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April 21, 2014

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April 18, 2014

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

 

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Perhaps even superheroes can’t stand the thought of getting too close to Congress. That was one possible explanation for the failure of Awesome Con to secure a world record for assembled costumed players photographed at one time.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Super turnout was relatively sparse at the Capitol Reflecting Pool. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Promoters had hoped to turn out thousands on Friday at noon for a record-breaking photo in front of the Capitol’s Reflecting Pool. The stage was set. Social media was activated. Commissioner Gordon sent out the Bat signal. There might have been an Aquaman siting in the murky depths of the duck-riddled Reflecting Pool.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. At 11:45 a.m., only a few dozen costumed players were milling around. Guinness World Record officiants were there, folders in hand, to see if D.C. Awesome Con could best China’s World Joyland, which assembled 1,530 crusaders in 2011.

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

As the final calls went out over Twitter as the clock struck close to 1 p.m., explanations were bandied about. Some cosplayers apparently went to the Reflecting Pool connecting the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial. Apparently, superpowers didn’t include map-reading skills for that bunch. Didn’t matter. Only around 200 or so showed, well short of the record.

“Can I get a picture of Little Batman in front of the Capitol?” one tourist asked a mother-son dynamic duo. As Little Batman obliged, the shutterbug asked, “Are you there to protect Congress?”

Superheroes Steer Clear of Capitol

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

At least somebody is.

April 14, 2014

Future Civic Leaders Fosters Youth Participation in Government

Future Civic Leaders Fosters Youth Participation in Government

Payne thinks Congress can provide a better example for future leaders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Public figures, members of Congress and other Washingtonians gathered recently to celebrate five years of Future Civic Leaders, an organization that fosters political engagement among high school students.

The Embassy of Luxembourg opened its doors on April 9 to about 200 people for “The Political Party.” The attendees milled around the first floor of the embassy enjoying specialty drinks, appetizers and gelato as a jazz trio played, all the while preparing for this summer’s Future Civil Leaders conference.

While the atmosphere was certainly celebratory, the event also highlighted the importance of fostering political engagement as young people are increasingly disillusioned by partisan gridlock.

“A lot of people my age, in my generation, look at the government today and all they see is the shutdown or they see a dysfunctional government,” said Sarmat Chowdhury, a student at George Mason University who participated in the first Future Civic Leaders conference in 2009.

“Sometimes my colleagues and I don’t set a very good example,” Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J., admitted, “but we need people to be committed to the leadership in government, to continue to focus on those issues that we know are important.”

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 1:31 p.m.
DC, Parties

April 11, 2014

Appropriations Chairman Piles On to Moran’s ‘Underpaid’ Remarks (Video)

Turns out not even the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee can avoid weighing in on whether members are “underpaid.

At an appropriations markup Wednesday, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., laid into Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., after Moran’s amendment to raise each member’s pay by $2,800 was rejected by voice vote.

“I might with tongue and cheek say that this issue got a raise out of Mr. Moran,” the Kentucky Republican said.

The issue of member pay has created a rift on Capitol Hill of whether members are “underpaid” or out of touch.

By JM Rieger Posted at 4:18 p.m.
DC, Reps, TV Land

Grover Norquist’s Global Suckdom Index

Welcome to the suck. It’s not as bad as it seems. That was sounds-negative-actually-positive sentiment from Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, at a panel following Thursday night’s screening of Jose Antonio Vargas’ “Documented,” at the Newseum.

Grover Norquists Global Suckdom Index

Norquist, perhaps thinking about the GNGSI, at a Thursday tax event on Capitol Hill with Majority Leader Eric Cantor, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.)

The documentary, which chronicles Vargas’ path as an undocumented immigrant and successful journalist and his involvement in the movement for ab immigration overhaul, played to a full house. After, Norquist joined Vargas, The Atlantic’s Megan Garber, producer Janet Yang and Joe Green, a founder of Fwd.us, to discuss the movie and the politics and culture that surround it.

Cue Norquist, one of Washington’s most lively: “The reason why the United States is the future and Japan is not and China is not and Europe is not, is because we do immigration and because we do it better than everyone else. As poorly as we do it, we do it better than everybody else, kind of like our government, it just sucks less than all the other governments. And that’s a big advantage: sucking less.”

So there you have it. The Grover Norquist Global Suckdom Index, over which the United States sits atop. USA! USA!

April 9, 2014

Democrats Hustle to Secure 2nd Annual Capital Soccer Classic Win

House Democrats just barely edged out their GOP counterparts Tuesday to clinch the 2nd Annual Capital Soccer Classic, a friendly contest that featured few score changes during regulation play but threatened to become a nail-biter toward the end.

Democrats Hustle to Secure 2nd Annual Capital Soccer Classic Win

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The charity match, co-sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Foundation and POLITICO, brought together pols partial to spending time on the pitch, a roster which included North Carolina Democrat Mike McIntyre, Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen, Washington Republican Dave Reichert, California Democrat Eric Swalwell and Indian Republican Todd Young.

Democrats Hustle to Secure 2nd Annual Capital Soccer Classic Win

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

At the close of the 30-minute contest, Democrats were leading 4-1, thanks largely to the two goals Swalwell fired past the GOP-led squad. Full story

April 8, 2014

Web Mogul Has Designs on New Political Party

Entrepreneur Mike Mann has successfully grown various e-businesses and fostered thriving charity groups. He now plans to apply the lessons learned from each toward developing a viable alternative at the ballot box, tentatively dubbed the Better Government Party.

Mann’s vision for this prospective political uprising spans nearly four dozen bullet points, though he insists the main mission is fairly simple: upending our disingenuous two-party system.

“Anybody who pays attention can see that Democrats and Republicans … are exactly the same. They all have a history of lies, graft and corruption,” Mann said. “But there’s nobody else to vote for.”

Mann would like to fill that void with like-minded individuals amenable to abandoning the status quo and starting anew. He declined to identify those who he claims have already expressed interest in climbing — a roster Mann hinted will, when all is said and done, include socially conscious celebrities, Internet execs, disillusioned politicos and “rock stars” — but stressed that the recruiting process is well under way.

“The ones most likely to convert are those without strong party affinity, … mostly fresh minds applied to the problem over a long period, with specific goals,” he said of the “Founding Fathers” he’d like to have help shape the official party platform. In an ideal world, Mann would love to see a “constitutional convention” take place here in D.C. later this fall. Full story

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky-Panky

An offbeat observation by someone who sounded none-too-surprised to learn that Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McAllister had been busted getting busy with a congressional aide got us thinking about whom, exactly, Capitol Hill playboys spend their time seducing.

“It’s always the schedulers,” an HOH reader opined online after perusing the tawdry tale of McAllister’s videotaped make-out session with district aide — and Facebook friend (social media has doomed us all) — Melissa Hixon Peacock.

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky Panky

(Screenshot)

The Ouachita Citizen exposed the interoffice dalliance (both McAllister and Peacock are married to other people) with the help of a grainy surveillance video purportedly leaked to the local paper by another McAllister aide.

While Peacock clearly fit our conspiracy theorists’ bill in this particular case, HOH decided to examine the past 20 years of congressional sexcapades to discern whether libidinous lawmakers do, in fact, have a clear cut “type.”

Ex-Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky Panky

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Object of his affection: the late Chandra Levy, his intern. Full story

April 4, 2014

A Kansas Primary Debate in Alexandria?

A Kansas Primary Debate in Alexandria?

(CQ Roll Call File Photo Composite)

Alexandria, Va., and Alexandria, Kan., are nothing alike.

One is a suburb of the national’s capital. The other is just a few miles from Leavenworth. But a tea party group based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., wants to host a Kansas Senate primary debate, and the long-shot challenger has already accepted the invitation.

A group known as the Northern Virginia Tea Party is offering to host a debate between veteran Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and challenger Milton Wolf. Wolf may be best known to HOH readers as a distant relative of President Barack Obama.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:31 p.m.
DC, Nationwide

Ex-Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

Gary Meltz, a one-time aide to Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., who has since carved out a niche for himself in the crisis management game, is inviting friends and colleagues to come celebrate the birth of Meltz Communications.

The fledgling communications firm officially threw open its doors in late January. But Meltz suggested that the myriad demands of actually setting up shop have made it nearly impossible to stop and enjoy a single minute of the momentous life change.

Ex Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

(Courtesy Meltz Communications)

He hopes to rectify all that by indulging friends with a few drinks, some gourmet treats and signature matchbooks (‘natch) at an invite-only reception scheduled to take place April 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the Science Club (1136 19th St. NW). Full story

April 3, 2014

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

Performers from across the musical spectrum helped star-stuck lawmakers get loose Wednesday night, as the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill awards once again blew the socks off of straight-laced Washington.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The invite-only affair gave politicos the opportunity to mingle with chart-topping artists from every decade dating back to the 1960s, a who’s who of vocal talent that included singer Dionne Warwick, Tejano band Los Lonely Boys, the Hanson Brothers and Grammy winners Lady Antebellum. The musicians, in turn, tipped their hats to those on Capitol Hill who’ve proved to be real good listeners, handing out awards to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“There’s very few places in this country that they would actually honor members of Congress,” the California Republican quipped while on stage with songwriter Booker T. Jones and Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz. Full story

March 31, 2014

Final Four Didn’t Bust This D.C. CEO’s Bracket

Roger Dow may not have the billion-dollar bracket, but he has definitely earned some bragging rights this March Madness.

Dow, president and CEO of the D.C.-based U.S. Travel Association, correctly picked each of the Final Four teams in the men’s NCAA tournament. According to ESPN, only 612 participants out of the 11 million who submitted a bracket were able to do so.

In other words, only one in every 18,000 participants predicted the Final Four, and Dow is one of them.

“We all laughed at him and told him he was nuts for picking a seven and an eight seed,” said a Travel Association aide, “but he’s the one laughing now. That’s why he’s the boss.”

Dow knows what it’s like to be a college athlete, although he did not play basketball. While attending Seton Hall University, Dow was the captain of the varsity wrestling team.

The NCAA tournament semi-finalists include the universities of Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Connecticut came into the tournament as the seventh seed and Kentucky was an eighth seed.

Wondering which members of Congress will be holding their breath as the Final Four kicks off this Saturday? Check out the Roll Call bracket, which matched members of Congress to the schools in the NCAA tournament that are located in their districts.

March 28, 2014

Powder Scare Draws Sirens Outside Union Station

A suspicious substance found in Amtrak’s main office in Washington, D.C., drew nearly a dozen emergency vehicles to Union Station on Friday morning, but it turned out to be nothing more than a scare.

Powder Scare Draws Sirens Outside Union Station

D.C. Fire and EMS responded to the scene at 10:58 a.m., according to Fire Department spokesman Oscar Mendez, and a hazardous materials unit began investigating. Police were also on the scene and officers with K-9 units stood on guard outside gates to the train tracks.

Trains appeared to be operating as usual inside the station Friday morning, but outside traffic was crawling around Columbus Circle. Capitol Police warned people to avoid the area shortly before noon, throwing some lunch plans into flux around the Capitol community.

Kimberly Wood, a spokeswoman for Amtrak, said in an email that first responders were “investigating an unknown substance found on the premises” and directed further questions to D.C. Fire and EMS.

By 12:30 p.m., ambulances were starting to pull away from the scene. Mendez confirmed that nothing hazardous had been found.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:46 p.m.
DC, Drama, HillSide

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 24 (Video)

Members returned this week explaining proper congressional dress code, discussing who is nastier and playing popular television game shows, all wrapped up in this week’s Hits and Misses.

March 27, 2014

Public Can Propel Capitol Hill Restos to RAMMY Glory

A panel of secret judges may control the fates of the 60-plus contenders vying for the area’s top hospitality prizes, but everyday diners have one month to help crown their favorite brunch spot, fast-food haven and all-around hang out.

The RAMMY Awards traditionally honor the superstars of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s core membership, heralding those who go above and beyond in the pursuit of providing exceptional food, beverage and service. The 2014 winners are scheduled to be revealed June 22 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW) during the group’s 32nd annual gala.

As in the past, RAMW is opening up a handful of categories for public debate.

This year, armchair critics have until April 27 to weigh in on:

Upscale Casual Brunch of the Year

  • Art and Soul
  • Blue Duck Tavern
  • Mintwood Place
  • The Source by Wolfgang Puck
  • Vermilion

 

Everyday Casual Brunch of the Year

  • DGS Delicatessen
  • Et Voila!
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
  • Pizzeria Orso
  • Ted’s Bulletin (Barracks Row)

 

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year

  • Bar Pilar
  • Bistrot Du Coin
  • Cashion’s Eat Place
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar (Dupont)
  • Tune Inn

 

Favorite Fast Bites

 

RAMW is sweetening the pot for brunch lovers.

As part of the inaugural “Best Brunch Passport” contest, anyone who tweets a picture of a meal from any of the nominees between March 29-April 13 to @RAMMYAwards or tags it with #RAMMYSBrunch will be entered to win two tickets to the June 22 gala. Per the promoters, the winner will be announced on April 28.

Public votes can be cast via media partner the Washington City Paper or RAMW.

March 26, 2014

Hill Staff Invited to Kick It at Capital Soccer Classic

Congressional aides used to scoring points in the office can take a shot at proving themselves on the pitch in a few short weeks during the nascent staffer tournament woven into the program for the 2nd Annual Capital Classic.

The multifaceted fundraiser, co-hosted by the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Politico, is scheduled to take place from 5-10 p.m. April 8 at RFK Stadium (2400 East Capitol St. SE). The charity event benefits Soccer for Success, a futbol-intensive after-school program.

Last year, various members of the Congressional Soccer Caucus faced off in a friendly match with fleet-footed colleagues and professional soccer players. A 6-6 tie at the end of regulation play prompted a sudden-death shoot out, which turned into a narrow victory for House Democrats. Full story

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