Behold the swamp.

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National Intelligence Director James Clapper listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian Intelligence Activities. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 3/24/17

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Ten days after the November election I went on the air to say that the biggest obstacle that Donald Trump would face as he took office would be the permanent federal bureaucracy. Bigger than the Democrats in Congress. Bigger than the liberal Northeast media.

Unelected, unaccountable and largely unfazed by who lives in the White House or who controls the Senate and House floors, faceless, nameless bureaucrats have an enormous impact on the daily lives of ordinary Americans. Congress passes a few dozen laws every year. The bureaucrats at federal agencies publish thousands of rules, most of which have the force of law.

Those bureaucrats voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton – one estimate has it at 97 percent. Government is what they do and Trump wants to shrink the government.

That’s why Donald Trump is the scariest thing they’ve ever seen.

The so-called “intelligence community” is no less a bureaucracy than the rest of the government. The directors of the various intelligence agencies are political appointees with finite terms. But the staffs at these agencies are career government employees who support those who support government.

As Donald Trump is now learning.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Cal.) said Wenesday that as a result of an investigation that he leads, he has good reason to believe that President-elect Trump’s communications were, in fact, surveilled. Said Nunes,

…clearly, there is a lot of information in the reports that I have seen, which were dozens, that would lead me to believe that the last administration and numerous agencies had a pretty good idea of what President-elect Trump was up to and what his transition team was up to and who they were meeting with.”

Does that statement validate the president’s much-ridiculed Tweet of March 4 in which he said that Obama had his “wires tapped?” Yes, somewhat, but not entirely.

Barack Obama is not stupid. At no time would he have directly ordered a “tap” on Trump’s “wires.” Doing so would leave a paper trail.

Obama has a technical out. He likely issued no such order but only because he didn’t have to. From his perspective, an intelligence bureaucracy that is monitoring literally everything could be counted on to take any opportunity to monitor the opposition party without being asked.

Anything that emerged of political value (read: anything that could be damaging to the incoming administration) could then be counted on to somehow come to light. Obama himself made this much more likely by, in the last days of his presidency, removing long-standing restrictions on the sharing of intelligence information between agencies. The likelihood of a leak went up by several orders of magnitude.

In the 60 odd days of the Trump presidency one thing has become unmistakably clear. Federal employees in massive numbers – employees whose names you will never know – are dedicated to derailing Trump’s presidency by any means possible in ways not seen in the history of our republic.

Mr. President, you promised to drain the swamp. Behold the swamp.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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16 Responses

  1. Linda E Montrose says:

    President Trump has a hard row to hoe ahead of him. But President Trump is a man who is not daunted by hard rows to hoe or a swamp full of alligators. My favorite sign I saw about Donald Trump before the election was: Go ahead and throw me to the wolves. I’ll just come back leading the pack! Think this sums up President Trump’s determination.

  2. Jim Lee says:

    One of your best Paul…Sadly true, but like Linda says, Trump will survive. Now, the politicians are exposed, and they are fearful of losing their kingdom.

  3. Jane Doe says:

    So let’s focus on the messenger rather than the message. Even if President Trump is a secret agent for the Kremlin, you’d rather not know. Ignorance really is bliss.

  4. Too many apparatchiks!
    How would comrade Putin handle this?

  5. Richard Anderson says:

    Excellent piece Mr. Gleiser!

    What is imperative now is for President Trump to continue “draining The Swamp” as it is an impediment to everything good that patriotic American citizens want our elected officials to correct that is afoul in Washington DC, of “We The People.”

  6. Brendan says:

    Yes, I especially love the way he threw his hands up in determination today as he told Ryan to pull the plug on his healthcare bill.

  7. R. Eagleman says:

    If one will appreciate the parallels between Washington D.C. in 2016 and Versailles, France in the late 1700’s, it will be obvious that the election of Donald Trump was a revolution against the “swamp” of bureaucrats. Fortunately, the latter was with ballots rather than pitchforks; however, it would be well to learn from the underlying reason for both uprisings. As Paul recognizes and Jane Doe ignores, the entrenched bureaucracy can and will do whatever is necessary to preserve it’s political and economic power. This behemoth will not give up easily, and it will be interesting to see if Mr. Trump is able to reduce even some of it’s influence; if so, he will have accomplished something that no other president in modern history has done. All Americans should be concerned about this concentration of power, which robs freedom and liberty from the very people our constitution put in charge. Sadly, as Thomas Jefferson warned, the masses may eventually find it necessary to pick up their pitchforks (deer rifles), and march on the “Palaces on the Potomac” to remind the aristocracy who works for whom.

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      The President of the United States, the CEO of the executive branch, has dared to do what every private sector CEO does as a matter of course. With respect to the employees nominally under his control he has asked the questions, “What do all of these people do?,” and “Are we sure we need all of them?”

      Any CEO who fails to ask these questions from time to time is not doing his job.

      For this, you cite McCarthyism? Are you serious??

      Of course I admit that my analogy to private sector CEOs breaks down almost immediately because in most cases company employees don’t have a significant number of the members of the board of directors in their pockets. Unfortunately for the “shareholders” of the United States, the executive branch employees of the United States have a very high percentage of the “board” (read: Congress) very securely in their pockets.

      Across the entire U.S. economy, the only employment sector in which union membership is up is the public sector. Government employee unions are the only unions that have not suffered very high membership losses. Public employee unions and Democrats in Congress have set up a symbiotic feedback loop. Union dues taken from the paychecks of government employees are funneled disproportionately to Democratic politicians. Those politicians use the money to keep their jobs and reward public employees by voting for high salaries and lavish benefits. Those votes are in turn rewarded by more campaign contributions in a never-ending cycle, the cost of which is further piled upon the already breaking backs of the shareholders (read: taxpayers).

      Donald Trump, recognizing this to be detrimental to the interests of the shareholders to whom he answers (again read: taxpayers), dares to propose interrupting this cycle. The affected employees are none-too-pleased. Thus they feel justified in doing everything they can in every little unseen way that they can to sabotage his presidency. It wouldn’t be the first time that the employees of a large organization have behaved in ways at odds with the CEO. It’s just the first time it has ever happened on anything approaching this scale. Any CEO who allows himself to be undermined in this way on a systematic and widespread basis will ultimately fail.

      If you think that federal employees (by no means all but without question far too many) are not trying to undermine Donald Trump, you are either hopelessly naive or willfully blind.

      The 2.8 million civilian employees on the federal payroll nominally serve at the pleasure of the taxpayers of the United States who pay them. Too many of them have long ago forgotten this, assuming they ever knew it at all. There are about a zillion articles and studies out there that tell us that federal employees are better paid and have better benefits packages than their private sector counterparts.

      Thinning these ranks and reminding those who are left as to who the “customer” is is necessary for the health of the republic. The affected employees won’t like it and they’ll fight tooth and nail. The public employee unions will be especially vicious. But it has to happen.

      Calling the president’s recognition of this “McCarthyism” is demagoguery of the most transparent sort.

  8. Go ahead, lop-off some arbitrary number of Civil Servants. Fire enough to pay for The Wall. But don’t squawk if you land in voicemail when you need our government to serve at YOUR pleasure.

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      When did our government start serving at our pleasure? I’ve somehow missed it. We’re getting stellar service from the federal government because of how lavishly well-staffed the various agencies are? Give me a break!

      Just ask those poor guys who are still waiting to see a doctor at a VA Hospital.

      Or go ask those poor confused souls who sit for two or three hours at an IRS office to ask a question about their taxes arising from our impenetrable tax code. You know, those POOR people that can’t afford a paid preparer — the very same people that Democrats are always saying that government is going to help.

      And no, by pointing out wait times I’m not making your point that the agencies are understaffed. They’re not. They’re top heavy. They have too many people in supervisory and management roles and not enough at the line level serving customers. They became top heavy by being unaccountable. It happens in poorly managed private sector business and it sure as hell happens in government.

      And when did anybody say the word, “arbitrary?” Go read the president’s executive order on reorganizing the executive branch. Here’s an excerpt: “…the [Office of Management and Budget] Director shall submit to the President a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies. [snip] The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions.”

      That’s not “arbitrary.” Arbitrary would be “The Director shall by “x” date reduce the staffing in every federal department and agency by “x” percent.” That would be arbitrary. But the order doesn’t say that. What the order requires is that the OMB see that federal agencies do what CEOs and department heads in companies in the private sector do as a matter of course — seek maximum efficiency while matching staffing to revenues.

      Nearly every business owner in the country has figured out, in the past ten years, how to do more with less. I believe that I heard someone call it, “addition by subtraction.”

      That the alphabet soup of federal agencies and their 2.8 million employees aren’t in need of some of the same medicine is preposterous. Get rid of the redundancy and featherbedding on the federal payroll and, more important, let federal employees learn that it is actually possible to lose your job if you don’t diligently serve your “customer,” (something that private sector employees already know) and I posit that it’s likely that the service you get from the federal government will actually improve.

      But keep unchanged this pustulated, bloated mess of a bureaucracy that we have now — filled with “Civil Servants” who are in far too many cases neither civil nor servile? No way.

      What Trump ordered is LONG overdue.

      • Tom Mack says:

        I would like to add that those “helpful” folks at the IRS can and do give the WRONG information but guess who’ll be responsible for any fines and/or penalties? US!!! The people who go to the “experts” for help and advice. We pay!!! If you take the advice of an IRS employee and that advice is wrong, you have to pay for the mistake. Not the employee! And the IRS doesn’t want to hear nor does it care that you followed the advice and or recommendation of it’s employee. As far as their concerned you screwed up and should pay up. And until you do pay up they will make your life miserable.

  9. L Miles says:

    Paul,
    These people that deny the bloat in government (at all levels) will never accept the fact that monopolistic bureaucracies are the ideological enemy of the free enterprise system that enjoys the historical record of the success and efficiency of private business that must COMPETE to keep its customers happy. You are attacking their idol that they revere – rational arguments against their beliefs are a waste of time. Free enterprise is not to be trusted, don’t you know. Most citizens have experienced the examples you raised of the arrogant and unresponsiveness of government monopolies and will agree with you. To deny these facts is irrational.

  10. How many of these job cuts you propose will be for federal workers in the Tyler-Longview area?

    And — while Trump talks Civil Service job CUTS — look who gets added to the payroll, despite previous assurances to the contrary:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/us/politics/ivanka-trump-federal-employee-white-house.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      Oh, I get it.

      We should all resist streamlining the federal payroll in order to protect the local pork.

      If we have, indeed, fully devolved into a country of narrow provincialists, God help us.

      As to the New York Times story about Ivanka Trump, it is for the purpose of this back and forth, a non sequitur. Did you miss the part about her being unpaid? Do you really see having Ivanka Trump added to the federal payroll as a matter of procedural compliance and at a zero rate of pay as expanding the federal bureaucracy? Might you be grasping at straws?

  11. L Miles says:

    I get it too. Why don’t we make ALL workers Federal employees and that way no one will ever get fired and unemployment will be zero? We can establish Federal training programs to ensure that everyone will be educated and/or trained to meet the needs of society at large. Furthermore, we can attract anyone that wants to come to this part of the planet for a “better life” and consequently there will never be a shortage of personnel to fill the Federal jobs. With no shortages of skills, services, or commodities to fulfill the needs of the masses, we can establish the greatest economy that has ever existed, Why didn’t I think of this before?

    The Federal government can set the fair and proper prices for food, shelter, and clothing so that everything is affordable and salaries and wages will be guaranteed to give all of us an exceptional standard of living. The most brilliant minds in the country can manage this economy for equal justice and fairness for all. Poverty will disappear and crime will correspondingly be reduced. I think this idea can save the planet from exploitation and eliminate the evils of greed, envy, and hatred since everyone will be happy, fulfilled, and willing to serve one another. I love it!

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