Little Men

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men…

William Allingham, “The Fairies”

     Allingham’s poem isn’t about anything contemporary…or real. But those first four lines spoke to me a few minutes ago. Little men are a problem of immense significance today. And they show their actual faces about as often as Allingham’s fairies.


     I suppose I should mention what brought this to mind:

     Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida confirmed a report that newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson is fast-tracking the release of the security footage from the Jan. 6 rioting at the U.S. Capitol.
     “I can confirm that this is true and something is in the works,” said Luna on social media Friday.
     “We’re going to be releasing more and making it more available to the public,” she added in a second post.
     Luna was referring to a statement from Blaze News investigative journalist Steve Baker, who said he was working with the speaker’s office for the release.
     Baker said it was up to Johnson whether he would release all of the 40,000 hours of footage or part of it.
     Blaze Media editor in chief Matthew Peterson said in a statement that he could not confirm a report from activist Ryan Fournier claiming all of the footage would be released to Blaze News.

     Stipulate all the following, purely for the sake of argument:

  • That Congresswoman Luna’s statements are accurate and sincere;
  • That Speaker Mike Johnson does intend the release of the footage;
  • That there are no Congressional or legal barriers Johnson must surmount to do so.

     What about the little men? That is, the hirelings: the people who actually have the footage under their direct supervision and control? How shall we account for them and their participation? Do we have any sense for whether they would obey a direct order from Speaker Johnson to provide the footage to Blaze Media, or anyone else? What pressures might be brought to bear on them not to do so – and from what sources of pressure?

     If you’re able, recall the final scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark: when the functionary in the enormous government warehouse wheels the crated Ark of the Covenant into the bowels of that warehouse to be lost to prying eyes. If you’re not able, it’s below:

     Consider him the iconic “little man.” Only he knows where the Ark has been put…and he might not remember it a day or two hence. Indeed, he might choose not to remember it.


     There’s been a lot of angry talk about the federal bureaucracies and their usurpation of powers the Constitution never even imagined. In John Conroe’s novel Forced Ascent, he gives the following line to a federal “fixer,” who seeks to exculpate her administration from having deliberately fired several sorts of weapons, including a space-based laser, at the protagonist:

     “You have to understand that it’s a huge government with thousands of moving parts. There are over three thousand agencies, departments and private companies all working on defense and homeland security. It isn’t as clear cut as you might think.”

     I submit that “thousands of moving parts” is a radical understatement. There are several million such “parts,” each of them a little man who must function as ordered for the people at the top to have their orders obeyed.

     But there is no way to ensure that all those little men will do so. And many of them have agendas of their own.


     Once again, I find that I must repeat this citation:

[United States Senator from Oklahoma David L.] Boren, formerly a state legislator and governor, went to Washington expecting to make some changes. “What impressed me most is the great power of the bureaucracy compared to that of elected officials. All the talk about growing control by the bureaucracy is not exaggerated. The shift in power is very real…. There is almost a contempt for elected officials.”…

Senator Boren found, to his surprise, that a Senator has great difficulty even getting phone calls returned by the “permanent” employees, much less getting responsive answers to his questions.

The voters can’t “throw the rascals out” anymore, because the main rascals are not elected but appointed….

Regulatory bureaucrats have extra power because they can outlast the elected officials. “Often,” Boren explains, “I’ve said to a bureaucrat, ‘You know this is not the president’s policy.’

’True, Senator, but we were here before he came, and we’ll be here after he leaves. We’re not in sympathy with his policy. We’ll study the matter until he leaves.’”

[From Armington and Ellis, MORE: The Rediscovery of American Common Sense.]

     They can do it, Gentle Reader. The little men can do as they please, under laws and regulations that were sculpted to protect them from meaningful retribution. If a functionary in the chain of functionaries who would have to comply with a “release the footage” order should decide that it should not happen, then it won’t. The footage will be lost, corrupted, mislabeled, destroyed, what have you.

     So while I’m willing to give Congresswoman Luna and Speaker Johnson the benefit of the doubt as to their intentions, I refuse to get my hopes up before the last stanza of this poem is read.

     Have a nice day.


Skip to comment form

    • OneGuy on November 6, 2023 at 10:10 AM

    The president can fire the leaders of any federal department.  He could also implement policy that would neuter those employees he cannot just summarily fire.  For example he could by executive order require all of the 82,000 new IRS workers become border guards.  There is a lot that congress and the president can do but they must be willing to do it.  The majority of our elected federal officials ARE the problem.  We could stop all illegal border crossing by declaring it an invasion and deploy our troop and allow lethal force if necessary.  Every border crosser caught and immediately sent back.  Block all traffic at border crossings until Mexico cooperates 100% with our effort.  We could easily do these things but we won’t because someone benefits andhave bought our politicians.

    1. There may be much more than you suggest but it’s a fine start. Uniparty is real and effectively blocks reform. How long before the SKUNCs in the Senate override Tuberville’s hold on further degradation of our already weakened military?

    • J J on November 6, 2023 at 1:23 PM

    If Congress really wanted to take control back from the entrenched bureaucrats they could pass legislation removing any and all employment protections that are currently in place.

    • DrBob on November 6, 2023 at 1:24 PM

    I have zero doubt that the J6 footage will stay hidden, at least the parts that matter. Given enough pressure, small and insignificant snippets will emerge, but the uniparty is making bank on this, amongst other outrages. It is now my strongly held thesis that outrage fuels the money machine for the elected fools in the US Senate and House. Something happens, then one side sends mass texts to its base, pointing a finger at the ‘enemy’ and calling for support to defeat the bad guys. The other side does exactly the same thing. But when in a position to deliver, ‘oops we can’t’ or ‘be patient, coming soon’ or other lame excuses. When Johnson announced he would release the tapes, of course there was an ‘as soon as …’.

    It’s all crap and a way for these folks to go home rich by trading in the emotions of their supporters.

    When you realize the game is rigged, the only way to win is not to play. Keep your money and devote it to hardening yourself, your family and your clan against the coming storm.

    • Steve on November 6, 2023 at 2:53 PM

    I recall Sen Jeff Sessions questioning Gina McCarthy – a repulsive bridge troll if there ever was one – about EPA funding at a senate oversight hearing a number of years ago.

    McCarthy laughed at a question posed to her by Sessions and Sessions asked her what was so funny. McCarthy responded something along the lines of “You know senator, I can’t believe I have to sit here and listen to these questions from people like you.” Sessions took umbrage with her remark and after reminding her that her agency relied on the senate for their funding, McCarthy pretty much said the same thing; “Senator, I’ll be here long after you’re gone, we’ll get our funding one way or the other.”

    I remember thinking how could this guy tolerate being addressed in such a manor and in public? I’d like to see Trump re-elected just to watch him burn it all down. God knows these termites deserve it.

    1. Termites indeed. Infestation began with the first Prog to gain a high sinecure in each institution and propagated by means of Conquest’s Second Law. In the end we have the Third Law where each rotted institution still bears its original label but it is occupied by enemies of the values it was built to protect. The founders foresaw: The 10th Amendment is a right no state recognizes, but men of courage and good will still do.

    • 0007 on November 7, 2023 at 4:31 PM

    Trump could fire every SES (senior executive service) employee on day one. That cuts off the heads of the agencies until a new head is chosen. But in the meantime the under-munchkins would continue with the policies of the former head because most of them hate this country as strongly as most of the SES do. The real problem is the civil service protection act which pretty much covers/protects these thermites. The solution that Mike Vanderbough suggested was found in his blog titled “One Hundred Heads”. Mike’s been dead many years now and I doubt if his writings are still available any where.

    How’s ’bout a line in his platform calling for the defunding of ALL NOGs on day two?


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