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An Interview with former Presidential Candidate George W. Bush, Part 2 September 23, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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GY: Can you expand on your notions a bit about Chavez? He seems to be a controversial figure in America.

W: Well, as I said, Valenzualans as a whole are decent, hard working people. But Hugo is not, I’m not sure how to phrase it, your typical Valenzualan. In fact, he’s probably played almost no baseball. I’m actually shocked to think that he was elected by such baseball-loving people, having never played it. I mean, not me, I’ve played it. Well, not really. But I did own a baseball team once.

GY: Did you ever own any Venezualans?

W: No, John, a great Republican made that illegal some time ago. But I can say that I know deep in my heart that if I did, they’d be treated fairly, and that they would certainly understand the importance of freedom in America, and how all Americans truly treasure freedom, in all its forms.

GY: The Prescott Bush Foundation recently purchased the Guantanamo Bay military facility from the U.S. Government as part of the government’s plan to retire some military facilities. What is the Foundation’s plan for this facility?

W: Well, John, as you know, Al Gore is an appeasement president. He appeases. Therefore, we’ve decided, Laura, Dad, and I, and Dad is a great supporter in this, and, of course, our close confidant. Anyway, we, Laura, Dad, and some others, such as James Baker, who is against appeasement, against appeasing anyone, well, we’ve decided this would provide us a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of privately financed prisons.

GY: Fascinating.

W: Well, it was actually Dick Rumsfeld’s idea. He’s a soldier, a believer in the value of freedom.

GY: You mean Donald Rumsfeld, the CEO of General Instrument who was recently indicted on insider trading charges?

W: (chuckles) Well, Laura affectionately calls him The Donald. I just call him Rummy. Me and Rummy, we go way back. But yes. Sometimes I call him Dick, too, but usually just to get his dander up (chuckles twice).

GY: So the plans for Guantanamo. It sounds interesting.

W: Well, as we envision it, Rummy and I and some others, we see it as a cornerstone of the private sector’s battle against terrorism. Not all of us are fond of John McCain’s nickname for Gore, you know, the one he gave him after the invasion of Afghanistan.

GY: General Gore. McCain still refers to Gore that way.

W: That’s right. Well, there is a broad sector of disagreement with that, a great swath of visible, you know, discomfort, a wide girth, a great divide, actually, is happening with this, and it’s a schism, a real schism.

GY: In what way?

W: Well America can’t react to an attack on her territory by giving money to her attackers, can it? That’s fuzzy math, John, fuzzy logic. Let’s take a more down home scenario. I’m a Texan, you know, and I know about down home stuff. So imagine, if you will, somebody steals something from your store. So, in reaction to that, do you give them money? Will that solve the problem? They’ll steal again, because bad people are just not good people and they do bad things, and they steal. All the time. You can’t stop someone from stealing from you, John, by paying them off. They’ll just take your money and steal from you again. That’s what the bad guys do.

GY: Back to Guantanamo. What are your plans for this facility?

W: Well, it will be an island, John. An island against this invisible evil that is now taking over our country. An island against appeasement, against reproachment, against everything reproachable. But I’m sure you want particulars, and I’m going to give them to you. We are going to use Guantanamo as a place where patriotic Americans can send people to. As you know, every American felt the pain of 9-11, and this will be their chance to send people who they know are soldiers for the other side, this will be their chance to send those people to a place that Americans can trust as a true detention center.

GY: How will this work? Will it involve kidnapping suspects?

W: No, no, certainly it does not involve kidnapping. No, apprehending would be a better word. We’ll encourage Americans to apprehend suspects, and we’ll send those suspects to Guantanamo. They’ll be treated as fairly there as the victims of 9-11 were, if not better.

GY: Wow, so this is sort of a scoop. This blog has had, like in its best day, 88 page views. This is gonna sure change that.

W: Well, you are probably right about that. I know how to make headlines, dude.

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An Interview with former Presidential Candidate George W. Bush September 21, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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One of your intrepid correspondents for The Gore Years, John Sample, took a few minutes out of his busy day and paid a visit to The Betty Ford Center, where he hooked up for a quick interview with the 2000 Republican candidate for President, George W. Bush.

GY: Thanks for taking the time to visit with us Governor Bush.

W: No problem, John. As you know, I’m always happy to speak candidly to the opposition, even when I’m opposed to it.

GY: Yes, you certainly have acquired that reputation over the years. Well, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so I’ll just dive in with some questions our readers would love to hear your answers to.

W: Happy to oblige. Obligations, you know, are an American thing — a, uh, well, a real thing that all Americans I think can understand and they’re, well, very real and that sort of thing.

GY: Sure, of course. Well, again, thank you for your time. Can you tell us a bit about what life is like here at the Betty Ford Center?

W: Well, it’s a challenge at times, and it requires diligence, patience. And it is, you know, a constant battle against evil, really. You look into the eyes of folks who’ve been devastated by their disease and you think to yourself, that, evil is all a part of it, and that it is not good. You know, as Americans, we really have a choice to make about which side we’re on, good versus evil. That’s what I’m finding here, people making that choice daily.

GY: So you’re finding it a rewarding experience.

W: Rewarding not so much in that I am actually making any money, no. But I feel richer for it all, yes. And being richer is rewarding.

GY: What do you think of the state of the world? Do you feel President Gore is doing a good job as President?

W: Well, heh-heh, that’s a trick question isn’t it? Well, here again, we’re talking about good and evil, and America has just got to not be supporting evil and we’re not doing that right now. I mean, we’re coddling terrorists with this resumption of relations with the Iranians, who as you know want a bomb and are promoters of evil. If the Iranians were to have a nuclear weapon they could proliferate. And I don’t know that Americans, being good people, will stand for proliferation, of Iranians or anyone else for that matter.

GY: But the Middle East hasn’t entered a period of sustained peace like this in fifty years. Doesn’t that account for something?

W: It’s troubling, John, it’s troubling. What price are we paying for peace? There’s darkness everywhere, and, well, look at the Iranian policy towards the U.S. This is official policy and it’s troubling. I don’t think we can just sit back and be glad about peace.

GY: Today, Venezuala’s Hugo Chavez praised Al Gore at the United Nations as a man of peace. Yesterday, Iranian President Kharrazi used the UN as a forum to announce that the U.S. and Iran were resuming diplomatic relations. What is your reaction to these events?

W: Well, Chavez is a well-known socialist, a pal of Fidel Castro, and, you know, generally not a man we can trust in the long term. Valenzualans as a whole, mind you, are good people, a decent people. I remember a pitcher for the Dodgers, a very good Valenzualan, as a matter of fact, who was very good, very hard working.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of our interview with former Governor Bush.

Montazeri’s Revenge September 20, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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Another quick note about the resumption of diplomatic relations with Iran is that this is the final vindication of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who appears to have won a power struggle in Qom. In his 80s and said to be in failing health, what happens when he passes on is anyone’s guess.

What Will Become of The U.S. Den of Espionage? September 20, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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Today, the U.S. embassy is referred to in Iran as the “U.S. Den of Espionage”, or “The Den of Spies”, depending on who your translater is. In the face of restored diplomatic relations, what becomes of this?

Gore, Kharrazi to the UN: The Healing Has Begun September 20, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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Iranian President Kamal Kharrazi wound up his lengthy, historic trip to the U.S. today with a rousing speech to the U.N., where both he and Al Gore spoke of “healing and renewal”. But it was Kharrazi who dropped the bomb, announcing to the world body the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with the United States.

I have a good Iranian friend where I work who has been waiting for this day for a long time. I think I’ll take him out for a beer tomorrow to celebrate.

In the meantime, it’s safe to assume the Republicans will jump all over Gore during the upcoming congressional elections, and accuse him of being weak-kneed, especially in light of recent revelations that Iran may be pursuing nuclear weapons. But it’s the Gore Administration’s careful handling of the reformist movement’s recent gains in Iranian politics that have helped make this happen. Gore, under Secretary of State Colin Powell, kept Iran at arm’s length for some time, presumably because the U.S. was nervous that demonstrative support of reformists could have a backlash effect and prompt the mullahs to find ways to restrain the movement.

Most people by now know that even the mullahs have calmed their anti-U.S. rhetoric since Gore poured billions into earthquake relief after the devastating 2003 Bam earthquake.

About The Gore Years September 19, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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I’ve had a few emails from people recently asking me what this site is about. I would suggest looking here for a simple explanation of what I’m aiming for, and, here for a deeper look into how different the world may have looked had things been different. It will provide some background into the rest of the entries on this blog.

Eulogy For Dusty Baker September 17, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in Chicago Cubs, dusty baker, Gore, Jim Hendry, MLB - Cubs, News and politics, Tribune Company.
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In November, 2002, I predicted that if Dusty Baker screwed up during the 2002 World Series, it meant that he had the Cubs on his mind, and that if he didn’t and brought a World Series to San Francisco, Jim Hendry’s overtures to him had already been rebuffed.

Here is what I wrote, in part:

The rumor mill says the Cubs want Dusty Baker. So the question is, does Dusty want the Cubs? If he does, and if he is managing with that thought buried deep in the recesses of his brain, he is doomed to make a critical managing error during the World Series that will cost the Giants the series.

The setting is absolutely perfect for The Cubs. Dusty, because he’s a professional and an excellent manager, will certainly be focused on the game. But he is human. Somewhere, deep in the black matter of his brain that really isn’t accessible during the heat of battle, when the game is on the line, is a little Cub thought. With the pressure on, no matter how good a manager he is, if he is thinking he wants to manage the Cubs, he is doomed to make a critical error in judgement. This will be no reflection on his ability as a manager, just as Billy Buckner’s famous gaffe was no reflection on his talents as a baseball player. Rather, it is a reflection on the utter power of the Billy Goat Hex, which is such a force that not even its originators have been able to lift it.

If Baker comes away home free and avoids making critical errors, then you can, if you’re a Cub fan, assume he doesn’t want to manage the Cubs, and they’ll hire someone else. But if he does, then that is why the setting is perfect. He’ll mess up, be remembered for it, and the Cubs will hire him. He’ll then manage himself into oblivion, remembered only for his classic World Series managing foibles. If he’s lucky, like Gene Michael, he’ll somehow escape and go on to continue a stellar career. But that is a rare outcome. Usually, Cubness results in pain, anguish, and ridicule.

As this World Series winds down, prognosticators wondering if Dusty will sign with the Cubs would do well to simply watch his fortunes during the World Series. If he does okay, he won’t sign. If he slips and falls, chances are high he’ll sign with the Cubs. Not because the Cubs want losers. But because they create them. It’s all part of the Hex.

HBO is about to do a special on the Cubs, but I doubt they’ll manage to include this tidbit of truth, this disturbing morsel of the doom that haunts all Cubs fans.

Not even I, cynic that I was at the time, could have anticipated such incredible twists as the Bartman catch, the fall of Kerry Wood (if you’re a fantasy baseball player, you know that if Wood re-signs with the Cubs he’s doomed, and if he doesn’t, it’s time to snap him up for 2007), or the vaporware that is Mark Prior.

Nor did I anticipate Dusty Baker giving up the way he did in May and June during one of the most awful stretches of baseball I’ve ever seen.

Still, it’s hard to accept seeing Dusty on the chopping block when it’s the Cubs’ general manager, Jim Hendry, who suited up this year’s team and dared Dusty to try to accomplish something with it. A rookie has started 70 games for this year’s team. I don’t know if that’s a MLB record or not, but it doesn’t speak well to Hendry’s reputation as a former scout who specialized in pitchers.

Dusty is owed no reprieve, however.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Baker plans a memoir:

Baker plans to write a book someday about his career in baseball. The Cub years, he said, will merit only a chapter.

“I have a lot of chapters on a lot of stuff,” he said. “I’ve always thought about it. Someday I’ll write my memoirs, maybe go up to a mountain someplace.

Many Cubs fans will, perhaps rightly, claim that the above was part of the problem, that Dusty’s lack of allegience to Chicago and its most beloved sports team is what doomed him from the beginning. That, and the Billy Goat.

But real Cubs fans know that the Billy Goat curse will never be lifted as long as incompetence rules in Wrigleyville. As the Tribune Company burns itself to the ground, nobody will feel sorry for its managment, especially knowing that selling the Chicago Cubs to an entity that cares would easily take care of that need to sell $500 million in “non-core broadcasting and publishing assets“.

In other words, there is no curse. Never has been. The Chicago Cubs are grossly mismanaged. Its baseball operations are led by Andy McPhail, who has overseen this mess for about 12 years or so. For years his efforts have been laughable on the field, but he somehow has managed to keep fannies in the seats. It’s almost as if Ford or GM built sub-par cars and didn’t get punished by the market for doing so. Of course, they do, and the market responds in kind. Why this doesn’t happen with the Chicago Cubs is a question philosophers may spend several centuries trying to determine.

Will Will Ever Get It Right? September 16, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in Blogroll, Bush, Business, Economy & Business, George W. Bush, Gore, monopolies, News and politics, Politics, Wal-Mart.
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One of the true luminaries of conservative thought is George F. Will, who likes baseball a lot, but just doesn’t quite get why Wal-Mart is about to be broken up.

Under the amusing headline, “When the people speak, liberals turn deaf,” George F. Will wrote an article the other day excoriating “liberals” for the imminent break-up of Wal-Mart (although he doesn’t actually refer to the recent FTC action in his article).

His dateline city is Evergreen Park, Illinois, a city, he notes with typical conservative statistical manipulation, that is 88 percent white, but within whose boundaries sits a Wal-Mart whose customer base, according to his report, is 90 percent black. Will doesn’t attribute either statistic to any resource, so maybe his article is actually a blog, without any of the editorial constraints newspaper reporters are said to be subject to — either that or bloggers are no longer the only ones who get a break when it comes to attribution.

Anyway, let’s look at where Evergreen Park is situated. Will says it is a Chicago suburb “contiguous with Chicago’s western edge”. According to Webster, contiguous means:

being in actual contact : touching along a boundary or at a point.

The Wal-Mart in Evergreen Park is near the hub of two major Southwest Side arteries, 95th Street and Ashland Avenue. This is an intersection that people of all races and creeds focus on when traveling within 20 miles of their homes. So, I have no idea what Will’s point is when he points out that African Americans are happy to trek a few blocks to 95th and Ashland. Evergreen Park’s demographics are a moot point when it comes to Wal-Mart demographics. Wal-Mart demographics are based on income level, not race.

I don’t think the country clubbers in DeKalb, Illinois spend much time in the DeKalb County Wal-Mart, but you can be sure that the small business owners who have been put out of business by that company have plenty of family members who shop there, if only to survive.

Will’s column gets funnier. He then describes what I guess he perceives as a typical Wal-Mart customer in the Evergreen Park store, a black woman chagrined at not getting a job at a recent hiring event at the store but who shops there anyway. “Sensibly,” Will writes with a straight face, “she compartmentalizes her moods and her money.” Will goes on to suggest that because Americans have saved so much money at Wal-Mart, liberals have some bizarre “philosophical repugnance towards markets because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes.” In other words, he seems to be suggesting that liberals don’t like to save money. Or something.

A devout free-marketer, Will also seems to be saying that the free market is not capable of creating an economy where consumer costs can be held down in a world without a Wal-Mart.

Will also says, “Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing class into America’s political argument.” He conveniently forgets that “the liberals” don’t own the argument against Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s policies of extortion against suppliers and its support for conditions in Third World countries that would have Upton Sinclair blush are well documented. Centrists like myself are in full support of the FTC’s suit to break up the company. This is not a “liberal” agenda.

But Will, free market man that he is, is okay with the pillaging of the U.S. manufacturing sector, because, in the words of a Fast Company article, “There is no question that Wal-Mart’s relentless drive to squeeze out costs has benefited consumers. The giant retailer is at least partly responsible for the low rate of U.S. inflation, and a McKinsey & Co. study concluded that about 12% of the economy’s productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s could be traced to Wal-Mart alone.”

Somehow that hasn’t been enough for the Gore administration. FTC hearings begin in two weeks. I can’t wait.

Sept 11 — Five Years Later: Is the War Won? September 12, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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The occasional hysterical shrieks of the successors to Osama bin Laden notwithstanding, it seems to me that perhaps there really was no war to begin with, that Osama was nothing more than a criminal, and not the leader of the downtrodden Muslim masses he claimed to be.

The tragic events of 9/11 unleashed a massive reaction on the part of the Gore Administration, leading, first, to a swift and decisive military operation in Afghanistan resulting in Osama’s apparent death (we don’t have a body, but we haven’t heard from Osama in four years), then to a massive revitalization program aimed, first, at Afghanistan and the western provinces of Pakistan, and, later, the impoverished populations in other parts of the Middle East.

Gore’s risky Bill of Hope, which was designed as sort of a Marshall Plan for the Mideast, has resulted in new regimes and a new ally in Iraq, a Palestinian state, and an open city named Jerusalem, which is now governed by the Abrahamic Council, a Jewish, Muslim and Christian coalition of elected city officials who are at least staying out of the headlines.

The Bill of Hope was risky because it funnelled money through mostly Islamic channels, with strict guidelines on how the money should be spent. The risk was that the money would either fall into corrupt hands or be used to spread education Wahhabi-style, which was what helped lead some of bin Laden’s followers into his hands in the first place.

Now that the program seems to be a success (Afghanistan, led by the rapid growth of Lashkar Gah in Hemand province, is crawling out of its once-constant position near the top of world poverty levels, and Iraq and Palestine are investor darlings), one wonders if the war is over.

True, there have been a few isolated attacks attributed to Al Queda in the world, but not since late 2004.

As I wind up my vacation in Oregon it’s nice to contemplate that 9-11, as awful as it was, wasn’t the beginning of a war like so many of us had assumed. And that, if it was, the right way to attack the enemy was to cut out the core of what caused it in the first place. Much of that has been accomplished, even if there is some work to be done.

Iranian President Visits U.S. September 8, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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I told myself I was going to try to limit political posts while on vacation, but this is a pretty historic moment as Kamal Kharrazi, President of Iran, visits the United States today in the first visit from an Iranian leader since the Shah was deposed. Technically, of course, the visit is part of a summit between Kharazi, Iraqi President Ahmed Chalabi and U.S. President Al Gore to help build economic ties between Iran and Iraq. Gore has gone on record as saying it isn’t yet time to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, and Iran’s ayatollahs still call us the devil even as their people start to cry out for greater ties to the US. So it’s clear why the meeting was set up under the pretenses of the growing economic relationship between Iran and Iraq.

Still, the possibilities are interesting.

It reminds me a little of detente.

For one thing, Iraq, in the few short years since Saddam was deposed, is becoming a money machine, despite some substantial unrest in Bagdhad’s Al Thawra neighborhood in recent months. As I understand it, even though that part of the city is largely Shi’a, basic services are still not established. It would be good to hear from someone in that area. Not many bloggers seem to be reporting from Al Thawra, which is sort of the opposite of how things normally work in blogger land.

Maybe I’ll do a call for stringers, so we can see how the various parts of the world are faring under The Gore Years.

Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.