Friday, January 28, 2011

1-28-11: Healthcare Flimflammery, Abstinence Expertise and White House Musical Chairs

OmiGAWD, another snow-tastrophe! This guy, who the WaPo Style section has fallen head over ice cream cone for, exemplified the general attitude during the snowstorm yesterday.

Much like that guy, Queenie skipped the hubbub and went to happy hour (sometimes you just NEED a mojito!). From what she saw as she skied to the bar, however, it wasn't pretty. If you've got tragic tales of slushy, slippery, woebegone commutes, feel free to share them with us -- we're sure the rest of you would love another chance to commiserate.

To snark!

Forecast

Queenie's been rapt watching Al Jazeera's live coverage of Egypt this morning. Unrest continues to spread in the Middle East, and now EVERYONE is a foreign policy analyst. Protesters are calling for the ouster of Egypt's long-time president, Hosni Mubarak (Obama is, uh, staying mum -- wait a minute...). Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei is under house arrest. There are reports that Egyptian authorities have cut internet and phone service throughout most of the country. Violence also erupted in Lebanon as Sunni supporters of the former prime minister protested a possible government takeover by Hezbollah, and pink protesters in Yemen have joined in as well. Expect more from Wikileaks soon, and check out this brave BBC Arabic reporter, who filed his report while covered in his own blood from being beaten by police.

Back home, Senate Republicans are giddy about their day in the limelight, so they're going to do the whole "we'll repeal health reform thing" without the necessary votes. If Chuck says it's all a pile of swiss cheese, it's probably just a stunt! We can pray for a debate based on fact, but, yeah, probably not going to happen (Ed. Note- Teehee, "flimflammery!") At the FamiliesUSA conference today, Obama defended the bill -- and your granny. By the by, PLEASE don't ignore the attacks on reproductive rights currently being conducted across the country.

House GOP'ers are now seeking to curtail environmental regulations, so that all Americans might be able to breathe in nice, polluted air. Yippee! White House officials confirmed that Carol Browner, a senior adviser on energy and climate change, will be leaving the administration.

Speaking of leaving... sayonara, Gibbsy! Vice President Biden's current communications director, Jay Carney, will be taking over. No more southern charm? Here's the full list of staff shake-ups at the White House. Since it looks like Barack will be making more of an effort to connect with the people (golf with Barry, anyone?), we'll be watching to see if the WH will be a smidge more successful with their messaging.

Are the Koch brothers holding a secret California meeting for wealthy, anti-Obama types? Oh, don't look so surprised. Speaking of anti-Obama types, looks like everyone is afraid of Michelle B. and her Tea Party. And, finally, Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday celebration is next- WTF IS THIS.

We're sure you've been tracking the World Economic Forum all week long, from the tough talk to the jealous mistresses to the politically-motivated chair selection.

The Week That Was

The State of the Union has come and gone. Obama was all about the jobs, jobs, jobs (phew!). We saw a little bipartisanship from Democrats and Republicans who sat next to each other. Gabrielle Giffords was honored with an empty seat and some heroes from that tragic day were guests of the First Lady. Obama briefly covered health care -- we're not having a do-over, but he's willing to make a few changes. Several Democrats were blindsided by his promise to veto any bill that included earmarks. Energy and climate legislation may have a better chance of bipartisan support, as the president voiced his support for nuclear, clean coal and natural gas alternatives, but environmentalists aren't pleased. And (shocking news!) don't look for any success on filibuster reform, from both sides. Obama never mentioned gun control, but aides say the administration will push for stricter rules that would prevent unstable people, like the Tucson shooter, from getting their hands on assault weapons. Barry then made a quick trip to Wisconsin, to relive a little of that Sputnik era. That's a good thing, we swear. Thanks Paul Broun, for destroying any chance of civility.

Rahm Emanuel is back on the ballot after the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the ruling of a lower court, which booted Emanuel off the ballot for not meeting residency requirements. Early voting begins on Monday. Former Virginia Senator George Allen wants his seat back, announcing his candidacy earlier this week. You might remember him because of his macaca moment and, uh, this. Be like Delaware voters, Virginians, and don't disappoint us.

Antonin Scalia was an "honored guest" at a Michele Bachmann Tea Party Caucus gathering. A few Democrats joined in and, surprisingly, the event wasn't that partisan. What did these members learn? Earmarks aren't that bad, after all!

Keith Olbermann shocked everyone on Twitter EVER and maybe a few of his viewers at home when he abruptly left MSNBC Friday. As part of the deal, Keith will have to keep his mouth shut about the whole thing and stay off the air for a good part of the year. Much attention has also been paid to his Twitter changes. Some fans want him to make a run at Joe Lieberman's seat. Meanwhile, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is in final negotiations to join the cable channel.

This is a funny one: Three years ago Dennis Kucinich had a little food ouchie at the Longworth cafe and he just now decided to sue the poor folks over there. Ain't that the pits?

A terrorist attack on Moscow's largest airport left 35 dead and more than 150 wounded -- where was the coverage? Oh, wait, hey, lookit this.

Are You Not Entertained?

Good news for us, but maybe not so for Italy: Jersey Shore is heading abroad.

Tiger Woods scored a very successful 69 at the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday. What? Why are you giggling?

Will Zuckerberg be on SNL this weekend, alongside Jesse Eisenberg (who played him in The Social Network)? Looks like Zuck is giving this whole sense-of-humor thing a shot.

If you're planning on watching the Super Bowl and hate Biebs, you may want to skip the commercials. We warned you.

Bristol Palin was all set to keynote Sexual Responsibility Week at Washington University, but it looks like her lack of abstinence expertise took her off the roster. Seriously -- we didn't even have to snark this one up, you guys.

Just when you think CNN can't sink any lower, Piers Morgan thought it would be a neat idea to invite the Kardashians on his show. Incredible, Piers, they have such relevancy today!

Interweb Tomfoolery

If you haven't already seen the trailer to the sequel to Armageddon, see it here. Oh wait, that's just T-Paw's hilariously cheesy campaign video to introduce himself to voters outside of someplace called Minnesota. That'll certainly work well alongside his new best-selling book! Also, the former (and now powerless) governor is asking Obama to apologize for something and, after finishing his post as Governor, celebrated at Panda Express. Yup, someone's definitely thinking he's moving upwards.

The March for Life took place this week, and someone decided that Elmo needed to take a stand.

This made the rounds earlier this week, and inspiring blogging-giant Tumblr to change their error message.

Ah, thank you, Internet -- just 12 hours after the SOTU, your Biden-Obama fist pump GIF was ready. And what was up with the salmon thing?

The Vatican on social media: it's a God-send.

Things not to do in Hawaii: get a Facebook tattoo with T-Pain.

Out on the Town

Happy Week-Before-the-Superbowl Week! According to Queenie's Republican Informant/Rabid Football Fan Friend, this is the weekend before the weekend (like the shirt before the shirt) where not much happens but people still want something to do. We've got you covered, but before you make plans, guarantee yourself a free Papa John's pizza if the Superbowl goes into overtime. Nice marketing move, Papa!

If you need to get some big-loud-Hulk-smash energy out, you can join Queenie for the Monster Jam on Saturday and also hit up the Washington Auto Show -- so much engine-revving glory! And you can get even MORE raw energy out by joining the Polar Bear Plunge in Annapolis (for a good cause!). Uh, Queenie won't be joining you for that one...

It's a good time for culture: the DC Shorts Film Festival kicks off on Friday, and catch some of the next big names in theater at the NEA New Play Development Festival. More next big names are at the Choreographers' Showcase in Maryland, and a great big culture mess is happening out in Virginia at Art Carnage (it sounds completely awesome). Finally, it's time for H Street's Karaoke Championship. Fame in the making?

Scorecard

New staffers, more 2012 speculation, jobs, jobs, jobsjobsjobs... and the beat goes on.

Stay warm, stay safe... stay snarky.

Friday, January 21, 2011

1-21-11: Job-Creating Budget Cuts, A State Dinner, and an Encounter with the Mall Fountain

Everyone's getting amped up for SOTU -- after Obama's eloquence in Tucson, we're hoping it won't be the same old hope-y, change-y stuff we don't remember later (and not because of drinking games). Stay tuned for Paul Ryan's response -- the Budget Committee chairman is a natural Republican choice. Is there a rebuttal drinking game? Or will we be passed out by then? If you're playing by Queenie's rules from last year, and Obama talks about jobs like he should, you might be in the emergency room.

What else is happening in snark-land? We've got your 411.

Forecast

AMAZING! We finally have some concrete proposals from those deficit-hawk Republicans! We're just waiting to see how they're going to pay for those tax cuts WE KNOW are coming. They promised, right? The plan calls for a reduction of 15% of the federal workforce. One Republican congressman says that will "actually create jobs." Wait... what? As Obama meets with his Democratic Caucus colleagues today, we're hoping this and other Republican moves will bring our Dems together a little bit after that whole tax compromise thing.

Hillary wants to return to private life, after decades of public service. No, we won't get those rumors started again. Got that, political pundits? And no real surprise here: Chicago will be the home of the Obama-Biden 2012 campaign HQ. Staff changes are also picking up. Michelle, Mitt (watch out for those Tea Partiers, dude), and Sarah...and Randall Terry -- this is going to be a wild ride.

California Rep. Duncan Hunter is leading the charge to delay implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Sure, that's a great way to spend the taxpayer's dime. A new GAO report out this week revealed the cost of DADT -- $193 million over five years. Duncan, buddy, are you just ignoring that or did it pass you by?

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' condition was upgraded from critical to serious over the weekend and she is now able to breath on her own and stand up with some assistance. She was flown to a Houston hospital where she'll continue her recovery. The media, um, AGAIN didn't complete their fact-checking and ran with a story that Giffords could be removed from office during her recovery.

The Week That Was

Obama hosted Chinese President Hu Jintao for a series of bilateral meetings this week (and a GLAMOROUS state dinner -- Michelle's dress was gorgeous, and who knew Hu was a Barbara Streisand dan?). The global economy, security, and human rights came up, of course. Nice dodge there, Hu. The Chinese leader also met with American business CEOs and made a quick trip to Chicago. Both leaders announced an export package worth $45 billion, including a $19 billion purchase of Boeing aircraft. Also, the pandas also can stay for a little while longer. White House staff are undoubtedly airing a sigh of relief as nothing TOO embarrassing happened. Well, there was Harry Reid... um, awkward. Oh, and Rush imitating Chinese, but we were all expecting that one.

The GOP-lead House voted to repeal health care reform, despite long odds of overcoming a Democratic Senate and a presidential veto. Just look at the smiles on their faces! LOL at Joe Wilson. Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren't we. HHS says 129 million Americans under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions. We're taking a guess that taking away the provision protecting these people is a bad idea! Also, Anthony Weiner (hear his top ten rants here!) hopes you guys and gals have a designated driver at the ready, after listening to some GOP nonsense. Oh, jeez, one Democrat had to mess it all up for us.

So it ain't so, Joe! Joe Lieberman will not be returning to the Senate in January 2012. Though he most recently fought for the repeal of DADT, many liberals have been seething for years over Holy Joe's support for the Iraq war, opposition to the public option and his endorsement of McCain in '08. The later says he would make a great Pentagon chief. Folks are already lining up to succeed him. Oh, and we almost forgot -- some dude named Kent Conrad is retiring, as well.

The Illinois legislature and governor approved a tax increase and that's given rise to a brutal fight between them and neighboring Wisconsin. Please, keep it civil, you guys!

Alabama receives our attention, here and there -- always for the wrong reason. Yo, guv, maybe you should be more welcoming to your brothers.

Are You Not Entertained?

Regis announced this week that he's leaving Live! after 28 years on the air. Kelly is getting a replacement.

Ouch, is Sarah really like Snooki? Which one should be offended? Both?

A father-daughter duo have discovered Internet fame (the best kind) after releasing a video singing "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Watch them on Ellen and don't blame us when your heart explodes. With love!

Mamma mia! Berlusconi is in some trouble after probes into his philandering with minors (and his cell phone number) hit the presses -- this is his seventh scandal, y'all. Is he a sexaholic? Speaking of scandal... Todd Palin?! No waaaay.

How much will it cost you to get The Bieber haircut? Oh, y'know, just a cool $800 or so. Oh, and he'd like you to also adopt a puppy. Why not. Biebs, if anyone from the PETA office approaches you with a couple of lettuce leaves, go hide behind your lawyer!

130 mobsters were arrested by the FBI today. Go team and all that, but we were more amused by their awesome nicknames. Special shout-outs to Jack the Wack and Meatball!

Interweb Tomfoolery

The FCC approved Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal. Critics of the deal say the merger will stifle competition and harm customers' access to content. Al Franken is not happy about the future of media dominated by just a few large conglomerates.

Ohhhh snap, Groupon! Since you didn't accept Google's buyout offer, it looks like they're taking matters into their own hands. There are SO MANY of these sites out there these days -- will Groupon, cashcow that it is, be pulled under by this move? (And funny how this comes on the heels of the ballsy LivingSocial/Amazon offer.)

A lady in a mall was texting and walking and fell into a fountain. She is now, tragically, an Internet sensation.

Did you get a look at all the official gifts the President has received from other dignitaries so far? There are quite a few great ones, although we didn't know it was in good taste to give people presents plastered with their own faces. Maybe Queenie should stop giving people medals and rugs with HER face on them... eh, who is she kidding?

Everyone hates this guy, who got a million dollars just by creating a YouTube video and asking for it. And now you do, too!

Out on the Town

They say it’s going to be wintry this weekend, so you might just want to curl up with some wine and catch up on your Netflix. The hardier among you might just want to take it easy - there is not a lot going on! Restaurant Week is extended in some places, and it’s still going in Alexandria, but you might be foodied out at this point like Queenie is. There’s also an okay-looking variety show but those are always hit or miss. We dunno - go hit the gym?


Wanna see some journalists get funk-ay? Journopalooza is in town, folks, sponsored by Flying Dog. Advice: keep your mouth shut about your clients and your work, unless you want a story next week. They may be drinkin', but that doesn't mean their ears don't work.

Ah, thank you, LA Times -- you've told Queenie which restaurants to avoid for happy hour in her native Old Town.

Shameless Bragging

Queenie was surprised and honored when she was approached by former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy's Comm. team with an excellent blog post for Fem2.0. Please hop over and take a read -- her take on making a case for abortion and the future of women's reproductive rights is not worth missing.

Scorecard

Tucson stayed in the news thanks to Giffords' utterly amazing recovery and Loughner's sentencing; rhetoric remained ridiculous (sarcastic thanks to you, Steve Cohen, for adding to the mess); and the health care monster once again has reared its ugly, ugly head. Given that this time last year we were discussing Democratic neutering and, uh, the arrival of iJesus, we'd say this is a step up.

Get those livers ready, folks. See you next week!

Friday, January 14, 2011

1-14-11: Tragedy in Tucson, Joe and Hill Abroad, and Biebs is Getting a Haircut

Most, if not all, of the focus for the media and the public was on Tucson this week. It was scary, and media coverage ran the gamut of emotions -- but as the shock wears off and political VIP's finish making their speeches, things are cautiously relaxing into familiar routines. Declarations that the tone will be more civil from here on out are interesting -- but are they accurate?

More on that, and your usual snark, coming up!

Forecast

Capitol Police are reviewing security measures for members and their staff while in D.C., and are planning to work more closely with local law enforcement. Some Reps. basically told their constituents that they're packing heat (so don't try anything stupid), and some are getting out of the game altogether to avoid taking a bullet. Love the state of our democracy... Peter King plans to introduce legislation to ban a member of the public from bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, but we don't exactly know how that's going to be enforced nationwide, much less on a city block. Boehner's not going to let gun control legislation move forward (so there!). If Dan Burton gets his way, viewers in the House Gallery may have to watch democracy in action through a Plexiglas barrier. Is that really such a bad idea? While the blogs and pundits have been talking about overheated rhetoric, relatively little has been said about gun control (although headlines came out this morning about Palin's speaking opportunity at a gun rights convention in Nevada).

Most of the blowback about violent rhetoric has come from the media -- according to polls, many people don't blame the rhetoric for what happened. (This shooting victim does, however.) And, speaking of rhetoric, we're sure you all were hanging on Palin's every word when she made everything about herself and offended lots of people responded to what happened. Queenie doesn't even want to talk about it, because it irritates her so much, but we had to mention it. There. Done. Moving on. (We do, however suggest the e.politics post on her "social media image machine.")

Understandably, the shooting has shifted the the House calendar back a week, or more. The vote to repeal health care was supposed to be this week, but now debate is scheduled to begin Tuesday, and then likely will be ignored by Senate Democrats through the end of that week. And, hopefully, with a lot less rhetoric. Boehner (you saw his new email address, right?) says Republicans will be looking at reducing discretionary spending to 2008 (Bush) levels to try to appease his Tea Party people. Their budget plan slices $100 billion from Obama's proposal. Other initiatives remain in the pipeline.

Obama's SOTU address is scheduled for January 25, and we assume that there will be a heavy emphasis on meaningful and civil discourse (rhetoric!) in light of the recent shooting -- perhaps even some bipartisanship. Hey, it could happen. Maybe even some handholding, if this whole sitting together thing goes through. Kumbaya, anyone?

And he's outta there! To our dismay, RNC committee members will probably boot our beloved street guy, Michael Steele, to the curb. Not surprisingly Steele received no love before the vote from Boehner this week.

Have you been tracking this "dead birds falling from the sky" theme in the news cycle lately? We know, we know, don't blow this out of proportion... but you HAVE to admit that it's a little creepy. Like, end-of-the-world-apocalypse-hide-yo'-kids creepy. Especially when you consider the mudslides in Brazil and the flooding in Australia. Just sayin'!

The Week That Was

Tragedy struck Tucson, AZ over the weekend when a crazed gunman opened fire at a constituent event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed, including a nine-year old and a Giffords aide. The congresswoman was apparently targeted and was rushed to a university hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. In the days after the shooting, we learned about twisted past of the alleged suspect, as well as his anger towards government and Rep. Giffords.

The President and First Lady visited injured victims and reported that Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time since the attack, and she has made even more progress since then. Obama gave a touching speech at the University of Arizona. He praised the work of paramedics and bystanders who came to the victims' aide. One such hero was Daniel Hernandez, a Giffords intern who may have saved his boss's life. (How's that for college credit?) You can watch it here or read his remarks here. Even Obama's staunchest critics praised the speech (even old Glenn!). Rush Limbaugh stuck to his guns uh... usual... stuff. (Gotta watch that violent rhetoric). Where was Speaker Boehner, by the way?

Joe Biden made an unannounced (aren't they all) visit to Kabul to assure Afghan leaders that the Obama administration is committed to its strategy for transition and withdrawal. He also visited the troops in Afghanistan and had some bacon. Hillary traveled to Yemen to smooth out relations and discussed issues from military aid to terrorism to reviving the country's economy. Look, Hill, you can't keep falling down on the job like this. Think of our international reputation!

This week, China tested its new stealth fighter. Robert Gates just happened to be in the country meeting with China's president. Coincidence? And what's Mitt Romney doing in the Middle East? This trip has NOTHING to do with his presidential ambitions -- we're positive.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is first up to announce she's not seeking re-election in the 2012 cycle. To put it another way, Kay's absolutely sure she doesn't want to face the wrath of the Tea Party folk. Is anyone ready for a Texas Tea Partier in the Senate?

Things got a little testy at Gibbsy's daily briefing, courtesy of a Russian reporter. Also, another Clinton veteran has been hired to lead Biden's staff.

The Hammer was sentenced to a three-year prison term on money laundering charges. He won't be able to dance with the stars while incarcerated, but we're sure somebody in the big house will offer to dance with him. Y'know, if he's lonely.

Are You Not Entertained

It's awards season! To be honest, we were less interested in the Grammy nominees than (and you're free to call us complete dorks) the social media strategy. Take a few seconds and check it out -- tons of integration and interesting ideas for organizations with enough cash. And the Academy Awards are on this weekend... yay. AND the Critic's Choice Movie Awards are on VH1, which we know nothing about, but we watched this super-funny Inception-spoof featuring the guys from Jackass. (None of that made sense to us, either. Just watch it.)

Sorry, moose hunters, and fans of carefully-choreographed reality television, but it appears that Sarah Palin's Alaska won't be returning to the tube. Anyone else glad that's over with? Longest campaign ad EVER.

Does anyone watch Celebrity Apprentice anymore? You might want to check out the upcoming cast. And there's a bit of buzz around American Idol, but eehhhh... Queenie's mother (hi, Mom!) will be watching it, but we're not sure who else will.

Speaking of "reality" TV, 8.45 million of you intellectuals tuned into the third season premiere of Jersey Shore. (Before you ask, heck yes it was on Queenie's DVR.) How's that for the state of entertainment?

The Parker-half of Parker-Spitzer might be on her way out. Poor chemistry and dismal ratings are the likely culprits. Anyone else COMPLETELY shocked?

Biebs' big plan for 2011: get a wittle haircut. Yes, folks, this is BIG news. Thank you, CNN! In other PRESSING, BREAKING news, Martha Stewart's bulldog headbutted her in the face. That's not a good thing.

Angelina's publicist (or talent manager, whaaatever) was Not. Happy. with Mediabistro's coverage of her possible visit to DC. Just a note here -- a journalist in the story was quoted calling PR folks liars. How does that make you feel, flacks?

Interweb Tomfoolery

WOOOOO! VERIZON IPHONE! The competition has changed, now that iPhone users aren't stuck with crappy service anymore. Queenie, as a registered Droid fan, isn't all that excited about it (and you already know her feelings about Apple cultists) but we're sure many of you AT&T refugees will be ecstatic when your contract is up and you can finally switch. Whose smartphone will reign supreme?!

There's an astrological identity crisis (good band name, or great band name?) a-brewin', but FEAR NOT. Your sign is still the same!

As writers, we notice violations of the two-space rule all the time. But it is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! And a waste of space. And totally outdated. And silly. Slate explains this, and what's wrong with it, and we offer our FULL, single-space props.

Smart doggie!

The D.C. metro is all about the smells and interesting people, but eww, this is just disgusting. We're sorry, but you can't spin this one, Metro flacks. Oh, and the NYC subway isn't much better. Rats!

Take a deep breath -- Facebook is not shutting down on March 15. And to all of you who are bitter that you now have to use the new profile: write down your feelings somewhere (maybe a Facebook Note?), 'cause you'll forget about them in two months.

Not even McDonald's can mess with Vermont over maple syrup. They take it seriously up there.

Out on the Town

Happy MLK (Also, Yay, We Get to Sleep In on Monday!) Weekend! Lots going on, including African dance, jazz, poetry, more poetry, an orchestra, a festival, volunteering and more volunteering.

And you know who else has a birthday this weekend? Wish Zora Neale Hurston a happy one at Eatonville -- there are tons of Nora-themed events happening, including her birthday party tonight at 6 p.m. and movies on Saturday. Also birthday-themed: it's a free weekend at the Phillips Collection to celebrate their 90th anniversary, featuring free champagne and birthday cakes.

Other ways to spend the long weekend? Cocktail competition! (Hint: everyone's a winner.) Or maybe the the 2011 DC Tattoo Expo is more your speed. And don't miss the last weekend of Party Crashers at the Arlington Arts Center, exploring comic book culture in the art world.

Sometimes living in DC feels like a little too much to handle. And SOMETIMES you get Bruce Springsteen cover tribute bands rolling through State Theater.

Are those RW reservations all taken care of? If you've got an extra seat at your table, feel free to invite some of Turner Central! (Unless you're going to Vidalia. Totally overrated.)

Scorecard

Between Tucson and Palin, things were quite busy. But there was the expected blowback from the left about Obama's choice of William Daley and Gene Sperling, and this China stealth fighter thing didn't go away. Neither did Ted Williams, for that matter -- but, uh, not because of that voice.

Have a lovely extended weekend, lord and ladies, and we'll see you next week!