Friday, February 27, 2009

The TR: Pepto Cocktails, Michelle’s Muscle and a Rocky Mountain Requiem

Oh man, enjoy this weather while you can (until tomorrow). The Queen's been holed up at home coughing away, so please let her live vicariously and walk around the block this afternoon! Take your Blackberry with you and read the TR while you're out. And then... get back to work!


Next week will be dominated by media dissection of the proposed federal budget and the northwards-of-a-trillion deficit. We're putting on our "Go O" game hats to watch legislative
reactions and right-wing media's continued downward tailspin. Expect continued Republican media outrage over O's budget and any and all reforms, even as they support hiking the Congress's operational budget to retain previous staff levels and funding Wall Street junkets. MSM will continue to be cautiously optimistic, even as we all mix martinis with Pepto-Bismol. Just to get through all of this, dontcha know.

(Sigh) A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you have a saved economy? Of course, we LOVE the FDR in a JFK suit-of-destiny (by way of Lincoln) thing O's stylin'. We are counting the numbers on our poor little liberal arts fingers. Wall Street bailout (and sequels), stimulus package, healthcare reform, nationalizing the banks -- oh, we know we've left a few trillion out somewhere! (And what about old breaking the Sheryl-Crow-paid-with-Wall Street-stimulus-funds story?)

Most Americans' savings are tied up in our home values, which is down a record 18.6 percent since December 2007. But what fresh hell is this? Economic indicators due out next week -- construction spending and manufacturers' inventories -- will have us eyeballing yet more plummeting graph lines and mixing even more martoonis (yes, pass the Pepto again, baby).

What's worse for a potential Secretary of Health and Human Services: not paying your taxes on unrecognized income like car service OR being staunchly Catholic but pro-choice (that is, supporting a legal medical service for women)? For some, it's the latter, and the noise pollution around Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' candidacy for that job should hit new highs.

History nerd update! If you're looking for a getaway that allows you to follow slaves' escape on the Underground Railroad, check out these B&Bs in Pennsylvania. Read about their unsalubrious hiding places. And just imagine -- the desperation, the fear, the driving urge to endure hell so as to escape hell and to run to a future no one can imagine, while putting your fate into the hands of people who may or may not be trustworthy. Spine-tingling... (Paging AG Holder - are we talking about race enough here?)

We're sure we're forgetting some big sports or culture announcement here, so ponder that part of the media universe and fill in the blank. Oh -- and tell Queenie what she forgot! Please use colorful language; the Queen just LOVES that!

The Week That Was

We were inappropriately sober on Fat Tuesday as President O addressed Congress. But, oh, we think we'll give Bobby Jindal up for Lent! The governor of Louisiana (after swearing to reject federal stimulus package funds badly needed for his impoverished state) told us that our troubles are not our fault but that of government and politicians. And he did an awesome Howdy Doody imitation each time he said "Americans can do anything!" How do you say "Honey, I shrunk the kids" in Cajun French? So sad that the GOP pre-mid-term elections messaging may be imploding among reasonable people. Oh, yes, and that good ole Bobby may not have the charisma for a brown vs. brown 2012 Presidential match-up.

Roland Burris will not run for the Senate in 2010, but, until then, you'll have to kill him if you want to remove him from that august body. We shrug. Even alive, he's just a breathing corpse in Congress. Our outrage is needed elsewhere.

Hat tip to the Hilda Solis confirmation as head of Labor! Our feminist, labor, activist hearts are delighted to report change we actually can believe in!

The DC voting bill cleared the Senate and it's been hitting the blogs and editorial sections all week long. Leave your thoughts in the comments: constitutional or not so much?

Octomom Nadya Suleman soon to be a porn star! She was offered 1 million smackers by Vivid Entertainment, including full medical and dental insurance, to be a "contract girl." Higher up the food chain, Hef wants Kate Winslet for the Playboy Centerfold (although we thought she was done with nude scenes). From fertility welfare queens to Oscar winners -- strip and eyeballs will follow.

Lest you think we're too jaded for innocence... breaking news on the First Puppy! ETA sometime in April, the new White House companion will likely be a Portuguese Water Dog (much to Office star Rainn Wilson's Twittered-chagrin). Michelle showed her "iron mom" self when she rejected pet names Frank and Moose. Says the first lady: "I'm like, no. Come on. Let's work with the names a little bit." Phew!

(Also, Culture Minister has to ask: can we STOP talking about her arms now? Yes, she has arms. Yes, we all see them. Take one last, long, good look, go ahead... 'kay, finished? Now get over it!)

Did Twitter jump the snark this week, asked Repub new media darling Patrick Ruffini? POLITICO named him a "top ten" Tweeter, and, oh, Patrick, we agree! Especially when the LA Times only listed name-brand users as top ten to follow. Admittedly, the Queen picked up a few hundred extra followers from Ruffini's moment of fame. What will they do when they realize the Queen is a baby-killing communist? Hopefully they're too newbie to understand TweetChat, #all declarations and @me DMs. Quelle horreur!

If you've been desperately trying to link to Joaquin Phoenix's online Letterman trainwreck, but found that CBS pulled the video... well, who's your sweetheart? Here you go.

And, of course, we MUST put in something we KNOW everyone will link to. Naked Brazilian beauty (FYI, NSFW... which means you're all the more likely to click, right?) celebrates Carnival adorned in a skin portrait of everyone's favorite prez.

In Memoriam

Invictus. Writing about the death of the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado's premier newspaper, feels a lot like writing an obit for a parent. There's an element of disbelief that this day would ever come. I worked at the Rocky for nearly 10 years off and on during its halcyon years in the 1980s, when it beat out its century-old opponent The Denver Post for the position of #1 in the Rocky Mountain West. This was the scrappy rag that nurtured the likes of author Damon Runyon, playwright Mary Coyle Chase ("Harvey"), and numerous other writers who went on to win Pulitzer Prizes and work for such major pubs as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, AP, Reuters and The Washington Post (Al Kamen, I still remember editors rolling their eyes about your "dynamite" story, only to realize that you really meant dynamite!).

The Rocky was the oldest newspaper and continuously-operated business in Colorado -- it would have celebrated its 150th year in two months. It was founded on April 23, 1959, by William Byers, who had the courage and fortitude to haul his printing press by oxcart across the Great Plains from Omaha to the mining camp of Denver during the start of the Gold Rush. The paper went on to cover the Civil War, Colorado's statehood, the Dust Bowl, Great Depression, Columbine High School shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing trial and, most recently, the historic Democratic National Convention just blocks from the site where the original presses once rolled in.

News gathering is all about change. And newspapers like the Rocky and others adapted well over time -- switching from linotype to offset, typewriters to computers, faxes to email. But few are equipped to handle the 24/7 news cycle of the digital era in a way that can turn a profit for their owners -- and the Rocky was no exception. The "e-oxcart" that will haul this innovative breakthrough to the news industry is still a long way from its destination. But once it arrives, I can guarantee you that the need will be greater than ever for reporters like those at the Rocky, who approached their assignments with spirit, drive, and an unconquerable thirst for truth.


Someone forgot to send us the memo on the bank bailout. Orrr we forgot to check the WH calendar. Oh, well. But, other than that, we hit it out of the park. Most of our observations were lead, above-the-fold stories last week. Of course, no one under 40 even knows that that means.

Reader Comments

Could I ask a tiny Web2.0 question? Wouldja occassionally mind commenting on the blog I do love catching up personally with each and every one of you, so (and my own personal phone number) is never off limits. But I'd love to see the rants and raves forever immortalized online.

Cheerio, dearies! Catch you next week!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The TR: Goat Rodeos, Turkey Rape and Homeless Food Registries

You say you wanna revolution... well, well... you know... have you really seen the polls? The Queen has gone all swivel-headed, dread-locked and sans culotte, and is telling Rush and that whack job on CNBC to bring it, yeah, bring it ON, BABY!


O's first congressional address is sure to focus on the economy, even as we weather yet more of The-Worst-Financial-Info-In-Some-Time. Yes, the Dow's tanking, the world economy is flatlining, and everyone wants to blame it on the O and the stimulus package. But, hey, listen up, weenie heads, 'cause we're gonna be subtle here: MAIN STREET STILL NEEDS HELP AND DOESN'T WANT TO PAY FOR WALL STREET BAILOUTS. O's public opinion numbers are still high among the general public, as is support for his recovery plans.

Expect the White House (and the buzz it generates) to remain strongly in favor of the common man, even as financial and inside-Beltway-baseball media tear their hair out -- and even as responsible conservatives incorrectly blame minority lending practices and swear revolution rather than paying off other peoples' bad mortgages.

Wall Street analysts may not want to pay their tax dollars for failed mortgages, unemployment benefits and shovel-ready projects that get people working... but helloooo, FAT CATS, Main Street don't wanna pay for your ****-ing Wall Street junkets, CEO golden parachutes or purchase of banks. Didn't want to last spring, still don't want to now. Remember this, lawmakers?

Of course, we do know that tax cuts solve EVERYTHING. Here's a handy little calculator to see exactly how many of your problems could be fixed with a little tax code love.

(Ahem.) Here's what we really want: 1. Dems don't keep caving on messaging, 2. Administration keeps its drum beat going, and 3. NO ONE underestimates the powerful siren song of angry white men on the radio.

We're hoping for a spanking brand new HHS nominee next week. But -- wait! Will it be Sebelius? Or someone else? C'mon, we know you've got a crystal ball under your desk somewhere.

And expect some more local drama as the Senate considers D.C. voting rights.

Will the final ax fall on Burris next week, even as we learn more about Rahmbo's tax scandal from the right-wing? There will be hubris and media tango a-plenty from Burris while Rahm slips under the MSM radar. Nothing sums it up quite like this "goat rodeo" act in the thriller "Revenge of Blago III."

The Queen is such a history nerd (pushes up glasses) that we MUST give this shout out to the annual reading of Washington's Farewell Address in the U.S. Senate next week (2 p.m. on Feb 23rd, if you'd like to attend). Every year the lucky Senator who reads Washington's remarks gets to sign this book -- take look back over history.

Where would we be without the Oscars? Be still my beating heart: Oscar-inspired Jennifer-Brangelina red carpet face-off? Slumdog Millionaire running off with all the honors? And, of course, Heath Ledger's family in from Australia in hopes he wins posthumous honors for his psychopathic Joker? Let us know about your party plans, peeps!

And, speaking of, next Tuesday is Mardi Gras! No throwing beads from DC office buildings, sadly. (Although, if you see any, snap a picture and send it to us!)

The Week That Was

O and Hill started a much-needed "Hello, World! [heart], the U.S." publicity tour. Hillary gets a big thumbs up for her Asian love-fest. Meanwhile, O reassured the world that he really does love free trade while he hobnobbed in Canada.

The economy, the stimulus, car companies and homeowners dominated the coverage last week, even as automakers skulked out of town (yet again) without their full bailout dreams realized. Check out this comparison of what rocked the MSM and where social media headed with these stories.

It was an exciting week for Facebook. New legal counsel (most recently employed legalizing terrorism for Bush AG Gonzalez) [link] had a bit of a dust-up when FB publicly announced: "We can do anything we want with your content. Forever." Tens of thousands responded, "NO WAI." Red-faced and sputtering, FB invited Web 2.0 to craft a new policy. Tens of thousands complied and crashed the page.

In more FB news, the first openly gay South Carolina public official credited the social networking site for his successful campaign.

Police shot a former chimp star for attacking a woman in Stamford, CT. On a semi-related note, the NY Post published an editorial cartoon equating the chimp with... our president? Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan defends the cartoon: "It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy." We say it makes a mockery of serious political cartooning. Oh, wait... (head slap) this is the NY Post, right? It can't be serious journalism, so it must be racist garbage.

On a parting note, we ask PETA to take on a new issue: TURKEY RAPE. And a homeless man has been given a way to panhandle AND stay in from the cold: a fundraising website that considerately provides a food registery: Ham Sandwich $3.50, Cheeseburger & fries $4, Footlong sub $5. Although, some people are less picky.


We were so distracted by our pro-stimulus screed that we neglected to forecast the homeowner's recovery package OR automakers returning with hats-in-hand. We're trying harder this week, we swear.

Reader Comments

Still so much gratitude for our bad attitude. Puts a little lift in Queenie's step! See you next week!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The TR: Senator 'About Face' Gregg, Stim-u-limp II, Obama Curses

Fiery crash? Buffalo plane crash or Judd Gregg taking himself out of the line up? Hard to tell which gets the headline this week. With our Culture Minister on a plane to California, here's an abbreviated graphic-less TR. We just couldn't help ourselves...


Judd Gregg. Intoxicated by the chance to work in the new administration, he just couldn't examine his conscience until the most opportune moment to sink the stimulus plan. Or was it qualms about the Census Bureau? Perhaps the White House fumbled this one (expect TONS of commentary on the WH vetting process) but who really is to blame here for denying the new administration the opportunity to truly build a bipartisan cabinet?

But, in any event, could Sen. About-Face have waited just a few more days or was this his attempt to distract Washington from the real task at hand? Expect this to be the top talk-fest item on the Sunday shows and elsewhere.

SCREED ALERT: What you call pork, my dear Rs, the Queen calls shovel-ready projects that employ people too poor to buy banks or fund junkets with taxpayer bucks. In other words, this is money that goes right back into the ailing economy. Not to mention unemployment benefits, healthcare, food for children, and the like. That also goes back into the ailing economy. Aaarrrrggghhh. (And now we truly regret NOT running the Queen's character assassin's piece attacking Gregg two weeks ago. Sorry, Gloria, you were right-on.)

The on-going partisan battle over money for the people (as opposed to money for the banks) will continue, as main stream media and the blogosphere hang on to every tiny detail of bill passage (or not), merging of House & Senate bills, signing, etc. We just wanna know - why can't Joe the Plumber get some relief while the R's & Wall Street titans keep calling the shots? Why do congressional Democrats cave and cave and cave on messaging, allowing the losers to frame the debate? Oh, we get it - Joe the Plumber doesn't feel he is needed right now, he works for the R's and won't actually step up to help the common man. This isn't a referendum on Obama, by the way, REALLY. It's an indictment of the ineptitude of Democrats on the Hill. We repeat aaarrrggghhh.

(Speaking of which, we are once again indebted to Media Matters and Media Channel- this time for this analysis of the "Iron Triangle" of stimulus misinformation which is fueling the Repugs insanity and the Dems Stockholm Syndrome.)

But ARE the banks getting enough? Two trillion just won't do it! Expect more commentary on little Timmy Geithner's "wing and a prayer" strategy (thank you Tom Toles) through the weekend and beyond. Where is Alexander Hamilton when we need him?

The Week That Was

Ooooh Rihanna. In the IF YOU HAD TO ASK category, then please go immediately to and get all the horrid details. Adorable became sinister with particularly lurid domestic violence. Get your head out of wonkdom and marinate for a moment in the top story that the rest of the country (including our most computer-literate youth segment) is concerned about.

We won't re-play the ups and downs of the stimulus here (just too many jokes possible). It's too disgusting. Suffice to say that the Queen is EXTREMLY displeased with the "100 hours" coverage of the Obama presidency. Can the guy have 100 days, puh-leeze? Or is the news cycle just too amped up on methamphetamines? And could we have some finger pointing towards the methods of the Hill Dems?

A creative solution to the slow-downs in the newspaper industry: free labor! A Toronto free daily newspaper has laid off all of its staff writers - but it won't be without copy for its pages because it will be using non-paid interns instead.

We also were so disappointed that this "insider tip" from Guy Kawasaki via Twitter turned out to be a New York Times article. So Google is about to get into the power monitoring business, and we could have learned about it from the ailing Grey Lady? But we got it in a DM tweet from Guy Kawasaki? What's that about? And for a moment we thought we were VERY IMPORTANT members of the social media universe.

Ann Coulter is under investigation for voter fraud. Now this is worth a click.

Just because you read this far, we give you a very special treat. OBAMA CURSING AND (ALSO) TRYING TO SOUND LIKE A REAL BLACK MAN! Coming soon to ring tones everywhere: "There's white people and then there's real mothafuckas like you" (Judd Gregg reference?) and "You ain't my bitch nigga, get your own damn fries." We're in love with our actual black President!


Well, we missed it. Great, big, obvious 200th birthday of Lincoln strained through the miracle of O's presidency story. How did we miss it? I mean, President's Day weekend is RIGHT NOW and we love old Linc, gay or not, racist or not, mentally ill or not. How did we not predict this?

And Darwin - we missed Darwin's 200th birthday and the obvious opportunity to re-fight all the culture/religious wars. (4 in 10 people don't believe in evolution, btw). Shout out to Rick Weiss' oped and the drama it inspired online here.

Likewise, we missed the run up to Valentine's Day stories. What, are we only reading POLITICO and Roll Call? In that case, you guys don't need the TR, you're already steeped in inside-the-Beltway humorless coverage.

And the GRAMMIES! We forgot about the GRAMMIES! Ye Gods! You mean the world does NOT revolve around the stimulus package?


In other news, our beloved Ben Carlson heads back to San Francisco tomorrow. Read this and weep dear friends. Ben reminds us (and all our clients) that phones and the internet do in fact exist and he will still be available on his Turner e-mail address. But - so far away!!!!

Reader Comments

Lots of love for the snark. Thank you! The grumpy old Queen is BACK IN BLACK. Big hugs and see you next week.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The TR: Stimulation Stress, FEMA Fears and Bale ANGRY!

Smuh-ACK! Honeymoon over. Get ready to watch governing in INaction....

Dear Reader, partisan gridlock in the face of international economic meltdown does not surprise us. But admit it, a tiny flower of hope -- that our shiny new president would usher in a new era to pull our world from the very brink of disaster -- blossomed in your hardened heart. Not yet, bub.


The ailing economy needs a powerful defibrillation stat (Clear! ZAP!), but Congress will continue to mud wrestle in the patient's rapidly coagulating blood. It's up to savior Olympia Snowe and her reverse-Pelosi lock-out (no staffers rather than no Republicans) to hammer a billion or so out of the very limp-looking stimulus package and win enough bipartisan support to pass it. We just LUV this chart that shows how the stim-stim-stim-u-LESS has been all over recent news coverage.

The nonstop blab-a-thon and theatrics will stretch through next week as O desperately tries to seize framing back from the Republicans. What? Shocked by the power of right-wing talk radio and the Repugs' need to deny O a victory? Tip for Prez Dearest: One op-ed in the WashPo won't do the trick. Your go-for-broke meetings and ongoing CNN/MSNBC-fest is more to the point. Hint for progressive groups: You're not breaking through the media static AT ALL -- are you even trying?

And, oh my, the confirmation process, aka the losing party's quadri-annual blood sport! Conventional Dem wisdom says dearth of Daschle is possible death knell for healthcare reform. Is Sibelius up to the job? What other tax imbroglios can we uncover? Was O wise to use the phrase, "I screwed up"? Comments welcome. We'll be getting 'em online from the punditry and in the op-ed columns, so why not from you, Dear Reader?

Down-on-their-luck mainstream media have got to earn bucks where they can. Guess that's why AP is suing "Hope" artist Shepard Fairey for copyright violation. Expect this quarrel to go on for a while. Andre the Giant now has a big new legal posse (that's a TR street-cred reference for you, by the way).

As if the world's economy weren't scary enough, we have to continue being afraid of peanut butter. While the FDA testifies that they've been doing all in their power to protect the country from salmonella in a kid's favorite sandwich filler, we find out that those FEMA Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) peanut butter packets being distributed to winter disaster victims are likely contaminated. And, ye Gods, the offending company is selling PB to the school lunch program! Poor kiddos... ice-stormed out, just failed an algebra test, and now also diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps? But thankfully possible litigation would restrain the airlines from trying to sell us FEMA MREs as snack food. Seems this peanut butter story will stick.

The Week That Was

All hail Eric Holder. The Queen sheds a tear of wonder and joy that after centuries of extra-judicial murder the country's lead lawman is African American. Let us lay to rest Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit." So fantastic that the awful Clinton-Marc Rich dust-up did not bring down a good man.

O is still courting the evangelicals with expansion of the Faith Based-Initiatives Office. Interesting attempt to focus on REDUCTION of unwanted pregnancy has pro-life hackles up. Not surprising, as they think the pill, Plan B and other reliable hormonal methods are actually abortifacients.

Someone must shut the tomb door, for Nosferatu goes not gently into the night. Interesting to watch Cheney's stroking-out, molar-grinding visage as he pronounced the country ripe for terrorist strike. For shame, old man! Wasn't ripping apart the Constitution with your fangs enough for you?

Paging Christian Bale, paging Christian Bale. Your assistant has just arrived with your overdue Xanax prescription. If you're bored already with this celebrity dust-up-du-jour, try watching this Bale-O'Reilly mashup. Where do our friends at Media Channel find these things?! (And Stephan Colbert's homage to Bale is just priceless!)

Next time you see a Crystal Light ad and wonder whose fun song it uses, know that it's Grammy-nominated Estelle. She recorded the song specifically for the drink, just as Chris Brown used "Forever" for Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. (Our intern is still devastated to find out that he didn't write that one for HER.) It's all a part of the new wave of branded entertainment being used to connect with audiences, and promote products AND music. So... are these artists selling out? Some think yes, but those tunes are so damn catchy, we don't mind.

And a quick entertainment news rant from our Culture Minister... never mind Bale's Hulk impression; what the hell kind of breaking news is Miley making faces and Phelps inhaling?! Seriously, people, ya gotta give us something more exciting. Even fatty Jessica Simpson is boring us to death.

Strike up your prayer wheels, e-mail prayer listservs and the like to encourage rapid healing for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's pancreatic cancer surgery. Sure, it's great we have a Dem prez to appoint good judges, but do we have to lose the libs on the court for him to do so?

Always fun when the Pope un-excommunicates a Holocaust denier. Hmmm... we're still trying to untangle this. Who's up next for canonization -- Torquemada? Or so asks one of our favorite PCDCers.

Last, but certainly not least, a big shout out to Gloria Pan, Shireen Mitchell, Heather Holdridge and Katie Stanton for an AMAZING Fem2.0 conference. Not only did nearly 300 folks show, but hundreds more participated virtually. Twitter-traffic trended to #2 in the day's discussed topics, rivaling the Superbowl. And the party continues...


Amusing as we may have been, we rather sucked last week. We were so in love with O that we failed to note he wasn't framing and defending the stimulus package adequately (we even laughingly dismissed the right-wing defamations). Now we have one of those big messes on our hands. And Repugs can position the mid-terms as not Bush's fault (the economy) but as O's (bad stimulus bill).

Reader Comments

Our mean, snarky selves were heartily welcomed back. The Queen received no less than SEVENTY weepy tears-of-relief messages by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and courier pigeon. Now if we could get all those unsubscribers back from that one, sole effort to be NICE... Damn.

Go forth, dear readers, and may the snark be with you.