Straight Dope Message Board

Straight Dope Message Board (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/index.php)
-   Great Debates (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/forumdisplay.php?f=7)
-   -   The "Deep State" is real, but is not what Trump says it is (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=881764)

kirkrapine 09-09-2019 11:57 PM

The "Deep State" is real, but is not what Trump says it is
 
As explained by Mike Lofgren:

Quote:

The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005 and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: All that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the global war on terror and the erosion of constitutional liberties.

As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called “private enterprise” is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.
In Lofgren's analysis, the purpose of the Deep State is to maintain the "Washington consensus" -- hawkish neoconservatism in foreign policy, economic-libertarian neoliberalism in domestic policy. All other options are pushed outside the Overton Window, ruled out of serious discussion.

Lofgren also wrote a book about it.

In this article, Lofgren argues that despite Trump's anti-Deep-State rhetoric, everything he actually does serves its purposes.

The important thing is, that regardless of election results, the Deep State remains and persists, from one administration to the next.

kirkrapine 09-10-2019 08:33 PM

Meanwhile, if you go on Amazon and search for "deep state," you get results like this: The Deep State: How an Army of Bureaucrats Protected Barack Obama and Is Working to Destroy the Trump Agenda

The phrase "deep state" has its origins in a Turkish context, and perhaps there's actually something there, there -- in that case, the deep state would be the military, which tends to overthrow the civil government whenever they perceive it as betraying Ataturk's legacy. Probably the only country in history where a military coup ever has beneficial results.

Ike Witt 09-10-2019 09:29 PM

What, exactly, do you wish to debate or discuss?

E-DUB 09-10-2019 09:36 PM

What is called "The Deep State" is simply career government employees doing their jobs, in many case for far less than people with their talents could earn in private sector. These folks aren't about red or blue, they're about red, white, and blue.

kirkrapine 09-10-2019 09:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ike Witt (Post 21852844)
What, exactly, do you wish to debate or discuss?

Is the Deep State a bad thing, and, if so, what can we do about it?

Snowboarder Bo 09-11-2019 12:49 AM

I'll give you a better debate topic: how could we possibly have a country that did not have a so-called "deep state"? Because IMO, we can't. No one can. It's ridiculous.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 12:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo (Post 21853157)
I'll give you a better debate topic: how could we possibly have a country that did not have a so-called "deep state"? Because IMO, we can't. No one can. It's ridiculous.

Reread the OP. We're talking about something other than the "permanent government," i.e., the civil service that does not change from one admin to the next -- think Sir Humphrey Applebee always butting heads with Jim Hacker -- Applebee is the "permanent government," but he does not always get his way. Deep State would be if Applebee could keep bills off the floor of the Commons.

LAZombie 09-11-2019 08:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by E-DUB (Post 21852859)
What is called "The Deep State" is simply career government employees doing their jobs, in many case for far less than people with their talents could earn in private sector. These folks aren't about red or blue, they're about red, white, and blue.

First, it's a myth that most government employees could make more in the private sector. Show me the high science teacher that went to a pharmaceutical company or other high tech company seamlessly.

Government employees are overcompensated to gain their fervent loyalty to the Deep State. Talk with any government employee and within ten minutes they bring up their precious pensions and how valuable they think they are to society.

Look at Lois Lerner who is retired with a 200,000 dollars a year pension. She should be in jail for obstruction of justice, but she was protected by the Deep State because she was a loyal foot soldier.

Ike Witt 09-11-2019 08:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LAZombie (Post 21853440)
She should be in jail for obstruction of justice, but she was protected by the Deep State because she was a loyal foot soldier.

Is that any different than the 'thin blue line'?

Ruken 09-11-2019 08:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by E-DUB (Post 21852859)
What is called "The Deep State" is simply career government employees doing their jobs, in many case for far less than people with their talents could earn in private sector. These folks aren't about red or blue, they're about red, white, and blue.

The quote in the OP points to career private employees (contractors) who outnumber* career federal employees.

*Depending on where you draw the box. I'm excluding people with grants, active-duty military, postal service.

Although I don't see anything nefarious here and don't find Lofgen's argument compelling. I live in this world and just giggled a bit when I read the quote. But I need to click the links to see if there's better reasoning than that presented by the OP.

Lumpy 09-11-2019 08:33 AM

If the US government is concerned with policy issues that are beyond the scope and attention of 98% of the public, then of course there's going to be an "Establishment" that makes policy. The public usually only gets involved when policy issues intrude into the public's limited attention span. For example, in the 1960s when the government's Cold War policies suddenly meant that young men could be drafted to fight and die in a foreign war that seemingly nobody but 1000 Washington insiders wanted.

Ravenman 09-11-2019 09:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LAZombie (Post 21853440)
First, it's a myth that most government employees could make more in the private sector. Show me the high science teacher that went to a pharmaceutical company or other high tech company seamlessly.

Literally nobody is saying that, and it's frankly a stupid line of argument. No more than someone might argue that a restaurant busboy in the private sector might make $19,000, but if he became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he could make $200,000, SO ThEReFORe TEH GOveRNMUnT PAYZ MOOOORE.

Quote:

Look at Lois Lerner who is retired with a 200,000 dollars a year pension.
Yeah, that didn't happen.

Icarus 09-11-2019 12:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kirkrapine (Post 21850869)
In Lofgren's analysis, the purpose of the Deep State is to maintain the "Washington consensus" -- hawkish neoconservatism in foreign policy, economic-libertarian neoliberalism in domestic policy. All other options are pushed outside the Overton Window, ruled out of serious discussion.

One could just as easily say:
"the purpose of the Washington is to maintain the "Washington consensus" -- hawkish neoconservatism in foreign policy, economic-libertarian neoliberalism in domestic policy. All other options are pushed outside the Overton Window, ruled out of serious discussion."

Of course, it is not what Trump says it is, NOTHING is what Trump says it is! However, he has used the term as an effective amorphous boogie-man, similar to the well-worn "Washington insiders" or "the swamp" to paint any criticism as a nefarious plot against him. He kinda paranoid that way, y'know.

puddleglum 09-11-2019 03:23 PM

This shows an ignorance of how the Government works. Politicians only know how to get elected. They leave the actual policy creation to the experts. These experts generally work in academia, non-profits, and occasionally government.
The reason the Washington consensus is powerful is because neo-liberalism is the consensus of elite economists. This is because neo-liberalism obviously works much better than any other alternative.
In foreign policy, the experts are more likely to work in government but they still have not come up with a better alternative.

Actual government workers are 90% people who implement policy and very few have any influence over the policies chosen. For the most part those who implement policy come and go with each administration and are the ones who cycle between government, academia, think tanks, and lobbying.

bump 09-11-2019 03:48 PM

I always understood the "deep state" to be more of an emergent behavior that happens when career bureaucrats and business leaders do their thing- there's no organization to it, and no direction. It's just the aggregate of how the infrastructure of the Federal government works at levels below the elected officials.

So Congress or a President might want something, but it's perceived as asinine by the top level bureaucrats assigned to implement it. So they slow-walk it in any number of ways, or put it out to pasture, or whatever, because it runs counter to them getting their jobs done, or promises massive disruption, or whatever other negative that they perceive. Similarly, I suspect they probably have opinions that come out in the stuff they DON'T slow-walk, and the like. That's not to say that corruption probably doesn't play a major role- I don't doubt it does.

But it's not some shadowy cabal of the "real" decision-makers running things from behind the scenes. It's probably much more a combination of institutional inertia combined with a sort of collective viewpoint on the part of the people who self-select to work in the Federal bureaucracies and in business.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 05:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by puddleglum (Post 21854555)
This shows an ignorance of how the Government works. Politicians only know how to get elected. They leave the actual policy creation to the experts. These experts generally work in academia, non-profits, and occasionally government.

The present Admin clearly pays very little attention to experts, and Congress not much more. Yet the power of the Deep State over policy -- that is, over limiting the range of acceptable policy discussion -- remains undiminished.

Quote:

Originally Posted by puddleglum (Post 21854555)
The reason the Washington consensus is powerful is because neo-liberalism is the consensus of elite economists. This is because neo-liberalism obviously works much better than any other alternative.

Looking around the world, it manifestly works considerably less well than West-Euro-style social democracy -- which, thanks to the Deep State, is off the table here. As for "elite economists," their present consensus tends toward not neoliberalism but post-Keynesianism.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 06:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bump (Post 21854608)
I always understood the "deep state" to be more of an emergent behavior that happens when career bureaucrats and business leaders do their thing- there's no organization to it, and no direction. It's just the aggregate of how the infrastructure of the Federal government works at levels below the elected officials.

Lofgren substantially agrees.

Quote:

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, 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. 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.

Buck Godot 09-11-2019 06:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LAZombie (Post 21853440)
First, it's a myth that most government employees could make more in the private sector. Show me the high science teacher that went to a pharmaceutical company or other high tech company seamlessly.

Government employees are overcompensated to gain their fervent loyalty to the Deep State. Talk with any government employee and within ten minutes they bring up their precious pensions and how valuable they think they are to society.

Look at Lois Lerner who is retired with a 200,000 dollars a year pension. She should be in jail for obstruction of justice, but she was protected by the Deep State because she was a loyal foot soldier.

Complete and utter BS. Of course most high school science teacher can't go and work for a Pharmaceutical company. They have a teaching degree not a PhD in chemistry, or biology. Many could, however, work for a charter or private school no problem. On the other hand, there is a lot of cross pollination between pharmaceutical companies and NIH. Some of my colleagues where formerly in the private sector, and decided to work for the government, while other went the other way. I periodically get hit up by corporate head hunters looking for some bioinformatical expertise they can poach.

Also your claim that government employees are useless yet are over paid, also doesn't pass the smell test. If that is the case then why don't all these private workers go to the public sector and live like kings. The truth is that at the higher levels, pay is usually better in the private sector. But its also more confining. Since the public sector is only interested in profit, there is less ability to do basic research or to research and more ability to make the findings public rather than kept as propitiatory secrets. There is also pressure to make sure the studies reach the profitable conclusion rather than the factually correct conclusion. Basically public employees are just like everyone else. Some are lazy but most are hard working. The main difference to me seems to be that private employees seem to be more motivated by money, while public employees are more motivated by accomplishment.

squidfood 09-11-2019 07:01 PM

It's nice to have a deep state - I like getting accurate reports from career professionals about, say, whether a hurricane is going to hit Alabama.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 07:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by squidfood (Post 21854958)
It's nice to have a deep state - I like getting accurate reports from career professionals about, say, whether a hurricane is going to hit Alabama.

Not the same thing. See posts #7 & #17.

MortSahlFan 09-11-2019 07:37 PM

JFK knew all about it. But he was a threat to the establishment, especially the CIA. Trump isn't sticking his neck out for anyone, and unfortunately, some of Trump's supporters want to actually compare the two.

Snowboarder Bo 09-11-2019 09:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kirkrapine (Post 21854969)
Not the same thing. See posts #7 & #17.

Dismissive responses AND posts that don't adequately explain what you're talking about are not going to win many debates.

kirkrapine 09-11-2019 09:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo (Post 21855246)
Dismissive responses AND posts that don't adequately explain what you're talking about are not going to win many debates.

I think the cited posts made it clear enough: Deep State != permanent government. NOAA and NWS are permanent government.

F. U. Shakespeare 09-12-2019 04:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LAZombie (Post 21853440)
First, it's a myth that most government employees could make more in the private sector.

Hey, the people who pulled off the collapse of WTC7 (along with, presumably, the rest of the 9/11 operation) have great futures as James Bond villains, and that pays a lot more than the GS scale.

bump 09-12-2019 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo (Post 21855246)
Dismissive responses AND posts that don't adequately explain what you're talking about are not going to win many debates.

I think what they're trying to get at is that while there's no real "deep state" in the sense of a shadow government stealthily pulling the strings of government, what we do have is a large Federal bureaucracy made of up of self-selected people who probably have a somewhat common viewpoint on policies, and an associated set of private sector enterprises that interact with those bureaucracies. And all of those things have institutional inertia, their own agendas, and their own ways of doing things.

So when Senator Dingleberry shows up from North Dakota, and somehow rams a bill through Congress that runs counter to those agendas, viewpoints and ways of doing things, that bill's execution gets slowed down, is less effective and is generally obstructed. That's how I'm interpreting the "deep state"- just because elected officials decide something, it doesn't mean that all the entrenched infrastructure of the day-to-day running the government is suddenly in line and motivated to make it happen when and how those elected officials want it to happen.

To use a personal hypothetical... I work for a large city, and if our city council was to somehow be overrun by Republicans who were bent on reducing city services to the lower income and/or ethnic residents, you had better believe that just about any council resolution or mandate of that kind would be slow-walked, marred by 'incompetency' or just plain obstructed by the rank and file, because as a rule, we're not about that kind of thing here, regardless of what the elected types think. I can't help but think that the Federal government doesn't have something similar in each bureaucracy and on a broader scale.

puddleglum 09-12-2019 02:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kirkrapine (Post 21854846)
The present Admin clearly pays very little attention to experts, and Congress not much more. Yet the power of the Deep State over policy -- that is, over limiting the range of acceptable policy discussion -- remains undiminished.



Looking around the world, it manifestly works considerably less well than West-Euro-style social democracy -- which, thanks to the Deep State, is off the table here. As for "elite economists," their present consensus tends toward not neoliberalism but post-Keynesianism.

Trump may not listen to experts but he is not the only person in his administration. Most of the people appointed to run the agencies are listening to experts.
Congress has its own experts and their policy choices have not changed.

Neoliberalism works everywhere it is tried. For example look at the Social Democracies such as Sweden, who tried neo liberalism after a collapse in the early 90s and found that it worked there, or Germany who reformed labor laws to neoliberal principles. Post Keynesianism is not well defined enough to be called a consensus.

Snowboarder Bo 09-12-2019 06:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kirkrapine (Post 21855278)
I think the cited posts made it clear enough: Deep State != permanent government. NOAA and NWS are permanent government.

You're wrong. Almost 10% of all the posts in this short thread are people offering their views only to have you say "that's not what I'm talking about". If you had adequately explained things, that would be a lot closer to 0%.

Snowboarder Bo 09-12-2019 06:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bump (Post 21856052)
I think what they're trying to get at is that while there's no real "deep state" in the sense of a shadow government stealthily pulling the strings of government, what we do have is a large Federal bureaucracy made of up of self-selected people who probably have a somewhat common viewpoint on policies, and an associated set of private sector enterprises that interact with those bureaucracies. And all of those things have institutional inertia, their own agendas, and their own ways of doing things.

So when Senator Dingleberry shows up from North Dakota, and somehow rams a bill through Congress that runs counter to those agendas, viewpoints and ways of doing things, that bill's execution gets slowed down, is less effective and is generally obstructed. That's how I'm interpreting the "deep state"- just because elected officials decide something, it doesn't mean that all the entrenched infrastructure of the day-to-day running the government is suddenly in line and motivated to make it happen when and how those elected officials want it to happen.

To use a personal hypothetical... I work for a large city, and if our city council was to somehow be overrun by Republicans who were bent on reducing city services to the lower income and/or ethnic residents, you had better believe that just about any council resolution or mandate of that kind would be slow-walked, marred by 'incompetency' or just plain obstructed by the rank and file, because as a rule, we're not about that kind of thing here, regardless of what the elected types think. I can't help but think that the Federal government doesn't have something similar in each bureaucracy and on a broader scale.

Well that's what I thought too, but when I asked
Quote:

Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo (Post 21853157)
I'll give you a better debate topic: how could we possibly have a country that did not have a so-called "deep state"? Because IMO, we can't. No one can. It's ridiculous.

I was told that I wasn't following the OP.

What you are describing isn't a "deep state" it's "a country's government and culture".

Are we supposed to expect every government employee to be a robot that can be re-programmed overnight after an election? Do we expect the entire country to simply fall in line after a 51% vote for a particular party? That's ridiculous.

bump 09-13-2019 11:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo (Post 21857153)
Well that's what I thought too, but when I askedI was told that I wasn't following the OP.

What you are describing isn't a "deep state" it's "a country's government and culture".

Are we supposed to expect every government employee to be a robot that can be re-programmed overnight after an election? Do we expect the entire country to simply fall in line after a 51% vote for a particular party? That's ridiculous.

More like "a country's government's culture".

What I understood to be the salient features of the "deep state" is basically that there's a huge, entrenched, uncoordinated, but broadly similar infrastructure that makes the government go, and that because it's large, it has a lot of inertia. And it's also got its own viewpoint and way of doing things, which also have a lot of their own inertia.

All of the above is in the aggregate- it's the procurement people at the USPS, it's the operations people at the Coast Guard, it's the catering companies that provide the food at the Pentagon, it's the admin assistants in the DEA, etc... All of them collectively contribute to this- they do their jobs, and just because Trump, or whoever comes in and decides something, it doesn't mean that they turn on a dime, agree, or even bother.

So from the perspective of elected officials and those who think that the bureaucracy and associated vendors should be robotically doing things exactly as told, this seems like it could be a vast conspiracy to thwart outsiders, when in fact, it's probably more of an emergent, collective, organizational reaction to disruption.

GreenWyvern 09-13-2019 02:03 PM

cf. Eisenhower's warning about the 'military-industrial complex'.

kirkrapine 09-15-2019 03:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bump (Post 21858282)
So from the perspective of elected officials and those who think that the bureaucracy and associated vendors should be robotically doing things exactly as told, this seems like it could be a vast conspiracy to thwart outsiders, when in fact, it's probably more of an emergent, collective, organizational reaction to disruption.

So, what can we do about it?

ralfy 09-15-2019 08:28 PM

Can also be seen in light of the rich controlling the economy, Washington beholden to Wall Street, the military industrial complex, and the petrodollar.

kirkrapine 09-15-2019 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ralfy (Post 21862552)
Can also be seen in light of the rich controlling the economy, Washington beholden to Wall Street, the military industrial complex, and the petrodollar.

So what can we do about that?

bump 09-15-2019 10:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kirkrapine (Post 21862033)
So, what can we do about it?

I suspect there's nothing much that could be done about it, if indeed anything CAN be done about it.

It's not something that you can point at, or even really identify. For the most part, that sort of inherent institutional inertia and viewpoint is going to be present in ANY large enterprise- it's what happens when you get a bunch of people working together. Some proportion are going to be motivated to do exactly what they're told, how they're told and when they're told. Some other proportion are going to be motivated to do the exact opposite. And the vast majority are going to be individually motivated in varying amounts on each of those.

Imagine if you will, a university president coming in and telling students that they can't drink, or screw or something. Some will comply immediately, others will engage in bacchanalian revels, and the majority will probably just turn a blind eye to the rules and carry on as they already were. That's the sort of behavior we're talking about here.

Probably the best way to deal with it would be to find a way to work WITH it, identifying it as a sort of natural phenomenon like the weather, rather than view it as some sort of hideous anti-democratic abberation. The only reason it's an issue for Trump is because he's not playing within the usual Washington rules, and is getting exactly the sort of pushback and disregard you'd expect.
'


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:44 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.