Friday, August 28, 2009

The TR: Playing the Death Card, a Great White Hope and other Epic PR Fails

Are you winding down your summer in style, dearies? Queenie's tearily sending her little princes off to school soon, and our younger team members (along with the First Family) are desperately trying to get in those last beach trips and BBQ's before it's time to do real work again. If you didn't take one last vacation day today, load up on snark this afternoon -- it's healthier than tanning, we promise.


Creepiest Kennedy catch-phrase: Passing healthcare reform from the graaaave! Wow. Pundits are and will be going back and forth from wondering how the death card will be used politically to shaming people for talking about how the Senator's death will be used politically. WE'RE thinking it will shame the Senate into passing healthcare when the August break is over. Expect lots of chatter on that, the future of the Mass. Senate seat and live burial coverage up the wazoo. He'll be driven by the Capitol one last time Saturday before being laid to rest in Arlington, and it's open to the public. Oh, and, of course, there's a Twitter feed.

Also expect endless debating about healthcare next week -- but you knew that already. In unsurprising poll news of the day, most people don't know what "public option" means, and all those nice young 'uns that voted for Obama don't care about healthcare. And according to some people, Dems are planning to discriminate against the GOP for medical treatment. That along with offing Grandma and all those pesky fetuses? Damn. They got us figured out. Stay tuned for more rabid punditry as Congress comes back from recess -- could it be a swing and a miss for Obama when he returns from vacay? (Oh man. Worst pun ever. We apologize.)

Wondering where Obama is today? We aren't either, but this sure makes it easy to find out. Maybe this is why the WaPo is shrinking. "If you don't get it, you don't -- hey, what's Obama up to? Golf? Awesome!" Although, with this shrinking approval rating, will anyone want to know anymore?

Increasing violence in Afghanistan amid fraudulent elections isn't (sadly) news, really, but it's something you should be aware of. Expect coverage, but you'll have to look around for it.

Remember Sanford? Ugh, us too. But half of South Carolina sure wants to forget about him. Does anyone really think he'll be impeached, though?

The Week That Was

Today's Half-Assed Apology for a Racist Comment Made by a Republican: Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who is looking for the next "great white hope" to defeat Obama. And who, like, totally didn't know that was racist. To her press people: LOL! In other accidental racism news, Microsoft Poland totally effed this up and got caught by the Internetz.

Have you been Youtubing the Town Halls? Our Culture Minister is really mad at herself for missing the one near her Reston, VA, home, where Randall Terry got kicked out for calling Howard Dean a babykiller. Here's some more video from protests outside, here's a great re-cap of Bart Gordon's Tennessee town hall, and, oh, why not... here's Michele Bachmann's too. We hope you're praying and fasting for the healthcare bill, people.

FYI, there are still pirates, and they are still pirating, and they are neither rakish-with-hearts-of-gold OR interested in being your Halloween costume. Seriously.

Hey flacks! There are a couple of PR tidbits in the news this week we wanted you to see. First up, an executive at Burson-Marsteller used Mark J. Penn's column from the WSJ to try and drum up business, bringing up all kinds of conflict of interest issues. This is a teachable moment, folks. Second, Dooce (you know, the, like, most famous mommy blogger ever) caused a Twitter riot over Maytag yesterday. And we ALL know who will win a Big Corporation versus Angry Mommy Blogger battle. To the Maytag PR people: LOL! Third, are we finally bored with social media (or just using it wrong)? Are we no longer able to think for ourselves? Pfft, who cares -- pretty soon we'll be able to Tweet from our TV remotes!

Our Culture Minister recently jaunted off to Orlando and, in a moment of geeky triumph, saw Discovery on the launch pad days before lift-off. But it's been delayed three times since! Here's hoping for a good launch tonight, and in the meantime check out this inspirational story of Mission Specialist Jose Hernandez and growing up to be an astronaut. Then tell your kids to stay the hell in school. (PS: And, if you're into this kind of thing, NASA's got their social media on lock. Very impressive!)

In Memoriam, "Lion of the Senate" Edition

It's been nothing but tributes and flags at half-staff for the past few days, but Ted Kennedy's passing also made us (and many others) think about the future of our party. Have we become too quick to compromise? Or is it all about bipartisanship?

Anyway, the memoriams have been flying fast and furious, and we're sure you've been reading them all day long. Here's to someone that worked tirelessly in the Senate for nearly 50 years and inspired a country, regardless of his (very human) foibles. And here's hoping his party does him justice.


Did anyone hear about MJ's death being ruled a homicide this week? No? Hmmm... either we're not paying enough attention, or the King of Pop hasn't maligned the news cycle nearly as much as, say, OJ Simpson back in the day. Someone want to explain to us what happened?

Anyway, be good this weekend, or you might end up like this guy. See you in September!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The TR: Does O Really Want It? And other sad August political lessons…

Public option or death panels? Netroots uprising or town hall scaries? Shaken or stirred? Run along and get some fresh ice, dah-ling, this is going to be a long one…

Queen's Screed

We dispense with our regularly scheduled programming to flip the f* out.

In the dog days of August 1994 an earlier Democratic president was unclear about his health care bottom line. The long media shadow of O.J. Simpson in white Bronco distorted all things. CNN’s CRUSHING 24-hour news cycle was just TOO MUCH TO BE ENDURED by regular journalists. Conservative talk radio was new, easily dismissed and highly annoying.

Today, our formerly beloved leader is just as equivocal about health care. The near total collapse of the world economy and an unpopular and unnecessary war cast a long shadow across all things. The implosion of the media is TOO MUCH TO BE ENDURED by our fragile democracy.

And conservative talk radio is brilliantly manipulating the legitimate fears of hard working Americans. Taking a page directly from the abortion clinic violence handbook, town halls are flooded with the angry, the frightened and the well-armed.

When we get Confederate/Yankee level discord over provisions that (excuse me) are designed TO HELP PEOPLE, we are at a terrible crossroads.

Yet the White House and the elite media play right into their hands – nearly abandoning the public option, ridiculing people who have taken the trouble to print healthcare provisions off of fraudulent websites to read them at town hall meetings, calling constituents idiots.

But we reserve our special ire for former golden boy Obama.

How do you not see this coming? These are the people that Swift Boated Kerry, got Dan Rather fired for a [ahem true] report, and have convinced America that socialism is afoot.

Now, we watch and wait.

In Memoriam

Ken Bacon of Refugees International joined that great exodus in the sky on Saturday. A truly great man, the former Wall Street Journal reporter's experience as spokesperson for the Pentagon during the massive refugee crisis of the war in the Balkans transformed Ken into a powerful advocate for the world’s dispossessed people. Don Hewitt did the world another sort of favor by creating the no-holds-barred 60 Minutes. And dear Bob Novak outted CIA agent Valerie Plame, then mowed down a pedestrian in his car. Seriously about Bob, we miss the days when he and Pat Buchanan were the barbarians at the gate. We might disagree but at least we were vaguely on the same planet.

Flagrant self-promotion

That little coal fraudulent letter lobbying scandal just WON’T go away. Pesky what happens when you forge letters by do-gooder groups who don’t actually support your position. Client AAUW’s “blistering” statement is everywhere on the Internet, doing double time in MSM print publications, and even has Rachel Maddow back on the topic.

Reader Comments

“I want my TR” moaned a few friends when we (ahem) totally failed to publish last week. What’s wrong folks – late afternoon in August – don’t you have a beach somewhere to chill on????

Friday, August 7, 2009

The TR: Born in the USA? Granny, Get Your Gun! and Happy Birthday, Mr. President

How are those tan lines, chickens? Judging by the tumbleweeds rolling by our office windows, seems like everyone's "telecommuting." Right. Careful with that laptop at the pool, k? We don't think the IT guys will accept "surprise cannonball" as an excuse for a replacement.


Congress is on a long August vacation, Sotomayor has been confirmed (a little anti-climactically!), and the rest of America is out buying new rides thanks to an additional cash dump into the CFC program. All's quiet on the Capitol Hill front in the coming week. We still have the airwaves, and interwebs, though! This weekend expect more chatter about North Korea and Bill Clinton's swagger. It was so magical, after all, to see our journalists returning to American soil after more than five months in captivity.

However, North Korea isn't likely to dominate the airwaves with bit city mayors concerned about unemployment rates. (You could always do like this recent college grad, who sued her alma mater when she couldn't find a job. H'ray! America!) You can watch Bloomberg and Booker come together on Meet the Press Sunday, while national security and defense dominates Face the Nation.

Expect more GOP crazy. Just FYI.

Hillary won't be watching the Sunday shows, joining in street protests, or taking a much needed beach vacation. She'll be touring the continent of Africa, talking up the need for South Africa to aid the world's economic recovery as well as pushing for reducing the impacts of global climate change.

Want a break from beltway news? Keep your eyes open for pictures to emerge of Who's the Boss star Alyssa Milano's wedding party. They are expected to begin gathering in New Jersey for a private wedding planned for the 15th. Hopefully this one can top the one-year mark, unlike her last marriage... If Hollywood is not enough, grab your chili dogs and beer to watch America's favorite pastime. Some on Queenie's team are already counting down the days till the playoffs, and are marking our calendars for the "must see" games ahead. And, hell, even if you're not into it, go snag some $10 seats and check out our fancy-shmancy stadium. This is DC -- you're not here for the sports!

The Week That Was

Happy belated, Barry! We saw all sorts of cute impromptu parties around town in celebration of the President's birthday (what do you think of his cake: tacky or "dignified?"), but kudos to him for passing the love along to Helen Thomas. Such a nice young man.

Ironic that last week and early this week was all about birthers, no? If anything, it's been another chance to come up with fun nicknames ("the Noah's Ark of Stupid" might be the best so far, although "Orly Taitz" is a close second...), wonder why fully 24% of Virginians polled were going along with this, and make our own Kenyan birth certificates. But don't let your wild liberal paranoia cloud your judgment, y'all -- these are just the crazies taking over a (long) news cycle. Let Lou Dobbs and Chuck Norris set the record straight.

As this lovely piece puts it, "...[t]he birthers have now given way to the 'deathers,'" those beloved wack jobs that think proposed changes to the healthcare system are aimed to kill old people and babies en masse. (Granny, get your gun!) Kruggie's column today pins the organizing on two "grasstops" ("AstroTurf") groups, one run by Dick Armey and the other by a former healthcare exec. Yeah... real grassroots can't afford robocalls. Bottom line: the Bush administration would not let anyone but supporters into their rallies. Remember? The people disrupting one of today's rallies all raised their hands when asked if they were on Medicare -- umm, helloooo! A government-run healthcare system! *facepalm* Hooliganism.

Just after the Catholic Church of England and Wales warned us that social networking is suicide, Twitter was ATTACKED. We. Were. TERRIFIED. We felt naked. Jittery. Confused. It was a very unsettling three hours, folks. But Twitter (and Facebook and Livejournal and Blogger) survived, and we lived to Tweet about how scared we were. Phew.

Paula Abdul is leaving American Idol after a fight over salary negotiations, and despite all the mocking (c'mon, she's an easy target), we're with her. How come nobody's talking about the potential for sexism, here? Sure, they think she's a nutjob, but the fact remains that even the raise she wanted was a fraction of what her male co-stars are getting. Just think about it.

In Super Awesome Fun Political Humor News (what, birthers weren't enough for you?), we're as obsessed with Autotune the News as everyone else, and the new one is out! Learn to talk like Laura Bush and Sarah Palin, thanks to Jezebel, and Michael Steele is pro-phone prank. Finally, Jon Stewart takes it home -- when Sean Hannity said Obama is destroying the America he grew up in, Stewart replied, "I think that's because the America you knew and grew up in was segregated." Who said having a Democratic Prez would leave us nothing to joke about?

In Memoriam, "Anything more than a handful and you're risking a sprained thumb" Edition

This beautiful blog post about John Hughes really sums it up for us, even though Queenie is an early Gen-X/late Baby Boomer ("No cultural niche... the drugs without the revolutionary fervor and Reagan without the sense of displacement and irony") and the Culture Minister is a wee young Millennial ("So what have I got? Skinny jeans, 9/11 and 'sexting?' Tyra is NOT my Walter Cronkite.") However, we've BOTH seen Breakfast Club, and we are both on Twitter, so we're a little upset too. Here's to the '80s, John Candy and the imminent global Hughes Netflix binge.

Flagrant Self-Promotion

The Food Safety Enhancement Act passed the house last week! Scores of op/eds went up around the country by victims' families in support -- all while we were setting up a full UK media tour in under an hour on a completely different topic, and all other sorts of good stuff. Yep, tooting our own horn. You would too.


For all of you who groused that we took a week off... WE'RE BAAAAACK! (Intermittently, at least!) We missed you too!

Summer's almost over, so get those last minute vacations in while you can! If you still need something to do this afternoon, here. This will kill 20 minutes.

See you next week!