Peut-être quelques lecteurs judicieux et complices comprendront-ils aussitôt ce sentiment qui nous habite, à propos de la profonde crise où se trouvent plongés les États-Unis, de rencontrer avec une vitesse saisissante, selon des rythme de contrepied extraordinaires, des situations, des commentaires, des attitudes d’un extrême à l’autre, où tout ce qu’une tragédie-bouffe peut avoir d’extrêmement tragique et d’extrêmement bouffe se côtoie presque comme s’il s’agissait du commun. Pour ce cas, nous avons choisi de publier deux longs textes, venus de sources très différentes, et décrivant deux situations absolument opposées, qui sembleraient s’exclure l’une l’autre et qui, pourtant, se côtoient jusqu’à se toucher, jusqu’à se mélanger, jusqu’à se transmuter l’une l’autre dans leurs extrêmes les plus extraordinaires.
Les deux textes décrivent des situations très sérieuses, qui se réfèrent au tragique dans le sens plein du terme, par exemple selon la définition qu’en donne André Comte-Sponville : « [L]e tragique n'est pas seulement le malheur mais “ce qui résiste à la réconciliation”, le conflit qui demeure “sans issue satisfaisante entre deux points de vue l’un et l’autre légitimes”. » Pour notre compte et tout en acceptant la définition puisque nous la citons, nous nuancerions grandement le terme “légitime” en précisant qu’il n’est que l’expression de l’affirmation de chaque force existante et participant à la tragédie, et nullement l’expression de la légitimité principielle de chacune de ces “forces existantes”. Cette légitimité principielle doit être justement la question fondamentale que pose une tragédie et dont elle (cette tragédie) suggère éventuellement une réponse lorsqu’elle est menée à son terme ; si l’on veut, le véritable tragique serait justement, au-delà de la description faite par Comte-Sponville et en nuançant la fin de cette façon : “[un] conflit sans issue ... [entre] ... deux points de vue qui se disent légitimes et dont les conditions et le déroulement laisseront deviner celui qui l’est et celui qui ne l’est pas, d’un point de vue principiel et éventuellement éthique et spirituel”. C'est cela qui est en jeu dans la situation extraordinaire de USA-2016, sans qu'on sache si la réponse à la question de la légitimité principielle, au terme de la tragédie, n'est pas au-delà de ces “deux points de vue qui se disent légitimes”, si elle n'est pas plutôt dans l'effondrement pur et simple du cadre général (les USA/le Système). Bien entendu, le “caractère bouffe” de l'ensemble empêche de se pencher sérieusement sur cette question abyssale et permet à la gravité du tragique de se développer comme en toute impunité...
Ce qui donne son caractère bouffe à l’ensemble tragique USA-2016, c’est justement la cohabitation presque sans incidences réciproques de ces deux situations extrêmes qui normalement devraient s’affronter directement et dans un conflit fondamental caractérisant les conditions de la tragédie. Encore, le caractère bouffe est accentuée dans la mesure énorme des effets et de l’importance du système de la communication, par la façon dont sa dimension officielle (dimension-Système) restitue cette tragédie au travers des plus invraisemblables déformations des faits et des comportements, avec souvent une haine terrible pour la réalité, sans le moindre souci de vraisemblance puisqu’entraînée par le déterminisme-narrativiste ; cela, nous conduisant à devoir enquêter constamment d’une façon indépendante pour déterminer la vérité-de-situation, comme toute personne consciente de la gravité exceptionnelle de la situation de son temps devrait ressentir le devoir impératif de faire. Enfin et à partir du fait précédent, il y a pour renforcer encore le caractère bouffe l’ignorance ou l’illusion avec lesquelles les spectateurs de la chose, et notamment les spectateurs européens, regardent sans le voir et encore moins le comprendre ce spectacle titanesque USA-2016 ; les réflexions, les commentaires, la perception même de l’événement deviennent effectivement bouffons avec toutes ces déformations, malgré qu’il s’agisse bien de la tragédie dont nous parlons.
En Europe, les directions et les élites-Système, avec leurs diverses cohortes des élites-Système et leurs cargaisons d'“experts”, avec le public moyen qui suit la manipulation générale du système de la communication, avec les préoccupations provinciales et infécondes autour de l’énorme pomme pourrie et impuissante qu’est l’UE, toute cette horde qui se juge civilisée est sourde et aveugles devant la fantastique secousse tellurique qui secoue le cœur de la plus grande puissance du monde, c’est-à-dire le cœur et le moteur à la fois du Système. L’Europe ne réalise pas que ce formidable événement doit nécessairement faire sentir ses effets colossaux sur le reste du monde (The Rest Of the World) car c’est bien, selon notre point, de l’effondrement du Système qu’il s’agit. Cette inexistence de la conscience des choses donne effectivement ce côté bouffe de la tragédie colossale que nous vivons, en faisant dériver l’information et la réflexion sur des voies dérisoires et pathétiques par rapport à la puissance de l’événement. Autant pour elle, pour cette Europe postmoderne qui ne cesse de se mirer avec une satisfaction de plus en plus hésitante et consternante dans le miroir déformant de sa narrative...
Les deux textes que nous présentons ci-dessous présentent donc deux situations dynamiques colossales qui, de cette façon extraordinaire, cohabitent jusqu’à se mélanger et pourtant sans se freiner l’une l’autre alors qu’elles sont faites normalement (!) pour entrer en collision et provoquer une énorme déflagration qui les freinerait nécessairement. Le spectacle extraordinaire et fascinant est donc de suivre cette chevauchée épique en se demandant laquelle de ces dynamiques aura raison de l’autre ; à côté de cela, à côté de l’aspect-compétitif qui pourrait n'être qu'un leurre comme nous en réserve le tragique (voir plus haut), notre sentiment de plus en plus affirmé et sans cesse confirmé est que l’effet va être un désordre grandissant et, à terme, des événements catastrophiques pour les structures fondamentales des États-Unis, c'est-à-dire du Système.
Le premier des deux textes est d’une éditorialiste du Washington Examiner, Salena Zito (avec l’aide essentiellement d’un professeur de sciences politiques de la Youngstown State University, Paul Sracic, largement interviewé), sur la situation de Trump, de la mise en place de son administration, etc. Et cette description est absolument admirative, nous suggérant que Trump est en train de prendre le pouvoir et de l’organiser bien avant qu’il en soit investie, au point (selon Sracic) que “tout se passe comme si Obama avait disparu, et que Trump était d’ores et déjà président” , que jamais une telle transition n’a eu lieu dans de telles conditions d’énergie et de mise en place.. (Cette appréciation est largement admise par diverses autres sources, et notamment lors de l’entretien de Trump avec Chris Wallace de Fox.News, le 11 décembre, dans le chef de Wallace lui-même.) On notera que le Washington Examiner, où paraît ce texte le 12 décembre, n’est pas un média de la presse antiSystème, qu’il est plutôt conservateur mais pas précisément partisan de Trump. Le point de vue est plutôt “opérationnel”, simplement sur le constat de l’activité de Trump et de son équipe, mais il a bien entendu un sens politique : il nous indique qu’un nouveau pouvoir est en train d’être installé à Washington, avant même qu'il soit adoubé par leSystème, et alors qu'une autre dynamique prétend l'empêcher de se mettre en place...
Le second de ces textes est de l’auteur “Virgil”, de Breitbart.News, dont on a déjà vu un texte de fond le 4 décembre sur “l’hypercapitalisme et l’hypergauche”. Il s’agit, dans ce texte du 12 décembre, de la description minutieuse de l’offensive totale lancée actuellement contre Trump par ce que l’on nomme désormais le Deep State (“l’État profond”)... (Avec toutes les ambiguïtés attachées à cette expression, – au point que nous préférerions parler simplement du “Système”, selon cette expression générale qui n’enferme dans aucune position ni aucune fonction et laisse plus de souplesse dans l’appréciation de la position et de l’évolution des uns et des autres ; en effet, il est d’évidence que certains acteurs de l’“État profond”, le FBI par exemple, ne sont pas loin d’être complètement du côté de Trump.)
Bien entendu, le texte vient d’un partisan sans réserve de Trump, à l’image du site Breitbart.News, mais cela n’a guère d’interférence négative dans notre information et pour notre compréhension puisqu’il s’agit de décrire l’adversaire selon des actes, des intentions et des références connus de tous car l'on sait bien que le “complot” est désormais “à ciel ouvert”, dans la plus complète impudence oxymorique. L’intérêt du texte de “Virgil” est de reprendre tous les éléments du dossier que constitue l’attaque contre Trump, tant au niveau des personnalités impliquées (notamment au Congrès), des organisations, de la presse-Système, etc. La description est extrêmement détaillée, avec de très nombreuses références, et cela nous permet de bien comprendre les modalités, les acteurs, et l’axe principal de l’attaque contre Trump désormais rassemblée autour de la narrative de l’intervention russe dans l’élection USA-2016, d’une complète impudence lorsqu’on se rappelle de ses modalités de lancement.
As if to drive home the point, a Trump campaign sign defiantly reminds passersby he won the presidency last month in this Mahoning Valley suburb of Youngstown, a once-dominant manufacturing town in the famed Steel Valley.
"It's not as if we need any reminders," said Paul Sracic, a political science professor at nearby Youngstown State University. "Trump has dominated the news cycle. It is almost like Barack Obama has disappeared and Trump is already president.
"He is all we talk about. He is already saving or creating jobs, with what happened with Carrier along with the big but vague announcement with a Japanese billionaire who said he was going to invest $50 billion in the American economy and jobs."
Two weeks ago president-elect Trump went to the Carrier Corp. plant in Indianapolis to announce that he saved nearly 1,000 jobs; last week he took credit for the $50 billion U.S. investment pledge by Masayoshi Son, the colorful billionaire founder of SoftBank, a Japanese tech conglomerate, a deal Trump says wouldn't have happened without him.
There really has not been a break since the day he won the election, Sracic said.
And for voters around here — the most concentrated area in the country that went from being Obama supporters to Trump supporters — he is winning the transition from candidate to president.
Trump's bulldog style has agitated and caused great concern among journalists, scholars and establishment figures who are stunned by his unorthodox tweets announcing job creations, hitting back at a union leader who took a shot at him, or calling out a major manufacturer like Boeing for its cost to build a new-generation Air Force One.
"There is so much happening at the same time, but the overriding thing that we are seeing is that Donald Trump is doing really, really well," Sracic said.
He describes the way Trump is carrying out his transition as being historic in its pace — and as being viewed very differently by the people who voted for him than by the people who report on him or define him in academic terms.
As a political scientist, Sracic is astounded that "this is such a different political world, we are not used to any of this."
Trump has no rule of consistency: He breaks political protocol and orthodoxies on a fairly regular basis; he has jumped from campaigning to almost governing and can swiftly change his mind, sometimes going in the complete opposite direction of what he said a day (or even hours) before.
And the tweeting ... so much tweeting.
It's a little scary, because what he is doing is so unfamiliar.
We know how the other way works out, the way we've been doing things for years, Sracic said, but we don't know how this way will work out.
"So, while everyone is sort of attacking him from all sides, it is not affecting him with the voters, just like it didn't affect him during the election," Sracic said. "If anything, it's like he is becoming more popular."
And that is why most people didn't pick up on the fact that he was going to win: They could not believe his behavior could equate to a victory.
Sracic warns that the press, the political class, academics, and the establishment still do not understand that his unorthodoxy is popular among voters.
"Honestly, I think that is what people wanted," he said.
The headline should be that Trump not only won the election, said Sracic, but that he is winning the post-election as well.
So how do reporters and academics chronicle and question this incoming presidency?
Trump is loose with words, rarely placing the same value on them that reporters or traditional politicians do, causing them an abundance of consternation and outrage when he does not account for what he says.
"I think our job is to try to figure out how this might work or not work without bringing closure to the idea that this paradigm cannot work," Sracic said.
Sracic said you can criticize on an individual basis the Carrier deal; you can't give tax breaks to every company in the country just to stay here. Yet, rather than just taking a pot shot at Trump or saying that this is just one company and just 1,000 jobs, perhaps we should step back and ask, "Well, can this work?"
If it is not going to work, then we should ask why it won't.
"Our criticism as academics and journalists can't be, 'Well, this isn't how you do it.' It forces all of us to step back and say, 'Well, maybe there is a different way of doing it,' " Sracic said.
"Because, if we just dismiss it, then we won't be listened to at all, because the public is tired of things being done the way they have always been done."
It may be that Trump is making mistakes; maybe this isn't the way we should do things — but you need to give a reason for that being the case. We can't just take things at face value and say you have to do things this way because that is the way we have always done it.
Maybe that's the lesson — that we have to start thinking more, as simple as that sounds.
Sracic said the problem for reporters is that everyone is crying "Wolf!" too much, especially over the loss of press freedoms: "When you do that, you disarm yourself for a future time when there may be something that we need to scream and yell about."
"It is a mistake that the press has made for a long time," he said. "They almost always have a knee-jerk reaction against Republican candidates.
"... So reporters disarm themselves and people don't believe it when they say Trump is doing something bad, because they already have this perception the press was going to say that anyway because it always says that about Republicans."
Instead, the press needs to figure out why Trump is so popular and if there is any way this might be able to work. "Certainly they were willing to do that with Obama," said Sracic.
He said most media are "still reporting this from Washington and New York" perspectives when it should "get down inside America and see it from (another) point of view."
Trump is so different from past presidents and today's politicians that we need to forget our traditional paradigms and rethink all of this. That doesn't mean the press should not scrutinize and question his actions and motives — but it does need to understand that much of the country wanted change, and that's exactly what it got.
Whether that is a good thing, only time will tell.
Yet, if we continue to chase political windmills in covering Trump, we'll eventually not be taken seriously by the people.
Do the Democrats want Donald Trump to become the 45th president? Of course not. And how about the Democrats’ handmaiden, the Main Stream Media? Do they want Trump in the White House? Of course not. And how ‘bout all the other affluent residents of the Washington “swamp,” which Trump has pledged to drain—do you think any of them want Trump? Of course not. Together, these anti-Trump constituencies help form what has been called the Deep State, which is a real and serious thing, and which we will explore further in a moment.
Yet first, we can take a look at the latest news, because let’s not kid ourselves: These anti-Trump constituencies might have lost the 2016 presidential election at the ballot box, but they don’t intend to lose their power. And to that end, they have real clout, and they are using it.
In particular, wily in the ways of Washington, the anti-Trumpers are operating behind the scenes, using their well-greased legal and political machinery to block the President-elect, or at least to discredit and de-legitimize him, such that his presidency is crippled. And as a part of that backroom effort, the MSM is always ready with a supportive, momentum-building headline or two—or two thousand.
We all remember the anti-Trump protests that immediately erupted after the election—some of them, it would seem, funded by George Soros and his ilk. But such “guerrilla theater” in the streets was just an overture; the real battle, today, is in the suites.
So on Saturday, December 10, Sen. Harry Reid, the outgoing leader of the Senate Democrats, helped set the new anti-Trump agenda in an appearance on MSNBC; hence this headline: “Reid: Russian Involvement In Election ‘A Hanging Chad 1,000 Times Over,’ Trump ‘Lost the Election.’” The words “hanging chad,” of course, are a reference to the 2000 presidential election—that being another time when the Democrats lost and responded by seeking to derail the victor, Republican George W. Bush.
Today, the looming flashpoint, of course, is the December 19 convening of the electoral college. Normally, these sessions in the 50 states are just a formality, in which the 538 electors ratify the candidate who won the most electoral votes as the next president. And since Trump won 306 electoral votes in November, a clear majority, there should be no doubt as to who will be inaugurated on January 20—but maybe there is.
Yes, we must ask: What will actually happen on the 19th of this month?
For weeks now, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig has been agitating to overturn the presidential election results. Back on November 24, he wrote in The Washington Post that the electoral college should meet and vote Hillary Clinton into the White House.
Since then, Lessig has helped to form a group, HamiltonElectors.com, aimed at encouraging “faithless electors,” of which there have been a few over the years, to be faithless, now, in record numbers. Today, Lessig’s website says merely that it wants the electors to break from Trump and vote for a “qualified Republican alternative.”
But of course, in such a chaotic situation, if the electors feel free to break faith with their commitment to Trump, anything could happen. And Lessig himself is just as much of a Democrat as ever and so, too, we can assume, are his financial backers. (Interestingly, the site is rather coy about the identity of its funders.)
As the Lessig site declares, “Together We Can Stop Trump.” Yes, that’s one goal, and yet it’s also safe to assume that if Lessig & Co. get what they really want, then Hillary will become the 45th president.
And in fact, one Republican elector, Christopher Suprun of Texas, has already declared that he won’t vote for Trump next week. And guess what: Suprun has become a hero to The New York Times and the rest of the MSM.
So in the meantime, for the next week or so, the anti-Trump goal is simply to encourage chaos because from their point of view, only good things could happen. And here, once again, the always dutiful Politico is happy to help; hence this trio of headlines, which are just a sampling: “Rogue electors brief Clinton camp on anti-Trump plan,” “Washington state presidential electors file third lawsuit in anti-Trump effort,” and “Dem congressman: Electoral College has ‘right’ to weigh Russian hacking.”
And just on December 12 came the news—or perhaps we should we put “news” in quotes, since it’s just a press release—that the Hillary Clinton campaign wants the electoral college to be “briefed” on the Russia hacking allegations—which presumably means rehashing all the news stories. In other words, the Clinton campaign wants yet another chance to rehash the same suppositions and suspicions, as opposed to actual facts, of which there seem to be none. Again, the mission is simple: throw sand in the gears of the constitutional machinery.
Meanwhile, others are joining the anti-Trump effort. For example, here’s another one of CNN’s contributions to the anti-Trump cause, focused on the words of Robert Baer, who made a name for himself as a critic of George W. Bush in the ‘00s: “Ex-CIA operative: We may need a new vote.”
There’s nothing in the Constitution, of course, about a presidential-election do-over, and so there’s zero precedent for any such national re-vote, and yet, as we have seen, the minimum goal of the anti-Trump forces is to sow massive confusion.
And in the wake of such confusion, what if on December 19 a few electors were to suggest, say, a delay in the vote of the electoral college? Once again, this is all highly hypothetical, but it’s a safe bet that somewhere, some gang of law professors is feverishly writing a brief declaring that such action is not only desirable, but also fully legal and constitutional. And so now, if they can only find a friendly judge . . .
Still, in the end, it’s hard for Virgil to believe that these machinations to stop the electoral college from voting for Trump on the 19th will be successful.
And so, in the event of an actual President Trump, the anti-Trumpers have their Plan B. And that is this: The anti-Trumpers will systematically defame and degrade the 45th president with an eye toward paralyzing his effectiveness in office and hopefully making him a one-termer—or less.
Whoa, the reader might be saying. Less than a one-termer? Really? Yes, that’s the hope of hardcore anti-Trumpers, such as David Brooks of The New York Times, who wrote on November 11 that Trump will “probably resign or be impeached within a year.” That’s the level of hatred that the elite harbors for Trump.
So in this coming post-campaign campaign, the anti-Trumpers will start as they started with George W. Bush, 16 years ago: The new Republican president lost the popular vote, he has no mandate, and no true legitimacy in office.
After that, the anti-Trumpers will advance their next theme: the purported “Russia Connection.” That was a common enough theme during the 2016 election campaign, but the opening gun in the renewed effort was fired on December 9, when The Washington Post headlined, “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House.” As the Post put it:
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
That’s rather an incendiary accusation, eh?—that the Russians actively plotted to interfere in an American presidential election. (One wonders whatever happened to Hillary Clinton’s 2009 “re-set” of relations with Russia.)
We can note that the evidence cited in the Post story is thin to non-existent; we must trust the newspaper when it quotes an unnamed source described only as “a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators,” saying:
It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected. . . . That’s the consensus view.
One’s first reaction is to say, “Gee, it certainly is interesting that a ‘secret CIA assessment’ found its way on to the front page of the Post.” Obviously, the anti-Trump forces have a lot of little helpers in the government, leaking like crazy, and in the MSM, lapping up the leaks. That’s the Deep State in action, and we’ll get to that shortly.
And the second reaction is to echo what the office of the President-elect said in response: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
Indeed, one can also add that the same “intel community” has been so highly politicized in the Obama years that it has also told us, with a straight face, that “climate change” is a dire national security threat, perhaps the most dire. In fact, Secretary of State John Kerry has made that assertion at least 22 times. And we’re supposed to trust these people?
Interestingly, even as the Russia-did-it storyline played out, actual evidence, let alone proof, that the Russians aimed to tilt the election was, well, non-existent. The New York Times, which never misses a chance to whack Trump, splashed the story on its front page, again, on December 12, but even it had to admit that there was no actual evidence that the Russians were trying to help Trump—it’s simply their new considered opinion:
The C.I.A.’s conclusion does not appear to be the product of specific new intelligence obtained since the election, several American officials, including some who had read the agency’s briefing, said on Sunday. Rather, it was an analysis of what many believe is overwhelming circumstantial evidence—evidence that others feel does not support firm judgments—that the Russians put a thumb on the scale for Mr. Trump, and got their desired outcome. [emphasis added]
Assuming that the Times is accurately reflecting the consensus opinion inside the CIA, we are left to wonder what could be motivating the agency to put forth such a strong, but evidence-less, opinion. And to help answer that question, we might turn to a December 10 story in The Daily Beast, reporting on the anti-Trump angst inside the agency:
“There’s a real revolt going on,” said a former intelligence officer of the CIA leaks, citing discussions with former colleagues. “They don’t like [National Security Adviser nominee Michael] Flynn and they hate Trump’s guts. [emphasis added]
Is that really the explanation for all this leaking? They “hate Trump’s guts”? And for that reason, CIA personnel are willing to twist the intelligence and traduce the reputation of their agency? Virgil can only say: If the men and women of the CIA felt so strongly against Trump, maybe they should have donated more to the Hillary Clinton campaign—that would have been an honest expression of their view, as opposed to a sneak attack, post-election.
So now let’s get to the corpus of what we’re talking about. The term “Deep State” refers to the complex of bureaucrats, technocrats, and plutocrats that likes things just the way they are and wants to keep them like that—elections be damned.
Some might say that “Deep State” is just a synonym for the “Establishment,” and yet “Deep State” refers to a larger grouping, not just to the stereotypical elite “chattering class.” We can also observe that a Deep State can be found in just about every country in the world, but our focus here, of course, is on the United States.
And here in America, the Deep State has its own political consciousness, and it aims to survive any change of government with its collective will—and self-interest—fully intact.
Normally, the Deep State is hidden, albeit, at the same time, hiding in plain sight. That is, while nobody has “Deep State” on his or her business card, the reality of the Deep State is overwhelming: It’s not just the hulking office buildings of the Federal Triangle in downtown DC, it’s also the taxpayer-funded mini-metropolises that have sprouted up in Bethesda, Maryland, Crystal City, Virginia, and a dozen other hubs in and around the I-495 Beltway. (Hence the familiar phrase, “Beltway Bandits”; Virgil can attest that federal contractors have assumed a kind of ironic affection for that phrase—at least in their private conversations.)
A careful taxonomy of the Deep State must begin, of course, with the governmental bureaucracy, which, because of civil-service protections, does not change when one political party or the other takes control of the White House or Congress. Today, there are about 2.8 million civilian federal employees, as well 1.3 million in the uniformed military.
And yet in citing the number of government employees, we’ve only scratched the surface, because for every “public servant,” there seems to be one or more private-sector operator. To illustrate this phenomenon, we can take a snapshot of just one federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security. It’s been estimated that at least 100,000 private contractors work at DHS—although nobody really knows, and some estimates go much higher.
Indeed, the sheer unknowability of the federal contractor empire is a common theme in Beltway journalism. Hence this headline from March 12, 2015, appearing in Government Executive magazine: “Even CBO Is Stumped on the Size of the Contractor Workforce.” The “CBO,” of course, is the Congressional Budget Office. That’s right, even the budget agency of Congress can’t figure out the true number—although some would say that lawmakers have never really wanted to know.
These contractors, many of whom are former federal employees, are well compensated. Here, for example, is a 2013 headline from The Washington Times: “Executive pay balloons for federal contractors.” The Times identified at least 77 contractors whose revenue came from the federal government and paid their top five executives more than $3 million a year, for an average of $600,000 each. And where do these big salaries come from? From big markups, of course. To cite just one of a million possible examples, one company sold Apple MacBook Pro computers to Uncle Sam for markups of between $2000 and $4000 each.
So as we can see, the Deep State is much larger, and wealthier, than just the bureaucrats. Funded by a federal government that will spend more than $4 trillion this year, the Deep State includes all the wheeler-dealers, plus the hired-gun experts, lawyers, think-tankers, foundation executives, and others that have sometimes been dubbed the “New Class.”
And the proof that this New Class is doing well can be found in the Census data, which show that four of the five richest counties in the US are in the DC metro area.
And it’s this luxe life, which has reached its apex under Barack Obama, that finds itself threatened by the drain-the-swamp pledge of Trump. As The New York Times headlined its so-sad story on November 13, “A Newly Vibrant Washington Fears That Trump Will Drain Its Culture.”
Yet in fact, the Deep State extends well beyond Washington. In 2011, Suzanne Mettler, a professor at Cornell University, published The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy. Mettler is no conspiracy-theorist; her argument is that federal policies, notably tax deductions and credits, have had the effect of encouraging the growth of government in ways that most people never notice. Mettler’s work is controversial, insofar as she equates taxes that the government did not collect with actual government spending. And yet the author has a point, because to the extent that the tax law encourages or discourages behavior, it is, in fact, a kind of government policy. And the total annual value of these tax incentives has been estimated at nearly $1 trillion. For better or worse, that’s a lot of money for a lot of people.
And then there’s the cost of regulation. Annual federal regulatory compliance costs—that is, the expense of dealing with all that red tape—are estimated to total at least $2 trillion. And yet we must add this important note: For all the millions of businesses and individuals who must pay the cost of regulation, there are plenty of others who benefit, at least in the short run, from that regulation. And these perverse beneficiaries, we can further observe, are more likely be acutely aware of how their bread is buttered—here’s looking at you, solar-power industry!—and will thus be all more determined to defend the status quo.
And while we’re at it, in our Deep State examination, let’s not forget the whole huge cluster of federal loans and loan guarantees. Once again, nobody really knows how much all that costs, but estimates range from hundreds of billions (annually) to many trillions (cumulatively).
Not surprisingly, the beneficiaries of all this federal easy money tend to stay quiet about their winnings, but some are vocal. Here, for example, is a 2015 headline from The Los Angeles Times; “Elon Musk defends $4.9 billion in government money for his companies.”
Of course, in our survey of the dimensions of the Deep State, we haven’t even touched on state and local government; their expenditures, in 2012, were estimated to total $2.59 trillion. Moreover, that dollar total doesn’t include the sort of the “submerged” expenditures that Mettler and others have described.
To sum up, in 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the total number of federal, state, and local employees is 21,995,000. And yet again, the real workforce could be much larger: Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has estimated that the true size of the governmental workforce actually totals 40 million Americans.
Okay, so we have seen some ways of measuring the size of the Deep State; it is, indeed, an incredible hulk. And yet the reader might ask: Does that mean that all of those 20 million, or even 40 million, people are opposed to Trump?
And the answer, of course, is “No.” It’s a cinch that quite a few public employees were and are Trump supporters. And yet at the same time, it would be naive not to realize that Trump fans are the minority within the Deep State. Moreover, it’s safe to say that most of the leadership of the Deep State—that being, at best, a hazy category—is solidly in the anti-Trump camp.
This anti-Trump hostility, we might note, is now more visible—even in entities that might be thought of as being on the right, such as the military and other organizations dedicated to national security. And why is that? One obvious reason is that liberal Democrats have controlled the executive branch for 16 of the last 24 years, and so there’s been plenty of time to cultivate liberals—even liberal activists—within the ranks and to bring them to the pinnacles of bureaucratic power.
As we know, the Pentagon has not been immune from various forms of political correctness over the years; indeed, many of the most ambitious careerists within DOD have often been leading the leftward charge. To be sure, the vast bulk of our nation’s warriors are staunch believers in Douglas MacArthur’s trinity of “duty, honor, country,” and so they stood up and cheered, for example, on December 7, when Admiral Harry Harris ripped into anti-American football player Colin Kaepernick.
Yet still, during the Obama years, such patriots have been layered over by liberal apparatchiks. And the same left-pushing syndrome has been equally true of all federal security agencies.
In other words, there’s a power struggle that’s coming inside many government units: the pro-Obama old guard vs. the pro-Trump new guard.
Yet for now, at least until January 20, the Obamans are in charge. And so that might explain this December 11 headline in The Washington Post: “Trump, CIA on collision course over Russia’s role in election.”
Indeed, there’s a lot of institutional throw-weight lined up against Trump.
And that institutional opposition to Trump has plenty of allies, including among many Republicans. So the reader might ask: How many Republican Never Trumpers are to be found within the ranks of the anti-Trumpers of the Deep State? And the answer to that question appears to be, many.
On December 10, for example, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a libertarian Republican gadfly always hostile to Trump, tweeted in response to the Trump team’s statement denying any Russia connection:
Transition team’s dismissive statement doesn’t cut it. Congress must determine if there’s credible evidence and investigate if necessary.
In the meantime, more prominent Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. John McCain, having never made any secret of their disdain for Trump, are now actively working with the Democrats, preparing to besiege the Trump administration.
Graham, we might recall, even volunteered that he voted for Evan McMullin. And where did McMullin make his career? Why, the CIA. Small world! And although McMullin received less than half a percent of the vote in November, he continues to attack Trump, and the MSM continues to chronicle his every spiteful word.
And now Graham and McCain, joined by the Democrats, are determined to push a Congressional investigation of Trump’s alleged connections to Russia. As Graham and McCain, joined by two Democrats, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed, said in a joint statement on Sunday, “This cannot become a partisan issue,” adding, “The stakes are too high for our country.”
Without minimizing the importance of putting a halt to cyber-attacks on America, wherever they might come from, we can translate this statement: It’s not a partisan issue, it’s an institutional issue: Deep State vs. Trump.
Such Congressional investigations, we might add, have a way of taking on a life of their own, lumbering forward forever, like some sort of relentless Terminator. And so, even as terrorist bombs are going off across the world, the Congressional branch of the Deep State is focusing on the enemy it truly wants to terminate—Trump.
For its part, the MSM is always happy to push the narrative that the anti-Trump effort is both necessary and bipartisan: hence this December 11 headline in The New York Times, “Trump, Mocking Claim That Russia Hacked Election, at Odds with G.O.P.” As the Times put it:
An extraordinary breach has emerged between President-elect Donald J. Trump and the national security establishment, with Mr. Trump mocking American intelligence assessments that Russia interfered in the election on his behalf, and top Republicans vowing investigations into Kremlin activities.
And whatever happens with the Congressional investigation in the short run, it’s a certainty that investigative reporters, would-be muckrakers, foundation-funded documentary filmmakers, and other self-appointed culture creators will be working this story for the long run—the very long run. Even if they can’t succeed in driving Trump out of office, they can hope to pin an “asterisk” on Trump’s historical legacy, so that he is always remembered, at least in certain quarters, as Putin’s President.
So there it is: the Deep State, in all its power, and its fury. It stretches across the whole of the federal government—indeed, the entirety of the country. And it includes not only bureaucrats, but also a galaxy of contractors, profiteers, and others in the nominal private sector. And it includes not only Democrats, but also Republicans. And oh yes, the MSM and the chattering class.
In other words, a great power struggle is under way: the Deep State vs. Trump.
And so one last question: Who’s likely to prevail? We can answer by observing that Trump has done well so far, and yet we can also observe that the Deep State hasn’t given up, and probably never will.