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Schumer and Feinstein have acted in response to the Washington Post's story on how some of the most controversial of Bush's political appointees have burrowed into civil service positions, which I wrote about here, as it pertains to the Interior Department.

While their response is limited to yet another sort-of sternly worded letter, the good news is that they're paying attention:

Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote to Bush, saying that the recent transfers suggest a "regrettable, but entirely foreseeable" last-minute rush to fill jobs with administration allies. The senators urged Bush to keep his pledge of a smooth transition without partisan maneuvering.

"Today's report reveals that senior members of your administration are undermining your public commitment to ease the transition by reorganizing agencies at the eleventh hour and installing political appointees in key positions for which they may not be qualified," they wrote. "We respectfully urge you to stand by your public commitment to a smooth transition by directing executive agencies immediately to halt any conversions of political appointees to career positions."

Democrats on Capitol Hill and career employees in various agencies said the personnel moves come as administration officials scramble to complete policy and regulatory initiatives on issues including drinking-water standards, air quality at national parks, workplace safety and mountaintop mining.

The administration has been at this for a while, it turns out:

The Government Accountability Office has long tracked such political-to-career conversions, and it reported in May 2006 that during the first four years of the Bush administration, 144 political appointments were converted to career positions. Thirty-six were at the Health and Human Services Department, 23 were at the Justice Department, 21 were at the Defense Department and 15 were at the Treasury Department.

It's just now that the traditional media is really paying attention, because those last minute regulations the administration is pushing are so extreme and damaging. They certainly aren't focused on making drinking water safer, the air around national parks cleaner, workplaces more safe, and mountaintop mining curtailed.

Case in point:

The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing.

Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the administration's push to weaken Clean Air Act protections for "Class 1 areas" nationwide has sparked fierce resistance from senior agency officials. All but two of the regional administrators objecting to the proposed rule are political appointees.

The proposal would change the practice of measuring pollution levels near national parks, which is currently done over three-hour and 24-hour increments to capture emission spikes during periods of peak energy demand; instead, the levels would be averaged over a year. Under this system, spikes in pollution would no longer violate the law.

In this case, the National Parks Conservation Association is poised to to file a petition for reconsideration with the agency should it approve the new rule. This would allow the Obama administration to overturn the rule when.

Dislodging entrenched civil service employes is a much tougher proposition (which is why they're doing it). At the very least, the move prevents Obama from getting his key people into these positions immediately to start dismantling some of the Bush administration's most damaging programs. But these holdovers can make policy-making more difficult, as Nina Mendelson, a professor at University of Michigan Law School, argues in an interview with the Washington Independent:

Civil servants might be enthusiastic implementers of a new initiative. On the other hand, a knowledgeable civil servant might publicly advocate against it within the agency (which can have some benefits in terms of forcing a political appointee to more thoroughly justify a new proposal) or can more quietly undermine it. My research suggests that quiet subversion can include heel-dragging, losing projects in the cracks, leaks or worse. (emphasis added)

The result of these burrowee tactics is to make it tougher for a new president to push the executive branch in the direction he wants. Mendelson laid out the details in her 2002 piece:

They appear to undermine the responsiveness of agency personnel to a new president; interfere with the new president’s efforts to set policy; and impeded the new president’s ability to set her own policy agenda.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:40 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I wonder what can be done (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Churchill, glassbeadgame, Puddytat

    I think Congress might have to pass a statute on this issue, and even then, there might be questions as to validity.

    John McCain, 100 years in Iraq "fine with me"

    by taylormattd on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:42:22 PM PST

    •  If Obama Gets Serious About Weeding These (0+ / 0-)

      people out, he's going to run hard into the senate math that 59=0.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:43:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Impeachment sounds good right now (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Skid, Compound F, Puddytat

      /lol

      "We were warriors then, and our tribe was strong like a river" - Hunter S Thompson

      by GonzoLegend on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:43:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think tagging the career hires (7+ / 0-)

      via the transition teams that are dusting out the corners, then monitoring and reassigning those hires to high work, low value areas, mail room bosses, transcription services.. etc.

      "Biden's tears did more for the equality Of the sexes than Palin's presence" - Leah Renna

      by edgeways on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:50:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  why not eliminate positions as a budget cutting (5+ / 0-)

        re-organization of each department.   If it is a new position, could argue that it isn't needed.

      •  Why couldn't (3+ / 0-)

        BO just fire them?  Just reverse the conversions to civil servants back to political appointees.  Why should he [we, congress] play by the 'rules' as defined by the repubs?

        Bush's presidency is now inextricably yoked to the policies of aggression and subjugation. Mike Whitney

        by dfarrah on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:00:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly. Anyone moved from a political position (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dfarrah, Bob Love, esquimaux, Joe Neri

          to a career position should be considered to be, absent contradictory evidence, a political appointee and replaced as a political appointee would be replaced.

        •  Perhaps becasue it may be more than just 'rules' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Churchill

          as defined by the repubs, it may well be that you can not fire someone without direct due cause, and saying it was because someone you don't like hired them is not sufficient reason.

          Don't get me wrong, if they can legally fire these people they should definitely do so. But, they also need to proceed according to law. I have had enough of administrations that redefine what the laws are just to suit their desires. I want an administration that administers by rule of law. Even if sometimes I dislike the results.

          Now, I also believe firmly that unjust rules and laws need to be challenged, perhaps sometimes violently... but if there are ways around such conflicts it is best to go that route first.

          So, use them if they have to, but use them in a way that produces some value, but minimized their actual importance. Flag their personnel records to indicate they where hired under such and such circumstances so there is no mistaking where they came from and their relative merits. Have them change light bulbs, clean the bathrooms, go count wolf populations in mosquito infested areas...

          "Biden's tears did more for the equality Of the sexes than Palin's presence" - Leah Renna

          by edgeways on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:23:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Using them in a way that produces some value (0+ / 0-)

            So, use them if they have to, but use them in a way that produces some value, but minimized their actual importance. Flag their personnel records to indicate they where hired under such and such circumstances so there is no mistaking where they came from and their relative merits. Have them change light bulbs, clean the bathrooms, go count wolf populations in mosquito infested areas...

            How about like in the olden days, just have them sweep the streets.

            This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

            by DisNoir36 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:41:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  AGREE civil service protection will stop firing (0+ / 0-)

            sad, but true!!

            80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

            by Churchill on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:44:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  The folks who see federal employment as a right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          De Re Rustica, Joe Neri

          beat you to the punch on this one.

          Whenever you want to remove ("fire") a civil servant, you run headlong into federal employment law.  Presuming the employee isn't in a probationary status (which may or may not be the case here), you can only remove a civil servant for misconduct or poor performance.  Civil servants have an astounding package of legal rights protecting their positions.  They get a right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (the acronym MSPB has often been derided as "must send person back," so getting the removal past the Board is no sure-fire thing) and have a hearing before an administrative judge.  If the employee loses there, they can take their case to the MSPB leadership.  If they lose there, they have the right to appeal their case in federal court.  Yes, that's right, it really can be a "federal case" to terminate a civil servant.

          That being said, there are options:

          1.  Change up the person's job description so that they have little/no impact on the world (how about: review all 1960 regulations for typos?).  The problem is that you're wasting a high-level position, but it is a good way to minimize the damage they can do.
          1.  Have a reduction in force.  Almost no appeal rights here, but you lose the position.
          1.  Impose very strict deadlines and quality expectations for projects.  Watch person like a hawk.  Document every screw-up.  Once you have a handful of failures (late to work, project late, report not up to snuff, etc.), you fire them for being a lousy performer.

          The system isn't simple, but it can be worked.  What you need are hard-nosed bosses determined to root these "burrowers" out.

          •  Progressive discipline for low performance (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            neroden

            The right thing to do would be to fire the subverters for not doing their job. It's completely accurate and you can do it under civil service rules. Your Item 3 is how you do it. Be very specific in the job assignment with performance expectations laid out in advance. It may take a while, but if done thoughtfully the employee (even at GS-15 or SES) will either get with the program or get let go under the rules.

      •  We need to keep an eye out for all those (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden

        Justice Department Civil Service hires that Monica Goodling applied her special political test to.  They're like dynamite waiting for the fuse the be lit.

        I can see the end of Sarah Palin's political career from my house. Sue, West Allis, Wisconsin

        by Puddytat on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:03:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're making this too difficult. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fnb, deedogg, bicycle Hussein paladin

      These folks can't do any harm to the agencies if we just round them up and send to Guantanomo.  Just sayin'.  I mean, we've got a friend of rounding-up-and-imprisoning-without-trial in charge of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, so no worries there.

    •  Send in the vigilant meerkats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pescadero Bill

      ... two in the tunnel is worth one in the Bush.

      The patient peeps who have wanted change for years should be able to smoke 'em out.

      "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

      by AmericanRiverCanyon on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:06:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What Senate Committee would investigate (3+ / 0-)

      such abuses relating to Governmental Affairs?  I can't think of any.

      The netroots is what the Letters to the Editor page wanted to be when it grew up.

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:28:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  we'll have to redefine psychopathology. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skid

    We don't have time for short-term thinking.

    by Compound F on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:43:33 PM PST

  •  Fix for the future: eliminate burrowing (15+ / 0-)

    It won't help with the current mess, but Congress can keep this from ever happening again by two minor changes to civil service law.

    Change # 1 - Time spent as a political appointee must NOT count toward the probationary period for any future career position.

    Change # 2 - The probationary period for anyone who enters the civil service at GS-13 or above should be increased from one year to three years.  This will catch essentially all "burrowing-in" types (I've never seen a political lower than GS-13, and they're usually GS-15s if they aren't SES).

    The idea is to ensure that any would-be burrowers are still in their probationary period when a new administration comes in.  Feds in their probationary period are "at will" employees, without the usual protections under civil service law. Easy to get rid of.

    •  We don't need more (0+ / 0-)

      stinkin' laws--just fire them.

      Bush's presidency is now inextricably yoked to the policies of aggression and subjugation. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:04:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  GS-12s can damage if they R is 13 type positions (0+ / 0-)

      80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

      by Churchill on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:45:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never seen a political who'd take a 12. (0+ / 0-)

        Lowest graded "Schedule C" employee I've ever seen was a 13, and those were idealistic young folks in the Clinton administration. Politicals are 15s more often than not.

        I find it real hard to picture a Bushie accepting the lowly status and salary of a GS-12. ALso, 12s are go-out-and-do-something positions, not policy setting. (So are almost all 13s, for that matter).

    •  This is dead on (0+ / 0-)

      This is THE fix to the problem.  Probationers can be fired at will.

      Of course, it's useful to keep in mind that we might be trying to use the same tactics come 2012 or 2016 ...

      •  Very accurate description.... (0+ / 0-)

        That is exactly what we should do.  In the mean time, since we can't do that retroactively, eliminate all the positions held by troublemakers, and establish new posts if we really needed some of their jobs done.

        If impeachment were easier we wouldn't have to bother, since all these high-level positions are 'officers' of the government subject to impeachment.  That was the originally intended fix for all this.....

        -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

        by neroden on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:38:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Career bureaucrats always know how... (5+ / 0-)

    to subvert the system.

  •  Sternly worded letter (7+ / 0-)

    equals, ok, do whatever you want, it's fine by us.

    I have found that I am more impressed by democratic ideals than any actual elected Democrats' action in the last several years.

    Republicans need people to be stupid

    by strengthof10kmen on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:47:32 PM PST

  •  Bipartisanship (10+ / 0-)

    In the spirit of bipartisanship the President elect Obama really needs to let DiFi and Schumer know that Bush should be allowed to continue to load up the government with Republicans. Its a bad job market out there and you know these poor Republicans need jobs too. Elections have no consequences. That's what I understood from my learned leader Harry Reid yesterday.  

  •  Burrowing is yet another word ... (7+ / 0-)

    ...attached to the Cheney-Bush regime's definition of "bipartisan."

    We won. But we're not done. -- karateexplosions

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:50:07 PM PST

  •  Transfer them (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, esquimaux, deedogg

    There has got to be a position suitable for them like Secretary of Custodial Services, UnderSecretary of Custodial Services and so on.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:50:42 PM PST

  •  What we need is a "Bounty Hunter" (3+ / 0-)
    Someone to "go after" these varmints. We shouldn't go as far as shooting them from airplanes or paying $50 for each left arm turned in, but they have to go.
    .
    .

    "It's been headed this way since the World began, when a vicious creature made the jump from Monkey to Man."--Elvis Costello

    by BigOkie on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:51:09 PM PST

  •  They sound like burrowing "moles." (0+ / 0-)

    Obama should issue an edict that any activity by these appointees that is deemed "subversive" will be handled in the manner permitted under the Patriotic Act, i.e., "kiss your habeas corpus good-bye."

    --It's a feverish world, Inman said, for lack of better comment. (Charles Frazier)

    by Taya Lawrence on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:52:31 PM PST

  •  god i hate reading stuff like this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Luftmensch, marina, rbird

    it's like some twisted alternate universe twilightzonemeetsbeverlyhillbillies episode, and it's gonna run til january.

    "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach." - Upton Sinclair

    by kathleen518 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:54:06 PM PST

  •  Reagan began (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love

    converting positions as soon as he took office, making career positions political appointments. I guess the Rethugs get them coming and going.

    I think, therefore I am. I think.

    by mcmom on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:56:02 PM PST

    •  Actually, the link in the diary (0+ / 0-)

      says that the practice began as early as Truman and that every administration since then has done it.  

      Given that, I'm not sure why the Obama would not have expected the Bush administration to do the same as every administration before them.  

  •  De-Bush-ification may take awhile (7+ / 0-)

    The extent of the Bush-Rovian web in the government may take years to unravel. Not only the several layers of appointees and politicized career positions, but the thousands of regulations they gutted with deceptive wording.

    Like the Baathists in Iraq, it is hard to tell how deep the corruption goes, but if you throw everyone out at once, you don't have a government anymore. But I honestly think this is the real battle for America.

    "I beseech you,... think it possible you may be mistaken." -- Cromwell/Bronowski

    by jockyoung on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:57:36 PM PST

  •  Gee You wouldn't want them to have to find a job (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dfarrah, Bob Love

    in the real world in this economy would you?
    </End Hypersnarcasm>

    The GOP has resorted to Cannibalism. Please send Condiments to GOP HQ

    by JML9999 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:58:01 PM PST

  •  Good news that (4+ / 0-)

    they are paying attention???

    That notion just shows how low the bar has fallen.

    Bush's presidency is now inextricably yoked to the policies of aggression and subjugation. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:58:03 PM PST

  •  Good example of burrowing: Lieberman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fnb, Churchill

    ""If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." JAMES MADISON

    by isabvella on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:00:47 PM PST

  •  There are bureaucratic maneuvers to take known (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Churchill

    obstructionists out of the loop.  I remember one of these types that was terrorizing DOJ/Civil Rights.  He was TDY assigned to a "vital" project at IRS, then National Archives.  He never saw the halls of the Justice building again.

    "Now it is of the essence that we learn to hope. The work of hope will not fail us, it is devoted to success, and not to failure." -Ernst Bloch

    by moondancing on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:06:28 PM PST

  •  Oh Good. Democrats are on the case. (4+ / 0-)

    I. Feel. So. Confident. They. Will. Act.

    Spineless, useless, jello filled Democrats.

    We give them majorities.  We give them mandates.   They continue to be pussies and buckle.

    They are useless.

    Anyone who still thinks our democratic leaders are worth anything are disillusional.

    Obama might be able to do something, but he's surrounding himself with the same old shit.

    I worked hard for Obama.  I thought he could bring change.   I better fucking see ANYTHING sometime soon from him.  Cause it ain't gonna come from Congress.

    America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. -- Abraham Lincoln

    by dad2jac on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:06:34 PM PST

  •  good cop - bad cop (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fnb, nancelot, Churchill

    I've seen this movie many times before - any lip service from Schumer and Feinstein is a sure signal that they're covering their asses to prepare for jamming the Bush move down our throats. Schumer, Feinstein and Specter are the "good cops" to Bush's "bad cop".

    There should be a special place in Hell reserved for those 3 bastards.

    McCain housing policy shaped by lobbyist.

    by timba on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:12:02 PM PST

  •  Why can't these 11th hour changes, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Churchill

    like allowing drilling in Utah and other places; allowing weapons in National parks; easing up on safety (via pollution) requirements in power plants, be overturned by Obama when he takes office, or even by us before that? I guess I don't understand how this all works, but Bush and his administration has been allowed to butcher the Constitution, so why wouldn't Obama have the power to bend it to his will and fix this mess?
    There has to be something that can be done to stop this Bush madness. I never thought I could truly HATE someone.

    Hey, Hannity! You're ugly and your mama dresses you funny!

    by forever blue on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:14:45 PM PST

  •  And I'm sure Bush said (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fnb, pi1304

    "You're absolutely right -- I'm being a jerk again.  Thanks for reminding me that I ought to be non-partisan."

    I just love the use of the word 'urge' when it pertains to George W. Bush... its kind of like asking a mosquito not to bite you and suck out your blood, isn't it?

    Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote to Bush, saying that the recent transfers suggest a "regrettable, but entirely foreseeable" last-minute rush to fill jobs with administration allies. The senators urged Bush to keep his pledge of a smooth transition without partisan maneuvering.

    Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by feduphoosier on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:17:38 PM PST

  •  Feinstein and Schumer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fnb, nancelot, esquimaux

    This pair of addleheads argued for the confirmation of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General.

    Don't you just love Capitol Hill Democrats?

    The Detroit "Lions". 2008 NFL Pre-Season Champions.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:18:42 PM PST

  •  Doesn't the civil service work on seniority? (0+ / 0-)

    If so, why not have Obama announce that because of the economy the government needs to cut back. Then announce an across-the-board layoff designed to eliminate anyone with, say, only 4 months of seniority. And away go the most recent "burrowers".

    Now someone with more knowledge of the rules can tell me if a political appointee gets to transfer their seniority into their new civil service position.

    And none of this will affect Fatherland Homeland Security, right? Didn't they get created without the normal civil service protections for their employees?

    "That which I am writing about so tediously may be obvious to someone whose mind is less decrepit." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

    by Mad Dog Rackham on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:24:29 PM PST

  •  Bush: Burrowing and Borrowing (0+ / 0-)

    Bye bye? Please, soon.

    Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do. - James Harvey Robinson

    by pi1304 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:25:04 PM PST

  •  Its not just moving political appointees (0+ / 0-)

    to career positions.  Its hiring career employees based on improper factors:  example - law degree for Regents or some such Republican diploma mill, that is the main problem.  Sure the burrowers need to be eliminated asap, but a through flushing of the whole rotten cesspool is necessary to disinfect the Bush disease from the system.

  •  Speaking as a former (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deedogg, Murchadha

    union chief steward and executive board menber from my government employee union this is a simple matter to resolve.
    Whenever someone holds a professional or managerial position they are required to sign a mobility statement allowing the government to assign them to whatever post wherever they need their services.

    All the administration needs to do is make a position for a special project manager someplace like Lesotho or the Great Basin National Park or Nome Alaska for an assignment without dependents.
    See how long they last sitting in a shack shuffling useless paper watching a phone that never rings.
    There are even more creative things that can be done if management is creative enough.

  •  Obama should be able to get rid of them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ericy

    through a Reduction in Force. Fed employees are on probation for first 90 days. When a Reduction on Force is used, those on probation go first.

    I'm sure Obama is planning a RIF. That's why he is so interested in getting the lists of employees, so he can make HIS list, and keep adding to it as Bush hires.

    I have confidence Obama is not going to let these people roll him.

  •  This reminds me of chess. Bush has made his move. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancelot, Churchill

    I hope Obama shows his Chicago roots.

    ""If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." JAMES MADISON

    by isabvella on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:35:40 PM PST

  •  If not removed, what about quarantined? (0+ / 0-)

    If Obama's people have any suspicion that someone has been placed in a non-political position for political reasons, and if that person cannot be easily removed, then they need to be quarantined so that they cannot engage in quiet subversion.  

    My research suggests that quiet subversion can include heel-dragging, losing projects in the cracks, leaks or worse. (emphasis added)

    If they might drag their heels on a project or "lose" that project, then they shouldn't have any projects.  If there's a possibility that they might leak information, then they should not learn any information.  Civil service rules stipulate that they cannot be easily fired.  Fine.  They can just be isolated from the business of government until further notice.  

    The Democrats can then get busy walling off all further moves between political and non-political positions if they are made within the same branch of the Federal government within a year of leaving a politically appointed position.  

  •  This assumes people don't care about their jobs (0+ / 0-)

    Ideology gets awfully expendable when you're talking the difference between having food on the table and paying kids' college expenses. These people can be fired if they don't do their jobs. It's very difficult in some cases but in practically all cases it can be done.  Heading into the worst economic downturn in 75 years, I think that most of these feared "moles" will sniff the prevailing wind, salute smartly and do their jobs.

    Who was Bush_Horror2004, anyway?

    by Dartagnan on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:39:45 PM PST

  •  Transfer the 144 to Nome, Alaska to monitor ANWR (0+ / 0-)

    They will eventually resign.  It's very hard to fire federal civil service workers that have completed their ONE YEAR PROBATIONARY PERIOD!!!

    They will go pretty quickly.  They can count the snowflakes.

    80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

    by Churchill on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:41:07 PM PST

  •  From An Insider - Be Warned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancelot

    I have worked inside NYS government for a number of years, starting under Cuomo (Democrat), than Pataki (Republican) and now under Paterson (Democrat) [We prefer to pretend that Spitzer never happened].  I have seen upclose, what can happen when mid-level civil servants don't "get with the program".  Although upper levels have changed under Paterson, the mid-level still operates in much the same way as it did under the Pataki admnistration.  Some of is due to the political philosephy of individual civil servants, but much is due to a pro-business bias that has become ingrained after years of Republican rule.  Many are fixed in their ways and are not intersted in change, while others are political hold-overs from the Republican administration, who appear to be supportive of the Dem. administration, but who are quietly sabotaging things behind the scenes.

    Obama needs to gut out every last reminant of the Bush partisans, even if he has to change the civil services laws to do it.  If not they will sabotage the Obama Presidency from the inside, much like cancer does to the human body when you fail to remove every last cancer cell.

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:59:51 PM PST

    •  Impeachment would sort this out (0+ / 0-)

      Congressional impeachments apply to civil servants over a certain level (I forget what level, but legally it's the distinction between being an "officer" or not; basically the ones with the power to make decisions are officers, the ones cleaning the bathrooms aren't.)

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Quiet subversion": weapons of the weak. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancelot

    James Scott outlined techniques of "quiet subversion", incl. foot-dragging, etc. as "everyday forms of peasant resistance" in authoritarian societies back in the 1980s.

    His work is highly recommended as a primer on this aspect of the subaltern and underprivileged experience.

    Sounds like his classification applies to burrowing bushies too.

    Russ Feingold: cooler than Batman.

    by yojimbo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:12:45 PM PST

  •  Bush is planting sleeper cells. (0+ / 0-)

    Freedom is in the fight.

    by Troubadour on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:28:45 PM PST

  •  didn't we just kinda self-burrow joe? (0+ / 0-)

    research suggests that quiet subversion can include heel-dragging, losing projects in the cracks, leaks or worse

  •  Can't fire 'em, but Obama can re-locate 'em (0+ / 0-)

    No doubt all these sleeper-cell BUshies are working in big metropoli with lots of quality life aspects -- like D.C. NYC, or LA. However it's entirely legal and much more easy to "promote" these deadbeats into regional offices in, say, Olathe, Kansas; Juneau, Alaska; or Montpelier, Vermont (the businesses of which, I am not shitting, close at 8pm). Sure, they keep the job, they get the money, but now they're stuck out in the sticks, far from anybody important they can rub shoulders with or try to impress. Those who bail out of this deadend, good riddance. Those who stick it out are out of the loop entirely. Either way, Obama's crew wins.This actually happened to a senior NMFS civil service official, who got shoved out of Seattle and wound up in Alaska, much to the detriment of his career and agency influence.
    The best weapon Obama has in these situations is the blissful assumption of the old guard that "sure they could, but nobody will DO things like that". Boy, they'll be as  surprised as the French were by the Germans coming through the Ardennes.

    "Ain't no time to wonder why - WHOOPEE! We're all gonna die!"

    by fourthcornerman on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:05:12 PM PST

    •  Oh, or even better (0+ / 0-)

      Reassign them to positions resurveying the borders of all the leases and verifying the documentation backing them.  This would not only put them in unpleasant places but would leave them looking in county clerks' basements and wandering through fields all day.

      And it's actually very difficult work suitable for their pay grade.  :-)

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:44:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This whole thing has made me sick. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancelot

    The Wash Post has been doing a good job about reporting on Bush's devious last-minute maneuvers, but why hasn't this been more widely reported on TV?

    Talk about "sleeper cells" -- it's like Bush and his incompetent, mean-spirited, bone-headed cronies are intent on blowing up any good thing that Obama would try to do.

  •  I know what to reassign the Interior folks to! (0+ / 0-)

    The people in Interior causing the trouble with new leases?  Assign them to vital new positions reviewing, and entering into a modern database, every single lease made from the 19th Century onward and giving a detailed economic and legal analysis, including how it should be renegotiated at market rates when it next comes due.

    This will keep them busy for years.  It's actually useful work, but it's next to impossible politically to actually renegotiate any of them, so if they try to sabotage it they're not really sabotaging anything we were expecting to get done.

    -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

    by neroden on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:42:25 PM PST

  •  So, we will have a list of... (0+ / 0-)

    the names of those who were political appointees, of those who were converted to civil service (burrowed, you mean?) and give sleeper status?

    This is not rocket science. Fire them, sit on them, and by any means get them to SING.

    Ugh. --UB.

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