The Weiner Component #175 – Part 2: Notes on Donald Trump

Currently there is little going on between the Trump Group

US Intelligence Community Seal

US Intelligence Community Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and the CIA and other intelligence services.  For one thing Trump is refusing to attend daily Intelligence Briefings more than once a week.  He claims he is smart enough to know what is going on in the world and that the meetings are redundant.  He is having his Vice-President, Mike Pence, attend daily. 

 

On the other hand there is heavy dissent over the issue of Russia having influenced or tried to influence the Presidential Election by hacking and releasing through WiliLeaks thousands of Clinton and others Democratic emails.  There is even a possibility of Russia having hacked into actual voting in the rural areas of the smaller states.  These assertions have come from both Democrats and Republicans, marking the first time he had been officially called out by his own party.  In fact Senator John McCain, the chair of the Armed Services Committee called for an investigation of Russian interference in the election.

 

The Trump people are mockingly pointing out that the CIA supported the concept of weapons of mass destruction during the first Bush Jr. administration, which incidentally they did not do.  They were surprised by this Bush assertion and stated then that it wasn’t true, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Bush and Cheney had found a pseudo expert who propounded this theory.  Bush Jr. wanted the invasion because the ruler of Iraq had attempted to assassinate his “Daddy.”

 

Currently leaders in Congress are attempting to form a bipartisan group to investigate this situation.  Trump is insisting that this finding by the Intelligence Community is nonsense for two reasons: (1) He didn’t need any help in winning the election, and (2) He has specific plans for dealing with Putin and Russia under his administration and the move by Congress could force him to alter them.

 

Trump’s rationale seems to be that the Intelligence Community has “no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody else.  He called their report “Ridiculous.”  Of course he knows this without looking at the CIA’s evidence.  Remember, he does not attend Intelligence Briefings.

 

In the first postelection pushback that Trump has encountered from the Republican Party that belatedly and reluctantly embraced the unconventional candidate whose views often clash with traditional GOP ideology, the majority and minority heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer stated: “Democrats and Republicans must work together and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to defer and defend against further cyberattacks.”

 

During the final weeks of the campaign thousands of emails, many stolen from the Clinton campaign were released to WiliLeaks on an almost daily basis.  On Friday December 9th President Barack Obama ordered the CIA and other intelligence agencies to conduct a full review of foreign based digital attacks aimed at influencing the election. 

 

On Friday December 16th in his final Press Conference President Obama stated that he had seen the evidence that the hacking had been done by Russia in order to influence the American election in favor of Trump.   He also stated that this would never have happened unless Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the action.  President Obama further stated that the United States would take action, some visible and some publically invisible against Russia.

 

President Obama has a fraction over one month to take action or actions against Russia.  On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States for the next four years and he has a positive view of Vladimir Putin. 

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Trump was elected by numerous individuals, many of whom probably voted for the first time because of Trump’s promises.  In fact choosing him as the Republican candidate was a populist revolt over Congress’ inaction over the last six years.  The group or groups in the individual states that caused him to win the election were both high school graduates and non-graduates who couldn’t stand the Democratic Party but had gotten nothing from the Republican Party in return for their votes in the past.  Trump, the so-called billionaire, became the representative of this group throughout the United States.  At the Republican Convention he promised to be their voice, to represent them and to bring back the past.  That is, to bring back the jobs which have gone overseas or had technologically disappeared during the last forty or fifty years, which their group supposedly had in those earlier decades when life was simpler and, presumably, these people prospered or at least were able to earn a decent living.

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Trump made all sorts of promises during the campaign.  Now we begin to see, in a vague manner, where Trump is going politically by his Cabinet choices.  He seems to favor generals, billionaires, and Wall Street.  This is a strange group to satisfy the needs of the “forgotten man” or woman.  He has chosen one of the most consistently conservative policy teams in the total history of the nation.  In fact, most of these people chosen seem to hold opposite views in terms of the offices to which they are being appointed.

 

Trump vigorously campaigned against Wall Street and big banks, then chose a former Goldman Sacks partner who is a billionaire, Steven Mnuchin, to run the Treasury Department.  Mnuchin is the co-chief executive of the hedge fund Dune Capital Management.  He has served as chairman of the One West Bank after he led a group to purchase it.  The bank has been criticized for a large number of foreclosures and for discrimination against minorities.  It has also financed several high-profile films.  Prior to that Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sacks.  According to the Progressive Orange Campaign Committee Mnuchin made a fortune foreclosing on working family homes.  This is the man Trump has chosen to oversee the financial structure of the United States.

 

A former lobbyist for the Koch brothers, who led a group that argued that solar energy would dramatically raise the cost of electricity is Trump choice to take over the Energy Department.  Thomas Pyle is the man.  For years Pyle has led a national assault on renewable power.  Pyle has tweeted that he expects the new administration would go beyond a mere rollback of President Obama’s climate change actions.  This is the man that Trump would have run the Energy Department.

 

In Health and Human Services, Social Security and Medicare, which Trump promised to save he has chosen Representative Tom Price, who has advocated major revisions in both, to run those services.  Price is a six term Georgia Congressman who has led the charge to privatize Medicare.  Trump did not mention Price’s plans for major changes to Medicare and Medicaid.  Price wants to privatize Medicare and give participants in the program medical vouchers.  He wants to save the government money by actually gradually making the beneficiary more and more responsible for paying for his own medical care.  In terms of Medicaid give grants of money to the states.  In this fashion the Federal Government can gradually decrease what it pays for these social programs.  These programs mostly serve poor Americans.  These changes would slowly decrease their benefits.  He probably would also privatize Social Security. 

  

 His choice for Labor Secretary is Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE that owns Hardees and Carl Jr., who will control the working people and has spoken of the advantages of using automation instead of people at Carl Jr.  He named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a man that has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Presumably his choice for Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of the Exxon Mobile Corporation.  Tillerson has had dealings with Vladimir Putin and Russia.  In fact in 2013 Putin gave him the highest civilian medal that could be awarded to an individual, the Russian Order of Friendship.  It has also recently been released that Tillerson is a Director for a Russian-American oil company based in the Bahamas.

 

For Attorney General Donald Trump has chosen Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a true Southerner with strong Southern values who claims he is not a racist.  Republican Representative Mick Mulvancy, a Tea Party deficit hawk is Trump’s choice as his budget director.  He is cofounder of the hard right House Freedom Caucus and has a reputation for pushing deep spending cuts in order to balance the budget.

 

For Transportation Secretary, Trump choose Elaine Chao.  She served eight years as George W. Bush’s Labor Secretary and is married to Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate.  Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was named as National Security Adviser.  Flynn was fired by the Obama administration for erratic behavior and has used anti-Muslim language that even the most strident Republicans have avoided.  He has used the words “radical Islamic terrorism in a way that blurs the lines between a war on terrorism and a war on Islam.  Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, was chosen to become Ambassador to the United Nations.

 

Trump is still looking for people to appoint to other departments and there are others he has already appointed.  The point has been made that most of Trump’s appointments are people who are opposed to the departments they are heading.  Their function, apparently, will be to do a hatchet job on their departments, destroying any progress that has been made toward a cleaner, nonpolluting environment.  The country has chosen a rather depressing four years.

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In order to save jobs in Indiana Trump got the air conditioning company, Carrier Corporation to not move 2,000 jobs to Mexico.  Instead for a state tax rebate of seven million dollars voted by a committee headed by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, Carrier, the highly financially successful company, is only moving twelve hundred jobs to Mexico.  Trump saved eight hundred jobs.  It only cost Indiana seven million dollars in lost taxes. 

 

What emerges here is essentially a negative pattern in which President Donald Trump by placing people who basic philosophy is counter to the departments in government to which they are appointed can in a relatively short time wipe out the achievements of their departments and bring the country back to where it was prior to 2008 when the Housing Debacle occurred.  They can relatively quickly get rid of all or most government restrictions on industrial and banking development.  Many Republicans, particularly the Tea Party group, applaud these choices by Trump.  A small percentage of the Republicans do not appreciate them. 

 

There are currently 52 Republican Senators and 48 Democratic ones in the Senate.  Most of Trump’s appointments require “advice and consent” by the Senate.  I can think of no way in which all the Republican Senators will give Trump a blanket vote.  Trump may find it impossible to get many of his choices for Cabinet department heads through.  The Democrats will give negative blanket votes against almost all of them.  It will only take 3 Republican votes to get a person rejected.  The hearings should be interesting and dramatic.

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What we see here seems to be a pattern of what the two major political parties stand for and where they currently are in terms of historical time. 

 

The Republicans seem to be in the late 18th Century, when this country was started, and in the 19th Century when life and work was simpler.  Their basic premise seems to be that the function of government is to take care of wars and provide a safe environment where business can take place.  The people of the nation are responsible for themselves.  This type of government did function during the early period of our history, when men could pack up their families and go west.

 

The Democratic Party, which was begun by Thomas Jefferson, initially was the party of the yeoman farmer, it served the little man as he and his family made their way through life.  This changed in the 20th Century when life became mostly urban and monopoly arrived, virtually totally exploiting the common man.  A young lawyer, Louis Brandeis, introduced sociological evidence, the living conditions of workers, in his trials for the first time and essentially changed the concept of what was considered evidence.  For this he was rewarded or punished by being placed upon the Supreme Court.

 

Brandeis was followed by the Great Depression of 1929 and Franklin D. Roosevelt who redefined the functions of the Democratic Party as the Party of the common man.  Its functions, in addition to the normal ones of a National Government, became those of assuming responsibility for the functions of society that individuals could not handle for themselves, making the nation safe and positively functional for everyone.

 

With the election of Trump we seem to be at the beginning of a return to the past.  Of course, with doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), which the Republicans have tried to do multiple times under President Obama and claimed should be done, we could, at some point in 2017, see well over 20 million people lose their medical coverage.  In addition the entire medical insurance industry could be totally disrupted as the insurance companies base their premium rates upon their knowledge of their clientele.  A disruption of this sort could cost the Republicans both Houses of Congress in 2018.  And it’s interesting to note that toward the end of 2016, after Trump became President-Elect, there has been a massive surge of sign-ups for Obamacare.  It is in the millions.

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Donald Trump has promised, among other things, not to change Obamacare other than to make it better.  The Republicans in Congress have promised to do away with it for the last six years.  Over 20 million people who had no medical insurance prior to Obamacare are now insured.  The Republicans have promised to replace it with something better but in six years they have come up with nothing better.  What are they going to do?  Twenty million or more people suddenly losing their health insurance will, no doubt, make their feeling known in the next Congressional Election in 2018.

 

Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently was questioned by the press about Obamacare.  He equivocated, saying that nothing has been decided yet.  The Republicans have controlled both Houses of Congress for nearly two years and nothing has been decided.  Apparently the Republicans do a good job of objecting but a lousy job of legislating.  It would seem that the different shades of conservatism are incapable of coming to agreement on most things among themselves or, to put it more simply, compromising even among themselves.

                  

In terms of Trump and the majority of Congress, both claim to be Republican, but do they really agree on all or even most traditional conservative policies?  Keep in mind that the conservatives in Congress have problems functioning as a single unit, then add the President-Elect, who has his own version of conservatism and would come to different conclusions on many issues, and try to visualize what will probably happen.

 

The issue is Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  There are also innumerable other issues.  One gets the feeling that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, doesn’t quite trust Donald Trump.  The two smile a lot together but don’t really trust one another.

 

First: Ryan was the only Republican in the House of Representatives that all the Republicans in the House could accept as their conditional leader after John Boehner was forced to resign as Speaker.  Second: Ryan is using the same techniques against Trump that he used against President Obama.  The Finance Bill, which funds the Federal Government, traditionally was passed for the entire fiscal year.  Ryan changed that.  It is now passed on a four month basis.

 

According to the Constitution all money bills have to originate in the House.  The Bill then goes to the Senate.  They can pass it exactly as it is or they can change it.  If they change it the Bill then goes to a Conference Committee, made up of Representatives from both Houses of Congress.  Both Houses vote on the new Bill; and when passed, it goes to the President for his signature.

 

Paul Ryan changed that pattern.  The House would pass the money Bill just before the House adjourned for some sort of break.  The Bill sent to the Senate had to be passed just as it was.  There was no time for the Conference Committee to meet.  Attached to the money Bill were riders the President would not ordinarily approve.  The choice was to pass the Bill or allow the government to run out of money.

 

The last money Bill that Congress passed was in the middle of December of 2016.  The next money Bill will have to be passed in the middle of April of 2017.  Ryan has left himself with leverage that can be used against President Trump if it is necessary.

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Trump’s Presidency should be loud and vociferous.  Trump will be highly frustrated every time he doesn’t get his way.  The frustration will begin with many of the appointments he has made.  Only a percentage of his appointments will be approved.  He should be denouncing congressmen loudly, accusing them of all sorts of things.  In addition he will want to perform assorted actions that Congress does not approve of and he will be reacting to that.  At some point the House may even vote a Bill of Impeachment against him for conflicts of interest or for some other reason.  The next four years will be colorful and probably, at times, very emotional.

 

The Weiner Component 113 – Cuba & The United States

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shortly before Christmas 2014 President Barak Obama reestablished a relationship with Cuba. This comes 50+ years after we severed contact with them in 1960. The Congressional Republicans and some Democrats seem to be adamantly opposed to this move. The President says he will ease economic and travel restrictions with Cuba and work with Congress to end the trade embargo.

The island of Cuba is 760 miles long and varies in width from 25 to 125 miles and has a population smaller than that of the city of Los Angeles. It was conquered by Spain in 1511. With the exception of the year 1762, when it was captured by the British, it had been a Spanish possession. From the end of the Spanish American War in 1898, Cuba became a protectorate of the United States, actually a colony in everything but name. For one reason or another the U.S. sent troops in numerous times until 1933 when it finally granted the country full independence during a popular insurrection which took total control of the government in the name of the people of the country.

Thereafter there were elections of presidents. Fulgencio Batista seized power in 1952 in an almost bloodless coup. Compared to other South and Central American countries Cuba had a high standard of living but this was not so when it compared itself to the United States. The rural areas had problems. There were large income disparities due to the extensive privileges that Cuba’s union workers had. These privileges were mainly at the cost of the unemployed and the peasants, causing economic stagnation.

Fidel Castro and his brother Raul led an attack upon the Moncada barracks near Santiago de Cuba in July 1953. The attack failed and the Castro brothers were taken prisoner and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. They were released in 1955 when a general amnesty was given to many political prisoners. They went in exile in Mexico. There with help they organized the 26th of July Movement with the intent of overthrowing Batista. Castro began a guerilla campaign against the Batista government. Eventually a sort of stalemate was reached; neither side was able to destroy the other. In addition there were numerous other revolutionary groups vying for power. The United States imposed trade restrictions on the Batista administration and attempted to get Batista to leave the country. On January 9, 1959 Batista fled the country and Castro took over. He then moved to consolidate his power by imprisoning and executing opponents and dissident former opponents. As the revolution became more radical, continuing its persecution of those who did not agree with its philosophy, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled to the United States forming a large exile community opposed to the Castro government.

The Castro government had considerable opposition from militant groups within Cuba and from the United States which had close economic ties with Cuba. By the end of 1960 all opposition newspapers had been closed down and all radio stations were under government control. Until 1965 militant anti-Castro groups funded by exiles and by the U.S. CIA were totally subdued. On October 3, 1965 Cuba officially became a Communist country. In 1976 a national referendum ratified a new constitution which made the Communist Party the major organization governing Cuba with Fidel Castro as the First Secretary

Six months after Castro took control of Cuba the Eisenhower administration began to work toward his ouster from leadership of the revolution. The U.S. began to support elements in the country opposed to Castro. Relations between the two countries deteriorated rapidly. The Eisenhower administration promoted a boycott of Cuba by oil companies. Cuba responded by nationalizing the refineries in August of 1960. The Cuban government expropriated U.S. owned properties and distributed the land to small farmers. On January 3, 1960 the U.S. severed diplomatic relations and ordered a trade embargo. The Kennedy administration extended this ban and forbad U.S. citizens to travel to or conduct business with Cuba.

About four months later, under the Kennedy administration, the CIA conducted a plan that had been developed during the Eisenhower period known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. The object of this operation was to overthrow the Communist regime and establish a democratic government that would be friends with the United States. It was carried out by a CIA sponsored paramilitary group of over 1,400 Cuban exiles. Arriving by boat from Guatemala on April 15, 1961 the small army landed on Cuban territory. By April 20th they surrendered and were sent back to the U.S.

Apparently President Kennedy had been convinced by the CIA leadership that the bulk of the Cubans would flock to support these invaders. Kennedy publically assumed full responsibility for this failure. He had refused to send in military reinforcements during the operation. The result of the invasion was to build popular support in Cuba for the Castro government.

After this the CIA began Operation Mongoose, a campaign arming militant groups, sabotage of the Cuban infrastructure, and plots to assassinate Castro. This set the stage for the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Chairman of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, saw Castro and Cuba as a little brother. He secretly installed atomic missiles there. These sites were discovered by U2 reconnaissance photos. Khrushchev’s comment in Russia was that Kennedy, like the Russian peasant who had to take his smelly cow into his house to live with his family during the winter, would get used to the smell. He would do this with the missile sites rather than risk an atomic war.

President Kennedy called for a quarantine of ships being allowed to go to Cuba. Finally the Russians agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for an agreement that the U.S. would not invade Cuba. There was also a secret agreement that the U.S. would remove its remove its missile sites in Turkey six months after the agreement was signed.

Neither Kennedy nor Khrushchev were willing to go to an atomic war. The agreement seemed to give Kennedy a political win and probably helped significantly in Khrushchev’s removal from office the following year. But Kennedy had also given orders that if the Soviet Union did not back down that he would openly add the removal of the Turkish missile sites to the agreement, giving Khrushchev the political win.

Essentially the United States has kept hands-off Cuba since that time with the trade embargo persisting. Cuba has gotten involved in other areas of the world aiding revolutionary groups in Africa, Central America, and Asia. There have been periods of emigration from that country, mostly by the upper and middle classes to the United States and elsewhere. It’s estimated that between 1959 and 1993 1.2 million Cubans left the island for the United States and other places. This is approximately ten percent of the total population of that country.

By 1982, Cuba possessed one of the largest military forces in Latin America but she still has a problem feeding her population, particularly since the fall of the Soviet Union.

In December of 2014, after a highly publicized exchange of political prisoners between the United States and Cuba President Barak Obama announced plans to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba after over fifty years of separation. Under the guidance of the Pope, secret negotiations had been going on for about a year. The U.S. President stated that his country would establish an embassy in Cuba and improve economic opportunities between the two countries.

The embargo was put into effect by Congressional action. It will take a law to bring about trade between the nations.  Ending it will take an act by Congress.

Is it about time to begin open relations with Cuba again? Fifty-five years have passed since the embargo was instituted. The generation of Cubans who first came to the United States have grown old and died. Some of their children who came with them may still remember but they are in their sixties or older. Do we still have animosity toward them? Do we still resent the fact that they refuse to be within the American sphere of influence? Do we still hate and fear communist nations so that we will have nothing to do with them?

And if that is so then why are we trading with China which still has a communist government? For that matter why have we even attempted to negotiate with North Korea? They have a communist dictatorial government.

It strikes me odd that Bain Capital and Mitt Romney can set up and move American factories to Communist China to avoid paying U.S. taxes and acquiring cheap labor but we have an embargo with Cuba. It would be much easier for them to do this with Cuba and their profits would be greater because Cuba is closer to the U.S. and they would have the same tax and cheap labor benefits they have with communist China.

The issue of the embargo is nonsense. If the 2015 Republican Congress refuses to deal realistically with this problem they are just giving in to their emotional fears and prejudices. It’s time for a little reality now that we are in the 21st Century.

Fidel Castro embracing Soviet Premier Nikita K...

Fidel Castro embracing Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a result of the Cuban Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John F. Kennedy

The Weiner Component #111 – Dick Cheney & Torture

George W. Bush

Cover of George W. Bush

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States.

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 9, 2014 the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 500 page summary of a 6,000 page investigation done over a six year period of enhanced interrogation or torture used by the CIA to elicit information from prisoners during the Administration of George W. Bush. This process began directly after the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City by suicide squads of Al-Qaeda terrorists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001.

It was important to Senator Diane Feinstein, the chairperson of this committee, to get this information out before the December 2014 Congressional session ended. The following year the Republicans will have a majority in the Senate and Republicans will chair all committees. She felt that the report would never see the light next year, that the Republicans would in all probability suppress it. And apparently she felt that the American people should know what was done during the Bush years.

When I was a young lad during the days and years of World War II in the early 1940s I remember hearing about how the Nazis and Japs used torture on their prisoners to get information from them. At that time the U.S. Military trained their men, if they were taken prisoner, to give only their name, rank, and serial number, but the Japs and the Nazis did all sorts of pain inflicting things to them to find out what they wanted to know. Years later I learned that the Japanese taught their people the same thing about the Americans. I imagine a certain amount of force was intermittently used by both sides. Did it work? That’s another question.

As I understood the issue from childhood on, the United States always represented the good side of every issue. We were always honest and fair with everyone. We never engaged in any type of skullduggery. Somehow I grew up believing this.

John Brennan, the Director of the CIA, for the first time in the history of the agency, in an unprecedented news conference from CIA headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, admitted that some officers had engaged in “abhorrent” conduct in their questioning of terrorism suspects. After he finished his presentation he took questions from a group of reporters.

In general terms he seemed to largely agree with the Intelligence Committee’s summary, stating that some of the information gotten from the “enhanced interrogation” did help in the fight against the terror groups. He spoke very generally, giving no specifics about how it helped. What he did not mention was that private contractors were hired to enforce this torture.

Listening to him one felt that he didn’t want to totally invalidate anything the agency did. Torture was something that had emerged from the fears engendered after 9/11 and which the agency gave up with the ascension of Barak Obama to the Presidency in 2009.

No one accepted or was given the responsibility for beginning the process of torture. Interestingly the CIA had no direct knowledge of “enhanced interrogation,” consequently private contractors were hired, at what turned out to be a cost of 81 million dollars, to apply this operation. These people, while they had no experience with any methods of interrogation, did have some background in psychology. They were given total freedom to invent their system of torture. The impression from the summary was that they followed what they believed the Japanese did in World War II.

How effective were they? That’s another interesting question. It would seem that if one is undergoing intense pain or discomfort then one would do whatever is required to lessen this misery. If one was being questioned he would say whatever he believed the interrogator wanted him to say. Truth would not be important here; lessening the pain would be primary. Outside of the beliefs of the interrogator how valid would any of this information be? I would imagine that John Brennan was saving face in his statement about the sometime value of enhanced interrogation.

Interestingly Senator John McCain was a naval aviator who was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 during the Vietnam War. He was a prisoner of war until 1973 and went through episodes of torture. He has stated more than once that torture as a means of gaining valid information is of no real value.

Claims have been made, such as some of this information helped to locate Osama bin Laden who was killed by Navy Seals on May 2, 2011. I would wonder how torture which ended in 2008 elicited information that allowed Navy Seals to raid bin Laden’s compound in May of 2011, two and a half years after torture as a means of gathering information from prisoners ended.

President George W. Bush’s comment about “enhanced interrogation” was that he didn’t want to know about it because he might accidentally mention it in a public speech. In essence what you don’t know you can deny as Bush did and go through your presidency innocent of any negative implications.

Dick Cheney when interviewed about this investigation on Fox News stated that even though he had never looked at the 6,000 page study or its 520 page summery he knew it was flawed. To him enhanced interrogation (torture) was a sure way of receiving accurate information. He said that given a choice he would do it again, “I’d do it again in a minute”. He stated on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, December 14, 2014, that “enhanced interrogation” was not torture.

When asked by Chuck Todd if “involuntary rectal feeding” detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committees report as being done to numerous individuals met the legal definition of torture, Cheney stated that “What was done here apparently certainly was not one of the techniques that was approved. I believe it was done for medical reasons.” Cheney has no problem believing what he wants to believe regardless of any evidence that exists.

Cheney’s definition of torture is “an American citizen on a cell phone making a last call to his four daughters shortly before he is burned to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York on 9/11.”

Anything short of that according to our former Vice President is not torture. He refuses to call the enhanced interrogation, authorized for and used by the CIA, torture. “We were very careful to stop short of torture”. Apparently water boarding, having an individual physically feel he was drowning or forcing someone to stand in an awkward and highly uncomfortable position for 14 hours, or any other device used in the interrogation was not torture according to Dick Cheney’s definition.

Watching or reading a transcript of the Cheney interview on “Meet the Press” leaves one wondering what sort of individual the ex-Vice President is. He came out with regal statements many of which made no sense. There were no examples of anything given, just pronouncements of what he considers absolute truth, regardless of any evidence.

Dick Cheney seemed to work from a base of absolute knowledge that didn’t necessarily relate to the real world or to be based upon any factual knowledge. In essence he knows what he knows and anything or anyone who disagrees with him is flawed or just plain wrong. My impression of this is that he is amoral, there is no right or wrong behavior, just what works.

This is the man who was second in command of this nation, followed by a leader, George W. Bush, who didn’t want to know much of what was happening around him. With men like these running the country it amazing that we’re still here. There must be many aspects of this nation that function despite the level of the leadership. Apparently Will Rogers, the cowboy philosopher of the 1920s and early 1930s, was right in his comments about the government. During the Calvin Coolidge Administration he stated during his one man lecture tours that Congress and the President were like a bunch of children in a China shop with hammers. You just hoped they didn’t do too much damage. It would seem that the same can be said about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. You hoped they didn’t do too much damage in the eight years they ran the government.

This seems to be particularly true since Bush told the American Public that his Higher Father (God) told or inspired him to go to war with Iraq and destroy their weapons of mass destruction (which didn’t exist) and the fact that Dick Cheney considers that the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11/02 was torture for everyone who died in the tragedy but that none of the enhanced interrogation done to our Muslim prisoners was torture. He considers all the evidence, none of which he has examined, flawed and inaccurate.

We should be thankful that our government seems to work despite the people who occasionally run it and the nonsense often passed by Congress.

I remember, over the years, hearing the term: The American way. I always understood that term to mean the right way, the honest way, the most honorable and fair way. This is what I was taught this country stands for. For what is best for everyone. Bush and Cheney attempted to change that, to bring us to a level of dishonor. Hopefully this was a phase that is now gone and will never return in the future.