Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 10, 2010

As the holiday season approaches the news is the gift that keeps on giving:

Nigeria – the new avatar of justice?

This past week saw the Federal Government of Nigeria issue a warrant for the arrest of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

For some, the only real surprise is that the Nigerian government filed charges ahead of the United States Department of Justice given the crimes that Mr. Cheney committed against the American people – his lies and deceptions that led to the disastrous war in Iraq being just one count in any indictment.

But the Nigerians have beaten America to the punch. The published facts indicate that during the time that Dick Cheney was Chairman and CEO of Haliburton, a subsidiary of that company is accused of paying over $100 million in bribes to Nigerian officials in as part of a successful effort to access a natural gas opportunity in that country.

Several Nigerian officials have already been accused and apprehended and one can only imagine the chorus of canary singing that is going on behind bars.

Statements by Mr. Cheney’s representatives refer to the Nigerian charges as “baseless” also pointing out the long and very public record of corruption in various aspects of the Nigerian government over the years. Nevertheless, Mr. Cheney and the rest of us should take this legal action very seriously.

Not too long ago the pharmaceutical behemoth Pfizer became embroiled in legal controversy stemming from charges of improper and unethical field testing procedures. Mr. Cheney will ignore Nigeria at his own peril.

It appears that Nigerian justice officials are willing to take on Dick Cheney, something no part of the American justice system has yet to do. Whatever the outcome, I hope that for once Dick Cheney will have to account for his actions in a public forum.


Tradition used to put the initials “R.I.P.” on tombstones, a final prayer that the dearly departed would “rest in peace”. Yesterday two major legislative items seemed to have died unnatural and unnecessary deaths.

Through a series of arcane and incomprehensible parliamentary procedures the legislation that would have repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law that currently precludes gays to serve openly in the military was strangled in Senate red tape. Added to the charnel wagon was the legislation that would have provided federally funded healthcare for workers at the site of the 9/11 attacks who have suffered debilitating and sometimes fatal illnesses.

The arguments of the senators from the Party of No argued that now was not the time to allow American men and women to serve in the military without regard for gender preference or sexual orientation.

Of course, using that standard women might just now be finding their way to polling booths and the abolition of Jim Crow laws might finally be the subject of debate in Congress.

The Party of No also has argued that the funding of the aid for the 9/11 first responders is too expensive and that the City of New York and the State of New York should pay these costs. Using that logic, only the citizens of Hawaii should have paid for the health costs of civilian workers who assisted after the Pearl Harbor attacks.

We live in a time when no sense is sense. That so many have to suffer the effects of this callous madness is tragic.

Tax Daze

Finally, this past week President Obama negotiated a tax bill “compromise” with Republicans that essentially grants tax cuts to all Americans, including the millionaires and billionaires.

The President has been roundly criticized for “caving” on the issue of tax cuts for the wealthiest of the wealthy. He likened negotiating with Republicans to negotiating with hostage takers and perhaps between the lines we find the reason for his backtracking on one of his major campaign pledges.

From Thanksgiving until the lighting of the White House Christmas tree yesterday, neither of the First Daughters, Sasha and Malia, was seen publicly.

Clearly the Republicans were holding them hostage and the tax cut “compromise” was the ransom that had been demanded. We all know that the Republicans are capable of dastardly acts, but now they have just gone too far!

Have a great weekend!