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The Political Storm of Hurricane Harvey

After Hurricane Harvey, the national media often unfairly attacked Houston and Texas. But not all of it was without basis.

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Illustration by Anna Donlan

After years of Texas political leaders taking a tea party line on attacking the federal government as a spendthrift and a threat to individual freedom, Hurricane Harvey opened up a forum for liberals to attack Houston and Texas—often unfairly—as a model of political hypocrisy.

An editorial cartoon published by Politico shortly after the storm hit showed a Confederate battle flag-wearing cowboy as a Coast Guard helicopter airlifted him out of the Houston flood, his secede sign and Gadsen flag he left behind still visible above the water. “Angles! Sent by God!” the Texan declared, as the rescuer responded, “Er, actually Coast Guard . . . sent by the government.” Another cartoon, this one in the Los Angeles Times, depicted a FEMA worker carrying an angry-looking Texan with “Get government off my back!” emblazoned on his shirt as his colleague rescues two children and a dog. And though observational humorist Garrison Keillor wrote in the Washington Post last week that he is all for pouring money into the “Republic of Texas” for relief from Hurricane Harvey, he still couldn’t resist taking a dig at the libertarian land policies of Houston: “Houstonians chose to settle on a swampy flood plain barely 50 feet above sea level. The risks of doing so are fairly clear. If you chose to live in a tree and the branch your hammock was attached to fell down, you wouldn’t ask for a government subsidy to hang your hammock in a different tree.”

But Texas’s populated floodplains weren’t the only thing bothering critics. An op-ed in the Washington Post, penned by a pair of lawyers who teach tax law, suggested that it was wrong for the federal government to just give Texas money to rebuild. The op-ed suggested a loan instead, citing the state’s low tax burden on its citizens and business. “Texas wants and needs federal help to rebuild from Harvey, and the federal government should provide significant financial aid,” the piece read. “But it is grossly unfair for Texas to accept funds from all of America’s taxpayers to allow it to continue its exceptionally low-taxed ways. Unless Texas is willing to bear a reasonable share of the Harvey costs through increased state and local taxes, then the rest of the United States would just be giving Texas a handout.”

Although it is almost impossible to defend some of the statewide political leaders from charges of hypocrisy—from both Democrats and Republicans—the insults toward Houston are not only mean spirited toward suffering people, but ignorant. Consider this: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton received 54 percent of the vote in hard-hit Harris County. Blue state liberals seem to glean great satisfaction from criticizing a Republican state, but at the expense of a progressive beachhead where Democrats swept last year’s elections.

In a demonstration of the bipartisanship that is missing from national politics—and in Texas at the state level—Democratic Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Republican County Judge Ed Emmett banded together and did exactly what the tax lawyers in the Washington Post were suggesting: They proposed raising taxes locally to pay for at least part of the bill. Turner wants a temporary property tax increase to pay for hurricane clean-up, while Emmett talked of a regional authority with the power to raise sales taxes to build flood control infrastructure, while also buying out homes and businesses in flood-prone areas. Emmett’s plan would raise property taxes for years to come, but the commissioner’s court is embracing it. Both Turner and Emmett have embraced help from the federal government, but they aren’t just looking for a handout.

And as for Keillor’s absurdist argument, there’s plenty of other examples to look to. New Orleans is below sea level and is predicted to sink in the future. Los Angeles faces the possibility of a catastrophic earthquake. Florida and Georgia have been hammered by Hurricane Irma. And even Keillor’s home state of Minnesota suffered millions of dollars of damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy. People often live in places where they shouldn’t.

In fairness to the coastal critics, though, Texas’ statewide politicians have made us easy targets when we’re in need of the federal government’s assistance. Former Governor Rick Perry never suggested that the state secede, but he said we could if we wanted to. (In Texas v. White, 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was almost impossible for Texas to secede.) During the Obama Administration, then-Attorney General Abbott bragged about the number of lawsuits he had filed against the federal government: “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.” Current Attorney General Ken Paxton has followed in his footsteps. Paxton’s wife, Angela, who has announced her candidacy for state Senate, used to sing a song at campaign events saying she was a “pistol packin’ mamma whose husband sues Obama.”

But after years of state politicians poking the federal government in the eye, they are finding it only feels good until someone pokes back.

As Harvey has unfolded, there’s been special scrutiny on the Texas congressional delegationIn 2013, U.S. Representative John Culberson was the only member of the 38-person delegation to vote in favor of the $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief bill. When the U.S. House recently voted for $15 billion in aid for Harvey, only four Texans voted against it. U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, an Austin Republican, chastised them. “It’s unconscionable to vote against something like that,” McCaul said, evidently forgetting his own vote against Hurricane Sandy relief.

Still, East Coast anger over the vote is more often directed at U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. When MSNBC reporter Katy Tur brought up his vote against the 2013 relief package recently, Cruz claimed that “two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.” USA Today’s Fact Check followed up on that assertion: “We wouldn’t use the “L” word, but we do find that at least two-thirds of the bill was related to Hurricane Sandy—the opposite of what Cruz said.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and U.S. Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, slammed Cruz for his perceived double standard. King said he wouldn’t let the Texas votes affect his support for Harvey relief, but he told a Long Island televisions station he wasn’t going to let it pass without a dig at Cruz: “Ted Cruz was one of the leaders of trying to keep New York and Long Island and New Jersey from getting the funding we needed, and now he’s the first one in asking for aid for Texas,” Rep. King says. “But as badly as I feel toward Ted Cruz, and what a hypocrite he is, I’m not going to take it out on the people of Texas.”

Also widely overlooked by the news media is Abbott’s change in policy position on the wisdom of local governments, when a little over a month ago, the governor called a special session that, in part, sought to limit them. The governor described the actions of local governments as limits on freedom. “While we rightly rail against overreach by the federal government, local municipalities are increasingly infringing on private property rights,” Abbott wrote in an op-ed promoting limits on municipal annexation authority, which ultimately passed. When Republican mayors approached him to oppose tax and spending caps on local governments, Abbott told them they would just have to suffer so limits could be placed on cities that were not being frugal in their spending. But in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Abbott has embraced the idea that local officials are best positioned to understand their communities. “Local officials know best what the needs of local constituents are,” Abbott said. Of all the news stories I read, only the Houston Chronicle picked up on Abbott’s change of politics.

National liberals unfairly took pot shots at Houston and Harris County after Hurricane Harvey—Texas doesn’t tax enough; Houston has uncontrolled development; Texans voted against Hurricane Sandy relief. Ultimately, though, it was the state’s elected Republican leadership who gave them the ammunition.

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  • WUSRPH

    We sang the “Texas is so great…you are not” song so often it began to turn people’s stomachs and ate away at any goodwill they may have had toward us…..We had to expect some almost glee at mother nature rubbing our face in our own boastful bs. We were very lucky there were not more members of congress like the Texas Congressman who voted against Sandy aid…but, who, unlike us understand what e pluribus unum really means….

    Of course, you have to almost wonder if our federal-hating–constitution changing governor whose stated ambition is to, in effect, make it impossible for the federal government to provide this aid in the future, is secretly pleased at how he is putting it over on them by getting them to cover the major costs….but I guess he’s put all that talk about a constitutional convention of the states to rest at least until Congress turns off the faucet.

    P.S. If you haven’t guessed by now I have this real problem with blatant hypocrites.

    • igloo

      My thoughts exactly.

    • José

      Truth. And you can ridicule it all you want as a campaign slogan but “Stronger Together” describes patriotism pretty darn well.

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  • John Bernard Books
  • Jay Trainor

    Spot on R.G.! But that isn’t the end.

    Look at the twisted process or victims to access the federal Food Stamp program in nearby counties. On the surface the idea sounds like a good but way too limited attempt to help.
    However, the victims have one week to apply outside their county of residence. On closer examination, that week is subdivided, so in actuality, people have only one day! Here’s another case where State of Texas official Charles Smith, under the authority of Governor Abbott, is making it as difficult as possible for people to access federal benefits they’re legally entitled to.

    Don’t hold your breath that HHS Secretary Tom Price will intervene to extend the opportunity. IMHO this was something the Texas Eagle Forum or Texas Public Policy Foundation likely dreamed up to appear as a humanitarian gesture but knowing the limited time frame and lack of publicity will mean very few people will know or take advantage of this one shot offer. Note: Houston, Beaumont and Victoria dates have yet to be set.

    Here’s a Dallas Morning News story published 9-15-17 outlining the temporary measures:
    The seven included some heavily populated counties, such as Brazoria near Houston, and Nueces, home to Corpus Christi. The commission will start taking applications from victims from the seven counties Monday and Tuesday. People will have a week to apply. Their days to apply will be staggered, based on the first letter of their last names.

    https://www.dallasnews.com/news/harvey/2017/09/15/texas-storm-victims-apply-food-stamps-far-home-adds-counties-program

    Former Texas Income Assistance (Food Stamp) Program Manager

    • WUSRPH

      Don’t worry John Sharp is on the job….He just has to get his super hero cap adjusted…..Funny you mention Food Stamps since I have heard it said that one of the best things Sharp ever did was to give their users those little credit-cards rather than having to carry around lot of paper…Any truth to that?

    • John Bernard Books

      State Dept of health says you do not have to be a US citizen to access fed benefits, and once you become a “client” you can access all the goodies. What could possibly go wrong………..

  • John Bernard Books

    In case you need reminding why the left is referred to as the loonies…..
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6f6062be55dd32d6fbf1372771b76f7769d387e56198df6bec7290088c6a5dcf.jpg

    • Ronald Rogaine

      You are an ass.

      • John Bernard Books

        wow a new tactic by the left….name calling

  • Joe Bender

    the only sentence that matters:

    “Houstonians chose to settle on a swampy flood plain barely 50 feet above sea level. The risks of doing so are fairly clear. If you chose to live in a tree and the branch your hammock was attached to fell down, you wouldn’t ask for a government subsidy to hang your hammock in a different tree.”

    The rest of america has had enough of subsidizing idiots who build in flood plains.

    Politicians care about one thing…..tax dollars they can spend…..and development brings in tax dollars.

    Americans have zero sympathy for idiots who wont use common sense in building codes.

    • anonyfool

      Actually America loves to pay to rebuild houses that flood every year. If you can afford the insurance, the National Flood Insurance Program will pay up no matter what it looks like.

      http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/344607-the-same-houses-flood-every-year-and-we-keep-paying-for
      It’s not just Houston, it’s almost everywhere we built too low and instead of buying the house and condemning the land, we pay to rebuild the house in the exact same place.

      • WUSRPH

        The Obama Administration tried to limit that practice in the future with some new regulations on the flood insurance program BUT one of the first thing Trump’s appointees did was try to kill those reforms as being “bad for the economy”…..Since Harvey it has said it is reconsidering that decision. but—as in the past—the taxpayers are probably going to shell out many millions to rebuild structures that never should have been built where they were in the first place.

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  • John Bernard Books

    Emmys or enemies……
    “Trump was attacked from Colbert’s opening monologue through the end of the three-hour program. Alec Baldwin won an award for portraying Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” and used his speech to mock the president for not winning an Emmy during his time hosting “The Apprentice.”
    Ex-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer even made an appearance to poke fun at his tenure, but many viewers are even upset that CBS allowed the award show to normalize a former member of the Trump administration. Apparently it’s OK to laugh at Trump and his surrogates, but not with them.
    Academy Awards prognosticator Steve Pond called the event “the most political Emmys show ever” and said voters even decided winners based on politics, opting for programs with a political agenda such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Atlanta” over less-polarizing shows such as “Stranger Things.””
    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2017/09/18/emmys-ratings-crater-trump-bashing-to-blame.html

    It is so hard not to laugh at a liberal…..

  • John Bernard Books
  • WUSRPH

    I assume you saw that Gov. Abbott has done a staff shakeup to bring in some people with more experience with the legislature and the state budget process…..I guess he finally realized what little effect he has been having in the legislature getting his “programs” (the one or two he had) adopted…..Walter Fisher as legislative director is an interesting choice…..He started out as the number two man at the Texas Municipal League some years ago….then served as parliamentarian for the last years of Bullock’s terms as lt. governor, lobbied hereafter during the Perry lt. governor years and then went back to the Senate under Patrick, lobbied again and now is back as Abbott’s legislative director. Well-respected by all the “insiders” in State government…but just the kind of cesspool dweller JJ despises so much. Of course, even a person as highly skilled as Walter in working things thru the legislative process has to have a sellable program…..

    • WUSRPH

      Speaking of the kind of people JJ hates so much—It has been pointed out that in his remarks Abbott insisted that his new appointees would meet the highest standards of ethnical behavior…but then his appointee as senior adviser is the same man who pleaded guilty in a political money laundering case and who is purported to have orchestrated the mass mailing of alleged fraudulent letters to legislators advocating school vouchers during the past session…..

      • WUSRPH

        I suspect that even now the political tea leaf readers are trying to determine whether the backgrounds of the new appointees can provide any insight into which political direction Abbott
        intends to take during the upcoming elections and the 2019 legislative sessions…..That
        effort may be complicated by the fact that some of them—Sen. Williams, his former aid and Fisher might be deemed to be more technicians than ideologues….Williams, for example, had only a 59% score (or one point above the average) during his last session as a senator on the far right Empower-Texan’ scorecard….hardly the sign of a true ideologue like Ken Paxton who had a 100% score that same years…And, Fisher, has been able to serve both the more moderate Bullock and the radical right Patrick. As such, their appointments might be seen as an attempt by Abbott to improve the performance of his staff and his success with the legislature rather than a gesture to any political group.

        If I had to personally pick an appointee that signal what direction the governor might be planning to follow it would be Peggy Venable, presently a fellow at the radical right Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), She has a long record of involvement in far-right efforts including the Koch-brothers financed Americans for Prosperity where she, among other things, put on training conferences for the then nascent Tea Party movement and who, from reports in places like The New Yorker magazine, has been on the pay roll of Koch-connected groups since at least 1994. She has also been a leader in the effort to block local governments from lobbying the legislature. To me, in picking her Abbott has made it clear that he will continue his lurch to the far right and his attacks on local governments or, at the least, he wants to give the far right the impression that he is one of them.

  • WUSRPH

    Another interesting and informative night of Ken Burn’s telling of the Vietnam story….His ability to explain so much so well with so few words and images with so little bias is probably unmatchable…..While I did not hear much that I did not already know, what he is presenting should be especially useful to those who came afterwards….and perhaps as a lesson to our leaders of today who, like JFK and LBJ to follow back then, are unable to put aside the myths by which we have lived so much of our history or accept that even “Only I” cannot—and should not—try to accomplish somethings and accept that sometimes we must live with circumstances we find distasteful.

    The lesson is there to learn in Burn’s film—and was so clearly expressed by Neil Sheehan’s closing words to tonight’s episode—when he pointed out that we Americans have always felt we were different than the other peoples of the world…that we could not lose a war…that we would not engage in one that was not a good cause…and that somehow we were above the lessons of history…

    There was much that was good in what we thought we were doing in Vietnam….and the courage and struggle of our fellow Americans in waging it deserves all our of recognition….but the sad reality is that It was the wrong war, in the wrong place and at the wrong time. There is also much that makes our country great…..and allows us to, in some ways, continue to talk about “American Exceptionalism” and take pride in the fact that for more than 200 years we have served as both “the shining city on the hill” and as “a beacon of liberty” to much of the world….But we cannot let thatimage blind us to the realities of the world or of our own failures and misjudgments—as is so vividly illustrated in what happened both in Vietnam and at home during those fateful, but now almost forgotten years of turmoil.

    Perhaps we all need to pay closer attention to the meaning of the words in the closing verse of the poem written by one of my distant cousins as he watched the firing on Ft. McHenry at Baltimore in 1814 which, now as part of
    our national anthem proclaim:

    “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just.”

    • txasslm

      Eloquently stated and oh so accurate.

    • John Bernard Books

      Burns certainly dispelled the dem’s myth that Prez Ike got us involved with Viet Nam. Ho Chi Minh met with Prez Wilson’s staff, FDR and Prez Truman gave our tax dollars to the commie.

  • WUSRPH

    The organization of Texas insurance companies now estimates that the INSURED LOSES from Hurricane Harvey are about $19 billion dollars–or more than $160 billion LESS than the numbers Gov. Abbott has been citing in his appeals for Federal Dollars….

    (The distinction between “insured loses” and actual loses and damages is primarily the result of most of the damage being the result of “rising water” and that kind of damage is NOT covered by most insurance policies other than by the federally-subsidized flood insurance program which covers only a small portion of the damaged property. And, it should be noted that the insured lose estimate does include $14 billion in loses to be covered by the federal program).

    That means the rest is UNINSURED and that, barring some miracle of federal aid, most home and property owners will have to bear (or eat) billions in loses. Some may be able to get long-term, low interest loans from the FEDERAL government….and local governments such as school districts, counties, cities and towns may be able to get federal funds to rebuild their infrastructure….by the common citizen is on his own….as they can expect only pennies worth of short-term aid from the State government since that is “not the way we do things in Texas”.

  • WUSRPH

    ATTENTION JJ:

    Remember all that bilge you spewed over the last couple of years about how Trump was going to “put America first” and bring the troops home….Well forget it!

    http://tinyurl.com/yafpzf5n

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/aides-to-trump-u-s-empire-is-good-for-your-business.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Intelligencer%20-%20September%2018%2C%202017&utm_term=Subscription%20List%20-%20Daily%20Intelligencer%20%281%20Year%29
    You have never understand what “putting America first” has really meant..

    • John Bernard Books

      New Yorker…..snicker

  • John Bernard Books
  • WUSRPH

    Another excellent presentation by Ken Burns in night three of his Vietnam story……In addition to what he is teaching us (or in many of our cases, reminding us of what we knew), Burns is, I hope, also teaching a lesson
    to man in the White House about how national and personal pride can lead to mistakes that result in the death of hundreds of thousands, including more than 50,000 “of our own.” Of course I doubt that president Trump has been watching….After all, it tells the story of “Losers” and he has no use for them—or what their
    stories might tell him.

    What makes this all more bothersome is that even LBJ’s advisors who gave him such bad and mistaken advice were men who had all been involved in World War II and Korea and knew how important it was to do everything possible before committing our forces—and the lives of our service personnel—to battle. Even LBJ with only about six weeks in the combat zone of the South Pacific had seen men die and had more military experience than Trump. Many of Trump’s advisors have similar experience—and must be telling him that going to war is not some great adventure that proves your manhood……But is he listening or will he listen?……Or is he fascinated with the idea of proving to the world (and even more to himself) that he has “big hands” and, with only a word, can launch that “fire and frenzy” that he so tweets about with such apparent glee?

    Trump has already shown that he is fascinated by just the sight of the military power—-so much that, after seeing how the French celebrate Bastille Day, he is talking about turning our Fourth of July commemorations
    into vast parades of troops, tanks and airplanes flowing pass him standing high on a reviewing stand like the pictures we have all seen of Hitler and Stalin. I fear he will know want to use it—with never a thought about the American, much less the likely hundreds of thousands of both North AND SOUTH Korean, lives that will be lost…

  • WUSRPH

    Another great night of television as Ken Burns continues to explain the events of the past both to inform the generations who did not live thru that tragedy of the Vietnam War while, at the same, tying to make us at least
    think about the basic moral question of what is your ultimate responsibility in a society like ours.

    Perhaps no participant in the war faced that question more than Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense through the first year of the conflict…..In him we see a man of great intelligence and management skills
    struggling to support a war in which he began to have doubts from an early period….but who kept those doubts hidden from virtually everyone—except in private memorandum to the president which remained secret for years
    thereafter—as he labored to find some way to either win it or some way to for his country and the presidents he served to end it without weakening this country or tarnishing the valor and sacrifice of the troops who waged it in our name.

    Here we also have a man who could openly and repeatedly defended the war in news conference after news conference and before Congressional committees and the public but, when his teenage son asked him to provide him with materials in support of the war for use in a high school “teach in”…apparently could not bring himself to draw his son into the tangled web of misinformation in which he lived and sent him nothing…

    How one asks could he live with himself? How could he go on day-day-day while entertaining such doubts without eventually wanting to scream out that it all must end? Of course, in the end this internal battle became too much and McNamara stumbling away from his position of power in what some would later view as anguish.

    Tomorrow I suspect that Burns will find a way to illustrate the shock that ran throughout the nation when in early 1968 the enemy we had been told for so long was being defeated rose up over the Chinese New Year and struck mortal blows all across South Vietnam in what was called “The Tet Offensive” including into the heart of
    South Vietnam’s cities.

    Few who lived through that period can forget the picture of “the enemy” within the very grounds of the US Embassy in Saigon…or of CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, who to many was almost a father figure and as the voice of truth, ending his newscast one night by telling the American people that they had been misled by their leaders. Things were never the same thereafter.

    Of course, in military terms the Tet Offensive was a military disaster for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong as, now out of hiding and in the open, our fire power fell upon them killing thousands……totally shattering the Viet Cong forces made up of residents of the south…so that thereafter the fighting became almost entirely one against regular North Vietnamese troops who infiltrated into the south by way of the Ho Chi Minh trail.

    But, although the outcome was a victory on the battlefield for us, that did not really matter to our opponents for what they lost on the battlefield, they more than made up with the shattering blow to our national ego and belief. in our government.

    • SpiritofPearl

      It wasn’t really what I’d call a victory. VN was a proxy for China. We knew we couldn’t win in a conventional war, so we concocted an excuse to leave. Now VN is one of our trading partners.

      • WUSRPH

        While VN was clearly dependent on Red China for support and equipment, I think it is going a little too far to call it a “proxy” for China….The NVN leaders were certainly communists…but our basic mistake in dealing with them—and yours in calling them a proxy for China–overlooks that in most cases they were VIETNAMESE before and above their being communists.

        In fact, by 1979, less than four years after their “victory” in SVN, Vietnam was engaged in fighting with Red Chinese forces along its northern border with China—conflicts that continued until as late as 1990….and the year before that had invaded Cambodia to oust the far more radical communist Khmer Rouge who it felt threatened its western borders.

        Such actions suggest to me that the relationship between VN and China is better understood in light of the old Arabic proverb “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” to which some ad “as long as my enemy is still my enemy.”

  • WUSRPH

    I know—and have repeatedly demonstrated—that I have little ability to understand complex subjects……but would someone try to explain to me the logic, reasoning and/or sanity behind the following:

    Assumption: The US does not want Iran to get nuclear weapons.

    Fact: Although it is in no way perfect, in 2015 the US (and five other countries) negotiated an agreement with Iran that places real limits on its ability to develop nuclear weapons for at least eight years including the dismantling of many of the facilities that would be needed to create them.

    Fact: Inspectors can find no proof that Iran—to date—has violated the terms of the agreement.

    Fact: The five other signatories to the agreement have stated that they support its continuation and, even if the US repudiates the deal, they will not reapply the kinds of sanctions that helped bring about the current agreement as long as Iran continues to abide by its terms.

    Fact: The US does little trade with Iran and, without the assistance of the other five nations, would be unable to do much to hinder Iran from developing such weapons by reimposing trade and other sanctions.

    Fact, the only feasible way for the US to insure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons would probably require a sustained military assault on its facilities.

    Fact: Iran has made it clear that, if the US repudiates the agreement, it will feel free to again take up the development of such weapons.

    Therefore:

    The US should “withdraw” from the agreement thereby allowing Iran free rein to develop nuclear weapons.

    • SpiritofPearl

      The Black Man Who Was in the White House made the deal. Therefore it must be expunged.

  • WUSRPH

    I have seen some beautiful pictures several times lately……of a pair of our sleek grey-black B-1 Lancer
    bombers accompanied by South Korean F-15s flying high in the sky over the Korean Peninsula in what, I suppose, is intended to be both a visible reminder to the North Koreans of our power and a reassurance to the South Koreans of our continuing commitment to their defense. We have made several such flights in recent weeks in response to what we view as offensive acts by North Korea such as the firing of a missile or the testing of a nuclear bomb. In fact, they are becoming almost so routine that I suspect that the image will soon begin to lose its hold on us. But until then even those who hate war and its instruments must be struck by the sheer beauty of the sight and by the image of power it projects…

    In fact, few B-1 would probably be employed in at least the initial attacks on North Korea. Those attacks would be aimed at destroying its nuclear facilities and “decapitating’ its leadership. And, today such attacks are assigned to the stealthier B-2 with is guided bombs designed to be able to hit pin-point targets or to cruise missiles launched from vessels at sea or from ancient old B-52s or even to lumbering transports converted to carry the massive deep penetration “bunker bombs” and not to the B-1 that today has been reduced to being a carrier of “iron bombs” intended for targets where the sheer power of the explosion and not its accuracy is more important. But, they do look so beautiful and make such good pictures flying across the peaceful Korean skies.

    In the meantime, such images are probably particularly enthralling to people like president Trump who seem to be fascinated by such displays of power….and who give little thought to how unreal the picture would be if he were to commit those beautiful aircraft to battle….. Now they fly high in clear sunlight skies visible to all. But come war, they would operate in far, far different conditions. Then, in air filled with the threat of enemy anti-aircraft canon fire and missiles, they would be more likely be flying in the darkness of night as a single aircraft virtually hugging the earth on the way to and, hopefully, away from its target with some likely not to make that return flight.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Seoul is about as far from the DMZ is Georgetown is to Austin. Not such a pretty picture once the smoke clears . . .