American Culture

Let’s talk, America: Why are we hearing about this #deepstate now? Hint: thank the Russkies

deepstateAnd thank the beleaguered supporters of the Trump administration

In today’s episode, your friendly gadfly talks about why this is even a thing now.

Spoiler: I don’t know why we should thank those folks. I just think we should.

It was, what, just the day before yesterday when I noticed that this term “deep state” was being bandied about like the right wing had just discovered chocolate and peanut butter for the first time? “Oh, hell,” I thought. “There’s bullshit in the air.”

As I wrote to a close-knit circle of crickets on Facebook:

To hear today’s chatter, one might think that it took a genius of Alex Jones’ caliber to discover and point out the “deep state.”

I got curious. I remembered hearing about it during Occupy. So I did this Google search pulling links from 1/1/2001 through the end of 2015 (before the election year). Sure enough, there’s a spate of articles surrounding the time of Occupy when the left was calling out the Obama administration’s tacit, quiet acceptance of feds and local authorities crushing dissent.

There’s also a book I’ve now got wishlisted from 2009, another from the 90’s about the deep state and the JFK assassination, and let’s not forget good ol’ Ike who, on the one hand, enabled the deep state, and on the other hand warned us about the military/industrial complex.

Apparently it’s going to take some scrutiny to separate any legitimate inquiry that might exist from tinfoil hat conspiracy mongering, so no, I’m not just finding a new flavor of Kool-Aid.

If there’s such a thing (I think there is), and if it’s a problem (I think it is), the right doesn’t score points for only now waking up to it this late in the game and only having a problem with it when their crook in the White House wants us to believe he’s having trouble with them. Trouble? Ask JFK what trouble with them looks like.

Just in case I hadn’t already established my potential Tinfoil Hat bona fee days, there it is. Others will absolutely disagree with the idea that there’s even such a thing as a deep state. The ones currently talking about a deep state don’t generally need much more than a passing notion that something something gubmint is evil and it becomes a thing. That’s not to say they’re always 100% wrong, either. It just doesn’t always take much for them to be right. It’s kind of like ring toss at a fly by night carnival, just with less cool prizes. Sometimes they win one.

Is this one of those times?

Whether or not it is, The Russkies (TM) [Oooooh, booga booga! Be afeart!] don’t need to care. Their cynical and savvy operatives know how to read the error-prone like an open picture book, and that’s all that matters. This is food fight fodder, regardless of whether it’s edible. If it turns out to be poo, The Russkies will just laugh all the harder.

It’s not just “deep state” I’m hearing about here. It’s not just its use as a hashtag, possibly with the intent of pitting one fractious faction of Americans against another. It’s that I’m hearing about it at all that interests me at the moment. That’s Politico’s Jason Schwartz reporting at the food fodder link above. According to Politico:
Jason Schwartz is a media reporter for POLITICO. Previously, he was a senior editor at ESPN The Magazine and in ESPN’s Outside the Lines investigative group. He has also worked as a writer and editor at Boston magazine, covering everything from media and politics to sports, business and education.
So far, so good. He doesn’t seem to have a particular beat or specialty, but who am I to judge?
I think it’s safe to say that, from a quick review of his Twitter feed, we probably agree on more issues than not. He’s pretty apparently against Trump (as I generally am, as well), so the bias should be factored into his writing (at least I’m up front and honest about it…not that he hides it, but he hardly does due diligence with a disclosure). And judging from this particular tweet , wherein he signal boosts a fellow author at Politico, he makes light of the idea that FBI/DOJ officials could conceivably commit treason.
Now, I’m not saying that anyone did or did not commit treason. I’m just pointing out that the author of the article about Russia’s use of the #deepstate hashtag shares a fairly low opinion of the kinds of people who would think it’s even a possibility (in their case, a damned near certain probability) that corrupt people occasionally end up in power and subvert their power to their own ends. What an utterly preposterous idea! Fabulous (in the not sexy way)! Self-evident balderdash! It’s not like public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority. Oh, wait. Does that mean it’s a thing?
Why, to believe that, you’d have to be delusional and think Donald Trump (along with a great many others) was quoted back in a 2015 article from The Intercept:
“I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken system.” — Donald Trump in 2015.
There’s obviously never been a convicted FBI agent, except these, but that can’t count.
The CIA has always been clean, except that one time.
You’d have to be nuts to think someone like Aldrich Ames or Jonathan Pollard could exist.
Considering I can’t find a quick and dirty DOJ conviction reference, maybe I should just assume that HR has divine assistance and only hires saints.
Mind you, none of that was for treason, but corruption, and spying. Against us. Why would treason be off the menu?
So he sagely summarily dismisses the possibility, the gravity, and the drooling rubes who would buy into this garbage on such a vanishingly, nay, infinitesimally small basis. None of this is to say his derisive attitude is unjustified, but I think we may share some of the same motivated reasoning. I’m trying to look out for that, maybe not with academic rigor, but more than the average bear.
Right, so Schwartz is talking about the #deepstate thing like it’s a thing. Is anyone else?

Other than these people using the hashtag and Donald Trump, Jr., that is? It’s not like Twitter just tells us that these are the related hashtags or anything, except that part where it’s in the top left corner.

I mean real people, you know, journalists, not the ones doing Russia’s heavy lift for them. Well, there’s Time from 2017, but I mean more recently, like The Charlotte Observer, except also about Russian baddies playing the fake people like an out of tune mouth harp. But also cool like Duran Duran,  not uncool like TheDuran. And not just boosting Politico like Christian Forums.
Well, that’s friggin’ peculiar. Not according to this search. Or its obvious one-click follow-up.
Maybe the problem is that I should be searching on Hamilton 68, instead. Or news about them? Now we’re getting somewhere. Let’s see who we’ve got, when they reported, and what their principle sources are, shall we?
There’s NPR on 2/8/18 @ 5 AM ET. I love NPR, but could American Domestic Anaesthetizing Propaganda Radio possibly have a bias about any alleged so-called deep state? Oops, did I characterize them that way out loud? Anyway, there is some interesting information in this NPR piece that Politico didn’t mention in their 2/6/18 @ 6:54 PM ET piece. On first read of NPR, I did note a quote from Schafer using the word ripple that I didn’t recall from Politico. So I CTRL-F’d the Politico article for ripple and sure enough,  nada. What I don’t know is whether both pieces are pulling from the same interview source material, or really, which got to Schafer first, only which one went to press first. At least it seems he’s talking to different folks with the same message.
I will definitely be coming back to this NPR piece, because they report on information that I was going to be looking up anyway, and maybe their references will either fill in gaps, or provide different leads, or maybe, just maybe…reveal something of the narrative they’re framing in a way distinct from the narrative that Politico’s Schwartz frames theirs.
Express.co.uk posts on 2/7/2018 @ 8:07, updated at 9:38. Interestingly, they report that Schafer said, ““It does look like they’re looking for the next hashtag… They’re clearly looking for the next step in this process.”
And Schwartz reports that Schafer said, “It does look like they’re looking for the next hashtag. … They’re clearly looking for the next step in this process.”
Right down to the damned ellipsis in the middle.
Okay, what is the source material for these interviews? Was there a press conference that wasn’t mentioned? Does Schafer just have memorized lines, with ellipsis-omittable phrasing smack in the middle that he rehearses and repeats? Not that it’s a bad thing, necessarily, but it seems weird that two news outlets wouldn’t remark on the nature of the verbatim phrasing and the identical elision in the middle.
Express.co.uk makes one critical error, however.
“The term ‘deep state’ entered public consciousness after President Trump launched a battle with the intelligence community and accused them of covering up, or being involved with, a “deep state” network of bureaucrats working to undermine the president and therefore the will of the American people.”
Gentle Reader may recall that I began this article by sharing my ire at the right wing thinking they’ve found a new thing, and that this was in the public consciousness during Occupy, and before that, and before that.
On 2/8/18 @ 1:34 PM, Observer posts. Who?
Hrm, on 1/12/2018, Denise Clifton at Mother Jones was talking about Schafer and deep state.
That appears to be the main, if only thrust, of this story in the news.
At first pass, it looks like Schwartz was through the door first, followed by a minor left/anti-Trump flurry of express.co.uk, NPR, and Observer. But there was Mother Jones nearly a month before Schwartz got his story up. What happened there? Did Schwartz go trolling for article ideas like I do, find the Mother Jones story, and just not mention it? Was Schafer reaching out to news desks?
NBC checked in on 1/19/18 @ 5:23 PM, a fair bit after MoJo covered the issue, with a story featuring Trump’s Mini-Me, DT the Lesser and use of the deep state as a hashtag pushed, in part, by Russians to amplify the GOP message.
CNN comes in very late to the game on 2/8 to mention Russians and deep state and hashtags, but somehow fails to mention Hamilton 68 altogether. What, does CNN just have its reporters read the other news and pick out bullet points? That’s what people like me are here for. No link for them. Boo.
Now for a fun break! A drinking game! Every time you don’t see a relevant article about deep state hashtags and their possible provenance and motivation at Fox News, take a drink. Call 911 first, because you’re going to have alcohol poisoning.
Allrighty, then. We now know some are talking about this very thing, but not many. ABC and CBS and strangely silent. Fox is all too predictably crickets on the issue.
And nearly all if it seems to tie back in to that Hamilton 68 dashboard.
I said earlier that I would go back to that NPR piece because of info I want there. What I want to know is who Hamilton 68 is, what their mission is, who runs them, and where they get their support.
I also want to know what none of us is allowed to know. Which 600-ish accounts are tracked by Hamilton 68? They’re not telling, and for good reason. Nice, that. That is excellent cover for a non-verifiable methodology with a non-falsifiable outcome.
Would you like to be able to confirm what the handful are reporting on based mostly on the results of Hamilton 68’s opaque analytics? So would I.
And do you believe the outcome, in spite of this opacity and scarcity of news on the matter? Me, too. But…why?
Note: I’m not sure what happened to the formatting toward the second half. It looks fine in the editor. My apologies for the less than stellar presentation.

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