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22 March 2008

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JohnH

Cheney, "Reagan taught us that debt doesn't matter," is truly a marvel.

Cheney personifies the absolute corruption of the executive branch. Former President of Halliburton, wife Lynne served on the Board of Lockheed Martin, son-in-law Mike Perry is a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, and daughter Elizabeth serves as deputy assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs.

The Cheney family personifies the corrupt nexus between the energy, war, and government.

The fact that Congress never took Cheney down--or even bothered to point out his massive conflicts of interest--is pretty good proof of the total decay of "representative" government. And it indicates the kind of "democracy" the Bush administration advocates abroad.

Arun

The American people reelected him. Need more be said?

Arun

The American people reelected him. Need more be said?

Greg

I think I remember reading on this site a few years ago about Big Dick manifesting symptons cardiologists refer to as "pump head," i.e., some type of post-operative cognitive decline, including but not limited to major changes in personality, depression, etc., from bypass surgery. Certainly, Big Dick has never had a cheerful disposition; the dark underbelly of his weltenschauung has, however, now blocked out whatever sense of decency he once possessed concerning the views of the public.

Andy

Cheney sees the political landscape pretty clearly, I think, and he understands the Constitutional system of government just fine - in fact, it's part of what has allowed him to exploit it as effectively as he has.

I think I've said before here that this isn't a problem that ultimately rests with Bush and Cheney or the executive - it's a problem rooted in the weakness of others, primarily Congress. The founders purposely provided few ways for the people to compel an elected executive to the collective will - and those ways are dependent upon the other branches of government. Cheney understands that Congress will not compel policy change in Iraq so he knows he can can do as he pleases and safely display is arrogance on national TV. Cheney might argue in defense of his "so" comment that if public support against the war was as widespread as is alleged, then Congress would repeal the AUMF or end funding for the war and I think he would have a point.

Cheney's "so" comment shows just how weak Congress is - a Congress with lower approval ratings than the administration which I don't think is a coincidence. A Congress that prioritizes partisan loyalty, graft and special-interest whoring above the business of the people. A Congress inbred from gerrymandering and money-fueled incumbency. A Congress that talks much and does little on issues of war and peace, but talks little and does much on the diversion of federal dollars back home. A Congress that keeps proposing the same lame "timetable" legislation knowing that it will fail. A Congress too afraid to take real risk to match their rhetoric and the people's will.

No, Cheney understands the situation perfectly. I have no doubt your characterization of him and his arrogant personality is completely correct, but his arrogant display only shows his complete lack of political fear in the face of Congress.

David W

Cheney is the ultimate 'dead-ender,' a man who knows he has been running on borrowed time on this earth, and thus, doesn't give a sh*t about what comes after he is gone.

His ego has been on a 30-year mission to avenge the perceived wrongs against him and his fellow Nixon-era kooks like Rumsfeld.

Cheney, and his fellow redcoats in the 'Republican Revolution' suffer from the same malady; an all-consuming lust for absolute power, as an end in itself--without regard for the actual duties of leadership.

I often wonder what these guys say behind closed doors, and one thing I am convinced of is that they regard themselves as above the law, as in 'we can do whatever we want--who's going to arrest us?'

So far, they exist in a bubble, made by themselves, John Yoo, David Addington, and now Mukasey--these are all tough guy lawyers when writing memos, but what I'd really like to see is them arguing their novel theories in front of a real court--like the Hague.

Of course, the hard thing is to get beyond the Praetorian Guard that Cheney will surround himself with in his new digs in Dubai.

Ronald

"Maybe he is just not all that smart?"

Bingo! This man has exuded (oozed?) competence for decades, but where's the beef? Seriously, has Cheney ever been right about anything? At this point, as with much of the GOP, you can just about take the opposite of what they say to the bank.

It all makes more sense once you realize that he is just not a particularly smart.

For what it is worth, he did fail out of Yale twice.

Also, I cannot get past the sense that the statist authoritarian response to the threat of terrorism (or any threat) is an act of cowardice, not "resolve" or "toughness."

Baba

Col. Lang:

You wrote: "...still managed to rise to the second highest executive branch office in the country..".

Ditto for the Office of the Secretary of Defense - how did the staff of that office get there?

Don Bacon

Is Cheney so wrong? He's simply articulating what presidents including McKinley, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Clinton and both Bushes have done -- maneuver the US into war for power and profit to the detriment of US citizens. The Congress has even acceded to this liberty with the War Powers Act. So give Cheney some credit, he's merely describing the status quo. Besides, the will of the people is easily manipulated, as witness the current polls which show that Iran, yes Iran, is a major US enemy.

Executive privilege is a growing phenomenon in the US, again acceded to by the Congress, and unchallenged by any presidential candidate (of course). It includes signing statements and executive orders, all designed to undermine democracy. There are three current executive orders that put the US in a state of emergency! They were un-legislated!

Cheney is merely sticking it in our faces, that's how confident our "leaders" are of its chances for reversal.

The concept of the Decider is not attributable only to Bush. The current campaign propaganda is all awash about how a new president -- perhaps our messiah -- will decide our fates. Whom will he or she attack? Iran? Pakistan? We wait with bated breath for the word from on high.

Montag

This was predictable when Bush/Cheney claimed a minority Presidency on the basis of the anti-democratic Electoral College Vote, instead of the popular vote--for which there still is NO provision in the U.S. Constitution.

Cheney's self-selection as Bush's worst Vice was also a harbinger of woe. When Calvin Coolidge ran for election as President in 1924 after graduating to the office upon Harding's death, the Republican leaders asked Coolidge to suggest a Veep. Coolidge insisted that he would let the convention make the choice: "It did in 1920, and it picked a durned good man."

alnval

Col. Lang:

Wikipedia cites an interesting 2004 New Yorker article on Cheney by Nicholas Lemann titled "The Quiet Man - Dick Cheney's discreet rise to unprecedented power."

The article describes a totally, almost fanatically, self-directed, self-contained man more interested in imposing his ideas on others as opposed to persuading them.

One could not help but infer from the article that once an idea was planted in Cheney's head it would be nigh on impossible to extirpate it.

In Myers-Briggs terms, a classic ISTJ: rules, rituals, regulations, and right. The kind of person for whom the concept of cognitive dissonance assumes a whole new meaning. That is, Cheney is a person whose decisions are not subject to error even though the wheels fall off the bus. It must have been a major struggle for him to give up alcohol as reported in the Wikipedia article. Apparently this did not happen until he had been arrested twice for DUI at age 21.

A further reading of the recent Martha Raddatz interview with Cheney gives us a taste of the extent to which he will go to rationalize the validity and irrevocability of his decisions.

RADDATZ: So -- you don't care what the American people think?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War. He never would have succeeded if he hadn't had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there. And this President has been very courageous, very consistent, very determined to continue down the course we were on and to achieve our objective. And that's victory in Iraq, that's the establishment of a democracy where there's never been a democracy, it's the establishment of a regime that respects the rights and liberties of their people, as an ally for the United States in the war against terror, and as a positive force for change in the Middle East. That's a huge accomplishment.

From this perspective the title of your post is more than apt.

Indeed, the Vice-President does NOT care what we think! Never has and never will.

W. Patrick Lang

"Pat,
I thought of you (and a comment you made months ago about Cheney and his utter lack of regard for the Constitution) when reading Scott Horton's "No Comment" today. In it, Horton quotes Edmund Burke, referring to the King George III, Lord North and their handling of the American Revolution.


I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which, in the depths of its wisdom, tolerates all sorts of things), that is more truly odious and disgusting, than an impotent, helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched.

But then Horton goes on to say that:

Vice President Cheney’s conduct took the prize. In an interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC News’s Good Morning America, Cheney was reminded that by a margin of two-to-one the American public opposes the war in Iraq. “So?” he responded, expressing arrogant indifference. He went on to say that U.S. policy should not be tailored to fluctuations in public opinion polls. Many would agree. But Cheney is aware that there have been no fluctuations—a large majority have opposed the war for over two years, and voters expressed their views at the polls in 2006 in a similar manner, placing Democrats in control of Congress.


Cheney’s “so” reflects the principle of governance that the Bush-Cheney administration had adopted almost from the outset of its rule: it rejects the fundamental notion of democratic accountability. It rejects the notion of popular sovereignty. It rejects the premise that the powers of the executive are checked by those of the two other coequal branches of government. Cheney’s “so” is a usurpation of power. And it is not the expression of conservative principles, but rather of radical folly, of a feeble mind intoxicated with power." John Anderson

J

Colonel,

i submit to you that cheney is a agent for a foreign power, namely the british empire and british objectives, not u.s.. and mccain is following cheney's lead with his this past thursday foreign money campaign stop over in london hosted by the british banking instiution known as the rothchilds.

Charles I

Its not just usurpation. Its also a cold blooded political technique, whatever one's Meyer's-Briggs type. Never admit, never comment, except in words that rhyme with "no" or "don't know", NEVER TESTIFY UNDER OATH, and carry on regardless until defeat, death or destiny. Obviously, it can be used to great effect by an adept practitioner at opportune moments, often regardless of circumstances.

I'm quite cynical, and agree with Andy and Don Bacon above. Whatever Cheyney's personality, or the state of his cranio-vasculature, this is what they want for whatever ends, and if all it takes to keep the whole house of cards going is a straight face and a terse "So?", well this easier'n it looks. Ultimately, it looks like Pogo, in the mirror, in the Congress and at the drive-through.

I find such a state of affairs much more morally repugnant and disheartening than I would the certainty that Dickie's just a bad shot with a bad heart and a bad personality. Or Bubba's weakness for the flesh, say. This a constitutional crisis engendered by some very sharp operators and supporting cast of thousands. I mean, Clinton saved his dick from being tossed out for a bone-headed blow job and a cookie-jar lie.

This Dick has helped bring your wonderful country, you indispensable, indefatigable people, and the rest of the planet too, to "So?"

Minnesotachuck

Two points to make:
1) If bin Laden or Ayatollah Khamenei had sought to install a "Baluchistanian candidate" in the Oval Office, in their wildest dreams they could not have hoped to have done better than George W. Bush. He proved to be a stupid and impulsive, but fundamentally weak executive who allowed Cheney to hijack his presidency with disastrous results for the country.

2) Andy at 11:49 is right on target re the Congress's enabling culpability. The then minority leader Pelosi had no more right to announce that "impeachment was off the table" in May, 2006, should she become Speaker after the 2006 elections than Bush has the right to pick and choose what elements of the Constitution he will protect and defend.

Serving Patriot

Actually,

I think John Stewart has put it most aptly in a recent show:

"Dick Cheney - International Man of Misery"

SP

Bobo

At least now we have a clear understanding of why we went to war in Iraq from Cheney's "So" comment explanation below.

"THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War. He never would have succeeded if he hadn't had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there. And this President has been very courageous, very consistent, very determined to continue down the course we were on and to achieve our objective. And that's victory in Iraq, that's the establishment of a democracy where there's never been a democracy, it's the establishment of a regime that respects the rights and liberties of their people, as an ally for the United States in the war against terror, and as a positive force for change in the Middle East. That's a huge accomplishment."

Only wish Congress understood this from the beginning and put a stop to it.

Attempting to change another country's political philosophy to fit ours is pure folly.

frank durkee

I think Cheney views life as a zero sum game. He's an excellent player and so far he's winning and those who oppose him are losing, and he and Bush have been able to shape the likely outcome of our next election so that they will continue 'winning'. Why change?
We all know how the game is played. Have an actual or potential conflict, utilize some form of a War powers act to justify Presidential Rule and you're offf and away. So long as your opponents do not have both a super majority to override veto's in both houses and to defeat a filibuster and you can defeat them in all cases, you win and there is little anyone can do about it. "So" becomes the answer to almost all issues. Given their strength in Congress they by and large do not have to negotiate on the issues that matter deeply for them and which they have some constituency for in the country and in Congress.
In great part due to the gerrymandering of the House we have too many districts that are "safe" for one party or the other and thus by and large a schrewd incumbent will be able to stay on the correct side of his/her population. Most of them are actually independent contracters whose real aim is to remain in office they can vote their districts and remain in office. If more districts were in fact available for genuine contests and shifted then their would be more negotiation on the Hill. The Republicans have simply "gamed" the actual existing system well and are still controlling the agenda, by and large. Paranoia may be appropriate, their may be cabals, but basically they are just working the system in a basically open, clear and available way.
This "way" is very disruptive to traditional thinking about our governance and to the 'rule of law'. But the conservatives, including severa now on the supreme cout have been plotting this for some time and are for this time enjoying the fruits of their revoloution. The critical question is whether not their can be a return to an older and different view and actions. That in all probability depends on the level of attack from enemies and the stateof the economy more that any thing else.
Acton was correct:"power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". In our system when the checks and balances no longer work then that corruption will in all probability happen. it will be spun as necessary to protect the Nation, as God's will, or to quote Cheney on the tax cuts "We won the election {2002} and they are our reward".
The only hope for change is to elect enough people at the statelevel who will allow House Districts to be established reasonably and not to enable incumbents to stay for ever. If the Member has to pay attention to conflicted and effective view within his district then he is more available to compromise and negotiation.
One of my hero's Jefferson made two very strong statements about preserving the Republic. First tha it would only survive if the majority of the population had the capacity to sustain themselves by them selves [ yoeman farmers in the 18th Century] and with a reveloution every 20 years or so. It is simply time to overthrow this conservative order and bring in a new one, while laying the grounwork for the nesxt revelotion 20 years down the road.

Homer

Andy: [I]t's a problem rooted in the weakness of others, primarily Congress

I would argue that another primary factor is the highly influential wooden headed dummies in the WH press corp who have been shaping minds by basically repeating the WH talking points for the last seven plus years word for word instead of accurately reporting what has been happening in Iraq.

I mean, come on, how many Americans actually know that in **direct** response to (9/11) attacks conducted by Sunni extremists the Bush admin **inadvertently** caused the fathering of a burgeoning Shia fundamentalist republic in Iraq which has long and intimate ties with extremist elements in Iran.

9/11 + Iraq + oceans of blood + 100s of billions of dollars = Bush's Fundamentalist Islamic Republic in Iraq

WTF????

If Americans knew this, impeachment would be on the table I would hope.

arthurdecco

This has been a fascinating and interesting foray into the psychology and motivations of a man, who more than anyone, is responsible for the mayhem in our modern world. Cheney. He can't have a heart attack fast enough for me. (And I've never thought that way about another human being... Ever!)

Andy, we’ve been at loggerheads over issues in the past but I have to say you nailed it with your post here today.

I’d like to thank everyone for their intelligence and sensitivity.

Having said that, I do have a bone to pick:

"The American people reelected him. Need more be said?" posted by Arun

No, Arun, the easily corrupted voting machines manufactured and clandestinely programmed by companies owned by senior Republican party members tabulated the vote that way in states where the electoral process was controlled by the Republican Party. The citizens of the United States didn't come close to giving a majority of their votes to Cheney and his odious entourage.

Back room ploys, rank corruption and computer manipulation did the deed, not the electorate.

Please don’t ever forget that.

Marcus

"...citizens tell their government what to do."

There's the problem, lack of citizens, and Cheney, Bush and a corrupt Congress are the price we pay.

jonst

compare this:

""Dick Cheney - International Man of Misery". A supposed joke, offer to get a laugh, partially at our own expense, because the guy is a man of misery here, domestically, as well.

with this comment sent to Col Lang, and posted by him, for our benefit:

"I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which, in the depths of its wisdom, tolerates all sorts of things), that is more truly odious and disgusting, than an impotent, helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched."

And we (or I, anyway)see two poles of intellectual process, one designed to make us laugh, the other, I argue, to make us think, and, more importantly, act....

Me personally? I think we have 'laughed our way' thru far too much these days. Stewart not only bores me...what he seeks to do distresses me.

rjj
"A Congress too afraid to take real risk to match their rhetoric and the people's will." Andy

What is Congress afraid of. Do we know?

W. Patrick Lang

jonst

Lighten up man. Solemn is not the same as serious. Spring is coming, even in Maine.

My parents lived there when I was in HS and I remember going to a prom in May with four inches of new snow on the ground. pl

jon

Le Roi, c'est moi = Cheney.

Congress and the courts have declined their constitutional responsibilities to counterbalance the executive, but Cheney led the charge to assume and centralize all power in the Executive. He's gone even further, and claimed to be part of the Legislative branch, when it's suited his purposes, leading some to name him 'Fourthbranch'. Cheney is more powerful than Bush.

Cheney's responsibility is also greater than Bush's, since he never saw life as a continuous frat party and has held several responsible positions in federal government for decades. His behavior and culpability has nothing to do with poor decisionmaking, but in being aggressively destructive to democracy.

Cheney's actions cannot be excused by Congress' supine behavior. Congress' poor polling is due to their refusal to more aggressively engage and reverse the administration. When Republicans had their veto proof majority they enabled Bush and Cheney. Congress' oppositional majorities are now quite slender, and unable to override most vetoes.

If there is justice, Bush and Cheney will eventually stand trial for embarking upon their capricious and unjustified war of aggression against Iraq. Charges should be brought by a state's attorney, or the Attorney General, if we are to truly put things right, but I'll settle for a referral to the Hague.

If we are a nation of laws, they must apply to all equally. The judgments of Nuremberg were not idly arrived at. The ex post facto fig leaf resolution of the UN should have no bearing on the matter.

The ruinous course of this administration on nearly every subject should be a strong corrective to future governments (assuming we can avoid slipping into military dictatorship), and reinforce the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution. The sooner the better.

I'm somewhat mystified at what he believes he can compel and orchestrate amongst foreign governments and our military leadership. His policies have been proven failures, his time in office rapidly coming to a close, the threats and gifts of government largess already spent, and his ability to exert power and influence in the future highly constrained. As with Bush's and Rice's forays, I would expect little concrete and beneficial to result from his retail diplomacy.

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