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By       Message Danny Schechter     Permalink
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When I was coming of political age, I was influenced by the work of C. Wright Mills who wrote about the Power Elite as a permanent government of special interests and institutions. Building on that, a former President of SDS, Carl Oglesby, came up with a theorybook that discussed the war within and between those elites.

Oglesby saw the conflict in regional terms with the new wealth of the Oil Aristocracywho he called the Cowboys based in the Southern tier, battling the old wealth of Wall Street, powercrats he called The "Yankees.

Herb Calhoun describes his argument, set against the background of the assassinations of the 60's as growing out of these elite conflicts:

"What all of these events had in common was that they were links in a chain designed to replace one set of power elite (members of the old moneyed "peace promoting" Eastern Yankee Establishment) with another (the Nuevo Riche and newly arrived, "progress through war" Western Cowboys). Thus it is argued here that the events connecting Dallas, Memphis, Watergate and the demise of the Hughes empire, are but threads in a common fabric, growing and evolving directly out of the systematic corruption of American politics and out of contemporary political realities.

"Altogether it is thus a seductive and believable theory that says as much about American political realities as it does about the events of Dallas, LA, Memphis and NY themselves. What Oglesby tries to do, and succeeds at it brilliantly, is expose the almost organic level of corruption in the structure of the political process""

Well that corruption has not gone away as we watch the health insurance industry buy Democrats and Republicans alike, as we watch the news machine turn into the fear machine while the bankers turn the bailout billions into bonuses to enrich their already rich coffers. A study by NY State Attorney General Cuomo found that big banks took more out in compensation than they took in. If you call this looting, you won't be wrong.

Calhoun calls it this way:

"" there is no free lunch even in a democracy. As in any other political system, in a democracy too the choice is between terror and tyranny, between Democracy and Fascism. These two poles of political existence cannot be finessed through laziness, exhaustion, or choosing to live in denial. Like all other political systems, democracy also exists on that tenuous sliver of ground that lies between these two poles; there are no angles left to be played. Those who somehow believe that benign tyranny "by their own favorite corrupt power elite" is the answer to terror, have failed to notice Oglesbys crowning point about the JFK assassination: that terror and tyranny are but opposite sides of the same corrupt coin: that tyranny is terror, just by another name, and by other more elaborate means."

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So where does this leave us?

Unfortunately, it's back to where I came in, as a young activist who went "part of the way with LBJ" onto to agonize as he escalated the Vietnam war, as a prisoner of the cold war anti-commie consensus.

Today, war on terror thinking is the new conventional wisdom even though we know that Iraq and Afghanistan are disasters. So why doesn't he see it? The White House is just like Wall Street in that respect: when you are inside the bubble, you don't know it;s there. You believe your own hype.

Military commanders are always promising victory if only they get more troops and bigger budgets. That's the game they play again and again And even Stephen Colbert buys into the surge turned it all around myth.

Politicians also have to watch out for the long knives---from the bankers who want to scuttle financial reforms; the Arms manufacturers who don't like to see profitable weapons systems like the F22 scuttled; the Health insurers orchestrating the hysteria against all reform; the General Electrics of the world who just paid $50 million to settle an accounting fraud case.

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The media remains tethered to more heat than light even as the crazed commandos of the revanchist right won't let any facts get in the way of their suicide mission. (I would like to see Beck's birth certificate; was he born or cloned?)

Like millions, I was impressed with Obama and hoped against hope and history that he was THE ONE, that he would be different. While it's too early to totally dismiss him out of hand after just six months in office, there is an all too familiar stench to what we are seeing. COA, not just COG!

The sad truth is, given what he has to deal with, and hard as it is to swallow, perhaps he can't be all that different. His only 'army" seems to be on Facebook and MSNBC.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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