It certainly isn’t important in the present scheme of things that President Trump has made a petulant decision not to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. His decision upset some of the dinner planners, but he may have inadvertently accomplished a good thing for Washington journalism.

Over the years, presidents have found time, often reluctantly, to attend the glittery, black-tie dinner, inelegantly known as the Nerd Prom. The dinner boasts the good deed cover of raising money for scholarships. It also is an opportunity for reporters to have a convivial evening with people they cover and to have a good time.

In recent years, however, the Correspondents’ Dinner became a showbiz celebrity event with respected media organizations vigorously competing to bring in as many Hollywood and entertainment world celebrities as could be fitted at a table. The dinner probably reached its nadir when reality television stars, like the Duck Dynasty hillbillies were sought after celebrity guests.

And to continue the Los Vegas glitter, a big-name comic emcee was necessary who often wasn’t as humorous as the President who has his speech writers and outside New York/Los Angles talents working overtime coming up with funny lines. And partly because he is the President, he often received the biggest laughs, his jokes dutifully picked up by television the following day.

Having been both a guest and also having covered the red carpet arrivals for television, it was often disheartening to see respected Washington newsmen acting like 13-year-olds catching sight of Justin Bieber.

The more affluent media organizations like NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Bloomberg, Vanity Fair host impressive cocktail parties, as do several other media organizations with more shallow purses. The dinner is also a big money raiser for the Washington Hilton where most of the parties are held and where the largest ballroom in town is jammed with as many tables and people that the fire marshal will allow.

It is often argued by journalists that this hot ticket dinner, and the more prestigious Gridiron Dinner (President Trump also declined an invitation to attend), exists mainly to get newsmen and political leaders to get to know each other better and to have a better understanding of the roles of each.

There is some rationality to that reasoning, but conscientious journalists are expected to maintain some distance between themselves and the people they cover. Politicians, by their innate nature can be likable, and it is sometime difficult for a journalist to be tough when necessary on someone you cover and enjoy meeting with over dinner and drinks.

Journalistic organizations are aware of this problem and understand that regular beat reporters can get the good day-to-day stories, but if there is a need to dig beyond the daily news events, it takes a reporter who is outside the news beat structure. The Watergate expose by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein is the obvious example where many beat reporters, even at the Washington Post, were opposed to the digging by the young newsmen who eventually brought down a president.

There is no question that the White House is a prestigious beat, but too often the famous newsmen who cover there are more like stenographers taking news information fed to them in press briefings and announcements. It’s a great beat because you get to travel the world with the President and be part of televised press conferences and maybe be seen by people back home.

President Trump, with a greater antipathy toward the press than perhaps even Richard Nixon, has injected new energy into the White House press corps. No reporter there is going to readily accept the often alternative fact information from the White House press office. And that is a good thing. The media and the politicians from municipal governments to Washington, need to have a respected adversarial relationship.

Both sides need to develop a trust for the role each plays and President Trump deciding not to be part of the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner may be off to a good start. Obviously, the thin-skinned president would not have enjoyed the friendly jibs from the head table speakers and he knew that even the powerful media organizations would have difficulty producing glittery celebrity world guest if he attended and he would be blamed, not that he cared. All one needs to do is look at the paucity of Hollywood celebrities at the Republican National nominating convention in Cleveland.

President Trump wasn’t trying to do Washington journalism a favor, but by not attending the Correspondents’ Dinner, he has. Maybe the dinner can truly focus more on its earlier established roll of promoting responsible, ethical journalism. Good journalism is and should be hard work, and just maybe, a dinner focused on responsible, First Amendment journalism, is a move in the right direction.

Joel Payne, Director of African American Paid Media and Advertising for the 2016 Hillary Clinton Campaign, discusses his insights on the final outcome of the election and assesses how both campaigns engaged with African American voters. Payne rejoined Qorvis MSLGROUP in November 2016 following the election.

 

Chuck Conconi welcomed James Zogby on this week’s episode of Focus Washington for a discussion on the current political climate. Zogby, President and Co-Founder of the Arab American Institute (AAI), discussed the implications of the 2016 presidential race  and Donald Trump on the Arab American population.

In the last polls AAI conducted in 2014, the political gap in the Arab American community was 2-1 Democrat and voter engagement was 3-1 Democrat, making voter patterns and party identification similar to those of Hispanics or the Jewish population. According to Zogby, nothing in the last two years has changed that dynamic, even the 2016 presidential election.

The election may not be changing the political leanings of America’s ethnic groups, but it is having an effect on the attitude of Americans about the Arab American community. Zogby states that hate crimes, while nothing new, are still occurring after a sharp increase following the 9/11 attacks. The increase in negativity toward the community, however, is equally matched by positive support from additional groups throughout the years, including African Americans, Latinos, mainline protestant churches and civil liberties organizations. These groups “wouldn’t give us the time of day 20 years ago,” exclaimed Zogby, but now quickly come to the defense of the Arab American community.

Like many Americans, Zogby has hung memorable documents on the walls of his office over the years. The most important document, he explained in the interview, was his father’s naturalization papers. This is important to him because his father came here illegally in his twenties at a time when the Senate “zeroed out quotas and said Syrian trash aren’t welcome.”

Hanging next to his father’s naturalization papers is a parchment from President Obama appointing Zogby to a post in the government. This, he contends, is the nature of the country – where even the son of an illegal immigrant can rise to serve the President of the United States.

“I continue to manifest though, in all the positions I make, the fact that you cannot view America either as fundamentally good or fundamentally evil. We are both. We are the Statue of Liberty and we’re Donald Trump.”

For Zogby, that is the story of America.

 

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Susan Eisenhower (Photo Credit: Focus Washington)

Susan Eisenhower (Photo Credit: Focus Washington)

Well-known independent voter discusses what the GOP and Dems Should Learn from Americans in the 2016 elections

13 June 2016 (Washington, DC): Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower and Chairman Emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, sits down with Chuck Conconi on this week’s episode of Focus Washington to discuss the changing dynamics of the Republican party as well as the impact partisan politics has had on this year’s presidential race.

Susan addressed at length the ongoing leadership crisis this country faces. Although she had always been a Republican, she left the party eight years ago and became an independent. In fact, she endorsed President Obama during his initial campaign as well as his second presidential race. She claims that the party has ideologically shifted tremendously since her grandfather, President Eisenhower held office.

Susan’s grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, represented a form of moderate Republicanism advocating for social progression while remaining fiscally conservative. Unfortunately, in today’s polarized political arena, this ideology represents neither party but instead a combination of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

“The [Republican] party’s changing, and frankly, the party has been changing for a very long time,” stated Eisenhower.

Susan alluded to this year’s presidential nominations as an example of the transitions that are taking place within both parties. “In some ways it was surprising that [Hillary] had the kind of vigorous challenge that she did, and on the same side we had what we thought was going to be an heir apparent in Jeb Bush and it was rather fascinating to watch how quickly that set of assumptions fell through. So what I think it tells me is that both parties are changing, and they’re changing for larger reasons than I think what is currently being analyzed.”

Party politics has become a major obstacle, contributing to the lack of strategic leadership in this country. She emphasized to Chuck that “strategic” alludes to an element of time involved, and strategic leadership is defined by leaders who are trying to achieve long term goals. Susan points out that party politics make it impossible to talk and think about measures for all of America. She laments that the era when our presidents had to get up and articulate a strategy for the entire country is gone.

After declining to say which side she would be taking in this race, Susan says that she sees the United States as in transition, and that she knows much more about it than she did before this election. She recognizes the feeling of frustration emanating from the people of the United States, resulting from the notion that their government system is unavailable to them. The American people want new leadership– strategic leadership—but as Susan points out, the party politics shaking up Washington today makes it difficult to put such bold leaders into office.

 

Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group (Photo Credit | Focus Washington)

Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group (Photo Credit | Focus Washington)

With unprecedented negative views of both major party candidates, Ron Faucheux of Clarus Research Group predicts that the 2016 elections are likely to determine the future of the Democratic and Republican Parties.

 

08 June 2016 (Washington, DC): Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group, sits down with Chuck Conconi on this week’s episode of Focus Washington to discuss what the polls can show us about the next couple of months of the election campaign now that both the Democrats and Republicans have their presumptive Presidential nominees.

“Polls don’t predict” Faucheux was quick to emphasize, but rather offer a snapshot of the current situation. Despite this disclaimer, following the polls and the Faucheux’s Lunchtime Politics report would have offered an accurate prediction for the winners over the course of the primary elections; in this case, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were seemingly in the cards.

As we turn toward the next couple of months of campaigning and the elections in November, the reputation and potential upcoming blunders of both candidates will play a major role in influencing voters. “We’ve never had two presidential nominees who’ve had such high negative ratings,” stated Faucheux, as both Clinton and Trump currently have negative approval rates of at least 60%. In light of the fact that neither candidate has begun campaigning heavily against each other, their negative approval rating is sure to only go up from here.

The Presidential election will not just be a two-way race, however. According to the polls, “Both Clinton and Trump, at this point anyway, are losing about the same [number of votes to Libertarian and Green candidates] when you go from the two-way race to the four-way race.” Trump has officially welcomed Sanders supporters, but Clinton cannot necessarily expect those voters to come her way.  Voters who don’t want to vote for either Trump or Clinton will need to make the decision to stay home, or cast their vote for a Libertarian or Green Party candidate.

There is a danger this election could wreck either, or both, parties. Both candidates bring major issues to the table. Leaders of the Republican party have expressed decisions not to back Trump, despite his successful campaign; meanwhile, the potential for Clinton to be implicated in or associated with criminal acts surrounding her email scandal spell trouble for Democrats.

As the general election gears up, be sure to subscribe to Ron’s Lunchtime Politics report for daily insights, and stay tuned for more election coverage Focus Washington-style.

Chuck Conconi welcomed Bob Cusack on this week’s episode of Focus Washington. Cusack, Editor-in-Chief of Washington-based publication The Hill, evaluated the irregular political climate of the 2016 presidential election.

According to Cusack, the ascension of Donald Trump has transformed the identity of the Republican Party. By confronting the potential loss of House and Senate seats, “Republicans are coming to grips with reality.” Cusack predicted that Speaker Paul Ryan will endorse Trump by the Republican Convention in July. Despite his limited appeal among Hispanic and women’s groups, Trump surprised pundits by attracting a loyal base of support.

Insecurity among Republicans parallels growing divisions within the Democratic Party. Cusack noted that a contested convention will require critical negotiations between Clinton and Sanders. He predicted that Clinton will triumph over Sanders to receive the Democratic nomination. The Convention will measure Clinton’s success as she attempts to unite her traditional supporters with Sanders voters.

Cusack concluded his remarks by urging caution in predicting Convention results. Thus far, wavering support for Clinton, combined with Trump’s unforeseen political rise, has defied voters’ expectations. This time last year, confidence in particular candidates was unshakeable. To Cusack, a fragmented Republican Party and mounting opposition to Clinton define “the year of the outsider” in which no candidate is guaranteed victory.

 

In 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected, progressive liberals looked forward to a leader who could move a progressive agenda along. On this week’s episode of Focus Washington with Chuck Conconi, liberal political commentator Bill Press addresses his disappointment in Obama’s pursuit of progressive legislation and change; Press’s recent book, Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down, makes a case for each missed opportunity.

According to Press, who is the former chairman of the Democratic Party in California, Obama fell short of progressive expectations on issues such as gun control, health care and immigration. Nevertheless,  Press praises Obama for several accomplishments during his eight years in the White House, “I give him credit for all the good things…brought the economy from the brink of ruin, saved the American auto industry… the [recent] Iran nuclear deal, re-opening relations with Cuba, so long overdue…”

Press criticizes the philosophical underpinnings of Obamacare’s in particular. “[Obama] said single-payer option was not under consideration–mistake number one,” says Press.  “Then a public-plan option was offered, giving people the option: instead of buying private insurance they can set up for Medicare, he sold that public plan action, dropped it without a vote or fight.” Current Obamacare requires every single American to buy insurance from a private insurance company… pharmaceutical companies can charge anything they want for prescription drugs.”

Press says that where the President walked away from Congress, he should have stepped forward. Both gun control and immigration reform present similar scenarios: Democrats had the majority in Congress for the first two years, and the Obama administration failed to act decisively.

“Obama should have fought the fight…. there are people that know how to work Congress. President Obama didn’t develop any strong relations when he was there and certainly didn’t as president.”

A progressive will work with Congress, says Press, engage in conservation, and “fight the fight.” To the extent that Obama didn’t use the power of the presidency with Congress, he let down the progressive liberals like Bill Press down.

 

It’s a fundamental issue addressed in media outlets all over the country: what happened to the conservative party?

Vic Gold states, “The breakdown of the republican party starts with Newt Gingrich and the 104th congress in 1994.” This, according to the long time conservative consultant, writer and journalist is where the polarization begins.

Gold elaborates, “Newt introduced a personal venom; the congress spent time impeaching [Bill Clinton], stopping the government…” (Once in 1994 and 1995 due to budget talks with the Clinton Administration.)

A seasoned politico who has lived through 24 elections, Gold knows that current GOP nominees are not descendants of the Goldwater rebellion; Vic served as the press secretary for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election and co-wrote George H.W. Bush’s 1987 autobiography. “These people are not conservatives…they are practically anarchists.” Gold agrees with Marco Rubio’s sentiments regarding Donald Trump: he is a third-world dictator.

It’s important to note the distinction between conservatives and anti-liberal in 2016. “[Anti-liberals] hated the Clintons and hate Obama… that’s all that matters.”

A reflection of the republican party’s state is particularly jarring, “Barry Goldwater would not run today, Ronald Reagan would not and could run today, let alone be elected.”

The unraveling is not exclusive to the republican party, it’s the whole political fiber.

“Why is Bernie Sanders the only guy that gets in the race? The political system, the money system we have…it has something to do with it. Joe Biden doesn’t get in the race because he doesn’t have the money. This is what Sanders has…he doesn’t have the money but he gets into it… we used to have that.”

While each party is responsible for its own weakness, it is “a “confluence of things that are working towards [Trump] a psychopathic megalomaniac. The republican party is broken down but the democratic party, which is a great party, how is it after twenty years with all the democrats, we come up with Hillary Clinton and the only other person is [Bernie Sanders]?  Where are the democratic leaders today? Why? That’s what I want to know. That concerns me.”

With too few democratic leaders entering the arena and too many anti-liberals campaigning as republicans, the integrity of the republican establishment has disintegrated and held hostage by the likes of Donald Trump and others.

 

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Why Bernie Sanders Matters

On March 11, 2016, in DCView, Focus Washington Interviews, PoliticalView, by Focus Washington

Why does Bernie Sanders matter?  Washington D.C. reporter and author Harry Jaffe answers that very question and shares insight he gained for his book, Why Bernie Sanders Matters in an interview on Focus Washington. He addresses a vital principle that is absent in many presidential candidates: Bernie wants to lead and govern where others want the power that comes with being a president.

Jaffe elaborates, “[Bernie’s] message is more than ‘I want to be president’, he wants to start a political revolution and he is on a mission.” Sander’s mission concerns the working class, a demographic that has no doubt suffered from stability in recent years. He looks through a lens that views the historical context of working class as the backbone of the American economy that is inconsistent with its state today. This is why, Jaffe says, he is not surprised about Bernie’s success, in Michigan or otherwise.

Working class voters are angry that their jobs are increasingly being sent overseas and their paychecks decreasing as a result. Opportunities for the working class are diminishing, rendering parents unable to provide a quality of life for their families that was once standard.  To that point, Sanders has always lobbied on behalf of the working class and never supported a fair trade agreement. Jaffe explains that Sanders measures every agreement not as to whether it helps the corporate class, but whether it is going to help the working class. Given that Ohio and Illinois are industrial states, Bernie has a favorable chance of winning in those primaries (contrary to projections of other commentators).

The Vermont senator carries momentum in the support of young voters. According to Jaffe, he has the “effable ability to be sincere, believable and trustworthy.” A perennial insider, Hillary Clinton is conditioned in the conventional political rhetoric; answers are rehearsed and produced according to polls and advisors, a strategy the Sanders campaign defies. When asked, “Bernie Sanders will respond in a direct way because that’s the way he has been speaking for 40 or 50 years, he doesn’t have to think about it” because everything boils down to what he thinks and believes. That’s refreshing and unusual.

Jaffe points out that Sanders as a Populist does have something in common with Trump in that he is not part of the establishment. But, the comparison ends there as the author viewsTrump as a “populist fascist” to Sanders as a “populist socialist”.

Bernie Sanders champions voters who are apathetic or distressed with Washington. He answers their call for change and relief; he hears them and shows them they matter. And because he lets them know that they matter, Bernie matters.

 

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The Republican establishment is drafting a movement to defeat Trump– but will it stick? If it’s anything similar to the public controversies inundating the businessman’s campaign, it won’t. Donald Trump as Bob Cusack, says, is “the Teflon candidate”.

His divisive statements regarding Muslims and tolerance of his KKK connections only seem to ameliorate his numbers.

Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority leader Mitch McConnell denounce his positions; however, as Cusack points out, both have gone on record to say they will support the nominee.

Anemic in delegates, “unless the establishment coalesces against [him], he will no doubt be the nominee,” Cusack suggests. With two senate endorsements to Ted Cruz’s zero, Marco Rubio’s deflating momentum (victorious in only Minnesota and more recently, Puerto Rico) and John Kasich’s waning campaign– “there is no good alternative”.

Unconventional republican rhetoric drives Trump’s broad appeal: he has openly blamed George W. Bush for 9/11, attacked pharmaceutical companies and even Wall St. This works, in part, because, “the republican electorate is rebelling against the establishment and there’s nothing they can do to stop it…. you’ll never see anything like this in politics ever again.”

Republicans on the Hill have balked at the intransigent candidate, going so far as to promise to vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump. In a scenario where Donald Trump doesn’t get the delegates, “it will be a nightmare for the establishment”.

Simply: Trump’s numbers will slide and he will, ultimately fall to Hillary Clinton.

 

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Chuck Conconi is back this week with a new episode of Focus Washington! His guest is budget expert Stan Collender, lending his insights into the continuing resolution, the effects of a shutdown, and giving his predictions for the upcoming elections. 

Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy’s Sue Sheridan discusses the impact of GOP control of the Senate on transmission policy.

Sue Sheridan is the President and Chief Counsel of CFTP. Ms. Sheridan began her work on Capitol Hill as counsel to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power when it was chaired by Rep. Philip R. Sharp, after stints at the Department of Energy and the White House Domestic Policy Council. She worked afterwards at the Energy and Commerce Committee for Chairman John D. Dingell, and served as Chief Counsel to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment when she left the Hill in 2008. Ms. Sheridan now works as a consultant and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and the George Washington School of Law. Ms. Sheridan graduated from Duke University and Vanderbilt Law School.

Transcript below. Continue reading »

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25 March, 2014; Washington, DC: After six years in the White House, it is not unfair to say that President Obama is politically inept in his relationship with Congress. If he thinks he has been having trouble dealing with recalcitrant Republicans on the Hill, what will he do in the last two years of his term if, as predicted, in November’s off-year elections the Republicans hold onto and build their majority in the House of Representatives and take over the Senate?

Even among his allies and supporters there is dismay over his recent nominations for Senate confirmation, such as Debo P. Adegbile, to head the Justice Department’s civil rights decision. He was resoundingly rejected by the Senate, with several Democrats joining the Republican opposition.  There was intense criticism of Adegbile’s involvement in the legal appeals of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is serving a life sentence without parole for killing a Philadelphia police officer. Continue reading »

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Miroslav Lajčák recently visited Washington, New York and Boston for meetings with the U.S. administration and the World Bank. He also spoke at the Atlantic Council and the Harvard University School of Law.

During his visit, Lajčák sat down with Focus Washington’s Chuck Conconi to discuss relations between the U.S., Slovakia and the E.U. In this exclusive Focus Washington interview, Lajčák lays out his vision for the transatlantic relationship and Slovakia’s desire to work with the U.S. on strengthening the Eastern Partnership.  The Deputy Prime Minister stresses “the importance and uniqueness of the relationship” between Slovakia and the United States. Continue reading »

Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention

On August 23, 2013, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Medal of Honor

More than 40 recipients of the U.S. military’s highest honor will converge on Gettysburg September 18-22 for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s annual convention. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society gathers each year to reunite living recipients as they continue their legacy of inspiring America’s youth, honoring patriots and exemplary citizens, and memorializing those honorees who have passed. Recipients from World War II through the conflict in Afghanistan will be in attendance.

Joining Chuck to discuss the convention is Robert J. Monahan Jr., President and CEO of the Gettysburg Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention.

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 President and CEO, Thomas Miller, on the success and future of International Executive Service Corps

 

IESC to diversify with more corporate partnerships in developing countries

 

IESC constantly adapting to changing world, but will always remain true to its core belief in Prosperity and Stability through Private Enterprise

 

 

International Executive Service Corps (IESC) is a nonprofit organization based in Washington that dispatches expert consultants and volunteers to developing countries around the world.

IESC was established nearly 50 years ago at the initiative of the entrepreneurs and philanthropists David Rockefeller and Sol Linowitz, who envisaged the need for American businessmen to provide technical and managerial advice to entrepreneurs in developing countries.  President Johnson launched the International Executive Service Corps in the Rose Garden of the White House in June 1964.  Since then, IESC has implemented more than 25,000 short-term projects and 200 long-term programs in 130 countries across Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
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Slovenian Ambassador discusses the European Union

On June 24, 2013, in DCView, EmbassyView, by Focus Washington

“We have to give up some of our national sovereignty if we want a fiscal union.”

Balkan nation quickly became active player in EU, NATO, UN after independence

Slovenian Ambassador to the United States Roman Kirn told Qorvis Communications’ Focus Washington that the current economic crisis has made it clear that EU member states will have to give up more sovereignty to achieve a fiscal union.

“The level of integration that we have achieved is not sufficient to sustain the pressure on Europe,” Ambassador Kirn told interviewer Chuck Conconi. “So now in the EU there are great in-depth debates on how to secure this further progress. It’s not easy because at this stage, EU member states have to decide to give away more of their national sovereignty than they would be willing and able to do.”

The E.U. now faces the task of aligning its political ambitions with economic realities.

“The establishment of the euro was a political project,” Ambassador Kirn said. “What we are facing today is that economic realities are moving faster than the political one. When we created the euro, we stopped halfway. I used to say we had baked only half of the cake. Now we have to do the other half. The problem is that we have to do it under the circumstances of the world crisis, which has challenged the euro to the extent that these political differences came to the forefront.”

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anything-goesWeb

A number from Anything Goes at the Kennedy Center

What a delight it must have been to be among those in the Broadway theater on the 1934 opening night of Cole Porter’s joyous musical “Anything Goes.” Lucky for us, it isn’t necessary to let your imagination run wild trying to imagine that evening since the excitement and fun of witnessing this classic has been transported to the Kennedy Center’s Opera House.

“Anything Goes” is from that sparkling era when musical comedy was coming of age and great songwriters like Porter, the Gershwins, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein were producing songs for shows that would forever change the Broadway musical. The touring revival of this witty production is a great antidote to the malaise of political Washington.

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Making the most of the inaugural weekend

On January 17, 2013, in DCView, by Focus Washington

For anyone new to the inauguration experience, consider this your official guide. Is attending an official ball worthwhile? Are there other non-official festivities? How is this inauguration special? Mary Morgan and Chuck Conconi discuss making the most of the inaugural weekend.

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John James on Equatorial Guinea

On November 5, 2012, in TechView, by Focus Washington

John James, founder and chairman of JD James & Co., talks with Focus Washington host Chuck Conconi about Equatorial Guinea.

Sue Sheridan, president and chief counsel of the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, sits down with host Chuck Conconi to discuss the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s transmission policy, a test case for Order 1000, and possible Capitol Hill developments in 2013.

Chuck Conconi: Welcome to Focus Washington. I’m Chuck Conconi. My guest today is Sue Sheridan, the President and Chief Counsel of the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy. Sue, thank you for coming on to the show again.

Sue Sheridan: Well, thank you for having me again, Chuck.

Chuck Conconi: There’s a lot we can pick up. Sue, the last time you appeared on Focus Washington we discussed electricity transmission policy and the Coalition’s concerns about The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 1000. What happened this year with order 1000?

Sue Sheridan: Well Chuck, since we last spoke there have been several events that are important. First, after the proposed rule came out for public comment, we and many others issued statements saying that we were very concerned and filed petitions telling FERC what we were concerned about. We had hopes that those concerns would be addressed in the final rule. But when FERC issued its final rule in July of 2011 we had the same concerns. So, we then filed for a petition of rehearing and, unfortunately, FERC denied these requests in May 2012. At this point, parties are now filing compliance plan starting in October.

Chuck Conconi: So this is how you’re challenging the orders. Is there anything specific you are going to do in the challenge?

Sue Sheridan: Well, we have brought suit in federal court along with many other people. Our primary concerns are two-fold. First, that the order upsets bottom-up transmission planning, which has always been the role of the states and has worked well. Second, the order would provide for cost allocation for new transmission lines that isn’t fair, that doesn’t meet the just and reasonable standard of the Federal Power Act and doesn’t match up with the benefits and the costs to transmission customers.

Chuck Conconi: Now, there was another Federal Energy Regulatory Commission case from the Midwest. A utility there objects to spending $33 million on transmission upgrades that it says produce no benefits for its customers. I assume the Coalition is really interested in this case.

Sue Sheridan: Yes, we are interested in this case. We’re not a party to the case, but nonetheless we think it could give us some sense of where FERC is going to go as it implements individual orders under Order 1000. This is a case where Interstate Power and Light Co, a utility, complained that it was being charged four times as much as it should be by FERC for transmission upgrades. In this case they argued that there was no equation between the benefits and the costs, and that the FERC costs were not roughly commensurate with the benefits they receive.

Chuck Conconi: Like everything this year, what about the upcoming elections? Does the coalition benefit from either Democrats or Republicans controlling the House and the Senate and relevant energy committees?

Sue Sheridan: Well, we are actually very fortunate. We’re a bipartisan coalition and we have bipartisan support. In the Senate, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will be chaired by someone new because Senator Bingaman is retiring. But, whether it is Republican Lisa Murkowski from Alaska or Democrat Ron Wyden from Oregon, both are cosponsors of a bill that would address our concerns. So, we are fortunate there. We also have allies in the House, so think we can work with whichever party is in control.

Chuck Conconi: And you expect 2013 to be a big year for the coalition on Capitol Hill?

Sue Sheridan: Well, I think so. There hasn’t been an energy bill, really of any magnitude since 2007. There are a number of issues that have arisen. Transmission is certainly one of them. We know there is interest among House members and Senators. So we hope that there will be some oversight hearings and even legislation if we still are finding we have the same problems with FERC after the commission addresses the compliance filings.

Chuck Conconi: Sue, thank you for being with us.

Sue Sheridan: Thank you Chuck.

Chuck Conconi: I’m here with Sue Sheridan. I’m Chuck Conconi. This has been Focus Washington.

Focus Washington: 2012 Election & Conventions

On September 6, 2012, in DCView, by Focus Washington

 

Qorvis‘ Chuck Conconi sits down with Ron Faucheux to discuss the 2012 election. The presidential race as close to a tie as an election can be as Republicans and Democrats focus on rallying their base and swaying undecided voters with their conventions. Democratic National Convention got off to a fast start with a lot of enthusiasm attendees while the Republican National Convention schedule had to get shuffled last minute to due to hurricane Isaac. The Democrats stand a chance to pick up some house seats, but republicans are likely to hold the majority. However control of the Senate is up for grabs.

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?

Focus Washington: Bill Press Forecasts the 2012 Election

On July 25, 2012, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Bill Press joins Qorvis’s Chuck Conconi on Focus Washington to forecast the 2012 election. National polls are now showing the race to be close, but the United States doesn’t elect presidents as a nation we elect them state by state. The majority of people in the U.S. Know who they are going to vote for already. This election is going to come down to the 10-20% of independents who turn out on election day. Bill Press sees the economy as the main issue this year. In his opinion Mitt Romney’s clearly for the millionaires and billionaires while Obama will fight for middle class families.

 

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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.

 

Pollster Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group, stops by Focus Washington to discuss Romney’s win in Michigan, the outlook for Super Tuesday, and the battle for House and Senate seats. 

 

Sue Sheridan, president and chief counsel of the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, sits down with host Chuck Conconi to discuss electric transmission policy and FERC Order 1000.

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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.

Dr. Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group and Washington pollster, talks to Chuck Conconi about the results of the Iowa caucus.

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