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A few well-reasoned thoughts on the life of John McCain

The mainstream media widely remember McCain as a patriot, maverick, and a decent man. Here are a few additional thoughts from a well-known observer and writer.


It’s generally considered unseemly to speak ill of the dead. But why? I don’t have a problem with it because I like to call a spade a spade anytime, especially when we’re talking about career politicians. Why are they, of all people, treated with special respect?

Only puff pieces have been written about McCain in the mainstream media since his death. Hagiographies, appropriate for a saint. The Establishment is trying to canonize him, while the hoi polloi just believe what they’re told over and over again. It’s shameful and inappropriate.

Now, I never met the man, but it seems that he was capable of personal charm. His notoriously volatile temper was promoted as a sign of authenticity, instead of instability. That, plus his time as a prisoner of war [POW], is basically what his whole reputation is built on.

Spending five years as a POW was, at least after the fact, the best thing that ever happened to McCain. His entire life, reputation, and position are built around this fact. Neither did it hurt that he was the son of a high-ranking admiral. How else could somebody who was a known screwup throughout his youth reach the political levels he did?

It’s acknowledged that when McCain was young he sowed a lot of wild oats. There’s nothing wrong with that. If anything, it’s a plus, showing he wasn’t a wuss who lived solely for other people’s approval. But he was apparently at fault in two serious plane accidents, including the USS Forrestal disaster, which took the lives of 134 US seamen.

Naval aviators are elite; they don’t get many second—forget about third—chances. There’s reason to suspect that the only reason he wasn’t drummed out of the Navy was because he was the son of an admiral. Of course, it’s hard to tell what the facts are with a highly politicized character such as McCain. Nobody wants to say anything bad about him.

McCain was famously shot down and spent five years in a prison camp. But the simple fact that someone was a POW doesn’t necessarily say anything about that person other than that they had some really bad luck. I’m very sympathetic to someone in that position, but almost every American aviator held as a POW survived.

It’s a pity that McCain had to go through imprisonment. The details of what happened to him and what he did or didn’t do, and why, are sketchy and disputed. I can imagine almost anybody would be under huge pressure to do things that he might later regret.

That’s not the problem. The problem is that he used his questionable military record to build his political career. He’s not unique that way. John Kerry did the same thing with his questionable decorations to become a senator, a Democratic presidential candidate, and Secretary of State.

When the Vietnam War came to an end in 1973, there were negotiations between Henry Kissinger and the Vietnamese government about US POWs. At the time, it seemed very certain that there were a couple thousand American POWs being held by the Vietnamese. But only about 500 of them returned to the United States. The other 1,500 or so were kept in North Vietnam.  It seems they were held as a bargaining chip. The Vietnamese expected war reparations for the immense damage that the Americans inflicted on their country.

The negotiations on the terms of their repatriation bogged down; the US didn’t want to pay the indemnity Hanoi demanded. And after a while, neither the Vietnamese nor the Americans wanted to acknowledge these people. They were an embarrassment for both governments. So the assumption is that they quietly died in prison. Maybe they simply “disappeared.”

But we’ll never know the truth because McCain was instrumental in making sure that the records of what happened were buried. We may never know what happened to those real or alleged POWs. They’re hidden behind a veil of secrecy now.  And that’s important because his entire political career is built on his Vietnam War record. And yet, his military record is completely unexceptional. Or even some place between undistinguished and shameful. But it’s hard to know the facts.

Why might that be? Maybe elements in the Establishment felt the US needed a national hero in Congress. I don’t recall there being many, or any, other than John Glenn the astronaut. You need the occasional hero—either real or manufactured—every generation or so to redeem the image of Congress. Nobody wants to think they’re 100% venal thieves and scumbags. McCain was in an ideal position as Chair of the Armed Services committee to push through all kinds of spending. His hero status sanctified whatever he did. A good case can be made that he was apotheosized because they needed a hero.

What’s to be said about McCain’s legacy as a politician?  This is much easier because we know what he’s done since he’s been in office. His track record as a politician is horrible, if you value fiscal solvency, personal freedom, or peace—the three things that really count for someone in office. He was kind of a reverse image of Ron Paul.

For one, he was involved in the Keating Five scandal where there’s no question he was paid a lot of money by Keating during the savings and loan scandal days. And he somehow managed to escape that.

He deserted his wife who was in dire health straits, and married a rich heiress. Now, everybody makes mistakes in their personal lives. But I find that dishonorable. I don’t know the exact circumstances—all we have is news reports from the time—but it doesn’t look good. Nobody talks about that.

More important, he was a man with no guiding political principles, except perhaps building the power of the State. He disguised that by cultivating the image of a maverick.

He styled himself a maverick because he often didn’t vote with the Republican establishment. And that’s laudable and understandable. But it wasn’t due to any principles. He did it because he was basically a Democrat. He shared all the values that Democrats have at heart. He was an archetypical RINO; a republican in name only. He didn’t do, or believe in, anything that Republicans supposedly stand for. I say supposedly because although Republicans are said to believe in fiscal responsibility and small government, that’s a sham. Once they’re in control, they build the Welfare State and the Warfare State just as rapidly as the Democrats.

It was purely public relations that turned a man without any principles into a lovable maverick. He was the exact opposite. He was a lifelong member of the Deep State.

McCain represented the worst of both parties. From a domestic point of view, he was an arch liberal, a welfare statist, always giving away other people’s money. He exemplified the worst of the Democratic Party from that point of view. As for foreign policy, I’d have to characterize him as an actual criminal. There’s never been a war that he didn’t actively support—Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, West Africa, the Ukraine, and Syria, the current disaster. He tried to provoke wars with Russia and China.

Everything—and I mean every single thing—this man did in foreign affairs, which is where he was most famous, was wrong headed, destructive, and disastrous.  We should all just be thankful he was never elected president.


[From an article by Doug Casey, published by LEW ROCKWELL]




As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis




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Outright fraud is running rampant in US educational system

Earlier this month the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka The Nation’s Report Card, was released. It’s not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math.

The atrocious NAEP performance is only a fraction of the bad news. Nationally, our high school graduation rate is over 80 percent. That means high school diplomas, which attest that these students can read and compute at a 12th-grade level, are conferred when 63 percent are not proficient in reading and 75 percent are not proficient in math. For blacks, the news is worse. Roughly 75 percent of black students received high school diplomas attesting that they could read and compute at the 12th-grade level. However, 83 percent could not read at that level, and 93 percent could not do math at that level. It’s grossly dishonest for the education establishment and politicians to boast about unprecedented graduation rates when the high school diplomas, for the most part, do not represent academic achievement. At best, they certify attendance.

Fraudulent high school diplomas aren’t the worst part of the fraud. Some of the greatest fraud occurs at the higher education levels — colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of white high school graduates in 2016 enrolled in college, and 58 percent of black high school graduates enrolled in college. Here are my questions to you: If only 37 percent of white high school graduates test as college-ready, why are colleges admitting 70 percent of them? And if just 17 percent of black high school graduates test as college-ready, why are colleges admitting 58 percent of them?

It’s inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and cannot perform at the college level. Colleges cope with ill-prepared students in several ways. They provide remedial courses. One study suggests that more than two-thirds of community college students take at least one remedial course, as do 40 percent of four-year college students. College professors dumb down their courses so that ill-prepared students can get passing grades. Colleges also set up majors with little analytical demands so as to accommodate students with analytical deficits. Such majors often include the term “studies,” such as ethnic studies, cultural studies, gender studies and American studies. The major for the most ill-prepared students, sadly enough, is education. When students’ SAT scores are ranked by intended major, education majors place 26th on a list of 38 (https://tinyurl.com/pjmga9y).

The bottom line is that colleges are admitting youngsters who have not mastered what used to be considered a ninth-grade level of proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic. Very often, when they graduate from college, they still can’t master even a 12th-grade level of academic proficiency. The problem is worse in college sports. During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. About 10 percent read below a third-grade level. Keep in mind that all of these athletes both graduated from high school and were admitted to college.

How necessary is college anyway? One estimate is that 1 in 3 college graduates have a job historically performed by those with a high school diploma. According to Richard Vedder, distinguished emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University and the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in 2012 there were 115,000 janitors, 16,000 parking lot attendants, 83,000 bartenders and about 35,000 taxi drivers with a bachelor’s degree.

US education has been falling in comparison to other nations’ ability to educate the world’s youth for many years now. Seems like the first step toward any solution is for the American people to be aware of rampant academic fraud at every level of the system…and for our educators to start running an honest system instead of continually demanding more money to run a dishonest one.


[From an article by Walter E. Williams, the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist.]




As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis


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When the Republic becomes the Empire

We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night. The precise moment does not matter. There was no painted sign to say, “You now are entering Imperium.” Yet it was a very old road and the voice of history was saying: “Whether you know it or not, the act of crossing may be irreversible.” And now, not far ahead, is a sign that reads: “No U Turns.”

If you say there were no frightening omens, that is true. The political foundations did not quake; the graves of the Fathers did not fly open; the Constitution did not tear itself up. If you say people did not will it, that also is true. But if you say therefore it has not happened, then you have been so long bemused by words that your mind will not believe what the eye can see, even as in the jungle the terrified primitive, on meeting the lion, importunes magic by saying to himself, “He is not there.” That a republic may vanish is an elementary schoolbook fact.

The Roman Republic passed into the Roman Empire, and yet never could a Roman citizen have said, “That was yesterday.” Nor is the historian, with all the advantages of perspective, able to place that momentous event at any exact point on the dial of time. The Republic had a long unhappy twilight. It is agreed that the Empire began with Augustus Caesar. Several before him had played emperor and were destroyed.

The first who might have been called emperor in fact was Julius Caesar, who pretended not to want the crown and once publicly declined it. Whether he feared more the displeasure of the Roman populace or the daggers of the republicans is unknown. In his dreams he may have been seeing a bloodstained toga. His murder soon afterward was a desperate act of the dying republican tradition, and perfectly futile. His heir was Octavian, and it was a very bloody business, yet neither did Octavian call himself emperor.

On the contrary, he was most careful to observe the old legal forms. He restored the Senate. Later he made believe to restore the Republic, and caused coins to be struck in commemoration of that event. Having acquired by universal consent, as he afterward wrote, “complete dominion over everything, both by land and sea,” he made a long and artful speech to the Senate, and ended it by saying: “And now I give back the Republic into your keeping. The laws, the troops, the treasury, the provinces, are all restored to you. May you guard them worthily.”

The response of the Senate was to crown him with oak leaves, plant laurel trees at his gate and name him Augustus. After that he reigned for more than forty years and when he died the bones of the Republic were buried with him. “The personality of a monarch,” says Stobart,

had been thrust almost surreptitiously into the frame of a republican constitution…. The establishment of the Empire was such a delicate and equivocal act that it has been open to various interpretations ever since. Probably in the clever mind of Augustus it was intended to be equivocal from the first.

What Augustus Caesar did was to demonstrate a proposition found in Aristotle’s “Politics,” one that he must have known by heart, namely this:

People do not easily change, but love their own ancient customs; and it is by small degrees only that one thing takes the place of another; so that the ancient laws will remain, while the power will be in the hands of those who have brought about a revolution in the state.

Revolution within the form.

There is no comfort in history for those who put their faith in forms; who think there is safeguard in words inscribed on parchment, preserved in a glass case, reproduced in facsimile and hauled to and fro on a Freedom Train.

Let it be current history. How much does the younger half of this generation reflect upon the fact that in its own time a complete revolution has taken place in the relations between government and people? It may be doubted that one college student in a thousand could even state it clearly. The first article of our inherited tradition, implicit in American thought from the beginning until a few years ago, was this: Government is the responsibility of a self-governing people. That doctrine has been swept away; only the elders remember it.

Now, in the name of democracy, it is accepted as a political fact that people are the responsibility of government.The forms of republican government survive; the character of the state has changed. Formerly the people supported government and set limits to it and minded their own lives.

Now they pay for unlimited government, whether they want it or not, and the government minds their lives — looking to how they are fed and clothed and housed; how they provide for their old age; how the national income, which is the product of their own labor, shall be divided among them; how they shall buy and sell; how long and how hard and under what conditions they shall work, and how equity shall be maintained between the buyers of food who dwell in the cities and the producers of food who live on the soil. For the last named purpose it resorts to a system of subsidies, penalties and compulsions, and assumes with medieval wisdom to fix the just price.

This is the Welfare State. It rose suddenly within the form. It is legal because the Supreme Court says it is. The Supreme Court once said no and then changed its mind and said yes, because meanwhile the President who was the architect of the Welfare State had appointed to the Supreme Court bench men who believed in it.

The founders who wrote the Constitution could no more have imagined a Welfare State rising by sanction of its words than they could have imagined a monarchy; and yet the Constitution did not have to be changed. It had only to be reinterpreted in one clause — the clause that reads: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, imposts and excises to pay its debts and provide for common defense and welfare of the United States.”

“We are under a Constitution,” said Chief Justice Hughes, “but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.”

The president names the members of the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. It follows that if the president and a majority of the Senate happen to want a Welfare State, or any other innovation, and if, happily for their design, death and old age create several vacancies on the bench so that they may pack the Court with like-minded men, the Constitution becomes, indeed, a rubberoid instrument.

The extent to which the original precepts and intentions of constitutional, representative, limited government, in the republican form, have been eroded away by argument and dialectic is a separate subject, long and ominous, and belongs to a treatise on political science.

The one fact now to be emphasized is that when the process of erosion has gone on until there is no saying what the supreme law of the land is at a given time, then the Constitution begins to be flouted by Executive will, with something like impunity. The instances may not be crucial at first and all the more dangerous for that reason. As one is condoned, another follows, and they become progressive.

To outsmart the Constitution and to circumvent its restraints became a popular exercise of the art of government in the Roosevelt regime. In defense of his attempt to pack the Supreme Court with social-minded judges after several of his New Deal laws had been declared unconstitutional, President Roosevelt wrote: “The reactionary members of the Court had apparently determined to remain on the bench for as long as life continued-for the sole purpose of blocking any program of reform.”

Among the millions who at the time applauded that statement of contempt there were very few, if there was indeed one, who would not have been frightened by a revelation of the logical sequel. They believed, as everyone else did, that there was one thing a President could never do. There was one sentence of the Constitution that could not fall, so long as the Republic lived.

The Constitution says: “The Congress shall have power to declare war.” That, therefore, was the one thing no president could do. By his own will he could not declare war. Only Congress could declare war, and Congress could be trusted never to do it but by will of the people — or so they believed. No man could make it for them. Even if you think that President Roosevelt got the country into World War II, that was not the same thing. For a declaration of war he went to Congress — after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. He may have wanted it, he may have planned it; and yet the Constitution forbade him to declare war and he dared not do it. Nine years later a much weaker president did.

President Truman, alone and without either the consent or knowledge of Congress, had declared war on the Korean aggressor, 7000 miles away, Congress condoned his usurpation of its exclusive constitutional power. More than that, his political supporters in Congress argued that in the modern case that sentence in the Constitution conferring upon Congress the sole power to declare war was obsolete.

Mark you, the words had not been erased; they still existed in form. Only they had become obsolete. And why obsolete? Because now war may begin suddenly, with bombs falling out of the sky, and we might perish while waiting for Congress to declare war.

The reasoning is puerile. The Korean war, which made the precedent, did not begin that way; secondly, Congress was in session at the time, so that the delay could not have been more than a few hours, provided Congress had been willing to declare war; and, thirdly, the president as commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Republic may in a legal manner act defensively before a declaration of war has been made. It is bound to be made if the nation has been attacked.

Mr. Truman’s supporters argued that in the Korean instance his act was defensive and therefore within his powers as commander-in-chief. In that case, to make it constitutional, he was legally obliged to ask Congress for a declaration of war afterward. This he never did. For a week Congress relied upon the papers for news of the country’s entry into war; then the president called a few of its leaders to the White House and told them what he had done.

A year later Congress was still debating whether or not the country was at war, in a legal, constitutional sense. A few months later Mr. Truman sent American troops to Europe to join an international army, and did it not only without a law, without even consulting Congress, but challenged the power of Congress to stop him. Congress made all of the necessary sounds of anger and then poulticed its dignity with a resolution saying the president’s action was all right for that one time, since anyhow it had been taken, but that hereafter Congress would expect to be consulted.

At that time the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate asked the State Department to set forth in writing what might be called the position of executive government. The State Department obligingly responded with a document entitled, “Powers of the President to Send Troops Outside of the United States — Prepared for the use of the joint committee made up of the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on the Armed Forces of the Senate, February 28, 1951.”

This document, in the year circa 2950, will be a precious find for any historian who may be trying then to trace the departing footprints of the vanished American Republic. For the information of the United States Senate it said (Congressional Record, March 20, 1951, p. 2745):

“As this discussion of the respective powers of the President and Congress has made clear, constitutional doctrine has been largely moulded by practical necessities. Use of the Congressional power to declare war, for example, has fallen into abeyance because wars are no longer declared in advance.”

Caesar might have said it to the Roman Senate. If constitutional doctrine is molded by necessity, what is a written Constitution for?

Thus an argument that seemed at first to rest upon puerile reasoning turned out to be deep and cunning. The immediate use of it was to defend the unconstitutional Korean precedent, namely, the resort to war as an act of the president’s own will. Yet it was not invented for that purpose alone. It stands as a forecast of executive intentions, a manifestation of the executive mind, mortal challenge to the parliamentary principle. The simple question is: Whose hand shall control the instrument of war? It is late to ask. It may be too late, for when the hand of the Republic begins to relax another hand is already putting itself forth.


[This article by Garet Garrett was originally published as “The Decline of the American Republic” in The Freeman, February 25, 1952.  Garet Garrett (February 19, 1878 – November 6, 1954), born Edward Peter Garrett, was an American journalist and author; he opposed the New Deal and U.S. involvement in World War II.  The article was republished today HERE.]




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NORM ‘n’  AL, Minneapolis







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Something important we should all be honest enough to recognize…

Liberals and progressives all support waiting periods for gun purchases, but they oppose waiting periods for abortions. The overwhelming majority of gun purchases do not result in innocent and defenseless people being killed…but the sole purpose of an abortion is to make sure an innocent and defenseless person is killed.


From the LEW ROCKWELL blog




As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis




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