Focus Washington: Wessel on the Politics of the Federal Budget

On August 24, 2012, in DCView, by Focus Washington

The budget deficit situation has never been this bad. The numbers have never been this large. Politicians are unwilling to compromise.

Author David Wessel and his new book, “Red Ink,” were celebrated last night in a book party hosted by Qorvis Communications. Partner and National Director of Financial Communications, Stan Collender coordinated the event on behalf of old friend David Wessel.

The party was well attended by members of the Washington D.C. business and media community including reporters from Bloomberg, Washington Life and Washington Journal.

The third book by Wessel, “Red Ink” discusses the high-stakes politics of the federal budget in a way that the American public can understand. He examines the 2011 fiscal year in order to explain how the budget process has grown out of control and the people and politics behind it. In his remarks at the party, Wessel acknowledged the brevity of the book saying the federal budget and deficit are confusing especially since they are generally discussed in “vague generalities.”

 

Focus Washington: 2012 Election: Is it the 99% v. 1%?

On July 31, 2012, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Bill Press, an astute observer of the American political scene, discusses the 2012 election with Focus Washington host and chairman at Qorvis, Chuck Conconi. The 2012 election comes down to a choice between somebody who comes from the 1% and will fight for the 1% or someone body who comes from the 99% and will fight for you. Do we go forward with Obama’s program or go back to the policies of Bush and Cheney? Why isn’t gun control part of this campaign?

Washington, D.C. is a politically driven town. And what goes hand in hand with politics? Socializing. Most nights are full of black-tie events attended by numerous ambassadors, congressional leaders, high-powered lobbyists, journalists and the occasional Hollywood celebrity. Recently, Focus Washington interviewed social expert Kevin Chaffee of Qorvis Communications. Chaffee, a former features editor of the Washington Times and current senior editor of Washington Life Magazine, provided a recap of the D.C. summer social scene as well as a preview of what to expect for the remainder of the summer.

“The conventional wisdom is that after the 4th of July, no parties happen and that D.C. is deader than a doornail” Chaffee says, going on to explain that there is a common misconception that most of the local social elite leave town for the months of July and August. This leaves the blistering summer months of July and August devoid of a legitimate social scene until after Labor Day.

This summer, however, has been a little different. Chaffee stated that this “July was more lively than normal.” The social highlight of the summer was the “Together to End AIDS” event, which was held on July 21st at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The event was hosted by The Foundation for AIDS Research and GBCHealth, and honored billionaire Bill Gates for his philanthropic efforts to combat the AIDS epidemic. Other celebrity guests included actress Sharon Stone, Anderson Cooper, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole.

In addition to the World AIDS Conference, Washington played host to the Shakespeare Theater’s event honoring actor Stacey Keach on July 23rd. Summer also features a number of embassy parties honoring their respective national holidays. A couple highlights of the diplomatic scene to date were the French Embassy’s July 14th Bastille Day Party and the British Embassy’s event honoring the Queen’s Jubilee. This summer’s marquee embassy event will occur July 27th, when the British Ambassador hosts an exclusive party at his residence to honor the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Another important upcoming social event is the Qorvis book party on August 2nd to celebrate David Wessel’s, economic editor of the Wall Street Journal, new book; “Red Ink.”

While July was unusually busy for the Washington summer social scene, August will be quieter than normal. According to Chaffee, the Democratic and Republican conventions will preoccupy Washington’s elite, thus putting a damper on the August social scene. Members of Congress will be out of the District campaigning for their respective parties. No Congress means that all of the city’s high-powered lobbyists and influential journalists are free to take some much needed family vacations. Also, many high profile ambassadors will either be attending the convention events as guests or using this downtime to return to their native countries.

Andy Wright stops by Focus Washington to discuss joining Polsinelli Shughart’s Washington D.C. office with Qorvis’ Chuck Conconi. Wright and Conconi also discuss emerging trends in energy policy.

The Washington Kastles followed up last year’s perfect season with a 22-18 win on the road against the Orange County Breakers on Monday in the first World Team Tennis match of 2012. The win was the 17th consecutive victory for the Kastles. Leading the way for Washington was two-time league MVP Leander Paes, who teamed with Anastasia Rodionova to win mixed doubles 5-1 before partnering Bobby Reynolds to a 5-3 win in men’s doubles. The Kastles play tomorrow night against the Spring Field Lasers before returning to DC on Thursday for their home opener against the New York Sportimes. You can find the complete Kastles schedule here: http://www.washingtonkastles.com/teams/schedule.aspx

Fun Kastles Fact: Last year’s 16-0 record was the first perfect season in sports since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Earlier today, The American Chemistry Council (ACC)  hosted a forum, “Unlocking the Vast Potential of Energy Recovery,” on Capitol Hill. The event was headlined by Cal Dooley, ACC president and CEO, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and a panel of business leaders and experts. The purpose of the event was for experts to discuss the expanding use of energy recovery as an abundant and alternative energy source, highlight emerging trends and technologies for recovering energy from waste, and allow policymakers to outline legislative strategies for boosting private sector investments.

For more information on the successful event: http://news.yahoo.com/american-chemistry-council-members-congress-business-leaders-call-151609605.html

Bob Cusack, editor of “The Hill” stops by Focus Washington to sit down with Qorvis’ Chuck Conconi to discuss the fundraising efforts of both Mitt Romney and President Obama, and Cusack weighs in on the 2012 congressional race.

The Bahrain Press Club (BPC) launched its first overseas liaison office on Tuesday at an event held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event welcomed members of the international media, think tanks, government representatives and NGOs. The BPC liaison office was created to honor the growing relationship between the United States and Bahrain and will serve as a direct connection to the Bahrain Press Club in Manama, Bahrain. The liaison office is expected to provide regular updates and accurate news from the Government of Bahrain, as well as access to senior government officials. According to HE Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, president of Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA), “It’s fitting that we establish the first BPC liaison office in Washington, where we have such strong historic ties.” Sheikh Fawaz went on to further declare that “the club will provide the U.S. community with firsthand access to Bahrain and will encourage the exchange of ideas and experiences necessary to further understanding.” The physical Bahrain Press Club liaison office is scheduled to open in the National Press Club in August 2012.

For more information on the BPC liasion office check out Qorvis’ Chuck Conconi’s interview with Sheikh Fawaz al Khalifa.

Call to Action for Child Survival Conference

On June 14, 2012, in TechView, by Focus Washington

Today is the official start of the two-day Call to Action for Child Survival conference hosted by the U.S., Ethiopian, and Indian governments.  The conference is being held at Washington DC’s Georgetown University. Featured speakers include US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Ben Affleck. More than 700 leaders from the private sector, government, and civil society are expected to attend the event, including representation from more than 80 countries, with over 50 countries represented at the ministerial level.

For more information regarding the conference read http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/06/13/hillary_clinton_and_ben_affleck_team_up_to_eliminate_preventable_child_death.

 

Hunter Johnston, partner in the energy policy group at Steptoe &Johnson and senior counsel to Leucadia Energy, stops by Focus Washington to sit down with Qorvis’ Chuck Conconi to discuss U.S. energy strategy and current gasification projects.

 

Dr. Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group, stops by Focus Washington to discuss Mitt Romney’s win in New Hampshire and what the future of the GOP race may look like in the upcoming months.

Wyeth Ruthven, senior director at Qorvis, stops by Focus Washington to discuss how Twitter trends provide insight into how the GOP candidates will fare in Iowa.

Focus Washington: Chet Nagle

On June 24, 2009, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Chet Nagle, author of the new novel “Iran Covenant.” The book is largely based on the possibility of a nuclear arms race in Iran and how Israel and the United States would react. Nagle draws upon his own extensive experience as a CIA agent – giving him a unique perspective on the matter.

The Obama Honeymoon Crisis

On February 10, 2009, in DCView, Focus Washington Interviews, PoliticalView, by Focus Washington

Today I had the opportunity to sit with Don Goldberg, former Clinton crisis communication manager, on the issues facing the Obama Administration.

Chicago and the Blagojevich Scandal

On December 18, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Talking with Democratic Party strategist Rich Masters was especially fun for me because Rich is from Illinois and I lived in Chicago, where after receiving my master’s degree from the Medill School at Northwestern, worked at my first reporting jobs at the City News Bureau of Chicago and the Chicago’s American. For a young reporter it was like being part of Hecht and MacArthur’s The Front Page. Watching the Mayor Daley machine control everything was awe inspiring. The political power and corruption throughout the city government was a guilty pleasure. In fact, it was rumored that Chicago was so much fun to cover as a reporter, that reporters who were told the newspaper was going to send them to cover Washington, would respond, “What did I do wrong? Why am I being punished?” In any other city in the country, reporters would kill for the opportunity to cover the nation’s capital. Even back to the early years of the 20th Century, Chicago mayors and aldermen were taking bribes and ending up in jail.

“The Self-Indulgent Blogger”

On December 5, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Welcome to Focus Washington. With that said, I have officially become a blogger. It is something I have resisted. As a life-long print journalist, I have always understood and quoted the wise words of Samuel Johnson: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” Writing is too difficult to just give away, and those of us who have devoted our efforts to print have failed to understand the lure of electronic letters on a video screen written for personal satisfaction and not financial gain. There is, of course, immeasurable gratification to seeing ones words of wisdom on paper or monitor screen, offering them to the unenlightened world. It is the illusion that someone out there cares what I have to say, but now that I no longer have a regular print outlet, the blogging world is looking more inviting.

It is true that writing, an often painful process, brings with it sometimes recognition, sometimes criticism, and more often vain, ego satisfaction. But like running for political office, no one would undergo the lengthy, exhausting effort if there wasn’t a pleasurable public celebrity at the end. Enough of this self-indulgent, apologetic verbiage, I have capitulated and I am now a blogger. I read with interest a recent Atlantic Monthly article, “Why I Blog,” by thoughtful journalist Andrew Sullivan. He wrote that, “…as blogging evolves as a literary form, it is generating a new and quintessentially postmodern idiom that’s enabling writers to express themselves in ways that have never been seen or understood before. Its truths are provisional, and its ethos collective and messy. Yet the interaction it enables between writer and reader is unprecedented, visceral, and sometimes brutal. And make no mistake: it heralds a golden era for journalism.”

 

Sullivan is more profound and sold on the blogging concept than I ever expect to be, but there are salient points in this sprint, free form writing I’m not ready to even title journalism, let alone a golden era for journalism. I still am uncomfortable with the raw emotions of many bloggers who write without reporting or any concern about truth or facts. Like our judicial system, the truth is expected to emerge in the ever observant blogosphere. I might churlishly point out that the truth sometimes doesn’t win out in our legal system.

 

I can see that blogs give the writer freedom from the tyranny of tin-eared, timid editors. And from time to time every professional writer has experienced those editors. I believe in editors, however, and have depended on their guidance, and most of the time, they have saved me from stupid mistakes. The guidance is often a simple, “How do you know this?” But, the most disheartening thing that destroys the confidence and productivity of a writer is an editor who just doesn’t get it or who wants to impose himself on the writer, and every professional writer has suffered this. Sullivan has convinced me that a blog frees me from that oppression. I can say what I want to say without some editor saying, “You can’t say that.” I will, however, have no excuse when I make mistakes or look stupid, but I’ve often made mistakes and have looked stupid more times than I can remember and have recovered from the embarrassment.

 

I have actually been video blogging for a couple of months over youtube.com/focuswashington. The videos will now also be part of the www.focuswashington.com blog. I will continue to do these video interviews that in the past have included Susan Eisenhower, talk show host Bill Press, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer, federal budget expert Stan Collender and Democratic Party strategist Rich Masters. In this expanded blog, I will be returning to my more comfortable print side and will be commenting on a range of subjects such as Washington politics, as well as my experiences around the city. There will be times I will even write about cultural events, write theater reviews or comment on a restaurant I like or don’t like or where you can get the most value or the least value for your money. This being a blog, I can write about anything I want with no editor grumbling, “no one is interested in what you have to say about that.” I am already learning to love the self-indulgence of blogging. I invite scrutiny and criticism.

 

I have already broken the blog rule to keep it quick and brief. It will also take me some time to be comfortable ignoring Samuel Johnson’s sage advice.

 

Karen Hanretty, Communications Director for the NRCC

On November 19, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

On today’s edition of Focus Washington I talked with Karen Hanretty, Communication Director for the NRCC, about the future unemployed republicans and where they might go once the Bush Administration and the 111th Congress finish next year.

The GOP’s Future

On November 12, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

I asked Quin Hillyer, Associate editor of the Washington Examiner and columnist for the American Spectator, discusses the future of the GOP following their embarrassing 2008 election cycle. Where do they go from here and who will be the next RNC Chairman?

Doug Poretz, Partner at Qorvis Communications

On November 7, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Doug Poretz, a founding partner of Qorvis Communications, talks with me about the role of communications in the current economic crisis and the future role of communications in the Obama Administration.

Stan Collendar, leading financial expert, discusses the economy

On November 6, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

With extensive experience on Capital Hill and considered one of the leading experts on the U.S. budget and congressional budget process in Washington, DC, I asked Stan Collender, one of the leading experts on federal fiscal and monetary policies, to discuss the U.S. economy and what to expect out of an Obama administration. His comments were spot on and eye-opening.

Stan is one of only a handful of people who has worked for the House and Senate Budget Committees and has worked for three U.S. representatives who served on the House Budget and Ways and Means Committees.

This is it, the final hours of the 2008 Presidential campaign. I asked Associate editor of the Washington Examiner and columnist for the American Spectator Quin Hillyer along with Democratic Strategist Rich Masters to square-off in a final discussion while we wait for the first polls to close. 

Quin Hillyer of the Washington Examiner

On October 29, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

With the election around the corner and only five days left, I sit down to discuss the final hours of the 2008 Presidential campaign with Associate editor of the Washington Examiner and columnist for the American Spectator Quin Hillyer.

You can visit Quin’s blog at: http://spectator.org/blog

Susan Eisenhower Discusses Republican Endorsements of Obama

On October 21, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Today, I spoke with Susan Eisenhower, president of the Eisenhower Group Inc., granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former Republican Party official and now a supporter of Barack Obama for President. I talked with Susan on the direction of our country and why she left the Republican Party to endorse Senator Obama’s campaign. Susan just returned to Washington from campaigning for Barack Obama in Florida.

“I didn’t leave the Republican Party, they left me,” said Susan. “The Republican Party today does not look a thing like it did during President Eisenhower’s administration. I am very concerned about America’s position in the world. This is why I endorsed Barack Obama — because I do not see things changing without a new cast of characters in the White House.”

Susan has been vocal in her criticism of the Republican Party including the direction the McCain for President Campaign has taken the Party. “Many things have happened with the Republican Party over time. It is the way the campaign has been conducted. For instance, the choice of Sarah Palin was a signal to moderates in the party that the future of the party is to the hard right rather than to the sensible center.”

I hope you like this interesting interview.

You can visit Susan’s Website at: www.susaneisenhower.com

Bill Press, political commentator, on the Presidential Debates

On October 16, 2008, in DCView, by Focus Washington

This time around, I asked political commentator Bill Press to discuss the presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain on October 15, 2008. In a partisan interview Bill Press proclaims John McCain a phony.

On assignment elsewhere, I asked Rich Masters to stand in for me. Rich asks former advisor to Colin Powell, Matt Lauer, who he thought won the debate and what his predictions are moving forward.

In ths edition I disscuss the first presidential debate with well-known pollster Dr. Ron Faucheux. Dr. Faucheux was a founder of Campaings and Elections magazine and is well respected around the polling community.

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