Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Chopped Liver Intern

As in, "What am I: ?" I'm an intern, too, you know. And I don't even get college credit for it. I get to listen to people complain that when they change their name to a single name, like Cher or Madonna, the whole world doesn't suddenly change to accomodate their strange whims for the sheer fun of it.

Mary, I would just caution you, though, to be discreet in the things you post on the blog about your internship, as much as I think we'd enjoy reading them. I would recommend you ask your supervisor about how much they feel it's okay to disclose. Working in a legislative office, you have a responsibility to both your constituents and the member you represent, so it's best to figure out the boundaries.

You're lucky about getting to watch Fox News. There are only 2 TVs in the office I work in, and the rooms they're in are usually closed. However, the office staff is nice enought to let me take my radio in, so I listen to Rush, Hannity, and Hugh Hewitt while I work.

And yes, moderate Republicans may be people, but that doesn't mean they should be let within ten feet of most policy decisions. You'd probably like the constituents that my office respresents. Phone calls often express disgust with the UN, anyone who voted against the FMA, and a this Arlen Specter guy. Ever heard of him?

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Best Damn Intern Since Monica Lewinsky!

Okay, so maybe I lied about writing about the inauguration speech. I'm sorry, people, I just don't have the time. I will make one brief comment: I thought he was speaking directly to the young people in Iran who are craving democracy. I hope they find his speech empowering and decide to take leadership into their own hands.

As my co-bloggers may or may not know, this semester I am interning with my state representative. Yes, for eight hours a week, I will be performing unpaid labor in exchange for four lousy polisci credits. As part of my coursework, I have to keep a bi-weekly journal detailing the fun and exciting things I am learning at my internship. I thought it would be fun to keep you all up to date with my adventures and also it will encourage me to write about this stuff as it happens so I'm not up late on the nights before I need to turn in new entries trying to remember what I did over the past few weeks.

I work on Mondays and Wednesdays and now that I have completed three full days on the job, I feel I have gained some invaluable skills. On day one, I got acquainted with the filing system and browsed through some of the paperwork to get a feel for the kinds of constituent cases that the office handles. Let me tell you, it is one glamorous job. I also poked around the special website that members of the state legislature can access. That was the highlight of my day, looking up various liquor control laws and studying the different committees and members of the General Assembly. This past Monday, I basically spent all of my time sorting papers and filing.

But this past Wednesday was a fantastic day, not only because it was the first day on the job without snow, but because I expanded my intern horizons. First, I put stickers on 300 road maps of Pennsylvania. Then, I "counted" flyers and separated them in various stacks, all numbering over 500 each. I use the word "counted" loosely because I exactly counted out the first stack, but then, at the suggestion of my supervisor, I estimated the other stacks. I did a really stellar job, because the pack that was supposed to have 750 sheets ended up being smaller than the pack that was supposed to have 700, so I had to do some quick switching of Post-It note labels. Fortunately, I got to watch Fox News while I worked. At one point, the state rep stopped by the office, found me in his room watching TV and counting, and asked if I was watching Sponge Bob, which is what his kids put on when they stop in to visit.

After that, I got to learn how to write up casework in the constituent database. Let me tell you, our office deals with a lot of interesting people. The very first case that I read on my very first day was about a WWII vet who lost his Purple Heart. As proof of his injuries, he sent us all these photocopies of letters that he wrote to his girlfriend while he was being treated at a military hospital. Deep down, I am such a hopeless romantic and a sucker for old-fashioned love letters. I could (actually, I DO) read Ronald Reagan's love letters to Nancy over and over again. So I spent a good portion of my time browsing through these letters and was sad to learn that they weren't able to get him a replacement medal because they couldn't prove that his injuries fit the requirements to be awarded the medal in the first place. That was a feel-good case with a disappointing ending. But most of the cases on Wednesday were just funny. Almost all of them started out with my supervisor saying, "Oh boy, you are going to love this one!"

All in all, I've been enjoying myself and learning a lot. This week's Intern Lesson of the Week is: Moderate Republicans are people, too, and I've actually come to like a few of them. I know that this may sound shocking, especially coming from the girl who has said that moderate Republicans are more dangerous than liberals (that was at the height of my Arlen Specter loathing this past spring, which has yet to fully go away), but it's true. Maybe I will snap out of this eventually. The office has a good mix of people and we don't tend to talk politics because as staffers for a representative, we work for all the constituents in the district and need to be non-partisan. There is one other conservative and we have had some good chats about Ronald Reagan. Aside from him, though, I am adrift in a sea of moderates but I think I am doing just fine. They are all nice people who are very funny and make the day go quickly, for the most part. Fear not, my fellow conservatives, their moderate positions will not rub off on me. If anything, they will only strengthen my resolve to elect more people like Pat Toomey and unseat more people like Arlen Specter.

This has been your Intern Update from Mary, the best damn intern since Monica Lewinsky!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Accumulated Links

What's this, more blogging? Why, I must be avoiding something. If you're thinking along those lines, you'd be right. I'm amazed I made it through 16 years of school, too.

Anyway, on my daily browsings through the blogosphere and the rest of the internet I tend to collect links to stories and commentary that I particularly liked, think others should read, or just want to share and comment on here. Thus is the genesis of my occasional link posts (and, I would venture to guess, most of what Glenn Reynolds does). Unfortunately, I don't always get around to actually writing the posts and in the blogosphere timliness is everything. If I just don't get around to it for a couple of days, they're usually long outdated or superceded, and a Firefox window with 10 or more open tabs will sit on my desktop until some computer glitch forces me to restart. And thus is the premature death of many of them. I think I'll make an exception in trying to enforce relevance for some of my Washington, DC experiences and try to post them anyway. No predctions on when I'll have them written up, though.

With that long introduction aside, let's begin with yet another trouncing of Fox News' numerous defamers. Instapundit links Johnny Dollar's dismantling of the claim that Fox doesn't air criticism of President Bush.

Instapundit also points to Evan Coyne Maloney's new video. I'm sure Mary is excited.

Apparently he was hanging around the idiot protesters last week. It would have been nice to run into him. Too many hippies around me. I downloaded it but haven't watched it yet. From the description on his site, though, I'm a little concerned it's another gimmick video of his (like the waffles one, which, admittedly, was funny). I love ECM's work and admire him greatly, but I really think he's at his best when he's calmly tearing apart leftists with his skillful selection of questions. His gimmicky videos just fall short for me. We'll have to see when I get to watch this one.

Professor Reynolds has a new Tech Central Station column as well, where he discusses China's new space plans and hopes that it will rouse the spirit of competition in the United States. I can only fervently hope that this will be the case.

Federal funding for space is an issue that my colleagues and I tend to disagree on. I'm willing to spend more money on our space program, despite its many flaws, until the private sector really takes over. I often compare our current position in space with that of Europe in the New World in the early 1500s. We've had our grand voyage, (the moon, Columbus) and private companies are beginning to show some interest, but it's still such an expensive and technically difficult endeavor that some sort of state sponsership is still required. I'm eagerly awaiting the equivalent of the Hudson Bay Company or British East India Company.

I visited the National Air & Space Museum yesterday, and it may be my favorite museum out of all the ones I've visited. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time I would have liked to see everything (as I always want to), but when I got to the space sections, I was again reminded of what great things America has achieved. We can do things like that again, and we should. I hope the Chinese do begin to challenge us and it wakes up the people at NASA and reminds people in Washington that this is something we must be doing for many reasons. We should do it for our national prestige, for the science, for the adventure, and for the benefit of all mankind. I still strongly believe that man's future is in space and the United States should be leading the way.

Bringing things back down to Earth for the moment, though, we have problems in this country more immediate than those with NASA (not that I think space issues should continue to be put off). One, as Captain Ed has been chronicling, is electoral fraud. He has a post over at Captain's Quarters about further dirt unearthed in Milwaukee. He has an update here. This is in addition to Sound Politics' continuing coverage of the shenanigans in Washington that seem to have stolen the gubernatorial election fo the Democrat.

Speaking of Captain Ed, he has an important post on what the terrorists are planning in Iraq over the next few days leading up to Sunday's election. The authorities are aware, but the public should be, too.

Meanwhile, LGF notes the UN apparently trying even harder to make itself more of a mockery than it already is. They've created an "elite action panel" for the Human Rights Commission, to influence that commission's work. I'm sure you can guess where this is headed. The panel's members? China, Zimbabwe, and Cuba. Oh, and Hungary is thrown in as the token non-human rights violator.

Charles also notes an excellent response to Andrew Sullivan's whining about torture in the New York Times and another problem for CBS out of Rathergate.

At Power Line, Rocketman observes, "It's hard to say which is a worse mess: enforcement of immigration laws, or enforcement of voting laws," as he links to Michelle Malkin's reporting of yet another shameful chapter in immigration. The USCIS, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, the agency that has replaced the INS, apparently awarded a green card to a man who was killed in the 9/11 attacks. Way to go, DHS. Read it and try not to smack yourself on the forehead too hard, like I did.

Finally, John McCain gets brownie points for calling out the Dems for being the sore losers that they are.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Mark Steyn on Europe and the Holocaust

My blogging has been both rare and awful during this time I've been in Washington. I should apologize to any remaining readers here, but I'm certain any further apologies from me are worthless. So, on with the show.

Mark Steyn has a fantastic column today, as he does most days he writes a column. If you're unfamiliar with Mark Steyn, his column is syndicated in The Daily Telegraph, which, unless my impressions of it from the last few years are mistaken, is the Guardian's opposite number. Steyn can also be found in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Washington Times, the Jerusalem Post, and occasionally on NRO. He's a brilliant political commentator and a fantastic humorist, and Hugh Hewitt loves his work. What further endorsement could you possibly need?

K-Lo drew my attention to his piece today, which discusses Europe's reaction to Holocaust rememberances surrounding the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Steyn writes what is perhaps one of the best commentaries on the Palestinians and European sympathies for them in just one paragraph:

But, whatever the outcome [of Palestinians fighting for a state of their own], it's hard to see that they would be any less comprehensively a wrecked people than they are after spending three generations in "refugee" "camps" while their "cause" is managed by a malign if impeccably multilateral coalition of UN bureaucrats, cynical Arab dictators, celebrity terrorists and meddling Europeans whose Palestinian fetishisation seems most explicable as the perverse by-product of the suppression of their traditional anti-Semitism.
Power Line has more on this, focusing specifically on reactions from some British Muslims.

Still Loving Pat Toomey!

These are from Jackie. Our love and respect for Pat will never die. We are still upset over his primary defeat in April (and still holding many political grudges) but we know he will be the best leader that the Club for Growth has ever seen!

Pat on Social Security reform

and here's a little quote from a great article. The Conservative Revolution is alive and well!

"Though perpetually Herculean, the battle to place principle over party is,
thanks be to God, no longer Sisyphean," Sterns said, in a mini-rhetorical tour
de force. "There will always be politicians who are corrupt, not in the sense of
illicit activity but rather in terms of whoring themselves out to their own
self-interest. However, the deficit between principle and party is narrowing
significantly."


Hoffman

Dustin, that is. He's in the news denying reports he moved to England to avoid President Bush. It's a short, but ever irritating, article, especially the last line. Of course, you wouldn't actually offer a defense of America or a kind word to say about this land, you probably would have made it rich anywhere because your so indispensable to humanity.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Book Review

For those interested in Theodore Roosevelt and the history of his time period I have just finished reading a book that would interest those type of historians. “Murdering McKinley: The making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America” by Eric Rauchway is very well done and outlines several distinct themes. It outlines the conservativism of McKinley who I must say I did not know a great deal about before reading this and have become a very big fan of his polices. It goes into detail about his assassin and the effects of anarchism on the United States at the time. It talks about how the fear of anarchism and the backlash against the conservatism led to the progressive movement championed by TR, Jacob Riis, and Jane Addams. TR was an interesting leader and while this does not focus much on his foreign policy (for that see “First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their Country a World Power by Warren Zimmerman) it does go into how the common people and the strikers of the time enjoyed the presidents support. Mark Hanna a cabinet member in the McKinley administration and one to continue in the Roosevelt administration was the champion of big business and had shaped McKinley’s polices. He was not well like by TR and his polices were often reversed. The book also has a mini section on the development of capital punishment in America at the time and the way they experimented with the electric chair which I found fascinating. The only warning I give is that this book is very complex addressing a lot of issues but it does it well and I would recommend it.

Some more Napoleon Suggestions

Another quick Napoleon mention for those interested in doing some reading on Napoleon or anything around his time period. I am currently reading a book that purposes the Napoleonic wars were the first true world war because there was literally fighting on six continents. It outlines all the areas of conflict from the Caribbean to Australia. It focuses a lot on his goals of stopping the British Empire by cutting off there three main colonies Canada, India, and Ireland. The books is “Dreams of Empire: Napoleon and the First World War 1792-1815” by Paul Fregosi. For those looking for an interesting idea that is somewhat controversial with excellent support this is the book for you. It is very well written and addresses the far flung conflicts o the Napoleonic campaign. For those interested in just the later part of the war and the heavy fighting I would suggest “Wellington and Napoleon: Clash of Arms 1807-1815” by Robin Neillands. It is a decent book that focuses mostly on the later campaign in Spain and the eventual defeat at Waterloo but is a good military history account of what happened.

Mass transit part 1

To go off what David was saying earlier I do find the United States to be behind a good part of the “Western World” in Mass Transportation. The DC subway system is one of the better ones I have seen across the country and in honesty I have never sampled the bus system but the bus system everywhere else that I have used in the United States has been below par. I come from California where there is no effective mass transportation. The subway built there does not run to any logical place but instead is next to useless and in areas is built on sinkholes and is earthquake unsafe. People in CA have a mindset of driving their cares and are opposed to the public transportation anyway. It never should have been built but was anyway. Europe has several great systems. The Tube in London is the most effective system I have ever seen. It is color coded and has five different levels at some of its train station. The DC ticket system is modeled off of the tube so tickets are based by zone. The tube in London ends at above ground stations or ferry stations that take you along the Thames river. The ferries are an excellent and scenic way to travel. The high speed bullet trains that run along England are fantastic and the Flying Scotsman which goes to Edinburgh can get you there in four hours.

Another system of note for a historic downtown in the Ringtraus system in Vienna. This system takes you on a loop around the downtown of Vienna and is by far the most effective way to travel in the city. They are always son time and it seemed like I never had to wait for any of them. The subway in that city is effective as well but the Ringtraus was a magnificent system. In Prague the Subway and above ground cable car system made getting around very easy and with the cobblestone streets where traffic did not move so fast and has to wait on the trams it is the way to go. The United States at least on the west coast needs to change the mindset of the people to accept mass transit but we have to get a responsible system. Later on (homework permitting) I will talk about the economics of our system and why we have some problems in providing effective transportation.