Seeking shelter from the storm — at home

 

Hurricanes and other natural disasters often leave those people who are not trying to survive with little to do. Since I am off work until a week from today, I spent last night watching TV and surfing the internet. Thus, I went to bed about 1 a.m. I woke up at 7 a.m. and went back to bed until 12:30 p.m. During those times when I was awake I think I can safely say that the rain from now-Tropical Storm Harvey has not abated.

An Army National Guard soldier rescues a woman from her flooded home in Houston. Texas National Guard photo by LT Zachary West.

Beaumont, Texas, does not receive the publicity of, say, Houston. This is obviously because of a matter of scale. Houston, with a population of more than 2.3 million, is the fourth-largest city in the United States. Beaumont, with around 115,000 people, is not.

But, publicity be damned, weather does not play media favorites. Of course, that may have been difficult to fathom for some of the folks in other locations 12 years ago when Katrina inundated New Orleans and wrecked the Mississippi coast. Even now as Tropical Storm Harvey has moved into Louisiana, the national media seems fixated on New Orleans.

New Orleans suffered a significant loss in people and damage, there is no doubt about that. Houston, where thousands of refugees from Katrina sought shelter, will likely see much more damage from Harvey. Hopefully the casualties will not come even close.

It seems a lull in the heavy rain is taking place. The same for the pounding thunder and 35-40 mph wind gusts. But we likely have at least another 24 hours of tropical storm ahead of us. One only needs to look at the weather warnings from NOAA here in Jefferson County to know that:

 

 

They say it’s your birthday … USA

Happy (U.S.) Independence Day.

This is the day that Americans celebrate the nation’s formal divorce from England. Actually, the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Continental Congress two days earlier. What happened between that day and the Fourth, I am not certain. Maybe they all fled to Benji Franklin’s place where they proceeded to get “likkered up.”

I type this while I listen to the Orange One speaks from the White House balcony. Perhaps it is the Truman Balcony, so named for that crusty ol’ sonofabitch Harry S Truman. The “S” in the 33rd president’s name stands for no name. It was a combination of two grandfather’s names. The S name used to give editors hell — he, after all, was nicknamed “Give ’em Hell Harry” — as he would often use a period following the S in his name when signing documents.

It seems likes some folks are freaking out over the supposed firing by North Korea of an intercontinental ballistic missile. What me worry? As the great Alfred E. Newman was wont to say. I would say, you should be scared what with the Orange man in the White House.

By the way, I was in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago. This pic should be evidence that I was there:

Ah yes, free tanning sessions. Right here!

 

After lunch in Union Station, I saw this bunch. I have no idea what they were doing. Probably seeking cool from the 90-degree temps outside. Or maybe they were finding shelter from the mass of pigeons outside.

Have a happy Fourth or Second or Fifth or perhaps a half pint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must depart. I need to return blogging here. But, you know, too much of a good thing … Happy Fourth.

 

 

 

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.

GOP candidate and Putin sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G …

Well, the GOP presidential candidate managed to draw the ire of one of the most editorially conservative newspapers in the United States. The day after its editorial dissed the GOP-candidate, The Dallas Morning News, today, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. This is the first time in 75 years that the News endorsed a Democrat.

The Republican candidate also flip-flopped on some outrageous utterings he made back during the primary elections. He said today that, upon entering office, he will give the Joint Chiefs of Staff 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. As one TV general said this morning: “That is what (the generals) have been doing for the last eight years.”

Anyone following the Republican presidential campaign might remember the candidate saying “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”

Another mouth-shooting-off memory of this candidate is when he said that he had a plan to defeat ISIS, although it was secret, as he wants to keep the enemy guessing.

The candidate, whom I refuse to name due to his previous media over-exposure, also threw out the traditional Republican red meat. He wants to increase the military, build more ships, and more fighter planes. In other words, he wants to toss more money to the military-industrial complex that President and former 5-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation of before leaving the presidency.

That candidate may have sounded “more presidential” during much of his bullshit speech this morning. He still used words to insult Clinton and President Obama.

In looking into the defense industry pandering today, the candidate tosses aside the reality of modern warfare, nasty as it is.

Look throughout history. Once a war is done and won (that not always being the case) a military establishment shrinks. That is the nature of wars and the economy.

People who weren’t born before WWII and do not study history, are doomed to repeat it. But those who don’t study history should do so. There are those who think the nation was just asleep at the switch in 1941 Pearl Harbor. But, as was the case leading up to the previous “war to end all wars,” the U.S. was about the last nation to get involved.

My parents and other elders talked of the great 1940 Army Maneuvers, a.k.a. the “Louisiana Maneuvers,” held in western Louisiana and across the border in the East Texas Pineywoods. Stories abound of George Patton, Omar Bradley and even Eisenhower — setting up commands in the local towns. About 400,000 soldiers participated and some two dozen soldiers died in the exercise, most from drowning in the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana.

Look, even my four years of Navy active duty will attest to the fact that the military never stops preparing for war. The U.S. military has reserve and National Guard troops who have all been involved in our perpetual war in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is difficult to see these days where the active service members begin and the reserve and Guard, end.

The GOP candidate is a military faker and he thinks his private military school is similar to military service. Real military service was not even a thought with his deferments during Vietnam. None of his offspring, despite their love of guns, served in the military.

Today there was news of a Russian fighter jet making what was described by U.S. defense officials as an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of a U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare plane. This is nothing new. Such games have been played since we were in the “Cold War.” I even remember our destroyer being tailed by a Soviet freighter while we headed to Subic Bay, only for our ship to turn around and follow the USSR ship for awhile.

The problem is that today, these ships and planes are a whole lot faster and powerful. One of these days a Russian plane or an Iranian patrol boat or North Korean, whatever, will screw with the wrong ship or plane on the wrong day. Someone needs to be steady at the ship of state to ensure such things do not happen. Also,  that the GOP candidate seems to continually play up his bro-mance with Russian President Vladimir Putin is concerning. If something makes us uncomfortable about the GOP candidate, it should be this relationship with Putin.

Perhaps the candidate has in his IRS return that he refuses to release some actual financial link with Putin. But who knows, the GOP candidate is the first since Richard Nixon to not release his tax returns..

Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism: Chaos from Korea (North)

Say “Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism” three times, speaking fast. Can’t do it? I doubt many care.

But this seems to be the cult of personality pushed nowadays by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The ever-entertaining Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or KNCA, expounds upon a June 24 “National Seminar on Kim Jung Un’s Ideas and Lines.” The seminar at the Pyongyang People’s Palace of Culture sought “to deeply grasp and thoroughly implement the ideas and lines set forth by supreme leader Kim Jong Un in his report to the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea,” the KNCA says.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is escorted by NK Army leaders, from left, Larry, Moe and Curly. (North) Korea Central News Agency photo.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is escorted by NK Army leaders, from left, Larry, Moe and Curly. (North) Korea Central News Agency photo.

Okay.

 “Choe Thae Bok, vice-chairman of the C.C., the WPK, and other speakers said that the revolutionary lines set forth in the report including the clarification that the general line of building socialism and the self-development-first principle serve as the strategic line to be consistently maintained in building a socialist power and realizing the cause of modeling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism are an encyclopedic and political great programme which gives perfect answers to the theoretical and practical issues in the revolution and construction,” the KNCA reports in an amazing one sentence description.

What does it mean? Well, the crack(ed) writers at the KNCA further explained by reporting:

“They (the speakers) noted that the programme for modeling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism clarifies the correct orientation and ways of firmly preparing those in charge of accomplishing the cause of the popular masses for independence, the socialist cause, and the driving force, enhancing their role, transforming all fabrics of social life as required by Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism and triumphantly advancing the revolution and construction.”

Clear as mud? Here is more:

 “They (the same they) pointed out that the WPK and the Korean people will straightly advance along the immutable orbit of independence, Songun (military first) and socialism and discharge their pioneer role in the struggle to realize global independence as the defenders of independence and justice under the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Un no matter how the situation may change and relations with neighboring countries may alter.”

Ah yes, that great struggle to realize global independence as the defenders of independence and justice under the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Un. Sounds a little like Superman. I wouldn’t want to imagine Kim in the blue, skin-tight costume. And by the way, how many titles do Kim Jong Un have? A totalitarian for all occasions.

I truly wonder who this mouthpiece for the Pyongyang leadership — again Kim Jong Un — believes that it is addressing? If this is the crap being fed to the masses, then this nation is in worse shape than it seems.

I’m sure a President Trump would understand though. Perhaps The Donald and his Secretary of State Dennis Rodman will make the historic first visit to this closed society.