Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Excerpts of Mike Lofgren's Essay "Anatomy of the Deep State" Interspersed with Unrelated Pictures from My Weekend Bike Rides

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial as seen from the backside near sunset, Alexandria, Va., 5:45PM Oct. 18, 2014.

I actually went inside the place for the first time, at least into the foyer. Anyway, the bulk of the pictures in this entry were taken on my Saturday and Sunday bike rides and have nothing to do with the entry topic but rather are just there to break up the text.

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Exhausted tonight.

I made it to the gym, although unlike my Friday workout, this one wasn't so stellar, in particular the weight-lifting part. It was mediocre at best. I also skipped the pool. However, I got in the usual 1-hour treadmill jog. Yes, an hour.

I'm home now after dinner and "nesting" and watching TV (reruns of The Golden Girls on Hallmark, which is soon to switch into its interminable "Countdown to Christmas" holiday movie marathon, which probably marks a good point for me to get rid of my cable TV since I watch so few other channels these days and two that I sometimes do (Antenna TV and Me-TV are both digital over-the-air available here in D.C.).

"Welcome to Washington, D.C." sign on the Rosslyn, Arlington side of the Key Bridge heading into D.C., 6:16PM Oct. 19, 2014.

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In lieu of attempting to finish / smooth over the sprawling draft entry I started on Friday night and continued on Sunday, I'll just return to the topic I mentioned briefly in my previous entry, namely, the seminal essay by former GOP Congressional analyst and author Mike Lofgren that appeared on Bill Moyers' must-read website last February (link embedded):

This picture accompanied the essay on Moyers' site.

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By Mike Lofgren / Feb. 21, 2014

To elaborate on this, Lofgren discusses the paradoxical situation arising from what he terms the "Deep State" (a term that apparently comes from Turkey) whereby we have an awesomely powerful U.S. President that can unilaterally start wars, bomb and "drone" essentially any country at will, assassinate U.S. citizens, wiretap and "data mine" everyone and everything, and in general just sits atop an astonishing military / industrial / surveillance state complex, yet simultaneously this same person is wholly and painfully ineffectual on anything domestic that would make the country a better place and instead is this sort of pathetic figure caught up a political atmosphere so toxic and polarized that (thanks to the crazy radicalism of today's Republican Party) our parliamentary system approaching banana republic status.

The suburban-tranquil corner units of The Pavilion condominium complex along Haycock Road right next to the West Falls Church Metro, Falls Church, Va., 4:17PM Oct. 18, 2014.

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As Lofgren describes it, the "Deep State" is:

"[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."

A large house at 2309 Grove Avenue in Falls Church, Va., 4:19Pm Oct. 18, 2014.

Not visible in this image, there was a Halloween decoration on the porch featuring death or some sort of spooky hooded figure in all black.

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Continuing:

"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."

Sunset view from the steps of the George Washington Masonic National Museum looking to the northeast across Alexandria and toward Maryland and D.C., 5:55PM Oct. 18, 2014.

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The Deep State includes a variety of "nodes" such as the military / security state apparatus and Silicon Valley and, of course, key elements of Wall Street.

As for Silicon Valley, Lofgren notes the implied quid pro quo and calls bullsh!t on the "sham" libertarian leanings of its assorted moguls. He writes:

"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. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA's bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation’s economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo."

Sunlight filtering through the magnolia tree growing in front of my apartment building, New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 3:11PM Oct.17, 2014.

I mentioned this tree in this entry.

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Continuing:

"Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters. If an American "jailbreaks" his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use a service provider other than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizen’s vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls, so carefully cultivated in their public relations, has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device, so it is hardly surprising that the Deep State should emulate the Valley and do the same for its own purposes. Nor is it surprising that it should conscript the Valley's assistance."

Summer House grotto, U.S. Capitol grounds, Washington, D.C., 5:19PM Oct. 19, 2014.

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As a result of all of this:

"Still, despite the essential roles of lower Manhattan and Silicon Valley, the center of gravity of the Deep State is firmly situated in and around the Beltway. 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."

Ivy Hill Cemetery, Alexandria, Va., 5:34PM Oct. 18, 2014. I wrote about and posted pictures of this cemetery in this entry.

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"The results of this contradiction are not abstract, as a tour of the rotting, decaying, bankrupt cities of the American Midwest will attest. It is not even confined to those parts of the country left behind by a Washington Consensus that decreed the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy in the interests of efficiency and shareholder value."

Garden apartments along Martha Custis Drive, Alexandra, Va., 5:19PM Oct. 18, 2014.

I spent a Thanksgiving in 1996 or 1997 in one of those units (possibly a different building, I don't recall now) with this weird ultra-Catholic libertarian guy named Ray (it was in that period with Tim and his social group). It was with his very elderly mom, who was a wonderful lady. Ray and I had an argument (totally my fault) and she smoothed it over so well. I understand she has since died.

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Lofgren then discuss a variety other issues and uses allusions and metaphors to the collapse of Imperial Rome. This is a very important essay and I'm sorry I missed it when it came out back in February. I only became aware of it because of Andrew O'Hehir's excellent column from Sept. 20th (link embedded):


This is exactly why -- as O'Hehir noted in a column this past weekend -- the upcoming midterms don't mean shit EVEN IF, as seems likely, the "evil" and "insane" Republican Party sweeps to power in the Senate. (The GOP lock hold on the House is a given for years to come.)


Sub-headline: It's the Party of Fear's turn this year, and that blows. But the cast of clowns in D.C. don't really run the show

Anyway, I nominate Benji Wittes as the mascot of the Deep State.

"YAP! YAP! YAP! YAY! DRONES! YAP! YAP! YAP! YAY! MORE DRONES!"

Meanwhile, Fred Hiatt's Washington Consensus "stable" of WaHoPo house editorial writers and op-ed columnists -- all neoliberal, Wall Street / corporate oligarch "Free Trader" shills and neoconservative imperialistic warmongers form key members of the Beltway imperial courtier class.

Oh, and of course, Sally Quinn is the doyenne of the courtier class's Old School dinner party subset.

OK, that's all for now. My next update might not be until late Wednesday / early Thursday.

--Regulus

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