Trump: “Bring me more smoke and mirrors!”

More smoke and more mirrors. I know a little about smoke. In the header-photo above, I am the one on the tail-end of the 2 1/2-inch fire hose. I know 2 1/2 inches of hose does not sound like much of a hose. But it is. A normal uncharged section of 2 1/2-inch hose is not the easiest of objects to maneuver.  But once you charge that hose and the principles of fire hydraulics begin its activities, you have a whole lot of water and weight.

Now the picture above shows much more fire than smoke. It’s funny. When my lieutenant and I were fighting this blaze, it seemed to me that the heat, and smoke was much more intense than the blaze itself. As you look in this wonderful photo, you see the house outlined in fire. Thus, I saw much more in that picture of a house blazing than from when the house was right before my eyes.

lt is simple to say, the picture defies reality. What  that means is something entirely different. This afternoon, I heard something that defied  reality. That was when our president was collectively blowing smoke up our asses. It seems that Donald Trump does that quite often.

President Doofus was exercising his almost daily ritual, often times more than once, of blowing smoke and employing mirrors. Why? Well, if a little smoke looks good much more of it has to appear even better. Or so would such an argument — as stupid as it seems — might go.

Today’s grand illusion is the Department of Veterans Affairs.

By employing his weapon of choice, the presidential executive order, President All About Donald can claim all the credit should the VA order turns out to be an unqualified win.  And if matters should fail … Well … ?

There is no doubt that the VA has many problems although  many of its problems fall not so much in the area of health care.

The VA provides benefits to millions of veterans and their families. The third of the three largest branches of the VA handles nothing but cemeteries and veteran burial benefits. Even in the area of health care, a gigantic bureaucracy  looms to ensure the agency will be paid, one way or the other.

It is amazing how many people believe all veterans are due free health care. I once corrected a member of Congress on that fact. Only certain groups of veterans receive free care, among those are those whose illnesses or injuries are connected to the vet’s military service. Then, the percentage of that disability is service connected goes into the equation of what amount, if any, co-pay a veteran will pay.

I am at the low end end of care which is means-based. Last year, quite suddenly, the VA decided I owed them co-payments for medicines and afterwards were charged  for co-pays of actual medical care in addition to those for prescriptions. Many of those who know little of the VA may also not realize that one’s ability to pay is based on gross income. Let’s say my income is $45,000 a year. But I don’t work full-time so I might make no more than $24,000 after taxes. You see the problem there.

I spent quite a few years reporting on and writing about the VA. I saw the agency from a number of vantage points. Most recently I have seen the many views of fiscal accounting, or lack there of, from a patient’s point of view.

There are at least three and possibly more offices one must deal with in settling debts. These offices sometimes do not deal with each other directly.

If the president thinks he can sign a piece of paper and the VA will have its problem solved, then he will definitely require a lot of help. That, and much much more smoke and mirrors.

Psst Sailor, want to buy a uniform?

Were one to aspire to a military career because of the uniforms then, as a sailor,  the U.S. Navy is for you.

I was a sailor during the late 1970s with a Navy dress uniform that one might mistake for a naval officer, chief petty officer or even a Wall Street businessman who snatched the hat off of a doorman.

The Navy uniforms seem to grow in numbers, complexities and pockets over the succeeding years. I would have to suspect that the real Wall Street bidness men who have populated the Department of Defense and Congress in recent years would be just fine with a single Defense Department in both name and action. It isn’t a totally ridiculous proposition.

Nixon and Johnson sitting in a tree ..

Do we need a Navy aviation component while we have an Air Force branch of DoD?  Even the Marines, who would rather be water-tortured than to admit that their branch belonged to the Navy, has their own aviation section. So does the Army, which has a large number of helicopters and other aircraft. Ditto for the Coast Guard, of course, the Coasties aren’t part of the Defense Department.

So as far as the bean counters who run Defense are concerned, why shouldn’t the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines — and the Coast Guard guys and gals of Homeland Security Department — all wear the same uniforms?

Why shouldn’t they all wear the same uniforms, you asked? Yes, I just asked. Keep up please! It is called tradition.

In the backwoods of the East Texas Pineywoods from where I was raised, I wasn’t particularly “ate up,” — denoting extreme fondness — with tradition.

My two brothers who served in the Navy during the Cold War and Vietnam era, and my Dad, who was a cook and baker in the Merchant Marine during WWII, certainly didn’t eschew tradition. Speaking of which, I eschewed a few times a couple of minutes ago. No one was around to say “Bless you!”  or “¡Salud!” as my Hispanic friends would proclaim. Okay, if you can’t take a joke …

During my time in service from July 1974 to July 1978 our uniforms were much different from those my brothers wore, collectively, from 1963 to 1970.

Many of the longer-tenured sailors I knew and even some younger sailor who said they wanted to stay “just  a little bit longer … ” were fond of the “Cracker  Jacks.” Those were the dress  jumper uniforms in both blue and white, with a flap on the back and a neckerchief tied in a square knot. Women wore a slightly different uniform. Well, perhaps I should say different.  I wasn’t a woman in the Navy so I shall not even express an opinion on the subject. Why? Oh come on …

I have said before and I will say again, I think some of the Navy uniforms make sailors look like jarheads.  Oh well, does the uniform make the man (or woman), or does the man or woman make the uniform. Don’t go asking me.

John Paul Jones invented the Navy. No, not really. Captain John Paul Jones continental navy 1747-1792 portrait by Cecilia Beaux. The original painting is in the US Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland. Image courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Military uniforms — especially those the enlisted men and women wear — are by and large a product of those who wear them.

I do not say that enlisted, or officer, uniforms are solely decided by those distinct groups. But those who wear the uniform will most often determine if those become the uniform of the day.

Quite often, when I was at sea, I had what was called “duty.” My job that day included typing up and and printing the Plan of the Day on the old mimeograph machine. The POD was kind of like the local newspaper although it told you how to dress. Oh well. This wasn’t the Boy Scouts.

I promise, on my honor to do my best, yadda, yadda …

And, just hope you don’t have a mate named Gilligan.

Here is a shocking thought: Trump might just be lying to you!

The man who claims to be our president continued his “chamber of commerce” ploy this week. I speak of Trump claiming credit for various job-adding projects. The ploy I speak of is when the local C of C promotes a new industry coming to town and touts the “thousands” of jobs that project will bring.

People of all political parties and walks of life will often dance in glee when some big business is eyeing their community. I have seen this happen time and again. The Trumpsters and locals both care little about the consequences when some earth-polluting industry announces their intention to locate hither or yon.

Let’s take for instance, the XL pipeline. I have friends who worked and some still work on pipeline jobs through their various labor unions. I have served as a local officer in two separate public service unions. I feel for my Union brothers and sisters. But the 10s of thousands of jobs that will supposedly benefit many, including my friends, in pipeline construction jobs, might just be sleight of hand. The money is very good in construction. But these folks end up going from job to job. And permanent work — one estimate says — will be no more than from 50-to-150.

In my neck of the woods, two LNG terminals being built on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and Louisiana has booster putting forth unbelievable numbers of jobs that these projects will bring. They are right. I don’t believe those numbers.

I have seen these numbers games all of my life. First seeing the number of jobs from timber production plants and oil and gas plants. While some of these jobs provide some good construction employment, permanent jobs always seem to be lacking. And industries always seem to have a habit of eventually disappearing.

During my last couple of years in high school, we  had a bunch of new faces in town. A large plywood plant was built in our county, only 10 or so miles away from me. A number of older friends, maybe those who graduated a year or two ahead of me, worked there. Several of these construction workers, mostly from Louisiana or Arkansas, became friends of my friends.  One friend whom I met moved back to New Orleans while I was stationed with the Navy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I used to spend an occasional weekend with my friend and his then-wife. These were both great people.

I was and remain happy to see good friends with good jobs. However, construction jobs, by nature, last only as long as it takes to build a project.

My friends in construction, many are getting long in the tooth although they wouldn’t like to hear that, are generally very good at their jobs. I wish only the best for these folks. I just can’t hack the president when he claims all the jobs for a certain project and those are not jobs he brought about. I don’t like Trump. I think he is a jackass and possibly a dangerous one at that.

Most likely, I should not go into detail about the president’s failings when it comes to jobs and statistics

I think most people whom I know realize the restrictions on the number of jobs that might be really be at the end of the rainbow. Especially when those jobs are construction. Why people believe everything this president says, I can’t fathom. I feel eventually the majority that matters, those who are involved in the political process, will come to realize that Trump lies. And he is probably one of the most prolific liars in American politics. That is not a good thing, Donald. Wacko!

I’m a working on it!

Something is happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. I am trying to find my way around on layout of this blog. Once I can find my ass from first base, I’ll let you know. But this is still a project under construction. Just picture someone working on a road construction job who is slouching over a shovel. There you have it!

Changes here at EFD, hopefully for the better

The Blue Ridge Mountains during a visit  in July 2016. Why is this here? Why not? Photo by Dick

Okay my friends, for many years my longtime college friend from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, Paul W. who has for quite awhile been a resident of Tokyo, Japan, provided a site for my almost 12-year-old blog. For some of those years we were on the free blogspot site. But for varied reasons we chose this paid site.

We discussed trading the site and all it involved. We decided it would be in our best interest to transfer his Website account from him to me. Not only does that make it more fair for him financially, it is something we figured it just made great sense.

It took a night of Sunday night, or Monday morning in Paul’s case, cussing. But hopefully I will have the ability to make some changes here and hopefully make improvements that will lead to my spending more time on my writing.

I have the ability to add a few other pages to my account, in case Paul wants to restart his Japanese horse racing site. Whatever he wants, short of a dangerous site that will get us sent to some CIA hellhole, he is certainly welcome to a web spot on my account. I cannot thank him enough for his help and patience. Best of luck, Bro!