Forty-Four Blind Mice on the Senate Floor

Note: This week feels like reliving the nightmare of January 6 but one could not just look away. It was a close call. Closer than we ever imagined. It was more than just an attack of the Capitol, it was an assault on our democracy. And forty-four senators want to just look away, hide under their desks and not have to deal with the insurrection that killed five people, wounded many, and could have resulted in the deaths of so many more. So I wrote the piece below for these blind mice disgracing the Senate floor.

–Domani Spero

 

Forty-Four Blind Mice on the Senate Floor

Day 1 of the Second Trump Impeachment Trial

 

The “world’s greatest deliberative body”
Is now the world’s most cowardly one.
The most cowardly one for all to see.
Lookit! Except Sasse, Toomey, Cassidy
Also Collins, Romney, and Murkowski.
Poor senators like three blind mice
Three blind ones times fourteen plus two.
Watch them willfully go blind, go blind
In the service of self, not country.
In a chamber still fresh from that mad kind.
See how they run. See how run.
Who cut off their spines with a carving knife?
Have you ever see such a sad sight in your life
As forty-four blind mice on the Senate floor?
–February 9, 2021

 


 

 

 

U.S. Senate Confirms Antony John Blinken as 71st Secretary of State

On January 26, 2021, the U.S. Senate confirmed Antony John Blinken, of New York, in a 78-22 vote to be Secretary of State. He will assume office as the 71st Secretary of State.
The 78 Senators who voted for confirmation includes Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 elections. The 22 Senators who voted against the Blinken confirmation includes seven who voted to overturn the 2020 election results after the mob assaulted the U.S. Capitol on January 6.  This country has a short memory. We think that all reporting that includes these senators should always append an asterisk for the repugnant roles they took before and after that mob attack. 

 

Deputy Secretary Blinken Poses for a Photo With Former Deputy Secretaries Burns, Wharton, and Negroponte
Deputy Secretary of State Antony “Tony” Blinken poses for a photo with former Deputy Secretaries of State Bill Burns, Clifton Wharton, and John Negroponte at a Foreign Service Institute reception highlighting American diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 2, 2016. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]


 

SFRC Clears Blinken Nomination, Full Senate Vote on Tuesday, Jan 26

In a 15-3 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the nomination of Tony Blinken on January 25 to be the next secretary of state. It looks like Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) voted no on this nomination. Insurrectionist Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also voted no.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the Blinken nomination mid-day tomorrow, January 26. Foggy Bottom may see the 71st Secretary of State in Foggy Bottom by afternoon.

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Sesame Street’s “Grover” to talk about refugees at the United Nations in New York City, New York on September 19, 2016. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]


 

 

Confirmations: Kenna, Vajda, Higgins, Maloney, Story, McCarthy and 4 Foreign Service Lists

The U.S. Senate has adjourned with only pro forma sessions and no vote expected until Nov. 30. Prior to leaving town, it confirmed six ambassador nominations and four Foreign Service lists on November 18, 2020. The newly confirmed ambassadors are all career members of the Foreign Service but we expect that they would still submit courtesy resignations, as often the case, when the new Biden Administration takes office on January 20.
PERU: Executive Calendar #801, Lisa S. Kenna, of Vermont, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Peru.
BURMA: Executive Calendar #877, Thomas Laszlo Vajda, of Arizona, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Union of Burma.
BURUNDI: Executive Calendar #879, Melanie Harris Higgins, of Georgia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.
ESWATINI: Executive Calendar #880, Jeanne Marie Maloney, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Eswatini.
VENEZUELA: Executive Calendar #882, James Broward Story, of South Carolina, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
LIBERIA: Executive Calendar #884, Michael A. McCarthy, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Liberia.
FOREIGN SERVICE LISTS:
PN 2074
PN2174
PN 2075
PN 1704-2 (inadvertent typo corrected for TAGS)

 


 

Confirmations: Ambassadors to Indonesia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Guatemala, Estonia, USUN, OPCW, FS Lists, More

The following nominations were confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 6, 2020:

2020-08-06 PN967 INDONESIA | Sung Y. Kim, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Indonesia.

2020-08-06 PN1035 UGANDA |  Natalie E. Brown, of Nebraska, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uganda.

2020-08-06 PN1045 BURKINA FASO |  Sandra E. Clark, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Burkina Faso.

2020-08-06 PN1281 JORDAN | Henry T. Wooster, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

2020-08-06 PN1941 GUATEMALA |  William W. Popp, of Missouri, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Guatemala.

2020-08-06 PN1426 ESTONIA | William Ellison Grayson, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Estonia.

2020-08-06 PN1339 USUN | Richard M. Mills, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

2020-08-06 PN1340  USUN | Richard M. Mills, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be the Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and the Deputy Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.

2020-08-06 PN1229 Department of State/OPCW | Joseph Manso, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

 

USAID

020-08-06 PN1337 United States Agency for International Development | Ramsey Coats Day, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

2020-08-06 PN1427 United States Agency for International Development | Jenny A. McGee, of Texas, to be an Associate Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

2020-08-06 PN1296 Asian Development Bank | Jason Myung-lk Chung, of Virginia, to be United States Director of the Asian Development Bank, with the rank of Ambassador.

2020-08-06 PN1280 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development |J. Steven Dowd, of Florida, to be United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

 

FOREIGN SERVICE S LISTS

2020-08-06 PN2067 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Shefali Agrawal, and ending Michael B. Schooling, which 101 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2068 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Anna Mae G. Akers, and ending Ismat Mohammad G. Omar Yassin, which 214 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2069 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jonathan Paul Ackley, and ending Amanda B. Whatley, which 43 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2070 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jeffrey Thomas Albanese, and ending Katherine Rose Woody, which 11 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2071 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Erin Elizabeth McKee, and ending Dana Rogstad Mansuri, which 5 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2072 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Lawrence J. Sacks, and ending Bruce F. McFarland, which 27 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-08-06 PN2073 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Deanna Scott, and ending Christopher Walker, which 3 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 29, 2020.

2020-06-10 PN1704-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Michael J. Adler, and ending Ivan A. Wray, which 206 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on March 16, 2020.

Open Technology Fund, et.al v. Michael Pack: Where the Accountability Rests – At the Ballot Box

 

OPEN TECHNOLOGY FUND, et al., Plaintiffs, v. MICHAEL PACK, in his official capacity as Chief Executive Officer and Director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Defendant
For nearly 80 years, international broadcasting sponsored by the United States has served as a trusted and authoritative global news source, a forum for the expression of diverse viewpoints on the most pressing topics of the day, a model of journalistic excellence and independence, and a beacon of hope for those trapped within authoritarian regimes. Despite being funded by American taxpayers, U.S. international broadcasting has typically remained free of governmental interference. Indeed, its autonomy and its commitment to providing objective news coverage has often been viewed as key to its ability to advance the interests of the United States abroad. Our country’s commitment to this model of cultural export has largely been viewed as a rousing success, helping to undermine and topple some of history’s most oppressive regimes—including Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union—by spreading freedom and democracy around the globe. The current Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of the United States Agency for Global Media (“USAGM”)—the defendant, Michael Pack—is accused of putting this legacy at serious risk. Since taking office less than a month ago, Pack has upended U.S.-sponsored international broadcasting. Most relevant to the current dispute, on June 17, 2020, Pack unilaterally removed the operational heads and directors of four USAGM-funded organizations—Open Technology Fund (“OTF”), Radio Free Europe (“RFE”), Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (collectively, “Networks”)1—and replaced the directors with five members of the current Trump Administration as well as an employee of Liberty Counsel Action, a conservative advocacy organization.
[…]
Pack’s actions have global ramifications, and plaintiffs in this case have expressed deep concerns that his tenure as USAGM CEO will damage the independence and integrity of U.S.- sponsored international broadcasting efforts. If they are correct, the result will be to diminish America’s presence on the international stage, impede the distribution around the world of accurate information on important affairs, and strengthen totalitarian governments everywhere. Yet, Congress has decided to concentrate unilateral power in the USAGM CEO, and the Court cannot override that determination. If Pack’s actions turn out to be misguided, his appointment by the President and confirmation by the Senate points to where the accountability rests: at the ballot box. Based on an evaluation of plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, the solution is likely not in this Court.
Read in full here:

https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2020cv1710-22

WH Announces Nomination of Retired Col. Douglas Macgregor to be U.S. Ambassador to Germany

 

On July 27, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Germany. The WH released the following brief bio:
Colonel Douglas Macgregor, United States Army (Retired), of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Colonel Douglas Macgregor is a decorated combat veteran, author, and a consultant. Colonel Macgregor is widely recognized as an expert on force design and grand strategy.  He is a frequent radio and television commentator on national security affairs and his writings on military affairs have been influential in the transformation of United States ground forces, NATO, and the Israeli Defense Force.
During his military career, Colonel Macgregor worked in support of Ambassador Holbrooke’s team during the Proximity Talks in Dayton, Ohio.  Later, he worked closely with senior military and political leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany as the Chief of Strategic Planning and, subsequently, as the Director of the Joint Operations Center at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe, during the Kosovo Air Campaign.
Colonel Macgregor earned a B.S. degree from the United States Military Academy and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia.  He is the recipient of numerous awards from his military service, including the bronze star with “V” device for valor for his leadership under fire.
There are currently 75 nominations pending on the Executive Calendar; with 51 nominations pending in the SFRC.  Of the 51 nominations, 17 are currently listed for consideration during the SFRC’s business meeting on July 29, as well as seven FS lists.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with these nominations.
Senate calendar (PDF) indicates that the Senate will be in session August 3-7; Sept 8-25,30; Oct 1-9, then 2 weeks in November after the elections, and three weeks in December with December 18 as its target date of adjournment.
Even if political appointees get confirmed next week and are able to travel to post immediately, that leaves the new appointees with barely 20 weeks in office. They won’t even have six months to adjust to their new jobs, much less their new host country.

@USAGMgov: Heads of MBN, Radio Free Asia, RFE/RL, and the Open Technology Fund Ousted

On June 16, the top two officials at the Voice of America resigned with the arrival of new Trump appointee Michael  Pack as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (see Top VOA Officials Resign as Michael Pack Assumes Charge as CEO of @USAGMgov).
On Wednesday evening, the news media reports the dismissal of the remaining heads of the four organizations under USAGM. OCB already has an interim director since 2018, and VOA was just vacated. For those unfamiliar with the agency, this used to be BBG prior to its “larger modernization effort”  in August 2018.

Via CNN:
The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were all dismissed Wednesday night — a move likely to heighten concerns that new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack means to turn the agency into a political arm of the administration.
In what a former official described as a “Wednesday night massacre,” the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund were all ousted, multiple sources told CNN.
“They let go all of the heads of the networks. It’s unprecedented,” an agency source told CNN.
A source familiar with the situation said at least two of the removals — that of RFE/RL’s Jamie Fly and MBN’s Alberto Fernandez — were unexpected. The head of the Open Technology Fund, Libby Liu, had resigned effective July, but was still fired Wednesday evening, one of the sources said.
[…]
In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, an ally the ultra-conservative former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is expected to be named to lead the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

 

Top VOA Officials Resign as Michael Pack Assumes Charge as CEO of @USAGMgov

 

The newly confirm CEO Michael Pack “oversees all aspects of U.S. international media.”  He reportedly also “provides day-to-day management of USAGM’s operations, including oversight of the technical, professional, and administrative support as well as strategic guidance and management of other programs. USAGM’s management team is listed here.

Michael Pack’s Nomination to be @USAGMgov Head Hits Double Snag