Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

Posts in "FightingWords"

May 30, 2014

Jose Canseco Swings for the OPM Fences

Former Major League Baseball star Jose Canseco is done with being just Twitter famous. He wants into the big show.


The all-star slugger turned reality TV go-to dusted off his #yeswecanseco slogan Friday — you know, the one he used during his short-lived bid to unseat embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — in order to lobby President Barack Obama for exiting White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s post.

Canseco’s Twinterview was short, but quite telling.

He provided insights into his:

Management skills


Full story

May 29, 2014

Redskins Magically Fumble Senate Shaming Campaign

They may not be much for winning on any given Sunday. But man, oh man, do the Washington Redskins know how to keep things interesting.



Their latest attempt at generating positive press in the face of months years decades of criticism stemming from an unwavering commitment to what a growing chorus of opponents perceive to be a grossly insensitive moniker couldn’t have been more of a disaster, as the incredibly overconfident front office tried to turn the tables on Capitol Hill by urging fans to flood the social media feeds of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., with pro-Skins rhetoric.

The public relations audible comes just one week after half the Senate petitioned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to follow NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s lead on Donald Sterling and big-foot Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

The Internet, naturally, exploded.

And not exactly the way D.C.’s embattled football club likely envisioned.

Sure, some supportive tweets broke through here and there.

But the online discourse also veered into all kinds of morale-dampening territory, including:


  • Revisiting White Power advocacy



Full story

Hospitality Vet Handicaps Taste of America Tourney

Journeyman toque Colin Abernethy was simply beside himself when he learned about what is going on in the regional grudge match that is Roll Call’s annual Taste of America showdown.

“I’m sorry, but no love for WV and its pepperoni rolls or Tudor’s biscuits? This vote is a sham!” the seasoned chef scolded the TOAverse after discovering that the much beloved West Virginia pepperoni roll was alive, but apparently not doing as well as the dominating lobster roll, in this year’s gustatory gauntlet.

Hospitality Vet Handicaps Taste of America Tourney

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

The bracket-style challenge began on May 12 and features four rounds of public voting, through June 20. The winner will be crowned on June 25 at a reception during the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

Instead of bellyaching about the current state of affairs, Abernethy vowed to get politically active.

“There’s still hope for the pepperoni roll as I just notified a bunch of Facebook friends about it lagging behind,” the naturally competitive chef assured us of his campaigning efforts.

More importantly, he agreed to put on his thinking cap and plot out the culinary carnage looming just ahead: Full story

May 23, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 19 (Video)

While Rep. Steve King is busy challenging members to duels, members tell reporters to grow out their hair, reflect on the glory days of dial-up Internet and cite Stephen Colbert on the floor.

May 16, 2014

The 8 Types of Capitol Hill Reporters

The 8 Types of Capitol Hill Reporters

We’re pretty sure each type of reporter is represented here. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Want to get a reaction in Washington D.C. media?

Try writing about the 9 different kinds of flacks on Capitol Hill. And then wait to see the defensive responses roll in.

We might have been a bit harsh, but at Roll Call such stories about staffers and the important work they do are a mainstay of what we cover.

But all’s fair in love and journalism, so we decided to point the pen in our direction. While both of us still can’t believe that we get paid to do our jobs, we recognize that the Capitol Hill press corps can be a thorny bunch (and yes, we might be guilty of at least some of the following hack sins).

So, by popular request, nominations from the Twitterverse, and a few suggestions from good-humored congressional flacks, here are the eight types of Capitol Hill reporters. Full story

May 14, 2014

Murkowski Throws Herself Into ALS Relief Efforts

Murkowski Throws Herself Into ALS Relief Efforts

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski isn’t much for all the game playing that goes on in the Senate.

But if flinging a bean-filled, felt square into a hole several yards away helps the Alaska Republican stamp out Lou Gehrig’s disease once and for all, so be it.

“My family has been living and dying with ALS for eight years,” she shared. Her cousin Jenny Gore Dwyer’s husband, Pat Dwyer, succumbed to the debilitating illness in June 2013. That’s why she and Gore will be heading to Penn Social on Saturday to partake in the “Washington DC Corntoss Challenge,” an annual fundraiser benefiting the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, Mass.

“I’d like to think that one of these days we’re gonna make a little progress,” Murkowski said of the work she’s put in to informing others about Lou Gehrig’s disease. She credits Gore with helping to educate her about the all-consuming malady.

“I learned that even though we have identified the disease and named it, we haven’t come any closer to any cure in the many decades since Lou Gehrig,” Murkowski said.

She estimated that inaction has been abetted by the psychologically draining outcome that comes with every diagnosis. “There are no survivors of ALS,” she warned, citing the absence of success stories that have elevated contemporary causes such as breast cancer awareness. “The caregivers are often so exhausted … it’s hard for them to be the daily advocates after their loved one has passed.”

The appropriator said she continues to fight to add more resources for ALS research to military budgets, and that she confers regularly with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — “Every time I see Secretary Shinseki, it’s an issue we discuss,” she said — about sparing combat veterans from its ill effects.

She also touches base about it with physician and fellow anti-ALS crusader Sen. Tom Coburn. The Oklahoma Republican’s longstanding chief of staff, Michael Schwartz, lost his battle with the disease in early 2013.

As for Saturday, Murkowski is focused on improving at least one little thing.

“I have not set a fundraising goal. But I am hoping to improve on my cornhole performance from last year,” she shared.

Murkowski Throws Herself Into ALS Relief Efforts

(Courtesy Young Faces of ALS)

“It was absolutely pathetic.”

House Hopeful Paints Brad Sherman as a Bum

Ex-congressional aide Marc Litchman is coloring in his campaign themes by leveling a new line of attack against cash-strapped incumbent, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.

House Hopeful Paints Brad Sherman as a Bum


The one-time district director for ex-Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif. — the same lawmaker Sherman overcame last cycle in a bare-knuckle brawl of a redistricting fight — has plastered a none-too-flattering, Shepard Fairey-like depiction of his opponent all over social media.

Litchman also wove the colorful broadside into a campaign email poking fun at both the Sherman campaign’s debt, as well as a fundraising solicitation Sherman’s campaign sent out that bemoans his non-existent war chest and that “most people I know are too busy to come to fundraising events. If you have the time, we have an event in Washington on May 19.”

Sherman’s most recent FEC filings show him with $563,284.43 in debt and $105,968 in cash on hand. His race against Berman in 2012 was the fourth-most expensive House race, with the candidates spending approximately $6.8 million and outside groups throwing in another $8.5 million.

House Hopeful Paints Brad Sherman as a Bum


Looks like the folks in California’s 30th District may be in for another wild ride.

May 9, 2014

Louie Gohmert Goes There With Nazi Comparison (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, likened the cancellation of HGTV’s “Flip It Forward” to Nazism during a speech on the House floor Friday.

According to Gohmert, backlash from anti-gay remarks that the show’s hosts made demonstrates a totalitarian atmosphere. Paraphrasing the hosts, Gohmert relayed on their behalf that, “Look we love homosexuals, we love all people. But it doesn’t mean that you have to support, embrace, encourage particular lifestyles that you believe are harmful to the individuals and harmful to the society in general. So it is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen,” he said.

Gohmert likened the situation to “going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. First they would call people haters and evil and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage.”

Gohmert also lamented the “rise of fascism in American universities” and said, “Those who are the most hate filled who do not follow the teachings of Jesus seek to impose or project … their own hate, their own intolerance.”


Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 5 (Video)

While Majority Leader Harry Reid dished on greased pigs, the Nevada desert and People magazine, members kept busy focusing on Kool-Aid, CNN and “House of Cards.”

May 8, 2014

#TBT: A Series of Hits and Misses (Video)

It’s hard to believe, but Team HOH was actually entrusted with giving a presentation at the CQ Roll Call annual meeting recently.

How did it go? Well, we’re still employed (so far). Helping us out with our series of one-liners was ace Roll Call video editor J.M. Rieger, who wove together the following video that demonstrated that we at HOH will always have plenty of material to work with, as long as Congress is in session. In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look:

May 7, 2014

Staffer Stunned by John Culberson’s Monumental Rant

A House staffer learned, after sharing what sounds like a terribly uncomfortable elevator ride with Rep. John Culberson, that not everyone in Washington appreciates our museum-rich landscape.

Staffer Stunned by John Culberson’s Monumental Rant

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

According to our source, the Texas Republican opened up about his disdain for niche memorials, monuments and the like while shuttling from the basement of the Capitol to the second floor for votes.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., purportedly sparked the jarring conversation by needling Culberson about always “asking the tough questions” in GOP conference meetings.

Per the tipster, Culberson immediately launched into an anti-expansionist rant during which he questioned the need to carve out additional showplaces for African-Americans and Latinos — arguing that no one is clamoring to immortalize the struggle of the Czech-American immigrants that presumably populate his western Houston district.

The aide said Culberson then pivoted to fellow rider Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., and mumbled something about being “OK” with a women’s museum because that was “important for little girls.”

“It was just such a striking view into his world,” our spy said of the eye-opening encounter. “I was so profoundly offended. I couldn’t believe this happened in the Capitol.”

For what it’s worth, Culberson appears to be losing this fight.

Construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture is already under way (projected to open in 2015) along Constitution Avenue Northwest. And the House is taking the incredibly brave step of considering a bill authorizing a commission to study the merits of maybe, one day, green-lighting the construction of a permanent home for the nearly 20-year-old National Women’s History Museum project.

Culberson spokesman Stephen Worley told HOH his boss’ biggest beef with museum creep is the financial commitments involved.

“It’s my understanding that Rep. Culberson is concerned with the cost of building new museums when our current network of museums are in need of updates and repair,” Worley shared, adding that the proposed Women’s History Museum is exempt from his scrutiny because it “won’t come at a cost to taxpayers.”

That must come as a relief to Miller, who our tipster said stood stone-faced throughout Culberson’s spiel.

“Creating a commission, which would be paid for and maintained entirely with private funds, to study a future museum is an important step towards memorializing America’s memory of the deep and enduring contributions women have made. It is especially important to fully explore how such a museum would integrate within our existing Smithsonian Institution,” the House Administration Committee chairwoman said in a release following her panel’s endorsement of enshrining the combined efforts of American womanhood that her staff sent along to HOH.

Hastings did not reply to a request for comment.

May 5, 2014

Congressional Democrats Host Pussy Riot

Senate Foreign Relation Committee member Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., and House Judiciary Committee member Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., are giving members of Pussy Riot, the all female punk collective that famously ran afoul of Russian President Vladimir Putin, an open mic on Capitol Hill with which to rail against human rights abuse and political oppression.

Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are scheduled to participate in a press conference Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. over on the Senate side of the Capitol.

The world-renowned protestors, who each spent nearly two years behind bars for publicly badmouthing Putin, have been speaking out about the sorry state of affairs within their home country since their release in late 2013.

The two were reportedly guests at Yahoo!’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner party over the weekend. Full story

May 1, 2014

DOJ Takes a Calculated Risk

Do the math.

DOJ Takes a Calculated Risk

(Facebook Screenshot)

How long before your merry little cabal winds up on a government watch list?

Or, worse yet, on double secret probation

(This message will self-destruct in five … four … three … two … )

Nobody Weird Like Us: Assembling a New Third Party

Call us crazy, but we believe a meme making the rounds on social media could serve as the cornerstone for a hybrid political party boasting the biggest tent possible.

A bold vision, to be sure.

But just imagine all the coalition building opportunities.

Left-wingers could easily fall in line behind the marriage equality plea. (LGBT crowd: check!)

Libertarians should be cool with personal pot use. (Stoner vote: check!)

And lifelong Republicans disenchanted with the status quo can stand their ground on firearms. (NRA members/Second Amendment fans: check!) Full story

April 30, 2014

Boehner Challenger Let Go Over ‘Electile Dysfunction’ Ad

J.D. Winteregg, a tea-party-aligned Republican challenging Speaker John A. Boehner, has lost his post as an adjunct professor at a Christian university for a campaign ad touting his congressional bid as a cure for “electile dysfunction.”

“If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention,” says the ad’s narrator.

Winteregg works as an adjunct French professor at Cedarville University, a Baptist institution in Ohio, but the parody of television’s ubiquitous erectile dysfunction commercials prompted the school to tell him they’d be cutting ties.

“My supervisor from the university called and told me that because of that ad, my relationship with them would end at the end of my contract,” Winteregg told CQ Roll Call.  “It’s a private institution.  They can do what they want and I respect their decision.”

The ad “did not represent the views or values of Cedarville University,” spokesman Mark Weinstein said in a statement. “Cedarville University does not engage in partisan politics and holds a high regard for displaying Christian values in the community.”

Winteregg said he does not regret the campaign ad, acknowledging that his goal was to increase his name recognition and “it worked.”

The high school French teacher said he wanted to focus on the ad’s message. Winteregg said Boehner is “out of touch with us.  He’s been in D.C. too long.”

The ad takes some personal punches at Boehner, saying, “Other signs of ‘electile dysfunction’ may include extreme skin discoloration, the inability to punch oneself out of a wet paper bag or maintain a spine in the face of liberal opposition.”

The video has more than 320,000 views on YouTube.

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