiance

Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center in Los Angeles, a think tank that monitors states’ rights activity, said defiance of federal policy is “unprecedented” and cuts across the philosophical spectrum, ranging from staunch conservatives to anti-war activists to civil libertarians. Legislatures in 37 states, he said, have introduced state sovereignty resolutions and at least seven have passed.

Perry, who faces a hard-fought Republican primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, has made state sovereignty one of his signature themes. During the 2009 Legislature, he endorsed an unsuccessful resolution supporting the 10th Amendment, asserting that “our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state.”

After a tea party rally in April, Perry told reporters that secession might be on the minds of some Texans disgusted with the federal government. He later stressed that he wasn’t advocating secession, telling the Star-Telegram, “America is a great country, and Texas wants to stay in that union and help our way out of” the nation’s economic downturn.

But others are advocating secession.

In a poll of 1,209 respondents conducted by Zogby International last year, 22 percent said they believed that “any state or region” has the right to secede and become an independent republic, and 18 percent said they would support a secessionist movement in their state. Conversely, more than 70 percent expressed opposition to secession.

Kirk Sale of Mount Pleasant, S.C., formed the Middlebury Institute in 2004 for the study of “separatism, secession and self-determination.” The institute conducted the Third North American Secessionist Convention in New Hampshire in 2008, drawing delegates from about two dozen secessionist organizations in the United States and Canada.

Secessionist organizations are operating at various levels of activity in Texas, Vermont, New Hampshire, Alaska and Hawaii. Breakaway sentiments and anger at Washington also run high within the Southern National Congress, a 14-state organization to “express Southern grievances and promote Southern interests.”

Chairman Tom Moore, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, says the group is “not explicitly a secessionist organization” although “most of our people probably do favor that option.”

For many, the mention of secession brings to mind the most turbulent years in American history, when 13 Southern states broke away from the Union in 1860 and ’61, plunging the country into a Civil War that claimed at least 618,000 lives but put an end to slavery. In contrast, modern-day secessionists stress that they advocate a peaceful departure and emphatically dismiss criticism that their organizations embrace racism and white supremacy.

“We maintain an open-door policy,” said Miller, who began forming the Texas Nationalist Movement early in the decade from the remnants of an earlier Texas independence movement. “If you’re about freedom — individual freedom — and liberty and Texas independence, we call you brother or sister.”

‘Predates Obama’

Miller says the group includes Hispanics, African-Americans, women, lifelong Democrats and union members. “We don’t argue race; we don’t argue Democrat or Republican,” he said. The movement also “predates Obama,” he said, pointing out that his organization started well before the president took office in January.

Miller, 35, said his involvement comes from a deep-rooted civic responsibility that began when he would accompany his father, a union ironworker, on the picket line. When Miller was 18, he made an unsuccessful run for mayor of White Oak, a small community outside Longview in East Texas. His call for Texas independence, he said, stems from a belief that Washington’s failures are dragging down the Lone Star State. Texas, which outpaces most other states in mineral wealth, agriculture, technology and other sectors, would be far better off as a separate country, he said.

“We currently have one of the strongest economies in the world,” said Miller, a Web-based radio entrepreneur who lives in deep Southeast Texas. “We’ve got everything we need to be, not just a viable nation, but a thriving, prosperous nation, except for one thing — independence from the United States.”

Kilgore, a telecommunications consultant in Mansfield, has made secession a high-profile theme of his Republican campaign for governor. Though overshadowed by the two dominant Republicans in the race — Perry and Hutchison — Kilgore believes his candidacy is stoking interest in secession, and vice versa. He said he gets at least a half-dozen calls and 15 e-mails each day on the issue, in addition to “all kinds of Facebook hits.”

Giving up on feds

“A lot of people have given up on the federal government,” Kilgore said. If he becomes governor, he said, he would call a constitutional convention to create a nation of Texas, with voters asked to approve a constitutional amendment to cement the process. Texas emissaries would negotiate with Washington for separation, he said, predicting that the United States and Texas could “still be friends after we split.”

From his home in Charlotte, Vt., Naylor said he also believes that his small New England state would fare much better outside what he derisively calls the “empire.”

Vermont, which, like Texas, was a republic before achieving statehood, has a population of 625,000, is the nation’s leading supplier of maple syrup and has a vibrant tourism industry. “We would not only survive,” he said, “we would thrive.”

Naylor, who describes himself as “a professional troublemaker,” grew up in Mississippi and taught economics at Duke University in North Carolina for 30 years.

During his years in the South, he said, he was “pretty much a vehement anti-secessionist” and refused to stand whenever Dixie was played. But, after moving to Vermont, he said, he began to rally against the “tyranny” of corporate America and the federal government, although he acknowledges the perceived “absurdity” of tiny Vermont rising up against the most powerful nation in the world.

“The empire has lost its moral authority. It’s unsustainable, ungovernable and unfixable,” he said. “We want out.”

Texas as a nation

After declaring independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, Texas was an independent republic for nearly a decade before being annexed into the United States in 1845. Now some Texas secessionists believe it’s time for the state to once again become its own country. Here’s a sampling of how a modern-day Republic of Texas would compare with the rest of the world.

Population

With 24.3 million residents, Texas would be the 47th-most-populous nation, between Saudi Arabia (25.7 million) and North Korea (24 million). It would be more populous than Greece, Belgium, Portugal and Israel.

Size

With 261,914 square miles, it would be the 40th-largest country, behind Zambia in East Africa (290,585) and ahead of Myanmar (261,228). It would be larger than Afghanistan, France, Iraq, Germany and Vietnam.

Economy

With a gross state product of $1.24 trillion, it would rank 11th or 12th, depending on the survey, behind Canada ($1.56 trillion) and slightly ahead of India ($1.23 trillion). Its economy would be larger than that of Australia, the Netherlands, South Korea, Turkey and Poland. But it would be vastly overshadowed by its huge neighbor, the United States, which has the largest economy in the world, $14.3 trillion.

Environment

Environmental groups say Texas’ record of spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere makes it one of the world biggest polluters. Texas leads the nation with 10 percent of the total U.S. emissions and would rank seventh in the world if it were its own country, the Environmental Defense Fund said in a 2008 report.

Executions

Texas, which leads the nation in executions, would likely rank among the top 10 countries in carrying out capital punishment, joining a list that includes Iran and North Korea. The United States is also on the list, primarily because of executions in Texas. In 2008, Texas carried out 18 of the nation’s 37 executions. According to Amnesty International, the United States ranked fourth in worldwide executions in 2008 but was nowhere close to the top three: China (1,718), Iran (346) and Saudi Arabia (102). North Korea’s Stalinist regime carried out at least 15 known executions, but researchers say the number could be far greater.

How it would fare on its own

Texas, now considered one of the most prosperous states in the country, has a broad-based economy that could make it largely self-sufficient, secession advocates say. Its major products include energy, agriculture, high-tech manufacturing and tourism. Assuming friendly relations, the United States presumably would look to Texas for much of its energy needs, since the Lone Star State leads the nation in production of crude oil, natural gas and wind energy. As part of the Union, it has been the top-exporting state and would continue to ship out chemicals, computers, electronics, machinery, petroleum, coal and transportation equipment. At least one big industry — defense — could suffer if the Pentagon adhered to a rigid “buy American” policy and shunned Texas-made defense products.

Newsroom researcher Cathy Belcher contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Texas Almanac, U.S. census, Amnesty International, United Nations

DAVE MONTGOMERY REPORTS FOR THE STAR-TELEGRAM FROM AUSTIN. 512-476-4294

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Question Authority, Always and Forever

September 21, 2009

by William Buppert

Human progress is furthered, not by conformity, but by aberration.
~ H.L. Mencken

For some time, I have been trying to figure out why the nation and we as individuals are in the fix we are in now. Many reasons manifest themselves. We labor under a government of such monstrous reach and epic incompetence that it makes the Soviets now look like a paragon of efficiency and probity. We suffer under a ruling class that has not simply been a gangster government under Obamunism but has been this way since the defeat of the original Constitution in 1865. With each illegitimate war since 1898, the power of the Federal government has increased exponentially. With each manufactured crisis, liberties and freedoms have withered and died. This is simply the latest and greatest improvement in the ongoing process of our overseers to find emerging ways to increase the output of our slavery.

I have alluded before that we live in the country and have occasion to run across orphaned animals. We have horses and chickens and other assorted animals on the Circle A Ranch. My wife happens to be a fantastic gardener and the reincarnation of Dr. Doolittle. We discovered by following the horrid cacophony of rabbit screams three orphaned cottontails, two of which promptly died. My wife is now nursing the survivor and hoping to brighten his life expectancy in this mortal coil. As is her wont, she is an inveterate researcher and proceeded to go on the ’net and search out advice on care and feeding of a rabbit which is not one of our areas of husbandry expertise. What struck her were the countless admonitions to seek government assistance and report it to wildlife “authorities” or the zoo. I look around and converse with colleagues and associates to find my fellow Americans increasingly frightened or unfamiliar with doing anything without someone’s permission. Whether at work or play, we:

* obey speed limits that have nothing do with safety and simply provide revenue to our rulers
* pay property taxes which inevitably increase the yoke around our necks locally and pay for the intellectual suicide pact call government schooling
* pay extraordinary sales taxes on local and state purchases to subsidize the countless layers of bureaucracy that choke citizen and business productivity everyday
* stop locally at a US Border Patrol checkpoint nearly twenty miles north of the Mexican border to be asked if we are American citizens and a visual check of the interior of our vehicles
* sit idly by while the various levels of government erect observation devices at traffic intersections to increase revenue streams
* receive property tax bills on our real estate which increase in assessment while market prices decrease
* are required to have permission from the US Forest Circus or National Park Service to hunt, play or work on lands expropriated by our betters in government

I have discovered the silver bullet and it is from the University of the Intuitively Obvious: question authority and maintain a skeptical attitude about all facets of government and governance. That’s it…simple. Even those of us who have invested considerable intellectual heavy-lifting in discerning why the government in all its consistent brutality and blood-raged destruction commands such a loyal and slavish quality in men are baffled by the absence of this simple epistemological tool to ask why on a consistent basis from stem to stern. If enough vigilance is maintained at the outset and embryonic stages of so much government mischief, much of the madness could be strangled in its statist cradle through peaceful discourse, non-compliance, shunning and development of innovative strategies to sabotage the government’s machinations. Most government programs start out with promises of nirvana and positive outcomes but the history of man shows that this is essentially iatrogenic and hubristic.

The state is a violent actor by necessity to preserve its power and expand it, so inevitably the promises dissolve into a nightmarish brew of incompetence, lethality and baleful societal consequences and we are stuck with the myriad Frankenstein monsters shambling about with the vague promises of eternal goodness and heaven on earth.

One may say that the horse is out of the barn and we are truly stuck with the state of affairs and no amount of reform will fix DC and its loyal minions at this stage of their maturation and dominance and you would be correct. The rub is this: the FEDGOD will fall and it will be in the next 12–24 months and much like the USSR, it will perish of its own internal Marxoid contradictions. Foreign wars, self-induced economic calamity and sheer naked arrogance will force it to fold and dissolve as a ruling elite. This is a window that rarely opens and the opportunities will be tremendous – for both sides. The furloughed politicos will spread their contagion when they flee the ruins of the DC power structure and seek to encourage the usual suspects among government workers and gullible subjects to help resurrect this monstrosity that has been astride our necks like a decomposing albatross. Truth serum will be necessary and that all starts with the kind of skepticism and incredulity that seems to characterize most everything we do except our attitude toward our rulers. Cross-examination is the engine of truth. Question every bit of alleged government authority which emerges from the ashes. This is one reason Thomas Jefferson was agitating for constant revolt for the tree of liberty. Government is a fungal growth that cannot be checked without constantly striking the root and taking whatever measures are necessary to curb its growth.

You won’t find this kind of critical thinking taught in the universities or any facet of the school systems because skepticism and clear thinking will be the end of them and the whole rotting mold growth choking American civilization called government. When was the last time you saw a government sponsored university study which called for the reduction and/or elimination of a statist rule or department? You don’t have to be a philosophy major or graduate to realize that Socratic drilling works. This is simply the process where you repeatedly ask why to a set of explanations until either you are satisfied the meritorious answer has been given or the shoddy intellectual construction is bared for all to see. It bears repeating: the entire artifice of the state is based on the threat or employment of violence to meet its ends, so it is morally illegitimate and reprehensible from the starting blocks. You have the moral high ground because all government for the most part is an elaborate shell game to develop proxy relationships with servant classes who obey at the urging of a lash or worse for the material and power benefit of the ruling class. Wake up, helots!

This is the chance we have. A dozen, fifty or hundreds of resistance and secessionist entities are going to move into the vacuum left by the great sucking abyss of the FEDGOD collapse. Hundreds of laboratories will emerge to test every variant of political collective and ordered enterprise imaginable. I have little hope for the subjects and somnambulant mental zombies that stumble around the cities of the Left Coast and the Northeast (Vermont and New Hampshire excepted) will do anymore other than instantly resurrect facsimiles of DC patterns of rule and other processes of national socialism but between the Marxist coastlines; the life and times of ordinary Americans will take extraordinary turns to develop from scratch freedom-oriented communities and spasms of spontaneous order. People may finally awaken and look at their neighbors and try to do the right thing. They may seek a system that asks, persuades and cooperates instead of bullies, collectivizes and forces through violent means the shape and texture of human relationships. They will be the vanguard of the men and women who finally awaken from the five millennia fever-dream of enabling various strangers the power of life and death over thousands and millions simply because they have surrendered the most basic right of all; leave us the hell alone.

Turn off the television, grab a book(s) and have conversations with family and like-minded friends. Go out and do things. Start a garden, fix your fencing, move to the country and reach out to the community you live in. Open your mind to the possibilities before us. Most of all, question every aspect of your relationship with authority. Does it derive from fear or respect? Does it emanate from first-hand experience or second-hand knowledge? How many times have you truly asked why a certain bureaucratic edict must be followed? More importantly, what is your line in the sand where your servitude stops and your resistance begins? Just say no to big government. Once a man establishes his limitations for tolerance of interference in his life and adopts a resolute stand against the forces buffeting him against his will, the world will change.

If you are still reading this, you are the Resistance.