Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mr. Cheney’s Victory Lap

Dick Cheney is taking a lap around all the talk shows, peddling his memoir while giving his reputation one final spit-shine before he dies and goes straight to hell.

Dick Cheney
Oh—so you actually doubt he’ll go to hell? With the shit he’s pulled? Cabrón, please . . .

It is remarkable that relatively few people seem outraged by Mr. Cheney. Here is the man who, as Vice-President of the United States, violated some of the most important rights, freedoms and liberties that America has defended for over two-hundred years. Not only did he commit what in other times would have been considered war crimes and crimes against humanity—he is proud of having done so!

He boasts about the torture he ordered, he defends the wars of aggression that he fomented, and he is silent about the sweetheart deals he gave his former employer, Halliburton, in the “reconstruction” of countries that he helped destroy.

In short, he violated every rule in the book—yet no one is throwing the book at him. There are no Congressional hearings into his violation of the Constitution. There are no prosecutors sharpening their chops, getting ready to indict him on charges of corruption.

Most of all, there is no public outrage at him.

Sure, some loony Lefties and some old-style hard-ass Conservatives such as myself bitch and moan about him—but no one is seriously arguing for his arrest, indictment and prosecution for the despicable things he did while in office. Or if they are advocating his arrest and prosecution—like me, and perhaps you—then they are on the extreme fringes of the political discourse—like me, and perhaps you: Marginal, and inconsequential.

Cheney was—and still is—at the center of the political discourse, and he operated with a completely free hand, unconstrained by any limitations—Constitutional, legal, moral—free to carry out the most egregious violations of everything that the United States stands for—

—meanwhile, a college kid with a dime bage of pot goes to jail for five years.

This doesn’t surprise us: We know it as a truism that the rules fall like a ton of bricks on some Americans, while for others, those same rules are as light as ether—and just as non-existent.

Consider banking: Local Savings-and-Loans are constrained and regulated up the wazoo—but the large banks are pretty much allowed to write their own regulations. Small banks and S&L’s have to toe the line, as regards capital reserves—but the Too Big To Fail banks can literally make believe any asset is worth whatever they say it’s worth, and therefore covers these capital requirements with nothing but daydreams. (See my discussion of the suspension of FASB rule 157 here.)

Consider the stock markets: Computer-run algorithmic trading has taken over the markets, super-computers trading with one another in a pattern that is, essentially, a pump-and-dump scheme. A half-dozen Guidos out in New Jersey, pulling a pump-and-dump on penny stock, will rightfully get arrested by the SEC. But a blue-chip firm pulling the same shit—only with stock in Apple, Microsoft, BofA or JPMorgan? They’re invited to the $50,000-a-table fund-raising event that the regulator is throwing, as he positions himself for a run for the U.S. Senate.

Consider industries: Small- and medium-sized businesses have to follow every single FDA rule, every single OSHA clause, every single burp in the regulatory legislation, to the point where a lot of these small- and medium-sized businesses are drowning in regulatory sludge—

—but big outfits like Monsanto, DuPont, BP? They can sell known carcinogens to the general public, to children—they can carry out a monopoly against farmers with unhealthy, untested fertilizers and genetically modified seeds—they can cause the biggest industrial disaster ever, and then lie about it for months

—and at most? A small fine. Any jail time for those responsible? Any public investigation, let alone opprobrium?

Once again: Cabrón, please . . .

In today’s America—where egalitarianism was once considered to be the cornerstone of our society—the application of the rules and regulations decreases as you go up the pyramid.

See, it’s not that the rules have vanished as you rise up the pyramid—the rules and regulations are still there: It’s just that they’re not applied to those closer to the top of the pyramid, as Mr. Cheney knows so well.

Why is this? Why have we lost our egalitarianism? Why have we lost our equality before the law?

I think it’s because we have lost our moral self-confidence: The confidence which gives us the ability to say out loud and with a firm voice, “This here is right, while that there is wrong.”

Starting with the 1970’s, our society has marinated in the notion that no one has a right to judge how you live: You can do your own thing, to borrow the phrase from the time. Not only does society not have the right to judge the way you live as to its rightness or wrongness—society does not have the right to judge you.

But of course: Judgment is the necessary ingredient for making moral decisions. You need judgment in order to decide what is wrong and what is right. Without moral judgment, all decisions are reduced to either a hedonistic calculus (how much pleasure will I get from this action, as opposed to how much pain, nevermind if it’s right or wrong), a cost-benefit analysis (how much would it cost me to do this as opposed to that, nevermind if it’s right or wrong), or to a political decision (whose support would I win or lose if I did this or that, nevermind if it’s right or wrong).

Without moral judgment, our decisions ultimately turn us from citizens with a common purpose, into nihilistic actors looking out for ourselves and no one else.

More troublingly, without moral judgment, our lives become untethered from fixed principles, and therefore constantly reactive to the people around us. We become dependent on what others think of us—slaves to public opinion.

(As a parenthesis: We shouldn’t be surprised, if our culture has turned so many of us into raging narcissists. Without a fixed moral benchmark from which to render judgment, we are as untethered as free-floating balloons—and therefore must gauge our place in society not by what we believe, but rather by what other people believe about us. Thus we have to constantly, obsessively examine and re-examine the registry of what others say about us. No surprise, then, the popularity of the social networks, such as Facebook, etc.: They give us feedback as to what other people think about us, and thereby help us gauge and measure our place in our ever-shifting society. Think of it as a school of minnows, everyone swimming in the same, ever-shifting direction, everyone constantly terrified of swimming against the school.)

Since we don’t allow ourselves to tell right from wrong—since we don’t allow ourselves to make moral judgments—we cannot make fine-tuned moral distinctions: We lose proportionality, and moral perspective. We cannot discern that a minor shoving match at a bar is not an “assault”, while shelling people with radioactive munitions is in fact a war crime. We cannot tell the difference—or see the similarities—between robbing a hundred bucks with a gun, and robbing a $1,000,000,000 with a lawyer.

Mindlessly Following the Rules

Directly from this loss of moral proportion—and directly from the sense of being untethered—our society begins to latch on to rules: Mindlessly latching on to rules.

Think of something as absurd as the “three strikes rule” in the judiciary: In some states, if a person commits three felonies, then they are automatically thrown in jail for 20 years or more, irrespective of how trivial the offenses were. And as we have all heard, from too many horror stories for it to be a fluke, we know how deeply unfair this three-strikes rule really is.

Yet so many of us don’t say a thing, shielding ourselves from moral responsibility by that most heinous and despicable of phrases: “I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.”

Think, conversely, of what happened with the banksters: They broke the financial system, immorally profiting from that mess—demanded (and got) an unprecedented government bailout by essentially blackmailing the American economy—then paid themselves record-breaking bonuses with money given to them by the American people.

But these banksters—swine that they are, without exception—did not overtly flout any rule. So nobody said a thing, except some confused souls on the margins and in the blogosphere. The mainstream media? The people with positions of authority? They didn’t say a thing—because the banksters didn’t overtly break any rule or law.

Our society latches on to rules—often arbitrary rules—and turns a blind eye both to the abuses that arise from compliance to these rules, and abuses that arise from the lack of any existing rules.

The reason? We no longer have the moral self-confidence to say, “Screw the rules—a dime bag of pot is not enough of a reason to imprison you for five year”, or conversely, “Screw that it’s not technically against the rules—benefitting from the bankruptcy of your financial institution is wrong”.

Since we don’t have this moral self-confidence, we hold on to rules, no matter how arbitrary, or how morally unsound, and watch as perverse results bloom like weeds in what’s supposed to be a perfectly manicured lawn.

Structural Pliancy

I can tell your objection already: If we are doing this—if we are obsessively latching on to rules—why is it that the people closer to the top of the pyramid can so cavalierly break the rules, as Mr. Cheney has boasted of doing? Why does throwing fifty pounds of trash into a deserted lot merit being thrown in jail for a year, while spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for six months or so merits a (proportionately) minor fine?

In short, why don’t the rules apply for everyone, equally?

Simple: Because without absolute moral judgment—that is, with a standard of morality that is relative, and not fixed—then everything becomes a political game, a numbers game. The more people on your side, the more likely you’ll get away with bending or breaking the rules. The application of the rule of law becomes a popularity contest: If you have the numbers on your side, then you can get away with anything.

This is mob rule.

Consider Mr. Cheney, and Barack Obama’s reaction to Mr. Cheney’s crimes: Since he is a former Vice-President, and seemingly popular with his electorate, Mr. Obama sees no upside to prosecuting Mr. Cheney—but plenty of downside.

Consistency would demand of Mr. Obama that, if he prosecutes Mr. Cheney, he ought to prosecute George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, several if not most of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Why? Because all of them are guilty of the same crimes against the American Constitution as Mr. Cheney: Crimes against the Constitution, and crimes against humanity—and I do not use that phrase lightly.

But in this atmosphere of relative morality that is our curse to live in, Mr. Obama has made the political calculation that there is no upside to prosecuting Mr. Cheney or that whole cabal.

Some Lefty pinko faggots might be outraged—as outraged as I am outraged—that Obama doesn’t do “the right thing”. But see, from the position of relative morality, Obama is doing the right thing: He has made the political calculation that it’s not worth prosecuting the Bush-Cheney cabal. The political cost is too high, the political benefit too low—and besides, everyone accepts that Cheney did what he has done, which would leave Obama out of synch with the school of minnows of Washington.

So Obama says, “Forget the past—move forward”, when it comes to Cheney’s crimes.

But when it comes to a whistleblower who embarrasses the military, or the security aparatus? Whistleblowers cause more political harm than political benefit—which is why Obama has been even more relentless in prosecuting than than even George W. Bush was.

See how crazy this is? This is what relative morality has bequeathed us: An evil old man interviewed on all the morning talk shows, cheerfully admitting to the rape of American principles, and to the gang-bang of those principles most central to our common humanity, confident that he will never suffer punishment for his evil deeds. And on the flip side, a whistleblower who saw waste—corruption—treason—and tried to stop it by calling attention to it: He is prosecuted like a criminal—worse than a criminal, if you go by what has happened to Bradley Manning—while those who betrayed the public trust are coddled and shielded from scrutiny—they are allowed to continue their wrongdoing, while the whistleblower who tried to stop it by shining a light on it is sent to jail.

Sapping Our Will

It’s bad enough that this turd of Satan should parade about, boasting of his evil deeds—what’s worse is, the very spectacle of Mr. Cheney prancing about saps America of our will to goodness and decency.

Just as there is a collective mood—the mood of a crowd at the stadium of a winning team, the mood of a crowd fleeing from an earthquake—there is a collective will: The will to goodness—or evil—of a people.

That will to goodness is inexorably sapped when the people see such an evil man walk away with impunity from his awful deeds—in fact, boasting of those evil deeds.

As our collective will to goodness is sapped, we become cynical, tired, depressed—ultimately despirited.

I am unsurprised that our economy is in the doldrums, teetering on the edge of yet another cliff-dive. Simpletons with Ph.D.’s might spew nonsense about “falling aggregate demand”, or there being “a need to provide markets with added liquidity”, or some other triviality, to explain away our reeling economy—but the answer is so much simpler:

Our economy is falling apart because our common spirit is exhausted, beaten down, and miserable—we have lost our vigor as a people. And the reason we have lost our vigor is because we have seen too many injustices, too much corruption—too much evil—that goes unremarked upon, tacitly accepted, and therefore unpunished.

We see Mr. Cheney take his victory lap on the morning shows as we drink our coffee, and realize as we drive to work that—in the current American society we live in—goodness will be censured, whereas evil will go unpunished. Unpunished, and indeed, rewarded.

No wonder we’re so depressed.

The Way Back

We need to get back to making judgments: We need to start saying, “This is right, and that is wrong”.

We already know what is right and what is wrong—we don’t need to hire some expert to tell us this. We know that Dick Cheney committed crimes against the very essence of America, wiping his ass with the Constitution. We know that the banks carried out wrongdoing, with their robo-signing scams and their criminal foreclosures on people who didn’t even owe them any money. We know that we are fed foodstuffs that poison our bodies and the bodies of our children yet to be born.

We know these things: They are not secret, they are not facts that have yet to come to light, or to be proven. They are the truth.

What’s more, these things are wrong.

So we have to stand up—as individuals and as a people—and say out loud: “This is wrong. This is unacceptable. And this must be punished.”

We must judge.

A lot of people—children of the ’70’s, I suppose—claim that judgment is a bad thing: “Don’t judge! You have no right to judge!” is their mantra. They insist that we as a society have no right to judge how they live, or more importantly what they do.

A lot of other people have taken up the same slogan, and adopted it as their own: People like Dick Cheney—like Monsanto and DuPont and BP, who poison us with impunity—like the oil and gas companies carrying out “fracking”, which is causing earthquakes and flammable water on the East Coast—like the TBTF banks and the prop desks front-running their clients, or illegally foreclosing on homeowners—in short, people near the top of our social pyramid.

They have adopted the non-judgmental slogans: “Don’t judge! You have no right to judge! It’s not illegal! We’re not breaking the law! So don’t judge! Don’t judge!” they yell and scream as loud as they can.

They seem so convincing, these slogans: It’s tempting to do what they ask—to not judge. Because judgment is hard. It’s far easier to passively accept a situation—to not pass judgment—to simply let it be—than to stand up, make a judgment, and then say it out loud.

These evil people clamor all the livelong day: “Don’t judge! You have no right to judge! You have no idea what the circumstances were! Don’t judge! Don’t judge! Don’t judge!

When you feel you are about to cave in—when you feel that you are about to cede to these clever people, and accept their calls not to judge them—I want you to remember a single, very simple truth:

Only the guilty fear judgment.

75 comments:

  1. Protection for Cheney is provided by the civilian "spy" network working under CIA black budget, which has penetrated all levels of society due to having been under construction since 1947 when the "intelligence agency" went black, detached from public scrutiny.

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  2. abselutely brilliant post. it disgusts me to see the mindless rule following. I just read about a hardware store that was ordered by the city of camarillo, CA to stop providing free coffee and doughnuts to customers (a tradition they have followed for over 15 years!) because they are violating food distribution laws by not having a sink... in the same paper was an article about a goat farmer who was arrested for selling goat milk to the owners of the goats. It's amazing to me that in the age of information, people are filled with nothing but useless reality tv information instead of things that really matter....

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  3. I agree with you 100%, even though I am one of those lefty pinkos. We should be prosecuting the former administration and this one too. Obama is doing the same sort of shit that the previous admin did and the worse part is he is supposed to be a Constitutional scholar so he has to know he is breaking the law.

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  4. I judge that this post would never work in 110 words. The cabron-to-non-cabron word ratio would be way too high. Not to mention the pinko and faggot ratios.

    While I don't necessarily agree with the impetus for your writing this, I don't disagree with the diagnosis of the outcomes.

    All of this of course begs the obvious question: What is the source of morality that can say "this is right" or "that is wrong"? It can't be something as subjective as "humanity", "reason" or "common sense". What is the objective arbiter of morality that determines that "this is right" and "that is wrong"?

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  5. Hawks5999
    That is indeed the problem. If you assume one religion has the answers, then you would be just as subjective. If you believe in some sort of natural morality, then you'd have to accept that that varies between people.

    Case in point: abortion. I absolutely do not see a fetus as a human being, so I have absolutely no problem with abortion. Someone with the opposing view (e.g. Mr. Lira) might be just as convinced of himself being moral as I am. So then who's right? Again mob rule would result.

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  6. Gonzalo

    Amazing post. You are gifted writer and very honest. Lucky for you, that you are not living in the U.S., otherwise you might be harassed into oblivion for exposing the truth.

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  7. Another Lefty Pinko FaggotAugust 30, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    disingenuous of me, my pseudo, since I read your economic commentaries with great interest, especially since you debated my all-time fave, Nicole Foss.

    Also, I accord you all rights to a healthy, holier-than-everybody rant, especially when it concerns DCheney, but you've used up 1500 words to convey what could be said in 150. So this post gets a rating of ... B-O-R-I-N-G.

    Hope you won't extend the streak, GL, I like reading you.

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  8. Seriously?! Money and power has *always* been able to evade the rules – and today we see that scum like Cheney can parade through the talk shows, pitching his memoirs with no fear of reprimand, let alone prosecution. And Gonzalo is shocked, shocked I tell you, and it is all because no one *judges* anymore! Those lousy 70s destroyed our egalitarian society, where everyone was equal under the law unless they were black, female, poor, gay, foreign, or from the wrong religious persuasion. We need to return to a moral code! Stand up and judge!! And then we can prevail against a rich and powerful elite that has accumulated so much wealth that they command the congress, the presidency, the regulatory agencies, both political parties, the financial system, and, most importantly, what used to be called ‘the press’, the ‘fourth estate’ – the media.

    Frankly, I don’t see any calls ‘not to judge’. I just see very powerful people who no longer have to pretend to follow the rules.

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  9. Post is on point...that this evil little man is still walking around is frightening. One can only hope that he dies soon, and does not continue to soak for the taxpayer for his health costs. And his evil spawn as well...he situated his daughter, the one who hustled beer in lesbian bars, as an analyst on the Iraqi war at the State dept. and his worthless son as head of the VA...both at huge salaries. Cheney and spawn...terrorists at war with America.

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  10. I was with you 100% until you brought up fracking. Causing earthquakes and flammable water?!? Sounds like you've been watching Gasland, which is a Michael Moore type of film full of falsities. Flammable wells have been happening for decades well before fracking existed and in places where fracking hasn't been done for over 100 miles. And earthquakes? The epicenter was in Virgina a long ways away from any drilling in the Marcellus. Earthquakes happen from time to time, even on the East Coast. I understand that that was just a comment and not the central point of your post, but comments like that that have no factual basis discredit the rest of your post.

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  11. Great post, GL! Even though I am a lefty pinko I usually find myself in agreement with true conservatives such as yourself, and opposed to the idiocy that spews from the mouths of liberal pukes like Obama and his fellow Demon-rats.

    As far as earthquakes are concerned, yes, sad to say, Mr Anonymous, but there is scientific evidence that fracking does indeed cause earthquakes:
    http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2011/08/its-official-human-activity-can-cause.html

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  12. If Dick Cheney is indeed doing a "victory lap" ... then Colin Powell must be taking on the role of a deep pothole in the asphalt.

    PeteCA

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  13. GL,

    Please. Lefty Pinko Faggotts, whoever they are, did not cause Dick Cheney's crimes, or Obama's crimes which are the same. Moral relativists are not the cause of the vast unprosecuted crimes committed by political conservatives who claim to be right wing christian moral absolutists. If I were your philosophy teacher I'd give you a big fat "D" for this along with a "see me after class, Mr. Lira." And further, and apart from the prosecutions you (and I) want, I'd bet that Cheney's views on taxes and spending are, for all practical purposes, identical with your own. From which follows....

    Now, putting the best possible gloss on Cheney, why did he do what he did? He did it for the oil and for the dollar - and for the corporate profits of his good friends and buddies, but let's over look that for a moment. We all know that oil and the dollar, they're kinda the same thing. He did it to continue the proft producing mechanism on Wall Street, which ultimately is dependent on both cheap energy and dollar hegemony. You're a conservative, GL. You like money and profits? You like that good and expensive non-GMO organic food just like I do? So in the end, the man Cheney, he did it for you.

    I used to enjoy insulting, all in fun of course, my happy pinko anti-war faggot hypocritical friends (all of whom were worried about their house prices) when I lived in the States. "But if Cheney, the man, don't bomb Iraq and kill people - even unto suckling babes in their mothers' arms like the Bible commands - so he can steal all that oil, your house price is going down! Don't you understand? He's doing it for you."

    So don't single out "moral relativists" alone, and of course, in a way, you are correct about this. Rather, cast a broad view over the whole stinking moral wreckage that purports to be American society and government.

    The majority of right wing America, those fake neo conservative moral absolutists on Wall Street, in the Pentagon, and in the White House, in the fake christian churches that Leo Strauss recommended having in abundence, that's Cheney. All rightous people of the Book. But what's just as bad, maybe worse, are the fake "liberals" who still support Obama when by any reasonable measure the guy has been revealed as no better morally than Cheney, and who obviously shares with Cheney the exact same long term goals, both politically, socially, and economically. But like the most despicable of hypocrites, they still support him, go figure.

    GL, trust me, forget about this left wing right wing thing in another form. America is a decadent culture in steep civilizational decline. In such a time and place, there are no good players. They're all various manifestations of decline, both right and left. It's the only way they know how to behave. cf. O. Spengler who wrote the seminal work "Civilizational Decline for Dummies"

    Now, if there's any hope for the place, it's someone like Ron Paul. (And I swear before the gods of the sky that I can't even believe that I'm saying this....) And that is only if he's really come to bury the the Fed, the Empire, and the national security state and not to praise them. Not that the American people, both left and right, would have the wit to elect him and find out.

    And with that, I'm in need of another espresso.

    Regards,

    Unna

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  14. GL:

    I think one issue you are overlooking (which is related but slightly different) is that people hurl around accusations and alleged crimes with a complete lack of fairness or accuracy. So, for example, if I criticize the U.S. President on policy, then I am accused of being a racist unless, perhaps, I am African American. After a while, people tune out most accusations not just because they are unable or incapable of forming proper moral judgments but also because there are so many baseless, unreasoned and unsound accusations thrown around that all the same are ignored as just part of the background noise of what passes today as political/social commentary.

    Jimmy

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    1. I think people are capable of forming proper moral judgments just fine. But, because we live in a diverse society, some aspects of morality from one segment of society clash with aspects of another. What the American public fail to do is recognize the fundamental morals common to almost every society. The public focus on the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences to manufacture schism rather than focusing on the commonalities to unify. Republicans and democrats have many desires in common: security, opportunity, freedom of expression, etc. but they mutually deny that this is the case. That's when the accusations start flying and how our current political climate becomes what it is.

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  15. Excellent post ... in many respects your finest as it cuts to the heart of what is wrong in the U.S.

    The financial/economic/government mess are symptoms of the country losing its moral way.
    And I mean this not in the sense that some deity necessarily need be brought in to ground ourselves, but whatever it takes .. this country won't get on track until we stand up and block injustice, corruption and selective enforcement of just laws.

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  16. Editorial: The fruits of elite immunity

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/08/25/cheney/index.html

    Book: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful

    http://www.amazon.com/Liberty-Justice-Some-Equality-Powerful/dp/0805092056/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314744473&sr=8-2

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  17. Cheney must be asked about why he signed the New American Century screed.

    What darkness is involved in that organization and writing of that document?

    It goes 100% counter to America’s mindset.

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  18. There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.

    Dick Cheney's pillow is undoubtedly concrete.

    May he rest well in the knowledge that at 69 and 5 heart attacks since the age of 37 he is but one beat away from his judgement.

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  19. Gonzo, good to see you in full flight again!

    There is a great deal of truth in your analysis. However, I think the issue of "moral rectitude" in any society is rather more complex. For any society to function effectively, there has to be a common ethic at some level. That ethic goes way beyond "everyone drives on the right", because the vast majority of social transactions involve trust at varying levels. When you eat a meal in a restaurant, the restaurant owner trusts you to pay when you are leaving. When you marry and have kids, your partner trusts that you will be as committed to maintaining your home as much as he/she is.

    Yes, we've seen a huge erosion of that trust over the last 50 years. How long since you've seen a gas station that is not "pre-pay"?

    But I don't think that this erosion of trust comes down to simply an avoidance of judgment. I'd suggest two other factors.

    Our society has become multi-cultural, undermining and diluting the common ethic.

    Then, there are far too many rats in the cage. So "me first" becomes the only practical ethic.

    I agree - Bush & Cheney did lots of despicable things, and did a huge amount of damage to the USA in the process. I'd be happy to see them indicted. However, when we start addressing the shortcomings of our society, I think we need to be sure we are addressing the right issues.

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  20. To Hawks5999 and you other morally confused readers who by your own words, place youselves in the same relativist category as Cheney: Don't you get it? Without absolutE right and wrong, Cheney can't be wrong! HE IS WRONG ONLY IF JUDGED BY A STANDARD ABOVE ALL MEN (thus, GL is right on target).

    There are only two rational sources for moral values: God, or man (man includes any society or group). By his limited power and nature, man's feeble morals are 100% subjective (I like chocolate, you like vanilla). The highest form of manmade morals is: Might makes Right (found in U.S. imperialism).

    Only a personal transcendant God can be the source for morals in the absolute sense. Universal Morals must come from a person (God) since they are not about what is but about what ought to be done. Nature is inadequate as a mdoel as it is both cruel and non-cruel.

    GL - I am so glad you are writing on the blogosphere!

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  21. Another lefty pinko American expat chiming in here! Right on to what you said, Gonzalo. But (There's always a "but" with Internet compliments, eh?) how do you square your righteous condemnation of Snarlin' Dick with your commendation of Augusto Pinochet? Cheney would have liked to do the murderous things Pinochet did, but Ol' Shotgun didn't have the balls that your homeland's dictator had. Never served in the military, was too much of a weenie to get his hands soiled with the blood of his victims a la Augusto, so Cheney farmed out the torture to give himself plausible deniability. A mean weenie...

    There are lots of us on the Left who have moral standards. We don't have to get them from teh Holey Babble or any other Skyspook delusional fiction. We have studied philosophy and made our own conclusions about right and wrong. It all goes back to The Golden Rule -- "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Not the econoblogger one about "He who has the gold...")

    Lefties like me condemn Obama for being an extension of the Cheney/Bush regime's evil. People in my camp are easier to find outside the United States than inside, though. Too many of our good-hearted friends inside the crumbling empire are either asleep or unwilling to judge Hopey.

    But there are many rightists who share the non-judgmentalism you describe, Gonzalo. My elderly mom is a church-going, Fox-watching Republican. But she was unwilling to castigate Casey Anthony when her over-hyped child murder trial was going on. Too many people, even religious ones, don't have the courage or their own moral convictions. When did America get so uncertain?

    HAH! Huge irony here -- the Google ad at the top of the page is for Cheney's book! I know Gonzalo has no power over what ads pop up. But Google must have algorithymed that it was a column about the Vice, so it shot his book ad over. I'm going to click on it, just so I can cost the publisher a micro-cent that will ultimately go to our blog host.

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  22. Unfortunately, the US Government is corrupt to its very core.
    What is needed is a revolution.
    Both the Republicans and the Democrats have to go.
    The fault belongs to the American People.
    Specially the so called Baby Boomers generation, to which I belong but never joined.
    Stop freeloading, whining, expecting the Government to correct all societal ills, yearning for equality of outcome, imposing liberal lunacy on the rest of the world, listening to liberal morons like Al Gore and Michael Moore and being naive and stupid.
    When Mother Theresa was asked how to make the world a better place she answered: "Love and take care of your family".

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  23. GL,

    A very good one. Congra. I've passed the link on to many.

    Now for an encore, may I suggest a piece on the Roman Catholic Chruch? See, when you dig into it, the RCC and the USA are the same two rotted-out apples on the same tree, grown upside down. I wonder if the historical timing of both going thru their self-made (but well-deserved) decline a coincident? Perhaps not, since both are anchored on Christian fundamentalism (or absolutism), thus able to corrupt morality to the max.

    Expat2000

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  24. Yes he did allow waterboarding of three terrorists who consequently broke and gave us information that saved thousands of lives. He may in fact go to heaven.

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  25. If you have no soul, what part of you goes to hell?

    K Smith

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  26. “When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.” - G.K. Chesterton

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  27. Hello again,

    It's been 12 hours since my last espresso and I'm better now.

    In all seriousness, how is it possible that no one is prosecuted for the mortgage fraud thing? The securitization fraud thing? Tens of thousands of felonies all over the country and no one gets hauled in before a court on any criminal charge. Filing affidavits that were knowingly false? No prosecutor can make anything out of that? Committing "fraud on the court" as the lawyers say, and not a single prosecution? Farming out torture to some of the worst regimes on the face of the earth when you're not doing it yourself? And both dems and repubs are cool with that?

    No liberal, conservative, progressive libertarian, hippie relativist, christian jewish or muslim moral absolutist - absolutely no one any where is prosecuting anyone for anything.

    I must admit. I stand in awe trying to understand this. This is simply not a left or right issue. That's just too simple, easy, and in a way, too psychologically protective. It's a way of not having to force yourself to confront the big picture. It's the hippies! It's the conservatives! No, damn it, it's the baby boomers! I don't think so, it's something massively beyond all that.

    As far as I know (and I hope somebody will tell me if I'm wrong) not a single mainstream politician has stood up in Congress and demanded massive criminal investigations and prosecutions. What gives? I think something very creepy.

    Among the would be presidents, there's little miss moral absolutist when it come to gays and sex, but no absolute moral standard for bankers or torturers now is there? And how about that strident christian from Texas, Rick what's his name, who doesn't believe in evolution, but doesn't seem to believe in morality either when it comes to holding bankers criminally responsible? And the dems are no better. This is simlpy not a left right issue.

    One explanation is that the constitution has already collapsed and what we're seeing now is only the politics of theater. Coke advertised by an articulate, highly educated black urban professional, or pepsi advertised by a gun totin' christian conservative whose just like you, a real American. Pick your demographic, target your advertising. The raucous politics of mid second century Rome, ie, the politics of nothing. Meanwhile, the empire grinds on about its business.

    So perhaps the issue is not one of individual morality, although such societies do serve to horribly degrade the morality of their populations. Perhaps what we see is the arrival of a new political reality that no one wants to acknowlege because it's a reality that no one is able to confront. So people hide in a shell of individual rightousness, feel the warmth of their chosen demographic, and point fingers at others because that's all the reality permits you to do.

    Regards,

    Unna

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  28. Justice will not be brought to bear upon the war criminals, nor will Congress or the courts do a thing to defend our Bill of Rights.

    We the people of the United States must bring justice to these criminals. If we don't do it, nobody will. It is our nation. I think we all know what this means. Now get to it.

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  29. Psalm 73 GL
    Psalm 73

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  30. This post and your "Full Spectrum Decay" post are both on target and straightforward summations of our country's and our own individual "swirls down the drain" - I increasingly peceive both you and Charles Hugh Smith as developing into fine cultural critics with quant chops to back up your conclusions - the quants rendering those conclusions less like editorial opinions and more like sober judgements - I admire your style and your message

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  31. Dear Anonymous who drinks expresso:
    The main problem is that the US and the World Governments are trying to manage a fraud, specifically, deficit spending, fiat currencies and fractional reserve banking.
    It's like the Bernie Madoff scam on steroids.
    And the American and people of the world are in denial.
    They can not believe the enormity of the fraud and that their dear Governments have screwed them to the wall.
    They have never learned, or forgotten, what real money is.
    The price for this naivety and stupidity is that people on pensions, holding bonds, insurance contracts and any and all dollar denominated assets are going to be wiped out.
    God help us, or better: gold and silver help us.

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  32. There is plenty of outrage, just no public venue for its expression. All the public venues have been privatized and voices without money to promote them are banished to Comments. As the erstwhile citizenry looses access to income, so it looses its voice. Withdrawal of consent is what we are left with: http://www.nationofchange.org/election-march-trolls-1314631517

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  33. It's hard to disagree with anything in here, but I would offer up a single thought. In the first century BC, Romans began to prosecute their consuls (and others) as they left office (largely over political disagreements). Sadly, fear of prosecution didn't hugely improve behavior, but did result in a reluctance to surrender power. When his request for immunity was rejected by the senate, Caesar took his legions across the Rubicon.

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  34. If this hasn't already been noted DICK Cheney will be sucking Satan's cock shortly.

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  35. No one exemplifies the ethos of the United States of Death, Disease, and Destruction more succinctly than this turd. From hell he cometh and to hell he goeth. Before a lightbulb finally dies, it shines the brightest. Let’s hope this is its “brightest” moment.

    @Hawks5999 said...

    "All of this of course begs the obvious question: What is the source of morality that can say "this is right" or "that is wrong"? It can't be something as subjective as "humanity", "reason" or "common sense". What is the objective arbiter of morality that determines that "this is right" and "that is wrong"?"

    If you don't know what is right and what is wrong, maybe you should stick your head in the sand a little more deeper.

    It's like one of the Supremes who once said that he knew what porno is when he saw it. Someone who cannot distinguish between right and wrong is either a psychopath and/or sociopath in my book.

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  36. The mathematics behind morality:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2275#comic

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  37. Dick Cheney is one most reprehensible piece of scum to ever walk the Earth. How God even allows such individual to live and thrive at the expense of others??
    Worthless turd, may he burn in Hell for the eternity. Thanks GL for a very insightful and passionate post!

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  38. Gonzalo, brilliant post. I cannot agree more. The fact that slimeball Cheney brags about his slaughter, corruption, manipulation, and treason is downright shamefull for all of America! I'd love to send out your link to everyone I know, but please remove faggot from the text. Why detract from an otherwise brilliant post. Everyone needs to read your post. Peace

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  39. first, Excellent writing on this subject. I've been watching this latest arrogance of Dickie unfold and it is so sick to say the least.

    Dick and his kind are not letting up. They continue to parade before the American people with impunity, completely impervious to their action's effects on Americans, as well as the rest of the world. The arrogance and evil are palpitating.

    What I worry about in this regard, is that this may signify their knowledge of imminent future catastrophe. Other than just being sick bastards that feel they can get away with anything, it seems Dick's willingness to trash his buddies in his book might be because he knows something the rest of us don't. It is almost like he is daring people to take him down, knowing that all will be forgotten when a new 911 type scenario unfolds. Just an idea.

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  40. Ebag,

    I agree:

    "...the American and people of the world are in denial.
    They can not believe the enormity of the fraud and that their dear Governments have screwed them to the wall."

    I agree. The TPTB are desperately trying to manage a fraud. Could be this time they've just gone too far. Can't clean it up because this time the blood and brains aren't just all over the car, they're all over the city buses and half the taxi fleet. So I can understand people not wanting to know.

    Gold is good. But apart from individual management and/or bug out plans - and ranting - I wish I had a clever idea or two for a fix but I don't.

    Regards,

    Unna

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  41. john newman said...
    "There is plenty of outrage, just no public venue for its expression."

    I agree with john - a lot of Americans ARE judging our politicians and the banksters, but we are fuming impotently because we haven't figured out how to make them pay attention to us.

    I and practically everyone I know wrote our Congresspeople angry letters or emails about the TARP when it was first proposed. For most of us, that was the first (and last) attempt we'd ever made to contact our representatives in Washington.

    They totally ignored all of us, and went ahead and passed the TARP (and sent us back condescending form-emails that made it obvious they'd either never read what we'd written, or were pretending not to have read it).

    The two-party system has been hijacked, and is now a one-party system disguised as a two-party system. Somehow we need to break that monopoly. The only other thing I can think of that can FORCE them to pay attention to our outrage is physical violence against them personally, and that is NOT where we want to go as a society.

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  42. Dude, Gonzalo, I think you’re missing the point. The fact is that the same values that exist on Main street exist on Wall-Street and Washington, that is, extreme self-interest. Individuals have become so self-absorbed in their own little worlds of consumption, that there is no moral judgment, it is all about where I can get my next high, either from food, tv, shopping, or the internet. How do we expect politicians to live by a higher moral standard than the average Joe on the street? They behave just like everyone else…. Politicians and Banksters are doing the same exact thing as average Joe on the sofa, looking out for their own individual best interests first, second their family's best interest, and perhaps if you’re lucky some friends make it in the mix. Nobody else matters. No political or economic system (communism, capitalism, libertarianism, democracy) can survive under these conditions. Therefore, Main Street is as much a cause of all of this as Wall Street and Washington. The only solution to this huge mess will need to be a shift in consciousness from self-interest-consciousness to service-consciousness, which will only come when we approach annihilation of our very own specie, and it looks to be not very far away…. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but every religion on earth has predicted the same thing… armageddon followed by peace and prosperity.

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  43. Cheney the bogey man...too funny. If Cheney/Bush were bad Obama/Biden must be the devil's spawn. They have taken everything that Cheney did and amped it up several notches. But rather than look in the mirror and deal with what is in front of you blaming the past is easier. As such most folks that chirp the loudest about Cheney will happily vote for Obama admin who by the same standards is much worse. Sprinkle a little fairy dust and you know, Cheney's personal assassination team morphs into the heroic Seal team 6! Hope you like the change! Madison Avenue couldn't do it better.

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  44. Nice rant.

    But shame on you for not noticing, exploring the rampant moral hazard that forms the root causes of snowballing crony capitalism and corruption - federal bank deposit insurance that shifts risk of failure to Uncle Sam and taxpayers, public co/securities laws that effectively eliminate shareholder control over management, and the government -created limited liability for shareholders that freed shareholders from responsibility and reduced incentives to monitor and control risks, thus leading directly to our sooped-up regulatory state and massive corruption.

    Shame on you!

    TokyoTom

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  45. Great Post, GL!
    Y'all want an answer to this mess? Or at least an answer to "Why"?
    Well, you won't like it...
    Earth is just another way station, a motel stopover, on the road of the development of souls. Earth and the human experience is just another small bit of experiential evolution in the far bigger picture of consciousness development.
    Human experience on earth is SUPPOSED to be contentious, chaotic, relativistic, impenetrable, unresolvable - at the human level of consciousness.
    This provides the perfect playground for an incredible diversity of possible experiences for the adolescent soul. Problems and conundrums as far as the eye can see; as deep as the brain can ponder.
    That, combined with an intrinsic lack of the ability to tell truth from falsehood, equals unending dilemma and infinite lessons that force one to grow into spiritual adulthood.
    It is supposed to be like this, folks, and it is all about how you decide, personally, to play the game. And play it you will, until the day comes when you simply cannot play any more. On that day you'll stop cold and turn 180. You'll exit the playing field and turn ruthlessly inward to examine your own pitiful, arrogant, narcissistic self.
    Then the real fun begins.

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  46. Hi GL,

    I'd like to raise some questions about the use of the word "we" in this post.

    First of all, you're a Chilean, and although you've lived in America in the past, I wonder to what extent you still identify as a part of the USA? I believe your criticisms are offered with compassion, but still I wonder if it would be more honest if you referred to "they" rather than "we".

    Even though I still live here, I'm not so comfortable thinking of the likes of Dick Cheney as one of "us". On the contrary, I'm very clear that I am not one of those who are running the USA and the world into the ground. The elite bankers, corporate heads, religious and political leaders, and lying media are "Them", not "us".

    You tend to place the blame for what's happening on ordinary citizens of the USA, and I agree that many of them are at a very low level of consciousness. But, they're busy living their lives! If they haven't reached the understanding that the mass media are continually lying to them, whose fault is that really?

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  47. Another thought-provoking masterpiece.

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  48. I still cannot figure out who would even purchase his book. It's got to be just more lies.

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  49. Oh, you're from Chile. That explains the fanaticism. Here in the real world we don't prosecute our political rivals after every election. It leads to countries becoming banana republics, like, you know, Chile.

    As for Dick Cheneys sins. The people of Iraq are now free to misrule themselves, just as the people of Eygpt, Libya, Tunisia and maybe even Syria in the near future. These long suffering peoples were liberated in EXACTLY the fashion predicted by Pres. Bush and Cheney, only much sooner than expected. "If the Iraqi's have a democracy why don't we?"
    More are coming in the future. Allah willing.

    So, not only are you and the leftist punks who have previously commented wrong, but you are COMPLETELY WRONG. Stunningly so. I'll keep that in mind the next time someone sends me a link to some of your economic rantings.

    God bless Dick Cheney. God Bless Halliburton. And God Bless General Pinochet, the man who prevented Chile from becoming a second Cuba.

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  50. Note to Lira:

    Mostly like your rant. One tiny little nit-pick...

    Try defining morality as what is the right action based on how that action affects OTHER PEOPLE. Use concrete observation and leave ideology out if capable. Then apply justice. Morality is a WE-based space.

    The comment above nails it, self-interest has run amuck. As if somehow liberty and personal freedom will magically fulfill the need for a common good. It won't, it will lead to more of what we now see.

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  51. I'm always amazed at how everyone wants to be protected from attacks by evil-doers, yet they recoil at what it may take to maintain the level of protection they supposedly want, especially if it may cause some discomfort. Waterboarding is just that, uncomfortable and psychological. Short of drugs, it's probably the least painful method to extract information.
    Let's suppose that Gonzalo Lira has some information that FARC of Columbia or The Shining Path of Peru wants from him. How about using splinters of pine wood under the finger nails for openers. Or, perhaps a dental pick expertly inserted into the ear until it pierces the ear drum, then twisted to snag the membrane and then ever so slowly pulled out. Those would be just for openers. Waterboarding would be pretty low on the list of methods used. I believe that GL would gladly ask for the waterboard rather than any of the other methods.
    I'm so tired of pussies like you who whine about not hurting anyone in order to extract information that may save tens of thousands, or more, lives. Get real GL!
    While I will defend the tactics used to protect us from enemies from the outside, I won't defend the Crony Capitalism that is destroying us from within, and that started long before Bush/Cheney entered the Whitehouse.
    CC is an insidious cancer that is eating away at the financial and moral fabric of our society and nothing is being done to cure it. In fact, I truly believe that our imminent financial doom is only a matter of time. How Americans react after that will truly determine the fate of America.
    Will Americans wake up to the fact that they have been lied to and manipulated by the very people they have repeatedly elected to represent them in DC and send them all packing?
    I don't know. But if they don't, the America that I grew up in, fought for and love will cease to exist. If not, it will be just another failed experiment in self governance on the trash pile of history.

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  52. The question that must not be spoken is - “what is Cheney’s connection to the Zionist screed - The New American Century.”

    Much would be revealed if that was answered.

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  53. To m blue:

    I am from Chile and here no one prosecutes political rivals after every election; do you live in Chile by any chance to make this statement? We do have a very "normal" democracy and we do not grow bananas, unfortunately we have to import them. And we do express our opinions about people in government, before, during and after their term in office.

    People in the US are quite passive and will never rebel against the "ruling class", and I can say that because I live in the US part of the time, the rest in Chile; no one seems to talk about these things because they are politically incorrect. I get the feeling that people in general are afraid, although I cannot see what they are afraid of.

    Tita

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  54. May this man die knowing he will be rejected and reviled forever in American history.

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  55. Hawkes9999.... what determines right from wrong??? Step AWAY from the IMPOSED rule book and talking heads on TV and let 'common sense' tell you the difference between right and wrong. Harm done to others IS WRONG.. NO HARM, NO CRIME... did the words said harm you physically or economically or just your EGO? Not difficult to DETERMINE right from wrong but one has to be able to SEE the forest through the trees.

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  56. Dear Tita,

    No, I don't have the honor of being a Chilean. I visited Santiago and Concepcion in the summer of 1998 for 5 days. Beautiful land, beautiful people. Glad to hear your people have overcome the troubles from the 70's and 80's.

    As for the passivity of the American people, I have no idea what you are talking about. Living here full time I can assure you that Democrats never shut up about how "evil" Republicans are (see above comments for a small taste of what we have been experiencing since the Reagan administration.) And Republicans are just as harsh and aggressive whenever Democrats lie their way into power. The Tea Party movement, which didn't exist three years ago, almost shut down the government a month ago. The Obama cabal are continuing their effort to "fundamentally transform the structure of America," Obama's own words. So I don't know what passivity you are referring to.

    Perhaps when the currency and economy completely collapse there will be rioting in the streets and reflexive anti-Americans like you will have something to rejoice about. But understand, at that point America will more likely lean towards a Pinochet solution to social unrest and anarchy and not an Allende one. It's like I say to all my left wing friends when I get tired of their juvenile posturing about "social justice".

    "If you want socialism, just move back to Europe."

    God bless, m blue

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  57. I suspect that in the near future, in a dictionary that defines "sociopath," will be a picture of Cheney. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. It was indeed a sad period for U.S. citizens.

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  58. Hello Mr Lira,
    Great post on Dick "the Evil One" Cheney. I couldn't agree more with everything you said. We must be sharing brainwaves. Lots of bloggers talking about the creep.

    Here's my take: http://www.makethemfearyou.com/mtfy-blog/2011/09/06/death-knell-for-dick-cheney/

    Keep up the great writing!

    Editor X

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  59. APPLAUSE for your post...However, there's really no "Left" or "Right", only those who are honest enough to put aside partisan politics and face up to the crimes committed by BOTH parties' ELITE, from the Bushes to the Clintons, all simply two sides of the same coin. Illegal wars were commandeered from the First Bush, went to Willy Clinton, back to W and continued to this day under Obama-Clinton. The seamless continuum will continue indefinitely - only those within the inner cabal will get to hold the reigns like a demented Oligarchy. And of course Cheney is simply one of its most terrifying psychopaths.

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  60. GL,

    Yours is one of the select few columns that I regularly read. Thanks for writing!

    Let me share a book that I have found very useful in my search to "understand":

    The Perennial Philosophy (Aldous Huxley).

    After spending four years reading about multitude of facts/theories/opinions/views in economics, philosophy, history, politics, sociology, religion etc.
    I was still confused until I hit upon this book
    (pdf is freely available online).

    This book has finally given me some confidence that I do understand at least something that is foundational. My mind is now at much more ease/quietness and I do feel some "moral confidence" that GL writes about.

    I implore you to at least browse through the book, even if you are atheist and/or have a strongly negative view towards religion.

    Best.

    Just to give an idea of what else I read:

    nakedcapitalism.com
    antiwar.com
    counterpunch.com
    truthdig.com

    Columns: Charles Hugh Smith, GL, Chris Hedges,
    Michael Hudson.

    Books: Orwell, Huxley, Chomsky, ...

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  61. I have been long waiting for your enlightened comments on the social, now massive developments in your native country, Chile. Inasmuch as I deem of extreme interest your global, world wide comments; I'd like to hear your comments on the local conundrum. Is there justifiable grounds for the claims that education should be considered an inalienable right to the commoner from preschool to post-grad ? I am looking forward to find out your position in the field.
    Hernan.

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  62. Ahem .... GL.
    Are you awake down there?
    Europe is now falling off a cliff. Literally.
    And your last two posts have been devoted to food and Mr. Cheney.

    Time to get back to reality. Granted - it's a fairly depressing global reality. But we are seeing history being made in our own time. C'mon - the breakup of a united Europe? That's pretty big stuff!!

    PeteCA

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  63. GL could we please get an update to your hyperinflation forecast from 2010? Thank you.

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  64. what did cheney do that was so 'evil' that Obama isn't doing right now. ...or maybe neither was evil and both are doing what needed to be done.

    stick to your knitting, telling stories about inflation where you are from - good. accusing government employees of high crimes and misdeamors without any proof, not so much
    @joegremlin

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  65. Progressive "maricon" calls Cheney a "cabron". Nothing new here.

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  66. I think that whatever abuses Cheney & the Bush may have committed you should profoundly thank them for protecting you & your family for a decade from a second & even more desastrous attack by the likes of al-qaeda. Only the USA among western countries has been able to prevent terror for such a long period within its borders. Those who criticise what they judge overreaction to the threat should first open their eyes to what happens daily in places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Irak, Syria, Iran ....

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  67. Gonzalo,
    Well, Dick Cheney is such a bastard! However, he's not any inch different from any other American president or vice president since Roosevelt, to say the least. Anyway, I guess Cheney ranks along with Heinz Alfred Kissinger, aka 'Henry' Kissinger, as the two biggest operative butchers of modern times in America (Reagan was just a peanut-headed actor put in Office to read speeches). But, as you said, it’s remarkable the impunity around them. Kissinger confessed, among many of his crimes, the South East Asia Bloodshed and the overthrowing of a democratic Chilean elected president (by the way, nobody, aside we Chileans and Mexicans, is going to commemorate the other 9/11?) And Cheney, well, you basically talked a good deal about him. Both guys have been dying of the same heart illness since a long time ago, but I guess they are still alive since Satan doesn’t want any competition. Another proof, as if any was needed, that God doesn’t exist.
    Yours.

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  68. Cheney should be water boarded with oil and then offered a smoke and a light.

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  69. Cheney....
    Would that the MSM totally shun him....
    Would that his book be a total market flop....
    Would that someone steal the battery (and/or charger) for his heart-pump....

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  70. Dude, you are one hurt puppy-

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  71. GL, why do you pretend to be conservative? Please don't waste my time by blandly professing it to be mere truth. (Or more charitably, how do you define "conservative" so that you fit the description?)

    To what purpose? What's in it for you? Because it's absurd unless you are profiting by it. Being a Dartmouth boy you were taught not to do anything without advantage to yourself, so it must be self-serving to so self-identify. 'Splain it to me Luuucy!


    Oh and Cheney is The Man. It is regrettable that his health precludes him from serving as President, to which office he would surely be elected and re-elected.

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  72. Huh?
    You guys aren't aware of the fact that Cheney and his neo-con buddies did 911?

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  73. There are no Congressional hearings into his violation of the Constitution. There are no prosecutors sharpening their chops, getting ready to indict him on charges of corruption. NJ Tax Preparation

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GL