History or Death

On February 24, 1836, during Santa Anna’s siege of the Alamo, Travis wrote a letter addressed “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World”:

Fellow citizens and compatriots;
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. Victory or Death.

William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.
P.S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.

Travis

He gave this letter to courier Albert Martin to deliver. The envelope that contained the letter was labeled “Victory or Death”.  The letter, while unable to bring aid to the garrison at the Alamo, did much to motivate the Texan army and helped to rally support in America for the cause of Texan independence. It also cemented Travis’s status as a hero of the Texas Revolution.

As I travel these United States, I’ve met many patriots who are in awe at Texans’ knowledge of their own history.  Texas children learn Texas history starting in kindergarten.  A full year is devoted to it in middle school.  The knowledge and understanding of our rich and self-determining past contributes to the character of our people today.  Texans have an independent streak.  We’ll take of ourselves, thank you.  We don’t need someone in a far away state to tell us how to take care of the vast lands that sustain the good people of Texas.  From rivers and lakes, to forests and prairies, to the coastal beaches, Texas is natural and beautiful.  We have industry, technology, and a massive economy.  We make our own rules, ones that work for us.  Texas is like this because we understand that no one can take care of you better than you.

Teach your children history.  If they don’t get it in school, then teach it at home.  Volunteer at your local school to read books on history or teach a lesson.  Donate videos to your local schools.  Help sponsor a reenactment or a trip to a museum.  The drive to have every child pass standardized tests crowds out frivolous topics like history.  Help your local schools bring history back to the classroom.

I grew up in the shadow of the San Jacinto Monument.  Countless time during my childhood I toured the grounds, climbed the trees, and picnicked by the murky reflection pool.  I may not have fully understood the history of that place, but I knew that when the people who are in charge of you are bad and awful, and there is no hope of remedy, you leave.  Even if you have to fight to the death to do it.  Am I saying Texas should secede?  No.  However, we must realize that freedom always involves sacrifice.  Sacrifice of your time, your money, your reputation.  What are you willing to give to ensure liberty continues?  In the words of the United States Declaration of Independence, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Show Tunes and Politics

Believe it or not, I’ve been working on several posts, but I can’t seem to get any of them right to my satisfaction.  My thoughts are all over the place lately.  Maybe too much is happening.  Maybe I’m not focussed.  So today I’m trying yet another post. It’s short, an easy read.

This morning I’ve had songs from The Lion King in my head.  Count yourself privileged that you don’t have to watch me dance to the songs in my head!  This one sticks out.  It’s “Be Prepared,” sung by Scar as he plots to take over the flourishing kingdom by killing the king and his son.

[Scar:]
I know that your powers of retention
Are as wet as a warthog’s backside
But thick as you are, pay attention
My words are a matter of pride
It’s clear from your vacant expressions
The lights are not all on upstairs
But we’re talking kings and successions
Even you can’t be caught unawares
So prepare for a chance of a lifetime
Be prepared for sensational news
A shining new era
Is tiptoeing nearer

I know it sounds sordid
But you’ll be rewarded
When at last I am given my dues
And injustice deliciously squared
Be prepared!

[Scar:] I will be king! …Stick with me, and
you’ll never go hungry again!

[Hyenas: {In tight, crisp phrasing and diction}]
It’s great that we’ll soon be connected.
With a king who’ll be all-time adored.
[Scar:] Of course, quid pro quo, you’re expected
To take certain duties on board
The future is littered with prizes
And though I’m the main addressee
The point that I must emphasize is
You won’t get a sniff without me!
So prepare for the coup of the century
Be prepared for the murkiest scam
Meticulous planning
Tenacity spanning…

Ah, the beauty of politics.  The lyrics of this song concisely say what is going on today in so many corners of politics.  Our leaders recognize that the bulk of the populace is thick.  They see the vacant expressions and recognize the lack of retention.  So they promise the world.  They only deliver the bad, but we quickly forget.  We are so easily manipulated.

Will you continue to be thick?  Will you continue to forgive and forget?  Will you continue to vote for the horrid representatives because they have money?

What Happens When You Don’t Win?

I’ve never met a person who enjoys losing.  Winning is in our nature.  We desire to be superior, to prove ourselves.  Recently, when speaking to a group of College Republican leaders, I reminded them of something that is contrary to our nature.  It is okay to lose.

Work for your passion, be steadfast to your beliefs. Do not sell your soul for a win. Hold your head high, though you may lose, you walk away with your integrity and your soul.

Obviously, winning is optimal, but what do we gain from losing?

Never choose your candidate, campaign, or side of an issue based on the probability of winning.  Character matters.  Integrity and reputation are easy to destroy and nearly impossible to rebuild.  Find your passion.  I learned this lesson the hard way when I volunteered on a campaign that I wasn’t passionate about.  Explaining my support was laborious.  It sucked the life out of me.  I constantly had to convince myself that I really was doing the right thing.  I began to come up with abstract reasons as to why this campaign was important, though it was a difficult train of thought to follow.  In the end, I finally admitted to myself I wasn’t at all behind the campaign.  Was it all bad that I spent my time and energy on a campaign that I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly?  Absolutely not.  It helped me better define my political philosophy.  I was able to have conversations with others regarding fundamental freedoms, hopefully helping them better understand liberty.  Perhaps I shed some light in an otherwise dark political realm and made a difference in a few lives.  I saw people begin to wake up to the truth. In the end, however, I was glad to separate from that campaign, ending the internal conflict that plagued me.  Working for your passion is always personally rewarding, no matter the outcome.

Regardless of a loss, your campaign reminds the public that you and your ideas exist.  Even if your candidate was simply a placeholder on the ballot, voters had a choice.  If we follow the logic of only running winnable candidates, voters’ choices will be severely limited and ideas stifled.  Many voters will vote for a third-party or unknown candidate simply to send a message to the political establishment.  We’re tired of the corruption.  We’re tired of the puppet candidates.  You’re guy may have name recognition, but he stands for nothing good and everything bad, and his Party affiliation doesn’t change who he is.

Campaigns of all outcomes have the power to educate the public and raise awareness of issues.  The human nature of a grassroots campaign lends itself to person to person conversations that can change hearts and minds far better than yard signs or billboards.  Awakening people to the ideas of lower or no taxes, self-government, personal sovereignty, and following the rule of law are positive steps toward growing the movement and the voter base.  With each election, liberty becomes more popular because more people have heard of it, thought about it, and talked about it.  They start understand it and crave it.

Naturally, every campaign makes mistakes.  Were volunteers plugged in quickly?  Was the legal paperwork filed accurately and on time?  Did the grassroots stay motivated and on task?  Which media worked best?  What ideas were entertained too long?  What platform issues gained the most support?  What scared voters away?  What motivated them to go to the polls and drag their neighbors with them?  What was the most effective fundraising methods?  What created the best image of the candidate?  What voter base did you expect to vote that didn’t and why?  Take the time to seriously analyze your campaign and you’ll make fewer mistakes the next time.  Don’t forget to look at the campaigns that had the unexpected win.  What did they do that pushed them over the top?

Losing never feels good, but there is much to still gain from it.  Take the time to analyze your work.  Next time, let’s win it!

Vaccines and Rick Perry

Until a few months ago, I was completely on board with vaccines.  Both my children received routine vaccines.  Even our two dogs and two cats got their regular shots too.  Personally, I’m not so good about my own.  Needles make me ill.  I’m fairly healthy.  Why go through it?  I never questioned vaccine safety or necessity.  I must admit, I thought parents who didn’t vaccinate their children were a bit odd, over-concerned, and occasionally paranoid.  However, I have always believed it is the parents’ right to decline vaccines or any other medical treatment.  Sometimes, it was a matter of religion.  For others, vaccines are unnatural.  They prefer a natural, organic, hippie sort of lifestyle.  Of course, some people thought the government was out to control, sterilize, or kill them.  Then there is medical corporate lobby that pushes vaccines on politicians, and an unreliable FDA that approves them with little testing or documentation.   Whatever their reasons, parents have the right to refuse vaccines for their children.

Governor Rick Perry doesn’t agree.  A few years back, he signed an Executive Order mandating that little girls receive the Gardasil shot, a vaccine that protects against an STD.  A what?!?!  Yes, an STD.  And yes, he mandated it!  In Texas, parents can refuse to vaccinate their children.  Despite the wealth of misinformation, children can attend public school without vaccinations.  At the time I was a strong proponent of vaccines, but requiring one without any option to refuse rings of Nazi Germany and concentration camps.  If you think that’s a hyperbole, think about the scenario for a while.  You have an 11 year old daughter.  She’s a bit boy crazy, but really doesn’t have much of a clue about sex.  You take her to the pediatrician for her yearly well visit.  You expect her to measured and weighed, and to have conversations about deodorant and healthy eating.  Instead your doctor says she’s required to get a shot that will protect her against an STD.  “Thank you, but I think we’ll wait on that,” you say as you snarl at the doctor for bringing up STDs.  You’ve raised your daughter to be modest and respectful of her body.  You have an open relationship with her.  You are on the path to abstinence and would prefer to deal with the issues of sex in a different environment.  Maybe you’re a bit naïve and a little nervous, but this isn’t at all how you pictured it.  The doctor responds that you actually don’t have a choice.  The government requires it.  She will get the shot.  Sorry that you disagree, but it’s mandatory.  It will be ok.  It’s for her own good.  Think of all the disease and heartache we can prevent.  Work will make you free.  Oh sorry, wrong propaganda phrase. 

If it were me in this scenario, I probably grab my daughter and run.  Unfortunately, parents didn’t.  The death rate for this vaccine is abnormally high.  I’ve seen claims of sterilization, repeated miscarriages later on, and other disastrous effects.  So it turned out to be a bad vaccine.  That’s not what concerns me as much as that it was required, forced.  No choice allowed.  Fans of Rick Perry say he saw the error of his ways.  I disagree.  He didn’t reverse his order when parents and legislators cried out.  The Texas legislator passed legislation overriding that Executive Order.  As a final act of his defiance of parental rights, Perry would not sign it.  It went into law without his signature.  Parents today again have choice and rights.  But not with the help or support of Governor Perry. 

Why did Rick Perry assault parental rights?  I have no idea.  Perhaps he thought parents were incapable of dealing with sex education and STDs.  Maybe he really thought he’d rid the world of cervical cancer and later be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Conceivably he had a buddy pedaling a vaccine that no one else would buy.  Maybe he’s a control freak.  I can’t answer the why.  All I can say is that it was wrong.  I hope parents remember Perry for what he is when it comes to parental rights.  Your children are the most precious people in the world.  None of us are perfect parents and we will make mistakes.  Those are our mistakes to make and the responsibility rests fully on us as parents.  We don’t need a governor making more mistakes for us. 

As a side note, recent personal research has led us to no longer vaccinate our children.  We’ve found the risks often outweigh the benefits.  There is a wealth of propaganda in favor of vaccinating, but one must really dig to find opposing facts.  I urge you to read and research.  Come to an informed decision, whatever it is.  I wish I would have researched sooner.