Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2014

Posts by Jason Dick

398 Posts

November 24, 2014

To Trot or Not to Trot

Attic Turkey8 111505 445x294 To Trot or Not to Trot

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 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 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

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November 3, 2014

Let’s Do Election Day Lunch

tune inn014 110411 445x295 Lets Do Election Day Lunch

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 27, 2014

Scaring Up a Good Time in D.C.

witch003 102411 445x295 Scaring Up a Good Time in D.C.

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

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October 14, 2014

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

Local Farms 21 040913 445x295 Tom Colicchio Helps Mark World Food Day in D.C.

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

How D.C. Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Documentary Film

AFI Docs Leaves D.C. Footprint

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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

This Is What It’s Like to Be a Baseball Town

stadium001 032608 445x300 This Is What Its Like to Be a Baseball Town

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“You can take that off now,” the Architect of the Capitol worker yelled out, pointing to my Washington Nationals’ hat as I rode past the Russell Senate Office Building this morning.

Was it capital city commiseration of Tuesday night’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, ending the Nats’ playoff run? He kind of laughed. I pointed to the hat and replied, “Nah. The hat stays.”

This is what it is to be a baseball town. The euphoria of the inaugural season in 2005 wore off relatively quickly, giving way to the dry, monotonous pain of 100-loss seasons, the slow climb to respectability and finally to perennial success. The 2012 playoff run was a novelty, cruelly snatched away too quickly. This year was different. It’s the same kind of pain other teams and their cities experience when they don’t meet expectations. The Nationals are a good team, and we expect them to win now. But it’s also just a pleasure to have a team in D.C. The idea stuck. They’re here. They’re ours.

That doesn’t make it any easier to get the relentless stream of emails from StubHub reminding us that our plans for Thursday night’s theoretical Game 5 and the National League Championship Series have changed: “This event has been cancelled. This event has been cancelled. This event has been cancelled.”

The Nationals are now part of the fabric of the town. Wear Nats gear on a game day and strangers will kibbitz on the team’s chances, question Matt Williams’ decisions and ask if you were there for all 18 innings of Game 2. There’s a shorthand now. Game 2 is the longest playoff game in Major League Baseball history. Game 4 means Jayson Werth’s homer to beat the Cardinals in 2012. Game 5 means the gut-punch loss the next night. Tuesday night’s Game 4 doesn’t have a name yet, but it will. It will likely have something to do with wild pitches, walks and bunts. Eventually, we’ll settle on something.

In the meantime, the hat stays.

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By Jason Dick Posted at 12:17 p.m.
This Sporting Life

October 6, 2014

Green Hat Gin’s Cotton Anniversary Party

 Green Hat Gins Cotton Anniversary Party

(JasonDick/CQ Roll Call)

For anyone bummed that the Russians are buying All-American beer Pabst Blue Ribbon, fret not. There’s plenty of home-grown beer and booze right here in the nation’s capital.

It’s even a kind of anniversary season for the growing list of D.C.-based craft alcohol outfits. Atlas Brew Works, which joined the D.C. beeraissance last year, celebrated its one-year anniversary last month with a shindig at its Ivy City brewery. And on Wednesday, local bistro Boundary Road will fete New Columbia Distillers to celebrate the second anniversary of Green Hat Gin, the first legal distiller in Washington since Prohibition.

Boundary Road Owner/Chef Brad Walker and his merry crew focus not just on seasonal and local foods and drinks, but also on local talent and businesses. In this case, the New Columbia folks will trundle over from their Ivy City digs (sensing a trend here), with some of their choicest hooch. That will include some of their seasonal gin batches, such as their memorable “Ginavit” 2013 winter offering, which incorporated spirits genever and aquavit. Full story

October 2, 2014

Take a Trip Down Baseball Memory Lane

nats park006 040113 445x297 Take a Trip Down Baseball Memory Lane

Things weren’t always so merry with Washington baseball. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Washington Nationals open the National League Division Series on Friday, their second post-season appearance in three years, it’s easy to forget Washington baseball teams have frequently sucked.

Fred Frommer, author of “You Gotta Have Heart:  A History of Washington Baseball from 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions,” never forgot. His book will make any Nat fan appreciate what they have now, and he’ll be discussing it at the National Archives on Friday at noon in the William G. McGowan Theater with his frequent discussion sidekick, former Senators announcer Phil Hochberg. It’s a nice way to prepare for the 3:07 p.m. game against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park.

Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote about some of the Senators’ woeful ways in today’s Post. The upshot? To be a Senators fan back in the day, one had to have real guts. “In my childhood, the whole point of rooting for the Senators was to affirm one’s fortitude in the face of cellar-dwelling finishes. Show loyalty and optimism despite setbacks and disappointment. ‘We grew up not expecting much. That’s not a bad lesson for life,’ said Hank Thomas, 68, of Arlington, who cheered for the Senators as a child in the late 1950s,” McCartney writes.

And the first few seasons after the Montreal Expos moved here to become the Nationals were no picnic either. Remember when Nook Logan started in center field? It’s best not to.

If you can’t make it to the Archives, Fred and Phil will be live on YouTube.

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September 29, 2014

‘Fort Bliss’ — A Grounded Movie Gets Theatrical Run

Call it the little movie that could. “Fort Bliss,” a feature film about an Army medic/single mom returning stateside after a tour in Afghanistan and struggling with re-entry, is enjoying an extended theatrical release in Washington, continuing its rise from festival favorite and video on demand to big screens, thanks largely to grass-roots support.

The movie, directed by Claudia Myers and starring Michelle Monaghan, focuses on the challenges Monaghan’s character, Maggie Swan, has reconnecting with her young son and simply adjusting to not having bullets flying overhead. It’s a timely film, particularly as the country continues to grapple with questions about U.S. troops’ presence in Afghanistan and calls for more investment of blood and treasure in Iraq and possibly Syria get louder.

That doesn’t mean it was an easy sell. Josh Levin, general manager of the West End Cinema, said, “I originally turned it down. I turned it down cold,” when contacted by distributors about a run at his Foggy Bottom theater. He said it was an easy call “without any editorial comment about the films,” because he’s seen over and over again that when it comes to movies about Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s just no audience. “I just dismissed it out of hand.”  Full story

September 23, 2014

Sona CREAMery Taps Its Inner Wu-Tang Clan

 Sona CREAMery Taps Its Inner Wu Tang Clan

Say “Cheese!” (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

It finally makes sense why Method Man’s character on “The Wire” was named Cheese.

Strolling down Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday, one may witness a chalkboard with a Wu-inspired message: “Cheese Rules Everything Around Me.”

The riff on the Wu-Tang’s iconic anthem “C.R.E.A.M.” (Cash Rules Everything Around Me for those slow on the uptake), works two ways, cream being so important to the dairy minded. A bit, ahem, cheesy? Sure. Why not?

For the record, Sona Creamery’s Wu-Tang name, as concocted by the Wu-Tang Name Generator, is Chocolatey Shatner.

Related Stories:

Sona Creamery Opens Its Doors

Wu-Tang Will Bring Da Ruckus to D.C. 

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