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During the Gore Years, This Is Your Typical Headline December 22, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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From the New York Times:

“As Cars Hit More Animals on Roads, Toll Rises”

http://tinyurl.com/2xekbe

No war, the economy buzzing along, crime at an all time low, environmental bills getting spewed out of congress like smoke from a Chinese coal plant.

Nice way to spend the holidays.

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Baseball Commish: Baseball Has No Steroids Problem December 15, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in baseball, baseball commish, baseball commissioner, News and politics, steroids.
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Baseball Commissioner George W. Bush today defended Major League Baseball in the wake of the Mitchell report on steroids and declared to a packed press conference, “Baseball is healthier today than it has ever been. We’ve got record attendance figures. We’ve got a strong history, a solid history. It’s a great history.”

Asked by reporters if any action would be taken against any of the players named by the investigation, Bush said, “We’re staying the course on this one. We’ve got a proud history and we’ll remain so.” When pressed on the issue, Bush did admit there may be a few scattered problems with steroid use, but that, “all in all it’s a balanced game, a good game. I’ve had some of these players when I owned the Rangers and they were fine young men. José Canseco, Juan Gonzalez, and they didn’t get to where they got by doing steroids, they got there by playing baseball.”

Asked if he would want children to use Canseco as a role model, Bush replied, “Well, it depends on what he was modeling, heh heh, but sure? Why not? His role as a snitch was huge. A big thing for baseball. Sometimes you need to snitch. So, you know, if a young boy asks you, you just sit him down and say, ‘young fella, sometimes you just gotta snitch if you want to be … what’s that word the kids like? Über successful. José, now, I saw him, he played for me. And he was successful. But he became über successful when he sold those books. See, you don’t have to do just one thing in life to be successful. You can expand. So that’s a good thing to teach kids. Expand your horizons. Grasp at what’s not yours. That kind of thing is role modeling. Good role modeling. Everyone can agree with that.”

Bush was named baseball commissioner in late August, and immediately generated controversy by proposing that baseball games be reduced from 9 innings to 3 innings, “because that’s about all anybody really watches of a game.” He quickly backtracked from the proposal after admitting that he came up with the idea during his first few days in the Betty Ford Clinic.

Picture URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/archive/bush_stupid.jpg

Viva La Revolución December 11, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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Viva La Revolucion

There is a crowd of bloggers out there that is trying to govern you. They won’t admit it, because they’re too busy basking in their own elitism, but they’re there, huffing, occasionally, about how fucked up the government is.

Believe them if you must.

But only do so when you can afford bi-monthly trips to Europe.

I’m talking about the Davos crowd. The elite bloggers.

The war that is about to come is not about the United States versus Iran, or China, or Russia.

It is about the elite versus the rest of us. In all nations.

And, like all revolutions, it will be won by the side that has the most to lose through attrition.

Image URL: http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/CFJ/1363~Viva-La-Revolucion-Posters.jpg

The End of Politics December 9, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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This is one of an occasional series of articles on the politics of today, rather than the politics of a time that could have been.

When I was in my 20s, some twenty some years ago, I remember having regular discussions with friends about, gag, politics. I hung around a large and smart enough group that we didn’t all agree on everything. One of my friends, much more conservative than I, regularly made persuasive arguments about the advantages of an unregulated free market. They weren’t persuasive enough to make me change my mind, but they were challenging and astute.

This was well after an event that many people considered a polarizing moment in American history, the resignation of President Nixon. Indeed, you would think that an event such as that would have naturally prompted the kind of catcalls we regularly see now between the two major parties in America. But Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned Nixon with the hope that it would heal the nation. It seems it did, at least to some extent.

After Jimmy Carter was elected, then defeated for re-election, evidence that Ford’s move worked can be seen in my lead example, a bunch of friends from both sides of the aisle talking about problems and solutions. It also reveals evidence of how politics, despite its flaws, could be invoked to attend to the various ills that afflict a nation.

There was no real bitterness on the part of Democrats after their man went down in the flames of a botched military operation in Iran and staggering inflation. They merely nodded and said, “we’re finished”, when Ronald Reagan ended his televised debate against Carter by asking the American people to look in their wallets when they went to the voting booth and ask themselves if they were better off than they had been four years prior.

Most people said, “no,” and the nation moved on, as did a reasonably civil discourse between Republicans and Democrats and the few independents that hung around the periphery.

Ronald Reagan changed the face of American politics and gave partial rise to the current Red State, Blue State phenomenon, but he was a likable enough character that he didn’t really provoke much animosity, even among those strongly who opposed him. And make no mistake — plenty of us did. Many of us were profoundly disturbed by almost every aspect of his policies, and we made fun of him because he seemed almost a caricature of himself. His affable personality did an amazing number on those who weren’t opposed to him, however, and hid the meanness inherent in his dogma.

In fact, that dogma, so obvious to progressives, but seemingly out of the view of the silent majority, was apparent even to his successor, George Bush Sr., who promised a “kinder, gentler” conservatism.

Bush Sr.’s presidency, also, saw little real change in political discourse.

Then, something happened.

George Sr. lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton, and the nastiness started.

I’m not sure what provoked the Republican party into such a frenzy, but from the moment Clinton stepped foot into the oval office Republicans became bent on his destruction. Their efforts to remove him from office began immediately, with their contrived Whitewater whitewash and, later, the Monica Lewinsky nonsense. It amounted to an attempt at a coup détat, and divisiveness and vitriol began to swirl around American politics with a fury that pushed independents even further away from the political process.

Meanwhile, the silent majority transformed itself from a block of voters who paid little attention to politics until voting day to a block of voters disgusted with politics in general.

Although it’s true that the majority of voters have held politicians in contempt for a long time, today’s rancor between Democrats and Republicans has pushed them out of the process completely, except for a few who have encamped with the Greens (and their disastrous association with Ralph Nader).

As a result, political discourse has degenerated into a nationwide flame war.

It’s a flame war most people want no part of. Go to a dinner party (not held by political geeks) and you’ll hear almost no discussion on politics. You won’t hear discussions about the problems in America, either, because people are afraid the talk will degenerate into a political discussion and ruin everyone’s night.

This fear is legitimate, because on those few occasions where someone is stupid enough to talk about “issues”, an extremist, with unbendable opinion (usually a man and usually a conservative, but sometimes a Green), will take over the conversation. This kind of individual will take on four or five people, and refuse to even entertain the idea that there are rational opinions other than his own.

This is happening during a very dangerous time for America.

The other day, my wife went to a business networking meeting and brought up the name Jimmy Carter. Several of the members of her group snickered. The skin around their mouths twisted as if taking in a whiff of bad meat. Then they went off on Carter as if he had cannibalized their children.

What began as an innocent mention of Habitat for Humanity turned into a bizarre, distasteful, and toxic encounter with strangers in a strange land. All my wife could ask me was, “Where does such lingering animosity come from?”

It’s a stunning turnaround from 1980.

Politics is dead. Those few who do bother to participate are rabid dogs with earmuffs.

The blog nation might respond to all of this by claiming that the very existence of hundreds of thousands of political blogs is evidence that politics is alive and well. But these blogs do not involve political discourse. They’re rants. Some of them, such as The Daily Kos, are often provocative and well researched, but the political slant is always obvious. There is little room for disagreement.

The comments sections for left and right leaning blogs are filled with self-congratulatory love pats or, on the odd occasion when someone from the other side dares visit, invective. This is not political discourse, it’s political paralysis, and it’s deadly.

Even a read through a political website that attempts to bring varied opinions together, such as WatchBlog, shows that it’s just a forum for flaming hysteria. The comments are often spiteful and angry. It’s rare to see a Republican say to a Democrat poster, “you raise an interesting point,” or vice-versa. And the Greens, still licking their wounds and still in denial after abandoning the political process altogether and voting for Ralph Nader, and, as a result, allowing George W. Bush to take office, spit venom at both Republicans and Democrats. They take a holier than thou attitude and do stupid things like lay in the streets to protest the Iraq war so people who have jobs can’t get to them. Which of course, just serves to defeat their own cause.

In the end, though, salvation, if it happens, will come from Independents, those who were once called the Silent Majority. They will tire of the partisanship and take over the conversation, pulling it away from those who are encamped within a tomb of tunnel vision and hate.

Historically, this kind of thing only occurs when a nation is on its knees.

Given the collapsing dollar, soaring gas prices, the real estate and credit crisis, the health care maelstrom, and an unstable world political environment fueled in no small part by an unpopular war, it’s amazing the political apathy that is gripping this nation remains so pervasive.

History teaches us that nations consumed by apathy either quickly or slowly see their freedoms erode. Eventually, but sometimes suddenly, dictatorship, and sometimes, tyranny, follows.

We’ve seen the beginnings of that already in this country, and yet the apathy remains. How far it goes is probably up to the Silent Majority.

That’s a pretty frightening thought, considering that if they abandon their responsibility, our fate is in the hands of the Blog Nation.

Nuclear Deal with Iran Finalized December 4, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in earthquake, Iran.
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The U.S., Russia and Europe, through efforts by The Gore Administration, today finalized a long term deal with Iran that will provide nuclear energy to a nation once at bitter odds with the United States. The deal was signed in Paris today and is expected to be followed shortly by a formal resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and the U.S.

Under terms of the deal, Russia and France will provide nuclear enrichment and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, will be provided permanent unimpeded access to Iranian nuclear facilities.

This all comes in the wake of Iranian President Kamal Kharrazi’s visit to the U.S.

But the tide in relations turned when President Gore pushed an unprecedented, massive, and controversial aid bill through Congress in the wake of the Bam earthquake that helped the reform movement in Iran and, some say, tilted the power structure in the country’s theocracy towards Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri.

U.S. efforts in the wake of that devastating quake are said by many analysts to have changed the hearts of clerical ground troops in Iran.

Apathy December 2, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in News and politics.
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Ask your kid who he/she is gonna vote for, and she’ll say, “Dad, leave me alone.”

I gave a hard time to one of my favorite bloggers, Marc Canter, about the state of American politics, and he said, essentially, “yawn.” He hates American politics, but I say, his disinterest has led us to the dictatorship that is sure to happen soon.

I sent what I thought was a heartfelt message to Dave Winer, but apparently he’s too busy. He, too, is too preoccupied with whatever, maybe his new toy.

The kids I talk to say that they no longer believe in the political system, so well, their vote never mattered anyway.

I guess that’s fine.

But it reminds me a lot of Russia, and Putin.

We can complain all we want about the lame political system.

But apathy resulted in a dude named George W. Bush.

And it is you guys, you who are tired of the system, that gave birth to him.

I’m tired of your apathy.

I’m tired of your crappy, “well, I hate our political system,”

You’re lazy and you gave birth to Bush.

You owe me, and the rest of America, an explanation, and a better solution that voting doesn’t provide you.
You are directly responsible for George W. Bush, and whatever happens later.