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When celebrity luster gives cover to how America judges its own
Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll remind us of the unfair burden placed on icons of color

People who hold up the late Jessye Norman, left, or Diahann Carroll as exemplifying America’s promise, that hard work will inevitably lead to reward, ignore the women’s own struggles , Curtis writes. (Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images file photos)

OPINION — I am not one of those folks who see celebrities as larger-than-life icons to be worshipped and admired. Usually. But the recent deaths of Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll hit me in the gut because those two amazing women were at once larger than life and so very real. The reactions to their accomplishments also illustrate an American or perhaps universal trait — the ability to compartmentalize, to place certain citizens of color or underrepresented citizens on a pedestal, at once a part of and apart from others of their race or gender or religion or orientation.

It allows negative judgment of entire groups to exist alongside denials of any racist or discriminatory intent. There are a lot of problems with that way of thinking. It places an unfair burden on the icons, a need to be less a human being than a flawless symbol. And it uses them as a rebuke to others who never managed to overcome society’s obstacles.

Owner of Capitol Hill ‘fundraising’ townhouse abandons zoning fight
Neighbors complain the residence serves as a D.C. outpost for Virginia-based firm

Jamie Hogan, owner of the house at 224 C St. NE, talks about his plans for his garage on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. Facing neighborhood opposition, Hogan has dropped his plans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The owner of a Capitol Hill townhouse that has sparked controversy about the commercialization of residential zones near Congress has withdrawn his application for a project that prompted opposition from neighbors.

But that may not be the end of the matter. 

Supreme Court term to be punctuated by presidential politics
Docket ‘almost guarantees’ court shifting further and faster to the right, expert says

Activists hold up signs at an abortion-rights rally at Supreme Court in Washington to protest new state bans on abortion services on Tuesday May 21, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will confront ideological issues such as immigration and LGBT rights that have sharply divided Congress and the nation in a new term starting Monday that will bring more scrutiny to the justices during a heated presidential campaign season.

In many ways, the nine justices are still settling into a new internal dynamic with two President Donald Trump appointees in as many years. The court had few high-profile cases last term, amid the drama of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation that gripped the nation and solidified the court’s conservative ideological tilt.

There goes the neighborhood … to lobbyists and fundraisers
Residents say they fear their neighborhoods are morphing into a commercial district

Jamie Hogan, owner of the house at 224 C St. NE, poses in the doorway of the house on Sept. 19, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jamie Hogan and Amy Paul, partners in a Republican fundraising agency called HSP Direct, purchased a $1.5 million federal-style townhouse half a block from the Hart Senate Office Building back in January 2017. Now the residential property has become a subject of controversy.

Neighbors allege Hogan and Paul bought the home to serve as their Ashburn, Virginia, business’s Capitol Hill outpost — using the C Street Northeast pad to host fundraisers and other political or policy events.

House employee survey shows discontent with pay
Racial figures comparable to national statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau

Philip Kiko, chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives, said the survey was designed to gain insight into the makeup of congressional offices. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most employees in the House are not satisfied with their pay and almost half have considered employment elsewhere, according to a survey the Chief Administrative Officer of the House released Thursday.

House employees earn an annual average of $69,379 per year, but only 35.8 percent said they were satisfied with their pay. Average pay trends higher for those who work in committees, leadership and as House officers — those positions average $102,000 per year. Just under half — 44.7 percent — said they considered other employment elsewhere.

Ted Cruz: A Trump deal with Democrats on gun control could lead conservatives to stay home in 2020
Depressed turnout ‘could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren,’ Texas Republican says

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning Republicans against deals with Democrats on guns that could depress conservative turnout in next year’s elections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning that President Donald Trump making a deal with Democrats on gun legislation might cause conservative voters to stay home in 2020.

“If Republicans abandon the Second Amendment and demoralize millions of Americans who care deeply about Second Amendment rights,” the Texas Republican said, “that could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren.”

Comedian Hasan Minhaj rankles, entertains at student debt hearing
Congressional hearings can be dry but not today

Things got a little testy between Rep. Sean Duffy, seen here, and Hasan Minhaj at Tuesday's hearing. (CQ Roll Call Screenshot)

You may not think a hearing on solving the $1.6 trillion student loan debt crisis would provide many laughs, but comedian Hasan Minhaj racked up a few, to the annoyance of some Republicans, while testifying before the House Financial Services Committee.

Tuesday’s hearing wasn’t short on tense exchanges, either, even from the jump.

Biden and Beto are like night and day — except when they’re potato-potahto
Just ask the Carolinas, where one woman says she’d ‘vote for a tree stump’ over Trump

Democratic voters have plenty of choices, as different as night and day — or Joe Biden and Beto ORourke. But to say the two candidates were on different tracks in their recent, though certainly not last, Carolinas swing does not tell the whole story, Curtis writes. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It was a difference in styles and generations. In a Carolinas swing, first there was Beto O’Rourke with a town hall at a brewery in Charlotte, North Carolina — more like an informal gathering among many new friends. The next day there was Joe Biden with a large crowd at a historically black college in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

It was a day and a world apart last week, though in both cases, supporters uniformly praised a certain quality in their chosen candidate — authenticity.

Tim Ryan misses next presidential debate, but has a backup plan
Still running for president, the Ohio Democrat scheduled a fundraiser for his simultaneous congressional campaign

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, has scheduled a fundraiser for his House campaign account while continuing to campaign for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After failing to qualify for next month’s televised Democratic presidential debate, Rep. Tim Ryan pledged to keep his White House bid going, but his simultaneous congressional campaign is gearing up for an upcoming fundraiser at a Capitol Hill townhouse.

The Ohio Democrat, who has two separate campaigns for the 2020 elections, is inviting lobbyists and others to a Sept. 25 fundraising reception to benefit his congressional reelection bid, according to a recent invitation obtained by CQ Roll Call. The event is also listed on a rundown of upcoming events distributed by House Democrats’ campaign committee.

Could take FEC a while to regain a quorum, but don’t expect a ‘Wild West’
Watchdog agency will not have enough commissioners to hold meetings or issue guidance

The hearing room sits empty at the Federal Election Commission's headquarters in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even as the Federal Election Commission prepares to grind to a halt on the cusp of the 2020 elections, campaign finance experts say politicians and donors who flout the nation’s political money rules may still suffer consequences.

The hobbled agency, which is supposed to have three Democratic and three Republican commissioners, will be down to just three total commissioners starting next week with the departure of Republican Matthew Petersen on Aug. 31. That means the FEC can’t hold meetings or hearings, let alone take enforcement action against rule-breakers, because it lacks the minimum of four commissioners required for a quorum.