Texas Secession – Can Texas Secede?

I have a couple responses to the questions about Texas Secession. First of all, serious debate should not be framed as an Order of Secession, which historically has been a race-based argument. Instead, Texans should frame the debate as a declaration of independence, which historically has been a democratic argument. Secession, quite frankly, is an idiotic idea. Just ask the Federalist New Englanders after the War of 1812,  John C. Calhoun after the Nullification Crisis, or the now defunct Confederate States of America.

Can Texas Secede?

Yes and No. It depends on who you ask.

NO–According to most professional Texas historians–NO!!! (I don’t think you could find an academically-trained Texas historian that would say yes). According to historians, the Civil War settled the question. The bloodiest conflict in American history answered the secession question in no uncertain terms. And in fact, the United States does not and still does not recognize that Texas ever seceded. The federal government held that Texas was in “rebellion,” but never left the Union. If Texas tried to secede again, the cost would probably be the same in terms of lives, treasure, and extremely hard economic times. History indicates that the federal government would try to crush the “rebellion.” So called “Peaceful Secession” is a pipe dream. Just ask Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson what they do rebels who threaten secession. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln handled rebellion by projecting force–Jackson through the Force Bill and Lincoln through war. So technically Texas never seceded from the Union. They tried and they lost.

YES–According to Confederate sympathizers, Lost Causers, and Texas Nationalists, Texas can secede because Texas was an independent nation for almost ten years. It is true that the Republic of Texas was an independent nation. However, arguments for secession start to fall apart after serious scrutiny. This secession analysis ignores latter historical developments. Not only does it look at the question within in the bubble of Texas Revolutionary history, but it also ignores the input of the most famous Texans from the period. For example, Sam Houston opposed secession during the Civil War. The hero of the Texas Revolution believed secession to be illegal and a stupid idea. Plus secession gets wrapped up with the moral issues of slavery or a state’s right to protect the peculiar institution of slavery. If you don’t believe slavery and race played the most important role in secession then take a look at Texas’s “Order of Secession.”  It is probably the most racist, pro-slavery document that I have ever seen. There is no doubt that other issues like tariffs (taxation) played a role too. But slavery dominated the debate over secession.

Can Texas Declare Independence?

That is up to Texans. Viable arguments for Texas Independence might include democratic, environmental, and local resource arguments. The Texas economy is large and it would suffer tremendously if federal dollars and military bases were removed from the state. But, Texas is diverse in terms of agricultural products and industrial capacity. So in terms of business and environmental diversity, the state of Texas could be mostly self reliant. For example, Texas does produce beer, wine, oil and gas, sugar, rice, wheat, cotton, peanuts, fruit and vegetables, meat, and many other products necessary for daily life. Local control and more authority in Austin as opposed to DC could make Texas more democratic with people having more say on local candidates and concerns. However, Texas is not politically or ethnically monolithic and that diversity would have to be reflected in the government and  protected by the government. The most pressing concern would be the state’s ability or inability to protect civil rights and liberties, of which Texas has had a very mixed record. The historical record from the Reconstruction period, for example, is especially poor.

Could Texas try seceding again?

Yes. A group tried in the 1990s, but again they failed miserably. Ultra right-wing conservatives hijacked an organized Republic of Texas movement. Texas Liberals and Moderates were split from the organization and hard liners and militia types took over the movement riding it into nearest arroyo. The federal government ended up chasing right-wing militia wannabes in the west Texas wilderness. The current movement for secession probably will end up like the movement from the 1990s if it is run by the same angry white men. Texas secession would only be successful if all Texans, rich, poor, Liberal, Conservative, Moderate, black , white, yellow, brown, green, etc. agree that the federal government has seriously trampled on Texan rights. Race-based arguments criticizing “Obama’s America” will never unite Texans. Just ask Austin. Unless conservatives plan on cutting Austin and San Antonio out of Texas, then tax policy, spending, and race issues are not going to unite Texans together against perceived “tyranny.” The only way to unite Texans would be against actual tyranny.

What is the history of Texas independence?

The original Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico set in motion the Texas Revolution, which ultimately freed “Texians” (as the called themselves at the time) from  the tyranny of Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. Texans complained they were “the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions and [Mexico] hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrannical government.” Furthermore, Mexico could not protect Texan property and properly defend the state from so-called “Indian depredations.” “Obama’s America” has not displayed these tendencies. In fact, the American military is at the height of its strength. Special forces killed Osama Bin Laden after the President of the United States Barack Obama ordered Seal Team Six into action. There have been no military revolutions in the United States ever. In “Obama’s America” Texas houses the largest military in base in the world. “Weakness” is not displayed by the federal government in Texas.

“Corruption and tyrannical government,” however, are up for debate. In fact, this is a matter of perspective and subjectivity to a certain extent. Yes, Guantanamo Bay, the Patriot Act, the Drug War, unmanned drones, warmongering neo-conservatives groups like PNAC, illegal wiretaps, government invasion of privacy, and many other issues bring up serious questions about liberty and tyranny in the United States. But in no way, can Texans call President Obama a socialist and consider that a reason for independence. This idea can not be taken seriously by critical-thinking people. Texans take full advantage of the military-industrial complex, federal money for infrastructure, social security, medicare, medicaid, and many other programs that are forms of socialism. Perhaps, it isn’t Stalinism, but it is what I call Socialism “Light.” For this Texan to take this socialist epitaph seriously, Texans must quit suckling from federal tits. Governor Rick “Good Hair” Perry is a perfect example of this inability to see the inherent contradictions in taking federal dollars while at the same criticizing the federal government.

Finally, if Texans do want to secede, then they should think about it first. Don’t leave because you are angry. Anger and fear blind people. People ignorant to the realities of the world make stupid and irrational decisions. Instead, leave because you are informed and leave because know you can make a better life for yourself and your family. That would mean approaching Texas independence in a balanced and inclusive way. For example, Texas should make foreign alliances before declaring independence. Securing trading partners and diplomatic ties would be imperative. Relationships with Mexico, France, Great Britain, Russia, China, Canada, Japan, Jamaica, and the rest of the world would have to be established.

The debates over Texas nationhood go way back in Texas history. For example, they were heated issues for two Texas president–Sam Houston and Mirabeau Lamar. The subject should be taken seriously, but I am afraid it is being made into a political mockery by both the Left and the Right.

File:SHouston 2.jpg

(Photograph of Sam Houston. The first President of the Republic of Texas Sam Houston was an outspoken critic of Secession before the Civil War.)

File:Mirabeaulamar 2.jpg

(Photograph of Texas President Mirabeau Lamar, who was a Texas nationalist. Lamar Street in Austin is named after this proponent of Texas power and prestige. Lamar and Houston fought many political battles over the fate of Texas.)

Texas Secession – Can Texas Secede?

ACL Preview – Austin City Limits Music Festival

The Fall (Amazon Exclusive)

After reviewing the lineup for the Austin City Limits Music Festival I am ready for an interesting three days of music. I must admit I am an Eagles fan. And I am hoping for the hits “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Take It Easy,” and “Hotel California.” The Eagles reached supergroup status long ago in Texas and obtained Rock and Hall Fame glory in 1998. In fact the entire album Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 was on constant rotation in our house. An evening with “Lyin’ Eyes” and “Already Gone” would be commonplace.

Hotel California

Don Henley and Joe Walsh by themselves should be future Rock and Roll hall fame inductees. And I am hoping for some solo gems like “Life’s Been Good,” “Rocky Mountain Way,” or even “The Boys Of Summer” and “The End Of The Innocence.” From southern rock  classics like “Seven Bridges Road” to soft rock standards “Desperado,” “One Of These Nights,” “The Best Of My Love,” and “Take It To The Limit” the Eagles have been an integral part of my life since early childhood. So I’ll have to disagree with The Dude on this one. The Eagles are worthy! And I am looking forward to “Witchy Woman” and another “Tequila Sunrise.”

Come Away With Me

Norah Jones should be a great show. Her newest album The Fall included the electrified “Chasing Pirates.” And her lush vocals on “Come Away With Me” and “Don’t Know Why” are now legendary. Jones is a talented pianist and her music will be a perfect fit for Austin. In this same easy-going musical vein, I am excited about seeing the talented singer Amos Lee perform sweet tunes like “Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight.”

The Resistance

The Muse versus M.I.A. problem causes a little consternation for me. I am a sucker for dancehall, electronica, and Public Enemystyle beats with female emcees. So M.I.A. and her funky fresh posse are certain to bring chaos to Austin, Texas. At her last appearance at ACL, M.I.A. unleashed mayhem. The new album Maya offers some tasty singles to drop, including the feature track “Xxxo.”  And the crowd pleasers “Paper Planes” and “Galang” are always slamming. Yet I’m going to try and catch the end of MUSE because this science fiction infused rock band brings a wicked light show to accompany their monster jams. Take a listen to “Starlight,” “Uprising,” or “Knights Of Cydonia” for a taste of their sound.

Maya (Deluxe Version) [Explicit]

The Monsters Of Folk are my must-see band for the festival. The band includes M.Ward, Yim Yames aka Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and Conor Oberst and Mike Moogis from Bright Eyes. This modern-day supergroup has a country hippy sound reminiscent of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers. For example, check out the beautifully crafted “The Right Place.” And they have a couple of haunting stunners like the super hit “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.).” The Monsters Of Folk will have you tapping your toes and singing along to songs like “Say Please.”

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

I am also excited about seeing Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The National, Mayer Hawthorne, Vampire Weekend, and Broken Bells featuring Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and James Mercer of The Shins. Plus the great thing about ACL is a lineup full of Texas-based musical artists like Robert Earl Keen, Spoon, and Asleep at the Wheel. And finally, on a reggae note California stoners Slightly Stoopid and the American reggae band Rebelution add some good vibes to the lineup.

Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975

One Of These Nights

Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)

Broken Bells

ACL Preview – Austin City Limits Music Festival

The Top 40 Albums of May 2010!!!

Distant Relatives

May 2010 has been a fruitful month for music. Reggae, country, jazz, and rock music have been well represented. The Junior Gong aka Damian Marleydropped his long anticipated album Distant Relatives with rap legend Nas. The album features reggae, sick African beats, hip-hop, and spot on guest appearances by k’naan and Lil Wayne.

On the country side, Texan outlaw Willie Nelson strikes again with Country Music and Merle Haggard makes one of his best records in recent memory with the album I Am What I Am (Amazon Exclusive Version). And the Preservation Hall Jazz Band made an amazing album An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program (Deluxe Version) with guests like Louis Armstrong, Andrew BirdSteve Earleand Jim James aka Yim Yames from My Morning Jacket. And on the rock scene, new albums from Cornershop, LCD Soundsystem, and Broken Social Scene add balance to a nice month in music.

From Latin rappers Cypress Hill to African drummer Tony Allen (part of Fela Kuti‘s legendary band) to Texan musicians Court Yard Hounds(part of the Dixie Chicks) this months selection is diverse and full of wonderful sounds. Here are the Top 40 albums of May…

The Best of May 2010

  1. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley & NasDistant Relatives [Universal 2010]
  2. Merle Haggard I Am What I Am [Vanguard Records 2010]
  3. Willie Nelson Country Music [Rounder 2010]
  4. Various ArtistsAn Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program [Preservation Hall Recording 2010]
  5. Toots & the MaytalsFlip and Twist [D and F Music 2010]
  6. Jakob Dylan Women And Country [Columbia 2010]
  7. Tony Allen Secret Agent [Nonesuch Records 2010]
  8. Cornershop Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast [Ample Play Recordings 2010]
  9. Peter Wolf Midnight Souvenirs [Verve 2010]
  10. The PhysicsFuture Talk [The Physics 2007]
  11. Pretty LightsMaking Up A Changing Mind [Pretty Lights Music 2010]
  12. V.V. BrownTravelling Like The Light [Capitol 2010]
  13. Winston JarrettBushwhackers Gangbangers [Bigmore Productions 2010]
  14. Various Artists Something Old, Something New, Volume 5 [Penthouse Records 2010]
  15. Various Artists Big Stage Riddim [Penthouse Records 2010]
  16. Very Be Careful Escape Room [Barbes Records 2010]
  17. Various ArtistsSpecial Request, Volume 3 [Penthouse Records 2010]
  18. Mulatu Astatke Mulatu Steps Ahead [Strut Records 2010]
  19. Dr. DogShame Shame [Anti 2010]
  20. Radar Bros. The Illustrated Garden [Merge Records 2010]
  21. The Apples in Stereo Travellers In Space And Time [Yep Roc Records 2010]
  22. MGMTCongratulations [Sony 2010]
  23. Court Yard Hounds Court Yard Hounds [Columbia 2010]
  24. Caribou Swim [Merge Records 2010]
  25. LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening [Virgin Records 2010]
  26. Broken Social Scene Forgiveness Rock Record [Arts & Crafts Records 2010]
  27. The Kissaway Trail Sleep Mountain [Bella Union 2010]
  28. Passion Pit Manners [Columbia Records 2010]
  29. The Hold Steady Heaven Is Whenever [Vagrant Records 2010]
  30. Various ArtistsJoe Gibbs 12” Disco Showcase Volume 4 [VP Records 2010]
  31. The Dead Weather Sea Of Cowards [Third Man 2010]
  32. Gogol BordelloTrans-Continental Hustle [American Recordings 2010]
  33. Cypress HillRise Up [Priority Records]
  34. Solomon BurkeNothing’s Impossible [E1 Music 2010]
  35. GinjahNever Lost My Way [Digital Release 2010]
  36. Alan Jackson – Freight Train [Arista 2010]
  37. Judgement Day Peacocks / Pink Monsters [Judgement Day 2010]
  38. The RaftersAnimal Feelings [Asthmatic Kitty Records 2010]
  39. Jeff Beck Emotion & Commotion [Atco/Rhino 2010]
  40. SlashSlash [Dik Hayd 2010]
The Top 40 Albums of May 2010!!!

Denton Arts & Jazz Festival in Denton, Texas

Today I attended the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival in Denton, Texas. The location of the festival is a couple of blocks from the downtown square in Denton. This spot was originally an African-American neighborhood called Quakertown. Today Quakertown is a park where the people of Denton celebrate art and jazz music on the greens of the park and its surrounding facilities.

Denton has become a center of art, jazz culture, and music, especially since the University of North Texas’s music and art schools excel at honing the talents of countless musicians and artists. In fact the music and art schools are the crown jewels at the university. At the UNT showcase stage aspiring eagles played for large audiences, and many UNT talents appeared on the main jazz stage, such as the UNT Faculty Band and the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band.

Early in the day I saw Fortified Funk playing some classic jazz tunes from the Wes Montgomerycatalog. The trombonist in this band was laying it down. After eating some festival food I caught a portion of Island Boogie banging on steel drums. Then I crossed the festival bridge to see Dave Zoller leading his tribute band to Duke Ellington.  I got to admit this was a highlight in the festival for me because I enjoy swing music from the big band era. Plus this tribute band was full of top-notch musicians, including a horn section with trombone, coronet, saxophone, and trumpets.

Then I flipped the script and saw the local indie rock band Oso Closo at the Bud Light Courtyard Stage. This was a talented band. Both guitarists also played keys, displaying their versatility. The bassist sang, and so did the two guitarists. And all three vocalists sang together. The guitar work was good and the vocal harmonies very nice.

Later in the evening I saw contemporary jazz artist Tom Braxton. The saxophonist is a smooth jazz staple as seen in such songs as “Open Road.” The Dallas-based Braxton, actually from the Lubbock area, played several tracks from his album Endless Highway. I especially like his cover of the America song “Ventura Highway.”

The festival’s headliners Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton brought the house down with some Classic Blues. Barton has played music with Jimmie Vaughan for a long time. In fact she toured with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. Jimmie played the SRV classic “Texas Flood.” Lou Ann Barton joined Jimmie Vaughan for some intensely soulful tunes and a rockin’ version of “Boom Bapa Boom.”

Denton Arts & Jazz Festival in Denton, Texas

Graham Wilkinson & Kimya Dawson jam at the Mean Eyed Cat in Austin

This weekend I caught some music in Austin. I got in to the live music capital of the world at the tail end of the South By Southwest (SXSW) festivities, which features official and unofficial showcases that bring together bands from across the globe. I went to an unofficial show at the Mean Eyed Cat. This old saw sharpening workshop turned club and living tribute to Johnny Cash rocked Friday night as Kimya Dawsonand Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township played some great tunes.

Graham played some of my favorites including “Boys & Girls,” “Let It Go,” and “Polvo’s Martinis.” Christopher Denny joined Graham for a rollicking Bob Dylan cover with shredding guitar solos and wailing harmonica. “The Man in Black” himself would have loved this night of music. The sounds were as eclectic as Johnny’s tastes. From Dylan folk ballads to protest songs to country and reggae to rock and roll, Kimya and Graham kept Austin weird for another night!

Graham Wilkinson & Kimya Dawson jam at the Mean Eyed Cat in Austin

Keller Williams and That 1 Guy play Granada Theatre in Dallas, Texas

That 1 Guy and his magic pipe stole the show at the Granada Theatre this Friday night in Dallas. Mike Silverman aka That 1 Guy is a classically trained double bass player from the San Francisco Conservatory. He has developed a new instrument–the magic pipe. A seven foot tall collection of steel plumbing pipes and joints, orchestral bass, and electronics, the magic pipe makes some crazy and amazing sounds. You must see Silverman’s creation in order to fully grasp the genius of this new instrument. Crazy tunes like “Weasel Potpie” grip the audience and make them dance. Furthermore when he added a wobbling handsaw to play “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” minds were blown.

Like Keller Williams, That 1 Guy is a one-man band. Keller joined That 1 Guy at the end of the set for a rip-rollicking futuristic jam. Keller Williams plays bass, guitars, and a drum machine infusing funk, reggae, and psychadelia into his looping sounds. He also dubs his music live on stage. Williams picks brilliant cover tunes making them original compositions. Williams reggaefied Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” And Nirvana’s “All Apologies,” the Grateful Dead’s “Brown Eyed Women,” and Phish’s “Birds of a Feather” all made the setlist. Keller mixed in originals too, playing crowd favorites like “cadillac,” “Breathe,” “Freeker By The Speaker,” “Apparition,” and “Best Feeling.”

Keller Williams and That 1 Guy play Granada Theatre in Dallas, Texas