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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Supplement March 28, 2020:
Crowds Flood Dallas Trails During First Weekend of ‘Stay Home’ Order — Allie Spillyards, NBCDFW.com reporting (the actual camera footage in the news video is not just astounding, but very disturbing as well; watch it)

Supplement April 3, 2020:
With visitors still bunching up in parks, Dallas officials plead: Don’t make us shut them down — “It looked like a Mardi Gras party.” Hayat Norimine and Obed Manuel, Dallas Morning News reporting

Some Businesses Using Loopholes To Stay Open During Coronavirus-Related Shutdowns — Ginger Allen, CBS Local.com reporting

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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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Our Better Angels

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“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.
Though passion may have strained, it must not break
our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell
when again touched, as surely they will be,
by the better angels of our nature.”

President Abraham Lincoln First Inaugural Address,
Washington DC, March 1861

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∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

Back in the Fall of 2015 I had read some rumors and articles that one of my all-time favorite American, historical stories was being made into film. I was thrilled, elated this true event was finally making a screen-write then into full production. This true story is set during the 1970’s Civil Rights Movement throughout the old South, but for these two main characters the movie would begin exactly where it all began, Durham, North Carolina, 1971.

I thought about titling this blog-post Our Better Virtues, but decided against because Lincoln’s quote was just too spot on and appropriate for this subject and film. Although, “Virtues” would have inferred my own meaning, intention, and desires for human kind around the world. After all, every single living human on this planet has some virtues. They just have to choose to find them, bestow them liberally, and nurture as well as grow them. Oh well, “Our Better Angels” gets the point across just fine. 😉

I have blogged here several times about C.P. Ellis and Ann Atwater and the volatile, appalling events they both found themselves. In a February 2016 blog-post I wrote about expanding sympathy into deep empathy and how the two feelings, behaviors are actually quite different. The Golden Rule, “Do unto others” and so on, falls short of deep, impactful empathy. Real empathy requires much more than being self-centered or focused on one’s self. It requires putting yourself into their life, their shoes, and metaphorically (or literally?) walking in them 100-miles or more. It does not involve yourself.

This 2019 film, The Best of Enemies, starring Taraji P. Henson (as Ann Atwater) and Sam Rockwell (as C.P. Ellis), tells that story about finding and giving common, deep empathy for your fellow neighbor, your fellow human being. I finally had the opportunity to watch it and not soon enough! Here is one of the trailers:

Sadly and disappointingly critical reviews of the film have been average and unkind if not neutrally bland. Therefore, I am writing my own reviews and commentary everywhere I can. Why? Because I feel strongly it is important to point out a few things about historical, time-period films to less discerning audiences regarding authentic history, particularly scholarly history that seeks to gather all possible data, evidence, sources, and narratives… no matter their viewpoint. Now, for my personal review of the film, The Best of Enemies:

I imagine this film is horribly underrated and unappreciated by the majority of cinematic fans and specific “cultural” groups. BUT movie reviews will never change what Ann Atwater changed in North Carolina and the ripple-effects she and C.P. Ellis began afterwards during and for the Civil Rights in the 1970’s.

The fact that this film briefly portrays in two short hours what was accomplished in real life between Bill Riddick, Howard Clement, C.P. Ellis, and Ann Atwater—not to mention the Black community in Durham, NC—must be remembered. No matter what movie critics think about the film, and honestly, their trivial criticisms about its direction or production or script or acting do it injustice. Pffffft.

Real, accurate, authentic history is near impossible to translate/transcribe onto the silver-screen in a measly 2-hours or less. This unwinnable cinematic anomaly against movie producers, film-writers, film-budgets, then movie audiences and critics, should always be seriously considered when producing and releasing raw, historically accurate, socially-politically CORRECT and LEGALLY RIGHT Movements as the American Civil Rights, or other highly controversial subjects as the Holocaust or the U.S.’s 18th – 19th century treatment, extermination, and resettlement of Native American Indian tribes. Typically 2-hours or less will NEVER do these historical time-period subjects full justice.

Hence, when all considered, including reading and deciding the real worth/value of this film’s many bland or negative short-sighted or undeserved reviews, just remember this…

2-hours will NEVER be able to tell the full astonishing, real-life true story and relationship about and between Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis… which required and evolved over three decades! Ignore movie critics, remember the core and marrow of what the film is telling, portraying!

5-stars and more, every time, every day!

Did I emphasize 2-hours enough? 😜

Seriously though, I hope you will make the time to watch, appreciate, and support these fine altruistic, humanitarian films like this one and the stories they tell. They will at least introduce to you a starting point to go further, dig deeper into the entire contextual narrative, facts, plausible facts, and plausible probabilities despite there often being degrees of cinematic license taken to appease corporate profits, severe time-constraints, and/or film productions at the expense of truth and full historical accuracy. Please keep this in mind.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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