Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2014

November 24, 2014

To Trot or Not to Trot

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Ready for Turkey Day? (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Staying put in Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday has its perks. No airport waiting lines. No captivity on I-95. A relaxed, convivial atmosphere. That’s good to keep in mind when arriving amid the forecasted snow and cold at Freedom Plaza for the 2014 Trot for Hunger 5K race.

The footrace, put on by So Others Might Eat, raises money to provide food, health care and clothing for the homeless. The D.C. trot, SOME’s 13th annual, is expecting more than 10,000 runners for an 8:30 a.m. start time for the kids’ 1-mile fun run and 9 a.m. for the 5K. SOME aims to raise $525,000 in its effort to feed the hungry and help the homeless.

To register for the event, go to SOME’s sign-up site at soome.convio.net. It’s $30 for an untimed run and $35 for a timed one. A hyper-competitive environment this is not. Ridiculous costumes are welcome, particularly of the avian variety. Ability is not an issue. Case in point? Your Roll Call After Dark columnist himself will be participating, rehabbing torn MCL and all.

SOME’s downtown D.C.-centered trot is just one of many in the area. Still, there’s something about seeing thousands of people running around in the cold, amid the Capitol Dome. The political world can cast a dark tone on Washington, and given congressional approval ratings, not too many folks view Capitol Hill in a positive light. Showing there’s more to D.C. than Republicans and Democrats trading potshots starts with events like this.

But surely there must be easier ways to get out of helping stuff the turkey on Thursday morning? SOME is more than eager to shoot you in the right direction for volunteer opportunities on Turkey Day and beyond. Drop them a line at some.org.

Among the many other places to volunteer are DC Central Kitchen, Bread for the City, Food & Friends, the Capital Area Food Bank, take your pick. If you want to volunteer, there’s a spot for you.

Something to keep in mind is that while Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas holidays are good motivators for community service and volunteerism — and charitable organizations are eager to accept goodwill during such busy times — the need doesn’t end with the holidays.

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November 21, 2014

‘Food Chains’ Explores Farm Worker Rights, Wages

In Immokalee, Fla., after driving around the country visiting farms, Sanjay Rawal found the solution — at least one of them.

He’d been looking, after reading the book “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook, for a way to show on film the struggles facing farm laborers. The result, his first feature-length film, “Food Chains,” debuted in Washington at the West End Cinema (2301 M St. NW) on Friday.

“In an age where we all take photos of our food with our phones, we care so much about our food, but we’re not protecting the hands that pick our food,” Rawal said. Full story

By Clark Mindock Posted at 4:52 p.m.
Movies

November 19, 2014

Decoding the Sometimes Mystifying Vocabulary of Politics

Have you ever found yourself walking back a dog whistle on the basis of a Washington handshake? Sometimes the political world’s vocabulary is otherworldly. In those cases, “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs & Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech,” is here to help.

This new book, the product of veteran political journalists Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark, provides a breezy guide to the arcane shibboleths employed by the lawmakers, journalists, staffers, fixers (defined on p. 13) and other citizens primarily of the Acela Corridor (defined on p. 70). Its fun tone belies its utility, as even the most seasoned D.C. sherpa (p.25) or graybeard (p. 34) may not know the ins and outs of each and every term. Want to know the genesis of some of the budgetese (p. 102) thrown around in the coming weeks? This is the place.

This is no goat choker (p. 189), and given how often, and for how long, some of the terms have been bandied about, will likely be no snowflake (also p. 189). If you can carve a little time out of this week’s lame-duck nut-cutting time (p. 116), McCutcheon and Mark will be discussing their book tonight at the Northeast D.C. Library on Capitol Hill at 330 Seventh St. NE at 7 p.m.

As for the title? Turn to pages 136, 200 and 97, please.

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November 18, 2014

Hiking Arizona’s Gabe Zimmerman Trail

IMG 0622 445x333 Hiking Arizonas Gabe Zimmerman Trail

A memorial to Zimmerman stands at the entrance to the trailhead. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

DAVIDSON CANYON, Ariz. — The bike rack at the Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead here is a twisted oxidized metal coil molded to look like a rattlesnake. It’s a small bit of whimsy amid a majestic part of the 800-plus-mile Arizona Trail dedicated to the victims of a dark chapter in the Grand Canyon State’s history.

That would be the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting at the Casas Adobes Safeway in Tucson, where Zimmerman and five others were killed, and 13 others were injured, including Zimmerman’s boss, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her congressional successor, Ron Barber.

A sculpted tile-work monument of Zimmerman stands at the trailhead’s entrance. This portion of the path was a favorite for Zimmerman, who was an avid outdoorsman. The monument also shows a side of the legislative staffer different than the one dedicated to him thousands of miles away in the Capitol Visitor Center. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 5 a.m.
The Sights

November 13, 2014

Cheese Making Its Way Into D.C. Culture

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A cheese plate at Sona Creamery on Capitol Hill. (Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“You don’t want to disturb the milk,” Genevieve O’Sullivan said as she slowly poured the white liquid into a plastic container. “That would break the fat molecules. Pour it like you pour champagne.”

A few in the room giggled. This was the first time the class participants were touching the cow and goat milk that would — after much stirring, some extra bacteria and about an hour of work — become cheese.

It would be delicious, fresh cheese actually made in Washington, D.C. — a small regulatory feat. Though small-batch and legal for the cheesemaking participants to take home, it was a symbolic step for Sona, the restaurant, wine bar, retail shop and soon-to-be-creamery on Capitol Hill. Full story

November 7, 2014

Party Like It’s 1844

An ambitious Kentucky lawmaker. A president mistrusted by his own party. Texas taking on an outsize role in Congress. Is this 2014, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  waiting gleefully to seize the majority, President Barack Obama under withering criticism from Democrats marooned in the minority and Lone Star Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz ready to take up spheres of influence in the Senate?

Nope. It’s 1844, when Henry Clay of Kentucky dethroned President John Tyler as standard-bearer for the Whig Party in that year’s presidential contest. It was a year when Tyler bet his political future on annexing the Republic of Texas, risking war not just within Congress; but also with Mexico, which was still smarting from Texas’ secession. It was a year when religious fundamentalism was on the rise, with Mormonism in its ascent and other Christian sects predicting the second coming any day now. It was a time of economic uncertainty and hardened debate about the future of the country.

This journey into Antebellum America is brought to you by John Bicknell, a CQ Roll Call alumnus whose new book, “America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation” is the latest selection for Roll Call Book Club. Full story

November 5, 2014

A Shot and a Beer and Midterm Cheer

On election night 2014, the Capitol Hill neighborhood was a subdued, quiet place.

Republicans were ecstatic, of course, and celebrated their House and Senate gains at Union Station and Republican National Committee headquarters. But outside such political party-time destinations, Capitol Hill was very much like the small town many people describe it as — half-asleep on an Autumn Tuesday night.

Eastern Market’s North Hall, frequently a gathering place for political fundraisers, was empty at 10 p.m. A homeless man in a wheelchair, covered in blankets, sat outside its side entrance. Across the street at Tunnicliff’s Tavern, one of the city’s oldest pubs, a cozy, medium-sized crowd milled around in conversation, some of it lightly about politics, most of it centered on sports. (The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks in New York.)

At Boundary Road on H Street Northeast, a mostly bar-seated crowd enjoyed the house special: a shot of Old Overholt rye and a can of National Bohemian beer for six dollars upon showing one’s “I Voted, Yo Vote” sticker. Boundary Road mercifully spares its patrons from television viewing. No one, even those with “I Voted, Yo Vote” stickers seemed to miss it, although everyone was politely discussing the returns among musings about the newfound popularity of rye and whether the new restaurant down the street, Driftwood, was worth a visit.

On Barracks Row, the victory party at Molly Malone’s for new Ward 6 councilmember-elect Charles Allen was breaking up by 10:30 p.m. Not much else was going on up and down Eighth Street Southeast. Most restaurants had stopped serving long ago. Two Marines walked up to Chatt’s Liquors, saw it was closed, and moved on in search of an open establishment.

Just another Tuesday night of wild abandon.

Related:

Senate Republicans Jubilant at Election Party

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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November 3, 2014

Let’s Do Election Day Lunch

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Consider the Tune Inn for your Election Day culinary needs. (Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 2014 midterm elections are finally here, and it’s important to have a nice big lunch before settling in to watch returns. For those tending to the capital fires in the District, here is a highly subjective list of some of Washington’s best Election Day lunch options. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 1:09 p.m.
Eat

October 31, 2014

Senegal Represents at Phillips Collection

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(Clark Mindock/CQ Roll Call)

The paint filling in the sketched lines on an alley wall behind the Phillips Collection couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

The artists who stood on scaffolding and ladders, reaching to the highest portions of the mural with bright yellow, red and orange paint on Oct. 23 had come from across the Atlantic to decorate the wall. For them, artistic expression is necessarily political, and having their culture represented on a wall in the district is an important means of connecting the people of the United States with the people of Senegal, West Africa.

“The idea of doing this work here … opens people’s minds to the fact that there are artists in Senegal,” said Muhsana Ali, an artist who has lived in Senegal for 13 years, though was born in the United States. “In general, people don’t know a lot about Africa. … Doing this kind of work here gives people the opportunity to see them as real people.”

20141023 132257 Senegal Represents at Phillips Collection

(Clark Mindock / CQ Roll Call)

Sheep peer out from the mural — an animal that is sacrificed during religious traditions in Senegal. A figure carries a fish with a spiked head — perhaps a representation of a symbol found on the West African CFA Franc, the currency in Senegal, and the fishing industry.

They are images you don’t see on the news today when you hear about West Africa.

“I’ve heard a lot of people saying that the air is heavily charged with fear around Ebola,” Ali said. “This kind of lessens the fear, I think.” Full story

October 30, 2014

CITIZENFOUR: Snowden’s Side of the Story

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“In the end if you publish the source material, I will likely be immediately implicated. I ask only that you ensure this information makes it home to the American public. Thank you and be careful, Citizenfour.”

In her soft voice, Laura Poitras begins her latest film, “CITIZENFOUR,” reading from an email she received from a National Security Agency whistleblower, who later revealed himself as Edward Snowden.

“CITIZENFOUR” is the third film in Poitras’ trilogy about post-9/11 America. She had already started a documentary on government surveillance when Snowden reached out to her in January 2013, turning her film upside-down. “The stakes are real. It’s not just, ‘Oh here’s a good story, I have good access,’” Poitras said in a recent phone interview. “I know that he was absolutely putting his life on the line. … There was just a palpable sense that this was not just about getting a scoop.” Full story

October 27, 2014

Scaring Up a Good Time in D.C.

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It’s the season of the witch. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Looking for something a little less terrifying than another round of campaign ads? How about a Halloween week dose of Franz Kafka, ladled over with a rock opera and topped with a smattering of fright-filled movies at Union Market, E Street and the AFI Silver Theater? Full story

October 20, 2014

What To Do in D.C.’s In-Between Times

Well, we all know what we’ll be doing in two weeks: sweating out election returns. And next week is Halloween. But what about this week — particularly if you’re not on the trail or otherwise — should you find yourself in Washington, D.C.?

Phillips Goes to The Wall

The Phillips Collection is getting a little help with its exterior decorating this week, inviting four Senegalese artists — Muhsana Ali, Fode Camara, Viye Diba and Piniang (Ibrahima Niang) — to paint a mural on the wall of the museum’s Hunter Courtyard that will be unveiled to the public Thursday at noon. “The Leading Edge Ideas: Inside the 21st Century Museum” is part of the Phillips’ partnership with the State Department’s Office of Art in Embassies and is designed to set the stage for this weekend’s International Forum Weekend. (Don’t act like you didn’t know it was International Forum Weekend.)

Lincoln Gets Pressed

Thinking about an Honest Abe costume for All Hallows’ Eve? Bone up, then, on a relatively unexplored chapter of the 16th president’s biography — his relationship with the press — Thursday at the National Archives. Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer will discuss his latest book, “Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion,” with Frank Bond at the Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater at 7 p.m. Admission is free. In his review of the book for Roll Call, John Bicknell wrote, “With his usual sparkling prose and exhaustive research, one of America’s foremost scholars on the 16th president has given us a robust portrait of the nexus between American politics and the press. As much as it is a telling slice of Lincolniana — the kind of detail-rich tapestry we have come to expect from Holzer — it is also a lively history of mid-19th century journalism.”

Cemetery Pre-Party

The lively folks over at Congressional Cemetery get into the swing of Halloween things on Saturday with their annual Ghosts and Goblets party on the cemetery grounds. The event follows in the footsteps of the cemetery’s Dead Man’s Race 5K earlier this month and August’s Day of the Dog, which combined animal adoption with food trucks and local breweries at the historic resting place that also doubles as D.C.’s premier dog-walking park. The party starts in earnest at 8 p.m., though VIP access gets one in the gates at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $70, which includes drinks. To purchase tickets or learn more, go here.

Related Stories:

Lincoln and the Power of the Press’ Elucidates Symbiotic Relationship Between Politicians and Journalists

The Ghosts Who Stare at Goats or All-You-Can-Eat-At-Congressional Cemetery

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

October 15, 2014

With Malice Toward Some: ‘Lincoln and the Power of the Press’ Elucidates Symbiotic Relationship Between Politicians and Journalists

The haze of nostalgia often blinds people to the problems of the past. This is especially true in politics and journalism, where current practitioners love to wax rhapsodic about how great things were in the good old days, when everybody got along and drank whiskey with each other and were regular old pals.

Harold Holzer’s “Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion” is here to offer an antidote to our nostalgic haze, while rendering a fascinating story in the process.

With his usual sparkling prose and exhaustive research, one of America’s foremost scholars on the 16th president has given us a robust portrait of the nexus between American politics and the press. As much as it is a telling slice of Lincolniana — the kind of detail-rich tapestry we have come to expect from Holzer — it is also a lively history of mid-19th century journalism.

It’s an often unpretty picture. Full story

By John Bicknell Posted at 10:56 a.m.
Book of the Week

October 14, 2014

Tom Colicchio Helps Mark World Food Day in D.C.

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Colicchio will discuss the Food Policy Action congressional scorecard on Thursday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Perhaps no other city in the United States provides the platform to address food issues better than Washington, D.C., a culinary hot-spot that also provides a public policy forum in the seat of government.

It’s a good time to eat out in the District. Just check out Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s fall dining guide, released over the weekend, for proof. As if to demonstrate how food in the District is both a sensual and political experience, one of Washington’s pre-emininet food activists is also among its most celebrated for his kitchens. Among Sietsema’s 37 selections, four are from José Andrés, whose ThinkFoodGroup has a growing policy footprint in advocating for the elimination of hunger and addressing its root causes.

On Thursday, noshing meets education with World Food Day, the anniversary of the Oct. 16, 1945, creation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Food Policy Action is using the day to release its National Food Policy Scorecard for the 113th Congress at one of D.C.’s foodie havens, Graffiato, Mike Isabella’s downtown Italian-American lair.

Food Policy Action, an offshoot of the Environmental Working Group, released its first scorecard two years ago for the 112th Congress, grading members on 32 legislative actions ranging from nutrition assistance to food safety. Fifty members got perfect scores; three came away empty-plated. Full story

October 8, 2014

American Film Institute Sets 2015 Documentary Festival Schedule

The American Film Institute today announced the date’s for next year’s documentary film festival, setting aside June 17-21 at multiple sites in downtown D.C. and Silver Spring, Md.

For filmmakers, the festival set three deadlines for feature and short-length submissions. Dec. 12 for early birds, Jan. 30 for regular old submissions and March 2 for procrastinators.

Related Stories:

AFI Docs Announces 84-Film Full Slate

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By Jason Dick Posted at 4:30 p.m.
Movies

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