Tidewater Musings

August 31, 2005

With foam cushy balls, though. The Washington Post recently posted,

Federal agencies stepped up relief efforts today in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, mobilizing to evacuate flood refugees from the Superdome in New Orleans, dispatching Navy ships and declaring a public health emergency for the entire Gulf Coast. The mayor of New Orleans said the death toll was at least in the hundreds and possibly in the thousands.

With floodwater levels in New Orleans apparently stabilizing, federal department heads led by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced a series of measures to ramp up the relief effort. The steps included the dispatch of 50 helicopters, a U.S. Navy hospital ship and seven other naval vessels, swift-water rescue teams, a 500-bed mobile hospital and tons of military meals and other supplies.

I’m sure the DHS plans include the Coast Guard.

Here in Hampton Roads, planning for deployment keeps moving forward. New requirements just came down the chain. Earlier today we were deploying skiffs and crews; then we had to make sure weapons quals were current; then we shifted to crews for our RB-S and UTB boats. Our list of Coasties heading south keeps changing.

One Chief Petty Officer from one of our stations came by to stage out. His wife and two children came to see him off. The kids were teary eyed, I figure at the thought their father, a barrel of a man, was headed away and into the unknown. They’ve likely heard some of the adult talk, and they worry. Given the option of returning home, the Chief said, “No.” Knowing that sooner or later he’d get selected to deploy he wants to go now rather than later.

This is usual for Coasties.

My phone has been ringing off the hook with reservists who want to volunteer. And so far, nothing. Well, nearly all the calls were volunteers. One call was from a petty officer due to get married in 25 days; he wanted to see how imminent deployment was; he’d rather get married.

I’ll not write here I told him he was making the wrong choice.

But think about it; we all have lives and here are Coasties — active duty and Reserve — who are anxious to go and help, to go and save lives. The mayor of NOLA is quoted as saying that perhaps thousands of citizens have died; these Coasties figure if they can get down to Louisiana, they can reduce at least some of that.

So, in typical cynical fashion, Coasties are “taking bets” on when they’ll deploy; as usual they hope for sooner but bet on later

“Come on,” we chant, “we’re ready to go.”

Coast Guard Colors detail
Originally uploaded by PTCRI should let you know: I love the Coast Guard (how could I not after having spent more than 25 years associated with this organization?). I also have seen the warts, plenty of them; if you’ve read some of this blog, perhaps you’ve read my words about those scars. Anyway, I’m biased.

Here are some words from someone outside the agency, at the Village Voice nonetheless

In this hurricane, the one government agency on the ball is the Coast Guard, a highly decentralized agency now stuck within the Homeland Security maze. With only 40 aircraft, it pulled off over 1,000 rescues yesterday.

Mr. Ridgeway, I hate to burst your bubble but…

This is what we do.

And, we could be doing it so much better. Our command cadres in the Gulf region are spread from Alexandria to St. Louis to Houston. I’m not talking decentralized, I’m talking we evac’d to different spots… and now we have a little difficulty talking to each other… or so it appears from a thousand miles away.

Atlantic Area has 116 small boat crews standing by, ready to deploy. Some of these crews have their own boats; others are just crews. We’re standing by, waiting for the call to begin rolling into the impacted areas.

Great debate swirls around me. We wait, because we need to know where we’re going and who we’re working for and, this hurts, who’s paying for it? Some of our crews — probably most of them — are self sufficient for up to a week. They have food, and recreational vehicles, and tents, and water… And cash and credit cards.

They’re mobilized… chomping at the bit… they got their tetanus shots… and they’ve gotten current at the range (remember, due to the nature of events, we travel armed underway)…

And now, we hold.

I think we’re waiting for FEMA to open the funding spigot.

There are plenty of us who want to just press on. We’ve got informal contacts with the various command centers in the impacted areas. We know that we could get our Coasties to a place where they’d be able to rescue people… people are stuck in their attics, driven up by the rising waters, and now can’t get out… or the water continues to rise… And we want, so very desperately, to deploy our assets so they can start doing what it is they do best.

As a colleague said (and, unlike USA Today, I’ll go with an un-named source here), “This is the nation’s biggest natural disaster ever. And we’re waiting for someone to hit the go button while people die.”

So, Mr. Ridgeway, we may look like we’re on the ball… but we could be doing so much better. What you see is us standing on a beach ball; what we want to be doing is standing on the beach ball while juggling chain saws and bowling balls. That, sir, would be us on the ball.

Oops. Allision between rig and bridge
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse This picture was a part of the morning brief for the CG Commandant this morning: a view of the Cochrane Bridge in Mobile.

For some reason, the HQ command center briefer thought this was important for the Old Man to see. Hmmm… I wonder why.

🙂

Just off the message board…

R 311816Z AUG 05 ZUI ASN-A00243000005
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
TO ALCOAST
BT
UNCLAS //N03006//
ALCOAST 434/05
COMDTNOTE 3006
SUBJ: HURRICANE KATRINA RESPONSE AND RECOVERY
1. COAST GUARD RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA HAS BEEN OUTSTANDING.
I AM PARTICULARLY IMPRESSED WITH COAST GUARD ATLANTIC AREA AND
DISTRICT EIGHT EFFORTS DESPITE THE ENORMOUS COMMUNICATIONS AND
LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES. OUR SAR EFFORTS CONTINUE AND THE AMERICAN
PUBLIC IS IMPRESSED AND GRATEFUL FOR YOUR EFFORTS. OUR NEXT HIGHEST
PRIORITY IS TO BEGIN THE NECESSARY PREPARATION TO RE-OPEN OUR PORTS
AND WATERWAYS.
2. I RECOGNIZE THE TERRIBLE STRAIN OF THESE AROUND THE CLOCK
EFFORTS AND HAVE SOUGHT AND RECEIVED AUTHORIZATION TO CALL UP THE
RESERVES. AS ALWAYS, THE COAST GUARD AUXILIARY HAS BEEN IN THE
THICK OF SUPPORTING OUR OPERATIONS, AND I AM GRATEFUL. COAST GUARD
PROFESSIONALISM IS MADE EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE WHEN WE CONSIDER THAT
MANY ARE DEALING WITH PERSONAL UNCERTAINTIES RELATED TO THE SAFETY
AND SECURITY OF THEIR FAMILIES AND HOMES. OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS
ARE WITH ALL THOSE AFFECTED BY THE STORM, BUT PARTICULARLY WITH OUR
SHIPMATES. WE ARE MOVING TO TAKE CARE OF OUR PEOPLE EVEN AS WE
CONTINUE TO SERVE THE NATION AT LARGE. I HAVE MOBILIZED THE HUMAN
RESOURCES DIRECTORATE TO IDENTIFY THE BEST AND QUICKEST MEANS TO
PROVIDE RELIEF TO THOSE IN THE COAST GUARD LEFT HOMELESS OR FACING
EXTENSIVE DAMAGES.
3. WE ARE WORKING CLOSELY WITH FEMA, OTHER DHS AGENCIES, DOD AND
STATE AND LOCAL AGENCIES TO BRING THE FULL WEIGHT OF COAST GUARD
RESOURCES AND CAPABILITIES TO BEAR IN THIS MASSIVE RESPONSE
OPERATION. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIRELESS SERVICE, BUT OUR WORK HAS
ONLY JUST BEGUN.
4. SEMPER PARATUS.
5. INTERNET RELEASE IS AUTHORIZED.
6. ADM THOMAS H. COLLINS, COMMANDANT, SENDS.
BT
NNNN

Survivors
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MusePlain and simple: this is why Coasties — and a host of others — do what they do.
Crazy stories coming from New Orleans.

My sources tell me that the Coast Guard facility on Lake Pontchartrain has been looted. Evidently, the facility, recently commissioned, was evacuated — check out the picture above and you’ll see why. Anyway, they evacuated… and local citizens decided to go in and loot and ransack the station

At least that’s the scuttle I’m hearing…

Crazy times.

Another story. A couple of Coasties were out last night with local authorities, helping with rescues… on a boat… you know, as Coasties might do… Evidently they were attacked and had to skedaddle to save themselves.

Not likely we’ll be seeing unarmed Coasties doing rescues if the people who they’re trying to rescue and are going to pull guns or knives.

Many conversations around the office about the film on TV this morning showing the looting… including a NOLA police officer looting a Wal-Mart store… I guess it’s one thing to loot for food, but televisions, stereos, large kids toys… How can a person justify that?

I guess the same way they justify attacking government representatives who risk their own lives in order to save others.

HurricaneKatrina_CG helo-overflight_large
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseFrom the open door of a Coast Guard Jayhawk the view of the devestation is… well, devestating, I guess… Here’s a pic of another Coastie doing his part.

I don’t want to say this is usual, but I’m not surprised the Coast Guard is so heavily involved. Following the flooding from Hurricane Floyd several years ago, Coast Guard helo crews rescued hundreds from waters covering huge parts of eastern North Carolina.

The service is preparing to dispatch more Coasties to the Gulf coast. Teams are mustering as I write this and awaiting orders to deploy.

HurricaneKatrina_CG helohoist_pg_woman_large
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseOne at a time, just like this pic of a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. This bird and crew are usually in Clearwater, FL, but are currently further west helping wtih search and rescue efforts in New Orleans. Petty Officer Scott Rady, rescue swimmer, just one of hundreds of Coasties helping with Katrina relief efforts.

Search and rescue… while the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, most of us trace our heritage to search and rescue rather than law enforcement or homeland security. We are SAR dogs. So others may live isn’t just a bumper sticker motto.

This pic shows a Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter performing search and rescue following Katrina.

Of course, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina is huge. The Navy is moving ships. The Air Force and Army and Coast Guard and Marine Corps has helos flying right now. And more and more.

Of note to some readers is this tidbit

The Coast Guard, whose crews have been assisting in the rescue of people stranded by high water in the New Orleans area, is recalling 550 reservists to assist in the relief effort.

Scuttle right now is that this is 500 enlisted members and 50 officers… all likely coming from the Eighth District.

More to follow.

Houston’s Astrodome/Reliant Park complex
Originally uploaded by xclozanoI can’t imagine the Superdome. Water rising. Toilets backed up. Power out. The stench after three days.

Reports now that all the folks in the Superdome need to be evacuated. To Houston. To the Astrodome.

From one large venue to another.

As flood waters continue to rise and power supplies deteriorate in New Orleans, relief officials have decided to move the 25,000 people being sheltered at the Superdome to the Astrodome in Houston, Red Cross officials said Wednesday.

How folks are goiing to be taken from the Superdome, now surrounded by rising waters, all the way to Houston hasn’t been worked out.

Evacuating all the refuges from the Superdome by small boat could take days.


Hard to believe, but the reports are it could have been worse…

Devastating as Katrina was, it would have been far worse but for a puff of dry air that came out of the Midwest, weakening the hurricane just before it reached land and pushing it slightly to the east.

Yes, Katrina was huge. And, yes, it was slow moving.

Those circumstances made Katrina “nearly a worst-case scenario,” said Hurricane Research Division meteorologist Stanley Goldberg.

If what we’re seeing now is nearly a worst-case, I hate to think what the worst-case would have looked liked.Not that I’m a cynic, but I wonder if there’s a relationship, somehow, between

  • Hurricane Katrina and our focus south,
  • the seven or more oil rigs floating loose in the Gulf of Mexico,
  • the price of gas at the pump, and
  • the President’s new rationale for the war in Iraq: oil.

President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country’s vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.

Nah, I’m sure there’s no link…
A young Art Garfunkel
Originally uploaded by LeoLondonOh, say it ain’t so…

Singer Art Garfunkel, who pleaded guilty to marijuana possession last year, has been arrested again on the same charge.

Garfunkel, 63, half of the legendary ’60s duo Simon and Garfunkel, was pulled over on Sunday by a New York state trooper near Woodstock after running a stop sign….

The trooper’s report of the incident said a strong marijuana odor was coming from the car and a marijuana cigarette was found in the ashtray.

Art’s still crazy after all these years, eh?

I’m not the kind of man who tends to socialize
I seem to lean on old familiar ways
And I ain’t no fool for love songs that whisper in my ears
Still crazy after all these years, still crazy after all these years

Details about this past weekend’s accident are beginning to emerge in the mainstream press.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch

A 15-year-old Richmond-area boy was killed Sunday in a personal-watercraft accident on Lake Gaston in North Carolina, authorities said yesterday.

Mark Sheridan Brennan, a student at Deep Run High School in Henrico County, was killed after another personal watercraft slammed into the one he was driving.

The accident occurred when Brennan slowed his craft and the second one hit it, said Capt. Chris Huebner, hunter and boater safety coordinator for North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission.

Brennan died instantly of trauma to the back of his head and neck, Huebner said.

Dr. Aaron Spence, principal of Deep Run High School, called Brennan a “wonderful young man” who was “quiet and thoughtful, but polite” and will be missed by his teachers and peers. He said Brennan was a rising sophomore and a member of the wrestling team.

A funeral for Brennan will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Christ Church Episcopal on Pouncey Tract Road in western Henrico County.

A 15-year-old girl was on the back of Brennan’s watercraft. She was hit in the back and suffered internal injuries, Huebner said.

She was initially taken to a hospital in Halifax County, N.C., then transported to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, N.C., where she was in critical condition Monday, Huebner said.

Brennan, the girl and the two 15-year-old boys on the second personal watercraft were friends and were on the lake together, Huebner said. Authorities would not identify the girl and the two other boys because they are juveniles.

The initial investigation showed that the driver of the second watercraft had not taken a required boat-safety course, Huebner said. The Halifax County, N.C., district attorney will decide if charges should be brought in the accident, he said.

The 20,300-acre lake is located on the Virginia-North Carolina line between Interstates 85 and 95.

Sad. And I’m particularly struck that the operator of the 2nd PWC hadn’t taken a boating safety course. PWC aren’t toys, and most young teenagers don’t have the sense, I would suggest, to operate them — even if they’ve had the safety course.

And this

Wildlife officials say a jet ski slowed down near the Eaton Ferry Bridge on Lake Gaston.

They said a second jet ski later ran over the top of the first one, killing the 15-year-old driver and critically hurting a 16-year-old passenger. The driver and passenger of the second jet ski were not seriously hurt.

Wildlife officials say the operator of the second jet ski had not undergone an approved boating safety course.

Boat safely, please folks. And teach your children well.
Check this out:

The Coast Guard helped rescue 1,200 in New Orleans on Monday night and thousands more all along the Gulf Coast on Tuesday.

“We’ve been pulling them off sometimes four at a time, sometimes as many as 12,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Larry Chambers. “People are being taken to the nearest dry spot then the helicopter’s going back and picking up more people.”

1200!?
The office here is abuzz with people wanting to volunteer to be a part of the Coast Guard’s recovery efforts along the Gulf coast. My talents, such as they are, aren’t in demand, so I’m watching the flurry of activity with interest only in the human dynamics. While I don’t have much experience in floods, I did serve on a critical incident stress management team deployed to North Carolina following Floyd. Frankly, that was enough for me.

Anyway, the pic above is from the Coast Guard. You can see more at the Coast Guard’s Storm Watch website.

Turns out that the collision yesterday at Lake Gaston involved two PWC, each with two minors aboard. At this point, don’t have many additional details. Last I heard, the one critically injured teenager had been airlifted to Pitt (sic) Memorial Hospital and remains in critical condition.

The Coasties involved are back at the station now. If I know anything about critical incident & post-traumatic stress (and I do), the symptoms are likely kicking in by now.

Shall I say this never should have happened?


Hurricane Katrina
Originally uploaded by alanshusterWater, water everywhere… New Orleans is wet.
Or so says a resident of New Orleans who didn’t bug out.

At the hotel Le Richelieu in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the winds blew open sets of balcony doors shortly after dawn. Seventy-three-year-old Josephine Elow pressed her weight against the broken doors as a hotel employee tried to secure them.

“It’s not life-threatening,” Mrs. Elow said as rain water dripped from her face. “God’s got our back.”

I’m wondering about the after-effects, too.

When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America’s most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city’s legendary cemeteries.

Ouch. I heard tale yesterday of the after effects of Agnes in 1972 or 1973 up in northeastern Pennsylvania. Bodies from cemeteries ended up rotting in trees once the water receded. Of course, in New Orleans, the water will not recede on its own; it needs to be pumped out since the city is a bowl below sea level.

“All indications are that this is absolutely worst-case scenario,” Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said Sunday afternoon.

The center’s latest computer simulations indicate that by Tuesday, vast swaths of New Orleans could be under water up to 30 feet deep. In the French Quarter, the water could reach 20 feet, easily submerging the district’s iconic cast-iron balconies and bars.

Estimates predict that 60 percent to 80 percent of the city’s houses will be destroyed by wind. With the flood damage, most of the people who live in and around New Orleans could be homeless.

“We’re talking about in essence having — in the continental United States — having a refugee camp of a million people,” van Heerden said.

Meantime, folks are riding the storm out as it pounds the city. Even though the evacuation was mandatory, I heard a story on the way to work indicating some bars in the Quarter were still open… serving hurricanes, of course. Others are in the Superdome, opened as a refuge center.

As Hurricane Katrina’s wind howled outside, thousands of refugees waited in the Louisiana Superdome. The 77,000-seat stadium, home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, provided few comforts but at least had bathrooms and food donated by charities.

“They hadn’t opened up and let us in here, there’d have been a lot of people floating down river tomorrow,” said Merrill Rice, 64. “If it’s as bad as they say, I know my old house won’t stand it.”

Let’s hope it’s not as bad as the predictions are indicating; let’s pray that, indeed, God does have New Orleans’ back.

My thoughts are with my friends and shipmates who live in NOLA, including Joy, Scott, Lani, Dave, and Todd.

Last September I was in New Orleans for a meeting and ended up bugging out in anticipation of Ivan. The bug-out was quite an adventure. I can only imagine what the Big Easy and points north have been like today.

Prayers and thoughts to our southern neighbors.

Random Jetski pic
Originally uploaded by UrbainWhile much of the country is focused on Hurricane Katrina bearing down on the Gulf Coast, we enjoyed a beautiful day here in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. A great day to go boating.

Sadly, turns out today was also a day for death on Lake Gaston which straddles the Virginia/North Carolina boarder. The lake is some 20,000 acres of man-made fun.

This afternoon a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Little Creek was at the lake; they go down several times a summer to show the flag, enforce federal boating laws, and educate the boating public. Today, they also attempted to save the lives of several teenagers who had been involved in an accident: two jetskies — aka personal water craft — collided.

The Coasties arrived on scene about five to ten minutes after the accident. Two people remained in the water, and the Coasties leapt into the water to attempt to rescue the youngsters. They pulled both of them from the water. One person was already deceased; the other was unconscious and, at last report, was in very serious condition at the hospital and may not make it through the night.

Local authorities are investigating the accident (that’s usual). While I don’t know for sure, I suspect speed played a factor in the accident, as did recklessness and a lack of common sense. You can be pretty sure they weren’t following the “rules of the road.” And, just knowing how things are, I’d suspect alcohol was involved; that’s usually the case, anyway.

Folks, last week it was personal flotation devices… oh, and one collision due to excessive speed and alcohol… today it was collision due to excessive speed and recklessness. Boating safely means using your head: wear the damn personal flotation devices and don’t be reckless; follow the rules of the road. Everyone who gets underway should know basic boating safety — and particularly if you’re going to be at the wheel or at the helm. Try this online course here

So, the local tally here today: one dead and another barely hanging on to life… and a crew of Coasties who tried to safe lives and are likely sitting in their hotel right-about-now and wondering where they went wrong. They didn’t go wrong; the boaters involved went wrong. And that, my friends, is really sad and really troubling, because it’s needless.

Boat safe, please.

Elliot-summer05-pretty_boy2
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseThe last two weeks, Elliot’s been on vacation in Delaware, visiting his maternal grandmother. He’s due to return home tomorrow or Monday.

It’s been awfully quiet without the little guy around. I’m looking forward to a little noise.

A valid question. As you likely know, I usually take it up a little closer to home. But, as you also likely know — if you’ve read Musings at all — that almost no cow is sacred. And the Chief of Information for the Navy is no sacred cow, that’s for sure.

For those of you who haven’t been following Musings this month, let me bring you up to speed.

About three weeks ago, the Virginian Pilot, our local daily newspaper here in southside Hampton Roads, published a story about Charlie Mitchell and the U.S. Armed Forces News Service website he runs. The gist of the story was pretty straightforward: here’s a patriotic guy, a veteran, who posts online news releases from the U.S. Armed Forces. He posts good news, the stuff they send him. The story is that the Navy has cut him off, citing his website as a security risk.

I, of course, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to blog about this. I’d also been talking in that post about military bloggers. I was a bit irreverant in the end, writing,

They fear good news might aid pranksters and terrorists. Lord knows, we don’t want good news — or unfettered truth from a war zone — making its way into the public domain.

I thought that would be it, a one-time shot across the bow, as it were.

Nope. Wasn’t meant to be. Mr. Mitchell found my blog and commented on it. So, of course, I responded in kind. And, thus, we were off and blogging. I posted that second blog by saying

Mr. Mitchell, I’m with you. Publish away. I’m a fan of transparency in government, and good news as produced by the hometown news program helps make the government a bit more transparent and not a bit less safe. Cheers to you for continuing to do what you do.

Well, then the news got weird. Mr. Mitchell told us that the Chief of Information had identified his website as a website they wanted to shut down. A source of his, who he called Deep Throat II (as ini Deep Throat Aye Aye) gave him the information. As Mr. Mitchell wrote, and I posted here,

One of the most disturbing things that D.T. II revealed is that within CHINFO’s empire, there is a list of websites to be shut down. I find that thought very chilling, and it sounds a lot like McCarthyism. A “lot like” hell, it is McCarthyism.

I agreed that it looked like McCarthyism. It certainly didn’t look like the government I want.

I have to say, however, that I’m not all that surprised. I work as a civil servant and as a reservist, and I’ve seen stuff similar. And, no, I’m not going to go into in this posting; I’ve covered most of it before.

So, what we have is an office within the Chief of Naval Operations — the Chief of Information — out to shut down civilian websites.

Sounds like censorship — and a violation of rights — if you ask me.

Then, Mr. Mitchell got quiet for a few days. I was almost wondering if some secret team of special forces-trained public affairs specialists had gotten to him and taken him out in a clandestine operations.

I mused about the purpose of the Chief of Information. I found a picture of the Chief of Information and posted a bit called Hey, Admiral, you’ve been blogged. I wasn’t sure it was the right flag officer as the pic was about a year old, and flags rotate fairly frequently. Turns out it is.

Anyway, Mr. Mitchell started posting on his blog; he decided to share his story and use the blog as a vehicle. Free speech in action, you know.

His story is a tale of bureaucratic staffers and power hungry nincompoops. In his second posting, he tells how he’d been using the Navy seal and some staffer from the Chief of Information wrote and told him to cease and desist from using the seal. It is against the law, you know.

Sidebar: as a public service, I am showing you here to the right what the Navy seal looks like, You’re not allowed to use it as it’s against the law and against Navy policy. So, don’t use this seal. You can use the emblem, as I did earlier. I’d like to thank the Chief of Information’s news service for providing the link on the web, which I found by using Google. And, yes, I have to admit, I don’t have permission to use this seal here; I didn’t ask, but I’m using it under the fair use clause as a public service so that fellow bloggers will know what not to use on their non-Navy and non-DOD websites. Oh, and I haven’t downloaded the file, merely linked to the Navy’s site for it.If you want to use something, you have to use the emblem which looks like this second, larger one here to the left. And, if you see nothing here, it’s likely as the Chief of Information’s office moved the files and I’m linking to nothing but a dead URL. I suspect that means the crack public affairs team is on to me and my days are numbered. And, although it’s damn obvious, I guess I’ll follow at least one rule and post this:

Neither the Department of the Navy nor any other component of the Department of Defense has approved, endorsed, or authorized this blog.

Of course they haven’t; I’m claiming they’re out to kill off free speech.

I figure by now Rear Adm. T.M. McCreary and his staff have added Tidewater Musings to their blacklist. They’ve likely also contacted their counterparts at the Coast Guard and the cease-and-desist order is floating quickly down the chain-of-command. I see another ass chewing coming on.

So, stand by. Read Gunner’s Blog and Musings for continued updates. I’m sure the two of us will piss a few folks off. And maybe we’ll get the truth out there at the same time and promote a little transparency in government.

I was over at Gunner’s Blog and read his 2nd installment of his life with CHINFO and thought I’d post — just for spite, mind you — the official Navy seal. But, alas, this late at night after a long day and I can’t find it, so I’m just taking bandwidth from CHINFO and posting this emblem. Afterall, they said I could… well, sort’a they did. And like I know the difference between an emblem and a seal…

Oh, here’s the verbage about using the seal:

18 United States Code, Part 1, Chapter 47, Section 1017, prohibits the use the Department of the Navy seal, such as that you see on the welcome page of this web site, by anyone other than bona fide commands and activities of the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense where appropriate.

Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5030.4A of 17 March 1986 restricts the use of the Department of the Navy seal, such as that you see on the welcome page of this web site, to official use only and to the exclusive use of the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense. Commands can likely obtain a digital copy from the command in their chain of command which has a graphics department.

And, I guess to be in the good graces of the CHINFO (like after what I have done and will do I’d ever be in the Admiral’s good graces, but I’ll pretend), here’s posting this:

Neither the Department of the Navy nor any other component of the Department of Defense has approved, endorsed, or authorized this blog.

Ain’t that the truth, now?

Hualapai Skywalk
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseImagine walking on glass over the edge of the Grand Canyon — 70 feet out. That’s what the Their goal is to

to keep a balance between form, function and nature, while protecting the tribe’s culture and values, which are deeply engraved in the canyon walls.

The Skywalk will be the featured attraction once it opens to the public in January 2006. Visitors will be able to walk around the first-ever cantilever shaped glass bridge that will be suspended more than 4,000 feet above the Colorado River and extend over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Located adjacent to The Skywalk visitor’s center at Eagle Point, The Skywalk CafĂ© will feature outdoor patio seating on the edge of the canyon. The visitor’s center will also offer private indoor meeting facilities.

“The Hualapai Tribe is looking to protect and care for its future generations,” said Sheri Yellowhawk, CEO of Grand Canyon Resort Corp. “The Skywalk will be an attraction unlike any other in the world, but to get a true experience of the Hualapai legacy, visitors must encounter the entire destination.”

I think I know a Hualapai who might be interested in visiting… I’ll tag along as we hit Stinson: Coast-to-Coast

clark09907ax
Originally uploaded by RobLiberalGeneral Clark seems to have been busy thinking about policy issues of late.

From today’s Washington Post op-ed page, Before It’s Too Late in Iraq

In the old, familiar fashion, mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq have mobilized increasing public doubts about the war. More than half the American people now believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. They’re right. But it would also be a mistake to pull out now, or to start pulling out or to set a date certain for pulling out. Instead we need a strategy to create a stable, democratizing and peaceful state in Iraq — a strategy the administration has failed to develop and articulate.

From the outset of the U.S. post-invasion efforts, we needed a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic, political and military. Iraq sits geographically on the fault line between Shiite and Sunni Islam; for the mission to succeed we will have to be the catalyst for regional cooperation, not regional conflict.

Unfortunately, the administration didn’t see the need for a diplomatic track, and its scattershot diplomacy in the region — threats, grandiose pronouncements and truncated communications — has been ill-advised and counterproductive. The U.S. diplomatic failure has magnified the difficulties facing the political and military elements of strategy by contributing to the increasing infiltration of jihadists and the surprising resiliency of the insurgency.

On the political track, aiming for a legitimate, democratic Iraqi government was essential, but the United States was far too slow in mobilizing Iraqi political action. A wasted first year encouraged a rise in sectarian militias and the emergence of strong fractionating forces. Months went by without a U.S. ambassador in Iraq, and today political development among the Iraqis is hampered by the lack not only of security but also of a stable infrastructure program that can reliably deliver gas, electricity and jobs.

Meanwhile, on the military track, security on the ground remains poor at best. U.S. armed forces still haven’t received resources, restructuring and guidance adequate for the magnitude of the task. Only in June, over two years into the mission of training Iraqi forces, did the president announce such “new steps” as partnering with Iraqi units, establishing “transition teams” to work with Iraqi units and training Iraqi ministries to conduct antiterrorist operations. But there is nothing new about any of this; it is the same nation-building doctrine that we used in Vietnam. Where are the thousands of trained linguists? Where are the flexible, well-resourced, military-led infrastructure development programs to win “hearts and minds?” Where are the smart operations and adequate numbers of forces — U.S., coalition or Iraqi — to strengthen control over the borders?

With each passing month the difficulties are compounded and the chances for a successful outcome are reduced. Urgent modification of the strategy is required before it is too late to do anything other than simply withdraw our forces.

Adding a diplomatic track to the strategy is a must. The United States should form a standing conference of Iraq’s neighbors, complete with committees dealing with all the regional economic and political issues, including trade, travel, cross-border infrastructure projects and, of course, cutting off the infiltration of jihadists. The United States should tone down its raw rhetoric and instead listen more carefully to the many voices within the region. In addition, a public U.S. declaration forswearing permanent bases in Iraq would be a helpful step in engaging both regional and Iraqi support as we implement our plans.

On the political side, the timeline for the agreements on the Constitution is less important than the substance of the document. It is up to American leadership to help engineer, implement and sustain a compromise that will avoid the “red lines” of the respective factions and leave in place a state that both we and Iraq’s neighbors can support. So no Kurdish vote on independence, a restricted role for Islam and limited autonomy in the south. And no private militias.

In addition, the United States needs a legal mandate from the government to provide additional civil assistance and advice, along with additional U.S. civilian personnel, to help strengthen the institutions of government. Key ministries must be reinforced, provincial governments made functional, a system of justice established (and its personnel trained) and the rule of law promoted at the local level. There will be a continuing need for assistance in institutional development, leadership training and international monitoring for years to come, and all of this must be made palatable to Iraqis concerned with their nation’s sovereignty. Monies promised for reconstruction simply must be committed and projects moved forward, especially in those areas along the border and where the insurgency has the greatest potential.

On the military side, the vast effort underway to train an army must be matched by efforts to train police and local justices. Canada, France and Germany should be engaged to assist. Neighboring states should also provide observers and technical assistance. In military terms, striking at insurgents and terrorists is necessary but insufficient. Military and security operations must return primarily to the tried-and-true methods of counterinsurgency: winning the hearts and minds of the populace through civic action, small-scale economic development and positive daily interactions. Ten thousand Arab Americans with full language proficiency should be recruited to assist as interpreters. A better effort must be made to control jihadist infiltration into the country by a combination of outposts, patrols and reaction forces reinforced by high technology. Over time U.S. forces should be pulled back into reserve roles and phased out.

The growing chorus of voices demanding a pullout should seriously alarm the Bush administration, because President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam: failing to craft a realistic and effective policy and instead simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve isn’t enough to mend a flawed approach — or to save the lives of our troops. If the administration won’t adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home.

As you likely remember, Wesley K. Clark, a retired Army general, was supreme allied commander in Europe during the war in Kosovo and was a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. In my book, he speaks with more than just a bit of authority.

The Navy’s Chief of No-Information
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseHere is a pic of the Chief of No-Information… or is that the Chief of Information… or information but not transparency?

Anyway, here’s the man who heads the organization that is working to shut down free speech and citizens’ blogs.

From the Naval Media Center, published nearly a year ago, we find this picture.

Chief of Information, Rear Adm. T.M. McCreary, addresses audience members after reenlisting Naval reservist Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Lisa M. Borges on the new Navy/Marine Corps News set at the Naval Media Center. The Naval Media Center supports the Navy Chief of Information’s mission of keeping the Navy/Marine Corps team up-to-date on issues that affect their careers and their lives. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Todd Frantom (RELEASED). Photo in the public domain and originally published here

Anyone know if this is the flag officer still in serving as CHINFO?

F/A 18F Super Hornet
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse

Our friend at Gunner’s Blog has been quiet of late, so I got to wondering what, exactly, the Navy Office of Information is supposed to do — you know, aside from keeping a hit list of web sites they want to shut down. I think I found the party answer

The Navy Office of Information is headed by the Chief of Information (CHINFO), a Rear Admiral, who is the direct representative of the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations for Navy-wide public affairs matters.

Our job is to inform Navy men and women, their families and the American public on key issues relating to the Navy-Marine Corps team.

We are also charged with working with national and international media, and community relations on a national level, and providing public affairs policy and guidance to public affairs officers, Navy journalists and civilian public affairs specialists serving the Navy worldwide. CHINFO is also responsible for production of print and broadcast internal information products through its subordinate command, the Naval Media Center who produces and distributes its products such as Navy News , All Hands magazine, and the Navy-Marine Corps News, a weekly half-hour television program seen across the U.S. on many cable outlets. The products are availabe on the Web at Navy NewsStand

Being a little slow, I’m wondering where targeting patriotic websites comes in. Or websites operated by American citizens who are exercising their rights to free speech.

Oh, right, under informing the American public on key issues relating to the Navy-Marine Corps team is the caveat that they are the only ones permitted to publish news.

Reach
Originally uploaded by The Thirsty SailorSo last night about ten o’clock, Mrs. Smith (not her real name) was getting worried. Her husband had gone out sailing in the afternoon and he wasn’t back yet.

Mr. Smith, 61 years old, purchased a 17-foot sailboat a month a go. Mrs. Smith didn’t like the idea of him sailing alone — or sailing at all, for that matter — so Mr. Smith wasn’t all that forthcoming with information whenever he decided to get underway.

Yesterday he told her he’d be back in by 8PM. He didn’t tell his wife where he was going; she only knew he kept the boat at the marina a Fort Monroe on the north side of Hampton Roads and the facing the Chesapeake Bay.

By ten o’clock she was worried, so she drove on down to the marina. Her hubby’s car was there; his cell phone was on the front seat. The boat was not in its slip. She got worried and called the Coast Guard.

The Sector Hampton Roads’ Operations Unit Controller (who, until last week was known as the Search & Rescue Controller, but that is a different story altogether) took down the information about Mr. Smith and his boat. Mrs. Smith thought the boat had no radio or other electronics, no light, and no safety equipment. Actually, she wasn’t sure at all; since she didn’t like the fact Mr. Smith had bought the boat, he hadn’t filled her in on what the boat had.

At the same time, the watchstander at Station Little Creek was receiving a report of a suspicious small sailboat without any lights in the vicinity of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

Suspecting the two reports were correlated, the Controller dispatched a Coast Guard small boat to find the sailboat, assess the situation, and — if it was Mr. Smith — get him back to the marina and the arms (clutches) of his wife. Not being certain these were one-in-the-same, the Controller also began to develop a plan for subsequent searches, including a search plan for a C-130 Hercules from Air Station Elizabeth City.

Thankfully, the suspicious boat was Mr. Smith, and the small boat crew got him back to Fort Monroe safely.

Of course, we’re not sure what happened after that. We suspect his wife did him in. He probably was thinking that it was better to be lost and missing than to receive the treatment his wife was bound to give him. He’s going to be in the dog house for a good long while. She’ll likely never let him take the boat out again.


penta
Originally uploaded by erik jaegerWe haven’t yet reached the place of public testimony in Congress, but I’m wondering about blacklists and the like. You might remember my earlier posting about Mr. Mitchell and his web service for posting hometown news releases — good news about the military. Well, the plot thickens.

Thanks, for your encouragement and support. Quietly, I tried for two years to get CHINFO to order FHTNC to resume the feed of their releases. Well, today, I made up my mind that I had a website, and a blog, so why not use it! So, I changed the mission of my blog. Please visit, I think you will find it interesting.

I see the comment and I surf on over to his website… and this is what I find:

I suppose that I feel a little hawkish.

In my opinion, CHINFO’s (Chief of Naval Information) lingering position regarding distributing FHTNC (Fleet Home Town News Center) releases to USAFNS.com is no longer understandable, nor excusable. Every day that passes, our Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and their families are being deprived of the morale boost that comes with seeing ones “name in print.”

After the Virginian-Pilot published an article about my situation on August 8, 2005; I got an anonymous email from someone that I have come to think of as Deep Throat II (pronounced “deep throat aye, aye” as in navy lingo.) I believe from the information that he (I don’t know that it is in fact a he, but I will use “he”) has provided is within the the Public Affairs career field, and knows all of the key players in CHINFO. He says that he isn’t in CHINFO’s office, but I wonder…

One of the most disturbing things that D.T. II revealed is that within CHINFO’s empire, there is a list of websites to be shut down. I find that thought very chilling, and it sounds a lot like McCarthyism. A “lot like” hell, it is McCarthyism.

Damn. The Navy Office of Information has a list of websites they want to shut down? All because the sites are promoting positive news?

I’m afraid I wouldn’t doubt it. Hell, there might be folks who want Musings shut down as I don’t always speak the party line.

I’m thinking it might be time for a slew of us to exercise our rights and submit Freedom of Information Requests for all written and electronic documentation pertaining to non-DOD Internet websites which publish information about the Navy, the Department of Defense, or other United States government agencies the Navy and/or the Office of Naval Information monitors and/or seeks to limit or cease publication.

Perhaps if the blogosphere starts chattering, someone will listen.

maybe one day …
Originally uploaded by feefeeFrom the department of minimialism comes this tidbit:

An 89-year-old couple who won a $7.5 million lottery jackpot plan to keep living in their retirement home and perhaps splurge on a new pair of nylons for her and a Lincoln car for him.

Seems fair to me; stockings for her and a car for him. That’s about equal, eh?

Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat
Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseAn entry from the Keeper’s log, 22 April, 1880:

… we shoved off with all hands in their places in the boat. After getting outside the reef we found the sea heavier with an occasional very heavy one. We dodged and weathered them all right until within about 1/4 mile from scow and nearly one mile distant from nearest point of land. Suddenly, I noticed a very big sea coming for us. There was only time to straighten her so that she might take it head on, but it proved to {sic} much for her. It came abroad and completely filled her. As the sea was leaving I gave the orders to bail, (we had two bailing dishes aboard) but the men saw that her gunnals {sic} were too far below water as soon as the sea had left us. In a few minutes after she broached to and rolled over with us. We righted her and tried to work one of the oars to get her stern to the sea, but it was impossible her gunnals {sic} being so far below water and in a few moments she rolled over again. We righted her again but with the same result. I am not positive whether we righted her again or not, but if we did not I think the seas rolled her over several times, but of this I am not sure.

All seemed to have hopes at first that we could hang on until we got to the reef. Where we thought we might touch bottom and right her up, and get the water out. At the time she filled we were distant from the reef about a 1/2 mile. {A}bout 3/4 of hour after filling Surfman Pattinger gave out. From that time until the last man finished — I think it was about 1/2 hour, they all seemed to go in the same way, gradually going off in a stupor — something like being chloroformed — with one exception they were all holding on the boat by the life lines or fenders when they gave up. Slowly their faces would drop forward until they touched the water and in a few moments after their holds would relax and…the boat would slowly drift away from them.

The exception was Surfman Morrison, he let go his hold or was washed away. When I noticed him, he was five or six feet from the boat seemingly unconscious, his face was slowly dropping. I sung out to him calling him by name, but he never showed any sign that he heard me and in a moment or two I saw it was all over with him. Surfman Deegan was the last one to give up. Up to this time my memory serves me very good. This must have been about 7 am. From this time until about 12 noon I can remember only very little that transpired. I was found on the beach by Mr. S. McFarland and Mr. A. Shaw about 9:30 am.

~~ Keeper Jerome G Kiah, Port Huron, Michigan

IMG_4102
Originally uploaded by sfortierGeneral Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, for NATO and the commander for Operation Allied Force, NATO’s first major combat action, which saved 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, made comments this morning about Darfur. If President Bush thought Saddam headed a government based on genocide, what’s he think of Darfur?

Here are General Clark’s comments from this morning on NPR

After a series of UN Security Council resolutions on Darfur and a donors conference to boost the African Union Mission there, you could be forgiven for thinking the international community has responded adequately to the crisis. Sadly, this is far from the case. The international community urgently needs to take bold new action.

The truth is, civilians are still targeted in Darfur. The pro-government Janjaweed militias still remain unchecked. Humanitarian access is still restricted along key transit routes and in areas where millions of displaced Sudanese have gathered. Women and girls are still being raped as they leave their camps to collect firewood and forage for food. It’s a tragedy.

The African Union’s priority must be to protect civilians. It must be able to take all necessary measures — including offensive action — against any attacks or threats against civilians and humanitarian operations.

But the AU Mission’s force numbers and mandate are simply not sufficient to cope with the reality on the ground in Darfur. The AU current plan is to deploy 7,700 troops next month, and possibly 12,000 troops next year. But this is far too slow. A minimum of 12,000 troops are needed on the ground right now, not six months from now.

The African Union should deploy a battalion task force of around 1,000 troops to each of Darfur’s eight sectors and maintain another battalion task force in reserve. Each sector would then have close to 1,000 troops, twice as many civilian police, and 1,000 headquarters and other support staff.

Even if the African Union can overcome the political obstacles to strengthening its mandate in Darfur — and that’s a very big “if” — it’s in no position to get such large numbers of troops on the ground in such a short time. Despite the European Union and NATO assistance, the African Union mission looks set to fall short of its target of 7,700 troops by September.

The UN Security Council, in consultation with the AU, should request and authorize NATO to deploy a multinational “bridging force” to bring the combined force level in Darfur immediately up to 12,000 to 15,000 troops while the African Union prepares and deploys its own forces.

This is not an easy recommendation to make for Darfur, where all multinational organizations have been at pains to keep non-African troops out of Sudan. But the notion that the atrocities in Darfur are solely African problems requiring exclusively African solutions has to be reconsidered. These ongoing offenses are crimes against all humanity. They demand an international response that gives human life priority over diplomatic sensitivities.

Working together, NATO and the AU can save the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. They can demonstrate to outlaw regimes like the government of Sudan that the international community will not tolerate crimes against humanity.

And we must do this now.

You might be wondering what General Clark knows about peace keeping and protecting innocent civilians. Well, his track record is a little better than some ops I can think of. On the general’s retirement from service in the U.S. Army (34 years), President Clinton noted,

In March of 1999 as Slobodan Milosevic unleashed his army and police on the people of Kosovo, Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO’s supreme commander, was given the first military mission of its kind, directing the forces of a 19 nation alliance to end a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing. The stakes were monumental.

Almost a million people had been driven from their homes solely because of their ethnic and religious background. Success would save lives, strengthen NATO, advance the cause of freedom, democracy and unity in Europe. Failure would leave much of the continent awash in a sea of refugees and end the 20th century on a note of helpless indignation in the face of evil.

Wes Clark well understood the perils of the Balkans for he had already played a vital role in ending the war in Bosnia and beginning the long process of building a stable, multi-ethnic democracy in that country. He summoned every ounce of his experience and expertise as a strategist, soldier and a statesman to wage our campaign in Kosovo. He prevailed miraculously without the loss of a single combat casualty.

At the apex of a long and distinguished military career that goes back to his outstanding performance as a cadet at West Point over 30 years ago, he was assigned a challenge many experts thought was mission impossible. Instead, thanks to Gen. Clark, we now can declare it mission accomplished.

I saw General Clark several years ago when he came to speak at Virginia Weslyan College. He struck me as a man who wasn’t so much of a politician as a thinker and doer. And, he struck me as a man of complete integrity. If he says the Darfur situation requires intervention, I’m with him.

I guess it’s just too bad there’s no oil there, otherwise the current administration might actually do something right.

Okay, he’s not really. But he plays one in an upcoming Columbia Pictures movie, Your’s, Mine, & Ours, a remake of the 1968 classic family film. While forty years ago, the father was a naval officer, the remake makes the father a Coast Guard flag officer.

Right. I can imagine working for Admiral Dennis Quaid.

For those of you that don’t know the movie (didn’t the 1968 original star Lucy O’Ball and Henry Fonda?) here’s the plot outline from IMDb: A widowed Coast Guard Admiral and a widow handbag designer fall in love and marry, much to the dismay of her 10 and his 8 children.

For those of you who doubt something like this could ever happen, the movie is based on a true story

You can surf here to see (and buy) the movie poster. When you’re next at the movies, check out his authentic chest candy.

See you in theatres!

I’m wondering if we’re in re-run mode.

A leading Republican senator and prospective presidential candidate said Sunday that the war in Iraq has destabilized the Middle East and is looking more like the Vietnam conflict from a generation ago.

No, really?

Joan Baez was against the Vietnam War and she showed it — appearing at marches, once even blocking the entrance of a military induction center.

The folk singer is against the Iraq war, too, and she showed her support Sunday to protesters camping out near President Bush’s ranch.

Baez took to the stage for about 500 people on an acre lot offered by a landowner who opposes the war, performing such classic peace anthems as Song of Peace, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Yeh, maybe things are looking like they looked a generation ago.

The Senator has the right idea:

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, who received two Purple Hearts and other military honors for his service in Vietnam, reiterated his position that the United States needs to develop a strategy to leave Iraq. Hagel scoffed at the idea that U.S. troops could be in Iraq four years from now at levels above 100,000, a contingency for which the Pentagon is preparing.

Let’s figure out how we can get out of there without all of southwest Asia blowing up.The body of Benjamin Phillips, 41, of Smithfield, Virginia, was located last evening in the vicinity of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. He was not wearing a PFD.Here are three tales from today’s news. Need I reiterate the importance of safe boating?

First, from my old stomping grounds in the midwest & Lake Michigan; this one comes from the AP wire:

A ferry rescued a man clinging to a seat cushion in Lake Michigan nearly two hours after his boat capsized almost 20 miles from shore Sunday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thomas Drewek, 44, wasn’t wearing a life preserver when the Lake Express ferry spotted him on its way from Milwaukee to Muskegon, Mich., according to the Coast Guard.

“Just by chance, the Lake Express saw him,” Petty Officer Robert Napp said.

A wave caused his powerboat to capsize, and he wasn’t able to radio for help, Napp said. He was the only one on board.

Drewek spent nearly two hours in the 65- to 70-degree water, Napp said. In those conditions, he could have survived for about 36 hours, according to the Coast Guard.

The ferry got him on board around 6:30 a.m. and headed back to Milwaukee, where he was hospitalized. Drewek wanted to walk off the ferry by himself, but paramedics would not let him, Napp said.

Let me say that Mr. Drewek is damn lucky. Again, always where your PFD when underway.

Here’s one a little closer to home. Had I been at the Sector Hampton Roads Command Center today, I’d have been involved in the search planning for this case

Rescue crews searched the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay Sunday for a missing boater.

Crews with the Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Norfolk Police Department are searching by boat and air for 41-year-old Benjamin Phillips of Smithfield.

The Coast Guard says Phillips was last seen around 8:30 Saturday night when he left for a fishing trip.

Someone called the Coast Guard at 7:30 Sunday morning after finding Phillips’ boat drifting three miles north of Little Creek with the keys in the ignition and the running lights on.

If Mr. Phillips is wearing a PFD, he stands a pretty good chance of being found alive. With today’s conditions, he could easily survive 36 or more hours. The lower bay is well traveled, and his chances would be pretty good. I’d lay dollars to donuts, however, that Mr. Phillips wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Reminds me of the medical doctor from Richmond who used to come down to Rudee Inlet and take his boat out to fish offshore. He never wore a life jacket; and he was a smart man. Until the day he got knocked overboard and the boat kept on going.

And, lastly, from down under, a tale from the west coast. This one comes to us from The Courier-Mail, Australia’s “second highest selling broadsheet.”

Olivia Newton-John’s boyfriend has vanished during a boat trip off the Californian coast.

The Australian singer is devastated at the disappearance of Patrick Kim McDermott, her boyfriend of nine years.

McDermott, a photographer, left on an overnight fishing trip but never returned, sparking fears he has died or may even have faked his own death.

Yesterday US Coast Guard Commander Danny Phee told The Courier-Mail McDermott’s ex-wife telephoned to report him missing.

“They found a backpack on board,” Commander McPhee said.

“We referred the matter to our Coast Guard Investigative Services and they have done interviews with several people, including the ship’s captain.”

The chief investigator, Coast Guard detective Dennis Nebrich, has refused to reveal whether it is a murder, suicide or accident that is being investigated.

“We have taken statements from everyone but I can’t comment on what they have said,” Detective Nebrich said.

A source close to Newton-John said the 56-year-old singer was “obviously experiencing a lot of grief right now”.

“Everyone is shocked and devastated by Patrick’s disappearance and totally baffled by it,” the source said.

“There is nothing in his character to suggest that he would deliberately take off. He would never leave his child. And therefore we all fear the worst.”

McDermott is the father of a 15-year-old son from a previous relationship and met Newton-John while filming a commercial in 1996 in Los Angeles.

I’ll bet he wasn’t wearing a PFD.
Helicopter Rescue 4
Originally uploaded by Engineer JohnWandering the web, I found this photo from a SAREX out on the west coast. This — a Coast Guard helo with a rescue swimmer hoisting a survivor — is a sight which would have been nice to have seen yesterday; alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Well, we had another drowning death here in Tidewater, and this one wasn’t purposeful. Although, frankly, I’m afraid I can list a host of things the victim did that directly led to his death. None are as frank as standing on the railing of the CBBT and leaping off, but they certainly killed him.

Today, a 50-year old man was boating with two friends in the James River near Huntington Park just north (and west) of the James River Bridge. A bit after 5 this morning while the 20-foot boat was anchored north of the channel, the man fell in the water. One of his friends turned to get a life jacket in order to jump in after him; when the friend turned around, the man was gone. He’d sunk beneath the surface.

It was still dark, so the friends began to search using a flashlight and a searchlight. A bit later they flagged down a passing boat who then notified 911.

Yes, these guys were underway without a cell phone or a radio. They had no means of communication with people on shore.

The Newport News Fire Department responded with their fireboat. 911 notified the Command Center at Sector Hampton Roads who launched a small boat from Station Portsmouth and a helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City. The Virginia Marine Police also responded, and by late morning the State Police were onscene with a boat equipped with side scan sonar.

Searches were conducted for ten hours before being suspended.

Officials onscene noted that the two friends were inhibriated; I can only assume the missing man was, too.

When his brother, the man’s next of kin, was notified of the accident and the search, the brother said the man could not swim… at all.

And, the icing on the cake is this: he wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

So, let me review: they didn’t have a radio or phone; they were drunk; they weren’t wearing personal flotation devices.

I don’t want to suggest this is the theory of Darwinian evolution at work, but…

Some people think something like this will never happen to them, or they’ll never fall in, or the PFD feels awkward, or whatever…

Wearing a PFD (or,
in the vernacular,
a lifejacket)
can save your life.
Originally uploaded by
Many Cats 4 MeWell, folks, if you’ve read this far, I have a little counsel for you: when you step on a boat, put on a PFD. It’s that simple.

So, did this man, visiting Tidewater from his home in North Carolina, purposefully die? No, certainly not. But, his actions led directly to his death. A host of dedicated professionals spent the day looking (both on and under the water) for him, each knowing that his own actions killed him. They placed hope upon hope that he was somehow alive, clinging to a piling or an buoy, but in their heart of hearts, they knew the chances of that were mighty, mighty slim.

So, once again, folks, the moral for you is straight-forward: when you step on a boat, put on a PFD. Don’t die needlessly.

Boat safely, folks, please. It’s your own life you might save.

500!
Originally uploaded by msiscoeThis is what we hope for… ten glorious sunsets. You don’t want to be left out, do you?
I guess with all the documents released from Judge Roberts tenure as a civil servant there’s bound to be a lot of stuff. Even with all the papers withheld by the Administration, we seem to be finding some good material for newspapers and blogs.

Jo Becker, R. Jeffrey Smith and Sonya Geis report in today’s Washington Post

When John G. Roberts Jr. accepted President Bush’s nomination to the Supreme Court last month, he spoke with awe about the high court. He had argued 39 cases before the justices, but he said he “always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps.”

Two decades earlier though, as a young lawyer in the Reagan administration, Roberts expressed less reverential comments, repeatedly arguing that the high court was interfering in issues best left to Congress. He even wrote approvingly of an effort to term-limit federal judges instead of giving them lifetime appointments, so they “would not lose all touch with reality through decades of ivory tower existence.

“The federal judiciary today benefits from an insulation from political pressure even as it usurps the role of the political branches,” he wrote his boss, White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, on Oct. 3, 1983.

I wonder what he thinks now, some twenty-plus years later.I sometimes feel like this:

I constantly tell myself: Ignore the blog. Do your work. You are an enormous literary figure and cultural icon, not a mere “blogger.” You must produce high-end journalism with grand themes and huge groaning multi-syllabic words like “eschatological,” and you can’t be dribbling away all your ideas on the blog. Be strong! Resist the blog!

And then . . . I hear it yowling.

The blog is hungry. The blog will not be ignored. It is an insatiable little beast, a creature still unclassified by science — hairy, warty, slobbering, with its own fiendish agenda. I often fantasize about killing the blog, but I worry that it will respond just like the crazed computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey”: It will try to kill me first.

Poor, poor Joel Achenbach.

My counsel: Get over it. So, you’re addicted. Acknowledge the fact and move along.

Just remember to keep blogging.

So sometimes in the heat of the moment, brash young professionals say “stuff.” And then, year’s later, they’re no longer young and brash… well, they’re no longer young, anyway…

As a lawyer in the Reagan White House, John Roberts scoffed at the notion of elevating Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to chief justice as a way to close a political gender gap, calling it a “crass political consideration.”

On another topic, Roberts, who was nominated as a justice by President Bush last month, advised the White House to strike language from a description of a housing bill that referred to the “fundamental right to be free from discrimination.” He said that “there of course is no such right.”

I wonder if Judge Roberts wants to eat his words. I wonder if thinks his appointment was in part based on a political consideration that the President did not want to appear to bend to the feminists and nominate a woman. Would that, too, be crass?
The m.s. Maasdam in Half Moon Cay
Originally uploaded by BlogphotogMy bride has decided we ought to take a cruise, just the two of us. Leave Elliot and Andrew and Richard behind, and set off on a little cruise. I think I found the answer.

The M/S MAASDAM departs from Norfolk on 28 October 2006 for an eleven day cruise to the southern Caribbean…

Day / Port / Arrival Time / Departure Time
1 / Norfolk / ..... / 05:00 PM
2 / At Sea
3 / Half Moon Cay, Bahamas / 11:00 AM / 06:00 PM
4 / At Sea
5 / St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. / 10:00 AM / 06:00 PM
6 / Cabrits & Roseau, Dominica / 08:00 AM / 06:00 PM
7 / Bridgetown, Barbados / 07:00 AM / 05:00 PM
8 / Basseterre, St. Kitts / 07:00 AM / 05:00 PM
9 / San Juan, Puerto Rico / 07:00 AM / 01:00 PM
10 / At Sea
11 / At Sea
12 / Norfolk / 08:00 AM

Tonight she suggests we ought to get a group together; anybody want to join us?A couple of days ago, Henry posted about Milbloggers and the struggle Navy veteran Charlie Mitchell is having getting “hometown news releases” from the Navy. Well, it seems that Mr. Mitchell found this blog, read my entry, and posted a comment.

Knowing you’re not going to drop back and read it, I’ll post the bulk of it here. Mr. Mitchell says that no one has published or written about his true position; and here it is:

Either the posting of FHTNC releases pose a threat or they don’t. If they do, CHINFO should order FHTNC to stop distributing the releases immediately. If they do not, CHINFO should order FHTNC to resume distributing the releases to USAFNS

I think that CHINFO should spend a few of our tax dollars, and develop a product for the internet. I have said from the beginning of this debacle that FHTNC should have a product designed for internet. Specifically, I recommended that CHINFO “embrace the technology”, instead of fighting it.

You’ve got to admit: the man has a point. Either they do pose a threat or they don’t pose a threat; figure it out and act — across the board — consistently.

I’m of the the mind they don’t pose a threat. So, Seaman Gooblotz of Portsmouth earned the Humanitarian Service Medal or Airman Smith of Detroit received a Purple Heart. Like the terrorists really give a sh*t. If and when the terrorists decide its time to strike us here at home, the release of hometown news releases (or the non-release of those releases) isn’t going to make one bit of difference. They’re going to act like the BTK guy or the guy who killed the family and made off with the little girl earlier this summer: they’re just going to pick someone, stalk them, and do what they’re going to do.

If I wanted to do in a military member, all I’d need to do was go over to Little Creek or NOB or the CG’s facility in Portsmouth and wait alongside the road ’til I found a likely candidate and follow him (or her home). All, I don’t even need to do that; around here I can just pick a house at random and there’s a good chance the occupant is somehow tied to the military. Joseph Edward Duncan picked the family out at WalMart for crying out loud.

I don’t think posting hometown releases on the internet is a security threat. Nor is publishing them in the newspaper.

Is there a bunch of stuff out there, floating in the breeze? Sure. I’ve posted more than my fair share of stuff about myself. The president of Google was amazed at what some reporter was able to find about him just by using Google. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Sure, we shouldn’t post social security numbers or home phone numbers or home street addresses — and the hometown papers don’t; but we shouldn’t post and publish nothing. If we let the terrorists curtail our lives, then they’ve won. Yes, let’s be sensible, but let’s not crawl under a rock.

Mr. Mitchell, I’m with you. Publish away. I’m a fan of transparency in government, and good news as produced by the hometown news program helps make the government a bit more transparent and not a bit less safe. Cheers to you for continuing to do what you do.

View from Deer Isle
Originally uploaded by KalabirdMy vacation in the Poconos wasn’t as long as I had hoped. I’ve decided that what I need is something to tap into my creative side. I’ve decided there are two places I want to spend time (both during a summer). One is in Door County (northern Wisconsin), where I spent five wonderful summers years ago. The other is on Stinson Neck on Deer Isle in Maine. The first is The Clearing and the second is the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

I could write; sit and watch the water; be peaceful.

DCP_1811
Originally uploaded by Rooby DoobyI want to thank my long-time friend Henry for covering here at the Musings while I’ve been overtaken by events. You might not have even noticed I was gone, but Henry’s been blogging under my name for a couple weeks, keeping things alive. Thank you, Henry; once again, you’ve come through in a pinch. To my readers, know that whether it’s Peter or Henry, we’re still musing, and that’s what matters.

Peace.

Sometimes it probably pays to be more aggressive with information… As reported by Jennifer Dobner in today’s Washington Post:

The father of a woman accused of killing a corrections officer to free her inmate husband said he suspected the couple might be planning an escape and asked a Utah probation officer to alert authorities in Tennessee.

However, the information never reached Tennessee because it “didn’t appear to raise any red flags,” Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said Friday.

I’m thinking that when Ford turned on the TV last Thursday and saw a guard had been killed that the flags started popping.Seems the warning posted yesterday about fuel trucks as IEDs is getting pulled by the FBI. According to the Associated Press,

The FBI is backing away from an advisory sent out earlier this week warning police that al-Qaida cells may use car and truck bombs in southern California, Chicago and New York.

The AP is reporting that the source — which was a single source — is no longer standing by his story.

I can see it now. Meantime members of extremist groups are prepping their tank trucks — yup, that would be plural — for coordinated attacks. So simple, you know.