Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Boom or Bust?

The Colonel ain't as old as his grandsons (the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes One and Two) think -- their recent estimates range from "about eighty" to "a hundred and something" -- but, he is old enough to have personally experienced several predicted, prophesied, and even scientifically postulated apocalyptic "ends of the world.

In lieu of a frantically boring and unimaginably unoriginal recounting of the past year, the Colonel thought instead that he would provide a review of apocalyptic busts just to set the mood for the forthcoming Mayan Calendar Polar Shift Zombie Rampage Planetary Collision Nuclear Winter.

For the Bama and LSU grads -- among the rapidly expanding electronic circulation of these missives -- feverishly grinding out those wonderfully informative holiday family newsletters replete with the obligatory RTRs and corndog recipes, you may continue your feverish grinding happy in the knowledge that, Mayan Calendar Polar Shift Zombie Rampage Planetary Collision Nuclear Winter hysteria notwithstanding, the day after tomorrow will not bring an end to your annual provision of hysterical reading material (not to mention hideous pictures of family in pachyderm-printed sweatshirts in front of your faux-log fireplace).

Yep.  The Colonel assures you, this one will be a bust in but a long line of busts.

Let's review the apocalyptic busts, of which the Colonel has personal knowledge, shall we?

Remember Y2K?


How about any of Jeanne Dixon's predictions?


The election of Barack Obama?


The re-election of Barack Obama?

Yet to be seen..., but likely no apocalypse.  So, bust.

Black hole created by the CERN particle accelerator?


How about the 1970's prediction of an impending Ice Age?


The Colonel could go on, but you get the drift.

In addition to the long list of world-wide apocalyptic prediction busts, the Colonel would add the following personal "end of the world as he knew it" prognostication busts.

The Colonel's father's warning that if he didn't get his "act together" he wouldn't "see a 21st birthday."  Love you, Dad, but you blew that call. 

The Colonel still ain't got his "act together" and he is rapidly approaching completion of a second lap of the 21 mile post.

And who can forget the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's prediction that the Marine Corps would survive the Colonel's retirement from active duty?

An aviator commandant?  Epic bust.

So, crawl into your survival bunker tomorrow night if you must.  Have a sleepless night wondering whether you will have enough time to snap a picture of Nibiru and post it to your FaceBook page before it slams into Earth.

The Colonel will remain above ground and be here -- God willing -- when Ol' Sol clears the eastern horizon on the morning of the 22nd. 

Even so, maranatha!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Reaping the Whirlwind

Ever notice that when someone incapable of proper stewardship of their own constitutional rights perpetrates a heinous crime, the knee jerk reaction is to demand that our national leaders take actions to limit the rights of the law-abiding?

That was the topic of the Colonel's personal ruminations this past weekend.

Until he read some Scripture that convicted him that neither our nation's culture nor a lack of national leadership was at the root of its clear and accelerating slide toward irrelevancy.

It's all the Colonel's fault. 

The Colonel bears personal responsibility for the decline of our once-great republic. 

The Colonel has long felt a degree of professional responsibility for the decline of the republic. 

After all, he did swear a solemn and as yet unrevoked oath to "defend the Constitution..., against all enemies."  He did so with the clear understanding that his very life was pledged to that  requirement.  Still is.

The Colonel is way too hard on himself, you say?  Wait, it gets harder.

But first, a little history to set the scene... 

A little over 2700 years ago, the ascendant military and economic super-power in the Middle East was the Assyrian Empire.  The Assyrians expanded their empire by overwhelming their neighbors with a technologically-advanced military, and maintained their empire by displacing and replacing the former inhabitants of captured lands. Every last bit of treasure, right down to every lumber-bearing tree, was stripped from conquered lands and brought back to increase the wealth and prosperity of the Assyrians.

They were awesome!

The Colonel digresses...

In the path of Assyrian expansion to its south and west lay the lands occupied by the Hebrew tribes -- by this time (after the passing of the unifying kingships of David and Solomon), divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

God's prophets had long warned that God's "Chosen People" would someday suffer divine punishment for their national sin against God.  The gathering Assyrian storm proved to be the instrument of God's justice, about which they prophesied.

One prophet, Hosea, wrote poetically that Israel would fall to the Assyrians as a consequence of turning away from God, while at the same time continuing to boast of being "God's People."

The Book of Hosea begins with his own personal story of love, betrayal, and redemption -- mirroring God's experience with His people. 

Clearly, Hosea understood that even the largest nation was still a collection of individuals, each responsible his or her own actions.

After setting the tone of individual personal responsibility, Hosea wrote that the fate of Israel at the hands of God's instrument -- Assyria -- was a result of "sowing the wind"  for which they would "reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7).  

"Sowing the wind," for the LSU and Bama grads struggling to keep up, is emblematic of the empty, fruitless pursuits of an undisciplined, uncommitted, and selfish people (see current American culture, in which we ALL are willing participants to one undisciplined, uncommited, selfish degree or another). 

Whirlwinds bring nothing but destruction, death, and heartbreak.

The vast majority of Hosea's poetic prophecy is filled with imagery of the destruction and heartbreak of a sinful nation, and its individual members.  But, there is one brief interlude wherein Hosea pauses to provide a narrow off-ramp from the highway to hell.

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you."  Hosea 10:12

"...break up your fallow ground."

The Colonel was struck that he possesses a lot of fallow ground in his life.  Ground (gifts, skills, abilities) that should be producing fruit for others.  

The Colonel is convinced that revival of our nation's greatness will begin not in national policy, but in the heart of each of us.

What is your fallow ground?

Ask God.  He'll tell you.       


Friday, November 30, 2012

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

The Colonel is still feeling the need for speed, but lately he's been seeing a lot of caution flags.

Take the Colonel's latest in a long line of brushes with death, for example.

This story is probably best told starting from the beginning...

Sometime in the six days of creation God created ducks.  Sometime shortly after that, man discovered that standing thigh deep in freezing water blowing on a kazoo yielded the inestimable pleasure of seeing a duck turn into the wind, cup wings, and begin final approach down the barrel of a shotgun.  

The Colonel is a creation of God.

The Colonel is a duck hunter.

The Colonel loses what remains of his scant reasoning resources during duck season.

A boat is often required to ferry a duck hunter and three or four hundred pounds of decoys, shotguns, and ammunition from his (or her -- the Colonel ain't no warrior in the war on women) truck to remote thigh-deep sloughs favored by ducks. 

The Colonel's #2 son has a boat parked under the lean-to attached to the Colonel's Man-Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility.

The Colonel's #2 son, whose primary duck hunt-preparation job is pulling the boat out of the lean-to (the Colonel's primary duck hunt-preparation job is brewing a thermos of coffee), was coming late for a march to the marsh of a recent afternoon.   

So, the Colonel, not known for his patience, broke long-standing protocol and decided to do a duck hunt-prep job for which he was not fully cross-trained -- Task 13a on the duck hunt-prep checklist: hook boat trailer to truck and pull boat from under lean-to.   

Because the Colonel was not (and still is not, as you will shortly see) fully cross-trained in Task 13a, just getting the truck bumper hitch lined up with, and under, the tongue of the boat trailer was pretty much taxing his meager truck-backing skills to the max.

The Colonel backed the truck up to a point he thought was close, put the truck in park, jumped out to check bumper hitch -- trailer tongue proximity and alignment, found same lacking, jumped back into the truck, put the truck in reverse, backed up so more, put the truck in park, jumped out to check bumper hitch -- trailer tongue proximity and alignment, found same lacking...

The Colonel lost count of how many times he cycled through the sequence above.  It was cold and he didn't want to take his boots off.

At some point several hours into his attempt to accomplish Task 13a, the Colonel successfully attached the boat trailer to the bumper hitch on his truck and pulled #2 son's boat out from under the lean-to attached to his Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility. 

At this point the Colonel discovered another nuance in Task 13a for which he was not fully cross-trained.

He had pulled the boat so far forward out of the lean-to attached to his Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility, that he could not make a left-hand turn onto the driveway without driving though one of the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's carefully manicured flower beds.

Loath to back the boat back under the lean-to from which he had labored long to pull it, and wanting to conduct a few more truck-backing drills for which his fine motor skills had just recently proved greatly lacking, the Colonel cobbled together enough widely separated brain cells to determine a step not found in the manual under Task 13a -- unhook the boat trailer from the truck and re-position the truck.

Yeah.  The Colonel knows.  Doesn't make sense.  Well, where were you when the Colonel needed you?

The Colonel, now operating at a pace just shy of the mark on the meter labeled "frenzy," slammed the gear shift into park and leaped from the truck.  

As the Colonel shuffled back toward the rear of the truck, he noticed that, no matter how fast he shuffled, he was not making any progress toward the rear bumper.

The Colonel wondered momentarily whether he had entered some sort of age-related time-warp and then noticed that, relative to other fixed objects and tools left strategically placed on the ground in the position of their last use, the Colonel and his truck were both making progress, forward and rearward, respectively.

The Colonel, now in a trot just one notch short of the position on the meter marked "sprint," glanced to his left into the cab of the truck and noticed that he had not placed the truck in park.

Nope.  Clearly in reverse

The Colonel could clearly see this because, luckily, the driver side door was still wide open.

The Colonel pivoted left and dove into the cab.

Well, almost.

Unluckily, the driver side door was still wide open and it knocked the Colonel to the ground...

...and under the truck.

Ever wondered what might possibly go through your mind during the short seconds separating you from certain maiming and possible final entries in your medical record?

No?  Well, allow the Colonel to provide some insight.

As the left front tire of the Colonel's truck, now gaining speed at an exponential rate, closed rapidly on the Colonel's person, the Colonel had time to ponder the imponderables.

Time to reflect on accomplishments.

Time to regret boxes left unchecked on his bucket list.

Time to chastise himself for denying himself dessert the night before, out of some deluded desire to live forever.

Actually, there really wasn't any time for all of that.  There really was only time for...


How the Colonel was able to extricate his carcass from under the truck prior to becoming a not-so effective speed bump on the boat's return to its berth in the lean-to adjacent to the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility is a matter the Colonel will take up with his Creator face-to-face someday. 

Suffice it to say, the Colonel strongly suspects there was a Divine fist grasped surely around his belt at his back.       

At any rate, the truck was now not only returning the boat to its berth, but was also attempting to join it.

There is a slight problem with that.

There is only room for the boat.

One of the projects over which the Colonel has procrastinated is closing in the back of the lean-to adjacent to the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility.  

As the truck and boat continued on their journey, the Colonel sat watching -- thankful for his procrastination.

Until he realized that the likely end of the journey was going to be a pile-up of truck and boat in the ravine behind the lean-to attached to the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility.

Two things saved the Colonel from realizing that likelihood.

First, a lone pine tree behind the lean-to attached to the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility stood in the way. 

The Colonel had time to begin regretting having to tell #2 son how a pine tree happened to be wrapped around the treasured 60 horse four-cycle outboard on the boat, when the second thing occurred.

Remember the wide-open driver side door through which the Colonel clearly saw the truck gear shift in reverse?

The same wide-open driver side door that provided the Colonel's guardian angel yet another opportunity to earn his wings?

The wide-open driver side door struck the corner of the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility to which the boat berth lean-to was attached. 

The sound of door hinges being wrenched is reverberating in the Colonel's brain-housing group still.

The sight of the driver-side door bending completely backward and alongside the front left corner panel of the truck is one the Colonel will likely never forget.

That, and the sight of a truck tire, with truck attached, rolling toward him.

With the truck slowed by the driver side door sacrifice, the boat motor came to rest against the lone pine tree, and the journey ended without the feared pile-up.

It's been a week now and the Colonel is still shook.        

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving; Extended Version

The Colonel knows well that the celebration of our uniquely American holiday -- Thanksgiving -- was last week, and that, as of the hour shortly after our collective post-turkey nap, America's decidedly un-Christian celebration of the Christmas season has already begun; in all of its commercialization, thinly-veiled conceit, plastic manufactured joy, and contrived narratives regarding wishes for "Peace on Earth.

However, the Colonel, as those of you who know him well can attest, and those of you who have regularly subjected your sensibilities to insensitive posts hereon have no doubt surmised, is a stubborn stick-in-the-mud, marching to the beat of his own distinctly different drummer. 

His parade float hasn't yet reached the grandstands.

His ball game is still late in the third quarter.

He's still waiting on the vote in the Electoral College.

In other words, the Colonel ain't ready to move on.

Therefore, he will use the occasion of this post to prolong his celebration of Thanksgiving.  There is indeed much for which to be thankful... TO GOD. 

First and foremost, the Colonel gives thanks to the Creator of the Universe and every atom and free radical in it.  The Colonel thanks GOD for creating him, and loving him enough to send HIS son Jesus to die for him.

The Colonel thanks GOD for placing, and keeping, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda in his undeserving life.

The Colonel thanks GOD for giving him two sons and a daughter, of whom he could not possibly be more proud. 

The Colonel thanks GOD for two tremendous grandsons -- the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes One and Two.

The Colonel thanks GOD for the coming of the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dash Three.

You read that right; the Colonel is expecting a third grandson.

The Colonel's beautiful and wonderful daughter-in-law, she of the exalted and protected position of "Provider of Grandsons," will round out the Colonel's fire team with another rifleman early in the Spring of 2013. 

The threat of civilization's calamitous collapse at the hands of Mayans, zombies, socialists, and political correctness Nazis notwithstanding, the Colonel is proud to announce that the Ole Miss Football Rebels will be led to victory over the (dis)likes of Bama, LSU, and TSBU by a Gregory at quarterback for the better part of the decade beginning around 2025.

Oh, and one more thing...



Friday, November 16, 2012

Hate That

The word "hate" has gotten a lot of negative air time over the past couple of decades.

Used to be, the word was used rather freely and without fear of recrimination.

The Colonel pauses to apologize to the errant LSU fans, who may have accidentally stumbled on this post in search of a corndog recipe, for the use of such a big word.  Recrimination.  Nope, you crazy purple bead-wearers, it don't mean "repeatin' a crime."

Hating something was once an acceptable stance.  Not any more.

Unless you are a member of the self-designated political correctness thought police.  It's okay for you to hate. 

It's okay for you to be intolerant of the Colonel's views and beliefs, because you are so much more intelligent and so much more enlightened and so much more cool than he is.

It is true that the Colonel is a knucle-dragger, whose world-view is based on the study of an archaic and largely irrelevant subject (history), and whose "cool" quotient ranks in the negative numbers. 

Way down in triple digit negative numbers.

So, the Colonel will not waste any of the few remaining synaptic connections in his rapidly dwindling supply to participate in recriminations (oops, sorry Boudreaux) with those of you whose self-scored political correctness quotient rivals the USA basketball team's total against Lithuania.

He'll just hang on to his hate and let you hate him for it.

So, just what does the Colonel really hate?

Well, some in these parts (the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere -- aka: Yoknapatawpha County) feel like it's never too early to hate Mississippi State.

The Colonel can't bring himself to hate State.

He has all of his hatred dedicated to Bama and LSU. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunshine and Rain

The last week or so provide more attenuation to the Colonel's already perpetually dampened mood, but he must admit that there were some rays of sunshine peeking out occasionally from the gloomy overcast.

Sunday morning a week ago, the Colonel learned that an uncle had gone to his final reward.  The Colonel only had two uncles and Uncle Wiley's passing left him with none.

Sadly, the Colonel learned more about his last uncle from his eulogy than he ever knew from personal experience.

Because he was a military brat, and then a career military rat, the Colonel's first half century of life was spent far away and disconnected from blood family. 

The Colonel envies those whose extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins were/are constant close elements in their lives.  He never had that.  And, he will admit, a lot of it was his own fault.

Nevertheless, the Colonel listened with heart-filling pride as he heard his Uncle Wiley remembered as a selfless servant of Jesus, whose humble behind-the-scenes service to others was greater and of more impact than anyone knew or appreciated.  Uncle Wiley wanted it that way.

The Colonel didn't even know that Uncle Wiley had been a veteran.  His generation was like that -- service of nation was expected and nothing to crow about.

Uncle Wiley continues to give.  Last week the Colonel got to hug cousins he hadn't seen in over 30 years.

The same day Uncle Wiley's mortal remains were laid to rest, the Colonel's republic executed its most sacred duty.  

Even given the acrimony of this particular election, and the fact that his candidate lost, the Colonel was proud that his nation followed its constitution to the letter.  The Colonel was given hope by the fact that a president, whose obvious disdain for many of the constitution's principles, provisions, and prohibitions (disdain shared by more than a few former presidents, the Colonel must admit), still resisted the storm-excuse temptation to act extra-constitutionally.  

Perhaps there is a bit of hope for the hopester.

The Colonel seriously doubts it.  But, his God is capable of changing even the darkest hearts -- the Colonel's was changed.

At any rate, the Colonel takes heart in knowing that our republic will change leadership hands (in this case, maintain) peacefully and purposefully in a way in which most inhabitants of this big blue marble can only dream that their country would or could.

The Colonel's week was darkly cloaked on Saturday by two more disappointments through which a few bright threads were woven.  

First, he awoke on the 237th birthday of his beloved Marine Corps and realized that he would not be surrounded and buoyed by Marines.  It really bummed him out, and he took it out on his family, disappointing them and himself.

The Colonel's heart, though held in God's loving hands, is still a flinty cinder, devoid of any self-redeeming value.

Luckily, a quick stop in the Grove that afternoon prior to filling his appointed place of duty in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, reunited the Colonel briefly with a couple of Marines with whom he began his journey in the Corps nearly four decades ago.  They wished each other "Happy Birthday, Marine!" and then talked about grandchildren.  

Grandchildren... amazing.  More rays of hopeful sunshine.

Lastly, the Colonel's Rebels once again raised his hopes... before crushing them with yet another last quarter collapse.

Guess he should take solace, in this era of change for change's sake, that Ole Miss' failure to return to gridiron greatness is one constant the Colonel can continue to count on.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Cherry Tree Died

Contrived narratives have a way of taking on a life of their own. 

Politics is by no means the exclusive realm of contrived narratives. But, in the Colonel's not-so-humble opinion, politicians and their handlers have elevated the practice to an expressionist art form.

Like most expressionist art, contrived narratives are appreciated from a disinterested distance; not bearing up well under close scrutiny.

In full disclosure, the Colonel has been a purposeful practitioner of the contrived narrative his own self.

He told every military unit or civilian organization he ever led that they were the "best."  He said it often enough and with enough sincerity that his subordinates actually began to believe it; act it; live it.  

The Colonel even began to believe his own contrived narratives -- to this day he holds the unshakable belief that he commanded the best rifle company and the best infantry battalion in the Marine Corps.

The most effective contrived narratives develop their own immunity to metrics -- believers bind blindly, proudly perpetuating perfidy, oblivious to any facts to the contrary.

A carefully crafted contrived narrative can be found at the inception of every armed conflict between two or more nations.  A contrived narrative formed the basis for the American colonial revolution against the British, the American wars with Mexico and Spain, the American war with itself, two wars against German hedgemonism, two interventions in Asian civil wars, numerous interventions in Latin America, numerous interventions in the Middle East, and, most recently, the insipid American war on a tactic (terrorism).

Politicians ride contrived narratives, most often about themselves, into office, and once in office, almost always fall prey to a prideful perniciousness perpetrated by a narcissistic belief in their own infallibility to rally sycophantic believers to yet more contrived narratives.

The current occupant of the Oval Office is but the latest in a long line of contrived narrative riders, and the Benghazi bungle invites the close scrutiny that exposes expressionist art as nothing more than marginally talented obfuscation.

As he left office at the end of his two terms as the first President of our nascent constitutional republic, George Washington warned against entangling alliances abroad and, by implication, against intervention in the affairs of other nations.

His advice was ignored by nearly every American president who succeeded him.

George Washington is perhaps best known for the quote (part of his own handlers' contrived narrative) that resonates from our childhoods:

"I cannot tell a [contrived narrative]."


Monday, October 15, 2012

Eggs Etouffee, Anyone?

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda cooked fried eggs for the Colonel's breakfast yesterday morning. 

Remarkable, why, you ask?

Well, if you were ever lucky enough to have visited Eegeebeegee -- capital of the Tallahatchie Free State -- and were even luckier to have been invited into the Colonel's humble abode without first being challenged for the security countersign at gunpoint, you would have undoubtedly noted the sign prominently posted at the entrance to one of the Colonel's Lady's least favorite rooms:

"The only reason I have this kitchen is it came with the house."

Even more remarkable is the consumption of a breakfast meal by the Colonel. 

Unless you count his ritual morning-kick-starting three mugs of coffee.

And, given the strength and thickness of the Colonel's morning joe, one might very well count it so.

The Colonel, and spare him the lecture on it being the most important meal of the day, has never been much of a breakfast eater. 

Unless there was chocolate cake or a slice of pie left over from the night before. 

However, that may be changing.

As the thousands of you who regularly imbibe of the literary libations ladled out liberally, if irregularly, on posts hereon will remember, the Colonel has a burgeoning hen herd extant upon the domesticated portion of his vast, mostly wild, holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere. 

Said hen herd has grown from an inauspicious beginning wherein the hen (note singular form of the female fowl noun) was greatly outnumbered by roosters.  The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda has been relieved of all chick-sexing duties following that near derailment of the entire egg-production enterprise.  The Colonel's hen herd now numbers fourteen, and one cock-eyed top-kick rooster -- Smedley.   

And one side-kick rooster, Mason, who seems to be growing into his role as -- ahem -- heir apparent to the duties and responsibilities of top-kick rooster.

Did you know that a chicken hen lays an egg..., every day?

A dozen + fresh eggs are collected daily from the Colonel's critter-proof chicken coop.

And, given that the investment cost in chicken feed and construction materials for the Colonel's critter-proof chicken coop make each egg worth just slightly more than their weight in silver bullion, not one egg goes to waste.  

The Colonel is fast becoming the Benjamin Buford Blue of eggs.  Much like Forrest Gump's shrimp-cook savant army buddy, the Colonel knows all the different ways to prepare eggs for human consumption.  

Fried eggs.

Scrambled eggs.

Poached eggs.

Boiled eggs.

Two-egg omelets.

Three-egg omelets.

Fried eggs on toast.

Rocky Balboa eggs.

Papal eggs (Eggs Benedict)

Deviled eggs.

The Colonel's cholesterol count has spiked a good hundred points, but at least the cookware he bought his curiously not-so-appreciative bride for their 35th wedding anniversary is finally getting used.         

Monday, October 08, 2012

Not Meant to Be

Some things are just not meant to be.  No matter how much we want them to be. 

For example, the Colonel would have preferred to have exceeded his physical stature limit by three or four inches.

Not meant to be.

The Colonel would have liked to have maintained the fine crop of hair that once, long ago in the halcyon days of his youth, covered his now quite bald pate.

Not meant to be.

The Ole Miss Rebels would have liked to have won an SEC football game last season.

Not meant to be.

The Rebels would like to win an SEC football game this season.

Not meant to be.

Sometimes nature rules.  Sometimes nurture rules.

With regard to the Colonel's lack of height and hair, clearly nature is in charge.

Nurture is clearly the over-riding factor with regard to the Colonel's beloved Rebels' gridiron grief.

Oh, new Head Coach Hugh Freeze is doing a fine job of reviving a spirit of competitiveness in a team which at its nadir last year was clearly afraid to hit or be hit, even in games against perennial featherweights like Vandy and Mississippi State. 

And, new Athletic Director Ross Bjork has brought an infectious, youthful enthusiasm to a job once held by a colorless purveyor of incompetent cronyism.

But, there is no passion in the stands.  

Passionate fans nurture a college football team.

But, passionate fans need a reason to leave the comfort and cheer of a well-appointed, well-supplied tailgate to fill an uncomfortable stadium and nurture their team with cheers.

At Ole Miss, we once had a reason.


But, step by step, every vestige of tradition has been stripped away in the name of political correctness.  Flags, songs, and a mascot have been deemed inappropriate by a minority of elitist (little s) socialists who would impose their hyper-sensitive, narrow-minded, racist, bigoted views on the majority, in the name of their perverted definition of racism and bigotry. 

The result is that a fan base that once filled a stadium and revelled in traditions unique to Ole Miss, regardless the outcome of the game, now trudges half-heartedly into and half-fills a stadium with an atmosphere devoid of anything that distinguishes it from any other college game-day experience.

Bland is an overstatement.

There is a cynically concerted effort to replace the true Ole Miss traditions with new ones.  As if new traditions can be manufactured and instituted like so many political slogans.

The problem is there will always be a small minority who will take offense at ANY tradition.

Some day that small minority, which derives its sense of self-worth from its hyper-sensitivity and elitist narcissism, will decide that the new mascot, Rebel Black Bear, which they themselves foisted upon the unwilling majority, is in fact insensitive or bigoted or in some way politically incorrect.

Some day that small minority, which derives its happiness from the unhappiness of others, will determine that the new concept of "Locking the Vaught" (as yet to find traction among Rebel Nation) is in fact insensitive or not inclusive. 

Even the century-old Hotty Toddy cheer is in the cross-hairs.

Following the end of Saturday's game against new SEC member Texas A & M, the pitiful few Ole Miss faithful who braved the chilling wind and rain watched silently as the Aggies came from behind to win.  

We also enviously watched as a passionate A & M fan base celebrate the win with traditional songs and cheers. 

Here's hoping the Aggies can keep the tradition-killing socialists at bay.

At Ole Miss (and, it won't be long before even that nick-name is deemed inappropriate), it isn't meant to be.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Resistance is NOT Futile

In his controversial 1996 book on the likely source of conflict in the post-Cold War world -- "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" -- the late Samuel P. Huntington postulated that cultural and religious tensions between dissimilar civilizations were far more likely than national ideological differences to result in war.  

Viewed through the lens of the largely ideologically motivated war experience of the 20th Century, Huntington's thinking was roundly criticized as radically backward-looking and simplistic. His critics were particularly at odds with his assertions that the spread of democracy was not the peace-providing panacea that the current crop of Western geo-political interventionists believed. 

In the Colonel's not-so-humble opinion, and in light of the rise of radical religious movements filling power vacuums in the wake of the supposed democratically motivated "Arab Spring," ole Sam had it about right. 

Huntington believed that the source of Western supremacy in the latter half of the 20th Century was misinterpreted  -- "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violenceWesterners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do." -- and that America's survival depended more on strengthening our own culture and less on attempting to impose our culture on others.

The Colonel would have you understand that culture matters; that our Republic's strength, and thereby its survival, springs from an unshakable belief in American Exceptionalism (not shared by the current presidential administration).  Once we begin to believe and act (and apologize) as if we are no better than any other culture -- weakening ourselves both physically and spiritually in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world -- we are at grave risk of being subsumed by cultures who believe themselves to be exceptional and whose principles are antithetical to our own.  

The Colonel will resist.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mississippi Mentor

The tiny rural community of Slate Springs, Mississippi would be one of those towns about which folks would warn, "don't blink driving by on the highway or you'll miss it" except that it's not even on a highway.   In fact, if one wishes to visit Slate Springs (and there isn't much to recommend a visit) one must first find and triangulate therefrom, the not-so thriving ruralopoli (the opposite of metropoli) of Calhoun City, Winona, and Eupora.  

And, finding one of those towns is no easy feat of navigation, even with GPS.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda uses GPS all the time when she is riding with the Colonel.  

"Goodness!  Please Stop and get some directions from somebody!"

The Colonel digresses.

Slate Springs can boast of little.  Except for one big thing.

Slate Springs produced the man arguably most responsible for the superpower success of the United States in the 20th Century.

If the Colonel were a betting man he would bet a punch in the jaw, and give you fifteen minutes to draw a crowd of witnesses, that not five percent of the thousands of you who regularly imbibe of the irregular literary libations ladled out in posts hereon would recognize the name of the man in question.

If the Colonel were really a betting man he'd make the wager a punch in the jaw and a swift kick in the pants that not one percent knows the name.

Fox Conner.

The Colonel will wait on the front porch of the Big House at Eegeebeegee, here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, until dark to collect on the bet.  He'll be resting in a rocking chair -- delivering several thousand punches and kicks will tax him a bit.

Fox Conner, son of Robert Conner, a former Confederate soldier blinded at the battle of Shiloh, and Nannie Fox (whose maiden name undoubtedly influenced the Christian name given their son), graduated from high school in 1894, and having been regaled by war stories at his father's knee, saw service in the U.S. Army as his only opportunity to escape the grinding poverty of the rural South. 

A maternal uncle with political connections to Mississippi Senator (the Colonel is not making this up) Hernando De Soto Money, gave Conner an opening to apply for a nomination to the United States Military Academy at West Point. 

His rudimentary secondary education in rural Mississippi notwithstanding, Fox Conner graduated seventeenth of fifty-nine in the Class of 1898.  While at West Point, his instructors evidently nourished a passion for history, languages, and mathematics in Conner.  All three topics would prove instrumental in his rise through the ranks and his impact on the Army and America.  One of those instructing Conner at West Point was a rising star in the Army -- John J. Pershing.  

Conner's successful personal career in the Army can best be characterized as marked by two parallel paths -- opportunity and application. At each assignment, he made the utmost of the opportunities afforded him to learn something new and important about his chosen profession -- even if the subject lay far outside the narrow confines of his specialty. And, at each assignment, the application of his self-sacrificing consummate professionalism caught the eyes of seniors who marked him for greater future responsibility.

Commissioned as an artillery officer, his first assignment after gunnery school was to the occupation forces in Cuba, one of many possessions wrested from Spain in the brief war of 1898.  The listless nature of occupation duty has a deleterious effect on most soldiers.  But not on Fox Conner.  He found professional pursuits to occupy his time and so began to instill in himself a character of constant study and self-improvement, regardless the duty to which assigned.

With a knack for mathematics and a historical view of the inevitable (and necessary) evolution of tactics to match technological advances in weaponry and transportation, Conner found himself on the cutting edge of transitioning field artillery from its centuries-old role as a line-of-sight, direct-fire front-lines battlefield weapon to that of an indirect-fire from behind-the-lines weapon in support of front-line infantry.  His pioneering work and writing regarding gunnery and fire-direction in support of attacking infantry formations landed him the first of two such assignments teaching the subject at the Army Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas -- even though as a young captain he was somewhat junior to the majors who were his students in the course.

In 1911, having excelled in French in both high school and at West Point, Conner was identified as one of the few French-speaking officers available to respond to an invitation to send an American officer to serve for one year in a French artillery unit and then attend the foremost military school of the time -- L'Ecole de Guerre.

Although events and policy changes regarding officer assignments back home prevented his attendance at the French War College, Conner had made the most of his field assignment with the French Army.  He came away from the experience with not only a wealth of technical expertise with some of the most modern weaponry (far advanced of anything in the US Army at the time), but with many significant contacts and a deep understanding of the customs, traditions, and politics of the French Army.

Next assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, Conner's artillery unit was deployed to the border with Mexico in 1914 and placed under the command of General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing and the  "Punitive Expedition" sent to confront Pancho Villa -- the Mexican warlord making cross-border incursions into the United States.  

Conner served under Pershing for a third time when the two were assigned to Army Headquarters in Washington in 1916.  Evidently, the culmination of the three shared assignments was a deep appreciation by Pershing of Conner's talents and professionalism, as Conner became Pershing's most trusted staff officer and his first pick for any important task for the next two decades.   

The first such assignment was as a staff officer to a stateside military conference of the new French/British/American alliance following American entry into the First World War in 1917.  Pershing was highly impressed with Conner's contributions to the conference, his great tact dealing with the French and British, his attention to every detail of operational planning, and his appreciation of the unprecedented logistical effort required for introducing vast American forces to the European war.

When President Wilson appointed Pershing to lead the American Expedition Force (AEF), an anticipated commitment of over one million U.S. troops to the War in France, Pershing turned immediately to the one man he trusted most -- Fox Conner -- and appointed the newly-promoted colonel to the most critical assignment in the AEF -- Chief of Operations.  

To this point in his career, Fox Conner had been mentored to one degree or another by outstanding leaders, Pershing chief among them.  Now, in addition to the not-so trivial task of developing the tactical, operational, and strategic plans that would vault the U.S. Army from a small, backward, ill-equipped force to the greatest army on the planet, employing the newest technology and the most effective warfighting doctrine -- all in the space of less than a year -- it was his turn to apply all that he had learned about mentoring.

On the AEF Operations staff under Colonel Fox Conner was a lieutenant colonel by the name of George C. Marshall.   Conner quickly recognized and mentored the development of Marshall's talent.  Indeed, Conner later confided to another young protege (who the Colonel will introduce to you shortly) that Marshall was "a genius."  High praise from the man to whom Pershing would refer as the one "indispensable man" in the entire AEF.

Hopefully, not too many of the thousands of you perusing this post are scratching hat rests and asking "George C. Who?"  But, just in case  --  George C. Marshall was Army Chief of Staff and the General on whom FDR depended most for strategic advice during World War Two. 

Secretary of State under Truman; Marshall Plan. 

That George C. Marshall. 

Fox Conner was arguably the single greatest professional influence in Marshall's career.  At a time when the notoriously trigger-happy Pershing was firing several senior officers a week for even the least significant of perceived faults, Conner and Marshall so impressed the AEF commander that there is never any mention of unhappiness with either of them.  Credit Conner. 

In fact, Conner was probably Pershing's closest confidant in the AEF.  Conner may or may not have taken advantage of that closeness with the boss, but he was resented for it in varying degrees by other senior officers.  One of whom was a glory hound by the name of Douglas MacArthur.  In fact, no love was ever lost between Pershing/Conner and MacArthur.  Pershing detested MacArthur and the feeling was reciprocated; to Conner by association.  

To convey Conner's brilliance as the operational planner who orchestrated every aspect of the AEF's training and operations from the introduction of the first American division in France to the  masterful American participation in the final offensive that ended the war would take far more room than is available in this already too-long post.  Suffice it say:  Credit Conner.

Besides Marshall there were several other now-famous 20th Century military men on whom Fox Conner is considered the greatest single professional influence.  

Ever heard of George S. Patton? 

Conner and Patton first served together in Pershing's "Punitive Expedition."  They were reunited in France.  Patton was present when Conner, on an inspection tour of front-line units in 1918, was wounded in the face by German artillery fire.  Patton is said to have remarked, probably somewhat snidely, that Conner would "have a wound stripe on his sleeve and two lovely scars, and if that isn't the [insert Pattonesque language for Divine Judgement here] luck of a Field Artilleryman." 

After the war, Conner and Patton became close friends, hunting and fishing together, and sharing other common interests  -- among them, colorful language.  Patton is quoted as saying that Conner's exclamatory language upon missing a shot while hunting was "novel and innovative."  

One wonders if Patton's own famous penchant for colorful language might not be linked in no small way to his time as a Conner protege.  At any rate, there is little doubt that Patton benefited not only from a social friendship with Conner, but was also on the receiving end of a great deal of mentorship.

At the conclusion of the First World War, Conner was, like Pershing, deeply critical of the terms of the Versailles Treaty and the way that the German army had been allowed to returned home believing that they had not really lost the war, but had been betrayed by their own people and politicians.  Conner was convinced that the seeds of a second major war with Germany were sown in the treaty ending "the war to end all wars."  Conner was so convinced of this that the remainder of his career was spent in large part preparing junior officers to fight that "next" war.

It's time now for the Colonel to introduce the young Conner protege to whom he referred earlier.

A little-known officer by the name of Dwight Eisenhower had the good fortune early in his career to have been assigned with Patton.  The two shared a passion for the development of armored warfare and even co-authored rather radical articles that riled the more staid and conventional senior officers in the Army. 

During the war, Eisenhower had been unlucky to have been both a capable staff officer and talented football coach.  When the AEF was forming in France under Pershing, the stateside Chief of Staff of the Army, General Peyton C. March, refused Eisenhower's request to go to France.  Turns out that there was no love lost between Pershing and March, and March was reluctant to send any more talented officers to work for Pershing than he had to.  Eisenhower sat the war out stateside teaching tank crews and coaching base football teams.

After the war, Eisenhower's career was seemingly on a dead-end track.  He was even nearly court-martialed for an infraction of pay regulations -- serious business in a budget-limited post-war force.    

To make matters worse, Eisenhower and Mamie lost their first son in 1921 to scarlet fever.    

Fortunate for Eisenhower, Patton remained a close, caring friend.  Patton introduced Eisenhower to Conner at a social event sometime in early 1921 and Conner caught a hint of something promising in Eisenhower.  It is also clear that Patton was attempting to make Eisenhower another Conner protege.

A year later, Conner was assigned to command a brigade in the Panama Canal Zone.  Patton recommended to Conner that he take Eisenhower with him to Panama.  Conner evidently trusted Patton's judgement and also saw enough promise in Eisenhower that Conner had to expend a great deal of energy and political capital to get Eisenhower assigned to his staff.  

In Panama, Eisenhower was assigned as Conner's Brigade Executive Officer; a job that in and of itself would have been demanding enough given Conner's high professional expectations.  Eisenhower, however, also found himself immersed in a three year study of military history, operational order writing, and strategic thought that vaulted him from run-of-the-mill staff officer to consummate operational artist and strategic thinker. 

Credit Conner.

Conner assigned increasingly challenging books for Eisenhower's consumption and then grilled his protege on them.  They re-fought ancient battles, Civil War battles, battles of the War in France, and then fought the war to come.

Conner stressed to Eisenhower the importance of correctly cobbling together coalitions and how to best combine different and disparate national armies into one cohesive war-winning effort.

By the time their time together in Panama had ended, Conner had imparted his vision of how the next war in Europe would have to be fought and won.

Perhaps most importantly, Conner introduced Eisenhower to von Clauswitz's "On War" and the then-obscure Prussian's view of the foggy nature of war and the intertwining of war and policy; a view not generally accepted by an American Army still following the geometric, one dimensional approach of the French military philosopher Jomini.     
Eisenhower later summed up the Panama experience thus: "the most interesting and constructive years of my life."

In his war memoir, "Crusade in Europe," General of the Army Eisenhower wrote:

"One of the subjects on which [Conner] talked to me most was allied command, its difficulties and its problems. Another was George C. Marshall. Again and again General Conner said to me, 'We cannot escape another great war. When we go into that war it will be in company with allies...We must insist on individual and single responsibility—leaders will have to learn how to overcome nationalistic considerations in the conduct of campaigns. One man who can do it is Marshall—he is close to being a genius.'"

In 1967 former President Eisenhower wrote:  "He was the ablest man I ever knew. I can never adequately express my gratitude to this one gentleman. In a lifetime of association of great and good men, he is the one more or less invisible figure to whom I owe an incalculable debt."

Major General Fox Conner retired from active duty in 1938.  During the latter half of his nearly 40-year Army career, Conner arguably wielded greater behind-the-scenes influence on the outcome of the Second World War and the post-war preeminence of the United States on the world scene than any other single individual.  

The Colonel will leave you with one last peek into the mind of the Mentor from Mississippi.  Between the wars, Conner lectured often at the Army War College.  Here are a few examples of his "lessons learned":   

"War is essentially friction and change. The only way of avoiding changes in a plan is to plan to stay home."

"I don't like saying anything bad about Generals, but I think it's possible to have too damned many of them."
"The most valuable qualification in an officer is common sense; contrary to general belief, it is the rarest element found in mankind."

"My three Principles of War are these:
1.  Never fight unless you have to;

2.  Never fight alone; and

3.  Never fight for long."

Oh, how the Colonel wishes the current crop of strategists would pay close attention to number 3. 





Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Amazing Grace

Forty-one years ago next month, the Colonel took his first love -- the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda on their first date.  

It was the last first date they ever had, with anyone.

Five years later, thirty-six years ago today, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda completed the Colonel's life.

The Colonel, as anyone who has known him for longer than a week will readily attest, has not one gram of empathy and very little sympathy in his entire being.  But, there is a teeny, tiny part of him that feels profound sorrow for one thing and all men.

The Colonel is sorry that he has the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda and the rest of you never had a chance.

Genuine sorrow.

Tears brought to a glass eye sorrow.

Guilt-ridden, gut-wrenching, favorite ball cap-lost sorrow.

Never been sorry for a lost hat?  Now the Colonel is really sorry for you.

Okay, not sorrow  -- disdain.  The Colonel digresses.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda has been the Colonel's rock since long before he even realized he needed a rock.

For reasons beyond fathoming, particularly by the loose collection of cognitive cells thinly covering the bottom of the brain pan in his cavernous cranium, the Colonel has been the frighteningly fortunate recipient of the faithful and caring love of the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, despite his well-documented failures, faults, and foibles. 

The Colonel gives thanks to a Gracious God for sending Jesus to save his eternal soul. 

He thanks a Miracle-working God for sending Miss Brenda to love him here on Earth.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Charge of the Lieutenant Brigade

The other day a stray synapse in the pea-sized, shriveled lump of grey matter in the Colonel's brain housing group fired and he found himself remembering fondly a moment of great pain and professional gain.

Twenty-five years ago, this summer, the Marine Corps, in a rare lapse of institutional discernment, judged the Colonel, then a captain, competent enough to command a rifle company of America's best and brightest.

Within the first few weeks following a change of command during which an old friend, Ed Larkin, had reluctantly relinquished command of Charlie 1/8 (Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division) to the Colonel, the company marched from its barracks to a nearby set of ranges for a week of live fire training. 

Bivouacked in a field behind the range firing line, the Marines were in their platoon areas sitting in front of their shelter halves (each Marine carried half of a shelter and buttoned it together with another Marine's to form a pup tent -- a term Marines never used) eating their evening banquet in a bag (MRE).  Evidently, the day had not been too hot or too strenuous for them, because instead of falling quickly asleep as Marines learn to do as soon as strenuous activity ceases, they began to wrestle.

The wrestling matches evolved quickly beyond one on one and, as the Colonel and his lieutenants watched from a safe distance, one squad attacked another squad, and then one platoon attacked another platoon.

Each attacking unit would announce its intentions by standing facing its target and clapping slowly in unison, and then a roar would go up as the Marines rushed each other. 

The company's senior NCOs were doing a fair job of refereeing to make sure that things didn't get too out of hand, and the Colonel and his lieutenants turned their attention back to planning the next day's events.

Whenever a particularly large roar would erupt from across the field, the company officers would look up, chuckle, and comment on the battle's progress, "There goes First and Second Platoon" or "Tony, Weapons Platoon is getting stomped" or "Look at Smitty leading the charge," and then turn their attention back to planning.

Suddenly the low roar of friendly combat quieted. The Colonel and his officers looked up to see the entire company facing them and beginning to clap in unison.

The Colonel quickly scanned the faces of his five lieutenants and couldn't help but laugh at the looks of bewilderment turning rapidly to consternation...on all but the XO's (the Company executive officer -- second-in-command).  Brad McCullough was an accomplished martial artist and the Colonel never saw anything rattle him. The Colonel did see his eyes narrow, however, as he figured the odds and then saw him glance around for an escape route.

The other lieutenants were too shocked to do that much thinking.

"Gentlemen," The Colonel managed to muster without his voice cracking, "we can't run. We have to attack."

The Colonel turned and started jogging tentatively towards the company.

With that, Brad hollered "Keeeyaaa!," or something like that (the company officers laughed for months afterwards anytime one would yell "Keeeyaaa" in a not-so similar situation) and sprinted toward the 150 Marines facing us.

The Colonel and the rest of the lieutenants sprinted after the XO, and the six young Marine officers gave a long, wavering rebel yell that 125 years previous would have been right at home in Stonewall's Brigade rushing yankee earthworks.

The Marines actually stood stunned for a second at the sight of their officers charging them, and then recovered with a roar and charge of their own.

The gap of 100 or so yards closed in a few seconds that seemed like eternal anticipation of the painful collision with the camouflaged tide.

The Colonel picked out a big Marine in front of him who happened to be looking away at his own platoon commander, slanted toward him, and dropped him with an open field tackle that rung the Colonel's bell much louder than the Marine's.

The company engulfed its officers and all six went down under a crush of happily hollering Marines.

The company First Sergeant saved the Colonel from possible serious bodily harm, by reminding in his drill field voice, "Marines, that is your commanding officer!", and pulling Marines off of the pile atop the Colonel.

The Colonel and his First Sergeant did the same at the piles of Marines that marked the positions of the rest of the officers, and as the men respectfully separated themselves and headed back to their tents the Colonel heard a Marine remark proudly,

"Did you see the Skipper and the officers charging us?!?"

Little did they know, their leaders had no other choice.

But now, Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines really belonged to Captain Thomas E. Gregory. 

The next year and a half was the best time of his life.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Semper Facetious

Amid appropriate trumpet fanfare (okay, it’s just his two grandsons -- the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes One and Two -- on kazoos) the Colonel proudly precedes this post with preamble proclaiming that it is the 600th time, since the inception of the “The Colonel’s Corner,” that he has subjected the thousands of you, who ingloriously imbibe, to the literary libations ladled out not-so-liberally hereon. 

To mark such an auspicious occasion, the Colonel feverishly fleeced the few remaining fertile cognitive cells lying fallow in forgotten recesses of his boney brain-housing group for a topic appropriate to the importance of the milestone.

He found nothing.

No witty repartee between the Colonel and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda.

No hijinks of the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes One and Two.

No feathered fable from the predator-safe environs of the Colonel’s Hen Herd House.

No legislative legerdemain of the Congress of the Tallahatchie Free State.      

No Biblical revelation.

No reminiscence from his career as a steely-eyed, roguishly handsome, amphibiously expeditionary minister of mayhem management in the service of his nation.

But, the Colonel must leave you with something…

So, he’ll leave with this to ponder:


Okay, the Colonel admits he ain’t got nuthin’.   

So, this post will henceforth and forever be known as a total waste of your precious time.

Pretty much like the 599 that preceded it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Battle to the Future

The Colonel has been, as many of you have no doubt noticed, somewhat lax in his writing and posting of late. 

He's been feeling a bit overwhelmed -- got a lot on his plate.

Besides the demands of tending to, harvesting from, and distributing the produce of a much too large garden this summer, the Colonel has also taken on responsibility for leading a strategic planning program for his church and has also been led to lead a couple of small group Bible studies.  

As happens more and more often nowadays, just as the Colonel begins getting comfortable in a rut of self-sorrow, God reveals new meaning in a well-read passage of scripture.

This past week, in preparation for delivering the lesson to his Sunday School class, the Colonel studied the 6th and 7th chapters of the book of Judges.  The story contained therein is a familiar one to all be the most recent beginner Bible students.

The writer of Judges details the Israelites' rhythmic falling away from God, oppression by enemies, calling on God for help, and receipt of a man from God to defeat their enemies.   In the 6th chapter the man, Gideon, raised up by God to deliver Israel is introduced to us hiding from the marauding Midianites.

Gideon is in skull defilade, threshing wheat in a wine press.   

Ordinarily wheat was threshed on a wind-swept hilltop.  But Gideon was afraid of sky-lining himself to the enemy and was instead hunkered down in a small cavity hewn from a rock, probably alongside a vineyard.    

While he was evidently successfully hiding from the Midianites, Gideon couldn't hide from God.  The writer of Judges tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said something in absolute incongruence with Gideon's actions:  "You are a mighty warrior."


Amazing point of new meaning # 1:  God's omnipresence is not limited to three dimensions -- He is omnipresent in time as well.

God wasn't describing Gideon's present situation, but what he would become.  God already knows our battles  --  He's out there in the future fighting them as we speak.

When God tells Gideon that he is to lead the Israelite army against the Midianites, Gideon's first reaction is to remind God just how weak and insignificant he, Gideon, is.  In effect, Gideon tells God that because he is the youngest son in the least influential family in one of the least influential tribes of Israel, he is absolutely the wrong man for the job.

God says:  "Have I not already sent you?"

Amazing point of new meaning # 2:  God begins to work on our hearts long before he gives us a definite command.

God was telling Gideon that he, Gideon, had already been receiving a calling -- some call it a "still, small voice" -- telling him that he had to do "something."  God is at work in all of our hearts -- he owns 'em, whether we have decided to "give them to Him" or not.

Skip over the parts of the story most of us are familiar with -- the fleece and the dew, God's whittling down of the Israelite army from 32,000 to 300 -- and stop where God tells Gideon to take his servant and go on a reconnaissance of the Midianite camp.

Gideon sneaks down in the dark and hears a Midianite soldier interpret another's dream of tent-flattening barley cakes as the fact that, "This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon...the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands."

Amazing point of new meaning # 3:  God sends us, but He goes before us.

God clearly orchestrated the Midianite soldiers' dream and interpretation for Gideon's benefit.  God was out in front of Gideon's small force, preparing the battlefield for them.  Before Gideon even employed the stratagem of fooling the Midianites to believe that they were surrounded by a much larger force than just three hundred cupped-hand water-drinkers armed with trumpets and torches in clay pitchers, God was already at work in the hearts of the enemy.

That the ruse worked is not a testament to Gideon's cunning, but to God's ownership of the hearts of all men.

Last amazing point of not-so new meaning: The battle belongs to the Lord.    

The Colonel begs your forgiveness for his literary lapse.  He'll take more time to write now knowing that his coming battles are already won.