“American capitalism, based as it is on exploitation of the poor, with its fundamental motivation in personal greed, simply cannot survive without force - without a secret police force.
Now, more than ever, each of us is forced to make a conscious choice whether to support the system of minority comfort and privilege with all its security apparatus and repression, or whether to struggle for real equality of opportunity and fair distribution of benefits for all of society, in the domestic as well as the international order. It’s harder now not to realize that there are two sides, harder not to understand each, and harder not to recognize that like it or not we contribute day in and day out either to the one side or to the other.”
Philip Agee, CIA Diary

One of the important lessons of the Constitution is that concentration of power is a threat. Checks and balances are necessary to see that power is not abused. We have more or less forgotten that lesson lately.

W, along with his Republican allies, were intent on making the Presidency much more powerful. He reduced our civil liberties, assumed the function of legislator with signing statements, operated in secrecy more than any previous President, acted outside the law, took control of the military, created a false pretext to take us to war, and refused to be accountable to the Congress. Taken together, what he has accomplished is the revocation of the Constitution. Concentration of power in the Presidency creates an extreme imbalance that we may not be able to fix. We have supported strong-man dictators around the world, why should it surprise us that we’re going to have one at home.

It is understandable that Obama has no incentive to limit his own power, so it is no surprise that he has not rolled back much of W’s power grab.

It is no accident that people forget the lessons of history. Media has also been concentrated and it is a threat to benign government. Ben Bagdikian wrote convincingly about this. Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman outlined the results in their book “Manufacturing Consent”. Carefully researched books that tell the truth most always are given scathing reviews by the mainstream media. Notice that the people (Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Baur, Tucker Carlson, …) that Brock mentions in “Blinded by the Right” are the most powerful voices in US media. It has been said that the major figures in US media are CIA. In any coup, one of the first objectives is media control.

Media reshapes our history so that we forget the lessons of the past. For example: Ronald Reagan is a hero even though he expanded the military, all but bankrupted us, busted the union movement, and moved us well along to a two class society. (See Kevin Philips book “Politics of Rich and Poor”). Although our media does not remind us of our real history, there are enough books out there that with careful reading, we can know the truth. A lot of people never believed the Warren Commission. Russ Baker puts a whole different light on the JFK assassination. According to Haldeman, the “Bay of Pigs” was Nixon’s coded way of referring to the assassination of JFK. We had a coup.

What we got was a military larger than that of the rest of the world’s combined. (Chalmers Johnson’s books are excellent on this.) Daniel Ellsberg studied decision making, worked at Rand, and was so disgusted with the rationale for the Vietnam War that he was willing to risk going to jail to tell the truth. What was shrewd about the military expansion was that it was distributed to almost every Congressional district so that Congress would always vote for more. In reality it is a lousy jobs program. Instead of producing ‘goods’, we mostly produce ‘bads’.

We also have had accelerating concentration in the economy. Again, Republicans and the media are in denial about this, but just as in 1929 the economy has collapsed in a way that will make it very difficult to bring back to order. Statistics we get from the government are not very good. Deregulation, privatization, and lack of oversight allowed the system to spin out of control. Military expenditures like nuclear armaments should be regarded as waste. We should have a capital budget. If we do not reject the urge to build an empire, we will surely be destroyed.

The result of all this concentration is that we have a very few individuals who are able to control our agenda. Elections matter very little, and they can be rigged in many different ways. The CIA is skilled in rigging elections. Since we forgot the lessons of the New Deal (Glass-Steagle, the progressive income tax, and the concept of national service for example.), we are headed for a new feudal society where a few people live in secure, walled communities and the rest are in the military spread around the empire, or in hovels.

In the words of Lewis Lapham (Harper’s Magazine Oct. 2005)

..we can look forward with confidence to character-building bankruptcies, picturesque bread riots, thrilling cavalcades of splendidly costumed motorcycle police.

The Republican, family-values party cannot bring themselves to allow expenditures for healthcare, welfare, or anything else that might benefit people. They are fascists.

Although Obama appears to be well motivated and smarter than recent Presidents, can we hope for more than a lucky and temporary respite ? Problems are systemic and require solutions that steer us away from empire, put the economy to work for people, reform the decision-making processes so that we do not go off to needless wars so often, and formulate the measures and the path to a better place.

There should be an outcry for reform.

A Constitutional Convention might help.

(Links for this are at http://www.seconnecticut.com/power.htm