Friday, June 27, 2008

The TR: Guns, Geopolitics and George

Brace yourselves, folks — the conservatives have taken over this week’s news cycle. Of course, it’s all bad news, but maybe the only way to make history is to really screw it up.


Lock and load. Now that the Supremes have struck down D.C.’s anti-handgun law, we’ve converted a supply closet to an armory here at TR Central. We haven’t yet stocked it with anything more potent than old coffee grounds, but give us time. In a year of liberal ascendance, this huge red-meat victory for conservatives must truly be a salve. The NRA struck swiftly while the iron was hot by challenging Chicago’s handgun ban, and more such challenges are on the way.

According to dyspeptic conservatives, Nancy Pelosi may seek to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine and its equal-time provisions. We’re skeptical that this kind of management of the public airwaves will make much of a difference in the age of new media. But we’re entirely in favor of fairness, a principle that’s the Queen’s solemn responsibility to uphold (as her beloved sons regularly remind her). Watch for conservatives to push hard next week for a floor vote on the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would bar future presidents from bringing the FD back.

John McCain embarks on a stature-enhancing ten-day trip across Latin America next week — no doubt to dedicate memorials to governments the CIA has overthrown. McCain’s campaigns abroad may make him look presidential, but they leave Obama free to chip away at his turf here at home.

If you’re a Zimbabwean traveling abroad, don’t forget to drop your absentee ballot in the mail today. Your choices: Mugabe, Mugabe or Mugabe. We urge you to think twice about voting for him though, seeing as how he imprisons and kills his political opponents and has plunged the nation into misery, poverty and disarray. Wait a sec... if you’re Zimbabwean, you’re probably not vacationing here in the U.S. , since one billion Zimbabwean dollars equal one cent. Expect outrage over Robby Mugabe’s “triumphant win” throughout the week to come.

Finally, TR Central forecasts that the world will feel different as we head to our offices on Monday morning. Why? Because Bill Gates steps away from Microsoft this weekend, ending more than 30 years of heavy-handed empire building that reached deep into our computers and our lives. Don't be a stranger, Bill. We'll always have some affection for despots who really meant well.

The Week That Was

A huge breakthrough in diplomacy this week as the US lifts sanctions on North Korea and takes its name off the list of state sponsors of terrorism in exchange for the North Koreans disclosing their nuclear activities. This smacks of legacy-anxiety on the part of the Bushie State Department. Is this the beginning of the end for Axis of Evil politics?

If so, what does it mean for “Perilous Times McCain”? There’s nothing like peace to get in the way of a good scare campaign, especially when your top advisor’s formula for victory involves a terrorist attack. So… an Obama win would embolden terrorists, but a terrorist strike would embolden McCain’s campaign? Hey, Johnny Boy, how about we let Obama become president this time, provoking the bad guys to action and leaving you sitting pretty for 2012? That’d work for us.

Did you think immigration policy is not a big deal to voters in non-border states like Utah? Noooot. The people of Utah ’s 3rd District, who may never have seen an immigrant in three dimensions, just tossed out ultra-conservative Congressman Chris Cannon (American Conservative Union score: 96) for being soft on immigration. Score one for the red netroots.

According to Andrew Tyndall, most Americans are getting about two minutes of Iraq war coverage per major network per week. That’s less than one episode of Dancing with the Stars if it were aired over a period of six months. The TR brain trust wonders if, perhaps in the middle of this gross neglect, there might be some silver lining here for Obama’s campaign. After all, if the public is not reminded to focus on the war, then they can dwell on our troubles on the home front where McCain’s phantom positions have turned off liberals and hardened conservatives alike.

Move America Forward dared us to not support the troops during their online telethon, From the Front Lines (which, in true chicken-hawk fashion, meant the front lines of Mountain View, California). Our own Culture Minister had a flash of insight about why no liberals were present at the "star-studded" event: too much like those awkward Sunday dinners at her parents’ house, surrounded by a family of staunch conservatives who aim one-liners about "liberal blather" and "lack of patriotism" between requests for biscuits.

We started off the week by trying to say goodbye to the least sentimental among us. What was great about George Carlin’s scorched earth comedy was how it only got angrier and darker as the country got progressively more apathetic towards its decline. A lot of vintage TR snark derived from Carlin plumbing the irrelevant and finding items that were equal parts ridiculous and disturbing. We’ll be spinning our copy of AM/FM by the pool this weekend.


The TR wasn’t even cool off the presses last week before Obama announced that he’d cover the backs of Congress on the FISA bill. While that move has slightly tarnished his near-pristine rep with the netroots, a larger picture is emerging from this whole ordeal. If O is the next Commander in Chief, he’s going to need a bolder Congress than the one he was elected to.

We end this week, however, feeling some optimism about the state of our democracy, thanks to the afterglow of our participation in the sizzling Personal Democracy Forum in New York. From Obama campaign directors to Craig Newmark to Lawrence Lessig, there were all sorts of bigwigs there, but the only one we were interested in getting close to was Obama Girl. But lest you think the PDF left us snark-less, here’re some additional comments: “We Are Way Beyond Celebrating Citizen Journalists.”

Have a great weekend.

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