Thursday, April 29, 2010

Idiocy Supremacy

The Colonel is an idiot and everyone around him suffers the consequences. Allow him to offer case in point.

The Chickens of Eegeebeegee are rapidly outgrowing the brooder box the Colonel built for their early childhood development and the Colonel has been laboring over a design/build chicken coop (with integral hen house) to house said rapidly growing yard birds. By the beginning of this week the frame of the coop was completed and tin from a neighbor's shed, destroyed by the tornado two years ago, was salvaged and cut to fit the roof rafters.

Remember, for future reference, the Colonel is an idiot.

Yesterday, a stack of tin was loaded on the back of the Colonel's rusty red pick-up truck, Semper Fillit, and parked next to the coop. Said stack of tin was jutting out the back of the pick-up bed. The above-ground-level altitude of a stack of tin jutting out the back of a pick-up bed is approximately head-high on a four year-old. The Colonel recognized the need to unload the stack, but procrastinated.

Yep, next to the definition of idiot in Webster's is a picture of the Colonel.

The Colonel's little buddy, the Hope of 21st Century Civilization-Dash One (H21CC-1), proved beyond a shadow a doubt in any mind that the Colonel is an idiot. Things do not turn out well when four year-old cheeks and tin occupy the same space--at least not for the cheek.

Of all the idiots identified throughout history and cataloged by degree of idiocy, the Colonel's case for idiot-in-chief easily holds supremacy.

The Colonel is not just a garden variety village idiot. Oh, no. If states had official idiots, he would be Mississippi's. And probably Alabama's and Louisiana's, as well.

Luckily, Tennessee already has Al Gore.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, who has never had a speeding ticket, broke several land speed records getting H21CC-1 to the local emergency room, while the Colonel remained at home with H21CC-2 and rapidly turned into a quivering mass of self-recrimination.

Actually, the Colonel managed to maintain a modicum of calm while he called H21CC-1's parents at work, before rapidly turning into a quivering mass of self-recrimination.

Has the Colonel mentioned that he is an idiot?

Turns out the bravest soul in this whole extended family trauma was actually the victim of the Colonel's idiocy. H21CC-1 ceased crying approximately 30 seconds after the collision with the stack of tin that laid his cheek open, and never seriously tuned up again--even while the finest plastic surgeon in all the land stitched him back up.

The Colonel, by contrast, has teared up continually since the incident.

There is nothing more pitiful than a crying idiot.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Bound

The Colonel has a book in him. Most of it is stored in the few remaining active cells laying fallow in the amorphous grey goo puddled in the recesses of his brain-housing group. The majority of the plot is there in abstract, as are many of the characters. The story's first several chapters are actually already in draft--a hundred or so pages in Word--each starting like gang-busters and then petering off into inconclusiveness.

The challenge before the Colonel is two-fold: Master his ADHD and overcome his fear of irrelevance.

Writing, the Colonel has come to realize, is a lonely endeavor, filled with opportunity for discovery and fraught with the danger of dead-ends and dearths of idea-connecting files. Writing can be a lot like reading--sometimes the words flow from the future and bring with them new thoughts and expressions; sometimes the book gets put down, interrupted by life, and not ever finished.

To write, one must love language. The Colonel loves words, but language is more than vocabulary and there are so many requirements for a healthy, loving relationship with sentence structure, syntax, tense, and paragraph composition. The Colonel could just write and leave the rules to the textbooks, but that seems such an undisciplined attitude for this old disciplinarian.

And, yet, the best stuff seems to fly off the fingertips when the Colonel lets the reins loose and ignores the fences.

It is a quandary faced, the Colonel is quite certain, by millions before him who have attempted effective communication via the written word. And, there are millions of books completed.

And, then, there is the fear of rejection and irrelevance that haunts the Colonel's consciousness like a taunting schoolyard bully, "you ain't nuthin'. What makes you think you can write?" Coming from an extended education in the school of fearlessness that was the infantry, you would think the Colonel could easily master this seemingly safe, sedentary task without trepidation. There were always those whose stature and strength towered over him and yet he surprised and surpassed. This should be no different.

The Colonel is no David, but the book in him is no Goliath either.

It's just a story.

"Okay, then, Marine. Get on with it."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Clear and Present Danger

The Colonel believes it's time to apply some serious armed force in the vital national interests of these re-United States. There is a clear and present danger to American lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness and it is NOT Islamic Fascism or Radical Extremism. It is not even the threat of a strengthening Peoples' Republic of China, with whom the Colonel is convinced, beyond any shadow of a doubt in his military mind, the United States will eventually go to war.

The clear and present danger to the United States of America is a criminal insurgency invading our sovereign territory, primarily across our southern national border.

Let the Colonel be clearly understood. He is an avid proponent of legal and regulated immigration to the United States. The greatness of our nation is, and always has been, deeply rooted in our acceptance of the world's "huddled masses yearning to be free."

The Colonel would have you focus on the last word in the above quote.

Freedom to legally pursue the fruits of liberty is the overarching principle under which our nation was conceived and with which it has attained its greatness. American exceptionalism is no accident. It is the inevitable positive product of the equation that sums and multiplies the world's cultural strengths and a free people's talents and toil.

Freedom is not free, however. It is a privilege earned by citizenship, one of the most sacred duties and inescapable requirements of which is abiding by and enforcing the laws of the land.

The United States, if it is to remain the "shining city on the hill" and the "last stand of liberty on Earth," must zealously guard and enforce the rule of law by which our freedoms are guaranteed. Let the Colonel rephrase that--we must resume the zealous guard and enforcement duty we have shirked for nearly two generations.

The Colonel would have you consider the proposition that perhaps in our valiant and noble actions of the past century to "make the world safe for democracy" we have taken our eye off of the more fundamental goal of keeping our own nation safe for liberty.

Again, the Colonel would have you know that he believes that our nation should continue to welcome liberty-seekers from every corner of the globe, the only conditions of their admittance being their willingness to contribute to the furtherance of our great experiment and their submission to the rule of our law.

So, let us turn our attention to the criminal invasion across our borders. Make no mistake, it is an invasion. The Colonel takes issue with the extreme position held by some that the entire tide of immigration is criminal. The Colonel believes that the vast majority of those who have entered this country "illegally" over the past 30 to 40 years are simply good people seeking better opportunity and greater security than that afforded under the corrupt or ineffective governments in their homelands. Were our control of our borders a lot more effective and our immigration policies a little more liberal, the Colonel believes that vast majority of the primarily Hispanic liberty-seekers would have entered our country in a controlled, orderly, and legal fashion.

Frankly, the fact that upwards of 20 million Latin Americans have joined our club, even "illegally," over the past two generations speaks very highly for the attractiveness and desirability of membership. Gotta be proud of that. If we weren't so great, there would be a lot more emigration than immigration.

What bothers the Colonel is the realization that even if 95% of the aforementioned 20 million are otherwise law-abiding and liberty-loving, that still leaves ONE MILLION who are not. If an invasion of ONE MILLION folks set on goals contrary to the vital national interests (i.e., criminal enterprise) doesn't represent a CLEAR and PRESENT DANGER to you, then you need to review the coursework for National Security 101.

To put the numbers in perspective, the Colonel could easily seize control of, say, El Paso or Phoenix with a lightly-armed infantry component (no tanks, artillery, or airpower) of a Marine Division--roughly 10,000 fighters. Assuming only 200,000 cross our border unchecked each year (and you and the Colonel both know the number is much higher), only 5% of whom are intent on criminal enterprise (and you and the Colonel both know the percentage is much higher), the criminal invasion force entering our nation each year is equivalent to the aforementioned lightly armed infantry component of a Marine Division.

Against this massive invasion, Senator McCain, attempting tough talk to rescue his re-election hopes, proposed this week the need for only 3,000 National Guard troops.

Even allowing for Clausewitz' argument that "defense is the stronger form of warfare," McCain's proposal to defend our borders is laughable.

Only the Colonel ain't laughing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Runnin' Rebels

They were a bunch of angry white guys, fed up with their over-bearing and out-of-touch government and stirred up by rabble-rousing businessmen. What they did this morning, 235 years ago, shocked the world and plunged their country into a civil war, and, by some reckoning, plunged the major powers of Europe into a "world war" -- at least a multi-national war fought on many fronts globally.

In response to several "intolerable" Acts of Parliament passed in early 1774, aimed at more closely regulating commerce and other colonial activities, the first Continental Congress met in an attempt to form a more collective colonial front in opposition to perceived unfair treatment by their mother country. That first Continental Congress, with delegates from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, first proclaimed, in "The Declaration and Resolutions" their opposition to the "intolerable" Acts and their claim to the same rights and privileges afforded their countrymen in England. Next, the Continental Congress sent an explanation of their actions to the people of the Colonies and an entreaty to the Canadian colonies to join them. An address explaining the Colonial position was sent to "The People of Great Britain," followed at last by a "Petition of Congress to the King."

New England--Massachusetts, in particular--had been the hotbed of colonial sentiment against the British government for several years prior to the Spring of 1775, and as tensions mounted, the colonial rebels in New England formed militias and accumulated stores of weapons, gunpowder, and lead. Alarmed by the increasingly militant stances of the the rebel ringleaders and the accumulation of military stores, General Thomas Gage, British governor of Massachusetts received instructions from Great Britain to seize the aforementioned stores in an attempt to tamp down the growing insurrection.

It was just the ignition of the revolutionary powder keg for which the rebel politicians had been looking.

A seven hundred-man force of Redcoats left Boston on the evening of April 18th and headed for Lexington and Concord, the two villages nearest Boston at which the rebel militias had been stockpiling arms and ammunition. Expecting such a move, rebels in Boston planned to send riders to warn the militias when the British marched out of Boston. Enter Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott. The first two were able to warn the militia in Lexington before captured by the British and the last was able to spread the alarm as far as Concord.

At around 0500 (5:00 A.M. for the Colonel's civilian readers) the British force arrived at the village of Lexington where a group of militiamen numbering approximately 77 had hastily assembled to impede the British mission. To say that the rebels were hopelessly out-numbered and militarily over-matched would be an understatement ranking right up there with any of the current Vice President's patronizing, off-color reminders to his boss. The British commander ordered the rebels to disperse.

They rebel militia did what every red-blooded American militia has faithfully done in every battle and skirmish since 1775.

They ran.

The Colonel could be gracious and give the yankee rebels the benefit of the doubt, given that they were up against the cream of the greatest military force on the planet at the time and were outnumbered roughly 10 to 1. Okay. The Colonel will be gracious.

They dispersed.

End of story and probably end of the nascent American colonial revolution, but for one angry white guy who evidently resented being told to disperse. Maybe he hadn't been at the militia meeting when the subject of dispersal was addressed. Some contemporary, eye-witness accounts claim that "the shot heard 'round the world" was actually the British commander discharging his pistol into the air as if it were a starter's pistol for the militia race to safety in which most of the participants had already "jumped the gun." The Colonel would rather believe that the first shot came from a tardy minuteman who, upon seeing the meeting already breaking up, fired his musket skyward in frustration. At any rate, the two sides exchanged volleys.

Well, the British fired a volley. The rebels, not so much. When the smoke cleared, eight colonists lay dead on Lexington Green; ten other colonists were wounded. One British soldier was wounded.

The British proceeded to Concord and succeeded in destroying the rebel munitions stored there before confronted by a growing force of minutemen. The British, their mission accomplished, retraced their route of march back to Boston.

But, the fight was on.

Harried all the way back to their base, and sniped at from behind rock walls and stands of trees, the British suffered 300 killed, wounded, or missing in action by the time they got back to the friendly confines of the Boston city limits. The militia in Lexington avenged their fallen comrades, exacting several casualties as the British marched back through their town.

The Colonel would have you understand that there are several very important lessons-learned from the event 235 years ago, today.

First, for those who today advocate forming militia--stop it. All you will accomplish is getting a lot of good folks killed.

Second, militias always run. You can't cobble together a bunch of Rambo wannabes, plink and drink on the weekends, and have an effective battlefield force.

Third, if you are a government official contemplating armed confrontation with an otherwise law-abiding, but armed, militia group--stop it. In addition to killing a bunch of folks, you will likely ignite an armed insurrection or incite some mouth-breathing, village idiot to commit domestic terrorism.

But, don't take the Colonel's word for it. Ask the British.
Better yet, ask Janet Reno.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Anger Management

At a recent ad hoc Tallahatchie Free State cabinet session on the front porch of the Big House here at the northern end of southern nowhere, the Colonel, sole representative of the people, was made aware of an egregious omission in the pantheon of holidays, commemorative days, and other not-so-special, actually-quite-ordinary days recognized and celebrated here on the grounds and vast holdings that comprise that fair land known as Eegeebeegee.

We ain't got no day for "Angry White Guys."

Now, the Colonel means no disrespect to those of you whose composure, complexion, or gender excludes you from the above appellation. In fact, the Colonel is always quick to recognize the historical accomplishments of those whose composure, complexion, or gender excludes them from the above appellation. Furthermore, it is in the spirit of inclusion that the Colonel takes pen in hand..., er, tippy taps on his keyboard, to ensure that angry white guys get their due.

The Colonel would ask your indulgence and would frame his argument in favor of his establishment of AWG Day with a series of questions.

Who fired "the shot heard 'round the world?"

An angry white guy.

Who gave us the immortal words, "Give me liberty or give me death?"

An angry white guy.

Who were the signers of the Declaration of Independence?

A bunch of angry white guys.

Who uttered the immortal words, "Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

An angry white guy.

The Alamo was surrounded by ten thousand Mexicans and who refused Santa Anna's offer of all-you-can-eat Tex-Mex?

Angry white guys.

First man on the beach at Normandy? First man off the helicopter at Ia Drang? First one to burn his draft card?

All angry white guys.

Who invented the twist-off bottle cap?

Don't know for certain, but the Colonel would bet it was an angry white guy with no bottle opener and a lot of hand strength.

First person to walk out of a screening of "Brokeback Mountain?"

Bettin' on the angry white guy...

The Colonel could go on, but this is all startin' to make him angry...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Bridge at Eegeebeegee, Phase IIB

The Colonel had an enlightening encounter with mass, gravity, torque, leverage, and the coefficient of friction this weekend. And, amazingly, no serious injury resulted.

As the three of you who regularly waste precious rod and cone time perusing posts hereon will remember, the Colonel is building a bridge across the creek dividing his vast holdings here at the northern end of southern nowhere. Over the past ten weeks the Colonel and his crew lowered the creek bed in order to install bridge pier uprights, cemented in the near and far shore abutments, and replaced the rip-rap rock in the creek to raise the creek bed back up to it's previous level.

It was now time to add the major timbers that will form the backbone of the bridge span. A neighbor provided two creosoted 12 x 12, twenty-four foot timbers and Saturday morning delivered them by trailer to the far shore via another neighbor's adjacent pasture.

Does a 24 foot long, creosoted 12 x 12 timber weigh a lot? Is "I" Barack Obama's favorite word?

The Colonel can not accurately assess the mass of the timbers, but is fairly certain that when the timbers were rolled off the side of the trailer and impacted terra firma seismographs across a three-state area recorded the event. The earth's axis was almost certainly shifted and you may thank the Colonel for the resulting shorter day.

The jolt bounced the Colonel, and an acre of unattached fauna into the air. A coyote and the Colonel shared a shocked eye-to-eye moment before it dropped back into its tall grass hide.

The last surviving snail darters in the Tallahatchie drainage were stunned and floated belly-up.

The air was filled with a yellow-green haze of pollen snapped suddenly and massively from the boughs of pines across the Colonel's vast holdings.

As a gentle breeze cleared the air, the Colonel and his neighbor stood next to the timbers and gazed down the long slope of the approach to the bridge site. "How you gonna get these things down there and across those abutments," the neighbor asked.

The Colonel adopted his best "air of confidence" pose, paused for effect, and stated matter-of-factly, "I have no idea..."

The Colonel did, in fact, have an idea, but it was so Rube Goldberg in nature that he was loath to admit what his plans were.

With the strong backs of #2 son and one of his friends, the first timber was rolled over onto rollers improvised from short lengths of PVC pipe and, the Colonel kids you not, short lengths of oak limbs. The timber was levered and edged by hand, inches at a time, until it reached the lip of the slope down to the creek. As the center of gravity of the massive beam neared the precipice, a warning light began to flicker faintly in the Colonel's brain-housing group.

The Colonel never pays attention to flickering lights.

Levering and edging eventually moved the beam's center of gravity past the lip of the slope, and, as the nose of the beam slowly dropped, the flickering warning light suddenly glowed brightly and was joined by a clanging alarm bell. The Colonel frantically searched his speech center for an appropriate warning.

What is the appropriate warning for a impending runaway 24 foot, creosoted 12 x 12 bridge timber?

Excellent question.

The Colonel still doesn't know.

Needless to say, the bridge timber reached a position 50 feet down-slope a lot quicker than was anticipated given the amount of elbow grease it had taken to move it the first 25 feet from pasture-level to slope precipice.

"Well," #2 son opined, "that was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be."

With the timber's nose about 10 feet from the abutment, two 6 x 6 timbers were positioned side by side with ends alongside the timber and other ends propped up on the abutment. With a cant hook, the timber was rolled over onto the 6 x 6's. A chain was attached to the timber and stretched across the creek to the Colonel's rusty red pick-up truck, Semper Fillit, and the timber was pulled halfway across the creek. Remembering what happened the last time the massive timber's center of gravity crossed a fulcrum, the Colonel instructed his two assistants to sit on the far end of the beam as he pulled with the truck, to keep the leading edge higher than the abutment on the other side of the creek until the beam's leading edge was safely over that side.

To the amazement of all involved--it worked. Twice.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Chicks of Eegeebeegee

The critter count at Eegeebeegee, capital of the Tallahatchie Free State, increased significantly this past Easter weekend.

It has long been the intention of the Colonel to add domesticated fauna raising to the extant flora raising activities aboard his vast holdings here at the northern end of southern nowhere. The Colonel would occasionally point to the spot on the grounds adjacent to the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility upon which a future chicken coop and hen house would someday rise in simple and functional elegance.

The future is now.

While on a shopping trip to the "big city" (Tupelo) last Saturday, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda and the Colonel were stimulating the economy in our favorite frilly, fanciful hobby and manly, practical tractor supply stores (separately and respectively) when they were overcome by the overwhelming urge to buy chicks for the Hope of 21st Century Civilization (H21CC, dash 1 and 2).

There is something sinisterly irresistible about a feeding trough full of fuzzy yellow and brown chicks.

A downy little chick just has to be picked up.

A downy little chick just has to be taken home to H21CC-1, -2.

The store required a minimum purchase of six chicks. Who needs six chicks? There are only two grandchildren, at present, gracing the grounds of the Big House at Eegeebeegee. Two chicks would be plenty.

The Colonel bought eight.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's mother hen instincts went immediately into hyper-drive. Ever driven for an hour with a chick peeping in your ear? Oh, and the chickens were making a lot of noise, as well.

The large cardboard box in which the Colonel intended to raise the chicks for the next several weeks lasted two days. The Colonel dutifully disappeared into the sawdust production side of the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility and emerged several hours and approximately three-quarters of a ton of sawdust later with the Eegeebeegee Chick Raising Box (patent pending). Ostensibly man-portable, the Eegeebeegee Chick Raising Box (patent pending) required the aid of the Colonel's trusty red tractor--Semper Field--to transport from the sawdust production side of the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility to the spot in the garage at which the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda insisted was close enough to the door to the Big House to allow her to communicate with her new peeps.

Yesterday, H21CC-1 and the Colonel measured off and staked out the site on which Eegeebeegee's next edifice will rise. The Colonel will keep the three of you who regularly waste precious rod and cone time perusing posts hereon appropriately apprised of the chicken coop and hen house construction activities as they unfold.

Can anyone tell the Colonel whether chickens lay eggs, or do they give live birth?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Okinawa Vision

It was Easter, and the American troops who landed on the beaches without any casualties considered it a miracle. It was also April Fools Day...

Sixty-five years ago today, less than three and one-half years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the culminating battle of the War with Japan began with landings on the island of Okinawa, 340 miles south of the Japanese home islands. The fighting on Okinawa claimed one of the highest casualty totals of the entire Second World War and presaged what planned landings on the home islands themselves would cost. The savagery and carnage of smaller island fights from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima was writ large on Okinawa.

At Okinawa, Japanese regular and irregular land forces numbered greater than 110,000. The American 10th Army, whose task it was to wrest Okinawa from the Japanese, consisted of over 180,000 soldiers and Marines in four Army and three Marine Divisions. Instead of contesting the landing beaches as had been the Japanese strategy theretofore, the Japanese commander on Okinawa massed his forces inland in rugged terrain and intended to bleed the attackers white in order to give them a foretaste of what it would mean to carry the fight to the Japanese home islands.

In that regard, he was very successful.

While the fighting ashore on Okinawa ground opposing forces in a horrific meat grinder, U.S. and British naval forces offshore endured their own maelstrom. Kamikaze attacks sank a dozen ships and killed over 5000 U.S. sailors--a total greater than that suffered by either the Army or the Marine Corps, separately, on land.
Japanese forces killed numbered over 100,000 and civilian deaths, by some estimates, matched or exceeded that total.

Harry Truman, who assumed the Presidency while the brutal battles on and around Okinawa raged, was faced with the prospect of a butcher's bill twenty times the cost of U.S. and Japanese lives on Okinawa, were landings on the Japanese home islands required to bring the War with Japan to a satisfactory conclusion. Waging atomic war was a no-brainer, and ultimately saved both Japanese and American lives.

Oh, and the Japanese have been our closest allies and most valuable trading partners ever since.

Were the strategists currently designing our facetious "Long War" campaigns against the Islamo-fascist threat to civilization in charge of our response to Japanese Imperial aggression, the Colonel wonders what the fight in the Pacific would have looked like.

Would we be timidly and selectively fighting Japanese tactics? Would we still be fighting, and losing, a "Long War" against Japanese militarism?

The Colonel has long maintained that our war against Islamo-fascism could have been satisfactorily concluded five years ago. "Long Wars" are unwinnable, particularly by democratic republics whose citizenry rapidly tire of protracted military campaigns, and whose politicians use the war and its costs as campaign fodder.

But, what does this old knuckle-dragger know?