How to think about “The Deep State”

by on April 18, 2017 at 12:52 am in Current Affairs, Law, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

I don’t believe in many (any?) conspiracy theories, and if there hasn’t been talk about “the deep state” on MR to date, there is a reason for that.  Still, I have been wondering how one might think about the deep state in public choice terms, even if you have a rather modest view of what it is all about.  Day to day, we mostly get “the shallow state,” so what might the deep state mean?

I can think of a few options:

1. The deep state can selectively blackmail individuals in politics, and for the innocent ones the deep state can fabricate something.  Therefore in equilibrium most politicians shy away from talking about the deep state, even to praise it.  The balance here seems easy enough to understand, but I can’t say I’ve seen evidence for this mechanism.  I suppose if there is any test for it, it is the Trump Administration.

2. The deep state exists to protect the American public (and itself) against very unfavorable policy choices and thus outcomes.  The deep state therefore would move against a very irresponsible president, either by leaks or blackmail or perhaps something more dramatic.  In this model, having a deep state is like buying a put against very unfavorable world-states.  Note that the weaker and harder to coordinate you think is the deep state, the more this is an “out of the money” put, protecting against only the most extreme existential risks.  You might never observe this kind of deep state, though it can be worth a good deal in relatively volatile world states.

Do note that in these games a president will take steps to limit a potential “coup” from the deep state.  One counter-strategy would be to increase the level of background noise, so that the deep state would not be sure whether moving against the president would in fact be justified.

3. The deep state is the Federal Reserve System.  I believe it was Matt Yglesias who first suggested this idea.  And there is indeed a literature on political business cycles.

4. The deep state is active on a day-to-day basis, mostly by manipulating the flow of information to the president and National Security Council and related parties.  Intelligence is more filtered than we outsiders may think.  Presumably the president realizes this sooner or later, and tries to adjust for the filter.  Over time, the filter becomes an increasing distortion, so to keep the chance higher that the president is being fooled by the information flow.

5. The president cultivates the deep state to strengthen his or her bargaining position vis-a-vis Congress or perhaps foreign leaders.  “The deep state won’t let me do that,” or “the deep state will blackmail me,” or…?…cannot be stated outright but perhaps subordinates can hint at such constraints.  Or the president may cultivate the deep state so as to have an option on blackmailing members of Congress, should “the shit hit the fan.”

What else?  And which of those are most plausible?

I thank an MR reader for a useful email on these issues.

1 carlospln April 18, 2017 at 12:57 am

Peter Dale Scott:

Author is a Canadian academic, ex-diplomat.

“I don’t believe in many (any?) conspiracy theories..”

Heh heh

2 Amigo April 18, 2017 at 3:59 am

I have a greater than 50% belief in one particular conspiracy theory right now.

But I’m like Moulder and want to believe in some others, even if I don’t.

3 Amigo April 18, 2017 at 4:00 am

edit: ^^Mulder

4 Josh April 18, 2017 at 8:29 am

You’d have to be pretty ignorant about history to not believe in any conspiracy theories. I’m trying to come up with the most generous interpretiation that reason allows for this statement. Does he mean he doesn’t believe in the false ones? I assume Tyler believes that Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of conspirators, for example,

5 Borjigid April 18, 2017 at 8:31 am

A conspiracy is not the same thing as a conspiracy theory.

6 josh April 18, 2017 at 8:49 am

Meaning what exactly? That Caesar’s murder was the result of a conspiracy is a theory.

7 Just Saying April 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

Being pedantic isn’t the same thing as being clever

8 josh April 18, 2017 at 10:40 am

I’m not trying to be either. What is the difference besides one theory being true and another not being true?

9 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:09 am

You’re talking about a dozen senators and that almost got blown. if you believe the accounts. Not a spawling shadow government with it’s fingers in every branch of government.

10 josh April 18, 2017 at 12:10 pm

I’m responding to Tyler not believing in any (?) conspiracy theories. I really don’t know what he means. Do you?

11 GoneWithTheWind April 18, 2017 at 10:21 am

Conspiracies are normal not the exception. Conspiracies are epidemic not rare. It is human nature. Just as it is human nature to hide a conspiracy if it is illegal or might fail if discovered. Most office politics are conspiracies and most of them have a bad intent for someone.

Conspiracy theories have generally devolved to imply those crazy false/fake theories that are too convoluted to be believed by rational thinking people. BUT, even the crazy conspiracy theories benefit someone, some group and that spawns conspiracies to feed the crazy conspiracy theories and give them legs. A good example of this is the Democrats conspiring to feedithe meme that the Russians helped elect Trump.

12 mulp April 18, 2017 at 10:45 am

Political parties are conspiracies. Corporations are conspiracies. The Cato and Heritage think tanks are intended to lead conspiracies.

13 Art Deco April 18, 2017 at 11:23 am

Conspiracies are not epidemic. The question at hand is whether or not conspiracies are the motor of history or of present-tense public life. Another question is whether it’s prudent to eschew inductive reasoning and generate scenarios in your mind and then trawl for facts (or factoids) which will demonstrate the validity of the scenario. The third question is whether people drawn to hidden-hand scenarios are the smartest guys in the room (as they fancy), or constructing historical-sociological equivalents of Ptolomaic cosmology.

The answers are ‘no’, ‘no’, and ‘the latter’.

14 GoneWithTheWind April 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm

conspiracy: 1: the act of conspiring together. 2 : an agreement among conspirators

By definition conspiracies are epidemic. Your kids conspire against you to do what they want and not what you want them to do. Your spouse conspires against you. Your neighbors, the government, the schools, the airlines, friends and family, everyone.

15 Fazal Majid April 18, 2017 at 11:07 pm

The Wannsee Conference was a pretty influential one, to mention an example. As was Germany sending Lenin to Russia by train during WWI.

16 Government Grunt April 18, 2017 at 1:04 am

It’s worth noting that without a legion of employees willing to follow orders, The Presidency, Congress, the Law, and everything we take for granted will become empty and toothless.

Perhaps the “Deep State” is just the constraints upon which “official orders” (i.e. ink on paper or sound from an official’s voicebox) can become official policy.

17 Barasan April 18, 2017 at 10:01 am

Yes, the President/Congress/SCOTUS have no real power at all — without the vast multitudes of semi-cooperative Federal bureaucrats,technocrats & heavily armed enforcers.

The “Deep State” is not some mysterious conspiracy– it’s a well known structural aspect of human organizations… commonly known as “The Iron Law of Oligarchy”. The most powerful government in world history… naturally has developed a most powerful, hidden, semi-permanent substructure that actually runs the place day to day, decade to decade.

The iron law of oligarchy was developed by the German syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in 1911. It states that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop into oligarchies. The reasons for this are the technical indispensability of leadership, the strong tendency of the leaders to tightly organize themselves and to pursue their own interests over the ostensible organization’s interests.

Thus, a small group of insider leaders actually runs the organization and makes the key decisions — unbeknownst to the overall organization and often its “nominal” leaders. In the huge Federal Government, these oligarchic groups form in the major departments — they have great power & discretion no matter who American voters put into elected office. THAT is the Deep State !

18 mulp April 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Scotes and it’s inferior courts are the power behind the deep state.

The Blue States sued the EPA over a decade to force it to issue regulations that implement the Clean Air and Water Acts from 1970 and 1990 and various points before, between, and since. Scotus has issued decisions several times ratifying inferior court orders the EPA issue such regulations. Bush appointed EPA head tried to control the deep state apparatus Congress created to execute the law, but Scotus rejected the result. Granted, corporate interests also sued the EPA to block and overturn rulings, but the result was not stopping the EPA, but instead Scotus issuing decisions mandating the deep state execute the law as written.

While Bush EPA leadership lost at Scotus, Obama EPA got the Scotus order in 2009. It then tried a compromise between the two groups suing the EPA, implementing a “market” kind of system slightly different than the Bush “market” regulations, but Scotus slapped it down, mandating the law be followed.

So, the Obama EPA got a very quick start on creating a powerful law following deep state of lawyers that extended from the EPA into Justice to the Solicitor General that did everything with an eye to defending every regulation in Court against the tide of lawsuits they knew would follow every regulation. Plus the apparatus to collect and analyze and respond to hundreds of thousands of public comments.

So, now Trump minions come in thinking the constant stream of claims about how Obama ruled by quickly written executive people orders is actually reality, only to find tens of thousands of Federal employees saying “you can’t issue that order”.

And guess what, where Trump and his minions quickly issued orders, they were hauled into court, and coutprts issued injunctions based on Trump and minions losing on the facts of administrative law.

And getting rid of the lawyers from the Obama era will not change the law.

And the law can’t be changed by Republicans because, contrary to Republican propaganda repeated endlessly, Obama signed nothing that Republicans hate by reconciliation

Obamacare passed by 60 votes in the Senate, so without ending the 60 vote cloture rule, Republicans can never repeal it because they can never get 60 seats in the Senate even though their are 30 plus red States that are rural Trump backers. Members of the Senate are elected State wide and thus forced to the center and away from the conservative hardliners. The only Democrat primaries by the “left” in ages is Joe Lieberman and he won reelection as a centrist between the Democrat and Republican who were only slightly off center. While Lieberman campaigned against Obama in favor of McCain, he voted for Obamacare in December 2009 along with 30 year Congressional veteran Republican Arlen Specter.

Trump minions have been convinced by the opponents to Obama that Obama had free reign and was not constrained by the deep state, ignoring Obama’s frustration in 2009 on such matters as getting interstate power lines and fiber optic to the home projects going even with billions in cash to fund them in 2009-10. Thus Obama redoubled his efforts at bipartisan action in Congress to remove the obstacles of the deep state that extends INTO EACH State. Republican Kelly Ayotte wanted the Keystone pipeline forced on the Western States while opposing the Northern Pass power line to bring cheap hydro power from Canada into New England’s power grid, the grid outside Hawaii and Alaska with the highest electric rates. And sure, the hypocrisy is bipartisan with Ted Kennedy opposing Cape Wind. Blocked by the deep state while Obama was president and trying to get a hundred thousand jobs in wind created in five years. It took until 2015 for the Obama administration to get the deep state to create the process for offshore wind leasing approvals.

So, Trump minions find that the deep state says “you can’t do that without at least five years of going through the deep state, just like Obama had to.”

And you can’t change the deep state without 60 votes in the Senate which means a centrist law that will only strengthen the power of the deep state. A law passed by the Senate by regular order will only restrict the power of the president, whether Republican or Democrat.

Note, the deep state blocks Trump from killing jobs in Republican districts by cancelling various military budget items he does not like. And those war related jobs programs are the result of bipartisan Congressional action that took power from the executive. In exchange for locking in entitlement spending, Democrats agreed to give up the war corporate welfare in their States and increase the war jobs welfare programs in Republican States. Eg, New England lost the big war contracts except for Collins and Snowe in Maine, while the South saw their bases and war jobs increase. Virginia got double the war spending while Maryland got twice the health and welfare spending. And Congress decided where the money is spent, wiping out the power FDR wielded by controlling spending district by district to reward and punish members of Congress and governors.

And the conservatives increased the power of the deep state by ending earmarks which has blocked the ability of Congress to pass laws, locking in the deep state that Obama mastered eventually to great effect.

Even the action of Congress by 50 plus Pence only strengthens the deep state. When Congress overturns Obama regulations issued in 2016, it blocks Trump from issuing ANY regulation covering the same topic. While the Obama rule on water pollution by coal is overturned, Trump can’t have the EPA issue rules making it easier for coal industry to pollute water ways. Only Congress can change the existing rules without the EPA being sued for violating the law passed by Congress blocking EPA action.

19 Apex April 18, 2017 at 1:04 am

The deep state is at its core the agency problem as appplied to government. The rest ist tools and tactics.

20 So Much For Subtlety April 18, 2017 at 4:50 am

Indeed. I don’t think there is an open conspiracy among all the major media when it comes to reporting Trump. Although Journolist sure tried. I just think that they cannot conceive of someone outside their world taking power. And so they all react in the same horrified way just as they all did what they could to disqualify Trump.

It is like they all got caught in a real life version of the Dinner Game – with a happy ending of course:

21 chuck martel April 18, 2017 at 6:22 am

The established media is an organ of government or the “deep state”, if you will.

22 Josh April 18, 2017 at 8:36 am

Right, but it is only coordinated in a loose way and by people who probably don’t see themselves as involved in a grand conspiracy. They just want to promote “responsible journalism”, positive portrayals of this or that group, portray their own modern liberal values as normative, etc. Yet coordinated the mass media is by the working of a number of semi-independent mechanisms. Those who have the most influence over how this coordination works in practice are by definition the power elite.

23 P Burgos April 18, 2017 at 2:06 pm

So in this point of view, the “deep state” would consist of those individuals with the most influence and power over bureaucrats and the urban upper middle class?

24 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 8:13 am

“they all react in the same horrified way just as they all did what they could to disqualify Trump.”

And yet he is so obviously qualified.

(Tyler has said that he’d like there to be a path for Trump voters to leave Trump, but surely it involves some realization.)

25 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 10:18 am
26 So Much For Subtlety April 18, 2017 at 6:56 pm

He is qualified. There are qualifications laid out in the Constitution. He meets them. He was supported by the majority of the Electoral College. Therefore he is not only qualified, he is the President.

You are simply demonstrating the Deep State at work. Because he does not speak your language, because he does not qualify for your social circle, you insist that he is not qualified. Even though he is. It is one short step from there to illegally working to make sure he cannot govern.

27 Horhe April 18, 2017 at 8:23 am

So, instead of coordination, it’s an emergent phenomenon where actors with similar interests take similar positions and undertake similar actions, while getting positive reinforcement from seeing that others are doing the same?

28 Bill April 18, 2017 at 8:56 am

So Much,

An independent press and legislative oversight…that’s what protects you.

29 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:10 am

The established media hardly opposed Trump. They were overjoyed at the reality TV show that he was providing to them for free. In fact they still are. See the glowing coverage of his meeting with the Chinese president.

30 chuck martel April 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

“They were overjoyed at the reality TV show that he was providing to them for free.”

That’s why politics is covered so extensively in the media, it’s free programming. In order to show sporting events, broadcasters must cough up some money to leagues and conferences. Movies require rights payments. Newspaper writers watch the television political coverage and then put their own spin on it. That’s one reason why newspaper staffs are just a fraction of the size they once were.

31 So Much For Subtlety April 18, 2017 at 7:06 pm

I find it hard to believe that anyone can write that with a straight face. They broadcast Trump 24/7 during the election in the same way they broadcast the Vietnam War. Doesn’t mean they supported the Vietnam War either.

Rather Trump was doing his Full Rodney Dangerfield Act and the media was behaving like the rest of the Country Club, by insisting that we could not allow this sort of man to join! He doesn’t know how to use a fish knife. He eats hotdogs with his fingers! He is not couth!

What they did not understand is that a lot of people eat peas with their knife. The voters did not respond to the media’s Deep State attempts at disqualification in the way they did when the media did the same thing to Mitt Romney. They failed. Despite smearing Trump repeatedly. Just as they smeared Romney.

The bureaucrats are now trying their turn. They cannot believe they have to take orders from hicks who don’t even believe in Climate Change! They will fix that. The Courts’ immigration rulings are a great example of the Deep State making the law up as they go.

32 Anon_senpai April 18, 2017 at 9:08 am


A large professional bureaucracy has its own interests that do not necessarily align with the public’s. De-professionalize Washington by bringing back the Spoils System (party the gains power brings in their own people) for all but the positions that require technical expertise (narrowly defined) would reduce this problem.

33 Aretino April 18, 2017 at 9:14 am

Couldn’t this be more easily achieved by contracting out as many functions of government as possible, so we would have a constantly changing bureaucracy instead of a permanent one?

34 Anon_senpai April 18, 2017 at 9:36 am

As long as there was turnover, I think that is a good idea. However, if the contractors stay in their jobs for a long time, there is no difference than if they worked for the government directly. Government agencies are incentivized to make complex and unnecessary regulations, in part because they then become consultants afterwards and advise companies on how to navigate the regulations. Or they build contacts within government that they then can leverage in the private sector. If the contractors are able to do this, the same incentives exist.

35 Pshrnk April 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

Edward Snowden. Deep State? Not Deep State?

36 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 9:57 am

Snowden was clearly a “rouge actor.” Classically so.

I think his leaks support the idea of a Deep State as an organizing principle for (as most people on this page seem to agree) emergent behavior of the organization. And not a conspiracy in a formal sense.

37 P Burgos April 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I believe that the number of people working as contractors for the federal government is 3 or 4 times the number of people working directly for the federal government. I am not sure that contracting out the work solves any of the problems. In fact, I suspect that most of the time the political economy of contracting out government work leads to less efficiency and more rent seeking than dealing with the politics of government employees unions and career bureaucrats. The only exception would be in the case where the reason for contracting out the work is that you want less work to be done. As Anon_sepai notes below, government agencies have a tendency to “do something,” though I disagree that the opportunity to become consultants is really all that important in the process. Instead, I think that the relevant incentive is that the leadership of the agency believes that they have to demonstrate their value in order to justify their budget.

38 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 9:14 am

You are saying the answer is even less technocracy?

I would say anyone loosely organized around the principles of pragmatism and efficiency would disagree. What you want instead, is a professional staff judged on quantitative terms. On productivity, even.

39 Steven Kopits April 18, 2017 at 9:25 am

Pay for performance. But here is the key: You have to align the incentives at the top. Any organization will assume the objective function of its owner.

If a bureaucrat is motivated by incentive pay, but the politician above him is not, then over time, the incentives of the politician will come to dominate the incentives of the bureaucracy.

40 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

Are you unaware that the VA gamed the benchmarks set for their bonuses? Very clever. They almost didn’t get caught. Krugman was lauding them as a model…see they’re meeting their benchmarks!

The EPA would set up lawsuits that they would “lose” so they could implement whatever they really wanted to do. Very clever. Great way to avoid actual control by the public.

Technocracy isn’t really working that well.

41 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 11:18 am

I think the US suffers a very particular problem. We are the only developed nation where the answer to a case of fraud is not to indict just the fraud, but the innocent as well.

It is a perverse feedback loop which does not produce better results, because it does not laud better performance.

42 Art Deco April 18, 2017 at 1:08 am

We live in a shameless world. You can’t really blackmail anyone anymore.

43 The Other Jim April 18, 2017 at 8:57 am

Certainly not a Democrat, no.

44 Certainly not April 18, 2017 at 12:19 pm

a Democrat like Trump

45 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 1:16 am

Here’s my 2009 iSteve blog post introducing my readers to the concept:

“Nonetheless, the notion of a deep state, although perhaps better conceptualized less as a top-down conspiracy than as an emergent phenomenon among insiders with overlapping interests, might prove useful to Americans in overcoming our native bias toward boyish naivete about the ways of the world.”

46 Eric Rasmusen April 18, 2017 at 9:47 am

The conspiracy theory version would be that there’s a formal organization with a head (one person, or, more likely, a committee). The realistic version for Western countries is that there’s a social network of like-minded bureaucrats. The British book Yes, Minister portrays it well. I wonder if there’s a Japanese equivalent of that book?

47 Wonks Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 11:21 am

Yes, Minister was a tv series, based on the diaries of a Labor MP. The civil service attempted to prevent those diaries from being published.

48 John Thacker April 18, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Yes, the best illustration of a semi plausible Deep State is that in the classic British comedy Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister. The series had a pair of writers of different political inclination. They aren’t incredibly accurate, but are amazing and very funny. I have heard that incoming ministers in new governments have been convinced that the UK government worked that way.

In any organization middle management and ordinary workers can do a lot to either enthusiastically implement or subtly slow down new orders from on high. It happens in businesses all the time, which is why we speak of corporate culture.

49 Curt Doolittle April 19, 2017 at 11:26 am

Asking forgiveness for analytic exposition in advance…..

1) Michels-ian View (Evolutionary): Deep state – a deterministic and necessary consequence of all human orders, because of the value and need for synthesis of information and provision of decidability necessary to concentrate forces of coercion (persuasion) – necessities that cannot be rectified.
2) Economists View (Systematizing): Deep state – a conspiracy of common interests – interests that must be rectified by the correct incentives.
3) Common Folk’s view (Intentional-izing): Deep state – a deliberate conspiracy of common interests – indicating immoral people with immoral interests that must be punished or replaced.
4) Ancient Folk’s View (anthropomorphism): The gods intend it so…. We are the Victims of the vicissitudes of the gods, and nothing can be done except to fight or submit to them.

1) The Chinese Proposition: the state is the most profitable and important industry and should be run as an industry, by the best people, selected from the best universities, and professionally trained with increasing responsibility from the local to the regional to the national level.
2) Fukuyama’s Theory: (German Model) That the professionalization of a bureaucracy prior to democracy, under continental law will create a deep state that uses prior restraint, and serves the public interest out of tradition and self interest.
3) The Anglo Saxon Theory (Classical Liberalism): That patronage leadership of the bureaucracies should provide a means of correcting and cleansing the bureaucracies. But as Fukuyama has shown, this leads to the opposite effect.
4) The American Theory (minimalism): the only means of preventing endemic corruption, and providing maximum quality of goods services and information is maximum privatization of all services despite the resistance by the bureaucracy (monopoly).
5) The Science: States that produce monopoly services as investor of last resort (or monopoly investor in the commons) can produce industries, and retreat into the german, anglo saxon, or american theory depending upon the degree of trust in the judiciary to resolve disputes between the citizenry and the service organizations. In other words, the problem is the degree of trust and trustworthiness present in the culture – which in and of itself is created by those courts.

1) Iron Law of Oligarchy : oligarchies whether formal, patronage, kin, ‘specialized knowledge’, or ‘social networks” will evolve because decisions that concentrate resources (forces of coercion) cannot be created otherwise, and the organization cannot survive competition.
2) “Cthulu Swims Left”: any organization without a formal logic (law) to bind it, will exploit all opportunities for discretion to expand to the point of maximum rent seeking – until met by shock which it lacks the free resources to use in re-creating incentives necessary to reorganize under the new conditions.
3) Law of Maximizing of Rents: All organizations whether public or private will seek to maximize rents while providing the minimum returns to customers, creditors, and investors that customers, creditors, and investors will tolerate.

Either we implement a strictly constructed, exceptionless, constitution of natural law (reciprocity) requiring markets in every aspect of life (association, cooperation, reproduction, production, production of commons (government), production of polities) with universal standing, universal application (rule of law), an insurer of last resort (Singapore Model), or we will continue (as we have) to deliver a private economy for association and reproduction, a mixed economy for the production of goods, services, and information, and a majoritarian monopoly economy, for the provision of commons whether goods, services, and information, and an absolute monopoly for insurer of last resort.

You can evolve a population through rule of law, if you can evolve a court through rule of law, but you cannot evolve a court through rule of law, if your system of law is discretionary rather than one of rule of law. In other words, it is not possible to produce a non-discretionary rule of law, and therefore a government of low corruption, unless you produce first a law that is not open to interpretation and ‘fudging’.

All societies require a system of government equal to their degree of imposition of rule of law. The problem is demographics, the percentage of people in a legally bound economy (the size of the middle class). As such we should expect to see small homogenous societies with strong rule of law and heavy redistribution on one end, and large heterogeneous societies with heavy corruption on the other.

And that is what we see.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev Ukraine

50 Horhe April 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Wow, this is a very good read. I also came across your explanation for paying the opportunity cost for having a livable community, by accident, some time ago. Interesting stuff. You should revise what you wrote here a bit for clarity. Maybe convert it to an article with some references as well.

51 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 1:18 am

In response I came up with the Peak State theory:

“The single most likely leader of the Deep State is the nominal ruler himself.”

52 Just Saying April 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

I hope this comes off as I intend (respectfully): when you’re not talking about race, you are one of the smartest people I’ve ever read.

53 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 1:20 am

And also the concept of the Shallow State:

“The term “Deep State” is an Italian / Turkish notion that elected officials’ influence on policy, perhaps especially on foreign policy, is potentially restricted by a shadowy network of serious men with experience in the serious organs of state. But, we should not overlook how much American foreign policy is seen by the rest of the world as up for sale by what we might call the Shallow State: glad-handing, self-promoting American image-maker campaign consultants … who charge big fees around the world based on their relationships with high government officials in Washington.”

54 chuck martel April 18, 2017 at 6:23 am

Why didn’t you just say, “David Axelrod”?

55 Ricardo April 18, 2017 at 6:46 am

And Jack Abramoff before he ran into legal trouble. He was hired by Imelda Marcos to burnish her reputation in the Philippines in preparation for her entry into electoral politics there.

56 And April 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Karl Rove, James Carville, Lee Atwater…

57 Dan Lavatan-Jeltz April 18, 2017 at 1:36 am

I’m not sure why anyone can blackmail anyone because I can’t figure out why anyone believes anything. They can put a cruise liner that never existed on screen, and it is a lot easier to make a video of whatever people would blackmail someone over. So if the deep state makes a fake video, the President can make a fake video of every single opposition congressman and deep state member doing the same thing with a little bit of computer time. At that point, nobody would even pretend to believe, and in any event most people are 100% committed to complacency and don’t care in any case.

No state has ever produced useful intelligence, but no decision maker has acted on any. They just do whatever they want and make up some unbelievable disinformation to justify it after the fact. Nobody cares.

58 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 1:40 am

Other useful Deep State-related concepts are the Hard State and the Soft State.

For example, Barack Obama’s relatives had numerous ties to American power, typically on the softer, more political edge. His mother worked at the US Embassy in Jakarta right after the huge anti-Communist anti-Chinese massacre and then worked for the Ford Foundation in various Cold War trouble spots. Obama’s first serious girlfriend, Genevieve Cook, was the daughter of an Australian intelligence official based in Jakarta who later became Australia’s ambassador to the U.S. Her stepfather came from a family of Washington lawyer power brokers, and he ran a huge mining operation in Indonesia: the Soft State of politics, diplomacy, academia, NGOs, etc.

The more I read up on that, the more I wondered whether the numerous connections to the CIA and the like were just coincidences? Did _I_ have that many connections to the CIA?

Well, yeah, maybe. When I was a kid in Burbank, CA I used to regularly go visit some kids whose dad, I discovered decades later, was the chief designer of the SR-71 superplane for the CIA. The dad of a high school friend, Jerry Pournelle, had done lots of deep state stuff. My wife’s uncle, an Air Force colonel metallurgist, used to spy behind the Berlin Wall, meeting with Eastern European counterparts in back streets to talk shop. My wife’s cousin regularly disappears from Washington to spend a couple of years at a stretch in an extremely remote part of the world where there happens to be satellite communications listening facility.

Most of my deep state contacts were with what I’d call the Hard State: science & technology guys who worked in some fashion with Lockheed or other aerospace-related organizations.

In reality, the Cold War was an extremely massive undertaking, so it turns out that all sorts of things were connected to the less public side of the US government and its allies.

The War on Terror allowed the victors in the Cold War to keep doing what they’d been doing, and now we seem to be gearing up for Cold War II with Russia.

59 carlospln April 18, 2017 at 2:20 am

“When I was a kid in Burbank, CA I used to regularly go visit some kids whose dad, I discovered decades later, was the chief designer of the SR-71 superplane for the CIA”

Ben Rich?

60 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 2:27 am

Henry Combs, whom Ben Rich, Kelly Johnson’s successor, called an “irascible genius” in Rich’s wonderful book “Skunk Works:”

By the way, Rich’s book is just about the best business management memoir I’ve ever read. It didn’t get much publicity because Rich died of cancer just when it was being published, so he couldn’t go on the book tour trail to promote it. But it’s a great read.

61 Horhe April 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

I read it as well, but I didn’t get the feeling that it was a business management memoir. Not that I’ve read many of them. Can you give an example of some insight that stood out for you?

62 carlospln April 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm


‘Skunk Works’: a riveting read.

I liked the part about Lockheed having to procure Ti metal from the USSR by way of CIA front companies.

63 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 1:47 am

#4 Access journalism: The American government and its affiliates know an awful lot about various corners of the world, so if you want to write about some obscure country, it’s nice to know people in Washington who know people there.

Even a whistleblower journalist like Seymour Hersh has to be friendly with the middle ranks of the deep state. He tends to get his best scoops from mid-level military or intelligence guys who disagree with the top leadership at the moment. They trust Hersh as a patriotic American who can be trusted to not sell out their country.

64 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:06 am

Ben Rhodes is the next iteration. He realized that reporters are now inexperienced youth, with a politically sympatico bias that is easy to exploit,

65 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

Though Ben Rhodes doesn’t seem “deep state” its been pretty clear that many “ex white house officials” or “ex intelligence officials” are in fact Obama appointees like Rhodes.

Its not mid-level lifers who “patriotically” want to leak.

66 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 1:57 am

An obvious example of the deep state in action was Deep Throat, Mark Felt.

He was J. Edgar Hoover’s left hand man (after Hoover’s dear friend Clyde Tolson). When Hoover finally died, Nixon refused to appoint Tolson, so he resigned, but Felt was kept on by Nixon’s new guy L. Patrick Gray as a sort of COO of the FBI.

Felt soon began meeting with Bob Woodward, a young ex-Navy officer, who had been in the Book and Snake secret society at Yale, to pass on Watergate tidbits that eventually helped bring down the President.

67 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 2:22 am

Here’s David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, explaining, using the example of Deep Throat that “There Is No Deep State.”

You see, according to Remnick, Deep Throat isn’t an example of the nonexistent Deep State, because Nixon, that anti-Semite, had it coming.

68 Chuck April 18, 2017 at 3:29 am

The question is why are establishmentarians (such as our blog host) even talking about the deep state?

What is the purpose of bringing attention to a topic which is generally perceived to be subversive?

69 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 4:16 am

I started talking about the concept of a Deep State after I got back from Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s conference in Turkey in 2009. I pointed out that practically everybody in Turkey is a conspiracy theorist.

Turkey keeps popping up in the news, typically involving giant conspiracies (e.g., Erdogan and Gulen teaming up to frame Dani Rodrik’s father-in-law for allegedly conspiring against them), so it’s hardly surprising that Americans are less oblivious today to this Turkish concept that is both kind of demented and kind of useful.

70 Eric Rasmusen April 18, 2017 at 9:55 am

If there were a formal semi-secret Deep State, it would gain power if people talked about how powerful it was. Here, there is an informal Deep State, and people who are in it don’t think it exists, because they think it *is* the State, and most politicians, including the President, are just come-and-go mayflies. (I say “most”, because a Rep with lots of seniority will be better tied-in than the President).

71 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 10:03 am

I imagine the old Turkish secular military-based Deep State was an outgrowth of Freemasonry. Back before the revolution of 1908 the Young Turks had used Masonic lodges as safe spaces that were time-consuming for the Sultan’s secret police to infiltrate. After they won, I’m guessing they kept up the notion of semi-formalized secret institutions.

America has a little bit of that (e.g., Yale’s secret societies like Skull and Bones, which provided both presidential candidates in 2004). But in the U.S. the Masons, like Washington and Franklin, had won pretty easily a long time ago. Therefore, there wasn’t the same impetus.

72 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:15 am

They’re trying to make Trump’s supporters look crazy?

73 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:15 am

If Felt was an operative of the Deep State, who was his handler?

74 Art Deco April 18, 2017 at 11:18 am

You see, according to Remnick, Deep Throat isn’t an example of the nonexistent Deep State, because Nixon, that anti-Semite, had it coming.

Bob Woodward in an interview in 1976 contended that ‘Deep Throat’ still held a high government position. (Felt retired in 1973). Ron Rosenbaum, who had written a column on Watergate for the Village Voice ran through a laundry list of Deep Throat candidates in 1982, rejecting Felt on the grounds that ‘Deep Throat’ was acquainted with grand jury trivia Felt would not have known. Other critics of WoodStein have reviewed the rigamarole Woodward contended he went through to arrange meetings with Deep Throat pointing out how the mechanics were not workable.

Here’s a suggestion: one of their sources (a senile nonagenarian) claimed the title as a favor to them at a time when it had become clear Deep Throat was a fictional composite, so, print the Legend. It’s not the only time in his career Bob Woodward has pulled some yarn.

75 Ricardo April 18, 2017 at 6:58 am

I thought it was pretty well-established at this point that Mark Felt’s motive was to imply through his leaks that the FBI was covering for the President and that his boss would be fired with Felt then gliding into the role as Director. He was a careerist, not a conspirator. As it happened, non-deep-state institutions such as the criminal justice system and Congress got people like John Dean to flip and brought the Nixon tapes to light and the rest is history.

76 Bill April 18, 2017 at 8:11 am


Richard Nixon committed a crime. Felt was an FBI agent who knew about the crime. His agency did nothing, and he did.

You can’t be called the Deep State if you disclose the commission of a crime which your agency did not disclose. The non-disclosure, rather than the disclosure, was the Deep State, and Felt defeated it, causing another branch of government to investigate.

77 Ricardo April 18, 2017 at 10:59 am

The history is a bit more complicated than this. See this article, for instance: . The bottom line seems to be, as I wrote above, that Felt was probably a careerist who wanted the FBI Director position for himself rather than a high-minded patriot. That doesn’t negate your point that there was indeed illegal activity within the White House that needed to be exposed but it does negate the notion that Mark Felt is a good candidate for membership in the “deep state.” Like a lot of Beltway elites, it turns out he was simply using the media to anonymously piss on his boss.

78 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:27 am

This. And why would he, shortly before his death, come out and admit that he was Deep Throat and then give a totally false story about his motivation in order to cover for the Deep State? It’s a effing crazy theory. he’s on his deathbed. He’s got nothing to lose. Why not just say “It was the international Jewish Banking Conspiracy! They made me do it!” Or just say nothing at all.

79 Thanatos Savehn April 18, 2017 at 1:57 am

No, the deep state is a second order, emergent phenomenon. That doesn’t make it mysterious (unless you’re a dyed in the wool determinist) but it does make it unpredictable. It’s more akin to a biofilm rather than anything with which you have experience.

80 aaron April 18, 2017 at 3:10 am

One I think was missed (or at least deserved explicit listing).

#6 Organizations and sub-organizations within the government resist the full and faithful implementation of the President’s agenda.

For instance, under Obama ICE pursued a stricter deportation policy than Obama preferred, I’d call this a manifestation of the deep state. And under Trump the EPA and HHS will certainly resist Trump’s policies to reverse Obama-era policies.

#2 I think is coming into play now, groups such as intelligence agencies are showing much more explicit resistance since they perceive Trump as an extraordinary threat.

#4 I think is a common aspect of every organization. Manipulating the flow of information is a standard way by which subordinates influence the direction of organizations.

81 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 4:12 am

Of course, the Border Patrols guys who insisted upon sometimes enforcing the law had the law on their side, while Obama’s desire to flood the country with future Democratic voters by not enforcing the law was, you know, against the law.

82 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 8:18 am

I think aaron is right. Different groups have different motivations, but those motivations can include an honest sense of mission.

Do you paragraph again, but this time for climate scientists at the EPA.

83 mulp April 18, 2017 at 3:13 pm

The Border Control agents were prohibited by law from spending tax money building walls that were not authorized by Congress, they could not torture and execute people they suspected of being illegals without the risk, they could not act as judge and pick up any person and force them into Mexico at gun point based on them having brown skin, …

And Obama could not declare anyone one who crossed into the US a US citizen so he or she could vote.

Trump and Session might fail to investigate and prosecute Border Agents who simply execute people, but that will not make murder by Border Agent legal.

And it was the Obama Solicitor General that defended the Border Patrol and several agents from criminal and civil action by Mexico and it’s citizens after Border Agents murdered Mexicans in Mexico and the US.

“The cellphone video is vivid. A Border Patrol agent aims his gun at an unarmed 15-year-old some 60 feet away, across the border with Mexico, and shoots him dead.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a case testing whether the family of the dead boy can sue the agent for damages in the U.S.

Between 2005 and 2013, there were 42 such cross-border shootings, a dramatic increase over earlier times.

‘A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation’: Trump Moves Forward With U.S.-Mexico Wall
‘A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation’: Trump Moves Forward With U.S.-Mexico Wall
The shooting took place on the border between El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico.

The area is about 180 feet across. Eighty feet one way leads to a steep incline and an 18-foot fence on the U.S. side — part of the so-called border wall that has already been built. An almost equal distance the other way is another steep incline leading to a wall topped by a guardrail on the Mexican side.

In between is a the dry bed of the Rio Grande with an invisible line in the middle that separates the U.S. and Mexico. Overhead is a railroad bridge with huge columns supporting it, connecting the two countries.

In June 2010, Sergio Hernández and his friends were playing chicken, daring each other to run up the incline on the U.S. side and touch the fence, according to briefs filed by lawyers for the Hernández family.

Border Agency Chief Opens Up About Deadly Force Cases
Border Agency Chief Opens Up About Deadly Force Cases
At some point U.S. border agent Jesus Mesa, patrolling the culvert, arrived on a bicycle, grabbed one of the kids at the fence on the U.S. side, and the others scampered away. Fifteen-year-old Sergio ran past Mesa and hid behind a pillar beneath the bridge on the Mexican side.

As the boy peeked out, Agent Mesa, 60 feet or so away on the U.S. side, drew his gun, aimed it at the boy, and fired three times, the last shot hitting the boy in the head.

Although agents quickly swarmed the scene, they are forbidden to cross the border. They did not offer medical aid, and soon left on their bikes, according to lawyers for the family.

A day after the shooting, the FBI’s El Paso office issued a press release asserting that agent Mesa fired his gun after being “surrounded” by suspected illegal aliens who “continued to throw rocks at him.”
The U.S. Department of Justice decided not to prosecute Mesa. Among other things, the department concluded that it did not have jurisdiction because the boy was not on U.S. soil when he was killed.

Mexico charged the agent with murder, but when the U.S. refused to extradite him, no prosecution could go forward.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol did not discipline agent Mesa — a fact that critics, including high-ranking former agency officials, say reflects a pattern inside the agency.

The parents of the slain boy, however, have sued Mesa for damages, contending that the killing violated the U.S. Constitution by depriving Sergio Hernández of his life.”

This scotus review is seeking to overturn the Obama administration “win” in protecting the Border Agent murderer, with the decision basically implying that the Border Agency can send drones into Mexico to kill Mexicans.

Not clear if a US citizen visiting Mexico can be executed by Border Agents inside the US, for say, being a lawyer consulting with Mexicans to bring legal cases against Border Agents…

84 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:11 am

Ironically, the more the Deep State especially the IC resists and elected politicians, the more actual danger the Deep State poses to democracy.

85 mulp April 18, 2017 at 2:51 pm

“#6 Organizations and sub-organizations within the government resist the full and faithful implementation of the President’s agenda.”

But that’s because they must execute the Supreme Law of the Constitution which includes it’s text, the laws of Congress, and treaties, but NOT THE PRESIDENT’S AGENDA.

We have rule of law, not rule by one man.

86 Larry Siegel April 18, 2017 at 3:17 am

What I believe is that there is no Deep State but there is a permanent government, consisting of senior civil servants, think tank scholars, academic advisers, and various kinds of military folks. We need them, and they do protect us to some degree from rogue leaders. A journalist who is inclined to sensationalism could call this crowd the Deep State, but that is a misnomer – there’s no conspiracy.

87 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 4:11 am

But people do get excluded from the Establishment (to encourage the others).

For example, much of the rest of the world considers Noam Chomsky to be a well-informed, intelligent analyst of American power. But in the United States, Chomsky is seldom consulted by respectable opinion.

For instance, I can remember in the mid-1970s reading a couple of opinion pieces by Chomsky in the Los Angeles Times about how American foreign policy supporting Indonesia’s claim to East Timor was bad. I’d say that Chomsky was proven right on that issue. But Chomsky seldom gets invited back to write for the mainstream media. I’ve barely read anything by him since. Granted, some of that is due to his less than scintillating prose style. But a lot is due to Chomsky being persona non grata to what you call “the permanent government.”

Being wrong about something important, such as the Iraq War, didn’t hurt many people’s careers. Being right about Iraq helped Obama’s career, but not too many others.

88 So Much For Subtlety April 18, 2017 at 4:44 am

American foreign policy did not support the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Only one country recognized East Timor as part of Indonesia and that was Australia. The US did not.

Nor is it obvious that FRETILIN at the time would have been any less brutal than the Indonesians.

Chomsky is not often right. He was not right this time. He is not asked to talk because he is a tax-avoiding hypocrite given to long and long-winded conspiracy theories devoid of any evidence at all and is utterly incapable of admitting a mistake.

89 albatross April 18, 2017 at 7:34 am

How does that distinguish him from the other talking heads who get on tv?

90 Or April 18, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Every poster here?

91 mulp April 18, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Just like Trump!

92 msgkings April 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

This is easily mulp’s best, most accurate, and most relevant comment ever.

93 Jeff R April 18, 2017 at 7:36 am

Noam Chomsky has accurately predicted eight out of the last three acts of genocide occurring in the last 35 years.

94 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 8:13 am

Yet he predicted none of the zero times Iraq got the Bomb.

95 Jeff R April 18, 2017 at 10:11 am

No, instead he predicted the US would occupy the country, steal its oil, and oppress or slaughter any dissenters. He may have avoided saying one stupid thing about Iraq, but that didn’t stop him from saying about 85 other stupid things on the subject.

96 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

I mean, he is worse than Hitler. Except foneing a tyrant,invading countries and commiting genocide, how many bad things he did? I bet Chomsky commits more mistakes in his books. Universal grammar exterminated my family.
“It is the last corner of the world in which there are massive petroleum resources pretty much unexplored, maybe the largest in the world or close to it. Now they are very easy to gain access to. The profits from that must flow primarily to the right pockets, that is, US and secondarily UK energy corporations. And controlling that resource puts the US in a very powerful position, even more powerful than today, to exert influence over the world.”, Chomsky, 2005

“Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, US and other western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq’s oil market,” oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz told Al Jazeera. “But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being forced out of the country in 1973.” -, 2012

“We/they will be welcome as liberators” – Idiots, 2003 (by the way, I was one of them, I believed the American president was saying the truth and the Iraqi dictator was lying – since then, I learned the Amwrican democracy is a farce).

97 Jeff R April 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm


I’m not even going to read that comment, because it’s obvious you’re engaged in an obtuse game of whataboutism here, consistent with your 95-IQ level trolling here. Chomsky may have successfully innoculated himself against one class of intellectual pathologies, but that’s only because his brain had long since been sucked dry by an entirely different. Keep posting as many quotes as you want.

98 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:29 pm

The war was supposed to pay for itself, right?

Little surprise many Iraqis were less than cooperative with that vision.

99 So Much For Subtlety April 18, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Who said the war was supposed to pay for itself? The problem with the Left is that they have little but lies and fake news left.

100 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 8:52 pm

I do not think the right wants to wear ownership of colonial adventure. So … there’s nothing left wing about opposing war for profit, right?

Everyone is opposed to war for profit, right?

Are you in favour of war for profit?

101 Axa April 18, 2017 at 7:43 am

Yes, these people take actions that look like the “Deep State” but these actions are neither conscious nor organized.

People that work in government, military or think tanks are not there just for the money. A fraction of their behavior is motivated by ideology, how things should be. That ideology is flexible but it takes some time to change.

For example, it took people a few years to digest the end of the Cold War. Ideology has some kind of inertia. A new guy arrives with new ideas, and there’s resistance to change. Ideas are not rejected for being good or bad, they’re rejected because they’re new. This unconscious and unorganized resistance to change ideas is personificated as the “Deep State”. There’s a natural urge in our heads to personificate unknown things, that’s how we ended with gods that looks like humans or the Deep State idea.

102 dearieme April 18, 2017 at 4:41 am

Need you look beyond the US Securitate aka the “Intelligence Community”?

If you don’t think that their relentless spying on Trump, using the ingenious excuse that they were just spying on Russians, is a sign of a Deep Sate at work, what evidence would be necessary to persuade you?

103 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:12 am

Its also been seen with DEA using NSA intercepts and then creating parallel construction techniques to use the data that can’t be used in court.

Government is very smart about getting around barriers to its own power.

104 Ricardo April 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Again, the claim that the intelligence community was spying on Trump by proxy proves too much. If it was actually possible to glean potentially compromising or sensitive information about Trump by simply listening in on phone calls he was having with foreign government officials or intelligence agents, that obviously raises an entirely legitimate question about what, exactly, a major candidate for President or a President-elect was doing spending so much time in sensitive conversations with foreign government agents. And if he spent very little time in conversations with these sorts of individuals and/or engaged in innocuous banter (which is what he should have been doing), then the claim that the intelligence community was “spying on Trump” is fatuous.

It’s a bit like saying, “How dare you spy on me by ingeniously spying on my mistress.” Say that again?

105 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm

If you communicate with the Russian ambassador, the secret service will very likely have a recording of it.


106 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm

If you did so secretly prior to an election and are now highly placed, someone might think that is a problem.


107 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm

If that guy is no longer highly placed, most people are very OK with that.


108 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:32 pm

Trump’s number one financial backer in the election is a hedge fund guy with fairly detailed data on 200 million Americans.

109 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm

Trump’s number one financial backer in the election gave Bannon the $10 million in seed money used to start Breitbart. And is rolling out in Europe now.

Anyone wanna argue about where inter-gender or transgender people pee? Personally, I couldn’t care less.

110 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 4:47 am

“1. The deep state can selectively blackmail individuals in politics”

That is how J. Edgar Hoover stayed head of the FBI under Kennedy, isn’t it? When Hoover finally died after almost a half century as top internal security boss, there sure was a lot of interest in his files.

111 Mike W April 18, 2017 at 5:28 am

Will the Deep State mobilize to prevent Trump from undoing Obama’s Clean Power Plan?

112 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 6:22 am

The Deep State is the executive committee of the American plutocracy.

113 Rich Berger April 18, 2017 at 6:37 am

The “Deep State” is simply the permanent Democrat government apparatus. I don’t recall it giving Obama any trouble; in fact it could help him without visible direction. Lois Lerner, for example. No conspiracy theory needed, just birds of a feather, pushing and pulling together.

114 Joel April 18, 2017 at 8:34 am

This is exactly right. Deep-State-as-organized-conspiracy is a straw man set up to discredit the problematic fact that the majority of federal employees are aghast at the idea of President Trump, and that they are without overt direction or even clear intent trying to derail and subvert his administration.

Personally, I’m not terribly worried about it. It’s probably a good corrective against the tyranny of the majority, as it exerts tremendous inertia against drastic changes in policy. The problem is not that the Deep State exists – it always has. The problem is that it is so ideologically monolithic. It needs a course correction, and Trump may be the only person who can do it.

115 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 8:45 am

You have not been reading the news.

There is no effective “administration” to derail at this point. There is a White House adrift and a Republican Congress still split on what to do.

One more definition of Deep State .. the part of the chicken that still runs with the head cut off.

116 TMC April 18, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Adrift? Got his Supreme Court nominee confirmed, has rolled back several items of the more egregious Obama regulations, and has more foreign policy wins in 100 days than the past 8 years.

117 Anonymous April 19, 2017 at 10:16 am
118 Bill April 18, 2017 at 8:57 am

The Deep State has to be a creation to explain the incompetency of the Trump administration.

Think Muslim ban and an independent judiciary that stepped in.

119 TMC April 18, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Good example. Perfectly legal and legitimate ban fought by a rogue judge.

120 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm

30 something states.

Both federal legislative houses.

And the presidency. Just got an appointee to the SCOTUS.

And you’re still the victim.

121 Horhe April 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Is it worth much if you can’t implement any part of the agenda that got you to the White House?

122 Kris April 18, 2017 at 6:39 am

Hasn’t the term “deep state” been used to posit nefarious intentions behind real-world events where the face value explanations fail to satisfy conspiracy theorists?

Like the theory that Bush II and others in his administration were behind 9/11, and not OBL and Al-qaeda.

Or the more nebulous theory that free trade and (relatively lax) immigration laws are globalist conspiracies, designed to enrich fat cats by weakening the solidarity of middle-class and working-class white people in Western countries, who gain absolutely no benefit from it (or whatever theory currently holds sway among the alt-right.)

123 8 April 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Civil war is coming. Deep state is merely a way to identify enemies.

124 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm

I think it is quite obvious that at least some significant players DO work towards certain divisionist types of thinking, including weakening aspects of solidarity which are most present within the middle class or working class.

Things like having some BS diversion before sneaking in a trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthiest before proper debate can be had. Like … anywhere here willing to take a stand that no such mechanitions will have before such tax cuts are promoted in some way or another? No one is even thinking of maybe trying to do a little something like that?

125 chuck martel April 18, 2017 at 6:57 am

You’re misunderstanding the phenomenon. The deep state is an organism whose members are looking out for their own best interests, which may, in fact, not coincide with other members of the deep state. It’s basically government by bureaucracy, which stays in place regardless of what officials are elected and carries out its missions according to its own priorities. There’s no conspiracy involved.

126 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:15 am

I recommend reading the Weed Agency. Its funny and shows you how this works.

127 rayward April 18, 2017 at 7:00 am

Cowen’s number 3 illuminates the meaning of deep state, namely a commitment to the status quo even as the government changes in elections. I say it illuminates the meaning because hardly anyone questions the benefits of steady hands at the Fed. I say hardly anyone. That would not include our Austrian friends, who believe the “steady hands” at the Fed are driving us over the cliff. But fear not, Cowen’s Great Reset will purge the deep state from the Fed. As Ms. Yellen was reputed to have said, “I’ll give you my deep state when you pry it from my cold, steady hands.”

128 Aretino April 18, 2017 at 9:18 am

But that would mean the Deep State is the major force for conservativism, in the sense of keeping the status quo. Which doesn’t explain why those most concerned about the deep state are on the political right.

129 FUBAR007 April 18, 2017 at 10:43 am

Which doesn’t explain why those most concerned about the deep state are on the political right.

That’s because a liberal was president for the last eight years. Go back a decade, and you’ll find similar paranoia and conspiracy theorizing from the political left during Bush’s tenure. The “Deep State” is a rorschach blot upon which factions out of power–or at least factions that perceive themselves to be out of power–project their political anxieties and frustrations.

Speaking from personal experience, the American “Deep State” is best understood as an agglomeration of petty fiefdoms. Each department, agency, and component organization thereof is a “fiefdom” with its own interests, objectives, and priorities. Their governing ideology is realpolitik in pursuit of self-perpetuation. They fight or cooperate with each other depending on whether their interests overlap or conflict in any given instance. Passive-aggressiveness, willful ignorance, and obstinacy, rather than direct confrontation, are the modal forms of opposition. Different fiefdoms tilt toward one political party or or the other based on their degree of budgetary patronage. It’s less about ideology than which party keeps the money flowing.

What keeps it all going is that, for civilian staff below the political appointee level, it can take years to fire someone for anything short of a major felony or a very public fuck-up. There’s no effective disciplinary mechanism to deal with poor performance. The net result is a predominantly apathetic organizational culture with a few persistent, naive idealists sprinkled here and there and moderately ambitious, well-connected apparatchiks gradually climbing their way up the hierarchy.

Anyone–left or right–looking for an X-Files-style grand conspiracy is going to be sorely disappointed. There’s no great vision. There’s no totalitarian ideology. There’s no horrifyingly competent and efficient bureaucratic monolith secretly controlling everything. The Deep State exists, but it’s more petty than megalomaniacal.

130 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:58 am

The political left was just as paranoid during the Clinton years as well. It goes all the way back to Bush I and the “New World Order”.
When communism collapsed, the Left got super paranoid and blamed it all on a giant CIA conspiracy. (more or less). This continued through the Bush years, 9/11 and the whole PNAC thing, until, well, about the time Obama got elected. Then, bizarrely, you started seeing right-wingers promoting 9/11 Trutherism and such, and it just went downhill throughout the Obama years. Now the right wing is just as crazy as the left wing used to be.

131 8 April 18, 2017 at 12:44 pm

“There’s no great vision. There’s no totalitarian ideology. There’s no horrifyingly competent and efficient bureaucratic monolith secretly controlling everything.”

70% of the misunderstanding between right and left on the Internet is because 115 IQ leftists are arguing with 140 IQ rightists.

132 Pshrnk April 18, 2017 at 1:39 pm

And us 150 IQ centrists?

133 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Perhaps the misunderstanding is that right-wingers generally tend to see supernatural forces governing what are actually chaotic self-organizing phenomenon.
Whether it is the bearded man in the sky or the Deep State, there must be an Intelligent Designer. It can’t just be a bunch of disconnected random processes with no plan or organizing principle. Can it?

134 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Did anyone read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency? Remember the bit about the sofa stuck mysteriously on the landing (stairway)? High IQ people can be like that, with their heads stuck innovatively up their butts.

High IQ is fine, but I sometimes think someone further down the curve will have a better answer. Nothing too fancy.

135 So Much For Subtlety April 18, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Perhaps the misunderstanding is that right-wingers generally tend to see supernatural forces governing what are actually chaotic self-organizing phenomenon. Whether it is the bearded man in the sky or the Deep State, there must be an Intelligent Designer. It can’t just be a bunch of disconnected random processes with no plan or organizing principle. Can it?

As opposed to Marxists? Come on. This is lame.

136 Hazel Meade April 19, 2017 at 11:45 am

Marxists are totally guilty of this too. But them Marxism is based on fundamentally Christian value judgements. Money is evil, rich people should give away all their money to get into heaven, poverty is ennobling, the poor shall inherit the earth. Most importantly, the economy is/can be controlled by intelligent men – just replace the Devil and God with Capitalists and the State.

137 P Burgos April 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Well, the political right in the U.S. is an odd combination of the wealthy, who really do want to maintain the status quo but with lower taxes, fewer regulations, and less onerous government oversight, and the people who elected Trump because they think the status quo is less than magnificent and want to “Make America Great Again.” The Democratic Party is much more uniformly a party of people who want to maintain the status quo, just with more handouts (better social safety net) and higher status for minorities.

138 The Lunatic April 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Your key error there is the conflation of “keeping the status quo” and “the political right”, simply because the same word is used for each. People who want to, say, eliminate the Department of Education, are not in favor of the status quo.

139 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Where do you get the idea that concerns about “deep state” are more located on the right?

Doesn’t the right wing tend much more to defend things like torturing people for no good reason, making absurd apologist argumentation when someone with a badge does something verifiably horrible, or generally support increased use of violence and harsh means of imposing social control. Which, if not in the deep state, then which part of government is more relevant for stuff like that in domestic affairs?

Point: It is from the right, that you generally hear apologist speech with regard to such violations from within the deep state. In my opinion, this is not consistent with deep down believing that “the right wing” is more aggrieved.

Possibly some specifically partisan aspects might be relevant considering the new presidency. But maybe not that much.

140 The Lunatic April 18, 2017 at 7:06 am

The bureaucracy, especially in the DC area (and similarly, the collective bureaucracy-lobbyist-media complex, especially in the DC area) has a culture, worldview and interests that do not perfectly align with the policy priorities of either elected officials or the general public, and it has a number of ways to pursue them over the objections of elected officials and the general public.

If that’s a conspiracy theory just because there’s a convenient label for it (“The Deep State”) well, fine. It’s a true conspiracy theory, then. Any economist worthy of the title should know enough about agent-principal problems and the existence of things like “corporate cultures” that he should, on five minutes’ consideration, fully expect it to be true, too.

141 Ricardo April 18, 2017 at 7:37 am

All true but independent bureaucracies functioning within a democratic system are not the same as the deep state. When an entity has unchecked power and no transparency (like the old power of Kemalist generals in the Turkish military), that is obviously a problem but when some combination of circumscribed powers and transparency or oversight are brought in, they can be a vital part of the system of checks and balances.

This goes back to the old 19th century debate over establishing permanent bureaucracies staffed by career civil servants. You really do want parts of the government to be run by people who are not political hacks with no relevant experience or expertise and who feel free to make decisions or give advice that may be unpopular among some politicians.

142 Anon_senpai April 18, 2017 at 8:57 am

Staffing government with professional civil servants comes at a cost though. They have their own interests like perpetuating and expanding the scope of their authority. “Political hacks” can be thrown out of office when the other party gains power.

143 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:49 pm

I think most people are thinking of intelligence (e.g., CIA, NSA), and not Washington bureaucrats in the department of education, when speaking of the “deep state”.

There appear to be diverging views on the matter though.

144 vwlfrank April 18, 2017 at 7:16 am

not sure if this is trustworthy, but this HuPo article may give you some input for further thought on the topic:
“Bigger Than Watergate? Legitimate Concerns That Anti-Clinton Faction Within FBI May Have Conspired To Hand Election To Trump”

145 Bart Frazier April 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

If any readers wish to pursue any of these ideas further, you may be interested on our conference on June 3 near Dulles Airport.

“The National Security State and JFK”

146 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 7:36 am

Soon or later, the masses in the United States will rise in righteous ire against their masters the way the Romanian masses rose up against Ceauşescu.

147 Horhe April 18, 2017 at 10:43 am

So, after shooting one guy and his wife for show, the rest of the regime and its elites will transition successfully towards dominating the new regime? The first order of business being the wholesale destruction of the existing industrial base through crooked transfers, mismanagement and simply selling off land, equipment, buildings. What the Romanians got that was good out the whole business was the vote, a flat tax rate and capitalism. What they got that was bad was an everybody for himself mentality, lots of thieves and capitalism. What system would succeed the one in the United States?

148 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 11:20 am

Evidently Americans already have enough “everybody for himself mentality”. This is exactly why distinguished intelectuals like Mr. Emmanuel Todd, who had predicted the decadencemof the Soviet Union, predict the fall of the American regime. Americans may even try democracy for a change. The same way Romanian eleites were forced to accept the previously discipline of the vote, American corporatleaders wil probably have to accept stringent capital controls – their interests will have to take a back seat to the people’s interests. People will not able anymore to get away destrying their countrymen livehoods and driving them to madness and crime. What will it be like institutionally? Who knows for sure. There was no ready model in America, 1776, Brazil, 1889 or Russia, 1917. There is space for disasters, but there is also space for hope. Freed from their oppressors, Americans will an opportunity to build a florishing society, a kinder, gentler America. Then, the free development of each will be the condition of the free development of all.

149 john April 18, 2017 at 7:45 am

Re 4 — intelligences is also less filtered than we think. A large quantity (likely a very large majority of classified information) of it is actually derived from public information anyone has access to should they wish to read up on or speak to others about many topic. It information becomes classified not be cause it is sensitive itself but because it’s interesting to someone. One might suggest that the Deep State then has the same interests to increase the background noise as the post suggest a President might.

150 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:51 pm

It’s almost as though you can ban someone from acknowledging the existence of some publicly available materials by printing it off on a document with a classified marker attached to it.

Soon, the weather and date will be either a) classified or b) banned from classified documents.

151 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 5:53 pm

The UN approach of “Dare to Share” and counting on people with good judgment is a better outlook for such things.

152 Roy LC April 18, 2017 at 8:01 am

6. The Deep State, because it is not some formal group with defined rules and procedures is very resistant change and this applies to policy change. In other words it is something that promtes brittleness. And since the consensus that directs it is based on the implicit understanding that comes from shared identity and similar backgrounds. By its very nature it narrows the window of possible actions even in response to a crisis.

In Turkey, where we get this term, it meant that the military and bureaucratic elites in Ankara formed in special schools combined with the cosmopolitan classes in Istanbul and the Aegean coast. This meant it fundamentally ignored what was happening in the rest of the country and found itself unable to effectively respond to the revolution of political Islam. It now finds itself and its constituency remarkably powerless.

153 Bill April 18, 2017 at 8:05 am

Is this site competing for coverage by Breitbart News or other conspiracy websites.

Or, is it that Tyler is trying to cover up his work as a part of the

Koch Brothers Deep State.

Inquiring minds want to know.

The Deep State I worry about is undisclosed campaign contributions that influence politicians and support faux think tanks who fail to disclose their contributors.

154 Bill April 18, 2017 at 8:13 am

If you want some examples of public behavior think about Trump stating that there should be an investigation of those who protest against him, his claims that 3 million undocumented persons voted and there should be an investigation, etc.

155 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 8:34 am

I can only guess, but I think that since those realities are covered elsewhere, MR is conceived as place where different possibilities are discussed.

This has the side effect of creating a discussion where those first realities seem not to exist. The basics may not be covered, and focus is on more tangential and “novel” ideas.

156 Dick the Butcher April 18, 2017 at 8:26 am

Maybe the “deep state” is analogous to “black markets”. Except “deep state” operates in the too-big, too-powerful government while black markets operates outside markets.

Also, I think there are (in varying ways) parallel “deeps” in public education, unions, media, universities.

On the deep Fed, will Yellen “torpedo” the Trump economy? I am unconcerned. Given it’s track record, if the Fed foments a recession, we’ll have the yugest economic boom in History.

157 JWatts April 18, 2017 at 8:59 am

There are reams of speculation, but not much in the way of solid facts or a coherent theory.

I’ll just remain skeptical of the entire issue, until better evidence manifests.

158 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:22 am

Imagine you were elected to get rid of the Department of Education.

What would the Department of Education do?

Would it just sit there and meekly pack up its boxes?

That is the Deep State. Normally, its fighting for a little more budget. Sometimes it believes in its mission more than the elected officials, so it will find ways to get around legislatures, executives, etc.

This is not really a conspiracy theory, except that in theory the “public servants” aren’t supposed to do thwart elected officials.

159 mulp April 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm

“Imagine you were elected to get rid of the Department of Education”

All you need to do is get 218 members of the House and 60 members of the Senate to pass a law to implement that campaign promise.

Until you accomplish that, there are 400,000 employees in the executive branch Congress requires you to pay to force you to keep paying employees to run the Department of education and spend money as required by Congress in many laws.

Trump is used to being the CEO of a corporation with a vague charter that let’s him argue anything is consistent with the charter.

Instead he is running a corporation with a charter that defines the Supreme Law of the Land to include tens of thousands of laws and treaties with every employee under the president forced by law to defend the Constitution from threats foriegn and DOMESTIC, which in the case of Trump and minions is Trump and minions.

Trump is required by the Constitution to pay 400,000 people to block him in 90% of his agenda to violate the Constitution.

160 The Other Jim April 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

We haven’t seen this kind of post in awhile from Tyler — the kind where he takes a conservative idea utterly alien to him (but he has heard of!) and then attempts to “explain” it, very very very badly. Amazingly badly.

The Deep State does not refer to a shadowy network of people within the government who have “The Real Power.”

It simply refers to all those who innately believe that OF COURSE the Federal Government should be regulating every aspect of acceptable speech and behavior nationwide, and that your opinion on that obvious fact is even more important than your opinion on how they choose to regulate any given thing.

And now that Trump is calling the shots, you are free to laugh your ass off at these people, as I do every day.

161 Hua Wei April 18, 2017 at 11:24 am

“It simply refers to all those who innately believe that OF COURSE the Federal Government should be regulating every aspect of acceptable speech and behavior nationwide, and that your opinion on that obvious fact is even more important than your opinion on how they choose to regulate any given thing.”

Yeah, the “deep state” has nothing to do with people actually acting in or with the state and is not deep – it just “guys who disagree with me about stuff”. Oh, god.

162 mulp April 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Your mean the 400,000 employees who have sworn to defend the Constitution which includes the laws of Congress to control every aspect of your life.

For example, the Supreme law of the land requires you to pay your employees instead of making them your slaves. But that means you will not find yourself made a slave.

163 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm

10c a can tax on soda pop is draconian infringement on liberty.

Torturing people is good for freedom.

And somehow, it seems you might even actually believe it.

164 Ed April 18, 2017 at 9:31 am

I thought the analysis in the original post was pretty good.

“1. The deep state can selectively blackmail individuals in politics, and for the innocent ones the deep state can fabricate something. Therefore in equilibrium most politicians shy away from talking about the deep state, even to praise it. The balance here seems easy enough to understand, but I can’t say I’ve seen evidence for this mechanism. I suppose if there is any test for it, it is the Trump Administration.”

In the case of Flynn, intelligence agencies spied on a federal official and used the information to force him out of the government. In this case, there was no blackmail involved, but now we know that American political figures are spied on (as part of spying on the Russians), and the Trump administration is (inadvertently) giving us more information about this.

I wonder if its time to revisit Perot’s withdrawal from the 1992 presidential race in this light?

“2. The deep state exists to protect the American public (and itself) against very unfavorable policy choices and thus outcomes. The deep state therefore would move against a very irresponsible president, either by leaks or blackmail or perhaps something more dramatic.”

This was historically how the original Turkish deep state operated, it was a way for the Turkish public to keep electing governments that supported a more Islamic, less Western Turkey than the military would have liked, but to keep those governments from getting too Islamic.

“4. The deep state is active on a day-to-day basis, mostly by manipulating the flow of information to the president and National Security Council and related parties. Intelligence is more filtered than we outsiders may think. Presumably the president realizes this sooner or later, and tries to adjust for the filter. Over time, the filter becomes an increasing distortion, so to keep the chance higher that the president is being fooled by the information flow.”

Presidents used to have “kitchen cabinets” to counteract this, and Obama still did by keeping in contact with his Chicago friends. Trump seems to have tried to bring the people who would have been his kitchen cabinet into the federal government and the White House, which is probably one of his “new to DC” mistakes. The increased security detail around presidents also probably restricts their information flow.

165 Ricardo April 18, 2017 at 11:34 am

“but now we know that American political figures are spied on (as part of spying on the Russians)”

Flynn was an employee, not an elected official. Not only has it been public information for decades that America wiretaps foreign diplomats and officials but anyone who is subject to security clearance knows that you have essentially no privacy with respect to intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies for as long as you have the clearance. One of the most prominent questions on the security clearance application asks you to describe in detail all foreign acquaintances and the nature of your communications and business with each.

166 TMC April 18, 2017 at 10:35 pm

“In the 1992 election, he received 18.9% of the popular vote, about 19,741,065 votes (but no electoral college votes), making him the most successful third-party presidential candidate in terms of the popular vote since Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election.[39] ”

Withdrawl? he got Clinton the Presidency

167 derek April 18, 2017 at 9:31 am

The most egregious example of the deep state were the GSE’s in the mortgage market. This wasn’t a secret.

A congressman would look at the ridiculous things they were doing and start poking about trying to advance some reforms. Within a short time his district would be flooded with advertisements describing him as wanting to take your mortgages away.

I think this may be the reason why the GSE’s were pounded on by Congress after 2008.

Lois Lerner is asking that her hearings be held in secret because she is fearful for her life. I suppose what she did was at the behest of the President, so it is outside the definition of deep state.

168 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:19 am

Interest groups protect their interests.

Is there any reason to think that the GSEs are in secret communication with the CIA, NSA, FBI and Federal Reserve (and numerous other bureaucratic agencies) in a coordinated strategy to control the President?

169 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:25 am

The IC is also an interest group. You should keep that in mind.

I think most of the anti-Trump stuff was Obama appointees’ last hurrah.

They could get quoted up to January as “intelligence officials” which makes them sound neutral and patriotic instead of partisan.

And now that Trump has settled on a very “conservative” foreign policy, the real Deep State IC will be fine.

170 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:37 am

Yes, but my point is that the intelligence community is not operating in some coordinated way with say Goldman Sachs, the financial industry in general, or any other branches of government. Every interest groups defends it’s own interests, and those interests are not generally aligned with other groups’ interests.

Besides, how was Trump ever really a threat to the intelligence communities interests? He was pro-Patriot-Act, pro-war-on-terror, and pro increasing defense spending. He called Edward Snowden a traitor. If the intelligence community is against him, it’s more likely because they fear he’ll do something erratic and dangerous, not because they see him as a threat to their own power.

171 Alt-right April 18, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Putin is a nice guy, and the IC don’t like him, therefore the IC is acting in their own interests.

172 Evan April 18, 2017 at 9:34 am

I say that Tyler’s #4 is the crux of the deep state’s power.

The very best treatment of this idea as it relates to national security is Michael Glennon’s “National Security and Double Government.”

He divides the federal government into the “Madisonsian” three branches of government set up by the constitution and the “Trumanite” institutions set up by the National Security Act of 1947. One of his key points is that the Trumanites have huge influence over the flow of information to the Madisonians.

173 WC Varones April 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

The IRS targeting of political dissidents is quite possibly an example of the Deep State; it’s unclear whether this was ordered by the Obama White House or self-motivated.

174 mulp April 18, 2017 at 3:33 pm

So, you are arguing that rich people can dodge taxes because the IRS should never execute the Constitutional Supreme Law of the Land if the rich people are conservatives?

175 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 6:12 pm

A few percent more identifiably right wing “charities” lost status compared to the number of idnetifiably left wing “charities”.

Over 200 organizations of both stripes lost charitable status due to the high political content in their activities.

Come back and whine when it’s 100-to-0 in the other direction (Canadian case prior to last election) and not 250-to-230 or whatever the tally was.

Was “Occupy Democrats” one of these right wing groups who lost status as part of the audits which, by innuendo, you seek to remind to manipulated believers as having been evidence of conspiracy?

Sure, it points a teeny bit in that direction. Or … maybe there were a handful more right wing charities that crossed the line too far into political activism to keep their charitable status. Mabye? Or maybe that bias can explain the few percent difference, but it’s not some major plot or conspiracy?

176 WC Varones April 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Why did Lois Lerner plead the 5th if everything was above board?

177 Troll Me April 19, 2017 at 12:43 am

Maybe she smoked a joint at an inopportune time during the relevant events?

Maybe Koch gave her an envelope stuffed with cash to keep quiet?

I could carry on with a million guesses.

Absence of evidence is not evidence.

178 WC Varones April 18, 2017 at 9:32 pm

And if it was even-handed, why were IRS employees specifically told to look for groups with conservative buzzwords like “tea party” and “patriots?”

Even the left-leaning Washington Post admits that this was blatantly targeting conservative organizations. Where do you get your news?

179 Troll Me April 19, 2017 at 12:49 am

If you’re looking for politically involved groups that do not deserve status as a charity, I think a failure to consider either “tea party” or “patriot” would be highly negligent.

I bet they literally searched “progressive” too. But you would never so much as whisper it if if smacked you in the face.

180 TMC April 18, 2017 at 10:40 pm

297 conservative groups were denied vs 5 leftist. Also, 7 years later, some have just been allowed. It typically took 7 weeks for the leftist groups to be OK’d

181 Troll Me April 19, 2017 at 12:56 am

I thought the issue was about audits to remove status, not about new approvals.

Do you know how easy it’d be to truthfully fabricate that statistic? All I have to do is make 200 claims that never had a hope to go through, and then turn around and claim victimhood when it was a plot from the start.

Anyways, are there any of those 297 groups that deserve status? Or are there left wing groups that should lose theirs? If so, it’s not as though it’s difficult for them to appeal, get a second hearing, etc., etc. etc. In the absence of specifics, it seems BS to me.

In Canada, environmental charities came under fire for foreign instrusion out of fear of what influence European vegans might obtain in $10 annual increments. Meanwhile, $4.3 million in Koch brothers money did not draw any interest in terms of the same foreign intrusions that got environmentalists banded together with terrorists in quite a number of public safety announcements and even in legislation.

I’m quite willing to believe that a party could abuse power with respect to audits of charities. I am not, however, persuaded by innuendo (not evidence) that never manages to get specific about anything.

182 Stormy Dragon April 18, 2017 at 9:57 am

6. The deep state’s biggest threat lies in obstructive compliance rather than blackmail.

183 A B April 18, 2017 at 10:01 am

First published in 1974, Gall’s book ‘The Systems Bible’ explains the Deep State pretty well from first principles. Systems grow, systems protect themselves, systems operate in failure mode, and systems exhibit unanticipated behavior. From chapter 1:

“When a system is set up to accomplish some goal, a new entity has come into being—the system itself. No matter what the “goal” of the system, it immediately begins to exhibit systems-behavior, that is, to act according to the general laws that govern the operation of all systems. Now the system itself has to be dealt with. Whereas before the was only the Problem—such as warfare between nations, or garbage collection—there is now an additional universe of problems associated with the functioning or merely the presence of the new system.”
— John Gall, ‘The Systems Bible’.

184 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:06 am

All of these are crazy. They all suffer from the same basic problem that all conspiracy theories fundamentally suffer from: There have to be far too many people involved in the conspiracy to keep it quiet.

Especially #4 strikes me as completely implausible. Is there supposed to be some shadow chief-of-information-control person who decide which piece of information to leak to the President and which information to hide? How do they get everyone to agree on what information the President should be allowed to see? How do they stop co-conspirators from defecting and spilling the beans? How do they avoid factions developing in their own ranks? How does one faction stop the other from providing information the other faction doesn’t want to be seen?

I can certainly imagine that there are some powerful people acting behind the scenes to try to manipulate the government. But are they coordinated? Hell no. There is no way that there is a cohesive group of people large enough or with sufficient leverage over all of the government to warrant a name like the “deep state”.
More likely there are an array of different interest groups that are all working at cross purposes to advance their own agendas. Say hello to normal everyday politics as it always has been.

185 Harun April 18, 2017 at 11:32 am

Let’s review:

The EPA would set up lawsuits where it would “lose” to friendly NGO’s and therefor “be forced” to embark on some policy that they wanted to do anyways. This seems kinda conspiracy to me, but it happened and no one cared.

The VA gamed benchmarks for bonuses, got caught, avoided punishment, kept the money and no one ended up really fired.

DOJ made a deal with large banks to pay fines for their bad actions that went not to the taxpayer’s government but to groups like La Raza..that’s a politically partisan group getting a legal payoff. Didn’t cause many ripples.

I think you’re underestimating how much can get done now under the radar, or with a disinterested media.

186 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 11:44 am

The conspiracy would be if the EPA set up lawsuits where it would lose to NGOs that would force the DOJ to pay fines to La Raza, in exchange for the DOJ prosecuting climate skeptics under the racketeering act. The EPA working on it’s own to advance it’s own agenda is not demonstrative of a unified inter-agency conspiracy across multiple branches of government. You can’t call something by a monolithic name like the “Deep State” if there is no unified monolithic agenda.

187 mulp April 18, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Was the EPA “acting on its own” when complying with Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 549 U.S. 497 (2007)?

“a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court case in which twelve states and several cities of the United States brought suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force that federal agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) as pollutants.”

“First, the petitioners were found to have standing.[6] Justice Stevens reasoned that the states had a particularly strong interest in the standing analysis.[7] The majority cited Justice Holmes’ opinion in Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co.:
“The case has been argued largely as if it were one between two private parties; but it is not. The very elements that would be relied upon in a suit between fellow-citizens as a ground for equitable relief are wanting here. The State owns very little of the territory alleged to be affected, and the damage to it capable of estimate in money, possibly, at least, is small. This is a suit by a State for an injury to it in its capacity of quasi-sovereign. In that capacity the State has an interest independent of and behind the titles of its citizens, in all the earth and air within its domain. It has the last word as to whether its mountains shall be stripped of their forests and its inhabitants shall breathe pure air.”[8]
Second, the Court held that the CAA gives the EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases. The CAA provides:
“The Administrator shall by regulation prescribe (and from time to time revise) in accordance with the provisions of this section, standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”[9]
The CAA defines “air pollutant” as “any air pollution agent or combination of such agents, including any physical, chemical, biological, radioactive . . . substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air”.[10] The majority opinion commented that “greenhouse gases fit well within the CAA’s capacious definition of air pollutant.”[11]
Finally, the Court remanded the case to the EPA, requiring the agency to review its contention that it has discretion in regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The Court found the current rationale for not regulating to be inadequate and required the agency to articulate a reasonable basis in order to avoid regulation.”

— Wikipedia

Scalia argued in dissent that the executive branch can always simply ignore the law after responding to petitions. Which applied to immigration means the executive branch can respond to States demanding deportations, “nope, it’s too hard, so we respond by doing nothing”.

188 Hazel Meade April 19, 2017 at 11:48 am

Compliance with SCOTUS rulings is a matter of public record and therefore not, by definition, a conspiracy.

189 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Someone with a lot of data on a lot of people might be able to coordinate more than would be healthy for any system that will not topple into tyranny.

So, probably not the department of education.

Not knowing one way or the other, I think the safe assumption is “maybe a lot more possible than, obviously, I could really explain”.

But the general perspective of opposing conspiracy theorist views that things are all tidily controlled in some way. Yes, I think very sensible. We are not yet all such completely predictable and/or programmed quasi-puppets that it would be easy to model and control large numbers of people at a time. But certainly there are extremely serious technological risks in that direction these days.

190 Barkley Rosser April 18, 2017 at 11:21 am

I doubt that it is meaningful to talk about some sort of unified “Deep State” in the US. We have bureaucracies and agencies that attempt to keep their various agendas and powers going, but many of them are at odds with each other or not particularly connected. Are EPA and NSA both part of the same “Deep State”?

Certainly when dealing with parts where secrecy is involved, things can get messy, as the example of J. Edgar Hoover shows, and there do appear to be parts of the military-intel establishment that are reacting to some of the things that Trump and pals have been doing or saying. The climate scientists at EPA are not in a similar position.

For once I agree with Steve Sailer at least somewhat. A serious Deep State involves some other conspiracy mechanism to operate across these different branches of government for coordination purposes, which I think we lack in the US. But in post WW II Italy it came out that the ruling elite of the Christian Democrat Party that ran things until the 90s when it all fell apart, more or less, was unified in secret membership in the P2 Masonic Lodge, something one is not supposed to have in a Catholic country, with these people also having certain connections with the Mafias of Italy, just to make it really juicy. This was real conspiracy-deep state stuff, but it appears to have mostly fallen apart there, if not totally.

I find it weird that Deep State theorists (or hysterics) are now pushing expanding the Spoils System. How many stupidities are we going to see becoming fashionable in the near future?

191 Steve Sailer April 18, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Here’s my 2009 movie review of “Il Divo” about the postwar Italian deep state / peak state as embodied in Prime Minister Andreotti:

Andreotti was prime minister for many years, on and off, which suggests that the most likely actual leader of a deep state is the official head of government.

192 Barkley Rosser April 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Yes, Andreotti seems to have been the central lynchpin of the system for several decades until the big falling apart, which curiously coincided with the end of the Soviet system.

193 P Burgos April 18, 2017 at 2:57 pm

I don’t have deep knowledge of Italy’s history, but the impression that I got from Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels was that political violence between communists and capitalists/mafiosa was very common in Italy in the post war period. It makes intuitive sense to me that the collapse of the Soviet Union, along with greater understanding of its violence and injustice, would lead to a collapse in support for communist parties (and violence) in Western Europe. Perhaps without the threat of violence from communists, some fraction of Italian politicians started to fear the mafia more, instead of viewing them as allies against a common foe?

194 Barkley Rosser April 18, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Yes, this is well known. The leader of the Sicilian mafia between the late 20s and early 50s, Cala, helped the US enter Sicily and was strongly anti-Communist, indeed viewing them as his chief rivals. When their leader in Sicily announced he was coming to Cala’s home town, Cala sent a warning he should not. He did. Guns starting firing over the handful of people who dared show up, and they fled. Cala was shot in the leg and lay in the street alone wounded and crying out. Finally an old man showed up and loomed over him asking if there was anything he wanted. It was Cala.

195 Nick_L April 18, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Someone looking for evidence of a Deep State might find it in some of today’s turf (jurisdiction?) wars. David King went so far as to describe Members of Congress as being ‘quite entrepreneurial’ in terms of establishing Jurisdiction. One example where you might argue that the Deep State was ineffective, was that of Germany in the 1930’s. Germany had a well established bureaucracy prior to WW2, yet Hitler appears to have had little difficulty achieving his goals within Germany itself. Issues tended to arise only when conflict occurred between controlling interests, rather than any overt subversion of Hitler’s aims. Perhaps the Deep State has also improved over time?

196 roadrunner April 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Is Steve the un-named reader? Is Tyler not allowed to admit correspondence with him?

197 Taeyoung April 18, 2017 at 1:16 pm

The deep state is Sir Humphrey Appleby. There’s no grand plan or design there, just civil servants self-interestedly acting to protect their honors, their power, and their perks. And the things they like. Things like the Opera. Radio Three. The countryside, the law, the universities … both of them.

198 Anonymous April 18, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Not Ian Fletcher, Head of Values?

199 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 6:19 pm

That can be a source of complacency.

But it does not at all describe its social relevance in the grander scheme of things.

200 John Dougan April 18, 2017 at 7:56 pm


I would add that in countries with the Westminster form of government, it appears to be much more widely recognized that the permanent bureaucracy (Civil Service) has it’s own interests and motivations. When I moved to the US, I was much confused by the assumption that the permanent bureaucracy was merely a tool of the elected politicos.

201 Pshrnk April 18, 2017 at 1:49 pm

” There’s no grand plan or design there, just civil servants self-interestedly acting to protect their honors, their power, and their perks.”

Actually there is a grand plan: ” just civil servants self-interestedly acting to protect their honors, their power, and their perks.”

202 Mark B April 18, 2017 at 3:41 pm

“Deep State” is just a sexier name for permanent bureaucracy. One would think that the PB, being as large as it is, would mirror the general society. It doesn’t. It is more educated, higher paid and more secure in a job than the normal population. It also lives in DC/NOVA/MD. As a result the PB doesn’t act as the neutral executor of political policy. It has its own preferred policies that mirror that population and its interests. And if the they differ with the elected officers, they just slow walk everything, or as we’ve seen already, just refuse to carry out. The PB carries out swiftly and beyond the letter of the law policies that enhance its power (ex. Lois Lerner). The effect isn’t control, but a sustained movement toward progressive causes with intermittent rear guard clean-up actions.

203 Hazel Meade April 18, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Speculative musing:

Anyone noticed that the rise in right-wing paranoia has mysteriously coincided with the opiate and meth epidemic?

204 Troll Me April 18, 2017 at 6:20 pm

Maybe some shared underlying causes. But I do not think the two are strongly affecting each other directly. At least not in numbers of major aggregate relevance.

205 Hazel Meade April 19, 2017 at 11:50 am

You are aware that paranoia is a well known side effect of methamphetamine abuse, right?

206 RJHJR April 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm

In terms of security agencies, the deep state is a bureaucracy whose activity is more hidden than other bureaucracies, which makes it harder to control, harder to change, and makes its outcomes more unpredictable. But it is still a bureaucracy.

207 mulp April 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Terry Gross/Fresh Air explored the edge of the Deep State:
APRIL 18, 2017
Former Obama White House Staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco

She was one of Obama’s executive assistants interacting with the deep state. Mentioned are the constraints of the Deep State on travel, tampons in White House restrooms, Airforce One, getting randomly drug tested, getting administrators confirmed to run the Deep State, something Trump has failed to do.

208 carlospln April 18, 2017 at 6:24 pm

158 comments, and not even one mention of Continuity of Government

209 TMC April 18, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Why do we need proof of Deep State? Is disparate impact not enough?

210 Fazal Majid April 18, 2017 at 11:16 pm

To take a less contentious example, Robert Caro’s excruciatingly detailed bio of Robert Moses, “The Power Broker”, is a canonical example of the deep state in action.

211 jorod April 19, 2017 at 9:00 pm

I’m so glad this never existed before the 20th century… Cardinal who?

212 jorod April 19, 2017 at 9:01 pm

And they get help from the media. Good intentions run amok.

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