Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 20, 2014

April 10, 2014

Vance McAllister’s Dalliance With the English Language

Sure, he’s canoodler-in-chief NOW. But just a few short months ago, Rep. Vance McAllister was just another tongue-tied candidate spewing out muddled policy positions on social media.

Just days before the special election that would help bring the lip-locking Louisiana Republican to Washington, McAllister hit his Facebook flock with this doozy of a diatribe (mis)spelling out his positions on family, the Affordable Care Act, immigration and the federal budget.

Vance McAllisters Dalliance With the English Language

(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)

Somewhere in the middle of that 340-odd word, run-on sentence (Grammar police, ho!) McAllister demands that the undocumented get with the program already and learn to “read, write, and speak English.”

Eschewing punctuation, however, does not appear to be a deal breaker in McAllisterland.

Online detractors, meanwhile, have a few choice words of their own for Capitol Hill’s cheater du jour:

Vance McAllisters Dalliance With the English Language

(Screenshot)

Full story

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

5 Hot Tips for the Political Stock Exchange | Capitol Quip

 5 Hot Tips for the Political Stock Exchange | Capitol Quip

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 5 p.m. ET Thursday.

Here are this week’s finalists:

  • Thanks to the Supreme Court, we’re ALL up!!!
  • They’ll never sell us short again!
  • The only time eight figures trump nine.
  • Looks like our stock is rising in this town!
  • In a word: Ka-Ching!

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on April 13 and in the following 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.

By Jason Dick Posted at 5:14 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Forthcoming Barney Frank Documentary Aims to Inspire

Documentarians Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler are still putting the finishing touches on “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” an unflinching look at the life and times of retired Rep. Barney Frank.

Forthcoming Barney Frank Documentary Aims to Inspire

(Courtesy Jim Ready)

The whole world will get a peek into the insights they’ve gleaned from the Massachusetts Democrat — and the handful of congressional colleagues who agreed to weigh in on his illustrious career — when the feature length project debuts April 27 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Canavan told HOH she first met Frank while working on the transition team for then-Boston Mayor Kevin White. As a lowly college student, Canavan recalled spending many long nights (she pulled graveyard shift duty) fielding constituent calls. Frank, who devoted his days to setting up the office of public service, would keep her company after work in order to keep his ear to the ground. Full story

Wyden Calls His Own Tune in Senate Finance | Madisonville

Wyden Calls His Own Tune in Senate Finance | Madisonville  Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden is bringing a new accent to the Senate Finance Committee as the recently installed chairman. Literally. Wyden at work constructs whole sentences that roll along in a monotone until he decides to single out a word for the stress.  And a big stress it is, too.

There’s no particular logic to where he chooses to do it. But once the listener gets in the spirit of it, it’s easy to forget the subject: In Tuesday’s case, it was the misery inflicted on Americans by tax preparers who are incompetent or crooked.

“most of those paid tax return preparers don’t have to meet ANY standards, ANY standards for competence,” Wyden says. Except that the normal typeface doesn’t do justice to the difference between monotone Wyden and stressed Wyden.

Wyden makes the capital letters that should open a sentence seem like they’re cowering under his desk. Proper nouns stay under the radar. “my home state of oregon gets this issue RIGHT.” Who’s suffering from this abuse? “they could be immigrants PROUD to pay taxes in their NEW country,” Wyden says. “the most VULNERABLE people in america will bear the brunt.”

Nina E. Olson, the IRS’ national taxpayer advocate and one of the witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing, either speaks the same way Wyden does or she couldn’t resist following his example, the way some people involuntarily mimic the tics of their conversation partners.

“the only CREDIBLE argument,” “seemed very REASONABLE,” “the BEST enforcement,” “it is a BRIGHT line that all taxpayers can understand,” she said.

“it’s your job to go to BAT for taxpayers,” Wyden said.

“as was discussed in YOUR statement,” Olsen said.

“the heart of what YOU’VE been talking about is very unSCRUPulous preparers,” Wyden said.  He said unSCRUPulous a lot.

“that’s a very important distinction that AUDITS will not get you,” Olsen said. “the irs right now is doing a PILOT.” (That sentence may suggest a way for the IRS to avoid notice.) “there may be things on that END that you can work with.”

Olsen even had a flair for this that exceeded Wyden’s. “there’s a very high learning CURVE,” she said, starting with a loud “c” and working up to a crescendo to a finish on the VEEE note. Try that at home. It’s not easy. Wyden looked appreciative of everything she said.

The two of them communicated with a mysterious musicality, reminiscent of the recordings of whale singing available in national parks and wax candle shops.  The Senate could put it in the gift shop.

“what HAPPENS here on the finance committee,” Wyden said. What happens on the Finance Committee may never sound the same.

Overheard: Eric Holder Goes Veggie on Louie Gohmert

“Good luck with your asparagus.”

— Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., directing his ire on Tuesday at Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas. Last year, in another testy exchange between the two, Gohmert said, “The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus.”

April 8, 2014

Hill Staffers Swarm Taco Bell Tray, Terrify Server

Ustedes quieren Taco Bell!

Pity the poor Taco Bell employee who was tasked with delivering a tray of tacos to a gaggle of Hill staffers at a Tuesday reception in the Rayburn House Office Building.

“This reception shows no shame as staff fills up boxes and garbage bags of burritos,” our daring congressional staffer/tipster tell us. See for yourself:

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 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:

 

 

Take Five: Rep. Alan Lowenthal

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., talks about participating in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements as well as how playing racquetball helped him get things done in the California Legislature.

Q. Before you became a legislator, you taught community psychology at California State University, Long Beach. Why did you decide to study and ultimately teach this subject?

A. I went to graduate school during the civil rights movement and also the war in Vietnam. I was at Ohio State University working on my Ph.D., and I was in the clinical psychology program. I became more and more convinced, as did a lot of other psychologists, young folks who were in graduate school like myself, that psychology was not relevant. Why didn’t we understand what was happening among the reaction against the Vietnam War? Why didn’t we understand more about what was going on in our communities with the rise of issues, women’s issues, African-American issues, and others?

So there was a new group of psychologists in graduate programs and students who really did not want to study how you treat people for problems, but how do you prevent them? And so it broadened psychology. But it really enabled me to incorporate my academic beliefs in the study of behavior as well as my desire to be relevant in my community, to promote well-being in my community, and to understand the various diversities and different groups in my community.

Q. What was it like participating in the anti-Vietnam War movement and civil rights protests while you were at Ohio State?

A. It was a time when we believed everything was possible. I think we’ve kind of lost that in this country. And maybe we shouldn’t have had it — maybe it was a fantasy. But we really believed and there really was a sense that we were making great changes in the nation. We were finally beginning to acknowledge a great oppression that had taken place to people of color, to women, to people of different sexual orientation.

Q: You’re a baseball fan — who is your favorite player?

A. Well, I love the Los Angeles Dodgers. I love them all. If I had to pick one person — I grew up worshipping Sandy Koufax. So I have a particular fondness for pitchers.  I love Clayton Kershaw. He reminds me of Koufax, he’s dominating.

But I grew up — I lived and died as a kid with Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson had probably more influence on who I was, who I became, than any other person.

Q. Why did you start playing racquetball?

A. When I was at Cal State Long Beach, I was in a regular Friday morning and weekend tennis game. And after a while I realized I didn’t have that much time. So I learned that I could play racquetball, which used some of the same skills, at 6:30 or 7 in the morning, be finished by 8 or 8:30, and I’d still have the whole day.

I got a lot of legislation out of the state Legislature out of playing racquetball. We got a courthouse in Long Beach, much of it. And we also got the independent redistricting commission out of the California state Senate because I played with the leader of the Republican Party, Dick Ackerman, and Ackerman became my buddy. I played with Ackerman for years and years.

Q. What’s a misconception about life in California?

A. You know, the misconception that I think many people have is that somehow California is dysfunctional. It doesn’t work, it’s kind of tilted, and all the nuts in the world are in California. And I find it just the opposite. I find California is very progressive, very thoughtful, future-oriented, has real concern about not only its children but its children’s children, what the future’s going to be like. California is an attitude, and it’s an attitude that really is all-encompassing, appreciates diversity, looks at everybody as a strength.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 2:54 p.m.
Reps, TakeFive

Washington State Society Hosts Oso Relief Effort

Evergreen Staters stuck here in the District want to help those back home still dealing with the aftermath of a devastating mudslide by raising a few glasses — and hopefully some big bucks — Tuesday night.

Washington State Society Hosts Oso Relief Effort

(Courtesy Washington State Society)

The Oso Mudslide Relief reception is scheduled to take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the State Room at 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE). There is a suggested donation of $20.

The natural disaster struck the Oso community on March 22; the administration officially took action on April 2.

Funds collected at 201 Bar are expected to benefit the United Way of Snohomish County. Event organizers are also planning a raffle featuring prizes such as an Xbox One and gift certificates to local restaurants.

Congressional aides told HOH that Washington Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene are planning to attend the fundraiser. The office of Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said the slightly hobbled lawmaker (currently on crutches) is aware of the event, but could not guarantee his participation.

April 6, 2014

Enter the Political Stock Exchange | Capitol Quip

Enter the Political Stock Exchange | Capitol Quip

The Supreme Court ruling on McCutcheon vs. FEC holds serious ramifications for congressional campaign committees, super PACs, and special interests, with some arguing that liberty, now more than ever, can and will be bought by the highest bidder(s). That brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

Bruce Braley, in Need of a Good Lawyer? | Capitol Quip

Bruce Braley, in Need of a Good Lawyer? | Capitol Quip

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.

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.

April 4, 2014

Solons See No Slam Dunks in Alabama BBQ Bracket

Alabama’s tourism authorities have flipped March Madness into a food fight, pitting many of the Yellowhammer State’s revered barbecue purveyors against one another in an online popularity contest.

Based on the most recent balloting, one of the following contenders will walk away with the title once voting closes April 7: Jim ‘N Nick’s in Birmingham (chicken, pork), Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence (ribs) and Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer (sauce).

Trouble is, some of the folks here on Capitol Hill would beg to differ with the vox populi. Full story

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