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Nederlog

January 6, 2016

Crisis: American Deep State, TPP, Sanders on Greed, Corrupt USA
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Introduction   

1.
Controlled by shadow government: Mike Lofgren reveals
    how top U.S. officials are at the mercy of the “deep state”

2.
Surprise! Corporate America Is Throwing Down for the
     TPP

3.
'Greed Is Not Good'
4.
How Corrupt Is the American Government?
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

This is a crisis blog with 4 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1  is about a quite interesting article on AlterNet, about a former  GOP-er who at present seems quite honest and quite knowledgeable; item 2 is about an article by Sarah Lazare on the TPP, that I am convinced is an attempt to lay the foundations for 12 neo- fascist states; item 3 is about an article by Bernie Sanders, who yesterday moved strongly against Wall Street and its very many corruptions and enormous power; and item 4 is by Washington's Blog and shows long lists of thoroughly corrupt behavior from very many American governmental institutions (with proofs or evidence).

I think that at least 3 out of 4 of these articles are worth reading in full.


1.
Controlled by shadow government: Mike Lofgren reveals how top U.S. officials are at the mercy of the “deep state”

The first article is by Elias Isquith on AlterNet:
This has a subtitle that is worth quoting:
A corrupt network of wealthy elites has hijacked our government, ex-GOP staffer and best-selling author tells Salon
The "ex-Gop staffer" is Mike Lofgren (<-Wikipedia), who seems an interesting man. This is a paragraph from Wikipedia's lemma on him:
In September 2011, Lofgren published an essay entitled Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult on the website Truthout. In it he explains why he retired when he did, writing that he was "appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country’s future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them." He charged that both major American political parties are "rotten captives to corporate loot", but that while Democrats are merely weak and out of touch, the Republican Party is "becoming more like an apocalyptic cult". He particularly described Republicans as caring exclusively about their rich donors; being psychologically predisposed toward war; and pandering to the anti-intellectual, science-hostile, religious fundamentalistfringe. Lofgren wrote that the Tea Party is "filled with lunatics" and that lawmakers used the "routine" vote to raise the debt limit—which Congress has done 87 times since the end of World War II—to create "an entirely artificial fiscal crisis". The essay received widespread media attention because of Lofgren's status as a long-term, respected Republican civil servant. Truthout reported the piece received "over a million views".
Note that Lofgren has worked for the GOP for 28 years. And indeed, the inter- view that follows is quite interesting.

From the beginning:

Our lack of a systemic analysis of the problem is part of the reason why our answers are so diffuse and ill-fitting. And that’s just one of the reasons why “The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government,” the new book from ex-longtime GOP staffer turned best-selling author Mike Lofgren, is so valuable. Lofgren puts a name and a shape to a problem that has often been only nebulously defined; and while his conclusions are not exactly uplifting, the logic and sophistication of his argument is hard to resist.
Here are three selections from the interview that Isquith had with him, all from the beginning:

How should we think about the deep state? Is it an elite conspiracy? A loosely defined social group? A network of specific institutions? How should we conceive of it?

Well, first of all, it is not a conspiracy. It is something that operates in broad daylight. It is not a conspiratorial cabal. These are simply people who have evolved [into] a kind of position. It is in their best interest to act in this way.

And given the fact that people would rather know about Kim Kardashian than what makes up the budget or what the government is doing in Mali or Sudan or other unknown places, this is what you get: a disconnected, self-serving bureaucracy that is … simply evolving to do what it’s doing now. That is, to maintain and enhance its own power.

First about the deep state: It is a fairly well-known concept, as old as the Ancient Greeks, though often called otherwise, namely "state within a state".

Here is some by the Wikipedia on the last item:

State within a state is a political situation in a country when an internal organ ("deep state"), such as the armed forces and
civilian authorities (intelligence agencies and police), does not respond to the civilian political leadership. The term, like many in politics, derives from the Greek language
(κράτος εν κράτει, kratos en kratei, later adopted into Latin as imperium in imperio or status in statu).

Sometimes, the term refers to state companies that, though formally under the command of the government, act de facto  like private corporations. Sometimes, the term refers to companies that, though formally private, act de facto like "states within a state".
So that is what Lofgren had in mind.

To return to his first quotation: I like it that he puts part of the blame for the arisal of "the deep state" on "the ordinary people" who - he claims - are often much more interested in the fate of Kim Kardashian than in what their goverment is doing. [1]

And I like it because I think it is true, even though I do not like it that many ordinary people are more concerned with Kim Kardashian than their own interests.

Next, here are the people who make up the American deep state, according to Mike Lofgren:

What are the key institutions and players within the deep state? 

The key institutions are exactly what people would think they are. The military-industrial complex; the Pentagon and all their contractors (but also, now, our entire homeland security apparatus); the Department of Treasury; the Justice Department; certain courts, like the southern district of Manhattan, and the eastern district of Virginia; the FISA courts. And you got this kind of rump Congress that consists of certain people in the leadership, defense and intelligence committees who kind of know what’s going on. The rest of Congress doesn’t really know or care; they’re too busy looking about the next election.

This sounds rather convincing, in part because I know that e.g. the Pentagon and the Justice Department act corruptly for the rich and corrupt, and as if they are no part of an honest government.

Here is the last quotation I give. It's about the powers of Silicon Valley and the extent to which Silicon Valley is involved in the spying on everyone (which is constitutionally quite illegal), in which the NSA is so deeply involved:

Silicon Valley provides a lot of money. But it also has access to an unfathomable amount of information. Which do you think is more valuable to the deep state — the cash or the info?

I think you can’t distinguish the two. There is a tremendous amount of money coming, in terms of lobbying, for Silicon Valley to get what it wants in terms of intellectual property and so forth.

At the same time, NSA insiders have told me that they couldn’t even operate without the cooperation of Silicon Valley, because the communication backbones that are set up and operated by Silicon Valley provide the vast majority of information that the NSA and other intelligence agencies are going to exploit — and they can’t do it themselves. They need the willing or unwilling cooperation of Silicon Valley.

Although this is not very clear (" willing or unwilling cooperation") I take it that the position of Lofgren is that fundamentally Silicon Valley willingly cooperates.

There is a lot more in the interview, and you are recommended to read all of it: It seems mostly true, and is at least somewhat surprising to hear this from an ex-GOP man.

2. Surprise! Corporate America Is Throwing Down for the TPP

The second item is by Sarah Lazare. I found it on Truthdig, but originally it appeared on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

American big business has now officially endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), giving many all the proof they need that the 12-nation\ deal—poised to be the largest ever—is bad news for people and the planet.

An association of Chief Executive Officers known as the Business Roundtable (BRT) announced its formal backing on Tuesday, indicating that it plans to use its muscle to press Congress to approve the deal this year. In fact, BRT president John Engler told The Hill that the association wants the TPP to pass as quickly as possible—before the summer.

Incidentally, as Sarah Lazare explains in the rest of her article, there are quite a few other organizations of the corporate rich who also are much in favor of the TPP, and indeed from their point of view they are right:

It will finish democracies, it will finish states of law, it will finish most that is good or tolerable for the many, and will give almost all powers not to the people but to the rich corporate few, who already have billions to spend on their own further advantages.

It is neo-fascism, as I explained earlier this year, except that those furthering it do not like to call it that, presumably because that would be far too honest to serve their purposes.

Sarah Lazare also says that the several large organizations of the corporate rich who lately declared themselves to be pro TPP probably act in concert:

To be sure, multinational corporations have already been heavily influential in the TPP negotiations, which have been conducted in near complete secrecy.

But the endorsements this week appear to be calculated to add momentum to the deal in Congress. Because the U.S. Senate passed Fast Track authority this summer, lawmakers will not be able to debate or amend the deal. But both houses must ratify the TPP, which will likely be submitted by the White House in the early spring.

I think she is right, and I also think it is extremely likely this Fast Tracked bill to end democratic government and democratic law will pass. Next, both governments and democratic laws will be subjected to the "law" exercised by the TPP's "law boards", that can quietly and secretly punish any governmental action that threatens to diminish the expected profits of the multi-national corporations with hundreds of millions or several billions in "reparation" for the multi-national corporations (without any possibility of appealing).

Sarah Lazare ends as follows:

When the full text of the TPP was finally released this fall, it confirmed what civil society groups around the world have long warned: the deal poses a profound threat to global health, the environment and climate, free speech, and Internet freedom.

I say it will very probably be the end of democracies, the end of democratic governments, and - in case the TTIP gets passed - the end of all the advantages Europe has for its many non-rich over the USA.

3. 'Greed Is Not Good'

The third item is by Bernie Sanders on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In a speech delivered in New York City on Tuesday, Sanders presented a sweeping plan to rein in the greed of the nation’s biggest financial institutions, drawing sharp contrasts with Sec. Clinton’s approach. "My opponent says that as a senator she told bankers to ‘cut it out’ and end their destructive behavior," Sanders said. "But, in my view, establishment politicians are the ones who need to ‘cut it out.’ The reality is that Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street. Wall Street and their lobbyists regulate Congress. We must change that reality and as president I will."

In fact, the text I will quote below is not from the speech, but from the "Prepared Remarks" (which are quite good). For those who want to see and hear the speech, it is here (also on Common Dreams) - and no, I didn't see this yet:

Next, here are two quotations from Sanders' "Prepared Remarks" (that are much more extensive, and quite interesting). Both are from the beginning.

First, there is this:

The American people are catching on. They understand that something is profoundly wrong when, in our country today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent and when the 20 richest people own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans – half of our population. They know that the system is rigged when the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, while 58 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.

They also know that a handful of people on Wall Street have extraordinary power over the economic and political life of our country. As most people know, in the 1990s and later, the financial interests spent billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions to force through Congress the deregulation of Wall Street, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the weakening of consumer protection laws in states.

They spent this money in order to get the government off their backs and to show the American people what they could do with that new-won freedom. Well, they sure showed the American people. In 2008, the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street nearly destroyed the U.S. and global economy.

Precisely. And this is about greed and Wall Street:

Greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance, these are the words that best describe the reality of Wall Street today.
So, to those on Wall Street who may be listening today, let me be very clear. Greed is not good. In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation. And, here is a New Year’s Resolution that I will keep if elected president. If you do not end your greed, we will end it for you.

We will no longer tolerate an economy and a political system that has been rigged by Wall Street to benefit the wealthiest Americans in this country at the expense of everyone else.

I quite agree - and indeed this also is a risky position for Bernie Sanders to take, though indeed it is the only fair one for someone who wants to benefit all Americans instead of merely the richest few.

There is a lot more under the last-but-one dotted link, which is recommended reading.

4. How Corrupt Is the American Government?

The fourth item is by Washington's Blog on his site:

This starts as follows (colors in the original):

See For Yourself

Government corruption has become rampant:

  • Senior SEC employees spent up to 8 hours a day surfing porn sites instead of cracking down on financial crimes

In case you are neither worried about pornography nor worried about NSA spying: The list of points in the article is about nine times longer than I just quoted (and well worth considering).

Here is a quotation from explanatory text at the end of that (first) list of points:

The biggest companies own the D.C. politicians. Indeed, the head of the economics department at George Mason University has pointed out that it is unfair to call politicians “prostitutes”. They are in fact pimps … selling out the American people for a price.

Government regulators have become so corrupted and “captured” by those they regulate that Americans know that the cop is on the take. Institutional corruption is killing people’s trust in our government and our institutions.

Neither the Democratic or Republican parties represent the interests of the American people. Elections have become nothing but scripted beauty contests, with both parties ignoring the desires of their own bases.

Indeed, America is no longer a democracy or republic … it’s officially an oligarchy. And the allowance of unlimited campaign spending allows the oligarchs to purchase politicians more directly than ever.

In fact, personally I don't care whether the typical Washington politician of today functions like a whore or like a pimp: It is more than sufficient to know that he or she is corrupt, and I agree most Washington politicians are.

In any case, there is a whole lot more in the article (all with proper links), and it is recommended reading.

---------
Notes

[1] The reasons I like this are (1) I think it is true: Yes, ordinary people are very easily deceived by those in power, and are so essentially by stupidity or ignorance; (2) I think it is important: There will not be a democracy for a long time if large slabs of ordinary people are successfully deceived by the rich few; and (3) Bill Maher and I are the only people I know who are willing to say that most people are rather stupid, and that this is a danger to any real democracy.


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