A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”

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You’re going to have to shut up or I’ll call the police…Get out of here you low-life scum.”

— John McCain’s statement to peace activists calling for the arrest of epic war criminal Henry Kissinger, January 29. 2015

Yes, Trump is Disgusting

Is it disgusting and pathetic that the mentally deranged President of the United States wakes up early in the morning to engage in hours of adolescent Twitter warfare with his personal and political enemies?

Is it ridiculous and pitiful that the tangerine-tinted Twitter-addict continues to attack the late United States Senator John McCain and McCain’s family months after McCain has been buried?

Is it sickening that the primary McCain sin Bad Grandpa Trump can’t seem to forgive is the former Senator’s failure to join Trump and the Republicans in kicking millions of ordinary Americans off the health insurance rolls?

Is it true that, as, George Conway – one of Trump’s recent Twitter enemies – tweets, Trump is a textbook case of malignant narcissism?

Is it creepy that Trump calls Kellyanne Conway, George’s wife and a top Trump counselor, “honey” and that Mrs. Conway sides with her demented boss over her husband in the Trump-Conway Twitter feud?

Is it distressing that the man with his fingers on the nuclear codes feels compelled to call George Conway “Mr. Kellyanne” and a “husband from Hell” – and to Tweet this about Conway: “I barely know him but just take a look, a stone-cold LOSER.”

The answer to each of these questions is yes, of course.  It’s all totally contemptible and yet darkly risible.

A Note on Infantilization

Even Aldous Huxley and Neal Postman would blush over the childish Kardashian nothingness that has infected the reigning U.S. media-politics culture. Did you know that Governor Hickenlooper took his mother to see the movie Deep Throat? We found that out on CNN two night ago.

Soon we will learn that Robert Mueller wears adult diapers. Trump will Tweet about it.

I am waiting for CNN eyes to spin and MSDNC tongues to wag when this Tweet comes out from Trump’s White House bedroom: “We will soon release report on our EXHAUSTIVE investigation of Rancid Robert Mueller, the DIAPER–wearing job killer who colluded with China, Kenyan socialist Obama, FAKE hero McCain, and Crooked Hillary to create the climate hoax and send rapist Caravans led by the Central Park Five and MS-13 to invade our country!”

The nation is being infantilized at an increasing rate.

McCain: A War Criminal and a Warmonger

But I digress. Let’s shift from Huxley to Orwell for a moment. Here’s something arguably even more disgusting and pathetic than Trump’s insane and ridiculous online conduct and his recent Twitter feuds with the House of McCain and George Conway: the constant and ritual outraged repetition of cable news commentators’ and bipartisan politicos’ claim that John McCain was a great “national war hero” who rose to “defend his country” during “The Vietnam War.”

This is a persistent and recurrent line at CNN, MSNBC (MSDNC), “P”BS, N “P”R, the New York Times, the Washington PostPolitico, and all down the corporate media feeding chain.

And it is complete historical bullshit.  John McCain was a war criminal who happened to get shot down while trying to kill Vietnamese human beings who had the audacity to fight for national independence and social justice in their Third World nation during the 1960s.  He was captured after he lost control of his plane while participating eagerly as a fast-living and reckless U.S. Navy flyboy – the privileged offspring of a top Navy Admiral – in the mass-murderous U.S. “crucifixion of Southeast Asia” (as Noam Chomsky accurately described “the Vietnam War” at the time).

McCain flew 23 missions in which he participated in the bombing of civilians.  He was likely responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of Vietnamese.

He would later publicly describe (as late as 2000) the Vietnamese military personnel who saved his life and then (doing their national duty every bit as much as the North American rebels who fought the British Redcoats in the 1770s and 1780s) captured and interrogated him as “Gooks.”

McCain continued to be a war criminal after he entered public office. The “Maverick” would kill many more people around the world indirectly, as a Congressman in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, than he did as a bomber.  A rabid imperialist, Representative and Senator McCain:

+ championed the vicious and arch-reactionary Islamist mujahedin in Afghanistan, as part of the U.S. effort to disastrously collapse the Soviet Union.

+ enthusiastically supported the murderous right-wing Contras and right-wing death squads across Central America, many of whose leaders were trained in torture in the “School of the Americas” (now called WHINSEC).

+ strongly backed U.S. economic sanctions that killed at least a million Iraqis including over 500 000 children under the age of 5, according to a 1995 United Nations report.

+ championed the criminal U.S. bombing of Serbia.

+ eagerly pushed for and backed George W. Bush’s monumentally criminal and imperial invasion of Iraq on thoroughly false pretexts.

+ voted for legislation that helped make torture seem legal to Bush.

+ cultivated Al Qaeda allies and affiliates in Libya and Syria.

+ fervently backed massive U.S. arms sales to the butchers atop the Saudi Kingdom, perpetrators of horrific war crimes in Yemen (the poorest country in the Middle East)– crimes he perversely denied.

+ was a booster of Al Qaeda allies and affiliates in Libya and Syria.

+  met with jihadi rebel groups, posing for photos with militants, called them his “heroes” and advocated for more material support and resources for their terrorist organizations.

+ wooed and abetted neo-Nazis in Ukraine, consistent with his service on the board of the World Anti-Communist League – an organization that included fascists, neo-Nazis, and anti-Semites.

Senator McCain never saw or smelled an imperialist war or adventure he didn’t love. He contradicted his repeated declared opposition to Pentagon waste by advocating giant wars that poured billions of taxpayer dollars into wasteful death and destruction.

“There were few figures in recent American life,” Max Blumenthal wrote last year, “who dedicated themselves so personally to the perpetuation of war and empire as McCain… He was uniquely ruthless when it came to advancing imperial goals, barnstorming from one conflict zones to another to personally recruit far-right fanatics as American proxies” and turning his “Senate office [into]…a clubhouse for arms industry lobbyists and neocon operatives.”

There was No “Vietnam War”

McCain bombed Vietnamese men, women, and children to “defend our country” during “the Vietnam War? Not true. There was no Vietnam War.  There was a U.S.-imperial war on Vietnam and Southeast Asia – a remarkably one-sided and prolonged slaughter in which world history’s most powerful industrialized state and military empire pummeled a small peasant nation and some of its neighbors with awesome force for more than a decade. The United States was NOT under Vietnamese assault during the 1960s and 1970s.  The notion that it was is Orwellian nonsense. As Frank Joyce wrote two and a half years ago on AlterNet:

“Did Vietnamese troops invade the United States? Did the Vietnamese air force spend years spraying millions of tons of Agent Orange onto forests and crops in California and Ohio? Are there pictures of naked girls fried with napalm in Alabama that we haven’t seen? Were hundreds of thousands of civilians in Canada and Mexico killed to pursue Vietnamese military objectives in the U.S? Did Vietnamese troops massacre women, old people and babies and dump their bodies into mass graves in Missouri, Montana and Michigan? The United States government invaded Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos; not the other way around. Before that, the U.S. provided financial and military support to the French war to keep Vietnam a colony. Any suggestion that the U.S. was somehow the victim of the war is not just wrong, it is yet another example of the moral confusion for which our nation pays a far greater price than we are willing to admit.”

Indeed. The United States lost 58,000 soldiers in an imperial invasion that killed as many as 5 million Southeast Asians between 1962 and 1975. The massive U.S. assault laid waste to vast stretches of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. It spread disease and birth defects across the region. Just one joint CIA and U.S. military program alone, Operation Phoenix, killed 40,000 South Vietnamese, equivalent to more than two-thirds of the total U.S. body count in Vietnam.

Vietnamese freedom-fighters did not kill a single American solider – much less a U.S. civilian – on U.S. soil.  They killed imperial U.S. invaders in noble and frankly heroic defense of their homeland and revolution.

All the Americans who died in the so-called Vietnam War died in Southeast Asia. They’d been sent to the region to crush a national independence movement and a social revolution. Washington was determined to prevent the “threat of a good example” (as Noam Chomsky has rightly described it) – to stop a small and poor, peripheral nation from successfully developing outside and against the control and rules of the U.S.-managed world capitalist system.

The U.S. armed forces weren’t sent to defend the American people.  Their mission was to stop the anti-imperial threat by any means the Superpower deemed necessary, including “bombing [the Vietnamese] back to the Stone Age” (Curtis Lemay).

A Class Warrior for the Rich at Home

McCain’s malevolence wasn’t limited to the infliction of misery abroad. He also managed to assault U.S. citizens at home by pushing for  regressive and plutocratic neoliberal policies that matched his status as a silver-spooned multi-millionaire. His ruling class corruption earned Senate censure for his role in the “Keating Five” savings and loan scandal in 1989.

McCain’s upper-class pedigree and loyalties were evident in how the supposed people’s “maverick” supportedTrump and the GOP’s giant 2017 tax cut for the rich in a nation where the top tenth of the upper 1 Percent already had as much wealth as the nation’s bottom 90 percent.

John McCain enlisted eagerly in the class war at home. He fought in that war for the wealthy Few – for his own class.

John Fogarty and Credence Clearwater Revival had wealthy nationalist warmongers like John McCain in mind when they wrote their classic, class-conscious antiwar anthem “Fortunate Son”:

Some folks are born made to wave the flag, ooh, they’re red, white and blue. And when the band plays ‘Hail to the Chief. they point the cannon at you.

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand, don’t they help themselves. But when the taxman comes to the door Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale.

Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes. ooh, they send you down to war. And when you ask ’    em how much should we give. they only answer ‘more, more, more

It ain’t me… I ain’t no millionaire’s son.
It ain’t me… I ain’t no military son, son,
It ain’t me… I ain’t no fortunate one, one
It ain’t me … I ain’t no fortunate son

“Get Out of Here You Low-Life Scum”

Many thousands fewer Americans and countless fewer Southeast Asians would have died in the “Vietnam War” but for Henry Kissinger’s work to undermine the Lyndon Johnson administration’s peace negotiations with Hanoi (see Greg Gandin’s 2015 book, Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman).  Kissinger’s interference helped Richard Nixon win the U.S. presidency in 1968 and helped prolong the American onslaught.

Kissinger was only getting started on a blood-drenched career that would include monumental war crimes and other soul-chilling transgressions against humanity in Cambodia, Laos, Chile, Argentina, East Timor and elsewhere.

Recall how then Senator McCain referred to Code Pink activists who had the historical memory and decency to call for Kissinger’s overdue arrest during a U.S. Senate hearing on “global security” in January of 2015. The great “national hero” McCain called the peace protesters “low-life scum.”

“You’re going to have to shut up or I’ll call the police,” McCain said. “Get out of here you low-life scum.”

Low-life scum: I’m guessing that’s pretty much how McCain felt about the “Gooks” he murdered and maimed from the air before he thankfully crashed.

Beyond False Dichotomy and Twitter Distraction

To Hell with Donald Trump, of course.  He isn’t just (yes, George Conway) a malignant narcissist [1]. He’s also “an aspiring fascist leader” (in the words of Counterpuncher Eric Draitser) and a leading national and global symbol of white supremacist racial identity.

But to Hell also with the imperialist, racist, and classist legacy of John McCain and with the unelected and interrelated dictatorships of wealth and empire for which both major U.S. parties and all the major U.S. corporate media stand along with the surviving House of McCain. To Hell with the Fake Resistance, the Inauthentic Opposition that opposes Trump in the name of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the American Empire.

A pox on all their ruling-class houses!

Oh, By the Way

A pox also on the Huxleyan distraction of Trump’s Twitter tiffs and the endless reporting on his mendacity and corruption by a corporate media that can’t report and comment adequately on the single greatest issue of our or any time: the capitalogenic climate catastrophe, which raises the specter of human extinction[2] in the not-so distant future.

Oh, that.  Yeah, by the way.  Maybe it’s time for the “mainstream” war and entertainment media to pull its head out of the asses of Donny DumpsterFire&Fury, the Outraged McCains, and the Fighting Conways et al and develop the basic natural  intelligence to take a serious and honest look at the real world, which edges closer to irreversible tipping points of environmental collapse with each passing day. The Earth is our witness.

Help Street keep writing here and/or here.


[1] In her eerie defense of Trump’s escalating assault on her own husband, Kellyanne Conway said this to Politico: “He [Trump] left it alone for months out of respect for me. But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?” Did she mention “medical professionals”? Mrs. Conway may or may not be aware that more than two dozen psychiatrists and mental health professionals dedicated an entire book to making the water-tight case that Donald Trump is and has long been a textbook example of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Bandy Lee and Robert Jay Lifton et al., The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President

[2] Please join The Extinction Rebellion before it’s too late.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).