Deep State, the Fall of the Constitution and Rise of a Shadow Government by Mike Lofgren
Lofgren's Deep State does not, as I expected, delve into the
secretive intelligence agencies but rather studies the mostly
corporate oligarchy, their lobbyists and the bureacracy whose prime
motivation is job security and advancement. Such factions are served
by policies that perpetuate the status quo and resist reform. Whether
these policies promote the general welfare is a matter of
indifference, if not hostility to the players. The CIA, NSA etc; have
their role but as servants not masters. Lofgren's very nicely written
prose is embedded with intriquing and devastating tidbits on the Deep
State, like these:
28 years as congressional staff member I increasingly viewed all
political ideologies as mental and emotional crutches, substitute
religions: for leaders, a means of manpulating attitudes and
behaviors; for the rank and file, a lazy surrogate for problem
solving and a way of fulfilling the craving to belong to something
bigger than oneself.
of the House Newt Gingrich employed chaos, polarization and
scapegoating to carry out a divide-and-rule strategy, destroying
what bi-partisanship had existed previously.
clique of neoconservative ideologues, both inside and outside the
Bush administration, abetted at every step by the mainstream media,
acted as carnival barkers for the most destructive and
self-defeating policies since Vietnam.
told whoever would listen that the “slam dunk” evidence of
Hussein's weapons of mass destruction was weak and that by invading
Iraq the U.S. might be purchasing its very own West Bank on
steroids. The total bill for Iraq summed up to a nice, round
U.S. economy was mutating into a casino with a tilted wheel, a Wall
Street constructed heads-I-win-tails-you-lose Ponzi scheme resulting
in the meltdown of 2008.
twin shocks of 9/11 and the Great Recession seem mentally to have
unhinged a portion of the people and much of the political class.
Thus followed crazy arguments about the president's birth
certificate, death panels and voters shouting that the government
must get its hands off their government-provided Medicare.
new crop of Tea Party freshman announced that their first priority
was to drive the country into a sovereign debt default. The circus
was being run from the monkey cage.
venerable institutions have outwardly remained the same but they
have grown more and more resistant to the popular will as they have
become hardwired into a corporate and private influence network with
almost unlimited cash to enforce its will.
rural counties of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, large areas of
Detroit, Cleveland, Camden and many other U.S. cities, qualify as
third-world. At the same time, wealth beyond computation piles up in
the money center of New York and the technology hub of Palo Alto,
enough to purchase a $95,000 truffle, a $38 million vintage Ferrari
or $179 million Picasso before the balance is parked in an off-shore
are symptoms of a shadow government that pays little heed to the
plain words of the Constitution.
Deep State is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism,
militarization of foreign policy, financialization and
deindustrialization of the U.S. economy and the rise of plutocracy.
tidbit also from the book is that the author is a former Reaganite
whose 28 years on the Hill gave him a close-up of the
sausage-making, which tranformed (radicalized) the way he saw the
world. The above bullet points all come from the first 5 pages of
the introduction. The book is full of them. Here are a few more or
less randomly selected from deeper in:
Kennedy quote, “D.C. Is a town of northern charm and southern
efficiency.”, injects a little humor to the discouraging list.
Ervin the much-loved, Shakespeare-quoting chair of the Senate
Judiciary Committee Watergate hearings was also the author of The
Southern Manifesto, a document urging defiance of the 1954 Brown
v. Board of Education.
who bray about “family values” fail to consider that the modern
U.S. economy is increasingly unable to deliver the stable, well-paid
jobs, medical insurance and family leave that make such a way of
are too busy raising money and looking over their shoulder to do
frequent points during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the
tongue-tied George W. Bush sorely needed the mellifluous double-talk
of British prime minister Tony Blair, on the theory that nothing
sells hideously awful policy as well as an Oxford accent.
the American people did not voluntarily give informed consent to the
web of unaccountable influence that radiates from Washington and
permeates the country, then their passive acquiescence, aided by
false appeals to patriotism and occasional doses of fear, surely
played a role.
lot of money is changing hands, both in campaign fund-raising and
honararia to government personnel whose “distinguished” careers
set them up for a payday beyond imagining for most U.S. citizens.
Obama, for once, sought a negotiated solution to a problem in the
Middle East rather than unilaterally employing force, Republicans
presented a nearly united wall of opposition.
the citizens of the U.S. consciously decide with their votes that
the safety of their drinking water is a lesser priority than
delivering suitcases of off-the-books cash to a corrupt satrap
entertaining bullet points are merely a sampling of the multitude of
mixed joys you'll encounter in the writing of this career bureaucrat,
before he sets down some suggestions as to what it might take to
overcome the latest guilded age. The first on that 9 item list is
“Eliminate private money from public elections.” The others are:
sensibly downsize and redeploy the military and intelligence complex;
stay out of the Middle East; redirect the peace dividend to domestic
infrastructure improvement; enforce antitrust laws; reform tax policy
(to get corporations paying their share); reform immigration policy;
adopt a single-payer health care system; abolish corporate personhood
status. He details those proposals and closes his book on an
optimistic note – We are situated to where we can turn this around,
despite our many institutional flaws and the accretion of ideological
myths that have impaired our ability to see the world as it is and
live sensibly and peacably within it.
a conservative Reagan appointee to this list of recommendations is
quite a leap and exactly the transformation needed for a critical
mass of the remaining Reaganites and fellow travelers, if we are to
avoid social and environmental catastrophe.