Today is National Moon Day

Today is National Moon Day

As you may know, today marks exactly 50 years since Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Lunar soil.

It is, indeed, a monumental occasion. For so many reasons.

One of the many things that have happened as a result of this historic mission is that today, July 20th, has become National Moon Day.

So today we look back over that amazing achievement. It is, in my estimation, the Crown Jewel for NASA and quite possibly for the US.

I will never, never forget what I was doing at the moment Mr Armstrong thrilled our Nation and the world with this stellar feat of human achievement.

And it’s a very good time to just reflect on how awesome it is to have our luminous and singular moon.

And to think about space exploration and new vistas in general.

It’s ever onward and upward!

“Moondog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Record spending for the Environment in Florida

Record spending for the Environment in Florida

One of the really important headlines coming out of Florida this last week was about the just-passed budget for the coming year and how it highlights new priorities in the Sunshine State.

Make no mistake, this thorough re-ordering of spending priorities is a direct result of Gov. Ron DeSantis replacing former Governor and infamous boot-licker Rick Scott.

Some quick facts to help you get a feel for what this new budget in Florida can mean:

  • $100 million for spring restoration in several locations
  • $417 million for Everglades restoration in particular
  • $40 million for alternative water supply
  • $25 million for research to combat blue-green algae and red tide, specifically.

If you’d like to dive a little deeper into this issue of the new budget and how it impacts our Florida environment, here’s a link to an excellent article that just ran in the latest issue of Florida Weekly.

This development has certainly been heartening for those of us who keep a close eye on environmental issues in the Sunshine State. Gov. DeSantis has been commended over and over again for stepping up on this issue, as well he should.

I’m hopeful that we all will still be offering kudos to Mr Desantis for his wise and serious advocacy for Florida’s environment as his time in office draws to a close.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

The National Climate Assessment

The comprehensive  report about Climate Change and its consequences is called the National Climate Assessment and it was released about ten weeks ago.

I noted that the report had been released at that time but failed to put together a post about it.

But, obviously, the assessment is still very relevant a few weeks later. And it’s very, very urgent.

This was the fourth Assessment, the third having been released in 2014.

Not only is the tRump administration showing complete indifference to the report, they tried to minimize its impact by timing its release for Black Friday.

Just what you’d expect from a president who has tried very, very hard to kill our nascent solar power industry, done everything in his power to shrink National Parks, green-lighted proposed drilling projects in extreme environmentally-sensitive areas and who believes that the very idea of climate change is a hoax cooked up by the Chinese government.

I am in that clique of passionate climate change-watchers who are science-literate, pretty well up-to-date on the latest developments and who have concluded that humans will never take the hard actions which would be necessary to keep the horrible, earth-killing consequences which are outlined in the assessment from happening.

The chances that humanity will act in time are very, very close to zero.

And it certainly won’t be because we weren’t warned.

It will be because business interests who are profiting from the status quo and corrupt and ignorant politicians were hell-bent on raping the Earth to safeguard corporate profits.

It’s a dark, disgusting and dystopian story. One with a shitty, tragic ending.

And humanity is too cowardly and too subservient to its corporate overlords to keep the story from coming true.

To see the assessment in its entirely, follow this link.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

The 3rd is not too late to…

The 3rd is not too late to…

Today is the 3rd of January and that is not too late to send along New Year’s wishes to my friends here on da bulldog blog!

There’s no doubt that 2019 is going to be a very significant year. Although I don’t have a crystal ball, I think this nascent year is going to be a mixed bag, so to speak, but a year of great consequence.

I’m expecting some good things. Some really, really good things, in fact. I’m certain that the United States will have a new President in 2019. And well before year’s end.

And I’m quite sure we’re going to see some seriously bad events in the next 12 months. Many economists and pundits who cover that facet of human activity are saying that all the signs of a serious impending recession are right there for us to see.

I hasten to add that I’m hoping the economists and prognosticators are wrong about that. But the signs are not good.

Now let me get back to my original purpose for this post: I wish all my friends and folks who follow this humble blog a most happy, safe and prosperous New Year!

We will see a lot of change. I’m persuaded that a lot of those changes will be wonderfully, amazingly good.

I’m concerned that many will fall all the way on the other end of the spectrum.

But regardless of exactly how the year unfolds, I wish with all my heart that you’ll be smiling 50 weeks from now as 2019 draws to a close.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Ben is not the owner of the banner photo and believes it to be covered by Fair Use.

John S. McCain III Has Passed

Lt Cmdr John S. McCain III was a hero to me. I idolized him and wanted to be like him when I reported to Navy AOCS in Pensacola. That was in May of 1975, two years after McCain had been released from a North Vietnamese prison, and just weeks after the fall of Saigon.

I received my commission in November of 1976. One of the traditions in a commissioning ceremony is that the Navy Hymn is sung after the new Ensigns have have taken that oath to “defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” but before the benediction.

It was a proud moment in my life. Receiving that commission and pinning on those gold bars was quite an experience.

The very inauspicious chapter of my Navy career when, four months later, I dropped flight training and was then told by a disposition board that the Navy didn’t need me in the surface fleet was a huge disappointment.

I was as deflated and numb going through that experience as I had been pleased and proud four months before when our band of brand-new Ensigns sang the Navy Hymn together.

For some reason, I still remember the words. But that has nothing to do with my admiration for Senator McCain.

This is hard to explain, but even though the career I had dreamed about for years fell apart when I got into the hard part of Naval flight training, the eight months I was in Uncle Sam’s Navy marked me for life.

I’ve never lost sight of how vitally important it is to be a part of something greater than myself. Working as a team doesn’t come naturally for me, I’m too much of a lone wolf.

But I learned how to do that in those 16 weeks of Aviation Officer Candidate School.

I learned that the rigors of military life and the necessity of putting the needs of your unit, your mates and the folks back home ahead of your own could impose a very high cost on the individual.

I never had to pay any cost for my shipmates. Or my country. I never knew the perils of an angry sea or a determined enemy.

John McCain did. That’s the kind of man he was. That’s the kind of life he lived.

Lt Cmdr McCain completed 22 very perilous missions over the skies of North Vietnam before his A-4 Skyhawk was shot out of the sky in October of 1967.

The story of how he spent 5 1/2 years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton is well-known. What some may have forgotten is that his North Vietnamese captors offered to release him shortly after they learned that his father, Adm John McCain Jr., was the Commander of American forces in Vietnam.

But John refused to be released under those conditions and finally made it home with his comrades-in-arms in 1973, under the terms of the Paris Peace Accord.

The never-ending maltreatment and torture that McCain endured in his years of imprisonment left him with a lifetime of debilitating injuries. You may have noticed that he was never able to raise his arms above his shoulders when waving to crowds at political events.

That can happen when your wrists are lashed together behind your back, you’re suspended from the ceiling and the sadists who are trying to break you have the ropes so taut that you can’t get both feet flat on the dirt floor beneath you.

These are the kinds of sacrifices that John McCain made. Cmdr McCain and our other POW’s endured hardships and made sacrifices for their country and their loved ones that you and I can’t even imagine.

They did it in fulfillment of the oath they all took. They did it without “reservation or purpose of evasion” just as they had sworn to do.

That’s the kind of man, the kind of hero John McCain was.

The many years of service he gave to his country after he retired from the Navy have been chronicled over and over. One can read reams of information about that part of his service to our country now that he’s passed.

I admire him greatly for his time in the US Senate. He always deported himself with great dignity. He always acted with the courage of his convictions.

I admire him no less as a politician and public servant as I did when his service to country put him in constant peril of life and limb. His fearlessness and his integrity inspire me as much today as they did when I wanted to follow in his footsteps as a 21 year old Officer Candidate.

All told, he rendered more than 60 years of faithful service to the United States. He never shirked his duty, even under conditions that would have broken ordinary men.

I’m not sure why, exactly, but the first thing that happened for me when I heard the news of his passing a few hours ago, is that the strains of the Navy Hymn began to “play” in my head.

I aspired to greatness as a young man so many years ago while singing those words with my mates. Alas, there was to be no greatness in my brief, inglorious military career.

But I, like you, recognize greatness instantly when I see it or hear of it.

I recognized greatness in John McCain more than 43 ago. His selflessness, his devotion to his family, his fellows and his country stand out like that lighthouse at Fort Barrancas on a squally night.

God rest your warrior’s soul, Cmdr McCain. Thank you for your lifetime of selfless service to the country you loved so well.

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile
All Rights Reserved

The words of the Navy Hymn:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Oh, Watchful Father who dost keep
Eternal vigil while we sleep
Guide those who navigate on high
Who through grave unknown perils fly,
Receive our oft-repeated prayer
For those in peril in the air.

The United States Navy Chorus singing
“Eternal Father Strong to Save”

Twofer Tuesday with Manafort and Cohen!

Note: my primary focus here on da-bulldog-blog is outdoor fun, nature photography and all but I still get into the political stuff with big stories. And this is certainly one!

By now you’ve quite likely heard that former tRump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on eight of the 18 original counts he was facing. The jury was deadlocked on the other counts, we’ll see how that part of the story unfolds later.

Meanwhile, tRump’s long-time personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen plead guilty to eight charges in a Federal Court in Manhattan today and said very plainly that he made the two illegal payouts–one to Stormy Daniels and one to Karen McDougal–because tRump directed him to. And that he did it in order to influence the 2016 Presidential Election.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12th.

Donald is toast. The dam is most definitely breaking!

Because his delusional supporters are dug in so deeply, it will take more than today’s proceedings to dislodge him from the office he stole back on 11/9 but we can all see the handwriting on the wall now.

Not only does he have cult-like thrall over his Kool Aid chugging followers, but the Federal Government is run by his sycophants, enablers and co-conspirators, so we’re not going to see the curtain go down quite yet.

But we can all see now that it’s just a matter of time.

 

Breathin’ just a bit easier on this Twofer Tuesday, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Trey Gowdy changes his tune

Just moments ago, I saw a snippet of Face The Nation on CBS. Margaret Brennan’s guest was none other than Trey Gowdy, the father of the Benghazi investigation and the poster boy for outrageous GOP obstructionist behavior with respect to the Mueller investigation.

The main thrust of her final question was basically to get his take on the fact that the new indictments reveal that at least one, and most likely two people involved or formerly associated with the tRump campaign, passed those stolen emails back to the campaign.

The indictments do not reveal the identities of that person or persons, but most folks who follow such things believe that Roger Stone is one and that a hitherto little-known Florida political operative named Aaron Nevins is the other.

So Brennan wanted to get Gowdy’s take on the new revelations.

I was shocked when I heard his response. He said, in a manner both plain and robust, that the Special Counsel should figure out exactly who those people were and take appropriate action!

Now, he could have been full of shit while saying that, but that’s not the important part; at least it’s not for me.

What was shocking to me was that his reply wasn’t just more dissembling, deflecting, minimizing and obfuscation at which Gowdy excels and which has been the order of the day for Rethuglicans in the matter of Mueller’s probe right from day one!

I could be reading too much into his remarks, but I believe it’s another early sign that Repugs believe they’ve come to the end of their long-held, seemingly iron-clad strategy of uttering lie after lie in all press appearances to keep the truth about the tRump-Russia matter from coming to light.

I’m convinced that they’ve known that the investigation–and what is known about the investigation–would eventually reach the point where so much rot and corruption would be revealed that the public would stop believing their spin, deflection and lies; and that from that time on, they’d have to start distancing from Fearless Leader in order to prevent the whole party from going down with him.

Now, I don’t think it’s going to help. I think they’re all going down anyway. But I’m now convinced that Gowdy and some others do, in fact, see the handwriting on the wall, and that their PR strategy is starting to change.

I’m happy to say that I believe we’re at the tipping point.

And I believe that Bob Mueller’s just getting started.

To read a very thorough delineation of the whole matter of how, allegedly, Stone and Nevins fed the content of those notorious stolen DNC emails back to the campaign, or–to be more precise–to tRump himself, check out this unrolled twitter thread from investigator Seth Abramson.

For more of a big picture look at Friday’s very important indictments of 12 Russian GRU operatives and what the repercussions might be, follow this link.

 

 

Bulldog Ben, barkin’ again!

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile