Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 17, 2014

Posts in "Human Props"

April 16, 2014

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

Another day, another few thousand costumed characters kicking back outside the U.S. Capitol. That’s how Awesome Con organizers see things coming into focus on Friday, when they’ll attempt to assemble a collection of cosplayers by the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol in a bid to break a standing world record.

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

(Courtesy Awesome Con)

The point of the whimsical stunt is to trump the swarm of would-be superheroes that mugged for cameras outside China’s World Joyland in 2011.

According to one account of that Guinness World Record-breaking gathering, approximately 1,700 people showed up to participate in the momentous occasion — but roughly 10 percent were disqualified by stickler GWR judges because they had modeled their attire on “characters from video games, TV shows or story books instead of comic books.”

The remaining 1,530 cosplayers still carried the day, surpassing a previous effort during which 1,016 comic book fans stepped out in full regalia.

As we learned last summer, during our inaugural swing through Comic-Con, cosplay is all about freedom of expression and stretching one’s imagination.

Awesome Con Attempts to Morph D.C. Into Cosplay Capital of the World

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Full story

April 7, 2014

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

Conservative artist/provocateur Sabo is no stranger to mixing members of Congress and California, as can be seen from his mock-up of a recent Ted Cruz, R-Texas, event in Beverly Hills.

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

But now that the Breitbart News Network has expanded to the Golden State, Sabo is helping mark the bi-coastal migration with a fresh batch of eyebrow-raising art.

The politically charged images, including one of a provocatively dressed and posed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., served as the welcome mat for the fledgling site, an act of aggression fitting with the anonymous artist’s MO.

“My aim as an artist is to be as dirty, ground level, and mean as any Liberal artist out there, more so if I can,” Sabo, who describes himself as a Republican and ex-Marine, declares on his personal website. He has previously taken shots at President Barack Obama and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, but elected to widen his scope this time around to better suit the media rollout.

Sabo assured HOH, however, that he is not on the Breitbart payroll.

“Just consider me a fan of Andrew, a kindred spirit with a common mission,” he suggested via email. “My contribution to said ‘mission’ is to help Conservatives find their creative voice. I admit my approach is rather hard edge. … That’s just the way I like it.”

He declined to specify how many posters had been papered across Los Angeles and indicated that it’s still too early too tell which anti-Democrat depiction will cause the biggest commotion.

“The posters just hit the street so, I can not comment on which has pissed ‘Progressives’ off more. I hope they all equally tie their panties in knots,” Sabo said.

Democrats here in Washington, D.C., had no such problem picking their least favorite contribution to the arts — the rather unflattering image of Pelosi.

“To say the least, the Breitbart News ad is foul, offensive, and disrespectful to all women. It is a disgusting new low and would be reprehensible against any woman — regardless of party,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., stated in a release. “It’s no wonder the Republicans are having problems appealing to women. If GOP leaders are serious about their rebrand, then both their elected and Party leadership should condemn this outrageous behavior, call on Breitbart News to immediately remove the ad, and not continue to use this website as a forum for their views.”

Per Sabo, Pelosi was on his hit list because she is “a typical gun grabbing liberal who fights to insure only the ‘authorities’ can possess firearms that way they, the political class, can run over us anytime they want without fear of retribution from the peasants.”

The others drawing fire — “They all suck, some slightly more than the other but not by much,” Sabo groused — this time around include:

California Gov. Jerry Brown

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

“Jerry Brown is back-wash. Californians were dumb enough to have brought back [him] from the dead; talk about a zombie invasion,” Sabo said of the boomerang pol.

 

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

“Zuckerberg is a tech-klepto who’s nose is waaaaay too far up everyone’s business,” Sabo said.

 

CNN personality Piers Morgan

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

“Piers Morgan needs to go back home,” Sabo counseled.

Breitbart readers were, by and large, rather pleased to see their common enemies held up to ridicule and scorn:

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

 

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

One rabble-rouser even urged Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to take notes, but doubted the higher ups would hear her plaintive cries.

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

Meanwhile, a left-leaning observer vowed to counter the visual offensive by coining a new definition for “Breitbart” a la the homoerotic connotation sex columnist Dan Savage affixed to former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., years ago.

Guerilla Artist Skewers Dems to Spark Breitbart California Launch

(Screenshot)

And while he may be persona non grata over in the House, Sabo appears to be in good with at least one member in the other chamber, the aforementioned Mr. Cruz.

Sabo reimagined the tea party favorite as an inked-up outlaw a few weeks back, and said the Texas Republican responded in kind. “I’m happy to report Senator Ted Cruz has a pair [of posters] and has yet to throw me under the bus,” Sabo said of his congressional fan base.

Cruz made light of the gritty depiction on Twitter, offering one small correction to the rather outlandish homage:

 

 

April 4, 2014

Harry Reid’s Instagram Feed is Picture Perfect

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be new to Instagram, but the veteran lawmaker is clearly well rehearsed in the art of putting one’s best face forward.

 

 

Though just a few hours old, the Nevada Democrat’s online photo diary is already chock full of cookie-cutter campaign art, including:

The Power Huddle

Just, you know, shooting the breeze with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif. Full story

March 24, 2014

Vegetarian Lobby Plants Bug in Michelle Obama’s Ear

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association have recruited a number of professional athletes to discuss the benefits of adhering to a plant-based lifestyle at an April 1 luncheon.

But the diet-conscious crusaders really want first lady and “Let’s Move!” founder Michelle Obama to throw her weight behind their mission.

“As you know, obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, account for 70 percent of all deaths in the United States. The good news is that if every American adds two servings of fruits and vegetables to his or her diet, his or her risk for all-cause mortality will automatically decrease by 10 percent. If we move toward an entirely plant-based diet, we can cut the risk of heart disease—the biggest killer in America—in half,” PCRM Founder and President Dr. Neal Barnard alerted FLOTUS in a March 24 letter inviting her to the “Teaming Up 4 Health” preview party scheduled to take place April 1 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in room 201 on the House side of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Barnard also invited Education Secretary Arne Duncan and acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak to the healthy eating event.

The luncheon, which will feature complimentary garden vegetable wraps supplied by Whole Foods, gourmet salads (carrot and beet, spring mix medley) and vegan baked goods from Banana Love Mufffins, is open to everyone, though organizers are hoping to cap attendance at 150.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to RSVP to: jberger@pcrm.org.

As part of the program, Barnard will lead a discussion with U.S. Olympic swimmer Kate Ziegler, triathlete and ultra-marathoner Brendan Brazier, taekwondo world champion Daba Modibo Keita and CBS radio host Chuck Carroll.

Vegetarian Lobby Plants Bug in Michelle Obamas Ear

(Courtesy Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

The group will also preview the “Teaming up 4 Health” campaign scheduled to go live April 8 — a multimedia effort set to include video testimonials, collectible trading cards and quickie recipes. Full story

March 6, 2014

A Top-Down View of #CPAC2014

Here’s what conservative conferees have on their minds scalps at CPAC:

Clean pates

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Rainbow-striped mohawks

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Impeccably arranged ‘dos

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Colonial-era head coverings

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Stetsons

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Camouflage ball caps

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Fedoras

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Combat helmets

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Russian-style furriness

A Top Down View of #CPAC2014

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Okay, that last one is a doorman here at the Gaylord. But still, awesome.

 

March 3, 2014

Fitness Lobby Cheers on Earl Blumenauer, Shelley Moore Capito

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association will once again flood Capitol Hill with famous athletes on March 4 and 5, taking lawmakers to the mat for additional physical education grants and workout-related tax breaks.

The SFIA is expected to take time out from the full court press to honor two legislative movers, Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Shelley Moore Capito. The dynamic duo will be honored during an invitation-only reception scheduled to take place Tuesday from 5:30-8 p.m. in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

In addition to riding his bicycle almost everywhere he goes, a Blumenauer aide said the Oregon Democrat fills his days with kinetic activities. Per his office, Blumenauer’s daily routine is typically crowded with vigorous morning walks, which he typically takes with California Democrat Sam Farr, and stress-relieving yoga sessions (in the members’ gym).

The avid runner — Team Blumenauer says he’s knocked out 36 marathons (and counting) — also maintains a special birthday tradition: walking one lap around the quarter-mile track of a hometown high school for each year of his life.

Fitness Lobby Cheers on Earl Blumenauer, Shelley Moore Capito

Blumenauer is known for for being a fitness guy and for his bow ties. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“I don’t think anyone has ever made it through the whole walk with him,” Blumenauer spokesman Patrick Malone said of the now 16-plus mile (Blumenauer is 65) challenge.

The West Virginia Republican prefers getting sweaty around diamonds. Capito is a vet of the Congressional Women’s Softball Game and co-captain of the members’ team, and also played on the GOP’s Congressional Baseball Team in years past.

Fitness Lobby Cheers on Earl Blumenauer, Shelley Moore Capito

Capito knows her way around a diamond. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Off the field, Capito stretches her legs solo and works her core with friends.

“I run four miles four times a week, mostly outside, and I’m running through the finish line for the Senate,” she quipped, adding that she’s done one half-marathon and pines to tackle a full one.

“I have also been doing spinning and yoga with Tim Murphy, Tulsi Gabbard and Paul Ryan,” Capito shared of her workout crew.

Sports stars expected to fan out across the halls of Congress during this year’s “National Health Through Fitness Day” include: NFL legend/reality TV star Herschel Walker, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin, Baltimore Ravens players Matt Elam and Lardarius Webb, Olympic softball gold medalist Jennie Finch, Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones, Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Tommy John, Ultimate Fighting Championship brawler Benson Henderson, three-time track and field All-American Brenda Martinez, Olympic water polo silver medalist Peter Hudnut, former NFL player John Booty and four time NFL Pro-Bowler and ex-Washington Redskin Ken Harvey.

February 25, 2014

Priscilla Presley, Paul Williams Storm the Hill; More Celebs to Come

The latest smattering of fast falling flakes to blanket the area could not keep advocacy-minded entertainers away from the Capitol on Tuesday. And there’s still more help from Hollywood already on the way.

Actress-turned-animal-rights-activist and former Elvis spouse Priscilla Presley made the rounds on behalf of the Humane Society, stumping for equine rights and relief from soring.

Priscilla Presley, Paul Williams Storm the Hill; More Celebs to Come

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A tipster placed Presley at neighboring 701 Restaurant the night before, sharing that the world famous “Naked Gun” co-star broke bread for several hours with friends at the pol-pleasing establishment.

Paul Williams, ’70s-songwriter-turned-president and chairman of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, proved that he’s still a big man on this campus by tag-teaming pressers across Capitol Hill.

Priscilla Presley, Paul Williams Storm the Hill; More Celebs to Come

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Williams helped usher in the new Library of Congress exhibit, “ASCAP: One Hundred Years and Beyond” and shared his thoughts with lawmakers about music royalties.

Bono, meanwhile, didn’t make it all the way to the halls of Congress — sending, instead, 250-odd friends to share his concerns with lawmakers.

Priscilla Presley, Paul Williams Storm the Hill; More Celebs to Come

(Courtesy Ralph Alswang)

A tipster said the U2 frontman surprised members of his ONE Campaign by popping into town Feb. 22 for a brief visit during which he “thanked the volunteers for their time and dedication to the fight against extreme global poverty.” The pep talk must have worked: ONE aides from more than 44 states were expected to take 222 meetings with House and Senate staffers Tuesday.

And the celeb worship is far from over.

Come Wednesday, the Dirksen Senate Office Building will be the place to be, thanks to dueling hearings featuring a pair of Tinsel Town heavies.

Actor/screenwriter Seth Rogen kicks things of at 2 p.m. by joining ex-Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., for the second round of questioning during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education hearing about Alzheimer’s. Rogen, whose mother-in-law has the debilitating disease, serves as a “celebrity champion” for the National Alzheimer’s Association.

Not to be outdone, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has snagged Academy Award-winning director — and the next in line to don Batman’s iconic cowl — Ben Affleck for a discussion poised to begin at 2:15 regarding peace prospects in the Republic of Congo. Affleck co-founded the philanthropic Eastern Congo Initiative in 2010.

January 29, 2014

Republicans Flock to Duck Dynasty Star

While Democrats were busy staking out POTUS-accessible aisle seats hours ahead of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Republican lawmakers had plenty of time to mix and mingle with those on hand for the political spectacle.

Who did GOP solons overwhelmingly seek out and exuberantly squeal about meeting all over social media?

“Duck Dynasty” scion Willie Robertson, ‘natch.

 

 

The reality TV personality attended the annual address as a guest of Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., the freshman lawmaker Robertson helped get elected to Congress last fall.

But McAllister was far from the only pol that piled into photographs with the star-spangled-bandana wearing, untucked-shirt-sporting outdoorsman. Full story

January 28, 2014

Duck Dynasty Star Stirs Up Pre-SOTU Drama

Duck Dynasty Star Stirs Up Pre SOTU Drama

McAllister, left, invited Willie Robertson to the State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Twitter went a little crazy Tuesday, after it appeared that a pair of U.S. lawmakers might be trying to lay claim to the same reality TV star as their State of the Union “get.”

Congressional reporter Jamie Dupree touched off the social media firestorm by blasting out that Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., had snagged A&E personality Willie Robertson for the big night.

 

 

The problem was that Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McAllister had already trumpeted that Robertson was accompanying him to the House chamber.

 

 

Team Inhofe suggested that something had gotten lost in translation.

“A senator was searching for available tickets for the Duck Dynasty crew, and Senator Inhofe was asked if he had an available ticket. Despite what has been reported, Willie is not using Senator Inhofe’s ticket,” an Inhofe aide told HOH.

So, who does Inhofe plan to have on his arm during the main event?

“At this time, the ticket is available for his wife, who is in town,” staff stated.

Robertson starred in an ad supporting McAllister in Louisiana’s 5th District special election.

January 27, 2014

Pols Seed SOTU Crowd With Living Talking Points

President Barack Obama may be the only one with an open mic during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, but members of Congress are surrounding themselves with guests who speak volumes about their personal priorities.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are rolling out the red carpet for flesh-and-blood political statements from all walks of life, including:

Budding Politicos

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has invited 11-year-old Zev Dickstein, an aspiring political activist, to accompany her to the speech. Per Warren’s office, Dickstein began volunteering on political campaigns two years ago and has already served as campaign manager for a committee race at Cambridge Street Upper School in Cambridge, Mass.

Combat Veterans

Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, has invited retired Marine Staff Sgt. Johnny ”Joey” Jones to accompany him to the speech. Jones, who lost the majority of both of his legs while disarming improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, now assists a slew of veteran-aiding organizations (Boot Campaign, Armed Forces Foundation, Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors).

Food Insecurity

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., has invited Witnesses to Hunger member Tianna Gaines-Turner to accompany him during the speech. The working mom and advocate is part of a network of cash-strapped Americans on the front lines of the war against hunger. A Witness to Hunger aide said Casey has been a staunch supporter for years, helping the group organize an exhibition of members’ photos in the Russell Rotunda as well as back home in Pennsylvania.

Forestry

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., has invited former lumber mill operator Jennifer Phillippi to accompany him during the speech. As the owner of the now-shuttered Rough and Ready Lumber operation, Phillippi remains out of work due to a shortage of raw materials. According to Walden, the Senate could provide some relief by acting on a languishing bill the House approved last fall. Full story

January 16, 2014

Georgia Farmers Are Just Nuts About Saxby Chambliss

Peanut producers in the Peach State want to help draw Sen. Saxby Chambliss out of his shell.

The second-term Georgia Republican on Thursday become only the fifth inductee into the Peanut Hall of Fame, an elite club — “Induction in the Peanut Hall of Fame is the highest recognition one can receive from the growers in the state of Georgia,” the congratulatory press release asserts — created by the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Previous honorees include President Jimmy Carter and the late Sen. Herman Talmadge, D-Ga.

The trade group hailed Chambliss’ leadership as a former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, effectively commending him for never cracking during farm bill negotiations. Full story

January 10, 2014

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

One minute you’re stuffing your face with a burrito, and the next the Secret Service is snooping through your bags and subjecting you to a full body scan.

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

(John Gramlich/CQ Roll Call)

This is what happens when the president decides to chow down at the same D.C. restaurant as you.

So it went on Friday afternoon, when President Barack Obama trekked up to The Coupe in Columbia Heights for a policy luncheon at the 24-hour diner.

Patrons (this reporter included) were tipped off that someone notable was en route when an army of suits and earpieces showed up to sweep the place. The bomb-sniffing dog quickly changed the focus of everyone’s VIP theory from singer Chris Brown, who was in town for his arraignment earlier in the week, to either POTUS or FLOTUS.

Obama strode in a few minutes later and worked his way around the diner, shaking hands and making small talk with the 50 or so customers in the place.

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

(John Gramlich/CQ Roll Call)

Lest anyone think the infant-kissing stops when you’re a lame duck, he also picked up some babies — one of whom daringly played with 44’s face. Another baby appeared to be having a bad hair day, prompting Obama to jokingly compare the windswept child to coiffure kingpin Donald Trump.

According to the White House, the purpose of the president’s visit was to dine with five young people “who are spearheading creative outreach efforts to connect with and help enroll young consumers” in coverage expanded by the Affordable Care Act.

POTUS Crashed My Leisurely Lunch

(John Gramlich/CQ Roll Call)

The group huddled together for about an hour, just five feet away from your Columbia Heights pooler, with Obama wearing shirtsleeves and ordering what appeared to be the Coupe Burger — accompanied by sauteed spinach as well as a side of hot-sauce-laced onion rings — drinking iced tea and eventually paying for the meal with a credit card.

No word on the generosity of the president’s tip.

December 31, 2013

HOH Year in Review: It Takes a Village Edition

Keeping tabs on all the shenanigans our elected officials get into is what this column is all about. And, as you might have noticed, there’s more than enough ridiculousness to go around.

My former partner, Neda Semnani, was a wiz at ferreting out amazing tidbits about blundering pols and sex-starved government workers. And I manage to stumble into chuckle-worthy happenings every once in a while.

But, as we all learned from 80’s screwball comedies, the name of the game is teamwork.

Which is why I would like to lavish praise on all my hardworking CQRC colleagues for always keeping their radars up for bizarre political behavior.

Our entire newsroom helps make this little column shine.

Here’s just a sample of some of the whip-smart reporting I most enjoyed reading this year: Full story

HOH Year in Review: Ode to Semnani Edition

As die-hard HOH fans are undoubtedly aware, this institution underwent a paradigm shift earlier this year when my co-columnist and partner, Neda Semnani, took her leave in order to pursue her dream of becoming a full-fledged author.

HOH Year in Review: Ode to Semnani Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The indomitable yin to my sophomoric yang, Semnani approached each looming deadline with verve and aplomb.

Armed with incisive wit, a healthy amount of skepticism and a burning desire to crawl inside the headspaces of those who make their living from supposedly exercising the will of the vox populi, Semnani fearlessly probed those in power — and their often tragicomic associates — until she got to the heart of what was really going on.

I miss her every day.

Luckily, I’ve got these gems to remind me of how lucky I was to have worked alongside a true congressional junkie. Full story

December 24, 2013

Team Lujan Grisham Looks Ready to Eat

Team Lujan Grisham Looks Ready to Eat

(Screenshot)

How are your Christmas Eve dinner plans coming along?

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