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!

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