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Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Politics | 3 comments

A Wine Dinner Worth Remembering

 

 

A WINE DINNER WORTH REMEMBERING

Take a look at this photo (above).  Tell me where you think it’s from.  No cheating.  I’ll provide the answer at the conclusion of the column.

__________

Earlier tonight, Marieta and I had the great pleasure of attending a special four-course wine dinner at a local restaurant here in Las Vegas.  But this wasn’t a wine dinner like all the rest.  We were seated with a couple, aged in their late 60s.

The gentleman and I got to chatting.  Somehow, the topic of the Vietnam War came up.  We engaged in a spirited conversation about the masterful Vietnam War television series, produced by Ken Burns, on PBS.  By the way, this is must-see television for anyone who has not seen it yet.

During the course of our friendly conversation, the man revealed that he served two tours of duty in Vietnam.  He was stationed at Da Nang in 1968 and returned again in 1971.  He was assigned to a U.S. Air Force unit that provided routine maintenance on fighter jets.

Initially, the man was somewhat reluctant to talk about his memories of the war. But inquisitive (nosy) as I am, I was riveted by this moment — what amounted to a front-row, first-person account of one of the most transformative events in all of American history.  How fortunate I was to have this rare opportunity.  I wasn’t about to let this chance to learn more pass me by.  And so, I pressed on.

The man stated that he arrived in Da Nang in early 1968 at the tender age of 18.  He had lied about his age and joined the Air Force at age 17.  His very first night in Vietnam was the Tet Offensive.  For those unfamiliar with Vietnam War history, the Tet Offensive was a surprise attack that caught the American military totally off-guard and was arguably the shocking turning point of the war.

I listened intently over the next two hours, privileged to be given this, such a rare gift.  As we talked, or I should say — as he talked and I listened — the man became increasingly more open and willing to talk about the many experiences that had haunted him for nearly half a century.  It will take me some time to digest all the perspectives he shared with me, some of which were very troubling to hear.  Perhaps I shall write about them later, if appropriate.  I don’t know.  Perhaps some things are best left unsaid.

But what really struck me at one point during our conversation was when I sought to give the man an “out,” allowing him to escape my inquisitive and perhaps annoying curiosity and enjoy the evening with the rest of the 30 or people assembled in the room sipping on Pinot, Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Sangiovese.  Indeed, I casually tried to change the subject at this point, thinking my captive might leap at the chance to leave those painful memories of Vietnam behind.  But instead of taking the easy bait, the man wanted to talk — more.

I have a tear in my eye and a tremble in my wrists as I write this now, a few hours later thinking about the next thing the man revealed to me.

“No one ever asks me about my time over there.  It feels good to talk about it.”

Wow.  Just, fucking wow.

Here I was, thinking I was blessed to be able to gain a new perspective from his insight, and yet he was on the opposite side of the table, convinced that my empathy was in some small manner — therapeutic.  He thought I was doing him the favor.  I’m having trouble writing now.

For another 90 minutes or so, I heard stories and memories and events and perspectives that opened my eyes and broadened my knowledge about what thousands of good men (and women) went through — both over there then and back here later.

I won’t give the man’s name because he insists he’s a private person.  But I suspect there are many, many more veterans like him harboring memories that deserve and must and demand to be shared, real pain and emotional conflict that merits the soothing salve of a kindly ear, a gentle nod at the right instant, and a genuine but simple expression of gratitude.

I wonder how many others are out there now, tight-lipped, sitting in silence.  How many others of this war and that war and all the wars we’ve fought and continue to fight didn’t get the chance to sit down at a wine dinner and speak about what they saw and what they endured and how they survived the madness.  Hundreds?  Thousands?  Tens of thousands?  Why don’t we ask questions and why aren’t we listening?

Yes, the wine dinner was exceptional, but then most of my wine dinners are great.  But this one was of Grand Cru of an exceptional vintage, two souls de-cantered into one.

How blessed I was to have the opportunity to share a dinner with a Vietnam vet, and listen and learn.

__________

Finally, the answer to the question posed in the opening paragraph is — the photograph shows Da Nang, Vietnam.  This is a photograph of Da Nang, formally one of the largest American military installations in South Vietnam, as it looks today.

Times do change.  Places change also.  What should not and must not ever change is our curiosity for history and insatiable compassion for others, even strangers.

This was an evening I shall not soon forget.

 

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Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 4 comments

Donald Trump is a Lying Sociopath

 

 

Donald Trump told yet another jaw-dropping lie on Monday.  During a White House press conference he falsely asserted that former Presidents failed to call or write letters to the grieving families of American soldiers killed in the line of duty.

This is a fucking lie.

The preponderance of evidence proving Trump is a despicable liar is both indisputable and overwhelming.  No one in command of their senses with even a basic knowledge of contemporary events disputes this.  Yet again, as has so often been the case since this political pustule popped onto the surface, Trump repeats fake innuendo but then when pressed reveals he has no clue what he’s talking about.  He is deranged.  Mentally unhinged.  Sociopathic.  Beneath contempt.

Normally, most of us wouldn’t give a flea’s ass if Trump the chronic liar lived anywhere else but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  It wouldn’t matter if the eccentric “billionaire” (yeah, right) was bouncing off the walls of his tacky penthouse at Trump Tower.  If celebrity-obsessed Trump was pimping his contrived reality television show on NBC (the network he now wants off the air) falsely pretending to be a successful business tycoon — we’d all be laughing at him, rolling our eyes, and no one would give a damn.  This lunatic wouldn’t be a public hazard if the swanky swindler was still out there conning gullible investors, which has been his business model ever since the first of multiple bankruptcies when he repeatedly left thousands of suckers holding his smelly bag of dog shit.  Indeed, what rings alarm bells is that 62 million doddering dirt-dumb dimwits somehow swallowed the infected load and elected this superstooge as President.

America, we have a problem.

Yes, Donald Trump is a serial liar.  He’s a political shitstorm, a sick Son of Sam, only without the talking dog for guidance, because even this pathetically lonely loon of a man with no friends utterly incapable of any empathy or affection doesn’t even own a pet.

Does anyone out there not polluted by the poisonous distortions of Breitbart and Bannonism really believe what Donald Trump said yesterday at his Rose Garden press conference?  Does anyone who values truth and honesty really accept Donald Trump’s assertion as fact (quoting him directly), “if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.  A lot of them didn’t make calls.  I like to call when it’s appropriate — when I think I’m able to do it.”

Reality check:  Presidential schedules are closely monitored.  Presidential activities — including everything they say, what write, and who they call — is recorded.

So, is there any truth to former Presidents not displaying compassion for those who made the ultimate sacrifice?  Answer — none.  It’s a lie, propagated by the conspiracy-obsessed haters of the alt-right apparently linked to a bogus 2010 article which (falsely) claimed President Obama failed to contact one of the many grieving families.  Some flunky in the Trump Administration purportedly whispered something into the President’s ear.  Salivating at the prospect of making Obama look bad, Trump decided to run with it, then was hit with the truth and fumbled.

A Google search instantly reveals that the two most recent Presidents — Barack Obama and George W. Bush contacted Gold Star families thousands of times during their respective administrations.  Between 2002 and 2015, countless phone calls were made directly from the Oval Office.  Signed letters on presidential stationary were written, many with handwritten inscriptions directly from the commander-in-chief.  Both former Presidents also made personal visits to the caskets of those who gave their lives.  Innumerable conversations with surviving family members, many in private, are all a matter of the historical record.

No one sane would dare question this.  No one.

Unfortunately, what’s also a matter of the historical record is Donald Trump’s spewing of lies to prop up his fragile ego.  These lies aren’t sporadic, they’re a firestorm.  Lies are told on any occasion, to everyone, at any time — about anything.  His lies transcend simple misinterpretation and the occasional malapropism, which may be forgiven.  Donald Trump’s lies are deliberate.  They are intentional.  They are calculated for a reason.  They are targeted at dopes too lazy to do any fact-checking.  They are feeble attempts to make himself seem as worthy as any of the men who preceded him in office, although by now it’s become painfully obvious the man-infant throwing twitter tantrums harbors some deeply-rooted inferiority issues.

Say what you want and believe what you will about President Barack Obama and his legacy.  Petty partisan bickering becomes irrelevant here.  What’s relevant is 2,500 service members were killed during Obama’s presidency and the fact that virtually all of those families were contacted in some way personally by the President — either by telephone or in writing (or both).  President Obama visited military hospitals at least two dozen times during his eight years in office.  He also paid visits to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor soldiers who returned in flag-draped coffins.

Say what you want and believe what you will about President George W. Bush and his legacy.  Again, petty partisan bickering becomes irrelevant here.  What’s relevant is 6,700 service members were killed during Bush’s presidency and the fact that virtually all of those families were contacted in some way personally by the President — either by telephone or in writing (or both).  President Bush visited military hospitals at least two dozen times during his eight years in office.  He also paid visits to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor soldiers who returned in flag-draped coffins.

Trump lied about Obama.  Trump lied about Bush.  Because he’s mean and vicious and vindictive.  He’s an ugly President and an even uglier person.

Lack of human compassion is a serious problem.  Willful disregard of truth is an even bigger problem.  But this single-minded obsession with Obama is sick.  Compulsively determined to undo every single act over the previous eight years, Trump is a wrecking ball swinging in every direction.  Fortunately, Hoover Dam wasn’t built on Obama’s watch, so that government program won’t get blown up.  Everything else signed into law by Obama has a bullseye and Trump is aiming a bump stock.

Indeed, a more grave concern than Trump’s lack of personal empathy for anyone other than himself is a character flaw that’s been unmasked on multiple occasions.  His self-imposed confinement within an isolation chamber of willful ignorance has become frightening.  If Trump really believed in his own warped mind that former Presidents didn’t bother to contact families of the fallen, then he should have been set straight immediately by someone working on his staff.  Then, he should have been man enough to acknowledge his public misstatement and apologize to the good men who preceded him in office.  Such action would have quickly defused yet another ugly mess.  But Trump didn’t do that.  He wouldn’t do that.  He never apologizes, nor corrects himself.  Ever.

When asked if he plans to make phone calls or write letters to the families who four soldiers killed on duty in Niger, Trump replied, “I’ve written them personal letters.  They’ve been sent or they’re going out tonight — but they were written during the weekend.”

They’re going out tonight.  Nice.  Thanks for the sacrifice, Mr. President.

It’s been two weeks since the soldiers died.

To be fair, being President is a very busy job.  Perhaps Trump didn’t have time until this past weekend to compose letters that might be of some solace and comfort to those who suffered an unbearable loss.  Writing to the families of the dead isn’t easy.  Making phone calls and speaking with people who are crying is even harder.  But each of his predeccesors wrote thousands of personalized letters.  Both of his predeccesors made an incalculable number of painful phone calls.

Meanwhile, within just the past two weeks, since those brave soldiers died, Trump actions reveal he was preoccupied with far more pressing personal concerns.  Trump’s wasted countless hours obsessing over the behavior of football players.  He tweeted on multiple occasions promoting some horrid Fox television show called “Judge Jeanine.”  He visited his golf resort in Sterling, VA — five times.

 

READ MORE:  CRITICIZED FOR NOT COMMENTING ON SOLDIER KILLED IN ACTION, TRUMP FALSELY SAYS OBAMA DID EVEN LESS

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Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

We Don’t Need More Prayers, We Need Tougher Gun Laws

 

 

Another mass shooting.  More bloodshed.  More death.  More agony.

And, of course, more thoughts and prayers.

Sigh.

Tragedy and suffering have become a national epidemic.  During the past month, America has endured three terrible storms which created mass destruction and many deaths.

But this tragedy was something very different.  The killings which took place at a country-music concert in Las Vegas were concocted and carried out by a human being.  The disaster wasn’t a natural act.  It was man-made.  Hence, the tragedy was preventable.

The current debate about man-made climate change notwithstanding, there’s not much we can do to stop forces of nature.  Storms happen.  But we can and we must do everything we can to prevent massacres initiated by one human being upon others.  We must try and stop it.  A civil society, particularly America which is such a statistical outlier when it comes to gun violence, not only faces a decision to act now, it has an obligation to do so.  This is assuming that we really do value human life, which is very much an open question.  Question:  Do we really possess the moral and political courage to stand up to powerful forces who are de facto co-conspirators in this pandemic of mass death?

I’m not so sure.

Instead, and in place of action, there are relentless empty words.  Thoughts and prayers are nothing more than a sweet-sounding Hallmark card, only they’re cheaper and not nearly as sentimental.  At least sending a Hallmark card to someone suffering inconsolable pain is a tangible act.  By contrast, thoughts and prayers ring hollow.  Thoughts and prayers are a cowardly abdication of greater responsibility if not linked to something more meaningful.  It’s like offering to help your pal move out of his apartment but secretly hoping he’s already hired a moving company.

If prayers really worked, some nutjob wouldn’t have hammered out the windows on the 32nd floor of a luxury hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and then starting shooting upon a crowd in the first place.  If prayers were effective, no benevolent celestial divinity overseeing the vast universe would have remained asleep at the wheel, emotionally isolated and criminally idle for ten full minutes, all while bullets rained down onto a defenseless cluster of terrified innocents.  Expressing “thoughts and prayers” to some imaginary do-nothing sky wizard in the aftermath of such tragedy isn’t just pointless.  It’s offensive.

Thoughts and prayers are offensive because they detract us, some by intention, from the very relevant discussion and debate we should all be having, instead.  Thoughts and prayers are a smokescreen.  Yes, perhaps there is a time for thoughts and prayers — later.  At funerals.  Do the prayers there.  There will be at least 59 funerals happening in the next week or so.  So, pray there.  Pray at remembrances intended to give comfort to relatives and survivors.  Pray there, if you want — all you want.  But the terrible aftermath of preventable tragedies aren’t assuaged by empty words tweeted and posted on public forums, even if well-intended.  Evil is eradicated, or at least diminished, by acts of courage and specific action.

Gun-fellating ostriches will protest “politicising the tragedy,” an all-too-convenient reflex I’ve already read dozens of times this morning posted all over social media.  But if this — the deadliest mass shooting in American history — doesn’t motivate us to do something now, then what will?  A hundred deaths?  A thousand?  Twenty more mass shootings?  What if your relative or friend was caught in the crossfire of some wacko blasting a high-powered assault weapon armed with thousands of rounds of ammunition?  Pray tell, — what will it take?

Quoting Sarah Q. Queen from Facebook, who said it best:

“Saying not to politicize this is the single most political thing you can do.  Anyone who has lost family or friends to an assault rifle wants nothing more than to prevent subsequent murders, and the only way to do that is to stop allowing access.  Now is the second best time, the best time being quite a few years ago.  So stop politicizing and get out of the way of doing what’s best.”

Want to honor the victims of this tragedy, or one of the innumerable tragedies which have taken place before?  Better yet, want to try and prevent another tragedy which is otherwise sure to come?  How about this:  Let’s update our gun laws.  Let’s start with gun registration.  Hell, let’s start with restricting guns getting into the hands of mentally disturbed people.  Yeah, that would be a good place to start.  But we can’t even agree on something this simple.  The last time federal legislation was proposed to restrict gun purchases to mentally ill people, the National Rifle Association and its faithful foot soldiers stepped in and killed the bill.  What kind of sick perverted society allows this?  What sicko wants to allow someone with mental problems to, gulp!, buy guns?

Apparently, there are about 4 million sickos.  That’s the number of active NRA members.

Note that I don’t propose getting rid of all guns, even though that’s pretty much what the rest of the civilized world has done where mass shootings simply do not happen.  People can keep a gun in the house for self-protection or perhaps even carry a weapon.  It’s a very valid point that people should have the right to protect themselves, and that right extends to legally buying a gun.

But if we’re going to sell guns to tens of millions of people from all walks of life, shouldn’t there be some minimal level of scrutiny as to who buys them?  Should anyone out there be legally able to buy a dozen potentially deadly high-powered assault rifles plus thousands of rounds of ammunition?  For what purpose?  Shouldn’t this be a red flag?  Sure, many private gun collectors who are good people and there are valid reasons for some citizens to own many guns.  Indeed, we can live in a reasonably peaceful society where we have both — tougher gun laws along with maintaining the right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment.

We require licenses and insurance for people to drive cars, and there are plenty of good reasons for this.  No sane person would argue against requiring drivers to show competency before getting behind the wheel of a car.  We also require restaurants to obtain licenses and adhere to safety inspections.  Again, no sane person would argue against requiring food servers to demonstrate clean and safe practices.  Our government even requires many professions — doctors, dentists, insurance salesmen, financial planners, and so forth to be licensed.  Even hair stylists must obtain a license before they can cut hair.  If we demand the person who does haircuts for a living have a license, shouldn’t we require someone who walks into a gun store and purchases a deadly assault weapon to not only to meet some standard of mental competency but also attend a basic training course on gun safety?  Bartenders in many states are required to attend courses on alcohol safety.  Is anyone really shocked that a nation with much stronger laws restricting who gives haircuts and serves beer than buys a deadly rifle has a rampant problem with gun violence?

I mean, WAKE THE FUCK UP!

Most gun owners are responsible people and good citizens.  However, 33,000 gun deaths per year, on average in the United States, plus another 100,000 or so non-fatal accidents is a collective scream for immediate action.  That’s not acceptable breakage for any sane society that values human life.  That’s re-fighting the Vietnam War every two years.  Think of that.  Based on the number gun deaths and accidents in America, we are re-fighting the Vietnam War every 24 months.  Now as then, we are losing another costly and preventable war. 

Anyone who seriously believes last night’s Las Vegas Mandalay Bay tragedy is the final mass shooting is hopelessly naive.  No doubt, there will be more shootings in the future.  More shootings will take place given that gun laws are unlikely to change anytime soon.  And so, we are destined to endure far more preventable deaths, that is, so long as this nation remains foolishly wielded to outdated gun policies that were written when the most deadly weapon in the world was an infantryman’s musket.

Since the Second Amendment was written into the United States Constitution, technology has changed.  America has changed.  So too, our laws much change also.

And if you still want to pray — then please go ahead and pray.  But while you’re remembering the innocent victims, also pray for some sensible gun laws in America.  That’s a prayer where I’d willingly bow my head in complete agreement.

 

Postscript:  I would be terribly remiss were I not to add that we need to spend far more and do far more for mental health in this country.  But instead, we are cutting services to agencies which deal with mental health problems.  We will never know if mass murders like this terribly disturbed individual might have cried for help and not been given the treatment which could have prevented another senseless tragedy.

 

 

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Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Respect versus Disrespect

 

 

I’ve attended hundreds of sporting events at the college and pro level.  This means I’ve witnessed the customary pre-game rendition of the national anthem more times than I can count in dozens of cities and stadiums all over the country.

I find it puzzling to see those who vehemently criticize pro football players for taking a knee being labeled as “disrespectful.”  The protestors are “disrespecting the flag” is a popular accusation that’s been raised all over social media.  The president has even jumped into the melee, and typically as has been his doing, he’s made the issue far more incendiary for the country he presumably governs.

However, based on my experiences observing the national anthem played at games, of all major sports, there does seem to be quite a bit of hypocrisy going on.  I’ve seen countless numbers of fans — of all ages, in different parts of the country, both male and female — talking out loud during the anthem.  I’ve seen countless numbers of fans texting on cellphones during the anthem.  I’ve seen countless numbers of fans eating during the anthem.  I’ve seen countless numbers of fans drinking beer during the anthem.  Fact is, lots of sports fans behave like spoiled oafs.  To me, that’s disrespect.

Meanwhile, concession stands don’t stop serving food, even though it’s just two minutes of music.  Fans don’t stop streaming into the stadium taking their seats just prior to kickoff.  Life pretty much goes on normally off-the-field while the players on-the-field — EVEN THOSE PLAYERS ENGAGED PROTEST — observe a respectful moment of silence while “The Star Spangled Banner” gets played.  Mind you, these pro athletes kneeling on the sidelines aren’t walking around, laughing amongst themselves, talking out loud, or eating or drinking.  Their decision to kneel illustrates a very different kind of “stand,” and a courageous one at that.  Seems pretty respectful to me.

Since when is kneeling, staying silent, and pondering a calm moment of reflection during the national anthem considered “disrespectful,” while thousands of half-wasted fans wearing faux-team jerseys guzzle down another brew and blabber in conversation over the sound of trumpets?  Explain that to me, please.

And then, there are the real hypocrites of this debate.  Millions of flakey so-called patriots watch these games at home, sprawled out on their sofas….or gathered in bars….or hanging out inside casino sportsbooks.  Don’t even get me started here on such blatant sanctimoniousness.  Rarely have I ever seen anyone stand at attention during the national anthem.  Actually, it’s more like never — except for the Super Bowl spectacle, which is the most viewed rendition of the song every year.  Fact is, when the anthem is shown on TV, most patriotic sports fans are rushing to the refrigerator or flushing toilets.  Please, what was that again you were saying about — disrespecting the flag?

Some insist the league and/or team owners can (or perhaps should) require that all players adhere to a “code of conduct” which would include things like observing patriotic loyalty.  I see this as a grotesque violation of basic rights, even in the workplace.  Keep in mind that those who stand during the anthem are also very much engaged in a political expression of sorts.  So, if one act is authorized, so too must be the other act.  The league nor owners cannot require its employees to hold a certain political view or behave in a certain way.  Either leave the anthem as it is and let players react in their own way, or abolish it entirely from games.  It cannot nor should not be grounds for some litmus test of team or country loyalty.

There’s absolutely nothing whatsoever patriotic nor honorable about forced coercion in a public place, demanding that citizens living in a free republic all march lock, stock, and barrel to the same drum beat.  That’s not honoring anything.  That’s not patriotism.  To me, that’s an Orwellian nightmare.  That’s the very definition of a totalitarian state which demands strict conformity and blind obedience, which is an anathema to all those (especially conservatives) who claim to be defenders of our personal freedom and the champion of individual rights.

Once again, I guess their twisted interpretation of “freedom” extends only to the viewpoints they share.  Here’s a lesson worth remembering:  Patriotism means something very different to each and every one of us.  We are granted that marvelous right to exercise the manifestation of those varying convictions in different ways — if we so choose.  That goes for you.  It goes for me.  It goes for NFL players, too.

It’s not often I say this given the deteriorating state of sports and entertainment in this country, but watching so many players exercising their rights today, I was proud again — proud to be both a football fan and proud of what this country represents at its best moments.

Thanks to those who stood up and/or kneeled on behalf of what they believe is right.  They deserve respect.  Not the critics who profess to be patriots telling the rest of us what to do and how we should act.  Those who criticize others exercising their rights disrespect the very foundations of a free society.

 

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Posted by on Sep 22, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 1 comment

A Maverick Defined

 

 

Just now, I went and looked up the word “maverick.”

The definition is as follows:  “an unorthodox or independent-minded person.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been labeled a “maverick” off and on during much of his four decades in public life.  He once championed campaign finance reform, which boldly went against the leadership of his own political party.  For many years he was pro-choice on abortion, that is until his ill-fated presidential run mandated a grimacing flip-flop.  He spoke out passionately against the controversial practice of America using torture as an instrument against terrorism, in stark opposition to the thundering rhetoric of a Republican administration and a constituency of chicken-hawk voters back home in Arizona bridled with proxy patriotism.

However, Sen. McCain’s most surprising maverick moment was revealed much more recently, during the bitter fight to preserve health care coverage for millions of American citizens.

We saw Sen. McCain, the American hero, in evidence a few months ago during one shining praiseworthy moment at the 2 am curtain call during what was believed to be the final desperate act of the despicable Republican dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law six years ago under President Obama.  Ironically, the man who endured something of a political humiliation by President Obama may become the deciding voice of history who ends up preserving one of the most important landmarks of the former president’s legacy.  Sen. McCain’s actions will go just as far in preserving another commendable political legacy — and that is his own.  Indeed, Sen. McCain’s thumbs down vote may have saved 30 million people in this country from being tossed into the streets.  We shall remember.  [READ:  JOHN MCCAIN’S GLORIOUS REVENGE]

Today, Sen. McCain announced his intention to vote against the latest three-card monte legislation hastily shuffled together and dealt by Republicans who are intentionally trying to fool millions of minions into believing that health care should be a privilege rather than a basic human right.  In fact, four Republican senators are currently expected to oppose Graham-Cassidy bill, as proposed, which is rife with tumors.  Provided this fragile legislative alliance holds together somehow for at least another week, that could mean a final crowning victory for Obamacare’s permanency.  Hopefully, it will also ignite a much-needed revival of the universal health care debate, which could become a reality if the Democrats don’t blow the next election (again).

Sen. McCain is a multi-faceted politician and clearly a flawed man.  Looking back now in what’s indisputably the twilight of his life, it bears remembering what sacrifices he’s made and the high price he’s paid for the occasional lapse or miscalculation.  But if history teaches us anything it’s that we usually remember the outliers to our expectations.  We forget the goose-steppers of history.  We admire and sometimes later honor the few lonely brave who chose to go in another direction and march to a different beat, especially when that beat leads us to become better people and a greater society.

To be clear, there are many things I still do not like about Sen. John McCain.  However, for those who champion the idea of true political independence, for those who wish more of our representatives would vote their conscience over petty partisanship, and for those who long for an unlikely hero in an incompetent power structure where so few actual heroes exist, Sen. McCain has come to personify a rarified political and personal courage.

Sen. John McCain was, is, and shall always be a maverick.

 

 

 

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