Since 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged participants to write an atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel.

“She sauntered into his smoke-filled office with legs that, although they didn’t go quite all the way to heaven, definitely went high enough for him to see that she was a giraffe.”

“Handsome French policeman, Andre Poiret, grappled with the puffed-up albino hitman, who was about to shoot the beautiful high-class call girl, Gigi Lamour, who was taking a shower in her apartment, with his big gun.”

“When Sir John of York fought in the crusades, he killed many Saracens with great dispatch, and was likened unto a whirling dervish of steel and Christian might—minus the dizziness from constantly spinning in a circle, and the fact that he was on a horse that couldn’t do that.”

LaPorta is a former Marine.

“Prior to journalism, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a infantry rifleman. From 2006 until 2014, Mr. LaPorta worked in multiple leadership billets, serving as a infantry squad leader, a combat marksmanship instructor and an intelligence cell chief. He deployed multiple times to Afghanistan.”

LaPorta did not believe Goldberg’s story when he read it. Then he started calling his contacts and found it that the story was accurate down the line. There are now six sources confirming the story: four of Goldberg’s, two of LaPorta’s. (They may overlap, so the total may be as low as four, but no lower.)

As I understand it, Gen. Kelly has declined to comment publicly on the story.

Some of those “losers and suckers” simply didn’t have the options afforded to Trump. There was a draft through the Vietnam era. Many of those conscripted in Vietnam, for example, were poor kids who had no money for college, and had no access to a pliable family doctor who could excuse them for bone spurs. They simply had to go, as Trump would have, had he not had a zillionaire father.

It’s also important to understand how such comments by a U.S. President might undermine his own authority. Those “losers and suckers” had many reasons for doing what they did, but the immediate and direct reason for both draftees and volunteers was that they were obeying orders from a line of command that ultimately traces back to the commander-in-chief. Trump is basically arguing that obeying the President is for “losers and suckers.”

In his brilliantly crafted response, Trump lied and said he never called John McCain a loser. (He did – and tweeted about it!)

Full disclosure on personal bias: I never served in the military, only because of a high lottery number. I was thrilled to avoid Vietnam, but I am highly grateful to those who serve on behalf of my country, thus taking risks to make my life safer. In fact, one of my sons is a career military man currently serving as an O-5.