Monday, July 25, 2011

1% Equals 90%

In America one percent of the population holds ninety percent of the wealth. This is by far the highest concentration of wealth in our history. Economic equality is being pushed to the limit.

How has this happened? One word: taxes. Our tax structure with its loopholes, deductions and write offs favor the wealthy. In Congress today individual and corporate lobbyists spend millions of dollars lobbying for no changes to our tax code. The middle and lower income earners in America are now picking up more and more of the country’s tab. The battle for the debt ceiling, an issue in the past that has been a non-issue in over 60 prior debt ceiling adjustments, is now in the forefront of this battle between who pays and who does not pay.

Simply, the Democrats want a sharing of the tab – spending cuts for mostly the poor and tax increases for mostly the rich. While the Republicans want spending cuts and no tax increases. The bottom line when all is said and done, the average American taxpayer will pick up the tab and the wealthy 1% will get even richer. Let them eat cake.

This leads us to our Jack Ass of the Month – one big Jack Ass, our Federal Government , are they really representing us? The American people reduce their spending to pay off debt and manage our finances in an economic downturn. Even corporate America goes without to clean up balance sheets. Does the Federal Government? No, it just keeps on spending, borrowing more money and printing more money. Our grandchildren will now pick up the tab.

QUOTE OF THE DAY - Larry Summers, as quoted by Fortune: "One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they're looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole." Zing! Well done, Larry.

SCARY: BANK OF AMERICA TANKING - "At $9.85 a share, down 26 percent this year, Bank of America finished yesterday with a market capitalization of $99.8 billion. That's an astonishingly low 49 percent of the company's $205.6 billion book value ... As far as the market is concerned, more than half of the company's book value is bogus, due to overstated assets, understated liabilities, or some combination of the two. That perception presents a dangerous situation for the world at large, not just the company's direct stakeholders. ... The risk is that with the stock price this low, a further decline could feed on itself and spread contagion to other companies, regardless of the bank's statement this week that it is 'creating a fortress balance sheet."

TREASURY EXITS CHRYSLER - L.A. Times reports: "The Chrysler Group bailout officially ended Thursday when the Treasury Department sold off its remaining stake in the automaker, and the final tally shows the taxpayers lost $1.3 billion. Italian automaker Fiat purchased the U.S. government's 6% stake in Chrysler for $560 million, formally concluding the $12.5-billion bailout in 2008 and 2009 ... Including Chrysler's payment of loans from ... TARP, the government received $11.2 billion of the money back. As it has indicated before, Treasury is unlikely to recover the remaining $1.3 billion. But Tim Massad, the Treasury assistant secretary who oversees the TARP program, declared the bailout a success."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Rick Blix (57), Pavel Datsyuk (33), Peggy Fleming (63), Dorothy Hamill (55), Monica Lewinsky (38), Ted Lindsay (86), Graeme McDowell (32), George McGovern (89), Bud Selig (77).

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS - "After more than a century, Walter Reed to close: "Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army's flagship hospital where privates to presidents have gone for care, is closing its doors after more than a century. ... [A] government commission ... voted [in 2005] to close the facility and consolidate its operations with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va. ... Former and current patients and staff members will say goodbye at a ceremony Wednesday ... Most of the moving will occur in August. On Sept. 15, the Army hands over the campus to the new tenants: the State Department and the District of Columbia. The buildings on campus deemed national historic landmarks will be preserved; others probably will be torn down. The city is expected to develop its section for retail and other uses."

REMEMBERING GENERAL "SHALI" - "Retired Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, an immigrant who rose to [be the first foreign-born chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff,] where he advised President Bill Clinton over military involvement around the world, has died at age 75."

SUMMER MANAGEMENT COURSE 101 – Selfishness, self-centeredness, self-absorption: what ever became of the Golden Rule? It has turned into “do onto other’s what you want to do onto them and the heck with what they want.” Perhaps managers and leaders should take the Double Standard Assessment Test.

Scoring: 1 = rarely; 2 = sometimes; 3 = frequently

- How often do you say, “I’m sorry” vs. expect others to say, “I’m sorry”?
- How often so you say, “Thank you” vs. expect others to say, “Thank you”?
- How often do you say, “I was wrong” vs. expect others to say, “I was wrong”?
- How often do you patiently wait for people who are taking too long vs. expect people to patiently wait for you when you are taking too long?
- How often do you go out of your way to help someone without their having to ask vs. expect someone to go out of their way to help you without you having to ask?
- How often do you give people the benefit of the doubt vs. expect people to give you the benefit of the doubt?
- How often do you give others a compliment vs. expect others to give you a compliment?
- How often do you root for others vs. expect others to root for you?
- How often do you acknowledge the deeds of others vs. expect others to acknowledge your deeds?
- How often do you listen to others vs. expect others to listen to you?
- How often do you take responsibility for your actions vs. expect others to take responsibility for their actions?
- How often do you accept no for an answer from others vs. expect others to take no for an answer from you?

Know any bosses, managers, friends, family who should take this Management 101 Course?

Our results next week.

Next week, finance and summer movie updates.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
July 25, 2011


Monday, July 18, 2011

Generation Y

The past three weeks this writer was fortunate to participate in two summer collegiate programs. The first a business camp for local high school seniors, this three week program had the students living on campus, taking courses in finance, marketing, accounting, organizational management, the end result a team business plan for a new business. This program entitled REACH is to prepare students for college; the majority of the students are first generation college students who learn about the social, financial and education demands of a higher education program.

The second program is an executive management certificate program for professionals and college students from Brazil. This three week program provides upper level college study in finance, accounting, marketing, strategic management and team building. The Brazilian students learn American business management techniques and team building, as well as English skills.

For me this has been a wonderful experience studying and teaching with new students to college life and American life. The programs have provided me with a refreshing prospective of this Generation Y (see below for Generation definitions). The world is far different now compared to my “baby boom” generation entering college in the 1970’s. It is a world of technology 24/7, future uncertainty in job prospects, high college expenses and debt, lack of trust in our government leaders – quite a contrast to my generation of simpler times: zero technology, a job (no worries), college was still expensive but manageable, pre-Watergate positive reaction toward public service.

In preparing for my lectures to these two groups of students I kept telling myself to “not screw it up”. I was concerned in some areas the students knew more than me; they can certainly text faster than I can. What can I teach these students, my generation has left them a real mess to deal with: high debt, college expenses out of sight, environment on the edge, public service a joke. But as I look out to the classes and see that sparkle and innocence in their eyes, the hope of better things in their lives, I can feel optimistic about our future. So I taught them capital financing, leverage buy outs, free cash flow and they enjoyed it, I think. But they also taught me quite a bit; despite all the negativity we see in the world, from these students outlook there is plenty to look forward to and accomplish.

Silent Generation (The Greatest Generation): 1925 – 1945

Baby Boom Generation: 1946 – 1964

Generation X: 1965 – 1980

Generation Y: 1980 – 2000

Generation Z (The Internet Generation): 2001 - present

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Dick Button (82), Bob Dole, Bob Dole (88), Thomas Friedman (58), John Glenn (90), Don Imus (71), Jennifer Lopez (42), Nelson Mandela (93), Linda Ronstadt (65), Garry Trudeau (63), Kathleen Turner (57), Mike Wallace (93).

CASH NO LONGER KING - NYT's Binyamin Appelbaum on pg. B1: "The number of dollar bills rolling off the great government presses ... fell to a modern low last year. Production of $5 bills also dropped to the lowest level in 30 years. And for the first time in that period, the Treasury Department did not print any $10 bills. The meaning seems clear. The future is here. Cash is in decline. You can't use it for online purchases, nor on many airplanes to buy snacks or duty-free goods. Last year, 36 percent of taxi fares in New York were paid with plastic. At Commerce, a restaurant in the West Village in Manhattan, the bar menus read, 'Credit cards only. No cash please. Thank you.'"

TOP TALKER : Andrew Ross Sorkin becomes a co-host of CNBC's three-hour "Squawk Box," in addition to his N.Y. Times duties, starting Monday July 18. From the CNBC memo, via TVNewser: "Replacing Carl [Quintanilla, moving to dayside 'Squawk on the Street'] on Squawk Box is no easy task, but we are thrilled to announce that Andrew Ross Sorkin is joining the CNBC team to co-host Squawk Box every morning with Joe [Kernen] and Becky [Quick]. As a CNBC contributor, Andrew has long been an extended member of both the CNBC and Squawk families, and we're pleased he will now be a part of our morning team. ... Andrew will continue to write his widely read column for The New York Times, which has an online partnership with CNBC, as well as help oversee DealBook, the online news site he founded."

CONNECTING THE DOTS - MAUREEN DOWD , "Why Are Prosecutors Striking Out? Another legal slam dunk turns into a brick": "Lately government lawyers have been busy killing their own cases, acting like fumbling farm teams at the show. The latest prosecutorial implosion took place in federal court here on Thursday. Justice Department lawyers spent millions in these penurious times preparing a case with 45 witnesses against Roger Clemens, charging him with lying to Congress about using steroids and human growth hormone. ... Clemens may benefit from the double jeopardy rule, and the case could disappear. But like Casey Anthony and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he will not be seen as an innocent. ... I watched Clemens on the first day of testimony. As he entered the courtroom with gelled hair and a gray suit, he still had a shadow of swagger left from the glory days. Determined to show the opposite of 'roid rage, he sat calmly at the defense table, not reacting to anything either side said."

"Patrick Kennedy weds on Cape" - Boston Globe: "Former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, the 44-year-old son of late US Senator Ted Kennedy, married New Jersey school teacher Amy Petitgout Saturday in a small, private ceremony at the Kennedys' Cape Cod compound. The late afternoon event was attended by family and a few close friends, and US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer officiated. Patrick's older brother, Ted Kennedy Jr., was best man, and his sister Kara, mother Joan, and stepmom Vicki, were all there for the happy occasion. Guests included Frank DiPaolo Jr., the 104-year-old former doorkeeper at the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Since leaving Congress in January, Kennedy has been named a visiting fellow at Brown University and has campaigned to improve brain research."


Last Weeks' answer… C, no penalty.

Next week, Jack Ass of the month.

Until next Monday, Chao.

Claremont, CA
July 18, 2011


Monday, July 11, 2011

All Star Break

It is Major League Baseball All Star Break this coming week, the traditional midpoint of the summer. At this midpoint it is time to assess a few things.

MLB LEADERS: Here is a comparison to what Rink Rats predicted the division winners for 2011 would be to who the actual leaders are at the All Star Break:

Rink Rats preseason picks:

American League - Boston, Detroit, Texas

National League - Atlanta, Cincinnati, San Francisco

Actual at All Star break:

American - Boston, Detroit, Texas

National - Philadelphia, Milwaukee/St. Louis, San Francisco

So far so good.

SHOCK POLL: U.S. IN PERMANENT DECLINE? - The CBS News/NYT poll found that more than a third of adults (39 percent) now believe the United States has entered a period of "permanent" economic decline. The problem with numbers like these is that while not based in any empirical fact (the U.S. economy is growing, albeit slowly) they can easily become self-fulfilling at a time when lack of confidence is among the tightest shackles holding the economy back. The poll also confirmed that foreign policy will play a very limited role in 2012 ...

The "economy" at 26 percent and "jobs" at 27 percent were the only issues that registered double digits as among the "most important problems" facing the nation. Afghanistan clocked in at 1 percent. All of this underscores that President Obama could eliminate every terrorist on earth and turn Afghanistan and Libya into romantic vacation destinations and it won't make any difference if the U.S. economy doesn't turn north more quickly.

ALL STAR BREAK ECONOMICS - "Gas is 24 cents/gallon cheaper than Memorial Day," by AP Energy Writer Chris Kahn: "Gasoline prices usually peak in the summer. This year, ...they peaked on May 5. ... The national average now stands at $3.55 per gallon. That's the cheapest gasoline has been since late March [but] higher for this time of year than any other year except 2008."

So here’s where we stand at the midpoint of the year:

• S&P 500: +5.0% in the first half; -0.4% in the second quarter.
• Dow: +7.2% in the first half; +0.8% in the second quarter.
• Nasdaq: +4.5% in the first half; -0.3% in the second quarter.

GOT GOLD? Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman, "America and Europe sinking together": "Both the US and the European Union have public finances that are out of control and political systems that are too dysfunctional to fix the problem. America and Europe are in the same sinking boat. ... On both sides of the Atlantic, it is now clear that much of the economic growth of the pre-crisis years was driven by an unsustainable and dangerous boom in credit. In the US it was homeowners who were at the center of the crisis; in Europe, it was entire countries like Greece and Italy that took advantage of low interest rates to borrow unsustainably. ... Populist movements are on the rise - whether it is the Tea Party in the US or the Dutch Freedom party or True Finns in Europe. ... The similarities ...; are now more striking than the differences - mounting debt, a weak economy, an increasingly expensive and unreformable welfare state, fear for the future and political gridlock are the common points."

SHOCK: INCREDIBLE CALIFORNIA PAY NUMBERS - Exclamation points added to indicate the level to which R.R.'s jaw dropped as he read this astounding article by LATimes' Jack Dolan: "More than 1,400 state employees were paid in excess of $200,000 last year, according to compensation data made public for the first time Tuesday ... Of those, 790 were prison doctors, dentists or nurses. More than 300 others were psychiatrists and other medical professionals working for the Department of Mental Health. One prison doctor collected $777,423 [!!] in 2010 and a dentist took home $599,403 [!!!] ... The president of the state's stem cell research agency received $482,234. ... A prison psychiatrist, Fong Lai, received $594,976 for more than 2 1/2 years’ worth of unused sick time [!!!!]. A prison dentist, Robert Stogsdill, got a $553,253 payout."

TIME cover, "THE FUTURE OF FISH: Can farming save the last wild food? ... The End of the Line," by Bryan Walsh: "Humans have been raising some fish in farms for almost as long as we've been fishing, beginning with Chinese fishponds 4,000 years ago. But it's only in the past 50 years that aquaculture has become a true industry. ... Today about half the seafood consumed around the world comes from farms ... The rapid growth of aquaculture has been accompanied by environmental costs. ... But unless you can convince 1.3 billion Chinese - not to mention everyone else in a growing world - that they don't deserve the occasional sushi roll, aquaculture will keep growing."

Newsweek's "First Annual Rankings" of colleges - BEST SCHOOLS FOR FUTURE POWER BROKERS (takes into account future presidents and senators, Fortune 100 CEOs, Forbes billionaires, undergrads going to top grad schools ("After Harvard and Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, which includes the topnotch Wharton School ['world's first collegiate business school'], has graduated the most billionaires"):

#1 Harvard, #2 Yale, #3 Columbia, #4 Stanford, #5 Princeton, #6 Penn, #7 Duke, #8 Georgetown, #9 U.Va., #10 University of Chicago, #11 Dartmouth, #12 University of Arizona, #13 Chapel Thrill, #14 MIT, #15 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, #16 Notre Dame, #17 Williams (Williamstown, Mass.), #18 Northwestern (Ill.), #19 USC (the one in California) ... #20 Amherst (Mass.) ... #21 William & Mary (Va.) .. #22 West Point ... #23 Washington University (St. Louis) ... #24 Bowdoin (Maine) ... #25 University of Wisconsin (Madison).

--MIA: St. Lawrence University (Canton, N.Y.), University of La Verne (La Verne, CA), Plattsburgh State University (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) and THE Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio).

These people live among us … a sample of letters we have received the last few months at Rink Rats:

A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid-twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I’ve never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?

What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence on My VCR?

I have a man I can’t trust. He cheats so much, I’m not even sure the baby I’m carrying is his.

I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It’s getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don’t know him well enough to discuss money with him.

I joined the Navy to see the world. I’ve seen it. Now how do I get out?

I was married to Bill for three months and I didn’t know he drank until one night he came home sober.

You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband lost all interest in sex and he is a doctor. Now what do I do?

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Bill Cosby (74), Alex Karras (76), Cindy King (59), Anna Quindlen (59), Sela Ward (55).

REMEMBERING BETTY FORD - "First lady inspired others with her personal battles: The outspoken, candid wife of President Ford helped lift taboos on addiction and cancer," by Marlene Cimons: "She was 93. Ford died Friday at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage [Calif.] ... The cause was not given. As wife of Gerald R. Ford, ... she spent a brief, yet remarkable time as the nation's first lady. But after he left office and even after his death in 2006 at 93, she had considerable influence as founder of the widely emulated Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage for the treatment of chemical dependencies."

--Betty Ford appeared on the cover of TIME three times: Dec. 17, 1973, "The New Second Family" ... Oct 7, 1974, "The Ordeal of Political Wives" (also Pat Nixon and Joan Kennedy) ... Jan 5, 1976, "Women of the Year".

Greg’s ball came to rest against a rake lying next to a bunker. Greg moved the rake in order to hit the ball without also hitting the rake. Greg's movement of the rake caused the ball to also move. Chip said the ball movement by Greg should result in a one stroke penalty.

What is the correct ruling?
A. Two stroke penalty. Greg improved his lie when he moved the rake and moved his ball, two stoke penalty.

B. One stroke penalty. Greg moved his ball, even though inadvertently, one stroke penalty.

C. No penalty, Greg moved the ball inadvertently while moving a movable obstruction, no penalty. Replace the ball and play on.

The answer…next week.

Next week, summer management school and the words of the month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
July 11, 2011


Monday, July 4, 2011

July 1-4, 1863

In July of 1863, General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia of 75,000 men and the 97,000 man Union Army of the Potomac, under George G. Meade, concentrated together at Gettysburg and fought the Battle of Gettysburg.

Of the more than 2,000 land engagements of the Civil War, Gettysburg ranks supreme. Although the Battle of Gettysburg did not end the war, it was the great battle of the war, marking the point when the ultimate victory of the North over the South became clear to both sides alike.

To celebrate our Independence Day Rink Rats offers a history lesson. Here at Gettysburg, on July 1, 2, and 3, 1863, more men fought and died than in any other battle in American history.

In taking his army north from the Rappahannock, General Lee's objective was to induce the Union Army to disperse across a broad front along the Mason-Dixon line, and then, by maneuver, draw it to a point far from its base of supply where it could be attacked and beaten in detail. In the execution of this operation, the three corps of the Rebel army marched from the vicinity of Culpeper Courthouse into the Shenandoah Valley and across the Potomac at Williamsport and Sheperdstown. Once in the Cumberland Valley, Ewell's corps, leading the invasion, marched to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. There, CSA General Jubal Early's division turned east and, passing through the South Mountain at the Cashtown Gap, marched past Gettysburg to York while General Ewell, with Rodes's and Johnson's divisions, marched to Carlisle, sending one brigade forward to the Susquehanna in front of Harrisburg. Confederate General A.P. Hill's corps, and General Longstreet's, followed Ewell as far as Chambersburg, arriving there, on June 27, and went into camp.

On June 25, when it became clear to its commander, General Joseph Hooker US, that the enemy was crossing the Potomac west of the Blue Ridge, the Union army, scattered about the Manassas plain, marched to Leesburg and crossed the river at Edward's Ferry, moving west to Frederick, Maryland, and into the Middletown Valley to block the anticipated movement of the enemy east through Turner's Gap. Two days later, realizing from reports received that the enemy had reached the Susquehanna River at two points—Harrisburg and Wrightsville—Hooker demanded that President Lincoln give him command of additional forces in order to move north toward the enemy. When Lincoln refused Hooker abruptly resigned and George G. Meade stepped into his place. Meade immediately ordered the army to march, in six columns, northeastward toward the line of Pipe Creek, the 1st, 3rd and 11th corps taking position between Emittsburg and Taneytown, the 2nd, 5th, and 6th corps taking position between Taneytown and Manchester.

In the night of June 30, Meade received word from Washington that the enemy forces on the Susquehanna had fallen back and seemed to moving in three directions toward Gettysburg. Meade ordered his army to prepare for a defensive battle behind Pipe Creek and sent John Reynolds, commander of the 1st Corps, supported by the 11th and 3rd Corps, to move toward Gettysburg; with the mission of retarding the anticipated movement of the enemy toward Pipe Creek, if possible, and then fall back. Because Reynolds did not encounter any infantry force approaching, he marched on to Gettysburg and hurriedly formed his corps into a battle line just west of the town, and soon was engaged with A.P. Hill's corps, marching out from the Cashtown Gap.

July 1 - Day 1

The Confederate 1st Corps and General A.P. Hill's corps grappled along McPherson's Ridge for several hours. Early in the struggle, Reynolds was killed by a sniper's bullet to the brain, and O.O. Howard, commander of the 11th Corps, assumed command. At the time the 11th Corps arrived, two of Ewell's divisions—Rodes and Early—appeared on the right flank of the Union line and attacked. This forced Howard to form a battle line perpendicular to the fighting front of the 1st Corps. The combined rebel pressure against the hinge connecting the two Union lines resulted in Union resistance collapsing and a general retreat commenced, the Union forces running pell-mell through the streets of Gettysburg and up to the heights of Cemetery Hill. The rebel forces under Hill and Ewell pursued, but, worn out and disorganized by the battle, and without fresh forces immediately at hand, the pursuit petered out on the bottom slopes of the hill as night fell.

Learning of Reynolds's death late in the afternoon, Meade had sent Winfield Hancock, commander of the 2nd Corps, to Gettysburg, to take command from Howard. By early evening, receiving a dispatch from Hancock, reporting the condition of things, Meade decided to move the entire army up. Meade arrived on the field about midnight, followed by the arrival of the 5th Corps, the 2nd Corps, and the next day the 6th Corps.

July 2 - Day 2

On July 2, both armies spent most of the daylight getting set for action: Meade's army digging in along Cemetery Ridge which stretched two miles from Cemetery Hill to the Round tops, and Lee's army maneuvering into attacking position. Around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Longstreet's corps—Hood's, McLaws, and R.H. Anderson's division detached from Hill's corps, attacked Sickles's 3rd Corps at the Peach Orchard and crushed it, driving the survivors through the Wheat Field and Devil's Den.

While Longstreet's attack was in progress, Richard Ewell's corps launched an effort to route the Union forces holding Cemetery Hill, but his men found the steep hill difficult to climb, the Union fire power too strong, and, though their front reached the cemetery gate, they were forced to back down.

At the climax of Longstreet's battle against Meade's left, Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade charged into a widening breach in the Union line, at a cleft in the ridge, and was almost into the Union rear when McGilvery's artillery battery galloped up, unlimbered, and annihilated the brigade with canister blasts. Meade's old Pennsylvania Reserve division arrived shortly after and charged into Plum Run Valley, throwing Longstreet's men back to the Emmitsburg Road.

July 3 - Day 3

As the day before, the morning of the 3rd passed quietly, with both armies positioned on ridges about a mile apart. The silence was broken around 1:00 p.m., when the rebel artillery, a hundred guns massed hub to hub, exploded with a thunderous cannonade that lasted until 2 o'clock. The cannonade threw most of its shells over the Union line, the shells falling among the parks of Union trains in rear of Cemetery Ridge.

When the cannonade was over, a mass of 15,000 shaggy men in brown homespun moved out from the rebel position and began walking toward Cemetery Ridge, across the Emittsburg Road, past the carnage of the day before, and up the slight incline that leads to the Clump of Trees. As they walked, great gaps were torn in their line by Union artillery, quickly closed by men from a second line stepping up. At 600 yards out from the Clump of Trees, the rebel line shook and swayed, like wheat in gusts of wind, as the Union defenders let loose volley after volley of rifle fire. Then the two sides came together: patches of rebels, led by those of the 26th North Carolina Regiment, overran the stone wall at the Clump of Trees and grappled with the Union cannoneers manning the guns behind, killing them, turning the pieces, and working them—until reinforcements swarmed them from the Union rear and drove them back from the guns and over the wall.

The great gray tide swept back in trickles now across the field, the soldiers turning their backs from the fire as against the wind and walking. As they walked, they found General Lee astride Traveller waiting by the Emmitsburg Road. "Steady men, steady," some of them heard him shout. "We need good men just now, it's not your fault." In fifty minutes of almost hand-to-hand combat at the bloody stone wall, ten thousand men had been killed or wounded. The glory of Pickett's Charge was now history.

July 4, 1863

The next day, as he had done with McClellan at Antietam, General Lee—his officers protesting sharply—held his army in line of battle inviting Meade to attack him. Meade rode up and down his lines, counting his casualities, his ammunition, conferring with the colonels, and decided the prudent thing to do was stand on the defensive.

General Lee waited patiently, until near the twilight of the day when he was suddenly heard to clap his hands and exclaim: "It's too bad, too, too bad!" And then he quietly gave the order to withdraw, and soon his army was marching south, along the east face of the South Mountain, its trains already long gone into the Cumberland Valley heading for Williamsport. At the Monterey Gap, he passed his army through the South Mountain and took up a position in a bend of the Potomac, at Falling Waters, where he remained for three days facing Meade, waiting for the swollen river to fall. Here, Meade decided to stand on the defensive again and Lee finally crossed his army over the river.

With the failure of Pickett's Charge, the battle was over - the Union was saved. Lee's retreat began on the afternoon of July 4. Behind him, this small town of only 2,400 was left with a total (from both sides) of over 51,000 casualties. Over 172,000 men and 634 cannon had been positioned in an area encompassing 25 square miles. Additionally, an estimated 569 tons of ammunition was expended and, when the battle had ended, 5,000 dead horses and the other wreckage of war presented a scene of terrible devastation.

The Confederate army that staggered back from the fight at Gettysburg was physically and spiritually exhausted. Lee would never again attempt an offensive operation of such proportions. Meade, though he was criticized for not immediately pursuing Lee's army, had carried the day in the battle that has become known as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy.

The war was to rage for two more terrible and tormenting years but the Confederacy never recovered from the losses of Gettysburg. And through the deepening twilight of Confederate military might, all who had been to Gettysburg would remember.

Thank you

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Erin Burnett (35), David Drier (59), Tony Jacklin (67), Toby Keith (50), Sandra Lee (45), Donald Rumsfeld (79), Geoffrey Rush (60), Teemu Selanne (41), Ringo Starr (71), U.S.A. (235).

Next week, dining, cooking and Dear Rink Rats.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
July 4, 2011