Cheney (v) Bush: Is Anyone Listening: If So Are You Ready To Ship Them To Nuremburg?
“Such is the sorry state of American public policy, inflamed by demagogues, infected with disinformation and twisted by partisan motivations, all leaving the electorate misdirected because we don't really bother to take the time to study the issues and the platforms from sources best equipped to explain it.
This is the least known yet most serious problem with our national discourse... about everything. Pick an issue, any issue, and I promise you, at the root of bitter contention nearly every time will be not what people think but what they don't know. Or don't want to.”
“From Ed. Yesterday: In an interesting MSNBC day time discussion program I happened on the point was well and disturbingly made, that the American Electorate is no longer a well-informed electorate as so many have turned to TV and Radio talk shows that have nothing to do with illumination of the truth. Where many tout the vast numbers who have turned to cyberspace for their information; the point again was well made that the war of slant and spin has rapidly replaced what was once journalistic reporting, and that it requires citizens more thoughtful than most of today’s American populous to discern the truth surrounding complicated issues, healthcare being only which was offered as an example.
The panel was seriously concerned that most “journalistic” outlets have retreated from reporting and have taken up the position of entertainment, pot stirring and political advocacy equal to that of political parties, and that journalistic integrity, an independent informative press is all but dead!”
Kelly McParland: Dick Cheney's not going gentle into no good nights
Posted: August 16, 2009, 10:22 AM by NP Editor
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Dick Cheney is one of those people who would have to be invented if he didn't already exist.
"Did you feel that? That sickly sort of rolling wave, that disquieting, genital-shriveling temblor of seething grumpiness that swept through the land and made dogs spasm, trees shudder and giant SUVs spit oil and misfire ... The churning, teeth-grinding rumble of disquiet? It was coming, of course, from Dick Cheney," says Morford, who suggests the phrase "Dick Cheney" should embody not just the former vie-president himself, "but also the sour, clenched worldview he so perfectly encapsulated and still so lovingly represents."
Never admitting a mistake. Never acknowledging that public opinion should have any influence whatsoever over what kind of policy a government pursues."
Goodell: "Mr. former vice-president, I have to make a big move on Mike Vick"
The Post said the strip was "inappropriate." Probably they meant it. But a few more months of obligatory praise for Mr. Obama and maybe they'll think again.
By Mystic Wizard
Fear for Obama's Safety Grows as Hate Groups Thrive on Racial Backlash
Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.
Anti-immigrant groups like the "Minutemen" vigilantes are not only proliferating, but are rapidly beginning to resemble the white-supremacist and anti-government militias that have populated the netherworld of the Radical Right since the early 1990s. Adding insult to injury, the farcical conspiracy theories that circulate among both extreme nativist groups and right-wing militias are now being mainstreamed by commentators on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. Although the various strains of far-right extremism have by no means coalesced into a single movement, the ideological lines that once distinguished them have begun to blur.
(I have written repeatedly that violent out breaks, ie.,the Civil War, Revolutions are always preceded by the coalescing on groups and divergent interests…take note.)
Larry Keller, Southern Poverty Law Center
Rights and Liberties: There are growing signs that militias are on the rise again. This time, many of their partisans are angry at Blacks and Latinos.
By Ralph Lopez
ON A RECENT TRIP to Kabul for our nonprofit organization, Jobs for Afghans, Najim Dost and I made a startling discovery: There is no true Taliban insurgency.
Yes, there is a Taliban leadership, many of whom are “foreigners,’’ meaning, non-Afghans. Yes, there are many fighting-age men who fight because they are paid to do so, by the small cadre of Taliban and Al Qaeda commanders who have plenty of opium money. They fork out the excellent wage in these parts of $8 per day for “insurgent work.’’
But a die-hard, dedicated army of fighters who pledge allegiance to the Taliban ideology and cause? It’s not there. Even Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged last March, “Roughly 70 percent are involved because of the money.’’ And General Karl Eikenberry, former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said to Congress in 2007: “Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families.’’
The dirty little secret is that the renewed insurgency could have been avoided. The vast majority of Afghans still hate the Taliban. They remember the days of heads and hands getting lopped off in the National Stadium, and men flogged because their beards were not long enough. No one is eager to see them return. But in a nation with 40 percent unemployment, working for the Taliban is the only job in town. As the saying goes, you might not like the work, but that’s who’s hiring.
How did we get to this pass? Fighting a renewed insurgency eight years after the Taliban government was soundly trounced, to the cheers of 90 percent of the population? The first thing that happened was that, out of the relatively small amount of nonmilitary assistance that was sent to rebuild this bombed-out place, almost half wound up as profits for big contractors like Dyncorp, Louis Berger Group, and KBR. They were building substandard schools, roads, and clinics (with no doctors) when what the country needed was jobs, jobs, jobs. Not fancy jobs. Jobs paid in cash by the day or by the week, at less than $10 a day, clearing canals still clogged with debris, digging drainage ditches with shovels along miles of roads, and the countless ways men can be employed to keep their families from semi-starvation.
The UN says 35 percent of Afghans are malnourished. You can’t have business development if you don’t have stability. And you can’t have stability when you have nearly half the work force unemployed. Add to this the Taliban’s willingness to pay $8 a day to those who will pick up a gun, and the renewed insurgency becomes less of a mystery.
There are countless instances of Taliban fighters saying they will trade their guns for a job. What makes this war even more senseless is how little it would cost to provide such jobs, say, for a year, to stabilize the country and allow the free market to flourish. It would cost less than one-tenth of what we are spending now on military operations each year, which is running close to $50 billion. Why is this approach not being talked about in Congress? Call me cynical, but war is profitable. The beauty of cost-plus, no-bid contracting is hard to find in the normal business world.
A widespread, stability-enhancing cash-for-work jobs program, which would save the American taxpayer the hideous cost of war, both human and financial, can work in Afghanistan. We saw such projects on a small scale. Perhaps most telling are stories like Mahmud’s, who told a reporter in Helmand that joining the Taliban gave him a chance to save up enough money to start his own small business, buying goods in Lashkar Gah and selling them in the district “mila’’ or markets. Mahmud said, “Now that I have work, I am not with the Taliban anymore.’’
This situation is the true definition of insanity. Top commander General Stanley McChrystal just said jobs could induce many Taliban to drop their weapons. How many more of our soldiers must die before sense takes hold in the Obama administration?
Ralph Lopez is co-founder of Jobs for Afghans.
The stenographers of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) are missing the most obvious explanation for former Vice President Dick Cheney's widely reported “disappointment” with former President George W.Bush on the issue of pardons -- self- interest. What Cheney is “urgently focused” ... Interestingly, two of the three Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 29 and 30, 1974, were based, in part, on misusing the CIA. ...
Alternate Brain - http://alterx.blogspot.com/
'Statute of Limitations Has Expired' on Many Secrets, Former Vice President Says
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In his first few months after leaving office, former vice president Richard B. Cheney threw himself into public combat against the "far left" agenda of the new commander in chief. More private reflections, as his memoir takes shape in slashing longhand on legal pads, have opened a second front against Cheney's White House partner of eight years, George W. Bush.
… "In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him," said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney's reply. "He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice. He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times -- never apologize, never explain -- and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."
The two men maintain respectful ties, speaking on the telephone now and then, though aides to both said they were never quite friends. But there is a sting in Cheney's critique, because he views concessions to public sentiment as moral weakness. After years of praising Bush as a man of resolve, Cheney now intimates that the former president turned out to be more like an ordinary politician in the end…
What is leadership? Is leadership following your convictions or listening to the electorate?
If we look at two signal events in the last decade, Iraq and health care, the answer is likely to be different. Your politics will be in play, as well as the intensity of our interest. The heated debate over health care today skews our judgment while the public debate over Iraq has cooled as the issue begins to get a smidge of historical perspective.
The question arises because of what political wonks would likely consider an intriguing tease for the upcoming memoir of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney is making no bones about his disappointment in the way his boss, George Bush, closed out his presidency.
Quoting participants the vice president is sounding out about the memoir, the Washington Post'sBart Gellman, author of a must-read book on Cheney, reports that "in the second term [Cheney] felt Bush was moving away from him. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him." Although the two men still occasionally talk, it's clear that Cheney is disappointed with the man he once saw "as a man of resolve" who ultimately, writes Gellman, "turned out to be more like an ordinary politician."
It's rather remarkable that Cheney is willing, and seemingly eager, to air the administration's dirty laundry considering his well-known obsession with secrecy and recalling how quick he was to excoriate two former Bush insiders who went on to write tell-all accounts after leaving the White House --Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil and spokesman Scott McClellan.
Yet, just last month we learned that the final weeks of the Administration were marked by heated disagreements between the two regarding a pardon for Scooter Libby, and that Cheney remains upset that no pardon was ultimately granted. Now, it appears that Cheney became more frustrated with the president as Bush started listening to other advisers rather than follow the path Cheney advocated.
For better or worse, it's a good bet Cheney's book will be the most anticipated vice-presidential memoir in history, partly bolstered by two near-sacred and now seemingly violated Cheney paradigms: Here we have one of the most secretive and most powerful vice presidents in history who is now breaking his vow of silence because, apparently, he wasn't as powerful as he thought.
The reaction to all this has centered on Mr. Cheney himself. Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice writes:
Apparently omerta has its limits. I know a lot of us DFHs feared that the horrors of the Cheney Regency would never receive a public airing, if only for fear of the War Crimes Tribunal, but perhaps vanity will achieve what mere human decency and the rule of law never could.
Steve M. at No More Mr. Nice Blog is most concerned by a "what if" comment, from an "associate" of Cheney's, in the Washington Post piece: "There was a sense that they hadn't gone far enough. If he'd been equipped with a group of people as ideologically rigorous as he was, they'd have been able to push further."
Alex Massey of Britain's Spectator inadvertently opens a door when he writes that:
…Cheney was disappointed the President moved away from him. It's almost as if the Vice-President was horrified to discover that the President had ideas of his own. In this piece at least, Cheney actually endorses the caricature of a black-hatted Veep pulling the stings and manipulating a callow, incurious President.
One wonders how Bush would've governed had Cheney not been his vice president.
What stands out in this story is Cheney's belief that President Bush gave in to public sentiment, something the vice president views as a moral weakness. That seems to be the central kernel of this discussion because it goes beyond Cheney. Cheney has come and gone. What remains is the much larger question: Do we elect politicians to do our bidding or exercise their judgment?
Do you believe that if you make concessions to the public sentiment it's a sign of weakness?
This is an interesting spot for us. Politicians routinely make course corrections. They do it over the course of their careers; they do it when they go from being candidates to being in the elected office. The list of broken campaign promises is legion. We use the before and after remarks to criticize and to characterize without ever giving thought to the possibility that people do change their minds, warranted sometimes by shifting realities or when the voice of the electorate becomes impossible to resist --or perhaps too dangerous to one's career to resist, lending claim to the cynic's view that the politician's most important job is to keep his job.
Which is it: Serve the will of the people or get re-elected? Serve the public or serve yourself? What do we make of the politician who says public sentiment be damned?
Recall that exchange between an interviewer and Dick Cheney: "The majority of the population is against you," and the vice president's reply was, "So”
You who are ardent conservatives: What was your response to that at the time it happened? Cheney believed that his judgment was paramount, that he knew what he was doing, understood the dangerous nature of the world and that the job at hand was to protect American interests as he saw fit. As a man who had been a Washington insider for more than 30 years, he certainly knew the terrain and could be trusted to work the Beltway machinery. How he worked it is a source of contention but he didn't care what you thought.
Is it too extreme to think that if Cheney favored a national health care system, he wouldn't care what people have been saying at these town hall meetings? Picture the same interview moment with Barack Obama:
Diane Sawyer: "Americans are saying they don't want a public option, they don't want more government involvement in their health care, they don't want something jammed down their throats."
Barack Obama: So?
Call me crazy but my guess is that those of you who championed Cheney's answer back then would be furious with Obama's today, starting with those foam-at-the-mouth pundits in the right wing echo chamber.
And while we might expect liberals enthusiastically approve Obama's answer and "Yeah, tell those idiots at the town halls to go shove it!" no doubt they were livid with Cheney. They probably still are.
It's a perfect illustration of something I've long maintained: When it comes to processing and rationalizing the daily political discourse in this country, there's often not much difference between the partisan left and the partisan right. They are, in some ways, exactly alike. Quelle surprise! Don't tell them that, though; they'll start calling you names, which is another thing they have in common. Funny how two groups can hate each other because each acts exactly like the other.
Some of this falls on us. We don't completely understand these issues, often not even in the macro sense. Take the death panel talking point. Anyone paying attention to the substance of the bill in question (since there are several versions right now) knows that assertion was pure nonsense. Counseling on end-of-life issues would've be voluntary, encompassing matters ranging from living wills to hospice options, yet a Senator from Iowa acknowledged a very loud public sentiment (we have no way of knowing if it even came close to a majority) and announced that the provision would be removed.
Regardless of what you think about the now-extracted provision, the pressure on Senator Grassley was based on a lie, which is especially disgusting and disheartening since this disinformation is being disseminated by leaders with the ability --and the responsibility-- to check out the facts and stand in the face of a misinformed and/or misled public to say, "No, you've got it wrong. Here's what it says." But Senator Grassley didn't do that in Iowa. A lot of GOP members of Congress didn't do that. If we're to hold Cheney's argument true, many of his fellow Republicans showed moral weakness by making concessions to the public sentiment. In other words, to borrow Bart Gellman's phrase in theWashington Post piece, they "turned out to be more like an ordinary politician."
It's vitally important to acknowledge the public sentiment and serve it when both possible and realistic,but not when the sentiment is based on a lie. That's not weakness; that's duplicitous. In fact, you owe it to your constituents to point out when they have their facts wrong. If you don't, it makes you out to be a far less than ordinary politician, or perhaps the worst kind of politician: The one who will do anything to keep his job.
Then again, there's an inherent peril in the opposite scenario, the politician who doesn't have to worry about losing his job. No, not a king, but a person with no future aims. That person has nothing to lose. Again, Alex Massey:
Republicans used to claim that Cheney's lack of Presidential ambition was a good thing since it meant he had no axe to grind, no position to take that would advance his own political interests. Instead he would be the candid friend and the source of much sage advice, drawn from his decades spent in Washington.
And there was something to that idea. But it's also apparent that Cheney's lack of political ambition was also a weakness. It seems to have persuaded him, in the instances cited by Gellman at least, to ignore any and all political calculations as though they didn't matter and only the weak or the foolish would pay any attention to political realities. In that sense, Cheney was a deeply irresponsible Vice-President.
In other words, there are political consequences to one's actions. If you have no political price to pay, you don't worry about making an unpopular decision. That's why you can grant presidential pardons to someone like Marc Rich on the last day of your term. "What are they gonna do, impeach me?"
If Dick Cheney had political risks to consider, would he have advised the president differently?
Our history is full of examples of leaders who defied popular will, making decisions that came with great political risk but that eventually proved to be the right one. Take this lesser-known example from Franklin Roosevelt's presidency.
President Roosevelt came as close as to lying to the American people as any president dare come by consistently twisting the truth during the run-up to the war in Europe. America was staunchly isolationist, the Congress was isolationist, FDR was bound by the Neutrality Act, which required that he not get involved in hostilities between Hitler and Europe, and yet Franklin Roosevelt defied both the law and the popular sentiment.
Winston Churchill had made it quite clear to Franklin Roosevelt that if the United States did not come to the aid of Great Britain in the Second World War Britain might well fall to Germany. This, of course, was before our entry into the campaign, before 1941. Despite both law and public sentiment, FDR covertly managed to supply Britain with the ships and military materials she needed to fend off the Nazi war machine. The move was in direct opposition to the popular will, which was isolationist at the time, and it was patently illegal, a violation of the Neutrality Act. He could have been impeached. But it's a good thing he did what he did because if he hadn't, Churchill might've been right. Britain might've gone down the tubes before the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor and we had the pretext to finally move away from our anti-war isolationist posture and involve ourselves in the Second World War.
It's hard to say how things would have turned out if Roosevelt had been found out. It probably wouldn't have been pretty for his presidency, even though his decision was right in the long run. But taking the long view is difficult when one is in the grip of the emotions of the time. The judgment of a period of history by those in that period of history may well be different than the judgment of those looking back upon it. That is to say, the judgment of people in the present will not be the same as those of people in the future.
In a way this is an effort to give us a sense of humility. Those of us who took strong positions in the moment on things like the war in Iraq, or on health care today, are absolutely convinced of the rectitude of our opinions. We may be proved wrong, and we need to be willing to at least acknowledge that possibility.
Indeed, our history is full of examples of voters siding with a popular opinion that eventually proved to be wrong: slavery, interracial marriage, segregation, suffrage, to name a few.
So when voters say they're voting for someone who will carry out their wishes, what if their wishes are wrong? Do voters really know best when they argue complex policy with advertising slogans gleaned from their favorite cable news network, their favorite talk show host or their favorite blogger? They're complaining that the lawmakers aren't even reading the bills. How often does the average citizen read the bill? How often does a voter even read the voter pamphlet mailed to their door breaking down both sides of a proposition or a ballot measure? Are these the same voters who can't name all three branches of government?
Such is the sorry state of American public policy, inflamed by demagogues, infected with disinformation and twisted by partisan motivations, all leaving the electorate misdirected because we don't really bother to take the time to study the issues and the platforms from sources best equipped to explain it.
This is the least known yet most serious problem with our national discourse... about everything. Pick an issue, any issue, and I promise you, at the root of bitter contention nearly every time will be not what people think but what they don't know. Or don't want to.
Meanwhile, massive macro problems continue to fester unresolved: health care, immigration, Social Security, government waste, influence peddling, and so on.
Do we choose our candidates to do what we want or to exercise their judgment and do what is best? Is what we want always what is best?
I think this comes down to a very provincial answer: It's okay for a politician to make concessions to public opinion if you agree with the public opinion. If you don't agree with the public opinion, you think politicians should stick to his guns and to hell with public opinion.
Consistency and its cousin certainty still hold a sacred place in our politics. President Bush used to make a fetish of constancy. He bragged that he never revisited a decision or read a poll. Intellectuals change their minds, he says; leaders know where they are going and act. "Steady leadership in times of change" was a 2004 campaign slogan as though the steadiness is what matters, regardless of the direction in which you lead. The point being that consistency is one of those qualities that act like a virtue without necessarily being one.
And yet, here's Dick Cheney saying that Bush turned into a disappointing ordinary politician by the end of his term because instead of being consistent with his resolve, he displayed moral weakness by catering to public opinion. What if the public opinion was wrong? There's nothing admirable in stubborn allegiance to misguided dogma. Was the president just adapting and adjusting? Can you do that and still be consistent?
Do we want consistency and certainty, or flexibility and adaptability?
The only perfectly consistent man, Aldous Huxley mordantly noted, is a dead one, and we've yet to elect one of those. Although some of us might be wondering whether that might be a good idea.
Do you elect someone who will do what we tell them or do what he thinks is right?
Do you elect someone to represent your views, or do you elect somebody because, in addition to supporting his planks, you trust their judgment.
Put another way: Do we vote for our parochial self-interest or yield to the nation's overriding needs? In other words, do we vote for what we want or for what we think is best for the country as a whole?
by Ray McGovern Page 1 of 5 page(s)
The stenographers of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) are missing the most obvious explanation for former Vice President Dick Cheney's widely reported "disappointment" with former President George W. Bush on the issue of pardons - self-interest.
Barton Gellman of the Washington Posthas now joined feature writers from Timein aping Cheney's hagiographer in chief, Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard. They all choose to dote on Cheney's loyalty to his former chief of staff, Irv Lewis "Scooter" Libby, while ignoring reasons why Cheney might have hoped for a presidential pardon himself.
Gellman is a talented journalist with a tainted record. He wrote a truly shameless article for the Post when it was competing with The New York Times for cheerleading laurels prior to the war on Iraq…