Bless This “Deep State”

A favorite target of Trump defenders is the presumably nefarious “deep state”–the thousands of government workers that sane folks call bureaucrats (when they are being critical) or civil servants (when they are acknowledging their importance).

I teach in a school of public affairs, where a major focus is educating young people for that quaint thing we used to call public service. In addition to technical skills, we place considerable emphasis upon what I sometimes call the “constitutional ethic” and the rule of law–the behaviors citizens have a right to demand from those who serve a legitimate government.

It is belaboring the obvious to note that the Trump Administration doesn’t recognize the existence of ethics–constitutional or otherwise. However, many good people who do know the difference between right and wrong still work in that “deep state” that Republicans love to excoriate, and a group of them are suing to avoid having to carry out Trump’s inhumane border policies that. force asylum seekers to stay in Mexico or be put in jail here while awaiting hearings.

A group of asylum officers whose job is to administer policies like that have filed a brief in the case making a powerful and passionate case against a policy that they have to implement but they find morally unconscionable.

U.S. asylum officers slammed President Trump’s policy of forcing migrants to remain in Mexico while they await immigration hearings in the United States, urging a federal appeals court Wednesday to block the administration from continuing the program. The officers, who are directed to implement the policy, said it is threatening migrants’ lives and is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation.”…

The lawsuit asserts that Trump’s policy goes against what has been America’s long-standing view that the country should welcome asylum seekers and refugees escaping persecution in their home countries. The United States has been seen as a safe haven ever since  the arrival of the Pilgrims in the 17th century. In the court pleadings, plaintiffs argue  that Trump’s policy “is compelling sworn officers to participate in the widespread violation of international and federal law” — “something that they did not sign up to do when they decided to become asylum and refugee officers for the United States government.”

“Asylum officers are duty bound to protect vulnerable asylum seekers from persecution,” the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, which represents 2,500 federal workers, including asylum officers, said in a 37-page court filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California. “They should not be forced to honor departmental directives that are fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation and our international and domestic legal obligations.”

When Donald Trump became President (note I do not say “was elected” since I agree with Jimmy Carter), I had several messages from former students now working for the federal government. They were conflicted–should they stay, and try to protect the public interest, or leave for jobs in the private or non-profit sectors?

As I told each of them, that was a decision only they could make.

Those who decided to remain, however, stayed because they were determined to protect the rule of law and the integrity of public service at a time when those in power–and those supporting this lawless administration–sneer at such “high flown” concepts.

If the United States emerges from this shameful, corrupt and profoundly un-American episode in our national story, we will owe those “deep state” protectors of our ideals an enormous debt of gratitude.


  1. Considering my mood of late, the operative words on the blog this morning are “If the United States emerges from this shameful, corrupt and profoundly un-American episode…” with much emphasis on the word “If”.

  2. I support Theresa’s statement placing much emphasis on the word “if”. I will add “can”, “will”, the United States emerges from this shameful, corrupt and profoundly unAmerican episode…”?

    While “…belaboring the obvious to note that the Trump Administration doesn’t recognize the existence of ethics–constitutional or otherwise.”; we need to keep one person in our cross-hairs, Mitch McConnell, along with his pack of eunuchs in the Senate who refuse to remove him from his one-man control of all that happens – or does NOT happen – in this country and with Trump when he is released abroad on the world at large.

    If the lawmakers reports from their trip to the migrant camps at our southern border and Trump’s acquisition of permission to hold a private party at a national monument and what appears to be an instant approval of his frequent dream of a military parade in Washington, D.C., is not evidence of our current “shameful, corrupt and profoundly unAmerican episode in history…what the hell will it take to move the Senatorial sitting eunuchs to action?

  3. Regarding this paragraph from Sheila’s post: “A group of asylum officers whose job is to administer policies like that have filed a brief in the case making a powerful and passionate case against a policy that they have to implement but they find morally unconscionable.”

    I assume that the Evangelical “Christians” who don’t want to bake a cake for same sex marriages because it violates their “deeply held” religious beliefs will support these government workers who find the administration’s policies “morally unconscionable.”

    Perhaps Franklin Graham will file a Friend of the Court writ supporting them.

  4. In addition to the passionate vocation so nobly performed by Professor Sheila Kennedy are many other teachers in higher education who elevate aspirations of young men and women who enter public service. Generations of good and Civic minded men and women are deeply committed to the ideals set forth in our Constitution. This commitment layers deep into the labrynth of local, regional and federal government. Despite public criticism that is a given in the trade craft, they are there to serve the interests of the greater good. Yes … inter-agency territorial imperative arises to jealousy and internal conflict. That is why we need strong leadership. We are in this temporary state at 1600, but Deep State will prevail. The balance of powers will stabilize to center swings of the pendulum. The Trump administration will be judged by responsible historians with integrity. And how such a person came to power will be the subject and case to be debated for generations. While I do not invest any confidence for lack of integrity in the current White House, I do have faith and confidence in our future.

  5. I worked for many years in the private sector before moving to “government work” in the ’90s. Both sectors had their share of problems and not everyone who worked in either sector was smart, or dedicated, or even able, but I found more smart people in the public sector. I also found more people who had a sense of purpose. The “sitting eunuchs” who are too afraid of losing their jobs to stand up to evil are a curious exception these days. Before Newt and his GOPAC team started the denigration of Congressional ethics, even the House and Senate were filled with better people.

  6. Republican voters are being influenced by Fox Noise and all the other Far Right sources of propaganda to be angry with the asylum seekers/migrants because the “liberals” want to give “free” health care to these “illegals” while hard working citizens are going without health insurance and can’t afford healthcare for themselves because it costs too much.

    The hypocrisy of that propaganda is mind-blowing. On the one hand those propagandists rail against Single Payer insurance or Medicare for All while they offer no stats to back up why they claim we can’t afford them, and on the other hand they are talking about how terrible it is that we don’t take care of our own people while we are taking care of people who are coming here and haven’t paid a penny in taxes.

    My chiropractor brought this up to me yesterday. He is a Republican, but always wants to get my opinion on things because he knows that I read and study and actually am much more aware of the facts than he and most other people are that only get their info from whatever quick news source they listen to or watch. I mentioned the law about asylum seekers and then told him this is why we need Single Payer insurance in this country so that everyone has health insurance. He has complained to me many times about the cost of his health insurance and the high deductible. Of course, we then discussed how the economy is rigged for the wealthy, blah, blah, blah.

  7. The lawlessness in the Trump administration is inherent and its “leader” models the abuse of power, the flouting of the rule of law and the utter disrespect for humanity. Why? Because that’s how he was raised, led his life on his father’s money and had his sycophants do his dirty work. HE SIMPLY KNOWS NO OTHER WAY TO LIVE AND WORK. He even cheats in golf, a supposedly “gentleman’s game.”

    Throughout Trump’s life he’s been in court. Lawsuits are as normal to him as the suits he wears. When he loses in court, he just shrugs it off and moves on to his next graft. To Trump and his followers, breaking the law is irrelevant, because he’s been getting away with it – and so have most of the underlings – for decades. THEY SIMPLY DON’T CARE.

  8. The Democrats who attended the detention centers (concentration camps) are also acting morally and want to eliminate these disgusting centers by defunding them. Even the officers who work for detention centers have set up a FB group (private) that was infiltrated by ProPublica. The posts depicted AOC forcibly having oral sex with Trump.

    Hopefully, they all are fired, and those condoning the group should also be relieved of their duty for a significant period.

    As I’ve repeatedly said, Trump has done more to catapult progressivism at the Federal level than any other POTUS could dream of in this country.

    As for the “Deep State,” we have one of those, but it certainly doesn’t consist of public sector employees. It goes much deeper than that. Even Ike warned about it in his farewell speech. Speaking of Ike, heard he’s been rolling over in his grave over the July 4th celebration with Trump and our military generals.


  9. One aspect of the Trump Presidency (I have a visceral reaction to typing those two words together) is that they have been so awful that the average American’s expectation of government has plummeted and his minions go unchallenged for so many of their nefarious actions because our systems are overwhelmed by the corruption and incompetence that go on every single day. We are truly on overload.

    To get through this this and out the other end and restore what we had pre ‘16 though we have to swallow the bile in our collective throats and focus on who we are, not who the administration is. We did not do this. Roger Aisles and Putin and Steve Brannon did this and their gang of thugs who don’t care one whit for this country or it’s people. They represent all that is dysfunctional in us just like the SS did Germany a lifetime ago.

    We have to unite. Our mission can no longer be to campaign for our favorite among the several possibilities for next President but to prepare to vote for the common choice among all Americans appalled by how far we have fallen and how long the path back.

    We can do this.

  10. Trump has created the “Deeper State” by consistently placing his “friends” to lead Cabinet and other high-level posts whose primary qualification is that they believe that part of the Federal government should be dismantled/neutered. Every day their work is being done mostly quitetly behind (and sheltered by) the noise of the Tweets.

    Will we ever know how many dedicated, skilled and professional public servants have left/been forced to leave this environment (and their years of irreplaceable experience) behind? Even if we get a new administration, the rebuilding task will be HUUGE and the stumbling to do it may create even more distrust in the abilities of the Federal government.

  11. My elder daughter just retired from federal service in Washington and while there was surrounded by very dedicated and well-educated fellow employees. Her secretary was a PhD. She still hears from some of those she left behind, employees who are trying to carry out the missions of their agencies when the Trump Administration is trying to destroy them in keeping with Bannon’s admittedly pro- Leninist view of “deconstruction of the administrative state,” a supposedly populist view that is in reality a cover for fascist rule. Her former associates are, unfortunately, quitting in droves out of despair, opening up positions to be filled (if at all) by such as Falwell’s Liberty University graduates, much like judicial positions are filled by The Federalist Society, i.e., selected on ideological grounds rather than by merit. I sometimes wish Bannon were back in the White House where we could keep an eye on him as he is currently peddling his Leninist views in Europe with considerable success – see the rise in right wing parliamentary election success there.

    Tomorrow we celebrate our independence from the dictatorship of King George and subsequent adoption of democratic self-rule as a governing mode. Let’s keep these democratic values intact in resisting the attempts of fascist rule by our current wannabe dictator, King Don.

  12. The Koch Brothers are the CENTER of the “ONION.” They have become the “UNTOUCHABLES” as an attempt to confront them will be immediately countered by ONE OR MORE OF THE OUTER RINGS, much like the one in the movie: Independence Day.

  13. Gerald,

    “Her former associates are, unfortunately, quitting in droves out of despair, opening up positions to be filled (if at all) by such as Falwell’s Liberty University graduates, much like judicial positions are filled by The Federalist Society, i.e., selected on ideological grounds rather than by merit.”

    As you have so well pointed out, we’re witnessing a total TRANSFORMATION from democratic rule to authoritarian. The central cause is the INTELLIGENCE GAP which prevented any EFFECTIVE DETERRENT during the earlier TRANSITION phase.

  14. Lester,

    “Marv – I presume you have read “Democracy in Chains”…”

    Thanks for reminding me. I need to look at it again. It’s a terrific book. I purchased it a couple of years ago. It’s on my kindle. It hits the “nail right on the head.”

  15. Lester,

    Almost everything we need to know is in published books. I probably have over 95% of them. I was there at the beginning of this COUP over fifty years ago as the corporate attorney for Gordon McLendon the mastermind of this coup, along with his most intimate friend, Bunker Hunt. Consequently, I’ve known the direction of this FASCIST COUP from its beginning.

    I’ve also been aided by the fact that about six or seven years ago, I filled in for my friend, the owner of Chamblin’s Bookmine located here in Jacksonville, which according to Huffington Post is the 6th best: used bookstore in America, as head of CATALOGING for the downtown store for about a year.

    With my interest in fascism and Nazi Germany in particular, I doubt that I have missed anything of importance since I’ve scoured all the important bookstores in New York, as well as checking out the Weisenthal Center’s library in L.A. during my visit with Rabbi Cooper in 1990.

    Over the last four years on this blog, I’ve tried to convey the valuable information I’ve gained from the access that I was fortunate to have had.

  16. I happen to believe there is a “Deep State” or “Shadow Government”. Marine Corp General Smedley Butler warned us of it in the 1930’s and Ike warned us of it in his farewell address.

    Corporate America and now the Multi-Nationals have long had a an iron grip on our government. The big problems in our American Society a lack of Single Payer-Universal Health Care, pollution, income equality, the Warrior Cult in the Pentagon, among other problems, are controlled by the 1% through their stooges and puppets in elected office.

    President Agent Orange’s rantings about the “Deep State” only concern his lack of legal ability to rule by decree. The law is in his way.

    It will be interesting to see now that the House has taken the legal route to review Agent Orange’s taxes how far he will resist having them turned over. I am certain Agent Orange will find sycophants who will attempt to obstruct – he always does find them.

  17. Lester,

    By the way, today and tomorrow, I will finish reading “Joseph’s Easel: The Rise of an American Picasso” by Larry Kaiser, a valuable contributor to this blog.

  18. Monotonous,

    “I happen to believe there is a “Deep State” or “Shadow Government”. Marine Corp General Smedley Butler warned us of it in the 1930’s and Ike warned us of it in his farewell address.”

    It all starts with General Butler’s congressional testimony, as you have pointed out many times.

    I grew up in the middle of HALF of the “Deep State” headed by Ed Ball, Alfred DuPont’s brother-in-law, in Jacksonville and later prosecuted the other HALF, H. L. Hunt, in Dallas.

    Like you, I was also in the Army, but my eight-year R.OT.C. obligation ran out in 1967. I didn’t go to Viet Nam like you, however, my assistant in 1968 did: Captain Allan Clark lost both his legs.

    But as an artillery officer, I did learn to FIRE FOR EFFECT. It has to do with calibrating, in my case, while under domestic fire. That’s what WE must be able to do, POLITICALLY, when it comes to TRUMP, PENCE & BANNON.

  19. anyway ya look at it,like the nswpp, it started with a few wealthy,then a banker or two,some industrialists,and then the propaganda. lack of free speech,newspapers belittled,religious fratenities leveled. we have a group called the freedom caucus,,(really,freedom?)who,leveled contempt and removal from,a lone republican tired of trumps dump. if belonging to such a group, with its entire republican party demanded to join, or get run over. seems like history is repeating its self. hess tried to escape, but we all know whos names are on the wall..
    funny manafort is in NYC for some good ol home town tar and feathering. if this is a test,to see what trump will get charged with, tell vance, make it stick..

  20. If this blog is any indication, I’m sorry to say: we’re not going to move swift enough to avoid a RELIGIOUS RIGHT/ FAR RIGHT COUP LED BY DONALD TRUMP, MIKE PENCE, & STEVE BANNON.

  21. I’m admittedly prejudiced, but I believe Sheila is magnificent and I doubt if we could find a better group of contributors anywhere. So where does that leave us, if we can’t do it? It’s scary.

  22. Marv – I’m glad you discovered Larry Kaiser’s books. His books employ so many interesting twists and turns.

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