Thursday, July 3, 2008

The TR: Clark's Gaffe, Venti Blues and the Revenge of El Rushbo

Because tomorrow's the Fourth of July we're setting off our TR firecrackers early. That's right, take your snark today, so you have room for barbecue tomorrow!

Forecast

The Fox News Channel has launched Real American Stories, a collection of inspirational tales of the well known and not-so-well-known. Gas may be astronomically priced, our veggies may be contaminated and "natural" and "disaster" keep pairing up, but cheer up -- Real Americans are doing inspirational things! Cynical liberal bloggers will no doubt pick on this one, so set up some new bookmarks for the occasion.

Next week marks Bush's final G8 summit. Likely topics will be HIV in Africa, skyrocketing food prices and how to juggle Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran without shattering global security. Of the three, we hope African issues get another go-around in the news cycles. Advocates haven't been able to raise much awareness lately about dire conditions there. Perhaps some of the press coverage around this event will do the trick.

Here's a story that's so far under the radar you'd need a butterfly net to catch it: The first chinks are starting to show in Facebook's armor. During a copyright case in federal court, the judge let slip that the company has valued its own shares substantially lower than its stockholders have. Guess the millennials haven't learned much from their Gen-X elders, particularly the bit about the perils of dot-com bubbles fueled by Monopoly money. Expect more bad news about the company's fragility in the near future.

Well, duh, the Fourth of July will be a story. Like Christmas, it writes itself. Newscasters in front of the Liberty Bell or George Washington's house will extol the virtues of blah blah blah. Hey, we love the Fourth too, but we love history books, M-80s, parades and grilling even more. Turn the TV off and enjoy yourself! The Founding Fathers didn't have to watch cable news to know they were right.

The Week That Was

This is one of those rare weeks in which we found ourselves dittoheads for a day. Just after landing a cover story on the Sunday New York Times, El Rushbo inked a record $400 million deal with Clear Channel that runs through 2016. Feels like 1994 again! This election cycle is sure to inject an extra shot of adrenaline in his conservative canoodling, which has been rather lackadaisical of late.

If we're honest with ourselves, when was the last time someone listened to Wes Clark with rapt attention? That's right, the same year people thought Howard Dean would save the country. So the retired general's sound byte critiquing McCain's military service as a qualification for the Presidency feels more like a conversation starter for the big kids' table than a stealth Democratic attack. But Wes' on-air quip has exposed the right wing's inner paranoia in this election cycle.

Starbucks is tightening her belt, cutting 600 stores and potentially 12,000 jobs in a show of cannibalization at its finest. Sheesh... when my intern has to walk two blocks instead of one for my latte, you know times are getting tough.

And Chris Hitchens' detailed description of his voluntary waterboarding hit the stands this week in Vanity Fair. Unlike the dry, witty copy we're become accustomed to seeing from him, this is a vivid and harrowing account and, we hope, a debate-settler on the morality of what we've been doing to prisoners.

Scorecard

We predicted some major action by the pro-gun lobby last week and they didn't disappoint. The NRA will funnel $40 million dollars into an ad campaign to paint Obama as an enemy of the 2nd Amendment and keep him from repainting the electoral map in places where guns are tradition.

Feedback

However many times we urge our readers to make their comments public and join the conversation on the TR blog, they are, alas, shy. So we'll put that request on our Christmas List for now and create this space for sharing.

We said, "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."

Liz Moore Bars liked that. She responded, "Y'all are too much. Absolutely amazing."

And Christie Moore makes this point: "We're crawling with illegals in Utah--not saying that's good or bad--just FYI. Where do you think they go when Arizona toughens up its access to services? AND unemployment in Utah is less than 3%. The state, quite frankly, needs the labor worse than just about anywhere. Starting wage for completely unskilled people is about $12. It doesn't matter if you're a citizen, legal, or illegal."

Don't blow off your fingers tomorrow - you'll need those digits to write back to us!

Happy Independence Day!

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