The Predator State

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a ...

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a laugh with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney during his farewell parade at the Pentagon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Predator State, How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, by James K. Galbraith published in 2008. The predator state is the marriage between large corporations and government.

“Republican (with a small “r”) government, with its checks and balances, exists to limit the abuse of power. It is a matter of negotiation, compromise, the making of public arguments, and of listening to private dissent. Modern corporate decision-making structures exist, on the contrary, to permit senior executives to do what they want. This is the culture that Richard Cheney brought back into government from Halliburton, that George bush imbibed at his minor perches at Harken Energy and the Texas rangers. The operational result is a government by cliques operating in secret, indeed with their very membership unknown outside. Cheney’s 2001 Energy Task Force is a characteristic example. The neoconservative capture of foreign policy inside the Bush administration is another. The drive by Karl Rove‘s political office to direct the U.S. attorneys into political prosecutions is a third. The advance and defense of torture as a method of interrogation in secret prisons run by the CIA is a fourth. The program of warrantless wiretapping, which evidently amounts to the blanket capture by the National Security Agency of all Internet communications, is a fifth. The list could go on, but the practice is clear: we live under a government that as a matter of principle does what it wants.”

Worst VP

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States.

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

My nominee for worst US VP ever is Dick Cheney,  and he has very little competition. That is largely because until recently, vice-presidents did very little. If you go back to Jefferson’s first vice-president, you can say that Aaron Burr was a bad man, killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel and plotting to establish a separate country in the western territories. But he didn’t do that while he was vice-president. Spiro Agnew was forced to resign for his actions as Governor of Maryland before he became vice-president under Nixon. So Cheney has very few competitors.

Cheney selected himself as George W. Bush’s running mate, and he arranged for Bush to be surrounded by other Neocons like himself, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Paul Wolfowitz, who advocated attacking Iraq. We don’t know if Bush decided himself to invade Iraq or whether he was persuaded by Cheney and others. Perhaps we will never know. We do know that Bush was a better governor than he was president, and that Bush was one of the worst presidents ever. I rank him number one. Cheney taught Bush how to be president, and the US paid a very high price for those teachings. That is why I rate Dick Cheney as the worst VP in US history.