Monday, August 22, 2016

Spidey Sense

The Colonel spent the weekend in a fever-induced hallucinogenic haze.  The massive swelling and intense pain (Category 6 on the Saffir-Simpson Nietzsche-Gregory Suffering and Whining Scale)  around a small site on his lower back led him to surmise that he had been bitten by a spider.  The fevered visions of webs shooting from his wrists seemed to verify that suspicion. 

The Colonel could have gone to the local hospital's emergency room, he guesses.  But he ain't smart and you can't make him.  Instead, he gutted it out for 48 hours and went to his personal physician's office first thing this Monday morning.  

The nurse practitioner who saw the Colonel took one look at the festering, swollen wound on the Colonel's back and immediately left the examination room, returning five minutes later in a full hazmat suit.  This did not particularly alarm the Colonel -- the Comely and Kind-Hearted Miss Brenda has a hazmat suit she dons frequently to do the Colonel's laundry.

"Colonel," she breathlessly declared, attempting mightily to maintain her medically professional demeanor, "I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like this."

"Oh, really?"  The Colonel was suddenly infused with a sense of perverse pride at his evident specialness.

"Well, you are in luck, Colonel.  I just so happen to be an arachnid bite expert, and based on the circumference of the site and the massive swelling, coupled with your fevered hallucinations, I think I know exactly what bit you."

Oh, really?"  The Colonel was intensely interested to hear the identity of the critter that had demonstrated the temerity to bite him.

"Yes.  I believe that you were bitten by the exceedingly rare Mississippi brown-spotted three-fanged vampire jumping spider."

The Colonel, who had theretofore been proudly presenting his formerly well-muscled back, turned to look her dead in the eye.  Even through the distortion of the hazmat suit's plastic face plate, the Colonel could see that she was maintaining a straight face.

The Colonel played along. "What's the prognosis?"

"Ordinarily, instantaneous death.  But in a small minority of cases, long-term lingering suffering."

"Well," the Colonel responded, "been there, done that.  Living through the Obama presidency, after all."   

The nurse practitioner broke out a hypodermic needle that was last used to harpoon a sperm whale, and injected a whale-boat load of steroids into the Colonel's formerly well-toned gluteous maximus, handed him a prescription for some more pharmaceuticals, and sent him on his way with wishes that he would feel better soon.

"No chance of that," the Colonel intoned in parting.  "Have you seen who is likely to be the next president?"    


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Constitutional Governance, For a Change

Recently, the chief political correspondent for The Colonel's Corner -- the Colonel -- sat down for a wide-ranging on-the-record conversation with Brenda Cannon Gregory (aka: the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda), the woman whose write-in candidacy for President is sweeping the nation like a cool breeze soothing a slumbering electorate in the midst of a hellish election nightmare.  What follows is the verbatim transcript of what one hopes will be the first of many such candid and illuminating conversations over the course of the next eight and one half years.

TCC:  "Mrs. Gregory, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions."

BCG: "My pleasure, Colonel.  And, call me 'Miss Brenda.'  I know we'll have to retrain you to call me 'Madam President' after the election, but for the time-being it will be less taxing on your pea-sized brain to keep it simple."

TCC:  "Uh, okay...  So, Miss Brenda, let's dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the subject.  How would you describe your philosophy for governance as President of the United States?"

BCG: "The Constitution; the whole Constitution; and nothing but the Constitution."

TCC:  "Would you care to elaborate on that?

BCG:  "Not particularly.  Besides, what part of those simple ten words is so hard to understand?"

TCC:  "Well..., I, uh...  Okay, um, well.., how, then, would you say that your governing philosophy differs from Barack Obama's?"

BCG:  "Who?  Oh, you mean Valerie Jarret's spokesperson.  Look, I'm not basing my campaign on the failures of the current administration.  I will say this for Mr. Obama, he reads out loud extremely well."

TCC:  "Will you be using a teleprompter in your speeches?"

BCG:  "Why?  None of my speeches will ever be longer than a minute or two.  If you can't make your point quicker than that, you don't have a 'point.'"

TCC:  "Makes sense."

BCG:  "Look, forty years living with the Colonel has trained me to keep it short and simple."

TCC:  "Heh, heh..., wait, what?"

BCG:  "Next question!"

TCC:  "Yes, ma'am!  Um...[the Colonel shuffles through his stack of notecards], okay, let's talk about what you see as your priorities as President."

BCG:  "The first constitutionally-mandated responsibility of the President, as chief executive, is faithful execution of the law as found specifically expressed in the Constitution, and as enacted by legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President."  

TCC:  "Do you believe in the use of Executive Orders."

BCG:  "Only as a means to enforce a specifically expressed Constitutional requirement, or to enforce an Act of Congress.  Not to create law.  Any other use of Executive Orders is an expression of dictatorial powers not expressly given the President by the Constitution, regardless the well-meaning intent or efficacy of the order.  If I see something that I think needs to be done, that is not currently expressly authorized by legislation, I will work with the the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader to have legislation passed to address the need."

TCC:  "Miss Brenda, executive orders and bureaucratic regulations over the last three decades have resulted in trillions of dollars of cost to the American taxpayer..."

BCG:  "And that's what I'm talking about.  Look, I'm sure that the originator of every executive order and non-legislated regulation believes that they are doing good.  Some may even be able to prove that their idea, in the form of an order or regulation, satisfies a critical requirement or provides a solution to a pressing problem.   But, good intentions, or even proven effectiveness and efficiency is not an excuse for extra-constitutional activity by our Federal government.  That's what I mean when I say "...and nothing but the Constitution."

TCC:  "Are you saying that Congress would do a better job at regulation than a professional bureaucracy?"

BCG:  "No! Not at all.  But, that's not the point.  The point is, as our nation's founders meant when they went to war for, among others, the principle of "no taxation without representation," that there should be no federal regulation without representation.  In other words, the Constitution gives the power of regulation expressly to the Congress.  There is no Article in the Constitution establishing an unelected bureaucracy with the power to indirectly tax the citizens of the Republic."

TCC:  " 'No regulation without representation'.  Catchy.  Mind if I make some money putting that phrase on bumper stickers?"

BCG:  "Be my guest.  The best economic stimulus is unfettered entrepreneurialism."

TCC:  "Can I put that one on a bumper sticker, too?"

BCG:  "You're a businessman?  Thought you were a free-loading journalist..."

TCC:  "Who are you calling a 'journalist?"

BCG:  "Next question!"

TCC:  "Yes, Ma'am.  What is your policy on National Defense?"

BCG:  "National Defense is best considered as a series of concentric rings, beginning first with the national security decision-making and policy apparatus and then second with the interior of our national territory and working outward.  Electing me will take care of the first ring.  Secondly, an effective American national defense for the 21st Century requires development of 21st Century internal infrastructure.  To begin with, our critically vulnerable power grid must be immediately shielded to protect against catastrophic failure, whether as a result of a man-made or solar attack.  Our highways, bridges, railways, and air traffic system, once the envy of the world, are now woefully behind and crumbling.  I will work with Congress, and the states, to fix our infrastructure and push it into the next century.

TCC: "But, won't the cost of such programs be prohibitively expensive, given the fact that our nation already has a 20 trillion dollar debt?"

BCG:  "Thought we were talking about national defense?  You want to talk about economic policy, now?

TCC:  "Uh, no..."

BCG:  "The next concentric ring out from infrastructure is borders.  The most compelling case for a 'clear and present danger' facing citizens of the United States is uncontrolled migration across not just our land borders, but via our ports and airports.  I believe that that vast majority of the people coming into our country illegally are otherwise law-abiding and can be productive members of our society if integrated and assimilated properly.  But, if only 1% of the nearly 1 million coming to our shores each year are coming with criminal malice aforethought that represents a light infantry invasion each year the size of the operating forces of the entire United States Marine Corps."

TCC:  "Ooorah!"

BCG:  "You really should do something about that cough, Colonel.  Sounds terrible.  As I was saying, and I'm keeping this as simple as I can for you, the first component of national defense is decision-making, the second is internal infrastructure, and the third component then is border security..."

TCC:  "How would you handle immigration, then?"

BCG:  "Are we talking about immigration policy, now?  Thought we were discussing defense policy?"

TCC:  "Um, okay.  Please continue."

BCG:  "The fourth component in our national defense, the fourth concentric ring outward, if you will,  is our military.  We must continue to invest in the highest quality people and the best equipment.  And, we must ensure that our military is trained and equipped to do one thing -- win on the battlefield.  Any proposed changes to the time-tested fabric of the force should only be made if it can be proven without a doubt that the change will increase effectiveness on the battlefield.  Just maintaining the current level of effectiveness is not enough -- our potential adversaries are not standing still; they continue to grow in capabilities and effectiveness."

TCC:  "Are you concerned about ISIS?"

BCG:  "Of course.  And, we'll deal quickly and effectively with that threat.  I'll ask for a formal declaration of war from the Congress and..."  

TCC:  "A declaration of war!?!"

BCG:  "What part of 'the Constitution, the whole Constitution, and nothing but the Constitution' did you not understand, Colonel?  Look, I know that you are hamstrung by a lack of education -- Ole Miss, Troy, and the Navy War College aren't exactly noted for producing great political thinkers -- but you've got to concentrate on the bottom line of my governing philosophy.  If it isn't expressly covered in the Constitution, the President isn't allowed to do it. 

TCC:  "Okay, let's say the Congress gives you a formal declaration of war against the so-called Islamic State.  How do you attack and defeat 'em?"

BCG:  "Well, that's where all of you military professionals, on whom the nation has spent a fortune educating and training, come in.  I'll turn to the Secretary of Defense, give her the mission, and tell her to let me know when she is done.  She, utilizing the brains for which I selected her to be my Defense Secretary, will turn to the military combatant commanders and give them a mission.  Look, this ain't brain surgery.  There might be some rocket science involved, though..."   

"But, look.  ISIS is not an existential crisis..., yet.  At most, at present, it is a nuisance.  A big nuisance, mind you, what with all of the humanitarian crises fallout.  But, if we continue to attack ISIS incrementally instead of all out, we do run the risk of them getting their hands on WMD.  Then they become an existential threat.  I won't let them get to that point.  Look for a victory parade down Pennsylvania avenue some time before my first State of the Union Address.   

TCC:  "What about China and Russia?" 

BCG:  "What about 'em?  You want me to get Congress to declare war on them, too?  Now we're really talking about rocket science; not to mention splitting an atom or two.  And, that's what will keep Jinping and Vladimir in check.

TCC:  "Okay, let's switch gears and talk about the economy..."

BCG:  "It's all in the same gear, Colonel."

TCC:  "Huh?  Well, um..., What is your tax philosophy?

BCG:  "If I had my way, there would be a simple flat federal consumption tax, somewhere around 10%.  And, I would reduce taxes on corporations, which are always passed on to the consumer in the form of increased prices for goods and services, to zero.  With a zero corporate tax rate, and no corporate subsidies, the United States would become the world's business capital. Period.  Imagine the wealth flowing to the United States under that situation! 

TCC:  "I don't think that would pay for all of the current federal programs..."

BCG:  "Exactly!  I will work with Congress to phase out all federal social programs and return that responsibility to the states where it rightfully belongs per the Constitution."

TCC:  "But, the states can't afford to fund all the welfare programs."

BCG:  "Look, I know this is taxing (get it?) your mental capacity somewhat.  But, the Constitution established a governmental system known as 'federalism.'  Contrary to popular belief, the concept of 'federalism' that is the basis for our Constitution does not give the Federal government responsibility, nor even authority, for social programs.  Federalism envisions the individual states bearing that responsibility and authority.  Don't take my word for it, go read the Federalist Papers for yourself."

TCC:  "So you would have the states take over and pay for social programs in their own states.  Won't that lead to different outcomes?  Won't some states do a far better job of taking care of their resident citizens than other states?

BCG:  "Yes, yes, and yes!  Emphatically yes!  That is the whole point of States' rights under federalism and as guaranteed in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution:  'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'"  The states that do the most effective and economically efficient job of taking care of their resident citizens will reap the rewards of increasing vitality and economic growth.  This competition between states will actually spur greater and greater good to the welfare of the citizens."

TCC:  Thank you so much for your time, Miss Brenda.  Can we finish by quickly addressing your immigration policy? 

BCG:  I fervently believe in the motto: e pluribus unum.   Out of many, one.  The reason the American Republic stands as the greatest nation the world has ever known is attributable to three facts.  One, our republic was founded on the greatest social compact ever devised by man -- the U.S. Constitution.  Two, that Constitution provided the umbrella of personal freedom and limited government under which a continent brimming with world-class resources was conquered.  And, three, that continent was peopled by representatives of humanity from around the globe who found unprecedented freedom of expression, and who were drawn together as one people yearning for the exact same thing for themselves and their progeny -- Freedom.  We still stand as the globe's greatest expression of that most shared of human traits -- the desire to live in freedom.  Our constitution still stands as the world's greatest guarantor of freedom.  We should celebrate that, and we should share it.  My immigration policy, indeed, my entire foreign policy, constitutionally in concert with Congressional action, will seek to share the unmatched level of God-given human rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States to all people, on our territory and on theirs.     


Saturday, August 06, 2016

Write-in Win for the Republic

The Colonel has come to the conclusion that it is indeed time for a woman to serve as President of these re-United States. 

The woman the Colonel knows the best, and with whose temperament, common sense, and integrity he is the most comfortable, is his bride -- the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda. Therefore, the Colonel is today announcing the beginning of a write-in campaign to elect Brenda Cannon Gregory as the next President of the United States.

Brenda Cannon was born in Memphis, Tennessee on the 9th of September in 1956.  Her father, LtCol. John W. Cannon, was a pilot in the United States Air Force whose career took the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda's family to assignments in Florida, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Washington, California, and the Panama Canal Zone.

She graduated with honors from Balboa High School in the Panama Canal Zone in 1974 and was a member of the National Honor Society.  She graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi University for Women with a BS in Business Administration in 1982. 

The Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda married her high school sweetheart -- the Colonel -- in 1976, and upon his commissioning as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps began nearly three decades of service in command of the Gregory family support echelon as the Colonel's career took him from one end of the empire to the other.  Moving every two years on average, she established home base for her family in Virginia (twice), North Carolina (twice), Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Hawaii, Rhode Island, South Korea, and South Carolina.  

The Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda raised three children, who today are all highly productive and respected members of society -- credit entirely to her.

The Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda possess the finest character of any person with whom the Colonel has ever been associated.

Never, ever, intemperate.  

Always in service.  The Colonel calls her "Twelve" -- she is driven by the unquenchable desire to tend to others.

She never lies. Seriously, the Colonel has tried for nearly half a century to catch the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda in even a half-truth.  He has failed miserably.

Because the Colonel was, during his career as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps, subject to immediate deployments for indefinite durations, the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda served as chief financial officer for the Gregory family.  She ran the family budget accurately to the penny.  She never once over-drew the checking account, nor ever ran up credit card debt.  

She lives her faith in Jesus.  Period.

She has impeccable pro-Life credentials -- started the first Crisis Pregnancy Center on Oahu in 1998.  Over one hundred babies saved in the first year!

She is a teacher.  Taught the fifth grade for a year in Jacksonville, NC.  Oh..., and kept the family going gangbusters the whole time while the Colonel was off galavanting in the Mediterranean.  

She is fearless and doesn't back down from a righteous fight.

Were it not for her severe allergic reaction to the kitchen, the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda would be considered in perfect health.

She has NEVER posted ANYTHING on Twitter, SnapChat, Facebook or any other social media.  

Rarely uses e-mail. 

Has never mishandled classified information.

Despises cronyism.  Has the most acutely developed sense of fairness that the Colonel has ever seen.  Can not be bought -- believe the Colonel, he's tried.  Will leave the White House no richer than she arrived and will not accept latter inducements for book deals or speaking engagements. 

She is an encourager; actively seeking out the down and out, and helping out with a positive word.  The Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda will encourage ALL Americans to better themselves.   

Believes that government governs best when it governs least.  Will roll back every federal regulation not specifically enacted by legislation.

Believes that them that don't work, don't eat.

Doesn't personally own a gun, but can safely and effectively employ any one of the dozens owned by the Colonel.  

Respects the law -- has never even gotten so much as a speeding ticket.

Did the Colonel mention fearless?  Made a static line parachute jump at the age of 45.  Not a tandem jump, mind you.  A climb out out onto the strut of the airplane and let go all by herself parachute jump.  Um..., the big bad Colonel ain't even done that...

Confident, coherent, concise public speaker.  She won't need a teleprompter -- her speeches will not be that long.

Frugal to a fault.  Won't spend a dime on herself and keeps the Colonel's toys to a minimum.  Will hold the Federal government to the same standard.  Will slash the White House staff in half, for starters.  As the Colonel currently maintains her in a comfortable standard of living without want, the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda will return her entire presidential salary to the US Treasury. 

Will place the freedom, security, and economic well-being of the citizens of the United States above all other considerations.  Will endeavor to expand the territory of the United States in the American Hemisphere for the sole purpose of providing greater freedom, security, and economic well-being to greater numbers of Americans as CITIZENS of the United States. 

Believes that the Constitution of the United States in the greatest social contract ever devised by man and that a strict constructionist view of the Constitution is the only qualification for the bench at any level.  Will not appoint judges or justices who have demonstrated disdain for the Constitution by legislating from the bench.

The Colonel won't make the claim that she is "the most qualified person to be president."  However, he will declare, without hesitation, that the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda would be a darn sight far better president than any of the current pretenders to the throne.  

There is not enough ink, nor enough electrons, to adequately extoll the virtues of this good woman.  

Join the Colonel's cause.  Elect the ultimate outsider.

Brenda Cannon Gregory for President.   

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Expeditionary Tourism

Thirty years ago -- give or take a deployment workup period or two -- the Colonel was deployed, along with a couple thousand of his closest friends, to the edge of the Empire as a centurion of the Republic.

Twice, at the end of the decade of Reagan, as a part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit capable of executing ship-to-shore "special operations" at the drop of a hat, the Colonel and a couple thousand of his closest friends went through a fever-pitched preparation phase and then deployed for six months to the Mediterranean area of operations aboard amphibious ships of the greatest navy the world has ever seen. 

The Colonel is convinced, beyond a shadow of doubt in his military mind, that the capabilities and commitment of he and a couple thousand of his closest friends not only maintained peace in the region, but so unnerved the Soviet Union that it collapsed.

Think the Colonel is kidding?  He kids thee not.

The Colonel, with a couple thousand of his closest friends, sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Med at the end of October, 1989.  Two weeks later, the Berlin Wall fell.

Coincidence?  The Colonel doesn't believe in coincidences!

Look, it's crystal clear to the Colonel -- and, he ain't all that smart -- that there are two reasons the Soviet Union collapsed:  blue jeans and the Colonel (along with a couple thousand of his closest friends).

Blue jeans, you ask?

Yes.  Blue jeans.

The government stores in Moscow didn't sell 'em.  The Muscovites wanted 'em.  Statist socialism failed to satisfy the people's wants.  

Blue jeans, the Colonel, and a couple thousand of the Colonel's closest friends -- someday the history books will get it right.

So..., having trained -- hard and effectively -- for every contingency on the spectrum of military operations, ranging from supplying woeful waifs with MRE gum to marching on Moscow through a battlefield macro-aggressed with nuclear fallout and lethal chemical agents, and... finding neither woeful waifs nor need for seizing Moscow, the Colonel and a couple thousand of his closest friends did the thing that Marines do second most best...

They pulled liberty.

For those not acquainted with the term, "pulled liberty" is a nautical term for having gone ashore to engage in unmilitary conduct both naughty and nice.

The Colonel did the latter, of course...

That's his story and he's sticking to it.  He is also thankful that this was a couple decades before the ubiquitous cell phone camera.

With peace breaking out all over the place -- as it always did whenever the Colonel was in an operational command -- the Colonel had no choice but to act like a tourist.

Oh sure, the Colonel, and a couple thousand of his closest friends, still conducted frequent bouts of training for military operations, but Southern Europe was their oyster.

And, there just weren't that many tourists getting in the way in those days.

From the Costa del Sol, to Provence, to the Riviera, to Roma, Napoli, and the Amalfi Coast, to Mount Carmel, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and dozens of points in between, the Colonel -- with Uncle Sam as his travel agent -- sight-saw the extent of the Roman Empire.

For their coincidental 40th wedding anniversary and 60th birthdays, the Colonel and the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda recreated the Colonel's Mediterranean travels earlier this year -- with just the Colonel's best friend this time.  

The sights were the same, with one exception -- thousands and thousands of tourists.  

Where 30 years ago -- give or take a deployment work-up period or two -- the Colonel had the Piazza dei Miracoli and the leaning tower of Pisa nearly all to his lonesome around which to wander mouth-agape, this summer the Colonel and the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands of tourists jostling for the obligatory photo shot with the tower in the background.

Where 30 years ago -- give or take a deployment work-up period or two -- the Colonel sat nearly alone on the Spanish Steps, this summer the Colonel had to point them out to the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda shoulder to shoulder with thousands of tourists from behind a security fence.

Nearly everywhere in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, the experience was the same -- thousands upon thousands of tourists jostling for a position from which to momentarily see a sight.

The Colonel, who has a back-pack crammed full of life's disappointments, was..., well..., disappointed.   

He's sorry that the Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda didn't get to see the Med like the Colonel got to, but the check is in that box -- not going back.

At any rate, the Colonel hopes that the thousands upon thousands of tourists sight-seeing in great selfie-snapping, sweaty packs appreciate that their ability to do so is attributable to a couple of thousand of the Colonel's closest friends sweating under their packs and scaring the Soviets into collapse.   

They probably have no idea.