We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. -- President Dwight D. EisenhowerWhen did The Coup happen?
Did it happen when the United States Supreme Court declared that the interests of one George W. Bush superceded the right of the citizens of Florida to have their votes counted?
Did it happen when the murder of thousands of Americans by nineteen religious lunatics at the behest of their leader was transformed from a criminal case into an act of war with Saddam Hussein as the featured villain instead of the son of Bush’s father’s business partner?
Did it happen when Dick Cheney—late of Halliburton—sat down with a group of energy moguls and laid out an energy future for this country that we’re not allowed to see to this day?
Or was it when the Project For A New American Century published its manifesto urging that Iraq be taken by military force to serve as the key element in a scheme to secure the entire region for the interests of Big Oil?
Whenever it happened, it has happened: The United States government has been overthrown by the very military-industrial complex about which President Eisenhower warned us in his final speech as president in 1961.
The Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence are no longer the contracts by which this republic is constituted. Corporations--clad in the armor of the rights formerly accorded individual Americans and insulated by the profits they’ve amassed--have seized the levers of power and are working them for their own interests.
How else to explain the fecklessness of the current Congress? If the people’s word mattered, George W. Bush would be facing impeachment and our precious men and women fighting in Iraq would be coming home or being redeployed to actual battle lines in the war against the criminal enterprise that attacked America on 9/11. Democratic leaders would be offering bill after bill popular with their constituents and daring the Bush administration to veto them.
The majority of the people elected to Congress are beneficiaries of The Coup.
Money is the key to everything now. Corporate officers, hedge fund managers, insurance company executives and captains of industry wield more influence in our society than elected officials, the courts, the press, or—so far—the people. The military-industrial complex stands astride our erstwhile democracy unchained and unchallenged.
Globalization has made the American Middle Class expendable. American workers want health care and safety and a living wage and a clean environment and enough money to fuel their SUV’s and buy Muffy’s new prom dress. Workers in other parts of the world only want one of those things right now: A living wage. As it was in the beginning of the Twentieth Century in America, corporations in other countries can call whatever tune they desire vis-à-vis that wage.
And that era—the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—is the Holy Grail of our new rulers. Cuba and the Philippines were taken in the Spanish-American War to the nation’s cheers. Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, and other corporations were unassailable. Labor law was a gleam in the worker’s eyes. For the most part, the press was an instrument of American policy rather than an impediment to it.
The press—the linchpin of Ike’s “alert and knowledgeable citizenry”—has become part of The Complex. One gets Brittney and OJ and missing white women and the whitewash of breakdowns in regulatory agencies like the Food And Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture inspection services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and mine safety and the Consumer Protection Agency. As in President William McKinley’s era, Americans killed, maimed, poisoned, disabled, or disenfranchised by corporate indifference have little standing. We get blow-dried pap rather than the adversarial, inquisitive journalism we need. The presence on-air of stalwarts like Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, Stephen Colbert, and Ted Koppel are exceptions rather than the rule. Belief and opinion are elevated to the level of truth and fact. They, too, are victims of The Coup.
Pre-emptive war and torture—concepts that American and international law forbids—are arrows in the quiver of this nation’s “War On Terror.”
Mercenaries operate exempt from any law in this country and abroad.
Our Fourth Amendment rights are gone.
The Writ of Habeus Corpus—one of the oldest and most cherished canons of our legal tradition—has been swept aside with no more regard than a horse’s tail has for a fly.
Our government denies us access to information for which our taxes have paid; information to which we are constitutionally entitled.
Our nation’s law enforcement agencies collect information about us without our knowledge or consent and threaten punishment under penalty of law if we reveal the issuance of a “National Security Letter.”
Did The Coup happen when Richard Nixon was pardoned while some hapless man convicted of selling marijuana or stealing a car languished in jail?
Did it happen when I decided that I was afraid of having my friends and neighbors know that I thought our democracy has been hijacked?
Did The Coup succeed when I allowed myself to be silent in the shadow of a mountain of lies?
Will it continue in spite of who’s elected to be our next president?
The government that won World War II and ended Jim Crow and brought millions out of poverty and despair and sent Peace Corps emissaries to the corners of the earth and saw to it that our food, water, air, and land were clean is no more.
Dwight Eisenhower expressed his desire that security and prosperity flourish together. Who will see to it that The Coup fails in killing that desire?
When did The Coup succeed? When did the fox get the keys to the hen house?
UPDATE: Read Glenn Greenwald as often as you can. His opinions are informed, detailed, and cogent. Some of what you read here about legal/constitutional issues has its genesis in my reading of Greenwald's analyses.