Sunday, April 19, 2009

Letter from America

Having abandoned conservatism in favour of a series of weird cults led by wackos like John Bolton (who, I am delighted to report, is also loathed by Peter Ackroyd; he says Bolton appears to be in disguise), the Republican Party in defeat is going mad. Governor Rick Perry has suggested Texas would secede from the Union if Washington keeps raising taxes. He says Texas (which is, oddly, an anagram for taxes) has some special arrangement that makes this possible. This has caused universal hilarity because a)there is no such arrangement b)Texas gets back from Washington almost the same amount it puts in c)the ten biggest net tax donor states are all Democrat and d)in recent history it is Republican presidents who have been the most profligate. But, apparently, Texas does have some special right to split into series of smaller states. This means, crows some Republican I just saw, they could send a whole set of new 'rock-ribbed' conservative senators to Washington to sort things out. (I hate 'rock-ribbed' because it evokes that sentimentality about violence that still scars the face of the country I love most apart from my own.) The Texas Republicans are also accusing Obama and Nancy Pelosi of trying to turn America into France, a rhetorical device I have noted before. This is quite funny since, as Obama noted, France is America's oldest ally and contributed considerably to the ideology and achievement of independence. Conceptually, America is very French - they just don't have the cheese and wine. That said, I'm with Perry. This has nothing to do with taxes and everything to do with Willie Nelson. But that's another story.


  1. I don't know of any "special arrangement," but Texas is a special case. It is the only state that was annexed to the U.S., having been, from 1836 until the end of 1845, an independent republic. It still, for instance, has the right to divide into five further states. At any rate, the constitutional question may be more subtle than you suspect.

  2. "America is very French - they just don't have the cheese and wine."

    You need to do the California wine tour, and as for cheese, that's Wisconsin is it not?

  3. This would be the ruggedly independent, self-supporting Texas that got billions upon billions of federal spending from LBJ via Brown and Root? And that was when a billion dollars was quite a lot of money.

    As a lot of it was defence-related (bases for instance) it was a gift that's still giving. Must have been one of the biggest barrels of pork ever.

  4. California was it's own nation too, for a few days or months perhaps?

    There is no explicit arrangement for secession, but the Confederate States certainly did read it that way, legally and, more importantly, ethically.

  5. Of course, the number of Senators a state gets is totally independent of its population. therefore if Texas subdivides as threatened, the senate gets eight more (most likely) Republican senators.
    Heh. That should stop all this nonsense about 'Representaion of the People'!

  6. Conceptually, America is very FrenchAs an admiring neighbour and also a bit of a student of anti-Americanism, I've come to the same conclusion, however much it would puzzle most Americans and French. The tendency to deduce from ideological opening premises in politics and law, the equation of government with "state" rather than "community", the reverance for the words of long dead intellectuals, presidential celebrity, and even the military flavour of national holidays and historical shrines can be quite foreign to the rest of the Anglosphere, as is their tendency to a savage divisiveness in debate that can make an outsider worry they are just a speech or two away from civil war. There is even at times a common notion of extra-legal raison d'etat in international affairs, although the Americans don't call it that and are ambivalent about it to the point of self-torture.

    I blame too much classical architecture. The delightfully meandering, directionless irrationality of gothic is much healthier.