Jack Wakeland

McCain's Altruist Conversion

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I just watched Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech and I'm not happy.

I know his world-view well. We've all had the opportunity to learn it and we don't have to infer it from his youthful associations with black liberation theologists and bomb-throwing communists. Mr. McCain has always told us just what is his world-view and exactly where and why he learned it.

John McCain was converted from a happy young American man to an altruist at the Hanoi Hilton...

...and John McCain wants all of the rest of us to share in the "grace" of this conversion by having it in some form ourselves.

After de-emphasizing his core character trait during the months of the Republican primary campaign, he's brought it back front and center. In 2000 Sen. McCain proved that he could not win the Republican nomination on such a platform, so he didn't run on it. But he is still the survivor of the Hanoi Hilton who wants to serve the country that saved him -- body and soul -- in that tropical dungeon.

After dissembling on the issue of the central purpose in his personal and political life, he has captured the Republican Nomination. Now, it looks like America is going to get a dose of 2000 Straight Talk Express all over again.

During the winter of 2006 - 2007, I felt ashamed that I'd used the word "traitor" in moment of rhetorical flourish in an editorial I wrote for Rob Traciniski's The Intellectual Activist 6 years before. After John McCain's efforts to hide his call to service during the primary only to unveil it as the centerpiece of his general election campaign, I don't any more.

This is what I wrote about him then:

THE INTELLECTUAL ACTIVIST | APRIL 2000

John McCain’s Altruist Revival

by Jack Wakeland

...The centerpiece of McCain's campaign was government control of election campaign funds. He denounced private political contributions as the cause of omnipresent influence peddling in Washington and promised supporters he would “break the Washington iron triangle of big money, lobbyists, and legislation that for too long has put special interests above the national interest.”1 In McCain's view, large political contributions are nothing more than bribes. In remarks to the Senate last year, he concluded that “unlimited amounts of money given to political campaigns have impaired our integrity as political parties and as a legislative institution.”2

In 1998, Senator McCain and his colleague Russ Feingold of Wisconsin sponsored a bill that would have outlawed two key practices that circumvent current restrictions on campaign contributions. The bill targeted for extinction “soft money” and “issue advertising.” "Soft money" contributions, large sums given to political parties that are turned over to the campaign committees of the party's candidates, circumvent limits on individual campaign contributions. “Issue advertising,” advertisements funded by independent organizations that urge viewers to vote for or against specific candidates, circumvent limits on the amounts of money political associations contribute to political candidates.

The McCain-Feingold bill would have made [made] it illegal for Americans to decide how much of their own money they should use to support their political convictions. It would have deprived independent political activists the means to voice their opinions. It is from among these activists that the minority opinion in favor of individual rights is heard. Many ad-hoc committees and single-issue advocacy organizations that fight for individual rights – one topic at a time – will be silenced if they cannont legally obtain, from large donors, the material means required to voice their views. America would [may] lose many of the pro-rights voices that have shamed legislatures into withdrawing the most outrageous of their schemes to violate individual rights. The McCain-Feingold bill would have swept away much of this private involvement in national political campaigns. It would have [has] effectively given the Federal Election Commission and professional journalists a legal monopoly on political expression during elections.

McCain began his crusade against private campaign funding after he nearly lost his own reputation for personal integrity in the “Keating Five” scandal in 1987. McCain and four other senators were accused of using their power to secure special treatment for a major campaign contributor, Charles Keating, when bank regulators threatened to declare his real estate development bank insolvent. Such scandals are an inevitable consequence of a mixed economy, in which the government holds virtually unlimited power to make or break private corporations. With these stakes, private citizens can be expected to try to buy the influence of their legislators – either in self-defense or to gain special favors.

From this experience John McCain concluded that it is free speech, not power that corrupts. Since then, he has raised every conceivable concern about constituents’ improper influence over their government, while expressing little or no concern about the government’s improper power over its constituents.

The “Keating Five” scandal had even wider implications for McCain. The experience of temporarily falling from the status of war hero to that of a crooked politician changed him.3 He began speaking out about a parallel fall he saw in the esteem Americans have for their own government. He became convinced that if the nation is to have a future, it must become worthy of the esteem of future generations of Americans. In a New Hampshire campaign speech, McCain declared “[W]e've got to clean up this mess. We've got to restore the confidence and faith…on the part of young Americans in their government.”4

McCain regards government control of political contributions as a means to an end. During his campaign, he has explicitly stated the goal of his campaign finance controls over and over again: The integrity of the American government must be restored to make it a worthy object of our self-sacrifice. On a talk radio program, McCain gave this summary of the purpose of his campaign:

I believe that we can inspire young Americans to be in the military, to join the Peace Corps, Vista, Volunteer America which is a program that General Colin Powell has been enormously successful at. I think we should devise additional ways for people to serve their country. What I also feel very strongly that unless they feel that they're a part of the government again and that they're represented in Washington, it will be very difficult to motivate them. Which is why I am so dedicated to the proposition that we need to get special interest and their influence out of Washington.

I think you know that in the 1998 election we had the lowest voter turnout in history of the 18- to 26-year-olds. Recently there was a poll that showed that 69 percent of young Americans between 18 and 35 said they were disconnected from government. The reason given is special interest, so I need to give them their government back. And then I'm going to inspire them to serve it -- and when someone says to me there is no great causes left in the world, I say that every place there's a hungry child there's a great cause. Every place there's a senior without a home there a great cause, and every place where people are killing each other for ethnic or hatred reasons there's a great cause.5

With his candidacy, McCain’s intended to inspire an altruist revival. Using his own ordeal of suffering as a guide, he believes the purpose of government is to be a worthy and inspiring recipient of sacrifice. Who is to be the recipient of this sacrifice? McCain opposes any meaningful tax cuts for people attempting to save for their own retirement, because that would prevent Congress from “saving” Social Security for its “worthy” recipients – the men and women made worthy by their suffering and privation during WW II – who are in need today. He has upheld, as the ideal of America's foreign policy, our military intervention in the former Yugoslavia, where some American soldiers may be subject to suffering and death, in an attempt to quell an obscure tribal conflict. McCain is a consistent altruist. Wherever there is someone in need – whether old or young, at home or abroad – he sees a reason to sacrifice the lives of the able.

The idea that the individual exists by right for the purpose of seeking his own happiness, and that government exists by permission, for the purpose of protecting the individual's right to the pursuit of happiness – this American idea is foreign to Senator McCain. In Vietnam, he proved that five and a half years of confinement and savage beatings by his captors could not shake his loyalty to the United States of America. Yet today, in his campaign to ennoble American government by suppressing political speech, and in his call for Americans to sacrifice themselves at the behest of this allegedly honorable government, John McCain has proven himself a traitor to the American idea...

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1Victory Speech, New Hampshire Feb. 1, 2000

2Speech to Senate, Sept. 30, 1999 (from McCain’s "It’s Your Country" Web Site)

3Tim Russet Interview, Feb. 12, 2000

4Campaign Speech, New Hampshire, Jan. 31, 2000

5Radio Interview, WGIR, Manchester, New Hampshire, Jan. 16, 2000

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Another thing worth pointing out is that McCain Feingold led to the creation of these "527s" that everyone complains about so much. So political speech must be suppressed, except when it isn't. It seems like a case of good old-fashioned bi-partisan altruist pandering.

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I just watched Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech and I'm not happy.

I know his world-view well. We've all had the opportunity to learn it and we don't have to infer it from his youthful associations with black liberation theologists and bomb-throwing communists. Mr. McCain has always told us just what is his world-view and exactly where and why he learned it.

John McCain was converted from a happy young American man to an altruist at the Hanoi Hilton...

...and John McCain wants all of the rest of us to share in the "grace" of this conversion by having it in some form ourselves.

After de-emphasizing his core character trait during the months of the Republican primary campaign, he's brought it back front and center. In 2000 Sen. McCain proved that he could not win the Republican nomination on such a platform, so he didn't run on it. But he is still the survivor of the Hanoi Hilton who wants to serve the country that saved him -- body and soul -- in that tropical dungeon.

After dissembling on the issue of the central purpose in his personal and political life, he has captured the Republican Nomination. Now, it looks like America is going to get a dose of 2000 Straight Talk Express all over again.

During the winter of 2006 - 2007, I felt ashamed that I'd used the word "traitor" in moment of rhetorical flourish in an editorial I wrote for Rob Traciniski's The Intellectual Activist 6 years before. After John McCain's efforts to hide his call to service during the primary only to unveil it as the centerpiece of his general election campaign, I don't any more.

This is what I wrote about him then:

...

With his candidacy, McCain’s intended to inspire an altruist revival. Using his own ordeal of suffering as a guide, he believes the purpose of government is to be a worthy and inspiring recipient of sacrifice....

I had the same reaction. He had some good things to say about cutting taxes and spending so people can keep what they earn, and school choice and (at least vaguely) health care without a bureaucrat in the way. But then Preacher McCain contradicted himself across the board in a maudlin, lengthy rant of 'forgive me for I have sinned but am now your servant for I have been saved by the nation' followed by exhortations for "faith", "service"and sacrifice for something "bigger than yourself".

As he overtly campaigned against his own party (for it has sinned), he sounded obsessed with what he thinks of as selfish corruption without saying what it is "selfish lobbyists" are doing in Washington to protect themselves from government. There is corruption in Washington, but he seems oblivious to the fact that most of it is created by government itself. In that context, his climax of chanting to a frenzied crowd about what was supposed to be an inspiring "stand up and fight" came across like a chilling call to sacrifice for the fascist state -- he's no advocate of the gas chambers but it's not hard to envision him using the more "traditional" methods in vogue since FDR.

So which is it, lower taxes and freedom of education and health care -- or appeals of moral intimidation enforced by government when you are "asked" to sacrifice through more taxes, etc., etc. for the "temporary emergency" that most politicians like so much as an excuse for "wider powers"?

Overall, his emotional appeals to elect him as a "servant" as opposed to a self confident leader, together with his obsesssion with sacrifice by everyone, sounded eerily like a wallowing neurosis left over from his days of torture by thugs in the Hanoi Hilton, leaving one to wonder how the party he represents but campaigns against chose this as its candidate for President of the United States. Yet his exortations are mere echoes of the moral injunctions heard over and over for generations and are what almost anyone would, if asked, say what it means to be moral. The chickens are indeed coming home to roost, with the choice between Preacher McCain and the much more overt and rabid socialist Obama who wants to give us the real thing without pussy footing around about the other side of American values he rejects, like choice, keeping what you earn, and the rights of the individual.

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I think we are witnessing an epic struggle of the very worst of both left and right. Obama (by far) the most liberal candidate at least since McGovern. The contrast with Bill Clinton couldn't be more stark. Despite his considerable flaws, at least Clinton was really the most palatable of the Democrat types: socially liberal and economically... well... "semi-responsible" will do (he at least had balanced budgets, and supported NAFTA.) Obama seems to know literally nothing about economics, world trade, foreign relations, nor what is reasonable or even remotely possible in realm of energy policy. To my mind, he is completely and utterly unqualified to be President, and is running on a vague ticket but whose elements that are stated are horrific.

McCain is, as Jack pointed out, a thorough-going altruist. Note that the first night of the convention was themed "Service" and people have been waving those banners every night. And this "Country First" mantra intentionally (I assume) has two meanings: 1) (the more overt one) of eliminating "lobbyists" etc. seeking purely self-serving pork that has no real benefit to the country (all of that based on their philosophic premises, not mine of course); and 2) (the more overt theme) putting your own self-interest aside, and serving your country. McCain was explicit about this, in the litany of ways he encouraged people to serve their country (military, volunteering, etc.).

To McCain's credit, if it were possible for a government program to be sensible (which it is not), I would say that his "displaced worker" plan was sensible: offer some support to someone in a temporary unskilled job while they get training of some kind to do a better, skilled job. His comment about "those jobs aren't coming back" was a refreshing dose of very true, realistic talk. At least McCain seems to understand world economics, and the principles of foreign policy.

But one thing really creeped me out... the excessive, over-the top screaming and cheering, especially for the more altruist/statist elements. It reminded me of that film that every person should watch, "Triumph of the Will" about one of Hitler's huge rallies. I remember seeing Hitler making very clear, explicit statements about how his audience and countrymen were no longer individuals with any any person values whatsoever, but were merely to be cells in the German state, and the people were going crazy. People sitting dutifully through stale, shopworn exhortations to altruism is one thing, but when 15,000 people central to a party are going wild over it, that is something much scarier...

If I could vote (which I can't yet), I don't think I would vote for either candidate. As Rand once said, "There is a limit to the concept of choosing the lesser of two evils."

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If I could vote (which I can't yet), I don't think I would vote for either candidate. As Rand once said, "There is a limit to the concept of choosing the lesser of two evils."

I never thought I'd have to say this, but at least you have the option of going back to Canada where the government there is at least a little more rational.

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To McCain's credit, if it were possible for a government program to be sensible (which it is not), I would say that his "displaced worker" plan was sensible: offer some support to someone in a temporary unskilled job while they get training of some kind to do a better, skilled job. His comment about "those jobs aren't coming back" was a refreshing dose of very true, realistic talk. At least McCain seems to understand world economics, and the principles of foreign policy.

True, but he said that in Michigan before the primary, as well. He lost to Romney, who pandered and promised to bring those jobs back. Michigan is an important swing state in the general election.

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If I could vote (which I can't yet), I don't think I would vote for either candidate. As Rand once said, "There is a limit to the concept of choosing the lesser of two evils."

I never thought I'd have to say this, but at least you have the option of going back to Canada where the government there is at least a little more rational.

Is this meant to be serious?

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I was fascinated by his discussion of his conversion to altruism also. And it was just a simple minded error, on his part. He was tortured savagely by the Vietnamese, and his fellow prisoners basically slapped him on the back and said, "Come on Johnny, you can make it. We'll even feed you while your arms are broken." So McCain thought that since a man can't survive on his own, in this particular situation, then altruism must be the only ethical morality. What he was really learning is that a man is not in a very good situation on a desert island (or alone and surrounded by enemies in wartime) - whether he's an altruist or an egoist. When your friends help you eat, they are not sacrificing themselves or being altruistic. They are good natured men who want other good natured men, such as they obviously felt McCain was, to survive and prosper, so it was in their interest to help him. To advocate rational self interest is not to advocate that a man should run to a desert island and spurn the company of men, to prove he can "make it on his own, without help," nor does it mean that you should never help anyone you value. That mistake turned McCain into an altruist, from the self-confident American he had been.

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I was fascinated by his discussion of his conversion to altruism also. And it was just a simple minded error, on his part. He was tortured savagely by the Vietnamese, and his fellow prisoners basically slapped him on the back and said, "Come on Johnny, you can make it. We'll even feed you while your arms are broken." So McCain thought that since a man can't survive on his own, in this particular situation, then altruism must be the only ethical morality. What he was really learning is that a man is not in a very good situation on a desert island (or alone and surrounded by enemies in wartime) - whether he's an altruist or an egoist. When your friends help you eat, they are not sacrificing themselves or being altruistic. They are good natured men who want other good natured men, such as they obviously felt McCain was, to survive and prosper, so it was in their interest to help him. To advocate rational self interest is not to advocate that a man should run to a desert island and spurn the company of men, to prove he can "make it on his own, without help," nor does it mean that you should never help anyone you value. That mistake turned McCain into an altruist, from the self-confident American he had been.

John McCain learned about his altruism at the U.S. Naval Academy which he has admittedly said he rebelled against. It was in Hanoi, where he surrendered to it.

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Is this meant to be serious?

Brad's from Canada. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek. Consider, though, that they have a newly-reconstituted Conservative party in power that has cut taxes and increased drilling in Alberta. It just took a complete annihilation of the old Progressive Conservative party (kind of like the one I'm proposing we do to the GOP here) to make it happen. The difference there is that the PC were socially moderate while the new Conservative party is socially conservative. However, in Canada the issue was that the PC's didn't follow through on their promises, whereas here, it's the far-right and "neocons" who have damaged the GOP's credibility, which is why I'm hopeful that a party realignment here would shift a reconstituted GOP closer to the center on social issues.

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Consider, though, that they have a newly-reconstituted Conservative party in power that has cut taxes and increased drilling in Alberta. It just took a complete annihilation of the old Progressive Conservative party (kind of like the one I'm proposing we do to the GOP here) to make it happen.

I suggest you check your facts. And I do not see the relevance or positive impact of a GOP movement such as you have suggested.

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I'm a bit perplexed about this outcry about the role of altruism in McCain's philosophy. What kind of altruism is it? Is he planning to raise taxes to 95% in order to practice his altruism and force alms out of the wealthy? Or, is he implementing this altruism by trying to build a national health service and grant 'rights' to healthcare? The only way this gets expressed is in timid endorsements of voluntary Peace Corps and a few tear-jerking invocations of 'service', always voluntary, packaged together with lower taxes and a dwindled government. Where is the actual foundation for why we must recognize McCain's altruistic evil? Does McCain prefer the draft? Sure, but that's because he's a soldier and many soldiers actually prefer the notion of draft, as expression of patriotic duty. But surely he's never tried to impose it on anybody, the public outcry would be tremendous against it, and a democratic Congress would hardly be a party to it. So I simply don't understand these phantom dangers of McCain's altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

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So I simply don't understand these phantom dangers of McCain's altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

Nor do I. I am more concerned with the dangers of Obama's New Left altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

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Is this meant to be serious?

Brad's from Canada. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek. Consider, though, that they have a newly-reconstituted Conservative party in power that has cut taxes and increased drilling in Alberta. It just took a complete annihilation of the old Progressive Conservative party (kind of like the one I'm proposing we do to the GOP here) to make it happen. The difference there is that the PC were socially moderate while the new Conservative party is socially conservative. However, in Canada the issue was that the PC's didn't follow through on their promises, whereas here, it's the far-right and "neocons" who have damaged the GOP's credibility, which is why I'm hopeful that a party realignment here would shift a reconstituted GOP closer to the center on social issues.

From what I've seen I wouldn't be surprised if Canada is actually in a position right now to improve more than America. I've seen people in America pine for a health care system (as well as other programs) similar to what Canada already has in effect, whereas if you read newspapers in Canada you often find letters to the editor lamenting the health care system already in effect, and the impression I have gotten is that large numbers of Canadians are quite disgruntled at the higher taxes they pay.

So the situation could be that many people in America may mistakenly be pushing for new socialist programs/policies, whereas the Canadians already have made the mistake and are regretting it, and could be in a position to learn from it.

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John McCain learned about his altruism at the U.S. Naval Academy which he has admittedly said he rebelled against. It was in Hanoi, where he surrendered to it.

Rick,

Yes! John McCain's altruist conversion occured on the battlefield (in this case the battlefield was inside a Hanoi dungeon), just as his military schooling and the classical stioc world-view of his military upbringing tought him.

The stoic philosophy is that man lives in a malevolent universe, but that he can use the best of his faculties to survive and to perservere at what goals are possible to him in life. The stoic philosophy looks to moral perfection as an end in itself because it does not consider happiness to be either important or possible in life. To the stoic nothing is more important than personal honor...and his honor is measured on the scales of an intrinsicist ethics.

Which ethics?

Well here, the stoic must rely on the ethics that are available in the culture around him...so altruism-collectivism in varying degrees of intensity, are always a part of the stoic's ethics. However, while altruism and collectivism may be primary content of a stoic's world-view, self-reliance and self-perfection remain the justification for why one must be an alturist. (Yes! A contradiction!)

The philosophy of the Stoics has been adopted by nearly every single military force in the history of the world either as its primary or as its secondary philosophy of life. To me, the fascinating thing about this cultural phenomena -- its persistence virtually unchanged down through 2000 - 2500 years of human history -- is that it is the universal nature of war that maintains, renews, and fuels military stoicism. The temporary malevolent universe of the battlefield is the context in which this ethics grows.

It has been said many times -- and for the same reason -- that there are no athiests on the battlefield (which is not true). It would be more accurate to say that everyone on the battlefield -- everyone who remains psychologically capable of functioning under the stress of mortal combat -- everyone is a stoic.

We had an extended exchange on exactly this topic several months back in this forum (I can't remember the tread, but it was under this CURRENT EVENTS heading). In that exchange, I was a skeptic regarding your claims that the U.S. Naval Academy (and may of the nation's other military academies) was a particlualry bad purveyer of modern multi-cultural altruism-collectivism. I pointed out that a major intellectual current in every military culture -- and usually the dominant one -- is stoicism.

Stoicism is a home for every kind of intrincist ethics. In the battlefield soicism and the soldiers' collective efforts at bare momement-to-momement physical survival often fuse into a stoic altruism-collectivism.

The end of Sen. John McCain's speech last night was a frank, remarkable, and very personal account of how a brave young American man was converted into a heroic altruist...an American war hero; the most widely-known hero of the Vietnam War.

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So I simply don't understand these phantom dangers of McCain's altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

Nor do I. I am more concerned with the dangers of Obama's New Left altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

Well, in the very least it's going to lose him supporters (some may choose to abstain or vote for a third party), and at worst it's not a "phantom" danger at all. A lesser evil is still an evil.

In every way except in his ideology, McCain is Obama's opposite. Obama is a master manipulator, he knows how to give the audience what it wants, to play the part of the messiah, the second coming of Jesus or Martin Luther King Jr., or whatever it is they see in him, and his success depends on distracting people from his core supporters. Every person who knows what Obama stands for and campaigns for him is a threat to victory, because it brings his evil into focus.

McCain, on the other hand, is a liability to his own campaign. To his credit, he says what he means, but many of his ideas don't belong in his party. Every time he opens his mouth, his supporters wonder if there's some way around this election. If he wins, it will be because he was carried by people like Giuliani, who actually have good ideas and can sell them.

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So I simply don't understand these phantom dangers of McCain's altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

Nor do I. I am more concerned with the dangers of Obama's New Left altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

You worry too much, Betsy. Illinois isn't California. Pelosi and Reid aren't prepared for the onslaught if Obama sweeps to power. I know the drill. Obama's in it for himself, and couldn't care less about Pelosi and Reid's wishes. Once in power, he'll be less concerned for advancing an altruist national agenda than he is in advancing a (different kind of) altruist agenda for himself. Washington will be filled with patronage hires, and he'll bicker a lot with Pelosi and Reid, who will actually want to advance a legislative agenda he has no time for. Prior to Palin's nomination, I viewed the best case scenario to be 4 years of Democratic gridlock, which would disillusion the left and give a reconstituted GOP a chance at redemption. With Palin on the scene, though, I'm worried that she'll lead an evangelical revolution that will sweep to power in 2012.

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I'm a bit perplexed about this outcry about the role of altruism in McCain's philosophy. What kind of altruism is it? Is he planning to raise taxes to 95% in order to practice his altruism and force alms out of the wealthy? Or, is he implementing this altruism by trying to build a national health service and grant 'rights' to healthcare? The only way this gets expressed is in timid endorsements of voluntary Peace Corps and a few tear-jerking invocations of 'service', always voluntary, packaged together with lower taxes and a dwindled government. Where is the actual foundation for why we must recognize McCain's altruistic evil? ...So I simply don't understand these phantom dangers of McCain's altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

Is John McCain a terrible candidate for President who must be stopped?

Yes!

...and...

No!

My thoughts about John McCain as president go in two very opposite directions. (So do my feelings.)

I simultaneously love him and revere him as a war hero and a man of constant standards...and I despise him for his frequent and explicit condemnations of egoism and his initiatives against liberty. He is the most loyal of American loyalists and among greatest of the defenders of American liberty against foreign enemies. Simultaneously, he is a traitor to the core American idea that the purpose of life is the individual's pursuit of happiness and that governments are instituted among men to protect the rights of the individual. Sen. McCain has attacked and materially damaged America's most untrammelled liberty: freedom of speech. But John McCain is the constant and perfect soldier. And John McCain is the inconsistent and self-contradictory political leader.

I'm sorry if my thoughts and feelings about Sen. McCain are jumbled and self-contradictory. I can't help it. My thoughts and feelings about the man are fully in conformance with reality. They're consistent with John McCain's character as a political leader. He is a heroic altruist. (He really is a heroic man...and he really is an altruist.)

I started this thread because I was fascinated and repulsed by John McCain's account of his personal journey from egoist to altruist, last night:

"I was blessed by misfortune because I served with heroes"

"...no man can always stand alone..."

"...I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence."

"My country saved me and I will fight for her..."

"I was never the same man again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my contry's."

"Country first!"

Will I vote for John McCain? I decided several months ago, when Sen. McCain became front runner: Yes.

I will vote to stop Barack Obama from becoming president. I will vote to stop a victorious Obama from extending his coat tails to fellow Democratic Party candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and for the state legislatures of his home state (and mine) of Illinois. I will vote to stop the potential for a fillabuster-proof Democratic Party majority on the Senate and one-party rule in Washington D.C.

I will vote for John McCain as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. I've always thought he'd make a good military CEO...possibly even a great one. I will vote for John McCain as author of American foreign policy. I believe he'll to a passibly good job of defending the interests of Ameircan liberty (and liberty in general) overseas.

I will not vote for John McCain because I agree with his moral philosophy. Our president is not a philosopher-king. He is not the creator of our moral-philosophical culture. Thank goodness he's not.

I will not vote for John McCain because I agree with his fears of Global Warming. I -- like all of you -- view Global Warming as an insane civilization-destroying environmentalist shibboleth. A 10% reduction in world-wide CO2 emissions at least a 5% reduction in the scope of industrial civilization. A 65% reduction, which Sen. McCain has sponsored, would be an unthinkably dark economic depression without end. (Which is why it will never happen...but I don't want anyone to even start to try it.)

I will not vote for John McCain because I agree with campaign finance reform. Back in 2000, I was afraid that the McCain-Feingold bill would:

...[D]eprive[] independent political activists the means to voice their opinions. It is from among these activists that the minority opinion in favor of individual rights is heard. Many ad-hoc committees and single-issue advocacy organizations that fight for individual rights – one topic at a time – will be silenced if they cannont legally obtain, from large donors, the material means required to voice their views. America would lose many of the pro-rights voices that have shamed legislatures into withdrawing the most outrageous of their schemes to violate individual rights.

It turns out that McCain-Feingold did exactly the opposite. It created the 527 organizations and George Soros, one of McCain-Feingold's most active supporters, set up a giant network of 527s to create a privileged position in American election campaigns for his point of view.

George Soros sponsored 527s injected billions of lefist dollars into election campaigns that used to be funded by $100s of millions. His groups now form the main body of what is commonly called the "nut roots" of American politics. Political discourse on the internet has gone from being Libertarian-leaning to new-left hippie, straight up.

In chasing billions of dollars worth of campaign support from Soros-sponsored 527s, the leadership of the aging Democratic Party turned dramatically to the left (back towards their Birkenstock-clad pro-Communist youth). The attempt by Bill Clinton and his Democratic Leadership Coucil to move the Democratic Party away from socialism so that it might survive the collapse of Soviet Communism has failed. In their place we have Soros-sponsored rabble organizing and suborning industrial-scale vote fraud, seeking to overturn legitimate election results in court, and tirelessly condemning government officials who survive such court challenges as unelected court-appointed dictators...if they're not members of the correct political party.

Thanks to McCain-Feingold, America has gained a giant network of anit-rights voices that have shamed legislatures into proposing outrageous schemes to impose defeat in foreign wars, end the production of man-made power. Thanks to McCain-Feingold, this network of anti-rights activists are now more effective in their tireless efforts to replace representative government with a one-party state.

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I'm sorry if my thoughts and feelings about Sen. McCain are jumbled and self-contradictory. I can't help it. My thoughts and feelings about the man are fully in conformance with reality. They're consistent with John McCain's character as a political leader. He is a heroic altruist. (He really is a heroic man...and he really is an altruist.)

That's understandable when you have someone who is such a mixed bag of ideas and actions. He has just enough substance behind his military service to make credible the label of "hero". And yet, his reverence of self-sacrifice is undeniable. It's like if Bill Gates or Warren Buffett ran for President. You couldn't help but admire their wealth creation and business acumen, but then you look at their philosophy, and specifically their altruism, and the picture is extremely muddied.

Fortunately, Objectivism provides man with a context with which to weigh these qualities. Most Americans, being pragmatists, will be bamboozled.

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I'm sorry if my thoughts and feelings about Sen. McCain are jumbled and self-contradictory. I can't help it. My thoughts and feelings about the man are fully in conformance with reality. They're consistent with John McCain's character as a political leader. He is a heroic altruist. (He really is a heroic man...and he really is an altruist.)

That's understandable when you have someone who is such a mixed bag of ideas and actions. He has just enough substance behind his military service to make credible the label of "hero". And yet, his reverence of self-sacrifice is undeniable.

Let's think about that military service a little more. What was his motive for joining the military? Did he view the Vietnam war as just and necessary? Was that a correct view?

It's possible he did view Vietnam as a necessary war, in which case his decision to join was justified. However, is it possible he joined the military because he felt it was his obligation? Did he have collectivist premises from the start, reinforced by his experience there?

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I simultaneously love him and revere him as a war hero and a man of constant standards...and I despise him for his frequent and explicit condemnations of egoism and his initiatives against liberty.

But what do his frequent and explicit condemnations of egoism actually result in? That's what I'd like to know. Where's the proof in the pudding? Let me offer you a contrast by suggesting Hillary, who dosn't say a pipsqueak about altruism but suggests a nationalized health service, and Obama who hasn't a whisper on altruism and the most socialistic voting record in the race.

McCain might say stuff like: "I believe in duty, so let me privatize 90% of government and encourage people's duty to improve their country privately", etc. Words don't have an intrinsic meaning. I go for the proof in the pudding to see what the candidates actually believe in.

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But what do his frequent and explicit condemnations of egoism actually result in?
McCain-Feingold. McCain-Kennedy.

But, given that, and consequences which are significant in their damage to our freedoms, I just listened to McCain's speech and I have to agree with the meat of what you say: He spouts "altruism, service, duty," and believes it, but he is inconsistent and his inconsistency allows him to support vouchers, private health care, lower business and personal taxes, and, most critically, defense of the United States against named enemies, e.g. Russia and Iran. He is definitely bad, I'd never vote for him against any reasonable Presidential candidate, but I cannot vote for an explicit, enthusiastic Socialist. It comes down to giving sanction to evil vs. bad. McCain is mixed-up, broken, and full of bad ideas, but I don't think the damage he'll do will hold a candle to Obama, with his charisma and his consistent Marxist agenda. The True Believer is Obama, not McCain.

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I'm sorry if my thoughts and feelings about Sen. McCain are jumbled and self-contradictory. I can't help it. My thoughts and feelings about the man are fully in conformance with reality. They're consistent with John McCain's character as a political leader. He is a heroic altruist. (He really is a heroic man...and he really is an altruist.)

That's understandable when you have someone who is such a mixed bag of ideas and actions. He has just enough substance behind his military service to make credible the label of "hero". And yet, his reverence of self-sacrifice is undeniable.

Let's think about that military service a little more. What was his motive for joining the military? Did he view the Vietnam war as just and necessary? Was that a correct view?

It's possible he did view Vietnam as a necessary war, in which case his decision to join was justified. However, is it possible he joined the military because he felt it was his obligation? Did he have collectivist premises from the start, reinforced by his experience there?

I don't actually know the answers to any of those questions. It would appear from his self-professed conversion to a more selfless ethic that he was previously more selfish. In the superficial manner in which most people judge political candidates, all it takes is a few out-of-context concretes slapped onto military service to qualify one as a "war hero". He has enough to convince people that he will be a good military leader. In my limited knowledge of and interest in his captivity, I gather that he resisted giving intelligence and cooperation to his captors. That is the only sense in which I could regard him as heroic, because even if he did it sacrificially, it still helped our fight.

For me, there isn't enough substance to his heroism to support the idea that he would be a decent Commander-in-Chief. Whatever philosophical basis he holds that motivates him to defeat our enemies is suffocated by his devotion to duty and sacrifice. He seems to be a lock now for President, and I see many more Iraq meatgrinders in our future, and quite possibly a renewal of conscription.

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I've been thinking about this issue of McCain's "conversion" to altruism. Given the situation, I don't think that that is an accurate description. I think a more accurate description is what Rand calls "The Ethics of Emergencies." The pertinent issue here is:

It is important to differentiate between the rules of conduct in an emergency situation and the rules of conduct in the normal conditions of human existence.

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An emergency is an unchosen, unexpected event, limited in time, that creates conditions under which human survival is impossible—such as a flood, an earthquake, a fire, a shipwreck. In an emergency situation, men's primary goal is to combat the disaster, escape the danger and restore normal conditions (to reach dry !and, to put out the fire, etc.).

McCain was most definitely in an emergency situation: a tortured captive who thought he was near death. Given that situation, he was struggling for an idea or principle upon which to cling to hope and life. He apparently came up with the idea that his love of his country would pull him through, that something "bigger than himself" would give him purpose. After he was freed from captivity, he held on to that idea and translated it into action as the purpose of his life. The error that McCain apparently made was that he adopted an altruist idea when he was in an emergency situation and held onto that principle once he returned to "normal" life. He did not grasp that the ethics of emergency was not applicable to every day life. This can be seen when he urges others to live for something bigger than themselves. Such an idea clearly leads to collectivism, not something that I think McCain would explicitly advocate.

So, in essence, I think that McCain has made an intellectual error, one that I personally can forgive him for having if he actually changes into someone who really believes in freedom and gets rid of his mixed economy premises. Although I am not optimistic about that.

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So I simply don't understand these phantom dangers of McCain's altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

Nor do I. I am more concerned with the dangers of Obama's New Left altruism which must be stopped at all costs.

I can agree with that. But my concern is the way in which altruist-statist collectivism has been turned into a new major theme of the GOP and of McCain's personal philosophy. These are not just some words he utters, he passionately believes it. And we all know that a person's basic moral beliefs are what will be most important in determining their behavior, regardless any secondary rhetoric. For example, he is personally hostile to wealth and success--read T.J. Rogers' personal anecdote about McCain in this interview:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-9887435-38.html

If the military draft is ever re-instated, here is how it will work:

1. Some precipitating military or terrorist event will lead *conservatives* of the altruist-statist stripe to foment for the draft

2. The liberal-left (and many on the right) will see a golden opportunity to institute compulsory "service"

3. The two camps will form a coalition, and re-instate the draft alongside a compulsorary "service" system, such that ALL young people of the draft age will either have to serve in the forces or the "americorp" or whatever it will be called.

If anyone were to be an enabler, ney, full-on initiator of this sequence, it would be altruist McCain.

In McCain's favor, I noticed that he threw barely and absolute minimum "pro-Life" bone out, and didn't even mention it explicitly, but used the phrase "culture of life". However, he does commit on his web site to using the presidency to insure he will appoint anti-Roe/Wade judges to the Supreme Court.

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