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The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government Paperback – September 13, 2016
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“Lofgren puts a name and a shape to a problem that has often been only nebulously defined…. The logic and sophistication of his argument is hard to resist.”
“The book’s greatest value is Lofgren’s description of Washington DC”
– Financial Times
"I could not put this book down. . . . This should be required reading not just for every student but for every American and probably every citizen of the world." --Frank Murano
"Lofgren leaves no president or party unscathed. . . Although The Deep State might sound like an expose on, say, the government's assasination of JFK, or a cover-up of UFOs, the real story is much more insidious, realistic and troubling."
"With echoes of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address warning in 1961 about the military-industrial complex, Lofgren offers a compelling vision of what happens when a democracy becomes a plutocracy, when political dysfunction reigns supreme over democratic deliberation, and when the war on terrorism leads to the militarization of our foreign policy. . . A must-read for anyone interested in the health and sanity of our body politic."
Praise for The Party Is Over:
"A fast-moving, hard-hitting, dryly witty account of the radicalization of the Republican Party, the failures of Democratic rivals and the appalling consequences for the country at large. The Party is Over is forceful, convincing and seductive."
--The Washington Post
"Lofgren's often comedic take on the grim political reality in Washington is no joke. . . . He wields not only a rare integrity in this town, but credibility, too."
--The American Conservative
"Lofgren describes the Republic Party as an 'apocalyptic cult' given to lying and delusional thinking. . . . He writes about how the party took advantage of a profoundly ignorant electorate, an easily conned and distracted media, and a cowed Democratic Party to press the ideological struggle in spite of the deep unpopularity of many of its positions. If all of this had come from a Nation columnist, it would have been unremarkable. Instead, it came from a mild, inconspicuous Hill staffer who hadn't written a political word in thirty years in Washington [and] had the feel of a long-repressed confession and the authority of an insider's testimony, like the anti-war views of a decorated infantry officer."
--George Packer, The New Yorker
"A pen in Lofgren's deft hands, combined with his deep understanding of political history and acid sense of humor, becomes a sharp, deeply penetrating harpoon aimed at the heart of his subject. In addition to harpooning the bloated degenerate Republican whale, Mike harpoons the Democrats by demonstrating subtly, yet persuasively, how their growing 'uselessness' arose out of an enervating sense of entitlement to power."
About the Author
Mike Lofgren is The New York Times bestselling author of The Party Is Over. He spent twenty-eight years working in Congress, the last sixteen as a senior analyst on the House and Senate Budget committees. He has appeared on Bill Moyers, Hardball, Chris Hayes, and To the Point, among others, and lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
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In a nutshell, the Deep State as Lofgren describes it is a combination of elected and appointed members of the legislative and executive branches; and corporate insiders, especially the military-industrial complex, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley. Together, fueled by enormous amounts of money, they effectively control the country, regardless of which party is in power or the wishes of the electorate. Lofgren believes the ‘Deep State’ in its current form began with the Manhattan Project during WW II. He describes the country’s situation in detail with specific examples. He points out the main dangers the country faces due to the Deep State, and finally, he lays out specific corrections he believes the country must take to save itself.
Readers will have widely different views about Lofgren's thesis based on their perspective. I have a few observations. First, I think he's mostly right. But I wonder why he played the game for so long and only vents his concerns after retirement. He could be viewed as quite hypocritical. At times, his rhetoric is quite shrill (over the top). Also, although the 'Deep State' might be reaching new heights of control and manipulation, I do not think this is a very new phenomenon. Think about the Railroad Barons of the 19th century and many other examples. People with vast resources have always wielded great power for possible mischief. That's not to say we should not heed Lofgren's warning and strive to retake our democracy.
Mike Lofgren says the worst and most vexing problem we face is money in politics and the ills exacerbated by the ‘Citizens Untited’ Supreme Court decision. He’s exactly right. His suggested solutions, while mostly right on target, are daunting. In the current state, its difficult to see how we get there.
This is a book that should cause people to think and act. I highly recommend it.
In this book, Lofgren tries to identify some of the structural features underlying the sorry state of our political system. The Deep State is a term from modern Turkish history used to describe the military, security apparatus, political, and business elite that ran the authoritarian Turkish state for much of the last century. Lofgren's American version of the Deep State is the nexus of powerful corporations, lobbyists, politicians, and the Defense and Security bureaucracies that dominate American political life. In common with many others, he points to the powerful effect of plutocratic interests, notably Wall Street, on American political life. He describes the Deep State as sustained by 2 major phenomena. One is the revolving door between Congress, the Executive Branch, corporations, and DC think tanks. The other is the quite remarkable depth of political corruption, recently extended and legitimized by the Supreme Court. Lofgren is very clear that this is a bipartisan phenomenon,indeed, one of this major points is that the Deep State is considerably more important than our party system. This book contains some of the best critiques of the Obama administration, particularly its foreign and national security policies, that I've read. Lofgren is a very good, and often mordantly witty, writer. His use of anecdote and broader information to make his points concisely is excellent. Some of his capsule descriptions of important (and unimportant) political figures, such as former Secretary of Defense Gates and Chief Justice Roberts, are models of polite invective.
Many, perhaps all, of Lofgren's points have been made earlier, though when a former employee of John Kasich sounds like Prof. Chomsky, we should pay attention. His conceptualization of the Deep State is hardly new. This concept maps well onto an older term used by a number of historians and political scientists to describe changes engendered by the Cold War, the National Security State. There are some points where Lofgren's critique is incomplete. One is his failure to mention a major structural feature of American political life. The federal nature of our politics, and the divided structure of the Federal government, make it relatively easy to obstruct reform. Another substantial component of the Deep State is the conventional mass media, whose willful incompetence is yet another aspect of the corruption engendered by plutocratic control. Lofgren laments the way in which what should be objectively considered foreign policy decisions are part of domestic politics (our support of Israel is the best example) and leaves the impression that there is something relatively novel about this phenomenon. This was, however, a major feature of politics during the Cold War. Lofgren spent much of his career apparently focused on national security issues and not surprisingly, these feature frequently in this book. An important omission is any discussion of what is arguably the most important issue facing our society, climate change, and the criminally negligent response of our political system to this problem.
Lofgren concludes this book with a set of recommendations for reform. This former Republican puts forward a list of proposals that could easily have been drafted by one of Senator Sanders' staff.
And lastly, if and how to react to the theme of the book, "You thought our government is broken? Well, the it's worse than that! --- it's all a stage play, with the real decisions being made behind the scenes." The Deep State is a disturbing, fascinating read that is tough to put down until its last page. Its content invites examination of our political and governmental practices in light of damning propositions that we have indeed lost our democracy, flawed though it may have been; We are no longer guided by our Constitution and its principles. Nor do we seem able and willing to grasp the failure of our institutions of justice and law, of public education, and of fair participation in our own economy. Lastly, in checking a fair portion of the book's sources and the author's background, I have come to believe that this is an "expose" that we would all do well to heed.
I recommend The Deep State to all thinking Americans.