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June 26, 2007


I wanted to call attention to this passage:

"Dick once told me that our president is a 'big-government conservative,'" said former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), in a recollection disputed by Cheney's office. "Now, Dick keeps his opinions to himself whenever he disagrees with the administration, as he should. But I believe that Dick is a small-government conservative."

It suggests that Cheney's office got to review the quotes from this article, at least those that invoked Cheney's own words. What a curious approach to these articles--refusing all comment (except in the voice of Mary Matalin or David Gribben, yet reviewing the quotes. Not surprising, mind you, but curious.

Notice to the frogs on Capitol Hill: the water keeps getting hotter & hotter. When will impeachment of the VP be "on the table"?

EW - Josh Bolten does seem a very likely source for the article, particularly given how suddenly he decided to spend quality time with his family - perhaps he got the word that the article was going to be dumped onto the public in the June news void, and didn't want to share any quality elevator time with Shooter. I note via DKos that the tricoteuse of Washington insiderhood, Mrs. Quinn, has announced that Dick has trashed the place and that the Republican party is going to get rid of him. Well, who's going to bell that cat? Bolten is a Bush family loyalist, so there is definitely Poppy's gang's hand in all of this, along with reassuring leaks about closing Gitmo and drawing down forces. But what is the real endgame here? I'm sure that someone as paranoid as Cheney has some booby traps around his undisclosed bunker to stop a defenestration. Bad press making Dick quit? As Dick himself said, "Go f*** yourself!" The President can't fire the VP - after all, under the Constitution (conveniently for Dick, he can rely on it in this case), he is an elected official just like the President and cant be fired, only impeached. Perhaps a Spiro Agnew? Some minor personal corruption unconnected to the party as a whole, that will get him indicted? If there is no plan beyond the press coverage, this is all very interesting, but nothing we didnt know or suspect before.

I have realized that a good description of Balaam's behavior is "lawful evil". Thanks, EW.
There is a controversy over whether Balaam was greater or lesser than Moses, but it is clear from the text that Balaam let it go to his head and Moses did not. Anyone has to ask why Balaam went to curse the people when he had explicitly been told not to do so at least once. The standard interpretation is that Balaam only cared about the money, because he said, "If Balak were to give me his entire household of silver and gold, [I would not go against the word of G-d]." But these were higher-ranking people than the first mission, so he could not just turn them away. It's possible that Balaam wanted to know if he could curse the people, and show these important people that he had power. That is clearly relevant to this series.

Sally Quinn suggests that if Cheney is somehow bounced, Fred Thompson would be appointed vice president, because "everyone loves Fred". Uh huh. They seem to think that the Democrats would have to approve any replacement for Dick. I was struck by the following from Wikipedia on Spiro Agnew:

".....By mid-1971, Nixon concluded that Spiro Agnew was not "broad-gauged" enough for the vice-presidency. He constructed a scenario by which Agnew would resign, enabling Nixon to appoint Treasury Secretary John Connally as vice president under the provisions of the Twenty-fifth Amendment. [1] By appealing to southern Democrats, Connally would help Nixon create a political realignment, perhaps even replacing the Republican party with a new party that could unite all conservatives. Nixon rejoiced at news that the vice president, feeling sorry for himself, had talked about resigning to accept a lucrative offer in the private sector. Yet while Nixon excelled in daring, unexpected moves, he encountered some major obstacles to implementing this scheme.

John Connally was a Democrat, and his selection might offend both parties in Congress, which under the Twenty-fifth Amendment had to ratify the appointment of a new vice president. Even more problematic, John Connally did not want to be vice president. He considered it a "useless" job and felt he could be more effective as a cabinet member. Nixon responded that the relationship between the president and vice president depended entirely on the personalities of whoever held those positions, and he promised Connally they would make it a more meaningful job than ever in its history, even to the point of being "an alternate President." But Connally declined, never dreaming that the post would have made him president when Nixon was later forced to resign during the Watergate scandal."

If Dick were somehow made to disappear, what "Democrat" might be an appealing caretaker VP? Feel the Joementum anyone? :)

I really appreciate your diligent and patient kremlinology, but it pains me to recognize that it's necessary to go to such tedious lengths to understand what our government is up to.

In the case of Cheney's "economic policies", I hope someone can provide us with an accurate, detailed answer to the obvious question: Who has profited? When it comes to crooked money-making schemes, cause and effect often reside in extremely close proximity.

With Cheney detailed to the White House, Halliburton is doing better than it was back when he was purchasing asbestos liabilities. It looks to me like the folks in that early secret energy meeting have been doing quite well as an oil grab goes up in flames but increases their profits nevertheless. It wouldn't be surprising to discover that the homeland-security industry is full of Republicans whose ineptness has proved profitable and largely tax-free.

Cheney's policies aren't failures at all. There has been a tremendous redistribution of wealth fron the top 69% to the top 1%, whose incomes have more than doubled in the last few years. Total assets have probably gained even more, because it takes money to make money.

And deficits? As Ron Suskind reported, Cheney famously said "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." Whether he was speaking literally or politically isn't clear.

The man has truly screwed up everything he has touched.

Good catch on the "kitchen cabinet". I would have assumed that he simply had informal meetings with all the people quoted.

He’s not in the Executive Branch.
He’s not in the Legislative Branch.

Cheney and I agree completely!
He’s not part of our government!

Let’s make it official…

The issue regarding subordinates, including the president, seems to be whether they abjectly accept Cheney's ideas (about eg, tax cuts for coupon clippers or prisoner interrogations) and dominance. Those who have their own ideas and consider themselves peers don't survive, which leaves us a govt filled with 'Fredos. Powell and Rice saw this early on, and so vented their frustrations on 'Fredo, knowing it would have no effect, instead of confronting Addington or Cheney. This mimics the dynamic of a highly dysfunctional family with a drunken father.

Other than quit, as Powell did belatedly, there's nothing else to do. Cheney's network allows him to know what you're doing as soon as you do. Cheney has the experience and energy and uberloyal staff of his own, and an Irish terrorist's willingness to kneecap an opponent before pissing on his face.

The keystone, of course, is the weak, cowardly, uncurious and willingly led George W. Bush, over whom Cheney exercises almost complete emotional control. Paging Dr. Freud, Dr. Howard, Dr. Freud.

Funny how Libby is abscent throughtout the Washington post articles. Somewhere else in the net this was called the Sansom Defense. Cheneys's Cheney no where!

Random thoughts below.

In Bart Gellman's Q&A WaPo chat yesterday he said that the economic section (I assume this part) of the series was the one section that Cheney's office gave approval for his loyal minions and surrogates to speak with him and Becker..wonder if as a part of that approval and willingness, they were allowed to read what was being said in this section prior to it be finalized?

And besides O'Neill, who stood up for his principles and then was ousted and smeared for daring to speak out, it seems like all those other Bush economic men (I'm looking mostly at you Mr. Greenspan) acted like Colin Powell, you know the man who spoke out against the Iraq invasion prior to the war, especially his UN presentation. Of course now after 6 years we hear about how the Maestro was against the Cheney Bush taxcut giveaway to the wealthy ....fearing the long term damaging consequences of longterm deficits....now we hear about how Uncle Alan's and many others worries, its much easier to do this when everyone else is piling on Fourthbranch. Well on the bright side, at least it's officially out in the open now that the economic and tax policy of this administration that these men all admit it was a tax giveaway geared toward the wealthy, how many times did we suffer through well the middle class and the poor are getting a 300 dollar rebate and it is tax relief for them too! I also get the sense from this article that many of these same republican economic men who disagreed strongly with the tax cut giveaway to the wealthy and corporations, also aren't big believers in the trickle down economic theory either...wingnut heads might explode over that revelation.

Lastly, wonder if Grover Norquist is part of the kitchen cabinet table of economist...along with good ole Larry Kudlow who is mentioned in the article?

WaPo (quoted by EW @ Top: "In the weeks following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as the White House was putting together an economic recovery package, Cheney gathered his kitchen cabinet, frequently interrupting the experts as he furiously jotted notes on a stack of cards embossed with the vice presidential seal. What kind of tax cuts are needed? Cheney wanted to know. How big?"

It is kind of interesting how this paragraph portrays a rich man's greed for tax cuts as: patriotic.

my too sense

Lots of good points--and you may well be right about Kudlow and Norquist. I'll have to go read Gellman's chat from yesterday. Someone (First Draft?) noted how much more solicitous this part is. Why would Cheney choose the economic one to review? To keep his clients, the TX oil money, happy>?

you quote comment on Bush:
The president was cooler on the capital gains tax(...) having campaigned on a platform of compassionate conservatism, he expressed doubts about giving another income tax break to the wealthiest Americans, particularly because they would benefit the most from the elimination of the dividends tax, Hubbard said.
(end quote)

This strikes me as a planted quote, in the interest of rehabilitating W's image. I don't believe it... not for a minute: enabling big-monied buddies in Texas as governor was among the red-flag warning signs prior to 2k election. The same well-healed "$$ for Bush" crowd has reaped tax benefits & fed contract awards from the day Junior landed on Pennsylvania Ave.

Of course, no one was as great as Moses! The controversy is actually about whether Balaam had prophecy or not.

Okay, now I'm wondering if this entire series is aimed at rehabilitating Bush's image. Bush is an economic populist? Who wants to make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share??

But near the passage in Suskind that Mimikatz refers to, it's said that Bush did "express doubts" about the dividend tax reduction. Furthermore, in the econ policy meeting where he expressed this, he persisted for a while in the face of responses by supporters of the cuts, such as Hubbard.

On rereading that passage, I don't think that Bush necessarily was acting out of any deeply felt sense of populism, let alone an identification with the struggling middle class. I think he might have been seeking arguments to feed into a political calcuation about whether finally to support the offered measures. Or, eliciting talking points that could be used to campaign for the cuts. Or, by giving the impression that he was in play, continuing the process of sorting his team into players and leavers.

In any case, Hubbard certainly knows that the passage exists and has been public for quite a while. It makes fascinating reading, on pp. 299–306 of The Price of Loyalty. The passage with Cheney revealing himself to O'Neill is back on 291–2.

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