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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)

If you can’t say anything nice…

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
Henri Nouwen

With the recent tasteless remarks of Samantha Bee hurled toward Ivanka Trump, can we civilized folk now not all agree that we need to end such vicious, vulgar discourse? Is this invective not the lowest of the low when it comes to remarks? As a man, had I said something like that, even without a microphone, I would suffer no end of justified attacks, not to mention suspension of my social media accounts. Ivanka Trump, whether you like her or not, is the very accomplished daughter of the President of the United States, who just happens to be Donald Trump, whether you like him or not. I happen to like both of them; although, I have only briefly met President Trump, shaking his hand back when he was changing the skyline of New York, as I delivered some documents. That was over 35 years ago. I cannot help but admire Ivanka for what she has done in the world of fashion. If you ask me why I like President Trump now, I will give you two reasons, actually three:  1. He’s pro-America and a great cheerleader. 2. He’s pro-military and realizes the magnitude of the threat we face. 3. He’s for strong borders and fully comprehends you cannot have a country without those.  We disagree from time to time, and I make my objections clear in my blog, Facebook page and tweets, but I am with him, and with every battle he wins against the political establishment, I like him more and more. He’s my president and until he proves otherwise, I trust him to move the ship of our state in the right direction. As for Ivanka, I say, give her the respect that her position demands. I see no reason to do otherwise.  

I am not very fond of a lot of politicians. Don’t know any one of them well enough to say that I know members of his or her family. (Not sure if Bill Bennett counts, about whom I think the world.) I could run through a scoundrels list of them—all those whom I don’t like viscerally— but all you have to do is go through my social media posts, and you’ll see that I am not shy when it comes to challenging them, even the President when I thought he was wrong. I might even call someone a name, but not a foul name. During his administration, I opined that President Obama was both feckless and mendacious, simply because he was: “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” Right. Uh Huh. I think the worst I have ever done is to call someone a weasel. When you double cross your faithful voters, you—in my book—are a weasel. In fact, in the modern dictionary under politician, I think they should have the words “see weasel.”

As to foul language, I detest it. People—my friends included use the F-word as if it were some sort of comma. We, as a culture are saturated in verbal filth—drowning. I cannot stand women who swear, especially in public. Many years ago—I think it was my 40th birthday party—a friend of mine and his wife were walking through my house and she kept swearing, ultimately ending with, “Your house is so f**king beautiful!” I finally asked her to tone her language down as we were in the house. She was a bit taken aback at my request, and her husband who was not known for his angel’s tongue explained to her that she needed to accede to my wish. Her crude language was jarring me, and I was sure that my other guests would neither approve nor appreciate her crudity. Not that I am a prude by any means; I can swear like the sailor that I am, especially if something goes suddenly awry. Having said that, how cheap and tawdry a woman sounds who swears, don’t you agree? Men swear. Why would woman want to appropriate such a base heretofore primarily male characteristic?

So this Samantha Bee…Who is she? I had to google her to find out. I had never heard of her, but modern comedy with its cretin’s parade of insults, attacks—mostly upon conservatives— and outright vulgarities, has yet to catch my ear. As I age, my ear increasingly seeks peace, respite from this chaotic world. The last comic whom I found remotely funny, I used to laugh at Jay Leno from time to time—awkward in his delivery though he could be—but he was never disgusting nor vulgar. I found out that Samantha Bee’s ratings have dropped precipitously, down almost 30% year over year. (Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh.) Wonder why? Maybe people are just plain bored. After all, if everyone swears, you cannot be the modern day Lenny Bruce.

Guess Samantha Bee wanted to draw attention to herself to give herself a boost. Well, in the grand scheme of things as far as fame is concerned, it worked for a relative second. Now, I am quite certain, unless she joins a convent, I will have no interest in meeting Samantha Bee or listening to anything she says. None. I am not listening. To her, I am deaf. Like most who struggle on the false pedestal of quotidian relevance, Samantha Bee has nothing to say worthwhile, if she ever had. One simply doesn’t talk like that in public. If she wants to improve her standing, doesn’t she volunteer to pack care packages for the military or read to children in the hospital? Why not buck the boring nasty remark trend set by your fellow Hollywood elites?

While I was writing this blog post, Samantha Bee has since apologized. Great. It’s a start. I guess a metaphorical elder with some refined decorous sense pointed out that when you are fighting an uphill battle, you save your breath for the climb; you do not hurl invectives into the wind. You enlist the support of as many friends and people of good character as you can. Guess Samantha Bee forgot the old adage: One’s words should be as sweet and as pleasant as possible, in case one ever has to eat them. Tell me, Miss Bee, how do they taste? Bitter? A bit sour?

If Samantha Bee doesn’t like President Trumps’s immigration policies, perhaps she ought to write the president. Wonder if she’s done that? Wonder if she has the slightest clue what his immigration policies are designed to do. Wonder if she’s pro-American? My guess is that Samantha Bee has 24-7, 365 security, lives in the equivalent of a gated community and rarely ever interacts with the residue of a sanctuary city policy. My guess is that she, like so many in Hollywood, is simply parroting the anti-Trump line. I for one am deaf to that line.

I think it must be my age. Anyone else wish we could reintroduce modesty into our culture?

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Photo credit: Everett Art/Shutterstock

I am old enough to have been raised with manners and decorum, raised to think that a woman is precious. I think we should all make a concerted effort to return to that golden standard.

(Photo credit at top of page, Wooden fence: liznel/Shutterstock)

Footfalls

“Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

About the brokerage business my uncle Mike, who was an account executive for a big brokerage house, once opined:  “When you’re done….[All you have are] footprints in the sand.”  I guess we could all say that about our lives, most of us, anyway.  Ultimately, what we have done will be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, or won’t it? 

I am very lucky to live by the sea and to belong to a club where one can swim and pitch an umbrella at the beach for the day. On gorgeous sunny days, such as this past Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the view was quite spectacular–one of wispy cirrus clouds, motionless against a bright blue backdrop, as if they were brushed in by a great master, along with blue green waves rolling gently onto a soft, white sandy shore. As I stare out at the serene view on days like this, I count my multitude of blessings, perhaps just a bit more than usual. So grateful to God am I for directing me here and so very grateful for the way He has arranged the day. A small thing, this lovely isle of serenity. 

Though frightfully hot in the midday sun, I resolved–and yes, that is the right word–to walk down to the water from the upper decks of the club. You see–I had had shoulder surgery on my left shoulder to repair a torn rotator cuff and exercise in any form is literally the order of the day.  Huffing and puffing as a went, I cheerfully greeted many a mother and child, many a lone boardwalk stroller. (I just have to get back into shape.) Passing the two young beach chair minders, definitely no more than 21, I joked with them about the tough job they had, “Beautiful day, beautiful women,” and perhaps “A few beers tonight after work to help you deal with the stress.” What a struggle! How I remember and long for those halcyon days….Thin as a rail, fit and sailing every chance I got.  No beer of course, not a drop! 😉 I do, however, remember this jingle: “Surprise people, serve Michelob®.”

Having painted you a picture of this past Saturday’s walk, I would like to mention one small detail, one small detail which has irritated me ever since I first started noticing it–much like the imprint of a small pebble in one’s sneaker on a long beach walk. Much like the litter left on some of the beaches around our great country at the end of a fine summer’s day, I think it says much about the way we think of or don’t think of our fellow travelers. I guess I notice this behavior because there have been times when I have walked down to the water using a cane or a walking stick in my left hand, times when, were I to trip over carelessly placed flip-flops, sneakers or shoes, I might have fallen and injured my shoulder or worse.

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Photo credit: Narin Nonthamand/Shutterstock

Imagine two dozen or more haphazardly strewn about….

 Saturday morning or afternoon Memorial Day weekend, the official or unofficial start of the summer season, or on any Saturday, Sunday, or even weekday during the summer one is apt to find at least a score or more of flip-flops haphazardly discarded at what people naturally think is the end of the walk.  I’m guessing here: it might be an extra five or 10 feet, but hey, I like to walk until the end in more ways than one.  Besides there is a vertical stop erected there to keep walkers from walking off the end of the walk, and it’s a great place to rest and stretch, or pray, activities in which I always engage before continuing on or returning to the house. 

Lest I seem like a curmudgeon, I can imagine the thrill of the children–many of whom are seeing the beach and the ocean for the first time that season, or for the first time ever. As boy eagerly anticipating the first trip to Point O’Woods in the early spring, I felt similar emotions upon first smelling the salt air, and once we arrived, first spying the beach over the top of the stile. I can imagine the parents trying vainly to restrain their children somewhat while they survey the sand for space, for hazards such rip currents or for obstacles such as flotsam and jetsam.   Everyone it seems, regardless of age, removes his or her flip-flops, sneakers or shoes–hurriedly sweeping them out of the way–before hitting the beach, the younger ones leaping joyously onto the sand. I understand; I really do. When I was a young boy, just for fun from time to time, I merrily jumped into it off the stile about four steps up. 

I wish–perhaps I am a curmudgeon–that when people who frequent the beach in front of the club to which I belong leave their footwear on the boardwalk that they would line it up along the edge on one side or the other. Is it folly to suggest that one ought to think that one is not alone? I have even suggested that the club paint pairs of shoe outlines–perhaps in bright colors along the edges to serve as a guide. I have asked but to no avail.  Doing so would eliminate a tripping hazard and enable the full use of the boardwalk.  Speaking of those boardwalks….

As a full time resident, over the course of the past eight years, I think I’ve seen at least five boardwalks wash out, shortened by the ever shoreward march of the waves during a hard blow from the southwest. As I tell strangers, it’s not the hurricanes that do the most damage, but the steady, relentless pounding of the winds and the waves from the southwest or from the northeast. Depending on the prevailing winds that season, the season being the whole year, you get the building or erosion of the beach on one side or the other of the point that forms Cape Fear. Thankfully, though shorter every year, these boardwalks are replaced in time for each season with great thought and care as to where they should run, so as to not disturb the nesting least terns.  As a thoughtful person (I pride myself as such), maybe I should declare myself an endangered species? Before you say I am making fun of these creatures, I love these little birds and have endorsed their protection as a life member of the Nature Conservancy.

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Photo credit: Ray Hennessy/Shutterstock

So there you have it: my inconsequential vignette about Memorial Day. Where one places one’s flip-flops on the boardwalk assuredly won’t change the course of human history, but it might change mine–or someone else’s– if I were to fall as a result of tripping over one haphazardly placed pair or a pile of them and re-injure my left shoulder.  “What a trivial complaint!” I am sure you are saying, but I think, as I run through my childhood memories, that I don’t remember the routine thoughtlessness of people when it came to little things like leaving flip-flops and other tripping hazards in another’s path.  Should I then be surprised if legions of Americans don’t take time to reflect upon the true meaning of the Memorial Day? 

Sandman

(Photo credit at top of page-Footprints: Ksenia Lev/Shutterstock)