Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2014

July 21, 2013

Comics Vets Rally Around John Lewis

Comics Vets Rally Around John Lewis

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

SAN DIEGO — Socially conscious collectors weren’t the only ones psyched to commune with newly minted graphic novelist Rep. John Lewis, who traveled here to Comic-Con 2013 to promote his groundbreaking project, “March.”

Aaron Haaland, owner of the Orlando, Fla.-based A Comic Shop, billed the Georgia Democrat’s appearance at the fabled pop culture mecca as a potential turning point for the traditionally under-the-radar medium.

Rich Koslowski, author of the politically themed “BB Wolf and the Three LPs,” was just happy about having Lewis finally join the club.

John Lewis’ Arresting Life Advice

SAN DIEGO — In town to celebrate the highly anticipated debut of his graphic novel, “March,” an illustrated account of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., also laid bare at Comic-Con the grim realities of a life often lived in direct opposition to the status quo.

Speaking with the utmost conviction, with nary a hint of contrition, the veteran activist urged others to bravely speak out and act up — cultural defiance he dubbed “good trouble” — against all manner of injustice.

‘Senator Cash’ Campaigns at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — A faux politician, displaying the savvy of Willie Sutton and showmanship of P.T. Barnum, this weekend threw a little cold water in the faces of the sea of humanity gleefully floating around Comic-Con.

The theatrically inclined protestor — in reality a fed-up 99 percenter — adopted the graft-friendly persona to lobby in support of the electorate-splitting Keystone XL pipeline.

Senator Cash Campaigns at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Senator Cash Campaigns at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The veteran rabblerouser even papered passersby with buck-shaped leaflets bearing revelatory quotes from real-life Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and former Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, about the congressional need to continually fill campaign coffers.

John Lewis Receives a Hero’s Welcome at Comic-Con

John Lewis Receives a Hero’s Welcome at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

SAN DIEGO — The anticipation had been building for days.

But given the prodigious outpouring of effusive praise showered on Rep. John Lewis, one could argue that many here at Comic-Con had waited a lifetime to meet a genuine hero.

Legions braved Comic-Con’s wilds to hear the Georgia Democrat speak and later waited in snaking lines for personally signed copies of  “March” — the graphic novel chronicling the civil rights icon’s unwavering commitment to nonviolent protest.

Exuberant fans — some, like he, who make it their mission to topple barriers to racial equality, others so young they’ve only known a black president — turned out en masse to welcome Lewis to the campy fantasy fest.

John Lewis Receives a Hero’s Welcome at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

July 20, 2013

Bracing For John Lewis’ Big Day at Comic-Con

Bracing For John Lewis’ Big Day at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

SAN DIEGO — The stage is literally set for Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights leader cum comic book co-author, to step into an entirely different universe today as he strides into Comic-Con International to promote “March.”

Lewis, a featured guest at this year’s show, will share the origin story of his superhero treatment at the first politician-led panel at 10 a.m.

Project collaborators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, a Lewis aide and award-winning artist, respectively, have been warming up the crowd here at the entertainmentopia for days, sharing their insights into the landmark book and all that went into it with fellow comics gurus and the general public.

Bracing For John Lewis’ Big Day at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Top Shelf Comix has primed the pump by offering potential readers a trio of purchasing options: a traditional soft-cover version of the book ($15), a handsome hardcover, complete with glowing endorsement from former President Bill Clinton — “I’m so pleased he is sharing his memories of the Civil Rights Movement with America’s young leaders,” 42 stated — on the book jacket ($25) and a limited edition (only 500 printed) version designed to look like the hand-me-down textbooks of Lewis’ youth and bearing the signatures of all three contributors on a faux library card tucked inside ($40).

Meanwhile, Lewis is expected to add his John Hancock to many more. The Georgia Democrat is tentatively scheduled to camp out at the Top Shelf Comix booth (#1721) to chat with fans and sign copies of the book for four hours on Saturday (three shifts) and another four-and-a-half hours on Sunday (ditto).

“March” goes on sale nationwide August 13.

July 19, 2013

Making a Statement at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Sure, there are lots of people traipsing around in mind-blowing costumes (or nearly nude, in some cases). But some folks travel to Comic-Con with a very specific mission in mind.

Making a Statement at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

This DIY activist clearly wants the media-industrial complex to quit effing around with the programming he most enjoys.

Is he bummed that “Battlestar Galactica” ran its course on SyFy?

Incensed that the criminally short-lived “Life on Mars” was not renewed by BBC America?

Beside himself that NBC’s “Heroes” became totally unwatchable after the first season?

We wanted to discern the cause of his consternation. But by the time we turned to give chase, the anonymous rabble-rouser — like a TV pilot without a seasoned show-runner — was gone.


Comic-Con: First Amendment Central

SAN DIEGO — We hate to break it to everyone that camps out on the front steps of the Capitol to get their First Amendment on, but Comic-Con appears to be much more fertile ground for advocating religious freedom.

Comic Con: First Amendment Central

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

You’ve got the good.

Comic Con: First Amendment Central

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The presumably bad.

Comic Con: First Amendment Central

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

And the heretical all hanging within 100 feet of one another…

Mission accomplished, Founding Fathers!

Disco Boba Fett, Rewriting the Rules at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Internet, meet Disco Fett:

Disco Boba Fett, Rewriting the Rules at Comic Con

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Disco Fett, the world.

(Ladies, you’re welcome.)



Fictional Franchise: Golden Girls Edition

In HOH’s latest edition of Fictional Franchise — fictional characters and the real people who represent them in Congress — we take on “The Golden Girls.”

Because Blanche, Dorothy, Rose and Sophia share a house, they are all represented by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th District. But we felt it was our obligation to the public record to dig deeper and examine their roots as well.

As for the series, the rules go like this: We decide where a fictional character lives and then look up who represents them in the House. (Learn more here.)

See you in St. Olaf … Full story

Washington’s New Funny Man

If only Jeff Davis had been there during Linda McMahon’s failed senatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2012.

Davis, the founder of the political joke-writing organization Capital Humor, has written comedy for more than 10 years and began writing political jokes last year. Davis, who also writes comedy for comedians and entertainment companies, said he has written jokes for World Wrestling Entertainment commentators consistently over the past six months in addition to writing for politicians in Washington.

Full story

Fear the Voters of Illinois, Suzan DelBene. Fear Them!

The National Republican Congressional Committee sure knows how to strike fear into the hearts of House Democrats.

In a blast email sent out on Thursday after the House voted to delay the new health care law’s individual mandate, the NRCC let Democrats, such as Rep. Suzan DelBene, who voted against the legislation know they would be facing the voters’ wrath.

“Inexplicably, Suzan DelBene voted to delay the mandate for employers, but not for middle-class families. She should be ashamed of herself. In 2014, Illinois voters will know that Suzan DelBene would rather help big business than help them,” the missive with NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek’s name on top bellowed.

Only problem? DelBene represents Washington state’s 1st District.

We’re sure she’s very concerned about how voters in Illinois feel, too, though.

‘March’ Fans’ Other Comic-Con Plans

A good number of the Comic-Con faithful have signed on to be there Saturday morning (10-11 a.m.) when Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., takes center stage to discuss, “March,” the graphic novel about his convention-shattering contributions to the civil rights movement.

HOH will be on hand to document the momentous occasion. At press time, around 140-plus others appeared game to hear history come to life as well.

All of which got us thinking: what type of person, other than a political gossip columnist (natch), is interested in a comic book about a congressman’s formative years?

Full story

July 18, 2013

Rahm Emanuel, Blurring the Lines

Now in its fifth straight week atop the Billboard Hot 100, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is the summer’s hottest song. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel digs it.

The former White House chief of staff was spotted July 11 strutting his stuff to Thicke’s live performance of the sultry ditty at the 33rd Annual Taste of Chicago.

Full story

Rat Becomes Newest Housemate for Durbin, Schumer

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!

Rat Becomes Newest Housemate for Durbin, Schumer



Not So Much Fun in the Sun: No Labels on a Sweltering Day

No Labels? No extra shirt? Probably a problem. Sorry, Congress.

On Thursday, the nonpartisan group No Labels — dubbed on its own website as “a movement of Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between dedicated to promoting a new politics of problem solving” — held a rally in Senate Park to demonstrate how awesome being bipartisan can be. One by one, dozens of lawmakers, sweating through shirts in the blistering sun, declared themselves problem solvers. Problem solvers for the children. Problem solvers for America. Problem solvers for photo opportunities.

Here’s the thing, children, America and photographers: People who think it’s a good idea to hold a giant news conference in 93-degree heat with 65 percent humidity to bask in the love of their own ambition to solve problems call into question their ability to solve problems, or at least plan an event. Full story

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