Archive for the ‘Dick Cheney’ category

Does Lying Matter?

June 13, 2019

President Trump has demonstrated little affinity for telling the truth.  The best perspective would be that the President believes strongly that the ends justify the means, and if the President thinks a situation should be this way or that way, then using words that effect that outcome may be appropriate.  Hmmm.

There are many moral or ethical rationales why “ends do not justify means” but don’t waste your time trying to convince the President.  Recent newspaper reports site the President as having “lied” over 10,000 times in public statements.  And most of these cases are readily verifiable with publicly available data.  Hmmm.

Most people learn about lying as children with the story of the little boy who cried “wolf”.  The lesson is how can anyone believe another person if the other person persists in telling lies?  President Trump has taken this fable to a new level and most observers first reaction to the President’s comments is that the truth is most likely the opposite of what President Trump has said.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney got President George W Bush to lie about Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program and suffered a permanently damaged reputation when the US invaded Iraq on this false basis.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has now announced that he has proof Iran was behind the attacks on two commercial oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz.

While this is possible (the US may have radio intercepts), it is highly unlikely there is a smoking gun.  Much more likely there are presumed connections to an Iranian surrogate or an Iranian financed rogue unit.  

Americans should be alert to Washington talk over the next days and weeks.  There is simply too much of a convenient connection when the Trump Administration labels Iran as the enemy.   Focusing America’s attention on the bad guys takes public opinion away from China or Mexico or the Mueller report.  

If the President can’t tell the truth, why should Americans believe his Secretary of State? 

VICE

January 5, 2019

The movie, “VICE”, which was recently released, should be a must see movie.  The movie catalogues Vice President Dick Cheney’s abuse of executive power during George W Bush’s 8 years in office.  Those conservative Republicans who boosted Bush/Cheney into office can claim responsibility for

  • Afghanistan War, longest military conflict in US history
  • Iraq War, invasion of a sovereign country on trumped up, phony charges
  • Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, home of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation
  • “Black Sites”, CIA overseas torture site of kidnapped victims
  • Over $1 trillion in unfunded “War on Terror” spending

President Trump is following an unorthodox path making all decisions himself.  Unlimited executive power is dangerous in any ones hands but with sociopaths like Cheney and Trump, power is extremely dangerous and what will happen next is unpredictable. 

Directly below is a “Regaining the Center” post from December 16, 2008.  VICE has put this post’s views on the big screen.

Cheney’s Presidency

(Regaining the Center, December 16, 2008)

As historians sit poised to begin the detailed accounting of the Bush 43 years as President of the United States, they will find the real history in recounting who was the real power and who’s words, thoughts, and deeds were the moving force behind the Office of the President.  It would be none other than Dick Cheney.

A lot of people would have given credit to Karl Rove if the real power were not that of George W Bush himself.  To some extent Rove was a power, but his power was reserved for the gutter and the political favor business.  All important matters of State including security were the domain of Dick Cheney.  His shadow “White House” had its own intelligence effort and routed all important decision through the Office of the Vice President before letting them go on to “W”.  While Karl was waiting to trip you in the gutter, Dick waited in the dark alley way.

In recent interviews with ABC news, Cheney confirmed that he remained dead set against closing Guantanamo and had been (and still was) supportive of the enhanced interrogation techniques (read water boarding and disregard for the Geneva Convention) used by the CIA.  On the other hand, “W”, the man with no strong opinions, has recently expressed regret about Guantanamo and said he would like to see it closed.

Chaney is a modern day Captain Queeg who will stick to his beliefs until the end.  Were his beliefs a little more enlightened, that quality would be a mark of distinction and not a mark of shame.  The Cheney doctrine (the all powerful executive branch) has been shown to be both misguided and dangerous when left to real humans.  Maybe it would work with a benevolent (and wise) dictator but Dick Cheney was neither of those and “W” was too busy with jogging, biking, and having his picture taken to do the work to actually be the President.

As historians write, I hope there will be a special commission (later followed by a special prosecutor) working along side the historians.  Then history can record that a former President and his Vice President were charged and convicted of crimes against humanity and other specific crimes against the laws of the United States.

Bush v Trump

September 20, 2018

As former President George W Bush was exiting the White House, with the Iraq and Middle East situation a shambles and the US economy in free fall into recession, a reporter ask Bush what he thought historians would write about him.  In typical “W” style, President Bush said, “I don’t think much about that”, the “W” added, “history is a long time”.  In so many words, the former President said that in the future historians might look fondly back upon his tenure when more history was known.  Hmmm.

I was flabbergasted that “W” would think that any future President could rack up so many first class disasters in 8 years and beat his record.  But history is a wonderful ointment and helps sooth painful memories.

Only 8 years later along comes Donald J Trump. 

“W” was someone seemingly devoid of curiosity, less interested in thinking and more in having his picture taken.  President Trump is in one respect quite the same, he thirsts for having his picture taken.  Trump, however, appears manic, never hesitates that he is right, and presents a constant narcissistic demeanor seeking reinforcement that he is special.  

Bush was surrounded by the Republicans best, put in their jobs because the Republican deep State were worried about “W” on his own.  Trump is surrounded by hand-picked “yes” men who keep their job if and only if they cow-tow to Trump’s every wish.

President Bush had little or no control over the direction his Republican supporters wanted to go (remember the real President, Dick Cheney?).  President Trump, senses where his present day Republican base plus his deep pocket supporters want to go, then merrily leads the parade regardless of whether it is prima facia dangerous.

George W Bush was a decent but not extraordinary man.  Donald J Trump is extraordinary in his aversion to telling the truth, readiness for public boorish behavior, and as someone who just can’t be trusted.  Both men have pushed the standard Republican platform without regard to any moral compass. 

In less than two years, President Trump has shown America that there can be less qualified Americans to be President than President Bush.  Worryingly, President Trump has, like a bull in a china shop, engendered a growing risk of war with China, another collapse of the US economy, and mightily championed the destruction of the public respect for American institutions like the FBI, intelligence services, courts, and election processes. 

“W” had no interest or stomach for this type of destructive behavior.  To that extent, Bush was a good man.

Trump has combined some of his historically based beliefs (like trade deficits, global treaties, and xenophobia) with traditional Republican values (like tax cuts, Supreme Court nominees, and anti women, anti gay, and anti healthcare) into a toxic soup offering no light at the end of the tunnel.

American Republicans can not be all “bad” people any more than American Democrats can be all good people.  But there is an unmistakeable pernicious smell to the current elected crowd called Republicans.  President Trump may be a sorry case for a human being but he is being aided and abetted by the Republican Congressional majority. 

In November step one must include flipping control of at least one branch of Congress (and preferably both).  Step two will follow in 2020 when America gets a second chance to “get it right” and deny President Trump a second term. 

Will The Chicken Hawks Return?

February 15, 2018

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, has been testifying this past week before Congressional Committees. One news report quoted Coats as saying the US was running out of time to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. Coats indicated that soon only military force would remain a viable option. WHAT ???

George W Bush is still alive and so is the chief chicken hawk, Dick Chaney. The memory of their fiasco telling Americans that when the US invaded Iraq our soldiers would be welcomed by Iraqis throwing flower petals at their feet as they marched by. To be sure some Iraqis threw objects at American soldiers feet but flower petals were not the objects.

The Iraq invasion and occupation remains one, if not the, greatest foreign policy failure whose consequences Americans will be visiting for years to come. The invasion opened a pandora’s box (to the surprise of Cheney and Bush) and unleashed sectarian violence through out the region. Instead of intimidating the Iranians, events embolden them to drive even harder developing nuclear weapons.

On the domestic front, Americas recognized once more that older men send younger men off to war, promise the soldiers full support and then proceed to forget about military members including those wounded and maimed when they return home.

North Korea is a two-bit country which may in fact develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver the weapons to US soil. North Korea will join a list of 8 other nations also capable of deploying the “bomb”. Does Coats think China and Russia will stand by an allow the US to “take out” North Korea or any of the others preemptively?

The conservative right may feel bold and think giving North Korea a “bloody nose” in some type of preemptive move is a wise tactic. Regrettably, these “black-white” thinkers can not recognize today’s world contours. Instead they project American military strength around the world as if military strength was unique and more appropriate than diplomacy. Current generation conservatives appear more comfortable making short term decisions and in the process frittering away America’s moral and strategic leadership.

Strategic patience was the term President Obama used to encompass a comprehensive strategy for combatting North Korea and other uncooperative States. Strategic Patience foresees bad behavior by small countries as a nuisance, not an imminent threat.  And, in any comprehensive policy, President Obama’s Administration tried to engage other powers including Russia and China in attempts to find global solutions for nuisance countries.

In contrast, the Bush/Cheney era was driven by “neo-conservatives” who relied upon rattling the saber rather then undertaking the more nuanced hard work of diplomacy. Sending other people’s children to war against smaller countries was the hallmark of these “chicken hawks”. Shooting first, thinking (about the consequences) later defined these misguided leaders.

Under President Obama, foreign policy was forged with a heavy emphasis on assessing the world as it was and as it was trending. Sending our soldiers into war became a last resort.

I wonder whether Coats testimony has accidentally revealed the emergence of a new generation of chicken hawks?

Getting Respect You Deserve

August 13, 2017

On Facebook, some “friends” of mine like and share right wing posts which usually follow the same design. “DO YOU THINK PRESIDENT TRUMP IS GETTING THE RESPECT HE DESERVES?” The post asked the reader to like and share.  This is a question, however, that is difficult to answer.

This past week our President tossed out one after another totally unpresidential and irresponsible epitaphs aimed at North Korea. “Fire and Fury” and “Locked and Loaded” make absolutely no sense in a diplomatic environment and almost assuredly will have little or no impact upon North Korea.  This type of rhetoric is just as opaque to our allies and adversaries.

Trump’s aggressive words, in this case, appear aimed not at North Korea but more likely at his domestic political base. Your President is no whip!

President Trump, a Vietnam service avoider, like the George W Bush and his cabinet, speak tough but their words are about sending other people’s children into harms way. And you can probably bet your house that most Trump friendly groups who adore the President will not be volunteering for the military anytime soon.

White House spinners suggested that President Trump’s message was aimed at China, directly encouraging them to solve the North Korean problem. After a few days, China issued a smart message. China said it would not support North Korea if they provoked the US. China would, however, support North Korea if the US preemptively attacked North Korea.

And in a few words, China flushed the Trump rhetoric down the drain.

Over the weekend, more of President Trump’s chickens came home to roost. In Charlottesville, Virginia, a white supremacy demonstration ended in chaos and violence as pro and anti groups predictably clashed. As the dust settled, President Trump spoke denouncing violence but not white supremacy. The Trumpster decried violence by both sides in this matter.

So to the over arching question, is President Trump receiving the respect he deserves, one must say the President is receiving at least as much as he deserves and maybe more.

Worrisome People, Worrisome Proposal

June 23, 2017

On June 21, 2017, Dick and Liz Cheney penned an op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal. The subject, “Congress and Obama Depleted the Military”. Catch your breath, the Cheney’s are back and just as sure they are right again.

The article points to 8 years of President Obama and 6 years of Congress’ Budget Control Act as the prime culprit behind a “sagging” US military. One might think there has been a time warp or a cerebral malfunction since the Cheney’s seem unable to recall relevant history and Republican involvement. I wonder why?

The Budget Control Act stems from a partisan budget and deficit standoff. Congress’ inability to pass any budget and facing a Government shut down, prompted Congress to pass legislation which said in the event of budget cuts, these cuts must be done proportionally across all budget items including Defense. Noteably this Act only applied to “discretionary” items omitting Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. Conservatives have howled about this agreement for the past 6 years.

We should recognize that US Defense spending amounts to almost $600 billion each year, several multiples of any other country and roughly 1/3rd of the worlds total. Recognize also countries such as China and Russia, combined are only a third of the US expenditure. So assume for a moment, the Cheneys are correct in pointing out deficiencies in the US Defense position, one ought to first ask how is that possible with so much total spending?

The Cheney’s appear conveniently forgetful that it was none other than Vice President Dick Cheney who got the US into nation building in Afghanistan and into a failed invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Most estimates put both of these endeavors’ cost in the trillions of dollars level.  Both of these ventures have yielded none of the promised goals.

The Bush Vice President, more than anyone else is responsible for the wheels coming off the Middle East wagon and creating a power vacuum which is consuming our military’s time and resources. But sometimes people forget those things that don’t support their current agenda.

Today’s world is a different place from 2004 when the US invaded and occupied Iraq. China has become a formidable military force and shows little signs of ceasing its military growth. Russia, also a nuclear country, is stronger and more focused under Vladimir Putin than it was in 2004.

The US should rightly be concerned about security concerning both of these countries. But the answer can’t be simply to rebuild the traditional armory (ships, planes, troops) and think China and Russia will be intimidated.  What about cyber and space warfare? The US must get smarter and while maintaining strength, must use foreign policy, economic influence, and diplomacy to greater degree.

And I wonder if the Cheney’s are aware that the Trump Administration has proposed sharp cuts in State Department funding? Do the Cheney’s realize that the Trump White House has threatened more than once to use trade as a negative foreign policy tool? Trade restrictions, historically, has been one of the fastest ways to generate armed conflict.

The Cheney “op-ed” piece is a thinly veiled attempt to promote Ms Cheney as a tough conservative who needs to be considered for future positions of greater responsibility.

Hmmm.

If this happens, Americans should expect Dick Cheney 2.0 and advance Ms Cheney at their own peril.

What Is The Nature Of “Confidential” Emails?

July 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct State Department official business may represent poor judgement, outright carelessness, or avoidance of government records requirements, but past experience can assure us, actual national security was way down the list.

Reporting has frequently mentioned Hillary’s “carelessness” and a number of GOP leaders are ludicrously calling for a ban on Clinton access to confidential briefings once she is the Democrat nominee. Do these people have any idea of what the emails contained? Hmmm.

As FBI Director Comey said in his Congressional testimony, any confidential information in Clinton’s possession was part of a email string, that is a “confidential information containing email” was forwarded several times, with each person commenting upon some aspect of the subject.

Even the original “confidential” matter was a reproduction of some portion of an official confidential State Department cable, and was not the official cable. Hmmm.

Now few would argue that State secrets like nuclear warhead details, planned troop movements, or the readiness of our armed forces should be classified information. Classified information, however, includes much more, even as simple as the anonymity of the sender, or gossip about other foreign leaders. Hmmm.

And think back to the “W” years when Dick Cheney would declassify information in time for lunch if he thought the information might be beneficial to his political causes. Hmmm.

Confidential information comes in all shapes and sizes.

The Wikileaks disclosures, for example, made possible by Pvt Bradley Manning, reveals two interesting points. (1) Leaked information can be embarrassing (both to the subject and to the author), and (2) once revealed, the information often just confirms what has already been written in news media sources. Hmmm.

It is time to get a grip on our national sense of judgement. Hillary Clinton and her aides were doing the job of a Secretary of State. There is no indication that Clinton was stashing the confidential information for a later “tell all” book. And Clinton’s actions did not lead to any massive leak of confidential information.

Recent political leaders’ statements of grave concern and astonishment that Hillary Clinton used her own email server amount, in reality, to gross hypocrisy at the best or a huge disservice (to Americans) by implying the nations safety hinged upon ultimate safe handling of every piece of confidential information.