Friday, August 29, 2008

The TR: Halfway Through and... Huh??

The presence of women in the political process has been remarkable this election cycle, and could not have been more evident at the DNC this week, where first female Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and first female major-party presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton mingled in a crowd of delegates that was 51 percent women. So, we are happy to see the women's political juggernaut continue into next week's RNC.

We commend John McCain's selection of a woman, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, as his running mate. Whoever she is. Whom even Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison doesn't seem to know. But even before getting to know her and from way over here in our corner of the country, we can smell her signature scent: Eau de Gas. Heidi Montag's already been tapped for the magazine ads.

We'll get over this, though, as we relive last week and last night. The Queen's High Councilor thought that the dais, a tower of concentric circles connected by a catwalk to a stage set with American flags, glowing windows and giant video screens, made Obama look like the headliner at Superbowl Halftime. And there was something sort of sci-fi about it - would we see a giant UFO hover above Obama and beam him up? Still, the effect was stunning, and we're sure McCain peed his pants at the sight of it.

ANYWAY, albeit we had a hiatus last week, we still hung out on the blog as, speech by speech, the DNC... uh, happened.
  • The Queen was so enthused about Hillary that she couldn't resist typing madly about it on Wednesday.
  • The Culture Minister and the rest of TR Central took on contentious issues of gender and race on Thursday, saving the snark 'til the very end.
  • Her Queenliness encouraged us to replay the Obama-Biden kiss all morning long. (Very mature.)
  • Our Editor-in-Chief took one look at that stage and did a very audible forehead slap.
  • O's speech was a hit, and the Queen and her little Prince were there to see it from the couch.
  • And finally, what our Editor REALLY thinks about this Palin thing.
Where were you all week? What did you do and whose speeches did you cry over? Tell us all about it as we gear up for the RNC... Oh, and Happy Happy Birthday, Johnny Boy! ANOTHER year older, and hopefully another year wiser. Sigh.

Have a restful weekend before the convention madness starts all over again next week.

The TR Staff

Palin?!

So you've heard, we presume.

It's Palin.

Before everyone freaks out, before you all slap your heads and await the headlong dive into the issues that gave us migraines during the primary season - stop for a second and take a breather.

To put it simply, this is a cynical choice. Voters will see that once the excitement dies down.

But the McCain people smiled to their goofy hearts' content and figured that one woman candidate was just as good as another, before they picked someone who's been a Governor out in the arctic for about a year and a half.

As Kos points out, Palin is a creationist and a Mayor of a town of 7,000 two years ago. She's done good work but is wildly disconnected from the pressing issues of the day. She is not qualified to be President by any conceivable standard.

But now the McCain campaign is telling women to close their eyes and pretend it's Hillary and that one woman in the White House is as good as another. That Hillary's record really didn't matter in the long scheme of things. Her campaign was a chick thing, and women voters... well, they're happy as long as it's not a dude, right?

Palin is no Hillary, John. And, as our Western Office director (and heartland hannah -- hi there!) points out, her husband is an oil production worker. With her vast amount of inexperience, she'd be a heartbeat away from the red phone.

- Neal Fersko, Editor-in-Chief

Obama, If You're Reading This... Give Yourself A Hand


Okay, troops, OBAMA DELIVERED.

The Democratic Party is IN LOVE.

I sat there, 9-year-old Obama supporter (and cheerleader who yanked Queen Mommy from Hillary–land into the future) cuddled up next to me after bed time to WATCH THE HISTORIC SPEECH.

The video – not so much. Slender. “Is this all he’s accomplished?” the panicked Queen wondered. Then – the beginning of the speech. Oooooooh…. Same messaging – even some of the same lines – offered by other speakers. The roll call of everything he will accomplish. “What, he’s going to be in office for 25 years?” says grumpy husband (King of Snark?), of the angry-white-male-listens-to-Rush-Limbaugh-ilk. “He said ‘READ MY LIPS,' Mommy,” commented my little prince. Oooooops, again, thinks Mommy, thinking of Bush pere – “read my lips! I’ll reduce foreign dependence on oil inTEN YEARS???”

I was afraid, dear readers. I was afraid.

But then – Obama gathered momentum. And the crescendo, the end, the reference to the “young preacher:…. Aiiiiiii – even McCain-supporting hubby was in tears (then again, he just read Jane Mayer’s book on the undermining of civil liberties and has been calling into his favorite conservative talk shows to upbraid them on their stupidity. And, of course, we just learned the McCain will be speaking the night of the NFL season opener. So maybe he was in tears that his guy was going to lose.)

My nine-year-old asked, simply “What do we have to do to elect him, Mommy? Should we knock on everyone’s doors and tell them how important it is?” He was frightened, too. This child who cried when I didn’t show up for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at his school ("Wasn’t that just for the black parents?" my racist self thought at the time); this child who has grown up in a mini-United Nations and doesn’t see skin color or religion or foreign language – he only sees “friends.” This child that is the embodiment of Martin Luther King’s “dream” of a world where all children played together and enjoyed the same advantages. This child who yelled “Go Obama!” through all the debates and threatened to “kick me out of the family” if I voted for Hillary.

So, now, for a little snark.

McCain is no dummy. (Oh, and hey, we're watching him right now, are you?) The leading AP story after Obama’s speech was McCain’s announcement of a 24-hour hiatus on negative advertising and a new advertisement congratulating Obama on this historic moment. The choice of Sara Palin, Governor of Alaska, as running mate was not dumb (and, as a new mother, she might not actually get in McCain’s way much as he continues the Bush-Cheney assault on the country). Disenfrachised, bitter PUMAs, here we come. And frankly, sometimes I thought all the big Dems at the convention said more nice things about their “respected colleague” John McCain than they did about Obama. Obama represents the Democrats, the future, our need to take the country back from the realm of darkness. But there wasn’t much else to say about Obama the MAN and the LEADER.

Today’s various columns and editorials today in Post and Times and WSJ reminding us that we don’t really know who this guy is who has swept us off our feet are all on point.

We are in love. But it’s a big love. And his charisma may be enough. His charm, his telegenicity may be enough to sell Americans on the tough choices we need to crawl out of this hole. Tough choices about energy use. Tough choices about how the world economy actually operates. Tough choices about the military sacrifices we may still have to make to rout the terrorist extremists.

And we have the instructive, nearly blessed example of Lincoln. Another outsider. Another man with a short track record. Another man who beat a shoo-in political operative (Seward, and some would say, Chase) for the top job. A man that saved the Union, who ushered in the end of slavery.

We need charisma at the top of the ticket, we need a candidate we can love, we need nine-year-olds so inspired by their government that they want to go door-to-door (as though they invented the idea) to sell their neighbors and the country on the importance of this moment in history.

Obama is the man.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barackopolis Now

We’re living history right now. Barack Obama was nominated by the party of Jefferson Davis and George Wallace to be President of the United States. An honor which was conferred on him by the first female Speaker of the House and the only First Lady to ever hold elected office. And it was done by acclamation.

The sheer weight of these facts is knee-buckling.

Which means it's time for something really idiotic to break the tension.















Really.

It’s a lose-lose situation. At worst, they’re surrounding a candidate who has been smeared on religion with pseudo-religious iconography that was probably lifted from the set of Caligula.

At best this Romanesque monstrosity will be seen as a monument to one man’s ego, instead of a stage for one party’s resolve. In a race that hinges on the DNC’s ability to prove that it’s in touch with common concerns, it's arranging for a Ceasar–esque coronation.

The appearance they're giving is that Obama is accepting the nomination from a podium that suspiciously resembles the Capitol Steps where he would be inaugurated. But the people who can sweep him into office would much rather he speak from the people's pulpit then the annals of legend.

But maybe this whole thing includes a moonbounce for his kids so who knows.

The McCain campaign has dubbed it “The Barackopolis.” Then again, they’d be wise to hide their affinity for ancient relics. Especially while they’re campaigning for one.

The Queen Speaks

TR Central has received a great deal of bitching and griping about our brief DNCC-inspired hiatus. “What – all this content and no weekly snark-fest?” bemoans one faithful reader. And another: “OK – just read your Hillary post and WHO CARES? If I want Democratic hagiography I can get that anywhere.” And finally, “I waited all day Friday for a rant against the Saddleback Mountain insanity and I get … a picture of Obama as Superman? Where are you, Queen of Snark????”

[Short break while Mommy mixes a drink.]

[Sigh.] You are RIGHT. [muffled sob]

The Queen has TRIED to be a good Democratic foot soldier. The election is TOO DAMNED IMPORTANT NOT TO BE. And Hillary’s speech – and her handing over her votes during the roll call to Obama really called for straight commentary, not snark.

(By the way, the rather dim Queenie-poo realized just last night that the roll call and Hillary’s nomination of Obama was staged to underscore that this year, in unambiguous terms, the election was and is in the hands of women. Pretty historic and big apologies for our earlier dissing of this process. Here’s a quick interesting newsflash – the cablenets didn’t catch that the roll call vote time was changed, the process was changed and a lot of Hillary’s delegates nearly missed it.)

So -- can we all put our hands together and give Joe Biden a round of applause??? Please???

Whew. Okay – here’s your snark.

Because not only did Joe, Beau and even Mama Biden participate in some damned fine stagecraft (although we were a bit distracted by Joe’s obviously recently bleached teeth and the strange plastic surgery eye tuck which made him look vaguely Chinese). Again -- not only did he give a perfectly serviceable speech…

But he was MAN ENOUGH to allow himself to be sandwiched between the two titanic egos of the Democratic party.

Good ol' Uncle Bill, after much fussing and flouncing over his assigned topic, definitely delivered. We didn’t necessarily need to hear that Bubba’s “candidate didn’t win” nor did we necessarily need the constant repetition of how much Biden added to the ticket (which seemed to imply that O’s unbearable lightness of “Yes We Can” being might not make it without Joe, rather than underscoring Biden’s positives).

Anyway – putting that tiny bit of seeming petulance aside, Bill delivered one of his great steamwinder speeches. We could feel our country’s pain should we ignore Bill’s exhortation of “NO McCAIN, NO WAY.” Was it as good as the State of the Union speech during the midst of the Lewinsky scandal? Maybe not. But what possibly could be?

And then Beau. And then Joe. And even Mama Biden. Everything was lovely.

But – did O step on Joe’s moment? Did he? I wanted Joe to bask in the limelight for his moment. I wanted the cameras to linger on him and his beautiful, big, incredibly white, tow-headed family for a moment. And if O was going to show, I wanted the money shot of Joe and O, hands clasped, raised to the ceiling.

Instead – we got Obama’s unsolicited lip lock with Jill Biden. Yeeeeeeecccccch.



As a woman who has many times in my career been the victim of the uninvited, unwanted lip lock, I could viscerally feel the complete inappropriateness of the moment. And don’t call me racist – it was plain bad manners, bad stagecraft. And O flitted all over the stage, shaking hands, ignoring Joe. I had a moment there – I was reminded of the BAD Bill Clinton. But even the bad Bubba would not screw up a choreographed moment.

So – with baited breath (and, despite the above screed, much optimism) I await the grand finale, the ascension, the historical moment in Invesco field tonight. I truly believe Obama will deliver. And I hope Michelle is around to keep his head on straight.

Signing off,

Queen of Snark

A Note from the Culture Minister: OMG WTF

Everyone here at the Turner Report (The Queen has graciously deferred to her court in this post, as she's busily working on more for you read today. Forgive her this once!) took a turn sounding off about this post from Racialicious, a response to another post at The Roots.com. This dialogue about feminism, racism and Hillary and Michelle is ongoing in the blogosphere and I felt that it was time for us to tackle it. Do you want to join in? Listen, there, in the distance -- the comments section is calling you!

Since I’m starting off, I’m going to have to quote from the comments section of Racialicious:
Should white feminists be taken to task if they don’t defend Michelle Obama from the misogynistic attacks sure to continue coming her way as the presidential campaign unfolds?

Yes.

It is the moral obligation of feminists of any color (or gender) to call out sexism against any woman of any color. Period.
I would revise that to say, “…to call out sexism against any woman.” Period.

You can’t ignore race. The only person I know who doesn’t see color is Stephen Colbert. Feminism cannot ignore race because it cannot be exclusive – that defeats the very purpose of calling for equality. It’s difficult, but there has to be a willingness to listen to, share and respect a variety of viewpoints, even if they are alien to you and even if you suspect that people around you haven’t done you the same favor. That's how you educate yourself. That's how you learn about the vast expanse of human experience that exists. That's what happens when you, oh, I don't know, read.

You can start by reading Gail Collins' piece (hat tip to the Queen for sharing this with me) in the NY Times yesterday, which will remind you that Hillary and Michelle can share the experience of being first Lady and a mother. And they have been.

All week, however, we’ve been having a long-running and complicated transfer of the first lady mantle from Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama. “No one has been more gracious and more forthcoming and more helpful to me,” Michelle said at a joint appearance with Hillary on Tuesday.

Do we believe this? People, it doesn’t matter a whit. The Clintons did everything they were supposed to do here and in politics, like so much of life, feelings are irrelevant to everyone except the persons doing the feeling.

Complaints about peoples' literary habits notwithstanding, my point is that feminists attacking each other over who did what, who defended whom and who was left in the patriarchal, misogynist dust is the kind of navel-gazing that makes people stop listening. We should see the ways that feminists can come together by sharing their diversity of experiences with each other openly and respectfully, instead of dividing ourselves internally along any lines we can come up with. Both of these posts fell into the kind of tit-for-tat, us vs. them attitude that makes me cringe. Women can't discount other female experiences because women in general are discounted too much as it is. In order to stand up we have to stand, as Barbara Mikulski said, shoulder to shoulder. And we have to do it in order not to elect someone that *cough* doesn't have women's issues on his agenda.

But that's just my opinion. Who's next?

Fathima agrees:
The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s a vicious chain. We’ll never get anywhere if we keep up the whole…"I’m not inviting her to my birthday party, because she didn’t invite me to hers…” SOMEBODY has to suck it up and defend all women who are being attacked regardless of race… I don’t know who… but somebody.
Gloria took a slightly different route:
How about approaching it from the generational angle? I get the sense that older feminism is largely defined by white females, and women today who feel part of the feminist tradition are resentful and fragmented. But younger women who would consider themselves as feminists, but who are disconnected from the movement feminism, who have not “inherited” what feminism means from older feminists, are crafting their own lens through which to see the world from their own experiences, which are much more multi-ethnic and culturally aware. This new feminism looks quite different from the feminism of older white women, with new focuses such as on body image, and less emphasis on abortion rights.
Pam from our Western office said:
Should anyone be taken to task for their outspoken or even unspoken beliefs? That’s been a major ACLU issue for years, of course, and a hotbed of controversy when it comes to those who defend or refrain from condemning the likes of neo-Nazi’s and others. The bottom line says it all – being at the crossroads of change is always tough, no matter if you’re female, male, black, white or orange. All we can hope for is that the majority of Americans are smart enough to vote based on a person’s cause and believes rather than skin color or gender.
Ben offers:
Anyone who tolerates oppression is guilty of perpetuating injustice. But Kareem goes on to commit the same error by seeming to propose that the targets of one form of oppression should be forgiven for tolerating other forms because they're in "defense mode." When political progressives produce catalogues of oppression by way of measuring which groups suffer most, and who therefore owes what to whom, they drive the infighting that so often causes the Left to lose elections in circumstances that should favor us.
Neal calls on us to remember that all of us still have a lot of work to do:
During John Kerry’s speech on the 3rd night of the convention, the former Democratic standard bearer provided the one most vigorous advocacies of Obama’s leadership we’re likely to see this election cycle. Midway through the speech Kerry recognized Charles Payne Obama’s uncle a WWII veteran and a genuine American hero.

The reason you’ve never seen Charles around or near the stump is because he’s white. And in America, while it’s an incredible step forward to have a person of color as a Presidential nominee, mixed racial families still face the taboos of decades past.

Obama’s people know this and the pressure is on to keep their candidate with his nuclear black family--his wife and children primarily. Not out of shame but in anticipation of the avalanche of race-baiting bile coming to an e-mail box near you.

Of course, that’s not to say it hasn’t started. From the same party that brought you “the welfare queen” comes a depiction of the DNCC as “The Cosby Show." And if that’s sledgehammer isn’t big enough for you, take a gander at the pictures circling the blogs of Obama’s half-brother in Africa portraying his as living in a “shanty town."

And how about Jonathan Corsi’s new book “Obama Nation” which describes how his mother generally preferred “men of color." Let’s not forget Karl Rove’s observation of Obama’s debate performance during the primaries as “trash talking (that) was an unattractive carryover from his days playing pickup basketball."

Tell me again how this election has become post-racial.
And friend-of-the-TR Marc points out:
Black feminists support Hillary. If you watched coverage of the convention on CNN, they had an interview with an African-American woman who was very emotional after Hillary gave her speech; she said she loved Hillary, and how she would be a great president. Obama is fully aware of the moment, and his constituent base; he knows he needs Hillary's support to win this election. And Hillary supporters are aware that Obama is the "lesser of two evils." I think the issue between Hillary and Obama supporters is not where they stand on key issues, but which side of history both camps are standing on (first AA nominee or first Woman nominee).
Finally, the TR sends its condolences to the PUMAs in the only way we know how:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary ROCKED the HOUSE


I will join the general praise. Hillary ROCKED THE HOUSE last night at the DNCC.

She struck all the right notes. She threaded everything together. One can't help but love the personal stories — and her exhortation to her followers — are you working for ME or are you working for THEM?

The closing Harriet Tubman reference was BRILLIANT. Not only because she joined a woman's achievement with African American achievement, but because it’s true — if you read Jane Mayer’s new book on how Bush et al have undermined our civil liberties, you will see the dogs of despotism are truly howling and barking behind us — not quite on our heels — far enough away that some of us can ignore the sound, close enough that we should all be afraid. I’ll paraphrase Hillary quoting Tubman here:

“If you hear the dogs barking, keep going. If you hear them yelling after you, keep going. If you see the lights behind you, keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

Or as Thomas Jefferson said:

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

We’ve come to just such a crossroads in our country’s history. Perhaps the speakers at the DNCC aren’t outlining forcefully enough just how dire things are bc they are courting critical independents and swing voters. (Although if you are actually listening to the speeches instead of the cablenets, you'll hear some pretty forceful language.)

But a vote for McCain is a vote for the forces of darkness, a vote for the status quo, an endorsement of the government of the last eight years.

Hillary gets this. She expressed this. She told everyone -- put aside any differences and vote for the future of our country.

Whew. Screed over.

(But, p.s., did anyone other than me notice that Ellie Smeal, head of the Feminist Majority Foundation and, arguably, one of the strongest heads of NOW, was seated behind Biden and Michelle Obama? So she was in all the cutaways. Brilliant piece of orchestration by the DNC (if that’s what it was — Ele is such a street fighter that she may have gotten that seat on her own).

Cheers — later — can’t wait to see/hear/read more.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The TR: We're On Hiatus This Week

The Turner Report is taking a brief hiatus as we give in to convention madness. Never fear -- the snarking will return when our sanity does. Have a great time!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Intern Special Report

Welcome back to the Intern Special Report.

Recently, a group of about 100 college presidents signed on to an initiative to lower the legal drinking age in the United States. The movement, called the Amethyst Initiative calls for “an informed and dispassionate debate" over the issue and the federal highway law that made 21 the de facto national drinking age by denying money to any state that bucks the trend.”(MSNBC)

Predictably, the initiative has provoked an outcry from some major alcohol-related groups across the country, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These groups claim that the current legal drinking age of 21 is effective in keeping underage drinkers from drinking and driving.

The movement for a lower drinking age has been growing (i.e. the facebook group “10 million people to lower the drinking age”), virtually unnoticed, for several years now. I, for one, completely support and stand by the movement to lower the legal drinking age in the United States, although with one noticeable provision.

The drinking age ought to be lowered to 16 while the age at which citizens may receive a driver’s license should be upped to 18 and here’s why.

For much of adolescence, alcohol is a completely unknown substance. Most of us learn about it through watching relatives drink at the family Christmas party. In that setting drinking looks fun to those kids.

Fast forward to high school. The message is completely different.

We’ve all had our obligatory health class which pretty much consists of this mantra: “Don’t have sex. You will die. Don’t do drugs. You will die,” and I’m not debating that there might not be some truth to that. But to a high school student, alcohol is a forbidden fruit, this symbol that you’ve reached adulthood. It’s very tempting to experiment with alcohol while underage. I’ll not even go into how easy it is to obtain.

Because it is so forbidden, teens (rebellious by nature) find alcohol especially tempting, which means that when they get their hands on some, they go all out. Binge-drinking is incredibly dangerous, there’s no denying that. Additionly, most of these teens already have driver’s licenses which, in turn, leads to drunk driving.

If the drinking age was lowered to 16, alcohol would not be a prize to obtain. Drinking would lose all of its glamour and mystique. Parents would be able to watch over their children while they try alcohol and would be able to guide them through the process safely.

Now, if the driving age was raised to 18, most of the teens who would drink with friends or at parties would no longer be able to drive themselves home. This would drastically reduce the number of teen-related drunk driving accidents.

As if this wasn’t enough to at least cause a rethinking of the 21 law, college presidents have another reason to advocate this lowering of the drinking age.

By lowering the drinking age even to 18, freshmen coming into the school would be legally allowed to drink. Because the great majority of colleges require freshmen to reside on campus, universities could regulate alcohol use among freshmen to a much greater extent than is currently possible when freshmen go off campus to party.

Once the alcohol and underclassmen leave to go off campus it can spell disaster for the university, the students, and the surrounding community.

Lowering of the drinking age and raising the age when you can drive are not the only two things that need to happen. America as a country needs to move away from the puritanical belief that alcohol and sex are the “Great Satan” as a coworker of mine put it. Only once that occurs can the United States emulate the success of other countries (i.e. Germany or Italy) that have extremely low drunk driving numbers despite having low or no drinking age.

-Jake Dinerman
Squire of Snark

Friday, August 15, 2008

The TR: Who's VP? IDK, O's BFF Hill??

The premature fall weather in D.C. reminds one of the chilly Denver mountains - or was that the outskirts of Beijing? Well, the coming Hill-O crack up at the DNC and the struggle for gold in China can't help but keep both places top of mind, weather or no. Read on for power struggles, Chinese bankers and Georgian invasions.

Forecast

Does it really have to be about the Clintons all the time? Really, folks, it's time to move on. So O can be a big guy and let the roll call vote take place. He can even nicely "spin" seating the Florida and Michigan delegations (while showing that they'll vote for him). But do we have to have Hill AND Bill AND the screaming PUMAs? Sigh. Let's just hope this isn't an opportunity for Democrats to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And, btw, people having trouble putting food on their tables and gas in their cars don't even really care about all this.

We're loving swing-state-da
rling and rising star Mark Warner in the big DNCC speaking slot. But why is Senator Bob Casey being highlighted, thus dredging up 1992 memories of Casey pere refused the honor because of his anti-choice views? Are Dems stepping up to marginalize the pro-choice lobby come November? Look for more stories on side-stepping the culture war as we head into the fall.

While the Veep rumors continue to swirl, O has thrown us Twittering
classes a bone - the announcement will be released via text message to everyone who jumps on the bandwagon. We're sure that if you haven't signed up by now, you're going to. Right after this sentence. See? At TR Central, though, we're torn on this. The Queen doesn't just give her phone number to anyone, and the Queen's English won't be found in a press release like this: "OMGZ GOT 2B B1DEN. LOL JK." We are faint at the very idea, but the mainstream media will be less delicate. Expect journos to be waving their cell phones next week while the right wing groans. (And, btw, any takers on whether we'll hear it first from a CNN.com news alert anyway? Or has it been leaked already?)

A study released by the Census Bureau projects that white Americans will no longer be in the majority by 2042. While we are sure there will be anti-immigration fe
rvor sparking up again in coming weeks, foreign newspapers are speculating on the implications now. We'll have a special Scorecard for them too, don't worry. Check back in 50 years.

And, like, Washington is to
tally getting its own reality show! (Wait, wasn't that C-Span?) The producers of the award-worthy melodrama The Hills are working on an as-of-yet untitled program following several young women of privilege as they navigate the glamorous ins and outs of the District's social scene. Um - what social scene? Everyone here logs 14-hour workdays spiced up with vodka and Red Bull chasers on weekends. Oh, that's right, Lifetime will be airing it. Never mind. (Note from our Culture Minister: DC needs its own Spencer-and-Heidi. Send us your nominations now!)

The ethanol industry has redoubled its PR efforts to fight off negative press from opponents on the front lines of the energy debate. Part of the solution is launching a social networking website for ethanol producers to share information. Maizbook? Cornspace, may
be? Ooh, wait, we know: E-Refinery!

The Week That Was


In many ways there's been only one story since
last weekend. The invasion of Georgia has lit up every front page, op-ed, wire, blog and foreign news service paying attention to the emergence from hibernation of the mighty Russian bear. And the intrigue only thickened when Condi Rice helped broker a shakey cease-fire. One thing is for sure: This will be a test of the strength of our international leadership. And with the likes of David Cameron and John McCain penning aggressive op-eds, it's clear that conservatives are trying to make this their time to shine.

Important comment on the Olympic gold our swimmers are bringing home by the bag: It don't matter much, baby, b/c China basically owns the U.S. economy. Oh, you
didn't know? Well, they control a third of our trade deficit (largest ever to any country) and have scooped up tuh-rillions of dollars. So, to quote a friend of ours, they are financing our debt to live beyond our means with jobs we've already exported to them. Scary, eh?

Remember the days when the world was black and white? When the Nazis were clearly the bad guys and we were the heroes? John McCain might, but we don't - we're still as young as springtime, darlings. But we love our old movies, and so our ears perked up when we heard this week that the National Archives has released more than 35,000 top-secret personnel files of World War II-era spies. We now know that before world-famous chef Julia Child was teaching us the art of French cooking she was a spy for the Operation of Strategic Services that later evolved into the CIA. Hmm... we'll have to closely re-examine our copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking to look for hidden messages.

The New York Times may habitually be a little late on a lot of Internet trends, but sometimes it does catch up. We don't mind saying that this week it finally caught up with us - yes, our very selves. Here at the TR, we know where the media audiences are, and we've been saying for forever and a day that the scene is now focu
sed on media produced by women. The Times piece on the surge of visitors to women-oriented websites and the tsunami of advertisers who've finally figured it out should make those of you who've not listened to the Queen hang your heads in shame. You may kiss our feet when next we meet.

As a special treat this week, fair readers, a dispat
ch from the TR's Western office to stretch our minds beyond the beltway blather:

Approaching the Democratic National Convention all eyes - ours included - are on Denver, and what could be more fun than a taste of M
ile High politics? This week a wannabe pol by the name of Jared Polis celebrated his victory in the 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary. This makes him a shoo-in for the seat being vacated by Udall family scion, Mark, who is campaigning for U.S. Senate. What makes Polis' victory remarkable (okay, okay, so he spent $5.3 million of his own money on the campaign) is the fact that he's the state's first openly gay candidate to have a real crack at heading to Congress. It's proof that Colorado voters have come a long way since enactment of Amendment 2, the hate bill passed in 1992 that stripped gays and lesbians of their civil rights. Thankfully, that act was declared unconstitutional a year later, making Wednesday's Rocky Mountain News front page photo - a smiling Polis, arm raised in victory with his partner Marlon Reis - oh so much sweeter.

And, you know what? It's Friday. Why n
ot get a second treat to start your weekend off right? (Hat tip to the Guardian!)

Scorecard

Oh, gosh, we really nailed this one. While Georgia dominated the headlines the press has been steadily gathering around the new proposed timetable for getting out of Iraq. So much so that McCain is giving a cautious endorsement. Is there any lingering doubt that the RNC convention will turn into a grotesque "victory celebration" for Iraq? $5 trillion and thousands of lives later... yeah, we got off cheap.

Have a great weekend, folks, and snark on.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The TR: Pakistan's Problems, Paris' Policies and Pretty Publicists

What could be the matter? we wondered as we slumped in our chair, yawning and cranky, reluctant to check on breaking news. Must be Obama-fatigue. Seems it's going around. Feel better soon, dearies, and read on for a Friday pick-me-up!

Forecast

Speaking of things that happen every four years that we tire of before they even begin, it's time once again for the Olympics! "There's excitement in the air over the Olympics," said David Letterman this week. "Also lead, arsenic, benzene..." We're more excited that football (American, natch) is only a month away, but our junior staff has caught the fever and all week they've been blogging about the Beijing Games -- check it out.

With Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on the brink of impeachment, expect an explosion of stories about the implications for the U.S. presidential contest (with points to whichever candidate seems best prepared to handle the fallout) and the war on terror. Pakistan has becomes the Rubik's cube of foreign policy issues and, unlike in the '80s, it's not going away any time soon.

Expect a fiercer hurricane season this year along the Atlantic coast, say National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists. Talk about your inconvenient truths! Could a renewed focus on climate change be far behind, complete with PowerPoint slides?

According to what looks like a clever White House press leak, the Iraqi government has proposed a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by 2010. McCain and the GOP now get to stump how their policies have won the war. Dems must point out that the Iraqis are more or less adopting a plan they've been championing for some time.

Our friends at Campaign for America's Future have launched an economic war room to monitor and frame the debate on the current economic crisis. Our resident TR Economists applaud the move as a way for progressives to hone their strategy for helping working class Americans. With everything on the line this year, it's sure to be a vital tool for economic messaging, and a great excuse to quip lines from old war movies at each other.

Esteemed blogger Andrew Sullivan has challenged the netroots community to recaptcha (teehee!) the influence they had during the primary season. His "Take Back the Campaign" YouTube contest seeks original submissions for the most scathing-but-accurate attack ad on both sides. If you send in a video, send it to us too and you could get the TR Bump!

Finally, guess whose career is over?

The Week That Was

Paris Hilton schooled the McCain campaign on how to do an attack ad. Um... ouch. Not only did she avenge her inclusion in a negative McCain ad, but she also intrigued Beltway wonks with her new energy policy (did we REALLY just write that!?). Here at TR Central we're captivated by her newfound viral-video-fueled candidacy. Put Paris in the debate! 'Cause... that's hot.

Have you seen the tire gauge McCain's using to mock Obama's energy policy? Très snarky. Our suggestion for a comeback: little band-aids to represent the GOP's solution for Americans who lack health insurance. Zing!

But sometimes the best attack ads against Republicans come from... Republicans. The obnoxious fratboy Facebook page of the son of Bob Schaffer (GOP Senatorial candidate from Colorado) is loaded with Neanderthal (yet kegger-friendly) right-wing slogans. Colorado Democrats preserved the page and let the blogosphere handle the rest.

Rule #1 of courting ex-Hillary voters: Don't nominate your wife for a topless biker beauty pageant. McCain learned that the hard way after he offered up his old lady at the famed Sturgis rally in South Dakota. Hmm, did trading her in the parking lot for a case of cigarettes not seem Presidential?

To dramatize their call for Congress to reconvene and debate energy policy, GOP House members have been holding phantom sessions in the House chambers. (I see dead legislation?) The jury's still out on whether the "negligent Democratic leadership" message beats out the "pathetic GOP stunt" message. On the horizon: a government shutdown?

The TR faithful will get a kick out of this: DC Fishbowl has once again announced its finalists for the leading Hottest Media Types in Washington. Get yourselves acquainted with the beautiful people you'll call Boss one day. The Queen is inexplicably missing from the list, but royalty needs no shallow glories.

Scorecard

As we predicted, Dan Kaminsky became a decidedly under-the-radar messiah for his role in highlighting the DNS flaw that could have proved fatal for the security of the internet. Take a bow, Danny Boy -- TR Tech Support salutes you!

Feedback

Lately we've been hearing a lot of "Where's my TR?? I need my fix!!" We work hard every Friday afternoon to get you the scoop as quick as we can, even if it's at the end of your workday. So fear not! If it's Friday, that means snark.

Also, the Queen has added many new Facebook friends who have all 'fessed up to being loyal TR fans. Hmm, perhaps it's time for a TR page on our new favorite social network? We'll petition our junior staff, so they can make it for us.

Enjoy this auspicious (08/08/08) day, and have a great weekend!

Turner Games '08: It's finally here!

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here! The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games will take place in Beijing with all the splendor and dazzle China can muster.

(WOOOO! GO PHELPS! -Katie)

A Cause for Concern

Sadly, despite anticipation and excitement, there will still be a dark cloud hovering that has nothing to do with smog. It has to do with the fact that not everyone who planned to enjoy the opening ceremonies live in Beijing will be present. Many former Olympians, journalists and artists have been surprised and shocked by last minute visa denials. The denials stem from China’s fear of political activists bringing attention to sensitive topics—freedom of press and the situation in Darfur, among others.

Sharon Hom, director of the New York-based non-profit organization, Human Rights in China explains that by denying visas, China’s government is “choosing to lose face in a small way.” If the activists are allowed and they reap international interest in the issues, China would be anxious of losing face on a larger scale.

Many of the individuals denied entry were surprised by the action. Kendra Zanotto, a former bronze medalist, had hoped to return to the Olympics to cover the event as a journalist. Chinese officials would not tell her the reason for her visa being denied, but she later found that the government was uncomfortable with her affiliation with Team Darfur. Zanotto had no plans to make any political statements at the games and didn’t understand how she could be seen as a threat. The president and co-founder of Team Darfur, gold medalist Joey Cheek, had plans for a 2-week stay in China, but less than a day before his departure found that his visa was revoked. Cheek feels that the withdrawal of his visa is “part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur.” For Bob Dietz, the Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, the refusal of a visa is frightening. With much of his family living in China, he fears not seeing them again.
Things should have gotten looser in China, not more restrictive with the Games. Something has gone wrong – I hope it's just a temporary setback for the country.
Plenty of people like Bob Dietz were sure that the Olympics would help further human rights in China, and that was indeed China’s promise to the International Olympic Committee 8 years ago! But as of yet, the Olympics has only hindered the rights of citizens in China. Plenty of violations of human rights have been directly related to Beijing’s arrangements for the Olympics. Housing activist, Ye Guozhu, remains in prison for attempting to organize protests against forced evictions related to the Beijing Olympics despite the fact that his sentence was completed in July of 2008. Ye’s family believes government will hold him until the games are finished to prevent him from speaking freely.

Enjoy the games, and remember that there is a lot more going on behind the fireworks displays and big, fuzzy mascots. While sports are supposed to be the main attraction to the Olympics, it seems that this year the focus can’t help but be shifted to human rights. While President Bush doesn’t mind sitting back and showering his attention on the games, the media and the public are more and should be concerned with how they’re affecting (or not affecting) China’s people.

-- Fathima Khan

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming -- the Turner Report is up next!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Turner Games '08: Day Three

We're just past the halfway mark, folks, and already we've seen two of the top contenders for "most Olympics coverage about a topic." Today, we let the girls on the field; tomorrow, we cruise to the finish!

Checkin' Out the Ladies

Discussions about female athletes range typically from how much sex appeal they have to the lack thereof. Who designed their uniforms? What kind of shoes have their sponsors provided? Who are they dating? Yet this particular Olympic season has thrown some curveballs to the bloggers and pundits, and suddenly we've all got a lot more to talk about than just clothes.

First off, China's female gymnastic team has come under fire for potentially using underage competitors, and, as Romanian gymnastics coach Bela Kelroyi points out, it's old news.

...[I]it is not likely that anyone could prove that the Chinese gymnasts are under age, Karolyi said.

“It’s literally impossible,” he said. “The paperwork is changed just too good. In a country like that, they’re experts at it. Nothing new."

There's all kinds of cheating that can happen in these international competitions, and it ranges all over the board. We know female gymnasts are typically small and can look young, but when your opponent might still have her baby teeth, you've gotta wonder.

Of course, for women to play at all, we've got to make sure they're really women, right? And, as Broadsheet put so eloquently, a vagina is not enough.
Basically the Olympics has a shady history of trying to verify female athletes gender identity. This ranges from forcing the athletes to strip naked and inspected by judges to other varied tests including chromosomal typing and hormone testing.
Testing for gender is incredibly complex, and the validity of these tests has been called into question since they began in the 1960's. (Body Impolitic has the background info, if you're as interested as I was.) So why must China insist on performing them? And not only is this about shady science; men are not being tested, and the only women who are are those that look "suspicious." Athletes are already subject to countless tests for drug and steroid use; now, even after medial ethicists and critics have raised the alarms, female athletes have to prepare themselves for more than the rest? Only one case of gender cheating has ever actually been uncovered, as the NY Times pointed out:
In 1936, a German athlete named Dora Ratjen finished fourth in the women’s high jump. Twenty years later, Ratjen disclosed that he was in fact Hermann Ratjen, and that the Nazis had forced him to compete as a woman.
This issue can't be ignored, but unfortunately it's a part of the competition. These are female athletes, who train their muscles for hours a day for years. They are not trying to be beauty queens and have no obligation to be.

Yet for female athletes in general, there will always be press about their femininity or lack of it, and it's unfortunate. Jezebel reports that sexualizing women's sports does nothing to increase the fan base, and it's a small comfort. However, as Kate from Huffington Post points out, the media coverage of women in the Olympics and in sports overall can avoid the sexiness issue entirely and instead employ "cute" adjectives about how the women look, versus describing the kind of athletic prowess and power they are capable of. Female athletes are either sexy, adorable or manly; It's probably better for them and us to ignore that kind of coverage and focus on the events.

It's not just the female athletes that are subject to this either. Chinese women are being reconstructed in light of the Beijing games, and Hongmei Li from Huffington Post has an insightful and detailed explanation of the contradictory ways in which this is happening.
One the one hand, hundreds of female volunteers will be medal presenters and attendants for officials and athletes. The medal presenters and attendants, who are called liyi xiaojie (which can be literally translated as etiquette misses), were selected based on strict criteria regarding their height, weight, age, body shape and appearance. Generally speaking, only those who conform to traditional Chinese beauty such as big eyes, oval face and light skin, are selected...

...On the other hand, Chinese women have also been trained to be cheerleaders for beach volleyball, football, basketball and other sports. The cheerleaders are called baobei in Chinese, which literally means babies or babes. These babies are required to show their passion, energy and openness.
So what can we celebrate? Where are the female victories? We can literally start with women's soccer, which has offered the first Olympic action so far: China beat Sweden, Norway beat the US and Germany and Brazil ended with a tie. (For those who caught it online or on the tube, any highlights we should know about? Leave a comment for us!) And how about Muslim female athletes? Buthaina Yaqoubi is the first female Olympic competitor from Oman, and she's only 16.
Even before the Beijing Summer Olympics begin on Friday, Habiba Hinai is tasting victory.

For the first time her country is sending a female Olympian to the games. Buthaina Yaqoubi, 16, will compete in the 100-meter dash and either the long jump or the triple jump.

Hinai, one of three women to represent Oman by bearing the Olympic torch during the relay earlier this year, is vice-chair of Oman's Volleyball Association, the highest position for any woman in the country's sports scene.

Muslim women from a wide variety of countries will be competing, and it's a proud moment for all of us to see, since in 1992 there were 35 countries that only sent men to the Barcelona games. This year so far there are only 4 all-male delegations. And, of course, there are mommies in the mix, who are competing after having children and enjoying all the benefits.

Inclusiveness, athleticism, diversity, respect... these are the things the Olympics should inspire on an international level. We should raise our glasses to these female competitors, who continuously overcoming tests of all kinds. Brava, ladies!

-- Katie Stanton

Up next: Turner Games '08 Day Four -- The Freedom to Play

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Turner Games '08: Day Two

Our pre-game coverage continues today with our second installment. What? You missed Day One? We forgive you -- click here to catch up.

Seeing Through the Haze


When the Olympics start this Friday Beijing might finally see some blue skies. An uptick in rain and windy conditions has helped clear out the smog for the time being. The question is, will the deadly smog return for the opening ceremony and the rest of the games? And how bad will the less-visible pollution be?

We’ve all heard about the monumental push that China is making to clean up its air by the start of the games. In early July, cars were being forced off the street. The government then began closing many of the factories surrounding Beijing and Tianjin, where the Olympic soccer matches will take place. More recently, a policy was instituted in Beijing which allows only half of the 3.3 million cars in the city on the road each day using an odd-even license plate system. Is it enough?

Many athletes just aren’t willing to take the risk that it isn’t enough. Some members of the American cycling team arrived in Beijing wearing protective masks due to the quality of the air. The world record holder for the marathon will not be running in that event because of fears about his health. Justine Henin has stated that she will not defend her gold medal in tennis. The names of other athletes who aren’t participating or who are delaying their arrivals at Beijing are piling up.

With these Olympics being China’s grand introduction to the world as a superpower, China’s international image is on the line. And there are plenty of things that could go wrong. But it’s China’s air pollution that is on the minds of athletes and spectators at this point. Despite assurances from the government, some officials worry that particulate matter and ozone in the air will make it hard for many endurance athletes, like marathoners or mountain bikers.

The only thing that we can do now is to watch and wait and see if China is able to keep the air clean for the Games.

But will these environmental reforms be extinguished once the Olympic flame burns out? The Chinese government claims they will keep instituting measures to reduce pollution after the Games conclude on the 24th. Obviously, some of the more drastic measures that China has introduced thus far cannot and will not be carried on, but will China keep its momentum rolling?

The measures China is taking already are so drastic and will effect China’s economy so adversely that the government may recoil from taking any more significant steps to reduce pollution in the near future after the Games. In an economy as volatile as China’s, it would be disastrous to keep factories shut down or cars off the road for very long.

After the closing ceremonies it would be wise for the international community to urge China to earn its own Green Medal in the coming years. Ascension on the world stage means more then building tracks and swimming pools. It means scoring some 10.0’s for the world at large.

-- Jake Dinerman

Up Next: Turner Games '08: Day Three -- Checkin' Out the Ladies

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Turner Games '08: Day One

This week, the junior staff at TR Central will be round-robin posting on the Olympic Games that are set to kick off on Friday. With the whole world watching, the Beijing Olympics will be an intersection for the most relevant cultural, political and environmental questions the entire world faces as of 2008.

We need more than one day to cover it all, folks.

China's Moment

But if the 2008 Beijing Olympics are indeed “China’s Moment,” then the rest of the world should be mindful that it’s their time to stand up and be counted, too.

Many from the international press have already shown unease with the restrictions in internet access being laid down by the Chinese government. While the International Olympics Committee has negotiated to see that some of the banned sites are accessible, it is only a partial victory that will still allow for noticeable restrictions on online content. Already it is being eclipsed by news of police assaults on Japanese journalists. The worldwide media should not walk on eggshells when they talk about these games if they feel that fundamental rights of speech are being violated.

Ellen Lee penned a great piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on how powerful Web 2.0 has been for critics of the Chinese government in recent years. In many ways it’s as big a part of modern day China as the rich cultural landscape that we’ll witness at Friday’s opening ceremonies. The fact that the press will be denied their perspective on the Games makes for an uncomfortable hole in a true understanding of the political atmosphere surrounding the multi-billion dollar endeavor. Chinese youth are being denied an avenue to talk to the international press on what it's like to live with some of the policies that have been adopted for the Olympics.

The Chinese blogosphere’s view of the Games as a costly and ultimately empty gesture may be recognized by the western press beforehand, but also stands a good chance of being muzzled once the festivities have gotten underway.

What’s even more unfortunate is that the Olympics will be tech-savvy in just about every other way this year. YouTube has set up a channel where the games will be broadcasted in 77 territories throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. NBC has scheduled 2,000 hours of live video coverage and 3,000 hours of on-demand video through its website. Bloggers are crawling all over Beijing, offering countless insights into the atmosphere of the Games.

But diversity of the coverage will continue to be the elephant in the room.

Daniel Scheschkewitz of the German paper Deutsche Welle put it best in his editorial:
China has invited the world for the Olympic Games. But the doors remain closed for the global spectrum of opinions -- not only in the country but also in those places where journalists are supposed to make use of their right to unhindered access to information: in press centers and Beijing's large hotels. To accept this Chinese censorship is misconceived tolerance. The West loses its credibility. China will feel vindicated and continue to let no one dictate to it about human rights.
Around the world a free press can mean the difference between life and death. If it can’t be upheld at the Olympics -- the pinnacle of joyous and peaceful interaction between countries -- it may also fail us in the most urgent of circumstances.

-- Neal Fersko

Up Next: Turner Games '08: Day Two -- Seeing Through the Haze

Friday, August 1, 2008

The TR: Corruption, Condoms and the Cuil Kids

The A/C is blasting, the kids are off to summer camp and the interns are getting all kinds of newfangled iced drinks for the office to enjoy. Ahh, it must be August. It must be Friday. It must be - the Turner Report!

Forecast

The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics next week promise to be gorgeous, according to rehearsal footage aired by South Korean TV. What can we look forward to this year, apart from watching our favorite events at strange hours of the day and night due to the 12-hour Beijing-DC time difference? Well, we of the new TR Athletics Commission will do some round-robin blogging on media coverage of the games. Of course, those of you actually IN China may be denied access to the TR blog, but don't worry, we keep an archive!

NBC News will air a special townhall next week to discuss its controversial reality show "The Baby Borrowers," which portrays five teenage couples trying to juggle real, live babies along with their usual teen angst and drama. If you've kept up with the season so far, leave us a comment and let us know what sage advice celebrity rehab counselor Dr. Drew Pinsky is offering.

Next week, security researcher Dan Kaminsky plans to lay out possible solutions for the critical domain name server flaw he found in most Internet servers while he was at a conference in Las Vegas. Apparently the URL for just about every website we visit is vulnerable to being re-directed to any other site by hackers. Identity theft, DNS flaws, Trojan viruses - it's a big, scary Internet out there, folks. Save us, Obi Wan Kaminsky!

The AFL-CIO is asking its members to protest McCain's planned visit to the Fermi Nuclear Plant in Michigan next week. With Obama and McCain in a tight battle for the Wolverine State, they'll both be passing through, which boosts the likelihood of news coverage. For the most recent list of swing states, by the way, The Fix has you covered.

It will be up to Speaker Pelosi to decide whether Karl Rove is going to the slammer for contempt of Congress now that the House Panel and the courts have spoken. Whaddaya think folks, will they throw the book at him because it's election year? Or does the Evil Genius still have his magic powers? Bets are piling up in the TR office pool.

Luke Russert - son of Tim - will take on reporting duties of his own soon, focusing on youth issues during the election cycle. We wish him the best of luck, and we look forward to checking out his coverage of the DNC for the NBC News department.

The Week That Was

The ad wars began for real this week. McCain's attack squad painted Obama as everything from glory hound to tabloid celebrity. Obama hit back by claiming that McCain... isn't being very nice! Topping it off? The "destructive force" of the race card is officially in play (and we'll watch how it continues to hurricane through media coverage). O, it's time to take a page out of the Clinton playbook and go to the mattresses with the right-wing attack machine. Starting a "Low Road Express" website is a step in the right direction.

A few ex-Google hotshots launched the much-anticipated search engine Cuil (pronounced "cool"), which handles like a dream, with better formatting and more detailed results than its predecessor. But once everyone rushed to the site to see what all the fuss was about -it crashed. So until the Cuil kids get their act together, we'll rely on our usual nerdy-but-reliable search engine to keep tabs on who's saying what about whom!

Everyone's favorite Scrabble-esque Facebook application was canned. Our Arts Minister has to wonder: Was it really worth it to ruin ALL her Scrabulous game at once, just to bring the game back with round tiles?

A reluctant tip of the hat to the diabolical person at Lifestyle Condoms who sent out a press release saying the company offered 15-year-old Miley Cyrus $1M to star in its ads (to reduce teen pregnancy, of course). The stunt gained Lifestyle big exposure with no money down. (Cyrus' camp says no dice.)

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert announced his intention to step down this week after a seemingly never-ending list of scandals and blunders. However, it's undeniable that a leadership shake-up this close to the end of the Bush era would be a step backwards for peace in the Middle East. It's going to be up to Condi and Co. to get the issue above the fold if they want the process to move forward.

We've been negotiating the twists and turns of the "series of tubes" to read about Sen. Ted Stevens' spectacular and long overdue fall from grace. Expect to see his mug on future DNC ads detailing how the Republican culture of corruption is still alive and well. He's been granted a speedy trial, but even the GOP may be ready to cut him loose.

We'll end this week on a somber note. We had a lot of fun at Bob Novak's expense last issue, but we were also saddened to find out that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this week. Novak loves the back and forth of the Beltway crowd and we've enjoyed having him as a dancing partner. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Scorecard

We anticipated that the non-profits would pile onto the Pakistani Prime Minister during his first trip to the U.S. for his country's poor human rights record. We were pleasantly surprised to hear Obama describe his meeting with Yousuf Raza Gilani as "productive." Could this be a sign of progress on civil liberties? We can only hope!

Finally, our summer intern and Squire of Snark Jake has reviewed the latest incarnation of the stereotypical high school movie. Check it out here and get some of the younger generation's perspective.

Have a great weekend!