On John McCain.


Like the majority of capitalist wars, Vietnam occurred because power elites needed enriching. It was not a “just” war by any remotely sane calculus, but this isn’t the fault of those ordinary people enlisted to wage it.

In the main, we’re raised both to follow orders and to rationalize matters that make no sense, like this one: we praise heroes who fight plainly unjust wars, so long as they’re on our side. Ask us to apply the same thought process to ordinary German soldiers in WWII, and we make gurgling sounds.

Obviously this remains a contradictory and perhaps irreconcilable ethical quagmire, and so we gratefully sidestep it.

America as an entity currently is killing people all across the planet in the name of anti-terrorism, just as occurred a generation previous in the name of anti-communism. Big money is the cause and the only beneficiary of these wars, and while I fervently hope that some day our anger as muddy commoners finally is directed against capital accumulation — our true oppressor — it’s also understandable that we use whatever mental tools are at our disposal to mitigate cognitive dissonance.

This brings me to John McCain.

McCain was a soldier, and soldiers follow orders. His bombing raids killed innocent civilians, and this in another ethical morass. He was captured, and endured his captivity with absolute courage and resolve. Upon entering politics, the ex-soldier displayed occasional quirks and was referred to as a maverick even when the bulk of his political activity was devoted to keeping the elites enriched, thus guaranteeing more ruinous wars.

By periodically standing up to our diminutive Trumpolini, McCain was praised by progressives even before his death, and termed by his ideological opposites to be the far better man; then again, I have discolored pocket lint of higher caliber than The Donald.

The former POW also foisted the plainly fascist Sarah Palin on the public, and whether or not he regretted it, one must concede a noticeable absence of real-world judgment.

There it is, and here we are, arguing about John McCain’s legacy.

Humans crave the certainty of black and white, and we’ll always conjure it from the prevailing gray shades when necessary to help us sleep. Far be it from me to deny my own role in the charade. I do it as much as anyone else, so rest assured no fingers are being pointed that haven’t already been jabbed in my own eyes.

In McCain’s legacy there is typically American nuance and ambiguity, and speaking only for myself, I’m comfortable with the pea soup fog. McCain was and was not a hero. He was and was not a noteworthy Senator. He was and was not memorable in these and other ways.

Like us all, in our own microcosms.

In the time it has taken me to write these words, a few trillion dollars more has nestled safely in the bosom of the 1%. We apparently cannot fathom this pathology of destructive inequality, and consequently, we take to social media to debate the merits and demerits of dead leaders, and resume screaming at each other.

Our squawking absolves us from hard thinking, and that’s the way life works — until it doesn’t.