Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – New Year state of mind

New Year often means out with the old and in with the new.

On Capitol Hill, the new 112th Congress will start its 2-year run that will end after the 2012 presidential election. (For numerologists — that’s an awful lot of 2s).

Today was Nancy Pelosi’s last day as the first Madam Speaker. The most powerful woman in American politics and second in line to the presidency turns into House minority leader next. Her exit line: “No regrets.” USA/

Tomorrow will be John Boehner’s first day as speaker when Republicans take control of the House and the new Tea Partiers get seated. We’ll be watching for tears of joy.

Before embarking on something new, Republicans have promised to rehash something old — namely President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

House Republicans will likely approve scrapping health care reform at a Jan. 12 vote, but a repeal was unlikely to succeed since Democrats still control the Senate and can block it.

Ben’s Chili Bowl serves up half smoke to French leader

French President Nicolas Sarkozy may come from one of the world’s culinary capitals, but it seems whenever he comes to America more simple fare awaits him – hot dogs or sausages. USA

In 2007 when Sarkozy visited President George W. Bush at the family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, he was offered a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs as the leaders tried to improve relations strained by the Iraq war.

Three years later he comes to Washington and where does he stop before going to the White House? Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Mia Farrow’s son working for Holbrooke on Pakistan

The sons of actors and presidents have been in the news a lot lately.

Take Mia Farrow’s 21-year-old son Ronan, who was all over the blogosphere today for his role as liaison between the office of star “Afpak” diplomat Richard Holbrooke and nongovernmental groups working in Pakistan.

PAKISTAN-USA/Several NGO officials said they were taken aback when Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, introduced his protege at a meeting in Washington this week as a “special liaison” on Pakistan.

“It was a surprise but we don’t see this really as a big deal. He’s not the only point of contact for us,” said one NGO of  Farrow’s appointment.

Beware the G8 photo op…

Here’s the still picture:














And here’s a video of the same scene from ABC News:


Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy take their places for a “family photo” with junior delegates to the Group of 8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, on Thursday)

First Draft: French kiss

Can this be France? What happened to the days when cross-Atlantic gauntlets were thrown down and French fries turned into Freedom fries?

President Barack Obama was welcomed like a rock star in a land notorious for its air-sniffing disdain of almost everything American. NATO/

Although first lady Michelle Obama is almost overshadowing her husband in media coverage about their European jaunt, with many comparisons to Jackie Kennedy who wowed them all overseas.