Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

Posts in "FightingWords"

April 1, 2014

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

The long-awaited return of baseball season (The Nationals’ home opener is Friday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves) means restaurants can once again slip their Nats-related promotions back into the rotation.

Tortilla Coast has wasted no time resurrecting its “Strasburger,” a double-decker meal deal erected in honor of D.C. hurler Stephen Strasburg.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The price of the big-mouth burger remains pegged to Strasburg’s career highlights — first pick (1) in the first round (1) of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft + jersey number (37) = $11.37 — and includes a heaping mound of french fries.

According to Tortilla Coast General Manager Bill Anderson, the Strasburger continues to be made the same way it always has: Two, 6-ounce patties of roughly 80/20 ground beef are flame grilled, glazed in chipotle-honey sauce, covered in Jack cheese, topped with fried onion strings, smothered in shredded lettuce and sliced tomato and parked between buns slathered with chipotle-spiked Thousand Island dressing.

Yet, somehow, today it tastes even less like it was supposed to when it left burger buff Jody Fellows wanting two summers before.

Back in 2012, the Burger Days blog founder gave the Capitol Hill watering hole high marks for presentation, but was struck by the disconnect between what was listed on the menu and what registered on his taste buds. “For all the stuff that goes into the Strasburger, it loses a whole hell of a lot when the entire thing gets into your mouth,” he warned. “We expected to be hit with a lot more taste.”

We dare say the kitchen may have actually lost a few more steps since then.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The patties placed before this hired mouth were adequately beefy and surprisingly juicy (with just a hint of smoke), but bore absolutely no sign of the promised honey sweetness or chili pepper-fueled heat. Ditto for the chipotle-Island dressing, which lacked the oomph of even fast food-grade special sauce. The melted cheese served as a decent binder and the tangle of breaded onions provided some crunch. But the mountain of damp lettuce caused the bottom half of our bun to collapse after just one bite.

We hoped the fries might save things, but, alas, the no-frills spuds were as dry and flavorless (the one time a bar decides to ease up on salt) as the burger was disjointed.

Still, people seem to love it.

Anderson said the restaurant sells up to a 20 of the specialty burgers a day during the season. And very few folks appear to be intimidated by its sheer bulk.

“The size and age of the guest has no bearing on their ability to finish the burger; we have been witness to ladies in their 70s and kids in grade school taking it down in one sitting,” Anderson shared.

As it’s done in the past, Anderson said the original Capitol Hill Tortilla Coast will crank out Strasburgers from open to close on days Strasburg takes the mound.

“TCCH will also do a bonus Strasburger day should Stephen Strasburg pitch during the All Star Game,” he said.

March 28, 2014

Steve Pearce Cans Provocative Spox Rebekah Stevens

Rep. Steve Pearce has parted ways with barely settled-in mouthpiece Rebekah Stevens following days of unfavorable press stemming from the 24-year-old GOP operative’s in-your-face blogging career.

“I am proud to hire passionate, hardworking, and dedicated congressional staff out of New Mexico. When I hired Miss Stevens, I hoped she could transition from activist to become an asset to the people of New Mexico,” the New Mexico Republican relayed in a statement. “It is now clear that major obstacles will prevent this. I asked for and accepted her resignation this morning. I hold myself and my staff to the highest level of accountability, and any distractions that hinder my service to New Mexicans must always be addressed.”

Stevens’ incredibly short-lived gig here on Capitol Hill — Pearce Communications Director Eric Layer announced her arrival not 72 hours ago — appears to have come unraveled because of impolitic statements made and professional fights picked under the pseudonym “Politix Fireball.”

Both the blog and Twitter accounts associated with that particular user suddenly went silent the week of March 17.

Steve Pearce Cans Provocative Spox Rebekah Stevens

(Screenshot)

Stevens joined Pearce’s Capitol Hill office March 25.

March 24, 2014

GWAR Loses Frontman, World Loses Bloodthirsty Political Equalizer

Entertainer Dave Brockie, the human counterpart to intergalactic swordsman Oderus Urungus, died Sunday, leaving behind a massive void for metal-heads used to having the GWAR singer settle political scores for them.

As first reported by Style Weekly, Brockie, 50, was found dead at his home in Richmond, Va., on Sunday afternoon.

The inexhaustible showman carved out an amazing career for himself as the co-founder and face of GWAR, a heavy metal band as well known for its grotesque costumes and fake blood-soaked skits as it is for its ear-splitting performances.

Whether clad in his horned mask and generously proportioned body suit or not, Brockie was never one to hold his tongue. A few years back, he chewed out the U.S. State Department for presumably dragging its feet in fighting for the return of Lamb of God singer David Randall “Randy” Blythe from imprisonment in the Czech Republic, and waded into New Mexican primary challenges by endorsing then-House hopeful Sean Closson.

Brockie, however, did his best work on stage — mercilessly disposing of political foes, both domestic:

 

President Barack Obama

 

Full story

Maher’s Audience Targets Grimm, Farenthold

The first round of votes has come in: Reps. Michael G. Grimm of New York and Blake Farenthold of Texas are “fan favorites” — to be ousted from office in November.

The two lawmakers are among the total of 16 House Republicans who will be nominated via Twitter by the public over the coming weeks as part of political comedian and liberal firebrand Bill Maher’s #FlipaDistrict campaign.

Mahers Audience Targets Grimm, Farenthold

Grimm, with friend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Once all the candidates are narrowed down “bracket-style,” Maher will target the “winning” incumbent for defeat in the midterm elections.

Mahers Audience Targets Grimm, Farenthold

Farenthold (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Maher won’t be running himself, of course, but the host of HBO’s “Real Time” has plenty of money to throw behind the official Democratic challenger, plus a coterie of fans enthusiastic to aid in the effort. Full story

March 19, 2014

Warner Picks Hoos Over Alma Mater

Sen. Mark Warner may be a George Washington University alumnus, but he’s all aboard the University of Virginia Cavaliers’ bandwagon this March Madness.

The Virginia Republican has the Wahoos winning the whole thing, downing Florida, Villanova, Michigan State, Coastal Carolina, and, you guessed it, the Colonials en route.


HOH is sure some GW fans are a little sore over the pick, but they can at least give Warner credit for picking them to upset the 8th-seeded Memphis Tigers in their first game.

If you can’t get enough March Madness, check out the Roll Call bracket, which matches members of Congress with schools in their district that have made it to the tournament.

 

March 17, 2014

PSA Urges Partisans to Quit Fighting, Focus on Real Foes

PSA Urges Partisans to Quit Fighting, Focus on Real Foes

(Screenshot)

Marvel Media founder Lily Marie wants hotheads on both sides of the political spectrum to chill out for a bit, so that the grown ups can figure out who we should really be angry with.

The pixel-packing prophet calls for an end to the whole blue- vs. red-state mentality in her “PSA for Political Partisans” — an SOS the self-proclaimed conservative/libertarian hopes will serve as a wake up call for us all.

A PSA for Political Partisans from Marvel Media on Vimeo.

“I believe that U.S citizens need to better understand that there are people in our own government and behind the scenes who are subversive. Their agenda is to move us in a direction that will be very bad news for all of us,” Marie told HOH of her motivation to digitally rattle some cages. “And that is already happening; we are losing freedom, rights and national sovereignty that many Americans have taken for granted.”

She considers the contentious Patriot Act “unconstitutional legislation that gives the government more power to spy on U.S. citizens and potentially do what they want with us,” and expressed concerns about other ongoing attempts to erode the time-honored protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

“If it continues, then ultimately it will affect everyone, even the people who naively supported those unconstitutional actions. They will be in the same boat as the people who they perceived as their political opponents,” Marie warned.

The worst part, according to Marie, is that no one really is to blame  — because everybody is.

“When it comes to those politicians (Obama, and many others) I knew early on that they would be bad news. So it wasn’t a surprise,” she suggested via email.

Given her druthers, Marie knows exactly whom she would want calling the shots: retired Texas lawmaker and three-time presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

“Ron Paul is … one of the only leaders who is honest and actually cares about the principles our country is supposed to stand for,” Marie asserted.

March 14, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 10 (Video)

While members explain how to drive to Hawaii, put lipstick on a pig and which state has better ski resorts, Majority Leader Harry Reid still is not finished telling us about the Koch brothers.

March 13, 2014

Members of Congress Sum Up SXSWi — in 3 Words

South By Southwest Interactive wrapped up Tuesday, just as the madding crowds for the music festival were arriving in Austin, Texas. Roll Call correspondent Grace Dobush was in town along with a surprising number of congressmen — 12 by our count. In addition to attending the panels they spoke on, covering topics from patent trolls to tech innovation, she caught up with a handful of members to get their sense of the experience — in three words.

Read more about Washington’s takeover of SXSWi (and see a photo of Darrell Issa testing out a new Microsoft dance game) here.

March 11, 2014

Barack Obama’s Turn on ‘Between Two Ferns’

With the March 31 deadline looming to shepherd as many of the uninsured as possible underneath the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama has turned to Hollywood for a little help, appearing on Funny or Die’s parody talker, “Between Two Ferns.”

During the deliberately screwy program, host Zach Galifianakis typically walks guests through a minefield of insane questions and uncomfortable pauses.

POTUS fared better than most, firing back at Galifianakis with scripted comebacks skewering the comedian’s film career and personal hygiene. Joke writers apparently had plenty of time to prepare; The New York Times reported that Team BTF approached the White House about arranging the surreal sit-down last summer.

The preparation was wasted on Republicans, who were, understandably, not terribly amused.

Rep. Randy Weber of Texas couldn’t help but challenge the president’s priorities. (Benghazi’s still at the top of his list.)

 

 

Full story

March 10, 2014

Aaron Schock’s New Spox Is Ready to Rock

Benjamin Cole, a former pitchman for energy policy advocacy groups, has landed on Capitol Hill and is already burning up the communication circuits.

The newly minted spokesman for Illinois Republican Aaron Schock spent the past several years serving as the communications director for the American Energy Alliance, which is the mouthpiece for the think tank-y Institute for Energy Research.

Trouble is, Cole used the emails he had harvested at AEA to help introduce himself around Congress — which means his missive turned up in the inboxes of many unsuspecting (and thoroughly uninterested) Democratic press shops.

Aaron Schock’s New Spox Is Ready to Rock

(Screenshot)

Along with sharing his title and contact info, Cole assured everyone the he had “hit the ground running,” quickly working in a plug for the Schock sponsored, anti-Affordable Care Act bill poised for a floor vote this week. “I did not send to every Cap Hill Office. Only to a pre-existing contacts list that I have maintained, somewhat effectively, through the years,” Cole told HOH of the note he fired off.

Our tipster dubbed the self-congratulatory blast “embarrassing.”

“This guy was a flack for the dubiously named Institute for Energy Research … who used to blast all of our email boxes with similarly breathless triumphs,” the House staffer suggested.

Although initially annoyed, the Democratic operative quickly reconsidered and left the door open to getting fed more intel from uber-chatty counterparts on the other side of the aisle. “If House Rs want to add House Ds onto their staff listserves, it might help everyone make better sense of their rudderless leadership here,” our source quipped.

March 7, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 3 (Video)

HOH serves up another dish of the best of what’s around with members detailing how cold Ukraine is, explaining what happens when the toilet leaks and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., seeing how many times he can say “Koch brothers” in a 10-minute speech.

March 6, 2014

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

Here’s what the rest of the world is faced with when conservatives reach the “braking” point:

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Bumper (Sticker) Crop: #CPAC2014 Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Buckle up, folks. We’re all in for one helluva ride.

The Early Buzz on #CPAC2014

The Early Buzz on #CPAC2014

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference is just getting started at National Harbor, but the rat-a-tat online chatter about the far-right fest has already reached a fevered pitch.

At least one randy traveler is raring to go

 

A few early arrivals may have already overstayed their welcome

 

Full story

March 4, 2014

Grayson Feud Boils Over Into Abuse Claims

Grayson Feud Boils Over Into Abuse Claims

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Alan Grayson’s rapidly unraveling marriage is spinning even further out of control amid dueling allegations of spousal abuse.

As first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Lolita Grayson sought out a protective order against the Florida Democrat after a mutually agreed upon flare up at the family home this weekend. Per the Sentinel, Lolita accused her husband of forcefully shoving and knocking her down.

Alan Grayson’s office issued a statement not only refuting the claims, but also challenging Lolita’s current mental state. Full story

March 3, 2014

#FlipaDistrict Lights a Fire Under Peeved Constituents

Comedian Bill Maher isn’t the only one cracking wise about cleaning house on Capitol Hill.

Now that his “Flip a District” campaign is officially under way, “Real Time” viewers have begun firing off videos denouncing the lawmakers they’d most like to see shown the door.

#FlipaDistrict Lights a Fire Under Peeved Constituents

The candidates for early retirement profiled on the latest episode of Maher’s HBO show include:

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas

#FlipaDistrict Lights a Fire Under Peeved Constituents

(Screenshot)

“Bill Maher, as one pot smoking atheist to another, I hope you’re not full of s— with this flip a district plan,” the plaintiff pleaded. Full story

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