In The Week magazine Andrew Sullivan wrote about Dick Cheney: “The man is a sociopath.” I said as much a few years ago. [written when Cheney was vice-president]


‘The personality that springs to mind is that of a ninth-grade bully in the junior high lunchroom, the one sprawled in the letter jacket so the seventh-graders must step over his feet.” The quote is from an article by Joan Didion titled “Cheney” that appears in the October 5, 2006, edition of the New York Review of Books.

In Pennsylvania there is a hunting preserve in which are fenced many species of animals that hunters come miles around to hunt. They come because the hunting is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. The hunts are called “canned hunt,” and some very important people are attracted to this preserve and one of them is Dick Cheney, Vice- President of these United States. In the September edition of “Liberal Opinion Week,” there is an article by Walter Brasch, titled “Canned Hunt: Sports Afoul.” From that article is the following:

“In December 2003, Cheney and nine of his friends—including former Naval Academy and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, U. S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and some high-roller Republican party donors—went to the exclusive Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Pa., about an hour’s drive east of Pittsburgh. The owners of the country club, being good hosts they were, released 500 domesticated and penned-up ring-necked pheasants in the morning. “Bird Dog and Retriever News” reports that about 40 percent of all domesticated pheasants, if not shot by pretend-hunters, either starve or are killed by predators within the first week of their release; about 75 percent die within a month.

“At Ligonier, starvation wasn’t a problem. A game keeper told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Cheney alone killed about 70 of the 417 killed that day. In the afternoon, having hardly raised a bead of sweat, the good ole boys slaughtered dozens, perhaps, hundreds, of equally tame mallards that had been hand-raised and shoved in front of waiting shotguns for the massacre.”

The range of human development is from an embryo to saint. Nine months of the development occurs in the womb, which development is an abstract of millions of years of evolution’s survival of the fittest. After birth the chronology of development is child, then puberty or sexual maturity, then intellectual maturity and last moral maturity; that is, the development of the individual human repeats the development of the human species. Evidence of the physical recapitulation or repeat is the appearance of gill slits in human embryos. And the evidence of the psychological recapitulation is the change of humans from reckless, self-centered youth to sometimes responsible, altruistic, empathetic adults. Judgment is the last trait to mature, a human developmental characteristic that causes a wild hedonist suddenly to believe God has called him to repent and be born again.

However, if humans were a river and the river flowed from a spring of youth to   a sea of saints, few humans would reach the sea. Many would end up in various eddies short of the sea. Some would end in the eddy of gluttony, some in the eddy of lust, some in sloth and some in pride and some in the eddy of anger with a disposition to kill. Most would be short of the moral maturity of sainthood.

Cheney is in an eddy of moral immaturity. Twice I have read that he has attended canned hunts in which he killed dozens of ducks and pheasants just for the joy of killing them. Why does a man need to take home 70 pheasants and a few dozens ducks to feed his family, particularly if the   man is as rich as Cheney? He kills because killing is a part of his predisposition, a predisposition similar to someone who is morally retarded and thus sociopathic. He had “other priorities” when he had the opportunity to kill Vietnamese. And he is the vice-president of the United States. Little wonder this nation is in the killing fields of Iraq.

Not only is Cheney a killer of pheasants, ducks and other game in exorbitant and shocking numbers, he is by proxy a killer and torturer of people. Cheney has had more to do with the preemptive, unjustified, contrived and conspiratorially conceived war in Iraq and the horrors of Abu Ghraib than anyone else. Cheney’s war has caused the death of thousands, the maiming of tens of thousands and the torture of countless humans. He has initiated the killing of people like he kills pheasants.

The concept that all life is kin to all other life and that man should show a reverence for all life— is a strange concept to Cheney and his ilk. Man is kin to pheasants and ducks. But pheasants and ducks do not kill other species for the fun of it. Or kill more than they need for the day. They are morally superior to men such as Dick Cheney, who kills to satisfy the primal prompting and bloodlust of the hunter, which was the evolutionary predecessor of more developed humans, some of whom with a strong empathetic awareness and imagination.

I grew up on a farm. Early in my life I develop an urge to hunt and to kill. My first instrument of death was a gravel shooter, an instrument made from the fork of a bush, a Y-shaped growth to which was attached to the prongs of the Y strips of rubber cut from a discarded auto inner tube and to the other end of which strips was attached the tongue of a worn-out shoe. I killed many birds and other animals with it

At age twelve I graduated to a rifle and shotgun. I hunted with the same passion a lad pursues a maiden and I experienced an orgasmic thrill when I killed game. But by age 30, I had no interest in hunting and at age 40 I looked upon hunting with moral disgust. Today, I never hunt. Someone broke into my farm house and stole all my guns. I considered it a blessing.

I attribute my change, from one with a passion to kill to one who is reluctant to kill anything, to my having flowed in the human stream of evolutionary development to an eddy of reverence for life; that is, my judgment matured. I submit that I and others who feel as I do about killing have on our side many who revere life and who wouldn’t kill a pheasant or duck in a canned hunt unless life depended upon it.

It may be that one who is ready and eager to kill or to kill for fun is more of a benefit to a nation than one who has a pacifist turn. But I suspect that Cheney’s irreverence for life and his moral immaturity will in the long run be disastrously detrimental to this nation. Iraq is confirming the suspicion.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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