The Manufactured McCain: Lifting Up A Bloodstained, Lying, Venal Servant Of Capitalist Empire

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Above Photo: Flickr/NHPR

The Manufactured McCain and the Real McCain

There’s a real John Sidney McCain III and there’s a fake one, manufactured for the public relations of US empire. Imperial PR needs to justify, even sanctify the ecocidal and genocidal rule of the rich by portraying its servants not as the venal and bloodthirsty thieves they are, but as the brightest, the best, the most noble and deserving among us. The Manufactured McCain whom the corporate media will spend another week on top of the previous one lifting up to the heavens bears only passing resemblance to the real John McCain. The real McCain was no hero. He was a lying, bribe taking, neo-nazi sympathizing politician and war criminal, who served the US empire and himself for all of his long life.

By 1904 the US had coveted Panama, the northernmost province of Colombia for some time. US global ambitions dictated the need for a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The French had already tried to build the canal and failed at a cost of billions in today’s money and 22,000 dead – black laborers recruited from around the Caribbean who mostly perished from disease. When the Colombian government refused to simply hand Panama over on US terms, President Teddy Roosevelt sent down a battleship or two and some Colombians in Washington DC were recruited to declare independence. The US immediately recognized the government of the new republic, which granted Washington the power do do pretty much whatever they liked. Like the French before them, the North Americans imported tens of thousands of black labors – not their families, only the laborers – from around the Caribbean to build the canal, and they imposed a vicious southern US-style Jim Crow regime upon what they called the Canal Zone. Another 6,000 black laborers and a few hundred whites died building the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914.

The real John McCain was born in 1936 in US occupied Panama, which the empire’s law at the time considered an “unincorporated territory of the US .” That’s why McCain never took part in the Republican birther craze, which falsely claims that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and why the Manufactured McCain never talked much about his birthplace.

The real John McCain spent many childhood summers at Teoc, the 2,000 acre Carroll County Mississippi plantation which belonged to his great great grandfather Dr. William Alexander McCain. The antebellum McCains once owned at least 52 slaves who made their masters quite wealthy raising corn and cotton. There are still black McCains in Carroll County whose ancestors were owned by white McCains with whom they neither claim nor deny any blood kinship. The black McCains hold a family reunion every other year, and though they did invite Senator McCain he never attended. One of William Alexander McCain’s grandsons made brigadier general in the US Army, and another, Henry Pinkney McCain was a US Army major general. A third of Dr. McCain’s grandsons was Senator McCain’s grandfather, a 4 star US Navy Admiral. His son, Senator McCain’s father was also a 4 star US Navy admiral. Their ancestors include officers in the American Revolutions related to the family of George Washington.

Despite the real McCain’s military-aristocratic lineage and those childhood summers on the plantation, the Manufactured McCain campaigning for president in 2000 ridiculously claimed he didn’t think his family had ever owned any slaves. Reporters had to produce documents with the names and descriptions of 52 McCain plantation slaves before the Manufactured McCain acknowledged his family had been slaveholders. “ It makes sense… I didn’t know that,” he reportedly said.

The manufactured war hero VS the real accident-prone pilot.

The Manufactured McCain sometimes called himself a “fighter pilot.” That’s not what the US Navy called the Real McCain. In navy language, fighter pilots are the elite of the elite, the ones who fight other planes in the air. The Real McCain flew ground attack aircraft, which in Vietnam meant bombing mostly undefended civilian ground targets.

The real McCain was a slipshod and reckless pilot who totaled 3 aircraft in incidents where navy investigators pinned the cause of the crash upon lapses in pilot’s judgment, in each and every case contradicting the Real McCain’s official reports of those accidents. A 2008 Los Angeles Times article titled “McCain’s Mishaps in the Cockpit by Ralph Vartabedian and Richard A. Serrano examines the Real McCain’s 3 plane crashes in some detail. Aircraft are not cheap, and it’s hard to believe any military on earth allows pilots with three at-fault plane crashes to keep his wings. That is, unless you’re US Navy royalty, the son and the grandson of admirals. Decades later, as a politician writing one or another version of his autobiography the Manufactured McCain was more truthful, describing a 1961 incident in which he flew into power lines in southern Spain causing a local blackout, as “daredevil clowning.” He managed to bring the plane back to the carrier that time, trailing ten feet of power line, so that didn’t count among the Real McCain’s at-fault plane crashes.

McCain was assigned to Yankee station off the coast of North Vietnam where he took part in Operation Rolling Thunder, the US code name for 31 months of the bombing of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and killed tens of thousands of civilians at the very least. McCain flew 27 ground attack missions before being shot down in October 1967 trying to bomb a Hanoi power plant. Many have argued that bombing undefended civilian targets is a war crime. That’s certainly the way the Vietnamese viewed the matter, and they subjected the already seriously injured McCain and other downed US pilots to close confinement and torture. His own mistreatment during 5 years as a prisoner of war was the reason why Senator John McCain would later publicly disagree with 21st century US policy that publicly embraced the idea of torture.

When the Vietnamese discovered that McCain was US Navy royalty, they sensibly offered him early release ahead of pilots captured before him. Just as sensibly, he refused the offer, and the manufactured narrative of John McCain as the heroic prisoner of war began to be established, and since has been added to many times by his own writing and speeches and by others connected to actual events and not. Released after five and a half years imprisonment, he was already a kind of celebrity. McCain remained in the Navy several years after his release. His final Navy assignment was US Navy liaison to the Senate. During this time he divorced his first wife and married Cindy Hensley, daughter of one of the biggest beer distributors in the country. Hobnobbing with politicians and military contractors seemed to suit him, so he left the navy in 1981, as Jeff Gates put, cashing in his war hero chits to start a political career.

The Manufactured McCain: the straight talking war hero as venal bribe taking politician.

While still in the Navy McCain had campaigned for Ronald Reagan vigorously enough to earn warnings from his superiors, and to be a frequent guest of honor at Reagan dinners. He moved to Arizona to campaign for Congress. According to Jeff Gates’ book Guilt By Association: How Deception and Self Deceit Took America to War, his wife received a gift of $689,000 from her wealthy family just before or at the beginning of his congressional run, which probably enabled him to lend his own campaign $167,000. McCain’s prenuptial agreement allowed him to omit his wife’s multimillion dollar income and holdings from public financial disclosures.

Fresh from his insider stint as Reagan’s favorite dinner guest Navy liaison to the Senate he campaigned as the straight talking political outsider and war hero, winning election in 1982. and again 1984. As expected, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, who’d been the 1968 Republican presidential candidate retired in 1986 and McCain won the seat. Among the early investors in McCain’s political career was a Phoenix millionaire Charles Keating who got in on the ground floor. According to Gates in the aforementioned book:

Keating family members and employees made 40 donations to his first congressional campaign, at least 32 to his second… no less than 45 when ran for the Senate in 1986…

The McCains made 9 vacation trips on a jet owned by Keating’s company including … trips to Keating’s posh resort in the Bahamas. Only after the S&L scandal years later did McCain reimburse Keating…

McCain’s wife and father in law invested $359,000 in a Keating shopping mall deal. Their profit remains unknown.”

In 1984 Keating bought a California savings and loan with 26 branches. Under Presidents Carter and Reagan restrictions on how and what savings and loan institutions could invest had been repeatedly loosened. Keating was one who pushed even these limits and purchased legislators by the pocketful to sometimes meet directly with federal regulators to argue his case. The so-called Keating Five were a handful of senators receiving $1.3 million in contributions, of which McCain got $112,000. They met with federal regulators on a number of occasions, and according to one regulator, argued Keating’s case like defense lawyers. Republican John McCain was one of these, along with Democrats John Glenn and Alan Cranston and two others.

A few years later, 1,038 Savings and Loan institutions went belly-up, causing the savings of hundreds of thousand to vanish overnight, and the fund which supposedly insured them unable to cover the losses. The $150 billion savings and loan scandal was the biggest financial crisis in recent history till the crash of 2007-2008 and bribes paid to the real McCain were directly instrumental to making it happen. McCain was to spend 32 years in the Senate, and became the go-to guy for a galaxy of military contractors, telecoms, Big Ag, Big Real Estate, Big Pharma, Big Energy and more, and the Manufactured McCain ran for president in 2000 and 2008.

From 1992 till weeks before his death John McCain served as chairman of the International Republican Institute, a US government funded organization that interferes in the political processes of scores of other countries, training rebel groups to overthrow inconvenient elected governments, like that of John Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and many others. McCain and the IRI were prominent backers of neo-nazi politicians and armed militia groups in Ukraine who are now part of that country’s army and civilian government. To be fair, the Obama administration and Democrat Hillary Clinton were big backers and enablers of the same forces. After all this is the US, where we do have two government parties to choose from, not just one as in some backward and benighted places. Democrats and many in the so-called resistance are throwing flowers at the grave of John McCain. It’s a bipartisan thing.

During his 32 years in the US Senate, the real John McCain was a consistent warmonger, advocating US military intervention in Africa, South America, Korea, and almost everywhere. He sang “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” before a veterans group, and called demonstrators against Henry Kissinger “despicable scum.” The record of his public calls for coups, invasions, blockades, bombings and assassinations to advance US military and economic domination of the planet is far too long to list.

All this explains why corporate media are lifting up their whitewashed and manufactured version of John McCain. He’s one of their own, a genuine war criminal and loyal servant of capital. Lifting him up, creating and embellishing his heroic story lifts up and legitimizes the rule of the rich. Now they’ll be looking for parks, schools and airports to name after him. Just as the elementary school in Aaron Magruder’s Boondocks was named after J. Edgar Hoover, we’ll soon see John McCain’s name staring back at us from what little public property is left. Get ready for it.

Don’t forget that since Black Agenda Report was accused 3 years ago of being under Russian influence, Google and other corporate social media have suppressed the appearance of our content in search results. So the only way you can be certain you’re getting fresh news commentary and analysis from the black left, as we’ve offered the last 13 years is dark social media – email. Go to and hit the subscribe button to receive our content each week by direct email, which Facebook and Google cannot block and be sure to share it with friends and others by email. Give Black Agenda Radio and Black Agenda Radio commentaries a good review and rating on iTunes while you’re at it, please. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon.

  • chetdude

    Test – I’ve been censored today at Alternet. Trying to see if I can post here…

  • chetdude

    Apparently I can…

    I guess it’s just Alternet – the MSDNC of the internet that can’t handle the heat…

    Although something is funky at Disqus since my latest posts over the last 4 days don’t show up in Disqus…

  • kevinzeese

    Nothing that we are aware of here.

  • mwildfire

    I’m not inclined to subscribe to BAR because I assume I will keep getting their stuff via Popular Resistance–right?

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    AlterNet has gone over to the dark side. They employ something called “ghost banning”. You will be able to see your comments, but nobody else will be able to. To check for ghost banning, just use another browser without logging into DISQUS, and see if your comments are still visible to you.

    They consider you a spammer, which actually exposes their low character.

  • David Rubinson

    no. Subscribe to BAR. They are being suppressed, and need all the support they deserve.

  • Margaret Flowers

    Popular Resistance does not re-post all of BAR’s content, so we advise you to subscribe to them and to listen to Black Agenda Report Radio.

  • George L Pauk

    Yes, my Senator McCain was all the bad things in this article and more. For instance, over the objections of the San Carlos Apache tribe, he and a Flake gave a sacred Forest Service park to foreign corporations to destroy. i saw his horrible influence in Nicaragua where, as in many other nations, the IRI has been subverting and planning coups against democracies. The theme of his dark projects has been to lie in presenting it as the truth. The media have loved the lies and collaborated to fool the American public.

  • mwildfire

    I stopped looking at Alternet years ago, because I don’t trust a site that goes for sensationalized stuff–like having an article that purports to educate you about something sexual at all times…or another site that includes crap about celebrities…

  • Doña Susy

    “…and called demonstrators against Henry Kissinger “despicable scum.””

    The demonstrators were Medea Benjamin and her Code Pink comrades, interrupting testimony by Henry Kissinger at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when McCain said, “Get out of here, you low-life scum!” That encounter was caught on video and the quote was later used by Eleanor Goldfield on her ActOut! program, as the “Low-life Scum Award” to highlight various bad actors.

    It was pretty sickening watching McCain’s obsequious adulation of that old war criminal.

  • kevinzeese

    You should subscribe to BAR. We republish a tiny percentage of their articles. One of our goals in doing so is to alert people to BAR so they read it. BAR is an excellent source of news and analysis.

  • chetdude

    Thanks, I’ll check.

    Say hey to all of my favorite peeps over there and tell them what happened (if you dare)… 😉

    I love the transparency and the fair and just path to fight rgw censorship over at Alternet, don’t you?

  • chetdude

    Thanks, Kevin. It appears I’m only getting censored over at Alternet…

    Apparently they can’t stand my constant repetition of the fact that I’m fine with “voting democrat” as long as we organized a massive, militant, relentless People’s Lobby to force elected “representatives” to ignore the needs and desires of their major campaign bribers and do the People’s Work instead. Like the following (for a start):

    The People’s Agenda

    1) Expanded and Improved Medicare for All
    2) College without crippling debt
    3) A Living Wage (or better Guaranteed livable income NOT tied to a “job”)
    4) End the wars (including the phony, racist “Drug War”)
    5) Do something MEANINGFUL about AGW/Climate Change (Much Work)
    6) Reform the electoral system into a working democracy

  • chetdude

    I tried what you suggested. My comments are still there so I guess I haven’t been declared a “ghost” — yet…


    I used “contact us” to ask if there was a human there who could rectify the horrible mistake that their robot made – since I’ve been posting on Disqus since 2010, have over 55,000 OPEN posts with over 96,000 Upvotes that include tens of thousands of posts that “suggest positive, pro-active, Progressive responses to neoliberal economic crimes and the Forever War” that apparently their poor robot couldn’t examine or understand in order to get some context…

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    I can’t help you at AlterNet. They shadow-banned me. But what you can do is look at the comment history of friends commenting there to find where you can talk to them.

    I’m sure that Popular Resistance would be happy to have you and your friends debating at their site. Kevin won’t ban you even if you get him mightily pissed off.

    Truthdig has a good commenting community. But they are gatekeepers that will shadow ban you.

    unz.COM is a better site with an even stronger commenting community.

    You might also check out https://russia-insider.COM/en/

    MintPressNews.COM helps you to catch news that you might miss otherwise, but it doesn’t have much of a commenting community.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    That was a good move. Sometimes, these sites will retract a banning, if they get a nice letter. But that’s never happened to me.

    If you’ve donated money, it helps to let them know.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Their best writers have gone elsewhere. I don’t blame them.

  • chetdude

    Since they rarely publish anything other than anti-trump/anti-Russia click-bait and because there IS A LOT of commenting – a “bigger audience” of alleged activists there – I went to Alternet primarily to be a usually lone voice in the wilderness suggesting that people rise above the partisan swamp and organize the People’s Lobby to force the People’s Business onto the agenda.

    And to point out inconvenient truths like fossil-fueled/capitalist AGW/Climate Change and how “markets” can’t cure the problems caused by “markets” operating as designed.

    Connecting the Dots is apparently frowned on there…

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    You obviously did the right thing, since you got banned. I’m surprised you lasted as long as you did.

    Did Mother Jones ban you yet? They banned me when I went after David Corn for blaming the Russians for invading Ukraine.

  • chetdude

    I already waste WAY too much time on Alternet. I wouldn’t have a life if I extended it to other sites…

    (Time at Popular Resistance is NOT wasted — this is my touchstone)

    I was tombstoned from DU back in ’08 for saying “negative things” (issuing warnings) about Obama once I learned he hired Larry Summers to “craft his economic policies” during the “transition”…