Hollywood on the Potomac

The Blossoms

April 11, 2018

“I did want to take a minute to talk about the cherry blossoms… the history… talk about what it means,” said Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta on the occasion of the 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival celebration hosted by The Ambassador-designate of Japan and Mrs. Shinsuke J. Sugiyama at their residence. “And so I wanted to paint a picture and the picture is that of my family from just a few days ago. There were literally thousands and thousands and thousands of Americans walking the Tidal Basin enjoying the blossoms and my family and I were among them. I’m blessed to have two little girls who quite literally thought they could catch the blossoms but as they would start to fall the wind would catch them, they’d move in unpredictable directions and they never quite caught them. But for about half an hour, they kept trying and trying and trying. We should treasure out time with friends whether it be nations or whether it be family. And I treasured that time with my own family, much as we treasure our friendships among our nations. And so Ambassador, I want to thank you again for hosting  this evening, and I’d like to offer a toast.”

Secretary Acosta was preceded by the Ambassador who introduced his wife Yoko and his daughter Reyna. He was so thrilled to now be living so close to Reyna he said:  “I will do her laundry by myself.”

 

“I was thinking the other day,” he added after getting back to the blossoms, “what is the key to the cherry blossoms festivities – their special characters and meanings? It’s [the] friendship between Japan and the United States of America. It is connection that we feel, it is shared values, it is mutual respect about fundamental trust in each other. In some ways, it is those roots we are celebrating as much as the blossoms. The feeling of these festivities simply would not be the same if Japan had not given the trees; instead, the trees were given by some other country. On behalf of my country – beautiful Japan – our heartfelt support to everything that you did, you have done and will be doing with us, ever. And thank you for your friendship, God bless you, God bless US Japan, God bless Cherry Blossom festivities, thank you, thank you very much indeed, thank you.”


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'American Hustle'

April 9, 2018

“I’m just very grateful.  I’ve come to deny birthdays at this point,” said former Senator Larry Pressler on the occasion of his 76th year, “but I’m very happy this year because I’m kind of celebrating. I had a rough year and I had five surgeries in the last 15 months, but I’ve finally gotten done with all of that. The fella who took me over to Johns Hopkins and introduced me to my doctor is Bill Lambert and he’s here tonight. He more or less saved my life I think.  People are here tonight from each aspect of my life. I know everybody here. You don’t know each other so that’s kind of a strange party but I’m glad you’ve all come to know each other.”  The party was held at the very elegant home of Chang Turkmani and her husband Salal which has a bit of history – the first being that Adlai Stevenson II (US Ambassador to the UN & Presidential candidate) lived here and later James Baker III, Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan.

Pressler served in the US Senate for 18 years (3 terms) and was the first Vietnam veteran elected to the US Senate. While in the Senate, he served as Chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees. He was also an active member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He was the principle author of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and of the “Pressler Amendment,” which limited foreign countries from using USA to develop nuclear weaponry. Prior to his election to the  Senate, he served two terms as a member of the US House of Representatives from 1975-1979. He was an announced candidate for the presidency in 1980 and drew national fame and praise for flatly turning down a bribe on tape in the ABSCAM scandal, which takes us to the fun part where Larry tells a sting bribery group to basically shove it!


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Slainte

April 4, 2018

Written by Kirsten Fedewa & Janet Donovan

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, but in Washington, DC the Irish spirit is omnipresent.  A look back at this year’s celebration: “We come together here to honor those who are known for the gifts of Blarney and the Tall Tales which in this town means absolutely everybody,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the United States Capitol at a luncheon hosted with the Friends of Ireland with World-renowned tenor Anthony Kearns performing.

 

“Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were fierce political opponents: This goes way back to those days. Their heritage was their bond. When it came to Ireland the only thing they would argue about was who was more Irish. Reagan was so committed to winning this argument that he would say he was old enough to have actually met St. Patrick.”

 

“On June 14th of last year Leo Varadkar became the 13th person in Ireland’s history to hold the position of Taoiseach,” Ryan added.  “At the age of seven or eight, I’m told, he announced that he wanted to become the Minister for Health: He fulfilled that mission and much, much more. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. So Leo, this is actually not your first time here. This is really a welcome back and what’s exciting about this is you used to be an intern here not too many years ago and now you are the guest of honor and I think that is just incredible. Many of us got our start that way. I too started as an intern here. Politicians go on and on and you hope to get a free meal out of it. So that is where we are here today and the good news is we have Guinness. Now the Guinness does taste better in Ireland, but this is probably not the right year to bring up trade issues. But our ties with Ireland are as strong as ever.”


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