RON SCHALOW: The Old Men And The Sea

Saltwater. So abundant. For decades, child global cartographers have gone bonkers when the blue crayon became a nub before ever even getting to the Tropic of Capricorn.

Some wannabes outside the map colorization community have suggested that we might be dealing with multicolored gulfs, epicontinental seas and fjords. Purists consider this train of thought to be pure madness. The oceans are blue, period.

Joey, the CEO of “Naps & Maps” summed the issue up this way:

“Water is blue. The sky is blue. How is that supposed to work? Cerulean? Don’t make me laugh. Periwinkle? Ugh. Hell to this racket. I will be a dentist in a few short decades. Or a bouncer.”

Two-thirds of our last three presidents — the white ones — have also had problems dealing with large bodies of water, and cited the oceans as excuses for their incompetence. One pulled it off.

The tragedy of 9/11 happened on George W. Bush’s watch. He was warned and warned. Something big was going to happen in the U.S., but he did nothing.

His director of National Security, Condoleezza Rice, referring to one of the daily intelligence reports, said, “It mentioned hijacking, but hijacking in the traditional sense, and in a sense, said that the most important and most likely thing was that they would take over an airliner, holding passengers and demand the release of one of their operatives.”

Analysts had warned of airliners being used as missiles, too, so maybe we should have cracked the seal on our “stopping a terrorist attack” plan. How long should we do defense? Forever, if necessary. That’s why the Department of Defense is a permanent organization.

So, the “before” was screwed up. Then came the “during” of the attack. Our commander-in-chief, National Security adviser and Secretary of Defense didn’t prepare themselves.

I wrote a book on the presidential befuddlement during the attacks, while al-Qaeda took lives. A doofus yam shaped Minot blogger called the book a “truther” conspiracy, which isn’t true, since George Bush isn’t smart enough to have participated in an inside job — or DIY birdhouse.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “The terrorists were in the United States. They used a U.S. airplane, and they attacked a U.S. target. And those are things that are outside the purview of the Department of Defense.”

Yet, Air Force jets were eventually scrambled, fighter planes were sent to guard Air Force One, and I hear that we manufacture military planes so some towns can have jobs.

You go to war the with the Secretary of Defense you have, not the Secretary of Defense you might want, or wish to have at a later time.

Here’s a nosy question for our leaders. Flight 77 was in the air for one hour, and 17 minutes before it hit the Pentagon. It was headed for D.C. We knew it. Why were people still upstairs in the outer rings of the building? Was the intercom on the fritz? Get down to the basement, all humans and animals. NOW!

Ideally, maybe if we just tried, we could have stopped the murderous scum before they boarded, one, two, three or four, of the jetliners. Or less appealing, shoot a passenger plane out of the sky, to save the greater number of people on the ground.

So, I don’t accept the rehabilitation of George W.  He was lazy, didn’t study his job requirements, was incurious and was unwilling to accept responsibility. And I haven’t even mentioned Katrina, Iraq or the financial meltdown.

In the aftermath, the president and his people got their Rovian stories straight and trotted out the “ocean myth” story dozens of times, over four years, among other bullshit. But on Friday the 14th, Bush went to the rubble in New York, grabbed a bullhorn, and all was forgiven or forgotten.

Here are few samples. Of course, Bush never wrote anything, but he was willing to read what he was told, and didn’t go on long indecipherable rambles, like the current POTUS.

“I also said, after September the 11th, that oceans no longer protected us. You know, when I was growing up, or other baby boomers here were growing up, we felt safe because we had these vast oceans that could protect us from harm’s way.”

Yup, he said it. But speaking for most baby boomers, I never thought the oceans could protect us. From what? Wildebeests? They can’t swim that far, and ocean predators are always looking for a quick snack.

“You see, we learned that oceans no longer protect us; that a threat that gathers on the other side of the Earth can strike our own cities, can kill our own people. That’s what we learned.”

Maybe you learned it, George, but “we” already knew it. The first canoe we know of was built between 8200 and 7600 BC. There has been some advancement since.

“Remember the old days of prior to September the 11th — if we saw a threat, we felt safe because oceans seemed to protect us. That’s all changed. It’s essential your president understand that.”

Indeed, it is essential for our president to understand. Understanding was one of George’s issues.

“See, when I grew up, oceans would protect us. At least that’s what we thought. You might remember the ’50s and ’60s. We’d see a threat overseas, and we were teenage kids and just didn’t need to worry about it, did we, because oceans were there to protect us.”

Our leaders must have really been shocked during the Revolution and the War of 1812 to see English ships, seemingly unafraid of the water.

“After the enemy attacked us, and after I realized that we were not protected by oceans, I asked people that work for you — work for me, how best can we use information to protect the American people?”

I never thank GW enough for realizing the ocean thing.

Somebody sat at their computer and came up with this BS, for George to sincerely recite. The work got passed around, and everyone evidently thought this nonsense would fly. The man on duty before and during 9/11, a massive failure, was elected to a second term.


Many of the Puerto Ricans with resources just took a flight to the mainland, before the hurricane hit, and a lot won’t go back. That option wasn’t there for everyone. A large share of the island’s population live in poverty, and their prospects didn’t get any better, when the place was leveled.

Donald Trump didn’t run away to Nebraska, like Bush did during 9/11. When hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, he went golfing. And although Trump only tried to blame the ocean for the royal eff-up; aka the emergency government reaction to a natural disaster, a few times, it didn’t fly this time. That manure won’t get him re-elected. Maybe it was the delivery. Here’s one.

“This is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean — and it’s a big ocean, a really, really big ocean.”

Can’t argue with that, except that I would posit that the Navy, Carnival Cruise Lines, or the yachtsmen who sail the large boats of Betsy DeVos are not frightened by any part of that ominous statement of a rare fact from Don.

And we have oodles of jet planes, cargo planes and helicopters. Drones, too, with super good eyes. Just take the missiles off.

Of course, getting called out on a lie, or an idiotic statement, never stopped DT from repeating crap before. But at least he’s being ridiculed, while the Bush nonsense was either believed, or critics were reverential to the day of 9/11.

“This is an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.”

And Florida is a peninsula. Big whoop. The coastline of an island, looks like the coastline of most land that abuts the sea.

Our government didn’t have enough of anything, and many supplies came way late. Thousands of Puerto Ricans died, due to the hurricane. Trump gave the effort an A-plus.

Trump — assuming he had any leadership qualities — should have simply ordered the military to dig into their inventory and traverse every inch of the the island — which is the size of two Cass Counties in North Dakota — and make sure that every survivor got water, food, medicine, fuel, tarps for leaky or disappeared roofs and a generator, especially for those with electric medical devices.

The military knows what they’re doing. Just snap your fingers and go putt.

Sick people should have been evacuated to a functioning hospital, even if the closest one was in Miami.

Then, follow up, to make sure illness has not spread due to insects, mold and other cranky problems that follow tremendous big wet.

Our own government has conceded that the response was terrible, but Trump won’t accept the numbers, or the opinion of everyone, except for the deep thinkers of Cult45.

“Large swaths of the island were without power for months. FEMA was short thousands of workers and underestimated how much food and supplies were needed in the recovery, according to a federal government report.

“But in the eyes of President Trump, the government’s response was a raging success — and one he touted this week as a monstrous hurricane pinwheeled toward the Carolinas.” — Washington Post

“We got A-Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan),” Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

Who is doing this grading? Rudy? Inaccessible? From where?

“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. Don’t forget, their electric plant was dead before the hurricane.” — Fortune

That isn’t true. The lights were on, but suppose they weren’t. We don’t help our own people, because they have a failing infrastructure problem, just like on the continent? Is that the new rule?

Trump has said and done a lot of stupid dickish things regarding Puerto Rico. It would be futile to even attempt to list them all, but he did try to pull off the Bush ocean fable, to cover his butt. Do Republicans know something about the ocean that Jacques Cousteau failed to mention?

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. The Puerto Rican people are American citizens. They pay taxes, but don’t get to vote. They get the economy level of hurricane response. Either take responsibility for these citizens, or give them their sovereignty.

I’ll sum up this presidential ocean primer with a couple of well-written messages for The Donald.

“Leadership from the top is also important. When Maria struck, President Donald Trump jetted off to his golf course in New Jersey, and days passed with little sense of urgency. Any delays in emergency response, Trump later explained, was the reality of Puerto Rico “surrounded by water, big water.”

“That’s no excuse. At the president’s disposal is the Navy, part of a military with unique expeditionary capability to project resources anywhere fast.” — USA Today

“In a press conference, he appeared to issue a scolding for the cost of the assistance, saying, ‘Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,’ and he minimized the island’s tragedy by drawing comparisons between its reportedly low death toll and the “hundreds” of people who had died in Katrina.

“Trump’s self-centeredness and his lack of empathy are not a point of contention for most Americans; what is more egregious, in Puerto Rico’s case, is the obviousness of the double-standard that he has applied to the island— an unincorporated U.S. territory — and the suspicion that it is racist in nature.” — New Yorker

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