In-Your-Face Independence, Texas Style

I could easily write eight to ten, 5,000-word blog-posts explaining to my readers extensively and factually why many/most modern Texans are stubbornly, ferociously audaciously proud to be from Texas or to be a born-n-bread Texan. Foreigners on other continents may not be aware of how many Americans in other states basically know or know all too well how very boastful modern Texans can be. Since the advent of radio, TV broadcasting, and the internet we Texans have built-up for better or worse—frequently worse in my opinion—a national, if not international, reputation of having large things in Texas. It is true. There is no shortage of BIG in the Lone Star State.

I for one, as an 8th-generation Texan, am often sickened and nauseated by this “big” attitude. It is audacious self-promotion. And here is the BIG reason why I feel this way.

A bit of Texas history about one of its earliest flags. In my header above the flag on the left is a well-known and long taught highlight in Texas schools’ Social Studies classes between 4th-grade and 12th-grade. The spirit of that independent rebellion against Mexico, before being annexed by the United States only a few years later, represents how BIG Texans boast of their freedoms and liberties, even against Washington D.C. and a liberal United States. But calm down, don’t worry, the history of our long embedded (or inbred?) arrogance is for another later five or ten blog-posts. (wink)

In my local newspaper The Dallas Morning News, they reported yesterday how Dallas residents, as well as the DFW Metroplex are contributing to slowing or “Flattening the Curve” and eventually stopping the deadly COVID-19 pandemic:

What happens when a percentage of the population ignores government lockdown decrees or pleas for social distancing?

“It’s true that under normal circumstances, you’ll have a lot of people who are resistant to government dictates and control,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “Under emergency conditions, those people become dangerous.”

“But if you have people who are talking about a ‘deep state,’ or socialism or a government takeover — while we’re trying to cobble together from the local level to the national level a response to an absolutely unprecedented pandemic — those people are not just foolish,” Jillson said. “They are dangerous.”

Government leaders have to “be as straightforward and direct and truthful as possible with the American public,” Jillson said. “So that the 90 percent of the public that is reasonable can rally to those instructions and bend the curve on this virus.”

White Rock Lake in Dallas on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

White Rock Lake in Dallas on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – image by Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer

I must be fair, however, about over-generalizing and faulty identification of who is “Texan.”

Since 1963 and more so the last decade and a half Texas has been one of the fastest growing populated states in the country:  currently #2 in GDP and #4 in economy size. This means over the last decade or so many currently living in Texas were not born here. Because of three attractive, compelling reasons non-Texans move here or have recently moved here years ago. Those are 1) many new corporate businesses move and headquarter here, i.e. jobs, 2) no state income tax, and 3) cheaper housing by national comparisons. The point being that anyone living here who wasn’t born here are obviously not natural Texans. Consequently, I shouldn’t include those non-Texans in our long history and why we are so audaciously, arrogantly proud, right? Yet, in the big picture of our current world-wide, deadly pandemic, where one was born or how many multiple generations preceded you here is irrelevant. Or is it?

Despite the measures, the city received at least 853 calls about large gatherings in the past week. According to the mayor’s office Tuesday, authorities gave out 150 violation notices, which are similar to warnings before a citation is issued.

The U.S. Surgeon General warned Monday that rebels and scofflaws of social distancing put their fellow Americans at risk.

“I want America to understand — this week, it’s going to get bad,” Dr. Jerome Adams said on NBC’s Today show, denouncing those not obeying social distancing guidelines.

“This is how the spread is occurring,” Adams said.

flatten the curve diagram

Flattening the Curve – Image: © CDC

Any rational, well-educated person with a solid grasp of medical sciences in microbiology, virology, methods of airborne infectious diseases, and how highly contagious those are shown repeatedly throughout humanity’s post-classical and modern history, would ask and should ask these flouting rebels, skeptics, and deniers What the F*CK are you doing and thinking!? Apparently they’ve forgotten or ignored America’s 1918-1920 Swine Flu or Spanish Flu that was also an airborne, highly contagious virus like COVID-19 and in one single month killed 200,000 Americans. In the end, it claimed 675,000 Americans and an estimated 50-million world-wide. Perhaps our President should keep mentioning those 50-million victims of “The American Virus” in his press conferences? Pompous Texans should too.

Why are so many Texans ignoring the factual, confirmed histories of deadly, fast-spreading pandemics? Did those preceding generations of your Texas family not pass down the horrendous details or show you the actual death-certificates from your family tree?

Outdoor concerts and festivals are banned in most locations. And those restrictions weren’t sitting well with Rev. Horton Heat, a popular Dallas-based rockabilly band, which posted a livid message on its Facebook page about a week ago.

“Reverend Horton Heat is NOT cancelling ANY gigs because of COVID-19.”

The band made it clear that it wasn’t their call to cancel its gigs, and encouraged fans to “push back,” in a post trumpeted on its Facebook page.

“I encourage everyone who lives in a jurisdiction where local governments are restricting rock and roll to push back,” the band said. “Write emails and call your local government agencies to remind them that we have the right to assembly. They can’t stop rock and roll!”

TX motto t-shirt

Widely popular meme in Texas, especially by Sons & Daughters of the Confederacy

Co-founder and current member Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath guitarist and lead vocal of the band is a native-born Texan. He does indeed represent that audacious, arrogant historical Texas rebel pride.

But it isn’t just three-generation, five-generation, or six-generation native Texans flouting their rebel disobedience to county and state authority, it is even our Lt. Governor Dan Patrick as well, who like all of the Bush’s is not a native-born Texan!

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick agreed, saying Monday the country should go back to work, suggesting “grandparents” like him, who are at higher risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19, should sacrifice to keep the country out of economic trouble.

“My message is that ‘Let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it,’” Patrick told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “And those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”

I am both stunned by the medical-virological ignorance and denial here, and yet at the same time not too surprised by many fellow Texans showing off their cockiness in the face of ‘too much government intrusion,’ a popular opinion over the decades by most established Texas families and businesses making up this Red-state.

There are factual data-sets in several parts of the world—not just in New Orleans, Louisiana—supporting those restrictions ordered by government leaders listening to and heeding epidemiologist’s desperate warnings and admonishments to why it is critical to social-distance as well as follow all washing, disinfecting protocols while at home. As reported by Sky News yesterday, this is what happens when citizens, businesses, entertainers, and governments do NOT take epidemiological science serious. The headline:  Coronavirus: Champions League match a ‘biological bomb’ that infected Bergamo, experts say.

That match was between Italian club Atalanta and Spanish club Valencia. As a result, not only did Italy become the epicenter of COVID-19 infections and deaths, but Spain is now experiencing the same and soon will catch Italy’s mortality rates. The Sky News article goes on:

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known. No one knew the virus was already here. It was inevitable.”

More than 7,500 people have died after contracting coronavirus in Italy, where there are more than 74,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

More than 650 people have died in the last 24 hours in Spain, taking the total past 4,000.

Cases there rose by more than 8000, bringing the total to more than 50,000.

To the overly proud rebels, skeptics, and deniers in Texas by Texans, if you don’t care to believe the actual medical data, science and virology, or the long repeated world history of known pandemics and the hundreds of thousands of deaths from plagues, or how highly contagious and lethal airborne flu viruses are then perhaps it will only take the death of an immediate family member, perhaps your own child or parent, to wake you up to reality. Why even risk it? Why… when by all your rebellious behavior all of you could easily cause are hospitals overflowing beyond capacity, the supplies and medical items which raise your safety and your loved ones’ safety… run out? Or the oxygen-breathing machines to fight the deadly pneumonia from COVID-19 are all in use and no longer available for yourself, your children, or parent like many are experiencing right now in Italy and Spain? Why?

Why chance it? To prove what a proud, independent, Come Take It From Me, cocky native Texan you are? How would that epitaph look on your gravestone or your 8-year old child’s or one of your siblings? There quickly comes a point when self-absorbed ignorance and pride can never outweigh a loved one’s life, premature life when you were informed in time of avoiding it. Imagine that regret for the rest of your life.

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Republicans Say Trump is Done

When I read this headline The Trump Presidency Is Over followed by the sub-header of It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain. written by a life-long Republican supporter and contributing journalist Peter Wehner for The Atlantic, I was relieved and astonished. I had to stop my current work on a different blog-post and quickly share this news. Really? Say it isn’t so! They are indeed rational?

Finally the moderate, but deeply loyal party-line Republicans who foolishly bought into Trump’s dump-truck loads of ridiculous rhetoric were waking up out of their coma and stupor of hardcore, blind party-lines-first addiction and foremost gaining some rational logic, critical-thinking and assessing, re-establishing needed science, and returning to an old American tradition of the greater good for all Americans. Someone who finally came to their senses, a long-time Republican devotee was finally courageous enough to speak-up and say enough is enough from this Mob-style, audacious, delusional, lying Con-artist! Bravo, bravo, BRAVO Peter Wehner! Here are his opening two paragraphs:

When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations, I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not vote for a person who checked far more of my policy boxes than his opponent?

What I explained then, and what I have said many times since, is that Trump is fundamentally unfit—intellectually, morally, temperamentally, and psychologically—for office. For me, that is the paramount consideration in electing a president, in part because at some point it’s reasonable to expect that a president will face an unexpected crisis—and at that point, the president’s judgment and discernment, his character and leadership ability, will really matter.

But let me skip ahead in his telling article to correctly be as fair as possible on his own party’s representative, as opposed to a true representative of the American people as a whole or the U.S.’s core principles of a Constitutional democracy and supporter of all its sacred institutions:

To be sure, the president isn’t responsible for either the coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19, and he couldn’t have stopped it from hitting our shores even if he had done everything right.

[…]

That said, the president and his administration are responsible for grave, costly errors, most especially the epic manufacturing failures in diagnostic testing, the decision to test too few people, the delay in expanding testing to labs outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and problems in the supply chain. These mistakes have left us blind and badly behind the curve, and, for a few crucial weeks, they created a false sense of security. What we now know is that the coronavirus silently spread for several weeks, without us being aware of it and while we were doing nothing to stop it. Containment and mitigation efforts could have significantly slowed its spread at an early, critical point, but we frittered away that opportunity.

I hardly need say anymore on this complete failure of Presidential and Executive Branch experience, leadership, and savvy to run a great nation such as the USA that so many duped Americans helped put in the Oval Office on Pennsylvania Ave., Washington D.C. What IS going to be horribly sad and unforgettable for the legacy of one of America’s worst Presidents in all our 244-year history and 4-years of instability is that he was basically clueless of federal protocols and foolish in thinking our nation could be run exactly like his dubious private businesses, six failed bankrupt ventures included, and dupe a large portion of American voters into thinking radical, extreme, bullying, fear-spreading, and reckless business-dealing would EVER work in governing a global economic player-nation with a plethora of other diplomatic and foreign entities, especially when valuable allies and semi-allies require superb grace, wit, respect, and often a show of stoicism and verbalizing less as opposed to bowing up your chest and behaving like a 10-year old school-yard bull in a China closet.

Enough said. Take it on the chin America, learn this painful lesson. Then please read the entire Peter Wehner article in The Atlantic and his critique of our fake, tragically bogus, “unfit” President that duped many, MANY American voters in 2016.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Turnips & Tranquility

Where has time gone? What in the world am I doing now halfway through my life? Why am I still busting my ass HARD and yet feel I am no better off than I was when I was 25, 35, or 45-years old?

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A dear friend called me the other week to ask how I was getting along. They had not heard from me in a long while—I am no longer on any popular social-media, namely Facebook, and for very good reasons. Remarkably and a bit perplexed by my unknown lostness, I found the concern odd. On the contrary, I am very much present, alive and stuck-in the typical hubbub of American life. Go go GO! Never stop! Never sleep! Make wheel-barrows of money in 28-hours a day! That’s the expected spirit here!

Yet, not being on Facebook, Instagram, Qzone, or Twitter apparently puts me off the grid somehow, or out of touch from civilization somewhere on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean ala Tom Hanks in Cast Away! Should I scream “WILSON!!!? Would 20-year olds even know that reference? Last I checked, my cell phone works perfectly. Live talks on the phone are still around, used, aren’t they? We do still speak face-to-face, correct? In proper English, not strictly acronyms in 30-character texts, yes?

Nevertheless, there was a good reason why my good friend called. The truth is I have indeed been swamped and overwhelmed not just since last Fall 2019, October to be exact, but particularly the entire month of February this year.

I am just trying to squeeze as much money out of everyone else FASTER than they can squeeze more money out of me.
Me, Professor Taboo from “How To Survive in a Cannibalistic Hyper-Capitalist Economy of America.” ®2020.

That was my final description of what my last two years have become after briefly explaining to my friend why I seemed to be lost somewhere out there. We both had a good laugh about my seemingly new, yet unintended mantra. This is no easy bloody race and it never ever ends, especially if one was not born into privilege or great wealth.

One debacle out of several I have found myself in these last 4-6 weeks was trying to speak with an actual LIVE human being both at my cell phone provider (Verizon) and with my bank regarding a second round of recent fraudulent debit/credit card charges in Atlanta, GA, Silverton, Idaho, San Francisco and Berkley, CA. Not only am I a continental traveler, but I seemingly fly in my supersonic Lear-jet from coast to coast and in between. I WISH! That’s the funny part. What is not at all funny is that it is quite difficult to begin speaking right away to an English-speaking human being. My first 5-mins with Verizon, as I satirically remember it:

“Welcome to Verizon Wireless Customer pleasuring. Are you calling about phone # (my cell #). Push 1 if this is correct. Push 2 if this is incorrect. Push 3 if somewhat correct. Push 4 if a little incorrect. Push 5 if you like ham sandwiches. Push 6 if you like green eggs with ham. Push 6½ if you enjoy Dr. Seuss. Push 7 if this menu gives you pleasure. Push 13 if it does not pleasure you. Push 8 if you want to hear all options again slower. Push 9 or 0 if you honestly think [laughing in background proceeds] you’ll get a human being to talk to.

[I make my selection]

“I’m sorry, I did not understand your input.” Then everything robotically returns to the beginning and repeats. I am in an eternal, computerized loop somewhere in Never-never Land.

Most likely this year will be dotted with several family funerals of very close aunts and uncles to Mom and sister. I am now at an age where many of my elderly aunts and uncles—perhaps even one or two of the oldest cousins—when numerous funerals could occur this year and next. One funeral has already taken place last month, a 91 or 92-year old uncle. Another is likely within the next 2-4 months, maybe? That generation and my mother’s and father’s generations typically had large families of five, seven, or in my Mom’s case eleven siblings.

In other personal events I am having to once again search for and find more feasible housing. Whether most Americans are thriving and succeeding in their pursuits of happiness, health, occupational and financial stability and mobility depends mostly on who you speak with… at length. It is a heated controversy right now and for very good reason! Why? Saturation of false and/or misleading information, facts, statistics, and contextual causes and effects. Take a close look at this graphic on affordable Texas housing from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Notice the $40,185 wage figure:

TX Housing Needs 2019

For more extensive details and data on “affordable” housing in Texas, a contradiction in terms I assure you, click here.

Most low-income (non-caucasian?) households in Texas barely make $28k to $38k per year ($14–$18/hr median) combined as couples and they’re lucky if they are afforded decent-to-good healthcare coverage from Texas employers trying everything within their power to avoid hiring full-time, 40-hr/week employees. With part-time employees (<30 hrs/week) health benefits do not have to be provided. In fact, in Texas there are no laws forcing employers to ever offer any health insurance to employees. Most do, however, only if you work 40-60+ hour work weeks; the higher the wages/salary, the more hours they demand expect from you. These are the extreme benefits and perks for businesses and business owners based in Texas, an At-Will labor-law state. This is one big reason why the Red-state of Texas has now become the 2nd fastest growing state in the nation the last 20-25 years. Cheap uneducated labor. It passed Florida last year I believe. Nevertheless, after three rate-hikes in 3-years and as a single man, I can no longer afford paying $1,360/month for my current housing and keep up with the cost-of-living.

On other news topics, I believe I have some 7 or 8 unfinished, Pulitzer Prize winning blog-post drafts each on different topics waiting their completion. Those have been on the dust-bin shelf since August of 2019. I’m lucky I almost finished this post. Several more go back further, one back to 2015 when a then divorcing friend said she’d Guest-post it for me about not divorcing when kids less than 18-years are involved. Hah, she’s now already remarried and never thinks about me anymore. Kind of funny really, how “traditional” marriage does that to people—their social-life shrinks to zilch, nada, near empty when it comes to the single opposite sex. Hmmm, imagine that.

On more news, last week and last Monday I had to spend an excessive amount of time on the phone with our county voter registration office as to why my new “permanent” registered card hadn’t arrived after 5-weeks of reapplying. Apparently my very “official temporary” card was invalid this year. I didn’t realize it had gotten so complicated. No wonder Texas has one of the poorest voter turnout rates some 20-years running! Hell, I’m an educated white man and it has become very challenging for me!

These last 6-weeks I’ve had to deal with my bank twice in less than 6-months on credit/debit card fraudulent charges. Wait a minute! When I started drafting this post last week I already mentioned this didn’t I? However, it does still continue so I too will continue it. HAH!

Keeping my personal and financial information private and protected these days is quickly becoming near impossible in this day and age of super hi-tech. Ah, but as a result, that births and stimulates another derivative industry that is profitable, doesn’t it? More and more businesses or corporations manipulate require all of it to do “better business” with you or provide a VIP service, even if you know it will only be a one-time transaction. Plus, more and more billing tasks or business dealings, contracts, etc, are for the most part entirely online. Gone are the days where you do your business in person, face-to-face. How sad. We are gradually losing our organic, communal-social contact and interactions with each other when facial expressions, hand and body movement, voice tones and inflections were important, critical in some cases, but are now unnecessary impossible on computer or cellphone screens. Am I the only one noticing these swift changes and higher risks? 🤔

I am going to skip over my health and hypertension concerns and developments over the last 10-12 years. Pretend like I never mentioned it. Besides, it would add 500-800 more whiny words to this post. Hahaha. All of you can thank me later for my kindness. (grin and wink)

Hey, I am not irritable! Well, not yet psychotic. No one has dialed 9-1-1 on me for the police. 🤣 On a positive note, I am totally digging Netflix’s Moving Art series by Louie Schwartzberg. Seen any of it? The photography and filming is unreal, vivid, and astonishingly beautiful and soothing! Or as I state in my title:  Tranquility. Check it out if you enjoy spectacular views and relaxing or cultural music on location. Here’s a teaser for season 3:

Well, I’m done. Time is over, gone. I’ve run out of it again. Reality in this great state and nation beckons for my loyal, patriotic servitude in this socioeconomic system for some, but not all. It could be much worse, right? 🤪 I could be fleeing for my life from gangs and drug cartels in Central America! But I’m a 7th-generation Texan-American! Those types are already here! I don’t have to relocate to appreciate what I was born into! Wooohooo! My turnips are shriveling up! 🥳 🇺🇸

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

March 9, 2020 Addition — This is a provocative article and streaming series looking into the unethical, exploiting, unscrupulous practices of real estate moguls and firms across the U.S. by The Daily Beast and the Netflix series Dirty Money, season 2 airing Wednesday, March 11th.

The second season of Netflix’s docuseries examines a number of shady financial schemes—including that of “Slumlord Millionaire” (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kushner. […]

The overarching portrait painted by “Slumlord Millionaire” is of unrepentant real-estate scumbagggery. And somehow, it gets worse! Now ensconced in the White House, Kushner has exploited his undeserved political role to obtain lucrative financial deals for his family, which in turn has made him a figure easily exploited by foreign powers eager to gain leverage over the president. It’s a lose-lose scenario for everyone except Kushner and his cronies. The efforts of Housing Rights Initiative founder Aaron Carr and New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres have sought to end some of Kushner’s more shady tricks, such as renting units in buildings for which he doesn’t have a certificate of occupancy. Yet the man continues to live the untouchable life thanks to his stature and sway, including over dim-bulb tenants that lament their Kushner-created nightmares and yet confess that they voted for Trump because “he takes care of business.”
by Nick Schager, Netflix Takes Aim at Jared Kushner: ‘A Tier-One Predator’ — Preying on the Poor, The Daily Beast, accessed March 9, 2020

Reception and critical reviews have been highly praised for the series so far. These practices, rent-seeking techniques in business sectors, including housing markets, have also been pointed out in highly acclaimed and awarded research and published books Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer and Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University Nancy MacLean.

There are a number of other in-depth documentaries on the subject of public policies and governing, state and federal legislators and executive administrations becoming puppets to multi-million dollar corporations and their Washington D.C. lobbyists. One example is the award-winning investigative documentary Inequality for All by Jacob Kornbluth. What has happened and is happening behind the scenes of private business-sectors mixing with and influencing state/U.S. policies and governing are NOT illusions, conspiracy theories, or Victim’s Complex. They are real and factual.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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