Archive for the ‘Capitol Hill’ Category

A Look at the New Capitol Visitors Center

Picture 3.png DC Metrocentric has an awesome preview of the new Capitol Visitors Center that’s been under construction on the East side of the Capitol since time immemorial. I love the glass ceiling that gives way to the Capitol Rotunda. You can also read more about the new facility via the Architect of the Capitol’s Weekly Construction Summaries. This week, they’re working on “millwork, wall stone, floor stone, grout lines, painted surfaces, ceiling panels, plaster work, doors, and other finish materials.”

Capitol Police say, "Whoopsie Daisies!"

It’s nice to know that in this post 911 world we’re so well protected here in Washington, aka “terrorist target numero uno”. First, CNN reports that we have air marshals on less than 1% of all U.S. flights and now we read that Mr. Michael Gorbey, the samurai sword, shotgun-slinging suspect, had an explosive device in his truck that has taken the Capitol Police three weeks to find. Three. Weeks. Sure, they “used a robotic camera to look inside the vehicle and a powerful water hose to destroy suspicious items inside”, but they completely missed a device “made of a can of gunpowder taped to a box of shotgun shells and a bottle with buckshot or BB pellets”. Maybe they thought it was some new beverage brought to us by the makers of Vitamin Water?

Seriously. Seriously? It’s not like they have many terrorists and criminals walking in their front door, consuming their time and causing them to take shortcuts and their work performance to suffer. They’re usually just patrolling the grounds and telling photographers like me, “Sorry you can’t use a tripod on the Capitol grounds.” Good job fellas. If the fate of the Capitol and the people who work inside rests on your shoulders, it’s no wonder most members of congress never show up to vote.

Murky DC Evicted, Tax Charges Loom

A few days back we wrote about the eviction of Murky Coffee’s Capitol Hill shop. Now, it seems that they weren’t paying more than just their rent. There’s a $427,000 tax bill waiting for them at the DC Office of Tax & Revenue for 18 months of unpaid sales taxes and franchise taxes.

It’s pretty much a guarantee that Murky Coffee in DC is gone for good. Murky in Arlington is under a separate corporation, but the Post reports that they owe $20,000 to the Virginia Commissioner of the Revenue.

You can read Nick Cho’s explanation for the events, as well.

I hope that they’re able to keep their other shop open, settle their debts with the DC OTR and get a new shop open in DC. The Staff of Murky Coffee has always been excellent, both in service and in personality, and their coffee is the best I’ve had, and Murky in Arlington has been my “third place” for years. Here’s hoping they can get all of it worked out. Good luck, Nick & the Gang.

Finally, My Endorsement For President

Hillack Obinton

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I know, the suspense has been killing you! Our inbox here at Metblogs has been overflowing with e-mails asking, “Who will Max endorse as his candidate for President?” Will it be Rudy “Mr. 911” Giuliani? Nah, he talks funny and I’m tired of people using scare tactics to justify wars. Speaking of wars, how about John “The War on Poverty” Edwards? Nah, he talks even funnier and reminds me too much of this guy. What about Mitt Romney? He is a handsome devil, but to be honest, Mormons just plain scare me. And what about John McCain you ask? Anyone who can show this much love for Bush has spent one too many days in a POW camp.

So who? Who, Max? Will it be Hillary then? Well I do like Hill. She’s intelligent, talks about improving health care, likes using solar energy and other alternatives, has Bill as the First Ambassador, and let’s be honest, Chelsea is starting to look kinda cute. She’s been in politics since I was in diapers and knows how to be the captain of the U.S. Government. But there’s just something about those Clintons. You just never know how much you can trust them.

Oh, so then you’re endorsing Obama then right? Right? Well he’s been against the war in Iraq for a 100 years or something. He seems to have no skeletons in his closet. He’s got pipes that are fit for doing NBC commercial voice overs and teeth fit for being the Crest spokesperson. And Marion Barry is endorsing him right? I mean wow, Marion Barry!

Well I hate to say it, but it’s a tie. I can’t fully endorse Clinton or Obama because the decision is just…too…difficult. That’s why I’ve decided to endorse Hillack Obinton, the dream candidate for the ages. With Hillack, America will be loved by the world once again. Obinton will send Bill and Oprah around the world to mend our broken fences. John Edwards will be brought in as the head of FEMA where he will truly put New Orleans back together again. Steven Spielberg will be hired as the Defense Secretary where he’ll design the coolest looking and best documented wars we’ve ever seen. Google will be put in charge of developing cars that run on old cell phone batteries and recycled Starbucks coffee cups. The Gates Foundation will graciously donate half of its money to rebuild our schools and raise teachers’ salaries, but only on one condition – Apple must be investigated for being funded by communists and run by Al Qaeda.

So join me in my support for Hillack Obinton in 2008! Or…just vote for Clinton or Obama because either one of them will probably do a darn good job.

Washington’s Dirty Little Secret: Coke

I used to drink close to a six pack of Mt. Dew every day but I slowly weaned myself off of it and now drink something healthy for me: Blueberry Stoli Vitamin Water. However, every once in a while I get a craving for some super sugar water and head straight for the Coke. None of that Diet or Zero crap either, I’m talking about the fully leaded, bubbly, brown stuff. I feel like there’s a magic ingredient in it, one that makes your life a little bit easier and your day a little bit brighter.

Evidently I’m not the only one who’s discovered this secret. Just see what happens to James Carville and Bill Frist after they knock back a few Coke’s with a smile. They put their political differences aside, turn into best buddies and start riding Segways around town. While Coke has never had quite that effect on me, I’m thinking that Dick Cheney should try some. You never know, you might see him and Hillary skipping hand in hand by the reflecting pool one day.

Capitol Christmas Tree 2007

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Here we see a team of AOC guys hard at work putting the finishing touches on the 2007 Capitol Christmas Tree, a balsam fir gifted to us from Green Mountain National Forest in the great state of Vermont.

Not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree by the White House, the Capitol Christmas Tree started out as a 24-foot Douglas fir from Birdsboro, PA, which stayed on the Capitol Lawn and was lit and decorated every Christmas from 1963 to 1967. Wind storm damage in 1967 caused the tree to die in 1968, so that the trees for Christmas of ’68 and ’69 were brought in from Maryland. From 1970 onwards, the Capitol Christmas Tree has been provided yearly by the USDA Forest Service, with trees gifted by a donor state. See the full list from 1970 to 2006 here.

There will be a Tree Lighting Ceremony on Wed, Dec 5th, 5PM, with Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, and Peter Welch, followed by a Vermont-style reception at the Botanical Gardens.

The first Capitol tree I saw was from Idaho, and had potato decorations on it. What kind of stuff do you think should be hanging from a Vermont tree?

The 2004 Capitol Christmas Tree

What is it about Technology that gets Politicians Speaking Wacky?

Garrett Graff has an amazingly perfect piece on technology knowledge of politicians in today’s Washington Post. Why is it that we tolerate know-nothingness regarding technology from our politicians? I would say that 70% of the country at least has an email address, and that at least 30% of our workforce use “the Internets” and “the Google” at least once an hour to do their job, and as such it’s a critical piece of American infrastructure, not entirely unlike the highways and bridges, or the medical system.

It is consistently amazing to me how people can heap disdain on technologies they know little or nothing about because they’re either “too important” or “too old” to make them work on their behalf. That’s also called “laziness” and “stupidity” where I’m from. Making excuses because you don’t know how something works is antithetical to how America should be run, and the kind of ignorance, if expressed in other fields of American life, would be treated as a firing offense come election time.

Garrett, thanks for bringing this up in such a public light. The Internet isn’t a place just for freaks and geeks and academics, nor has it ever been such. It’s high time that politicians woke up and realized that.

Pantyhose. No Really. Pantyhose.

Today’s OMGWTFBBQ-it’s-the-Hill story comes to you via Jezebel:

Our Democrat friend wears Chuck Taylors and jeans to the Russell Building when Congress is in recess, no questions asked. But our Republican pal is not so lucky! Just last week, she was pulled aside by a supervisor and debriefed as to the ins-and-outs of Grand Old Party dressing. Open toe-shoes are a no-go, as are jeans. Heels are mandatory at all times. But most bizarre is the “pantyhose policy.”

Basically, pantyhose must be worn every day, she was told. Even in the summertime? Oh yes, and “no exceptions.” Well, what about pantsuits? “Well, I suppose you can wear them,” the supervisor sighed, “But you are going to need to check with the Senator herself whether or not you will need to wear hose under pants, as well. I’m not entirely sure of the Senator’s stance on pantsuits at this time.”

Yep, we still haven’t left the 50’s and 60’s in some offices at the Hill. Heaven forfend that people might work in some semblance of comfort. Wait, before you ask it, yeah, I know what it feels like to wear pantyhose, as any swimmer worth their salt will do post shave-and-taper to simulate extra drag. They’re kinda itchy.

I’ll let you wager your own guesses as to which of the Senators this was, I have no idea myself, but I have a few guesses. Every day I walk by tons of people in full “business” dress, and glad that I don’t have to abide by their rules anymore.

Scaredy Cat Senator Advocates Fleeing DC

On Thursday Roll Call ran a story (login required) about Capitol Police stepping up security on Capitol Hill “in response to intelligence indicating the increased possibility of an al-Qaida terrorist attack on Congress sometime between now and Sept. 11.”

Reports like that are always cause for concern but they’re also common and, knock on wood, have yet to prelude an actual attack since 9/11. Upon hearing such a report most of us go on with our lives undeterred. We know that security professionals are on the job and that the average terrorist-wannabe is a lot dumber than we sometimes give him credit for.

Moreover, we aren’t going to be intimidated out of living our lives. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — right? Not for all of us it seems. The story goes on to say…

Fight Crime With Cheese and Wine

A Gate Crasher’s Change of Heart. Armed robber breaks into Capitol Hill home during a small summer party, points a gun at your 14 year old daughter’s head, and demands money. What do you do? What do you do?

Why, offer wine and cheese before ending with a group hug, of course. A taste of the Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry and Camembert, coupled with some good old-fashioned D.C. hospitality, and the would-be perp goes from Thug to Hug in ten minutes. Party guest Michael Rabdau described it as a “love fest”:

“I was definitely expecting there would be some kind of casualty. He was very aggressive at first; then it turned into a love fest. I don’t know what it was …. There was this degree of disbelief and terror at the same time,” Rabdau said. “Then it miraculously just changed. His whole emotional tone turned — like, we’re one big happy family now. I thought: Was it the wine? Was it the cheese?”

Bizarre story, happy ending. Hurrah for overcoming evil with good. I still hope they can find and arrest the guy, of course. Maybe he’ll get even more sweet lovin’ in Corrections.

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