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05 September 2008

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daskro

So how do you really feel about Dick Cheney?

Sarcasm aside, Cheney's sabre-rattling on behalf of Georgia isn't too different than what Obama's policy advisers, such as Brzezinski and Beers, have been doing in the last month.

frogspawn

The only argument I can think of for the whole deathwatch beetle position is that it allows for someone to step in for an incapacitated President who can be brought up to speed quickly while minimizing the disruption to the rest of the federal government (ie the Speaker of the House doesn't have to drop everything s/he is doing to assume the Presidency, leaving the Speakership vacant in a time of possible national emergency), and to serve as a presidential emissary when the President cannot attend him/herself.

I agree that the BushCheney two-headed monster has not served the nation well.

J

Colonel,

i once again beg the question -- do we really need either the office of the presidency or vice presidency? the only answer i can arrive at is -- NO, we do NOT need the presidency NOR do we need the vice presidency.

for day to day operations of the republic, like you said, the current occupant of the white house spend roughly 50% of his time in the gym, or snorting.

for times of crisis, the 50 state governors with congress's input could appoint a board of the governors with a person in charge for criical matters of state.

in the case of war, the only way for the nation to become engaged in a war outside of purely defensive mutations, would be that it requires a vote of the entire populace of the republic. unless the majority of the republic's citizenry approves a war footing, war is a - no go.

now if the republic were to be attacked, then the appointed 'person in charge' would the governor's point person to coordinate with the cjcs/jcs/cos's/nmcc/nsc are required.

there is really no futher 'need' for either the office of the presidency or vice presidency. they are obsolete just like king george who fought against the colonies, george lost. it's time that the 'colonies' once again had the upper hand and threw out the european governance style (king/potentate/president/minister). and such would return the power back to the states and their citizenry and away from big business/rnc/dnc/media conglomerates.

Yours Truly

Col. :

What's with white dudes & dreams of apocalypse? The effects of servin' in Nam? (Was he even there in the 1st. place, help me clarify, anyone?) PTSD lastin' right up to that age?

Curious

I have to say I agree with the "abolish" veep. It's such a strange position after the "but we need back up" idea is removed.


Veep is not even "elected" but chosen by president. Public vetting is so much shorter than a president. And everybody else inside the carefully defined line of succession is elected. (well maybe not the cabinet members, but they have to be confirmed by congress)

for eg. Palin would make a disastrous president for sure if McCain is incapacitated.

----

btw. Even Cheney say VP was trying to make an argument he is neither legislature nor executive. He is a branch onto himself. lol.

Duncan Kinder

With all due respect, Col., the office of First Lady has even less constitutional standing than that of VP.

Bush could pull the plug on Cheney tomorrow if he wanted to. He clearly doesn't want to.

So the real problem with with Bush - not Cheney and, institutionally - with the presidency not the vice-presidency.

Castellio

Do the Ukrainians really want to be the new Mujahadin?

What they need is time with stable borders and friendly neighbours. What they get from the US is a constant push for them to become proxy warriors.

I hope it won't wash.

Helpless Dancer

Anyone else notice that whenever Cheney goes abroad, the situation of the area he visits suddenly worsens?

jamzo

i think your comments on the power of the vice president's office are timely and important

while vice presidents have been given more to do in recent administrations, the bush-cheney situation is different

little is said about bush's decision to delegate significant powers to cheney

it is a radical departure from historical and political tradition

i personally think it is an example of an antiquated leadership of an elite class from an earlier time

when nobles relied on capable commoners to manage affairs

bush II seems to operate in the presidency much as he operated as the nominal executive of the texas rangers

he seems to be removed from the work of governing, delegating power to loyal subordinates, keeping close watch on their loyalty, limiting his involvement to decision-making that no one else can make but him

the excerpts from woodward's new book seem to support this notion

Curious

This one starts spreading across the net. I wonder what Cheney is doing in there...

just have to wait for the Russian to react. They must know something.

http://www.metimes.com/Security/2008/09/02/commentary_israel_of_the_caucasus/f5e1/

In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.

The attack ordered by Saakashvili against South Ossetia the night of Aug. 7 provided the Russians the pretext for Moscow to order Special Forces to raid these Israeli facilities where some Israeli drones were reported captured.

At a Moscow news conference, Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of staff, said the extent of Israeli aid to Georgia included "eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for clearing minefields." Estimated numbers of Israeli trainers attached to the Georgian army range from 100 to 1,000. There were also 110 U.S. military personnel on training assignments in Georgia. Last July 2,000 U.S. troops were flown in for "Immediate Response 2008," a joint exercise with Georgian forces.

Details of Israel's involvement were largely ignored by Israeli media lest they be interpreted as another blow to Israel's legendary military prowess, which took a bad hit in the Lebanese war against Hezbollah two years ago. Georgia's top diplomat in Tel Aviv complained about Israel's "lackluster" response to his country's military predicament and called for "diplomatic pressure on Moscow." According to the Jerusalem Post, the Georgian was told "the address for that type of pressure is Washington."

hotrod

COL Lang -

Generally agree with your assessment, though I don't agree with abolishing the position (if that is your suggestion). I do think the media\beltway narrative has evolved in favor of the functional VP, but I don't think the broader public particularly cares. The current model is fragile, and can\should\will revert to something close to the traditional form. The (disasterous) Cheney model is likely a one off that will strenthen the tendency to revert. I think that both of the current VP nominees are likely to be used in something closer to the traditional role - and that's not a slam against either.

J -

Respectfully (sort of), you're pushing your no-executive model hard, and it just won't work. You have to have a guy\gal at the "top". It may look different than what we currently have, or take different forms, but you need someone who can focus operations\energy. The apppointed in times of crisis (Procounsl?) thing sounds great, but what happens when it's more complicated than you make it sound. You'd wind up with a semi-permananent charismatic Governor kinda sorta running things - but with a weaker Constitutional foundation and body of law\tradition setting boundaries. You'd probably also wind up with an EXTREMELY politically powerful military, though I'm less sure about that.

Think about it - "with congress' input", "defensive mutations", "board of the governors", "point person" - you're not describing a pretty process. And foreign\military policy set in detail by popular vote is a silly concept. "Only fight defensive wars" sounds great - until you realize the world isn't simple, the boundary between offense and defense isn't clean, and stumbling into conflict is an aspect of the human condition, not a function of Government Organziation Charts.

Now if you want to talk about breaking up the concept of Imperial Presidencies and\or returning power to the States - well, then I'm on board.

Curious -

The VP most certainly is elected, though I agree it's lesser vetting. The President can't fire the VP, though he can sideline him\her. And the "just in case he dies" thing does, in fact, matter.

dan

Was there an agreement between Georgia and Israel regarding use of airfields for attacks on Iran?

Simple answer - Not very likely.

Georgia is simply not that useful for launching an attack on Iran.

In the first place, the IAF would have to fly its assets across Turkey, con permissio, to reach Georgia, which would be somewhat tough to hide and would raise LOTS of eyebrows, park them at an airfield, along with all the logistics support necessary ( virtually none of which is available from the local host ), and then violate the airspace of either Turkey or Azerbaijan ( or both ) to get to Iran. This would have to be done without ANYONE noticing, for the purposes of opsec and tactical surprise which complex airstrikes on Iran would require.

It's doubtful whether the IAF can guarantee the surprise factor if they stage from home bases - this element goes completely out of their hands if they try to use a third-party; Georgia is, quite possibly, the silliest place to try this from.

It's possible to make a more convincing case for the IAF to use Georgia as an exit strategy, but there are still significant problems involving a long flight over mountainous Iranian territory, fuel starvation issues, and airspace violations of third-parties en route to Georgia; more crucially, this scenario implicitly assumes that Georgia is perfectly happy to end up in a state of war with Iran. There's also the off-chance that IAF planes then get stranded in Georgia for a period of time in the aftermath because no-one ( ie Turkey ) will open up their airspace to allow them to fly home.

There's been this curious tendency over the past few years to try to back-fit everything that happens from the pre-determined conclusion that Israel or the US is going to attack Iran; part of this tendency involves a serious over-estimation of, in particular, Israeli economic, political and diplomatic capacities and assumes that any country that might be operationally useful will automatically assent to being a willing puppet in clear and direct violation of its own sovereign interests ( which, for every single country that borders Iran involves the continuation/expansion of normal diplo-political-commercial relations ).

Matthew

Isn't Cheney unique to the Bush Administration? He saw his shot, and he took it. It is hard to see McCain feeling he needs to "managed" by the C-in-C of the Alaska National Guard.


hope4usa

Col.,
I just watched the video clip from the Rep. Conv invoking 9/11. The clip is posted with a clip from Keith Olbermann on Huffington Post. I don't know if you saw it at the convention. Repeatedly in the past few months McCain either deliberately or in error has confused Sunni and Shia extremists. The video clip about Muslim extremists wanting to kill us starts with the Iranian Embassy takeover and culminates with 9/11. Obviously again mixing Sunni and Shia as Muslim extremists all out to get us. I would be interested in your view on it. I can't believe that this is a coincidence.

JohnH

The main role of the VP has been to direct undercover operations. Fortunately, Sarah Palin does not have the intimate knowledge of the federal bureaucracy needed to pull this off. Of course, she could turn out to be just a figurehead in David Addington's office...

The more serious question here is what Cheney thinks he'd doing in Georgia and Ukraine. It looks like he is signaling that we are prepared to start WWIII or WWIV, depending on your count, over the BTC. Georgia and Ukraine should be very, very alarmed, because they will become the "collateral damage," along with Poland and the Czech Republic.

VietnamVet

Colonel

After being a participant in one of the battles of the Cold War, the Vice President blustering in Georgia is senseless. Other than being mentally incompetent, the only alternative reasons for starting the New Cold War are:

Dick Cheney believes that Mutually Assured Destruction is not in play.

The Georgians believe that with American and Israeli help they can re-conquer South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Dick Cheney believes waving red flags at Russia assures the McCain/Palin election which gets him a keep out of jail card.

Dick Cheney believes keeping Western control of the BP Oil Pipeline is in the American National Interest.

George W Bush makes decisions. He is an instrument of God's Will. He has no guilt for anything that has or will happen. Dick Cheney is the last human voice he hears before he decides.

jedermann

The office of Vice President is really just an existing budget line. One could fill it with one’s otherwise unemployable brother-in-law or with someone who would really be an asset in running the executive branch. George W. Bush realized that he could simply outsource the parts of his job that didn’t interest him to his vice president, Dick Cheney, who was only too eager to oblige. If there had been no vice president, I have no doubt that the CEO President would have found a way to delegate the noisome duties of office to some “special advisor” or other.

John McCain has hired Sarah Palin to be his campaign pit bull. Should he win it will be interesting to see if the maverick can tolerate another maverick (who will, no doubt, feel she has established her own national constituency) or whether he will seek to marginalize her ala LBJ. She might just sink her teeth into his leg and hold on tight. He said himself that she won’t be told to sit down. Obama would probably give Biden quite a bit to do until he caused some kind of embarrassment and then he would quietly be reduced to irrelevance by Obama’s more trusted and familiar advisors.

Making the vice president a collaborator who is subordinate but fully involved and informed in the functions of the office of the president makes all kinds of sense to me as succession planning and as a way of managing. However, since the president cannot actually fire the vice president, if there is reason to reduce the vp’s role the president could be stuck with a real problem in his or her immediate successor, whose lack of constitutional duties could actually give that person a lot of time and opportunity to cause mischief.

This does not answer the question, of course, but then altering the Constitution is thankfully a deliberate process.

J

hotrod,

what is your alternative to the corrupted mess that we currently have? a corrupted mess not of the intent of our founding fathers.

WP

As we discuss the need for the Vice Presidency, we might first ask ourselves whether the term, American Government, is a singular or plural noun.

In many ways, it is appearing more and more that there is no longer a unitary American Government. We might have a Cheney Government, a GWB government, a Defense Department Government, an Intelligence Services Government, and a large group of Corporate and criminal Governments all competing to be The Government?

Seems to me that the plurality of it all may be one of the hearts of the problems we are facing.

Bill W, NH, USA

Saakashvili might appear to be "not all there" but I think it's quite possible he figured out what Cheney and the Israel's were up to and tipped off the Russians, why wasn't that chokehold pass (forget the name) blocked.

William R. Cumming

Before the rise of political parties the US actually had a President and Vice President that were quite opposed politically. With the rise of political parties the VP position became a guarantor of the survival into office of the same party that won the Presidency. Congress by law could assign or restrict VP activities. Also Cheney was a "Kennedy Father" a category of draft exemption that worked only for the politically connected. Many men who went through basic training in the Army with me in the fall of 1967 had children, often more than one, but I did not at that time have children. Most of my law class at Univ. of VA in 1967 had been on active duty or were "Kennedy Fathers".

Jose

Maybe we should switch to the German's Chancellor system, not as volatile as the French nor the British systems:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Germany

Curious

Millennium Challenge Account: slush fund for regime change operation?

and it's already earmarked for georgia? what...? (also, they sure react faster helping the georgian than during New Orleans/Kathrina.)


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/03/AR2008090301072.html?hpid=topnews


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The aid will be divided into two phases, Rice told reporters at the State Department: $570 million from fiscal 2008 and 2009 funds, and $430 million she said she hopes the next administration will approve.

Rich Green, deputy director of U.S. foreign assistance, said that about two-thirds of the initial $570 million will be redirected from existing accounts, including the Millennium Challenge Account, which funds programs in countries whose governance has been judged democratic, and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. Although those funds have already been budgeted for other countries, he did not indicate where they would be taken from. The rest of the initial phase of the plan would require congressional reauthorization of funds.

Dave of Maryland

The French tried a leaderless government. It was called the Third Republic. DeGaulle swept the last of it (4th Republic) away. With the exception of May '68, the French have been reasonably happy ever since. Native French, at any rate.

It helps to remember that, originally, election day was in November & inauguration was in March. The Framers did not expect Congress to sit 365 days a year, decade after decade. Once upon a time, having a replacement physically present in Washington was a good idea. (That's the one unstated duty of the VP: Live in DC, like it or not.)

For that matter, the original method of electing the president, some sort of state-by-state caucus, has to be better than the current gawd-awful mess. The New York Times says the election come down to Palin vs: Hillary. Huh? One isn't running, and the other isn't running for the top job.

Speaking of top jobs, that growth in McCain's jaw is undiagnosed. Maybe it's been biopsied, but whatever it is, it's not being treated.

Treatment would, most likely, mean removal. Removal means McCain would have his jaw wired shut for 1-2 months, an impossibility for any politician.

Or it means chemo, which means loss of hair & a death-like pallor. Hair loss includes eyebrows. That doesn't seem to have happened, either. Presumably if you ask, it's benign, but then, pay a doctor enough, he'll say anything you like. Someone should suggest an independent examination.

Untreated, how long will McCain last? We'll just have to find out!

Which means a McCain presidency might be darn short. Palin's an energetic hack in the Nixon mold.

kao-hsien-chih

Dave,

The 3rd Republic was the most stable government the French ever had since the Revolution. The government kept shuffling around every so many months, but the regime was rock solid--perhaps precisely because the governments kept coming and going. It was destablized only when there was a government that could keep itself in power more than 9 months (the leftist coalition of the Popular Front in 1930s.) Perhaps there is a real lesson in the French experience.

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