Dick Cheney Scares Me

Salon.com ran a brilliant piece by Sidney Blumenthal about Dick Cheney today, “The imperial vice presidency.” Thoroughly fascinating exploration and summary of the Washington Post series that we spoke about earlier in the week. Seeing it all summed up so neatly in one place left me with a feeling of fascination — the kind I used to feel in my adolescent days, perhaps, for Hitler. I know it’s easy to toss the “H-word” around, and we do it all too easily in the media and elsewhere. But, at some point, we study Hitler almost as if his actions never impacted us – as if we live elsewhere, not on planet Earth. How could one of those humans, one of those animals, become so powerful, and do so many horribly ungodly things?

Plenty of food for thought, and an exercise in futility, perhaps. Many hours in the dorm room lost to such feeble yet at the time seemingly important discussions.

Indeed, how could Hitler become so powerful?

Enter Dick.

He scares me now. He never did before. Before I let the Washington Post sink in, before I permitted Salon.com to sink in, I relegated Cheney to the comedians — Jon Stewart somehow helped me cope. Letterman made me laugh at it all.  Colbert made sense.  I could laugh at Cheney, and then go on with my day, my week, seven years or so.  I could sleep at night, content that reason would someday prevail, and the long nightmare of the Bush presidency would finally end.

But not any more. The man is dangerous.

Just a small selection:

Cheney has crushed the normal interagency process that permitted communication, cross-fertilization and cooperation at the sub-Cabinet level through all previous modern administrations. At the same time, he has isolated Cabinet secretaries, causing them to be fired when they contradicted him, as he did with Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill.

Cheney thrives in darkness, operating by stealth within the government, and makes a cult of secrecy. None of these insights are new, except for additional telling details. Reports the Post: “Man-size Mosler safes, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president. Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped ‘Treated As: Top Secret/SCI.'”

“Cheney thrives in darkness…?” What the hell does that mean? He is a man so ruthless that even John Ashcroft objected to his ethics:

Of the Bush Cabinet secretaries, former Attorney General John Ashcroft most strenuously confronted Cheney about his seizures of power. Ashcroft was perhaps the most conservative member of the Cabinet, and it was out of a sense of his own constitutional obligation that he objected. When Ashcroft discovered that John Yoo, the deputy assistant in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had been recruited by the Cheney operation to write memos on detainee policy that would deny any role in the new legal process to the Justice Department, he was outraged. At the White House he confronted Cheney and Addington. “According to participants [at the meeting],” the Post reported, “Ashcroft said that he was the president’s senior law enforcement officer, supervised the FBI and oversaw terrorism prosecutions nationwide. The Justice Department, he said, had to have a voice in the tribunal process.” But Cheney did not relent. Ashcroft received no meeting to discuss the matter with Bush. Cheney was the gatekeeper — the decider for the Decider.

Indeed, the Decider is a puppet. Cheney is King. And he doesn’t care. Damn the torpedoes. Damn the Democrats. Damn the Republican Party. Cheney no longer has to care:

Despite the recent round of punditry that Cheney’s influence has waned, he remains a formidable force. These are Cheney’s final days; this is his endgame. He will never run again for public office. He is freed from the constraints of political consequences. He now has no horizon. He lives only in the present. He is nearly done. There are only months left to achieve his goals. Mortality impinges. Next month, he will have his heart pacemaker replaced. He disdains public opinion. He does not care who’s next. “We didn’t get elected to be popular,” he said on Fox News on May 10. “We didn’t get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party.”

Cheney is worse than I ever imagined.

Are we that happy with War?

Are we so happy with war that we do nothing?

How many of us have actually called, wrote, or emailed our Representative in Congress or Senators? How many of us called or emailed the White House, knowing that our words are falling on deaf ears. Nevertheless, how many of us have called?

If you’ve found Turning Left, then chances are you care enough to think. You may be here because you don’t like Liberals. You may be here because, like the rest of us, you are looking for answers from time to time. But if you are here, you think. You’re part of that small percentage of Americans who still think about issues.

I’m not going to say that we’re Liberal at Turning Left. I’m not going to say we’re Progressive. I’m not going to say we’re Conservative, or Moderate. I’m not going to label us at all. I am going to say that we think. That’s all we need to do.

Some don’t think. Some preach. Some yell. Some twist the truth.

We’re just after the truth at Turning Left. Just the Truth, and nothing but the Truth.

We just happen to have found it most often by Turning Left.

Put on your left turn signal. Email your Congressman. Email your Senator. Call the President (not sure how “email-capable” he is.) Tell them you want us out of Iraq. Then do the same thing again next week. And the week after. And ask your friends to do the same.

Tell them all it’s more fun on The Left.

Viralink

I joined Viralink.  This is an attempt to improve our page rank at Turning Left.

Let’s see if it works.

———copy and paste the Viralink and instructions below this line———

Below is a matrix of 120 stars, I have already added a link to my blog onto one of the stars, all you need to do is copy and paste the grid into your blog and add your own link to one of the other spare stars, and tell others to do the same!

 

Viralink

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When I receive a ping back once you have added the Viralink to your site I will add your link to this grid, and each person who copies the grid from here will also link to your site!

Rules
No Porn Sites
Only 1 link per person (i.e don’t hog the viralink!)
Please don’t tamper with other peoples url’s
Enjoy!

 

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Private Dick

Who is really in charge at the White House?  It would appear that one individual clearly stands out above the rest.

Dick.

“Over the next four days, The Washington Post will present an in-depth investigation of the vice presidency of Dick Cheney, the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office. The stories will examine Cheney’s largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment.”

Just a taste of today’s study:

Just past the Oval Office, in the private dining room overlooking the South Lawn, Vice President Cheney joined President Bush at a round parquet table they shared once a week. Cheney brought a four-page text, written in strict secrecy by his lawyer. He carried it back out with him after lunch.

In less than an hour, the document traversed a West Wing circuit that gave its words the power of command. It changed hands four times, according to witnesses, with emphatic instructions to bypass staff review. When it returned to the Oval Office, in a blue portfolio embossed with the presidential seal, Bush pulled a felt-tip pen from his pocket and signed without sitting down. Almost no one else had seen the text.

Cheney’s proposal had become a military order from the commander in chief. Foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States were stripped of access to any court — civilian or military, domestic or foreign. They could be confined indefinitely without charges and would be tried, if at all, in closed “military commissions.”

“What the hell just happened?” Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, a witness said, when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part.

“End-around” hardly does justice to what this man is capable of.  Strong vice president, and buffoon president who allows this to happen.

We need a president who can read the Constitution.

Interpreting the Word of God

Opus

Berkeley Breathed does a wonderful job capturing the true spirit of some of those who think they can hear the Voice of God and interpret that Voice for the rest of humanity.

Today at Salon.com.

Enjoy.  Some of the letters written in reaction to this comic strip are even more amusing than the strip itself.  I won’t give Breathed credit for summing up “the entire history of religion in, like, ten panels,” as one writer does, but I do give Breathed credit for his observation that some people take things too far indeed.

Iraq – Terrorism University

The fraternities probably do not sport Greek letters, but there is no doubt that George Bush has succeeded in building the most largest and most impressive terrorism university the world has ever known. Welcome to Terrorism U., Iraq. In fact, al Qaida members who survive Iraq are in high demand throughout the world. According to a report on KDKA’s web site in Pittsburgh:

“If you survive that, you’re able to do anything, essentially,” said Thomas Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Sanderson, an expert in global terror threats, is preparing to publish a year-long study tracking foreign fighters. CBS News took a look at the report.

“You have that impact that says ‘I survived that all of those factor, all of those groups that were arrayed against me,’ and that gives you a sense of infallibility and lethality,” Sanderson said.

In an audiotape posted on the Internet, one insurgent leader describes it this way: If Afghanistan was a school, says Abu Omar al Baghdadi, Iraq is a university of terrorism. (emphasis mine)

The incredible thing is, George’s war has succeeded in something.  We are helping to train the toughest terrorists the world has ever known.  Those who live through Iraq are the best of the best, and they’re in high demand.  They learn “how to miniaturize bombs, how to surveil, how to countersurveil, how to snipe, how to escape.”  In short, they learn everything necessary to lead al Qaeda well into the future.

But they do know they’re part of a new generation of terrorists. In the words of one analyst, they are “rock stars” to their followers trained in war, committed to destruction and some of them may be headed our way.

Rock stars, indeed.

Wouldn’t it be sweet irony if those really in charge of Iraq’s Terrorism University were to award President Bush with an honorary degree?  Perhaps they could invite him to speak at their next commencement?

He’s done so much for them already.

Fly bin Laden Air

Newly released documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate that Osama bin Laden may have chartered Saudi Flight out of the U.S. after 9/11. Some may recall mention of the flight from Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11. Just days after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in American history, Saudi royals and bin Laden family members were spirited out of the country while American citizens were grounded.

From the release:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released new documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) related to the “expeditious departure” of Saudi nationals, including members of the bin Laden family, from the United States following the 9/11 attacks. According to one of the formerly confidential documents, dated 9/21/2001, terrorist Osama bin Laden may have chartered one of the Saudi flights.

This one merits a much closer look.

Read the full story here.

King George the Puerile

George Bush

There are no words that adequately sum up the legacy of the worst president in United States history. I never thought I would have to admit that. I suppose someone will make a strong case for running one of the other chaps who led this nation up the , “Worst President Ever,” flagpole, but I don’t see that anyone else will compare. Yes, the president most likely had to go to Dictionary.com to figure out what the title of this article actually is saying.
Lost is any respect this county has ever earned. Lost is any dignity we ever possessed. Lost is any moral authority we might ever have claimed. Lost is our economy. Lost is our drive. Lost is our science. Lost, our imagination, our pride, our love of neighbor.

“Go shopping,” he told us after 9/11. That will show “the terrorists.”

And many of us went shopping.

Today, the president vetoed a Stem Cell Research bill. He said:

“The Congress has sent me legislation that would compel American taxpayers, for the first time in our history, to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos,” Bush said.

Word up, George. Those embryos are going to be destroyed. Will you adopt them? Perhaps Laura will agree to artificial insemination? Add them to the many children the two of you have adopted?

Someone in Washington needs to wake up now and grow some.

Instead, what games are we playing? Send $25 to Barack Obama so I can maybe have dinner with him? Help Hillary pick a song?

We need leadership in Washington now. We’re not getting it from the president. The Republicans have lost credibility. Our only hope is the Democrats, united, now. Right, maybe we get the White House within the next two years. Maybe we don’t. But we never will unless we show some damned leadership right here, right now.

And it’s not happening.

And King George the Puerile continues to play.

The War Is Coming Home

ABC News reports, “Large teams of newly trained suicide bombers are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com.”

The war is coming home.

Instead of actually following through with the plan to target al Qaeda after 9/11, the President Bush took us to Iraq.  According to the story:

The tape shows Taliban military commander Mansoor Dadullah, whose brother was killed by the U.S. last month, introducing and congratulating each team as they stood.

“These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places,” Dadullah says on the tape. “Why shouldn’t we go after them?”

The report indicates that some do not take this threat seriously.  Others take it very seriously:

“It doesn’t take too many who are willing to actually do it and be able to slip through the net and get into the United States or England and cause a lot of damage,” said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism official.

It’s only a matter of time.   Full story here.

Bringing the War Home

The Washington Post has an incredible story today about the pain suffered by some soldiers returning from Iraq. Standing tall in parades, welcomed in many communities as heroes, our young men and women are returning to the United States haunted.

Telling the story of Army Spec. Jeans Cruz who helped capture Saddam Hussein, the article details the praise has come at a cost:

But a “black shadow” had followed Cruz home from Iraq, he confided to an Army counselor. He was hounded by recurring images of how war really was for him: not the triumphant scene of Hussein in handcuffs, but visions of dead Iraqi children.

In public, the former Army scout stood tall for the cameras and marched in the parades. In private, he slashed his forearms to provoke the pain and adrenaline of combat. He heard voices and smelled stale blood. Soon the offers of help evaporated and he found himself estranged and alone, struggling with financial collapse and a darkening depression.

Cruz sought help from the local Department of Veterans Affiars medical center, trying for help for a diagnosed case of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, his PTSD claim was denied, in spite of overwhelming evidence of his accomplishments for this country:

None of that seemed to matter when his case reached VA disability evaluators. They turned him down flat, ruling that he deserved no compensation because his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army. They also said that Cruz had not proved he was ever in combat. “The available evidence is insufficient to confirm that you actually engaged in combat,” his rejection letter stated

Yet abundant evidence of his year in combat with the 4th Infantry Division covers his family’s living-room wall. The Army Commendation Medal With Valor for “meritorious actions . . . during strategic combat operations” to capture Hussein hangs not far from the combat spurs awarded for his work with the 10th Cavalry “Eye Deep” scouts, attached to an elite unit that caught the Iraqi leader on Dec. 13, 2003, at Ad Dawr.

It does us well to remember those who return with the war still raging within. And their claims are denied. The complete article is worth spending time with.

Where is the great Champion for Justice and Democracy, George W. Bush? Why is he not leading the cry of outrage?

Well, Happy Fathers’ Day, George. Enjoy the cards. How about picking up the phone and giving Army Spec. Jeans Cruz a call? Better yet, Mr. President, read one newspaper article today.

This one.

This war is costing us much more than money.