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HDIMT? Dunkirking Through Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has grabbed the nation’s attention as everyday citizens rush to the rescue much like the Brits rallied to pull their army out of Dunkirk.

Harvey, all of us geezers know, is the name of a six-foot, three-and-a-half-inch tall invisible rabbit. Harvey became a star of stage and screen, moving from a successful run on Broadway to a film with James Stewart playing Harvey’s human sidekick.

This week’s news in Central Texas was also named Harvey. Most of the trouble—the wind and the storm surge—is on the coast. Up here, we get wimpier windstorms, flash floods, and most hurricanes spin off some tornadoes north of the main action.

When these things hit, the state turns the southbound lanes of interstates into more northbound lanes, the cities open as many shelters as possible, and a few jerks always load up trucks with bottled water and ice and drive down to the coast in the hope of pulling off a major price gouge. Those that don’t get caught make out like the bandits they are.

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In a bit more organized rip-off, KXAN reported that when a camera crew sent to cover Hurricane Harvey’s arrival near Corpus Christi checked into the Robstown Best Western Plus—Tropic Inn, they found the room rate had tripled from the advertised price. They were also charged state taxes, which were supposed to be suspended in the disaster area.

The TV station notified the Attorney General, who issued a subpoena. The subpoena turned up 40 cases of price gouging. The hotel agreed to give back the stolen money, but Best Western still revoked its franchise, explaining in a written statement:

This hotel’s actions are contrary to the values of Best Western. We do not tolerate this type of egregious and unethical behavior.

My snarky cousin Ray Sixkiller observed, “You did say this joint is in ROBstown, right?”

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A more cheerful report on KXAN said Aaron Jayjack was being chased by Hurricane Harvey from Victoria to Austin through water that made him lucky to be in a Jeep, but he was running out of gas. Driving slow because of the water, he had noticed a dog doing its best to follow him. When he found gas, the wet and bedraggled dog found him and jumped into the Jeep.

He didn’t have the heart to put the mutt back out, so he made a video and posted it on Twitter, naming the dog “Harvey.” He got Harvey scanned for a chip. No dice.

“No chip, either,” Cousin Ray said helpfully.

Jayjack updated Twitter and Harvey’s people answered! Jayjack delivered Harvey, whose real name was Cash, to his people in Runge, Texas, on August 26—National Dog Day.

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WFLA reported that Houston taxi driver William Brusco stopped his cab to shoot video of Hurricane Harvey blowing in when a hawk swooped past him and into the car, hunkering down on the passenger seat.

He tried to shoo the bird out of the cab but it wouldn’t go. When he got home, the bird was willing to leave the car…to go inside his house. Brusco is feeding his uninvited houseguest and is calling him “Sgt. Hurricane Harvey.”

Cousin Ray wanted to know if the bird was riding with the meter on or off?

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Cable TV carried the rescues live, and I spent a couple of days dealing with placing dogs, horses, and—oh, yes, humans. My history buff persona came out in what I was seeing, probably because of the movie in release right now of the heroic evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force while Hitler waited for terms of surrender at Dunkirk.

The Germans considered the English situation hopeless, and dropped leaflets saying so. The English troops thought home was so close they could smell the bubble and squeak cooking for breakfast.

The Royal Navy did what it could but the historical glory goes to ordinary people in fishing boats and pleasure boats and yachts. Anything that would float.

In honor of the English sticking it to Hitler, I will call that rising of ordinary people “Dunkirking.”

Here in Texas, we are having a flood disaster like nobody has ever seen before. The governor has called out the entire Texas National Guard. Thousands of people have been rescued and thousands more remain to be rescued. Then the flood waters reached several shelters to which people had been evacuated. So, they had to be evacuated again.

Public buildings are being turned into shelters as far away as Austin and Dallas. On the tube, I see volunteers saving people, pets, and property in canoes, kayaks, Zodiacs, bass boats, rubber rafts, and I saw some rescues accomplished on jet skis.

The Cajun Navy is here from Louisiana. They discovered during Katrina that swamp boats are just the ticket because they only draw a few inches of water.

By and large, these are not wealthy people. I did see one volunteer who seemed more prosperous than most. His boat had a V-hull, two big outboards on the back, and was towed by a Cadillac Escalade.

He was trying to launch and having trouble. The V-hull was grounding on the flooded street. Having watched the action for a long time, I saw plenty of water over waist deep and I'm sure he can launch somewhere but he'll have to be careful where he goes. It would probably be safest to team up with some of those folks with rubber rafts. Stay on the street and let the rafts go up to the houses.

His high dollar gear stands out but I don’t blame him for wanting a piece of the action. Like Standing Rock, the Dunkirking of the Texas flood is a sight to make you feel good about people. Strangers helping strangers.

Unlike Standing Rock, the government is on the correct side here, but they simply don’t have the resources to get it done without volunteers.

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President Trump determined to put in an appearance before the rain stopped. His poll numbers have been tanking since he claimed to have seen “very fine people” marching with the KKK and the Nazis.

Trump visited Corpus Christi and Austin—neither flooded—and could not find a victim to console face to face?

The day after the visit the top trending story on The New York Times website was about Melania Trump’s shoes, “classic Manolo Blahniks — are redolent of a certain clichéd kind of femininity: decorative, impractical, expensive, elitist.” I don’t know about all that. To me, they were just stiletto heels, the only practicality of which I’ve ever seen was when Vivian Leigh beat up Lee Marvin in Ship of Fools.

When Air Force One landed in Corpus Christi, the stiletto heels controversy was in full cry and she had changed into white sneakers. I was thinking the first step she took into flood waters would teach her white sneakers are not practical either.

Cousin Ray said I should not worry, since neither Trump got anywhere near Hurricane Harvey flood waters or victims of the flood.

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While Trump was still in Texas, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, choking back emotion, announced the loss of Sgt. Steve Perez. Trump had nothing to say about the loss of the 34-year veteran who by all accounts could have been the role model for “Officer Friendly.” In a heartbreaking backstory, Perez said to his wife after she begged him not to go out in the flood, “I’ve got work to do.”

The POTUS, representing the entire country, is supposed to signify that the country cares about the victims of a disaster. It sounds cynical to say that how the POTUS really feels does not matter, but it’s true when he is representing the nation.

If he can’t even go through the motions, they might as well have sent a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit.

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Hurricane Harvey made things so serious this week that the flood nearly drove the vital need to honor the people willing to commit treason to preserve slavery out of the media.

Newsmax TV asked Bill O’Reilly to opine on the controversy over confederate monuments, getting a predictable load of hooey in reply. The former ratings leader at Fox, fired in a wave of sexual harassment allegations and settled lawsuits, took note of the culture wars that have been going on since the Republican Party developed the “wedge issue” strategy.

He claimed the CSA controversy was started by “far-left extremists. The people behind this movement aren't the left. They're the far left, the extremists who believe that the United States from the jump was an evil country," O'Reilly claimed. "They believe that the whole system . . . was designed to keep white men in power and prosperity at the expense of minorities.”

“Sure they’re not Indians?” Cousin Ray interrupted.

O’Reilly went on to claim that the goal is ". . . destroying all of our legacy, all of it, and rebuilding it in this socialistic, far-left vision.”

I have a comment so obvious it contains no right or left. When O’Reilly speaks of “our legacy,” he means the United States of America.

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The USA would be the country that the Confederate States of America set out to destroy by force. That’s the fact whether you think slavery was peachy keen or an abomination. The CSA started a war that killed more Americans than any other war the USA ever fought.

O'Reilly proposed that the only defense for “patriotic” Americans is to “know our history.” I presume Historian O’Reilly has read the Constitution? Article III, Sec. 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Jefferson Davis, Bobby Lee, Stonewall Jackson…let’s face it, the Confederates had more swashbuckle and sex appeal than the Union—but they are traitors. To understand why they did not hang, Historian O’Reilly, read President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. You remember those words, don’t you?

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on . . . to bind up the nation's wounds…

So, the leading lights of the CSA were not hanged. That may make Lincoln’s mercy admirable, but Historian O’Reilly needs to explain how it makes treason admirable.

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