We are going through the worst period in American life since 1946. By the end of World War II, we had lost over half a million brave Americans and a much larger number were returning to civilian life and adjustment from injury and the shock of war. But Americans had already gone a long way towards working themselves out of a Great Depression even before the military arms and equipment build up for the war.
With something so unexpected, the first American President to try to stop it failed. Herbert Hoover, a brilliant man and one of the most successful managers of grand global enterprises in history was President. But even he could not grasp the enormity of what had happened. He tried numerous solutions but each one failed. After four years of struggling with the problem, the nation turned to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Roosevelt took an entirely new approach. For the first time in history, the country used the power of the government purse to create new enterprises, to build things, modernize the country…and by building this infrastructure…to employ millions of unemployed, scared, desperate Americans.
Dick Cheney is not a free-market, laissez-faire, private industry Republican, as he pretends to be as one of the leaders of the Republican Party. He is the opposite. But in saying that he is…pretending to be one thing and actually living his life as another…he is the very definition of an impostor. In addition, in order to carry out this lie of a life, he must often live this lie in secret.
For generation upon generation, we have had men who found politics to be a career rather than a public service. This challenged the idea that government was…of the People…for the People…and by the People. But it often worked out well.
Republican Representative and later Senator George W. Norris from Nebraska was one such man. He was a long-time believer in staying out of foreign wars or even commenting on the actions of foreign governments until he saw a photograph of Japanese atrocities in 1937 in China and he quickly changed his mine. Seeing the great difficulties of life encountered by the farm and ranch families in the vast expanse of Western Nebraska, Norris, a lifelong Republican supported and even helped lead the initiatives of Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt to bring electricity to rural areas.
Republican Representative and Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr. of Wisconsin was another such man who spent a life outstanding for its public service…real service to the public. The founder of the Progressive movement and the Populist Party, La Follette was relentless in his pursuit of those who would corrupt the political system, like the railroads of that era.
Sam Rayburn of Texas was a Democrat when Southern Democrats were barely more than Confederate citizens who stayed in the United States primarily because they had nowhere else to go. Impoverished, illiterate and largely ignorant, Southerners of the Reconstruction and Segregation eras were clearly anti-civil rights. But Sam Rayburn was a practical man and a man concerned about his constituents. He was the Representative for his district in Texas, and he was also the Speaker of the House, the longest serving Speaker of the House ever.
Yet Sam Rayburn devoted his life to getting legislation done for the People, especially liberal, progressive legislation, like dams and roads and rural electrification. Although Sam Rayburn was the most powerful man in the House of Representatives for most of his era, he never took a dime of money from the government except his salary, paying his own expenses for trips and other expenses. When he died in 1961, Sam Rayburn’s entire estate, less his ranch home, was worth $15,000.
And then there was Dick Cheney. In a Neo-Fascist Party that now worships at the altar of huge sums of money, like those Mitt Romney has earned by sending jobs overseas and stealing the pensions and health care of American workers so that Republicans can now call them “shiftless” and “lazy” Cheney did the right thing. He sold out his country for money.
Dick Cheney was a good student and athlete in the lightly populated state of Wyoming. His father somehow got him into Yale, where he promptly flunked out. Then he flunked out of Yale when they gave him a second chance. That’s why Harvard and Yale have the kinds of programs they do. Pass or fail and if you are really smart, want to learn and work hard…honors. But you really have to be both lazy and something else…a very bad drunk, a pervert or an out-and-out criminal…in order to get kicked out of Harvard or Yale if you are connected.
So Cheney went back to Wyoming and he got a degree and went on to get a Masters somewhere. But the first thing he did, just like Paul Ryan, was to go into politics as the aide of a congressman, then worked for Donald Rumsfeld in the Nixon Administration. Then he worked with Rumsfeld in the White House for Gerald Ford.
By that time, Cheney had both earned his way into the inner sanctum of the Republican Party and made a name for himself as a pretty good administrator. He also had learned the dirty tricks that the Nixon White House and the Republican Party was already becoming famous for. He was elected to Congress a number of times from Wyoming, with the full support of the Republican Party.
In 1980, he backed the winning horse. He backed a fellow Conservative in Ronald Reagan. Cheney has good instincts. He forsook his old boss, Gerald Ford, for the winner. He spent the Reagan years in Congress, backing every Right Wing policy, every tax cut and every spending bill that would advance his agenda. Then in 1989, George Bush the First made him Secretary of Defense. This was his meat. He could ladle out the pork to all his pals while overseeing the killing of a lot of non-Americans…and thanks to Bush, Colin Powell, General Schwartzkoff and particularly the General Staff of the Army…a brilliant new generation of highly educated, Viet Nam-hardened generals…very few Americans.
But in 1993, Clinton won and Cheney was out of a job. So he decided to do what Donald Rumsfeld had done…use his government contacts…people he had done favors for while in government…to get rich. He became head of Halliburton Corporation. He knew a little about the oil industry business but that isn’t why he was hired. While he was President of Halliburton, he added about $350 million in U.S. government contacts to the company.
He had already made some contacts at Halliburton during the first Gulf War when he hired them to cap the oilfield fires that Saddam Hussein had started, trying to make them useless to the invaders. This was Halliburton’s business. Halliburton was not the only company that did this kind of work, but they were the ones Cheney gave the contracts.
So, like Donald Rumsfeld, who had gone to work for Searle and beame rich by using his connections to make aspartame a viable product, one that had been banned by FDA for 16 years. Then he helped create mergers and activities that made Searle profitable. Rumsfeld is a good administrator. But he used his connections in politics to make a hundred million dollars or so. He wasn’t that good an executive without his connections in government that could get pharmaceuticals approved and mergers approved.
Cheney followed Rumsfeld’s lead. When he left the Defense Department in 1993, he eventually ended up at Halliburton where he raised the level of their government contracts from a few million to $350 million. They paid him a reported $44 million.
But that wasn’t enough. He set himself up as Vice President for George W. Bush, a stooge who used his father’s name to get everything he has. On his own, Bush failed miserably. Cheney, once set up as the real authority in the White House, with his henchmen in place, including Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense…we should have seen that coming…he went to war against Iraq. He knew by then how much oil was in Iraq. He wanted it for his friends.
In 2001, Cheney and a group of his war-hawk friends had a meeting in which it is said that they divided up the oil in Iraq on a map in anticipation of starting a war, using the reprehensible Saddam Hussein as a ploy. With the entire control of government, with media behind them, and with the military working under Rumsfeld’s orders, they planned their attack. It was apparent, after they refused to show the minutes of their “energy” meeting in March of 2001, that this war, that would kill 4500 Americans and ruin the lives of millions of Iraqis, was not about preventing Saddam Hussein from attacking us with weapons of mass destruction. It was about oil
This time, Cheney really made it big for Halliburton, whose stock he continued to receive, for which he should be sent to jail by the way…it’s illegal. Over the course of the next few years despite the protests of Department of Defense whistleblowers, he gave over $12 billion…with a “b”…in contracts to Halliburton. In return for that, Halliburton cheated the government out of at least $16 million that has been identified and killed 9 American service men in their showers, electrocuted them with faulty wiring.
Cheney and Bush engineered a Republican takeover of government that spent $8 trillion more than it took in during their adminstration…despite telling American citizens—who then stupidly re-elected them—that they were fiscal conservatives and the Democrats were the tax-and-spend administrations.
Once they were firmly in place in the second term they tried to privatize Social Security. And they tried to deny poor working families–above Medicaid poverty levels but too poor to afford health insurance for their children (this was just for children…Republicans wouldn’t allow working class adults to get less expensive insurance)–the assistance in finding some kind of health care policy through the SCHIPS program that had been begun by Democrats.
Cheney and Bush gave hundreds and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the pharmaceutical companies instead of preventing them from controlling U.S. prices, sometime triple what the same pharmaceuticals cost in other parts of the world. They then put the biggest anti-regulation person they could find, the Neo-Fascist Chris Cox, as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Cox began firing regulators and forcing those who wanted to bring actions against Wall Street crooks to leave the agency. He literally threw serious cases into the wastebasket. He forced the good attorney out of the department…after all they could make three times as much by simply resigning…and allowed the Bernie Madoffs, the AIGs, the Goldman, Sachs, Lehman Brothers and others to run rampant over the investment landscape.
We know the result. Cheney’s plans worked. Wall Street got rich and the American people got a Stock Market crash and what is now the Second Great Depression. The idea that began with Ronald Reagan…make good interest rates only available through second mortgages on homes…which will result in the eventual destruction of the one good investment the middle class can fall back on—the value of their homes. So that once the Republicans could ruin that…Cheney thought…they could destroy the Middle Class. That has been Cheney’s goal and the goal of the Texas Right Wing oil barons for a long, long time.
So what is Cheney’s legacy? Millions of people’s lives damaged, hundreds of thousands dead, 4,500 American military live lost foolishly, wastefully. Billions of American taxpayer dollars stolen. Terrorists convinced that their jihad was truly the right thing to do. Resistance built up against America all over the Arab world. And the power of Iran enhanced.
And there’s more. The willingness to send someone to supervise Wall Street who hates regulation…Chris Cox. Cheney sent someone to Wall Street to destroy all oversight, and that is exactly what happened. Did Cheney plan the Stock Market Crash? We don’t know. We only know this. There are people who have tried, convicted and would deliver mortal punishment for his crimes against the American people, let alone the people of the world…if they could find the opportunity.
His arrogance, his greed, and his use of power to impoverish the American people…these are all crimes against the People when a man has the power and the authority of the Vice Presidency, in this case making all the decisions for the President and running his own staff, his own private military, and his own agenda…helping the super-rich to create a NEW FASCIST PARTY in the United States.
Richard Cheney and the New Fascist Party must be stopped in whatever way possible. The first step would be to defeat Mitt Romney and every Republican this Fall. That would start the process of American recovery. Second, we need to finally prosecute both Richard Cheney and George W. Bush for war crimes so that the rest of the world will know that we finally realize that we are part of the world and must not let criminal thugs, like Richard Cheney, lead us in our affairs with other countries.