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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

Creatures of the Swamp

Our Boomer-In-Charge here at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes frequently about current events... from a boomer perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, sometimes a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

There are tons of swamp creatures. And they are battle-hardened. Fighting. Many of them are members of an army. It’s what they do. They are very good at it. They’ve won some, and they’ve lost some. But they have never had to fight for their existence. This is going to be ugly.

February, 2016.

Whew! The last six months have been like nothing we have ever experienced before. Not by a long shot. But anybody who thought the fighting was over after the election, or after the challenges failed, or after the electoral college voted, or after the inauguration... is dead-wrong. The fight goes on, and there is no end in sight.

And I’m not even talking about the early calls for impeachment. That’s just noise. That’s not even batting practice.

No; the real, ongoing battle is with the creatures of the swamp — you know, the inhabitants of the federal government swamp that candidate Trump promised to drain.

There are tons of swamp creatures. And they are battle-hardened. Fighting. Many of them are members of an army. It’s what they do. They are very good at it. They’ve won some, and they’ve lost some. But they have never had to fight for their existence. This is going to be ugly.

So before we get into the battle, I thought it would be important to identify just who constitutes or inhabits the swamp that Donald Trump promised to drain. Hold your breath; here goes:

The Entrenched Politicians: There is a class of politicians in Washington, Republicans and Democrats – sometimes in the majority, sometimes not – who have paddled endlessly in the swamp for decades. They claim to represent the people; but the people they represent best are themselves. They are in it for power... their own power. They have been so polluted by the “beltway culture” that they have lost any notion of what really goes on in the country.

Some of them are (or were) the political heavy-hitters and would-be presidents: Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Wilbur Mills, Walter Mondale, George McGovern, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Bernie Sanders, Nelson Rockefeller, Mitt Romney, and Jerry Brown.

Many of them are (or were) “institutional” members of Congress:

Barnie Frank (32 years)
Harry Reid (34 years)
Mitch McConnell (34 years)
John McCain (34 years)
Lindsey Graham (34 years)
Nancy Pelosi (30 years)
Charles Schumer (36 years)
Dick Durbin (34 years)
Ted Stevens (40 years)
Strom Thurmond (47 years)
Barbara Boxer (34 years)
Charles Rangel (46 years)
John Dingell (59 years)
Robert Byrd (57 years)
Ted Kennedy (46 years)
John Conyers (52 years)
Patrick Leahy (42 years)
Orrin Hatch (40 years)
Sam Rayburn (48 years)
Barbara Mikulski (40 years)

There’s your “basket of deplorables,” folks.

They are responsible for the runaway government; the cancerous federal debt; the failed public education system; Obamacare; The VA scandal; the IRS scandal; the S&L scandal; even President Trump. Yes, they created an opening for Donald Trump, and he bulldozed through it.

The Mainstream Media: There are hundreds of longtime journalists and authors who make their living in the swamp. They are the Washington elite of NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, ESPN, and yes, even FOX News. The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, and dozens of other “local” newspapers and magazines who have large offices and staff in the swamp. And 20-30 lesser-known leeches who suck up to and off of the politicians. Generally, they are friends with the entrenched politicians. They know them; they dine and drink with them; they like most of them. They and the politicians are both part of the same, corrupt system.

About 90% of them are Democrats. When the Republicans reside in the White House, they are particularly combative. When the Republicans control the Senate as well, they can be vicious.

And when the Republicans control the White House, the Senate the the House of Representatives... well, no one in Washington has ever imagined that. But they are about to live it.

The K-Street Mafia: Washington is full of lobbyists and lawyers who trudge through the swamp for a living. Fifteen thousand of them... plus their office staff. When Barack Obama became president, a herd of high-priced lawyers moved from New York to Washington to help facilitate President Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of the country. They are still there today, funded fully by the organizations who sent them there, ploughing their way through the swamp.

An ever-expanding, greedy government makes their life possible. Indeed, they feed the monster that is big government. Without the massive federal government, they would have to go back home and mix with the hoi polloi. Heaven forbid. They, too, were sent to Washington by special interest groups to represent “the people.” But, like the politicians, the people they best represent are themselves.

Federal Workers: Some of us here in flyover country believe that “federal worker” is an oxymoron. The federal government – both within and outside of the beltway – employs millions of permanent job-holders. They are low-level office clerks, and they are head-honcho, powerful department directors. They are quiet, boring pencil-pushers, and they are elbow-thrashing political appointees.

Often, they are multi-generational. Their parents, and their parent’s parents were employed by the federal government. Today, many of them are protected by a union, though a union is hardly necessary. Ya’ know how many people at the Veteran’s Administration were fired as a result of the recent highly-publicized scandal at the VA?

One. That’s how many.

Eleven employees bit the dust as a result of the GSA scandal in 2010. Remember?

Yeah; the only reason you remember... the only reason 11 of them were fired... is because of the pictures. This was not the first gross excess by this particular mammoth government agency. And as sure as the night follows the day, it will not be the last.

When the federal government was “shut down” by those nasty, heartless Republicans, the poor federal workers could not go to work. But not a one of them lost a dime. Eventually, they were all paid in full for their unscheduled time off.

It is lifetime job security for them. It is so rare for a federal employee to be fired or to be forced into retirement... well, nobody ever thinks about it — which explains a lot, doesn’t it? Those people, too, are part of the swamp.

How many of them are there? Over two and a half million (excluding military personnel)! Total government employment in the country: 22 million.

That’s why they call it a “swamp.”

The Resident Scavengers: Though they do not have power themselves, there are millions of swamp residents who owe their livelihood to other, more powerful creatures of the swamp. They are not federal government employees. They are restaurant workers, taxicab drivers, real estate agents, painters, maids, office workers, mechanics, elevator operators (yes, there are still elevator operators in the swamp), and common store clerks. Six million of them, one of the largest metropolitan centers in the country — and aside from New York and LA, the wealthiest. The resident scavengers do not generally live on easy street. But they, too, have no concept of life outside of the beltway. There has never been a recession for these workers. Never. They, too, are swamp creatures.

The Last Word

That’s it; that’s all I can stand. I feel like I need a long shower.

That’s who makes up the swamp. That is what Donald Trump vowed to fight.

In part 2, I explain the ramifications of the swamp fight. It’s more serious that you probably think.

A BBHQ Pop Quiz: A TV jingle from the early days: “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star; the big, bright ___________ star.”

Your final answer is....

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