Tag Archives: Vietnam War

‘Falsus in omnibus’ argument haunts this senator

I cannot remain silent on a minor back story involving the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

It involves the questioning by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat who had the gall to lecture Kavanaugh about the hazards of lying about “one thing.”

Blumenthal sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. His path to the Senate came amid some controversy of its own, involving Blumenthal’s own lying.

You see, the senator who’s been in public life for a long time, had been lying about his so-called service in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. As the saying goes … oops! He set never foot in-country during the Vietnam War.

As the New York Times columnist Bret Stephens noted, he is “grateful” for Donald Trump for calling Blumenthal out on his sheer hypocrisy. Stephens wrote this: ” … Richard Blumenthal lecturing Kavanaugh on the legal concept of falsus in omnibus — false in one false in one thing, false in everything — when the senator … lied shamelessly for years about his military service. And then feeling grateful to Trump for having the simple nerve to point out the naked hypocrisy.”

You see, those of us who did set foot in-country during the Vietnam War take this kind of lie quite seriously. It’s the kind of lie I cannot look past when I hear a politician pontificate about truth-telling to another public figure.

Sen. Blumenthal’s hypocrisy doesn’t change my mind about Kavanaugh’s nomination to join the nation’s highest court. It just galls me in the extreme to hear a politician say something he ought to know would come back to bite him in the backside.

Big crowds don’t necessarily mean big vote totals

I must offer a word of caution to Beto O’Rourke’s fans who take great pride in the size of the crowds the U.S. senatorial candidate is drawing as he stumps his way across Texas.

The Democratic challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz has my vote. I want him to win in a big way. Cruz hasn’t distinguished himself as a champion for Texas causes and interests; he’s more fixated on his own ambition.

Having said that, Cruz must be considered the favorite to win re-election. Yes, polling indicates a close race. However, Texas is a Republican state. O’Rourke has to to overtake The Cruz Missile quickly and open up a bit of a spread between the two of them.

How does he do that? Well, he is drawing big crowds at rallies in rural Texas. Let me caution O’Rourke’s faithful followers: Big crowds don’t necessarily translate to a winning trajectory.

Example given: the 1972 presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern.

I was a campus coordinator for Sen. McGovern in my native Oregon. I had returned from the Army in 1970. I was disillusioned about our Vietnam War policy. I spent some time in the war zone and came away confused and somewhat embittered.

I wanted Sen. McGovern to defeat President Nixon. He drew big crowds all across the nation as he campaigned for the presidency. They were vocal, boisterous, optimistic.

My task in college was to register new voters. We got a lot of new voters on the rolls that year. I was proud of my contribution.

On Election Night, it was over … just like that. The president was re-elected in a landslide. 520 electoral votes to 17. He won about 60 percent of the popular vote.

The big crowds, including a huge rally in the final days in downtown Portland, didn’t mean a damn thing!

Will history repeat itself in Texas in 2018? Oh, man, I hope not!

Time to study up on local election races

I regret that I haven’t yet gotten up to speed on the political tides of Collin County, where my wife and I have lived since May.

An election is coming up. I have to get busy. Like … right away.

Our congressman, former Vietnam War prisoner Sam Johnson, is retiring. Rep. Johnson, a Republican, was held captive for seven years by the North Vietnamese, which is about a year and a half longer than the late Sen. John McCain was imprisoned.

I still hope one day to shake Rep. Johnson’s hand and thank him for his years of public service and sacrifice to the country.

I also need to catch up with the Republican and Democrat who are running to succeed him.

There’s also a whole lot of county races I need to understand.

And then … we have the Legislature. We’re going to have a new state senator and a new state representative elected from our part of the county.

I’m pretty well versed on the statewide ballot and the individuals who seek to represent us in Austin. I’ve made my share of commitments, made up my mind on many of the races. I’m still working on a few others.

Living more than 23 years in the Texas Panhandle gave me a pretty solid grounding on the individuals who seek to represent residents in public office. That’s behind me now.

It’s time to get better acquainted with the lay of the land in Metroplex, where the politics — based on what I’ve seen to date — is a good bit more complicated than what we experienced way up yonder on the Caprock.

Pray for me.

Meghan McCain had every right to say what she said

I want to declare one more time — and I hope it’s the final time — that Megan McCain didn’t say a single inappropriate thing while paying tribute to her father, the late Sen. John McCain.

I was proud of the courage and steely fortitude she demonstrated while standing in the National Cathedral pulpit to honor the life and heroic public service that her beloved father exhibited for more than six decades.

Listen to her remarks.

And yet to hear some of the gripes from Donald J. Trump’s loyal followers who say she was too cruel, too mean and too vengeful in her remarks simply galls me beyond measure.

She compared her father’s “suffering” while serving the nation to those who lived — at that time — existences of “privilege and comfort.” Yes, she was referring to the president of the United States, who was pointedly not invited to the private funeral in Washington, D.C. Sen. McCain and Trump had serious differences that went far beyond mere policy disagreements. It was personal and visceral.

Think, too, for a moment about the source of the criticism toward Megan McCain. It comes from supporters of a man who (a) has said some hateful and insulting things about his foes and (b) has never apologized for anything he ever says. Trump had the utter gall to say that McCain — a Vietnam War prisoner — was a “war hero because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Well, I happen to like presidents who don’t utter crass and cruel statements about a legitimate American war hero.

The 62 million Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 knew what they were getting when they cast their votes for the one-time reality TV celebrity/serial philanderer/real estate mogul/pathological liar.

Perhaps their criticism of Meghan McCain’s remarks is meant to disguise their own regret for casting their ballots for Donald Trump in the first place … not that many of them will ever acknowledge it publicly. Think of it: That, too, mirrors the attitude demonstrated by their champion, the president of the United States.

Meghan McCain spoke from her broken heart. She also spoke the truth in her father’s honor.

As former Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat, and one of the late senator’s dearest friends, said of Meghan McCain: She clearly “is her father’s daughter.”

Sen. McCain got the sendoff he deserves

It’s been said over the past few days that the pomp, circumstance and pageantry associated with U.S. Sen. John McCain’s funeral is reserved usually for presidents of the United States.

Well, to my mind, the senator deserved all the tributes — and the accompanying ritual — that he received.

The great man’s six decades of public service all alone was worthy of the salute bestowed to him.

The eulogies delivered in Phoenix by former Vice President Joe Biden and in Washington by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush spoke volumes about the nature of the ceremony that the late U.S. senator planned for his farewell.

It was Vice President Biden who introduced himself to the crowd assembled by saying, “I’m Joe Biden; I am a Democrat: and I loved John McCain.”

And so it went as the nation poured out its heart to memorialize the iconic Republican lawmaker.

I was glad that the ceremonies didn’t dwell too heavily on the single aspect of McCain’s service to the country — his five-plus years as a Vietnam War prisoner. But it was there. It was impossible to set that part of his sacrifice aside.

The last public figure to get this kind of sendoff was President Ford, who died in 2006. Then it fell to others to deliver such a heartfelt salute to a man who fought a valiant battle against disease.

He already had battled his wartime captors. And he won that fight.

Sen. John McCain was the rare public figure who emerged even bigger after he lost the toughest political battles of his life: his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000 and his losing bid for the office in the 2008 election against Barack Obama.

With that, the nation has bid farewell to a gallant warrior and a true-blue American hero.

May this sometimes irascible man rest in peace.

As he said of himself, Sen. McCain “lived and died a proud American.”

The country he loved and served with honor and distinction is better because he came along.

There actually was a time when we were more divided

These 50-year commemorations keep sneaking up on me.

One of them, Aug. 29, 1968, occurred in Grant Park, Chicago, during that year’s Democratic National Presidential Nominating Convention.

Democrats nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey to run against Republican nominee Richard Nixon. Humphrey lost the election narrowly to Nixon.

HHH’s political fate likely was sealed in Grant Park, when Chicago police applied brute force to put down a riot being staged by hippies, Yippies and assorted other anti-Vietnam War protesters. It was an ugly night of violence.

I was about a week into my own duty in the Army. I would head to Vietnam the following spring. But, oh, I do remember that political year. My first political hero, Sen. Robert Kennedy, was gunned down in the Los Angeles hotel kitchen after winning the California Democratic presidential primary. RFK’s death came two months and a day after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.

I want to take particular note here to remind us that no matter how divided we are today, it could actually be worse. The Grant Park riot 50 years ago today tells me just how deep and wide the chasm can get.

I do fear that we might be headed in that direction five decades later. If we get there, then we’d all better prepare for the worst.

Why praise someone on the other side?

Roger Kimball, a conservative writer for The Spectator, thinks the New York Times’s praise of the late Sen. John McCain rings hollow.

Indeed, he takes aim at liberals for their high praise of the senator, given his own conservative voting record in the House and the Senate over more than three decades.

Well, I beg to differ with his assertion about the hollow ring of such high-minded rhetoric.

Read Kimball’s essay here.

I consider myself a liberal. Or a progressive. I have stated on this blog many times that I didn’t vote for Sen. McCain when he ran for president as the Republican nominee in 2008. I have opposed his policy and have challenged his constant griping against the man who thumped him in that landmark presidential election a decade ago.

However, the man’s public service is worthy of salute and high praise. His courage in the face of his hideous captivity during the Vietnam War is as well. Sen. McCain’s dignity during his valiant but futile fight against the cancer that took his life commends high praise.

I have been saddened in the extreme by Sen. McCain’s death. He was a man of deep courage, conviction and dedication to his country. He paid a huge price for his service when he was shot down in 1967. He endured more than five years of captivity, came home and continued to serve his beloved country.

Sen. McCain said it well himself by declaring that he “lived and died a proud American.”

How can a liberal look away from such dignity?

McCain ‘partially to blame’ for WH flag mess? Uh, huh

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe says the late Sen. John McCain is “partially to blame” for the White House messing up the protocol of lowering flags to honor the Arizona Republican who died over the weekend.

Partially to blame? Well, let’s explore that briefly.

The White House staff had difficulty deciding when to lower the flags to honor the late senator. But, according to Inhofe, McCain could be crusty, a bit mean and rude. He spoke angrily to and about Donald J. Trump. Thus, the blame for the White House protocol SNAFU falls partially on the senator.

“We are dealing with a hero when we deal with Senator McCain,” Inhofe said. “He wasn’t always the most lovable person to be around, but he was a fighter and never shied away from a good fight.”

What crap!

Everyone in Washington knows about Sen. McCain’s occasional temper bursts. Yes, he could be harsh. However, Donald Trump started this feud with that hideous, ridiculous and ghastly statement that McCain was a Vietnam War hero “only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

It went downhill from there.

I don’t accept the notion that Sen. McCain is “partially to blame,” or even to blame just a tiny bit for the president’s lack of class and dignity. Trump has disrespected McCain at every turn ever since the “only because he was captured” idiocy during the 2016 presidential campaign.

John McCain served this country in myriad ways that are totally foreign to Donald Trump’s life prior to his becoming a politician.

I am one American who stands foursquare behind the fallen senator.

White House makes a mess of standard tribute

Let’s call it what it appears to be: a major-league clusterf***.

Someone at the White House — where Donald J. Trump resides with his wife and young son — lowered the flag atop the building to half-staff immediately after U.S. Sen. John McCain’s death this past weekend.

Then the flag went back to the top of the staff.

And then it came down again today. The president issued a “thoughts and prayers” statement to Sen. McCain’s family initially, and then issued a statement saying that despite the two men’s differences over “politics and policy,” the president said “I respect his service” to the country.

Gosh. Overwhelming, yes? Well … no. It isn’t. But you know that already.

Read CNN.com’s report here.

Actually, the president has yet to make any kind of statement saluting the late senator’s enormous contributions to his nation, his 60 years of public service — including his more than five years as a Vietnam War prisoner as a captive of North Vietnam. Trump denigrated McCain’s war service and the heroism he displayed while being held captive. And as McCain fought the cancer that killed him, Trump continued to blast the senator over his “no” vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, McCain issued a directive that the president shouldn’t attend his funeral. Instead, the senator asked former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to deliver eulogies in his honor. And, yes, Vice President Mike Pence — a former congressional colleague of Sen. McCain — will represent the Trump administration.

Dear reader, we are witnessing yet again the clumsiness and ineptitude of the Donald J. Trump administration over a ceremonial duty that should be second nature.

Shameful.

Rest in peace, American hero

A man who would become president once denigrated U.S. Sen. John McCain’s service to the country, saying he was a “hero only because he was captured.”

Well, to the rest of us, Sen. McCain was the real deal. An authentic hero who endured torture at the hands of his captors during the Vietnam War. He fought struggle after struggle until he won his freedom more than five years later.

His struggle is now over. John McCain’s death today at the age of 81 ends a great man’s career in public service. First in the U.S. Navy, then as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives then as the U.S. senator. In 2008 he ran for president, won the Republican Party’s nomination and fought hard before losing to a fellow senator, Barack Obama of Illinois.

Sen. McCain will be remembered for his tenacity, his grit, his courage and, yes, his heroism.

This is a sad day. It’s also a day to express pride in the spirit of a great American warrior.