Posted by: ryanpmcbride | August 13, 2009

Silver Linings

Without getting into the heavy details, the start of my internship was a rather tumultuous series of events.  The past few months I have been in such a good mood that it’s hard to get me down, but for a few seconds there it was a little depressing.

However, with any undesirable or traumatic experience comes an opportunity to learn something.  You can let it get you down or you can rise above it and find something positive, no matter how small.

For the first-years in particular who will be doing their internships next year, here are some things I learned:

  • Don’t put anyone on a pedestal. Many people will do great things, but we are all human.  Mistakes will be made by people you respect and admire, and you might question your values and beliefs.  Reevaluate them.  I know I did.
  • Shut up and do your work. No matter where you are, there is someone who will know a lot more than you.  “Better to keep your mouth shut and thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  You’re an intern – probably not an expert.  Just a guess.
  • Watch and learn. I don’t know about other places, but it is usually pretty easy to spot an intern in DC.  You can learn more by watching how staff act and perform – keep an eye on them and try to emulate them, rather than by bumbling your way through and following the lead of other interns.  Professionalism pays off, particularly in DC.  The staff there see young, foolish interns there all the time so a little bit of class can get you a looooong way.  Plus, you’ll be representing Pepperdine – you’d better have your act together!
  • Never compromise your principles. Never compromise them on any level – keep yourself out of trouble.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable performing a task, or if you know something is against the rules then state your opposition to it.  Washington is home to a particularly virulent strain of Scapegoat Syndrome, and you can avoid catching it by doing the right thing.  It may not always pay off at the time, but it will work out later.  Trust me.

Anyhow, the point is that regardless of whatever little troublesome events may have taken place, I could not be more pleased with how the summer turned out.  It was absolutely the best decision I could have made to go out to DC this summer.  I reconnected with a lot of old friends, made some new ones, lined up some potential jobs, and made out like a bandit this summer (for a variety of reasons).  Sometimes I surprise even myself.  I shouldn’t though, because I am totally awesome.  And humble.

Posted by: ryanpmcbride | August 9, 2009

It’s Been Fun, D.C.

In a move that will surprise absolutely nobody that knows me, I should be packing right now, but clearly, I am not.  I have a lot to finish up in the…oh…4.5 hours I have left here.  Figures.

I am having a hard time believing how quickly this summer went by, and an even harder time comprehending how good my summer was.  I firmly believe that you make your own destiny, and if you want things to happen, you make them happen.  Either that or I got someone else’s karma by mistake.  If it’s yours, then no, you can’t have it back.  Sorry.

My internship out here has already paid off, and I have a few potential options after graduation that I am quite excited about.  The experience here gives me a definite hand up on the competition as well.  I have yet to decide if I am staying in California, going back to Nevada, or if I’m returning to D.C. after graduation, but we’ll see what awaits in the near future.

My first year at Pepperdine really prepared me for my internship.  Granted, I had some decent work experience in Congress and a previous Senate internship under my belt, but my coursework and the things I learned in my first year are part of the reason I did so well this summer.  I can’t wait to get back and see what the second year has in store.

Speaking of which, for any of the incoming first-years that may be reading this, I will be returning to campus on the 24th for the first-year orientation and will be discussing some of the student organizations with some of my fellow classmates.  I am a part of the Student Health Advisory Board, so I’ll be talking a bit about that along with my friend Jeff.

In addition to this, we have a new project.  We have a group of first and second-year students that are in the beginning of bringing a chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, the honorary society for the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (whew!).  I am excited about the opportunities that this presents our school and our student body.  If we get it sorted out, I already have a potential speaker lined up with some other possibilities in the works as well.

Anyhow, I’ll likely be discussing this as well on the 24th, so get pumped.  I am looking forward to meeting the new class, and I hope that you all enjoy SPP as much as I have.  It is not hyperbole to say that this school has totally changed my life – I feel so much more prepared to take on the problems facing our communities, our states, and our world.  I wish there were words to express my love for Pepperdine.  Perhaps I’ll find them someday.

Another rambling blog post down.  More from Vegas, because I should really finish packing.  I leave D.C. knowing a great deal more and being richer for the experience, and thankful for how fortunate I am.

See you in Malibu.

Posted by: ryanpmcbride | August 1, 2009

Birthers – Seriously, guys?

This needs to stop.

The fact that the “birther” movement has regained steam thanks to some persistent radical right-wingers is incredibly disheartening to me, and hopefully most rational conservatives.  It has really gotten out of control lately, and frankly, I’m mystified as to why this hasn’t died yet.  I would mention the main offending site, but I just don’t feel that it deserves mentioning here.

Now, I’m no Obamapologist (sorry for that) but the man is our President for the next three and a half years, so deal with it.  That’s how the system worked.  We lost the election, and as I’ve said before I think we deserved the outright shellacking delivered to our doorstep last November.  I can’t help but feel that this birther movement is just some pent-up frustration looking for any possible outlet, no matter how ridiculous, and it’s found that outlet by insisting that President Obama can’t be president because he wasn’t born here.

“BUT HE WASN’T BORN IN THE US!!!  BY THE CONSTITUTION, HE CAN’T BE PRESIDENT!!!”, they say in a completely rational voice, always at speaking volume.

Incorrect, my friend. Actually, I would just call you my acquaintance, I’d rather not be too closely associated with you.

“But is a liberal institution which only seeks to propagate the myth that Barack Hussein Obama was born here so he can institute a socialist government influenced by foreign sources…and his middle name is Hussein, for God’s sake.”

I don’t even know what to do with these kinds of comments.  There are people out there, members of the voting public, that believe in this nonsense.  HE WAS BORN HERE.  Get over it.

I’m so disappointed that this is the level that so many so-called conservatives have stooped to.  Yes, I realize that our elected officials are distancing themselves from these people, and that these “birthers” don’t represent the core conservative beliefs, but they are getting a whoooole lot of press.  This terrifies me.

I refuse to be associated with this madness.  I’m no fan of the President’s policies, but all of the evidence that allows him to be President of the United States is rather clear cut.  Some people just love to believe in conspiracies, as we discussed last time.  There are people in this country that do not recognize Barack Obama as President because they believe his birth certificate is a forgery – it’s scary how many people believe this.

There are plenty of other reasons to disagree with President Obama – but let’s focus on the policies, not some hacked-together conspiracy theory that only the fringe is following.

Or, who knows, they might be right.  After all, the moon landing was faked, LBJ killed Kennedy, George H.W. Bush helped establish the New World Order, and George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld organized 9/11.  Oh, and we kept it all a pretty good secret.  You know, the same government that can’t fund a cash-for-clunkers program for more than 4 days.  The same government with more leaks than a pirate ship made out of cheesecloth.

In closing, any shipbuilder that makes a pirate ship out of cheesecloth should find a new profession.

Posted by: ryanpmcbride | July 20, 2009

Did That Really Just Happen?

Answer: No.  It didn’t just happen.  It happened 40 years ago today.  It really happened, you wacky conspiracy theorists.  Oh, it’s cool, just ignore the mountain of evidence debunking every tired point you make.  If you believe those, I’ve got some black helicopters I’d like to talk to you about.

40 years ago we set foot on the Moon after an epic race to the heavens.  It boggles my mind to think about how much we accomplished as people.  Everybody won – it was the peak of a nonviolent progression of technology and science, and though I wasn’t there, I feel like we haven’t achieved something like that since.  I truly hope that we use the same energy and genius to get to Mars.

Space never ceases to amaze me –  to quote Carl Sagan (apocryphally, I might add – he claims he never uttered the phrase) but there are billions and billions of galaxies, stars, planets, who knows what else.  I love reading about bizarre quantum theories and strings and parallel universes even though I can’t even come close to comprehending them.

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Posted by: ryanpmcbride | July 13, 2009

On Optimism

I am a firm believer in staying optimistic – the glass is always half-full for me.  I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day about the sad state of the Republican party, and how we’ve been plagued with scandals lately.  We got shellacked in the last election, and to be quite frank, we deserved it.

You’d think it’d be hard to stay positive.  But not me, my friends, not me.  I look forward to the future.

As I said, I was talking to my friend about the situation and I thought he had a great point.

He said, “Listen man, we just need to adopt a different mindset right now.  We need to be like a construction site.”

“How do you mean?”, I inquired.

“Well, look at it this way.  Construction sites always have those boards that say ‘X days since last accident’, right?  The point to take home here is that they recognize that bad things happen, and something bad is going to happen at some point in the future.  It’s part of the job.  But, they take it one day at a time – if we’re at 3 days since the last scandal, we’re just trying to get to 4 days.  Then 5 days.  And life goes on.”

Unfailing optimism in the face of adversity.  If you can’t keep a good sense of humor, then what do you have left?

(Note: We made it 7 days.)

In that spirit, here’s a picture from my desk from today:

Tomorrow, it will be 20.

Tomorrow, it will be 20.

One day at a time, ladies and gentlemen.  One day at a time.

Posted by: ryanpmcbride | July 6, 2009

4th of July on the National Mall

If you spend the summer here, check out the fireworks on the Mall on the 4th.  We got a spot next to the Washington Monument to watch the fireworks which are set off from the reflecting pool.  The National Mall was an absolute zoo (although nothing compared to New Year’s Eve on the Strip in Vegas), but surprisingly things remained rather orderly.  I really have to give credit to all the organizers…it was all very well put together.  It was an absolutely beautiful night to boot.  Hard to imagine being in a better place for Independence Day (I’m sure the people in Philadelphia will tell you otherwise, but since nobody from Pennsylvania reads this blog I know I don’t have to worry about offending them.)

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Posted by: ryanpmcbride | July 3, 2009

A Quick Photo Tour

Here are some shots from the day:

Posted by: ryanpmcbride | June 26, 2009

“The Circle Is Complete”

The last senate impeachment hearing was held about 11 years ago for…oh, I can’t remember who…but anyhow, I went to the latest impeachment hearing on the Senate floor.

Long story short, His (Dis)Honor Sexual-Harassment-and-Assault Samuel Kent was impeached by the Senate basically to get him off his six-figure federal payroll.  Even though he was imprisoned, he did not resign his position on the bench so he could still collect his pay and pension.

Having had enough of these shenanigans, the Senate said “you’re cut off, buddy”, to which Mr. Kent promptly replied “I’m not your buddy, guy”.

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Posted by: ryanpmcbride | June 21, 2009

Crisis Management

I have to discuss this with SPP staff, but here’s something I’ve been thinking about this past week.

I think a critical skill in any employment is crisis management (particularly so in politics) – so I am going to see if I can get a few people who’ve had some experience with the issues to maybe do a little workshop on it.  If it sounds interesting that is…

Often, it isn’t so much about the issue itself, but how you respond to it.  Do you define the issue, or do you let the issue define you?

I realize this all sounds very vague right now, but the conditions of my employment make it so.  Sorry!

However, even in my short time in politics, I’ve seen a number of things.  While I haven’t been the press person, COS, or any high level staff, I have been lucky/unfortunate enough to be close to some issues regarding staff quarrels, scandals, and good ol’ fashioned baseless accusations.  Politics is fun, isn’t it?

Anyway, I think it would be interesting to get a group together to maybe do a workshop for first-years and any second-years that would be interesting.  One of the great things about SPP is that the class is so diverse – some people come straight out of college, some have spent some time working and have some experiences that they can share.  I think it would be a good way for us to give back to our school.

So, if anyone is interested in pitching this to the school, or if the administrators are interested, let me know.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep working on this idea.

I’ll have some more substantial posts coming this week – last week was just brutal.  Forgive me!

Posted by: ryanpmcbride | June 16, 2009

On Reexamining My Goals

Warning: Buzzkill ahead.  Use caution when reading.

There are times when all I can think about is how quickly I can get back here and do my best to serve my country, change the world, all that hopeful stuff.  It’s why I’m going to school and getting my MPP, so I would hope it would inspire me.

There are other times when all I can think about is how uncivil, disrespectful, and hateful people in the political world can be.  I’m well aware it’s not just politics where people regress to barbarian status, but I’m sure we all feel sometimes that politics just puts a special shine on it that brings out the worst in people.  I wish I knew why.

Am I going to get my MPP and just want to wash my hands of government or an unforgiving, fickle public?  That seems like a rather pointless (and expensive) conclusion.

Sometimes you just have to take a second and see if you have the stomach for it.

I know I do.  It’s not always easy, that’s for sure, but I’m not here to just give up so easily.  My parents have always taught me to never compromise my principles and to always keep my goals in perspective.  Some day, I hope to be half as wise as they are.

No, I’m not here to give up.  I know my heart is in the right place.  This too shall pass.

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