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Someone has got to do something about this godawful mess, and that is why George Paul Kalas is here. He and a grumbling band of "Anglo-Celtic" Southerners have decided to salvage what they can of this country and to get the hell out. They hope to take the entire South with them. In the days of the Confederacy, that meant 11 states, but they figure they'll let 16 come along, or maybe 17, if one of them can think of something Southern about Delaware.
What's more, Mr. Kalas, who seems to believe he is a reasonable man, expects to do this thing completely unarmed. He is founding a political party. Protesting federal tyranny, he hopes to achieve his goal through democracy. Secession will be a simple matter of getting the vote out.
It's not funny -- don't laugh.
"Has anyone alerted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?" one scalawag wrote on hearing the news. On the Web, a group of Yankees chose to look at the bright side of secession -- collapse of the Confederate economy would surely bring cheap cigarettes, and cheap golf at Hilton Head, and maybe even cheap Southern labor coming up to mow Yankee yards. Not to mention that "civilized portions of North America will no longer have to worry about exposure to grits."
It's not funny -- don't laugh. Mr. Kalas doesn't appreciate it. When an Alabama disc jockey opined that the new Confederacy would be known as "land of the free, mobile home of the brave," that DJ was duly reported to the office of the Southern Anti-Defamation League in Columbia, South Carolina. (It could happen to you.) Mr. Kalas issued a press release. "In politically correct America," he intoned, the only ethnic group still safely ridiculed is the white Southerner. This is going to change, Mr. Kalas declared. "Southerners aren't lying down and taking this treatment any longer. Bubba demands the same treatment as every other Tom, Dick and Harry, and he's going to get it."
At 37, George P. Kalas confesses that he is a bit large these days to squeeze into his old Confederate re-enactor's outfit. He reports to work at Baker Hughes, the manufacturer of oilfield drilling equipment, where as a Webmaster, he spends the day staring at a computer screen. After work, he returns to a modest little house in a pleasant little Woodlands neighborhood. He greets his wife, perhaps strokes his Pomeranian, and then he returns to the computer screen, where he spends the evening. Mr. Kalas's little uprising has thus far been confined mostly to cyberspace. In August, the Southern Party will formally announce itself, and Mr. Kalas hopes that people attend his party's party. A dress code will be strictly enforced, and Mr. Kalas hopes that everyone looks good for the media. Perhaps a Negro will even show up, and if a Negro wants to join the struggle for a better tomorrow, that is certainly okay with Mr. Kalas.
One of Mr. Kalas's favorite lines is that Mr. Lincoln was wrong: A house divided against itself can stand. "It's called a duplex," he said. Secession can be achieved, if the secessionists will only unite.
But everything in Mr. Kalas's experience shows that Mr. Lincoln was right. Just as Lincoln had trouble with secessionists, just as Jefferson Davis had difficulty maintaining the support of the Confederate Congress, Mr. Kalas has struggled with his men. The Web is littered with the debris of their battles. They are trying to break apart from the country, but they seem only to break apart from one another.
Mr. Kalas's group is divided over the same issues that split the country then -- the role of blacks in society and the question of how that society should be governed. The root of the problem seems to be the nature of a secessionist: Each of the men has a pretty good idea of how things ought to be run. They are prone to disagree, and in disagreement, the secessionist impulse is to depart.
The problem is perhaps compounded by the fact that they are supremacist secessionists. If it is true that a secessionist is fundamentally antisocial, then it is also true that a supremacist is essentially snooty. Mr. Kalas seemed to think he was superior to the rest of the supremacists. Are they going to take that from him?
Oh, why couldn't they get along? Why couldn't they be smiling, happy supremacists holding hands? The supremacist secessionists fell into a great civil war, and at the very center of the conflict was Mr. Kalas. He was the loudest advocate of secession, yet his men came to suspect he was a federal agent.
How George P. Kalas became a rebel all began with a movie. This was about 25 years ago, before the neighborhood of his youth, Aldine-Westfield, was overtaken by Hispanics; before, as a Web bio puts it, "great Anglo-Celtic celebrations" like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo were "destroyed by the infusion of politically correct multiculturalism." Before, in short, the country went fully to hell in a handbasket.