Thursday :: Sep 9, 2004

Dick the Abuser

by pessimist

Celebrating Dick the Bruiser

Many knew him at Richard Afflis, but fans across the world knew him as Dick the Bruiser. He was drawn into the sport of football growing up. His high school skills landed him at Purdue University and the University of Nevada for his college football career. His skills as a tackle drew the eyes of National Football League scouts. He was soon drafted by the Green Bay Packers. He played there until 1955. Afflis was happy with his career on the green grass of the NFL. One day Leo Nomellini approached Afflis with a career option. Nomellini was a friend of Afflis and was a defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. Nomellini encouraged Afflis to give professional wrestling a shot. Nomellini had wrestled during the off seasons of the NFL, and he believed Afflis had all the skills to succeed in the ring. Nomellini saw a hard working man. He did not expect the real Afflis. A man who did not care about his opponent. Afflis's main goal each time in the ring were to hurt anyone who got in his way.

Dick the Bruiser

Dick the Bruiser originated, and personified, wrestling's beer guzzling, cigar chomping, tough-as-nails Bar Room Brawler toughguy character. The Bruiser was known and feared for being a merciless juggernaut inside the ring, brutally punishing his opponents before finishing them off, usually with his famous top-rope knee drop. His bulldozer, beer-swilling persona was both hated and, at the same time, incredibly popular with the fans. The Bruiser eventually became a complete, and incredibly popular, fan favorite. He guzzled beer and chewed on his trademark cigar.

Along with his longtime fighting partner The Crusher, for 10 years virtually no one pinned the shoulders of The Bruiser and/or The Crusher. Even fewer made it out of the ring without being battered and bloodied by the violent blue-collar heroes. They were unstoppable, and the fans loved their bombastic exploits. Bruiser and Crusher were so dominant during their matches against the competition that once their match was over, they would often trade blows with each other, to the thunderous roar and delight of the sold-out crowds. The two similar brawlers seemed as though they were brothers separated at birth, and they absolutely dominated tag team wrestling in the Midwest.

Did wrestler Dick the Bruiser influence a certain other Dick? He very well might have, for Richard Cheney was at an impressionable age when Dick the Bruiser was at his most popular!

The Curse of Dick Cheney

Cheney's record of mistakes begins in 1959, when Tom Stroock, a Republican politician-businessman in Casper, Wyoming, got Cheney, then a senior at Natrona County High School, a scholarship to Yale. "Dick was the all-American boy, in the top ten percent of his class," Stroock says. "He seemed a natural." But instead of triumphing, Cheney failed. "He spent his time partying with guys who loved football but weren't varsity quality," recalls Stephen Billings, an Episcopalian minister who roomed with him during Cheney's freshman (and only full) year at Yale.

Dick The Loser

"Cheney's manner and authority of voice far outstrip his true abilities," says Chas Freeman, who served under Bush's father as ambassador to Saudi Arabia. "It was clear from the start that Bush required adult supervision -- but it turns out Cheney has even worse instincts. He does not understand that when you act recklessly, your mistakes will come back and bite you on the ass."

"Dick never had the experience of learning from his mistakes," says Tom Fake, a Natrona classmate who also won a Yale scholarship.

Those who have known him over the years remain astounded by what they describe as his almost autistic indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others. "He has the least interest in human beings of anyone I have ever met," says John Perry Barlow, his former supporter. Cheney's freshman-year roommate, Steve Billings, agrees: "If I could ask Dick one question, I'd ask him how he could be so unempathetic."

It's simple - Dick Cheney is a BULLY. Note above that his Yale clique 'loved football but weren't varsity quality' - in other words, they were a bunch of losers. Certainly the real varsity jocks treated these wannabes as inferiors, which would have inspired a feeling of inferiority that had to be assuaged in some manner. We'll come back to Dick the Loser after a brief detour into his psychology:


Bullying behavior is not always easy to define. Hostility and aggression directed toward a victim who is physically or emotionally weaker than the bully are more obvious signs of bullying. [Think Iraq here.] Verbal bullying often accompanies the physical behavior. [Think liberal bashing here.] This can include name calling, spreading rumors, and persistent teasing. [Think Kerry bashing here.] Emotional intimidation is closely connected to these two types of bullying. [Think anti-gay activities and the questioning of patriotism here.] A bully may deliberately exclude a child from a group activity such as a class party. [Think "You're either with us or against us." here.] Racist bullying can take many forms: making racial slurs, spray painting graffiti, mocking the victim's cultural traditions, and making offensive gestures. [Think of the boderline anti-Muslim comments and the blatant domestic actions taken under cover of the Patriot Act here.] Sexual bullying is characterized by unwanted physical contact or abusive comments. {Again, anti-gay activities.]

There are many reasons why a child may become a bully. Whatever the cause, bullies usually pick on others as a way of dealing with their own problems. Sometimes they pick on kids because they need a victim, someone who is weaker, to feel more important, powerful, or in control. Bullies will often target someone who is different than others and focus on that attribute. The bully realizes that these children are unlikely to retaliate. They're often bigger or stronger than their victims and may use bullying as an attempt to achieve popularity and friends. [Friends who made it all possible for Dick 'The Loser' Cheney to become Dick 'The Abuser' Cheney and become in fact the most powerful man in the world.]

Peer groups influence early adolescent bullying behavior

Peer-group influence on adolescents is well established, especially regarding drugs and alcohol. [We know Dick drinks.] New research indicates it also extends to bullying behavior. Bullying behavior was defined as teasing, harassment, rumor spreading and social exclusion. The same peer effect held true for physical fighting, but was not nearly as strong... ['I had other priorities.']

The following might explain, in part, how Cheney and the other Bu$hCo Bullies get away with their excesses:

... even when individual students engaged in little or no bullying, they often stood on the sidelines and rarely intervened. They appeared to largely accept it as part of the culture or climate, as "just how things are," she said.

Hopefully I have illustrated sufficiently my position that Dick Cheney qualifies as a bully. I now return to his history of bully behavior.

In addition to dealing with his feelings of inferiority, a new and troubling experience after his BMOC status in his Wyoming high school, he went from being a high school academic to being an Ivy League college dropout in about a year and a half - because he was out of his element at Yale. Rather than adapt, he took the easy route of the slacker, because he had no external motivation to achieve. He was rootless and aimless simultaneously. With no positive outlet for his emotional turmoil, through his football madman friends he learned to vent his angst in a negative manner, utilizing it to belittle his favorite team's opponents as inferiors. Continuing to express such behaviors as he drifted along has led him to the current position he holds today, which has to say something about those we hold up as successful role models for our children to emulate.

Cheney might have been flunking in the classroom, but he excelled at making connections. "Dick always had this very calm way of talking," recalls his other roommate, Jacob Plotkin., now a retired math professor at Michigan State University. "His thoughtful manner impressed people." Forty years before the son of a U.S. president picked Cheney to be his running mate, the son of a Massachusetts governor picked him to be his sophomore-year roommate. Mark Furcolo, whose father, Foster, had been elected governor as a Democrat, invited Cheney to Cape Cod for a visit. "Dick came back enraptured," Plotkin says. "He was fascinated by the official state cars and planes. The trappings of it got him."

After only one term as a Yale sophomore, Cheney dropped out. But he learned something perhaps more important to this future success. "He found a path that got him into powerful positions" is how Plotkin puts it.

Dick Cheney now had an external motivation - a desire to ride in those official cars and have people act deferentially toward him. There is only one way for an outsider to achieve that status - suck up to someone who has it already.

In January 1967, when he was enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Cheney passed his twenty-sixth birthday, making him safe from the draft -- and making it safe for him to abandon work on a doctoral degree. He had taken to hanging out with local politicians and acted as an unpaid assistant to Wisconsin's moderate Republican governor, Warren Knowles. In 1968, he used Knowles to get a progressive Wisconsin Republican congressman named William Steiger to let him work as an intern in his office in Washington. Having used Knowles as a steppingstone to Steiger, Cheney used Steiger as a steppingstone to a Nixon appointee named Donald Rumsfeld, then head of the Office of Economic Opportunity.

Being such a negative sort did get him some positive attention.

His greatest utility, then and later, was that he lapped up work that higher-ranking officials were happy to see disappear from their plates.

This is where Cheney's inner bully found outward purpose - dealing with the dirty work that needed doing but that no one else was willing to do. Who is going to dismiss the guy who unclogs the septic tank?

The period between August 1974 and November 1976, when Ford lost the election to Jimmy Carter, is essential to understanding George W. Bush's disastrous misjudgments -- and Dick Cheney's role in them.

Nixon's resignation opened the way for Cheney's first truly astonishing inside move up. When Gerald Ford succeeded to the presidency, he needed experienced loyalists by his side who were untainted by the Nixon scandal, so he named Rumsfeld his chief of staff. Rumsfeld brought Cheney right along with him into the Oval Office. Rumsfeld and Cheney convinced Ford that the way to turn himself into a real president was to stir up crises in international relations while lurching to the right in domestic politics.

Having turned Ford into their instrument, Rumsfeld and Cheney staged a palace coup. They pushed Ford to fire Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, tell Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to look for another job and remove Henry Kissinger from his post as national security adviser. Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense, and Cheney became chief of staff to the president. The Yale dropout and draft dodger was, at the age of thirty-four, the second-most-powerful man in the White House.

At long last, Dick the Loser had reached his pinnacle of success! He rode around in fancy cars, people acted very deferentially toward him, and he was telling the most powerful man in the world what to do - heady stuff indeed. But in true ironic fashion, the poorly prepared civil servant who was in deeper than he should have been overstepped - and chaos ensued.

As the 1976 election approached, Rumsfeld and Cheney used the immense powers they had arrogated to themselves to persuade Ford to scuttle the Salt II treaty on nuclear-arms control. The move helped Ford turn back Reagan's challenge for the party's nomination -- but at the cost of ceding the heart of the GOP to the New Right. Then, in the presidential election, Jimmy Carter defeated Ford by 2 million votes. Wrote right-wing columnist Robert Novak, "White House Chief of Staff Richard Cheney . . . is blamed by Ford insiders for a succession of campaign blunders." Those in the old elitist wing of the party thought the decision to dump Rockefeller was both stupid and wrong: "I think Ford lost the election because of it," one of Kissinger's former aides says now. Ford agreed, calling it "the biggest political mistake of my life."

With the change in administration, Dick Cheney could no longer ride in those fancy automobiles and expect people to act deferentially toward him. He was now back to being the one who had to kiss ass. But going back to Wyoming this time was different from his previous trip after dropping out of Yale and getting married to avoid the draft - he had Been Somebody. People knew his name, and some admired his actions as a member of Ford's staff. He polished up his brown-noser skills and worked his connections. He was going to regain that power and status he'd lost - by hook or by crook.

"Some fellows from Casper called me," recalls former Sen. Alan Simpson, "told me they had found this amazing young man and were going to promote him for Congress." In the 1978 election, Cheney became Wyoming's sole member of the House. "The top people had decided it would be Dick, so that basically settled it," recalls John Perry Barlow, a fourth-generation Wyomingite who campaigned for Cheney. "Dick had been chief of staff to a president. That made everyone assume he knew what he was doing."

Thus the guy who once bragged of having passed a Yale psych course without attending class or studying demonstrated to himself that Image IS Everything, and that substance mattered almost nothing in comparison. It isn't so much what you do that matters - it's how you look doing it. As the above quote demonstrates, people will assume that you are what you appear to be, as long as what you appear to be matches their expectations of you. As long as you don't call attention to yourself in a negative way that illuminates the fallacy of that belief, then you are safe. Continuing to deal with unclogging the septic tank for those in power doesn't hurt you any, also.

In an overwhelmingly Republican state, Cheney now had a safe seat in Congress for as long as he wanted. On Capitol Hill, he combined a moderate demeanor with a radical agenda. In 1986, he was one of only twenty-one members of the House to oppose the Safe Drinking Water Act. He fought efforts to clean up hazardous waste and backed tax breaks for energy corporations. He repeatedly voted against funding for the Veterans Administration. He opposed extending the Civil Rights Act. He opposed the release of Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa. He even voted for cop-killer bullets.

Cheney's strategy for gaining power was the same one he and Rumsfeld had foisted on Ford: making sure no one in the Republican Party outflanked him to the right. This was a deeply divisive approach, because it involved pandering to racial and religious extremists and using complex matters of national security as flag-waving wedge issues. "Dick's votes against civil rights and the environment were parts of complex deals aimed at enhancing his own power," says John Perry Barlow, his former supporter. In 1988, Cheney was named House minority whip, the second-ranking post in his party's hierarchy.

Exit 'Loser', Enter 'Abuser'

Dick Cheney should have been a natural as the minority whip, for one of the jobs of that position is to do the dirty deeds that the party leader can't be seen doing. Experience in keeping that septic tank unclogged is an asset in that role!

Had he stayed in the House, it is possible that he would have become speaker. But the following year, another powerful person decided to confer great nonelective power on Cheney. When President George H.W. Bush named him to head the Defense Department, the Senate unanimously confirmed the choice. Not a single senator seems to have considered it anomalous that control of the strongest armed forces on earth was being conferred on a person who had gone to notable lengths to avoid service in those same armed forces.

This just demonstrates that at that time, just like now, the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government was not performing their constitutional duties properly.

Appointed to another powerful position, Cheney promptly went about screwing it up. He pushed to turn many military duties over to private companies and began moving "defense intellectuals" with no military experience into key posts at the Pentagon. Most notable among them was Paul Wolfowitz, who later masterminded much of the disastrous strategy that George W. Bush has pursued in Iraq. In 1992, as undersecretary of defense, Wolfowitz turned out a forty-page report titled "Defense Planning Guidance," arguing that historic allies should be demoted to the status of U.S. satellites, and that the modernization of India and China should be treated as a threat, as should the democratization of Russia. "We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role," the report declared. It was nothing less than a blueprint for worldwide domination, and Cheney loved it. He maneuvered to have the president adopt it as doctrine, but the elder Bush, recognizing that the proposals were not only foolish but dangerous, immediately rejected them.

By the end of the first Bush administration, others had come to the conclusion that Cheney and his followers were dangerous. "They were referred to collectively as the crazies," recalls Ray McGovern, a CIA professional who interpreted intelligence for presidents going back to Kennedy. Around the same time, McGovern remembers, Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft counseled the elder President Bush, "Keep these guys at arm's length."

But as we all know, Bu$h I was defeated, and the Crash Clinton Carnival came to town. Dick Cheney was once again out practicing his brown-nosing skills, and once again short-sighted but powerful people looked out only for their own interests at the expense of the nation.

Powerful benefactors once again gave Cheney a big break. As Dan Briody recounts in his book The Halliburton Agenda, Cheney was on a fishing trip in New Brunswick, Canada, with a group of high-powered corporate CEOs. "The men were discussing the ongoing search for a CEO at Halliburton," Briody reports. "Cheney was asleep back at the lodge and, in his absence, the men decided that Cheney would be the man for the job, despite the fact that he had never worked in the oil business."

But unlike another scion of the oil bidness, Cheney learned how to work it to his advantage. He was able to gain enough power to influence the coming succession at the end of the Clinton years by knowing the major contributors. We pretty much know the rest of the story.

It could be argued that the vice presidency was the first job Cheney got entirely on his own -- by appointing himself to it. Bush initially asked Cheney only to advise him on whom to choose. After assuring Bush that he himself had no ambition to be vice president, Cheney then arranged it so that all options narrowed down to him.

Since Cheney lived in Texas at the time, choosing him led Bush into a situation that, if the words of our Founding Fathers still have any meaning, is unconstitutional. The Constitution forbids a state's electors from voting for candidates for president and vice president who are both "an inhabitant of the same state as themselves." Yet by voting for Bush and Cheney, electors in Texas did precisely that. Cheney lived in Texas, had a Texas driver's license and filed his federal income tax using a Texas address. He had also voted in Texas, not in Wyoming, a state where he had not lived full-time for decades.

As vice president, Cheney has been the decisive force pushing America into war. In the inner councils of the administration, it was he who emasculated Colin Powell, cut the State Department out of effective policymaking, foisted fake reports on the intelligence agencies and supplanted the National Security Council. It was also Cheney who placed appointees personally loyal to him, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, in charge of the Pentagon and speckled the warmaking bureaucracy with desk officers culled from neoconservative Washington think tanks -- ideologues with no military experience.

"They were like cancer cells," says retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked on the Defense Department's Near East and South Asia desk during the buildup to the Iraq war. "They didn't care about the truth. They had an agenda. I'd never seen anything like it. They deformed everything."

Even within the State Department, officials of Cheney's choosing -- not Powell's -- controlled the key positions when it came to maneuvering the United States into the Iraq war. "Even when there was a show of Defense listening to State, it was just one Cheney operative talking to another," says Greg Thielmann, a former member of the State Department Intelligence Agency. "We were simply bypassed from the start."

Over at Defense, competent intelligence professionals were purged in order to ease the way to war. Douglas Feith, brought in under Rumsfeld to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy, applied an ideological test to his staff: He didn't want competence; he wanted fervor. Col. Pat Lang, a Middle East expert who served under five presidents, Republican and Democratic, in key posts in military intelligence, recalls being considered for a job at the Pentagon. During the job interview, Feith scanned Lang's impressive resume. "I see you speak Arabic," Feith said. When Lang nodded, Feith said, "Too bad," and dismissed him.

Cheney suffered his biggest failure in March 2002, when he visited nine Arab and Muslim countries six months after the 9/11 attacks. The vice president anticipated a triumphal tour of the region as, one by one, he enlisted the countries he visited in the cause of "taking out" Saddam Hussein. In the end, not a single country Cheney visited provided troops for the Bush-Cheney war -- including staunch American allies in Jordan and Turkey -- and almost all refused to let their territory be used for the attack.

Once again, however, Cheney did not let reality dissuade him from his course. As the disaster has unfolded in Iraq, he has continued to insist against all evidence that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, that the dictator was aiding Al Qaeda, that nothing the Bush administration has done was a mistake. Cheney, meanwhile, continues to receive $150,000 a year in deferred compensation from Halliburton, even though he is supposed to divest himself of all conflicts of interest. The company has been awarded $8 billion in contracts by the Bush-Cheney administration for its work in Iraq.

And who gives a damn about the law when one is above the law? Who guards the guardians?

It's now down to We, The People of the United States to exercise our Constitutional prerogatives and oust these knaves from their positions of power and influence at our expense. But there are issues with this necessary effort, as these pundits point out.

Atrios on Cheney

Big Time Dick says put us back into office or the terrorists will win: It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.

I can't be the only one who remembers what happened the last time those two were put into office.

Hopefully enough WILL remember - and do something about it.

Side-by-side headlines on the front page of today's New York Times:

#1: Cheney Warns of Terror Risk if Kerry Wins Bush Contends Rival Adopts Antiwar Talk

Pentagon Is Not Certain When Central Areas Can Be Secured

Do tell.

As this blog points out, the evidence in in plain view. Only those willfully blind refuse to see.

Hey, Dick, We Don't Negotiate With Terrorists
by David Swanson

"If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again," Dick Cheney said on September 7th, threatening the American public that if we elect Kerry and Edwards rather than Bush and Cheney, we'll be attacked by "terrorists." But that statement was unambiguously intended to influence our votes by terrifying us. Cheney wants us to vote for him for fear that otherwise we and our loved ones will be subjected to random attacks. By the usual definition of terrorism, Cheney has joined the terrorists. I for one will never vote for anyone or anything under threat of death or injury. That is not a free society. That is not the society we bomb villages, torture prisoners, and alienate allies to protect.

Let me say this very clearly, Dick, the American public does not negotiate with terrorists.

David Swanson's website

The issue here isn't with those who know about Bu$hCo. It's reaching those who don't. Richard Clarke may well be on to the one thing that Bu$hCo crows about the most - homeland security - there isn't any.

Richard Clarke tells Berkeley audience U.S. still isn't safe

The Bush administration has bungled the war on terrorism, doing little to provide security at home while breeding legions of new enemies abroad, the government's former anti-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, told a large Berkeley audience Tuesday night.

Clarke, who made international headlines last spring when he emerged as the highest-ranking whistle-blower from inside the White House's war on
terrorism, painted an alarming picture of a White House still pursuing a losing strategy while America's safety hangs in the balance. "The pool of people who really hate us is so much greater than it was on 9/11 because of this needless and counterproductive war in Iraq," Clarke said
to applause from nearly 2,000 people at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach auditorium.

On the home front, except for improved airline safety, little or nothing has been done to protect the many other vulnerable targets such as trains,
chemical plants, Wal-Marts and financial headquarters, said Clarke, who served as counterterrorism czar under both Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, he and other counterterrorism officials urged a wide range of protective actions, such as security for
commuter trains vulnerable to the type of backpack bombs that later blew up a train in Madrid. "That could happen in the BART system today," he said. He described most homeland-security measures in the past three years as "token efforts."

He also called the war on terrorism a misnomer. "We're not engaged in a war on terrorism, a war against a tactic," he said. "We're not concerned here with all terrorist groups." There are many terrorist organizations around the world that the U.S. government is not actively fighting, he noted. The enemy, he said, consists of about 100,000 members of about 14 jihadist groups, loosely linked to al Qaeda and representing "a virulent strain of Islam." This strain, he said, is a violence-embracing form of the Sunni fundamentalist movement known as Wahabism. America needs to confront such enemies directly, but it also needs to wage a "war of ideas" with the hundreds of millions of Muslims who currently support the hardcore fanatics, he said.

The model for defeating Bu$hCo lies within this presentation of Clarke's - point out the fallacies of the Bu$hCo argument. This will work whether it's international affairs, Iraq, the economy, Medicare, whatever. Define what's wrong with the Bu$hCo claims of success - and keep driving that message home until it can't be ignored. Not even by those who refuse to see.

Confronting the bully is the only way to solve the problem.

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pessimist :: 10:19 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!