If Clarissa Rojas’s Life-Story Doesn’t Inspire You, Nothing Will

Clarissa Rojas, 23, is one of the youngest communications directors working on Capitol Hill, having begun serving in that position earlier this month for Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.).

Clarissa Rojas, center, is flanked by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, left, and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, right. (Screen shot from Facebook)

But her latest position is not her first on Capitol Hill. Rojas previously served as press secretary for Rep. Nannette Diaz Barragan (D-Calif.) and before that as press assistant in the same office.

It’s not just her age that makes Rojas noteworthy, it’s the tough road she’s had to travel to get from a hard life in California to a congressional staff position. It’s a journey that Roll Call’s Kathryn Lyons describes well in a superb profile today. If you read nothing else today, read this one.

Congress Needs Bigger, Better-Paid Or More Experienced Staffs?

What do you say if a former boss asks you for a few minutes to chat, then closes the door and explains that she wants to pick your brain about reshaping her staff to advance her legislative agenda more effectively?

Do you say “hire more staff” or “let some people go and pay those you keep more?” Perhaps the solution is to start looking for replacements for all of the key slots, but then how do you avoid merely hiring a new version of the same-old-same-old?

Alan Wiseman of Vanderbilt and Craig Volden of UVA are co-directors of the Center for Effective Law-Making and they recently did a thoughtful memo for the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress on what makes productive legislative staffs. Some of their conclusions, posted by legbranch.org, will surprise even Hill veterans.

WORKING ON THE HILL: Not Happy In Your Job? Step One To Healthy Change — Count Your Blessings

This post came about today because early this morning as I was walking Twister, our exuberant Black Lab, I was somehow reminded by a magnificent oak of the fact I couldn’t see the trees for the forest on my first “bad” job on Capitol Hill.

My backyard, as seen from my home office. Lovely old Silver Maple on the left, Rose of Sharon and pines in the back, neighbor’s cherry tree on the right.

Here’s the background: My first job on the Hill was as press secretary for a Maryland congressman. It was a great experience, as I learned so much from Don Baker, a superb Washington Post reporter, about journalism and the news process, and I absorbed volumes about the ways of the Hill.

But then I got over-confident, talked my way into a job working for an older Texas congressman as his chief of staff, and promptly realized I had screwed up royally.

It truly was not a good fit. He was set in his ways, which, after all, had gotten him re-elected multiple times during an era when old-guard conservative Democrats still ruled the Lone Star State. Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: Not Happy In Your Job? Step One To Healthy Change — Count Your Blessings”

WORKING ON THE HILL: *Look Who’s ‘Movin’ On Up’

Recent Staff Moves, As Reported By Legistorm:

Greg Brooks is now chief of staff for Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio). The Brooks and Wenstrup connection goes back to 2012 when Brooks served as political director. Brooks has filled just about every other key staff slot for Wenstrup in the years since. He is a 2010 Magna Cum Laude graduate in government with a BA from Centre College.

Stephanie Dougherty is Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s new legislative counsel. She moves over to the Hill after a two-year stint with the U.S. Climate Action Network as government affairs director.

Stephanie Dougherty, Legislative Counsel, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)(Screen shot from Facebook)

She is a 2009 graduate of the Seattle University School of Law and a 2005 BA graduate in political science and business from Texas Christian University.

Ben Martello is now senior adviser to Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.). Martello’s BA in politics was awarded in 2002 by Salve Regina University. He was previously district director for Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.).

Ben Martello, Senior Adviser, Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.)(Screen shot from Facebook)

Christine Ravold has set up shop as communications director for Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), coming over from the Capital Research Center where she was communications officer. Ravold completed her BA in English and communications in 2013 from Rosemont College. Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: *Look Who’s ‘Movin’ On Up’”

Why Are We Silent When Black Africans Are Sold Into Slavery Every Day?

America’s Civil War ended slavery in this country and the evil institution has been outlawed in much of the remainder of the world. But not a day goes by now that Black Africans aren’t sold into bondage.

Thousands of Black Africans are sold into slavery but Americans are all but silent. (Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash)

It’s happening in Northern Africa in Muslim nations like Libya, the Sudan and Mauritania. In Libya alone, CNN has reported slave auctions in nearly a dozen locations across that war-torn nation.

“Every day across the African continent, black men, women, and children are captured, bought, and sold into slavery with the Western world paying scant attention,” according to Charles Jacobs, writing today on The Federalist. Continue reading “Why Are We Silent When Black Africans Are Sold Into Slavery Every Day?”

Morality Is Relative? Liar, Liar! Pants On Fire!

Frank Turek explains why ‘what’s right for thee may not be right for me’ leads to very long noses

Probably no topic is discussed in one context or another more often on Capitol Hill than what is right and what is wrong. Whether they ground it in an ideological perspective, a religious faith or common sense logic, pretty much everybody would say yes if asked “is there such a thing as right and wrong.”

Is something right or wrong just because we say it is? (Photo by Julian Howard on Unsplash)

Two questions then: What about all those folks who contend morality is merely social convention and thus varies from one society to another, so “what’s right for you may not be right for me?

And how do we know if morality exists because a particular ideology — Ayn Rand? Karl Marx? — says it does, or because somebody’s religious faith — Christianity? Islam? — proclaims it or for some other reason? Continue reading “Morality Is Relative? Liar, Liar! Pants On Fire!”

THINK ABOUT THIS: If You Can’t Measure Your Thoughts, Do They Really Exist?

If the physical universe that we see, smell, hear, feel and taste is all that exists, how can we account for the fact we all have thoughts and emotions that are just as “real” to us as any of our senses?

God’s Crime Scene by J. Warner Wallace.

This might initially seem like an odd question, but in fact it “points” to one of the most important questions any human being can ever ponder: If the non-material (i.e. thinking, consciousness) is as real as our five material senses (which can be explained merely by physical factors), how do we explain the origin and ultimate significance of the non-material?

J. Warner Wallace, NBC “Dateline’s” cold-case detective, addresses this issue in chapter five of his superb book “God’s Crime Scene.” There he observes this:

Continue reading “THINK ABOUT THIS: If You Can’t Measure Your Thoughts, Do They Really Exist?”