Category Archives: History

Who is John McCain?

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

John McCain Tweet of June 9, 2018.

John McCain, United States Senator from the State of Arizona, those are your words. You haven’t apologized, so I think you are standing by them. I did a little research on you, just a little. Turns out, you’ve been in Congress almost as long as I have been out of college. You first ran for the House of Representatives in 1982 after leaving the Navy in 1981. You have been in the Senate from 1987 up until the present time. You say you’re a Republican—and though it is a personal reflection on my part—I cannot remember a single time that you voted in favor of a conservative Republican piece of legislation, not a single time when your vote actually counted, not once. If memory serves, you’re always part of one of those “gangs”—you know, “The Gang of Five” or “The Gang of Eight,” who usually stand in the way of some important piece of conservative legislation. (Usually one that I and millions of others favor.)  I could go through your voting record here, boring my readers; however, it is well known. No, I am not going to waste their time. You, sir, have a much greater sin for which I would like you to answer. I doubt you’ll take the time, so I’m going to have to leave your answer up to the Almighty.

Since you are suffering with cancer and dying, I wish to be somewhat delicate with my observations and criticism. (I have prayed for you, by the way.) Cancer is horribly, wretchedly painful. I know, because I have watched my best friend and many other friends and relatives whom I have loved dearly die from this dreaded scourge. Herewith a short list of the types of cancer: pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, metastatic lung cancer, the last having claimed my dad. He survived the battle of Iwo Jima, but metastatic lung cancer claimed this fearless Marine in his 89th year. Watching cancer steal one of the brightest Marines to ever fight in the Corps was horrific and personally devastating, to say the least. Thus, I mean it when I say I do not wish you any more pain than what you presently suffer. I do not even wish you that pain, because I have empathy, even for those to whom I am manifestly politically opposed. On some level, one must have compassion for one’s enemies, Would you not agree? I use the term enemy here as a figure of speech, a metaphor, if you will. Not that you are my enemy—though we seem diametrically opposed when it comes to our interpretation of your constitutional duty—disagreeing mightily about what you tweeted. Many would question my compassion for having taken you on at this time in your life while on your deathbed. I would not have done so, but apparently you chose to enter the political fray right up until your last breath, so as far as I am concerned, your tweet invites a response, a defense of our Constitution, the very same gifted to us by God through our framers.  I never learned to fence, but I venture to say, “A sword raised by one’s opponent from any position is an invitation to spar, thrust and parry.” 

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Photo credit: Boris-B/Shutterstock

Before I go any further, I must acknowledge your service in Vietnam and most definitely your time as a prisoner of war, where from all accounts, you endured unspeakable horrors, cruelty, and torture—conduct on the part of your captors and beyond squalid conditions that would surely have killed me—and behaved in an exemplary fashion. You even let other prisoners return home first. Your conduct made you a hero to me because you behaved in a most heroic manner. Unfortunately, a man who is a hero at one time in his life does not always behave heroically. History is replete with tawdry examples of the fallen soldier, heroic in battle only to live the remainder of his life as the worst of alcoholics in peacetime. Fallen, his heroic deeds may ultimately outweigh his misdeeds, but judgement is for the fine screen of history and the even finer screen of our Lord.  Thankfully, some, like Louis Zamperini, find Christ and redeem themselves during their lifetimes.  Humility through Christ is the key to redemption.   

Thank you, Senator McCain, for your service in the Navy and for your exemplary, brave conduct while a prisoner in Vietnam. 

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Photo credit: r.classen/Shutterstock

Let us return to the present: Senator McCain, did you not take an oath to support and defend the Constitution? I double-checked just now and the oath which the Constitution requires you to take has been in force since the 1860s. The primary purpose of the present wording, according to www.senate.gov, was to root out traitors. Remember these words?  You should; you have repeated them often enough. 

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God. Senate Oath of Office.

So, Senator McCain, you did take an oath. You took an oath before God to “support and defend the Constitution…against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” What about “…bear true faith and allegiance…”?  Tell me sir, where does “pro-globalization” fit in? I am puzzled. Where exactly is the “pro-globalization” Article in the United States Constitution?  Our Constitution has seven Articles. Globalization isn’t one of them.  I do not see it in the Sections either. Forgive my ignorance, but is not globalization a process whereby the nation state—in this case the United States of America—is minimized in favor of a global entity run by a largely unaccountable administrative bureaucracy answering only to a ruling elite? How is that “supporting and defending” our Constitution?   What about “We the People…”? Have you ever noticed that “People” is capitalized? Capitalization must mean that the framers of our Constitution thought that we the people were important.  Did I miss something? 

What exactly do you mean by the words “pro-globalization”? And, while I am on the subject of your tweet, what do you mean by undercutting our duly elected President of the United States, Donald J. Trump? (Sorry if you dislike him.) Did not the Electoral College settle the matter of who is in charge at present? Poor Hilary, if only she could accept it, but that would mean adhering to the rule of law. (Forgive me, I digress.) What about the old adage: “Politics ends at the water’s edge.” Remember that oft quoted line? One of your fellow Republicans, Arthur Vanderberg, said it. What is it about your ego that you would not take his sage advice:

To me, “bipartisan foreign policy” means a mutual effort, under our indispensable two-party system, to unite our official voice at the water’s edge so that America speaks with maximum authority against those who would divide and conquer us and the free world. It does not involve the remotest surrender of free debate in determining our position. On the contrary, frank co-operation and free debate are indispensable to ultimate unity. In a word, it simply seeks national security ahead of partisan advantage. Every foreign policy must be totally debated (and I think the record proves it has been) and the “loyal opposition” is under special obligation to see that this occurs.

I found the above  quotation in  The Huffington Post .

Here we are with President Trump travelling to North Korea to potentially end the Korean War, a war we have been engaged in for all intents and purposes since June 25th 1950, and you, rather than stand down and show unity with our President to the face of our enemy, decide to undercut him with a tweet to the world. Tell me, do you remember when Jane Fonda visited the North Vietnamese while you were in prison in Vietnam?  Did that help your cause? While you were in the Navy, were you ever insubordinate to your commanding officer? No? Why then do you think you can dictate foreign policy to the world, usurping the role of President Trump, our duly-elected commander-in-chief?

A wise friend once told me: “People don’t change; you only get more of the same.”  You might say the good become better, and the bad become worse. Having been betrayed many times, and literally having had to jettison all manner of scoundrels from my life, I quite agree.  To this I might add: “True personal change is rare. A person only changes if he or she sincerely wants to change, and if the benefits of such change outweigh the negatives.” So, during the past 36 years, what happened to your character in Washington, D. C.? What became of the man who made the nation proud back in 1973? By the way, did you read my last blog entitled: “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…” about Ivanka Trump, wherein I wrote that I thought the word weasel should be in the dictionary as a definition for the word politician? Just curious.

Toward the end of a man’s life, one can see who he really is, and what is important to him by his deeds and the the company he keeps. One can take the measure of the man, so to speak. Personally, I would rather remember the John McCain who behaved so admirably in Vietnam. I sincerely doubt I am alone.

Sandman

 

(Photo credit at top of page-McCain: Krista Kennell/Shutterstock)

Speak up!

Speak up!

Over the years, many have urged me to keep quiet—“You cannot say that”—some even to change my political affiliations. “Come over to the liberal side, and you’ll have more chances with women.”  I do not know how to be silent when my heart calls me. I cannot become a man whom I am not, even if it means I frustrate people, lose friends and have fewer companions at my dinner table. Tonight, though I would rather be in bed, I feel compelled to write, so write I must. I know no more disturbing subject to discuss than the Holocaust. Looking through the Shutterstock images under that title is almost more than I can bear. I just need two.

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I urge you to speak up when you see injustice. Speak up while you still have a right. Speak up while you still have your voice. Never let anyone dissuade you from your truly-held convictions, no matter the promises, no matter the cost. It takes courage to take a firm stand when you are one of the few; it takes courage to take a firm stand when you are the only one. Stand you must, however, to avoid living what Henry David Thoreau referred to as “lives of quiet desperation.” Speak up, but keep your emotions in check in the same manner as one bridles a fine horse, not to break its spirit, but only to focus its exertions.

Listen. Listen first. Harness reason in all your arguments. Quietly persuade. Persist. My Late friend Charlie Maust, whom I knew for less than one year—age 89 to age 90—taught me an invaluable life lesson. One night, as we were preparing to attend a city council meeting to try to keep the proposed City Hall building off the Village Green, he suggested we ought to sit back and let everyone else talk first, believing that the majority of people would not have much worthwhile to say: “They don’t know what they are talking about, said he. “They love to hear themselves talk.” How right he was. Thank you, Charlie. Listening, I discovered, would arm one with all the ammunition one needed to make sound arguments, to defeat the enemy by carefully dismantling his arguments. Listen. Reason. Speak up! Persist. You can have all the guns in the world on your side, but without wisdom, without reason, like an unbridled horse—recklessly emotional, you will ultimately lose the battle.

On this sorrowful day, with profound reverence for all who fell victim to the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II, I cannot write more poignant words than those of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

April 12, 2018: I shall let these words stand for all those who whose voices were silenced.

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Photo credit: Everett Historical/Shutterstock

The haunting, ghastly, ghoulish, ghostly nightmare of the Holocaust is over, is it not?  Yet, by our silence, sew we the poisonous seeds anew? 

Sandman

 

(Photo credit at top of page-photo collage: Giuseppe Crimini/Shutterstock)

Who Controls the Past?

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Photo credit: RODKARV/Shutterstock

I think we all ought to reread George Orwell’s 1984, as we are living it. Do you remember this quotation?  Every once in a while, I remind myself:

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

I would argue that those who want to pull all of the statutes down of anyone whom they consider offensive for representing any ideology with which they disagree is attempting to control the past.  They are, it is rumored unwitting dupes, “useful idiots,” to quote Lenin, of men like George Soros, who learned well the lessons in propaganda the Nazis taught:  “A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”

Sandman

 

(Photo credit at top of page-Clocks-Pawan S/Shutterstock)

North Korean Missile Crisis

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Photo credit: Rex Wholster/Shutterstock

As I listen to the various statements by President Trump in response to the missile provocations by North Korea, I am reminded of this address by our late President John F. Kennedy, which I present in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgdUgzAWcrw. As of tonight, this YouTube video has had only 173,546 views. If more people took the time to study history, perhaps events like those we are witnessing now would not repeat themselves with such alarming regularity.

Now is the time when we all ought to pray that our leaders, indeed all world leaders, exhibit not only courage, but forthrightness and wisdom in their thinking as we navigate these treacherous straits. I further earnestly pray that President Trump takes the counsel of our Lord in every decision.

Sandman

David and Goliath

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Photo Credit: Anelina/Shutterstock

I feel that I am living in a time of manifest, engulfing evil.  Not that I’ve studied him, but the Old Testament god Moloch comes to mind. Rampaging, burning everything in his path, mercilessly devouring sacrificed children. Daily in the Middle East ISIS sacrifices Christian children, as well as those of other faiths. Yet the people in the West do not see it, or they simply turn their heads. We Americans, I would venture to say, are momentarily sun-blinded by our cell phones, our iPads, our Facebook friends. Every day, I ask, “Where is the outrage? Who stands against this in church?” At times, I feel like a voice screaming in the wilderness.  I hear the trees move above me, their branches scraping, the rushing wind, I even hear my own footfalls on the leaves. I walk the path God entreats, but where is my fellow man, my fellow Christian? When will he save his brother?

Tonight, I stood on a stile on south beach by the club facing the southwest. The wind must have been blowing at least 25 to 30 knots. I thought of walking the beach around to the next beach access, but then I realized my cries for help, if such were uttered, would go unheard, die unanswered. My voice would carry only into the next breaking wave, then to be scattered with bits of blowing foam on the beach and into other turbulent breakers. As it was just twilight, I thought I would save my trek for a calmer day.  Sound preparation in body, mind and spirit is the steel of valor.

I am thinking of one man in particular as I write this blog.

This, I reflect, is the year of cancer. Almost everyone whom I know has either had it, or has it, or is in the process of vanquishing it.  One cruel, wily, often merciless opponent.  Cancer killed my father and my best friend, Dusty.  I never really understood the pain until my Aunt Jo Anne had suffered from metastatic breast cancer which resurfaced in her spine. She was brave, even on morphine, she was oh so brave. Like many who have endured radiation and chemotherapy, she had trouble eating. Food was tasteless to her and she, in particular, couldn’t stand the smell of turkey—too much like her chemotherapy said she, but she did love a tasty, tender filet mignon!

What of this cancer? This Dad killer, this Dusty killer? I pray about it. I pray for Jesus healing hands to rest upon the shoulders of those afflicted whom I know. I have even asked God if I could trade places with some of my friends, if I suspected they had it. When you love someone that much, you’ll give your life for them.  I remember praying that prayer once for a girlfriend and minutes later almost choking on my lunch.  It was as if God were testing me, saying, “Did you mean what you said?  Never forget that I, Lord of all lords, King of all kings, can seize your life from you in an instant.”

As I think of this latest friend, a Marine’s marine and Vietnam vet who now struggles with Agent Orange-induced cancer, I am 700 miles away powerless to help him. Many days I have pondered tactics: “What other treatments should he consider? What other courses of action? “When should I go to see him?” I have beseeched the Lord on his behalf, but no miracle prayed for miracle has presented.   The only thought I have over and over is this: “The Lord often saves his bravest warriors for his toughest battles.” If you knew my friend, you’d know this fits him to a T. I have seen this with my father, with Dusty, with Aunt Jo Anne, with Dana and many, many others.  Some, like my dear friend Marie, have beaten cancer, this scoundrel, this wrecker of lives at least three times. I have often wondered how she did it:  Special DNA? Tough German stock? (Sorry P. C. zealots, you’ll find none your free speech suicide pills here.)  Bravest warriors? Toughest battles?  I think back to the story of David. David and Goliath which I reread again today.

Goliath strode onto the battlefield supremely confident of his power, his prowess in battle. Heavily armored, he terrified the Israelites, 1 Samuel 17:11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.  David came as a hum ble servant of the Lord: 1 Samuel 17: 26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? For the Lord had prepared him well for this day, this battle, unpretentious shepherd though he was. The Lord had prepared him well. He had fought both a lion and a bear to free a purloined lamb from their clutches: 1 Samuel 17: 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David displayed the confidence of the Lord’s will with him such that Saul allowed him to go into battle to save the Israelites from certain slavery and servitude under the Philistines.  Think of it: the once mighty, now fearful king trusted the fate of his kingdom with a mere shepherd: 1 Samuel 17: 37 David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. David invoking the spirit of the Lord, together with his “sling” and his “five smooth stones” confronted Goliath using even the same language that Goliath had in describing what would be his end. In that instant, I can hear the subtext—David in effect saying, “I am your equal”: 1 Samuel 17: 45…I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 1 Samuel 17: 46 This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

So today I think of my friend battling cancer and heart disease with “his sling” and his “five smooth stones,” the love and grace of the Lord, Jesus miraculous power to heal which assured David victory against Goliath on the battlefield: 1 Samuel 17:  47 … the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. My friend must summon the same courage David drew upon if he is to be victorious. In this last valiant effort, twirling the sling of the might of the Lord above his head, he must draw upon the exquisite power of the Holy Spirit with steadfast aim to lead him to sure victory.

As I reflect upon the cancer that threatens to take my friend from me, the Iran nuclear deal’s passage in the Senate this afternoon, the murderous wrath of ISIS and even the anniversary of 911 attacks here in the United States and abroad, I humbly ask the Lord to confer upon my great friend and also upon me the courage of David knowing “1 Samuel 17: 47…the battle is the Lord’s.”

Sandman