Heh, it turns out Texas can't secede

I've heard many times throughout my life that, when they became a state, Texas secured the right to secede whenever they liked.  I never had any particular reason to question it.  I mean, it was always a kind of nice-sounding idea; one less state with massive support of guns and Republicans, more progress for the rest of us on the federal level. It turns out, though, that that's just another element of puffery perpetuated, presumably, by Texans who want to feel special.

They do, apparently, have the right to split themselves up into 5 states within the US, without Congress's permission.  This would mean that Texas's total population would have five times as much representation in the Senate, though I believe that it wouldn't affect their representation in the House of Representatives.

After the 2008 election, recent mathematical superstar Nate Silver wrote up a theoretical breakdown of Texas into five sub-states, linked here, via this article on Slate.  That article also addresses Texas's only real shot at secession:

Could the current crop of Texas secessionists use the division clause in pursuit of their separatist goals? It would certainly be worth a shot. Naturally, it took the Machiavellian political mind of Texan Tom DeLay—the former House majority leader, currently out on bail while appealing a 2011 money-laundering conviction—to put the pieces of a tenable scheme together. The day after Perry blew his secessionist dog whistle to that reporter back in 2009, DeLay went on MSNBC's Hardball to cheerfully defend his governor's remarks. When host Chris Matthews insisted (correctly) that unilateral secession was illegal and couldn't take place, DeLay stopped his maniacal grinning for a moment and cited the division clause.

In a sign of just how much the two political parties' fortunes have shifted in Texas since the days when John Nance Garner represented the state in Congress, DeLay intimated that the threat of sending eight newly minted, and almost certainly Republican, senators to Washington might be the key to getting this whole secession ball rolling. Referring directly to the language of the joint resolution, he said, "If we invoke it, the United States Senate would kick us out ... because they're not going to allow 10 (sic) new Texas senators into the Senate. That's how you secede."

Former WalMart reborn as massive library

(via Boing Boing) My idea of the perfect town features as a main central location a massive library, with public computers, as many books as the place can handle, and space for people to get together, teach each other, and generally live their lives through an academic window.

It may not be exactly that, but McAllen, Texas has a new library that's certainly big enough.  When the local WalMart moved to a larger location, they took over the warehouse and turned it into a massive public library.

It looks beautiful, and I bet it's a lot more comfortable than my local library.  WalMart has much more consistent motivation than local governments to make people want to stay in their buildings for a long time.

 "In a city like McAllen, with cartel violence across the river (less than 10 miles away from the library), I think it's amazing that the city is devoting resources to a) not only saving a large and conspicuous piece of property from decline and vandalism, but b) diverting those resources into youth and the public trust," [Adriana] Ramirez writes.

[Trigger warning] Texas possible murder case

(via SourceFed, CNN) There was an event a few days ago in Shiner, Texas, in which a man allegedly found a man molesting his five year old daughter.  The father beat that man into submission, and, it turned out, to death.

The question that both the CNN article and SourceFed raised was, should the man be charged?

I didn't know what to think about that -- and that bothered me.  It seemed like a pretty big deal, and the issues surrounding it make me feel like it demands a forceful response.  Certainly, a lot of people have the very strong reaction that the man should absolutely not be punished.

I'm pretty good at being dispassionate, but my gut definitely pulls me towards agreement -- I find it hard to justify thinking that the father should go to jail for this.  But I also feel uncomfortable with the idea of letting that line be drawn anywhere between acceptable and unacceptable killing between civilians.  Further, if there's any time when temporary insanity makes sense as a reason someone shouldn't go to jail for a murder, it's this.

But I think I've figured out how I feel about this, and what I think should happen.  My conclusions are below the fold.

First.  There should be due process regarding determining whether the accused deceased was actually molesting the five year old girl.  This could be difficult, and might ultimately be inconclusive.  But if the state comes to a conclusion, that should inform what happens next.

If the deceased is found guilty, then the father should be tried, but I would consider it a gross injustice if he wasn't found innocent by way of temporary insanity.  The circumstances of his crime are in that case so extraordinary that it's reasonable to expect he's not a continued threat to society.  (And I have no sympathy for anyone who might recreate those circumstances.)

If the deceased is found innocent, the father should be tried, and the severity of his punishment should reflect both what he believed was happening, and how reasonable his mistake was -- he might not be safe to go free if he flies into that sort of rage any time someone's in the same room as his daughter, but if by some extraordinary series of coincidences it can be shown that the deceased was definitely innocent, but that the father was definitely justified in believing he wasn't, that's probably roughly equivalent to the deceased having been guilty, in terms of justified sentencing.

If it can't be determined whether the deceased was guilty, the trial should proceed, and I would expect the father to be found innocent, and at worst suffer a very light sentence.