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July 28, 2014

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May 12, 2014

Diaz-Balart Aide Assists in Pot Bust

An aide to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., has sent some bumbling drug dealer’s dreams up in smoke.

 

 

After stumbling upon a suspicious looking bundle somewhere down in South Florida, the congressional staffer did exactly as Homeland Security has instructed — who knew anyone actually paid attention to those “if you see something, say something” ads plastered just about everywhere? — alerting the proper authorities about the puzzling parcel. Per Diaz-Balart, the plastic-wrapped parcel turned out to contain marijuana.

No word on how much weed the Miami Police Department recovered at the scene. Or whether Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., angrily flung a pristine pack of rolling papers into the waves a little bit further up the beach.

May 7, 2014

Alan Simpson Dishes About Sex, Love and Marriage

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson is truly milking this whole “I’m-retired-and-over-80-so-I-can-say-whatever-I-want-now” thing but good, letting it all hang out in an interview about affairs of the heart with WNYC reporter Anna Sale.

Alan Simpson Dishes About Sex, Love and Marriage

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

During her totally frank talk with the randy octogenarian, Sale discovers that the Wyoming Republican favors coarse language (“He peppers his sentence with cuss words,” she observes), reading “Othello” helped him recognize his own jealousy issues and that he still very much enjoys playing grab-ass with his wife of 60 years, Ann Simpson.

Moreover, the ex-lawmaker has no illusions about what it takes to keep a modern-day marriage from falling apart.

“It’s called sorting crap. But you have to take risks,” he counsels the divorce-scarred Sale.

Need to hear more?

The entirety of the almost NSFW-exchange — which was, curiously, set in motion by Sale’s lovelorn beau — should keep any helpless romantics out there completely riveted.

May 5, 2014

Angus King Extends Reid an Open Invitation to Maine (Video)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  scored an unexpected invitation from Angus King to visit the independent senator’s home state of Maine.

Angus King Extends Reid an Open Invitation to Maine (Video)

King says Reid is welcome anytime in Maine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The invitation came after the Nevada Democrat conceded in a floor speech recognizing National Travel and Tourism Week that he had only once visited the state that calls itself Vacationland,  with King presiding over the chamber.

“This industry’s impact is not unique to Nevada. The presiding officer’s state of Maine, people go there year round — it slows down a little in the winter time — people go there year round because of the beauty of the state of Maine,” Reid said. “I’ve only been to Maine [on] one occasion, but I came as a tourist. I wanted to see that beautiful state, and I was able to do that.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:07 p.m.
Nationwide

Alanis Morissette Sings Her Heart Out for Marianne Williamson

Award-winning songstress Alanis Morissette has released a new inspirational ditty. And it’s all about making the world a better place — by voting for House hopeful Marianne Williamson.

The anthemic “Today” — which includes the refrain, “Less we revive this constitution/From sure disintegration/Live out this revelation/Today” — was recorded by Morissette explicitly for Williamson’s campaign. Williamson, a self-help guru, is vying for the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., in a race that has brought out dozens of potential successors looking to cast themselves as the official face of Hollywood in Washington, D.C.

Per Williamson’s campaign, Morissette was approached about putting together a musical tribute a few weeks back and immediately jumped at the opportunity.

“I was attempting to capture the passion, mission, activism, deep humanity and tenderness of Marianne, the new political sensibility she represents and the consciousness that produced it,” Morissette shared on YouTube about the writing experience, adding, “I love this song. I love this woman and I love a world that would vote for her.” Full story

May 1, 2014

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 29, 2014

‘Compared to What’ Prompts Barney Frank to Look Back (and Forward)

Seeing one’s life unspool before you on the silver screen would undoubtedly make anybody take stock in whom they had surrounded themselves with, what all had been accomplished and perhaps what, if anything, there is left to do.

It certainly did for retired Rep. Barney Frank.

‘Compared to What’ Prompts Barney Frank to Look Back (and Forward)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The Massachusetts Democrat mentally ping-ponged through the space-time continuum while watching, “Compared to What,” a documentary about his political and private life that debuted this past weekend at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

In the movie, Frank credits the late Rep. Allard K. Lowenstein, D-N.Y., with motivating him to travel to Mississippi in 1963 to champion civil/voting rights, and is later shown wrestling with a decision to break the news about his sexuality to friend and mentor Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., D-Mass.

During a post-screening Q&A with co-executive producer Alec Baldwin, Frank revealed that he was, in fact, close to a number of lawmakers, both past and present.

The members he said he missed most include:

  • Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
  • Ex-Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif.
  • Former North Carolina Democrat-cum-Federal Housing Finance Agency Director  Melvin Watt
  • Ex-Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo.
  • Ex-Rep. Ronald V. Dellums, D-Calif.

He also expressed affection for Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine — an e-vangelist who, apparently, helped drag Frank into the 21st century.

A devotee of traditional newspapers — the voracious reader is seen devouring different sections of his beloved New York Times in just about every scene of the film during which he’s not being directly interviewed — Frank noted that he once borrowed a tablet from Pingree. That experience evidently gave him a new appreciation for the public fascination with e-readers.

“I’m going to get the Kindle,” he alerted the assembled film aficionados at Tribeca. Full story

April 28, 2014

No Joke: ‘Compared to What’ Edutains New Wave of Barney Frank Fans (Video)

No Joke: ‘Compared to What’ Edutains New Wave of Barney Frank Fans (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

NEW YORK — Flying directly in the face of confidence-draining legislative dysfunction and abysmally low congressional approval ratings, the few hundred Tribeca Film Festival fans who joined ex-Rep. Barney Frank for the emotional roller coaster ride of reliving his past came out on the other side laughing, cheering and feeling a whole helluva lot better about our elected officials.

In reality, the new documentary (“Compared to What”) surrounding the retired Massachusetts Democrat’s final year in Congress covers all the bases — the meteoric rise to power, career-threatening scandals and hard-won happy ending — of a soapy political drama.

Many of the folks who converged on the School of Visual Arts Theatre on Sunday here in Chelsea didn’t make the trip to gawk at the skeletons in Frank’s closet or revel in partisan warfare.

If anything, several attendees came searching for a glimpse into what makes the once and future comeback king of Capitol Hill tick.

“I want to know more about him,” Carmen Hendershott, a self-described liberal, said of her sudden interest in the retired pol. “I’m aware that Barney Frank is a stand-up, liberal politician. And I came here two hours early to get a seat.”

No Joke: ‘Compared to What’ Edutains New Wave of Barney Frank Fans (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The 40-year-plus resident of New York City hinted that she was “just getting into him,” but liked what she’d seen and heard so far.

“I think that in these times what people really want is to have hope,” Hendershott suggested. “Because things are so bad that if you find somebody who has integrity and who has stood up for things that needed to be defended, it makes you hope that perhaps others will. Or that perhaps the small things that you do can make a difference.”

“People still keep fighting. But, of course, with Citizens United you get Republicans burying any worthy candidate in a sea of money for the opponent. And you can’t have a democracy that way,” she argued, laying the blame for our alarmingly fractured political system squarely at the feet of the Supreme Court of the United States. Full story

April 27, 2014

Barney Frank Doc Fits Right In at Tribeca Film Festival

AMTRAK NORTHEAST REGIONAL, EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK — Spending an hour-and-a-half immersed in the minutiae of retired Rep. Barney Frank’s day-to-day existence may sound like an odd way to spend a Sunday. But it’s part of the peek-behind-the-political-curtain cinephiles have come to expect from the intellectually challenging Tribeca Film Festival.

Audiences will get their first taste of “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” later this afternoon.

CTW Trailer 2 mins from Pack Creek Productions on Vimeo.

An aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler picked the California Democrat’s brain as part of the process — told HOH his boss had seen an early cut of the flick and enjoyed the look back at her colleague’s illustrious career. Other House lawmakers and former congressional aides are very interested in seeing how Frank’s larger-than-life personality will come across on the big screen.

None of this, however, is particularly new to the Tribeca crowd.

TFF spokeswoman Tammie Rosen said the 13-year-old celebration of independent cinema has made a habit of welcoming those willing to get up close and personal with decision makers, as well as in-the-line-of-fire world leaders.

“We always have really buzzed-about docs that are political,” Rosen said of the festival’s rich history.

That tradition is alive and well this year, manifesting itself via hard looks at thought provoking subjects, including:

  • 1971“ — an examination of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI’s attempt at breaking into the top cop’s Media, Pa., HQ
  • All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” — reflections on the first woman to serve as governor of Texas
  • In Guns We Trust“ — a glimpse into mandatory firearms ownership in Kennesaw, Ga.
  • Of Many“ — Political scion (and mom-in-training) Chelsea Clinton showed off the religiously themed documentary she co-produced a handful of times during the festival. (The final showing is today at 2:30 p.m.)
  • Silenced“ — delving into the plight of whistleblowers in a post-9/11 world
  • True Son“ — chronicling aspiring pol Michael Tubbs’ run for city council in Stockton, Calif.
  • Use of Force“ — a “fully immersive documentary experience” that places viewers in the middle of the fatal confrontation (2010) between immigrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas and the U.S. border patrol

Rosen was unsure whether Frank was the first congressman to participate in a world premiere at TFF; she noted that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Rwandan President Paul Kagame added political power in previous years.

April 25, 2014

Colleagues Curious to See How Barney Frank Flick Plays Out

A couple of the folks who sat down to share memories of what it’s like to work alongside retired Rep. Barney Frank can’t wait to see how the Massachusetts Democrat will come across when his life story is screened this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival.

“Compared to What,” which is scheduled to debut April 27 in New York City, follows Frank’s final year in office, but also reflects on the breadth of his decadeslong legislative career, as well as his personal life.

CTW Trailer 2 mins from Pack Creek Productions on Vimeo.

None of the lawmakers interviewed for the film — a roster that includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.; Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; and ex.-Sen Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. — is currently scheduled to attend the debut, an oversight Frank said he totally understands.

“I am very respectful of their time,” the former pol told HOH, adding, “Members will hear about it, but I wouldn’t want to impose on them. “

Retired Rep. Mike Oxley, R-Ohio, who also participated in the film, told HOH that he is unable to make the trip. He noted, however, that he’s very interested in checking out the end product.

Oxley said he was interviewed by filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler over a year ago and that the documentarians focused mostly on the nitty gritty of the time the two lawmakers spent together leading the House Financial Services Committee.

“It was very much on the professional level,” he said of their line of questioning.

One thing Oxley said he hopes shines through is the good times they shared. To wit, he noted that he and Frank often enjoyed watching strange bedfellows emerge during the heat of a legislative tussle.

“I think we were talking about when I was chairman and we had [ex-Rep., now Sen.] Bernie Sanders and [retired Rep.] Ron Paul on the committee … and we had the far right and the far left meeting around the bend,” he said of unifying factors like personal privacy issues.

Per Oxley, those who only know Frank by his somewhat-prickly reputation might be surprised to learn the man was often quite diplomatic.

“I think a lot of people think Barney is a very partisan, outspoken guy. And he plays that role sometimes. But at the heart of him is a legislator,” Oxley asserted. “He was not one for flowery rhetoric or scoring political points.” Full story

John Walsh Wants to Serve Craft Distillers

John Walsh Wants to Serve Craft Distillers

Walsh, left, swears by the bonding powers of craft liquor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman lawmaker John Walsh has hatched a new plan for making fast friends in the Senate: get in good with their hometown hooch producers.

The Montana Democrat plans to raise the bar on representing small batch booze makers by establishing the Senate Craft Distillers Caucus. He announced his intention to spearhead the liquor-friendly clique while soaking in the likes of Headframe Spirits, a Butte, Mont.-based distillery that specializes in bourbon, gin, vodka and a bourbon cream liqueur.

A Walsh aide said the newly minted solon is excited about tapping into the enterprising zeal of the spirits world — by Team Walsh’s count, Montana is currently home to 16 licensed distilleries — and hopes to recruit others to the task once everyone is back in town.

The planned outreach could lead to some tipsy-tacular lobbying.

Walsh could get rickey wit it alongside D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, by tipping his cap to Green Hat Gin-fueled coolers.

Or he could hedge his bets on locking down support for the group from Republican colleagues Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul by inviting them over next weekend for a Kentucky Derby viewing party and feeding them nothing but Maker’s Mark mint juleps.

Inserting himself into the bromance between Virginia Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine might take a little more work. May we suggest a boys’ weekend in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, culminating with nightly campfires around which tall tales are spun and heroic amounts of Catoctin Creek’s fiery Mosby’s Spirit or Copper Fox’s rye whiskey are swigged directly from the bottle.

April 24, 2014

Ted Cruz Kills It on Social Media

Sen. Ted Cruz did a little troll hunting April 23, baiting the entirety of the Internet-enabled world with a perplexing pic of an urban safari that incited carnage across the social mediasphere.

The Texas Republican set the trap by innocently (?) blasting out a snapshot of him and Utah Republican Mike Lee — staff told HOH the tea party pals have been tag-teaming fundraisers across the Lone Star State this week — posing atop a snarling animal pelt.

 

 

Had this Senate bromance finally gone lethal?

What endangered species might be next on the Cruz-Lee extinction tour?

Or was Cruz yet again practicing the art of pressing everyone’s buttons?

“The senator was kidding,” a Cruz aide explained of the spontaneous photo op with a totally fake tiger skin rug. “He ran across it between meetings in Houston yesterday and wanted a picture.”

Joke or not, the stunt unleashed a torrent of passionate reactions on Twitter and Facebook.

After sifting through the thousands of comments furiously scribbled on Cruz’s social media boards, the brunt of popular opinion falls into three main camps:

No Remorse

Ted Cruz Kills It on Social Media

(Screenshot)

Full story

April 23, 2014

Mark Begich Wins the Parody Game

Conservative activists have composed a spiteful ditty imploring Alaskan voters to give freshman Sen. Mark Begich the heave-ho this fall.

The combative tune denounces the Democratic lawmaker, who is up for reelection in November, for lending his support to the  Affordable Care Act and presumably not fighting hard enough to get the Keystone XL pipeline up and running. “He needs to pack his bags and move to 9-0-2-1-0,” the song suggests.

As for as parodies go, the song is just OK. (Not sure even Weird Al could’ve spun gold out of the dour source material.)

Begich, meanwhile, seems to have no problem lampooning the political scandals (real and imagined) that have helped grind the federal government to a halt:

Another small victory for free will, indeed.

Millennial Activist Aims to Decode Congress Speak

Part of the reason 20-something pundit Matthew Segal accepted the challenge of hosting “OurTime with Matthew Segal,” a temporary radio show SiriusXM plans to air on weekends, is because he wants to cut through all the rhetoric Washington insiders typically regurgitate when confronted with a microphone.

A seasoned activist — his non-profit group, Our Time, is already dedicated to engaging young voters via all manner of social media — Segal told HOH he’d like to break down the relevant issues of the day (health care, civil rights, the federal budget, campaign finance) through thought-provoking discussions.

Segal said he’s asked leaders from across the political spectrum to join him for the weekly chats and is looking forward to picking their brains about how the government actually works. The six-week program is scheduled to air on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. (channel 124) at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, beginning April 26.

“I want to get lawmakers to try to speak to our generation directly … [and] away from how the language of DC obfuscates these issues,” the nascent talk show host said of his anticipated interviewing style.

Segal explained that he modeled the show after Bob Dylan’s now-defunct “Theme Time Radio Hour,” a weekly gabfest wherein the folk rock icon would seize on a seemingly random topic and then fill the hour with songs, anecdotes, celebrity interviews and archival material loosely clinging to that common thread.

“I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we took that theme and applied it to politics?’” Segal said of his free-form mindset.

Of course, the reality of having to deal with congressional schedules and publicity clearances has already caused a few headaches.

The release announcing the show’s rollout stressed that it was all about non-partisan communication, yet only listed left-leaning guests. But that, Segal insists, is only because he can’t yet spill the beans about the conservatives who have tentatively agreed to mix it up on the show.

“We definitely have some Republican guests booked,” he said, listing a GOP senator and right-leaning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist as future guests.

Each episode will be carved into three separate segments and for the debut show, Segal plans to delve into health care with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Democratic National Committee Chairman and ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

For the LGBT-related chat, Segal has lined up entertainer and Capitol Hill observer George Takei, author and transgender advocate Janet Mock and the unnamed GOP activist. Full story

April 22, 2014

Homesick South Dakotans Take Heart, Taco John Is on the Way

Midwesterners desperately in need of a Taco John’s fix should strap on their hungry pants on May 10.

That’s when members of the South Dakota State Society will once again crank out mountains of the take-out joint’s signature Potato Ole (that’s specially seasoned potato crowns to you and me, Russ) to feed the homesick masses.

The sixth annual fundraiser is scheduled to take place at the US-Asia Institute (232 East Capitol St. NE) some time in the afternoon.

Can’t wait to have your fellow Mount Rushmore Staters fling deep-fried spuds down your throat?

Warm up for the West-Mex fiesta by giving homemade Potato Oles a go.

According to Food.com contributor Annabel31, the secret to the signature flavor is, well, no secret at all. Her copycat condiment calls for little more than seasoned salt, paprika, ground cumin and crushed red pepper.

Happy snacking!

April 18, 2014

The Congressman and the Sweet Onion Queen

The Congressman and the Sweet Onion Queen

Barrow, right, poses with Miss Georgie Sweet Onion Sarah DeLoach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.)

These are the pictures we live for at HOH. Hats off to our own Bill Clark, whose full caption is something we simply cannot improve upon:  ”Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., poses for photos with 2014 Miss Georgia Sweet Onion Sarah DeLoach at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher’s pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014. A crowd of more than one thousand law enforcement, government officials and guests from across the state of Georgia gathered to enjoy BBQ and Brunswick stew at the annual event.”

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