Shadow Elite: Are They Responsible For The Subprime Mortgage Crisis?

disinformation reader (and frequent commenter) 5by5 tipped us off to the article below by Jack Blum. 5by5 wrote to us saying:

It’s not your standard take on the idea, and it references something that Raymond and Joe covered when they interviewed Adam Parfey — namely, the blurb in “Apocalypse Culture II” by Jonathan Vankin about how the media marginalizes any thought outside the commonly accepted narrative as if it were a virus because conspiracy theory is inherently confrontational.

Ironically, the article I’m linking to comes not from a writer, but from a Republican government investigator who’s run into the phenomenon first-hand for the past 45 years, looking into very real corruption schemes like Bush’s bank, BCCI.

The elite he speaks of are studied in the book “Shadow Elite” by Janine Wedel (whom I think it would be fascinating for Raymond & Joe to interview for the podcast as well).

I found this part really revealing:

“Despite the desperate need for such an investigative approach, throughout my career I have been constantly perplexed by the reception to it. A frequent response by newspaper columnists and pundits was to dub me a ‘conspiracy nut.’ Another common response was to call my evidence ‘anecdotal,’ a word uttered with a dismissive sneer. ‘Shadow Elite’ identifies players who perform overlapping, mutually influencing, and not fully revealed, roles across government, business, think tanks, and national borders in pursuit of their own policy agendas (“flexians,” she calls them, and flex-nets”–such players who work together in a network) as an important key to understanding how influence is wielded and why policy decisions are made. Wedel tracks how elite multipurpose networks function in clear-eyed–not conspiratorial–fashion. Far from mere anecdotes, today’s top power brokers operate according to a modus operandi with specific features that she charts.”

What cracks me up about that is that he himself doesn’t understand why he gets marginalized with the conspiracy nut tag by some in the media, yet turns around and characterizes other conspiratorial research as somehow not “clear-eyed”. As if other’s work is necessarily any different from his own.

Perhaps what needs to be cleared up is the fact that not all conspiracy theory is created equal, and by characterizing it as though it is, throws the baby out with the bath water. Some are in the Land of the Tin Foil Hat, and others are exposing very real, very detrimental acts being conducted in the shadows.

Here’s the beginning of Blum’s article at Huffington Post:

When I came to Washington 45 years ago to work as an investigator for the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, a senior investigator with years of experience told me that the beginning of any good investigation was a clear understanding of the players. “Everyone you will look at has a history,” he explained. “They will have mentors and sponsors. They will have networks of political and business connections. They will play many roles. If you understand those, everything else will fall into place.”

The advice was sound and has served me well in years of investigations of corporate wrongdoing, organized crime, money laundering, and securities fraud. My career highlights include serving as Special Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and before that as Assistant Counsel to the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee followed by work as a private lawyer representing victims of financial crime and financial institutions on compliance matters.

Despite the desperate need for such an investigative approach, throughout my career I have been constantly perplexed by the reception to it. A frequent response by newspaper columnists and pundits was to dub me a “conspiracy nut.” Another common response was to call my evidence “anecdotal,” a word uttered with a dismissive sneer.

Janine Wedel’s breakthrough “Shadow Elite” shows why “anecdotal” evidence is essential to grasping what is really going on…

[continues at Huffington Post]

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  • Anonymous

    Wow. Well thanks for not just posting this majestic, but crediting me (hadn’t expected that) for the tip. Just wanted to share.

    I thought the article was interesting not just because of what this guy investigates, or the book he mentions, but because he himself could simultaneously be bludgeoned by the “conspiracy nut” tag and then turn right around a couple sentences later, and use it himself in the same manner.

    To me, that highlights how the simple term “conspiracy theorist” is insufficient. It’s often used like a gut punch to close down discussion of a topic by mocking anyone who raises an uncomfortable question — without really examining whether the question is of value or not, much less whether there’s any evidence to back it up. And it has been defined that way (as something to bludgeon people with) to such a degree, that even people who have been accused of it, use the word in that manner themselves.

    Yet sometimes the person with the so-called “conspiracy theory” is anything BUT crazy. Rather, they might be a whistleblower (like Daniel Ellsberg, Jeffrey Wigand, or Mark Klein), or that ever-increasingly rare species known as “the investigative journalist” (like Seymour Hersh, Naomi Klein, or Scott Horton) presenting real information that challenges the powers that be by revealing what they’ve been up to behind closed doors.

    I think as impartial receivers of any sort of information, we need to at a minimum, not be dismissive in a knee-jerk fashion — even to ideas that may be unusual or unheard of before — while still remaining rational skeptics.

    I would add too, that the latter differs from a “debunker”. Someone who characterizes themselves as a “debunker”, to me at least, has the same problem as a blind believer. Both of them work backwards from a conclusion (“Nothing to see here, move on.” or, “Of course it’s true, how can you doubt it?”), and then try to find not only evidence that supports their theory, but tosses out anything that contradicts it.

    A rational skeptic is neither dismissive, nor quick to believe. Instead, when a question is posed, he or she looks at ALL the evidence (even that which might seem outrageous at the time) evaluates it fairly, THEN draws a conclusion, or attempts to form a theory as to it’s meaning or significance.

    Too many people put the cart before the horse, especially in these days of impoverished mass media analysis, and weak educational foundations in logic and reasoning. Before we decide what to think, first we must understand HOW to think (and more importantly QUESTION) the world around us in a manner that will actually result in high-quality answers. To me, one reason why the national discussion on almost ANY issue is so poor, is because most folks simply can’t take a single thought and run it down to it’s LOGICAL conclusion, since comprehension & critical thinking skills simply haven’t been taught to them.

    How else do you explain low-grade morons like Sean Hannity or Sarah Palin getting traction in this world? Seriously. That’s a logic-free zone. :-)

  • 5by5

    Wow. Well thanks for not just posting this majestic, but crediting me (hadn't expected that) for the tip. Just wanted to share.

    I thought the article was interesting not just because of what this guy investigates, or the book he mentions, but because he himself could simultaneously be bludgeoned by the “conspiracy nut” tag and then turn right around a couple sentences later, and use it himself in the same manner.

    To me, that highlights how the simple term “conspiracy theorist” is insufficient. It's often used like a gut punch to close down discussion of a topic by mocking anyone who raises an uncomfortable question — without really examining whether the question is of value or not, much less whether there's any evidence to back it up. And it has been defined that way (as something to bludgeon people with) to such a degree, that even people who have been accused of it, use the word in that manner themselves.

    Yet sometimes the person with the so-called “conspiracy theory” is anything BUT crazy. Rather, they might be a whistleblower (like Daniel Ellsberg, Jeffrey Wigand, or Mark Klein), or that ever-increasingly rare species known as “the investigative journalist” (like Seymour Hersh, Naomi Klein, or Scott Horton) presenting real information that challenges the powers that be by revealing what they've been up to behind closed doors.

    I think as impartial receivers of any sort of information, we need to at a minimum, not be dismissive in a knee-jerk fashion — even to ideas that may be unusual or unheard of before — while still remaining rational skeptics.

    I would add too, that the latter differs from a “debunker”. Someone who characterizes themselves as a “debunker”, to me at least, has the same problem as a blind believer. Both of them work backwards from a conclusion (“Nothing to see here, move on.” or, “Of course it's true, how can you doubt it?”), and then try to find not only evidence that supports their theory, but tosses out anything that contradicts it.

    A rational skeptic is neither dismissive, nor quick to believe. Instead, when a question is posed, he or she looks at ALL the evidence (even that which might seem outrageous at the time) evaluates it fairly, THEN draws a conclusion, or attempts to form a theory as to it's meaning or significance.

    Too many people put the cart before the horse, especially in these days of impoverished mass media analysis, and weak educational foundations in logic and reasoning. Before we decide what to think, first we must understand HOW to think (and more importantly QUESTION) the world around us in a manner that will actually result in high-quality answers. To me, one reason why the national discussion on almost ANY issue is so poor, is because most folks simply can't take a single thought and run it down to it's LOGICAL conclusion, since comprehension & critical thinking skills simply haven't been taught to them.

    How else do you explain low-grade morons like Sean Hannity or Sarah Palin getting traction in this world? Seriously. That's a logic-free zone. :-)