Friday, May 27, 2011

Daniels Down

The Colonel has allowed the balance of a standard calendar week to pass before proffering his assessment on the decision by Mitch Daniels not to seek the Republican Party nomination for the Presidency of these re-United States. 

As the dozen or so of you who regularly participate in egregious wastes of valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon will remember (and recoil in regret at the remembrance), the Colonel has, for the balance of a standard calendar year, vociferously promoted the candidacy (if undeclared) of the current Governor of Indiana.  One or more of the dozen of you would be quite correct in asking why the Colonel has not addressed Governor Daniels decision not to embark on the national rescue mission, the leadership for which the Colonel felt the Governor had the foremost qualifications.

Frankly, the Colonel has yet to work his way tortuously through the lengthy and laborious grieving process.

The Colonel just can't believe that Daniels has really decided not to run.  Maybe he'll change his mind.

How dare the Governor make such a decision!  The Colonel has invested the last remaining shreds of his public and private credibility in promotion of Mitch Daniel's candidacy.  The Colonel wants to grab the man by the scruff of the neck and shake him like a rag doll!

C'mon, Mitch.  Please.  The Colonel will spend every waking moment from here on extolling your virtues, if you'll just get in the race.  The Colonel promises he'll deliver the Tallahatchie Free State.   

This is so hard.  The Colonel just feels numb.  There's no reason to even care about the political process anymore.  The Colonel will just lose himself in his sawdust production chores.  Even that seems pointless.

Well, the Colonel guesses the Governor has his own good reasons.  Running for the Presidency of these re-United States takes an incredible toll on a candidate and a candidate's family.  Being President sounds cool and all; but the job is relentless and thankless, perks notwithstanding.  Probably best for him and his family that he not run.  He'd probably win, and then he would really be in trouble.  

Okay, the Colonel will review the field of Republican candidates for a few days and let the dozen or so of you who regularly waste rod and cone time perusing posts hereon know, in short order, just who you should next support for the nomination. 

Apologies for getting you all excited about Mitch Daniels, but you are not alone in your pain.

He broke the Colonel's heart, too.   

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Honoring the Fallen

This coming weekend America observes Memorial Day.  We shouldn't celebrate the day.  It is too solemn an occasion for that.

The Colonel begs the patience of the dozen or so of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon while he pontificates on his pet peeve.  The Colonel has few causes and crusades to which he devotes his energies that are more dear to him than the effort to educate those within reach of his voice and pen regarding the sacredness of Memorial Day, and the distinct difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.

While he always appreciates the sincerity of the sentiment, it has always frustrated the Colonel to be thanked for his military service on Memorial Day. The Colonel did not die (at least he doesn't think he's in Heaven, at present -- although his vast holdings here at shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere are close, and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is an angel) on a battlefield in service to his nation.

Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day--a day on which flowers were placed on the graves of war dead.  While many communities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, it is widely accepted that Columbus, Mississippi holds as strong a claim as any on that distinction.  Cemeteries across the south were filled with both Union and Confederate dead, but it was at the 1866 Decoration Day service in Friendship Cemetery (hallowed ground in which many of the Colonel's kin are buried) in Columbus that flowers were first placed on both Confederate and Union graves.

Memorial Day is reserved solely for remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in the wars to which our nation sent them. Memorial Day should not be a celebratory holiday. It should be a day of solemnity and thankful remembrance of our honored war dead. The trivialization of Memorial Day as a beach holiday and a shopping summons denigrates the memory of the fallen.

On the other hand, Veterans' Day, as the day formerly known as Armistice Day (in recognition of the date on which hostilities in the First World War ceased) is now called, is the appropriate day for recognizing all who served (past tense) in the uniform of the United States.  

If one wishes to use a specific day to recognize the service of men and women still in uniform, Armed Forces Day is the appropriate occasion for that.'ll have to wait a whole 'nuther year for that -- Armed Forces Day was last Saturday. 

If you wish to properly observe Memorial Day, the Colonel respectfully refers you to: 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Polk's Precedent

One hundred and sixty-four years ago today, at the behest of the greatest and least heralded U.S. President of the Nineteenth Century--James Knox Polk--the Congress of the United States declared war on Mexico.

The proximate casus belli was tension over the admission into the union of the Republic of Texas, including territory still claimed by Mexico.  In truth, the conflict was a war of conquest in fulfillment of the American foreign policy concept of Manifest Destiny.  At war's end, Mexico ceded, according to the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, all of the territory which was later to become the States of California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada (as well as territory that would become portions of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming).  

Frankly, as much as the Colonel is a huge fan of Polk, he is disappointed with the 11th President for not annexing all of Mexico (as many in his party--Democrats--were rightfully demanding).  The Colonel can only imagine the economic, resource, and social advantages that would have accrued to our nation had the United States added a dozen or more States stretching from California to well south of the Yucatan.  Our present issue with illegal immigration and the violent Mexican narco free-fall toward failed state status would in all likelihood be...,well, non-issues.  

The Colonel has little doubt in his military mind that, at this point in this egregious waste of rod and cone time, there are many readers with hands reflexively to mouths in horror (or a liberal facsimile thereof) at the thought of our nation making such a nakedly imperialistic land grab.  The Colonel would point out to those of you hyperventilating from behind your cupped phalanges, that the history of man is the history of men taking territory from those who took it from someone else, and that if our American ancestors had not taken land from others we Americans would probably not exist as such nor enjoy the highest standard of living and wealth of social accomplishments ever seen in the solar system.

But the Colonel digresses.

Just prior to initiating hostilities against Mexico, President Polk's administration negotiated (some today call his negotiating style "brinkmanship" due to its bellicosity) the terms of the Oregon Treaty by which the United States gained exclusive possession of the territory that would later become the States of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho (as well as portions of Montana and Wyoming).   

Thus, President Polk's muscular foreign policy resulted in the extension of the boundaries of the United States all the way to the Pacific Ocean and increased the territory of the United States by a third.  In fact, Polk increased the territory of the United States by significantly more contiguous land area than did President Jefferson's much more highly lauded Louisiana Purchase.  

Polk was not only a foreign policy visionary with significant achievements attendant to his vision, but was a domestic policy champion as well.  He created the Department of the Interior, oversaw the establishment of the United States Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institute, re-established an independent Treasury, and reduced trade-strangling tariffs.  Were he alive today, he would undoubtedly be a darling of the Tea Party for his veto of federal funding for state and local projects that forestalled, albeit briefly, the scourge of political pork rampant in our republic.

Slight of stature and temperate in nature, Polk was nonetheless renowned for his oratory (often without notes and always without a teleprompter) which earned him the sobriquet "Napoleon of the Stump." In office, he was referred to as "Young Hickory" after his mentor and fellow Tennessean Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson.  The youngest man (49) to assume the Presidency to that time, Polk was not without qualification, having served as Chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Governor of the State of Tennessee.  

Polk is still the only Speaker of the House to serve as President.   

The Colonel would be remiss to not mention the one blight on Polk's memory--he was a slave-owner.  He was in "good" company as such, however--nine of his predecessors and four of his successors, were, or had been, slave-owners at one time.  Polk's will stipulated that his slaves were to be freed upon his wife's death.

Polk's accomplishments as President are all the more impressive given that he did not overtly seek the office, and, once nominated by his party as a compromise candidate, pledged to serve only one term.   A pledge he honored without prevarication.

Who is the man with Polk's temperament, moral and physical stature, foreign and domestic policy principles, and breadth of leadership experience in American politics today?

Mitch Daniels.

Monday, May 09, 2011

No Cause for Celebration

As he told a friend earlier this past week, the Colonel wishes with every fibre of his being that he had been the last person to see the light of life in Osama bin Laden's eyes.  Yet, the celebration surrounding the death of the evil man who visited terror on our nation has seemed to the Colonel to be...well, unseemly.  

The Colonel couldn't quite put his finger on the reason for the unease he felt at the gloating and exuberance displayed by Americans at the death of the terror chief. 

Don't mistake the Colonel's feelings for any sort of remorse--bin Laden  needed to be dead, and by our hands.  

The Colonel is not the least bit sorry that an enemy of the United States has assumed room temperature.  However, the excessive verbal victory dancing at his demise just seems tawdry and, dare the Colonel say it, un-American.  Part of what makes us so special as Americans is our quickness to celebrate positive achievement.  We revel in feel-good stories wherein good things happen to good people.  If every American wore a medal on his or her lapel denoting citizenship, the obverse would have the likeness of one American applauding another.

On the reverse of that medal would be the likeness of someone displaying what used to be the common trait of uncommon humility among we who proudly call ourselves Americans.  

Midst all of the pumping and bumping of fists last week, the Colonel was reminded of the admonition credited to Coach Vince Lombardi.  One of his running backs had celebrated a bit too excessively, in Lombardi's estimation (probably far less celebration than is common in sport today).  The legendary coach caught the player by the arm as he returned to the sideline and said to him, "The next time you score a touchdown, act like you have been there before."     

In his Bible study this week, the Colonel read the following passage in God's word and was struck by its timeliness:

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him."  Proverbs 24: 17-18 

Seems to the Colonel that we have gloated and celebrated a tad too much at bin Laden's death--even if he was evil incarnate and harbinger of unprecedented havoc in our once-safe harbor.  

The Colonel smiled a bit (no overt celebration, mind you) at the irony of bin Laden's burial at sea.  Such an action is truly only an honor to anyone whose life is connected with the sea--commercially, militarily, or even recreationally.  To anyone or anything not connected in some way to the sea, burial at sea is just disposal.

We swept up some trash last week, and dumped it overboard.  No cause for celebration. 

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hoosier Daddy

The man behind whose as-yet-unannounced candidacy for President the Colonel has thrown his admittedly inconsequential support--Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels--took a manly step toward the Republican nomination late last week.

The governor signed into law a bill passed by the Indiana legislature that, among other things, prohibits state taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood of Indiana; presumably to prevent public funds from paying for abortions.   In so doing, Daniels has left himself open to attack from the left, not only for signing a Pro-Life bill, but also for seemingly backtracking on his call for a national "truce on social issues" in order to get the nation's financial house in order.  Mitch is seen by the left as pandering to the social conservatives whose votes will make or break his quest for the Republican nomination. 

Were the Colonel advising Governor Daniels, he would have him point out that he proposes a NATIONAL social issue truce.  Indiana's financial house is already in order--the state's budget is in the black.

The Colonel will subject the dozen or so of you who regularly waste rod and cone time perusing posts hereon to a lengthy treatise on all of the reasons why he strongly supports Governor Mitch Daniels' candidacy for the Republican nomination for President in another post.  In the meantime, the Colonel will sum up his support for Mitch in one short sentence:

Mitch Daniels is the anti-Obama -- not cool; not a Marxist

As the dozen or so of you who frequently waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon know, the Colonel is a vociferous opponent of the practice of infanticide.  Cloaked in the euphemistic mantle of a woman's right to choose whether to carry a (and the Colonel quotes from the "Pro-Choice" movement's own words) "non-sentient mass of cells and tissue" to full term as a human child, convenience abortion is the most heinous of crimes against humanity.  

But, the issue is much larger than the public funding of abortion.  The real issue is whether any non-governmental agency or organization--no matter how well-meaning--should receive taxpayer funding.

The Colonel argues, particularly given our nation's current debt crisis, that NO non-governmental organization should receive federal funding, in whole or in part.

Not NPR.  Not Planned Parenthood.  Not Utah's Cowboy Poetry Festival.  Not the NRA.  Not the NAACP.   Not for any of their projects, no matter how well-meaning. 

Not the Boy Scouts.  Not because the Colonel doesn't like the Boy Scouts of America--he earned Eagle rank in 1972--but, because the nation can't afford the luxury.

No federal taxpayer-provided funds should pay for anything not directly related to the aims put forth in the preamble to the constitution under which our republic was established:

" Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution..." 

Granted, everyone who has a favorite non-governmental organization or project can probably make the case that his or her organization or project does one or more of the things above.  The Colonel can make a fairly convincing argument that federal funding of some of the projects on the Honey-do list posted by the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda conspicuously on the fridge would go a long way toward insuring some "domestic tranquility" here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.

However, the question we citizens of these re-United States must ask ourselves at this particular juncture is whether our nation can afford to fund (even partially) our favorite non-governmental organization or project, given the fact that our national debt is rising at several million dollars a minute.   

The Colonel makes no judgement here on the efficacy or worthiness of any non-governmental organization or project.  What he does judge is the wisdom of continuing to spend money we don't have on luxuries we don't need for national survival right now.  It is purely a matter of priority.  Some might even call it triage.

The Colonel has lots of projects aboard his vast holdings that he would like to fund now.  There's just this little issue of the availability of funds.  He's not going to borrow money to fund non-essential projects.  Were he to do so, he would fast reach the point where required payments on debt would swamp his ability to pay for essential survival items.

The Colonel isn't borrowing beyond his means to easily pay back.   Nor should our government, until our budget is balanced and our debt is paid off.

Governor Daniels rightly calls our massive debt, recalling early Cold War rhetoric, "The New Red Menace," and correctly identifies it as the greatest threat to our continued existence as a free republic.

The Colonel concurs. 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

"Pond would be good for you"

One of the favorite pastimes this Spring for the Hope of 21st Century Civilization--dashes 1 and 2 (H21CC-1 & 2) is slipping off down the hill from the Big House here at Eegeebeegee to the shores of Lake Brenda for a fishing trip with the Colonel.

The Colonel fishes.  The grandsons..., not so much.

Not unless you define "fishing" as peeling off every stitch of clothing and participating in a full, frontal frolic in the shallows.  

This afternoon the Colonel sat watching the two splash in a muddy froth at water's edge and was reminded of the scene in that cinematic classic, Caddyshack, when Bill Murray's character asks Chevy Chase's character if he had a pool at his place.

Chevy's character answers, "We've got a pool.  And a pond.  Pond would be good for you." 

That reminder sent the few remaining cells lying fallow in the amorphous goo settled in a cranny in the Colonel's brain-housing group into a dizzying dance down memory lane.  One particular memory parked in long-term parking at the synaptic terminal leapt to the fore and the Colonel remembered the first and next thirty times he watched Caddyshack.

Nearly three decades ago, the Colonel, then a brash young lieutenant, was assigned as the Training Officer for the HQ of the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit, forward deployed in the Western Pacific.  On amphibious shipping in those days movies were shown each night on the mess decks and in the officers' wardroom.  The movies were played on 16mm reel-to-reel projectors and flashed onto large screens.  Ships left port for several weeks at sea with a few dozen movies and would trade movies with the sister ships in their squadrons at sea.

Most of the movies were horrible.  Often, only one of a dozen would be worth watching at all, and when that one was determined, it was watched repeatedly.  

Caddyshack was the best of the bunch on one stint at sea, and that tells you exactly how bad the movies were that were given to ships at sea in those days.  On the night of its first showing in the wardroom, it was immediately re-wound and shown again.

Bill Murray blew up the gopher tunnels three times the next evening. 

By day three, many sailors and Marines on board the USS Tripoli had huge chunks of the movie's dialog memorized.  By the end of the first week, the sound was turned off while the movie played and members of the audience spoke the lines.  

In the wardroom one evening, instigated by a group of young officers, with whom the Colonel can neither confirm nor deny conspiracy, a majority of those who showed up to watch the twenty-something screening of Caddyshack were not in the required uniform of the day, but rather wore golf attire or a reasonable facsimile thereof.  The officers sat waiting on the ship's executive officer (aka: XO; second-in-command) to arrive so that the screening could begin (the Commanding Officer had his own mess and the XO, therefore, was the senior man in the wardroom).   

Every time the door to the wardroom would open, all eyes would turn expectantly to see the XO's reaction.  The XO was running a bit late this particular evening, attending to some important matter relative to keeping the water on the outside and late-comers were streaming into the wardroom, delayed by their own duties relative to keeping the water on the outside.  Each time, an officer would either enter in golf garb or quickly run back to his stateroom to change when he noticed the situation.    

The XO was a man not particularly known for his sense of humor.  The atmosphere in the wardroom full of officers in unauthorized attire was a mixture of nervous giggling and tense anticipation.  More than a few officers thought better of the whole deal and slipped out of the wardroom to change back into the uniform of the day--only to be met by a chorus of cat-calls when they returned.

At last, the door to the wardroom opened and the XO strode into the room.  Before he could launch into his customary "Lights, camera, action!," he was stopped short by the undisciplined sea of non-uniformed officers flooding his normally highly disciplined and formal wardroom. 

The XO's head swung back and forth, and a deep frown slowly took control of his facial features.  He spun on his heel and left the wardroom, slamming the door behind him.

Several other timid souls bolted out behind him.  The rest sat in stunned silence.  One of the ship's department heads finally stood and addressed his fellow department heads.

"We probably shouldn't wait for the XO to summon us.  Let's go to his office."

They left, and the rest became..., well, restless.  Several more timid souls bolted to change back to the uniform of the day.

Suddenly, the wardroom door slammed open and a voice boomed, "Attention on deck!"    

The XO strode in wearing a brightly colored shirt and the loudest pair of plaid trousers this side of Baton Rouge.  "Gentlemen," he declared in a serious tone, "I apologize for my earlier appearance in an improper uniform.  As for those of you not in the proper uniform,"  he motioned to his own attire, "for this evening, and this evening alone, you are excused and may return when properly attired."   

The Colonel is thankful that the dwindling collection of cognitive cells in his grey matter can still cobble together that particular memory.  It's a good one.  Still displaces his perpetual frown with a smile to this day.