Cracks in the Constitution – Book Review (Part II)

By Stephen Lendman
Special to

Government Free Style

Lundberg destroyed the popular myth of a government constrained by constitutional checks and balances.  In fact, it can and repeatedly has done anything judged expedient, with or without popular approval, and within or outside the law of the land.  In this respect, it’s no different than most others able to operate the same way and often do.  It’s done through "the narrowest possible interpretations of the Constitution," but it’s free to "operate further afield under broader or fanciful official interpretations" with history recording numerous examples.

Many presidents operated this way.  Lundberg noted Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Wilson, T. and F. Roosevelt, Jackson, could have named Lincoln, and didn’t know about Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton and, most of all, GW Bush when his book was written.

A key point made is that "government is completely autonomous, detached, in a realm of its own" with its "main interest (being) economic (for the privileged) at all times."  In pursuing this aim, "constitutional shackles and barriers (exist only) in the imaginations of many people" believing in them.  Regardless of law, custom or anything else, sitting US governments have always been freelancing.  They’ve been unresponsive to the public interest, uncaring about the will and needs of the majority, and generally able to finesse or ignore the law with ease as suits their purpose.  As Lundberg put it: "forget the mirage of government by the people," or the rule of law for that matter, with George Bush only being the most extreme example of how things work in Washington all the time under all Presidents.

Lundberg went on to explain the Constitution effectively confers unlimited powers on the government.  He cited Article I, Section 8, Sub-section 18 allotting to Congress power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution….or any department or officer thereof."  It’s up to government, of course, to decide what’s "necessary" and "proper" meaning the sky’s the limit under the concept of sovereignty.  The power of government is effectively limited only "by the boundaries of possibility."  Special considerable powers are then afforded the President, dealt with in a separate section below, and another on the Supreme Court.

Lundberg explained how the "three divisions of the American government operate under the immoderately celebrated system of checks and balances" with the framers believing too much power in the hands of one person or group of persons was a potential setup for tyranny.  Lundberg believed the theory was false, used the British model to make his case, but he never met George Bush who might have given him pause.

In Britain, the legislature and executive are inextricably linked, a single House of Commons runs the government, the upper House of Lords is only advisory, the courts can only apply the law the legislature hands them, all laws passed become part of the constitution, and new elections are generally called if a sitting government loses a vote of confidence. 

In the British parliamentary system, the government consists of a committee of the House of Commons called the Cabinet presided over by a prime minister elected by his party members.  He and all cabinet members are elected members of parliament (MPs) and can be voted in or out in any general election with all members standing at the same time.  It’s a vastly different and much fairer system overall than the convoluted American model even though, in theory, a British prime minister has much more control of the parliament than a US president has over the Congress with two parties and numerous disparate interests. 

In practice, many US presidents get their way, despite the obstacles, and George Bush gets nearly everything he wants, takes it when it’s not offered, and hardly ever faces congressional objection. The section below on the power of the presidency shows how the Constitution makes it so easy to do with Presidents, like Bush, taking full advantage on top of all the enormous powers he has under the law.

Britain has another interesting feature unheard of in Washington that would be refreshing to have. Once a week, there’s a question period when the prime minister and his cabinet are held to account by the opposition and must answer truthfully or pretty close to it, at least in theory.  Also, theoretically, a minister is supposed to face certain expulsion if an untruth stated is learned.  In the US, in contrast, Presidents routinely lie to Congress, the public and maybe themselves to get away with anything they wish.  They face no penalty doing it, under normal circumstances, with exceptions popping up occasionally like for Richard Nixon’s serious lying and smoking gun evidence to prove it and Bill Clinton’s inconsequential kind that was no one else’s business but his own.

Lundberg then reviewed the labyrinthine US system the framers devised under the Roman maxim of "divide and rule" as follows:

— a powerful (and at times omnipotent) chief executive at the top;
— a bicameral Congress with a single member in the upper chamber able to subvert all others in it through the power of the filibuster (meaning pirate in Spanish);
— a committee system ruled mostly by seniority or a by political powerbroker;
— delay and circumlocution deliberately built into the system;
— a separate judiciary with power to overrule the Congress and Executive;
— staggered elections to assure continuity by preventing too many of the bums being thrown out together;
— a two-party system with multiple constituencies, especially vulnerable to corruption and the power of big money that runs everything today making the whole system farcical, dishonest and a democracy only in the minds of the deceived and delusional.

This is a system under which Lundberg characterized the US electorate – left, right and center – as "the most bamboozled and surprised in the world" and leaves voters "reduced to the condition of one of Pavlov’s experimental dogs – apathetic, inert, disinterested." It got Professor J. Allen to say "A system better adapted to the purpose of the lobbyist could not be devised," and that remark came long before the current era with things in government totally out of control leading one to wonder what Lundberg would say today if he were still living and commenting.

Court Over Constitution

Article III of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court saying only: "The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." Congress is explicitly empowered to regulate the Court, but, in fact, the Court "seems to regulate Congress."  Lundberg believed it was to allow those unelected on it to be blamed for unpopular decisions getting them off the hook.  Congress, if it choose to, has the upper hand, and even Court decisions on various issues only apply to a specific case leaving broader interpretations to other rulings if they come. 

As for the common notion of "judicial review," it’s unmentioned in the Constitution nor did the convention authorize it.  This concept is derived by deduction from two separate parts of the Constitution: In Article VI, Section 2 saying the Constitution, laws, and treaties are the "supreme Law of the Land" and judges are bound by them; then in Article III, Section 1 saying judicial power applies to all cases implying judicial review is allowed.  Under this interpretation of the law, appointed judges theoretically "have a power unprecedented in history – to annul acts of the Congress and President."

Lundberg then reviewed some notable examples of judicial power, first asserted in the famous Marbury v. Madison case in 1803.  It established the principle of "judicial supremacy" articulated by Chief Justice John Marshall meaning the Court is the final arbiter of what is or is not the law.  He set a precedent by voiding an act of Congress and the President. It put a brake on congressional and presidential powers, theoretically, but Presidents like George Bush act above the law by ignoring Congress and the Courts and usurping "unitary executive" powers claiming the law is what he says it is. He gets away with it because the other two branches do nothing to stop him.

In 1776 and at the time of the convention, few in the country believed in judicial review with theoreticians like Madison and James Wilson zealously opposed to it.  They wanted legislatures and the executive to be the sole judges of their own constitutional powers.  Lundberg then said "Judicial review….is just one of the usages of the Constitution that sprung up in the course of jockeying among the divisions, personalities and factions of government."

Lundberg then reviewed numerous other notable Court cases, including the shameful Dred Scott decision when claimant Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom on justifiable grounds and lost due to the tenor of the times. 

A few others were:

— Fletcher v. Peck in 1810 that stabilized the law of property rights, especially regarding contracts for the purchase of land;
— Dartmouth College v Woodward in 1819 with the Court holding charters of private corporations were contracts and as such were protected by the contact clause;
— McCulloch V Maryland also in 1819 with the Court ruling a state couldn’t tax the branch of a bank established by an act of Congress;
— Gibbons v. Ogden in 1824 when the Court upheld the supremacy of the United States over the states in the regulation of interstate commerce;
— Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 with the Court affirming discrimination in public places;
— a number of cases, including US v. EC Knight Company in 1895, in which the Court vitiated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 while at the same time keeping "hot on the trail of labor unions" as conspiracies in restraint of trade in violation of Sherman in Loewe v. Lawler in 1908;
— Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886 when Court reporter JC Bancroft Davis wrote what the Court refused to refute, thereby granting corporations the legal status of personhood under the 14th Amendment with all rights and benefits accruing from it but none of the obligations.  In this writer’s non-legal judgment, this decision above all others, adversely changed the course of history most by opening the door to the kinds of unchecked corporate power and abuses seen today.  It stands as the most far-reaching, abusive and long-standing of all harmful Court decisions now haunting us.

Lundberg ended this chapter with a section titled "The Corporate State" citing what’s pretty common knowledge today in the age of George Bush.  The US is a corporate-dominated society run by near-omnipotent figures within and outside government.  They believe in an "individualistic economy," with the law backing it, based on the inviolate principles of free private enterprise, with them in charge of everything for their self-interested gain.  In a zero-sum society, it means their benefits harm the rest of us, and that’s pretty much the way things are today with things far more out of control than when Lundberg wrote his book.

Even so, his comments pre-1980 observed how giant corporations arose "under the ministering hand of government officials, especially in the courts (and there emerged) wealthy dynasties of successful corporate intrepreneurs, insuring a line of (future) Robber Barons." With the Constitution forbidding "the granting of titles of nobility," corporate titans, in fact, had all the "material substance pertaining to European nobility (making) Money per se….ennobling in the American scheme." 

Gross disparities in income and personal wealth, far more out of proportion now than three decades ago, are largely the result of these earlier events with government and business conspiring to make them possible.  Earlier, and especially now, "successful wealthholders in almost every case had an omnipotent lever at their service: the government, including Congress, the courts and the chief executive."  The constitutional story comes down to a question of money and money arrangements – who gets it, how, why, when, where, what for, and under what conditions. Also, who the law leaves out.

This story has nothing whatever to do with guaranteeing, as they say, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; establishing justice; upholding the rule of law equitably for everyone; promoting the general welfare; or securing the blessings of freedom for the general public unconsidered, unimportant and ignored by the three branches of government serving monied and property interests only, of which they are part. 

This was how it was when the Constitution was drafted, it stayed that way through the years, and is written in stone today with Lundberg concluding "It seems safe to say (this way of things) will never be rectified."  Never is a long time, hopefully on that count he’s wrong, but how insightful and penetrating he was on the constitutional story he revealed equisitely so far with more below, beginning with the crucially important next section.  George Bush will love it if someone reads it to him or this review.

The Veiled Autocrat

Lundberg’s dominant theme here is that the US President is the most powerful political official on earth, bar none under any other system of government. "The office he holds is inherently imperial," regardless of the occupant or how he governs, and the Constitution confers this on him.  Whereas under the British model with the executive as a collectivity, the US system "is absolutely unique, and dangerously vulnerable in many ways" with one man in charge fully able to exploit his position. "The American President," said Lundberg, stands "midway between a collective executive and an absolute dictator (and in times of war like now) becomes in fact quite constitutionally, a full-fledged dictator."

A single sentence, easily passed over or misunderstood, constitutes the essence of presidential power. It effectively grants the Executive near-limitless power, only constrained to the degree he so chooses. It’s from Article II, Section 1 reading: "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.  Article II, Section 3 then almost nonchalantly adds: "The President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed" without saying Presidents are virtually empowered to make laws as well as execute them even though nothing in the Constitution specifically permits this practice.  More on that below.

Lundberg said the proper way to understand the Constitution is to view it as a "symphony" with big themes being like separate movements.  Theme one in Article I, Section 1 says "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States."  Theme two is the dominant one on the Executive in Article II, Section 1 cited above.  The final movement or theme three deals with "The judicial power."

Lundberg then continued saying "to understand the inner nature of the United States government (the key question is) What is executive power? – aware all the time that it is concentrated in the hands of one man." He also reviewed how Presidents are elected "literally (by) electoral (unelected by the public) dummies" in an Electoral College.  The process or scheme is a "long-acknowledged constitutional anomaly."  They can subvert the popular vote, never meet or consult like the College of Cardinals does in Rome to elect a Pope, so, in fact, its use is "a farce all the way."

Now to the issue of executive power covered in Section 2.  It’s vast and frightening. The President:

— is commander-in-chief of the military and in this capacity is completely autonomous in peace and a de facto dictator in war; although Article I, Section 8 grants only Congress the right to declare war, the President, in fact, can do it any time he wishes "without consulting anyone" and, of course, has done it many times;

— can grant commutations or pardons except in cases of impeachment. Nixon resigned remember before near-certain impeachment;

— can make treaties that become the law of the land, with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate (not ratification as commonly believed); can also terminate treaties with a mere announcement as George Bush did renouncing the important ABM Treaty with the former Soviet Union; in addition, and with no constitutional sanction, he can rule by decree through executive agreements with foreign governments that in some cases are momentous ones like those made at Yalta and Potsdam near the end of WW II.  While short of treaties, they then become the law of the land.

— can appoint administration officials, diplomats, federal judges with Senate approval, that’s usually routine, or can fill any vacancy through (Senate) recess appointments; can also discharge any appointed executive official other than judges and statutory administrative officials;

— can veto congressional legislation, with history showing through the book’s publication, they’re sustained 96% of the time;

— while Congress alone has appropriating authority, only the President has the power to release funds for spending by the executive branch or not release them;

— Presidents also have a huge bureaucracy at their disposal including powerful officials like the Secretaries of Defense, State, Treasury and Homeland Security and the Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department;

— Presidents also command center stage any time they wish.  They can request and get national prime time television for any purpose with guaranteed extensive post-appearance coverage promoting his message with nary a disagreement with it on any issue;

— throughout history, going back to George Washington, Presidents have issued Executive Orders (EOs) although the Constitution "nowhere implicitly or explicitly gives a President (the) power (to make) new law" by issuing "one-man, often far-reaching" EOs. However, as Lundberg explained above, the President has so much power he’s virtually able to do whatever he wishes, the only constraint on him being himself and how he chooses to govern.

— George Bush also usurped "Unitary Executive" power to brazenly and openly declare what this section makes clear – that the law is what he says it is. He proved his intent in six and a half years in office by subverting congressional legislation through his record-breaking number of unconstitutional "signing statements" – affecting over 1132 law provisions through 147 separate "statements," more than all previous Presidents combined.  In so doing, he expanded presidential power even beyond the usual practices recounted above.

— Presidents are, in fact, empowered to do almost anything not expressively forbidden in the Constitution, and very little there is; more importantly, with a little ingenuity and a lot of license and chutzpah, the President "can make almost any (constitutional) text mean whatever (he) wants it to mean" so, in fact, his authority is practically absolute or plenary.  And the Supreme Court supports this notion as an "inherent power of sovereignty," according to Lundberg. He explained, if the US has sovereignty, it has all powers therein, and the President, as the sole executive, can exercise them freely without constitutional authorization or restraint.

In effect, "the President….is virtually a sovereign in his own person." Compared to the power of the President, Congress is mostly "a paper tiger, easily soothed or repulsed."  The courts, as well, can be gotten around with a little creative exercise of presidential power, and in the case of George Bush, at times just ignoring their decisions when they disagree with his.  As Lundberg put it: "One should never under-estimate the power of the President….nor over-estimate that of the Supreme Court.  The supposed system of equitable checks and balances does not exist in fact (because Congress and the courts don’t effectively use their constitutional authority)….the separation in the Constitution between legislative and the executive is wholly artificial."

Further, it’s pure myth that the government is constrained by limited powers.  Quite the opposite is true "which at the point of execution (reside in) one man," the President. In addition, "Until the American electorate creates effective political parties (which it never has done), Congress….will always be pretty much under (Presidents’) thumb(s)."  Under the "American constitutional system (the President) is very much a de facto king."

Lundberg cited examples such as Franklin Roosevelt, considered one of the nation’s three greatest Presidents along with Lincoln and Washington.  He "waged (illegal) naval warfare against Germany before Pearl Harbor."  During the war, he stretched his powers to the limit and functioned as a dictator. Truman atom-bombed Japan twice gratuitously and criminally with the war over and the Japanese negotiating surrender. He also went around Congress to wage a war of aggression on North Korea when its forces attacked the South after repeated US-directed southern incursions against the North.  Lyndon Johnson attacked North Vietnam February 7, 1965 using the contrived August, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution as justification even though there was none.  The examples are endless, Presidents take full advantage, and nearly always get away with it.

The only thing Presidents can’t do, in theory, is openly violate the law.  But since he can interpret it creatively, it’s up to Congress and the High Court to hold him to account, and that rarely happens.  Nixon was forced to resign to avoid impeachment because there was smoking gun evidence on tape to convict him on top of his being roundly disliked making it easier to act.  But what he did overall wasn’t unusual except that he paid the price for it. 

As Lundberg put it, "highhandedness, unpalatable doings (and) scandals" are part and parcel of politics from top to bottom in the system at all levels of government.  Jethro Lieberman showed this type behavior "is a steady occupation at every level of government" in his pre-Watergate book – "How the Government Breaks the Law."  At the executive level, he showed government proceeds "pretty much ad libitum outside the stipulated rules at all levels."  In other words, the nation was always infested with Nixons at all levels, but most got away with their offenses and today that’s truer than ever.

As for impeaching and convicting a President for malfeasance, Article II, Section 4 states it can only be for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." Based on the historical record, it’s near-impossible to do with no President ever having been removed from office this way, and only two were impeached, both unjustly. 

Lundberg quoted John Adams on this issue saying he was right believing it would take a national convulsion to remove a President by impeachment, it hasn’t happened up to now, which is not to say it never will with no President more deserving of the "distinction" than the current sitting one who almost makes Richard Nixon look saintly by comparison.  It’s long past the time to smash the inviolate notion of presidential invincibility, and given the growing groundswell, it could happen against all odds. If it does, it will be a first, and if he were still living, it would also make Lundberg rethink his final comment on the subject that it’s "virtually impossible to remove a President (and) His security in office….is but one facet of his power." Still remember, an exception, when it happens, only proves the rule, so Lundberg’s assessment is still valid.

Presidential power since WW II is also reinforced by their own private army through the vast US intelligence apparatus and much more.  The CIA is part of it and today functions mainly as a presidential praetorian guard and global mafia-style hit squad operating freely outside the law as a powerful rogue agency backed by an undisclosed budget likely topping $50 billion annually.  And since January, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security functions as a national Gestapo about as free to do as it pleases as CIA that also operates outside its mandate on US soil along with the equally repressive FBI. They mainly target disaffected political groups and individuals publicly standing against government policies with enough influence to make a difference.

The Risks in One-Man Rule

Lundberg quoted noted political scientist Herman Finer (1898 – 1969) again reinforcing what’s covered above that "there is (virtually) no limit to the Chief Executive’s power." In six and a half years in office, George Bush proved he was right and then some.  Finer, even in an earlier less complex era, portrayed the President as overweighted with responsibilities while having enough concentrated power in his hands to make irresponsible, rash or dangerous decisions with potentially immense repercussions. 

Finer proposed a way to improve the presidency by relieving one man of more responsibility than anyone can handle alone and minimize incompetency or villainy at the same time.  His idea was for a collective and supportive leadership formed around the President, including a cabinet of 11 Vice-Presidents elected in combination with the chief executive every four years.

The framers structured the government to frustrate and confuse the electorate.  They did it through staggered elections to avoid a clearly visible line of authority as well as maintain a continuity of governance whatever else the public might prefer. Finer wanted to correct these kinds of faults in the current system.  He also understood that Presidents are plucked out of almost anywhere because of their perceived electability, not from their ability to govern effectively in an office enough to overwhelm anyone no matter how able and dedicated. 

His idea was for Presidents and Vice-Presidents to be required to have served in either house of Congress a minimum four years to learn how Washington operates that can be quite different from a state or the military where former generals of note, like Dwight Eisenhower and others, went on to become very ordinary or failed Presidents.  Only George Washington was the exception proving the rule, and being a new nation’s first President (governing a population smaller than Chicago today) was quite different from how things are now.

Finer also wanted the President and his cabinet to sit in the House of Representatives to make them more visible and responsible like the British model.  His main concern was that too much responsibility lay with one man, with too much power to discharge it, and far too often that man turns out to be incompetent, venal or both. Under the present system, the President is near-omnipotent, operates in secrecy, is most often the wrong one chosen, and is able to spring surprises at will, often with potentially disastrous implications like today under George Bush.

He was also concerned about Presidents having secret ailments, impediments or becoming seriously ill enough to be unable to govern yet still be able to retain the power of the office.  Woodrow Wilson was a case in point as he suffered a severe stroke and paralysis on his left side 17 months before his second term of office expired.  His principle biographer said he was "either gravely ill (his last year in office) or severely incapacitated at the time the country needed his leadership most." 

Wilson never should have been allowed to run at all as it was known seven years earlier he was a bad health risk.  He did it because the information was concealed from the public even though Wilson himself thought he might die at any moment, was blind in one eye, suffered episodes of depression, dyspepsia, colds, headaches, dizziness and feelings of dullness and numbness in one hand the result of diseased nerves.  In short, he was a physical and emotional basket case running the country and unable to do it much of the time and not all late in his second term.

Franklin Roosevelt is another prime example.  At age 39, eleven years before being elected President, he was stricken with what was thought to be polio and was permanently paralyzed from the waist down.  Yet, he  kept his condition secret and (before the age of television) was never photographed in a wheelchair in public.  In his third term, he was advised not to run for a fourth time because of his health.  He did, of course, and won, but in 1941 his blood pressure was high and rising, his heart was enlarged, and he suffered from congestive heart failure from which he finally expired in April, 1945.  By early 1944, he was in marked decline and a dying man. 

With the most calamitous war in history in its late stages and the power of the chief executive most needed, Lundberg described FDR as "a burned-out matchstick" barely able to function. It showed in some of his irrational decisions at the end.  Yet, he was still in charge as commander-in-chief and the most powerful leader on earth as the war in Europe and Asia still raged, and he alone was calling the shots. 

With future Presidents just as vulnerable to serious health problems, Lundberg’s view was as the presidency is now structured, "the American people are sitting on a bomb….likely to explode (unexpectedly) at any moment."  The problem, he said, isn’t just about an imperial presidency, but an "anarchic," "wild-cat" or "Protean" one under which "anything can happen." Drawing an analogy to a modern-day corporation, he explained the obvious.  No large publicly-owned corporation would ever operate this way.  It would never put its chips on a single person or "choose its chief executive (as) nonchalantly as does the United States."

Wilson and Roosevelt weren’t the only Presidents who served in office while experiencing serious illness.  Eisenhower suffered two heart attacks along with other health problems, and Kennedy "was a walking bundle of ailments" with much of it concealed.  Lyndon Johnson, as well, was in trouble from the start, suffered a massive heart attack before winning national office, and (unknown to the public) was never judged physically or mentally sound while President.

His actions proved it and give pause to what may be afflicting George Bush, kept secret from the public. A disastrous six and a half year record conclusively shows this man is unfit to serve in the nation’s highest office or in any responsible capacity.  Because he’s there taking full advantage, all humanity is held hostage to what’s coming next at the hands of a venal, incompetent and possibly mentally unbalanced or deranged US chief executive.

For all the above-stated reasons along with the examples just cited, Finer believed the office of the President was ill-structured and should be drastically changed for the betterment of the country (and all humanity).  As far as achieving any of what he proposed or any other type broad brush makeover of the system, Lundberg believed it’s near-impossible. Doing it would involve amending the Constitution and in a wholesale way.  With certain opposition in enough states, there’s almost no chance these type changes can happen.

How did this happen, and were the framers at fault, Lundberg asks?  To some degree, but not entirely. It’s pure fantasy to imagine any group of men, even if they’d been the most talented and far-sighted, could have met in 1787 to produce a Constitution, elaborate, detailed and ingenious enough to "anticipate and provide for every facet and contingency of the nation" that would eventually encompass 50 states and grow to a diverse population exceeding 300 million.  It was impossible then and now everywhere.  Furthermore, they made the amending process extremely hard to do even though it was subsequently accomplished 17 times after the Bill of Rights was added to get the Constitution ratified in the first place.

At a much simpler time, the framers didn’t understand that governments fundamentally act in their own self-interest whatever the law says.  The Constitution complicates it for them by consisting of a "set of incomplete prescriptions, ostensibly frozen in time except as subject to an almost impossible amending process."  So to get around the problem or ignore it, governments function ad libitum with one man at the top calling the shots even though this isn’t what the framers had in mind. 

So all the "patriotic praise….heaped upon the Constitution in schoolbooks….is simple nonsense, pap."  How well the country is served at any time depends on the pure luck of the draw to get a really first-rate capable leader as President.  It rarely happens, and Lundberg cites only the three example of Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt.  None of the others matched them, and far too many were abysmal failures or worse with one candidate just cited standing out prominently as the overwhelming choice for the worst and most dangerous ever.

On top of all the other flaws and faults, "the people" were deliberately and willfully left out of the process proving "democracy is not recognized in the Constitution," shocking as that notion is to most people reading these words.  Lundberg had hopes, however, that a future time would come that would embrace constitutional improvement on a significant scale. As he put it, this document, "as it stands, is by no means the system the United States is ultimately fated to embrace (forever). For there is a great deal of room for improvement – a great deal" (indeed, and then some).

A Renewed Call for a Second Convention

With the need so much greater now than 30 years ago, in the age of George Bush, it’s time we went about the process Lundberg advocated in the title of this section.  Doing it, however, is infinitely harder than achieving relatively simpler amendment tinkering here and there, even though Article V allows for such a procedure. With everything in mind from what’s covered above, it’s easy to believe, whatever the Constitution allows, convening a convention for constitutional change is near-impossible given the way the country is now run, by whom and most importantly for whom – the immensely powerful monied interests sitting in corporate boardrooms running the country, the world and our lives.

They’ve got everything arranged their way, it’s taken decades to get it, they engineer elections to get the best "democracy" they can buy, and it always turns out that way, more or less.  The bankers and Wall Street even own the Federal Reserve giving them the most powerful instrument of government – the right to print and control the nation’s money supply and charge interest on it.  By so doing, the government (and the public) must pay interest on its own money that wouldn’t happen if it printed its own as Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says only the government can do.

It relinquished that power when Woodrow Wilson betrayed the public by signing the most disastrous piece of legislation in the nation’s history willfully after Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act in the dead of night December 23, 1913 with many of its members away for the holiday and most others unaware of what, in fact, they were signing.

Today, with a virtual stranglehold on state power, in league with Democrat and Republican governments in their pockets, why would corporate giants ever give up what took so long for them to get. They never will, Lundberg knew it, too, and said the chance for real change from a second convention "is almost nil….if (these pages) have shown anything, (it’s clear as day) the government (backed by the power of money) controls the Constitution," not the other way around or "the people" either, left out completely from the start.

Lundberg didn’t say it but surely believed achieving the kinds of democratic changes he wanted would have to come from the bottom up.  Only an aroused public, en masse and undeterred, fed up with the state of things and committed can make it happen. Impossible as it seems, history at times surprises, and if it does this time, it will be the greatest one ever….and not a moment too soon.

-Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen Saturdays to the Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on at noon US central time.

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