JACKALS IN HEAT: You can’t really blame Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld for everything; it just seems that way. For those whose mental health depends on amnesia and indifference, Cheney and Rumsfeld were the Batman and Robin of arrogance and deceit, the one-two punch of murder and mayhem during the eight years George W. Bush usurped the American throne. Since then, Bush has pulled one of the greatest disappearing acts of all time. By contrast, Cheney — the former vice president — and Rumsfeld — über secretary of defense — are still very much on the prowl, insisting in the face of overwhelming evidence they were right. About everything. But even if they skulked out of town, their bloody footprints would have followed them.
Let’s start with the obvious. If it weren’t for Cheney — so radioactively effluvial with his contempt for open government — Santa Barbara’s county supervisors would never have been forced to put a countywide fracking ban on the November ballot. Yes, fracking has become the trendy cause du jour. Yes, right-wing gas bag Andy Caldwell is correct, the dubiously dubbed “Water Guardians” — (Do they wear capes and Lycra underpants?) — are, in fact, part of global conspiracy to stop fracking. That no fracking is now taking place in Santa Barbara County — or ever will — is totally beside the point. The real point is that when a group of nobodies comes out of nowhere to collect 20,000 signatures — despite serious resistance from the South Coast’s enviro establishment — in less than one month, one has to admit a raw nerve has been struck. The Halliburton Company — for which Cheney worked — may have invented fracking in 1940, but it was Cheney who really put the technology on the map. He made it scary. That’s because fracking involves the injection of hot steam (500 degrees) coupled with an alphabet soup of nasty chemicals — hundreds of feet under the earth’s surface to dislodge otherwise reluctant hydrocarbon molecules needed for the mass production of, among other thing, Lycra underpants. In 2001, Cheney began meeting secretly with executives representing the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries to hammer out a national energy policy to their liking. Four years later, the 2005 Energy Policy Act was hatched. In it, Cheney had inserted what’s known as “the Halliburton loophole,” which exempted fracking from the federal oversight and regulation to which it had hitherto been subjected under the terms of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Since then, vast fortunes have been made, and if frack-friendly states like Oklahoma have experienced a massive increase in number of earthquakes — from three to 200 a year since 2008 — that, no doubt, is merely coincidental.
This Sunday, when Vandenberg Air Force Base launches yet another interceptor rocket equipped with a strap-on kill missile into space as part of a $40 billion missile defense program, we’ll have effervescently arrogant Donald Rumsfeld to thank. The test is to see if the kill vehicle can collide with a target missile launched from 5,000 miles away while traveling at a speed of about 4 miles a second. If we succeed, we can blast anything out of the sky the North Koreans might lob our way. The Ronald Reagan White House spent $30 billion studying the idea — dubbed Star Wars — but it never got off the drawing boards. But Rumsfeld helped resurrect it during the Reign of W. According to Los Angeles Times reporter David Willman, Rumsfeld helped the Missile Defense program bypass all the Pentagon’s well-established procurement rules designed to protect the American taxpayer from dingbat ideas. In so doing, he secured the billions needed to transform a Buck Rogers fantasy and declare it fully “operational.” As a result, 30 American missile silos are now occupied with missile defense interceptor rockets capable of carrying the strap-ons into space. Four are at Vandenberg. But declaring something “operational” is a far cry from working the kinks out. The author of a recent National Academy of Sciences report termed the results nothing less than “abysmal.” Of the 16 tests to date, eight have failed. In two, the interceptors couldn’t get out of the silos. It’s getting worse, not better. Of the last eight, five failed. Of the last three, all failed. Each test costs $200 million. We’d probably inflict more damage just dropping that money on North Korea. Apparently whatever afflicted Rumsfeld is contagious. President Obama’s defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, has concluded that if 30 unreliable interceptor rockets aren’t sufficient, we need to spend even more money on the same bad idea. To that end, he has vowed to increase the fleet size from 30 to 44.
Last but not least, there’s the possibility of yet another military engagement in Iraq. Third time’s the charm? Not to belabor the obvious, but Cheney and Rumsfeld had their fingerprints all over War I (1990), and in the wake of 9/11, they told whatever lies they deemed necessary to stampede a grief-stricken nation into War II. Now I learn that ISIS was not an Egyptian mother goddess but instead a scourge of Sunni fundamentalist warriors so hardcore even Al-Qaeda kicked them out. Naturally, the United States helped train ISIS in hopes of destabilizing Syrian dictator Assad. ISIS, it turns out, has its own agenda: to topple both Syria and Iraq. Last week, 30,000 U.S-trained Iraqi soldiers fled before ISIS’s advance on the city of Mosul, as did 500,000 civilians. The conquering army reportedly made themselves at home, executing 1,700 Shia. This week, the Shia returned the favor, executing 44 Sunni. Hey, didn’t we just send one million U.S. troops to Iraq for eight years to stabilize the joint? Compared to the 500,000 people who prematurely met their makers in that war, the United States got off easy. But try telling that to the families of the 4,500 killed or the 32,000 wounded. Thank you for your service, but can we get a refund on the $1.7 trillion we spent in Iraq?
No? I’m sure Dick and Don are good for it. Just check their money for blood stains. Makes the bills stick together.