Playing the Trump (as in POTUS) card

Back in the day, Americans were told that Camel cigarettes were the top choice of doctors when they took a break during brain surgery or on a well-deserved fishing vacation with darling kids Bobby and Jane, and adoring wife Donna. Dad and the kids played, fished and smoked. Donna gutted the cooked the fish. And smoked too. Camels.

Ads in magazines, the movies and on television assured us that MDs were big-time smokers. So were their pert nurses. Also that most who had taken the Hippocratic Oath preferred the Camel brand of smokes. Who knows, it may even have been true. If you don’t believe it, click here.

Now, we read and hear that after only a few weeks steering (or not) the Ship of State, that federal offices are swamped with work because of the Swiss-cheese-style hiring freeze, and that feds — who went three years without any pay raises under the previous administration — are suddenly worried about the growing pay gap with industry. Just now fearful their retirement benefits will be cut, etc. In short, we are told, feds really feel funked up.

A poll last week by the National Treasury Employees Union said that 81 percent of the 877 NTEU union members surveyed said morale in their agencies is low, and sinking fast. More than half also said that their workloads have increased — this is tax filing season, right? — since the hiring freeze was ordered.  That despite the fact that retirements in December and January were below their 2016 and 2015 levels for the same month.  Those numbers don’t include people who quit, or committed suicide.  Still it is hard to believe that the 90-day hiring freeze had such a dramatic impact so quickly.

The media says that workers at the Environmental Protection Agency fear a major reduction-in-force. And that workers at Housing and Urban Development are fearful for their jobs programs, that Department of Education workers are beside themselves and State Department types fear that someday Fox News may be calling our diplomatic shots.

The reason 99 percent of the pre-2016 election pollsters were wrong could be because they polled the wrong people. Some went for “likely voters.” Others surveyed special groups. Some had groupings of 1,000 or less in which 70 percent of the group were known members of one political party.

The NTEU poll is no doubt correct. But it might be unwise to assume that it reflects the nation’s nearly 3 million federal civilian workers. Outside of the U.S. Postal Service, the vast majority of federal employees DO NOT belong to unions. Any union.

A survey of the impact — good or evil — of coal, or oil could produce different results based on whether those being polled were coal miners or members of the ACLU. Either would be correct. But only up to a point …

Short of a confidential survey of tens of thousands of feds in every agency (who probably, wisely, wouldn’t respond) it is impossible to say, for sure, whether most feds are living in terror or sticking to business. Any confidential thoughts? Email them to me at

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Merle Travis and Tex Williams recorded the Western novelty song “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” on March 27, 1947.

Source: Wikipedia