Following the conspiracy lead of Steve Bannon and Breitbart, Donald Trump has grumbled and tweeted often about the Deep State, the purported nefarious grouping of hidden government persons lurking in the depths of the massive Federal apparatus of myriad acronymic masks. ICE NSA FBI CIA and on through to lesser known but equally evil entities. These are alleged to be conclaves, variously, of members of the Harvard elite, Yale’s Skull and Bones, Jewish cabalists, covens of Christian Fundamentalists, or whichever cluster-fuck you wish to designate, surely there will be a website or more devoted to reading the tea-leaves of the signals emitted from these organizational black holes and their swirling galaxies. Right and Left wing chatterboxes selectively cherry-pick whatever political tid-bits they wish and construct fabulist narratives around them, from the assassination of JFK to that of MLK to 9/11 and on to the Boston Marathon bombing. The existence of the internet gives wide berth for these to spawn, however false or true they might be.
Extracted from these events come tomes from scholars, Hollywood movies, novels and the rantings of Limbaugh, Hannity, Alex Jones and a host of lesser names. There’s millions to be made from these, and those mentioned have made theirs and more. Like America’s religious hucksters, there’s a lot of money to be made preying on the gullible and fearful, with which it seems our country is plentifully supplied. Welcome to the world of QAnon. It’s American as Apple Pie.
The Lakewood Mega-church, Dallas TX
For decades – well actually far longer than that, for centuries – America has been awash with conspiracy theories, reaching back to its founding. There were always traitors loose in the land, lluminati, the anti-christ, double-agents for foreign powers, the entire gamut of customary political war-horses, broad-brushes with which to paint your enemy. Today’s landscape is nothing new, just that for brief periods we like to pretend it ain’t so.
But, myths aside, it’s all the same old same old. As is governance itself.
Two deep-state members, John Brennan and General Michael Hayden, former chiefs of the CIA
Conspiracy theories, to take root, need soil, and the United States government has been rich tilling land for as long as its been around. Within long-term living memory those range from major matters, such as the concept that FDR and the government knew Pearl Harbor was coming, and let it happen. Jump ahead half a century, and the same it true of 9/11. In both cases there is ample evidence to suggest they are true, though the makers of American mythology adamantly insist that only a tin-foil hatter would believe such malarkey. After all, who could believe that our own government would allow such events to occur when their job is to protect us? Only a true nutter could believe such a thing, regardless of the massive evidence and logical reasons for such a thing to fit properly into a narrative.
And the same goes for lesser items from the assassination of JFK requiring magic bullets, and on down to such trivial things as using members of the military as guinea pigs for “scientific” experiments, or, well, hell, using whole cities like San Francisco to experiment with some new biological dispersal weapon. Or letting St. George, Utah, knowingly be a nice down-wind recipient of nuclear bomb test radiation and then spending decades denying the cancerous downside. In fact, the more one knows about Uncle Sam the more fertile the soil one finds for tin-foil hat thoughts.
Enter Donald, the wanna-be Queen’s tough guy sporting a giant borough-wide chip on his shoulder. A self-made man, so he insists (that million buck starter kit from Dad don’t count), he broke into the hard-as-nails world of Manhattan real-estate and built a solid gold (well, at least gold-plated) reputation as a party-animal, womanizer, builder of garish towers, possessor of serial-wives and of serial bankruptcies. And despite all that he wasn’t welcomed into the fold of the Manhattan elite, and here, decades later, bearing a grudge that deforms his face and body, and weighs on him like a WWF wrestler, he’s out to let them have it. Descending his golden escalator but 3 years ago, met by his adoring rent-a-crowd, he tossed his hat in the Presidential circus ring, and to wide amazement and laughter promptly vanquished the supposedly serious Republican candidates with school-yard taunts, and thereafter sent the world into shock when Hillary Clinton lost to him as well, if not in the general vote, then in the dubious Electoral College. The world has been aghast since, as The Donald charges like a raging bull, upsetting one institutionally rooted apple-cart after another, shredding the polite decorum and language of our traditional politics, and causing serious harm to the status quo. Just like he said he would.
Having promised to “drain the swamp” The Don instead stocked the beltway with more alligator sleaze than anyone thought conceivable, stacking his Cabinet with grifters ready to dismantle their respective departments, and to feed at the Federal trough as quickly and mercilessly as possible. Having reduced his GOP Congressional majorities to the quivering sycophants they always were, our gangster godfather trashed protocols, ripped up treaties and obsessively uprooted anything having to do with Barack Hussein Obama while loudly bellowing his utterly unmasked racism. Supposedly serious Republicans held their silence while the Tea Party wing cheered lustily and the Don’s racist base went bananas. Doubtless never having actually read it, the man sworn to uphold the US Constitution, as G W Bush had suggested earlier, treated it as “just a goddam piece of paper.” Toilet paper in this instance.
All of this behavior has transpired with little more than murmurs from the official opposition, the Democrats, who hide behind their minority status in the House and Senate whimpering there’s nothing they can do, their hands are tied until November, the mystical season of voting when the Great American Public is allowed to choose between corporately approved specimen A or B. And besides, they are as beholden to their corporate masters as the GOP, and should they speak too loudly the full depths of both-sides-of-the-aisle corruption would be fully exposed. Until then the pages of YouTube and Facebook are awash with videos of virulent racists yelling and screaming on camera, police killing blacks for being black, ICE round-ups of alleged illegal aliens, children stored in ex-Walmart boxes converted to instant prisons, and other pleasantries of the present American mental landscape, the ugly id of the nation having been exposed by Trump’s tearing off of the band-aid of PC politeness imposed by the prior administration.
Faced with this rupture of politics-as-normal, the nation has contorted itself into the unimaginable: the liberal-left now looks upon the FBI, the CIA and NSA as potential saviors, while the right, formerly the supposed champions of fiscal and moral rectitude, law & order, balanced budgets, goody-two-shoes ethics and virulent anti-Commie/Russiaphobes morphed instantaneously into Russiaphiles, haters of the deep-state combine of the FBICIANSA, and rabid pigs at the trough of corruption and racism. And not only trickle down economics, but also trickle down ethics, in this case in the form of terminal corruption. Hence the plague of YouTube racism and cop-killer videos.
You’re Fired! Former FBI Chief Comey
Enter the deep rumblings of the Deep State. Famed for having intervened in an attempted Richard Cheney machination during a breathless hospital visit to then Attorney General Ashcroft who lay seriously ill, while Cheney-Bush henchmen sought to secure his signature for a program of dubious legality, wearing his cloak as Ashcroft’s chief assistant, James Comey, life-long Republican, became a belated liberal hero, as did fellow Republican, Robert Mueller, then head of the FBI. See this for the full story. And now, a decade and some later, these two emerge from the deep bowels of the government yet again in tandem. As FBI chief, appointed by Obama and retained by Donald Trump, Comey was pressed by his new boss to swear a certain kind of loyalty, mob-style. Declining, he was summarily fired, though in a manner in which in the arcane convolutions of government he was able to secure the naming of a special counsel to investigate Russian skullduggery during the 2016 election. The Special Counsel named was none other than Robert Mueller. And not only that, but Comey also also did so in a manner which required Trump lackey Richard Sessions, Director of the Justice Department, to recuse himself from the investigation. All this served well for Trump to loudly complain that he was being undercut and back-stabbed by the Deep State, of which Trump cohort Steven Bannon and his program Breitbart had long complained.
Drawing by Stephen Lack
The news of the day of late swirls with the constant word of criminality in high places – the current Manafort trial pealing the skin off the fancy-suited world of business and politics, with fantastical numbers, a litany of off-shore banking havens, and enough moral sleaze to last forever. Or until the next, around-the-corner, trial to reveal still deeper depravity. Or Avenatti’s latest lurid spill of The Don’s hushed-up sex-capades.
James Clapper, former head of the NSA
Legally, lying to a Congressional committee is a crime, whether under oath or not, punishable by up to five years in prison, or in some instances more. James Clapper was head of the NSA, (whom it turns out went to Annandale HS, Fairfax VA, 1956-60, same time I did, though I do not recall knowing him then, but my sister does); in testimony to Congress he lied. Caught at it, he recanted in a Clintonesque manner, parsing the exact meaning of “spying” etc.
John Brennan, Ex-Director of CIA
Mr Brennan, former director of the CIA, outspoken of late regarding Donald Trump -saying his comportment in Helsinki was “treasonous” – is himself in a problematic position, having also lied to Congress, just as did Clapper. In his case regarding torture and such nice things.
And of course Mr Comey, fired director of the FBI, is also accused by some of lying, or at least fudging regarding leaks from his office. All in all, a charming cluster of characters, all deeply enmeshed in governmental agencies which traffic in secrecy as a part of their function. Naturally a good setting for conspiratorial actions. All lied to Congress, but skated. So small wonder that thoughts of a Deep State tend to focus on this area, along with the military.
That this nexus of fellows engaged in the sordid arts of secrecy and executors of the dirty deeds of the US government should all re-emerge in unison, though this time wearing super-hero cloaks for some liberals, indeed raises a peculiar stench, the smell of something rotten deep in the bowels of America’s government: Yes, Virginia, there is a secret Deep State.
And yes, it seeks to defend its institutional status and powers, just as do almost all bureaucratic institutional organizations. In this case, these institutions (and 14 other “security” organizations under the umbrella of the Unites States Government), all seek to carry out their jobs as protectors of the corporate/business powers for which and on behalf of which that government exists. And when by some quirk of circumstance, something or someone inimical to those interests occurs, it is their function to work together to challenge and defeat that intruding force. And such, in the instance of Donald John Trump, is the case.
Were the Republican Party a healthy political party in American terms, it would have never allowed Trump to emerge as its nominee for President. In a “healthy” state it would have vetted him, researched his background, and done whatever was necessary to assure he did not become their candidate. But the Republican Party, like the rest of the society it is rooted in, is, exactly as is the Democrat Party, utterly corrupt, and has been so for some decades, steadily rotting away until it became a steaming fetid swamp of oligarchism marinated in All-American racism. The Democrats were equally corrupt, utterly owned by corporate powers, and utterly out-of-touch with what neo-liberal policies – their policies – had done to broad areas of the American public.
And as were and are the political parties of the USA, so too all its institutions are corrupt: the Congress, the Courts, the Executive Branch, the 5th Estate, the corporate world, Wall Street. Every. Damn. One. Of. Them.
So it is little wonder that along with all these pillars of American society that the Deep State is likewise corrupt. Any decent working Deep State would have some time ago arranged a plausibly deniable accident, be it on the ground, Air Force One, or a berserk White House Guard, and Trump would already be fodder for further conspiracy theorists to figure out who done it. But thus far, confronted with the Keystone Kops of the inept, obvious, utterly corrupted government of the most comical Don imaginable, the hard-men of the Deep State have thus far fumbled the ball, and the Trump gang, though snookered by their own glaring stupidity, is still standing.
So yes, Don, yes there is a Deep State, and it is certainly out to get you. But it is just like you, and is inept and as flaccid as your butt is, unable to shift from the SOP of the Cold War to a world in which Tweets shift the market up and down and idiocy rules the White House, and few care if the President consorts with prostitutes and stuffs his government full with nepotism and cronyism. After all, most of them are doing exactly the same things.
Meantime America burns.
Trump supporters, FloridaPainting by Stephen LackAlleged image of California forest fires seen from above the clouds