The Sun Shines Bright on Foggy Bottom

Whoo boy…

Israel Matzav reports the old-old cemented-in-place palace guard is leaving the State Department en masse.

So. Please read this opinion piece from Carl in Jerusalem and tell me: does he mean the jig is up, rilly rilly up? Are these formerly main actors now sullenly leaving the stage as they’re being reduced to bit players? Is this a stage direction — “Exit, left” — ahead of being given the bum’s rush to the door?

That’s not a rhetorical question; I’d love to know what you think of this news.

Most of us wouldn’t want to be on stage crossing swords (even plywood weapons) with that master of cool moves, Rex Tillerson. Especially if we’d been making endless novenas, lighting hundreds of hopeful candles, clutching our lucky teddy bears in hopes that Hillary would return with a whole new batch of pants suits and things would continue in place. But at the very least, if The Nightmare were to win, that he’d be such an ignoramus that he’d have to appoint someone they could handle, someone ummm… less, oh… maybe “less commanding” than this royally global mover and shaker, i.e. REX T, our newly Senate-ratified SecState.

[Old hands: Exit stage left, heads raised nobly whilst clutching tattered dignities]

Here’s Carl’s post (from Thursday last) in its entirety, sans the many links and his great map. I’ve emphasized the more interesting tidbits, though, and you can peruse the links I didn’t put in, here at his page.

The Washington Post is reporting that the entire senior executive level at the State Department has resigned, apparently out of fear of what might happen in a Trump administration. Keeping in mind that most of the senior echelon in the State Department is Arabist, this may be good for Israel, notwithstanding reporter Josh Rogin’s obvious discomfort with it.

[Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Observation from Dymphna: Donald Trump is neither ‘fish nor fowl nor good red herring’; he doesn’t fit into any convenient political classification. So while he’s given away millions in political contributions to both sides of the aisle over the long decades since beginning his career as the ultimate ‘connected’ New Yorker, you won’t catch him spouting ideology. Unless you call patriotism — for many years now a tattered rag long since discarded by the hip, po-mo Left — “ideology”. But Trump isn’t cool; kewl goes right over his head. So he doesn’t care who they did or did not serve previously.

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Kennedy will retire from the foreign service at the end of the month, officials said. The other officials could be given assignments elsewhere in the foreign service.

In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.

It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.

Observation from Dymphna: This is John Bolton’s dream come true. He thought it would “take a generation” to clean the Augean stables, but the horses are galloping off under their own steam. I can’t wait to see what he says about what the professionals appear to think is a revoltin’ development while we, the unwashed, are cheering…

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Carl in Jerusalem continues:

All I can think of when I hear about the State Department securing diplomats is Benghazi, although that was clearly Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s fault, and not that of the State Department bureaucrats.

More encouraging is the fact that ‘Palestinian’ chief negotiator bottle washer Saeb Erekat is expressing ‘shock’ at President Trump’s silence on Israeli ‘settlement building.’

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced the approval of 2,500 housing units in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, in order to accommodate the housing needs of the residents and to return their daily routine to normal.

The announcement followed the approval earlier this week of 566 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev.

While the United Nations and the European Union were quick to condemn the new construction, White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday declined to express a position on Israeli construction when asked about it in his daily press briefing. “Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States,” Spicer said, when asked about Trump’s perspective on the Israeli plan to implement the construction plans. “He wants to grow closer to Israel to make sure it gets the full respect in the Middle East,” he continued. “We’ll have a conversation with the prime minister.”

Responding on Wednesday to the White House refusing to comments, Erekat told AFP, “We used to hear condemnations, we used to hear American positions saying ‘(Israel) should stop settlement activities, it’s an obstacle to peace.’”

“Not commenting, does that mean that President Trump is encouraging… settlement activities? We need an answer from the American administration,” he added.

Life has sure changed for the ‘Palestinians,’ hasn’t it? If they don’t get to the table and negotiate (for real) soon without preconditions, there’s not likely to be much left to negotiate about. This whiny series of diagrams regarding future Israeli building plans in Jerusalem appeared in Israel’s Hebrew ‘Palestinian’ daily (HaAretz). If all of these plans go through, Jerusalem will thankfully be surrounded with Jewish children.

Dymphna suggests: see the embedded illustrations he mentions which appears at this point in his original post. Scroll down…

And it doesn’t end there, by any means, if you’ll recall the news from earlier in the week:

All of this follows on the heels of yesterday’s news that the first act of the Trump-Tillerson State Department was to place a hold on the $221 million parting gift that former President Hussein Obama attempted to give the ‘Palestinians’ and that one of President Trump’s first executive orders would suspend aid to the United Nations or any of its agencies if they recognize a ‘Palestinian state.’

Much of this is, of course, a reversal of Obama administration policy implemented during the last administration’s first days in office. But if it lasts, the world will be a very different place four or eight years from now.

Messiah’s times?

Dymphna says: Oh I don’t know about that. First of all, I don’t think these wonderful events necessarily need a theological explanation. With the advent of Trump, the world is already fast becoming a different place. To use a different scriptural perspective, this from Luke, echoing the Jewish Prophets:

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth…

In other words, we finally have those so-called “shovel-ready jobs” all over the place. Including the shovels being hauled into Foggy Bottom. Think of all the flowers that otherwise useless manure will bring to life.

Now, even in the cold of almost-February, the sun is shining after the seemingly eternal dreary winter of our discontent under the thumb of Obama.

Just imagine what next month will bring! And we’ll still be saying “President Trump”. Say it again…

21 thoughts on “The Sun Shines Bright on Foggy Bottom

  1. A little off topic but… It’s all good, however, I was hoping he would ban would be immigrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan from entering the U.S.

    • So were most of us, I’ll wager. But the Prez is no fool, so I’m hoping to see many other countries listed.

      In the meantime, the moslem and democrat snowflakes will go absolutely crazy! Not to mention the racist crowd who seem to be very prominently represented in the loud, foul-mouthed mobs. Interesting times!

    • He went with the (relatively) bullet proof (and eminently defensible) list of his predecessor. He’ll let the media cut its throat over that, then one at a time (or maybe in small groups) add to the list. I’m proud to be an American … for the first time in 8 years I wake up and the news is mostly good.

  2. This just sounds great to me.

    All the riff-raff leaving under their own power!

    I wonder if it has been made clear that leaving now is a good way not to get prosecuted in the future?

  3. Love your observations and suggestions Dympthna and you are in fine form in this article! Your biting wit gets straight to the meat of the subject, and I am a great meat lover!

    Trump is a paradigm shift in geopolitics that his election is now causing everyone inside that Collective Box of non-ideas and parroting stupidity to be late to the actual event of what Trump represents. They now have to play catch up and start running in the hope that they will not be caught off guard. I am laughing with glee every day that those ‘executive orders’ from Trump roll off the assembly line just to see the reactions of those who thought that their brand of one size fits all is the final solution to what they believe is human kinds problem, only to have Trump’s reality hit them squarely between the eyes and for which I will be eternally grateful!

    • I remember a complaint years ago from a Dept of Defense employee about having to deal with his coevals at State. They would invariably arrive at meetings well past the appointed hour, unprepared to work until coffee had been served. No pen or paper (back before iphones and tablets) and often forced to borrow same from their military colleagues. Or rather, to borrow if they suddenly thought it worth their effort to keep any record of the meetings.

  4. My understanding is that some of them were due to retire at the end of Jan, reaching the age limit. The others quit their political appointments and gone back into the service.

    • Wel, that’s a good cover story, isn’t it? Do you remember the source of this version?

      The political appointees had been given notice in early December to exit on or before inauguration day. Including ambassadors.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised either.

      That’s why John Bolton said it would take a generation to clean out what he called “the Augean stables”. He saw their shoddy work up close and personal during his brief tenure at the UN.

      State has had that work environment since its inception, which is why Jefferson fought its establishment at the beginning. Ben Franklin quite approved the idea, having spent some years in France having a grand old time. BF was a real party boy away from home.

  5. a conspiracy is uncovered that involved a group of Muslims who were planning to bomb synagogues during the Sabbath services so that both the Jews and the building would be destroyed. The group was charged with conspiracy to murder with hate crime circumstances by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The attorney for the defense cited Sura 9:35 and the Reliance of the Traveler saying that the group was only obeying the dictates of its religion. The attorney also cited the First Amendment where it states that Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of a religion nor its regulation thereof.
    Attorney General Sessions responded by ordering the deportation of those where were involved. The attorney for the defense stated that all of the members of the group were refugees who were made citizens under Obama.
    Sessions replied that as citizens they are required to foreswear all other previous oaths and swear to obey the laws of this land and accept the consequences of criminal prosecution of they fail to obey them. Therefore, they can either be deported or stand trial for conspiracy to commit a hate crime murder.
    The attorney for the defense than stated that the groups is required to wage jihad against unbelievers. Sessions replied by saying that the attorney’s invocation of jihad and warfare makes it a military matter and referred the matter to the Department of Defense. The commander of the Joint Chiefs recognized the group and others like it as a credible and existential threat to the peace and security of the country and invoked the articles that govern the rules of engagement of an enemy combatant. The group was delivered to the Army who performed summary executions. The group was heard shouting Allahu Akbar as the firing squad opened fire.
    In the wake of this the FBI and SPD were called in to investigate the possible existence of other such groups or cells. The investigation began to uncover multiple cells in every major urban area, all of whom owed ISIS and Obama their allegiance. Tons of war material were also discovered and confiscated. The questioning revealed a connection with the prior administration and the formation and maintenance of these groups as part of a plan by the previous administration to take over the country and make it into a Caliphate. The plans failed to come to fruition however with the discovery of leaked email messages by the candidate who would serve as the front for the takeover.
    Stay tuned, film at 11:00pm

  6. No big loss.

    Having been around diplomats during my overseas stint I can tell you that these people do one thing – PARTY!!!

    Every night in Algiers there is a reception, dinner, soiree, or what have you at a different Embassy or Ambassador’s residence. On the weekends they jet off to Europe to shop and live the good life.

    The diplomatic corps is almost a large a waste of tax dollars as the UN, and should have its funding drastically cut based on the antics I’ve seen.

  7. It is standard procedure for upper-level appointees to submit their resignations when an administration changes. A maybe: SOP every four years, change in party or no.

    “Fear” has nothing to do with it.

    Nuthin’ like Fake News…

    • A maybe: SOP every four years, change in party or no…Nuthin’ like Fake News…

      It may be a story not to your liking, but that doesn’t make it “fake”. Over-use of that term is going to debase its currency.

      Patrick Kennedy began during Bush’s last term; he lasted through all of Obama’s tenure, so there goes the “four year theory”. Before Tillerson arrived for a visit, WaPo claimed the leavers had hoped to stay on. Obviously, it wasn’t a good match with the new boss. No doubt he’s a tough cookie.

      The complaints about this mass exit are quite explicit about how devastating the loss of “institutional history” is going to be now that these people are gone. In other words, there was pushback. As the report says, some of them were hoping to stay on and the Palestinians are upset at losing their “Arabist” friends…

      I agree with those quoted by the WaPo reporter about the importance of the accumulation of institutional history in any organization. However, in bureaucracies that history remains intact when the top level folks leave since the worker bees still carry most of the real knowledge. And do most of the real work.

      Your label isn’t accurate.

      Working for Tillerson, if one isn’t used to real work and concrete demands regarding performance, can be threatening. Which is precisely why Rex T was hired. The reputation of the State Dept is well-known and not particularly respected. Thus, exeunt the “Arabists”. Small loss.

      • Please read the original story in WaPo:

        Compare and contrast with the report I posted from Carl in Jerusalem.

        What you call “fake news” was actually some bitter in-fighting. You’re confusing the political appointees – ambassadors and such – with permanent bureaucracy workers. I suggest regular attention to the blog, Diplomad 2.0 . A retired foreign service employee who loathed the atmosphere there. He says:

        I can only imagine the panic among the bureaucrats at my old employer, the State Department, as Trump turns his guns on all sorts of hoary and untouchable foreign policies, assumptions, and beliefs.

        Look, not all of his executive orders are as dramatic as the press would have you believe, and he needs to make sure there is legislative follow-up to ensure the next guy/gal doesn’t undo them . . . but, but, he has changed the climate in a just a few days, and changed it exactly as he said he would.

    • Nuthin’ says “Fake” like advancement of a trope or meme as argument in the face of facts.

      Quotes from WaPo (known purveyor of Fake News):

      “Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.
      Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed.”

      “It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember….”

      “Ambassador Richard Boucher, who served as State Department spokesman for Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, said that while there’s always a lot of turnover around the time a new administration takes office, traditionally senior officials work with the new team to see who should stay on in their roles and what other jobs might be available. But that’s not what happened this time.”

      It is amazing to see the utter cluelessness of our supposed betters, self-described as the smartest people in the room, when they wring their hands over how difficult it will be to conduct business as usual without all of this institutional expertise. They simply cannot get their heads around the fact that this is a feature, not a glitch. This is exactly what the Deplorables voted for.

      As an aside I am not sure Kennedy’s hyper toiling for the ‘transition’ the last few weeks is as much an effort at keeping his job as a Max Effort at burying mines, hiding moles, or destroying evidence. The man is too much of an ideologue to suddenly get religion as to his oath of office.

  8. It is the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember….memory was should be d.e.m.e.n.t.i.a……fixed it for you.

  9. It’s nonsense. All presidential appointees, regardless f they are career, must resign when a new president assumes office. It is up to the new president as to whether he accepts the resignations. President Trump accepted four, yes, four State Department resignations, including the odious Pat Kennedy of Benghazi and Clinton server fame. Two others retired. That’s it. A total of six people left. They can be replaced in about five minutes.

    • I once had a leadership lesson in the service that consisted of a bucket water as training aid. We each were instructed to thrust our hand into the bucket to the bottom, count to three, pull our hand out and count how many seconds the hole exists that we leave on the water. Some lied and claimed a full second. Our instructor made the point that, in the event of our demise in a war-at-sea event, that much of a lag in unit performance would indicate a complete failure in leadership on our part. Leadership continually trains the person behind. Anything less is not leadership. Kennedy’s hole should be half second tops. If it longer than that to replace him his personnel jacket should contain a letter of reprimand for failure to lead.

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