Lobbyist gets rated at ratemyprofessor.com

These days, nothing is sacred. Not even teaching.

Lobbyists notoriously like to keep their names out of the press. But Dan Berger, chief lobbyist at the National Association of
Federal Credit Unions, recently got publicly assessed by some of his students at George Washington University when they rated him at www.ratemyprofessor.com.

Berger taught a public communications class each Tuesday evening this spring. His next class starts up in September. On www.ratemyprofessor.com , he earned the highest rating of smiley faces (given to a “good quality” professor). He received no hot tamales (denoting hotness) or frown faces (which stand for poor quality) or flat-lined faces (which stand for average quality).

Here is what students had to say:

“Downside: this was an evening class, as you all know is difficult to go to. Also, Prof Berger has mandatory attendance. Upside: Prof Berger is energetic, has a great sense of humor and time flies in class (he also sometimes brings Oreos and candy bars to class). Oh ya, you will actually learn how to speak better. He is one of my best teachers.”

On the other hand, they do comment on his strictness: “Professor Berger is a great teacher and my class was a fun time and we got skills from it. But he can be a real jerk about attendance and being late to class.”

The same student added, “If you want to take a course and get to know how to talk better in public TAKE THIS CLASS. If you want an easy A, DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. Dan is a fair grader but NOT EASY. Also, he is hot and funny!”

Another student remarked, “Fun class! … He annoyingly says that to be a good speaker you must ‘practice, practice, practice.’ Dan also hates ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ and will call you out over and over until you stop. He is not easy, I repeat, not easy.”

Berger, who is married with a daughter, doesn’t disagree. He remarked, “I’m actually surprised the ratings for my class were so high, especially since I’ve heard that Tuesday evenings are a very popular night at McFadden’s. And they wonder why attendance is mandatory for a class from 7:10 p.m. to 9:40 p.m. on a Tuesday night.”

‘Dumbass Bucket’ helps forgetful staffers who party at Capitol Lounge

The Dumbass Bucket is one of those things that’s simultaneously helpful and shameful. It is literally a metal pail that serves as a lost-and-found for those who leave their credit cards and congressional badges at the Capitol Lounge. 

An ITK informant said he has had to dig through the bucket twice as a result of partying to excess. “It’s an interesting little grab-bag of s—- that people leave behind,” he said. “You put your card down. You get really drunk. It’s the last thing you think of when you’re leaving.”

The informant said it is embarrassing to have to return to the lounge to retrieve your credit card. “‘Yeah, we got another dumbass who left his card in the Dumbass Bucket,’” he recalled one waitress joking when he returned one Saturday afternoon to find his card.

Nine staffers visit The Hague for trial of Charles Taylor

Nine congressional aides from both Democratic and Republican offices spent the last six days in The Hague, Netherlands, to witness the opening arguments of the trial of Charles Taylor and meet with officials from the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Taylor, former president of Liberia, is accused of war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

The aides were invited on the trip by the Justice, Equality, Human Dignity and Tolerance Foundation (JEHT). They returned home yesterday.

Sestak’s alternative business card

Freshman Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) has the type of business card rarely seen in the world of politics — his card is in Braille. On the front of the card are the regular words of any such card. On the flip side is the same information in Braille.

What was the thought behind it?

“Joe just wanted to make sure that his information was available to every constituency group so that they could get in touch with us as easily as anyone else,” said Sestak’s spokeswoman, Samantha Anderson. “We’ve actually had blind constituents in our office before, so it was important to us.”

Anderson said she believes her boss is the only member of Congress with Braille business cards.

'The Colbert Report’: Behind the Scenes

When Peter Karafotas, spokesman to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), first heard Stephen Colbert call his boss “Jane,” he cringed and thought, “Oh, no!

Schakowsky appeared on the “The Colbert Report’s” Better Know a District segment on Monday night. While most lawmakers receive Colbert in their Washington offices, she flew to New York for a taping in his Manhattan studios.  

Schakowsky corrected Colbert’s apparent flub on air. But he turned on her and replied, “Like Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Pompeo clears Senate panel, on track for confirmation | Retired officers oppose Haspel for CIA director | Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit George H.W. Bush in intensive care GOP chairmen say they have deal with Justice on documents MORE, I won’t apologize.” He called her “Jane” for the entire segment.

“I wasn’t not going to correct him,” Schakowsky told ITK. But she also understood the show: “This is his show. He can do whatever he wants.”

Schakowsky said a producer for the show later told her that Colbert was so focused on her tricky surname that he screwed up her first name.

Schakowsky knows Colbert meant no harm. Before the show, he visited her in the green room to say hello. Astonishingly, she said, he spoke with her out of character.

“He was really nice,” she said. “He’s just normal, a very nice, progressive guy.”

Rep. Jackson does not wear lipstick

With each new congressional facebook comes wonderful surprises. In the new facebook for the 110th Congress, for example, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is looking quite polished — so much so that the clean-cut, youthful congressman appears to be wearing lipstick.

In a phone message to ITK, Jackson declared forcefully, “No, it is not lipstick. Yes, My lips are naturally rosy and red. To suggest in any way that I might be wearing lipstick is beyond the pale.”

Jackson’s spokesman Ken Edmunds concurred: “I can tell you unequivocally that the congressman does not wear lipstick.”  
According to an ITK observer, Jackson’s lips have a naturally pinkish hue.

Jackson has a knack for changing his look. In the last facebook, he sported a full beard and mustache. His hair was a bit shaggier, and he did not give the appearance of wearing lipstick.

He has also experienced another major change: Two years ago, he dramatically dropped his weight from 285 pounds to his current carriage of 179 pounds.


National Fatherhood Initiative launches mentoring program

The National Fatherhood Initiative launches its Double Duty Dad mentoring program today. The program is designed to inspire America’s fathers to become mentors to children from fatherless homes.

At an event this morning at 11 a.m. at Upper Senate Park, America Online’s Ted Leonis and Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) will be honored for their work on behalf of children and mentoring. For more information, visit www.doubledutydad.org .