Intern Etiquette 101
By Al Kamen
Monday, June 28, 2004; Page A19
Federal agencies often have large groups of interns in for the summer to get a little experience and see how the federal government operates. But sometimes they first need to get an education in dedication and proper etiquette.
That problem cropped up the other day at the Office of Personnel Management, which has 66 interns in Washington. It prompted a memo to top officials from Associate Director Stephen C. Benowitz, who's in charge of human resources products and services.
"I think I mentioned that many summer interns did not hear about or did not bother to attend the orientation sessions with the Director," Kay Coles James, Benowitz said. So here's what to do.
"A couple of things to pass on to each intern," he said. "When you get an invitation from your boss, it's not optional. It only sounds like an invitation because we're polite."
"Dress appropriately." That means "dress for the job they'd like, not the job they have. . . . If they need further guidance (or, heaven forbid, you do), I will be happy to give a 'dress for success' seminar and shopping spree (I don't pay for the shopping!).
"Finally, when addressing the Director, it's always 'Director James.' It's not Mrs. James, or Ms. James or Kay," he said. "Please respect the person and the position. And when she comes into the room, stand if you are already seated."
This has not been the custom for prior directors, we're told, and one of them was even named King. Interns who want to really ingratiate could salute and whistle "Hail to the Chief" as James enters.
Things You Can Be Certain Of
Astute Observation Award for June goes to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who said June 17 on the Senate floor: "The interesting thing is that when it comes to the tax code of the United States, Americans are very egalitarian. Middle-income taxpayers support repeal of the death tax, for example, even though they know it would never help them."
It's what makes this a great country.
President Bush often blames terrorists for many of the attacks on U.S. military forces in Iraq. Islamic militants and former supporters of Saddam Hussein are behind some attacks, he said during his last White House news conference, and "terrorists from other countries have infiltrated Iraq to incite and organize." A few days earlier, in a radio address, he said, "Saddam supporters and terrorists have struck against coalition forces."
Seems the CIA and the State Department are not paying attention. In their yearly tally of the number of terrorist attacks worldwide, both agencies exclude all attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. These do not meet the definition of terrorism because they are directed against combatants, the department's annual report states.
If State and the CIA had included those attacks, the officials would have had to swallow even more crow during the painful correction last week of their undercounting of such incidents. As it was, they had to admit overlooking the deaths of 318 people in terrorist attacks last year and conclude terrorist attacks are sharply increasing.
And if attacks on U.S. service members had been included? Well, Coalition Joint Task Force 7 in Baghdad told our colleague R. Jeffrey Smith that "there were 8,688 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq from May 2, 2003 [after major combat operations were declared over], to about 8 p.m., June 25, 2004." That's about 20 a day, though the more recent average is closer to 40 to 50.
Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) told Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in a letter that she considers the policy of excluding such attacks from the tally "wholly inappropriate." No response as yet.
Forget Extended-Play Records
Meanwhile, we've learned that June is Black Music Month, according to a proclamation signed by President Bush. "The creativity and variety of African-American composers, singers, and musicians have shaped America's artistic and cultural landscape," he said in the proclamation. "During Black Music Month, we celebrate and honor the extraordinary impact of African-American music on our Nation's musical heritage."
Surely appropriate. Wish we'd known earlier, but he just signed it on Tuesday, June 22. Kind of makes for a short celebration.
Postmark From Long Island
The White House announced Friday that the president signed into law a bill, H.R. 3917, "to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service . . . in Copiague, N.Y., as the 'Maxine S. Postal United States Post Office.' "
The Makings of Guacamole
Judges (with the exception of the ever-entertaining Justice Antonin Scalia) are often accused of writing excessively boring, legalistic mumbo jumbo. But donning the robes doesn't have to erase one's sense of humor.
Take the fine opinion on June 18 by D.C. federal appeals Judge Raymond Randolph in a case involving the Hass Avocado Promotion, Research, and Information Act.
"Two of the plaintiffs . . . import only processed or frozen avocado products," Randolph wrote. "The Secretary [of Agriculture] has not imposed assessments on such products, and it is unclear she ever will. We therefore affirm dismissal of the complaint with respect to these plaintiffs on the ground that their claims are, so to speak, not ripe."
Just the Fax, Please
Note to "The Inappropriately Dressed": lost a page. Please resend fax to 202-496-3883.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company