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John McCain for whom the bell now tolls, RIP

Sunday, August 26th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a small but necessary personal tribute, along with corroborating witnesses for the details and more ]
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McCain limps home, from Hanoi to freedom:

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I want to say a quick word about John McCain, may his echoes remain long among us, before culling some significant images and quotes from other sources. I came late to my knowledge of the man, but when I arrived there, the two matters that most impressed me were:

First, that when after a couple of years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese he was offered release, he refused it and opted consciously for years more of the same unless his fellow POWs were also released, in accord with Article III of the Military Code of Conduct to “accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.” That was an act of almost unbelievable courage ..

**

In more detail, from elsewhere:

The protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is Robert Jordan, a young American who left his job to fight with the Republican side, against the Nazi-supported Nationalists, in the Spanish Civil War. He never loses sight of his objective — the demolition of a bridge — despite doubts about whether the mission is necessary or even possible. He hates fascism and feels a profound sense of duty to oppose it.

John McCain, who died Saturday in Arizona after a 14-month fight against brain cancer, always said this 1940 novel about guerrilla warfare was his favorite and that its hero was a source of inspiration throughout his life — even as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

  • Yahoo, The bell tolls for John McCain: How Hemingway’s antifascist hero shaped the man
  • The crew on the carrier Forrestal put out a fire that killed 134 men in the worst noncombat incident in American naval history. Mr. McCain was seriously injured. Credit: U.S. Navy, via Associated Press

    *

    Promoted to lieutenant commander in early 1967, Mr. McCain requested combat duty and was assigned to the carrier Forrestal, operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. Its A-4E Skyhawk warplanes were bombing North Vietnam in the campaign known as Operation Rolling Thunder. He flew five missions.

    Then, on July 29, 1967, he had just strapped himself into his cockpit on a deck crowded with planes when a missile fired accidentally from another jet struck his 200-gallon exterior fuel tank, and it exploded in flames. He scrambled out, crawled onto the plane’s nose, dived onto a deck seething with burning fuel and rolled away until he cleared the flames.

    As he stood up, other aircraft and bomb loads exploded on deck. He was hit in the legs and chest by burning shrapnel. At one point, the Forrestal skipper considered abandoning ship. When the fire was finally brought under control, 134 men had been killed in the worst noncombat incident in American naval history.

  • New York Times, John McCain, War Hero, Senator, Presidential Contender, Dies at 81
  • Those who escape unscathed from such close calls are marked for life.

    And then there’s so much more..

    Mr. McCain, center, after he ejected from his fighter plane in 1967 and fell into a lake. The Vietnamese imprisoned and tortured him for more than five years. Credit: Library of Congress

    *

    Mr. McCain was stripped to his skivvies, kicked and spat upon, then bayoneted in the left ankle and groin. A North Vietnamese soldier struck him with his rifle butt, breaking a shoulder. A woman tried to give him a cup of tea as a photographer snapped pictures. Carried to a truck, Mr. McCain was driven to Hoa Lo, the prison compound its American inmates had labeled the Hanoi Hilton.

  • New York Times, John McCain, War Hero, Senator, Presidential Contender, Dies at 81
  • McCain’s conduct during nearly six years in a North Vietnamese prison, the infamous Hanoi Hilton, had become the stuff of legend. In 1968, less than a year after his Navy bomber was shot down, the imprisoned McCain was abruptly offered unconditional release by the North Vietnamese, perhaps because his father had just been named the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. McCain was still badly crippled from his crash and the poor medical treatment that followed, yet he adhered to the P.O.W. code of honor and refused to be repatriated ahead of American prisoners who had been in captivity longer than he. His refusal was adamant. His guard told him, “Now, McCain, it will be very bad for you.” He was tortured for his defiance, and ultimately spent more than two years in solitary confinement.

  • New Yorker, The True Nature of John McCain’s Heroism
  • Years later, as McCain reflected on this period, he said he held no ill will toward his captors. “I don’t blame them. We’re in a war,” McCain said in a separate interview with C-SPAN in 2017. “I didn’t like it, but at the same time when you are in a war and you are captured by the enemy, you can’t expect to have tea,” McCain said.

  • NPR, From A POW Prison, John McCain Emerged A ‘Maverick’
  • Honestly, the fact that he’s spent so much time in Trump’s crosshairs should arguably serve as a clue that the guy’s integrity might be above average on Capitol Hill whether you happen to agree with his positions or not.

  • Paste, HBO’s Valedictory John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls Is Not a Puff Piece
  • **

    Second, that he continued his opposition to the torture of others throughout his life ..

    Others may speak of McCain from close personal acquaintance, or with a deeper historical awareness of his life and service, but what little I can say, I can say with deep sincerity and respect:

    The man had guts — courage — nobility. Here was a man of whom the Senate and all America can and should be justifiably proud.

    A soccer tactic and its parliamentary analog

    Friday, July 13th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — a Croatian filibuster on the football field ]
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    In extra time, Croatia’s Mario Mandžuki? had a nine-minute, operatic breakdown, a syncopated series of stops, starts, and seizures, which defined the match and took it away from England.

    I jeep looking for sports metaphors in political reportage, and now, in a New Yorker article titled World Cup 2018: The Tragicomic Opera of Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic I find out all about players feigning cramps as a delaying tactic when games go into overtime —

    — and it’s a clear analog of the Senate’s filibuster tactic. Either one could be a metaphor for the other, soccer for politics or vide versa.

    **

    Sources:

  • New Yorker, The Tragicomic Opera of Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic
  • US Senate, Filibuster and Cloture
  • **

    Oh, and, The England vs. Croatia World Cup Match Made for Some Awkward Television:

    One segment of the pre-game show was given over to a National Geographic Channel report on Russian Buddhism. If this was intended as outreach to soccer fans so ardent that they always burn in suffering, then perhaps it did some spiritual good. But, as an effort at a culture-enriching sideshow, it was unsuccessful, so out of sync with the analysis and hype surrounding it as to be charming. The correspondent said to the monk, “O.K., so, if everything is an illusion, what’s truth, then?”

    I couldn’t exactly miss that, given my interests, could I?

    My heart goes out .. on both sides of the aisle

    Saturday, July 29th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — Senators Hirono, McCain — and death shall have no dominion ]
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    You have probably seen Sen. John McCain‘s speech, so I’ll begin with Sen. Mazie Hirono. She too, like McCain, has a severe cancer diagnosis, she too flew in to vote, she too made an impassoned speech on thr Senate floor. Here’s a clip from her speech:

    Here, from the other wise of the aisle, with similar dignity and depth, is McCain:

    **

    And death shall have no dominion

    And death shall have no dominion.
    Dead man naked they shall be one
    With the man in the wind and the west moon;
    When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
    They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
    Though they go mad they shall be sane,
    Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
    Though lovers be lost love shall not;
    And death shall have no dominion.

    And death shall have no dominion.
    Under the windings of the sea
    They lying long shall not die windily;
    Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
    Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
    Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
    And the unicorn evils run them through;
    Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
    And death shall have no dominion.

    And death shall have no dominion.
    No more may gulls cry at their ears
    Or waves break loud on the seashores;
    Where blew a flower may a flower no more
    Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
    Though they be mad and dead as nails,
    Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
    Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
    And death shall have no dominion.

    Dylan Thomas

    More to the somewhat right, Zenpundit

    Friday, June 9th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — second of two posts ]
    .

    And here’s the second of two posts, one from myself and one from Zen, both about today’s Comey testimony — in an initial attempt at balance in response to our friend Scott observing:

    This blog has been getting a little partisan since November…can we go back to being a little more objective?

    I don’t suppose Zen will mind my making a post of it here, since he posted it en plein air / en clair on FaceBook himself:

    **

    The Comey testimony is amazing on a number of levels.

    My initial read is that the President didn’t obstruct justice in a legal sense but his actions in attempting to influence the investigation of General Flynn provide more than a theoretical ground for an article of impeachment.

    Historically that is not going to get you a conviction in the Senate by itself. Not even in a Democratic Senate, without other articles and clear evidence supporting them. Which is why Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton finished their terms after being impeached and Richard Nixon resigned even before articles could be voted upon.

    The GOP has a POTUS who is out of control in the sense that he won’t accept normal staff assistance and advice to avoid transgressing obvious red lines in the daily conduct of his office.

    The last administration inappropriately tried to influence Comey in an investigation too – but note that the President personally didn’t wheedle him. There’s good reasons he didn’t. While the type of convo between Comey and Trump was common with J. Edgar Hoover and US Presidents, ever since Watergate this has been understood to be suspect behavior at best and a red line to be avoided.

    If Trump continues as he has done he will soon be in dire straits and all the complaints about hyper partisan media and Never Trump/Obama mole leakers will not matter, no matter how accurate

    More to the somewhat left, Cameron

    Friday, June 9th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — first of two posts ]
    .

    Our friend Scott just observed:

    This blog has been getting a little partisan since November…can we go back to being a little more objective?

    Here’s the first of two posts in an initial attempt at balance, one from myself and one from Zen, both about today’s Comey testimony.

    **

    Was this the day a boil burst?

    Was this the day a boil burst on the neck of universe?
    Universe is too large,
    even solar system exaggerates,
    Jove Pater may be keeping a paternal eye on us,
    there may even be villages in New Guinea
    where John Frum is the news topic of the day,
    but as Dan Rather just said of Comey’s testimony,
    This scene is going to be written about fifty, a hundred,
    two hundred years from now; there’s something
    Shakespearean about it, in more current terms,
    House of Cards..

    My mind drifted from the Comey hearings,
    and came back, I wondered where it had gone, given
    the intensity of the moment,
    volcanic maybe, though all moments
    have seemingly a sort of priority in their own times
    like a balcony in Escher bulging because,
    well, because he’s seeing it, making it his focus..
    My mind must have wandered,
    that’s the metaphor, down to the banks of Lethe,
    dipped in, gotten ah somehow baptized,
    deep baptized,
    so that Lethe, the banks of Lethe,
    the steps leading down to the banks of Lethe
    all vanished, all submerged,
    gone down into oblivion, known
    only because once there was mind on Comey
    and I woke to mind gone.

    Pure Buddhism, pure any meditative practice..
    Mind here, gone,
    and meanwhile the volcano,
    Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, boil,
    has burst,
    spewed forth evidence Mueller
    like a small planetary Jove Pater can work with
    in his own moments volcanic —
    just an American,
    or not quite only an American Jove Pater —
    manwhile, Trump ever Mercurial,
    Comey stellar..

    Speaking of stars, whoah!
    Catastrophe,
    meaning literally: a downward-turning of the stars.


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