Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Who needs horror movies?

From Hendrik Herzberger's article The Darksider in the "New Yorker" of 9/16 July:
[M]any of the details and incidents that Gellman and Becker document [in a four-part series in June in the "Washington Post"] are as new as they are appalling. More important, the pattern that emerges from the accumulated weight of the reporting is, as the lawyers say, dispositive... for the past six years, Dick Cheney, the occupant of what John Adams described as "the most insignificant office that the invention of man contrived," has been the most influential public official in the country, not necessarily excluding President Bush, and his influence has been entirely malign. He is pathologically (but purposefully) secretive; treacherous toward colleagues; coldly manipulative of the callow, lazy and ignorant President he serves; contemptuous of public opinion; and dismissive not only of international law (a fairly standard attitude for conservatives of his stripe) but also of the very idea that the Constitution and laws of the United States, including laws signed by his nominal superior, can be construed to limit the power of the executive to take any action that can plausibly be classified as part of an endless, endlessly expandable "war on terror."

More than anyone else, including his mentor and departed co-conspirator, Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney has been the intellectual author and bureaucratic facilitator of the crimes and misdemeanors that have inflicted unprecedented disgrace on our country’s moral and political standing: the casual trashing of habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions; the claim of authority to seize suspects, including American citizens, and imprison them indefinitely and incommunicado, with no right to due process of law; the outright encouragement of "cruel," "inhuman," and "degrading" treatment of prisoners; the use of undoubted torture, including waterboarding (Cheney: "a no-brainer for me"), which for a century the United States had prosecuted as a war crime; and, of course, the bloody, nightmarish Iraq war itself, launched under false pretenses, conducted with stupefying incompetence, and escalated long after public support for it had evaporated, at the cost of scores of thousands of lives, nearly half a trillion dollars, and the crippling of America’s armed forces, which no longer overawe and will take years to rebuild.

The stakes are lower in domestic affairs—if only because fewer lives are directly threatened—but here, too, Cheney’s influence has been invariably baleful. With an avalanche of examples, Gellman and Becker show how Cheney successfully pushed tax cuts for the very rich that went beyond what even the President, wanly clinging to the shards of "compassionate conservatism," and his economic advisers wanted. They show how Cheney’s stealthy domination of regulatory and environmental policy, driven by “unwavering ideological positions” and always exerted “for the benefit of business,” has resulted in the deterioration of air and water quality, the degradation and commercial exploitation of national parks and forests, the collapse of wild-salmon fisheries, and the curt abandonment of Bush’s 2000 campaign pledge to do something about greenhouse gases. [...]

Cheney, Gellman and Becker report, drew up and vetted a list of five appellate judges from which Bush drew his Supreme Court appointments. [...] The result is a Court majority that, last Thursday, ruled that conscious racial integration is the moral equivalent of conscious racial segregation. [...]

[L]ast week, Cheney provoked widespread hilarity by pleading executive privilege (in order to deny one set of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee) while simultaneously maintaining that his office is not part of the executive branch (in order to deny another set to the Information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives). On Cheney’s version of the government organization chart, it seems, the location of the Office of the Vice-President is undisclosed. So are the powers that, in a kind of rolling, slow-motion coup d'état, he has gathered unto himself. The laughter will fade quickly; the current Administration, regrettably, will not. However more politically moribund it may become, its writ still has a year and a half to go. A few weeks ago, on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, the Vice-President issued threats of war with Iran. A "senior American diplomat" told the Times that Cheney’s speech had not been circulated broadly in the government before it was delivered, adding, "He kind of runs by his own rules." But, too often, his rules rule. The awful climax of "Cheney/Bush" may be yet to come.
Impeach the bastards now, while you still have the right to do so.

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1 Comments:

Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Too many people think he is doing the 'right' thing, so we and the world are stuck with him.

July 24, 2007 at 4:18:00 PM GMT+2  

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