BOOK REVIEW: “Cracks in the Constitution” (Ferdinand Lundberg)

BOOK REVIEW:  “Cracks in the Constitution” (Ferdinand Lundberg)

by Stephen Lendman

Ferdinand Lundberg (1905 - 1995) was a 20th century
economist, journalist, historian and author of such
books as The Rich and the Super-Rich: A Study in the
Power of Money Today; The Myth of Democracy;
Politicians and Other Scoundrels; and the subject of
this review - Cracks in the Constitution.

Lundberg’s book was published twenty-seven years ago,
yet remains as powerfully important and relevant today
as then.  Simply put, the book is a blockbuster. It’s
must reading to learn what schools to the highest
levels never teach about the nation’s most important
document that lays out the fundamental law of the land
in its Preamble, Seven Articles, Bill of Rights, and
17 other Amendments.  Lundberg deconstructs it in
depth, separating myth from reality about what he
called “the great totempole of American society.”

He does it in 10 exquisitely written chapters with
examples and detail galore to drive home his key
message that our most sacred of all documents is
flawed.  It was crafted by 55 mostly ordinary but
wealthy self-serving “wheeler dealers” (among whom
only 39 signed), and the result we got and now live
with falls far short of the “Rock of Ages” it’s
cracked up to be.  That notion is pure myth.  This
review covers in detail how Lundberg smashed it in
each chapter.

The Sacred Constitution

Lundberg quickly transfixes his readers by disabusing
them of notions commonly held.  Despite long-held
beliefs, the Constitution is no “masterpiece of
political architecture.” It falls far short of “one
great apotheosis (bathed) in quasi-religious light.”
The finished product was a “closed labyrinthine
affair,” not an “open” constitution like the British
model.  It was the product of duplicitous politicians
and their close friends scheming to cut the best deals
for themselves by leaving out the great majority of
others who didn’t matter.

The myths we learned in school and through the
dominant media are legion, long-standing and widely
held among the educated classes.  They and most others
believe the framers crafted a Constitution that
“powerfully restrained and fettered” the federal
government and created “a limited government (or a)
government of limited powers.”  It’s simply not so
because through the power of the chief executive it
can do “whatever it is from time to time” it wishes.
In that respect, it’s no more precise and binding than
The Ten Commandments the Judaic and Christian worlds
violate freely and willfully all the time. Even
so-called “born-again” types, like the current
President, do it, along with Popes, past and present,
and the former Israeli Sephardi chief rabbi, Mordechai
Eliyahu, who advocates mass killing by carpet bombing
Gaza to save Jewish lives.

The “supreme Law of the Land” here deters no President
or sitting government from doing as they wish, law or
no law.  The Constitution is easily ignored with
impunity by popular or unpopular governments doing as
they please and inventing reasons as justification.
Lundberg is firm in debunking the notion that America
is a government of laws, not men.  It’s “palpable
nonsense of the highest order,” he said.  Governments
enacting laws are composed of men who lie, connive,
misinterpret and pretty much operate ad libitum
discharging their duties as they see fit for their own
self-interest. 

It was no different in 1787 when 55 delegates
(privileged all) assembled for four months in the same
Philadelphia State House, where the Declaration of
Independence was signed 11 years earlier, to rework
the Articles of Confederation into a Constitution that
would last into “remote futurity,” as long as
possible, or until others later changed it.  None of
them were happy with the finished product but felt it
was the best one possible under the circumstances and
better than nothing at all.

The document is “crisply worded” and can easily be
read in 20 to 30 minutes and just as easily be totally
misunderstood.  The sole myth in it is stated in its
opening Preamble words: “We the people of the United
States….do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America.”  In fact, “the
people” nowhere entered the process, then or since. 

At its beginning, “the people” who mattered were
established white male property owning delegates and
members of state ratifying conventions who rammed the
ratification process through, by fair or foul means,
in the face of a “largely indifferent and
uncomprehending populace” left out entirely.  They
were elected to do it by eligible and interested while
males comprising only from 12.5 - 15.5% of the
electorate at the time.  Women, blacks, Indians and
children couldn’t vote and many or most qualified
voters didn’t bother to and still don’t.  The process,
and what it produced, showed “Democracy operatively is
little more than a fantasy.” 

The American revolution was nothing more than
secession from the British empire changing very little
with one-third of the colonists favoring it (not upper
classes), one-third opposed (mainly upper classes) and
another third indifferent to the whole business.  From
then to now, the country is no nearer “government by
the people” than under monarchal or autocratic rule.
The latter types rule by application or threat of
force whereas sovereign people are manipulated by
other means with naked force held in reserve if
needed.

Lundberg explained the minimum function of government,
ours or others, should be to insure the public welfare
is being broadly served.  It’s stated in the Preamble
and Article I, Section 8 that “The Congress shall have
power to….provide for….(the) general welfare of
the United States” - the so-called welfare clause.
Lundberg let scholar Herman Finer (with more detail on
his ideas below) dispel the notion from the
constitutional flaws he found and some of the many
“social and political evils” he recounted as a result
through the middle 20th century decades - rampant
crime, unsafe streets, lack of justice, political
corruption, dishonest police, racketeering labor
officials, corporate fraud in pursuit of profits,
raging unresolved social problems and lots more.  Only
government can address these issues and unless it does
successfully it fails.  Our is a long history of
failure overall with only feeble attempts to fix
things.

Lundberg reviewed popular misconceptions about the
Constitution saying so many are embedded in the
American psyche it’s hard knowing where to begin. He
noted the document is called “The Living Constitution”
saying, in fact, it’s “whatever government does or
does not do” or uses in whatever way it wishes.  The
Constitution defines itself as the “supreme Law of the
Land” in Article VI, Section 2 which it is and
includes all amendments, enacted statutes and treaties
made with the concurrence (not ratification) of the
Senate.  The people are left out of the process
entirely with Lundberg saying “government of the
people, by the people and for the people” is a
“nonexistent entity.  The people don’t govern either
directly or through ‘representatives.’ The people are
governed.”

In sum, although the Constitution served many of the
purposes its designers and supporters envisioned, in
light of the majority populace’s great expectations of
it, “it has been, quite plainly, a huge flop.”  That’s
made clear below.

“We the People”

Lundberg destroys the romanticism and enthusiasm felt
today about the Constitution and the revolt against
Great Britain preceding it.  He began by reviewing the
establishment of state constitutions at the time and
the enactment of the Articles of Confederation adopted
by the Second Continental Congress November 15, 1777
with final ratification March 1, 1781.  None of these
events had electoral sanction. “They were strictly
coup d’etat affairs, run by small groups of
self-styled patriots many of whom bettered their
personal economic positions significantly” from the
revolution and events before and after it took place.
Despite what’s commonly taught in schools, most people
opposed the Constitution when it was ratified.  So by
getting it done anyway, the framers (with the
conservative Federalists spearheading the effort) went
against the will of the people they ignored and
disdained.

It wasn’t easy, though, as only by promising
amendments did it happen.  The anti-Federalist
opposition demanded and got the “oft-hymned” first ten
amendments, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.  In
fact, they “made no great difference,” and did little
to dilute the 1787 document. More on that below.

Lundberg explained that most anti-Federalists weren’t
particularly happy either with the Articles of
Confederation or the Constitution.  These men were
mostly privileged property owners (all white, of
course) squabbling over the means to get pretty
similar ends and having a generally hostile attitude
about the majority population overall.  In other
words, everyone was not considered “We the people,”
which is how radical English Whigs felt and whose
traditions colonists adopted. “The illiterate and
underprivileged (elements) were not much considered”
with the “people” again being the privileged male
property owners in charge of everything and out only
for their own self-interest.

Lundberg cited voting patterns earlier, up to his
time, and clearly now as well, to explain how people
are left out of the political process.  Whether
franchised or not, most don’t vote in presidential
elections and even fewer show up for congressional,
state and local ones.  It indicates the will of the
people needs considerable qualifying because most of
them aren’t interested, don’t want to bother, don’t
think it matters, don’t understand the whole process,
and decide to opt out and act like nothing’s going on.
“Although repugnant to ideologists of democracy,”
Lundberg stated, “this conclusion is quite true.” 

In sum, the relevance of this to the Constitution is
that its opening words are meaningless window
dressing.  They neither add nor detract from the
document which served as a “screen and launching pad
for practically autonomous, freely improvising
politicians (like any others in the world)....the
gentry….sustained (in whatever their endeavors were)
by the constitutional structure” they created for
their own self-serving purposes.

What the Framers Thought

This section covers who these men were below as well
as more about them in the section to follow.  Here,
first off, the record needs to be set straight about
what these very ordinary men (contrary to popularized
myth about them) thought about their creation we
extoll today like it came down from Mt. Sinai.  In
fact, it was the result of wheeling and dealing in
likely smoke-filled rooms the way deals are cut today
with lots of real and figurative smoke to go along
with the usual mirrors.  When they finished in
September, 1787, there was no joy in Philadelphia.
The framers disliked their creation, some could barely
tolerate it, yet most signed it. 

They understood its defects, that it was full of
holes, thought it was the best they could do under the
circumstances, felt it was a mess, but, nonetheless,
believed they could live with it for the time being,
hoping it wouldn’t come back to bite them.  Lundberg
said they likely “kept their fingers crossed.”  One
other thing was clear, though, despite
“crowd-titillating campaign oratory” about their
creation ever since.  Not a single framer suggested “a
sheltered haven was being prepared for the innumerable
heavily laden, bedraggled, scrofulous and oppressed of
the earth.”  On the contrary, they intended to keep
them that way showing not a lot is fundamentally
different then than now, and the so-called founders
were a pretty devious bunch, not the noble characters
we’ve been taught to believe.

As already explained, the deal got done with the usual
kinds of wheeling and dealing, and, in the end, a lot
of opponents being won over by agreeing to tack on the
so-called Bill of Rights that was deliberately left
out at first.  The dominant elements behind the
convention were what today are called nationalists.
More precisely, they were “centralizers who were
continental and global in their thinking.”  The
opposition consisted of “localists,” later called
“states-righters,” who preferred a decentralized
government.  The “centralizers” wanted a single or
central national capital run by superior people by
their definition - the rich and better-connected
regardless of ability.  Men like John Adams and John
Jay (the first High Court chief justice) felt
government should be run, in Adams’ words, by “the
rich, the well born, and the able.”  There was no
disagreement on that notion.

There were no populists in the bunch, no anti-property
party, and even the most vocal civil libertarians,
like Jefferson and George Mason, were slave-owners.
Washington, for his part, contributed no pet
constitutional ideas other than wanting to protect the
new nation from drifting toward disunion which, in
fact, happened with the outbreak of the Civil War in
1861.  Lundberg described him as “the very top dog of
the Philadelphia accouchement (the constitutional
birthing process).”  He understood the key reason for
adopting a flawed document, no matter how bad it was
or how the framers felt about it. Accepting it was the
way to prevent disunion and resulting confusion that
might have prevailed if public consideration entered
the equation to become accepted policy and law.

Conflicting ideas of concern at the time visualized
three central governments consisting of the New
England states, middle Atlantic ones, and those in the
South with likely new entries to follow in the West.
The framers worried this arrangement might cause
endless bickering and wars as well as rivalrous
agreements and arrangements with other countries.  In
one stroke, the Constitution produced a united front
against an ever-encroaching Europe and internal
struggles.

Lundberg spent much time on who the founders were this
review can only touch on.  It’s enough just to put a
few faces on a group of crass opportunists who today
are practically ranked along side the Apostles.  But
who’s to say those few were any better than others of
their day the way myths are constructed and passed on
through the ages unchallenged in mainstream thinking.
And don’t forget that, in his first term, George Bush
might have been aiming for sainthood by claiming he
got his orders directly from God who told him to
“strike at Al-Queda….and then…. to strike at
Saddam.” Even the framers didn’t claim that type
heavenly connection.

They did have Lundberg’s focus beginning with
Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s wartime aide-de-camp,
first Secretary of the Treasury and acknowledged
leader of the Federalists.  Here’s what this noted man
thought of the Constitution in 1802.  In a letter, he
called it “a shilly shally thing of mere milk and
water (and) a frail and worthless document.”  This is
from the man, more than any other in Philadelphia, who
was its most articulate and passionate champion.
Franklin, too, had doubts as the grand old man, but
mere enfeebled figurehead at the convention, who also
signed the final document.  He was against two
separate chambers, disapproved of some of the articles
and wanted others that weren’t included.

Then there’s James Madison miscalled “The Father of
the Constitution,” which he expressly repudiated and a
year later wrote “I am not of the number if there be
any such, who think the Constitution lately adopted a
faultless work…..(It’s) the best that could be
obtained from the jarring interests of the
states….Something, anything, was better than
nothing.”  Madison’s disaffection went even further,
in fact.  At the convention, he was an ardent
“centralizer,” but 10 years later he reversed himself
by aligning with those wanting to recapture more state
power.  He also spent most of his life disagreeing
with the way the document he helped write was used.

Lundberg covered a few other framers most people know
little or nothing about but played their part along
with the better known ones.  They included men like
Nicholas Gilman from New Hampshire, William Pierce and
William Few from Georgia, Pierce Butler and Charles
Pinckney from South Carolina, Robert Morris,
Gouverneur Morris (no relation) and James Wilson from
Pennsylvania, Jonathan Dayton from New Jersey, and
James McHenry from Maryland.

Of the total 55 delegates attending, 39 signed and 16
didn’t, but doing it or not was just a pro forma
exercise as only the states had power to accept or
reject it.  None of the framers believed the
Constitution was the glorious achievement people ever
since were led to believe - quite the opposite, in
fact, but most still went along with it as better than
nothing.  The nation’s second and third Presidents,
Adams and Jefferson, were abroad and didn’t attend the
convention although Adams was considered the leading
constitutional theorist at the time.  His views had
weight and were strong ones.  Lundberg noted for the
rest of his life until 1826 he consistently criticized
the document in private correspondence.

Jefferson overall was just as unhappy.  Until it was
added, he objected to the omission of a Bill of
Rights.  He also disliked the lack of any requirements
for rotation in office, especially the office of the
presidency he wished to be ineligible for a succeeding
term.  In 1801, he was involved with others proposing
a menu of changes to strengthen a document he believed
was flawed.  He also didn’t think any constitution
could survive the test of time, unchanged forever,
able to meet all legitimate needs, and as a
consequence wanted a new convention every 20 years to
update things and fix obvious problems. 

Lundberg felt Jefferson and Adams’ main objection was
they had no part in writing it or were even consulted
on what should go in it.  They had a point.  Adams, as
noted, was the leading constitutional theorist of the
time and Jefferson (in Lundberg’s view) was the most
consummate politician in the nation’s history, but by
no means its best President.

The convention ended September 17, 1787 “in an
atmosphere verging on glumness.”  Delegates signing it
were just witnesses to the actions of state
delegations, not as individual endorsers, and despite
their public approval, nearly all had “inner qualms.”
James Monroe from Virginia, a future President, was
one of them.  He voted nay with 15 others that
included important figures like George Mason, Elbridge
Gerry and Edmund Randolph.

Southern delegates were won over for ratification by
strengthening chattel slavery. The Constitution
forbade the federal government from emancipating
slaves until Lincoln acted in a meaningless 1862
politically motivated Executive Order. It wasn’t until
Congress passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments,
and enough states ratified them, that the law changed
freeing the slaves and giving them nominal rights they
never, in fact, had in the South at least for another
100 years.  Lundberg noted the “slavocracy was not
terminated….for moral reasons; it committed suicide
for political and economic reasons, blinded by simple
greed and vaingloriousness, and long after slavery was
abolished in most places elsewhere.”

Who the Framers Were

Lundberg asked: “Who were these men about whom so many
(unjustifiably) have rhapsodized?  Fifty-five in total
showed up in Philadelphia in 1787 out of 74 authorized
by state legislatures.  A fourth of them stayed only
briefly, another quarter checked in and out like
tourists, and no more than five men carried most of
the discussion with seven others playing “fitful”
supporting roles.

Further, they didn’t, in fact, come to write a new
constitution.  They were congressionally authorized
only to propose amendments to the prevailing Articles
of Confederation.  Little did they all know in May
what would emerge in September, or maybe the ones who
counted most did.

Of the 19 non-attending delegates, 11 wanted nothing
to do with the affair, were opposed to it, distrusted
it, and thought it rigged from the start.  The other
eight had various excuses - illness (political or
real), focused at home with other business, not having
their travel expenses covered, and reluctant to make
such a long trip to be away from home and hearth for
months.

Of those showing up, 33 were lawyers, 44 present or
past members of Congress, 46 had political positions
at home, including seven as former governors and five
high state judges.  These were men of note and
economic means who promoted their own financial
interests and parallel activity in government.  In a
word, they were movers and shakers or as Lundberg
called them - “wheeler dealers.”

He described the group as a “gathering of the rich,
the well-born and, here and there, the able (with that
quality being the exception).”  Washington and Robert
Morris were reputed to be the richest men in the
country with property holdings in most cases being
their main component of wealth at the time along with
slaveholdings on it.  Directly or indirectly as
lawyers or principals, these men were an assemblage of
“planters, bankers, merchants, ship-owners,
slave-traders, smugglers, privateers, money-lenders,
investors, and speculators in land and securities” -
essentially a group of powerful figures not much
different from their counterparts today.  With a few
exceptions, Lundberg said they’d now be called a “Wall
Street crowd.” 

In their mind, “The clear aim of the Constitution was
to launch a system that would protect, and enable to
flourish, the general interests there represented.”
With Great Britain removed, a vacuum was created.  The
Constitution, with a new government, was created to
fill it restoring the same essential British
commercial and financial system under new management,
or as the French would say, everything changed yet
everything stayed the same.  Republican government
simply removed British monarchal wrappings to operate
pretty much the same way.  Lundberg quoted Daniel
Leonard saying “Never in history had there been so
much rebellion with so little real cause” and so
little change following it.  As for the ingredients of
the Constitution, Lundberg explained nearly all of
them could have been “stamped with the benchmark
‘Originated in England.’ Only the mixture was
different.”

Further, 27 delegates were future members of Congress,
two were future Presidents, one a future
Vice-President, one a Speaker of the House, and five
future High Court justices.  They produced a
Constitution generated along predetermined lines by
the government itself by “a small self-selected elite
at the center of government affairs.”  They did it in
deliberately general, vague, ambiguous language, the
product of consummate self-serving insiders.  The
“people” were nowhere in sight then or for the later
future amendment ratifications, all of which were done
solely by similar-minded self-serving later officials
for their own political purposes.  It’s always been
that way from the beginning, of course, and is
strikingly so today.

Lundberg then reviewed the political background and
record of the delegates starting off with the elder
statesman in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin, the
wisest of the bunch. In 1787, he was an octogenarian,
attended as a mere figurehead, signed the final
document, but was too enfeebled to address the
convention at its end, so he enlisted a friend to read
his rather notable and prescient remarks to the others
saying:

“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults….I
think a General Government (is) necessary for us (and)
may be a blessing….if well-administered; (I
“farther” believe that’s likely) for a Course of Years
(but) can only end in Despotism as other Forms have
done before it, when the People shall have become so
corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being
incapable of any other.” Imagine such a dark prophecy
at the nation’s birth by a man who never met George
Bush but was wise enough to know he’d arrive sooner or
later.  Franklin today would surely say “I warned you,
didn’t I.”

Other notable signers were less insightful, or if they
were, didn’t let on. Two of them, John Dickinson and
William Johnson were members of the 1765 Stamp Act
Congress.  Six others were members of the mainly
conservative First Continental Congress of 1774 -
Thomas Mifflin, Edmund Randolph, George Read, John
Rutledge, Roger Sherman, and George Washington.

Other important attendees were Elbridge Gerry, Roger
Sherman, George Mason, John Langdon, Robert Morris,
Gouverneur Morris (no relation) and William
Livingston.  Lundberg called Langdon, Livingston,
Randolph, Rutledge and R. Morris political power
bosses or power-brokers of their day, and Robert
Morris was known to his friends and enemies as the
“Great Man.” He was the unmatched financial giant of
the era with Lundberg saying “his brain would have
made two of Hamilton” and that his economic and
political power at the time were unrivaled matching
that of the House of Morgan in the early 20th century
combined with New York’s Tammany Hall.

According to Lundberg, however, this was no “all-star
political team” compared to other more distinguished
figures not there - Jefferson, John and Sam Adams,
John Jay, John Hancock, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Rush,
Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, Patrick Henry and many
others.  Apart from two notables, Washington and
Franklin, as well as Robert Morris, few later became
prominent nationally.  In 1787, Madison and Hamilton
(Washington proteges) were virtual unknowns.

Lundberg noted nothing on record shows this assemblage
to have been extraordinarily learned, profound in
their thinking or even unusually capable.  Only 25
attended college, and “the one man who held the
convention together by the mere force of his
presence”....Washington, never got beyond the fifth
grade.  Franklin was mostly self-taught and Hamilton
was a college dropout his first year.  Robert Morris,
the JP Morgan of his day, and George Mason also never
attended college.  Of the 25 college attendees, only
Madison, Wilson and G. Morris were contributors of
note.

In point of fact, colleges in those days were quite
rudimentary and graduated students at a much earlier
age, often as young as 16, and a bright student could
master the law for a degree in a matter of weeks the
way Hamilton did.  The same was true in England at the
time with Oxford and Cambridge not then considered
distinguished educational centers as they are now.

Most of the attending delegates also had military
backgrounds, but writing about them kept that
information secret.  Lundberg stressed it saying “the
gathering took on the complexion of the general staff
of the war of the revolution.”  Why not, the boss
himself was there, Washington, along with his leading
officers.  In all, 27 delegates served under him in
the war.  He knew them, most of the others, and all of
them stood in awe of him as a larger than life figure.
He was “always the nonpareil,” assured he’d be the
new nation’s uncontested first president.  He had no
party affiliation, ran unopposed twice and got all the
votes for two terms in a process more like coronations
than elections.

He and the other delegates came to Philadelphia,
assembled, did their work and went home in many cases
to pursue “their eclipse.” Lundberg explained “As a
collection of supposedly highly sagacious men, the
post-convention careers of the framers raise a big
question mark.”  Ten went bankrupt or became broke,
several were involved in financial scandals, two died
in duels, one became a shattered drunkard, two
“flittered” with treason, one was expelled from the
Senate, one went mad, others quarreled bitterly among
themselves about politics and interpreting the
document they created, and most switched political
sides for convenience in their subsequent quests for
office.  Washington himself, likely died from medical
malpractice, the victim of a bloodletting procedure,
after he took ill, when he needed all he had.

Other framers began dying off as well, a number of
them right after the convention and at ages considered
very young today for some.  Robert (JP Morgan) Morris
went bankrupt speculating in public lands and
securities, owed millions as a result, served three
and a half ignominious years in debtors’ prison, and
died broke in 1806.  Other framers also speculated and
lost heavily in their financial dealings.

Hamilton was one of the few Philadelphia delegates to
achieve a notable post-convention record as
Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury and Federalist
Party leader.  Noteworthy as well was Gouverneur
Morris, no relation to Robert.  Finally, there was
James Madison who was neither the Constitution’s
father or its indispensable or principle source.  He,
in fact, had no original or unique ideas to bring to
the convention.  In this respect, he was like all the
others. 

Madison did perform a hugely important function as an
“amanuensis,” dutifully and painstakingly recording
the convention proceedings in what historians today
call an accurate and complete stenographic record, the
best available.  It was not until 1840 that it became
public after Congress bought it from his estate.  He
documented what Lundberg called “startling” - that the
convention delegates were “a group of men intent upon
securing various special economic interests” and
weren’t the “philosophically detached cogitators they
had been held up in propaganda to be.”

Madison’s report shattered the view that these men
came together to devise the best possible government.
From the start, they knew what they wanted (at least
the key ones there) and set about getting it.  Madison
was also a powerful advocate on the convention floor
of widely discussed views.  Unlike the others, he had
no considerable property or means, but he lived to age
85, outlasted all the other framers, and served as the
nation’s fourth President.  In total, eight delegates
at most can be considered weighty.  The rest were
“routine or parochial or both,” and that conclusion is
astounding for a group of 55 leading men of the day
who “participated in the formulation of a reputed
deathless document” and are revered in classrooms and
society as larger-than-life icons.

The Gorgeous Convention

Lundberg stared off saying “The constitutional
convention of 1787, an historical event of first-class
importance, was itself an entirely routine, utterly
uninspiring political caucus….it produced absolutely
no prodigies of statecraft, no wonders of political
(judgment), no vaulting philosophies, no Promethean
vistas.”  In point of fact, as already stressed and
repeated, what happened contradicts all we’ve been
“indoctrinated from ears to toes” to believe that’s
pure nonsense.  Lundberg called the main fantasy the
popular conception that the Constitution is “a
document of salvation….a magic talisman.”  The
central achievement of the convention, and a big one,
(at least until 1861) was the cobbling together of
disparate and squabbling states into a union that held
together tenuously for over seven decades but not
actually until Appomattox “at bayonet point.”

As mentioned above, the delegates came to Philadelphia
merely to amend the unwieldy Articles of Confederation
so what it did was, “strictly viewed, illegal.” The
finished product emerged as an amalgam of the existing
Maryland, New York and Massachusetts constitutions
dating respectively from 1776, 1777 and 1790, the
latter one written almost entirely by John Adams in a
few days. Even though he was abroad in London at the
time, the finished Constitution was largely the
product of his earlier work. Of those attending, no
individual theorist dominated proceedings, but two
dominant personalities held things together as its
“living core.” Without the force of their presence,
Lundberg explained, the whole process “would almost
surely have foundered.”

Those men were George Washington, the larger-than-
life victorious general of the revolution, and “Great
Man” Robert Morris, the JP Morgan-type figure who
later went bust because even financial whizards can
succumb to excess greed.  Gouverneur Morris also was
prominent in the proceedings while Madison and
Hamilton, as already explained, were virtual unknowns.

Lundberg called the convention “very much a
prefabricated group affair” with internal differences
over concentrating power in the President or Congress.
Then, there were the “tight nationalizers, those
generally wanting a national government, and lastly in
the minority “states-righters” believing no state
power should be surrendered to a federal authority.
“As for flat-out democrats,” said Lundberg, “there
were none in sight.” In terms of what they achieved,
he called it “Old Wine in a Fancy New Bottle” with a
new name under new management.  The purpose of the
convention was to gain formal approval for what the
leading power figures wanted and then get their
creation rammed through the state ratification process
to make it the law of the land.  On that score, and
after much wheeling and dealing, they achieved
mightily.

The convention began in May, went on through three
phases for 120 days, and concluded in September after
dozens of parliamentary-type votes to postpone,
reconsider, amend, etc. with a document produced and
turned over to a committee of detail in late July.
The final phase ran from August 6 to September 17,
nine states were needed for ratification with the
larger, more populous ones, granting concessions to
the small ones to win the day.

Several scenarios or plans were proposed, one of which
was the Virginia Plan envisioning a central national
government with a bicameral legislature that, of
course, was adopted.  All the plans were “strongly
rightist” or conservative. Members of the lower house
were to be elected by the people and those in the
upper body by members of the lower one.  That became
the law and stayed that way until the 17th Amendment,
ratified in 1913, allowed the people of each state to
elect their own senators. 

Also proposed was a chief executive, a national
judiciary with a Supreme Court at the top, and
provisions for admitting new states with republican
governments in them all.  In addition, the finished
Constitution included proposals for amendments and
much else including terms of office and staggered
elections to prevent too many officials being unseated
at the same time. The final product was what one
academic observer called a “bundle of compromises”
from beginning to end.

Lundberg described the delegates as “flinty
hard-liners, determined to have their way, never to
yield on anything substantial….willing to make
purely political compromises (over) the means of
carrying on government (but) adamantly
resistant….when it came to (its) ends.”  Those were
primarily economic and social, and those were left as
they were when ties with Great Britain were cut. 

Thinking then was much like today with provisions in
the Constitution targeting the discontented.  Congress
was empowered to raise revenue through taxation,
always hitting the less advantaged hardest. It was
authorized to borrow money without limit meaning the
people would have to service the debt. It was given
power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce
assuring the rich their interests would be served, and
much more.  In sum, the document created “was the
means by which the traditional establishment….was
re-establishing itself” leaving out of the mix the
interests of the “common man (who) in point of fact
was going to be allowed to remain….common (with) the
Constitution, contrary to political blarney (offering)
him no bonuses for it.”

Lundberg titled one sub-section: “Down with the
People.” In it, he caught the mood of the delegates as
expressed by Roger Sherman of Connecticut who said
“The people should have as little to do as may be
about the government.”  Elbridge Gerry then denounced
the evils stemming from “the excess of democracy,” and
debating delegates drubbed democracy and “the people”
repeatedly.  That’s how Alexander Hamilton saw things
in his view of “mankind in toto (being) wholly
depraved” disagreeing with Thomas Paine’s notion of
government being depraved and people being inherently
good.  Paine wasn’t a delegate so he had no input into
the proceedings and couldn’t argue against the central
interest of property as a requirement for voting and
holding office.

Even Jefferson accepted this idea but hated the word
enough to use another expression for it in the
Declaration of Independence he authored.  His
substitute language for “property” was “the pursuit of
happiness,” meaning the same thing.  While Jefferson
abhorred that “word,” the attending delegates (Madison
and Hamilton among them) found it their “favorite
(one), often brought to the fore as a matter of
deepest concern.” Also brought up was the “minority,”
but not “any minority or all minorities.  It was the
minority of the opulent.”

The far-sighted among them foresaw a bonanza coming
from the revolution that came about when the states
passed confiscation acts, putting properties up for
sale at bargain prices, still only affordable to the
affluent. It sounds very much like the way corporate
predators planned to pillage and plunder Iraq and have
done a pretty good job of it.

There was also plenty of graft to go around, again
just like in Iraq and at home as well.  Lundberg noted
“the other big bonanza of the revolution was the
trans-Allegheny domains in which patriot speculators
made and lost fortunes.”  The well-off had their eyes
on thousands of parcels of land and buildings wrested
from their lawful owners.  They also wanted to assure
that never happened to them.

Then there was the ratification process itself that
turned out to be a tussle as soon as the Constitution
was sent to Congress. Lundberg reviewed the arduous
give and take process of compromise that finally got
the document passed by 13 states with three others
rejecting it.

This was when adopting the Bill of Rights made the
difference. The ones adopted in the first 10
amendments weren’t for “the people,” nowhere in sight,
but to provide them to property owners who wanted:

—prohibitions against quartering troops in their
property,

—unreasonable searches and seizures there as well,

—the right to have state militias protect them,

—the right of people to bear arms, but not the way
the 2nd Amendment is today interpreted,

—the rights of free speech, the press, religion,
assembly and petition, all to serve monied and
propertied interests alone - not “The People,”

—due process of law with speedy public trials, and

—various other provisions worked out through
compromise to become our acclaimed Bill of Rights.
Two additional amendments were proposed but rejected
by the majority.  They would have banned monopolies
and standing armies, matters of great enormity that
might have made a huge difference thereafter.  We’ll
never know for sure.

Lundberg stressed the importance of the amendments
adopted.  Without them, the movement for a second
convention likely would have prevailed that might have
derailed the whole process or greatly changed the
Constitution’s structure. That possibility had to be
avoided at all costs and was by this compromise that
had nothing to do with granting rights to “The
People.” 

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


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