Monday, February 01, 2016

Rubio/Kasich For The Win

The Colonel is loathe to endorse a candidate for President of these re-United States.   His backing of any candidate for any office has nearly always been the kiss of electoral death.

So, don't consider the following to be the Colonel's "official endorsement."  Rather, look at it as his objective, and not-so humble, assessment of the highest percentage shot at denying occupation of the Oval Office by either a criminal or a[nother] socialist.

Look, the Colonel gets it.  Trump is making all of our Great American hearts quicken with his politically incorrect and populist campaign.  The Colonel wants all of what he says he will do.

The problem is that the office of President of these re-United States does not have the Constitutional authority to do the majority of what Trump says he's going to do.   

For the last eight decades, our republic has suffered from the extra-Constitutional actions of chief executives (from both parties), drifting further and further from the safely navigated waters of (little "r") republican and balanced state/federal governance towards the rocks and shoals of dictatorial tyranny the likes of which drove Americans to revolution 240 years ago.    

The Colonel cannot, in good conscience, support a man whose manifest narcissism would inevitably lead him to disregard the Constitution.  Trump is a builder by nature -- he'll just build more government.

So, Trump is out.  Would make a great Chief Trade Negotiator.

The two men making the best case for limiting the scope of the Federal government and taking the strongest line in support of the Constitution are Senators Paul and Cruz.

However, Senator Paul doesn't seem to accept the notion that one of the foundational pillars of American Exceptionalism is a robust foreign policy embodied in the open hand of active diplomacy and the fist of a unmatched expeditionary military.

So, Paul is out.  Would make a great Chairman of the Federal Reserve. 

Senator Cruz has staked out a conservative, Constitution-defending position that warms the cockles of the Colonel's heart.  But, Senator Cruz will be hoisted on the petard of his own hard-line interpretation of the very Constitution he so fervently defends.  By the most conservative interpretation of the Constitution, he, being born in Canada, is not a "natural-born citizen" as required for election as President.

The Colonel recognizes that Cruz will win any court challenges to his eligibility, but the Republican Party does not need that drag on what will already be an up-hill battle.

So, Cruz is out.  Would make a great Supreme Court Justice. 

Doctor Carson is a great guy.  Brilliant and accomplished surgeon.  But his naivete reminds me of a certain peanut farmer from Georgia whose feckless performance in the Oval Office established the comparative floor of Presidential rankings.

So, Carson is out.  Would make a great Surgeon General.

The Colonel loves Governor Christie.  He would have made a great Marine -- or two.  But, Christie is a Northeastern liberal who would make Romney's anemic turnout in the evangelical ranks look like a tsunami.   

So, Christie is out.  Would make a terrific Attorney General.

Governor Huckabee and Senator Santorum are both great guys.  But, they have been running for President without success for the past two decades.  Give it up guys.

The Colonel salutes the only veteran, Governor Gilmore.  How would you like to fix the V.A., Governor?

Governors Bush and Kasich are the two men best qualified to govern as President of the United States on Day One.  The Colonel loves W, but, frankly, we elected the wrong Governor Bush in 2000.  Jeb would have not been nearly as trigger-happy and would not have selected Cheney as his VP, let alone let him have such unfettered influence.  (If you have any doubt -- the Colonel ain't a Dick Cheney fan, for multiple reasons not germane to this post.)

But, a third Bush in the Oval Office in a little more than a generation just smacks too much of hereditary dynasty.   And, the Colonel has come to believe that the Bushes are as big a fans of Big Government as the socialists calling themselves the Democrat Party.

So, Bush is out.  Would make a great ambassador.

The Colonel likes Governor Kasich -- as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.  Hold that thought -- more later.

Senator Rubio, for all his faults, makes the most electoral sense as the Republican's Presidential nominee.  He wins Florida and the South.  He attracts enough Hispanic support to make the Southwest and West competitive for the Republicans.  He is young and just visionary enough to appeal to the newest generation of voters.  

A Rubio/Kasich ticket is the only winning ticket, from an Electoral College perspective.  In order to win the Presidency, the Republicans must, in addition to winning the solidly red states, win a majority of the "purple" states -- i.e., Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia.  

Kasich wins Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Oh, and he was the Chairman of the House Budget Committee the last time the Federal government had a balanced budget.  

Hey, Marco, the Colonel has a great job for your Vice President!

The Colonel hears the faint voices of those asking "What about Carly?"

The Colonel loves Ms. Fiorina!  Wish she was from Ohio!  She ain't real popular in California and the Republicans haven't had a shot at the left coast since Reagan.

Rubio/Kasich for the win.

NOT an official endorsement...        

Friday, January 22, 2016

Brain-bucket Bounce

The Colonel learned early that being diminutive in stature was actually a marked advantage in his Marine Corps career.  

Always underestimated and overlooked, he flew in under the radar and capitalized on one of the more important principles of war --surprise

Being light on the hoof also had advantages in light of the Marine Corps' near-obsessive focus on physical fitness and appearance.

There were, of course, some obvious disadvantages to being a "short-round."  The Marine Corps prides itself on its thrift and under-reliance on technology.  Any motorized vehicle that carries people is untrustworthy in battle and therefore Marines must be able to carry everything they bring to a fight on their backs and over long distances.  There were occasions when the mission and the environment required so much gear that the Colonel nearly carried his own body weight on his back.  

Small wonder the Colonel's back tortures him today.  Payback.

But, the Colonel also liked to think that a short stature was a plus on the battlefield -- he figured he could keep his head down and out of the line of fire a lot easier than the 6 footers. 

When the Colonel went to Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Quantico, Virginia in the summer of 1977, he was very nearly the smallest candidate of the 250 in the company -- 5'6 and 3/4" (don't ever forget the 3/4) and 130 pounds dripping wet.  

Reaching things in high places was (and still is) a bit of a challenge.  
The Colonel vividly remembers trying to put away his pack on top of his wall locker the first few days at OCS. There was, of course, a certain way the pack had to be situated, with the helmet strapped on top. 

The Colonel had developed a practiced, time-saving (time was of the essence with a drill instructor breathing down your neck) method to get his pack onto the top of his seven-foot wall-locker. He would get the  pack and helmet all squared away on his bunk, pick it up, spin around, and pitch it up on top of the locker to land facing the correct way. 

Since the Colonel was in the last bunk bay in the squad bay, his locker backed up against a bulkhead and he could actually use a bank-shot of sorts to get his pack, with helmet riding on top, into position. If he got the pick, spin, pitch, and bank just right, the pack would land in the perfect position on top of the locker and not require further adjustment.  The Colonel would then be free to use the resulting extra seconds to attend to the next task for which the certainly insane drill instructor was screaming unintelligibly. This routine worked perfectly the first half-dozen times.

The seventh was different.

All plans and actions on the battlefield (and all of life is one big battlefield)  are subject to what Clausewitz (some dead German guy who, like most Germans, spent way too much time thinking about war) called "fog and friction." 

Even the simplest things are difficult under stress. 

Newton's laws of physics aren't nullified by a screaming drill instructor either. 

From the grave, both Clausewitz and Newton conspired to cause the Colonel to light up big-time on Sergeant Psycho's radar screen. This time, although the pick, spin, pitch, and bank was executed to perfection, there was a catastrophic equipment failure (thank you, Clausewitz) that introduced plan-altering friction and allowed inertial physics (thank you, Newton) to take over. 

The chin strap on the Colonel's helmet broke. 

Said chin strap had theretofore served admirably as the device with which the helmet had been quite securely affixed to the pack. 

Had been being the operative phrase in this case.

The practiced conclusion of the pick, spin, pitch, and bank of the Colonel's squad bay ballet was a combat-booted pirouette, executed at the moment that the pea-sized computer in his brain-housing group calculated that the pack's trajectory was such that it would bank and rest in inspection-ready position atop the wall locker. As the Colonel spun back to his bunk this time, he was struck hard on the top of his hairless noggin and driven to his knees. 

The Colonel's helmet -- its broken chin strap freeing it to follow Newton's third law -- had performed a half-roll and landed, round-side down, squarely on the Colonel's head.  Later, his buddies told the Colonel that the resulting "thonk!" was so loud and impressive that everyone in the squad bay stopped what they were doing... for a millisecond. 

A milisecond being the exact length of time one could get away with pausing without attracting the attention of a rabid drill instructor.

Would that the story ended there. But, alas, there is more. 

The Colonel rejoined the conscious world a second later, stood, and began searching for his errant brain bucket.  He remembered hearing/feeling only one "thonk!"  He hadn't heard a second "thonk" indicating that his helmet had hit the deck.  

Since he had been standing at his bunk, the Colonel assumed that his helmet had ricocheted off his head and landed quietly there. 

He looked on the bunk.

No helmet.

He looked under the bunk. 

No helmet. 

Then, the concussion-induced fog lifted a bit more and the Colonel heard the unmistakable bellow of an enraged drill instructor. 

The unmistakable bellow was coming from outside the open window next to the Colonel's bunk.

The unmistakable bellow was coming from three floors down. 

This is no lie. The Colonel's helmet had bounced off of his head, out the window of the squad bay, and landed, following an impressive bounce, at the feet of the company First Sergeant -- the senior and most feared of all of the officer candidates' tormentors.

Our names were on our helmets.

"Candidate Gregory!!! Get (insert appropriate unprintable epithet here) down here!!!"

Momentarily, the Colonel contemplated jumping after the helmet.

But, then, falling back on the candidate mantra, "they can't kill us," the Colonel raced from the squad bay, down the ladder well (Marines don't call them stairs), and came to the position of attention at the appropriate distance front and center of 1stSgt King. 

The Colonel believes it was the fact that one of his pupils was dilated and the other wasn't that stopped the First Sergeant's rant on the sorry state of American youth and my questionable parentage in mid-sentence. 

"Candidate, are you okay?"

The Colonel kept his story short -- just the facts -- and made sure he used the third person when referring to himself (Marines talk funny that way). 

"The candidate's helmet fell off the candidate's wall locker, bounced off of the candidate's head, and flew out the window."

I believe it was the phrase "flew out the window" that broke the hard-bitten combat veteran.  He grabbed the Colonel by the arm and barely made it into his office, and out of sight of anyone, before breaking down in uncontrollable laughter.

The Colonel learned two valuable leadership lessons that day.  

Stuff happens, and it's okay to laugh.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Project Predicament

The Colonel's Lady -- the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda -- has been down in her back the last couple of weeks.  She's feeling better -- the Colonel has been a good nurse.

But, the chores are piling up.

And, there's the annual late winter/early spring project season looming on the calendar.

No matter how effective the Colonel is at supervision -- and he's world class -- if his work force is lame, the chore and project completion rate bottoms out down around the speed of smell.

So, the Colonel has been reevaluating the project list for his vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.

As much as he hates it, breaking ground on the cabin down on the shores of Lake Brenda -- to which the Colonel planned to escape when things got too hot (or too cold) up at the Big House -- will have to be pushed to calendar year 2017.  The Colonel's Knotty Room -- completed last year -- will have to suffice for solitude-seeking in the interim.

The Bridge over Caleb's Creek -- completed in 2010 -- requires considerable preventive maintenance, without which the Colonel's vehicular access to the western third of his vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere is in jeopardy.  As it is, the Colonel is practicing the so-far proven effective "high speed transit" across the bridge.  The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda needs to inspect the underpinnings of said bridge and effect repairs as needed ASAP or her man and his rusty red pick-up may end up in a pile of timbers at the bottom of the ten-foot chasm spanned by the bridge.

In the interim, the Colonel has painted a crude Confederate flag on the cab of the truck and is practicing his best Beau Duke "yeehaw!"

Although ground-breaking for the Colonel's Cabin has been delayed, cutting the timber and milling the lumber for it must still be accomplished this year.  The Colonel, ever the loving husband, purchased a lighter weight chainsaw for his lady on her last birthday. 

So, even if her back is not at 100%...

But, listen, the Colonel is not the heel you may think.  He really does have the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's best interests at heart.  Therefore, he has decided that the one and half acre garden will be significantly smaller this year.  

The Colonel is thinking that shaving the planting by approximately a quarter of an acre should account for his Lady's reduced weeding and harvesting capability this season.  The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda has been notified, however, that the 2017 planting season quota must be increased significantly in order to maintain the long-term average yield increase required by the Colonel.

What?!?

Everyone knows that if you aren't steadily increasing output in quantity and quality, you're falling behind the competition.

The same goes for great nations.  Expand or whither to inconsequence.