Today in Texas History – February 22

Image result for adams onis treaty

From the Annals of the Border – In 1819, U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spanish foreign minister Luis de Onis y Gonzalez-Vara signed the Adams-Onis Treaty also known as the Florida Treaty. Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in exchange for settling the long simmering boundary dispute between the U.S. and New Spain.  Spain was frankly interested in jettisoning Florida as it was already overwhelmed with wars for independence in South America and periodic upheaval what was soon to be Mexico.  The treaty set the U.S./New Spain boundary at the Sabine River and on through the great plains and Rocky Mountains following the Red River and Arkansas River – basically according to the terms of the Louisiana Purchase –  and then on west to the Pacific Ocean along the 42nd Parallel.  The U.S. renounced any claims to Texas and agreed to pay residents’ claims against the Spanish government up to a total of $5,000,000.  The treaty was short-lived as Mexico was granted independence from Spain in 1821.  Mexico ratified the boundaries of AO Treaty by agreeing to the Treaty of Limits in 1828.  The boundary stood until the Texas Revolution and the later the Mexican-American War.

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The Only Answer Republicans Have – More Guns!

Image: Donald Trump

Something seems different this time.  Maybe it is because of the articulate and formerly somewhat carefree students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS like Sam Zeif, Chris Grady, Jose Iglesias and Isabella Pfeiffer to name a few.  Maybe it is because they are getting support from their parents and the community to try to make a difference this time.  Maybe it is because people are truly scared.   Maybe it because Americans are fed up with legislators running scared from the NRA.  Maybe it is because enough is finally enough.  Maybe it is because they are tired of hearing the one and only answer that comes from the bought and paid for GOP weasels  in Congress and State Legislatures (and clearly some Democratic weasels as well to be fair).  And that answer is as always – WE NEED MORE GUNS!.

That is what our Reality TV Show Sick Joke of a President proposed again yesterday with his preposterous plan to arm teachers.  Only a complete fool could believe that having a gun in classrooms with our children is a good idea.   Teachers across the nation have responded to Trump’s proposal with scorn, disbelief and derision.

Red supports more safety measures for schools.  Sadly, we may need metal detectors and secure perimeters around our schools and we may need trained and armed licensed peace officers at every school.  We need to severely restrict access to semi-automatics the same way we have done for automatic weapons since the 1930’s.  We need background checks.  We need mental health services. We do not need guns in the classroom.

We don’t need a President who has kowtowed to the gun lobby by rolling back a regulation that would have added people who are getting Social Security disability for mental problems to the list for background checks, who purged about 500,000 fugitives from the ATF list and changed the definition of fugitive to only include someone who has crossed state lines to avoid arrest under an outstanding warrant,  who revoked a ban on lead ammo in federal wildlife refuges and made it easier for people to carry guns on public lands, who has proposed cutting millions of dollars from the national background check system.  We need a President who doesn’t need notes (see photo) to instruct him on how to behave like a normal compassionate human being.  We need lots of people with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and say that finally “enough is enough.”

Unfortunately, Red doesn’t really think that this time will be different.  A guy can hope though.

George P. Bush – Getting Heat from the Right and Left Side

Texas Land Commissioner and Bush family scion, George P. Bush is taking heat from both sides of the political aisle.  He is, of course, unloved to say the least by any Democrats who still wonder exactly how Uncle George completely flipped the political omelet in Texas with his election as Governor back in 1994 and have never recovered.  But now George P. is taking heat from the ultra-right not only for doing a terrible job as Land Commissioner but for a number of alleged ethical failings.

For an example of just how much he is loathed by the far right, take a gander at the Texian Partisan.   TP has chronicled George P.’s troubles with the Alamo restoration leading up to his planned resignation from the Alamo Trust under a cloud of suspicion, his secretive West Austin mansion held under a trust which GPB failed to disclose in his Texas Ethics Commission filings, and his false claim to be a “retired naval officer.”  Interesting reading.

In the interest of full disclosure, Red has endorsed Jerry Patterson in the upcoming GOP primary.

Today in Texas History – February 21

From the Annals of the County Seat – In 1902, Dalhart was recognized as the county seat of Dallam County. The name Dalhart is a portmanteau combining the name of the Dallam and Hartley counties as the town straddles the county line.  The town origins go back to the crossing of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad  and the Fort Worth and Denver line.  The settlement was first known as Twist Junction and later as Denrock derived from the names of the railroad lines.  However, when the postal service objected to the name, it was changed to Dalhart.

Photo from braggdavison.com.

Red Remembers

Red received the sad news that one of his first friends had passed away this weekend.  Red and John had been friends since first grade and although they drifted apart in later years – the miracle of the internet had brought them back together several times in recent years.  John was Red’s first real school friend – a guy who grew up just far enough away to not be a neighbor friend.  John was a smart witty boy who always had a smile on his face.  He was impossible to not like.  Red isn’t sure how we became friends – it was just one of those lucky accidents.

John was the first baseball fanatic that Red ever met.  As he once said, “he would have given up his first born to play second base in the major leagues.”  Red is not entirely sure he was joking about that one.  In sixth grade, when John finally got called up to the “Major League” at Northwest Little League – it seemed everyone was very happy and knew that he had been overlooked for others with less talent and maybe more aggressive parents.  In today’s much more organized environment he would have stuck with baseball and probably played through high school.  He had some real talent.   Red remembers how that talent translated into gym class.  When we would play dodge ball (or bombardment as we called it), John’s technique was to stand in the middle and catch everything that was thrown at him and get the other guy out.  He rarely missed one.

John was also Red’s first golfing buddy.  Neither John nor Red were particularly good at the game but we always had a lot of fun on the course. And during those rounds, Red learned that John had a lot more insight into the adult world than Red.  It seems John’s Dad clued him into some of the guy stuff that Red’s Dad never talked about.

One last memory.  When Red and John were in sixth grade, we decided to host the year end talent show.  We were inspired by the Smothers Brothers and took our act on to the Cafetorium stage in front of the whole school.  As Red recalls it involved Red playing an old man for one part and John doing his Arnold Palmer impression.  John even had a little toy music box type guitar and brought the house down when in the middle of the program he had everyone rise for the National Anthem and then cranked the little music box guitar instead.  Oh for a videotape of that performance.

Goodbye John, Red will miss you.  You were the epitome of a nice guy.

Today in Texas History – February 19

Plummer, Rachel Biography

From the Annals of the Captives – In 1838, Rachel Plummer was reunited with her husband after spending over a year as a Comanche captive. She and her son and three others were kidnapped in a raid on Fort Parker at the headwaters of the Navasota River.  Plummer was taken along with the most famous Texas captive her cousin Cynthia Ann Parker.   Plummer wrote that “one minute the fields (in front of the fort) were clear, and the next moment, more Indians than I dreamed possible were in front of the fort.”  After being returned to her family, Plummer wrote a book about her experience entitled Rachael Plummer’s Narrative of Twenty One Months Servitude as a Prisoner Among the Commanchee Indians. Plummer’s book is considered one of the most insightful accounts of Comanche culture and mindset while still at the height of their powers.  Sadly, Plummer died shortly after her reunification with her family.

Another Mass School Shooting

Red is fairly numb to these events nowadays.  At one point in his life, a mass shooting where 17 students and teachers were killed would be an unbelievable tragedy – shaking Red and others to the core.  But these events are so commonplace now that the news cycle moves on rather quickly and Red’s ability to process exactly how deranged our society is diminished and his contempt for the vast majority of our political class is already overloaded.

Here is how it goes. First come the worthless thoughts and well-meaning prayers that will do absolutely nothing to prevent the seemingly inevitable future tragedy that will destroy more lives.  Then the calls for action that will be unheard.  Then the tired old platitudes about a “good guy with a gun” and how now is not the time . . .   Then the calls for legislation that go nowhere.  Then the claims of political opportunism.  Then slow fade to black – until the next time.  Rinse and repeat.  Always repeat.

Please spare Red from more demagoguery about your precious rights.  He grew up in the shadow of the worst mass shooting (up to that point) in U.S. history.  The 1966 UT Tower massacre now pales in comparison to what occurs on a monthly basis all across the U.S.  How many would have died that hot August day if there had been easy access to a semi-automatic with a bump stock.  If you think owning an AR-15 so that you can have fun shooting on the range is more important than the lives of 17 students and teachers in Florida then you should get in your car, drive to Florida and have the courage to face those families and say “So sorry about your child, but you see shooting one of these weapons is just so much damn fun, that it would be horrible to have that right taken away from me.  Again, too bad about your dead kid. Thoughts and prayers, y’all!”

And spare Red the empty words from the White House about being there for the victims and their families.  You are not there. You will not be there.  You will not propose legislation.  You will not tighten controls.  You will not provide for more mental health services.  You will not support background checks.  You will not support a ban on automatic weapons. You will pander to your base.  You will run scared from the NRA.  You will claim a righteous defense of the Second Amendment.   You will do nothing because when it comes right down to it you are a cowardly bully.

Red has to go vomit now.