February 26, 2014

Deep State, Shallow State, Peak State

Bill Moyer's website has a long essay by former Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren:
Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State 
February 21, 2014 
by Mike Lofgren

Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo. 
– The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871) 
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.  
... Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, such as arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite the habitual cant of congressional Republicans about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from them about these actions — with the minor exception of comments from gadfly Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save a few mavericks such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, either — even to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance. 
These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there.
... Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.  
How did I come to write an analysis of the Deep State, and why am I equipped to write it? As a congressional staff member for 28 years specializing in national security and possessing a top secret security clearance, I was at least on the fringes of the world I am describing, if neither totally in it by virtue of full membership nor of it by psychological disposition. But, like virtually every employed person, I became, to some extent, assimilated into the culture of the institution I worked for, and only by slow degrees, starting before the invasion of Iraq, did I begin fundamentally to question the reasons of state that motivate the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, “the deciders.”

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. 
The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” 
A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. ... After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?”...
The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

I think the concept of the Shallow State (campaign consultants, media, think tanks, etc.) as complement to the Deep State is pretty useful.

And then there's the Peak State (i.e., the nominal national leader) who often controls the Deep State, but who occasionally gets taken down by it, the way Nixon got taken down by a teaming up of the Deep State (J. Edgar Hoover's pal Deep Throat) and the Shallow State (Woodward and Bernstein).

Erdogan in Turkey was probably surprised to discover that to take down one hostile Deep State (the generals) he wound up empowering a new one (the Gulenists).
I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005 and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: All that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the global war on terror and the erosion of constitutional liberties. 
As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called “private enterprise” is an integral part of its operations.


In a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.

Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. 
The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy. 
Petraeus and most of the avatars of the Deep State — the White House advisers who urged Obama not to impose compensation limits on Wall Street CEOs, the contractor-connected think tank experts who besought us to “stay the course” in Iraq, the economic gurus who perpetually demonstrate that globalization and deregulation are a blessing that makes us all better off in the long run — are careful to pretend that they have no ideology. Their preferred pose is that of the politically neutral technocrat offering well considered advice based on profound expertise. That is nonsense. They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, whatever they might privately believe about essentially diversionary social issues such as abortion or gay marriage, they almost invariably believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. 
Internationally, they espouse 21st-century “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior. To paraphrase what Sir John Harrington said more than 400 years ago about treason, now that the ideology of the Deep State has prospered, none dare call it ideology. [5] That is why describing torture with the word “torture” on broadcast television is treated less as political heresy than as an inexcusable lapse of Washington etiquette: Like smoking a cigarette on camera, these days it is simply “not done.”

After Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent and depth of surveillance by the National Security Agency, it has become publicly evident that Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market, but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. ... 

Hollywood has a role, too, although it can also play critic by metaphor (e.g., The Hunger Games).
The Deep State’s physical expansion and consolidation around the Beltway would seem to make a mockery of the frequent pronouncement that governance in Washington is dysfunctional and broken. That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure. ...
The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion. 
We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. ...
Mike Lofgren is a former congressional staff member who served on both the House and Senate budget committees. His book about Congress, The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, appeared in paperback on August 27, 2013.
  

29 comments:

Jeff W. said...

Mike Lofgren was formerly a Republican Congressional staffer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Lofgren

He now hates Republicans more than he hates Democrats. Perhaps if he had been a Democratic staffer, he would hate Democrats more.

Anonymous said...

Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court? What the heck is that? Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

Anonymous said...

One constant mark of the deep state is that power, once claimed, is never given up. Hence, what one president asserts as being within the executive domain, will be zealously defended by his successor, regardless of petty differences of party politics.

One clear illustration of this principle is the frankly amazing continuity between George W. Bush and Obama. Truly Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Of course, this does invite a certain amount of black hilarity, such as when we see liberal democrats supporting things (the power of the president to order assassinations, say)that they would have condemned out of hand during a Republican Administration.

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece, but I do wish that he hadn't hewn so closely to the PC line and confined his statements to what is permissible in polite company: wars, foreign policy, etc.

It would have been more daring (and more interesting) to see him expatiate on the deep state consensus on immigration..

countenance said...

I read the whole thing, and while I think some of it is useful in terms of a conceptual framework, and a lot of it is true from an accuracy standpoint, Lofgren's base mentality is too conspiratorial for my tastes, and too conspiratorial for reality to bear. Another thing which raises my suspicion is that this is on Bill Moyers's website, and that's Bill Moyers as in PBS, as in Washington, D.C., as in the self same deep state.

That, and Lofgren has basically become a left wing kook. Notice his writings since he left The Hill have mainly appeared in a bunch of left-oriented MSM outlets and hard left alternate publications. It's appropriate, therefore, that his former boss, then-Congressman and now Ohio Governor John Kasich, is gradually moving leftward himself.

One more thing: This great man of the people, Mike Lofgren, who sees a conspiracy under every rock and hates the plutocrats that are behind all these supposed conspiracies, is probably for "comprehensive immigration reform," which is the #1 agenda item of the plutocrats he hates so much.

Anonymous said...

I love when Steve just throws out a complete unsubstantiated idea of his as proof of another idea of his. There is no way Hoover conspired to overthrow Nixon seeing as how he was dead a month before the watergate break in. Nixon repeatedly stated that had Hoover been alive watergate would have been contained. If anything Felt was an example of a deep state becoming rudderless with the death of its leader and it's members become free agents out of bitterness for being passed up for a promotion.

Really an appalling level of historical ignorance.

Auntie Analogue said...


Bingo, Anonymous 6:42, you nailed what I too found lacking in Lofgren's essay: imposition upon us of massive Third World immigration (legal & illegal) since 1965, because the Deep State discovered that massive immigration increases its power and profits by disempowering, displacing, and dispossessing the Deep State's biggest enemy: us, the American People.

Sequester Grundleplith said...

Can anyone who wants to call Lofgren a kook please explain, for the benefit of the dumb kids in the back, which passages from this essay are kooky? Do you have a problem with the part where he points out that gay marriage and abortion are distractions from the truly important issues, on which our elites by and large agree? How about the part where he actually seems to feel that the proverbial "revolving door" between Washington and Wall Street is a scandal? Or maybe something else? Because it all sounded pretty reasonable to me.

I do agree that immigration is a very big part of the story here, but coming from a longtime GOP staffer this is an impressive indictment. It'll do for now.

Maxwell Power said...

He is replaying the Woodward-Bernstein mythology of Mark Felt's role. The latter was not trying to clean up the executive branch as much as ply Kay Graham's dynamic duo with tantalizing FBI tidbits. I don't see that as a classic Deep State maneuver but it's definitely a symptom of imperial bureaucracy. Also Felt was already suspected around town by other reporters -- conspicuously passed over for director, etc. -- and John Dean knew via friend-of-a-friend he'd approached Time magazine's Sandy Smith, thus Nixon probably realized who was making deals with Wood/Bern. Of course, to manage the retaliation risk at that point, there was little he could do with the knowledge. It didn't look so simple from the White House's view

Simon in London said...

AA:
"the Deep State's biggest enemy: us, the American People."

I was wondering if that seems to be a characteristic of Deep States, they don't work and aren't necessary when a society is ethnically homogenous. Once a Deep State comes into existence it will promote Diversity in order to promote itself.
The American Deep State seems to have metastasised fairly recently, beginning in the 1992-2000 'neoliberalism' period and exploding with 9/11. Obviously there are precursors back decades and even centuries, but they seem relatively truncated to me, more like what you would traditionally see in Britain or Germany, not France or Turkey.

Reg Cæsar said...

Do you have a problem with the part where he points out that gay marriage and abortion are distractions… --Sequester Stallone

Well, yes. When our so-called élite is pushing--here, and now abroad-- policies like these that have no place in civil society, with cockamamie pseudolibertarian arguments coming from the mouths of archstatists, I get a tad suspicious and so should you.

Lofgren says these issues are distractions from degenerate globalism. But Andrew Bacevich comes closer to the truth when he says these are examples of such degeneracy.

No serious person believes in "a woman's right to choose". And when a 40-year veteran of the libertarian movement declares that same-sex marriage is "a hostile takeover of civil society by the state", I sit up and take notice.

Anonymous said...

What would happen if hypothetically (because I doubt it would be allowed to happen) that a president like Ron Paul came along ? That is he is sincerely committed in rooting out these unelected power players and delivering on his campaign promises ? The conspiracy theorists will say that he will be assassinated or a sex scandal will suddenly surface, I personally think even the deep state would not dare that.

All it takes is for the right candidate to be voted in to tackle this, he could make the head of the NSA someone who works for the EFF for example.

ErisGuy said...

When quoting you skipped the psychotic, anti-Constitutional paragraph denouncing Republicans.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

@Reg Caesar:

And when a 40-year veteran of the libertarian movement declares that same-sex marriage is "a hostile takeover of civil society by the state", I sit up and take notice.

Did I miss something in the OP? Who said this and where? It's a very smart statement.

Dan said...

Does anyone, anyone at all feel actual surprise that the intelligence services spy (in theory) on anyone they wish to?

el supremo said...

RE: @ Simon in London "I was wondering if that seems to be a characteristic of Deep States, they don't work and aren't necessary when a society is ethnically homogenous."

An interesting idea, but the examples of Turkey and Italy do seem to contradict it.

The deep state of post-war Italy existed in a basically mono-ethnic state (Italy's regional differences notwithstanding - although the criminal Mafias of the South provided resources for the deep state, you can't really see it as an ethnic conflict)

While Turkey has its Kurdish minority, the Turkish deep state never really tried to promote Kurdish diversity against Turks - if anything most members of the Turkish deep state were classic Kemalists who insisted on the ethnic homogeneity of Turkey and saw the Kurds were "Mountain Turks" (even if they used the various Kurdish organizations as part of their plots)

Dahinda said...

Anonymous said...
"I love when Steve just throws out a complete unsubstantiated idea of his as proof of another idea of his. There is no way Hoover conspired to overthrow Nixon seeing as how he was dead a month before the watergate break in. Nixon repeatedly stated that had Hoover been alive watergate would have been contained. If anything Felt was an example of a deep state becoming rudderless with the death of its leader and it's members become free agents out of bitterness for being passed up for a promotion."

I don't think that this is what Steve said. He just said that Deep Throat teamed up with Woodward and Bernstein to take Nixon down. That is what happened. The J. Edgar Hoover mention seems like a sarcastic comment on a possible motive on the part of Deep Throat.

Dahinda said...

Steve, There have been many times where you mention reporters or pundits in the main stream media who obviously secretly read your articles. Does this make you the deep state to the shallow state? Sort of a deeper shade of shallow?

Luke Lea said...

I think you need to mention the so-called "donor class" somewhere in this mix. That's the term NYT financial correspondent David Kay Johnston coined to designate the several thousand wealthiest families in America who bankroll both political parties and who, by consensus, more or less decide what will NOT be on the political agenda, most notably trade and immigration. I think that class is also pretty much wed to the idea of an American empire of global dimensions even though, in my amateur opinion, they are naive and foolish when it comes to China.

countenance said...

Sequester Grundleplith

1. This alleged Deep State (and I don't think we can even call it a Deep State in the Turkish sense) is hardly on the conservative side of the marriage and aborticide issue.

2. Lofgren says (rightly) that we're acting like a dying decaying empire akin to the latter years of the Western Roman Empire, then he turns around in this piece implicitly and in other words of his more explicitly bashes and trashes the very people and the very groups doing the most to try to prevent, halt and reverse that, the Tea Party Movement.

3. Another one of his big problems is that, like I said above, his mentality is too conspiratorial for my tastes. To read his article here and extend it out logically, he has to think that everything is tightly and centrally controlled, nothing happens that the "Deep State" doesn't have its hands in. I don't think ours is the kind of society and culture where that is possible. Let me put it to you this way: If I thought our enemies had such a complete and consummate lock on public affairs, I would totally give up caring about politics and public affairs. That I have not and will not is proof that I don't think everything is so centrally controlled as Lofgren thinks it is.

4. And he was a John Kasich staffer? That doesn't say much for Kasich, who has Presidential ambitions, BTW. As someone who was a Senate campaign staffer in 2012 and one election away from being a U.S. Senate staffer right now, I can attest that these politicians know who they're hiring in terms of staffers.

5. Finally, my intelligence guided by experience leads me to believe that great "anti-establishmentarians" like Lofgren are multiracialist, racial egaliatrians and open borders types. You can't be against the system yet believe in the system's most crucial bromide at the same time.

countenance said...

Maxwell Power

Not only do I think that Mark Felt wasn't Deep Throat, I think there was no such person as Deep Throat, at least in the Watergate narrative we're supposed to accept.

I think Woodward and Bernstein's "deep throat" was a grand juror illegally leaking and squealing.

Otis said...

Hysteria and hyperbole are hallmarks of a bad writer. Lofgren makes some good points, though nothing earth-shattering. Having grown up in the DC area and read the Washington Post on a daily basis until my mid-30’s, I already knew all of this. Anybody with average powers of observation and an average social life would have known this as well. You’d know lots of congressional staffers that move from congressmen to senator to Such-and-Such Foundation and back to some house committee.

Lofgren reminds me a bit of Kevin Phillips – a former Republican who basically went insane.

You can learn a lot about somebody by the words they choose. He betrays his lefty instincts by referring to “voter suppression laws”. Asking that somebody identify themselves is not “voter suppression” any more than requiring a driver’s license at the airport is “travel suppression”. Using such a charged term is intentional and reveals a degree of bad faith.

“As I wrote in The Party is Over, the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless” is an absurd statement, particularly from someone who goes onto to lament executive overreach. The Constitution clearly intended Congress to be the most powerful branch, and the House to be the most powerful half of Congress. Congressional Republicans “present objective” is to defend their interests. They are charged with doing this. Rubber stamping whatever Obama wants to do is not part of their job description.

Lofgren is at his most odious with his references to Tea Party “wahhabites”. We’re supposed to believe that normal white people disgusted by bank bailouts and the naked power displayed in ramming through “Obamacare” are the “wahhabites”…and not the people that socialize with and do the bidding of the Saudis – actual “wahhabites”.

His haughtiness is infuriating: “Like children playing with dynamite, the tea party and its compulsion to drive the nation into credit default has alarmed the grown-ups commanding the heights of capital; the latter are now telling the politicians they thought they had hired to knock it off.” Got it Lofgren…you morons that view “a deal” as the height of governing, that spend roughly $2 for every $1 in taxes received are the “grown ups”. And the people disgusted by the self-serving, short-sighted, and naked incompetence of our rulers are the children. He has the right analogy, but confuses the two sides. People like Lofgren are the destructive children playing with dynamite. I have an overwhelming urge to punch this guy in the face.

Sequester Grundleplith said...

@Rogaine Caesar:

I appreciate your cordial reminder about the things I ought to sit up and notice, but I can't understand why my comment spiced up your Ovaltine as much as it did.

"But Andrew Bacevich comes closer to the truth when he says these are examples of such degeneracy."

As it happens, I agree that atomized individualism in the marketplace and atomized individualism in family/gender/sexuality reinforce each other to the overall detriment of society (although I'm not sure where that leaves the "libertarian movement"). On the other hand, the existence of positive feedback doesn't necessarily mean that attacking one phenomenon is just as effective as attacking the other. So when I say that, for example, gay marriage is a "distraction" (go back and read what I wrote, it might help you) I simply mean that it absorbs political energy that would be better spent on a push to withdraw from free trade agreements, or to sensibly restrict immigration, or to reconsider our relationship with Israel, etc. It serves this function quite well, as your comment shows. The fact that our leaders, who are not exactly philosopher kings but aren't complete morons, either, understand and seek to exploit this dynamic doesn't mean that we should take the bait, gibbering all the while about the cockamamie hobbledehoys and their insolent disregard of all that is good and decent. Trust me, they can hear you loud and clear.

Anonymous said...

"What would happen if hypothetically (because I doubt it would be allowed to happen) that a president like Ron Paul came along ?"

Breaking up the TBTF banks and taking the central banking role back from the banking cartel would have a huge effect on the power of the bad guys.

The problem is keeping it that way as the scam is so profitable the banking mafia lay siege to any country that prevents it as shown by the history of the banking mafia's long battle to impose a cartel central bank on the US.

Long-term i think you need either a large number of people to understand the inherent destructiveness of usury or a religious ban on it.

fondatori said...

Years ago, when I was in high school a government or history teacher mentioned John J McCloy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._McCloy who was maybe the top government insider in the middle 20th century. There was a book about him that I haven't read written I think by someone my teacher knew. He was such an insider he was on the Warren Commission along with Senators, Congressman, Chief Justice Warren and Dulles, the head of the CIA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Commission

yet nobody knows about this guy.

Reg Cæsar said...


Who said this ["a hostile takeover of civil society by the state"] and where? It's a very smart statement. --Anti-Gnostic

It was Jennifer Roback Morse at thisconference. She wrote a book, Love and Economics, which argued that contract theory, as useful as it may be to other fields of study, cannot be applied to sex, reproduction and family.

Were I to put two contemporary political tomes into a time capsule to be read in 2114, it would be this one, and Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions.

A white chick and a black guy. I don't believe in affirmative action; it's just that white men have been AWOL. At least on our side!

Sequester Grundleplith said...

@countenance

Fair points, especially with regard to immigration/open borders, which we agree is the major part of the story that Lofgren doesn't tell.

On the other hand, it seems we just disagree about whether there's conspiracy-mongering going on here. When Lofgren says that he does *not* (his emphasis) intend an "expose of a secret, conspiratorial cabal" I take him at his word. For one thing, he (and we) wouldn't need the phrase and the concept of a "Deep State" if we were just talking about a conspiracy. His essay is reasonably clear that the permanent, unelected governing class to which he refers operates on the basis of mutual backscratching and shared understanding. Furthermore, as Steve often points out, Americans are conditioned to believe that any explanation of current events that even faintly suggests concerted sub rosa action by elites, never mind a true conspiracy, is to be mocked and ignored. It couldn't possibly happen here! Lofgren's essay would be a useful corrective even if it were several shades purpler than it actually is (and it is, here and there, you're right).

Anyway, again, thank you for your thoughtful response.

Bert said...

I was never too impressed with Kasich. When he was in Congress he was a typical arrogant Gingrichite, and now that he's governor he's sinking into muddy mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

For all you people complaining about the lack of an immigration discussion in Lofgren's piece, that's what the "commodifying of labor" is.

Yes it's subtle, but that's his discussion of it.