Friday, January 29, 2010

Gardening in Central Texas

You can have several gardens in Central Texas each year. A great resource for more information is Texas Gardener magazine. Here are some quick guidelines for planting a garden in Central Texas.

Generally, underground crops need to be planted in late February or March according to the dark of the moon. Above ground crops need to be planted in March and April. Stagger your planting times to help prolong the length of your harvest and give you time to harvest your crops.

Your warm weather crops need to be planted in April or early May for harvesting in the middle of summer. You will need to pay attention to the harvest dates on your particular vegetable varieties and plant accordingly.

The temperatures in Central Texas begin to hit the mid-nineties late in May or in early June. These temperatures don't let up until September and it is very possible to see multiple days in excess of 100 degrees in July and August with little or no rain.

If you want a fall harvest, plant in mid August. This will allow time for the plants to mature before the first frost, which typically occurs in late October or early November. Cooler weather crops generally need to be planted in September or early October for harvests as late as Thanksgiving Day and quite possibly into the middle of December in some years if winter temperatures are fairly mild.

You'll need to be a little creative when providing shade cover for your June to August garden plants though. The sun and temperatures can be excessively hard on the plants in your garden this time of year in Central Texas. You will also need to consider drought resistant crops due to sparse summer rains. One technique you can use is raised beds. These can work quite well since they provide a decent foundation for the attachment of row covers and will aid in the retention of soil moisture.

Happy gardening and have a great harvest this year.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Why US All the Time?

Why US All the Time?
Jan 22nd, 2010 | By Linda Brady Traynham |

I’m feeling surly and iconoclastic, so I’m going to ask: why us all the time?

Why is it that no matter what goes wrong everybody expects us to fix it?

How many billions have we tossed blithely at Haiti over many decades only to see it frittered away, confiscated by assorted inept warlords, or used for purposes contrary to the general beliefs of their fat-headed benefactor?

We haven’t thrown away enough recently? $1.4 trillion, or whatever it is in less than a year, with Obamacare being stuffed down our throats, cap & tax and “forced union membership” next up, Bailout #5 on the drawing board for the benefit of fat cats and unions, and trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see and we still think we can afford to rebuild Port au Prince and feed 200,000 homeless? Even if we could afford it, it simply isn’t our job. It isn’t our nation. We don’t want it. We don’t owe those people anything out of the “public” treasury.

Our soldiers aren’t stressed enough after six months in Afghanistan, back only a month, that they need to leave their families and go play in the mud as a change from sand and mountains, while Hugo Chavez complains that we’re putting troops in the airport? Yeah, nothing like a new source of misery and back-breaking work to get a fellow all relaxed and ready to go back and fight useless wars–pardon me, “overseas contingency actions.” At any given time one of my dear friends has one son in a war son, alternating with both sons there.

At what point do we realize we cannot be Santa Claus for the whole world? At what point do we show some compassion for our citizens and our soldiers?

Stop looking shocked and exclaiming, “But Mrs. Traynham! Americans pride ourselves on our kind hearts!” YOUR kind hearts are fine. My gripe is that from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli the government spreads around whatever money Helicopter Ben isn’t showering on Democratic voting blocks and friends at Goldman Sachs, et al.

We don’t have a rainy day fund. We don’t have a Haitian Relief Fund. We can’t even pay our bills. So what in the name of Sam Hill are we doing racing off to “rescue” Haiti again? You know what happens when you build on flood plains in Louisiana. You know what happens when you build on fault lines in California. What do you think happens in deforested areas on top of antsy tectonic plates in hurricane zones? They are not prime building sites. We have enough problems with upside down mortgages without trying to right upside down houses in perennial disaster zones. We’ve been messing with Haiti since the time of Woodrow Wilson and accomplished absolutely nothing other than increased debt.

The island of Hispaniola is one of the glories of the Caribbean and a favorite stopping place for cruise ships–or, at least, about two-thirds of it is. If the Dominican Republic can flourish on the rest, what’s the matter with the land of Papa Doc and at least four other unpleasant leaders with sticky fingers? Gee, do you suppose it could be cultural? What sort of people think they can make “cookies” out of butter, salt, sugar, and dirt? It’s a tropical paradise, for God’s sake. Surely they can manage to grow something on those denuded hillsides to substitute for the dirt. While we’re on that subject, the French cut down all the timber to plant sugar cane. Let them repair the damage and replant timber to prevent mudslides. The Dominican Republic is highly forested at 25%; only 4% of Haiti is. You do recall that the “dirt cookies” last year were in protest to the prices of food, not a scarcity of food? Nobody over in the DR was begging for the recipe.

Most of the buildings destroyed were built by the French. Hmm…perhaps we can blame all this on the French, something I am always glad to do, and let them pay for it. I never forget that France supported the American Revolution not out of any ideas of liberte, egalite, and fraternite but purely and simply to annoy the English, something they have been doing with great success for well over a thousand years and expanded to us.

Let us recall George Bernard Shaw, who received a begging letter: “Sir, I must have five pounds or I am ruined.” GBS wrote back, “Madam, any woman who can be ruined for five pounds is not worth saving.” It seems probable that he was merely living up to his persona of caustic wit, but I think we can make the case for real where Haiti is concerned: any two bit, twice by nothing, off-and-on dictatorship that cannot manage to find peace, prosperity, and success as frequently as soft-hearted Uncle Sugar has charged to the rescue should be left to sit there and contemplate the futility of what they have been doing for the last couple of hundred years and look around for better role models. I’ll bet those in the Domincan Republic are guarding their border carefully. As usual.

Don’t give me any, “But Mrs. Traynham! People are dying and hurt and homeless.” Yeah? So what else is new? There is a lot of that going on all around the globe. You ever hear of “triage?” The only thing Haiti has produced in longer than any of us can remember is more pathetic stories and emotional blackmail for more, and more, and more of our increasingly worthless money.

Somebody name me a single strategic interest in Haiti. Not even Kruschev thought it worth putting missiles on.

I am not, of course, an ogre. If your kind heart, Christian or otherwise, is touched by the plight of Haitians, by all means give until you have assuaged your grief, guilt, kindness, or whatever emotion is involved. My point is that our tax lords have no right to appropriate funds needed for and intended for other purposes, nor have they any right to send our soldiers intended for other purposes off to play Red Cross. Unless you want to set off another diatribe, do not ask why I did not say “needed for other purposes” when speaking of the armed forces. Iraq and Afghanistan want democracy the way we want Sharia law and we aren’t even taking enough oil to cover that consumed in those overseas contingency operations, far less making a profit, in addition to which the ROE (“Rules of Engagement”) make it virtually impossible for our kids even to defend themselves, far less win a war. In both cases I must ask: why are we there? What’s in it for our nation, our financial well-being, or anything else it is sometimes necessary to fight wars about?

I have no problem with volunteers rushing to Haiti or private donations made voluntarily. Obviously, I object vehemently to being made party to endangering our economic situation and our armed forces further.

Now, as Paul Harvey said in his later years, “the rest of the story.” Off and on for the past two years I have counseled, consoled, and encouraged a young man I taught to read when he was five; he grew up on the ranch and is very much extended family to me. Clay is 22 now and starting his first year in college this week. He took time out, you see, to serve his country… two tours, virtually back to back, in Iraq–with a month of Katrina in between. When I talk about what our kids–and they may be tough, trained Marines, but they’re still kids, at least when they start–have been through I know. I could tell you stories of what they have seen and experienced that would rip your hearts in half.

Clay came to me about a week ago and asked, very diffidently, for a favor. No, not for himself. For a friend since childhood from a very dysfunctional family trying his best to survive on his salary as Night Manager of a carwash. Audie was dossing on the floor on a sleeping bag in a small house with his father and eight half-siblings, all by different mothers. (Need we say more?) Clay wanted to know if he could borrow one of my numerous travel trailers to take just down the road to his mother’s house so Audie would have a place of his own to stay–instead of Clay using it himself, as I had offered. My heart aches far more telling you about these two young men than it ever will for a bunch of faceless strangers.

The answer was, “No.”

Because Clay is staying with his mother who has the world’s greatest one-lady house, and having him there is a stress for both of them, even though they love each other dearly. What do you do when two sons visit and your house is one giant bedroom, a nice big living room, one bathroom, and a very large kitchen/family room? I told Clay to take one trailer over to his mother’s house, as we had planned, giving him a private “guest suite” and letting her have a little solitude back, and another for Audie to use. The boys are stunned, awed, and so grateful it hurts. Audie is ecstatic over having his very own place for the first time in his life; he’s a couple of years older than Clay. It might not seem like much to most of you, a 32’ motor home, maybe a bit bigger, but to him it is his own private bedroom with a genuine bed, his own private bath, his own kitchen, heat/AC, and a separate table and banquette seating so he and Clay can talk or play games. It is blissful silence for the first time in his life. He and Clay have scrubbed it all but sparkling clean and are still working happily–another chore I had been avoiding. We bought it used and it was a mess. City water and electricity are available readily at his mother’s house.

For most of us here in the Bar that motor home is a place to spend a weekend at the lake in, perhaps, or good for a deer lease, but for Audie it is a dream he hadn’t dared consider. Clay has privacy and a place to study…and his mother, my friend of thirty years, has her home to herself except when she and the boys want to eat together or play dominoes. (You have to be a nut to play dominoes with Marolyn, who is a truly ferocious player.)

Think carefully, please, before you write yet another check for yet another anonymous disaster in some alien, distant land. Charity really does need to begin at home again and spread to our deserving neighbors who need only a little help and will pass it on to others in time. There is only so much money in the world, and I, at least, am not rich, at least in money. That makes it all the more important to choose my charities carefully. I know what will happen if I send a couple of hundred to Haitian Relief and give Sally Struthers or someone fifty a month to feed a child with no future who will spawn more starving brats in twenty years. Nothing I’m in favor of.

I also know what happens when I give a kiddo who is vouched for and can show what he has done with pathetically little the very small amount of help he needs. Audie isn’t my first “rescue,” you see, but my third, not counting Clay. Helping the boys costs me nothing; a thriving industry in Texas is buying used motor homes and travel trailers because more and more people are living in them–such as those who walk away from upside down mortgages and discover apartment managers don’t think they are good risks. I buy carefully, usually at fifty dollars a running foot, closer to a hundred for an exceptional motor home, and I expect to turn handsome profits in the next few years. It costs me nothing to let the boys use inventory I have about $3000 in…and the cleaning and small repairs they do up the value of my stock significantly. My regular readers know why I urge each of you to buy a suitcase on wheels you can live in should you ever need to flee a hurricane or a city full of rioters.

America grew great on helping one person at a time who deserved it and is dying from funding largesse to every bum, con artist, and “victim” with a hand out. Let’s get back to basics.

My next project is to think of something Audie can do around the ranch to earn a thousand dollars so I can sell him one of our nice older cars at what I paid for it. Why? Because I asked him if he had a driver’s license, and he replied with sweet, calm resignation, “No, ma’am, because I never expected to be able to own a car.” If that doesn’t hit you harder than a pack of Haitians, it does me. You can’t get out of High School in Texas without learning to drive, and he’s worked his way up to late afternoon and night manager of a three million dollar carwash (which I am certain pays very badly, given that he couldn’t afford an apartment.) Clay takes him to town and picks him up around his class schedule. That’s what friends do, even when it isn’t the most convenient for either of them.

Now you know where my compassion is. It is for kids with very little more than the Haitians had who try their best to earn a living. It is for the old folks I frequently donate half a dozen hens and a rooster to, thereby giving them, as I frequently hear, “Something to get up in the morning for. I gots to feed my chickens an’ gather th’ eggs!” Six chickens provide three dozen eggs a week, so the old folks–mostly black, not that it matters at all except they live in the country or small towns and can keep chickens–now have plenty for breakfast and the hope of the hens hatching new chicks. My extra roosters go to them for dinner. No…I don’t take such things off my income tax.

It was giving my tenants a fifty dollar break on their meager rent in December because I know what toys cost for their grandchildren…and telling them that so long as the rent covers the taxes on this place I won’t raise it. It hasn’t been raised in over fifteen years. Ordinarily I dislike seeing people cry, but not in that case.

You probably don’t live in the country or have “old family retainers” and their kin who need help, but if you look around you I’m sure you can find some American more worthy of your assistance than a bunch of nameless foreigners. Given that the average Social Security check is under a thousand dollars, if you took dinner to an older couple once a week with a graceful explanation that you had made more than your family could eat…or mowed the lawn twice a month for an elderly widow…or asked your pastor who could use your children’s clothes you were just going to give to Good Will or throw out…open your eyes, America. There are a lot of us who could use help who are too proud to ask for it and don’t have an “entitlement” mentality.

Cyrus of Persia lost his throne a couple of millenia ago proving “foreign aid” doesn’t work. No country ever went wrong doing the simple, obvious kindness to those who need a brief hand up, but don’t demand a hand-out. Ask the older generation how your family got through the Great Depression. The chances are good that a neighbor helped them, or they helped a neighbor who got back on his feet and helped someone else.

Linda Brady Traynham

January 22, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wall Street Thinks You Are a Jealous Little Malcontent

From this awesome economic website:, h/t to Jesse

Wall Street Thinks You Are a Jealous Little Malcontent

After thinking it over, and listening carefully to the discussion on financial television and the news today in reaction to the proposal for a special bank tax, I can come to no other conclusion. Wall Street thinks that the American people, who came to their aid after the collapse of a monumental and most likely fraudulent bubble, are jealous little malcontents.

They believe that the public wants to limit the bonuses paid by Wall Street because they are just jealous. Or stupid and petty. At least they wish to leave their viewers and readers with that impression.

That's the long and short of it. You, average working stiff and retiree, are just a jealous little malcontent who envies the great success of the financial sector, much like some foreign agitator who attacks the West because they envy its freedoms.

And you are seeking retribution, revenge. That is what this bank tax is all about, retribution.

An economics professor just admitted that he too feels a need for retribution at times, as an emotional response, but being a more educated fellow he sees how negative that is. Instead he proposes that if we must have some bank tax that we divert the funds received into a bank holding fund, a kind of a TARP II, to pay for future financial disasters. Forget about reform. The banks are too smart for it.

I would not call it jealousy or a need for retribution. I would say that the people as a whole have a sense of right and wrong, a sense of fairness and balance, a sense of outrage that is being held in check by patience, a remarkable forebearance, but wish to see justice done for themselves and their children, because it is the right thing, the only practical thing, to do.

But I can also understand why the Wall Street Bankers and the financial elite would see this as jealousy and envy.

Sociopath: (so⋅ci⋅o⋅path) a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

The most amoral, pathological son of a bitch I ever worked with, who by the way was enormously charismatic and charming when on public display, was a big tech entrepreneur from the Boston area. When his grandiose schemes started to fall apart, as much from the impracticality of his ego as from the fact that no one would trust him any longer, having senselessly betrayed everyone including his closest friends, he said to me in all the sincerity he could muster, "I am failing because people want to drag me down to their level."

And I can assure you, the halls of too many corporations and big government are infested with such power needing, neurotically driven personality types. This is what makes the rule of law, the Constitution, so indispensable.

This is not to say that their enablers, the financial demimonde, are sociopaths. They are doing what enablers too often do; go along to get along, say and do whatever is required for pay. Camp followers, as they used to be called.

And as for what happened, well, as one well-heeled, successful young manager advised, "Older people are easy to handle. You just scare them. Then they do whatever they are told."

In his mind 'older' was anyone over 40. And as for the rest of the people, well, you just play on their other emotions like hatred and greed and prejudice. He saw absolutely nothing wrong with this, and was so straightfoward and unabashed in this view that it made my blood run cold, because it was clear that he was not alone in this perspective. And it is obvious that Tim, Ben, and Hank did exactly this, and it worked.

And so now they hit the theme that if the banks are taxed, they will just find ways around the restrictions, and keep doing what they wish to do with bonuses and speculation, but may stop lending to the people for their commercial and personal needs, to punish them.

So there you have it. You are a jealous, envious, little nobody desiring retribution from your betters in the land that your fathers fought and died for.

And not only that, but many of your middle class fellows would agree. They would not think this about themselves of course, but about you, the other. The lazy stupid one. There is no easier way to elevate yourself in your own mind than to just put down, impoverish, the other.

And the banks and their enablers in the government will use this, and shape your thinking with it.

You cannot say that you have not been warned. Many times. Money is power, and in a free republic power must be restrained with checks and balances, with a continuing effort and vigilance.

"Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good." John Adams

There can be no easy truce, no peaceful resolution of the current crisis, until the banks are restrained, and the political and financial systems are reformed, and balance is restored to the economy.

"I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant." H. L. Mencken

Never allow yourself to succumb to hatred and a desire for retribution rather than justice. It is always wrong to hate, because the ultimate tragedy is that we become what we hate, we take the shape of that which possesses our passions, thoughts and attention, we adopt its methods and distortions, even if as in a mirror, until we too are misshapen and lost. And that is the real tragedy, how the whole world can descend into a whirlpool of madness, and become blind. So let us appeal to the law, and to justice, at every turn.

Mr. Obama. Reform these banks.

If not, in Mencken's words.....

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats."
H. L. Mencken


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Strategic Grain Reserves – Sold Out?

Strategic Grain Reserves – Sold Out?

related: Demand for Grain is Straining U.S. Supply – flashback

January 12, 2010
By Holly Deyo

I received a disturbing email yesterday regarding massive amounts of grain shipping out of the U.S. to foreign countries. Granaries that long stood idle are going full-bore. Miles and miles of rail cars are filled and ready to transport our wheat, oats and corn reserves for shipment out of country.

This underscores the Video of the Day we had posted over the weekend. If you missed it, at 2:55 minutes into the presentation, it explains how our grain reserve numbers are being manipulated so it looks like there has been no drop in tonnage.

We worry for our country during the next big disaster, whatever the cause. People who rely on their neighborhood grocery to fill needs at a moment's notice will freak when stores are empty. They'll realize they should have prepared long ago.

read the rest here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Texan Message to Terrorists

God Bless Texas!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Obama Administration Wants to Annuitize Your 401k's and IRA's

The Obama Administration Wants to Annuitize Your 401k's and IRA's

As a rule of thumb, the worst possible time to convert lump sum savings into a fixed income annuity would be when interest rates are historically low.

Although products may vary, this is roughly equivalent to buying long term bonds at a time when interest rates are likely to increase, substantially reducing your principal in real terms, and eroding your fixed returns through inflation.

For some reason the Obama Administration is promoting the idea now that there should be some encouragement for Americans to start converting their 401K's and IRA's into annuities, to provide themselves with lifetime income.

The effort is being spear-headed by Mark Iwry of the Treasury and Phyllis Borzi of the Department of Labor. Here is a paper written on the subject by Mark Iwry when he was at the Brookings Institution.

The essence of this paper is that distributions from IRA's and 401K's would automatically be rolled into an annuity providing a monthly income by default.

This concept is known on the Street as the handling fees for meager returns pork barrel pigfest. The Fed likes it because they will undoubtedly get a two year rolling chunk of the people's retirement cash to play with.

Perhaps just rolling those 401K's and IRA's into Social Security or the Long Bond would be what they have in mind. Somehow the panacea of TIPS with inflation defined by the government sounds probable. The drawback perhaps is that this would not generate the highest recurring fees for Wall Street and the FIRE sector, which have to be eyeing that 'cash on the sidelines' hungrily.

How about Patriot Bonds that are fully invested in Mortgage Debt formerly owned by the Fed, with some tranches of Commercial Real Estate to add some zest to the recipe? The Treasury can give this option a small tax break, which can be largely consumed by Wall Street fees and mispricing of risk returns.

And I thought that Greenspan's advice for homeowners to step into ARMs into the knee of the housing bubble was foul.

Here's a modest proposal. Raise the amount of losses from investments that can be deducted from income in one year from $3,000 to $20,000 for individuals and $40,000 filing jointly so mom and pop can clean up their balance sheets. And if they really want to jump start the economy, declare a tax and penalty exemption on the first $150,000 that an individual can withdraw from their IRA or 401K in 2010.

And for God's sake fix the Alternative Minimum Tax levels.

Does it seems as though I have barely given this annuitization effort a chance, a fair hearing, the benefit of the doubt, improperly assumed it might not have the best intentions of the American public at heart?

Are you serious? After Healthcare Reform and TARP? These people in Washington and Wall Street have no shame, much less good intentions, common sense, or a conscience. They are strangling the real economy, slowly but surely.

Instead of "Yes We Can" the slogan for the Obama Administration should be "Over 1 Million Fat Cats Served."

Retiree Annuities May Be Promoted by Obama Aides
By Theo Francis

The government is looking at ways to promote the conversion of 401(k)s and IRAs into steady payment streams after a significant decline in plan balances

(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration is weighing how the government can encourage workers to turn their savings into guaranteed income streams following a collapse in retiree accounts when the stock market plunged.

The U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments will ask for public comment as soon as next week on ways to promote the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams, according to Assistant Labor Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi and Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Mark Iwry, who are spearheading the effort.

Annuities generally guarantee income until the retiree's death, and often that of a surviving spouse as well. They are designed to protect against the risk that retirees outlive their savings, a danger made clear by market losses suffered by older Americans over the last year, David Certner, legislative counsel for AARP, said in an interview.

"There's a real desire on a lot of people's parts to try to encourage something other than just rolling over a lump sum, to make sure this money will actually last a lifetime," said Certner, legislative counsel for Washington-based AARP, the biggest U.S. advocacy group for retirees.

Promoting annuities may benefit companies that provide them through employers, including ING Groep NV (INGA:NA) and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU), or sell them directly to individuals, such as American International Group Inc. (AIG), the insurer that has received $182.3 billion in government aid...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Praise For Lee And Jackson

Praise For Lee And Jackson
by Chuck Baldwin
January 6, 2010

January is often referred to as "Generals Month" since no less than four famous Confederate Generals claimed January as their birth month: James Longstreet (Jan. 8, 1821), Robert E. Lee (Jan. 19, 1807), Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (Jan. 21, 1824), and George Pickett (Jan. 28, 1825). Two of these men, Lee and Jackson, are particularly noteworthy.

Without question, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were two of the greatest military leaders of all time. Even more, many military historians regard the Lee and Jackson tandem as perhaps the greatest battlefield duo in the history of warfare. If Jackson had survived the battle of Chancellorsville, it is very possible that the South would have prevailed at Gettysburg and perhaps would even have won the War Between the States.

In fact, it was Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British armies in the early twentieth century, who said, "In my opinion, Stonewall Jackson was one of the greatest natural military geniuses the world ever saw. I will go even further than that--as a campaigner in the field, he never had a superior. In some respects, I doubt whether he ever had an equal."

While the strategies and circumstances of the War of Northern Aggression can (and will) be debated by professionals and laymen alike, one fact is undeniable: Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson were two of the finest Christian gentlemen this country has ever produced. Both their character and their conduct were beyond reproach.

Unlike his northern counterpart, Ulysses S. Grant, General Lee never sanctioned or condoned slavery. Upon inheriting slaves from his deceased father-in-law, Lee freed them. And according to historians, Jackson enjoyed a familial relationship with those few slaves that were in his home. In addition, unlike Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant, there is no record of either Lee or Jackson ever speaking disparagingly of the black race.

As those who are familiar with history know, General Grant and his wife held personal slaves before and during the War Between the States, and, contrary to popular opinion, even Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves of the North. They were not freed until the Thirteenth Amendment was passed after the conclusion of the war. Grant's excuse for not freeing his slaves was that "good help is so hard to come by these days."

Furthermore, it is well established that Jackson regularly conducted a Sunday School class for black children. This was a ministry he took very seriously. As a result, he was dearly loved and appreciated by the children and their parents.

In addition, both Jackson and Lee emphatically supported the abolition of slavery. In fact, Lee called slavery "a moral and political evil." He also said "the best men in the South" opposed it and welcomed its demise. Jackson said he wished to see "the shackles struck from every slave."

To think that Lee and Jackson (and the vast majority of Confederate soldiers) would fight and die to preserve an institution they considered evil and abhorrent--and that they were already working to dismantle--is the height of absurdity. It is equally repugnant to impugn and denigrate the memory of these remarkable Christian gentlemen.

In fact, after refusing Abraham Lincoln's offer to command the Union Army in 1861, Robert E. Lee wrote to his sister on April 20 of that year to explain his decision. In the letter he wrote, "With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the army and save in defense of my native state, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed . . ."

Lee's decision to resign his commission with the Union Army must have been the most difficult decision of his life. Remember that Lee's direct ancestors had fought in America's War For Independence. His father, "Light Horse Harry" Henry Lee, was a Revolutionary War hero, Governor of Virginia, and member of Congress. In addition, members of his family were signatories to the Declaration of Independence.

Remember, too, that not only did Robert E. Lee graduate from West Point "at the head of his class" (according to Benjamin Hallowell), he is yet today one of only six cadets to graduate from that prestigious academy without a single demerit.

However, Lee knew that Lincoln's decision to invade the South in order to prevent its secession was both immoral and unconstitutional. As a man of honor and integrity, the only thing Lee could do was that which his father had done: fight for freedom and independence. And that is exactly what he did.

Instead of allowing a politically correct culture to sully the memory of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson, all Americans should hold them in a place of highest honor and respect. Anything less is a disservice to history and a disgrace to the principles of truth and integrity.

Accordingly, it was more than appropriate that the late President Gerald Ford, on August 5, 1975, signed Senate Joint Resolution 23, "restoring posthumously the long overdue, full rights of citizenship to General Robert E. Lee." According to President Ford, "This legislation corrects a 110-year oversight of American history." He further said, "General Lee's character has been an example to succeeding generations . . ."

The significance of the lives of Generals Lee and Jackson cannot be overvalued. While the character and influence of most of us will barely be remembered two hundred days after our departure, the sterling character of these men has endured for two hundred years. What a shame that so many of America's youth are being robbed of knowing and studying the virtue and integrity of the great General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

Furthermore, it is no hyperbole to say that the confederated, constitutional republic so ably declared by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and codified into statute by the U.S. Constitution of 1787 was, for the most part, expunged at the Appomattox Court House in 1865. After all, it was (and is) the responsibility of the states to be the ultimate vanguard of liberty. Without a tenacious, unrelenting defense of liberty by the sovereign states, we are reduced to ever-burgeoning oppression--which is exactly what we see happening today.

Thankfully, freedom's heartbeat is still felt among at least a few states. State sovereignty resolutions (proposed in over 30 states), Firearms Freedom acts (passed in 2 states--Montana and Tennessee--and being proposed in at least 12 other states), and official letters (Montana), statements (Texas Governor Rick Perry), and resolutions (Georgia and Montana) threatening secession have already taken place.

Yes, freedom-loving Americans in this generation may need to awaken to the prospect that--in order for freedom to survive--secession may, once again, be in order. One thing is for sure: any State that will not protect and defend their citizens' right to keep and bear arms cannot be counted on to do diddlysquat to maintain essential freedom. It is time for people to start deciding whether they want to live free or not--and if they do, to seriously consider relocating to states that yet have a heartbeat for liberty.

I will say it straight out: any State that will not protect your right to keep and bear arms is a tyrannical State! And if it is obvious that the freedom-loving citizens of that State are powerless to change it via the ballot box, they should leave the State to its slaves and seek a land of liberty.

I, for one, am thankful for the example and legacy of men such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. They were the spiritual soul mates of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. They were men that loved freedom; they were men that loved federalism and constitutional government; and they were men of courage and understanding. They understood that, sometimes, political separation is the only way that freedom can survive. Long live the spirit of Washington, Jefferson, Lee, and Jackson!

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Terror Alert Levels

Subject: Terror Alert Levels

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out.

Terrorists have been re-categorized From "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588 when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the
Bastards" They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they
Have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its
Terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in
France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability. It's not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to
"Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective
Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile and as usual are carrying out pre-emptive strikes, On all of their allies, just in case.

And in the southern hemisphere...

New Zealand has also raised its security levels - from "baaa" to "BAAAA!". Due to continuing defense cutbacks (the air force being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is "I hope those bloody Australians will come and rescue us".

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries"
To "She'll be right, mate". Three more escalation levels remain: "Crikey!', "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and "The barbie is
cancelled". So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.