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jump on ship

When I was 20 years old I was stationed on a Coast Guard cutter in Honolulu. In case you were born under a rock, Honolulu is on the island of Oahu which is basically giant mountains surrounded by giant mountain erosion. Giant mountain erosion is flat and nearly at sea level. During a tidal wave, giant mountain erosion is not the place to be. You want to be climbing up one of the giant mountains to see the show from safety.

Actually, tidal waves are no laughing matter in Hawaii. They have these screaming sirens all over the place that go off when there’s a tidal wave alert. Everybody knows (now that we are out of the 50s) that these sirens are not for air raids or tornadoes. When they go off, the police instantly close all the giant mountain erosion roads to lateral traffic. This means that you can only go up a mountain. You aren’t allowed to go around them.

It turns out that one night I was sleeping peacefully in my (on shore) apartment when the sirens went off. I knew that this meant my ship would be leaving it’s berth with all due haste to avoid getting crushed against the pier. The best place for a ship in a tidal wave is offshore where the wave hasn’t had time to build any height.

So I was well aware that this was a tidal wave alert and my little skinny 20 year old ass had better get hustling to that ship. What I didn’t know, at the time, was that the police wouldn’t let me get there. My normal 15 minute ride through empty streets got stretched to 45 minutes as I ran the gauntlet of police roadblocks setup to get everybody up a mountain. I had to plead at each stop. Sometimes I got a sympathetic ear and got through. Sometimes I got a hard ass who didn’t give a hoot about my upcoming court martial. I’d go up slope for a ways, then sneak sideways again looking for another sympathetic ear.

Captains of ships don’t like to go to sea without the crew. It gets their hands dirtier than they like. So if you aren’t around when the hulk departs it’s called ‘missing a movement’. I know, I know, it sounds like something bowel related but it’s got nothing to do with that. it just means you  were most likely in some house of ill repute, drinking and carousing when your mates sacrificed their lives to get the old creaking ship away to safety. No matter where you were when they decided to leave, missing the boat (get it) is serious enough to get you court-martialed.

I got to the pier just as my ship cast off its lines. It was maybe 18″ from the pier. All my buddies were at the rail, yelling at me to jump. It wasn’t a huge ship, only about 254 feet. As I stood on the timber at the edge of the pier its gunwales were probably at the height of my neck . I was immortal at the time so I jumped. I should have realized, that all the officers were on the bridge watching my gymnastics. My mates grabbed my wrists and all cheered at the happy ending. I was safely aboard and didn’t miss the movement.

The captain felt differently. He took ‘lines  off the pier’ as sufficient evidence to consider the ship ‘underway’, therefore I actually did miss the movement; at least the first 3 minutes of it. I was guilty, by his standard, and he had the option of charging me with this crime, which he did. I was subjected to a ‘Captain’s mast’, which is just non-judicial in nature and, thankfully, short of a court-martial. He was grinning through the entire proceeding. I suspect he secretly admired the derring do. I lost a few liberty days but that was the end of it. My service record was duly noted and the tidal wave danced by Honolulu at a spritely four inches, while we had an enchanting moonlight cruise through the archipelago.

The point of me relating this humorous little tidbit, is that I was ‘tried’ and ‘punished’. In the military you don’t ever get a pass on failure. You either die or some officer brings charges. Even the smallest infraction, like three minutes missing, gets adjudicated somehow. We live in interesting times I guess because now if your offense is serious enough and you are important enough, you get a pass. That’s some serious corruption.

I read a story today about a women, a United States Marine, who was court-martialed and given a bad conduct discharge for attaching bible verses to her computer terminal. Imagine the horror. Then there was the Wyoming rancher who built a stock pond on his acreage only to face a $75,000 per day fine from the EPA. Apparently, when cows piss in a pond, the effluent is considered pollution to the navigable waters of the United States. Pissing beside the pond is OK because there’s never enough stream of piss to actually launch all but the very smallest boat. You might have missed the Amish farmer who was raided by federal agents for selling ‘unauthorized milk’ (authorized milk comes from government teats), or the New Hampshire woman arrested for having a birthday party on her farm for her own children (candles and global warming?). There was the Texas lemonade stand, one of many in the U.S., shut down by police. The government has endless resources to chew up in search of criminal Americans going about their daily lives. It has no resources, apparently, for restraining its own, far courser, criminal enterprise.

 Of course all of these grievous crimes were committed by little people. We have ‘honest’ politicians who enter congress as middle class lawyers and leave as multimillionaires while doing their ‘public service’. There’s Hillary selling access to the state department as she goes from dead broke, leaving office, to $100 million or so in 8 years. There’s dirty Harry Ried, out in Nevada, who makes huge land deals on worthless dessert land, miraculously, just before that new highway is announced. We even have a justice department that facilitates the public corruption. It has looked the other way on illegally selling arms to drug cartels, weaponizing the IRS, FBI rewriting statutes to grease the escape chute for the incompetent pant suit queen. We have a busy attorney general who has time to meet on the tarmac with Billy Cigar to discuss grand babies (she doesn’t have any, he has just one) in the middle of all this malfeasance. The excuses don’t even come up to the sophistication level of the fabulations I told my mom 60 years ago to escape her justice department.

What makes this so infuriating is that the corruption has gone from cloudy, intricate back room deals to flagrant, in your face, what are you going to do about it, publicly corrupt acts. They don’t even try to hide it anymore and the presstitues willingly provides cover for them. Agreements Hillary made with the State Department??? Oops, they don’t apply to her top aides. So if they’re caught doing her bidding and her hands are not actually in the cookie jar she had nothing to do with it. Never mind the powdered sugar all over her face. Unbelievable!

Have things changed so much that we’ve gone from criminalizing jumping across 18″ of water, to looking the other way on flagrant political payoffs and treasonous carelessness with national secrets? Sorry that was a rhetorical. The answer is ….

Why yes we have Alice! It’s the way it is in Wonderland. Off with their heads.