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02 August 2015

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Imagine

Estimates of the cost of the Iraq war, including future commitments to wounded veterans, are reaching $6T. I believe the mis-allocation of resources in the 2000's is partially at fault for the government's inability to recover well from the crash of 2008. The resulting panic, and actions losing integrity, have contributed substantially to the loss of America's petrodollar. So the enormity of Cheney's actions has yet to be comprehended/appreciated IMO.

Peace is cheaper than war.

Allen Thomson


> in the first term of the Bush 43 Administration.

I have the impression that Cheney's influence went into considerable decline in the second term; it would be interesting to have an account of how that happened if it did. Perhaps it was Bush Jr himself catching on (I think he is brighter than his public image would have it) or someone else gaining the Presidential ear.

Fred

Adam,

Who are the current gatekeepers. It's not like we see many complaints from flyover country make the news like this one:
http://whotv.com/2015/07/23/community-petitioning-to-ban-student-attendance-to-lgbt-conference/

A. Pols

Comparisons between Cheney and Borman float through the mind. I know you dislike comparative inferences between Nazis and others, but the Zelig like presence and all that seems suggestive of same..

Adam L. Silverman

Imagine,

Its also a result of going to war, on two different fronts/in two different theaters, outside of the regular budgetary and appropriations process. Basically, we are the first nation-state in history to go to war while cutting taxes, let alone not creating a designated revenue stream to pay for the war.

Adam L. Silverman

Allen Thomson,

I highly recommend Barton Gellman's "Angler", which is a political history of Cheney's vice presidential tenure. While it doesn't get all the way to the end of the Bush 43 Administration's second term, it does detail the unprecedented nature of how Cheney understood the vice presidency and remade the office in line with that understanding. It is pretty well documented that between 2006 and 2007 that his influence and begun to wane as President Bush became more wary of Cheney's influence. What is so significant about what Cheney did was he wasn't just the gatekeeper of gatekeepers, but he was also a stove pipe. By making sure that he was the last set of eyes to see whatever was going to be presented to the President on the issues that he cared about Cheney was able to spin the pitch of any proposed strategy or policy. According to Gellman and other sources, Cheney would personally hand walk the material into the President and discuss it with him privately. There have been a number of accounts, some in Gellman's book, of how what the Interagency produced for the President's decision turned into what Cheney wanted the President to decide as it went across his desk and to President Bush. My favorite, of course, was when Vice President Cheney, in an attempt to circumvent the National Records Act, declared that the Vice President and his office was not part of the Executive Branch. This led to a number of people referring to Cheney as 4th Branch, because he was asserting that he and his office were a separate branch of the Federal government.

Adam L. Silverman

Fred,

What that article seems to be referring to is a state level conference in Iowa about countering bullying for students, specifically LGBT students. What the reporting indicates is that one of the scheduled speakers went off script and decided to teach a sex ed class during his presentation. From what I can tell from reading it, it looks like the appropriate local officials are on top of it. The appropriate school super intending is addressing the issue at his level, as is the director of the organization that sponsors the anti-bullying conference. I could not tell you who are Governor Branstead's trusted advisor at the Iowa state level.

As to who are the current gatekeepers at the Federal level? I'm honestly not sure. From what I've been able to observe the Obama Administration has allowed the Interagency process to function the way it was designed to do - not that that always (ever?) seems to get us to optimal policies or strategies. My take is that in the first term Secretaries Clinton and Gates covered the foreign policy stuff very well and Secretary Geithner, Director Geithner, Austin Goolsbee, Jack Lew, and Eric Holder all had primacy on the portions of their domestic areas. I really don't understand the dynamics at this point within the Intel Community - I can't tell of the Director of National Intelligence or the Director of Central Intelligence are really the gatekeepers on the intel side - regardless of what the wire diagrams say, though I think a good argument can be made that GEN Alexander at NSA was very dominant and very over indulged. Internally in the White House, my take is that VP Biden has returned the office to a much more traditional one. My understanding is that at different times and on different issues Plouffe, Axelrod, and Jarrett all have the ability to get to the President. I would expect that the 2nd term equivalents of all these folks are performing the roles that their 1st term counterparts did.

Adam L. Silverman

A. Pols,

I actually dislike them because they're too often invoked and almost always wrong. In the case of Cheney and Borman, the unparalleled access may be a closer analogy, and while Cheney advocated for some pretty terrible things, he never, as far as I know, advocated for genocide. Or indulged the delusions of a leader who did.

Jack

Mr. Silverman

The American people have been told by their political and governmental leadership that there is a free lunch. They can have wars, entitlements and corporate welfare without having to pay for it. At worst future generations will pay for it but with new modern economic theory no one will have to pay for it. It's all magical and the American people love it. There's no sacrifice required except for the poor saps who will lose life and limb for whatever myth du jour is created by the propaganda machinery.

annamaria

Peace dividends make no profits for war profiteers. "We do not do diplomacy" and intentional depletion of experts on and near the posts related to national defense have been serving the same purpose - to protect war racket. The social media has no choice but to declare Cheney the most harmful traitor to the US interests.

annamaria

"...he never, as far as I know, advocated for genocide." Correct. Cheney has only arranged - "patriotically" - the sequence of events that led to genocide. See the Iraq War and Afghan War of this century, complete with hundreds of thousands of civilians dead; the part of Iraq contaminated with "something" that has been producing horrific birth defects, and the nation of Iraq (fragmented, bloodied, and bombed into a stone age) going through the civil war unleashed by Cheney-selected strategists.
Unaccountability always produces monsters. In the words of Sokurov, the biggest bloody criminals like Hitler and Stalin were "normal people" that did what they did because they could. As a manager at Walmart, Cheney would be relatively harmless. As a vice-president, he has been a disaster for the US and other nations. And the rot has been spreading: compare the secure academic position of pliable John Yoo to the treatment of noble John Kiriakou.

confusedponderer

annamaria said:
"Peace dividends make no profits for war profiteers ..."

I must srtongly disagree with that.

War is usually not made for profit but because of stupid. War profiteers profiteering demonstrate uopportunistic behaviour at work, but the profits are usually not the cause of war.

War is IMO the result of a misplaced trust in a military fix for political problems (the silver bullet), foreign and domestic, and a misplaced trust in the efficacy of force as a tool for policy in general.

When the US doesn't do diplomacy, it is out of exceptionalist vanity, out of conceit.

For one this is born of idea that America is exceptional and imbued with great virtue, and the factual understanding the US does have great power, and then, it is about the idea that compromise constitutes weakness politically (read: domestically).

The most absurd expression is the oft expressed suggestion what the effect of dialogue with enemies entails: It would legitimise the enemy - just as if American glory could rub off on evildoers, and they don't deserve it. Imagine Putin or Assad with a whiff of American glory - people could think they're worth living after all.

It isn't about protecting some war racket, but about the silly moralistic contention that the US doesn't talk with evil but defeats it.

That is a common thread that runs basically uninterrupted from Bush 43 to the Obama administrations. Case in point is US designs for Syria:

The neolibs in Obama's crew are outraged that Assad doesn't accept the generous American terms for his unconditional surrender. They don't have any alternative outcome, since they atre unwilling to back down (as that would indicate weakness). This yet may lead to war not because there is any profit in it, but because the administration has boxed themselves in so much that they have denied themselves alternative approaches.

William R. Cumming

Cheney is worthy of more biographical study and amazing that multiple heart attacks did not slow his focus. His term as SECDEF also worthy of more complete study.

And when Donald Rumsfeld was Director of President Nixon's COAT OF LIVING COUNCIL after leaving OEO [Office of Economic Opportunity] and before becoming Ambassador to NATO, Cheney was the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of CLC and he closely monitored IRS enforcement strategies during Phase II of Nixon's Wage, Price, Rent Freeze!

John Connally was the Secretary of the Treasury throughout Nixon's Economic Stabilization effort. And Cheney was Rumsfeld link to Connally!

Adam L. Silverman

Jack,

Actually I think its more like you have to cut entitlements to pay for corporate welfare and wars, but you are correct that this is a fiscal crisis of our own making. We are the wealthiest nation on the planet, if not in history, yet we have legislators who have once again gone on vacation without coming up with a way to fund the maintenance and upkeep of our roads, bridges, and tunnels. As I seem to say more and more often: this is no way to run a superpower!

Adam L. Silverman

annamaria,

Despite the civilian death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither is a genocide. They are both unfortunate, they were both avoidable, but their was not and is not a formal or informal US policy to exterminate Iraqis or Afghans - regardless of sect, tribe, and/or ethno-national/ethno-linguistic group. I am in complete agreement that we are required to fulfill our treaty obligations regarding war crimes, which, because they were ratified by the Senate are also now part of US law. We have this obligation because we bound ourselves to it, because by not doing so we will never have a proper accounting, let alone accountability for what was done and by whom, and because by not doing so we reduce our ability to demand that others 1) do not commit such acts themselves and 2) hold their own accountable.

Adam L. Silverman

William R. Cumming,

One of the most interesting things about VP Cheney was reported in one of John Dean's books on authoritarianism. Dean was able to get a cardiologist to go on the record about Cheney's cardiac condition who indicated that the type of pacemaker that the future vice president was fitted with is only prescribed for and used in cardiac patients that basically have no heart function. The cardiologist explained that it wasn't so much a pacemaker, rather it was an internally implanted defibrillator that was used on cardiac patients that couldn't afford even the minimum delay of having someone apply an external defibrillator if their heart failed. Obviously he made it through two terms, but they had to seriously mislead the press and the American people about his medical health and cardiac condition to do so. Given how sick he was, it also makes one wonder how, other than he was a former vice president, he was able to get a heart transplant.

ISL

I think the moral damage outweighs the cash (which anyway follows long term trends) - the US now has a global policy of assassination by drone, openly tortures, and more importantly, openly states that international law does not apply to the US, with the balance of power between the three branches, now almost non-existent. Meanwhile while the US was Middle-east focused, China transformed in a bit over a decade from a fraction (1/10) the size of the US to economic parity. Firefly caught this so well - everyone in the future curses in Chinese.

I do not look forward to a future where the precedent has been set that rule of law does not apply (but hey we are consistent - its also true domestically - S&L banks under Reagan versus Eric Holder), that conventions on things like torture do not apply to the most powerful, and China is five times the economy of the US. It will be a very different world, where I anticipate China and allies will treat the US as we treat most middle eastern countries in.

William R. Cumming

Perhaps a P.S. and remember I retired in October 1999 from FEMA [16 years out in two months] but perhaps an anecdote of interest.

In early May 2001 VP Cheney held a major PRESS CONFERENCE almost unattended. He announced that President Bush has personally assigned him to lead a study of how the domestic response and recovery to TERRORISM should be handled.

Cheney named an active duty Admiral to lead the study for him. Also a new NATIONAL PROTECTION DIRECTORATE was created at FEMA which had been assigned some terrorism role in Executie Order 12148 issued in July 1979. After the Murrah Bldg. attack President Clinton had issued a PD [Presidential Directive] #39 in June 1995 formally assigning the FBI the so-called CRISIS MANAGMENT role for DOMESTIC TERRORISM and FEMA the so-called CONSEQUENCES ROLE for Domestic Terrorism. Together they developed a formal CONOP PLAN for such events just at the end of the Clinton Administration. So this was the planning basis Cheney's study was to revise if necessary.

And as of 9/10/01 progress had been made on the study with even implementing documents prepared.

But of course then 9/11 and all tossed out and Cheney made sure not much about the study or his assignment archived.

William R. Cumming

CORRECTION: COST OF LIVING COUNCIL established pursuant to the Economic Stabilization Act of 1971, as amended. Now sunsetted.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Adam and he had a cardiologist travel with him when SECDEF.

VietnamVet

CP

“War is stupid” may have been the case last century. But today sovereign states are in decline. Predatory capitalism has triumphed. Iraq was invaded in 2003 because the USA could. It got rid of Saddam Hussein after Desert Storm was shut down too soon. But, I don’t discount the promise of billions of dollars transferred to the well-connected added to the push to go in. The USA has been at war there for a quarter century. Money is a good reason.

Seizing Ukraine was a continuation of the West’s wars with Russia since Napoleon. Yet, it is clear that Chevron was cheerleading to get a chance to frack the Donbass. The fortuitous rise of the Islamic State has ended all talk of sequestration for the Department of Defense. Austerity in government spending continues except for war.

Greece is in a financial war. Since there is no alternative political-financial system, the Greeks are being bled dry until they revolt. Another failed state is erupting in Europe. Italy, Spain or France will follow because empathy and helping those in need has vanished from the West.

ked

I have been concerned about our government's institutionalization of torture that the Cheney clique embraced as a consequence of his "dark side" world-view. Given the hack science of promoters, the private contracting of authority, the bureaucratic (hierarchical) nature its execution (pardon the bad pun), the dehumanization of the adversary, the manipulation of our public, the formal network of black & open (Gitmo) sites... one wonders how close we were / are to "genocide lite". When you institutionalize & industrialize a form of evil, one may not be far from mass implementation.
Perhaps genocide deserves a very narrow definition, or perhaps I worry too much.

Thomas

Allen,

After Richard Bruce shot his "friend" and the President's spokesman was almost in tears begging for the VP's office to make a statement, was the turning point when George Walker could hit back and he did by sacking Cheney's longtime sidekick as Secretary of Defense.

It will be interesting when Cheney's neo-heart fulfills its time limited function what stories will emerge because I doubt anyone would challenge him while he is still around. The man is the twenty first century equivalent of the Grand Vizier to the (Temporary) Emperor.

Fred

Adam,

The Booman Tribune, source of your link, conveniently leaves out the relevant information that also involved were the President's council and a slew of others. Also the fact that Senator Church had been against the war in Vietnam and that the Senate had blocked funding for the South Vietnamese at the beginning of 1975 which led to their eventual defeat by the communist North Vietnamese government that same year. The Church committee, at least in the public mind, was investigating CIA misconduct. Certainly it was not an ongoing witch hunt against a Republican led Executive Branch that had just seen both the VP (Agnew) resign in '73 and President (Nixon) resign in '74 of course.) I think that is quite relevant, especially to allot of people for whom Nixon is ancient history and Senator Church only known by using Google.

President Ford, whom Dick Cheney served in 1975, had spent two and one half decades in the US Congress including a period as House Minority Leader. That is a far different level of experience than one term Senator Barrack Obama. Do you really think that Dick Cheney was off on his own deciding what would go to the Senate Committee from the Executive Branch of Government? I think that unlikely. "Secretary Geithner, …. and Eric Holder all had primacy on the portions of their domestic areas.” How many people did Eric Holder jail for the NSA spying on all Americans? The same number as he jailed for bank fraud during the financial collapse? Of course he was either being the department of justice gatekeeper or obeying the President. At least he has that in common with Dick Cheney.

confusedponderer

No, no, now 'war is stupid' but war 'because of stupid' as a shorthand for all the follies I lined out after that. And they are enduring.

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