"As the War on Terror lurches from decade to decade,
will distract attention from far greater threats. Nothing decisive
can be done to combat global warming or curb nuclear proliferation
without American leadership. These, not terrorism, are the dangers
that threaten the survival of the human race." from Geoffrey
Perret's book "Commander in Chief"
In our politics there are four neglected virtues that
could light the path from where we are to where we ought to go: (1)
respect for evidence, (2) tolerance of ambiguity, (3) caring about
consequences, and (4) commitment to the common good. All are
diminished by the ideology of radical individualism and neglected
by much of the mainstream media. As our politics become more
ideological, neglect of these four virtues in our political debates
and media coverage exacerbates the polarization and gridlock in
Congress. More attention to these temets by the press and public
would be a helpful antidote to our poisonous political culture."
Tom Allen's book Dangerous
Convictions: What's Really Wrong with the U. S.
When did we vote or have a national discussion that we must
have an empire,
universal surveillance, militarized police, and largely secret
government ? In lax oversight of covert agencies an evil culture has
grown up that ignores law, and accepts pre-emptive war, torture, renditions, off-shore
the people that created the programs honored. Do you wonder that the US
no longer has the moral high ground ?
Whistle-blowers are harshly punished, and the torturers go
Real journalism is now for heroes. Media is
are bought. The wealthy, having gamed
system, have reaped the gains from an increasingly impoverished working
class. This is looking like a Wiemar moment.
Risk of economic collapse is much greater than that of, say,
the lottery. In the longer run, in a few decades, climate collapse is
If we do more humanitarian relief instead of military
would be much safer. We could downsize our military, scrap most of our
WMDs especially nuclear arms, and abandon our quest for empire. We
might then regain some of our civil
Here are some
suggestions for reform:
Transparency, inclusiveness, and open government are goals.
The way US elections are
conducted, it is a stretch to claim
that we live in a democracy. US
decision-making has become dysfunctional, and we are on an obvious
downward spiral. We should be voting for an agenda,
not candidates. Citizens United has
put elections on the auction block. Gerrymandering and voter
suppression can make the popular vote irrelevant.
Privatized vote counting
untrustworthy. If we cannot have valid elections, there is no
need to go further. (Please click on the word election for details.)
To have a real democracy, we need
election changes. Range
voting could solve a number of problems with
US elections, and would be far more democratic than our current
procedure. A third party would not be a spoiler. Public debate
would be more robust. Notice that it is not up for discussion
We need to rethink the silly race between states to be the
to hold elections, make election day a national holiday.
Presidential primary voting has become a race between States
campaign money and an opportunity for special interests in each
State to exercise a veto.
We need to breakl the two party system. Instant
Voting (IRV) or Range voting is a minimum
and necessary change if more than two parties are to be allowed.
Right now, a third party is a spoiler so you may not be able to
vote in good conscience for your first choice.
The two party system is not helpful, partly because it
suppresses a broad exchange of views, and also because party
loyalty (money) warps views of the real issues.
Neither party wants
the other to accomplish anything, so nothing can get done.
Although it is partly the fault of corporate media, major issues
are usually not discussed leading up to elections. We discuss the
Rev Wright or Rev Hagee, but real issues like health care, falling
wages, shrinking benefits, or even the disastrous Bush foreign
policy, are not on the table. Most Americans really don't agree
with their government's policy, so
elections have to be about wedge issues like immigration,
gay marriage or flag
The influence of money should be
reduced because plutocracy and
democracy cannot co-exist. The market is not democratic. Free
public media should be the platform for political activity. Citizens United should be
Corporate media does not
serve the public interest because it belongs to hard-right Republican corporatists. The two
major parties effectively exclude
all competition. Excluding minor parties from debates has made our
discussion extremely limited. Corporate media agents should be off
the stage. Debates should be open to more candidates and run by
independent NGO's...not corporate media.
Vote counting cannot be
privatized to hard-right partisans if we are to have real
elections. Partisans have installed machines that are blatantly
hackable, and unauditable. Lieberman
was one of the leaders on the HAVA (Help
America Vote Act which perpetuated the problem.
The Electoral College ought to be abolished and all elections should use secure, standardized,
transparent, open source, techniques. Privatized vote
counting is not acceptable for trustworthy elections. New
voting protocols like range voting would make
multiple parties possible, widen the dialog, and make the process
Obviously prompted by recent events, Senator Feingold proposed
Constitutional amendment that Governors should not appoint
Senators. He is right.
We should be voting for an agenda,
Each candidate in the US system makes their own agenda and you only get to
the least bad of them. Most likely, major campaign donors (oligarchs) get to shape the platform well
before the election. Once
elected, candidates frequently do not do what they
promised. We should not have to guess what the outcome
of an election means. The candidates should swear to faithfully
implement the people's agenda. Clearly they are NOT doing that.
They are visibly working for the corporate elite...and that's the
very definition of fascism. Most people
no longer agree with the direction taken by the US, how is that democracy ?
People should decide the agenda, not a single individual or
the President. We have seen what happens when the President is not
Although details might best be left to experts, we can all
that we need to protect the environment,
move toward a sustainable economy, avoid war, and
maintain humane social programs. Unrestrained markets clearly do
not accomplish any of these things.
We need to see that elections are fair. Election rigging
be a high crime, including staging false
We need to be sure that we have, as the Constitution mandates, provided for the
general welfare. Even major corporations,
like GM, now concede that
privatized healthcare is NOT an
option. The US is the only advanced country without national health
care. For globalization to be on a
flat playing field, ours should be nationalized...like every other
developed country. Single payer health is most efficient.
Income inequality, the
extreme unfairness in our economy, is the result of wrong-headed public
It is clear that the US has become
Lobbyists control Congress. Banks that
engaged in fraudulent activity were found too big to fail, and too
big to prosecute, and they are even larger now. Ratings agencies
certified that toxic securities
were AAA. Large accounting firms declared it all fine. Government
regulators looked the other way. But then it all collapsed. See
Lawrence Lessig's book: Republic, Lost.
Citizens United has
the vicious feedback loop in which large amounts of corporate money
game the system and make income
inequality even worse. It is devastating to democracy,
and causes a wide array of social
dysfunction. It has brought the US back to a
condition of feudalism, loosely defined as rule by the extremely wealthy.
Fact is: the wealthy have won, and labor has
lost about everything including the right to organize.
Income inequality and our fiscal problems
can be mitigated best
with a stiff, graduated tax
like we had
when Ike was in office, a substantial estate tax so that the children
of the wealthy don't have it too easy, strong social
supports including universal health care,
pensions that do not
shrink, and affordable education
appropriate for everyone's circumstances. Progressive taxes should burden financial speculators more
heavily than wage earners.
We could learn a few lessons from other countries, such as Denmark
Since the Supreme Court
it: Corporations are
legal persons with full rights. By law, their only
obligation is to maximize profit for shareholders. Unlike people,
they do not have to account for other stakeholders like the
communities, workers, or consumers they are supposed to
serve. Unlike actual people they can move to any country that
they like to find the most favorable tax havens, cheapest labor, or
most lax environmental laws. The TPP
gives them the right to over-rule governments.
Since American markets are not growing
rapidly, some operations are no
longer profitable or legal in the US (for example: the tobacco
Corporations simply move operations to other countries where the
markets are. They have no
to be good citizens, and often they are not.
Unlike actual people, corporations never die, have children,
married, get thrown in jail, and they usually plan only for the short
term. That makes
them short-sighted and unable to deal with issues like climate change, overpopulation,
inequality, overfishing, species extinction, deteriorating
infrastructure, dysfunctional health care, toxic politics. Our
largest corporations are lobbying mightily to be sure that no
action is taken on any of these issues. When profit is the only motive,
expect actions of a sociopath.
Real people are not so free to
move to other countries, unless, of course, they are wealthy enough.
With enough money, you can buy citizenship in other countries.
Since the Supreme Court's Citizens
United decision, Corporations have been able to spend as much
money as they like to buy government at all levels. Corporations
have used their weight to avoid taxes, to
pollute, to concentrate, crush competition, lobby for special
privileges, reward CEOs exorbitantly, expand their power at
the expense of consumers, pillage the environment,
for all practical purposes
transnationals renounce their US citizenship. As Lawrence Lessig
has written so well in his book, Republic Lost, the Congress is now
dependent on the funders, not the people.Control of government by corporations is
the very definition of fascism. There is
ample evidence that the US is turning into a
Now many are busting unions, and
migrating off shore to low wage countries while lobbying to allow
low wage immigrants to work
here Unions have been systematically
weakened. Companies like Wal-Mart, while
relying on the public for employee's healthcare,
do not allow unions. (It is in the
UN declaration of Human Rights that everyone has a right to join a
union, but you wouldn't know that from recent US
Republican deregulation has caused
broad lack of accountability, an alarming shrinking of public
space, and a carnival of corruption. Congress responds to the funders,
not the people.
Reform of corporate governance is necessary because democracy is not a corporate value. Financial
instability and environmental deterioration make this even more
clear. Workers should always have representation on corporate
boards. Shareholders should have voting rights over corporate
policy including limits on compensation. (There is in
Switzerland.) The public and the various stakeholders should have a
The free market is healthiest when there is competition among
entities. Since the US no longer enforces anti-trust laws, corporations
have beeen free to consolidate by buying up competitors and becoming as
large a possible. Corporate rollups create the oligarchy at the expense of consumers,
employees, and other stakeholders. The framers of the Constitution were
concentration of power, but they did not take into account private
Since anti-trust is no longer enforced in the US, Corporate
concentration has not only suppressed competition, robbed consumers of
real choice, and been damaging in every industry: banks, retailing, media, pharma, health care, transportation and
more. Deregulation assures that corporate abuse will not be remedied.
Diversity of ownership should be a policy goal. That is
particularly important for media. (see
Corporate good citizenship should be a requirement for
continuing the corporate charter. Government regulation of markets,
particularly those with few competitors, is a requirement for consumer
financial stability, environmental protection, a level playing
field, and for democracy. The fewer the
participants, the more need for
As Robert Reich points out in his book "Supercapitalism",
corporations are not people. Since the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise, to get
back to basics we need a Constitutional Amendment. The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United must be struck down. A
number of States have passed resolutions to make it happen.
It is a fundamental assumption of the the Constitution that concentration
of power is dangerous. Although the Post
Office was written into the Constitution, media was not comparable
in the 1700's, it is necessary now to beware concentration of
media. Not only has it become dangerously consolidated,
because it is dysfunctional, corrupt, overwhelmingly corporate, and almost
hard right-wing. In addition, we know that US covert agencies routinely shape media.
We need to assure that adequate information necessary for
responsible voting is reliable and widely available. When media lies, there should be consequences. How did
Rupert Murdoch come to own the Republican party and its megaphone, the
right-wing noise machine ?
When corporations concentrate
even become monopolies, there is the potential for abuse. The fewer
participants in a market, the more there is a need for regulation. Media has become too concentrated and it
a clear and present danger for democracy.
Corporate media should NOT be part
of the election process. Prohibit
Concentrated corporate media does not serve the public
Since only corporations can afford
to buy broadcast time, only their message is allowed. Right wing
shock jocks rule radio. They were, and are,
cheerleaders for war because they participate in the profits of
war. Keep them away from the debate stage. Even PBS has been
compromised by oligarch zealots.
The frequency of pharma ads is
stifling useful discussion of healthcare
reform. (I am politely not using
the word extortion here.)
Support free broadcast time for political campaigning even if
public access facilities. It is media expense that is the
cause of campaign finance problems. Broadcasters, all progeny of
major corporations, are a major enabler of fascism. That is
we need not only many participants, but also balance in media: some
private, some public, and some academic, and government.
There ought to be a diversity of media sources that balance
public and private interests. Jeff Chester's
has excellent suggestions for reform. Since video is now the major
source of American's information and most can not create it, there
is a kind of illiteracy that further empowers corporate
Oppose further media consolidation and insist on a balance
stakeholders and diversity of views in mainstream media.
Fix the Economy
David C. Korten's book, Agenda For A New
Economy, has an excellent analysis and some solutions for our
economic problems. Paul Krugman has accurately predicted economic
events in his New York Times column for years, but there is no
evidence that policy makers listen to him. Gar Alperovitz book: What Then Must We Do ?
is the most impressive blueprint for change.
Wall Street rules. Congress is dependent on
money and that is
how, as Lawrence Lessig has written, we lost our
We should redefine the statistics we use to measure the
When we add up all economic activity, we sum both goods and bads.
Miltary hardware only results in destruction. Nuclear weapons,
although a heavy investment, fortunately have never been
used. Such products ought not to be counted as part of our
economic health. They are a waste. Endless war will certainly
destroy US democracy.
'Growth' is not a suitable goal for a
Diamond in his book, Collapse, warns of the consequences when the
economy overtakes the environment. Population
overshoot now threatens human habitability
of the earth.
unwisely deregulated the financial community
and we are now seeing
the results. It should be clear to
everyone now that regulation should be adequate to assure that
speculator's risk is not passed on to taxpayers. In fact,
government has had to bail out the private sector every time there
is a slip. At times the bailouts look like crony capitalism.
"The very first priority will be to restore financial
oversight to the finance industry." FromThe
Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Charles R. Morris.
There should be a well reasoned discussion
of those things best done by the
public and those that should be privatized. Where one or two
companies control a market, the private sector needs oversight. A
free market is at its best when there are many competitors, where
information is available and reliable, and where everyone is
allowed to participate. This condition is rare in the US.
Corporations prefer monopoly.
The private sector is not always the best choice: healthcare and eldercare are examples that
demonstrate where privatization is not efficient or functional.
Privatization of the military is particularly grotesque and could
lead to a praetorian guard. The simple-minded Republican mantra
that flat, lower taxes and smaller
government are always better is just silly. It is, however,
effective in keeping income disparities at extreme levels, removing
the tax burden from the already wealthy,
and making government an ATM machine
for the well connected. Republicans have not made government
smaller, nor have they been fiscally responsible. They did not pay
for the wars that they provoked, they
borrowed massively from third world countries (passing this debt on
to the next generation), and enriched their cronies with much of
Republican policy is always regressive.
They are unrelenting in giving tax cuts to the already comfortable
while cutting programs that benefit the most vulnerable. They are not
willing to accept that the Constitution
provides also for the general welfare.
Republicans seem to think that money is the only problem, complain
about taxes, and vow to make government
but they never acknowledge that most US taxes are regressive and go
to the world's largest military. See here. They blame the victims...it used to
be welfare mothers but currently illegal
aliens. US government, unlike Europeans, seems unwilling to
acknowledge the Constitutional duty to "promote the general
welfare" and, although the U.S. signed on to the UN Declaration of
Human Rights, there is only a very selective recognition of its
The government should, as the only institution that can,
the well being of the people: this includes guarantees of a minimum
standard of living, access to healthcare,
appropriate education for
everyone, and decent eldercare. This is a moral value and lack of
money for these things is no excuse. It
seems Republicans are only
'pro-life' for the unborn.
Even though our distribution
income has become progressively worse, red ink is everywhere,
the Bush Republicans pushed for
cuts for the wealthiest, and didn't bother to pay for their wars. That is a symptom of a banana
running large deficits to benefit cronies. Financial crisis
could occur any time our foreign debtors decide to pull the plug.
It looks to be just a matter of time now.
We should have a social
contract. The very young, very old, disabled and sick (all who
are not in the workforce) should be provided for from the commons. There is no excuse for an
advanced country NOT to take care of its people. Right now
there is a Federal War on funding or providing Long Term Care,
youth are being forced into heavy debt for higher education,
many are going without adequate health care, often their only job
option is the military. A bake sale will not do the job.
Corporations should not be
burdened with the costs of social services because, it is now plain
to see, they become uncompetitive. Anyway, they are backing out and
people are losing what little security they had.
The US made a fundamental mistake in making social programs an
employer burden because, on a global scale, it puts us at a
competetive disadvantage. The welfare state should be paid for with
As offshoring and automation
takes more jobs, it will become necessary to
strengthen the safety net.
There should be an assurance that Social Security will remain strong,
care will be there for everyone. Robert Reich in his book
"Supercapitalism" advocates decoupling healthcare from employment.
Doing this would make for a better population and a more robust
Scandinavians may pay high taxes, but they do a good job
care of their people. They pay ALL expenses for higher
education. Elder care is a public responsibility. Their system is
more democratic also, and their economy performs better. Here are a
couple of examples.
Homeland Security never was a goal of the Bush administration
and we are not safer. They stripped away the National Guard,
directed security funding to red states, and generally ignored real
security risks. The logical result of Republican individualism is
what happened after Katrina. Lieberman was
on the committee that quickly endorsed Michael Brown as head of
FEMA. The Civil Service should be strengthened so that
do not replace competent, experienced professionals. Bush habitually
appointed ideologue incompetents, like himself, to high office.
Everyday security has deteriorated substantially while Republicans
used the government like an ATM machine.
Charlie Savage writes (in his book Takeover) "In August
Education Department researchers released a surprising study of
test scores showing that students at charter schools were
performing worse than comparable students at regular public
schools. The findings were a disappointment for those in the
Bush-Cheney administration who favored charter school funding. Less
than two weeks later, Education Department decided to sharply cut
back on the information collected about charter schools." (This
pattern of suppression of ideologically
unfavorable information was frequently seen in the Bush
administration and Savage details some of it.)
Republican religious zealots damaged US education with their war on science. Dr. Hansen's book,
"Censoring Science", describes the techniques used by the Bush administration to muzzle scientists. It's not
just bad for policy, for general knowledge, but also for education.
The US could easily lose its scientific edge to countries that are
now importing our jobs.
Recognize that Republicans have a stealth program to privatize
education... for profit. It is
heavily funded by plutocrats: Murdoch, Waltons, Gates, Bush, Broad and
Free Software and Open
could improve education at reduced cost.
Finland, which pays for ALL education, has the world's best
Encourage the best professors at the best Universities to put
their lectures on the internet. Some of our best Universities have
done this already, but they need better incentives. Higher
education could be cheaper, better, and more democratic. Lectures
from our best Universities could be publicly available. It might be
an antidote for ignorant, exploitive, partisan, corporate media.
The Republican War on Science, a direct result of their unholy
alliance with religion, degrades our science
education, introduces hateful prejudice into the political process,
makes Middle East war look like a new crusade, and has very little
value in policy making. Kevin Philips, Mark Crispin Miller and others have written
extensively about this. Ralph
Nader's comments on US support for Israeli bombing of Lebanon
is instructive. Lieberman naturally has
the interests of the Israelis at the heart of his agenda, but we
need to be neutral so as not to be the recipients of (well
deserved) blowback from the Middle East. Bush
has made comments that make the War in Iraq
look like another crusade. We need to examine religions
for their role in fomenting war.
Religions that urge violence are criminal. Their schools
be closed, their assets seized, and they ought to be illegal.
Defend civil liberties
internet surveillance, library monitoring, financial record data
mining, all threaten our basic rights. The Patriot Act is
an assault on our civil liberties
and on the Constitution.
"Congress approved and President [sic] Bush signed
law the Military
Commissions Act of 2006, which does away with habeas corpus,
the right of suspected terrorists or anybody else to know why they
have been imprisoned, provided the president does not think it
should apply to you and declares you an enemy combatant... Does that not basically mean that if
Bush or Mr. Rumsfeld say so, anybody in this country, citizen or
not, innocent or not, can end up being an unlawful enemy
combatant? Jonathan Turley, George Washington University
Constitutional Law Professor: It certainly does. In fact, later on,
it says that if you even give material support to an organization
that the president deems connected to one of these groups, you too
can be an enemy combatant. And the fact that he appoints this
tribunal is meaningless. You know, standing behind him at the
signing ceremony was his attorney general, who signed a memo that
said that you could torture people, that you could do harm to them
to the point of organ failure or death. So if he appoints
someone like that to be attorney general, you can imagine who
he’s going be putting on this board." (From 10/18/06 CLG news) Keith
Call off the War on Drugs. It
a sham. Americans seem to have trouble learning lessons from other
countries or from history. Compare results from prohibition or from
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right
form a union. Republicans, notably Reagan,
made union-busting a goal. They have been successful in propelling
much of the population downward through wage cuts, shrinking
benefits, higher tuitions, niggardly welfare, out-of-sight
healthcare costs, and other predatory activities. They also brought
the economy to its knees in the process.
Insist on transparency in government
Secrecy in government is the enemy
of democracy, and the Bush
was reluctant to allow visibility into its dealings. That Bush is
the son of a former President created enormous conflicts of
interest, not the least of which was the flaunting of the law which
would have opened Bush Sr's records to the public. Charlie Savage's
Book "Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the
Subversion of American Democracy describes in some detail the
process by which secrecy has all but kept the Congress from
exercising its oversight role.
We need to have the Freedom of Information Act reaffirmed so
that it cannot be pushed aside as the Bush administration did.
When government is secret, there must be vigorous, responsible
oversight, protection for whistle-blowers, and safeguards for
journalists. Encryption works. Free
software is essential.
"The American people are going to have to say,
of this business of justifying everything as necessary for the war
on terror.' Either the Constitution and the laws of this country
mean something or they don't. It is truly frightening what is going
on in this country." Bob Barr, former GOP Congressman from
During Bush's first six years,
Republicans controlled of all three branches of government, had
effective control of the press, and we had
one-party government. Party loyalty among Republicans
assured that the Bush agenda,
which turned out to be extremely misguided, was US policy. There was
Congressional oversight of major issues. In short, Bush Republicans
obliterated Constitutional checks and balances by misusing their
Real conservatives would want
protect the best features of the Constitution at the very least.
Instead the Bush administration undermined the bill of rights, neglected important
assumptions such as the avoidance of foreign adventures, the
revulsion against concentration of power (whether it be the media,
corporations, or the Presidency.), or the continued functioning of
those 'checks and balances'. Long standing international treaties, like the
Convention, negotiated over decades, were scrapped.
Andrew Bacevich pointed out: There is nothing in the
Constitution that justifies an agenda of remaking the middle east.
The framers knew to avoid foreign entanglements. We should
participate in international problem solving instead of committing
the US to endless war. Congress has thrust
power on the imperial President.
Staying Bush's course means the end of our republic, and it
confirms our path to empire. History
has shown the likely fate of
empires is destruction. It should now be obvious that we are a lot
less safe now. War has become
increasingly more destructive and our fate worse than those which
have gone before. We are, as Noam
Chomsky points out, on a path to an "Armageddon of our own
making". See Chalmers Johnson's "Republic or Empire" in the
January, 2007 issue of Harpers Magazine as well as his three
Repair the Constitution
So far, the US Constitution has not failed completely, but it
over two hundred years old and needs alteration. There is a serious
threat from the Supreme Court's Citizens
There should be unmistakable Constitutional clarity that the President is not above the law and,
given his penchant for 'signing statements', that he is on no
account a legislator. 'Signing statements' by the President should
have NO effect in law. If the Courts do not agree, (remember
the Supreme Court selected Bush for office), we need a Constitutional
to make that clear. Establishing an imperial President will signal
an outright revocation of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court, packed
with Republican corporate supremecists, has betrayed the Constitution
by making government responsive to the plutocracy
and not the people.
The divine right royals in Europe no longer rule. They have
reduced to attending ceremonial events and most of their power has
been reallocated to representatives of the people subject to
recall. It is clear that we do not need a strong-man
Presidency. It is dangerous. When the President is not too
wise, as is sometimes the case, our national direction may be very
misguided. When his advisors are sycophants, there are no limits to
the damage he can do.
When the President is above the
law, then the office has become too strong for the Constitution to
survive. The Congress needs to be aggressive in its oversight and
to do that it cannot allow the high levels of secrecy
that now prevail. The President is
unaccountable in his use of 'intelligence' agencies and they have
been engaged in activities that Americans would not accept. There
are obvious conflicts of interest when successive Presidents come
from the same family. The Bush family has been particularly
Bush has used signing statements, 'executive privilege',
secrecy, and war to enhance the power of his presidency and the
Congress has been only too willing to let him. It should be clear
that 'executive privilege' does not have a place in a democracy.
Records need to be as open as is reasonably possible, with the
presumption that most documents should be open to public scrutiny. Secrecy allowed the war in Iraq
to occur without real provocation, without
reason, with extremely poor judgment, and without public
discussion. Jane Mayer reports that the "key piece of evidence
buttressing congressional support for going to war against Iraq -
was in fact fabricated to make the torture stop." (from the jacket
of Jane Mayer's book 'The
Congress made a grave error when
authorizing Bush to go to war. As Chris Hedges put it:
"A country that exists in a state of
permanent war cannot exist as a democracy." (The Nation:
Dec 10, 2007. pg 6.)
Atrocities committed by the CIA and
military agents can only be carried out in secret.
Although their actions are mostly secret,
it is public knowledge that the CIA engaged in torture, renditions,
illegal wars, assassinations, regime changes, and that its
'intelligence opinions' can be twisted by senior administration.
They trained very undemocratic strong-man states, military at the School of the Americas to
practice atrocities. (See Naomi Klein's book Shock Doctrine.)
Americans, like Germans of the 1930's, are complacent even though
the atrocities are widely known. What should the good
American do ?
In history, a strong-man head of state arises in the process
building an empire, civil liberties are curtailed, the
military becomes the primary resource consumer, and people find
that their needs are not attended. Corporations win. A powerful
elite benefit, but the middle class disappears and most of the
people are in extreme poverty. As the gap between rich and poor
becomes wider, walled communities with high security become more
The President should not be
able to set the agenda, he should
have the responsibility of executing one democratically agreed on.
He should be removed when his actions are at odds with the public
good. Unfortunately in our rigged election process, we don't vote
for an agenda, we vote for an individual and the agenda is often a
surprise. Over time, unreported by corporate media,
the agenda has become disaster
capitalism. (See Noami Klein's book The Shock Doctrine:
video and this.)
Since we have a partisan Supreme
Court, to save our republic it may be necessary to amend the
Constitution to prevent a strong President from acting above the
law or imposing a military
Constitutional checks and balances need to be maintained and
good repair. A President who can make war on his own word is too
powerful and needs to be constrained. A President who is above the
law is clearly not acceptable by any American values.
The Presidency has become too powerful and is a threat
Constitution. Bush claimed to be a unitary
President in a direct slap at the
Constitution and in violation of his oath of office, His
policy of privatizing everything including Social Security,
healthcare, public schools thus removing them too from public
accountability, was misguided, unpopular, and reflected not only
Republicans trademark incompetence, but their insatiable grab
for political power. As the unitary President, he made the agenda.
The concept of a unitary
President is a betrayal of the Constitution and should be cause
for impeachment. Bush
Republican's character, supposedly Christian, includes willingness
to torture, to ignore the law (in signing statements), to blithely
override the will of the people (re-read the Declaration of
Independence for an appreciation of this.) and certainly has no
intention of protecting the checks and balances intended in the
"Executive Privilege" and secrecy
of vital information can render Congressional oversight
impossible, thus destroying Constitutional checks and balances.
Ignoring the Constitution, Bush in hundreds of signing statements,
made it clear that he believed he is above the law. (When or if
this is validated by his Supreme Court, we will officially live
under a dictatorship.)
The President should be prohibited from going to war
the US is directly attacked by another state. The Constitution is
clear: the "Congress shall have power to declare war,...and make
rules concerning captures on land and water."
Going to war, as Ronald Reagan did, in secret should be
Lying to make a case for war is treason.
and do, override the judgments of 'intelligence'
professionals...even though information has been gathered at
staggering cost under conditions of secrecy.
Twisting intelligence should be a
high crime. However it is another tool to enable massive
military budgets, war profiteering, pre-emptive war, and a
Checks and balances need to be restored. Congress,
though facing a corrupt executive branch, did no oversight. Even
though Bush policies were failures, the Congress ceded him even
more power. Party loyalty can trump the Constitution, and it
Bush's father was head of the CIA,
agency skilled in rigging elections.
Recently, covert agencies have become more powerful, the Freedom of
Information Act has been seriously weakened. The US government now
has little transparency. It is no wonder that it is so
Evidence is abundant that Neocons
intelligence agencies until they got the answers to justify war in Iraq.
(Overriding professional 'intelligence' should be criminal.)
"Intelligence" agencies may be the president's Praetorian
enabling his grab for power. In fairness to CIA agents who were
disgusted by Bush's torture and rendition orders, Ray McGovern
points out that torture and renditions have been privatized to
It appears that when the Bush
administration did not get the results they wanted from
'intelligence agencies', they intimidated them until they got it
Twisting 'intelligence' for political gain is
treason and should be a high crime.
Especially if it causes a war.
It is clear that covert agencies are a
threat to our democracy. Vigorous oversight and suspicion is
warrented for government activities that cannot be made
public, but since lying to Congress has become a tradition, there is no
Reaffirm the Freedom of Information so that it cannot be
aside. (as the Bush administration
The law should
require that high-level
officials keep complete, open records. Only with strong judicial
oversight should they be closed. A revised Constitution should
reject the 'executive privilege' claimed by Nixon, Bush, and
Cheney. They are public servants, not dictators. Refusing to
deliver needed information to the Congress should be a crime and an impeachable offense.
Covert agencies are not accountable.
only have budgets that are large and hidden, they have been
responsible for all US wars since WWII and many illegal activities.
We know that the CIA has run drugs into
Angeles, that Afghanistan under the Taliban produced almost no
narcotics but now it produces a large part of the worlds drugs, the
agency has engaged in renditions, torture,
assassinations, regime changes...and it has supported dictatorships
in many parts of the world. If good US citizens were fully
informed, there would be an even more massive change of
There must be some restraint, judicial
oversight, of the governments decisions of what secrets
to keep. The Bush administration's volume
of 'classified' documents was unprecedented, and extremely
anti-democratic. Without a doubt, the Bush administration's worst
abuses occurred because they could keep their activities secret.
They succeeded in neutralizing the FISA
court. They were able to do this, in addition to other crimes,
because it was secret and because the Republican Chief Justice appoints all of its judges.
Information that caused us to go to war
in Iraq was extracted using torture....in
Having failed to learn lessons from history, we went to
Iraq based on twisted information. The same
people, some felons, who justified the massive and
dysfunctional arms buildup in the Reagan administration
and argued in the Iran/Contra hearings that the President is above the
also were responsible for
twisting 'intelligence' to justify the war in Iraq.
Although media is
complicit in keeping Americans ignorant about these facts, Congress, unwilling or unable to access
classified information, has failed in its
oversight of the executive branch. Secrecy will
likely be a fatal poison for the US Constitution.
We know that the Bush administration used secrecy to hide
corruption, activities of covert agencies, black budgets, unsavory
political activities, lawbreaking, ideological falsehoods, and an
assortment of other lies. All of this is
The Congress failed to exercise its Constitutional duty
determine, with due diligence, when it is necessary to go to
(It dramatically failed in providing oversight in the recent
Keep in mind that the UN Charter forbids war without
Security Council approval.
(The US has signed the UN Charter
and made it
law of the land, but it doesn't bother to pay its dues
either.) Except for war profiteers, what have we gained from
major wars of the last decades: Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, or the ugly wars in Central America ... ?
To exercise oversight Congress should open proper
of war profiteering, and 9/11. It also
needs to assert that signing statements are in violation of the
Because there is so much information that is secret and kept
from the Congress as well as the people, it is possible that
Constitutional checks can no longer operate. Clearly, the people
opposed the war in Iraq, while the President
did not. Remember what
it says in the Declaration of Independence: "governments...derive
their power from the consent of the
The evidence strongly suggests that the legislative
judicial branches, having become so servile in the presence of the
imperial presidency, have largely lost the ability to respond in a
principled and independent manner. Could the people themselves
restore constitutional government? A grassroots movement to abolish
the CIA, break the hold of the military-industrial complex, and
establish public financing of elections may be theoretically
conceivable but is unlikely given the conglomerate control of the
mass media and the difficulties of mobilizing our large and diffuse
population." Chalmers Johnson: Nemesis pg 269
Since media does not acknowledge it, most Americans are in
denial that their government is maintaining an empire.
They tend to believe what the media tells
plan to remake the world is in writing for anyone that
cares to look. See Chalmers Johnson's book "The
Sorrows of Empire", Noam Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival", or
John Tirman's "100 Ways...". Morris Berman's thoughtful outlook on
the fate of the US is probably right. See his book Dark Ages
America, the Final Phase of Empire. Berman thinks the outlook
for the US is bleak. He is most likely correct.
The Republican agenda is globalization
for the benefit of
transnational corporations (aka imperialism), and everyone else will be a loser. We
will also lose the Constitution, our democracy
(what's left of it), our civil liberties,
and our standard of
living. (R's pretty much don't care about the environment
either.) They are willing to
sacrifice the future of their children and the well-being of the
American people for empire. What should be
obvious to everyone now is that worlwide empire cannot be supported
by a weakening economy.
Ike warned about the growing power of the militaryindustrial
complex, but most people seem unconcerned for the
arms industry is widely scattered across the country among many Congressional districts. It is a
very misguided jobs program. We spend more on the military than most
other countries of the world COMBINED. As a result, weaponry is now
our largest manufacturing sector, other industries have
bled away to low-wage countries. An all-consuming military will
inevitably lead to a national security state.
(We are already well on the way.) War
profiteering should be regarded as criminal, but its benefits seem
to go to the very highest level of the administration. It is the
world's most powerful military that is causing a tsunami of red
ink. There will be blowback. The arms
is accelerating. Diplomacy should be our response to problems, not
military action. Republicans are war mongers.
Oil is probably at or past peak
production, and it makes sense to
for environmental, geopolitical, and economic reasons. Although it
may be tempting to ravage wilderness areas, it is important to save
unrenewable resources for future generations. It is an assault on
the Constitution that Bush energy policy
was made in secret and not subject to
review. "Executive privilege" in a democracy
is a dangerous myth. The Republican
policy of maximum drilling is
The debate on global warming,
though still funded by some large conflicted corporations,
is over. The US should take an
active role in attempting to save the planet. Don't count on Republicans for leadership
Protect the environment
We should be careful of the planet
so that future generations can be healthy and prosper. We should
consider what our options would be if this planet becomes
uninhabitable as inevitably will happen one day. CO2 will be in the
atmosphere for millernia. Climate is changing rapidly.
Corporations fight to use the environment
as their toxic waste dump. Now we are seeing the results of that as global warming (better termed climate degradation) has shown
in many ways. Conservation is necessary to minimize CO2 emmissions
and to mitigate the near-term possibility that oil
production has peaked. The Bush record on
the environment, as Robert Kennedy of
the NRDC has written, was atrocious.
The more we learn
about near space, the more it becomes clear that there is no other
accessible planet that will support life. Growing population means
growing pressure on resources, and, of
course, Republicans are on
the wrong side of population
mitigation. Take a look at the Earth
The Koch brothers, leading fossil fuel polluters,
are committing almost a Billion dollars to buy the next election.
They want to continue polluting that has already been devastating to
and will will ultimately make earth hostile for us.
We have created a mathematics that can remarkably
model the natural world. Our computer models for weather
forecasting, and long-term modeling like that at
the Club of Rome, are steadily improving and on-track.
We have explored our solar neighborhood finding no
other place where we could sustainably live. Yet, we are knowingly
destroying our only home. We could
recognize the problem and start to deal with it,
but we don't. It is a crime against nature.
There is an extremely slim chance that technology,
somehow, might save us, but don't count on it.
James Hanson, NASA scientist, said the Keystone XL
pipeline will be game over for the planet. For Republicans,
clearly money driven, it's a high priority.
Republicans, now a majority in our dysfunctional Congress,
abolished the Office of Technology Assessment that might have
explained the coming catastrophe. Anyway, they don't believe the science.
They are to blame that we cannot even recognize, let alone
We should support sustainability goals, and rejoin the world's
fight against climate change
It seems we must destroy the planet for corporate profit.
The Declaration of Independence reads "a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes
which impel them to the separation.", but Republicans
have shown only contempt for international
Because we have already signed these laws, it should be
unnecessary to say this: The US should demonstrate
an unwavering commitment to the Geneva Convention, human
rights, the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, the judgments of the
World Court, the International Criminal Court, and the Millennium
Goals for the UN. (It is wrong for an unwise, out-of-control President to nullify treaties made
over decades. You know its right when John Bolton opposes
The rest of the civilized world has rejected the death penalty, so should
we. Take a stand against
torture in any form. See this
video of Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh:
On Human Rights at the University Of Connecticut Sakler
Make diplomacy a priority, not war. Bush foreign
policy has been a disaster. If the US did its fair share in
foreign aid, which is clearly does not, there might be a little
good will and a decline in terrorism. You don't make a lot of
friends with bombs. See Jeffrey Sachs book The End of
We should make the United Nations Universal Declaration of
Human Rights national policy. After all we did sign it. The
reason it is universal is that it applies to everybody. Something
the Bushies overlook.
Assure the UN a reliable revenue stream
To the best of my knowledge, not one senior New York
figure seemed to be aware that there had been a long-standing
Western strategy, led primarily by Washington, to keep the UN weak.
Even during the Cold War, when Moscow and Washington disgreed on
everything, both nations actively comspired together to keep the UN
weak. They did so through a variety of instruments: selecting
pliable secretaries-general, such as Kurt Waldheim, bullying the UN
Secretary-general into dismissing or sidelining competent or
conscientious UN civil servants who showed any backbone, squeezing
UN budgets; and, of course, planting CIA and KGB spies in all
corners of the UN system. All this was well known to anyone who
worked within the UN system. The Great Convergence:
most serious problems are global: climate change, nuclear
proliferation, pollution, over population, ...and we need global
institutions to deal with them.
The UN should take the lead in
international crisis, not the US. Most Americans agree with UN goals.
Like the US early experiments in government (the Articles of
Confederation), the UN has been given responsibility but no tax
base. A Tobin tax would
do the job of dampening speculative international currency flow,
raise large amounts of revenue, and support the UN.
In the US a
majority support the UN. The US does not have to be the
policeman for the world, nor should it be.
Traditionally the US maintained an illusion that it was
interested in peace, but with the Bush
administration the reality is evident. Both official political
parties cannot wait to throw more money to the military.
the spending is wildly dysfunctional (like the BMD).
What we have is a complete takeover of
the US government by the military/industrial complex. Chalmers
Johnson has described the consequences in his book Nemesis.
It is unlikely that we will have an opportunity to vote for a
candidate that is committed to peace. War is too profitable for
A Department of Peace would be a good idea. We should rely on
diplomatic and economic solutions instead of military ones.
"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands,
partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly
because technological development and the increasing division of
labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the
expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an
oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be
effectively checked even by a democratically organized political
society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are
selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise
influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes,
separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is
that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently
protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the
population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private
capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main
sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus
extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for
the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make
intelligent use of his political rights." Einstein on
Politics, Rowe and Schulmann. Monthly Review, May 1949.