Remembering John McCain

I was writing an email to a friend last night when a ‘breaking news’ update flashed across my screen:  Senator John McCain had died.  Just two days prior, the Senator had announced that he had discontinued his treatment, and I knew then that it was a matter of days, but still, the news stunned me.

Many others by now have written posts dedicated to McCain, and anything I will say has almost certainly already been said by others who said it at least as well as I can.  For that reason, I debated about writing this post, but I felt I had to.  While I may not have agreed with much of his ideology, many of the views he supported, never once did I question his honour or integrity.  I always believed that whatever his view, he believed that what he proposed and supported was for the good of the people he represented, and he understood, as few do, that he represented the entire nation, not just those who voted him into office.

When John McCain was asked, in an interview with Jake Tapper last September, how he would like to be remembered, he responded:

“He served his country. And not always right, made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors. But served his country. And I hope, could add, honorably.”

Yes, Senator, I believe we can add ‘honourably’.

John McCain served his country honourably for almost all his adult life in one capacity or another.  He began his military career in 1960 after completing flight school, but his combat career began in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War.  It was on 26 October 1967 when, while flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam, his plane was shot down by a missile over Hanoi. McCain fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft, and nearly drowned after he parachuted into Trúc Bạch Lake. Some North Vietnamese pulled him ashore, then others crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him.McCain-10.jpgSeriously injured, he was shown no mercy by the North Vietnamese, and received daily beatings and interrogations.  In mid-1968, still recovering from his serious injuries, the North Vietnamese offered McCain early release because of who his father was:  commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater.  McCain refused unless every man taken in before him was also released.  Kept in solitary confinement, McCain was subjected to a program of severe torture. He was bound and beaten every two hours.  After five-and-a-half years, he was finally released on 14 March 1973.

McCain went on to enter politics, serving in both the House of Representatives and later, the Senate.  Since this is a tribute, not a biography, it is not my intent to outline his long service in Congress, but rather merely to note that, while he had the reputation in Congress for being a ‘maverick’, his was often the voice of reason.  He was often the one who reached ‘across the aisle’ to work through compromises, and because of this, in recent years he often came under fire from his own party.  But through it all, McCain followed his conscience, and though he wasn’t always right, he always fought for what he believed was the right thing for the nation and its people.

This nation and every citizen, both republican and democrat alike, lost a friend and an advocate yesterday.  We need more like him, and he will be missed by so many.  Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will give the eulogies at McCain’s funeral.  Even in death, he reaches across partisan lines.  You did more than your share here on earth, Senator McCain, and you will be sorely missed.

He Likes Waterboarding … A Lot …

Ah, he has done it again.  Yes, I mean da trumpeter, and yes, he opened his mouth again, and yes it came out stupid … again.  How could it come out otherwise?  If he spoke softly when he uttered his ‘trump-isms’, it might pass relatively unnoticed, but no, he has to YELL to make certain that everybody hears just how stupid he is.  Ah well, so much the better, I suppose.  The topic this time?  Torture.

“What do you think about waterboarding?” Trump asked the crowd. They cheered as he gave his answer: “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”  Waterboarding was banned by the Bush administration in 2006 as both potentially illegal and ineffective.  In the past, CIA operatives underwent waterboarding as part of their training.  I would suggest, that since Mr. Trump “likes it a lot”, he should have the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

Waterboarding is a form of water torture in which water is poured over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized captive, causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning. Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage, and death.

The U.S. used waterboarding as a form of torture, or ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ on detainees suspected of terrorist activities until the Bush administration banned all torture against detainees in 2006.  In a nutshell, it is so traumatic to the person being tortured that they will say whatever they believe their torturer wants to hear, thus it is an ineffective means for extracting valid and useful information from prisoners.  More importantly, it is illegal in the international community.  All nations that are signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture have agreed they are subject to the explicit prohibition on torture under any condition.  That includes the United States.

The United States Supreme Court in Sosa v Alvarez-Machain, said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “does not of its own force impose obligations as a matter of international law.” However, the United States has a historical record of regarding waterboarding as a war crime, and has prosecuted individuals for such practice in the past.

In the same speech, Trump uttered another stupid-ism … he compared the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between 12 Pacific-Rim nations, to rape.  Now, this one really has me scratching my head.  While it is true that the TPP has been the subject of some controversy both in the U.S. and other participating nations, and some economists have cited doubts that there is significant long-term benefit, I fail to see the connection between rape and a trade agreement.  The short definition of “rape” is “to seize and take away by force.”  There is no logical connection here, and when Donald Trump attempts to make one, he simply reiterates his ignorance, an ignorance that is becoming harder and harder for even his supporters to ignore.

So yes, Donald Trump likes waterboarding … a lot.  I would bet half of my life savings that little Donnie also loved torturing frogs and tying kittens in weighted sacks before throwing them in a lake when he was a boy.  And Donald Trump has no idea what the word “rape” means, but he understands only that it is an ugly word and thus bandies it about when he wants to put something down.  He also, obviously, does not understand the terms of the TPP and has no interest in learning.  It is simpler for him to merely compare it to rape.  Oh yes, you supporters of Trump … it must be getting harder and harder to justify support of this man who is an embarrassment not only to himself, but to the nation.  He is the proverbial ‘pimple on the ass’ of America.  The time has come to wake up, remove your heads from the sandpit, and see what sort of scum you have been cheering for.