Title: The Deep State
Rating: 4 Stars
In my quest to understand how in the fuck we managed to elect Trump as president, I stumbled upon The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren.
There has been much sturm and dang about politics over the last several decades, especially during the last eight. While Obama was in office, the Republican party did everything short of kidnapping Malia to thwart his agenda. This seems absurd when you realize that he basically continued the overseas policies of George W. Bush and passed a healthcare bill that was a Republican plan in all but name.
All of this causes much teeth gnashing and primal screaming on the various conservative (and the fewer liberal) media outlets, both conventional and internet based.
But…what if none of that matters? What if what we think of the state is really just something like Kabuki theater? What if, within the state, there is another state that is truly where the work of state is done?
This is Lofgren’s thesis. Lofgren spent 28 years working as a Republican congressional aide. Horrified at what the Republican party had become (an apocalyptic cult) and the utter incompetence of the Democratic party, he began to write diatribes in his retirement.
This book is such a diatribe. It describes a deep state that exists, regardless of who is nominally in power. This deep state is run by certain key DC power players, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the military-industrial complex.
Because of this certain things will never go unquestioned. Wall Street will never be contained. Despite all of its wailing about the Dodd-Frank act, it in no way actually really removes any power from the Wall Street banks and no one even suggests Glass-Steagall anymore. The Silicon Valley is a conspirator as every single aspect of privacy is being stripped of us. The defense industry is such a large power that the United States seems to have an insatiable desire to play a part in conflicts around the globe.
These are all corporations that are internationally focused. They think nothing of buying a foreign company and then notionally moving their corporate headquarters to avoid paying taxes. During the 2008 crisis, the banks were bailed out while homeowners lost their homes.
This is all bad enough but what makes this almost laughable is the utter incompetence of the deep state. While they are focused upon squeezing every egg that they can get, they do not seem to notice that the goose is dying.
The deep state is responsible for such wonderful success stories as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, but no one ever seems to be punished and in fact, failures seem to lead to even more honors. Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the Arab Spring, the belief, after the US painlessly overthrows Saddam, that democracy will sweep through the Middle East like wild fire (a theory that when I first heard about it in 2003 seemed, even with my minor knowledge of the area, ridiculously asinine), became the head of the World Bank. L. Paul Bremer, the head of the provisional government in Iraq, an organization so incompetent that they decided that disbanding an army and ridding the government of a huge chunk of its expertise seemed like a brilliant idea (not to mention literally billions of dollars in cash going missing), ended up getting a President Medal of Freedom.
It’s not all doom and gloom. He sees some glimmer of hope (even in the Tea Party revolt!) and some sign of life that Congress and/or The Supreme Court might try to place limits on this invisible state.
At the end of the book he does offer up nine suggestions, none of which stand a chance unless a true revolution takes place (eg banning private money from campaigning, a single payer health system).
Now, back to my initial question, does this explain Trump? Did the people, although mostly ignorant of the deep state, sense a nation in peril and elect a man that, if nothing else, appears to be a bomb throwing renegade that might actually upset the status quo? Or, more likely, is Trump actually just the dancing monkey of the deep state? The deep state organ grinder continues on as before but now the people are being distracted by the spectacle.
Or, even more likely, is this just an early peek at our future president Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho? And I should just quit all of this reading and watch some guys getting their balls kicked?