John McCain

John McCain Approves of All Trump Nominees Except the Fiscally Conservative Budget Director Who Dares Question Military Spending

The media's favorite maverick makes his priorities clear: America must stay militarily extended, forever


Maverick springs eternal. ||| Amazon

Get you a man/woman who looks at you the way the political press looks at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) when he's being a "maverick"—i.e., opposing Republican politicians and policies most political journalists dislike. "John McCain has emerged as a leading Republican dissenter," gushed a Boston Globe headline. "The maverick is back," declared the Washington Times. (In fact, the Maverick, not unlike Freddy Krueger, can never ever ever ever ever really go away.)

To be sure, there are obvious hooks to this latest exhumation—McCain's warning-shot about Trump-administration "dysfunction," his opposition to the travel-ban executive order, anxiety about trade wars, one-man repair work on U.S.-Australian relations, criticism of Yemen operations, line-holding on torture, and so on. But where the rubber meets the road in McCain's own Senate votes—on Trump's picks for the Cabinet and other confirmation-requiring positions—the senior Arizona senator has lined up 100 percent of the time with the man who (inaccurately) mocked his prisoner-of-war heroism. From Rex Tillerson to Jeff Sessions, Mike Pompeo to Steven Mnuchin, every controversial and non-controversial nominee alike put forward by a president who clearly disdains and shares few values with McCain has nonetheless received the Maverick's explicit on-the-record blessing.

Until now.

Yesterday, McCain reconfirmed to reporters that he's "leaning against" Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-South Carolina) to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Why would a Republican senator oppose a House Freedom Caucus co-founder known for his fiscal hawkishness, opposition to crony capitalism, and distaste for mercantilism? Because Mulvaney dares question the missions of and expenditures on the U.S. military:

"He's anti-defense," McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.

As a member of the House, Mulvaney regularly opposed funding bills that boosted military spending beyond levels mandated by sequestration, or set cuts.

"He voted to remove all of our troops from Afghanistan," McCain said. "That's just bizarre."

What's even more bizarre than voting to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan is voting constantly to keep them there, while concurrently agitating for ever-more activity abroad by an over-stretched military. Twice as many American soldiers died in Afghanistan during the Obama administration than during its predecessor, and for what, precisely?

McCain's dickish "anti-defense" demagoguery is no surprise here given his rude treatment of Mulvaney at last month's confirmation hearings, during which he slammed the congressman as "an impediment" to military readiness:

Mulvaney said the government's No. 1 priority was defending the nation. "That's nice to hear that you feel they're important because you've spent your entire congressional career pitting the debt against our military and each time, at least for you, our military was less important," McCain responded. […]

"I am deeply concerned about your lack of support for our military, about your continued votes for withdrawals from Europe when we see a world on fire," McCain said. […]

"Don't know you where 9/11 came from?"

McCain's hawkish belligerence is a reminder of the deep fractures that lie just under the surface of the Trump-wary portion of the GOP. On one side, quite clearly, you have the libertarian-leaners. On the other you have the historically anti-libertarian interventionists. It's a weird time when the Twitter feeds of Bill Kristol and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) overlap in critique and tone, but here we are.

As Nick Gillespie pointed out this morning, President Trump's bull-in-china-shop act at least has the side benefit of exposing some of D.C.'s pre-existing pathologies and power structures. Mindless, chest-thumping hawkishness continues to matter more to an entire swath of the Beltway than subsidiary issues like corruption and retrograde criminal-justice policies.

NEXT: You're Not Really a 'Sanctuary City' If You Keep Sending the Police to Harass the Poor

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  1. Cricky, put this drooling old loon out to pasture already. This is the poster boy for term limits.

    BTW, it’s nearly impossible to post here. It’s just getting so bad, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be around here. Not really worth it any longer.

    1. It’s pretty bad between the exodus of regulars, the third-rate trolls flooding threads (I’m not changing my browser to use an app to block people), and technical glitches. If the articles are second rate, as many have been for a while now, it begs the question of why bother.

      1. Where do we go, if not here?

        1. Argentina is nice this time of year, I’m told.

        2. If not now, when? If not Tulpa, who?

    2. Ya do your comments not take most of time?

    3. You should boycott the comments section until your demands are met.

  2. RINOs are gonna RINO. Actions like this really show what the career politicians are actually scared about rather than what they say that they’re scared about – somebody actually threatening their gravy train and their pet spending programs. Hence the pants-shitting over my favorite cabinet nominees, like Mulvaney, Pruitt, Puzder, and DeVos.

    1. Unfortunately, this has also lead the pants-shitters on the left to suddenly think McCain, Frum, and the Weekly Standard crowd are super wonderful people – just the right type of Republicans, because they understand that Trump is the DemonHitler.

    2. McCain’s a RINO and a fraud. His ‘war hero” status derived from his fuckups. Had he followed procedure, he would never have been shot down in the first place. Not the first time he screwed up while flying. If he’d not been protected by a high-ranking father, he would have been in an AMERICAN prison instead of a Vietnamese prison.

  3. “He voted to remove all of our troops from Afghanistan,” McCain said. “That’s just bizarre.”


        1. How bizarre, how bizarre

  4. Lindsey Graham will set him straight

    1. i c wat u did thar

  5. “Don’t know you where 9/11 came from?”

    The 9/11 is coming from inside the House!

    1. Saudi Arabia?

  6. If anyone has insight into how the military should operate, it’s the guy who crashed five planes, almost blew up an aircraft carrier, and got captured.

    1. Don’t forget that he bravely recited propaganda for the Communist Vietnamese Government.

    2. Yea why is he considered heroic

      1. He’s an Ace. He helped destroy 5 aircraft. They were all American aircraft but they why should we discriminate against that?

        1. He’s an Ace. He helped destroy 5 aircraft. They were all American aircraft but they why should we discriminate against that?

          When we have to shoot down all those F4’s, F5’s. and F-14’s the Iranians are still (barely) flying around, McCain’s expertise destroying American aircraft designed forty-plus years ago will be invaluable.

    3. In fairness, McCain’s only part in the Forrestal flight deck fire was sitting in his A-4 when it (or an adjacent aircraft) was struck with a missile that ‘cooked off’ from an aircraft on fire. He WAS a crappy pilot, but not to blame for the Forrestal fire.

      And, IMO, he is a senile old fart RINO that should have retired years ago. But the voters of Arizona apparently love him and the MIC definitely love him.

  7. McCain’s hawkish belligerence is a reminder of the deep fractures that lie just under the surface of the Trump-wary portion of the GOP. On one side, quite clearly, you have the libertarian-leaners. On the other you have the historically anti-libertarian interventionists.


    From what i can tell, the hawkish “McCain pconstituency” is largely limited to himself, Lindsay “its not a girl’s name” Graham, and Tom “Pick’n” Cotton. (maybe 1 or 2 others)

    I think if there is a coherent ‘trump wary portion’ of the GOP, that its not one consistently defined by some fake “non-interventionist vs. Interventionist” dichotomy. Additionally, i don’t think any ‘more-interventionist vs. less so’ split is consistent with “libertarian or non-libertarian” leanings, either.

    This idea that “less intervention” = libertarian by default, is something only libertarians believe. Paleocons are often relatively skeptical about foreign interventions, and they’re not remotely libertarian. and I’d guess that many of the current skeptics about use-of-force are more likely to fall in that camp.

    the fact is that almost everyone in politics is an “interventionist” in some way; its just a matter of *how much*, and where. Pretending that “non-interventionism” is a popular posture taken by anyone is misleading. Even people who consistently argue against US military action don’t necessarily do so for non-interventionist reasons so much as pragmatic or realist ones.

    1. I understand your gripe on this – you’ve been pointing this out for a while now – but I think reason is really just casting after a term that means “not eager for war,” but a term other than “anti-war,” since that term is out of favor for various reasons.

      There is a distinction to be made in the foreign policy attitudes of, say, McCain and Rand Paul. What would you call that distinction? Not trying to be snarky – honest question.

      1. There is a distinction to be made in the foreign policy attitudes of, say, McCain and Rand Paul. What would you call that distinction?

        I think Rand is one of the few genuinely “sorta non-interventiony” types in congress. That said, even he recommended pursuing ISIS aggressively, far enough before his presidential run that it seemed a genuine argument rather than one of convenience. I seem to recall that even as he was asked about attacking ISIS, he’d added points about how US actions often created more problems than they solved, etc.

        iow, if he was trying to pander to warboner types, he was doing so… poorly.

        I think (esp. given Matt’s helpful summary below) McCain is the sort of person who believes that once force is committed, it should be committed entirely and without reservation and everything possible must be done to guarantee total victory (*and probably doesn’t worry about how victory is defined)

        I dont think McCain’s thinking is really sophisticated enough to describe in Wilsonian terms (he believes America must secure the planet to preserve democracy), or Realist ones; he’s more just generically “Military Good” – the purpose of said military not mattering much.

        Rand seems more like a “defensive Realist”; he is leery of action, but if and when he thinks it needs doing, it should be minimized.

    2. This idea that “less intervention” = libertarian by default, is something only libertarians believe.

      It’s not even something all libertarians believe. Probably most, and certainly the Reason editors, but some of us are Hayek/Heinlein/Epstein libertarians, not Rothbard/Rockwell/Raimondo libertarians.

  8. McCain is a lobbyist for non-frugality. He’s never met a billion confiscated dollars that were not entitled to being carelessly blown on the unexplained.

    On the other hand, Welch, you don’t give a shit about being fiscally-conservative as evidenced by your disregard to billions upon billions of confiscated moneys paid to support illegal immigrants and refugees dumped here without discernible examination so why the fuck pretend McCain’s stewardship issue merits a critique from you?

    1. What’s the exact budget figure for spending on refugee support and welfare for illegal immigrants, and how does it compare to say military spending or welfare for citizens?

      1. I wish they collected and reported these numbers for a change…

        1. Well, we know illegal immigrants don’t collect any welfare because they are forbidden by law from doing so and the law is magic. So why even bother looking?

  9. tbh i’ve never quite understood McCains ridiculous one-dimensional “MOAR WAR” posture.

    its not particularly popular with voters. Does he even need to worry about another election? I’d think they just tick his box by default.

    Is he funded by some big defense contractor? i accept that maybe i’m being too cynical and his warboner is *entirely natural* and genuine to his character, but i vaguely remember him being a tad more nuanced back when Bush was throwing the miltary at everything that looked scary. Or at least being the guy who seemed to ask, “what’s the mission?” at least once or twice.

    1. NOTE TOP RIGHT IMAGE IN BLOG POST. HAS ANSWERS TO QUESTION. And no, he doesn’t need to run for re-election again, though I said that six years ago, too.


        I’ve been waiting for the audiobook version, as read by Scarlett Johansson.

        I’m assuming the short answer is, “yes, its genuine”. he doesn’t strike me as a man with very many ideas, and increasingly clings to the few remaining as his mind disintegrates.

        1. The story is more interesting than that. Rough outline:

          Third-generation Teddy Roosevelt American exceptionalist has his faith shaken to its core (understandably!) by being a POW for five years & then returning to a war-bummed America and reading the Pentagon Papers & Best/Brightest and whatnot. Massive ego/ambitions put him into Congress & Senate, where for the first 15 or so years he’s a Vietnam Syndrome realist of sorts, doing stuff like voting against Reagan’s Beirut deployment and saying that American blood on Balkan soil would be worse than Hitler. Then he decides to write his POW memoir as an exercise in running for president (or vice-versa), and along the way of imposing sense onto his life story has the epiphany that America-Fuck-Yeah is his higher power for purposes of a kind of internal 12-step, and declares on the final pages (in the wake of successes in the Gulf War & Bosnia) that America may have lost her way but now she’s BACK, bay-bee! From that day forward (’97-98) he becomes TR 2.0, going to literal war against every global meanie (“Roll State Rollback” doctrine) while waging statist battles at home against anything that would make Americans cynical about their glorious institutions and national project.

          1. thanks, that was very generous

            From that day forward (’97-98) he becomes TR 2.0, going to literal war against every global meanie (“Roll State Rollback” doctrine) while waging statist battles at home against anything that would make Americans cynical about their glorious institutions and national project.

            so i guess my perception of him being a ‘voice of moderation’ in the war on terror (or at least, “less retarded” than the GOP Bible Beating War-Hawks) during the early-mid 2000s was imagined.

            i remember stuff like this

            In September 2005, he remarked upon Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers’ optimistic outlook on the war’s progress: “Things have not gone as well as we had planned or expected, nor as we were told by you, General Myers.”[188] In August 2006, he criticized the administration for continually understating the effectiveness of the insurgency: “We [have] not told the American people how tough and difficult this could be.”[166]

            …but probably wrongly saw it as “realism” when in fact he was angry were weren’t kicking ass harder and more successfully. e.g. send more troops!


        I’ll wait until there is an after after word.

    2. McCain’s beef has always been that he’s not the guy calling the shots, even though he’s the one with the brilliant military mind.

  10. Welcome to New Somalia. 🙂

  11. McCain can suck it. Mick Mulvaney actually does a good job thinking through his positions and votes. He doesn’t vote with Amash and Massie on every single facet of their crusade against all things government, but he can usually be counted to show up in dissent when the proposed spending is clearly fiscally irresponsible. Definitely one of the better reps out there for a budget director.

  12. CNN saying, “GOP doesn’t have enough votes to confirm Pudzer, Asks WH to pull him

    they cite “4 republicans” who are planning to vote against; naturally, don’t say who.

    Sounds pretty BS to me. Since when is *labor secretary* a controversial job in a GOP administration? and what policy threatens sitting GOP senators? is there a strong, pro-min-wage hike caucus in the GOP?

    1. Pending new developments, I’m thinking he’s a shoe-in if DeVos was ultimately confirmed when the #Resistance blew their wad on that.

      1. a shoe-in

        I’m a put mah shoe-in yer ass you keep that up;

        i agree w. your point that DeVos seemed to me the most “difficult” of the nominees. if they couldn’t stop her, they can’t stop fuck-all. The NEA throws a lot of money around.

        i think the next thing they were going to make a big stink about would be the EPA guy, because they can bash him with the “denier” thing. But Puzder…. seems to me to be a wasted effort = no nominee will be pro-labor/min-wage hikes. even if they nixed him, it wouldn’t change that. But what seems strangest is the idea that the opposition here comes from within the GOP.

        1. Thanks for the correction on that term, I just read up on the etymology. To express my gratitude, I will help you tow the lion in future, on any number of things that other people could care less about.

          Like you, I expect Scott Pruitt to definitely get nominated mostly along party loins. Should be interesting to see if Manchin from WV or that fossil fuels bigot lady from ND vote to nominate Pruitt. Maybe the ultimate vote will fall somewhere between the “narrow” Tillerson vote, and the “cunt hair” thin margin on DeVos.

          The only two confirmation hearings I managed to watch substantially were Tillerson and Pruitt. The dynamic was interesting with certain “opposition” Senators having almost a cordial interaction with both – mo (most notably Booker), followed by some grandstanding chastising, followed by the eventual Nay vote. Lots of theatre involved, and gives the viewer a much more detailed idea of what happened than what is bound to take away from the condensed few paragraphs of summary of said hearings by most news outlets. Watching the dynamics in slow-time was pretty enlightening, since I hadn’t watched confirmation hearings at all in the past.

    2. *the video suggests the thing they think he’s exposed to w/ GOP senators has to do with ‘weak positions on immigration’.

      plus some bullshit about ‘nannies’, former divorce, which sounds like character assassination.

      still really sounds like bullshit to me.

    3. The 4 Republicans in question are the two RINOs that voted against DeVos, Collins of ME and Murkowski of AK, and Tim Scott of SC and Johnny Izakson of GA. None of them have said that they weren’t going to vote for him, they’re just on the undecided column. My guess is that the two southern senators will vote for him, and that the 50-50 Pence tiebreaker scenario applies again.

      1. My guess is that the two southern senators will vote for him, and that the 50-50 Pence tiebreaker scenario applies again.

        yeah that makes sense.

      2. Fox is now reporting that the Puzder nom is being recalled.

        1. That’s too bad, but I assume that part of the issue is that he’s way too easy a target for the leftist “SEXIST!” card, considering the (retracted and 27 yr-old, mind you) abuse allegation and those Carl’s Jr. bikini model commercials. Combine that with being libertarian-leaning and anti-minimum wage, which threatens the political order and is against the status quo, and I’m unfortunately not surprised. 🙁

          1. Fox suggested the main reason was his employment of an illegal nanny, which seems to be the #1 source over the years of scuttled cabinet positions/judges, etc.

            they always seem to find that everyone hires off-the-books domestic labor.

        2. Wait, what in the holy hell? Link?

          What I heard just now that the administration is withdrawing the nomination according to “a source outside of the white house.”

          From another [CBS] source:

          “Asked why, the source said, “I think he’s very tired of the abuse.

          Another source working on Puzder’s confirmation preparation also told Garrett that the odds were about 80 percent odds that the CKE Restaurants executive would pull out of the nomination.

          I’ll believe it when I see it. Part of being a big-balls CEO involves defense of your positions, and I am sure this is not his first rodeo. As far as the “80%” chance thing, a situation of having numbers pulled out of asses I reckon.

  13. o/t….today in the annals of prog idiocy, I give you Sally Kohn:

    Sally Kohn
    ? ?@sallykohn

    Straightforward from here:
    1. Impeach Trump & Pence
    2. Constitutional crisis
    3. Call special election
    4. Ryan v Clinton
    5. President Clinton

    9:21 AM – 15 Feb 2017

    1. 1. What impeachable offenses has Pence committed?
      2. There is no “constitutional crisis” if you remove the President and Vice President. The Speaker of the House is next in line.
      3. There is no constitutional provision for a special election of the President.
      4. Even if there was, why would those be the candidates?
      5. Yeah, right.

      1. The fact that she conjures up a special election out of thin air is my favorite part. Constitution? Pfffft, who needs it?

    2. Clearly that one knitted her pink pussy hat way too tight.

  14. What the…?

    [S]ince the election, there has been a noticeable increase in the flow of dubious and unsupported claims among liberals. One widely circulated post on Medium portrayed the Trump administration’s fumbling rollout of a travel ban in late January as an elaborate “trial balloon for a coup d’?tat.” Brooke Binkowski, managing editor at the rumor-tracking site Snopes, recently told The Atlantic that she has been seeing more false reports aimed at liberals or from liberal sources ? “a lot of dubious news, a lot of wishful-thinking-type stuff.”

    Even some prominent liberals like Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, seem open to conspiracy theories of the sort typically espoused by figures like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. (After the recent violent demonstration at the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Reich raised the possibility that the far right “was in cahoots” with the agitators, writing a blog post titled “A Yiannopoulos, Bannon, Trump Plot to Control American Universities?”)

    Facts have apparently lost their liberal bias, or something.

    1. Even some prominent liberals like Robert Reich


      Even pillars of integrity and honesty like Robert Reich?

      The world truly is turning upside down.

  15. 3. Call special election
    4. Ryan v Clinton

    Come on, Sally. Why fuck around?

    3. By acclamation, appoint Barack Hussein Obama President-for-Life

  16. Fox is now reporting that the Puzder nom is being recalled.

    Anti-robot bigots triumphant.

    1. Puzder was only talking about automation in the current labor environment. If people were really afraid of robots taking over the workforce, then they should abolish the minimum wage. When faced with two options, humans will almost always want to deal with a live human at the cashier than a robot (see grocery store check-out lines as an example). Robots are only a threat if the cost of labor is so high that the robot becomes the less expensive option.

  17. So we have Courageous Republican Dissenters standing up for the teachers’ unions and for military bloat, but when it comes time to dissent from a nomination because the nominee believes in literal highway robbery, Sen. Paul is AWOL.

  18. McCain’s wrong a lot and spending should be done more carefully,but we are the world’s policeman,like it or not.

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