Tag Archives: POW

McCain keeps fighting the good fight

I want to offer some kind words about John McCain.

One year ago, Sen. McCain received a medical diagnosis no one wants to hear: He had contracted an aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma.

I don’t know what the docs told him about his prognosis. Sen. McCain has indicated it was grim.

But he’s still with us. For that I am grateful.

I’ll be candid about Sen. McCain. I disagree with his conservative political views. I did not vote for him when he ran as the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

However, I long have admired Sen. McCain for the valiant public service he has given to his country. It spans many decades, including his years as a Navy officer.

In 1967, the young aviator had the extreme misfortune of being shot down over Hanoi during the height of the Vietnam War. He was taken captive and held for more than five years. He was injured when he ejected from his jet fighter; his wounds never were treated properly. He was tortured and submitted to solitary confinement.

He persevered. McCain ran for Congress, being elected to the House and then to the Senate.

His courage has never been doubted. His heroism in a time of war is well-documented. I long have admired this man’s service and I have saluted him — through this blog — many times.

I just feel compelled to wish Sen. McCain well as he continues his valiant battle. I consider him a heroic figure.

To think that Trump disparages this man

I am going to post one more item about Sen. John McCain and his frigid relationship with the man who happens to be president of the United States.

Then I’ll move on. Maybe

Take a gander at the man on crutches and in the Navy whites. He is John McCain. The picture was snapped in 1973. He is shaking hands with President Nixon, who welcomed home many of the men captured by North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

McCain spent more than five years in captivity. He endured torture, solitary confinement. He was injured when he bailed out of his jet fighter in 1967, but his broken bones never were treated properly by his captors.

This is the man Donald Trump said was a hero “only because he was captured.”

And while John McCain was enduring the wrath of our nation’s enemy, Donald Trump was at home obtaining a series of medical deferments that kept him out of the Vietnam War. Something about “bone spurs,” isn’t that right?

For the president of the United States to denigrate and disparage John McCain in the manner that he is done is the height — or is it the depth? — of miserable narcissism.

POTUS is a disgrace.

Is this ex-POW also deserving of scorn from POTUS?

U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano is now my congressman. He’ll hold that title until early 2019. He will retire from Congress then and return to private life.

Johnson is a solid Republican. I am proud of his service to his country. You see, he got to Congress the hard way.

He is a one-time U.S. Air Force pilot who in 1966 had the misfortune of being shot down during the Vietnam War. He was held captive for nearly seven years. Seven years, man! He was tortured, sent to solitary confinement, denied sunlight and food.

He served heroically during his years in bondage.

And yet …

The man who would become president of the United States, Donald Trump, once said of one of Johnson’s Vietnam War colleagues — Sen. John McCain — that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Johnson became a member of what was called the Alcatraz Gang during his years in prison. They were separated from the rest of their fellow POWs because of the resistance they mounted against their captors. They were held in a camp about a mile away from what became known as the “Hanoi Hilton.”

Johnson was kept bound tightly each night in irons in a room where the North Vietnamese kept the light on 24/7.

These men were heroes in every sense of the term. I am aware of at least two Vietnam War POWs who received the Medal of Honor for their resistance: James Stockdale and Jeremiah Denton.

Stockdale was ordered to film a “confession” in which he would admit to “war crimes.” His response was to beat himself to a bloody pulp with a table leg, making him impossible to appear in any appearance in a propaganda film. Denton submitted to a filmed interview, but then blinked in Morse code the word “torture” to his audience in the Pentagon.

Sam Johnson also resisted mightily during his years as a captive.

As for Donald Trump’s assertion about Sen. McCain, you know how I feel about how he denigrated McCain’s heroism. Sen. McCain was one of many heroes who fought the enemy while locked up.

The same can be said of Rep. Johnson.

I hope one day to meet this hero … and tell him “welcome home”

Sen. McCain shares good times and bad with his friends

I hate, despise, detest the thoughts I am about to express in this blog post, but it needs to be said that they’re talking openly about the end for U.S. Sen. John McCain.

His friends are gathering to wish the senator well as he battles a virulent and aggressive form of brain cancer. Sen. McCain is presenting a brave public front, but it is looking grim … or so it appears, according to recent media reporting.

His longtime friends, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, have visited him. McCain reportedly has told Biden to “not give up on politics,” in what appears to be something of a tacit endorsement of him to run for president in 2020.

He has written of his regret in not selecting another dear friend, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2008 when he lost the presidential election to Sen. Barack H. Obama. Lieberman has visited his friend, too, in Arizona.

There have been many others, according to The New York Times.

Then there is this stunner, as reported by the Times: Sen. McCain’s “intimates” have informed the White House that the senator wants Vice President Mike Pence to attend his funeral, but not Donald Trump, with whom McCain “has had a rocky relationship.”

Hmm. Imagine that. Trump’s disparagement of McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War seems to have stuck in the senator’s craw since Trump declared that Sen. McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” by North Vietnamese. Trump, of course, didn’t acknowledge the torture McCain endured during his more than five years as a captive in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Or that McCain refused an early release because he didn’t want to abandon his fellow POWs while giving the North Vietnamese a PR bonanza, given that McCain’s father commanded U.S. naval forces during that time.

I have grown to admire Sen. McCain over many years. I didn’t vote him for president. I don’t regret my decision to endorse his opponent in 2008, Barack Obama. Nor do I shy away from my view that McCain is an honorable man who has given far more in service to his country than almost anyone.

I want him to defeat the illness that has ravaged him. I fear he won’t.

Thus, I am preparing for some deep sadness.

McCain to Trump: Don’t go after a ‘free press’

I’ve never really considered John McCain to be a friend of the press.

Silly me. I guess I was wrong about the Republican U.S. senator from Arizona. He is now telling the president of the United States to back off from his declared war against the media, which Donald Trump has labeled as the “enemy of the people.”

“That’s how dictators get started,” McCain said.

Well …

McCain denies calling Trump a would-be dictator, insisting he’s just spelling out what has happened throughout history. Dictators seek to weaken — if not destroy — the press, giving them an avenue to complete power.

McCain detests Trump, it seems quite clear. The senator’s loathing of the president, though, seems well-earned.

Candidate Trump once declared that he didn’t consider McCain — a decorated Navy pilot and one-time Vietnam War prisoner — a “war hero.” Trump said McCain was a hero only because “he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Some of us thought that ridiculous assertion would doom Trump’s presidential candidacy. Hah! It didn’t happen. It seemed to energize his supporters.

McCain, though, has kept up his drumbeat of criticism of Trump. I happen to applaud the senator’s verve as he challenges Trump’s ignorance about Russia and now about the dangers of seeking to weaken the Fourth Estate.

Those of us toiled in the craft of reporting and commenting on events of the day don’t consider ourselves to be “enemies” of the people. I have never thought of myself to be anyone’s enemy, although I am certain some of individuals I’ve encountered along my lengthy journalism journey perceive me as their enemy.

As Sen. McCain has noted correctly, the president ought to tread carefully if he continues this fight with the media.

Trump vs. McCain: Keep your punches up …

Donald J. Trump started the feud with John McCain.

The president vs. the senator is now getting serious. I’ll stipulate that I’m rooting for the senator who once was his party ‘s presidential nominee.

This intraparty feud could get in the way of some serious policy matters.

The president fired the first shot in the feud when he told an interview that he didn’t consider the Arizona Republican U.S. senator to be a war hero. Trump said McCain is a hero only because “he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured. OK?”

I was among those who thought that comment would doom Trump’s budding presidential candidacy. Silly me. I was so wrong!

McCain ever since has been none too bashful about criticizing Trump. McCain’s foreign policy credentials are well known. He believes Trump is too friendly with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and has said so publicly.

The feud has taken a new turn. McCain has criticized a military mission that Trump ordered. Trump and his team have said McCain should apologize for impugning the memory of a Navy SEAL who died in the operation in Yemen.

From where I sit, I didn’t here McCain disparage the gallantry of the fallen commando. It would be unthinkable for the former Vietnam War prisoner to say such a thing.

But this war of words between the leading Republicans doesn’t bode well for the new president getting much through the GOP-led Congress. It’s not that McCain is terribly popular among his colleagues; the difficulty might lie in McCain’s well-chronicled service to the country, which is infinitely greater than any such service Trump ever performed before he was elected president.

The Hill reports: “Further fights between McCain and Trump seem almost certain. Neither likes to back down from a fight, and it is hard to believe that Trump’s criticisms of McCain haven’t got under his skin.”

I am quite certain as well that Trump’s famously thin skin is pretty chapped these days, too.

Thicken your skin, Donald; it’s going to get worse

Let’s see if I have this right.

Donald Trump enters the Republican Party presidential primary field and immediately rakes Mexican illegal immigrants over the coals and then says Sen. John McCain isn’t a real war hero because, as Trump said, he likes “people who weren’t captured” by the enemy in wartime.

Then the Des Moines Register, Iowa’ leading newspaper, publishes a scathing editorial urging Trump to withdraw from the campaign. He called Trump an embarrassment to the Republican Party.

And then Trump bans the Register from covering a campaign event in Iowa.


And why? Because the Register was offering an opinion on the state of play in the GOP and Trump’s role in this campaign. That’s part of the paper’s mission, its franchise, its duty to those who read the publication.

Trump, though, just didn’t like the editorial. So, he decided to kick the paper out of his campaign event.

Wow! This is getting really, really fun to watch.

Trump’s got to get some thicker skin. Hey, he says he’s the master of the universe — or words more or less to that effect. Does the Man Who Can Fix Any Problem on Earth really have to react so badly because a newspaper is performing its duty?

I would think one with the clout that Trump proclaims wouldn’t have to worry about what a measly little media outlet would have to say about him.

This campaign is shaping up already as an amazing sideshow of insults, gotchas, payback and political stunt work.

Good grief! Those Iowa caucuses are still months away.

Donald, you need to toughen up. It’s only going to get worse.

Trump is driving the media crazy

Donald Trump is confounding everyone who observes politics for a living … or for a hobby.

The most profound impact might be on the media and how they seek to cover this guy.

The New York Times has published an interesting analysis of the media coverage of this individual’s amazing rise to the top of the political heap.


It notes that his wealth and poll numbers are giving the media fits as they try to make sense of what this person means to the 2016 race for the presidency. Is he for real? Is he a showman who is seeking to elevate his real brand, which is as a reality-TV huckster? Or is this guy really in it for the long haul, seeking to change the course of American history?

Trump recently filed the financial disclosure forms needed to cement his run for the Republican presidential nomination. Some folks — me, included — thought that perhaps he wouldn’t file those forms, and that his campaign would go away after a suitable amount of fanfare and rhetorical fireworks.

So, he’s taken the next step.

Trump is getting a lot of ink and air time. Some pundits on the right think the media hate this guy. I disagree.

I believe the media love him, not because he’s Donald Trump and he’s going to single-handedly “make America great again,” as he proclaims. They love him because he sells newspapers and brings viewers to TV screens.

And yes, there’s a certain entertainment value associated with this Trump’s pronouncements, not to mention the angry response he evokes from his fellow Republican presidential candidates — and from those who’ve run for the office previously; Democratic candidates and “strategists,” of course, are loving every minute of this traveling carnival.

I’m going to keep believing, though, that Trump is a flash in the pan. His comments about Sen. John McCain’s war record, I believe, were too much for many serious Americans and I’ll keep insisting that his statement making light of McCain’s five-year captivity in a North Vietnamese prison cell will become the single event that dooms his candidacy for the White House.

However, until he exits the arena, the media will keep covering him — and will keep struggling with trying to decide just how to do so.

Good luck.

Most entertaining campaign in history is on tap

So help me, I didn’t think it was possible for any campaign to be more entertaining than the 2012 campaign for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Thank you, Donald Trump, for smashing my expectations for the 2016 campaign.

The Donald has managed to do what I thought was impossible: He’s managed to make the likes of Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain look and sound almost reasonable, rational and mainstream.

He’s shot off his mouth about Mexican immigrants who come here illegally, stereotyping them as murderers, rapists, drug dealers — along with “some good people.” He’s called Mitt Romney a “loser” because he got beat in a campaign that he should have won; he’s challenged whether Ted Cruz of Texas is a legitimate candidate for the presidency, given that he was born in Canada.

And now he’s said John McCain isn’t really a war hero, even though he was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, while saying in the next breath that he likes “those who weren’t captured.”

Other Republicans have condemned Trump’s buffoonery. So have Democratic candidates.

It’s been an amazing campaign to date and we’re still months away from those Iowa caucuses and the lead-off New Hampshire primary.

Trump has managed to suck all the air out of every room he enters. The other candidates? They can’t be heard above all the ruckus created by Trump’s amazing ability to call attention to himself.

Four years ago, Bachmann and Cain — along with Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and even Rick Santorum — tried to raise a stink about this and/or that. They all were “frontrunners” for a time. Then came Romney, with all of his money and political connections, to win the GOP nomination.

Now we have Trump, who reportedly has much more wealth than Romney — and who brags about his portfolio incessantly — making a lot of racket.

But here’s the deal. He won’t be nominated. He’s going out with his guns blazing (figuratively, of course). Someone else will be nominated. If I had to bet on the next GOP nominee, I’d put my money today on either former Florida Gov. John Ellis (Jeb) Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But they’re so boring.

Trump has turned this campaign into a circus.

Way to go, Donald. You’ve made the preceding cast of GOP contenders/pretenders look like statespersons.

McCain vs. Cheney on torture

An interesting face-off is occurring within the Republican Party over the definition of torture.

In one corner is Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war and a serious expert on torture.

In the other corner is former Vice President Dick Cheney, who’s never been subjected to torture but who supports the use of what’s called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

McCain says the United States shouldn’t use those “EITs” on suspected terrorists because they aren’t in keeping with American values.

Cheney says he’d do all it all over again if given the chance and says the EITs do not constitute torture.

Let’s see. Who’s more credible? I think I’ll go with McCain.


I’ll be clear. I didn’t vote for McCain when he ran for president in 2008. Nor did I vote for the George W. Bush/Cheney ticket in either 2000 or 2004. Politics isn’t part of my leaning.

What informs me here is McCain’s stature as a war hero and a POW who endured torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors from 1967 to 1973. The man knows torture. He says without hesitation that waterboarding, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation and stress positions constitute torture.

Cheney’s first-hand knowledge of torture? He doesn’t have any. However, he speaks with an equal lack of hesitation that we gained knowledge from the bad guys by using the EITs.

McCain disputes that assertion, saying that captives will “say anything” to avoid further pain and suffering.

How does McCain know that? Again, he speaks from brutal and intense personal experience.

Yep. I’m siding with McCain on this one.