Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bedding down the Bedouins

Today, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda and the Colonel begin their fourth year aboard Eegeebeegee, our promised land at the northern end of southern nowhere. This is a momentous event; the occasion appropriate for uplifting speeches, orchestral music, grand fireworks, flowery parades, and rest from labor to reflect on the wilderness wandering that preceded arrival here at their lives' culminating point.

There's a tight budget, so the Colonel will mutter and hum while traipsing from chore to chore and try to remember who he is when he stops to take a breather.

Marking three years living in the same location may not seem like anything special to you, gentle readers. But, for the Colonel and his long-suffering bride, the average interval between moves, the majority on orders from Uncle Sam, was well south of two years. Many "homes" held our eclectic collection of sturdy furniture for mere months. The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda and the Colonel's fathers were career Air Force men. By the time Miss Brenda consented to joining households with the Colonel, at the tender ages of 19 and 20, respectively, they each had nearly a score of "permanent" addresses under their belts. The next thirty years easily doubled that number.

At every stop and start in that nomadic life, "Some day..." began the refrain.

Some day, we'll have our place in the country.

Some day, we'll put down roots.

Some day, we'll get to see blooms on the roses we plant.

Some day, we'll buy furniture without worrying about how it will hold up in a cross-country move.

Some day, we'll make friends to whom we won't have to say goodbye in six months.

Some day, we'll wake up in the middle of the night and not have to figure out where we are.

Some day is today.

Except that the Colonel, with ever-diminishing mental faculties, still wakes up thinking he is somewhere else.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Scamp Escape

The younger half of the Hope of 21st Century Civilization is up early with the Colonel this morning. His parents are off to work, big brother yet slumbers, and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is polishing off the rest of her beauty sleep, so it is the Colonel's responsibility to maintain situational awareness regarding the whereabouts and intowhats of the little scamp.

At 28 months he is becoming quite the escape artist.

He is supposed to be watching cartoons while the Colonel administers caffeine to his few remaining brain cells and reads the digital papers. The door out of which he escaped is line of sight beyond the left side of the Colonel's computer screen. Yet, with stealth and an active camouflage technique the envy of snipers the world's militaries over, H21CC - 2 performed a flawless break-contact maneuver and his absence remained undetected by the Colonel for the better part of the brief time it took to drain the first of many caffeine delivery devices.

His absence was finally realized by the lack of squeaks and squawks that are the primary communication method of two-year-olds and the Colonel conducted a quick security patrol house-wide to re-establish contact.

Found him in the bed with the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, supervising the last few minutes of her manifestly unneeded beauty sleep.

The look in his eyes as he watched her sleep was enough to start the Colonel's eye wash. By the end of the day the Colonel will have been tempted to restrain the little booger with a liberal application of duck tape, but for the moment he understands the meaning of love.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Phineas Fellow

The Colonel recently participated in a running, on-line discussion with an old friend with whose pacifist positions he disagrees, but whose right to have them he fervently respects.

The Colonel has long maintained that these re-United States' War on Terror (or whatever it is miss-called these days) is, despite a few limited offensive examples to the contrary, a war fought primarily on the defensive. For the most part, we are conducting tactical actions against the fielded forces of our enemy when, in the Colonel's not so humble opinion, we should have prosecuted strategic, regime-change war against the several nations [still] providing funding, manpower, and other material and tacit support to terrorist organizations.

The friend, whose Christian faith the Colonel deeply respects and shares, challenged the Colonel's reconciliation of his Christian faith and Jesus' teachings with his calling as a professional soldier and the Colonel's calls for strategic war on our enemies.

It's not the first time the Colonel has been asked how he reconciles faith with fighting, so the answer required little additional soul-searching.

The Colonel's personal belief regarding his willingness to fight in the defense of his faith, family, and nation is rooted in the actions of a man named Phineas as recorded in the 25th Chapter of the Old Testament book Numbers. The Colonel encourages you, gentle readers, to read for yourselves from that text. Suffice it to say, Phineas did not turn a blind eye to lawlessness. He took action, and God was so pleased with Phineas' action that He stopped the plague that had befallen the Hebrew nation as a consequence of their failure to abide by His Law (their Constitution, if you will).

Jesus, my Lord and Savior, commanded that we who would be His disciples should show love to our enemies--"turning the other cheek." And, to his personal enemies, the Colonel has endeavored, not always successfully he will admit, to do just that. The Colonel has had ample opportunity to build and activate a personal enemies list. Life here on Earth, provides us all with that opportunity. The Colonel, instead, can honestly say, that there are none for whom he has not felt God's conviction to forgive, nor asked God's strength to forget their transgression.

The Colonel will admit there are one or two with whom he is still working out the forgive and forget equation. Nobody's perfect, not even the Colonel.

The Colonel's friend capped his side of the discussion with the following question:

"Who would Jesus bomb?"

The quick, reflexive answer that comes to a Christian's mind is, of course, "No one!" Christians cannot imagine for a second that Jesus, the God-Man who came to show love to all mankind and to sacrifice His life for the atonement of our sins before a Perfect Creator God who can abide no sin, would ever harm even the most deserving of harm among men. The Christian's default position is that Jesus would not kill, and we, whose callings may require us to kill, end up compartmentalizing our faith because that default position CANNOT be reconciled with our actions. And, such compartmentalizing of our being and belief is itself antithetical to the teaching and expectation of Christ.

The Colonel is no theologian by any stretch, but he believes that the default position is a flawed supposition.

One of Jesus' closest friends and dearest disciples, John, wrote the following about Jesus in his version of the Gospel:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made." [bold type added] John 1: 1 - 3

What John wrote, inspired, the Colonel believes, by God, was that Jesus (the Word)has been with God from the beginning and that Jesus is Creator God. The Colonel won't try to describe further what is the indescribable nature of God. But, if Jesus has been with God from the beginning and is God, then Jesus, as God, killed men. Jesus bombed Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus swept back the Red Sea over Pharaoh and his army, drowning them all. Jesus, as God, destroyed the enemies of His people on numerous other occasions. And, John tells us in the book of Revelations, when Jesus returns to Earth at the end of the age, He will destroy the enemies of God--demon and man alike. And, don't try to tell the Colonel that Jesus changed His nature and theology when he came to Earth. The Colonel fervently believes, as key to his hope of salvation, that God never changes, nor changes His mind regarding a promise.

Jesus even commanded His disciples, when he sent them out to spread His good news, to wipe the dust of unbelieving and unaccepting towns from their feet; in effect, condemning those men to eternal death.

Therefore, the Colonel does not accept the proposition that Jesus' commandment to love, pray for, and turn the other cheek to his personal enemies automatically prevents him from taking even offensive action against the enemies of his faith, family, and nation.

The Colonel reserves the right to retract the above under conviction of his God.

Friday, March 26, 2010

You Go, Gohmert!

Whenever the Colonel is having a little trouble falling asleep (this old infantryman is a master at rapid snoozing, so "trouble" is anything more than 30 seconds), he turns on CSPAN and watches our Congress at work.

Parliamentary procedure is the guaranteed antidote for caffeine overdose.

Last night, before the 111th Congress adjourned for its Passover/Easter break, and before it could, as he remarked, "do any more damage," Louie Gohmert, Representative from the 1st Congressional District of the former Republic of Texas, gave a fascinating, if rambling, speech that should be staple for every study of the Constitution of these re-United States.

No sunshine patriot, Congressman Gohmert is a conservative who puts his money where his mouth is. The Colonel is sad to opine that he finds that a rare trait among conservatives. Even more rare among liberals--they lag far behind conservatives in charitable giving all the while calling them "heartless." But the Colonel digresses. Congressman Gohmert served his nation as an officer in the Regular Army of the United States. That gets him automatic respect from the Colonel.

Every Congressman needs a crusade, and like his Texas compatriot Charlie Wilson (whose personal campaign was chasing women and killing Russians in Afghanistan), Congressman Gohmert has a worthy cause into which to pour his passion. He believes, as does the Colonel, that the 17th Amendment to the Constitution is the key flaw in our law that has allowed the federal government to unconstitutionally usurp rights and powers reserved to the States in the original ten "Bill of Rights" amendments to the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment specifically and succinctly says,

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The framers of our Constitution, while desirous of central, federal government stronger than the feeble, ineffective confederation under which the States operated during the war with Great Britain and for six years thereafter, were also rightfully wary of a federal government grown too strong and thereby easily injurious of the rights and freedoms of the people. They viewed the separate States as one of the greatest checks against the accumulation of too much such injurious power in the hands of the federal government. They created the House of Representatives to directly represent the will of the people to the federal government, but realized that the will of the people could easily be manipulated by demagoguing populists. As a check against the fickle, firebrand House, the framers intentionally created the more exclusive and deliberative Senate. AND, most importantly, Senators WERE NOT popularly elected. They were appointed by the States to guard against the excess passion of mob democracy and to act as a CHECK on the inevitable and quite natural attempts by the federal government to accumulate power to the detriment of the people and the States.

Until ratification of the heinous (the Colonel does not use that word lightly) 17th amendment, United States Senators, appointed either by State legislatures or State Governors, as each State's constitution allowed, were subject to immediate recall by the States if found to be acting contrary to the rights of the States and the freedoms of the people, AS ENSHRINED IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS. The heinous and injurious 17th Amendment unconstitutionally usurped the power of the States, by stripping them of their ONLY check on the power of the federal government. Since ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, Senators have been popularly elected and not subject to recall by the States.

To be sure, the pre-17th Amendment process of selecting Senators was flawed as well. Impasse in some State legislatures often had the effect of no Senator elected to represent the State in Congress. And, State legislatures all too often sent men to Washington whose qualifications to be Senators were dubious at best. But, the 17th Amendment went TOO FAR in its attempt to correct senatorial selection. Indeed, it can be argued that the States themselves brought this upon themselves as the amendment in question was called for by two-thirds of the states and was ratified by four-fifths of the States. But, the Colonel argues that the States must be forgiven that transgression because they knew not what the long term injurious (the Colonel is liking that word this morning) consequences would be.

Enter Congressman Gohmert and his call for, as Article V of the Constitution allows, a Constitutional Amendment Convention. Gohmert is quick to point out that this would not be a sweeping CONSTITUTIONAL convention, in which the entire Constitution would be rewritten. This Constitutional Amendment Convention would allow for the best and brightest constitutional minds to craft Amendments to restore the correct constitutional balance between the rights of the States & freedoms of the People, and the Federal Government. This is necessary to help prevent such things as the hugely expensive unfunded mandates imposed by the recently passed heinous and injurious Health Care Reform Bill (which is neither healthy nor reform). If two-thirds of the legislatures of the States adopt resolutions demanding a Constitutional Amendment Convention, the Congress is bound, by Article V to call such a convention. Arguably the Congress could constitutionally limit the purpose(s) of such a convention to prevent it running amok. Any proposed Amendment would require, as provided for in Article V of the Constitution, ratification by three-fourths of the States in order to become law.

Last night, Congressman Gohmert, prior to submitting his motion for adjournment, read Reagan's 1983 Passover/Easter Holiday address to the Nation and Benjamin Franklin's "Prayer Address" to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Both stirred the Colonel near to tears.

Just so you know, the Colonel hasn't cried since he found out his mother was a civilian.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fed Up

It takes a lot to get under the Colonel's skin, but he is fed up with the following:

1. People who use hateful, intolerant speech to denounce the perceived hateful intolerance of others.

2. Officials who love power more than the people whose power they have been elected to exercise.

3. People who purport to be patriotic, yet have never once in their lives performed a patriotic act beyond displaying a flag.

4. Politicians whose choice of party with which to affiliate and under whose banner they run for office reflect political calculations rather than principled consciences.

5. Liberals who shed copious tears over the demise of a polar bear or the loss of a pod of porpoises, yet support the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn children.

6. Hypocritical conservatives who put not their money where their pie holes be.

7. Media personalities, at both ends of the political spectrum, with agendas.

8. Celebrities, at both ends of the political spectrum, who forget that their calling is to entertain not to preach.

9. Bankers with their hands out; politicians with their hands in my pockets; and young men and women whose hands should be in the air volunteering, but aren't.

10. Reporters who, in the ninth year of the war on which they are reporting, still don't know the the difference between a main battle tank and an armored personnel carrier, let alone the proper designations of basic military organizations.

11. Folks who don't know the difference between the privileges and blessings of residency and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

12. Americans who don't vote.

There is more, but the Colonel is fed up with this post.

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Act Too Far

Far and away from this day, back down the faintly echoing halls of history, a people once suffered at the hands of an out-of-touch and oppressive central government. That government--the British Parliament--attempted to pay for deficits, incurred by war with France, by regulating commerce with taxes. Those people--our nearly forgotten forebears--revolted. Since those people had no representation in Parliament to respond to their wishes, they began to take matters into their own hands, believing, as Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence, that people "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," and that "whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these [rights], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it."

Beginning in 1764, Parliament passed a series of acts; the Sugar Act, the Currency Act, the Quartering Act, and, on this date, 22 March, in 1765, the Stamp Act, which required that documents, newspapers, and playing cards to be printed on special stamped and taxed paper. To insure that the Colonies abide by these acts, non-juried Vice-Admiralty Courts, theretofore only employed in the adjudication of commercial disputes, were given greatly increased, and to the colonists' minds, arbitrary, powers of enforcement. In response and protest, 9 of the 13 British Colonies in North America convened the "Stamp Act Congress." In October of 1765, this first congress of the people's representatives in America produced the "Declaration of Rights and Grievances." From that document, the following excerpt seems to the Colonel to be germane to our present:

"...That the late act of parliament, entitled, an act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, &c., by imposing taxes on the inhabitants of these colonies, and the said act, and several other acts, by extending the jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty beyond its ancient limits, have a manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the colonists." [bold italics added]

In response to the American Colonies' outcry against the injustices of these acts and the later actions of the people (the Boston Tea Party, for example), Parliament, to use a term in vogue today, "doubled down" and passed further acts designed to compel the Colonies to toe the government line. These "Coercive Acts," as they were known in Parliament, were labeled the "Intolerable Acts" by the colonists.

Colonial "declarations" and other protest documents had previously declared love and loyalty for Britain. The ensuing--not so much.

On matters of lesser import, Americans can be a fractious, fickle, forgetful people. But, once the majority makes up its mind about something large, there is little wavering from their convictions.

No matter to what extreme those convictions may take them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Bridge at Eegeebeegee, Phase IIa

Several rotations of the Earth ago, the Colonel posted regarding his labors to erect a bridge over a creek dividing his vast holdings here at the northern end of southern nowhere. The three of you who regularly waste your precious rod and cone time reading posts hereon will remember that, during Phase I, in order to allow for the emplacement of uprights for near and far shore piers on which cross-creek bridge timbers will rest, the Colonel lowered and narrowed the bed of said creek.

Now, the Colonel finds himself at the point at which he must refill and raise the creek bed.

Earlier this week, the Colonel contracted for, and took delivery of, twenty-five (25) tons of rip-rap suitable rock. Is twenty-five tons of rip-rap suitable rock a lot of stone? Did the Waltons take way too long to say goodnight?

Twenty-five tons of rip-rap suitable rock dumped in one place forms a heap the size of which would have made a paleolithic mound-builder proud. The truck that delivers twenty-five tons of rip-rap suitable rock requires a road surface on which to travel with the carrying capacity of that required by the crawler that delivers the Space Shuttle from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad. So, traversing the 400 yard long pot-hole riven, rut-strewn, one lane gravel road that passes for the Colonel's driveway connection to the paved county road with a dump truck carrying twenty-five tons of rip-rap suitable rock is not a matter for serious consideration.

And, that is the best section of internal roadways aboard the Colonel's vast holdings.

The twenty-five tons of rip-rap suitable rock sits at the end of the Colonel's drive on the shoulder of the road. The Colonel has not measured the exact altitude of Rip-Rap Mountain's summit, but you can see the Rocky Mountains from the top. Rip-Rap Mountain is approximately maximum effective rifle range due East of the Big House at Eegeebeegee. The Bridge at Eegeebeegee is approximately maximum effective rifle range due West of the Big House. See where this is going?

The Colonel must move twenty-five tons of rip-rap suitable rock from its present location to its future site using his trusty red tractor, Semper Field, and his rusty red truck, Semper Fillit. For the past couple of days the Colonel has toyed with this mission. Any time he is down at the road, the Colonel loads a few hundred pounds of rock in the bed of Semper Fillit by hand (the Colonel is never one to use his head when his back will do), drives back to the bridge site and unloads the rock by hand. The Colonel feels this hands-on effort is necessary to allow for careful quality assurance inspection of each and every component of the monument to Motrin that is the Bridge at Eegeebeegee.

In the midst of one such inspect-load-transport-unload iteration the other day, the Colonel ceased from his labors and climbed to the summit of Rip-Rap Mountain to view Pike's Peak. As he stood upon the mount, breathing the thin air at altitude, the Colonel's keen senses detected a slight tremor. Seems the Colonel's endeavors at the foot of the mountain had served to weaken the foundation of rip-rap suitable rock along one of the mound's faces.

Lucky for Hawaii, Eegeebeegee is not located on the West Coast of these re-United States, as the ensuing avalanche, were it to have crashed into the Pacific, would have surely sent a tsunami of epic proportions racing westward.

At the apex of the Mount Rip-Rap, the Colonel hopped and skipped with the reflexes and nimbleness of a man half his age. Unfortunately, the Colonel is of such an advanced age that halving his years produces no appreciable amount of youth, nor corresponding reflexes and nimbleness.

As luck would have it, the Colonel was perched on one particularly massive and relatively flat rock and managed to surf his way down the collapsing face of rip-rap suitable rock. As the slide culminated at zero AGL, the Colonel dismounted lightly from his conveyance, took a three-step momentum-slowing jog and came to the correct position of attention, county road-center. Breaking discipline, the Colonel swung his head and eyes left and right to check for oncoming traffic, and to ensure that his mishap had not been witnessed.

There's enough rumors circulating around here about the Colonel as it is!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Slip-sliding Away

Political Correctness is the slippery slope down which those with an agenda push innocents unfairly pre-judged. It is the greatest of ironies and yet an inarguable fact that prejudice and bias exist as much in the heart of the pusher as the pushed. It is also an inarguable fact that once the slide begins, its momentum carries away with it all intelligent discourse.

Oh, and if you think you are safely politically correct in your new terminology and belief system, just wait. What was deemed politically correct yesterday, and with which the silent majority apathetically resigns itself to acceptance, will be found today to possess some flaw, some "incorrect" component, requiring those who believe themselves superior, to impose their will on the rest of us, all in the name of fairness. But, because LIFE is NOT FAIR, cannot be, and never will be, the Agendaratti will never rest.

As any one who has wasted precious rod and cone time reading posts hereon knows, the Colonel did not go to college--he went to Ole Miss. The Colonel's alma mater, formally known as the University of Mississippi, is a relatively small public university at the northern end of southern nowhere that has suffered the indignity of decades of national attention far out of proportion to the school's importance.

The University of Mississippi was founded in 1848. When the university began fielding sports teams, they played as the Mississippi Flood. On the occasion of the publishing of the first yearbook in 1897, a student contest chose the name Ole Miss for the publication and soon the University adopted Ole Miss as nickname. In 1936, when the editor of the school newspaper proposed a contest to produce a new nickname for Ole Miss teams, the duty was assigned to Mississippi sportswriters who overwhelmingly chose the name Rebels. Two years later, Colonel Rebel appeared for the first time as an illustration in the university yearbook and by the late 1940's had achieved its present form.

By the time this Colonel began his matriculation at the Harvard of the South, fans at football games were vigorously waving Beauregard's Battle Flag and a student in Confederate uniform exhorted the Ole Miss faithful from the sidelines. Your writer, dear reader, waved a Rebel flag as vigorously as the next fan. There was no racist intent on my part--unless you consider Yankee a race.

During the Colonel's service in the Marine Corps, it became painfully clear that the Rebel Flag was insulting and offensive to some and considered a banner of racial hate. The Colonel didn't see it that way...well, that is unless you consider Yankee a race...but he ceased flying and displaying the flag out of the sense that his leadership responsibilities and effectiveness required him to respect the sensibilities of others.

The Colonel believes that the University's 1996 decision to cease and prohibit flying the Rebel Flag at Ole Miss ball games was a correct one. The Colonel has heard, and respects, the Southern Heritage and free speech arguments for the "right" to fly the flag. But, the Rebel Flag was NOT ever an official symbol of the University, and was in fact flown beginning in the 1950's as a reaction to Yankee meddling in the politics of the South.

But, the slide had begun.

The next target of the prejudiced, self-righteous, political correctness crusaders was Colonel Rebel. Much more innocuous than scores of Yankee university mascots, Colonel Rebel was deemed to have arisen out of the slave-holding ante-bellum South.

Yep. He was.

Much of these re-United States' most cherished symbols and beliefs reflect back to a time when, in both the North and South, people enslaved other people. We have transcended those errors of inhumanity and now assign more proper, egalitarian virtues to the symbols we have retained from those times. And, just because an evil minority usurp a popular symbol or phrase, the good majority should not be deprived of that symbol or phrase's innocent use. Mouth-breathing, village-idiot white supremacists carry crosses and use the term "God Bless America." Shall we ban crucifixes and discontinue asking God's blessing on our land?

Believe it or not, there are prejudiced, self-righteous, political correctness crusaders who think we should.

The Colonel warns you, if you allow Colonel Rebel's banishment for that reason, the prejudiced, self-righteous, political correctness crusaders will not stop there. The Washington and Jefferson Memorials and their likenesses on our currency will be deemed inappropriate for the same reason. And once the chorus of prejudiced, self-righteous, political correctness crusaders take up YOUR treasured tradition or cherished belief in denouncing chant, you too will find yourself pushed down the slippery slope by those with an agenda you do not share.

Remember, what is deemed politically correct today, will not be tomorrow, despite the assurances of those who imposed the new rules that this is the end of the crusade. There is always the next crusade, else the pitiful lives of the prejudiced, self-righteous political correctness crusaders loses all meaning.

At the University of Mississippi, the administration has banned Colonel Rebel and taken steps to ensure he never returns. Because fans were chanting innocuously "the South will rise again" at the end of Elvis' "From Dixie with Love," that song was banned by the University's liberal elite bent on appeasing other liberal elitists. But, they assure those of us who love Ole Miss that "...the University of Mississippi will always remain the Ole Miss Rebels."

The Colonel's intelligence has been insulted, and that takes some doing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tolstoy's Corporal

One of the Colonel's favorite shows on cable is Charlie Rose. Mr. Rose often has very interesting guests with whom he engages in conversation about current events, recently published books, or movie releases. In many instances it provides, if nothing else, an opportunity for the Colonel to understand the mind of the enemy. Sometimes the Colonel is reminded of the old Art Linkletter Show segment wherein he questions a panel of precocious kids. Liberals, like children, say the darnedest things.

Last night, the guest was Michael Lewis, the author of The Big Short, Inside the Doomsday Machine. Lewis' book details the story of a handful of investment savants who saw the rot at the core of the sub-prime mortgage investment pig sty in which the too-big-to-fail Wall Street firms were wallowing and began to sell short--in effect betting against the conventional wisdom on Wall Street. The Colonel hasn't read the book, yet, but the Rose and Lewis discussion of the events detailed in the book was riveting.

The story is intriguing on a number of levels. Perhaps the most amazing element was the fact that a couple of the short-sellers were actually Wall Street insiders who tried to tell everyone that a collapse was coming--to no avail. As preamble to this theme, Lewis begins his book with the following Leo Tolstoy quote:

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-
witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the
simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if
he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of
doubt, what is laid before him."

The Colonel wonders if our current crop of elected national leaders are likewise so "firmly persuaded that [they] know already" that they cannot or will not see the collapse that is coming as consequence of their actions.

The Colonel identifies with Tolstoy's "most slow-witted man." In fact, he is quite certain that had Tolstoy included illustrations with the above quote, the Colonel's likeness would have appeared alongside. Heck, had the Colonel been born in late 18th Century France, there is little doubt he would have gained immortality as Napoleon's Corporal.

There is no clarity like that of a simple idea presented to a simple, uncluttered mind.

Perhaps it's time to send some folks with politically uncluttered minds to Washington to do our business.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ard Choille!

The Colonel's Celtic blood stirs a bit this morning. St. Patrick's Day serves him not as opportunity for intemperance, but as pause for solemn remembrance. You see, the Colonel is a descendant of the MacGregors of the Scottish Highland Clan Gregor. There was a time in Scotland, when even bearing the name MacGregor or one of its septs (of which Gregory is one) meant summary execution--seems my ancestors ended up on the wrong side of one too many rebellions. Outlawed, they lived up to their designation. And, they were very good outlaws and quite savvy racketeers. An historical account the Colonel read recently indicated that the only way the other clans could deter MacGregor poaching and rustling was to pay them to stop.

So, what's the tie to St. Patrick? Well, in his autobiographical account, Confessio, young Patrick, a Roman citizen living in what is now Scotland, was abducted by Irish raiders. Patrick escaped back to Scotland in his early twenties, had a Saul-like "Road to Damascus" moment, and returned to Ireland to convert the heathen island to Catholicism.

So, were it not for Scotland...

But, since so many celebrants of St. Patrick's Day (the Colonel not among them) must inebriate themselves senseless or find no meaning in the holiday, the Colonel provides the following amusing anecdote as toast to the life of the brain cells which will meet their untimely end this day.

A man stumbles up to the only other patron in a bar and asks if he could buy him a drink.

"Oh, aye.", comes the reply.

The first man then asks: "Where are you from?"

"I'm from Scotland", replies the second man.

The first man responds: "Oh, aye? I'm from Scotland too! Let's have another round to Scotland."
"Oh, aye!", replies the second man.

Curious, the first man then asks: "Where in Scotland are you from?"

"Aberdeen", comes the reply.

"I can't believe it", says the first man. "I'm from Aberdeen, too! Let's have another drink to Aberdeen!"

"Oh, aye!", replies the second man.

Curiosity again strikes and the first man asks: "What school did you go to?"

"Saint Andrews", replies the second man. "I graduated in '62."

"This is unbelievable!", the first man says. "I went to Saint Andrews and graduated in '62, too!"

"To Saint Andrews!", they cry in unison, and down their drinks.

About that time, in comes one of the regulars and sits down at the bar. "What's been going on?" he asks the bartender.

"Nothing much," replies the bartender. "The MacGregor twins are drunk again."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Et tu, Hamilton?

Today marks the end of the political career of a general who would be king and the beginning of the political career of a general who would not.

On this date, the 15th day of March (known in antiquity as the Ides of March) in 44 B.C.E., Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Roman senators. Julius Caesar had risen to prominence in Roman society by means of careful and cynical political maneuvering and by the age of 41 he had finagled a consulship. Caesar quickly and corruptly marginalized the other Consul (Bibulus) elected with him and his detractors thereafter referred to that year as "the Consulship of Julius and Caesar." Consuls were in effect the chief magistrates of Rome, and one year as consul was normally followed by another year as a Proconsul in charge of a Roman province. Caesar's political enemies attempted to assign him proconsulship of Italian natural resources instead of an actual province, but he was able to convince his allies to have him named the Proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul, Illyricum and Transalpine Gaul (northern Italy, the Balkans, and southern France). And, instead of having control of these provinces and with them command of four legions for just one year, Caesar convinced his allies in the Senate to make his term of proconsulship five years. Within a year, Caesar had illegally raised two additional legions in the provinces under his control and was poised to invade and subdue the tribes of Gaul. By the time his allotted term as proconsul was up, Julius Caesar had subdued Gaul, invaded the British Isles, and put down another insurrection in Gaul, all the while ensuring that his exploits were made known in great exaggeration by the Roman public.

Recalled to Rome, Caesar feared for good reason that he would be tried for treason to get rid of him and his ambitions. He returned to Rome with a legion at his back and civil war ensued. Caesar pursued his rival, Pompey, and, upon Pompey's death and the end of an Egyptian civil war in which he meddled, Caesar celebrated with his infamous tryst with Cleopatra. Upon his eventual return to Rome he soon engineered his election as dictator and consolidated power approaching that of an emperor. His assassination in 44 B.C.E. touched off yet another explosive civil war, the end result of which would be the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. Thus, the blame for the demise of the Roman Republic can be placed at the feet of Gauis Julius Caesar.

Contrast the behavior of Julius Caesar with that of George Washington. Perhaps the most important action of Washington's tenure as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army took place on this date in 1783. Informed that a meeting of a great many of the officers of his army had been called at Newburgh, New York for the purpose of sparking an insurrection against the Continental Congress, Washington made immediately to the site and confronted the conspirators, many of whom were his closest and most loyal officers. Washington could very easily have allowed his army to convince him to lead their march on Congress. Washington would have undoubtedly been popularly proclaimed the new emperor of America, and would have had the loyalty of an Army that had followed him through thick and thin (mostly the latter) for the better part of the previous eight years.

The Army was angered by Congressional failure to properly remunerate the veterans of the force that had kept congressional necks from stretching at the end of British nooses. The leaders of the Army were ready to revolt. Washington would have none of it. He first chastised the assembly, calling them "unmilitary" and "subversive of good order and discipline." Such was the force and presence of the man, that this admonishment stayed, if temporarily, the push for a military coup. Washington went on to promise that he would do everything in his power to ensure that the patriot veterans received all that was due them for their late service against the British. His final gesture was one of sheer dramatic brilliance not seen again in uniform until the generalship of Douglas MacArthur a century and a half later. Washington withdrew a letter from his pocket and then, in what was then considered an unmilitary act, put on a pair of reading glasses. His apology has become as legendary as any other quote in the vast lexicon of leadership quotations in American military history.

"Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown old in the service of my country and now find that I am growing blind."

It is reported that his men wept at the sight and realization that Washington had sacrificed as much as any in the room, and, while having every right to personally lead the march on Congress, would continue to sacrifice his own ease and ambition for the sake of the legs of principle upon which the new nation was ready to begin its march into history.

Would that we had more national leaders imbued with the principled and sacrificial discipline of Washington, rather than the more predominate ambition of Caesar.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Puddle Predilections

Did you know--if the Colonel knew, he had forgotten--that a four-year old boy and his two-year old brother can be in nine places at the same time? Did you also know that little boys have mud puddle seeking radar in their nose cones? And, did you know that if shod in knee-high rubber boots to keep his feet dry and granted granddaddy's permission to play in mud puddles, a little boy will, within fifteen seconds of arrival in the vicinity of a mud-puddle, progress rapidly through the five phases of play beginning with stomp-splash and ending with flop-splash.

Flop-splash has two variants--full frontal, and seated.

A little boy would rather wallow in a mud puddle than do just about anything else on the planet. It's a predilection shared with pigs and Marine infantrymen, so, in the Colonel's grandsons' case, they come by it naturally--the Colonel having been the latter and oft called the former.

The taste of Spring-like weather this week also brought with it some relatively warm rain and the Colonel and the Hope of 21st Century Civilization spent a good part of each day in muddy chores and splashing play, respectively. The Tallahatchie Free State edition of the digital encyclopedia known locally as Redneckipedia contains the same descriptive definitions for the concepts of "dangerous" and "multi-tasking," to wit: "Standin' in ankle deep mud, runnin' a chain-saw in the wood-lot, while keepin' one eye and one ear on the whereabouts and intowhats of two cabin-fever possessed pre-schoolers recently released from winter-time house arrest. "

The Colonel is looking forward to the day when the grandsons are old enough to do the chores so that he can play in the mud.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fanning at the Plate

The Colonel has yet again been simply amazed at the power, speed, and viral nature of communications in the digital age. Cognitive abilities limited by the great distances between brain cells in his hat rack over which synaptic sparks must leap, and cultural hipness hindered by years cloistered monastically in infantry battalions, the Colonel, techno-limping along at the speed of smell, nevertheless maintains the delusion that he is an early adapter, grazing the first tender shoots of emerging technology to produce udderances of innovation.

In truth, what most often emerges is not milk, but manure.

Take, for instance, the Colonel's latest patrol into the dangerous digital no-man's land of FaceBook apps. Notice the Colonel's hip reference to applications as apps. Squads of twenty-something techno-jedi have no doubt detected the Colonel's use of the term sending tremors throughout the digital Force and are frantically searching for a new, more hip, term not so tainted by geezer-use.

Geezer-use. Now there's a hip term. But I digress.

As the Colonel was saying before he so rudely interrupted himself, yesterday's patrol into the frightening digital time-waste land of FaceBook applications provided quite the exciting result. With the promise of exponentially magnified readership of the persistent posts to his reader-poor blog, the Colonel created The Colonel's Corner fan page and then settled comfortably into the Chesty Puller chair in the executive corner office of the Big House at Eegeebeegee and waited expectantly for the deluge.

Within moments the first fan joined. In truth, it was the Colonel his own self, but we were off and the aforementioned speed of smell.

Within the first hour, the number of fans had increased by a whopping 100%! The acrid smell of electronic overload emanated from the Colonel's desktop. Heady stuff, this.

The Colonel finally pried himself from the addicting exercise of refreshing his FaceBook page every 37 seconds and retired to the Davis bedroom for a lengthy strategic planning session. Up at prostate-thirty this morning, the Colonel delayed only long enough to charge his caffeine delivery device before logging on to FaceBook to greet the multitudes who had become eager and loyal fans of The Colonel's Corner.

All three of them. The Colonel, his own self, included.

Man (hippest term in the Colonel's repertoire), this digital age is amazing!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Get the Hook

If you think the public outcry over taxes and the progressive healthcare power grab has been loud this past year, just wait until the Colonel's fishing buddies (all 50 million of them) hear about the new policy PETA, the World Wildlife Fund, the International Fund for Animals, and the tree-huggers in President Obama's circle of advisors are pushing him to enact by executive fiat (among a full slate of other soci-state decrees).

Comes to the Colonel's attention today this article regarding a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration task force developing a national policy that could empower the federal government to, if taken to it's illogical extreme, ban all recreational fishing in all waters of these re-United States. The Colonel can not imagine any other action that the federal government could take that would precipitate a more immediate and violent response from middle America. Take their children's future away and give it to fat cat bankers--okay. Nationalize a few banks and car companies--that's alright. Mess up their health care system--go ahead. Tell them they can't go crappie fishing--whoa there Mr. G Man, them there's fightin' words!

The Colonel is quite certain that the folks advising the President to take these kinds of actions are depriving villages somewhere of their idiots. Don't these folks know that they are eye-poking a sleeping junkyard dawg? Don't they grasp the fact that the legions of good ole boys and girls whose droll weekly work lives are made tolerable only by the dream of weekends spent fishing also happen to collectively possess more firearms and watercraft than any army and navy in the solar system? Are they daft?

Well, yes. Yes they are.

The Colonel would like to think that our President is smart enough to realize that giving the whackos control of government policy ain't the best choice for his administration's, nor our nation's, longevity. The Colonel would like to think that. However, given that our President hasn't demonstrated that minimum level of intelligence heretofore, the Colonel isn't so very quick to give him the "got smarts" benefit of the doubt anymore.

With apologies to Forrest Gump; the Colonel is not a smart man, but he knows what dumb is.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Bridge at Eegeebeegee, Phase I

Turns out building a bridge is not as simple as one might think. This is particularly true if during calculation of the weight-bearing and high-water-stability of the span and supports, the engineering specifications approach tolerances for withstanding a low-yield thermo-nuclear strike. The Colonel wants to make double dang sure that neither his trusty red tractor, Semper Field, nor his rusty red truck, Semper Fillit, becomes a mid-stream monument to poor prior planning.

The creek that divides the vast holdings that are the Colonel's domain is but a pitiful trickle in dry times. But, given a rain storm, said pitiful trickle becomes ye ole raging torrent, yea verily, the erosive effects of which have carved a deep and wide ravine through the clay that passes for soil here at the northern end of southern nowhere. The previous owners of the vast holdings that are now the Colonel's domain traversed the creek by means of a ford, with approaches cut into the steep banks of the ravine and large rocks piled in the stream. When observed at low water, said arrangement seemed indestructible. The rocks were the huge blocks you see lining highway underpasses and bridge abutments everywhere here in the rural south. However, and take the Colonel's experienced word for this, the hydraulic power generated by the aforementioned ye ole raging torrent, yea verily, is a force of nature to behold and beware. Said force of nature easily sweeps away large rocks formerly relied upon for stream crossing, not to mention formerly sure-footed, but now aging, infantrymen (the event not-to-be mentioned is grist for another post). The post-ye ole raging torrent, yea verily, SOP (Standing Operating Procedures for the two civilians among the three readers of this egregious waste of rod and cone time) was for the Colonel to retrieve the boulders, formerly employed as a ford, but now deposited well downstream by ye ole raging torrent, yea verily, and waddle-carry them back upstream for re-deposit on their former site of employment. Waddle-carrying may someday be an Olympic sport. Hey, if sliding a rock on ice can be an Olympic sport...
At any rate, after several sessions of the fun that is the break-breaking and shin-busting future Olympic sport of waddle-carrying several tons of rocks back upstream, the dim-watted bulb in the Colonel's idea factory began to glow ever so faintly.

The gap to be spanned, and allow for the occasional ye ole raging torrent, yea verily, is approximately fifteen feet. When the Colonel approached friends and neighbors hereabout at the northern end of southern nowhere and asked for their wisdom regarding rural bridge construction, most of the advice centered around the local custom of pitching two or three salvaged telephone poles across the creek and nailing salvaged barn boards on top. As appealing to his sense of adventure as is the idea of traversing such a bridge with vehicles for which the Colonel paid a significant portion of his annual income, well... Let's just say that the Colonel's sense of adventure ain't quite what it used to be.

The Colonel began his adult life learning how to destroy bridges and thought that building one would be a simple matter of remembering the end result of strategically placed demolition charges and aim points of precision-delivered munitions, and then reverse-engineering. The Colonel knows that isn't the definition of the concept accepted by the majority of industrialists, but it is the best understanding of the idea that can be cobbled together with the few remaining infantry-addled cognitive cells lying fallow in the recesses of his brain-housing group. Needless to say, when one contemplates the forces of nature and man that might conspire to render an edifice such as a bridge unusable, and, when one considers one's own history of shoddily constructed projects rapidly thereafter rendered unusable, one tends to err on the side of, shall we say, over-engineering.

So, for the past several weeks, the Colonel, with the strong-backed and idea-wealthy help of his two thirty-something sons, has labored over the construction of The Bridge at Eegeebeegee. Construction was proceeded by several months of strategic planning. Unfortunately, none of the very valuable thoughts that took root in the amorphous goo lying fallow in the recesses of the Colonel's brain-housing group ever made the leap through the air gap between ephemeral thought and graphite on paper. Never mind, how complex can a bridge be, anyway?

Pretty stinkin' complex it turns out.

Nevertheless, one would think that someone who has demonstrated a strong enough grasp of the intricacies of the military operational arts (involving orchestrating the movement of thousands of warriors and their stuff over large distances and multitudinous obstacles) to reach the rank of Colonel, would be able to master the construction of a simple, short, one lane bridge. One would think. One would be partially correct.

The first challenge was the installation of the bridge's support pilings. For this critical component, the Colonel chose eight and one half foot long 6 x 9 railroad cross ties. To emplace these support pilings at the ten feet apart distance with which the Colonel would be the most comfortable spanning with anything across which he would drive vehicles for which he paid the significant portion of his annual income, holes would have to be excavated in the actual creek bed. As the steepness of the ravine in which the creek runs prevents diversion of the creek in a temporary alternate channel, the Colonel's not-so-bright idea was to LOWER the creek bed into a more narrow channel. Fortunately, the Colonel's participation in the aforementioned future Olympic sport of upstream ford rock waddle-carrying had the unforeseen benefit of preparing him for the now required participation in the future Olympic sport of ford rock heaving. Said sport involves squatting in posterior-deep February-cold creek water, thrusting one's hands under said February-cold creek water and around 1/20th of a ton of rock, straightening to the approximate heighth of a semi-erect Australopithecus habilis and part shot-putting, part lugging said 1/20th of a ton of rock into a ballistic trajectory that will place it, upon re-entry, onto a pile of 1/20th of a ton rocks strategically located streamside. Judging and scoring for this particular future Olympic sport will most likely require a synthesis of the systems for judging and scoring shot-putting, ice-dancing, curling, and platform diving.

Once the Colonel lowered the creek bed below the level of the event horizons of the holes required for installation of the bridge pilings, the real fun began. If the Colonel could have gotten his trusty red tractor, Semper Field, into the creek bed, he could have used his tractor's auger implement to dig the holes...if his tractor had an auger implement. Needless to say, the fingers of the Colonel's hands are now permanently cramped in the shape of the handles of a post hole digger.

Holes complete, the Colonel and his strong-backed and idea-wealthy sons manhandled the future bridge piling cross ties down to the creek and upright into their holes. This evolution might also someday spawn its own Olympic sport, but the memories of it are too freshly painful to allow for detailed description at this point. Not only did the Colonel and his strong-backed and idea-wealthy sons think that it would be a good idea to cement each piling into the creek bed, but they further concluded, without considering the method by which it would be accomplished, that it would be an even better idea to concrete all three pilings on each side of the creek into their own block of cement footer.

At this point, most bridge builders would whistle up a fleet of concrete mixer trucks and quickly pour, with a minimum of effort, all of the cement and aggregate mixture required to complete the aforementioned piling connecting footers. However, as one of his neighbors, who has had the great joy of helping the Colonel "un-stick" vehicles on the back side of the Colonel's vast holdings, put it, "You might not have a problem getting a concrete truck down to that creek, but you would never get it back up from it." So, in lieu of a fleet of concrete mixers, the Colonel, never one to use his head if his back will do, used his rusty red truck, Semper Fillit, to shuttle 15 to 20 sixty pound bags of ready mix concrete at a time from the local lumber yard to creekside. Another future Olympic sport whose memory is too freshly painful to describe in detail will surely derive from loading, by hand, sixty pound bags of ready mix concrete onto a dolly at the store, pushing said dolly to, and unloading into the bed of the Colonel's rusty red truck, Semper Fillit, and completing this process in reverse creekside, with the added joy of waddle-carrying each bag (did the Colonel mention they were 60 pounds apiece?) down to a wheel barrow in which three bags at a time were mixed with water from the creek to be spanned, hopefully by the end of this decade.

The Colonel apologizes to the three of you dear readers, who have nothing else in your lives more valuable to do with your rod and cone time than to spend it perusing posts herein, for this missive's interminable length and the purgatorial nature that has been your experience in reading it. The Colonel will, in recognition of your fatigue, and his own, bring this chapter in the retelling of a village idiot's guide to bridge-building to a merciful close. The Colonel will, when able to cobble together enough cognitive cells in the grey amorphous goo lying fallow in the recesses of his brain-housing group to do so, continue The Bridge at Eegeebeegee narrative at some future date.

Now, where did those rocket launch pad plans go?

Friday, March 05, 2010

"Got it? Right, then!"

Comes to the Colonel's attention this morning sad news of the passing of a great man, with whom he had the honor of service 30 years ago. Major Jonathon J. B. Lear OBE, Royal Marines, figured large in a certain young American Marine lieutenant's early troop-leading experience and arctic warfare training. When the Colonel brings to mind some of his most important leadership and arctic survival lessons-learned, it is John Lear's voice echoing in the ear. Major Lear served with high distinction, earning admission into the Order of the British Empire. His obituary described a man who carried his passion for, and excellence in, the leadership and care for others into his retirement and in the advance of his community's causes. An overflow crowd attended his funeral, many standing in a cold rain outside the church to pay their respects.

The Colonel wishes he had been among those soaked.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Speak Up or Perish

The Colonel, thanks to Uncle Sam as his travel agent, has stood on the summit of Mount Carmel where scripture tells us that Eliljah called out the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a to-the-death barbecue contest. The Colonel attends a Bible study with several men from his church early every Tuesday morning at a local diner. The food, fellowship, and faith fills my burgeoning belly, my happy heart, and my joyful soul, respectively. For the past several weeks we have been studying the life and times of Elijah, and this morning we looked at the account in the 18th Chapter of First Kings wherein God's prophet challenged the prophets of Baal to a test to determine whose God is the greatest.

You know Elijah's story. God sends him to the evil king Ahab with the warning that for the Hebrew peoples' idolatrous transgressions, not a drop of rain or even dew will fall on the land for three and one half years. God then sends Elijah into the wilderness and sends ravens to bring him food every day. Elijah slakes his thirst in a brook, until, owing to the great drought, the brook runs dry. Then God sends him to a town and to a destitute widow who is about to prepare a meal of her last bit of flour for herself and her child, and then, as the scripture succinctly captures her situation, she expects "to die." God extends the widow's bowl of flour and she and her son and Elijah satisfy their hunger daily in the midst of the famine brought on by the great drought. Scripture tells us the widow's son falls ill and dies, and Elijah calls on God to bring the boy back to life, even though there is no record to that point in the life of God's people of Him ever doing so.

From the moment we are introduced to Elijah, we see God preparing him for greatness for His sake. God puts Elijah through a series of faith-building trials, each one demonstrating an increasing degree of God's miraculous provision and power. By the time he confronts the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, Elijah's faith in God's power is such that Elijah unhesitatingly calls on God to do the impossible and places his own life on the line in the process. Elijah gives the prophets of Baal all day to call down fire on their offering--Baal does not respond, even when his prophets go to the attention-getting extreme of letting their own blood. Elijah soaks his offering and fills a trench around his altar with water, and then calls on God. Scripture tells us that the supernatural fire that fell not only consumed the bull on the altar, but burned up the water, and the stones, and the very dust beneath them.

What strikes the Colonel most about Elijah's experience is not the power of God demonstrated in His miraculous provision of food, nor His raising the widow's son from the dead, nor even the supernatural fire with which He consumed Elijah's burnt offering. The Colonel is most struck by the attitude of the people when Elijah asked them, as is related in I Kings 18: 20, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God follow him." The last sentence in the verse is an indictment of a people too afraid to make a stand for what is right: "But the people said nothing."

Their nation, as ordered by their leader, had turned 180 degrees from the principles of faith upon which it had been founded. But the people said nothing.

Their nation had a centuries-revered written law, a constitution if you will, that their leader had spurned. But the people said nothing.

Their nation had followed a succession of leaders away from their founding fathers' reverence for the sanctity of life. But the people said nothing.

Their nation had endured a disastrous drought that had brought famine and economic ruin--all due to their leaders' folly and self-serving avarice. But the people said nothing.

How long will YOU waver?

Monday, March 01, 2010

The (Ever Nearer) Coming War with China

Nearly two years ago the Colonel rocked the geopolitical world with his mastery of the obvious ( In that widely-read post (the Colonel had to remove a boot to count the total readers), the Colonel posited that war with the Peoples Republic of China was a looming inevitability--the causes for which could be seen mirroring, to no little extent, those that preceded and precipitated the war in the Pacific between these re-United States and the Empire of Japan in the last century.

Comes to the Colonel's attention this first glorious day of the month following the calendar period designated Scourge of Humanity Month by the Peoples' Representative (singular and sovereign) of the Tallahatchie Free State, the following article: wherein is reported recently published books by senior officers in the Peoples Liberation Army calling for Chinese military preparations to defeat the United States in a war for global hegemony. The article quotes PLA Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu, the author of The China Dream, as saying that his call for an aggressive military stance versus the United States reflects "...a tide of [Chinese] thought [that]...we need a military rise as well as an economic rise." Demonstrating that the prescience possessed by the writer of this blog is not limited to the few remaining cognitive cells laying fallow in the amorphous goo in the recesses of the Colonel's brain-housing group, the above article also quotes the author of another similarly veined book, Colonel Dai Xu as saying, "I'm very pessimistic about the future. I believe that China cannot escape the calamity of war, and this calamity may come in the not-too-distant future, at most in 10 to 20 years."

While most of the rest of the world has wallowed in economic recession, the Chicom economy has continued to experience robust expansion, proceeds from which have fueled an unprecedented expansion of military spending and force modernization. Over the last decade, defense spending (at least what they claim to be spending--actual expenditures are probably much higher) by the PRC has increased at an annual rate of over 15%. By comparison, the military budget of these re-United States has increased at an average rate of only 9%, during a time, need not the Colonel remind you gentle readers, of ongoing extensive military operations in the undeclared war against Islamo-fascism. True, the U.S. defense budget is nearly 9 times that of the Chicoms'. But, the United States is far more generous to its military personnel during and after their military service, and personnel costs (pay, housing, medical care, and other "quality of life" expenditures) make up nearly a quarter of the U.S. defense budget. Maintaining a significant worldwide military presence and keeping global alliance commitments also represents a huge cost not presently incurred by the Chinese. As a result, the PRC has been able to devote a larger proportion of their increased military spending to modernization of a force that is rapidly becoming capable of standing toe-to-toe with the United States military in a contest for control of the Pacific.

The Chinese population, rapidly approaching 1.5 BILLION souls, has enjoyed significant, if uneven, increases in quality of life and economic vitality. Chinese national pride is, as was evident to the world during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, at an all-time high. The ruling elite's 20th Century concern for filling the bellies of the Chinese people has been supplanted by a need to feed their growing 21st Century national aspirations. The Chicom ruling elite must also appease the Peoples Liberation Army, without whose strength they could not maintain control of the people; and the proud PLA desires above all else to grow and bypass the United States military as the world's greatest. Finally, rapid Chinese economic growth has created a massive hunger for energy and resources beyond the capability of their own territory to provide.

All of the above is a snapshot of a situation not unlike that in which the Empire of Japan found itself in the early part of the 20th Century.

We all know how that turned out.