Money, money, money, money. Money!!!

It’s been so long. No, I haven’t gone on a long trip. Although, if my Power Play ticket hits all six numbers tonight, I might just take a trip.

I once would daydream about hitting the big lottery pots. That was mostly when I was able to walk an hour a day for exercise. But I am lucky if I can stand for 60 minutes within a day.

“New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I’ll buy me a football team” — Roger Waters, Pink Floyd.

If I were to fantasize about winning the lottery, it would include thoughts of seeing whatever doctor was possible to help my lower back which pains me so standing or walking today. Then I would hire a personal trainer to help whip my overweight ass into shape. All of that would be little to accomplish if I won the $154, 800,000 cash value of Power Ball.

Oh hell, I would buy my dream home somewhere — likely in the East Texas piney woods — and maybe a townhouse on some coast somewhere. And a vehicle? Oh yeah. I would buy an SUV, trading in my  newly purchased 2004 Chrysler Pacifica; I’d buy some kind of full-size pickup; and I think I’d probably buy some cool little BMW. I had a Beemer once.

I bought, kind of, a 1972 BMW 2002. I became its driver in 1990 from my friend Bruce. It was a rather odd-looking vehicle with three colors. I drove it during my first months in a small East Texas sawmill town where my first newspaper job resided. I edited  a weekly paper, all with no experience except a degree in journalism. I must have done something right. I was told the paper turned a profit for the first time in years during my tenure.

Here is my take on winning the big money:

  • Being an old sailor man, I find it hard to fathom someone who wins a jackpot who previously hadn’t thought for what reason or reasons, he or she might use a lot of money.
  • No one will feel that you are s**t if you buy an expensive car. If you can afford it and want to kiss it all over, who cares?
  • I don’t care one way or another what you do with you money. If you want to fund a kangaroo path in Melbourne, just do it!

There is so much silliness one might think of should one hit the jackpot. Besides my material world items — not to mention I would fly off or ride a ship to wherever —  I would  likewise try my best to help people.

I think I would do whatever possible to help, relatives first, then friends or acquaintances or family to attend college. Check back with me when or if I win the Power Ball.

I once worked as a firefighter. I have and have had relatives and friends who became firemen/firefighters. Two nieces are officers in my hometown volunteer fire department. They also work as police officers in a nearby town. I would like to help out fire departments or other public safety services in my hometown or other groups whose existences mean quite a lot to me.

Will I win? I never won more than $10 playing Lotto. I won $50 once or twice and $100 doing scratch off on my 40th birthday in Massachusetts. I had to split it with my friend who bought the ticket. Oh well! If I win the almost $155 million. I will not let you know, at least not immediately. But if you know me, you might some day see the green. Or not.

 

Trump fires “mean ol'” FBI director Comey

What country is this?

This is a question that I just posed to my friend, Paul, who lives in Tokyo, with whom I communicate once or more times a day on What’sApp. I was referencing the news that President Donald J. Trump has just fired FBI Director James Comey for, as CNN panelists are describing as “being too mean to Hillary Clinton.” I must emphasize that this isn’t from an Onion story.

Bye Jimmy. It’s been unreal.

This doesn’t pass any smell test. It seems history is repeating itself. The historic story of which I speak is that of the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre”. This bloodless event took place on Oct. 20, 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon, who was under fire as a result of the Watergate scandal, ordered the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon ordered Attorney General Eliott Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused. Richardson was then fired. Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus was then ordered to fire the special prosecutor. He refused. Both Justice officials had assured a congressional oversight committee that they wouldn’t intervene in the investigation of Nixon. Solicitor General Robert Bork made no such assurances and he fired Cox. Congress, almost exactly 14 years later, rejected Bork as a Supreme Court nominee. Bork had served as a justice of the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals circuit and was nominated for the Supremes by President Ronald Reagan.

Anyone who has followed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, should recognize that Comey has made sometimes confusing statements. And Hillary Clinton has recently said that Comey’s announcing that the FBI would look further into her e-mail probe in late October was a contributing factor in the Electoral College win by Trump even though Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

The Justice Department said in July that Clinton would not be prosecuted for her email practices. The statement by Comey that he would look further into some email problems in Clinton’s State Department appeared to turn the tide for Trump as Republican presidential nominee. It made no difference that Comey announced just a few days before the election that Clinton had another all clear. The rest, is our sorry history.

Some people who acquire great wealth and power come to believe that they may do whatever the hell they want. It seemed that Trump has headed in that direction. Now there is no such question. Are we in for our long national nightmare II, as President Gerald R. Ford described the aftermath of the Nixon saga?

Stay strapped in because it looks our nation is in for another bumpy ride.

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!