Politico is reporting that John James appeared on Fox News Wednesday afternoon in what some White House officials viewed as a formal audition for the role. “He used the six-minute segment to pitch himself as an experienced businessman who could cut through the U.N. bureaucracy to deliver meaningful reforms, and also as someone who is willing to communicate the president’s “America First” vision. Trump has told advisers he wants someone in the job — recently downgraded from its Cabinet rank — who agrees with his foreign policy outlook and can be a ubiquitous presence on television.” Take a look.
Will former Michigan Republican Senate candidate John James be tapped as the next UN ambassador? John James says it’s an honor to be considered for the U.N. ambassador position. https://t.co/qk0zYDFahz Will former Michigan Republican Senate candidate Jo… https://t.co/C7qSNIQEzh
In the afternoon of January 24, the US Embassy in Caracas issued a Security Alert announcing the mandatory departure of non-emergency USG personnel from Venezuela:
On January 24, 2019, the State Department ordered non-emergency U.S. government employees to depart Venezuela. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Venezuela. U.S. citizens should contact U.S. Embassy Caracas for consular assistance. U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Venezuela should strongly consider departing Venezuela. Commercial flights remain available.
Actions to Take:
Consider departing while commercial flights are available. If choosing to stay, ensure you have adequate supplies to shelter in place. Monitor local media for updates Review personal security plans Remain aware of surroundings
U.S. Embassy, Venezuela https://ve.usembassy.gov/ For all inquiries about ACS services email email@example.com or call +58 (212) 975-6411 between the hours of 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except U.S. and Venezuelan holidays. For emergency assistance after hours call +58 (212) 907-8400
State Department – Consular Affairs 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
While the Security Alert does not specifically addressed USG family members at the US Embassy in Caracas, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to us that theordered departure includes not just non-emergency direct-hire U.S. government personnel but also eligible family members of U.S. government personnel posted at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.
We were informed that the State Department is taking this action based on its “current assessment of the security situation in Venezuela“ and that it has “no plans to close the Embassy.”
Also that “The United States will maintain diplomatic relations with Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaido, who has invited our mission to remain in Venezuela.”
We asked if there is a plan for USG-sponsored flights out of Venezuela and we were told that commercial flights remain available and that U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Venezuela should strongly consider departing the country.
We should note that the host country government, in this case Venezuela’s is responsible for the safety of diplomatic personnel in country. The State Department did not explain how Venezuela Interim President Guaido plans to protect the US Mission and personnel in Caracas given that he has no control over the military and security forces.
The United States no longer recognizes the Maduro Government as the country’s legitimate government nor does it recognize its authority. So, whatever skeletal crew the US Embassy Caracas will keep, it will be in country that has also declared our diplomats unwelcomed. The United States has threatened appropriate action if the mission or US diplomats are harmed there, but that’s small comfort to the people in the crosshairs or loved ones watching this from afar.
In the last 24 hours we have heard from folks using the words “bait” and “poker chips” to describe our people in Venezuela. Under the Trump Administration, Secretary Pompeo has declared the United States continuing diplomatic presence in Venezuela. Our diplomats will stay because they’re ordered to stay and they have a job to do. But what job is that exactly? Is there anyone in the 7th Floor who actually thinks Maduro will just sit back and watch when U.S. diplomats go about their business working with Interim President Guaido in Caracas? Really?
On January 24, @SecPompeo also announced that the United States is ready to provide “more than $20 million in humanitarian aid to the people of Venezuela …to cope with food and medicine shortages and the other dire impacts of their country’s political & economic crisis.”
The State Department has yet to elaborate the logistics of sending humanitarian aid to a country with two presidents, one who actually still runs the country but the United States does not recognize, and the other who does not run the country but the United States do recognize.
If Maduro manages to hang on through the coming few weeks, the hemisphere will find itself in the very uncomfortable situation of having no interlocutor in Caracas. If Nicolás Maduro grabs Peruvian diplomatic facilities, who is the Peruvian Foreign minister going to call to protest, Guaidó? If the government expropriates Colombian company assets, what good does it do Duque to call Guaidó to protest? If an American Airlines jet gets impounded in Maiquetía, who does Pompeo bawl out? If Canadian citizens get thrown in jail on plainly made up spying charges, who is Chrystia Freeland supposed to complain about consular access to? Gustavo Tarre?
This implies a lack of planning or understanding re: how the security forces would respond to the @POTUS announcement — calling for the departure of all non essential personnel after saying they were staying belies disorganization and frankly puts our personnel more at risk.
#Venezuela Security Alert: On January 24 the State Department ordered non-emergency US govt employees depart Venezuela. US citizens residing or traveling in Venezuela should strongly consider departing Venezuela. Commercial flights remain available. https://t.co/TRfgsVAZKopic.twitter.com/7xSP3uk4WG
Worth bearing in mind that Venezuela's military have allowed Colombia's ELN guerrilla group to operate freely in Venezuela. The same ELN that last week drove a car bomb into a police academy in Bogota and killed 19 cadets between ages of 18 and 23 https://t.co/t0caTBjnLo via @WSJ
We understand that there are still “a lot of curtailments” continuing out of China even now because “The Thing” is still going on according to a note in our mailbox.
In January 2018, the SFRC’s had a Subcommittee Hearing Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Response and Oversight. In September 2018, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting that the Trump administration provide an unclassified version of the State Department’s recent Accountability Review Board (ARB) report on the incidents affecting the health of U.S. personnel serving in Cuba. We have not been able to locate any congressional oversight hearings on the incident in China. We don’t know if there is an ARB China. If an ARB was convened on the health attacks in China, there does not appear to be any public notification.
In late October, an NBC News investigation indicates that US diplomats are concerned that the State Department is down-playing a pattern of what’s been called “health attacks” on diplomatic staff in Cuba and China. (see Is @StateDept Working to Minimize the Health Attacks in China? #Cuba #MissingARBs). If curtailments are still going on, that indicates that USG employees and family members in one of our largest overseas missions remain in harm’s way, so who’s talking about it? Somebody please ask your friendly senior administration official what are they doing about it. Three years ago, we would have had back to back congressional hearings not just on the Havana Syndrome, but also on the China Syndrome, and on the State Department’s response to these attacks. Can we please have some oversight hearings in January, pretty please?
This one about Canadian diplomats and their families. G&M reports that nine Canadian adults and four children have been diagnosed with the brain injuries. “The Canadians who were affected in 2017 are all in Canada and still employed by Global Affairs, although several are unable to work because of their symptoms.”
The National Passport Center is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. NPC opened in 1992 and this past November, it processed its 100 millionth passport application. Below excerpted from State/OIG’s report, Targeted Review of Leadership and Management at the National Passport Center:
Backgrounder:NPC, the largest of 29 passport-processing agencies and twice the size of the next largest, issued 7.4 million passports in FY 2017, or 38 percent of all passports issued by the U.S. Government from October 2016 to September 2017. Located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the center was created in 1992, and it grew from 60 employees at its founding to approximately 900 following a 2007 surge in passport demand.
At the time of the inspection, NPC’s staff consisted of a GS-15 Director, 6 GS-14 Assistant Directors, 16 GS-13 Adjudication Managers, and 57 GS-12 Supervisory Passport Specialists who supervised approximately 350 Passport Specialists. Additional staff included Customer Service and Fraud Prevention employees, Passport Operations Officers, and over 400 contractors who were responsible for passport production and other support services. NPC operates two flexible shifts, which together cover 22 hours per day Monday through Friday. In addition, depending on workload, NPC scheduled overtime shifts on Saturday and Sunday.
Work Environment and CA/PPT Leadership: Senior leaders in CA’s Office of Passport Services (CA/PPT) were aware of concerns regarding NPC’s work environment since at least 2013, when several NPC employees made allegations against NPC leadership. The employees alleged harassment, “bullying,” a lack of trust in leadership, favoritism, abusive behavior to employees, improper hiring procedures, and an overall lack of transparency in the operations of the organization. In response to the allegations, CA/PPT instructed the Director of the Northeast Regional Office, who oversees NPC and other passport agencies, to conduct an internal review of NPC, which he did in January and February 2014. […] To address the internal review’s findings, CA/PPT ordered extensive executive coaching and training for NPC’s Director and senior leaders. The training lasted approximately 2 years and ended in 2016.
How not to solve the problem:OIG also determined that CA/PPT and NPC senior leaders were disengaged and, based on OIG interviews, generally aware of concerns regarding harassment, abuse, and misconduct. During OIG’s review, CA/PPT senior leaders told OIG that they blamed some of the issues at NPC on the fact that employees have known each other for a long time, dismissing the allegations as grudges held from high school and referring to employees as “crusty New Englanders.” CA/PPT’s senior leaders moreover acknowledged inappropriate behavior at NPC, but hoped that “being really busy would solve the problem.”
Being really busy is their hopeful solution? Good lord, who are these people? Are they available to work their magic wand as WH chiefs of staff?
It works! OIG Hotline Complaints: Between February and May 2018, OIG received a series of hotline complaints alleging misconduct, harassment, retaliation, and unfair hiring practices at NPC. […] Hundreds of NPC employees reported to OIG that retaliation, harassment, and “bullying” pervaded the work environment at NPC. OIG found that the reported behavior was widespread and was either condoned or perpetrated by nearly all levels of NPC leadership. Seventeen percent (91) of NPC employees who responded to OIG’s survey reported that they had experienced or observed discrimination and harassment. Of the 156 NPC employees OIG interviewed, 54 (35 percent) stated that they had experienced or observed retaliation, 80 (51 percent) stated that they had experienced or observed harassment, and 61 (39 percent) stated that they had experienced or observed discrimination.
Employees reported to OIG multiple instances of perceived or possible retaliation by Assistant Directors, Adjudication Managers, and other Supervisory Passport Specialists in denying awards, promotions, and special assignments.
Multiple employees reported incidents of sexual and gender-based harassment to OIG, which in some cases, had been ongoing, widely known, and accepted as part of the center’s culture.
Holy Guacamole Alert!NPC’s already problematic workplace environment was exacerbated by the fact that communication was ineffective at all levels within NPC. […] One example of poor communication was the lack of a formal and effective process for explaining and interpreting new guidance with Passport Specialists. When CA/PPT Office of Adjudication (CA/PPT/A) issued new or updated adjudication-specific guidance, its implementation instructions to passport agencies stated that Adjudication Managers must meet with Passport Specialists to discuss the guidance, answer questions, and ensure everyone understands how to implement the new guidance.10 However, NPC’s Adjudication Managers consistently and affirmatively refused to meet with Passport Specialists.
You read that part above and you think that’s just bonkers. If they’re not meeting regularly to discuss new passport guidance, how would they know if the guidance they have is already outdated?
Security Procedures:In the course of examining the leadership and communication issues described previously, OIG also learned that NPC did not comply with all required Department security procedures. Specifically […] NPC did not follow facility access control measures that govern employee entry and exit, creating an opportunity for individuals without approved access to enter the building.
Admonishment from CA/PPT senior leader and NPC managers:OIG also notes that, after its site visit, a CA/PPT senior leader visited NPC. According to an information memo CA prepared for the Deputy Secretary following the visit, the CA/PPT senior leader communicated to NPC employees that the Department does not tolerate retaliation. However, OIG subsequently received complaints that CA/PPT senior leaders and NPC managers admonished staff for complaining to and speaking with OIG.
We should note that the OIG report does not include the names of the senior leaders at CA/PPT or the managers at NPC but they’re on LinkedIn, is that right? Please don’t make them lead the Consular Leadership Day festivities next year, hookay?
On November 27, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) — not Robert Mueller’s but the federal agency with authorities to investigate cases related to the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) — issued a new guidance regarding political activity. It says that its Hatch Act Unit has received several questions regarding whether the following constitute “political activity” for purposes of the Hatch Act:
1. Is strong criticism or praise of an administration’s policies and actions considered political activity?
Criticism or praise that is directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group is political activity. Absent evidence that the criticism or praise is so directed, criticism or praise of an administration’s policies and actions is not considered political activity. Whether a particular statement constitutes political activity depends upon the facts and circumstances.
Consider, for example, the administration’s recent decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. An employee who strongly criticizes or praises that decision during a workplace discussion with a colleague in the days immediately following the decision is less likely to be engaging in political activity than one making those same statements in the run-up to the next presidential election—when the decision will likely have been out of the news for several years—to a colleague that the employee knows has strong feelings about
3. Is activity related to “the Resistance” considered political activity?
To the extent that the statement relates to resistance to President Donald J. Trump, usage of the terms “resistance,” “#resist,” and derivatives thereof is political activity. We understand that the “resistance” and “#resist” originally gained prominence shortly after President Trump’s election in 2016 and generally related to efforts to oppose administration policies. However, “resistance,” “#resist,” and similar terms have become inextricably linked with the electoral success (or failure) of the president. During the period when President Trump was not considered by OSC to be a candidate for reelection the terms did not raise any Hatch Act concerns. Now that President Trump is a candidate for reelection, we must presume that the use or display of “resistance,” “#resist,” “#resistTrump,” and similar statements is political activity unless the facts and circumstances indicate otherwise.
Note that this presumption is only relevant to employee conduct that takes place on duty, in theworkplace, while wearing an agency uniform or insignia, or while invoking any official authority or inﬂuence. Provided that they comply with the Hatch Act’s restrictions, employees are free to engage in political activity while off-duty and away from the federal workplace.
In OSC’s example, if you tweet “I must #resist the temptation to eat another donut from the break room” – you would not/not be engaging in political activity but OSC would presume that “the use or display of the hashtags #resist and #resistTrump, in isolation, is political activity under the Hatch Act.” Read in full here.
The thing is, Foreign Service folks are considered on duty 24/7, so what does this guidance means in the real world? We’ve asked the OSC; will update if we hear anything back.
You may also call the Hatch Act Unit at 202-804-7002 or send an e-mail to Hatchact@osc.gov for your Hatch Act-related questions.
NEW: Office of Special Counsel (not Mueller) Hatch Act guidance effectively bans federal employees from advocating for impeachment or using the words “resist” or “resistance” to oppose administration policies. We’re calling on OSC to rescind the guidance: https://t.co/AZuRXZo1Rnpic.twitter.com/lG1kSZcjER
The point of the Hatch Act is to prevent an Administration from misusing federal employees for its own political purposes. Overzealous enforcement to bar federal employees from publicly _resisting_ bad policies turns the Hatch Act on its head. https://t.co/vxBnhNAmSM
But even before Trump’s belligerent foreign policy positions, America had been gradually losing its dominant role in world affairs.
A power shift among the nations of the world began at the end of the Cold War and has been accelerating this century.
It is not as simple as saying “America is in decline,” since America remains a powerful country. But American global power has been eroding for some time, as I argue in the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions 2018” volume. The power of other countries has grown, giving them both the ability and the desire to effect global affairs independently of U.S. desires.
I am a foreign policy scholar and practitioner who has studied U.S. foreign policy through many administrations. I believe this global trend spells the end of the “exceptional nation” Americans imagined they were since the nation was founded and the end of the American era of global domination that began 70 years ago. We are no longer the “indispensable” nation celebrated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the end of the last century.
American diplomacy has been essential to multinational agreements on trade, climate, regional security and arms control. Americans could and did claim to be at the center of a “rules-based international order.”
Those days are gone.
Not only do China and Russia contest America’s global role, a growing number of other countries are asserting an independent and increasingly influential role in regional economic and security developments.
Neither American political party has come to grips with this sea change. Until they do, U.S. global actions are likely to be less effective, even counterproductive.
Who’s on top?
The power shifts are increasingly visible. In the Middle East, the U.S. hoped for decades to isolate Iran as a pariah and weaken the regime until it fell.
Today, that goal is unimaginable, though national security adviser John Bolton continues to imagine it.
Turkey, a rising regional power, acts increasingly independent of the preferences of the U.S., its NATO ally, playing its own hand in the regional power game.
The U.S. helped unleash these trends with the strategically fatal invasion of Iraq in 2003 – fatal, because it permanently removed a regional leader who balanced the power of Iran. The failure to create a stable Iraq stimulated regional religious and political conflicts and rendered ineffective subsequent U.S. efforts to influence current trends in the region, as the continually ineffective policies in Syria show.
The U.S. cannot slow Chinese economic growth nor contain its power. China is changing the rules, whether the U.S. likes it or not.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan moves toward a renewed nationalism and has removed restrictions on its defense spending and the deployment of its military in the face of growing Chinese power.
North Korea behaves more and more like a regional power, winning a direct meeting with the U.S. president while making only a general commitment to denuclearize. The prospect of a unified Korea would bring into being another major regional power center in the Northern Pacific.
President Vladimir Putin asserts Russia’s interests and role in the world, like any other great power. Russia is consciously and actively rebalancing the power of the United States, with some success.
Military power, the American global trump card, is not as useful a tool as it once was.
While the U.S. continues to have the world’s only global military capability, able to deploy anywhere, it is no longer evident that this capability effectively sustains U.S. leadership. Clear military victories are few – the Gulf War in 1991 being an exception. The endless U.S. deployment in Afghanistan carries the whiff of Vietnam in its inability to resolve that country’s civil war.
Meanwhile, the militaries of other countries, acting independently of the U.S., are proving effective, as both Turkish and Iranian operations in Syria suggest.
Abroad at home
The transition to this new era is proving difficult for American policy-makers.
The Trump “America First” foreign policy is based on the view that the U.S. needs to defend its interests by acting alone, eschewing or withdrawing from multilateral arrangements for trade, economics, diplomacy or security.
Liberals and many Democrats criticize Trump for alienating traditional allies like Canada, France and Germany while befriending dictators. Policy-makers once critical of confrontational policies now condemn Trump for failing to confront Russia and China.
A different president in Washington, D.C., will not restore the “rules-based” international order. The underlying changes in global power relations have already undermined that order.
A neo-conservative foreign policy, featuring unilateral American military intervention, as favored by John Bolton, will only accelerate the global shift. Liberal internationalists like Hillary Clinton would fail as well, because the rest of the world rejects the assumption that the U.S. is “indispensable” and “exceptional.” Barack Obama appeared to recognize the changing reality, but continued to argue that only the U.S. could lead the international system.
America will need to learn new rules and play differently in the new balance-of-power world, where others have assets and policies the U.S. does not and cannot control.
We’re days late on this but the United States opened the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14. The event sparked protests at the Gaza border which resulted in the deaths of over 50 Palestinians and hundreds of wounded protesters.
With the Embassy officially moved to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv has not been designated as a consulate general but as a “Branch Office”. The State Department did update its 2 FAM 440 on Changing Post Status on May 18, four days late and it does not enlightened us on what happens to the Tel Aviv post, the consular districts, the role of the chief of mission to USCG Jerusalem or for that matter, what happens to place of birth names on passports as 7 FAM 1300 Appendix D has not been updated. Note that previous to this move, USCG Jerusalem’s consular districts include the West Bank, Gaza, and the municipality of Jerusalem while Embassy Tel Aviv’s consular district includes all other territory in Israel.
We understand that the Consul General in Jerusalem will continue to live in the chief of mission residence (CMR) on the Agron Road consulate site. It is also our understanding that USCGJerusalem — a separate post with its own chief of mission that reports directly to the bureau and was never a constituent post of then Embassy Tel Aviv — “will go on as usual” even after the ambassador and mission to the State of Israel move to Jerusalem. So the USG will have two posts in Jerusalem, each with a different mission? Are there going to be one or two separate consular sections? What’s bidding going to be like? We’re having a moment with FAM confusion, help would be appreciated from folks in the know.
Last December, @POTUS acknowledged Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. He directed @StateDept to move our embassy to Jerusalem as recognition of that reality. I'm incredibly proud that today, on Israel's 70th anniversary of independence, #USEmbassyJerusalem is open.
Son-in-law Jared Kushner speaks at US Embassy opening in Jerusalem: "The US stands with Israel because we both believe in freedom… in human rights… that democracy is worth defending." So far, 41 Palestinians protesters have been killed at the border. pic.twitter.com/whbk8bnBEF
US @statedeptspox says State had no role in picking the controversial pastor Robert Jeffress for opening ceremony for US Embassy in Jerusalem. Says Ambo Friedman picked him. Said of pastors views "we would certainly not agree with his remarks about some religious groups."
Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
New US Embassy building in Jerusalem plan unveiled. The new US Embassy will be inaugurated in Jerusalem next week, then construction works to be completed on coming years by American, Israeli firms. 🇺🇸 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/vabYO3Yjtd
After an intense battle with the White House over his first choice to become the top US diplomat to Asia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is considering a new candidate with a deep resumé in business and economics but little diplomatic experience…
Olin Wethington, a former Treasury Department official and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, is now a contender for the nomination of assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, four individuals familiar with the matter said.
Tillerson originally wanted the job to go to Susan Thornton, a veteran diplomat who speaks Mandarin Chinese, two US officials told BuzzFeed News. But White House officials opposed her due to concerns that her views were out of step with the president’s agenda — a claim State Department officials deny.
Ultimately, in shifting to Wethington, Tillerson appears to be acquiescing to the White House, which has shown a preference for appointments with a strong business background over career diplomatic experience.
Read in full the John Hudson scoop below.
For more of the rumored nominee, see this and this.
Secretary Tillerson once took a few minutes to “communicate” his “high regard for the men and women of the State Department.
He promised that as secretary of state he would “deploy the talent and resources of the State Department in the most efficient ways possible, and that he would “depend on the expertise of this institution.”
“Your wisdom, your work ethic and patriotism, is as important as ever. And as your Secretary, I will be proud to draw upon all these qualities in my decision-making,” he told his employees not too long ago.
When asked once what inspires him when he comes to work at the State Department every day, Secretary Tillerson said that “the men and women of the State Department inspire me, my colleagues – their professionalism, their commitment, their patriotism.”
As recently as last month, during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee defending the gutted budget of his agency, he repeated that “My colleagues at the State Department and USAID are a deep source of inspiration, and their patriotism, professionalism, and willingness to make sacrifices for our country are our greatest resource.”
Despite his “high regard” for the men and women of the State Department, and his promise to “depend on the expertise of the institution” he is now leading, and despite the fact that he declared them a “deep source of inspiration” to him, he apparently does not have any control over his staffing, or for that matter, how his building is run.
And seriously, if Tillerson “loves” the AA/S for EAP Susan Thornton, a career diplomat with deep expertise in the former Soviet Union and East Asia, but could not hire her because she has not sworn a blood oath to the kool aid special, what hope is there for other career professionals in Foggy Bottom?
So the next time, Secretary Tillerson talks about his high regard for his people at the State Department, or how he is inspired by his people’s patriotism, professionalism and their sacrifices, remember that Foggy Bottom is now the “Real Post of the Month” and will remain to be so in the foreseeable future. Also don’t forget to check your playbook to see what’s next in dramatic plays over in Foggy Bottom. We understand that the plays, Another Load of Old Crap With the Word Inspiration in the Title; Margaret, Don’t Eat the Government Cheese; and Gone to Texas are all on repeat on BNET.
Posted: 2:09 am ET
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This Burn Bag was sent to us “as a holiday wish to the hundreds of DS agents still without even an handshake this bidding season and to their families who are also waiting.” As requested, we’ve considered the following and are publishing the entire post in the sender’s hope that it might bring a little smile to those still waiting for their assignments. Well, a little smile and as Mr. Google says in his imperfect Italian, maybe “accendere un fuoco sotto il sedere di qualcuno” …
A Visit from the Saint “No Word Yet”
‘Twas just days before Christmas and all through the house,
Frustration was building for the DS spouse.
Bids had been entered in FSBid with great care,
In the hopes that DS would do its fair share;
The DS spouse wonders just what is in store,
for their beloved agent – alone – in Lahore.
October 31st, it came and it went,
But for DS agents few handshakes were sent.
When asks the spouse, oh when will we know?
Will it be Paris, Bangui, or Toronto?
Maybe a Field Office, far from DC.
Or perhaps a year or two with MSD.
Spouses query one another with fear and despair,
It really seams as if DS Does.Not.Care.
On November 4 and December 1, jobs are assigned one-by-one.
In hushed voices agents questions those around,
To what office or mission will I be bound?
Will it be the same as my tandem spouse?
We did all the legwork for the six posts that work,
For a DS spouse needing political work.
My GSO wife or my Management hubby,
Would be extremely happy in Abu Dhabi!
To the top of the list, will my name they call?
Will we know where were going, long before fall?
Uncertainty swirls as the days tick by,
The DS spouse lets out a great cry!
How will we get the kids into school,
If we do not know we’re going to Banjul?
Maybe its time to let this ship go.
Can’t you jump ship to be a U.S. Marshall, too?
The uncertainty for the DS spouse is a constant refrain,
The long hours, TDYs and standing in the rain.
The worry at home when the dear agents abroad,
Protecting our missions, our livelihood, our jobs
But alas, we play this game each and every year,
Just waiting and waiting, and waiting to hear.
By the time all is set and the last chess move is made
Someone will have gone through many a tirade.
That job is gone, and that one, too, what is the DS agent to do?
A now post or the third PSP – isn’t it time for something new?
The powers that be, simply do not see
Just what a drag this process can be.
The black hole of bidding in the hands of a few,
Determine the destiny with nary a clue,
Of what this does to house and home,
When the prices drags on they’re drafting a tome.
Over half of the cohort still waiting to know,
Would there, could there be a miracle?
On Christmas eve with a visit from St. Nick,
Will they let us know they’ve gotten on the stick?
A Christmas dream or a Christmas wish,
Waiting for a handshake, oh the suspense!
The call hasn’t come and the spouse is a fright,
As the DS agent again goes off in the night,
But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
This systems gotta change, cause it just isn’t right!