Monday, September 21, 2015

Fumbles, Interceptions, and Breaks

Saturday was one of the longest days of the Colonel's life.

There have been longer days.

The last few days of shipboard deployments come to mind -- sailing slowly westward across the Atlantic, crossing time zones and setting the clock back an hour every other day.  Time truly warps at sea -- the Colonel remembers looking at his watch and the time would be 0700.  Eight hours later he would glance at his wrist and the time would be 0705.

Those were longer days.

Still, Saturday seemed to stretch laconically, each minute bending time and winding the Colonel's dysenteric bowels into ropes of tension so tight he could taste the friction.

Many of you, faithful readers and wasters of rod and cone time, may have missed the fact that there was a college football game of some import played in a small college town in Alabama Saturday night.  The Colonel's Rebels played the Tide. 

And, because Bama Bandwagon Boors comprise one of the largest demographics in the South (fairweather football fans who couldn't find the city of Tuscaloosa on a map of Tuscaloosa County, yet use the term "we" incessantly when talking about Alabama football), the game was reserved by ESPN for it's prime time slot -- kick-off at 9:15 ET.

9:15 ET in the PM.

That's a few hours past the Colonel's bedtime!

Has the Colonel mentioned that Saturday was a long day?

The Colonel tried everything he could think of to make time pass quickly.  

He asked the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda if she had any small projects that needed doing.  The Colonel's Lady maintains a list of "quick" projects.  Her definition of the term "quick" and the Colonel's definition vary wildly -- one of Miss Brenda's "quick" projects can easily consume the better part of a growing season.

The Colonel's best friend rattled off half a dozen projects from memory and the Colonel set off in pursuit of rapid time passage.

Forty-five minutes later, all of the quick projects on Miss Brenda's list were completed.

Awww, Come On!

The Colonel tried taking a nap.  He fell into a deep slumber, dreaming fitfully of fumbles and interceptions.  

Ordinarily one of the Colonel's naps would make ole Mister van Winkle jealous.

Five minutes after assuming the supine position, the Colonel woke refreshed and wide awake.  

The Colonel could continue to bore you with the minute by minute   minutiae with which he attempted to abbreviate an interminable day, but he will be merciful instead.  Suffice it to say that by sundown, the Colonel was exhausted.  

The only thing keeping him awake was the gnawing reality in the acid-filled pit of his cast-iron stomach that no matter how good of a football team the Colonel's Rebels put on the field that night; no matter how well they played; no matter how masterfully the coaching staff orchestrated alignments and assignments; there was just no way Ole Miss was going to escape T-town undefeated.

It was going to take all of the above AND take more breaks than a worker on a union contract.

Ole Miss doesn't get breaks against Alabama.

Any Ole Miss fan (and, we are admittedly a small band) can recite year by year, game by game, quarter by quarter, more than a century of the breaks going in favor of Alabama.  

To be sure, most years Alabama was clearly the better team -- but this year...  This year... felt different.  Last year was miraculous, beating top-ranked Bama at home; and magical, tearing down the goal-posts and parading them through Oxford.  But, this year's team looks even better than last years.

Still, Saturday night's game was in Bryant-Denny stadium, where Ole Miss had won only once before.  Visiting teams don't get breaks in Bryant-Denny.  They get broken in Bryant-Denny.

But, as the Colonel watched in stunned unbelief punctuated with manifold losses of military bearing, the breaks fell lightly into the Rebels' outstretched hands like manna from heaven. A recovered fumble here, an interception there, and the boys in powder blue helmets had a two-touchdown lead.

In the second quarter...

In Tuscaloosa...

But, time and the Alabama Crimson Tide wait for no man -- they came storming back and the Rebels took a flimsy 17-10 halftime lead into the visitors' dungeon.

The Colonel has seen this game countless times before.  Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory is a Rebel tradition.

Someone forgot to let Freeze and the boys in on that particular Rebel tradition.

The score was 30 to 10 late in the third quarter and the Colonel was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. With good reason.  Alabama hadn't gotten any breaks all game -- they were way overdue and way underpaid.

With time slowed to an inexorable crawl late in the waning minutes of the game, the Rebels clung to a slim 43 to 37 lead.  Ole Miss had hung forty-three points on the vaunted Tide defense -- in Tuscaloosa -- and still had not been able to put the game away.  

The cold, shrunken, flinty cinder that passes for the Colonel's heart was on the verge of exploding from his chest and filling the room with shrapnel... when, wonder of wonders, the inevitable game-winning Tide comeback faltered in a fast flurry of incompletions.

The Colonel sank into the warm embrace of his over-stuffed leather chair and pinched himself -- surely, he was still dreaming.

The dream endures.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Free Laremy Tunsil

It's a theme as old as conflict itself.

Gideon had the Midianites.  David had Goliath.  Moses had Pharoah.  Leonides had Xerxes.  Gandalf had the Orcs.  The AFL had the NFL.

Ole Miss has Alabama.

Free Laremy Tunsil.

The Colonel's Ole Miss Football Rebels hold a winning record, or at least a respectably close record, with every team it plays regularly.

Except Alabama.

In the half century the Colonel has been a Rebel, he has seen the boys from Oxford defeat the Tide...

Wait for it...

Seven times.

Seven.  Even using Common Core, counting to seven is pretty stinking simple.

Free Laremy Tunsil.  

If you include the years before the Colonel became a Rebel -- all the way the back to the inauguration of the series in 1894 (contrary to popular belief in the Colonel's family, he wasn't around back then) -- the record against Alabama, and the refs (yes, the Colonel went there; and will again, just wait), looks even worse.

Nine wins total.


Common Core still doesn't make the accounting difficult.

Free Laremy Tunsil.

Needless to say, as rare as a win against Alabama (and the refs) is for Ole Miss, back-to-back Rebel victories over the Tide are rarer still.

How rare, you ask?

Put down the Common Core manual.

Ole Miss has never beaten Alabama two years in a row.

N. e. v. e. r.

Not even including 'Bama wins vacated by the NCAA.

Free Laremy Tunsil

Last year, as delirious fans rushed the field and tore down the goalposts, the Colonel hugged everyone still standing in Section H of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The Colonel ain't a hugger.

But..., his Rebels had just beaten Alabama, and the refs, and the Colonel lost his military bearing for a few minutes.

Sue him.

Oh..., and if the Colonel's Rebels pull off the UPSET OF THE CENTURIES (19th, 20th, and 21st) this coming Saturday in Tuscaloosa, the Colonel is going to open up a booth in the Grove the following Saturday and post a sign saying "Free Hugs."

Free Laremy Tunsil.

Ole Miss has opened the 2015 season with an offensive explosion not seen in Mississippi since Grant took Vicksburg.  The men in red and blue have out-scored their first two opponents 149 to 24.

Take away the three defensive touchdowns and the Rebels have scored...

Pick up that Common Core manual and turn to page thirty-seven...

... eighteen touchdowns.

E. i. g. h. t. e. e. n.  

Or, in Common Coreese:  Ten tens, minus two twos, plus eight eights, circle the fours, enter the number six and draw a line through it... 

Or, in Coloneleese:  Count all the fingers on both hands, take off your boots and count all the toes not missing feeling from that long winter in North Norway thirty-five years ago...

The Colonel doesn't mean to brag (well, he does, but for instructional purposes only), but... no SEC team has ever scored 73 or more points in back-to-back games.  

E. v. e. r.  

Well..., now one has.

Free Laremy Tunsil.

Granted, their first two opponents weren't exactly SEC calibre foes like, say, Jacksonville State or Toledo, but the Ole Miss offense has lit up the scoreboard without the services of one of the best offensive left tackles to ever play the game -- Laremy Tunsil.  

Thanks to an NCAA violation fishing expedition made possible by a humiliated step-father's claims (Laremy decked the clown for pushing his mother, and the deckee retaliated by claiming Tunsil broke some rules regarding contact with agents), Laremy Tunsil has not played in the last two games -- held out by an overly cautious Ole Miss athletic administration.  

And, we're not talking Johnny Football - level allegations.

Not even close.

Johnny MONEY Football was proven to have done far, far worse.

Half game suspension.  

Free Laremy Tunsil.  

So, perhaps the most potent offense, and defense, Ole Miss has ever fielded, heads east this Saturday to Tuscaloosa, where they have won...

(Excuse the Colonel while he does the Common Core math...)



Here's where even the most die-hard, Walmart-bought "197 National Championships" T-shirt-wearing Tide fan has to admit...

You want Laremy Tunsil on the field for Ole Miss.

If only to shut up the Rebel Nation "the whole world hates us and stacks the deck against us any way they can" conspiracy theorists when the Tide (and the refs) send the Rebels back to Oxford with another loss in Tuscaloosa on the record.

Free Laremy Tunsil.   

Oh..., and...


Sunday, September 06, 2015

Leveraging Reality

The names, faces, and dates may be different, but some things never change.  

Since the founding of our Republic, there have been more than 75 separate Acts of Congress, Treaties, Presidential Executive Actions, and Supreme Court Decisions regarding immigration and citizenship naturalization.

Seriously.  Seventy-five.

Curiously enough, the crafters of the United States Constitution, though they constructed one of the greatest blueprints for self- governance and protection of individual natural rights ever devised by man, left mostly silent any reference to controlling immigration into the sovereign territory of the United States.

Granted, Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 granted Congress the power to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization...," but the issue of controlling immigration at that point in the history of our young nation was more about ensuring that new members of American society were loyal to the United States and not closet enemies still owing allegiance to some European crown.

At the birth of our nation, the founding fathers saw every reason in the world to encourage immigration by any and all (and by "any and all" the Colonel means Northern European) who would join in the republican (little "r") experiment and swell the ranks of liberty lovers.  

There was land to settle.

There were enemy tribes to defend against and subdue.

There was subdued tribes' land to settle. 

There were dynastic European empires still seeking to control the continent and prevent American expansion.    

There were cities to build and canals to dig.

As early as 1790, the Congress asserted its Constitutional powers over naturalization, setting in law the requirements for becoming a citizen of the United States.  All one (as long as "one" was male, white, and free) needed to do was reside in the United States for two years, present oneself to "any Common Law Court of Record" in any state in which one had resided for at least one year and swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.  

A quarter century later, famine in Ireland, and political repression in Germany, spurred the first great wave of immigration with which the United States had to deal.

Although there was significant nativist backlash to the millions of Irish and Germans pouring ashore in the first half of the 19th Century, by and large their addition to American society was a net positive to the expanding nation.  Irish laborers built cities and railroads.  German farmers spread west and tamed land for agriculture to feed the masses back East.

Both the private and public sector took advantage of this Celtic/Teutonic tide.  

Industry exploded with cheap labor.

Corrupt politicians (the Colonel apologizes for the redundancy of terms) bought votes from the new immigrants by bribing judges to issue citizenship papers on men who, in some cases, were still reeling with sea legs.  Political machines controlling major cities thumbed their noses at the Constitution and Federal law with impunity. 

War affected the nature of citizenship in the United States and influenced attitudes toward immigration, as well.

The 1849 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, concluding the War with Mexico, granted citizenship to 80,000 Mexicans living in the territory ceded to the United States.  The Gold Rush of that same year made them the minority, overnight.   

When it became obvious in the North that the Civil War was not going to be won by a few quick battles, Union war planners leveraged their immigrant manpower advantage.  By the end of the war nearly 1 out of every 4 Union soldiers spoke German as his native tongue, and cheap immigrant labor manned the forges of military might.

After the Civil War, the building of transcontinental, and regional, railroads demanded manpower for which immigrant labor was tailor-made.  Irish laborers laid rail westward.  Chinese immigrants (many victims of human trafficking not much less inhumane than African slavery) laid rail eastward.

So many Chinese flooded the labor markets on the West Coast that Congress passed a law in 1880 suspending all Chinese immigration. Although initially effective, the "illegal immigration" from China to America soon returned to previous levels and continues unabated to this day, despite dozens of laws passed to "control" Chinese immigration over the last 135 years.  

For half a century after 1880, political and religious repression, war, and famine in Eastern and Southern Europe spurred a huge explosion of emigration in search of liberty, security, and a chance for prosperity.  The United States, alone, held the only sure hope. Immigration from Europe to America averaged over a half-million people a year for the period 1880 to 1924 -- totalling 25 million in 44 years.  

As this "Great Wave" of European immigration came ashore on the East Coast, another wave began to grow to the South.

The security and economic crisis caused by the 1910 Mexican Revolution drove thousands north for safety and prosperity.  There was both farm and industry work north of the Rio Grande, and when the United States entered World War I in 1917 the need for Mexican labor increased significantly to fill the void left by a million American men mustered to fight the Kaiser.

That same manpower need happened again when the United States entered WWII and in 1943 the United States and Mexico agreed to a "temporary" program known as the Bracero Program, whereby both nations organized and controlled migrant workers (known as "Braceros") who provided replacement labor as American men mustered to fight Tojo and the Fuhrer.  The Bracero program was so successful and so beneficial to both nations that it continued for nearly two decades after the war ended.  A whole generation of migrant workers from Mexico (five million over the 22 years of the program) established a pattern that exists to this day, regardless the immigration debate.    

Over the course of the 20th Century, and into the first two decades of the 21st, Presidents, the Congress, and the Courts have wrestled with the issue of immigration.  Most legislation or executive actions have been effective only in that they served to pander to constituencies. 

Cities now openly flaunt their disregard for the Federal government and the laws of the land with regard to immigration -- "Sanctuary Cities" being only the latest manifestation of a political phenomenon that is as old as the Republic.

"A" solution to the current illegal immigration crisis is, certainly, to elect politicians who will enforce the laws on the books, seal our borders, and send the illegals home -- whether that home is Mexico, Russia, or China.  The Colonel would argue that the United States has been encouraging this illegal immigration, at least tacitly, all along and that to renege, if you will, is at least "bad form."

Another solution, at the opposite end of the spectrum, is blanket amnesty.  Easiest "solution," but not necessarily a fix to the long-term problem.  That just encourages more of the same.

We'll probably end up doing something that will be less of a compromise and more like kissing your sister.  Unless you're from Alabama, where family reunions are great places to pick up chicks.

Just kidding -- love you guys... mean it... War Tide; Roll Eagle.

Obligatory swipe at Alabama aside, the politicians ain't gonna "fix" this problem.  They never have.   The "non-politician" politicians won't either.  They never have.   

The Colonel hates to sound like a broken record, but the solution that best leverages the reality of the situation is the one that uses the manpower of the rest of the hemisphere to our advantage.

Expand the Republic.  


Friday, September 04, 2015

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Colonel will join a lucky, if long-suffering, small nation of kindred spirits as he and 60,000 of his temporarily closest friends conduct a near-religious rite, replete with pilgrimage pageantry, legionary parades, historical hymns, and rote chants whose roots in antiquity are so deeply buried that the meaning of their words are as obscure as the mud at the bottom of the mighty Mississippi herself.

Tomorrow, on the campus of Ole Miss, the Old and New South, in general, and the Old and New Mississippi, specifically, will cease the culture clash for a few hours, forget the feelings-based fights over the truly inconsequential and hug and holler out what connects them in ways they don't even fully understand and are certain no one else does.

Tomorrow, the Colonel will join at least four live generations, and the ghosts of at least a dozen more, in reverent revelry under the oaks, elms, and magnolias forming the ceiling of one of the most holy cathedrals in the South; a naturally beautiful ten-acre park at the heart of one of America's most beautiful campuses, serene for the most part of any day of any season and frenetic sea of happy humanity on seven Saturdays in the fall.

Tomorrow, the Colonel will join the throng of expectant Rebel revelers pouring from the Grove toward the beckoning stands of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, like parishioners parading from church to coliseum with the roar of the lions in their ears, to roar themselves in throaty, primal support and gleeful, grinning approval of valiant feats of skill and gridiron gladiator victory.

Today, the Colonel will prepare. He's old. The flinty, shriveled cinder which passes for his heart is cold and unstretched by months of inactivity and unready for the voltage the Colonel's Rebels will likely put through it this season.

The Colonel, from long experience, has learned to temper his expectations with regard to his Rebels.

But, this just might be the year.

Gotta get ready.

Are you ready, Rebel Nation?