BOR Staff Column: Civil Servants...or Uncivil Masters?
By: StaffFebruary 16, 2017
America's largest employer? That would be the federal government, which has something like 2.7-million civilians in its work force.

Whether that is too many or too few is a matter for some future debate, but right now there can be no debate about one very troubling fact. An awful lot of those federal workers, especially at some very powerful agencies, absolutely despise their new boss. Let's just say they never boarded the Trump Train and some are now laying on the tracks.

It's not just the big guy they don't like, it's also the men and women he has picked to lead federal departments. Imagine being Betsy DeVos, brand new on the job at the Department of Education. How many in her top staff are truly eager to help this woman, a longtime proponent of giving parents more school choice? She made things worse this week, at least within her own department, by vowing to search for ways to cut unnecessary programs.

Secretary DeVos obviously skipped the chapter in the bureaucrat's manual that says department heads are supposed to find new programs to fund, not do away with old ones!

Then there's Scott Pruitt, nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency. As attorney general of Oklahoma, he was a party to more than a dozen lawsuits against the EPA. Pruitt worries about the agency's vast overreach and, even worse, he doesn't lose any sleep over 'climate change,' a holy crusade in the religion of environmentalism. If Pruitt is confirmed, do you suppose that a lot of EPA staffers will be enthusiastic about carrying out his priorities? In fact, some EPA scientists have reportedly begun plotting ways to impede new environmental orders.

It's not hyperbole to contend that some federal bureaucrats are actively engaged in a mutiny, with President Trump in the unenviable role of Captain Bligh. One government worker, who of course chose to remain anonymous, vowed to resist President Trump at every step along the way, proclaiming that the president 'ain't the boss of me.' He might want to catch a quick grammar lesson from Betsy DeVos.

There is in fact a permanent bureaucracy in Washington, an army of government workers with the power to make things difficult for the Trump administration. That is especially true in the national security agencies that collect and analyze all the secrets collected by our vast spy apparatus. According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. spies are actually withholding sensitive information from President Trump.

A former Obama official admits that the entire national security bureaucracy feels 'their commander-in-chief is a threat to U.S. national security.' In other words, many of them stand firmly opposed to the incoming president and his initiatives. A Democratic Congressman, Adam Schiff, actually defends the notion that intelligence officials are keeping the Trump administration out of the loop when it comes to secret information.

Some unidentified U.S. spies recently displayed their impressive biceps when they leaked the information that General Michael Flynn, before he was national security adviser, spoke by phone with Russia's ambassador, quite possibly about sanctions. It's not yet clear whether Flynn, who has since been fired, did anything illegal. But there is no doubt that the U.S. intelligence operatives broke the law by leaking the contents of a conversation of a private American citizen.

The transcript of that conversation, if and when it is released, will shed more light, and perhaps what Gen. Flynn did really was a firing offense. But the bigger picture right now is that the permanent government is letting President Trump know that they have a very powerful hand and a couple of aces in the hole. The anti-Trump media have jumped all over this story, hoping against all current evidence that it could lead to the administration's downfall. The reliably-ridiculous Thomas Friedman of the New York Times didn't disappoint when he compared Russian hacking to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Tommy neglected to mention how many men and women were killed by the hacking.

So it's abundantly clear that Donald Trump, president for just four weeks, has some potent enemies. Many in the media hated him from the jump and it's getting worse, especially given his tendency to ignore the traditional pecking order at press conferences. CNN and NBC are apoplectic because the president didn't call on them during recent press conferences. But, hey, if you spend months denouncing a guy as a latter-day Hitler, you might get stiffed for a while.

The media enmity is no great surprise. Neither is strident opposition from Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, who has sunk to reading fake Michael Flynn tweets to denounce the Trump administration. What may be more worrisome for the president is that permanent state, all those associate deputy assistants to the under secretaries, functionaries whose cushy jobs are protected by civil service laws. Most of them voted for Hillary Clinton, and many of them truly despise Donald Trump.

'We the People,' that stirring phrase in the preamble to the Constitution, has in some precincts been supplanted by 'We the Bureaucrats.' And some of our civil servants consider themselves not our servants, but our masters.

Donald Trump has long been an unstoppable force, both in private business and during his march to the White House. Now he is coming up against Washington's immovable object, the permanent bureaucracy. This is a real-life version of the classic paradox: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Anyone taking bets?
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