Wednesday, February 22, 2017


“In 20th century U.S. slang, “kimchi” was occasionally used in the phrase “in deep kimchi” (particularly by veterans of the Korean War), a euphemism for “in deep trouble”

Is America in what I used to hear GI’s who served in Korea call “the deep kimchi? It was their polite way of saying “We’re in deep shit.”

At any rate, the question stands. Are we in the “deep kimchi?”

There’s a lot of chatter about America’s security apparatus these days, brought to the fore in the light of the resignation/sacking of Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. Were the N.S.A. and the C.I.A., with an extremely antagonistic executive at the helm, and Flynn, who, according to scuttlebutt, loved conspiracy theories almost as much as he loved Vladimir Putin and Russia, clandestinely conspiring against their bosses?
Everything I’m reading about this reminds me of one of my favorite films – John Frankenheimer’s  “Seven Days in May.”

The film was made in 1964, during the Cold War. The plot is straightforward. There’s a “liberal” President who has become quite unpopular. He’s trying to negotiate an arms treaty with the Soviets and appears to be willing to strip America of its ability to defend itself. A group of generals, seeing this, devise a plot to overthrow the weakened President. 

As things almost always  are in Hollywood, the liberal President was the hero of the film. It only makes sense, with Hollywood being Hollywood. Any good producer, director, or actor knows that “liberals” would never undermine an elected government. In their minds, only “right wingers” do such things. Liberals, as we all know, value our Constitution and the rule of law.

Watch the clip at the beginning of this essay and take a moment to substitute the unpopular President Lyman with an unpopular Donald Trump. Watch and I think you’ll see that there may be something quite interesting happening today, 

I honestly can’t tell which end is up here. Were Trump and Flynn conspiring against the Nation or were bureaucrats within our security agencies up to no good? Were the leadership and rank and file of our security agencies trying to protect us from an impending disaster? Or, were they, in ways subtle and not so subtle, flexing the enormous undercover weapons at their disposal? If so, to what end? Would it be service to the Nation? Or would it be something far more self-serving, if not sinister? In all the back and forth between the President and our intelligence agencies about leaks, suspicious activities, etc., who is telling the truth? Where does America’s left wing fit into all of this?

I’m suspicious, but then who isn’t or shouldn’t be? I am pretty certain that no one in this current dustup is up to any good. When I was a kid, I used to listen to “The Shadow.” As I observe current events, I think I can hear the dark musical tones, the sardonic cackling, and Lamont Cranston’s voice – “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men…….the Shadow knows!”

While I can take some comfort in knowing that the Shadow was a fictional character whose only aim in life was to entertain America, I’m not sure I can take the same kind of comfort in America’s current reality. I don’t find what I’m seeing very amusing. In fact, the air in Washington, D.C. is now pregnant with some really nasty possibilities, not the least of which is becoming subject to an unelected shadow government twisting all the dials and pulling the levers.

One of the things that I’ve found interesting is that those who would normally be expected to press the alarm buttons don’t seem to be concerned at all. I think you know who I’m talking about. It’s the left of center politicians and political writers. This morning, for example, I read a piece in The Atlantic that compared our “deep state” to Turkey’s. It was another way of saying, “Don’t be alarmed. Everything’s just fine in America. Pay no attention to those men behind the curtain.” The more I read from the piece, the further my jaw dropped. If I could have, I would have asked them if they were serious, but there was no point in that. Whoever wrote the piece obviously believed it.

So, am I supposed to believe that, since Turkey has a deeply rooted “deep state,” the United States can’t possibly have one? The syllogism doesn’t work for me. It’s a bit like complimenting the politicians in Massachusetts for their tax policy because the taxes in Massachusetts are a bit lower than the taxes in Sweden. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Could America, with its strong political institutions, complete with checks and balances, its Constitution, and its history, fall prey to something like a “deep state?”

I want to say, “Absolutely not,” but I find myself hesitating.

We could at some point in the future find ourselves at the mercy of an unelected “deep state” that not only monitors, but directs our daily lives. If something like that happens, it won’t happen overnight. It will come in small, almost imperceptible increments, somewhat like what happens to the proverbial frog when he’s placed in a pan of lukewarm water and the flame is lit under the pan. One minute he’s feeling quite comfortable, but sooner or later he’s gonna’ be cooked.

In a 1966 Supreme Court case (Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 323,343. Justice William O. Douglas was the lone dissenting vote in a case that dealt with government wiretapping. The following words from his dissent express the very things I’m concerned about. Sometimes, on the surface, a decision rendered might seem easy to arrive at. But, there are occasionally some who ask what the implications of such a decision might be. Read Justice Douglas’s words and you’ll see what I mean:These examples and many others demonstrate an alarming trend whereby the privacy and dignity of our citizens is being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen -- a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of man's life at will."

So, are we witnessing the rise of an American “deep state?” I can’t say for sure. The water does feel nice and warm right now, but I swear I can see some bureaucrat fiddling around with a book of matches, ready to ignite the burner under me that will eventually cook me.

No comments: