John McCain: blunt, hawkish, conciliatory, patriotic

“We have to fight isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions.”

John-McCain-VODI’m SO conflicted about John McCain. He fought in Vietnam, a war that I had actively opposed. But it’s long been my feeling that war is in the providence of civilian leadership. I understand that McCain, son, and grandson of four-star admirals, found his own way to serve his country, after his carousing youth, and suffered five and a half years of torture as a result.

After returning from Vietnam, McCain remained in the Navy until 1981, after which he embarked on a second career in politics. He was elected to the House of Representatives as a congressman from Arizona in 1982, then to the Senate in 1986.

His Vietnam experience made him a powerful advocate against “enhanced interrogation” by the United States, which this country, to its shame, surely participated in. And it created in him a great supporter for veterans. But it also helped make him an unrelenting war hawk, with whom I largely disagreed.

The first time I participated in the ABC Wednesday, in October 2008, it was re: the Keating Five when I wrote about McCain receiving about $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates in 1987, but hesitant about intervening on the financier’s behalf in the dealings with the Lincoln Savings and Loan.

That lapse, which he owned up to, led him to be an advocate for campaign finance reform with Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) in legislation now rendered moot by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling.

The Weekly Sift captured the reason why I would have voted for John McCain in the New York Republican primary for President in 2000, had I been eligible to do so, against George W. Bush.

“Presidential politics in New Hampshire traditionally has revolved around the town hall meeting, and McCain was the absolute master of that form. No matter what they’re asked, shallow candidates find a way to segue into their canned talking points. But… McCain always answered the questions he was asked. Usually, he did it knowledgeably and articulately while radiating a sense of earnestness tempered by self-deprecating humor.”

Then, of course, he blows it by pandering to South Carolina voters over the Confederate flag then hanging over the statehouse. Later that year, he admits he was wrong.

During the Iraq war, John McCain was right about those non-binding resolutions the Democrats tried to pass: it’s immoral to continue to, on one hand, fund the war and on the other hand, suggest the war is wrong.

During the 2008 campaign for President, McCain went to Selma, Alabama where on March 7, 1965, peaceful civil rights demonstrators were attacked by state and local lawmen. “I’m aware of the fact that there will be many people who will not vote for me. But I’m going to be the president of all the people and I will work for all of the people and I will listen to all of the people, whether they decide to vote for me or not.”

I became sure that John McCain would finally become President that year because of the Clinton/Obama infighting. He had considered then-Senator Joe Lieberman, a hawkish Democrat from Connecticut to be his Vice-President. But once again, to his greatest detriment, he essentially allowed the party to pick the relatively unknown former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin.

Frank Schaeffer, a longtime supporter of John McCain, wrote in October 2008 that McCain-Palin rallies were starting to resemble lynch mobs. “If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as ‘not one of us,’ I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.”

Does that sound familiar? No wonder he had to correct that woman during a town hall event.

If not for Palin, or maybe Tina Fey, McCain might have won. Or not. I thought in September 2008: “McCain’s self-declared lack of strength in the economic side is problematic. His economic policy, deemed ‘incomplete’ by the hardly liberal US News makes the rich richer. He declares that fundamentals of the economy are strong even as Wall Street collapses.”

John McCain and Ted Kennedy, Died August 28, 9 Years Apart, of Brain Cancer (Jim Watson, Getty Images)

In August 2009, McCain noted that the health care debate has been stymied in part because his friend Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the “Lion of the Senate”, wasn’t able to participate in the debate fully. Kennedy, like McCain, was an “old-time” senator who really DID work “across the aisle.”

In 2012, McCain called out the sheer lunacy of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) when she and four Republican colleagues accused Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin of being circuitously connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. He needed to do that sort of thing more often.

And of course, there were three Republican Senators who voted against the so-called “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, in July 2017. One was John McCain, who made a dramatic return to DC that week after a diagnosis of brain cancer.

In his October 30, 2017 speech to the Naval Academy, he said: “We have to fight against propaganda and crackpot conspiracy theories. We have to fight isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions. We have to remind our sons and daughters that we became the most powerful nation on earth by tearing down walls, not building them.”

In a most divisive time in history, two former presidents, Obama and Bush 43, the guys who kept him out of the Oval Office – have been asked to deliver eulogies at the funeral.

His Farewell Statement, written back in March 2018, showed that John McCain might be the last good Republican.

Thanks. Giving. (Refugees)

We make a mockery of the inscription of that beacon of hope, the Statue of Liberty.

syrian refugeesThere are three basic arguments against blocking Syrian refugees from entering the United States after the extensive screening already taking place:

1. It’s exactly what Daesh wants. That’s a rather persuasive argument against equating refugees with terrorists, for me. The identified Paris attackers were not refugees, and the Syrian passport conveniently found near one of the attack sites, was most likely a fake.

Daesh has been recruiting people that are already citizens in their target country. As my former TU blogging colleague Kevin Marshall notes: “Planting operatives among Syrian refugees that have to undergo vetting processes, scrutiny, and no resources for them once they reach their uncertain destination? Not only is that the opposite of their modus operandi, but it’s also a really dumb, convoluted plan with unnecessary obstacles. It’s like the Rube Goldberg Device of terrorist plots.”

Yet at least 30 governors say they want to close their states to Syrian refugees. Presidential candidates are talking about shutting down mosques (that would be D. Trump) and discriminating against refugees on the basis of religion. Members of Congress are threatening to cut off funding for refugee assistance while four million Syrian refugees are desperate to get away from a civil war not of their own making.

In other words, to quote the cliche from dozen years ago, “We’re letting the terrorists win.” Or as Robert Reich put it, channeling FDR, we’d be “fearing fear itself.” (Which FDR himself succumbed to with the Japanese internment, one of the most shameful acts in American history.)

2. It falls desperately short of the American ideal. To quote Andrew Cuomo, which I VERY seldom do: “We have to protect Americans and not lose our soul as America in the process.”
syrian refugees2
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

—Emma Lazarus, 1883

When we close our borders and stop letting in those that need our help to enter this country, we make a mockery of the inscription of that beacon of hope, the Statue of Liberty, and as Cuomo noted, “I say take down the Statue of Liberty because you’ve gone to a different place.”

And I get to agree with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) when he notes, about Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggestion to favor Christian refugees from Syria over Muslims, “I don’t think any child, whether they are Christian or whether they are atheist or whether they are Buddhist, that we should make a distinction,” McCain said. “My belief is that all children are God’s children.”

Plus, resettlement in the U.S. is a long process as it is. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States. John Oliver explains.

We should not respond with hysteria. Here are some things ordinary people can do to restore sanity.

superman.racism
3. It’s not the Christian thing to do:

Imagine a poor Middle Eastern couple, the woman very pregnant, with no place to stay. Recall how the child who would be born grows up to say, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Here are some other Bible verses about how to treat refugees. If we claim to be Christians and ignore this invocation, we might as well keep those creches in their storage boxes this Advent season.

When I posted the Resolution for Protection and Hospitality for Syrian Refugees from the Albany (NY) Presbytery on Facebook, I was told, “I think you’ve just glossed over just about everything that [a lengthy rationale from a third party] has said in favor of blind faith.” To which I replied, “I guess I’m just trying to literally respond to WWJD.” Check out Stephen Colbert’s response.
lawn ornaments
Or, in the words of The Thinking Atheist: “Why are we so quick to see the ugly…when we stand before the beautiful?”
***
Remember this Thanksgiving:
Hello

Thanksgiving explanations from Anglophenia

Choose to be grateful. It will make you happier.

The Donald v. McCain, et al.

DailyNews.DonaldI had this terrible thought recently: Donald Trump, whose corporations have filed for bankruptcy protection four times, could be President of the United States.

OK, I mean I don’t really believe that he could (do I?), but the skirmishes he has experienced recently have only enhanced his brand.

When he made those disparaging statements about Mexicans, the conventional wisdom was that it would hurt him politically. When his poll numbers went UP, early pundits suggested that they rose IN SPITE OF his comments. Now we’re pretty sure they went up BECAUSE OF his remarks.

He’s become a hero to those who are concerned about border security, and they don’t worry about the… lack of nuance, let’s say, in The Donald’s delivery. After Trump’s Phoenix, Arizona visit required securing a larger facility to hold the thousands of folks concerned about Mexican immigration, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) referred to them as “crazies.”

In retaliation, Trump attacked McCain’s military record, first saying that the former Vietnam War POW was not a hero, then, upon prompting, he says he is a hero, only because he was captured. On the subsequent news shows, he says that McCain IS a hero, and blames the media for distorting what he said.

(There’s a small group of Vietnam-era vets who seem to believe that McCain WAS no hero and ratted out the US to the North Vietnamese. Others believe that, as Senator, McCain buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.)

While there were veterans’ organizations that denounced Trump, there are others who embraced him as someone speaking on behalf of the less-than-stellar treatment our returning soldiers have often endured.

McCain’s friend Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who’s running for President, called Trump a “jackass,” and in response, Trump gave out Graham’s personal cellphone number.

The Donald also took a shot at former Texas governor Rick Perry, suggesting those glasses he’s now wearing don’t actually make him any smarter. I may have made a similar observation.

Trump is even being credited by some with getting President Obama to order flags over the Capitol and the White House lowered to half-staff, in respect of the five military service members murdered in Chattanooga.

Currently, Trump holds a double-digit lead over his nearest Republican opponent. The leading paper in Iowa, who referred to him as a “feckless blowhard”, called on him to drop out of the race, which he most assuredly won’t do anytime soon, certainly not before the August 6 debates. Perhaps in January, if he’s tired of the game.

Trump’s biggest problem and this is important to Iowa Republicans, is that he doesn’t sound like a born-again Christian.

Ultimately, I think that some people are impressed with the way he will take on all comers. Most of the folks, who appreciate The Donald bringing up issues they believe in, also know in their hearts that he doesn’t have the temperament to hold the highest office in the land.

Or so I’m counting on. David Kalish wrote a humorous column about dreaming about Trump, who has a case of NTBH, or “Need to be Hated” syndrome. I quipped that NTBH is currently covered under Obamacare, but as David noted, it wouldn’t be if Trump were elected.

July Rambling: the God particle, and Key’s defense of slavery

Rod Serling, Mike Wallace, Roger & Chaz Ebert, Banana Splits, Golden Girls, Cookie Monster, 1904 Olympics

Cognitive Deficit: How Budget Cuts Could Prevent Scientific Breakthroughs
“The Higgs boson isn’t just one missed opportunity – it represents how much the U.S. stands to lose if we don’t give our scientists the support they need. The Congress of the early ’90s might have pulled the plug on a $10 billion particle accelerator, but it’s hard to imagine today’s Congress even contemplating such a project when attempts to fund basics like unemployment insurance and infrastructure repair result in partisan gridlock.”
Also:
We’re ALL Immigrants, Higgs is Our Common Ancestor.
Why the boson is like Justin Bieber.

Remembering when Francis Scott Key, the man who penned “The Star-Spangled Banner,” defended slavery in court.
Key “had a much narrower conception of freedom of speech. He argued that the antislavery publications could be suppressed in the name of public safety since they might incite violent rebellion. He defended a narrower conception of American citizenship — that it was reserved for the native-born and whites only… White men did have a constitutional right to own property in people…” Applicable discussion for today.

US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) calls out the sheer lunacy of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) when she and four Republican colleagues accuse Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin of being circuitously connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The deplorable 1904 Olympics.

Jim Stanek, Disabled Veteran Says United Airlines Staff Kicked His Service Dog, Asked If He Was ‘Retarded’

Kevin Marshall collected the musings of Alan Ilagan, who recently served on the jury for a locally prominent murder trial.

Lynneguist’s mom died, and what you can do in honor of that.

The girl I met in Rome in World War II named Miss Mountain of Flowers.

Roger Ebert loves his wife Chaz. Wednesday, July 18, was the 20th anniversary of their marriage.

Wynton Marsalis on America’s Musical Classics. What They Are and Why We Need to Share Them with Our Kids.

The two Londons.

I got an invitation from Glassdoor. At my request, here’s Gordon’s post about it.

If you like classic television, check out Kliph Nesteroff’s Classic Television Showbiz.

Rod Serling in an interview with Mike Wallace just before the The Twilight Zone’s first broadcast.

Steve Bissette writes on Facebook: “I always thought Bob Marley HAD to have seen or heard the BANANA SPLITS theme. Compare Bob’s “Buffalo Soldiers” riff; —c’mon, don’tcha think so, mon?”

This is funny if you’ve watched too much Dora the Explorer.

Cookie Monster connects with his inner Carly Rae Jepsen.

The Superfriends/Golden Girls mashup.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) on the Senate floor, eulogizing his late writing partner, Tom Davis.

A JED eye chart.

How to write 99 3/4 in Roman numerals.

That classic La maquina de escribbir.

When you write yourself into a corner.

FROM THE OTHER BLOGS

Change in credit card rules?

The new poll tax: voter ID.

Agreeing with Ronald Reagan – hey, it happens.

The Ridin’, Tom Paxton Blues.

GOOGLE ALERTS

In this short video, presented by Applied Transformation, Inc., Roger Green talks with Ivan Misner about Misner’s view on business networking and whether or not it has a place in formal education.

Roger Green, founder of Edinburgh-based Spotless Commercial Cleaning, has stepped down as chief executive after 24 years.

Roger currently serves as Vice President, Strategy, Policy Marketing & Communications for the HealthEast Care System in Saint Paul.

Salvation Army Honors Roger Green with Rare Citation.

Listen to 11 Even by Roger Green: My first full-length solo album after leaving the Czars, features Marc Dalio on drums, Eric Thorin on bass, Eric Moon on Piano.

(Limo picture c 2012 Mark Klonfas. Cat picture c 2012 Alexandria Green)