Friday, June 25, 2010

Keeping the Republic

At the conclusion of the proceedings of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was approached outside of Independence Hall and asked, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

Franklin responded, "A republic,...if you can keep it."

The Colonel would have you consider that the question asked of Franklin was not whether the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had crafted a democracy or a monarchy. Frankly, there had been no intent amongst the serious visionaries who labored to hammer out our Constitution to create a democracy. It will no doubt surprise the three of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon (as well as 99.9% of the U.S. population), to learn that nowhere in the Constitution of the United States does the word democracy appear. Don't take the Colonel's word for this, look it up.

In fact, many of the founders of our Republic and framers of the Constitution were disdainful of democracies and fearful of democratic tendencies.

James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution and fourth President of the United States, wrote, "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

John Adams, co-author of the Declaration of Independence, champion of the concept of "Checks and Balances" that is embodied in our Constitution, George Washington's vice president, and second President of the United States, wrote, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

The foregoing are not snippet sound bites taken out of the context of the writers' otherwise love of democratic ideals, as many progressives would have you believe. Simple democracy was anathema to them.

Benjamin Rush, signatory to the Declaration of Independence, physician who led in the recognition of alcoholism as a chemical addiction and who provided medical training to Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery, and an early abolitionist, wrote, "A simple democracy, or an unbalanced republic, is one of the greatest of evils."

Unfortunately for the future of our Constitutional Republic, the acidic encroachment of simple democratic concepts has corroded the fulcrum upon which our Republic balances. Those who believe that the original Constitution and its "Bill of Rights" Amendments are simply antiquated general guidelines to be ignored when they interfere with our current pursuit of comfort or convenience, have, in the name of democracy, introduced popular concepts that would no doubt cause Dr. Franklin to lament that we have "failed to keep our Republic."

One such acidic democratic concept that unbalances our Republic is the popular, direct election of U.S. Senators. The framers of the Constitution intended the U.S. Senate to be a deliberative legislative counterweight to the popular-passion-fueled U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to the progressive-promoted 17th Amendment of 1913, members of the Senate were appointed by their respective state's legislature, thus enjoying a measure of insulation from the pressure to cater to fickle popular sentiment. Since 1914, the U.S. Senate has become increasingly susceptible to the popular passion of the moment and has lost its ability to act independent of that popular passion when that popular passion threatens the maintenance of our Constitutional Republic. Indeed, U.S. Senators now see their greatest role as securing federal funding of projects benefiting their constituents and in effect buying their constituents' votes for reelection. Democracy feeding on itself.

The "American Experiment," as envisioned by those who fashioned and established its parameters, was not designed to prove the efficacy of a democratic government. The results of other experiments with simple democracy were enough to convince our founders that such "mob rule" was not good enough for the people of our new nation. Americans, as exceptional as they were and were to be, deserved better. The "American Experiment" was a test of a completely new form of representative government wherein democracy was the power source, but our Constitution provided the mechanism by which that popular energy was converted into action for the good (not, wants) of the people.

The Colonel would go so far as to say, knowing it will subject him to criticism and dismissal by most, that our Constitutional Republic, as originally designed, is more like a benevolent dictatorship than a pure democracy. Most of you will recoil at that thought. We Americans like to think of ourselves as democrats (little d), and speak grandly of "Jeffersonian Democracy" in the mistaken belief that Jeffersonian ideals were purely democratic and reflected his trust in a "democratic government" to ensure the rights, and provide for the needs, of all. Most Americans have no more idea about the difference between the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian (Federalist) concepts of government than they do about the differences between Newtonian and quantum physics. It probably will come as a surprise to most to learn that Jefferson deplored big government. He would be aghast at the malevolent behemoth that has escaped and grown, extra-constitutionally, out of the Philadelphia political science laboratory.

Our ignorance of governmental philosophy is exactly why our Constitution was designed as a blueprint for a benevolently dictatorial mechanism of government--to protect us from ourselves.

Next: The Colonel will opine on the most critical question of the day--the evolution of collegiate sports conferences and the need for a Division I football playoff system.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Stars

The Colonel has chewed vigorously on his tongue the past two days as the latest example of the ever-present American civil-military tension has splashed across the news. He had a lot to say on the subject, but most of it not fit for print.

The Colonel is more than a little chagrined, on a number of levels, with regard to reporter Michael Hastings' revelations in the forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone. Some basic questions, if the Colonel may...

First,... Rolling Stone?

You let a reporter from the Rolling Stone hang around with you and your staff? You let a reporter from the Rolling Stone go out drinking with you and your staff? Being open to the press is one thing, but the Rolling Stone? The Colonel ain't a smart man, but he knows that is about like letting Jane Fonda participate in strike mission planning.

(The three of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon are old enough to remember Ms Fonda's treasonous behavior. On the outside chance that a fourth, unenlightened reader will stumble upon this post and not get it--Jane Fonda visited North Vietnam and had her picture taken sitting on an anti-aircraft gun and was quoted as wishing there was an American B-52 overhead that she could shoot at. Ms Fonda graced the pages of Rolling Stone in more than a few treasonous articles during that war.)

Second, you led your staff in yucking it up about and mocking members of the National Command Authority? You allowed an environment in which that kind of disrespectful and insubordinate behavior was so common-place that an outsider easily picked up on it and could quote enough of it to write about? You allowed an environment in which that kind of disrespectful and insubordinate behavior was so common-place that a freelance reporter from the Rolling Stone easily picked up on it and could quote enough of it to write a feature article about? The Colonel ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even he wouldn't have been surprised at the result of that.

Who do you think you are? MacArthur?

Well, you just might be. We are fighting this [insert current euphemism] as if it were the latest incarnation of the Korean War--a conflict with muddled and contradicting aims, propping up a corrupt and ineffective government, at which we throw just enough men and resources to waste them without decisive result.

Mr. President, relieve the General. You must. Then, shut down his headquarters and bring home the rest of the troops as rapidly as you can.

The Colonel volunteers his rusty red pick-up, Semper Fillit, if you are short on transportation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Simmer Solstice Sanctuary Statement

If this record-breaking heat keeps up, the Colonel may have to issue a public apology to Al Gore.

The official start of the calendar summer season in the northern hemisphere may be today, but it has been hotter than a pot-bellied stove lid here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere for the better part of the past three weeks. The combination of heat and humidity has made it all but impossible for the Colonel to accomplish any outside chores, and with the vast holdings of the Colonel and his kin having doubled recently there's more to do than ever. There are more fields to bush-hog, another bridge to be built, and don't get the Colonel started on the pressing need to start preparing food plots for the upcoming hunting seasons.

It occurs to the Colonel that perhaps the Tallahatchie Free State could increase the availability of cheap labor, and thereby decrease the likelihood of the Colonel spontaneously combusting, if it were to declare itself a Sanctuary Republic.

As the number of residents is quickly outstripping the number of citizens aboard Eegeebeegee (capital of the virtual republic founded tongue-in-cheek and hand-on-wallet), sanctuary status would only be extended to persons who qualify for admission to the Tallahatchie Free State as citizens. Whereas citizenship in the Tallahatchie Free State is contingent upon honorable United States military service--veterans of para-military organizations such as police, firefighters, and the U.S. Air Force may also qualify (with waiver granted by the Colonel)--sanctuary status can only be legally extended to those who have demonstrated acceptance of the idea of sacrificial service to a cause larger than themselves.

With increasingly large areas of the once-sovereign territory of these re-United States tacitly ceded to drug cartels, human traffickers, and other nefarious interlopers--by the nefarious interlopers now occupying positions of authority in the federal government--the Colonel reckons that there must soon be a steady stream of refugees from those overrun former outposts of freedom on our southern border; a small, but significant percentage of which should qualify for sanctuary here upon the kudzu-clad rolling hills of the former Chickasaw Nation (that's right, the Colonel is an occupier).

The Colonel encourages qualified sanctuary seekers not to delay in application for admittance. Current acreage (pending future acquisitions, notwithstanding) available for settlement is limited, and the Colonel expects that with an Exxon Valdez-load of crude gushing into the waters, and onto the beaches, of the Gulf of Mississippi (hey, we got as much right to it as anyone) every three or four days, the stream of refugees (and possible sanctuary-seekers) from the Gulf Coast should swell accordingly.

Send hand-written, essay-form application--along with non-refundable 5 Krugerrand application fee to:

The Colonel
End of the Pavement
Eegeebeegee, MS

Friday, June 18, 2010

From Nuke 'em to Nuke it

Sixty-five years ago, at the end of a war that had already claimed upwards of fifty million lives, two hundred thousand Japanese (mostly civilian) lives provided the horrific exclamation point to the declaration of the nuclear era. It was providential that it was the United States whose scientists won the race to split the atom, as our principled preeminence in nuclear power assured that, to this late date, nuclear power's peaceful application has claimed far less lives than would have been otherwise lost had the unprincipled likes of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union crossed the fission finish line first.

Four generations ago, the promise of the peaceful application of nuclear power was unlimited. It has not been allowed to fulfill even a minuscule fraction of that promise. It is time to unleash nuclear power and fully employ its potential.

In 1945, and for a couple of decades thereafter, the world did not fully understand the enormity of the dangers inherent in the use of nuclear power. Some underestimated the safety requirements. Luckily, the United States' head start and preeminence in the nuclear arena allowed us, as we uncovered the asps hidden in the sands of fission, to move forward with an abundance of caution. The Soviet Union's approach was not so cautious. If the Russians had the likes of our brilliant, albeit highly eccentric, Admiral Hyman Rickover, they didn't pay attention and suffered scary accidents as a result.

Today, we benefit from two-thirds of a century of nuclear experience. We know how to safely harness fission. Companies like Japan's Toshiba (irony of ironies) are on the brink of marketing (in partnership with none other than Bill Gates) small community-sized reactors whose use of depleted uranium produces relatively minuscule amounts of waste--most of which can be recycled. Shouldn't the United States be the leader in this market?

Why, yes. Yes we can.

Think of it. Each community with its own non-polluting power source--with no need to network with other communities via a fragile and ugly transmission infrastructure.

Instead of spending the trillions of dollars necessary to build solar and wind generation facilities, and the needed transmission lines, whose land use is enormously wasteful and frightfully unsightly, why not bury a small self-contained reactor in every community, at a fraction of the total cost.

It's a no-brainer. The Colonel would not have considered it otherwise.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Belly of the Beast

Walmart, that ubiquitous leviathan of American consumerism, destroyer of the inefficient, employer of the oppressed, and whipping boy of the all those whose adherence to the political platform of progressivism is strangely at odds with their distaste for true progress, encourages us to "join the fight against hunger in America" and claims, dramatically, that "1 in 6 Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from."

Given that the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda suffers extreme allergic reactions when placed in close proximity to meal preparation areas and food cooking appliances, the Colonel reckons that he is one of the “1 in 6.” Two signs hang over the entrances to the room containing the aforementioned meal preparation areas and food cooking appliances in the Big House here at the northern end of deep southern nowhere. The first innocently and accurately proclaims “I kiss better than I cook.”

The second sign warns, “The only reason I have this kitchen is because it came with the house.

In as much as the Colonel’s second favorite pastime (right below the thing that the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda does better than cook) is strapping on the chow bucket, it is perhaps a fortunate thing that the Colonel’s lady is culinary challenged—else the Colonel would be big as a house.

But, back to Walmart's assertion that 1 in 6 Americans is on the verge of starvation-- gonna have to hoist the bovine excrement flag on that one. One need only spend half an hour on a bench in front of the local ubiquitous leviathan of American consumerism to disabuse oneself of any such notion.

Ever notice the thicker section of concrete across the parking lot at the entrance to a Walmart? That's not there to withstand the weight of vehicular traffic.

While Walmart's philanthropy is laudable, the idea that nearly twenty percent of Americans are face-to-face with famine is laughable.

The Colonel has seen starvation, up close and personal. The Colonel has even known hunger, personally. Starvation does not exist, today, in America. And true hunger is a very rare thing in our country. Consider this: if there were one extended-belly, malnourished child in America, would we not be bombarded with that child's picture daily? In our nation, today, food is so abundant and so amazingly affordable, that even the poorest have access to more than adequate nourishment. It has not always been so, nor are we guaranteed that we will be forever so blessed.

But, our current bounteous booties attest to our nation's bounty.

Recent headlines have proclaimed that a majority of our nation's youth are so over-weight and out of shape as to place our nation's future security at risk. The Colonel has experienced this, first hand, as the Marine recruiters under his charge screened hundreds of young men and women each day to find a handful that met the minimum physical standards (read: within weight standards) for military service. We were recruiting, not in the richest counties in the land, but in Appalachia.

Gotta go, the smoke alarm is going off and that means dinner is ready.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Less Cowbell

An ad hoc session of the Peoples' Congress of the Tallahatchie Free State met this morning on the front porch of the Big House at Eegeebeegee to hear a report from the Select Committee on Imposition of Politically Correct Rules to Aggravate Annoying People (SCIPCRAAP) on a recommendation to ban the possession/use/or reference to cowbells on any TFS property or in any building thereon.

Recommendation follows:

Whereas cowbells are the noise-maker of choice for fans of the other SEC school in the Great State of Mississippi; and

Whereas cowbells are by the following reasons deemed politically incorrect:

1. Their use is insensitive to both the hearing challenged and those who wish not to become hearing challenged.

2. Their use is insensitive to the muscle-challenged and as a weapon can cause grievous bodily arm.

3. Their ringing was once used to signal lunch and dinner breaks in the cotton fields.

4. Their use is insensitive to bovines who are reminded of their oppression at the hands of dairy farmers.

5. Their use is insensitive to Alabama fans, who are reminded that even though every official in the SEC is a 'Bama fan, they are still powerless to prevent cowbell ringing.

6. Their use is insensitive to LSU fans and their perpetual hangovers.

7. Their use is insensitive to Tennessee fans, who are made to feel inferior when confronted by anything louder than their clothes.

8. Their use is insensitive to Vanderbilt fans, whose favorite pastime is listening to themselves think.

9. Their use is insensitive to Georgia fans, who are already offended by another SEC school using their mascot.

10. Their use is insensitive to Auburn fans, who take offense at,...well...just about everything.

11. Their use is insensitive to South Carolina and Arkansas fans, who are reminded that they are in the big leagues, now.

12. Their use is insensitive to Florida fans, as the noise prevents them from hearing constant replays of Tim Tebow crying.

13. Their use is insensitive to Kentucky fans, who are trying to listen to replays of Wildcat basketball while their football team implodes, again.

14. Their use is insensitive to Ole Miss fans, who are trying to talk on their cell phones coordinating the after-game party.

Now, therefore, be it resolved this 3rd Day of June in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Ten; and of the establishment of the Tallahatchie Free State, the third; that possession/use/mention of a cowbell, or any facsimile thereof, be expressly forbidden; punishment for violation of such prohibition to include forced listening to the Hotty Toddy cheer for an extended period of time.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Linking Strategy and Tactics

In war, in love, throughout life, the best intended and most highly prized strategic goals can be rendered unattainable by a tactical action taken in complete confidence of one's tactical capability.

In the late 1980's the Colonel, then a captain, commanded a 200-man reinforced rifle company tasked with the mission of conducting helicopter-borne operations while on a Marine Expeditionary Unit--Special Operations Capable (MEU--SOC) deployment to the Mediterranean. One of the operations for which this unit trained was take-down or reinforcement of merchant shipping--both of which called for fast-roping (sliding down a 40-foot rope dangling from a hovering helicopter) onto the cluttered deck of an underway merchantman. Great fun. Within much less than a minute of the helicopter coming to a stable hover over the target ship, a dozen heavily-armed Marines could be out of the helo and taking up initial positions on the deck. Exciting stuff.

Get a squad of heavily-armed and well-trained Marines anywhere and that chunk of territory is rapidly under their control--or destroyed; take your pick.

So, as the three of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon can well imagine, the Colonel took a great deal of interest in the Israeli navy commando operation to take control of the Turkish-flagged merchant ships attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The Colonel even received some encouragement from a surprising quarter to post hereon regarding the Israeli operation. Seems there might actually be FOUR of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon. Unfortunately, that fourth quarter may be somewhat disappointed at the slant this post takes. (Enough football references for you?)

The Colonel's initial assessment was that the Israelis acted appropriately and with remarkable restraint to interdict the blockade-runners. Appropriately, because anyone who believes that there were no intentions to provide arms and ammunition to Hamas (the Islamo-Fascist regime currently governing the Gaza Strip, whose over-arching strategic aim is the destruction of Israel) along with milk, cookies, and medical supplies to the Palestinian people has been smoking something a wee bit stronger than a Marlboro. Remarkable restraint, because the Israeli navy could have easily stopped the merchant ship flotilla with torpedoes and heavy deck guns--actions which have ample precedent in Israeli military history.

But, as with all battlefield activities, first reports are always false and first assessments are always off the mark.

The Israeli tactics succeeded. The merchant ships, carrying what the Israelis had good reason to believe was more than just humanitarian supplies, did not physically break the blockade. There were no pictures of torpedoed merchantmen going down by the stern or the smoke of burning merchantmen against the bright blue Mediterranean sky.

The Israeli operation may well have failed, though, to accomplish its strategic aim. Nine civilians died. They obviously were not innocent civilians. But, they were civilians. It may indeed turn out that there were ONLY humanitarian supplies aboard these ships. If that is the case, the Israeli operation will have to be deemed an even greater strategic failure.

Israel occupies a rather unique position among the community of nations. No other nation on the planet is so surrounded by enemies so intent on its destruction. This fact has driven Israeli policy and decision-makers to take actions that all-too-often do not endear them to international opinion. They don't care. Nor would you, in their position.

And, the Israelis are tactically very good. Not as good as American soldiers on the whole, but very competent. Operationally (operations link tactics to strategy), however, they suffer myopia caused by their tactical competence. They tend to underestimate the operational and strategic competence of their enemies because their enemies are so tactically incompetent.

The Colonel believes that the Israeli blockade of Hamas in Gaza has been broken. This is a serious blow to Israeli strategic goals. They wanted to prevent Hamas-fired missiles from raining down on their cities. They may have stopped a resupply of those missiles this week. The trickle will now become a flood.

There is a lesson in this for these re-United States and our tactics in Talibanistan. Our remotely-piloted drone strikes have been tactically very effective and efficacious. The problem is the disconnect between effectiveness and efficacy. The Colonel worries that our operational mindset against the Taliban and other Islamo-fascist organizations has begun to mirror the Israeli operational mindset against the terror organizations at their throats. We are busy very accurately swatting flies when we should be cleaning up the piles of barnyard excrement attracting the flies.

Reminds the Colonel he needs to clean out the chicken coop this morning.