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Mar-19-2014 00:49printcomments

Duty to Warn: Excerpts from ''The Deep State: A Shadow Government Controls America'', a Long Essay by Author Mike Lofgren

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." — Upton Sinclair

Statue of Liberty falling down
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(DULUTH, MN) - A couple of weeks ago, PBS’s “Bill Moyers & Company” (every Friday night at 9 pm – Channel 8.1 in the Duluth area) featured an interview with Mike Lofgren, author of The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. The interview was basically a summary of Lofgren’s long essay that was titled Anatomy of the Deep State (available in its entirety at http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/). The interview revealed Lofgren’s powerful insights into current American politics and economics, realities that function smoothly no matter who is the “current occupant” of the White House. I print excerpts below.

“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 nor 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 shadowy, 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.

“During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal… But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique - as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.

There is Another Government: A Hybrid Entity of Public and Private Institutions That Rules the Country

“As I wrote in The Party is Over, the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal that voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish). President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets: Because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. Democrats controlling the Senate have responded by weakening the filibuster of nominations, but Republicans are sure to react with other parliamentary delaying tactics. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.


“Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can [still] 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…

“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…

”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…

Groupthink is endemic to Washington

“Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of…"groupthink," the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington...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."

“…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…


“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…

“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."

“…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.

“…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…

“…The Deep State floats freely above the gridlock:..drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and…government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.

“It is as if Hadrian’s Wall was still fully manned and the fortifications along the border with Germania were never stronger, even as the city of Rome disintegrates from within and the life-sustaining aqueducts leading down from the hills begin to crumble…

“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…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…

“As more people begin to waken from the fearful and suggestible state that 9/11 created in their minds, it is possible that the Deep State’s decade-old tactic of crying "terrorism!" every time it faces resistance is no longer eliciting the same Pavlovian response of meek obedience. And the American people, possibly even their legislators, are growing tired of endless quagmires in the Middle East.

The Deep State is Essentially Parasitic and Extractive

“… the Deep State’s essentially parasitic, extractive nature means that it is still tethered to the formal proceedings of governance…As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber-stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, and as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly. But when one house of Congress is taken over by tea party Wahhabites, life for the ruling class becomes more trying.


“If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock. Partisan mud wrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda, but recent congressional antics involving sequestration, the government shutdown and the threat of default over the debt ceiling extension have been disrupting that equilibrium…

“So, for the foreseeable future, the Deep State must restrain its appetite for taxpayer dollars. Limited deals may soften sequestration, but agency requests will not likely be fully funded anytime soon. Even Wall Street’s rentier operations have been affected: After helping finance the tea party to advance its own plutocratic ambitions, America’s Big Money is now regretting the Frankenstein’s monster it has created. Like children playing with dynamite, the tea party and its compulsion to drive the nation into credit default has alarmed the grown-ups…

“…Corporate oligarchs such as the Koch brothers are no longer entirely happy with the faux-populist political front group they helped fund and groom. Silicon Valley, for all the Ayn Rand-like tendencies of its major players, its offshoring strategies and its further exacerbation of income inequality, is now lobbying Congress to restrain the NSA, a core component of the Deep State…

“The outcome of all these developments is uncertain. The Deep State, based on the twin pillars of national security imperative and corporate hegemony, has until recently seemed unshakable and the latest events may only be a temporary perturbation in its trajectory. But history has a way of toppling the altars of the mighty…

“Throughout history, state systems with outsized pretensions to power have reacted to their environments in [ways that reflect] the ossification of its ruling elites,…repeating that nothing is wrong, that the status quo reflects the nation’s unique good fortune in being favored by God and that those calling for change are merely subversive troublemakers. As the French ancien régime, the Romanov dynasty and the Habsburg emperors discovered, the strategy works splendidly for a while, particularly if one has a talent for dismissing unpleasant facts. The final results, however, are likely to be thoroughly disappointing.

“…the United States confronts its future after experiencing two failed wars, a precarious economy and $17 trillion in accumulated debt…

The Corporation as Sociopath: Do Mining Corporations like PolyMet Meet the Definition? - Part One

Duty to Warn The Corporation as Sociopath: Do Mining Corporations like PolyMet Meet the Definition? - Part Two

    Dr Kohls is involved in peace, nonviolence and justice issues and therefore writes about fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, imperialism, totalitarianism, economic oppression, anti-environmentalism and other violent, unsustainable, anti-democratic movements.

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