Luckily for those who won't be returning to Congress -- the tally is 75 -- their power and influence is more sought after than ever, and many "fail up." For them, the days of being lobbied are over. Now some will make the classic switch, joining the ranks of the lobbyists of K Street.
The news that President Obama will wine and dine with top Wall Street CEOs is just the latest example of how the "wizards" of Wall Street and their Washington allies continue to win -- their clout seemingly undiminished -- in the face of spectacular failure.
Iceland's crash, for which the Prime Minister has now been indicted, is another case in which networks of public-private players, purporting to serve the public interest, instead capture official information to serve their own interests.
Questionable behavior became commonplace in innumerable corners of the financial industry over the past 20 years. And at key moments, it was an outsider like Elizabeth Warren who had the common-sense perspective to cry foul.
The deep scandal of government contracting goes far beyond the actions of a handful of bad actors and products that can seen and touched. It is systemic, insidious, potentially damaging to national security -- and perfectly legal.
When government contractors hire former directors of intelligence and defense-related government agencies, they are banking on coincidences of interest between their hires and their hires' former (government) employers.
When information that is supposedly of and for government is in private hands, the power of that information can be used to serve private agendas with the risk of corporate and private players influencing policy to suit those agendas.
Democracy must be counted as one of the casualties of this new century's wars, and more broadly, of an era where an elite few have become masters at pressing their own self-interested agendas with impunity.
Michael Hastings broke the understandings maintained for mutual benefit by the military, reporters who regularly cover it, and perhaps some allied think tanks as well. He did not have special access, he chose to take a risk.
With a new emergent phase of democratic and quasi democratic regimes, can enhanced executive power linked to globalization be reoriented to better, noncommercial goals, like climate change, global hunger, or poverty?
Today upwards of three-quarters of the work of federal government, measured in terms of jobs, is contracted out. This has been part of a fundamental redesign of governing towards privatization and industry self-regulation.
The bankers may like to show they prize flexibility, but try telling them they should change bonus culture. On that score, they will not bend. But they needn't worry -- the Champagne will still flow; Washington isn't going after bonuses.
Despite a new administration in Washington, not to mention the damage done to their credibility since the Iraq invasion, the Neocon core lives on, because networks like it are self-propelling and enduring.
In the case of Ahmed Chalabi, we saw an unelected power broker, not even a U.S. citizen, exerting enormous influence over our decision to go to war. That he's now said to be influenced by Iran comes as no surprise.
There was much finger-pointing this week, but the politicians, and our entire leadership, should also point a finger at themselves, for allowing private industry to increasingly devour public power, and gut regulatory responsibility.
One wishes that Iraq was now simply a matter of historian research. But the reality is that we're still there and the country is still dangerously unstable. No amount of truthiness can make that hard fact go away.
In December, the top U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan bypassed traditional boundaries and used a think tank to deliver a blistering report on the state of intelligence-gathering in that country.