C&L's May Book Of The Month: VICE: Dick Cheney And The Hijacking Of The American Presidency

110TH CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION RESOLUTION Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors. Resolv

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110TH CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION

RESOLUTION

Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Resolved, That Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States, against Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Those are the opening words to the House Resolution on Impeachment submitted last week by U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. It should be taken very seriously. It may save our lives. And the lives of our children.

Dick Cheney is the most unpopular vice president in the history of the United States – he is also the most powerful. Over the past 6 years, Cheney has consolidated power by slowly and directly taking it from a president who from day one had little interest in policy and absolutely no experience in the royal ways of Washington.

On September 29th, 1974, Dick Cheney, at the age of 33, became the youngest presidential chief of staff in American history. He reveled in the power that job gave him.

On June 29th 2002, Cheney for the first time, legally and constitutionally assumed the powers of the presidency when President Bush underwent anesthesia during a medical exam. Although the anesthesia eventual wore off and legal power of the presidency was returned to George Bush, some say Cheney has remained the de facto President ever since.

“Dick Cheney exercises all the power of the Presidency. That has never happened. Ever.” Says former U.S. assistant attorney general Bruce Fein.

This book, “Vice,” explains how he did it and why nobody has stopped him.

Two hard nosed veteran reporters, Lou Dubose (“Shrub,” “Bushwacked,” “The Hammer”) and Jake Bernstein have brought us the book that is a must read for anyone who wants to know why Cheney is being impeached (and also why it should have happened sooner). It’s timing couldn’t be better. Read this book before it’s too late!


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Thirty years ago Woodward and Bernstein wrote, follow the money. Today, Dubose and (Jake) Bernstein implore us to simply follow the Cheney. With a love of secrecy “befitting the Kremlin,” and disdain for Congress and the media, Cheney has managed to find almost every loophole in maintaining a balance of power between the three branches of government.

These checks and balances have since become unchecked and unbalanced.

Always a Machiavellian politician, the Zelig-like Dick Cheney survived the collapse of the Nixon presidency eventually ending up as Chief of Staff to President Gerald Ford just a few years later.

He immediately began consolidating power, his stated belief being that the then veto-proof congress had stripped all power from the office of the presidency.

It turned out Cheney sought power for the sake of power. As we learn from Dubose and Bernstein, Cheney politically sabotaged then vice president Rockefeller in order to eliminate additional access to President Ford. Rockefeller, the former governor of New York and a domineering figure himself, also sensed weakness in the oval office and was drawn to that for his own reasons. Apparently, Rockefeller aspired to be what Dick Cheney would later become – a de facto President of the United States (Maybe that’s where Cheney got the idea).

After the victory by Jimmy Carter, Cheney successfully ran for Congress. His campaign manager was a fellow named John Perry Barlow, a leader of the State Republican party of Wyoming and unbelievably, a lyricist for the hallucinogenic rock band, the Grateful Dead. Barlow, who penned such Dead classics as “ Black Throated Wind” and “Mexicali Blues” supposedly introduced the Dead to one Timothy Leary in 1967 and was a frequent visitor to Millbrook, the Leary LSD compound in upstate New York. Did Barlow do acid with Dick Cheney in the many hours they spent together? Did it result in a bad trip? We may never know.

From what we do know, Cheney seemed to like alcohol more than hallucinogens. A lot more. Cheney was convicted of drunk driving twice during a brief eight-month period in his native Wyoming. For the record: never before has the United States had both a President and Vice President in office with previous drunk driving convictions.

In a later chapter entitled, “Covert Cover Up” we learn about Cheney’s involvement in the secret illegal war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. In 1986, that secrecy was eradicated when one Eugene Hasenfus, a CIA operative flying arms to the Contras was shot down and taken prisoner. His revelations lead to the Iran-Contra hearings, the conviction of Elliot Abrams (he is currently Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy – in short, Cheney’s foreign policy enforcer) and the trading of arms to Iran. What the affair pointed out and we see repeated just recently in the Valerie Plame case is that power trumps ideology. This fact is the hardest for some to wrap their minds around. The secret war waged by the Reagan administration was a battle of wills with Congress and the Democrats. When caught violating the law, the administration simply turned around and raised money for their illegal war by selling arms to another enemy of the United States - the Iranians.

The end justified the means.

Power trumped ideology.

That’s also why the Plame affair was so baffling. To get even with former Ambassador Joe Wilson for having the courage to speak truth to power and to cover his own tracks, Cheney went as far as committing treason and outed Wilson’s wife as a covert CIA operative (If his wife wasn’t a CIA operative and could have been smeared for having an affair with a neighbor that probably would have sufficed). The fact that she was actually involved in nuclear proliferation prevention was meaningless to Cheney because in the end, power trumps ideology.

This may be hard to comprehend as Cheney and his gang are perceived to be right wing ideologues and the Bush crowd is perceived to be hard right Christian ideologues. Both perceptions are wrong. And that might be why many Reaganites, true conservatives and indeed true Christians have been left scratching their collective heads.

It seems that these phony adopted belief systems have revealed themselves to be mere smokescreens for their true goals – power for the sake of power.

The endless intellectual “gotchas” by the liberal Democrats, the media and so-called mainstream Republicans, simply forces the Cheneyists into more and more absurd responses, as the reasons for their bizarre activities have become intellectually irrational to the outside viewer.

Dick Cheney’s political career began in 1969, as an intern during the Nixon administration. That little taste of power left him starving for more.

Like his mentor Tricky Dick I, Tricky Dick II also suffers from paranoia (But as President Nixon learned, even paranoiacs have enemies). Cheney’s paranoia was deeply accelerated by 9/11, but his view of global annihilation goes back to the cold war and indeed most Cheney watchers feel he has simply replaced the Soviet threat with the new Orwellian global terrorist threat.

Besides paranoia, consolidation of power is what Cheney has been about since then. Working with his lifelong sidekick Donald Rumsfeld under a weak, naïve President Ford, (who in many ways was not unlike the current President Bush) the duo staged the so-called “Halloween Massacre.” Cheney and Rumsfeld increased their power by firing and reassigning dozens of high-ranking officials in and out of the white house. It was like a palace coup and would serve as a blueprint for their later work with George W. Bush.

In Congress from 1978 – 1989, Cheney voted against the creation of the Department of Education. He voted against a resolution calling on South Africa to release Nelson Mandela from prison. He voted against Head Start. He voted against Martin Luther King’s birthday holiday (The latter two votes he later reversed placing doubt on his so-called rigid ideology).

From 1989 – 1993, Cheney served as Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush and from all accounts he was a pretty darn good one. Apparently when faced with a boss and staff who provided strong leadership and oversight, Cheney retreats, not unlike most bullies. However, under Ford, Reagan and now George W. Bush, all figurehead type presidents, Cheney filled these political power vacuums with none other than himself and his cronies.

In 1993, with Democrats taking over the white house, Cheney walked out of government and into the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. This was done mostly to scheme and connive his return to power.

Cheney is a well-known and outspoken critic of Hollywood. However check out this absurd Dick Cheney Trivia #297:

In 1995 Dick Cheney tried his hand at acting, portraying a police official alongside fellow Republican Bruce Willis in “Die Hard With A Vengeance.”

It would be his last acting job. That is, until he became acting President five years later.

From 1995 – 2000 he served as CEO of Halliburton increasing its offshore tax havens from 9 to 44 among many other nefarious unpatriotic deeds.

The book also examines the cash flow and the lies surrounding the no-bid contracts to Halliburton leading up to the Iraq War and also the supposed blind trusts that Cheney claimed prevented him from sharing in Halliburton profits.

“Vice” also provides an in depth look at the so-called vice presidential search.

With the running of George W. Bush for the presidency, Cheney is called upon to head up the vice-presidential selection committee. As most of us now know he ended up selecting himself. But the road to getting there is fascinating and well detailed in the book.

Cheney demands that all potential candidates for the VP job fill out tons of paperwork and financial disclosure forms even though almost all had been previously vetted and given security clearances from other high-ranking government jobs.

Little do they know that the job has already been awarded to Cheney. And little do they know that Cheney is assembling master files on all of them - a personnel file to be used against his rivals in the near future.

He immediately uses this private information against Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma. The well liked former FBI agent had served in a number of posts in the Reagan and Bush I administrations. He was widely praised for his handling of the Oklahoma City bombing (and ironically, recruited none other than Dick Cheney to help him with the fund raising).

For all of this, Cheney perceived him as a threat (see ‘paranoid’). He leaked sensitive information from Keating’s file to Michael Isikoff of Newsweek. Something about unsecured loans from a retired New York banker named Jack Dreyfus. Keating soon left public life, his career in ruins.

One of the most illuminating sections of the book involves Cheney’s power consolidation as vice president. Many have wondered how and why he gathered so much power and influence.

Here’s how he did it:

For one, he flooded the zone. That is, he came in with so many of his own loyal people that he overwhelmed the small amount of zealous staffers that Bush brought with him from Texas. Gonzales, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Condi Rice and Harriet Miers were no match for Donald Rumsfeld, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, David Addington, Scooter Libby and Cheney’s numerous cronies in the Defense Department, the American Enterprise Institute, Congress and of course, the private sector.

Bush people were run over by a political freight train.

Cheney actually made now-convicted felon, Scooter Libby a special assistant to the President to keep an eye and ear on the President’s staff.

It got so bad that White House Presidential staffers began to refer to Cheney by the nickname “Edgar,” a direct reference to Edgar Bergen, the talented puppet master to the famous talking mannequin, Charlie McCarthy.

Here’s a good one: Cheney staffers were allowed to read the emails of Bush staffers but not the other way around. Think about the power slant in that policy. Bush staffers, according to the book, were so spooked by Cheney that they would leave an office and use cell phones to call each other privately instead of using the email system.

Cheney hit the ground running: As soon as the dust settled from the election, Cheney was off and running with his own agenda. Bush had no agenda so the only running he did was in the park around the white house.

The study of the consolidation of power by Cheney in the Bush White House is bone chilling. One is never sure if Bush is allowing it or simply cannot stop it. Either way, it adds up to an internal coup.

All roads, all policies, all appointments, all presidential decisions lead right up and onto Cheney’s desk. He is in fact the President of the United States of America. Comics may point out that Bush is brain dead, but he’s not legally or physically dead. If this type of governing could happen with a vice president, it could happen with a Defense Secretary, a Secretary of State or any other position as long as higher ups go along.

The possibilities are terrifying.
The nation could be lead into an unjust war.
Thousands could die.
Billions of dollars from the national treasury could be siphoned off into private hands.
The possibilities are endless.

To be honest, “Vice” is a rather rough read. It has the feel of a rushed product and many of these current event-themed publications are just that. The publishers must rush them out, as events never stay current. However, that being said, the book is so full of facts and it’s timing so appropriate that I urge all C&L readers to bury their noses in it.

Find out how this happened so that it never happens again. Learn how to answer anyone who ever mentions the name of this vice president again.

Richard B. Cheney has clearly done enough damage to warrant impeachment. Remember all the votes were not “in place” to impeach Richard Nixon. The numbers changed as the evidence unfolded. This evidence needs to unfold into the living rooms of the American people.

Read “Vice” and make a difference. It’s not about how much time is left in this administration. It’s about justice and making sure this unchecked, defacto style of the presidency never happens again. No one died and made Cheney president. No one voted for Cheney as President. Dick Cheney just took the presidency.

It’s time to take it back.

VICE: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
By Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein
Random House; $24.95, 272 pages

A screenwriter/producer/journalist based in Hollywood, California, Mark Groubert has been a frequent contributor to Crooksandliars.com. Groubert is a former editor of National Lampoon Magazine, MTV Magazine and The Weekly World News. In addition, he has written for the L.A. Weekly, L.A. CityBeat, Penthouse, High Times and other publications. He has also produced various documentaries for HBO.

About Mark Groubert

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