Why ‘Water Bears’ May Present An Unsolvable Dilemma For Survival Of The Fittest Advocates

No, this post is not about polar bears or Alaskan brown bears, even though they do spend a great deal of time in the water. This post is about the tiny anthropods known as “Tartigrades” that are found in waters around the Earth, including those that are freezing and those that are quite warm.

Yes, this is a bear in the water, but it’s not a tardigrade, AKA “water bear.” (Photo by Brent Jones on Unsplash).

Doesn’t really matter to Tardigrades what kind of environment they are in because they possess an absolutely unique ability to survive in virtually any environment, including, according to scientists at the University of California Sand Diego (UCSD), everything “from dangerously high radiation levels to chillingly low temperatures to exposure to deadly chemicals. They’ve even been launched into space as part of a project to transfer life forms to the moon (and crash-landed there with the Beresheet lander spacecraft earlier this year).” Continue reading “Why ‘Water Bears’ May Present An Unsolvable Dilemma For Survival Of The Fittest Advocates”

Moved By Compassion, Jesus Put Forth His Hand And The Leper Was Healed

Here’s the backstory to the amazing encounter of a hurting Hill aide and a searching Vietnam veteran

By Bret Bernhardt

When was the last time you felt compassion in your work on the Hill?

Bret Bernhardt, former chief of staff for senators Don Nickles and Jim DeMint.

This challenge shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially if you’ve ever spent time answering calls as a staff assistant. Or try listening to a constituent’s opinion as a legislative correspondent or a legislative assistant.

And try working with a difficult person for months as a caseworker, not to mention our interactions with our fellow staffers. Continue reading “Moved By Compassion, Jesus Put Forth His Hand And The Leper Was Healed”

WORKING ON CAPITOL HILL: Look Who’s Movin’ On Up

Recent Staff Moves, As Reported By Legistorm:

Matt McNally now occupies the chief of staff’s office for Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) after two years in Gotham City as director of its federal affairs operation. Previously, McNally was communications director for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). He is a Roger Williams University graduate.

Jacob Stubbs has his first position on a congressional staff, serving as a legislative assistant for Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). For two years prior, Stubbs was a special assistant in the Department of Homeland Security. He has an MA from Yale Divinity School and a BA in government and religion from Berry College.

There’s a new professional staff member for the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Alan McQuinn. He’s a “Hook’em Horns” kind of guy, earning a BS in 2013 in political communications and public relations from that big school in Austin.

Got a scheduling question involving Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa)? Ask the new scheduler, Tony McComiskey. The new gig comes after three years in various capacities with former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.). McComiskey’s BA in political science and government was awarded by Gettysburg College in 2014.


Think You Want To Go Back Home And Run For Congress?

It’s not unusual for congressional staffers to return home at some point and stand for election as their neighbors’ representative in the nation’s capitol.

Rosemary Bechi (Screen shot from Facebook)

Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t. Rosemary Becchi, former tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, is making major strides toward being among the former, having raised, according to the New Jersey Globe, more than $387,000 in her bid for the GOP nomination for Congress in the seventh district.

If she wins her primary against two opponents, Becchi will take on Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J., a freshman who will be running for re-election for the first time. Becchi has the endorsement of FreedomWorks America and Maggie’s List.


LOOKING FOR A HILL JOB?

Check out this five-part HillFaith series by Bret Bernhardt, former chief of staff for Senators Don Nickle (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Bernhardt has a wealth of experience, insider insight, how-tos and obscure terms (know what a “golden reference” is on the Hill?), plus lots of helpful links.

The Best Resources for Finding a Job On the Hill

Where Your Best Job Lead is on Capitol Hill May Surprise You

Getting in the Door on Capitol Hill

Here’s Nine Valuable Tips for Interviewing Well on Capitol Hill

Working on Capitol Hill is the World’s Best Job (Or at Least My Best Ever)


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’”