Signs like these are all over Washington and the rest of the country these days, but what makes this one unusual is that it was taken by this scribe’s mother-in-law in Waregem, Belgium, at the Flanders Field American Cemetery.
Yes, it appears even our overseas cemeteries honoring fallen U.S. soldiers from World Wars I and II are shuttered. Indeed, the American Battle Monuments Commission, which manages 24 cemeteries and 26 memorials, monuments and markers abroad, has shut down.
“The sacrifice of more than 218,000 U.S. servicemen and women is memorialized at these locations. Nearly 125,000 American war dead are buried at ABMC cemeteries, with an additional 94,000 individuals commemorated on Tablets of the Missing,” the ABMC’s website notes.
But the site also notes something else: “Due to a lack of funding for ABMC operations (U.S. Government shutdown), ABMC cemeteries and memorials are temporarily closed. We are unable to respond to your inquiries or provide the services and products described in the ‘Services Available’ section of this Web site. We regret any inconvenience these temporary actions may cause.”
Susan Parry, a D.C. resident (and mother to this reporter’s husband), said that one Belgian worker at the Flanders cemetery told her there are usually four people who man the site. The cemetery is the final resting place for 368 soldiers, who the ABMC said “gave their lives in liberating the soil of Belgium in World War I” in September 1918.
But the ABMC also serves larger and more popular tourist sites, such as the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial that contains the graves of 9,387 soldiers, most of whom died on D-Day.
House Republicans might be rethinking their Friday night movie plans after word got out that the members would be hitting up the Regal in Chinatown to see “Prisoners.”
In a series of emails obtained by CQ Roll Call, Republican staffers revealed that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wants to do a movie night for the Republican members in town. And the plan is to see “Prisoners.”
That’s when Erica Elliott, the spokeswoman for McCarthy, asks a prescient question:
“Any chance the media reads WAY too much into the title of the movie, Prisoners?”
To answer Ms. Elliott’s question: yes.
Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have made a concerted effort to cast Republicans as the bad guys for taking the nation’s credit “hostage” for a “wish list” of demands. Obama says he will not negotiate. Speaker John A. Boehner says, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”
So when Republicans landed on “Prisoners” for their Friday night flick, it was probably going to raise some Democratic eyebrows — or at least prompt some Democratic press releases.
“Given Speaker Boehner’s crusade to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to Tea Party ransom demands, it’s not surprising that, in their free time, the Republican Conference would choose to spend their Friday night watching a film together about hostage taking.” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s communications director told CQ Roll Call.
“Perhaps, given the group, ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ would be more appropriate for their movie night,” Hammill said.
But HOH will note that if you haven’t seen the original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” then the sequel, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″ (which is the movie actually playing at Regal), probably isn’t worth your time.
In fact, nothing at Regal looks all that good.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” — There was a Chapter 1?
“Don Jon” — Let’s not even go there.
“The Family” — 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so …
“Rush” — We think House Republicans, like us, have grown tired of Ron Howard.
“Baggage Claim” — 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” — Seen it.
“Battle of the Year 3D” — Also ripe for ridicule, especially if you’re spotted in the 3D glasses.
“The World’s End” — Hard to see how that’s much better than “Prisoners.”
So “Prisoners,” with a 79 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and 90 percent audience approval, may not be the worst Friday night flick — even if Democrats are delighting in the choice.
Elliott, who took a stern tone over the matter using words like “confirm” and “logistics,” said Republicans were still figuring out which movie to see.
“I can confirm that our office has had internal discussions about potential member services activities this weekend. I can also confirm that a member of Minority Leader Pelosi’s staff was mistakenly copied on the email chain and chose to forward it to members of the media. At this time, no final decisions have been made about logistics for this weekend,” Elliott said.
But the letter wasn’t a complete success for the congressman or his office.
Throughout the day, Rigell’s office sent a list of current signatories that had a number of errors (left the second ‘n’ off of Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, guys). Michigan Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio was, somehow, “Rep. Jim Bentivolio.” And Raúl R. Labrador became, in what was either a mistake or a subtle shot at the Idaho Republican, “Rep. Raul Labrabor.”
But, perhaps, the most comical mistake came in Rigell’s press release touting his letter. The headline?
“Rigell Leads Bipartisan Effort Urging President Obama to Get Congressional ApprovalBefore Striking Libya”
While Rigell’s letter criticizes Obama for his 2011 intervention in Libya, the congressman’s staff might have wanted to check the timeline on that whole Libya thing.
His office did send out a corrected press release. Crisis (in Libya) averted.
Since you’ve heard it all before from these guys, send us your caption for this week’s Capitol Quip. Leave it in the comments section below. If you need inspiration, check out our compilation of how lawmakers have spent their summer vacations.
Editors will pick five finalists Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon. To check out past winners, visit Pinterest.
Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill, and in a rare August recess event, members of the Roll Call newsroom. (We had a tie and needed to break it. But we can assure you, employees were under no undue influence to pick any particular caption, and they voted via the comments section like other readers.)
The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.
Since Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. visited Egypt earlier this month, the situation has clearly gotten more dire and dangerous for the people of that troubled country.
McCain and Graham encouraged the leaders of Egypt’s interim government to release political prisoners associated with ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and to broaden political talks as they look to bridge the gap between the interim government and Morsi’s supporters. That obviously hasn’t happened.
So here are five captions to characterize the political situation in Egypt and U.S. efforts to calm it down:
You can lead a camel to water, but you can’t make him vote.
Geez, even Morsi got a better ride out of town than this!
I see the camel’s nose, but where is the tent?
Talk about déjà vu.
He wants to stay with his mummy.
Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.
The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog Aug. 18. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.
When you work for a man who impersonates Santa Claus, you’re bound to have some generous ideas.
It was a staffer in the office of Old Fashion Santa & Co. proprietor and freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., who suggested re-gifting some politically charged cantaloupes to a local D.C. food bank last week.
Of the 224 melons delivered to Capitol Hill by immigration activists as a gag gift on Aug. 1, 96 made it to the Capitol Area Food Bank.
“It took one minivan and four people,” Bentivolio Communications Director Matt Chisholm told HOH.
Page Crosland, communications director for the Capitol Area Food Bank, said the fresh produce was then distributed to “some very luck families out there.” She emphasized that the food bank is nonpartisan and does not like to insert itself in partisan news stories.
Monday’s Roll Call Cup not only featured late drama, with Republicans retaining the trophy in a tie match, but also four freshman House members who can now tout their experience on the greens.
Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy of Florida and Scott Peters of California and Republican Reps. Roger Williams of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida navigated through Columbia Country Club’s narrow trees and 6,500-yard plus terrain at Monday’s competition. All strong golfers, veteran golfer Dan Tate Sr. noted the skills of Murphy and DeSantis, in particular, on the course.
Murphy, who faced off against fellow freshman Williams in the 4-ball and alternate shot morning rounds, was unable to find his groove for much of the day. He was didn’t get to finish his practice round Sunday thanks to lightning, and he could not overcome the course that once hosted the 1921 U.S. Open.
Williams played well, garnering 1.5 points in the morning rounds for the Republicans. He lost his final 9-hole match play to Peters.
DeSantis, who played baseball while studying at Yale University, lost 2 points in the opening two nine hole rounds before bouncing back in the afternoon to steal a point from Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J. in the final nine holes.
A pesky rat has infiltrated the group house inhabited by Senate Democratic leaders Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, and owned by Rep. George Miller of California, CQ Roll Call has learned.
A source close to the situation said multiple traps have been set up throughout the Capitol Hill “Animal House” to catch the rodent. Schumer was overheard on his cellphone in the Capitol discussing exterminators. The rat situation has been ongoing for days, our source tells us.
“Durbin and I are united in our hopes that it’s dead, but if it’s not, I hope it’s upstairs and he hopes it’s downstairs,” Schumer said in a statement.
No one would confirm whether the frat-like lifestyle of the prominent Democrats led to the rat’s break-in, but a 2011 NBC special “Inside Congress” filmed the lawmakers in their home and featured Miller chiding Schumer to “close up the cereal before you leave.”
Modest suggestion from your friends at CQ Roll Call, senators, check under the gross couch!
The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your votes.
Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 9 a.m. EDT Friday.
Here are this week’s finalists:
That’s going to land in your President’s lap.
Coil de grace!
That’s how we take care of the tip of the iceberg. Now we can get to work on the rest of the problem!
It’s our way of saying, “Tut, tut.”
Hope for democracy springs eternal!
The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog July 14 and in the next day’s print edition of Roll Call. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.
Updated 4:24 p.m. | Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is reportedly off the market.
According to local news outlets, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro first revealed his twin brother’s very recent engagement to longtime girlfriend Anna Flores on Facebook.
Castro aides said the boss made it official June 15, proposing to Flores in front of the Memorial Church at Stanford University, his alma mater. Castro was visiting that weekend to address graduates from the Stanford Latinos group:
News spread quickly on the Internet — “Congrats to @JoaquinCastrotx on his engagement. Being happily married will make politics seem like a big waste of time, my friend,” Austin American-Statesman/MSNBC columnist Jason Stanford proclaimed on Twitter — but things slowly trickled back to us folks in Washington, D.C.
Per staff, there is no wedding date yet.
But Castro does plan to have some people from Capitol Hill join in the festivities. “Haven’t started invite list, but expect to invite many colleagues,” Team Castro told HOH.