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

Posts in "Nationwide"

September 26, 2014

GOP Capitalizes on #FlipaDistrict Frenzy

Rep. John Kline may not have asked to be thrust into the re-election spotlight. But he’s certainly not shying away from raking in some extra dough after being named public enemy No. 1 in comedian Bill Maher’s inaugural “Flip A District” campaign.

 

GOP Capitalizes on #FlipaDistrict Frenzy

(Screenshot)

 

Kline beat out three other House Republicans for the honor of becoming Maher’s pet project from now until Election Day.

While targeting the regularly low-profile chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee might seem like a stretch to some, the “Real Time” host insists that Kline’s virtual anonymity is exactly what makes him so contemptible.

“It’s much more appropriate to pick somebody who is quietly just doing the job wrong,” Maher told Minnesota Public Radio congressional reporter Brett Neely about the vetting process employed to flesh out this experiment into forced retirement.

The Minnesota Republican, naturally, is refusing to go down without a fight. Full story

Big Easy Mardi Gras Krewe Not Intimidated by ISIS

NEW ORLEANS — Dear Islamic State terrorists: You don’t intimidate the Krewe of Isis down here.

According to the Gambit,  ”the oldest continuously parading Carnival organization in Jefferson Parish isn’t changing its name for anyone.” The rise of the terrorist group ISIS has caused no shortage of angst in otherwise unrelated organizations, such as the ISIS Wallet, a smartphone app that decided to change its name, and the Institute for Science and International Security, which is sticking with the acronym it has had for years.

Another Mardi Gras krewe in Mobile, Ala., the Order of Isis, has decided to go with OOI. But Jefferson Parish’s all-female parade group? Not going anywhere.

“It is our history and our name and for 42 years it has represented proud American women, many of whom have family in the military, or have served in the military themselves,” Krewe of Isis Captain Sherrell Gorman told Gambit. “We’re not giving up our name, our dignity or our identity for something like that.”

Related Story:

ISIS or ISIL? On the Hill It Just Depends

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 25, 2014

Jim Langevin’s Meet and Three

Rep. Jim Langevin took to the streets Wednesday to become better acquainted with the mobile hospitality scene back home.

 

 

Three made-to-order meals later — or what self-loathing comedian Louis CK might refer to as a “bang-bang-bang” — the Rhode Island Democrat had had his fill. But he’s far from done digging into the Ocean State’s unique charms.

“Tourism and hospitality are central to the overall Rhode Island economy, and our food-related businesses – from five-star restaurants to bountiful farmlands and, of course, food trucks – play a major role in strengthening and further developing our state’s reputation as a world-class destination,” Langevin, who began his statewide dining trek this past winter, said via email. “I learned so much during my RI Food Week, and this week has really given me the chance to highlight some of the other excellent food businesses in our state.”

During this stop at Greater Kennedy Plaza in Providence, Langevin got up close and personal with a handful of rolling lunch wagons.

Per his office, Langevin huddled with several food truck operators but only sampled select fare from three: Portu-Galo (Patatas Bravas), Rocket Fine Street Food (Parisienne burger) and Noble Knots (tater tots). For those keeping score at home, that’s two servings of fried spuds and a caramelized onion-covered beef bomb.

A solid start, sir.

But here’s how this hired mouth would have played it:

  • Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ: Confidence is high fiery pork kimchee and pepper paste-covered chicken Gochujang sliders — in sweet Portuguese buns, no less — would be my jam.
  • Noble Knots: Gotta go chicken confit sammie (you had me at smoked gouda). And mayhaps a double order of tater tots — smothered in the mushroom hash (booyah!).
  • Ooh Mommi Foods: What has two thumbs and likes the sound of crispy oyster mushroom po’boys and chocolate sea salt treats? (This guy!)
  • Poco Loco Tacos: I suspect I could get down with some avocado fritters and a chorizadilla.
  • Portu Galo: Um Prego no Pao sanduíche e cachorro-quente, por favor!
  • Rocket Fine Street Food: One Man in the Moon burger, please. (Though I’d add Dijon mustard into the mix.) And you best believe I’d polish it all off with a rhubarb mint pop.

All that matters, however, is that Langevin ultimately left fully satisfied. Full story

September 23, 2014

George Takei Votes for More Gay Babies

In a new public service announcement for Our Time, entertainer/gay rights activist George Takei urges all Americans to stand and up and be counted on Election Day.

He also prods heterosexuals to make more whoopee.

“I’m talking to straight young couples because you are going to be producing the gay babies of tomorrow,” Takei counsels.

The multitalented celeb has become a force to be reckoned with in recent years. He’s the subject of a deeply personal documentary. He’s published books, brought joy to millions on satellite radio, developed a signature fragrance and even fielded offers to practice the art of diplomacy.

Takei’s made his presence known here in Washington as well, weighing in on legislative pals old and new.

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Rock the Vote — Where ‘Kimye’ and Politics Collide

Keeping up with the latest Kardashian gossip and knowing the difference between the names on your ballot aren’t mutually exclusive.

At least not for Ashley Spillane, the president of Rock the Vote, a national nonprofit that has organized get-out-the-vote efforts for more than two decades, including a national voter registration day on Tuesday.

“I think the importance is that there are millions and millions of Americans paying attention to what the Kardashians are doing and it’s actually truly OK to be interested in popular culture and politics at the same time,” Spillane said. “Everyone cares about issues.” Full story

September 22, 2014

GOP Mixes, (Briefly) Mingles With Log Cabin Republicans

Not even the lure of spending some quality time with a Cheney could compel congressional Republicans to hang around the Log Cabin Republican’s Spirit of Lincoln dinner in D.C. for longer than it takes to watch an episode of “Modern Family.”

Mind you, the Cheney in question was Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and gay marriage advocate who famously fought with her sister Liz during the latter’s short-lived bid to wrest Wyoming’s Senate seat away from Michael B. Enzi.

 

GOP Mixes, (Briefly) Mingles With Log Cabin Republicans

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Still, it did appear that more Republican lawmakers made an effort to make nice this year than did in 2013.

Full story

Artists Aim to Halt Political Pigeonholing

Democrats vs. Republicans. Red vs. Blue. Us vs. Them.

It seems that everywhere one looks these days, bright lines are being thrown up to swiftly categorize and completely compartmentalize those who would dare disagree with any closely-held world view.

Well, Enigma of New York has had enough of it.

 

Artists Aim to Halt Political Pigeonholing

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The art collective has launched a new campaign, chronicled under the #wethepurple umbrella on social media, designed to get the general public to quit feeding into political polarization.

The opening gambit in the group’s bid to eradicate ideological grandstanding was to amend 100-odd stop signs in Washington, D.C., and New York City to read “Stop Fighting, Congress. #Wethepurple.” According to an EoN member, the stick-on addendums were put in place late Sept. 7. The plan was to get District residents’ attention just as Congress returned to work on Sept. 8. Full story

September 19, 2014

Michele Bachmann Asks Al Franken to Help Defeat Al Franken

Michele Bachmann Asks Al Franken to Help Defeat Al Franken

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michele Bachmann wants Sen. Al Franken to make a campaign contribution — to defeat Al Franken.

The retiring Minnesota Republican congresswoman’s campaign fundraising pitch for her home state’s GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden reached the personal residence of Franken in Minneapolis, according to a copy of the mailer obtained by HOH.

Full story

September 18, 2014

Sports Stars’ Stumbles Spark Fresh Round of ‘Slam the Solons’

As if engineering new ways to kinda-sorta green light foreign wars without getting booted out of office in a few weeks weren’t stressful enough, elected officials must once again — thanks to wildly inappropriate behavior by marquee athletes — contend with age-old accusations about everything that’s wrong with Capitol Hill.

The rapid succession of domestic scandals that have upended the careers of professional running backs Ray Rice (aggravated assault) of the Baltimore Ravens, and Adrian Peterson (indicted for child abuse) of the Minnesota Vikings appears to have stirred up anti-congressional sentiments, leading to the reappearance of a meme designed to highlight pols’ absolutely worst qualities.

 

Sports Stars’ Stumbles Spark Fresh Round of Slam the Solons

(Screenshot)

 

Per the urban myth slayers at Snopes, the original laundry list of political loserdom was most likely distilled from a five-part series called “Congress: America’s Criminal Class” which Capital Hill Blue unveiled in 1999.  Six years later, the muckraking website revisited the myriad personal and professional shortcomings documented in the original expose and found a governing body still rife with human imperfection.

Team Snopes had a lot of issues with the original barrage, citing content ranging from distressingly vague (“the original publisher has steadfastly declined to provide any documentation for these claims”) to borderline absurd (“they would have no way of knowing how many members of Congress had been stopped for traffic violations without being cited”).

None of that, however, Team Snopes suggests, has halted armchair critics from subbing in the target du jour (British Parliament, the NFL, etc.) to get their preferred point across.

 

Sports Stars’ Stumbles Spark Fresh Round of Slam the Solons

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

Making up horror stories about Congress seems like such an incredible waste of time.

Their real-life misdeeds are so much more engrossing:

The war at home

  • Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.: Love’s labor’s lost.
  • Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.: Perfect strangers
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.: Do as I say, not as I do.

Sexcapades

  • Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La.: Your cheating heart
  • Ex-Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill.: Does not compute.
  • Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.: Danger is his middle name.

Self-destructive tendencies

  • Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y.: Give me somethin’ to break.
  • Ex-Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.: You holding?
  • Ex-Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill.: Shopaholic

Questionable judgment

  • Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas: Rules are for suckers.
  • Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga.: What, me worry?
  • Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont.: Don’t quote me on that.

Meanwhile, at least one incensed lawmaker is refusing to let the badly bruised NFL off the hook.

 

 

Guess that means the ball’s in your court, Web trolls.

Related:

Female Senators Write Letter to Goodell, Want NFL to Adopt ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policy

Blumenthal Floats Changes to NFL Antitrust Exemption (Video)

Critics of Washington Team Name Target NFL Nonprofit Status (Video)

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Getting Our Fill of Vacationland

Getting Our Fill of Vacationland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine — Two airplane flights (four hours in airports, combined) and roughly 120 minutes of creeping along two-lane roads that snake their way through stoplight-free Northeastern hamlets later, I finally arrived in the bayfront oasis I would call home for the next few days.

The most pressing problem, other than a serious lack of sleep, was how to kill the 17 hours until my first official work dinner.

Coming up to investigate the gastronomic enterprises Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree is fostering on North Haven was always meant to be the crux of my assignment. The critic in me, however, could not pass up the opportunity to feast upon  — without completely spoiling my appetite — this personally uncharted territory.

I pressed Pingree for recommendations, but the savvy lawmaker kept things totally diplomatic. Full story

September 17, 2014

Grover Norquist’s Burning Man Dream Team

Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist so enjoyed his time at Burning Man this year that he’d like to return next summer with a “Dream Team” of Republican lawmakers.

A festival virgin, Norquist admitted to HOH that his presuppositions of what transpires each August in the pop-up community in northwestern Nevada might have been a tad off-base.

“I thought everybody dressed up almost in costume,” he said, sharing that he’d carted along a Guy Fawkes mask, a Russian-style army jacket and French foreign legion hat (complete with neck flaps) for his four-day stay in the desert.

Once there, the conservative firebrand quickly realized being a freethinker doesn’t always correlate to acting freaky. Full story

The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree Experience

The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree Experience

Boats sit moored in the harbor off North Haven, Maine, home of the Nebo Lodge owned by Pingree. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine — Once aboard the boat that will speed us to North Haven, a Connecticut man opens up about his affinity for the Pine Tree State.

“It’s just waves and rocks and sky. It’s very relaxing after a year of work,” he said of his annual sojourn north.

A Camden, Maine, resident relates how he and his wife make their way across the white-capped expanse for dinner at least once each summer; he hopes to spend a night at Nebo Lodge sometime in order to take the full measure of the island.

The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree ExperienceSo go the conversations aboard the Equinox, the privately owned boat tasked with moving mainlanders across the 12 miles of open water that separates Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree’s dining empire from the contiguous United States.

Equinox Captain John Morin calculates he’s transported some 2,200 people to North Haven over the course of this summer. And he loves to educate them about how their patronage benefits the community at large.

Full story

September 16, 2014

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NORTH HAVEN, Maine — Should she ever tire of battling opposing lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Rep. Chellie Pingree could always kick back and indulge in one of her favorite pastimes: shaking cocktails for the pleasure seekers who pour into her farm-to-table restaurant each summer.

“I am always telling people that it’s good to have a backup career when you are in Congress. And being a bartender isn’t really that different,” the Maine Democrat shared during a candid discussion about her blossoming dining empire.

Still, the three-term lawmaker insists she never planned on becoming a hospitality maven.

“When I bought the inn, I really intended it to be more of a community project to help create a few jobs … and make sure that it was easier for people to find lodging when they had a guest coming,” Pingree said.

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

But her budding portfolio, which includes the critically acclaimed Nebo Lodge and its larder-filling sibling, Turner Farm, appears to be steadily outperforming her modest ambitions. She currently employs about 70-plus people (predominantly women) in a community comprised of around 300 year-round residents.

How this fledgling restaurateur managed to become the toast of her floating-in-Penobscot-Bay town is no big mystery.

She planted the seeds for this unexpected success decades ago. Full story

September 15, 2014

Tim Ryan Dresses Down Urban Outfitters Over Sweatshirt-gate

Bizarrely stained outer wear that Urban Outfitters rather unbelievably tied to Kent State University has made Rep. Tim Ryan’s blood boil.

Tim Ryan Dresses Down Urban Outfitters Over Sweatshirt gate

(Screenshot)

 

“On May 4, 1970, four students lost their lives at Kent State University and changed our country forever. It is deplorable for Urban Outfitters to exploit the pain and suffering of this national tragedy for their gain,” the Ohio Democrat said in a tersely worded official statement. “May 4th was a seminal and transformational moment in American history and we should never lose sight of its immense impact. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

Ryan is referring, of course, to the horror scene that unfolded in Kent, Ohio, some 44 years ago, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Vietnam War protestors, killing four students and wounding nine others.

Full story

Rock On, Rockland

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine – It may be a small town, but Rockland’s got a lot going for it.

The Maine Lobster Festival drives droves of shellfish lovers to the shores of the Penobscot Bay each August, the plastic bib-draped masses assembling to honor (and devour) the region’s claim to fame.

Bumping into newsmakers is evidently not uncommon. One New Yorker, who relocated to the area with his wife after their youngest flew the coop, said he catches sight of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. from time to time in neighboring St. George.

“He’s totally normal up here. Doesn’t like anyone to call him judge,” the Empire State expat said of his dealings with the summering Supreme Courter.

Natives, it would seem, have very specific tastes when it comes to conducting their day-to-day affairs.

Core concerns include keeping:

Activities al fresco (topless freecycling, anyone?)

 

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

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