Update: Contact Details For This Blog

Hey folks, we’ve updated our contact info. We’ve deleted the Contactify email for this blog previously but inadvertently left one link on. Apologies for that.  If you’ve sent us anything via Burn Bag and have not seen anything posted, please consider sending it again.

For Burn Bag entries:

  • Via AnonEmail run by Anonymouse.org. You may address it to: burnbag[at]diplopundit[dot]net. You do not need to provide an email address but we request that you include “Burn Bag” on the subject field to help us sort it out from our regular mail.  Note that your anonymous e-mail will also be randomly delayed up to 12 hours.
  • You may use burnbag[at]diplopundit[dot]net if you’re also using Hushmail, the company provides encryption by default. You may sign up for a free private account at Hushmail.

For comment, feedback or request for correction our contact link remains the same here: https://diplopundit.net/contact-us/

Other option:

  • You may also contact us using diplopundit[at]protonmail[dot]com. If  you are also a ProtonMail user, your communication will be encrypted by default. If you don’t have a ProtonMail account you may want to create one here.

Please read: PSA: If You’re Using Gmail, Consider Getting a U2F Security Key to Secure Your Account.

Many thanks!

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Blognotes: Moving Our Curated Store From There to Here

Just a quick housekeeping note — as many of you know, this blog is part of Amazon’s Affiliate Program. Your purchases via affiliate links here help support this blog at no extra cost to you. It’s not a lot but it helps. We have a curated e-store that includes primarily movies related to diplomacy, the Foreign Service or the State Department, as well as a list of books, and gifts. Later in October, Amazon will do away with its e-store functionality, so we have imported the lists here. We’ve done away with a lot of stuff and pared down our selection. If you use the “STORE” tab under the blog header, you will get to this page, which is generally divided into a curated lists for movies,
t-shirts/gifts, really just mugs that we adore, and books. We hope to keep the lists small and manageable, and will update the selection as time allows it! We hope you enjoy our picks! If you have other suggestions to share, do let us know.

For now, don’t miss the After Every Trump Tweet, You Need This Screamy Owl T-Shirt, which is really what I look like every morning when I open my newsfeed and see what POTUS has tweeted. More here.

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Thank you, merci, grazie, ve teşekkürler arkadaşlar 💙 💛 ❤️ 💚 💜

 

The Wheat Field With Cypresses below is Van Gogh’s (the Google Art Project is amazing!).  The snippet is the first four lines of Emily Dickenson’s “It’s all I have to bring today”, a poem of grace and devotion.

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—

Some of you have been with us for years, some of you are new, and some are here because a few have nudged you to support our efforts.   Thank you for thinking of us, and for your enduring support.  We read all your notes and are touched.   Gotta admit, we’re not particularly good at asking, so launching and updating the fundraising campaign are always anxiety and procrastination-filled moments. That’s all on me. Part of that is growing up, and being taught not to solicit help or gifts even from godparents, even during holidays. We know this is something we need to do to keep the lights on but it’s a weird, conflicted process that we go through every time we do this.

We’ve previously announced that we will be here for another year (there’s a hilarious story about that). We are particularly grateful that you still came out to help make our life a little easier.

Thank you, merci, grazie, ve teşekkürler arkadaşlar.

–D 💙 💛 ❤️ 💚 💜

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Once a year, we ask for your help to keep the blog going …

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It’s officially summer, the sun beckons outside for some fun, and for a good number of folks, this is the transfer season, but also a season of worries.  Once a year, we also ask for your help to keep this blog going (see Help Diplopundit Get to Year 10).  We’re going to run our fundraising until July 15.  We hope we can get to our funding goal in the next two weeks and have one less thing to worry about

We do have uncertainties in our small corner of the sky but regardless of fundraising, we wanted to keep this blog going particularly this year. You already know we’re going to be around for another year (our blog year runs until May 2018).  Yes, yes, Willie sings “it’s all going to pot…” and the “world’s gone to hell.” But we’ll be right here and there.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if you can help us get to the finish line? Thank you!

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Rolling Out The Wicked Wasabi — Perhaps a Good Laugh on Wednesdays?

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The news can be overwhelming these days. We know some friends who are struggling with life, work and the daily nutty stuff. We share the same struggle, and while some days are more difficult than others, just the constant beat with no let up can be draining and seriously depressing. Not a whine, just a statement of the abnormal times we’re living in. If folks need help, please don’t self-medicate. See somebody and get help. Even your blogger may need to occasionally see a therapist. By the way, screaming at the teevee is only helpful for no more than 20 minutes. Tried and tested, trust us on that one.

We’ve also spent many nights with 3-hour sleep (if we’re lucky). Not just because there are too many things going on at the same time, but also because we have been unable to switched off at times. We had to take a short break earlier this year not only because we were feeling the blues but we also gained those infamous “T10” pounds!  We’re not proud of those pounds gained, but who is?

Okay, so that’s a roundabout way of explaining why we’ve been thinking about how to keep blogging without losing our wits or getting burned out.

The blog will continue to have regular updates four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), and occasionally on weekends, when needed. We will set aside Wednesdays for some levity. Folks, we’re rolling out … tadaaaa ….

TWW aims to be a satirical Foreign Service weekly. So, once a week, we’ll all get to laugh at ourselves and, well, at stuff that needs laughing at. Because — hey, we only live once, and darn it, we’re not going to let the nuttynutnutworld makes us crazy. The Wicked Wasabi will be clearly identified as a satirical component of the blog, of course.

Folks with no sense of humor (yup, looking at some pals at the State Department), are welcome to look away. If folks can’t look away, or can’t keep their eye rolls in their sockets or their laughters in a single file — well, some WD-40 and duct tape might help. That is, like the Internet folks say, if it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use the tape.

A quick update on the fundraising — we’re doing a regular fundraising and not an “all or nothing” campaign as we did in the past. The campaign will stay on for as long as we leave it on, though we’ve made a self-imposed 2-month duration so we don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the year. We are at the half-way mark, and it appears that the campaign has quietly stalled. If we can get to our funding goal in July, that would be awesome. If not, arghh … we’ll have the rest of the year to try and get there. To those who already pitched in to keep us going for another year, thank you. We are grateful for your steadfast support!

Most of you know that we are not on Facebook, so to blog pals, and readers who patronize the blog, we ‘d appreciate your help in spreading our campaign through your networks. Gracias!

We’ve cross-posted this on the GFM site:  Help Diplopundit Get to Year #10.

Help Diplopundit Get to Year 10 — For News, Opinion, and Some Wicked Wasabi!

 

As many of you know, Diplopundit’s funding ended in March. Today, we’re rolling out our Help Diplopundit Get to Year 10 campaign. It will run for the next eight weeks. If successful, the fundraising will help keep the blog funded until May 2018.

I’ve made an attempt to find funding for the blog from private sources.  Diplopundit could get a $15K grant from a generous family foundation supporting the Foreign Service, and there is a potential for another grant from a separate entity; however, the grants would be available only if the blog has 501(c)(3) charitable status under the Internal Revenue Service. I’ve determined, with help from my legal pal, that the charitable status would not be compatible with the pseudonymous persona of this blog.  Maybe at some point I will hand this blog over to a foundation to run, but I’m not there yet.

Another option, of course, is to go subscription only or have a blended open/subscription model via Patreon , but I’ve been hesitant to do that for two reasons. One, the niche audience for the things this blog covers is exceptionally small.  We want to expand that audience to include readers with no connection to the State Department or the Foreign Service, and especially those who flip through the international affairs news.  Two, for a more personal reason, I do not want to break up the blog’s archive. I’m a tad attached to it.

But Some Good News

In the first four months of 2017, the blog already reached three fourths of its total 2016 visits, and our visitors are already at par with last year’s number. We did get a one time spike in visitors in February when Ricky Martin tweeted a link to our 2010 post about a Puerto Rican detained by DHS (see US Citizen born in Puerto Rico detained as illegal immigrant, what was DHS/ICE thinking? ).  We’re not going to have a celebrity tweet one of our posts every month, but traffic still appears to be up in the last couple of months. It remains to be seen if this trend holds for the rest of the year.

Funding the Blog Via Ads

One reader asked “Don’t the ads on the page pay for the blog?”  For those curious, we generate a small revenue from WordPress’ WordAds and the Amazon Affiliate program.  We have a few readers who shop at Amazon using our affiliate shop , and we appreciate their support. In 2016, we made $132.27 in affiliate fees for the year. Based on our traffic, the WordAds payment range from $35.64 to $119.82 per month.  In 2016, we earned an average of $74.60 per month from the ads you see in the blog. So, the ads help, but they are extremely limited revenue sources.

Funding the Blog Through Fundraising

We first attempted to raise funds for the blog in 2014. In 2015, “OneFSO” and “S” successfully raised funds for us from 368 donors.  Last year, with “S” and company’s help, we were able to raised $35K from 444 donations.  After we deducted GFM fees and blog expenses in 2016, the blog’s net income last year (including ads) was $26K or about $500/week. Fortunately, your blogger has her/his own bed, but if she/he were required to rent a place to live, she/he might be able to afford a room, but not much of anything else.

This year we are going to attempt to raise $38,240 from May 10 to July 10, 2017 to fund us until May 2018.  (A few readers already donated a total of $1,760 via PayPal in April. Thank you!)

NOTE:  The campaign page is here: ‘Help Diplopundit Get to Year 10
For first time donors, check out the FAQ: https://www.gofundme.com/questions.  

For donors who do not want to display their names on the campaign page, check out how to make your donations anonymous.

We’ve dived into the weeds of the blog’s financial situation to explain our persistent dilemma of trying to balance work that we enjoy doing (writing this blog) with our need to earn a livable income . Can we afford to keep the blog running this year? How about next year? When will necessity force us to … well, jump?  Those questions generates anxiety for your blogger for weeks at a time every year.  We sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding.

But … Hang On

We don’t know what the future holds for this blog.  We do recognize that we live in unprecedented times. Maybe it’s time to just embrace our uncertainties in our small corner of the sky.  Knowing what happens next would simply be boring.  So, we will continue to monitor the goings on in Foggy Bottom and in the “worldwide available” universe as we have always done in the last nine years. For now, this is where we need to be, and as David Allen Coe sings it …

So I’ll hang around as long as you will let me 
And I never minded standing’ in the rain … 

 

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Related items:

We’re officially nine going on ten, but who drank all the wine?
Aww, @StateDept Sends Official Take Down Request For April Fools’ Day Cable
Inside @StateDept: Leaked Cable Provides Guidance For ‘America First’ Cost Savings Initiatives

 

Related funnies:
Diplo-Denizen: Are You Kidding Me?
Well That Was Different: The One Thing You Absolutely, Positively Must Have in the Foreign Service
WaPo: A fake diplomatic cable has the State Department fuming
Mashable: When pranked, the State Department proves it’s as humorless as Rex Tillerson’s face
ICTWorks: Breaking News: Apple Buys USAID and US State Department

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We’re officially nine going on ten, but who drank all the wine?

Posted: 4:36 am ET
Updated: 4:57 pm ET:  Thanks everyone for the notes and the help. ❤️  ❤️  ❤️  For those asking, I don’t want to deal with a fundraising right now but I hope to have an update down the road for funding the blog.  DS
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’]

 

This blog marked its 9th anniversary last month but we could not celebrate it so we’ll officially mark it today. Now we are nine, but who drank all the wine?

via stuckinaloop

 

Some  of you are aware that I was wrestling whether to shut down this blog, or go on a hiatus while I attend to some personal matters — I may need to sell the old house, go back to school — yada, yada, yada real life happening yada.  I confess I also need a mental health break. I’m not eating right, I’m not sleeping right, I have a recurring nightmare that I’m living inside a reality show and most distressing of all, my bathroom weighing scale is screaming, “Help me!”

Since Diplopundit’s funding ended last month, I thought I’d take a break this week and while at it, also attempt to find funding for the blog from private sources. I thought maybe I’ll be back in a month or two, but then I also thought, maybe I won’t be back. I know. I know. This is bad timing for an existential crisis but the last six months have not been spectacular for my health!

Then a weird thing happened over the weekend.  Some “very senior people” at the State Department interrupted my April Fools’ Day celebration.  Seriously. Who does that on my favoritiest day of the year?  If you haven’t heard what happened, see Aww, @StateDept Sends Official Take Down Request For April Fools’ Day Cable. Apparently, the April Fools’ cable “hit a nerve” somewhere in Foggy Bottom.  Let’s just pause here for a minute. “Very” senior folks at the State Department put somebody to work on a Saturday afternoon, paid him overtime/comptime to get him to tell an aging blogger to take down an April Fools’ Day blogpost.

Holymoly macaroni! And no one thought this was a waste of taxpayers’ money?

This is the same State Department that in April 2016 celebrated its fifth annual “Free the Press” campaign to mark the importance of a free and independent media in the days leading up to World Press Freedom Day.  For five years of the campaign, the Department highlighted journalists and media outlets, including bloggers who were censored, attacked, threatened, intimidated, imprisoned, or otherwise oppressed around the world.  The State Department spokesperson called on governments to protect the right to freedom of expression; and emphasize the United States own commitment to promoting freedom of expression here in the United States and around the world.

Fast forward to April 2017 and the 7th Floor somebodies ordered Public Affairs to have me pull down an April Fools’ Day blogpost. Free the Press my foot!  What are they going to do next, complain that the blog is “disturbing the peace” or that I’m “blogging without a permit?”

Them folks over there don’t even have people to do the Daily Press Briefing, but they have people during the weekend to try and intimidate a blogger? Over a blogpost about reused paper towels and weekly flushes.  Secretary Tillerson’s advisers have some rather misplaced   priorities. If they keep at this, it won’t be long before their poor judgment would soon rubbed fully on the secretary’s leadership and management of the oldest federal agency in the union. Wait, that’s already happening?

Here’s a tip for Foggy Bottom newbies: I do not, I repeat, I do not work for the Secretary of State, the State Department, USAID, BBG, or any of the federal alphabet soup. Diplopundit is a private blog. I am conducting public discourse as a private citizen. I do not get promotions, I do not have paid vacations, I just sit on the wall and watch.

Anyway, Yogi said that when you come to a fork in the road, you should take it. So I did.  I don’t know yet what I’ll do for funding the blog, but I know I don’t like being bullied. Hey, I’m the watcher on the wall; maybe frazzled for now, and blogging maybe a tad sporadic for a bit — but here to stay, folks.

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Goodbye 2016: Our Most-Read Blog Posts of the Year #YearInReview

Posted: 10:24 pm PT
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2016

via GIPHY

 

H.R. 6271: New Bill Lengthens Diplomatic Assignments From 2-3 Years to 4-6 Years | Oct 1, 2016

Trump Transition Help Wanted: 4,000 Presidential Appointees (Updated) | Nov 9. 2016

Photo of the Day: The Room Numbers on His Arm | July 29. 2016

Why Are DS Agents Fleeing Diplomatic Security In Droves For the U.S. Marshals Service? | Oct 4. 2016

@StateDept Awards Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) 2 Contracts | Feb 29. 2016

Trump Transition: Agency Landing Team For @StateDept Includes Old Familiar Names | Nov 20.2016

Next Generation U.S. Passport To Roll Out in 2016, No More Additional Page Insert Starting Jan 1, 2016  Apr 28.2015

A Joke That Wasn’t, and a State Department Dialogue That Is Long Overdue | Aug 15, 2016

Is Diplomatic Security, the State Department’s Law Enforcement Arm Trying to Break the Law? | Oct 14.2016

New @StateDept Authorization Bill Includes 3-Year Pilot Program For Lateral Entry Into the Foreign Service | Apr 29.2016

New Danger Pay Differential Posts: See Gainers, Plus Losers Include One Post on Evacuation Status | Sep 14.2015

Why Did Diplomatic Security Compile a Short-List of DS Agents Leaving For the U.S. Marshals Service? | Oct 17.2016

Top Hardship Assignments in the Foreign Service | July 14.2009

First Person: I did everything right. I filed a report the next business day … #FSassault | Nov 22.2016

First Person: I am a ✂️ FSO who was ✂️ raped in ✂️… Continuing on has been ✂️ incredibly difficult… | Nov 21.2016

Chien v. Kerry: DS Agent Files Suit For Race/Sex Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment, and Retaliation | Sep 12.2016

Benghazi: Where the hell were the Marines? Yo! Half our embassies have no Marines | Oct 26.2012

AmConGen Dhahran’s 7 Second-Video Freaks Out Folks Who Do Not Get the Foreign in the Foreign Service | Jun 20.2016

Foreign Service Members Offer Candid Views of @StateDept Mental Health Services (via FSJ) | Jan 7.2016

USAID: That time when an employee wrote to Rajiv Shah and said, “Do us a favor and quit…” #ClintonEmails | Jan 29.2016

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