The Slow Dawning of Awareness


From an editorial by Jonathan Turley in the Washington Post:

The growing dominance of the federal government over the states has obscured more fundamental changes within the federal government itself: It is not just bigger, it is dangerously off kilter. Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency.

For much of our nation’s history, the federal government was quite small. In 1790, it had just 1,000 nonmilitary workers. In 1962, there were 2,515,000 federal employees. Today, we have 2,840,000 federal workers in 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies.

This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.

The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.

This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical. Of course, agencies owe their creation and underlying legal authority to Congress, and Congress holds the purse strings. But Capitol Hill’s relatively small staff is incapable of exerting oversight on more than a small percentage of agency actions. And the threat of cutting funds is a blunt instrument to control a massive administrative state — like running a locomotive with an on/off switch.


The rise of the fourth branch has occurred alongside an unprecedented increase in presidential powers — from the power to determine when to go to war to the power to decide when it’s reasonable to vaporize a U.S. citizen in a drone strike. In this new order, information is jealously guarded and transparency has declined sharply. That trend, in turn, has given the fourth branch even greater insularity and independence. When Congress tries to respond to cases of agency abuse, it often finds officials walled off by claims of expanding executive privilege.

Of course, federal agencies officially report to the White House under the umbrella of the executive branch. But in practice, the agencies have evolved into largely independent entities over which the president has very limited control. Only 1 percent of federal positions are filled by political appointees, as opposed to career officials, and on average appointees serve only two years. At an individual level, career officials are insulated from political pressure by civil service rules. There are also entire agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — that are protected from White House interference.

The truly remarkable thing about this editorial is who wrote it. Jonathan Turley isn’t a conservative. In fact, his left-wing credentials are impeccable.

Awareness slowly dawns.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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67 Responses to The Slow Dawning of Awareness

  1. myiq2xu says:

    This post is certified 100% troll-free.

    • gxm17 says:

      Is Petulant White Boy Living in His Parents’ Basement still showing up like whack-a-mole around here? Damn, sorry I missed him, he always makes me LOL.

    • So I take it the trollette who wanted to put her face up your lower alimentary canal hasn’t returned for another attempt?

  2. Lulu says:

    Turley has been critical before of Obama before has never gone this far before. He is mostly a legal analyst and commentator but the danger of this administration to the rule of law can no longer be schmoozed or ignored. The “constitutional legal scholar” president is a thug and tyrant.

  3. leslie says:

    I have long respected Jonathan Turley. Even when he was openly supportive of bronco, he was thoughtful and I respected his opinion even when disagreeing with him. And Lulu isw right, this is not the first time he has criticized bronco. But it is the furthest he has gone in his criticism. I wonder how far the obots will go in their demonization of this man.
    I’m glad this is a troll-free post.

  4. Constance says:

    I like both the troll free and the trollized posts. You can have more honest discussions on the troll free but you have to admit trolls add a certain energy to a post. You have really arrived when you have a group of people dedicating energy to shouting you down. It is sort of flattering to have a nemesis.

    • leslie says:

      Constance ~ I agree with you about the flattery etc, but right now, I’m tired of the shouting. There’s already more than enough of it to last through the weekend.
      Happy Memorial Day Weekend..:)

    • myiq2xu says:

      It is sort of flattering to have a nemesis.

      It’s more like having a hemorrhoid.

  5. HELENK says:

    this looks like an interesting race to watch. what is your opinion on this race. He seems to be bringing up some good points

  6. myiq2xu says:
  7. Propertius says:

    In 1962, there were 2,515,000 federal employees. Today, we have 2,840,000 federal workers

    In other words, the number of Federal employees has grown by a whopping 13% in 51 years, while the population of the US has grown by nearly 70%. In other words, the percentage of the population employed by the government has dropped from 1.3% to 0.9% (about a 30% decrease).

    Pardon me if my outrage at this is somewhat muted.

    • votermom says:

      Yeah, I was wondering if that was accurate.

    • votermom says:

      googling gave me this

      If you look at the numbers, only military has decreased:
      Year – 1962 / 2011
      Executive branch civilians (thousands) – 2,485 / 2,756
      Uniformed military personnel (thousands) – 2,840 / 1,583
      Legislative and judicial branch personnel (thousands)- 30 / 64
      Total Federal personnel (thousands) – 5,354 / 4,403

      Executive increased slightly, Legislative more than doubled, Military almost halved

      • myiq2xu says:

        In 1962 the computer revolution had yet to occur. Many of the federal employees were file clerks and stenographers.

        • Absolutely spot on. Look at today’s white collar businesses. They now do IMO at least ten times the work with one third the employees. I was a mid level manager for a hated state agency and in less than eight years after “automation” we were able to slice our staff in half. And I’ve been retired for years so things could only have become leaner and swifter – for them, not the customer.

      • It dawns on me the same slow upward creep in Fed employment may not apply to States and Locals. Their increase might be instructive.
        I haven’t the sense, time or energy to figure it out for myself, but consider this: Feds rely on States, etc., to do much of their data gathering and compliance assessing work. IE: Those numbers might tell a different story

    • foxyladi14 says:

      And they are exempt from Obamascare. How neat is that? 🙄

    • Somebody says:

      Damn should have known that TCHolers would be logical thinkers and would have figured out exactly what propertius and vm have commented on……..I just logged on read the post and quickly went to get facts and figures and actually did the math myself then came to comment and found my smart and thoughtful fellow crawdader beat me to the punch!!

      VM you hit exactly on a point I was going to make about the legislative and judicial.

    • 1539days says:

      The number of federal employees has grown by a whopping 250,000% in 170 years. The population grew by less than 6000%.

  8. HELENK says:

    I guess all the knee bending to backtrack did not help the NYT. holder’s dept of crime investigated them too

  9. HELENK says:

    this reminds me of us trying to talk to an obot. they really do not understand reality

  10. foxyladi14 says:

    The scariest thing is they VOTE!!! ;(

  11. insanelysane says:

    Granted, I did not read the original article, just the above quote, but from that I get that Turley is giving Obama the way out of having take any responsibility.
    It’s : “meh. what can one man do in this mess of a bureaucracy”

  12. yttik says:

    “Awareness slowly dawns…”

    You’re such an optimist.

    • gxm17 says:

      LOL. Ain’t that the truth!

    • angienc (D) says:

      Ha, ha! So true.
      This is more like “rationalizing” why Obama isn’t the miracle worker they all claimed to be.
      Right now if you ask them about Romney — who basically said all this during the campaign (i.e., we were on the path to Greece; the solution to the economic stagnation we find ourselves in is NOT to hire more federal employees but to take responsibility away from the federal government by sending that money back to the states who best know what they need, thus giving them more bang for the buck and most certainly not expand federal power via Obamacare) they will scream bloody murder & attack him as an uncaring, heartless 1%er & “robber baron” just like they did last summer & fall.
      So eff ’em. Eff ’em all.

  13. DeniseVB says:

    I tickled my blog today 🙂 Up….

    For those looking for a “John Smart” blog to follow, this ain’t your thing 🙂 /snork.

  14. myiq2xu says:

    You don’t need to speak Spanish to understand this video:

  15. wmcb says:

    That’s a damn good piece. I posted about it on facebook:

    One of the best editorials I’ve read in years. The problem is not “our govt” per se (which in its basic form is constitutionally set up to run relatively well, and did so for years and years) – the problem is the excessive amalgamation of power in extremely unaccountable bureaucracies that are growing like weeds. The IRS and DOJ scandals are merely the latest example. We watch our duly elected officials run around flapping their hands crying “WE DIDN’T KNOW! WE WEREN’T REALLY IN CHARGE!” No one is accountable, because the lines of responsibility lead off in 12 different directions to any number of faceless agencies.

    Um… you not see that THAT is a HUGE problem in and of itself??? If our system has become so large, complicated, and unwieldy that everyone from the president to Senators say openly when the shit hits the fan that they have NO FUCKING CLUE what is going on with all its interlocking parts, then perhaps some simplification and streamlining and downsizing is in order, eh? When our elected representatives cannot even manage to READ, much less understand the ripple effects of, the myriad complex laws and regs they keep passing to govern OUR lives and businesses, then there’s yer problem right there.

    The author of this editorial is a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, not some small-govt crusader. It’s obvious to any honest person that there is a big, big problem. You don’t have to be a minimal govt libertarian to see that the beast is way overgrown. We need to chop this shit back to something reasonable, no matter how the vested interest groups and petty power fiefdoms squeal.

    • myiq2xu says:

      No one is accountable

      Even when they do identify a wrongdoer they can’t fire them. Lois Lerner and Charlotte Lamb are still drawing pay.

  16. driguana says:

    have a memorable memorial day week-end…

  17. EPA says:

    “The IRS and DOJ scandals are merely the latest example. We watch our duly elected officials run around flapping their hands crying “WE DIDN’T KNOW! WE WEREN’T REALLY IN CHARGE!” No one is accountable, because the lines of responsibility lead off in 12 different directions to any number of faceless agencies.”
    I call bullshit on that stuff….The WH, DOJ, OSHA, etc. were/are targeting politically annoying people/organizations because they were directed to by people at the top. This crap about agencies out of control buys into Obama “a few rogue employees” excuse. The Journalisters get their marching orders and all of a sudden we start getting stories about “power in extremely unaccountable bureaucracies”. Obama/Holder didn’t know nothing!!!!

    • wmcb says:

      I’m sneaky like a fox, EPA. The vast majority of my facebook friends are progs. While I do sometimes post stuff lamblasting Obama, they are much more likely to help build a groundswell for smaller govt if I don’t make it only about him. If even the progs start bitching about “out of control govt”, it becomes a mainstream idea.

      Do I want to nail Obama? Yep. But I also want the bureaucratic power reigned in, so the next asshole who gets elected does not have those levers of power available like Obama has had. There was a time when a single president, however corrupt and venal, could not do the kind of damage he has done, because the Fed power to do it simply wasn’t there.

      If we are talking accountability and retribution, then nailing the commanding general is a great goal. If we are talking ending the war on the people long term, then decimating and limiting the bureaucratic armies at his (or any president’s) disposal is a good goal as well. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

  18. myiq2xu says:
  19. myiq2xu says:

    I’m surprised that no one mentioned the graphic at the top of the post. That’s one of the walls in My #2 Son’s house. He painted it.

  20. 49erDweet says:

    That can’t be right because some prog recently said the majority of people receiving food stamps are white.

  21. myiq2xu says:


    GOP Food Stamps Proposal Would Discriminate Against African-Americans

    On Wednesday the Senate agriculture committee approved a GOP proposal that would amend the farm bill the Senate is considering to ban “convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles” from getting food stamps. On its surface, the idea sounds unobjectionable, but the measure would have “strongly racially discriminatory effects,” according to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

  22. myiq2xu says:

    New Study Finds That King Richard III Was Buried in a Hurry

    Last September, a team of archaeologists in the UK made a remarkable find: under a city council parking lot in Leicester, they found the remains of King Richard III. The king ruled England for just two years (from 1483 until 1485) before his violent war-time death.

    In February, after comparing DNA taken from the skeleton to surviving descendants of the king and testing its age, the group officially confirmed the identity of the body. Since then, forensic analysis indicated that the king was killed by traumatic sword blows to the head—perhaps with enough force to drive his crown into his skull.

    • Erin says:

      Ah the War of the Roses – the eternal question did Richard or Henry kill the princes? I’m in the Henry camp. Much more of political threat to Henry than Richard.

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