Friday, January 27, 2017

The New Normal?

I think most federal employees, and certainly a big swath of the country, is worried.

Some days I feel like there is so much coming at us that we need to pay attention to that I just get overwhelmed. Where do you even start?

And then I worry that if I don't say something, so many issues will have piled on and it will all just become normal. And it can't.

And I see it. Like the removal of web pages that have been put up over the years on issues like LGBT rights and climate change. All gone.

Yes, it is normal for a new administration to replace old policy pages with their own. But this many? And the not replace them with ANYTHING? Like those issues never happened, never mattered?
That isn't normal.

And now we have the resignations from the Department.

Again, normal for a new administration to want to install their own people. But this many career officers gone so fast? With no replacements in sight?

And yes, they were career officers who were in Senate approved positions. But usually, they are allowed to move into other positions because they are not really political appointees. They are career diplomats. Diplomats who have served both Republicans and Democrats. And they seemed willing to stay. Instead, they resigned. Or retired. Or were fired. Or were just asked not to come back.

Who knows?

So far, we know that Patrick Kennedy, Undersecretary for Management; Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration; Michele Bond, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs; and Gentry Smith, Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, are all gone. I've heard stories of several others.

Politico reported that "As is standard when a new president takes over, each official had submitted a letter of resignation. But instead of keeping the officials on, as previous administrations have often done to ensure continuity and smooth the transition process, the Trump team accepted the resignations."
That isn't normal.

They added that there have been rumors that these folks resigned in protest, but I doubt it. I worked closely with U/S Kennedy in his capacity as the mentor for GLIFAA, he was extremely professional and devoted to his work. And I hear from consular friends that A/S Bond was universally loved. they also said there is worry of a talent drain from State. I hope that won't happen, though I do know at least one person who resigned in protest. But I hope most people are dedicated enough to service, to the country, to the Constitution, to stick it out.
But still, it is already a lot. And the void is felt.

Diplopundit talked about how there is now no one in place who can declare an ordered or authorized departure. So if everything goes to hell at a post, just sit tight until they figure things out? Really?

I know someone who couldn't get a random medevac cable processed because of "post-inauguration confusion."

That isn't normal.

I worry things are breaking down. Not just at State, but in our whole country.

And I worry most that our society's attention span has withered to the point that we can't keep our focus for four years. I remember reading something about outrage fatigue.

It will all become normal.

And it isn't.

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